Disclaimer: I do not own Prototype. Activision does.

Also YES, the occasional repeat of a word three times is intentional. I just know someone's going to mention 'you sometimes repeat a word a couple times'. I know!


The streets were alive and dead, crawling with her children and the Others and the corpses of both. The Bad Men filled the streets, using their biting-fire-weapons and large-metal-boxes against them. Roars and explosions and orders filled the air with noise, and at the center of the whirlwind of blood and blades was her, and her Tainted Child.

She towered over him in all all all her glory and power, roaring and groaning as they fought, while he was deathly silent and viciously focused. He danced around her three thrashing legs and cut them with his mutated arm-blade, forcing her to scream. He leaped up - a fraction of the height she could manage but still higher than her bulk - and spearing her with his whip.

That wasn't to say she was defenseless. Her Tainted Child was strong but she was stronger. She throttled him and kicked him away, spat her pebbles at him, and summoned her orbs. The electricity traveled out from her and formed into five crackling emerald orbs, which then tracked him in accordance with her thoughts. Every now and then she told one of her Strong Children to break away from the Others and slam her Tainted Child into her path, only for the poor souls to be Cursed and devoured soon after. Each time that happened, all her progress with her Tainted Child was gone.

He could never keep up with her, especially not like this, but he didn't have to keep up with her if he could just keep healing herself. No matter how much power she brought up from within herself, it was never enough to fully beat him down.

He ran up the side of one of the skyscrapers she hadn't yet destroyed and leaped out at her. At the apex of his jump he held his hands out to the side, tainted red and black tendrils writhing around him... then he plummeted.

Elizabeth tried to slam him with one of her legs, but mistimed. And so her Tainted Child hit the ground with a heavy shockwave, summoning a forest of spikes around himself. They stabbed up into her, riddling her with rapidly healing holes that took so much of her flesh and strength out. Greene shrieked as she was forced to pull her three legs back underground to repair them, but that meant she couldn't keep her head up and her Tainted Child was already recovered from his attack attack attack and on her.

He hacked and slashed at her face, making her bleed and shriek and groan. She tried to pull her head back up but she was just so heavy. Finally, after taking a beating that made her growing headache and nausea even worse, Greene raised her head up and sunk beneath the ground to finish healing her legs, making them even stronger than before, and to change her plan of attack. Somewhere, an Other shouted, "See that?! We hurt it!"

She couldn't fall down again. She had already done so three times, and her urge to throw up grew each time. She couldn't fall down again, she couldn't throw up. If she threw up then it was over for her. Her Tainted Child would grab her, Curse her and... she didn't want to imagine that.

She gathered her strength and punched through the stone and concrete with a roar, ordering her children to get clear as she gathered her strength.

Red and white tendrils burned around her legs and head, and her rage drew the colors out of the world. A yellow light, cutting through the monochrome, rose up her renewed legs and into her core. She took a deep breath and screamed, letting lose a circular wave of anger and force and flickering red and white that cut clean everything around her. Her Tainted Child had evaded it, as she'd expected, and was now sizing her up again confidently.

Confidently. He knew. He knew he only had to repeat what he'd done one more time. But Elizabeth Greene wasn't about to let him.

'Everyone,' she thought sickly. 'Kill them. NOW!'

He children roared their affirmatives, and she refocused on her Tainted Child, ignoring the feeble taps of Other weapons on her body. With a flicker of concentration she summoned another five electric orbs around her, but didn't send them out. Not just yet.

When her Tainted Child ran at her to slice her up, she spat spat spat more pebbles at him. Predictably, he jumped and lurched to the side, avoiding them completely, and came at her with deadly strokes of his blade. She sent her five ball lightnings out, and past him into the distance. Then Greene summoned another five, and took a deep breath.

Colors faded, yellow rose, and she once again blasted the land. Her Tainted Child, the one they called Zeus, ran away and avoided it perfectly... except he ran headlong into her five green orbs, which she'd retracted back to her. Pop! Pop! Pop! Pop! Pop!

Elizabeth gurgle-groaned in delight when her Tainted Child stumbled back away from the orbs, right into her blast! He was sent flying, flesh torn apart and blown away, but mid-arc he twisted around and entered a glide... just in time to be taken down by her rock stream. He fell to the ground and was steamrolled away by the last winds of her crimson shockwave into the other group of electric orbs she had summoned.

'Knock him back into me!' As she thought that, one of her Throwing Children rose up beneath him and tossed him back to her, and she stomped down on him with her left leg, right leg, left, right, left, rocks, orbs, left, orbs, rocks, right!

The dust cleared and Elizabeth leaned her bulk down to look at the body. Her Tainted Child's form flickered with red and black tendrils, limp on the ground, and then dissolved into a red slop. She turned turned turned her vision inwards, washing the world in red and white and orange. She saw the blazing light of her Tainted Child turn from white, to pink, and finally to background red.

She'd... she'd won.

She did it.

She'd killed him.

Elizabeth Greene had killed him... her own son. She turned her bulbous head down and warbled mournfully. It shouldn't have had to be this way. He should've helped her, though she was... she was at fault for it as well. She'd attacked him, but it wasn't her fault! She didn't know it had been her Tainted Child, Greene thought it'd been that that that Other, Alex Mercer, instead! It... it wasn't her fault though! IT WASN'T HER FAULT! The Others had done that to him! They had taken her Blessing and twisted it into a Curse, they had driven him mad, they had poisoned her against her wonderful wonderful wonderful family! They made her do it!

But now he was dead. He couldn't stop her. He couldn't protect the Others from her...

Elizabeth Greene raised her head and looked at the Others, still fighting in their large-metal-boxes and metal-boxes-that-flew. She shrieked victoriously, and resumed the fight with vigor and vengeance.


It was over. Elizabeth lowered her bulk down and stepped out of her head, leaving the monstrous body of flesh behind to burrow beneath the ground. She looked around herself. Her crimson shockwaves had cleared a perfect ring around her, Other buildings eaten into and destroyed, scraping the ground flat and scattering her Tainted Child's ashes to the wind. Bodies littered the area around her. So many of her precious darling children, dead. Slain. But it didn't matter anymore. Now that she did not have to hide from her Tainted Child she could fight the Others herself.

She could break them over her knee and rip the secrets from their minds with a touch, and only when she'd inflicted the pain on them that they had inflicted on her, only then would she Bless them and alleviate their suffering for the rest of time. She could shatter the walls they had put around this island city and go beyond and do it again, and again, and again, until her family was so wide-spread that no calamity, not even their vaporizing-city-gone bombs, could ever threaten them ever again.

But first, there was a child she had to help, and a threat she had to remove remove remove. Elizabeth Greene sprinted north, barreling past her children and shoving past crowds of Others - Blessing them as she did - and made her way to the building in question, the 'hospital', within minutes.

She didn't take the door to enter the hospital. Instead she smashed through the wall into the room; she knew where it was. She could sense her Blessing within that Pretender, Dana Mercer.

The room was dark, but light spilled in from the hole in the wall. A dark skinned Other, wearing bloodied blue clothes, looked towards her in shock.

"You're - "

That was all he said. With acceleration and speed that nobody, not even her Tainted Child, could match, she lurched at him and pinned him to a wall with her right hand. He gasped for breath and kicked his legs feebly, but Elizabeth focused on none of that. She reached into herself and pushed her warmth towards her right arm, then down into the hand, the fingers, the tips, and out. With a wet slithering sound, red and white tendrils grew out from her hands, over the Other's throat and down his body, until there was nothing left of him but his nose peeking out of a splatter of mesh, pinned to the wall and Blessed.

With that done, Elizabeth turned over to the figure laying still on a bed, and clenched her fists as red and white tendrils whirled around them.

Oh how she hated the Pretender. She didn't deserve to call him her family! Her Tainted Child was more than she was, more more more and she had no right to send him against his own siblings! She was just as much to blame for his death as the Bad Men! She didn't deserve to be Blessed. Elizabeth should've just killed her, right then and there! But... no. No. She was better than the Others. They didn't deserve her Blessing but she'd give it to them anyway, so that they'd become better and would be deserving then.

All the same, the Pretender was already Blessed, so she had nothing more to do than focus upon her body. 'Change her, free her from choice,' she whispered to the seeds in her, and they obeyed, waking up and going about their work. With that done, Elizabeth exited the hole and set her sights on one of the bridges that lead out of the island, framed on all sides by water water water, barricaded by Other weapons.

Greene smirked. They thought they could stop her? They thought they could hold her? She only stayed in to give her family a fighting chance, to get their momentum running. She'd keep giving them instructions so they didn't have to come up with instructions on their own, of course, but they didn't need her to directly create Homes and shatter weapons. The Others had been blinded by their arrogance, their so called 'power'. They could never contain her!

Elizabeth Greene charged at the wall of armored vehicles, and paused right before them. They opened fire on her, battering her with bullets and explosives that she effortlessly shrugged off; she couldn't heal herself like her Tainted Child, but she could take a hit much better. Elizabeth Greene took a deep breath as color faded from the world. Her body bristled with tendrils and turned numb. Her power climbed higher and higher until she opened her mouth and, facing the line of Others, screamed.

The air in front of her compressed and exploded outward, a cone of death and red cresting out from her mouth and obliterating everything in its path so that when it passed, there was nothing but the smell of Other weapons and a gaping hole in the bridge.

Elizabeth calmed down and shook it off, sprinting out of the island. She was... out. For the first time in nearly half a century, she could... go. And she had someone she wanted to see, so very badly. Someone she had not seen since he was born.


She tore across the landscape, Blessing anyone she came across. She had her destination in mind, she'd be there soon. It was easy for her to know where he was; after her Strange Child, born of the Awful Poison she'd been stabbed with - even as she ran her hand ghosted along the left side of her neck - had Cursed and devoured that Hunting Other, she learned where her child was.

Oh her darling darling child, lost and alone and scared for so so so very long. She'd comfort him soon enough. She wanted to hold him, to tell him everything was going to be alright, to...

... to be a better mother than she had been to her Tainted Child.

She shook the thoughts away. Already, her family was spreading past Manhattan at a marvelous pace, under direction of her and her Leading Children. Behind her, her Blessing spread outwards from the line she cut across the region of land called 'North America' as she approached the state of 'California'.

The city in question was already locked down, but there was no dry place she could not access. She stormed right through full tilt, leaving nothing but wind, shattered ground, and her Blessing in her wake. She found the region. She found the building, a humble little tavern. She walked in brought her hands to her chest. The Others inside looked at her, confused and frightened. She tossed her hands out to the side and released a burst of ruby fog, and then stomped the ground with a single foot. The floor shattered in a perfect circle beneath her and she fell... fell... fell...

When she hit the ground there were Other scientists on either side of her. In response, Elizabeth clenched an organ at the base of her spine, sending tingles up her backbone and down her arms, transforming into deadly arcs of emerald lightning that killed every every every one of those monsters who'd kept her Holy Child imprisoned.

She could smell him, smell his essence in the air. She followed it through the corridors, liquefying anyone she came across. Elizabeth walked through the corridors, taking lefts and rights and stairs until she arrived at the room.

It was so so so similar to the one she had been held in during the Time for Waiting. A glass box, inside a dark room. A repetitive tap, tap, tap came as the figure inside the box bounced a rubber ball against the wall with unmatched precision.

The moment she entered, her Holy Child grabbed the ball and looked her way. He was so little, so young. His eyes were a vibrant purple, glowing ever so gently. He wore a white button-up shirt a few sizes too large and brown pants, but she knew that was only because he chose to wear those. He looked her way and dropped the ball. From his back, four black tentacles raised themselves, two extended on each side, each as long as he was tall and as thick as her arms.

"Hello, mother," he said in his sweet voice, coming from all directions at once. He held up a palm and pushed out, the blast of air shattering his cell.

"My child," she whispered, walking towards him slowly. "My son," she said, approaching him and looking down at him. She sniffed the air to take in his scent and...

... and...

... that wasn't right. Her Holy Child didn't smell Blessed. He smelled... Cursed. Like her Tainted Child and Strange Child, but so much more intense, more pure, natural.

"Cursed," she whispered sadly. "Oh my son... didn't notice..."

"You mean Blacklight," he said. "No mother, I do not carry your strain. I thought you'd know that."

"Know now," she whispered, looking away. Her Holy Child, Cursed... she dearly hoped she wouldn't wouldn't wouldn't have to fight him. "But... my child... free now."

Her Holy Child looked around her. "Hmm, I suppose you did clear the way. Thank you for that, mother. But you realize, I could've escaped a long time ago if I so wished."

"Why... why not?" she asked. She didn't understand. Did her Holy Child... want to be an experiment for the Others? It couldn't be due to his Curse; her Tainted Child certainly hadn't wanted to be an experiment.

"They're amusing," he answered with a shrug. "Funny, actually, always running their little tests and trying to poke me; it never occurs to them to just ask nicely. At least, not to these ones."

"To none of them!" she hissed. "Not amusing. Bad bad bad, broken, fix them."

Her Holy Child rolled his eyes, his two left-tentacles flexing. "If you say so, mother. Tell you what, you go on ahead and do your thing. I won't stop you." She smiled. "But in return, just leave me alone."

She reached out to him wantingly. "But - "

He silenced her with the sweep of his lower-right tentacle. "No. I've gone forty years without you, mother. I don't need you, not like my siblings you create." His top tentacles reached up, lengthening dramatically, and hooked themselves into the ceiling. "Now, I advise you leave. The humans will probably try to nuke you soon, and you don't want to be here when that happens."

She frowned, but nodded. "And you?" she rasped.

He lifted himself up with his tentacles. "I hardly see how that matters to you. Now go on, leave this place." Without further word, her Cursed Holy Child flickered with black tendrils - not red and white like her own or red and black like her Tainted Child, just black - and dissolved upwards, vanishing into the crack in the ceiling.

Elizabeth Greene wiped a hand under her right eye. Her Holy Child... where had she gone gone gone wrong?

She shook it off. It didn't matter. He said he wasn't going to fight her, so he wasn't going to fight her. She could still hope to make amends in the future, not like her Tainted Child whom she had... whom she had...

I should leave, she thought to herself. There's still much to do.

And so she left, left the horrible-underground-place, left the city, and didn't look back even when it was engulfed in a fireball. She still had so many children to raise, so many Others to fix and heal, so many of the Bad Men to slaughter so they'd never threaten her ever again. Her Blessing cut a straight line through the country. She began directing it to go south.

Elizabeth Anne Greene went north.


Time passed.

Her Blessing swept south, over the regions of land the Others called Mexico, Ecuador, Brazil, Chile. Through illegal ships to the islands they called the Caribbeans, or to the other land masses they called Spain and France, despite the shutdown.

Greene herself went north, sweeping through Canada, and figuring a way to make her Blessing grant her children flight. The wings were large and leathery and it turned their bones to lightweight glass, but it let them fly notable distances and bring her Blessing to Greenland and Iceland. She tore through Alaska, and then had her Flying Children deposit her in Russia, while her Blessing surged through Germany and Hungary, uncaring of the Others attempting to contain it and crushing them when they tried to fight it.

The Others had no chance of beating her in a fight. She had beaten them and her Tainted Child put together, even when he'd gotten a clear shot at Greene herself she still won. Her Blessing had given her the tools to carry out her quest and the strength to overcome any obstacle.

The big-fire-destroying-Hope nukes were used more and more often, and once or twice she'd been caught in the fringes. They hurt, but she survived each time and grew hardier, marching on Norilsk, Russia while her Blessing spilled downwards into China and, within a day, China was hers and India would soon follow. She performed memory transfers on the Others she came across, teaching her the languages needed, and then Blessed the ones she transferred from so that they could join her family.

She could see through the eyes and listen through the ears and feel through the bodies of all her children, all except one. She lost her Holy Child, in both spirit and body. He didn't say it, but she knew he didn't like what he was doing. Raised by the Others, he didn't see perfection and unity and the Reason, but rather something to be feared feared feared and that made Greene so sad. Luckily, he didn't do anything against her. He'd simply hunted down her Strange Child, effortlessly killed, Cursed, and devoured him, and then vanished.

Elizabeth entered the small town/nest, looking around. There was hardly anyone outside, but she could smell and hear plenty inside; they hadn't known she was coming so fast and hadn't yet evacuated.

She slowed down from her mad run that shattered stone beneath her feet to a light, Other-pace jog. She looked at the Others walking around, driving around. Before long however, one of them noticed her and pointed.

A riot soon broke out, panic, fear, discord, everything Elizabeth was trying to stop forever. They Others ran, but Elizabeth was constantly radiating her Blessing into the air, and the winds had already blown it into them. That made her smile; they were Blessed and soon would calm down. Then she could make them happy forever and stop their pain forever and everything would be alright forever.

Then she frowned; one of them wasn't running. The burly man, dressed in a coat, sported a thick black beard and mustache. He grabbed a knife and ran at her. "This is for my parents you bitch!" he shouted in the weird weird weird Russian language. She eyed him oddly; had she killed his parents? It would explain his anger. Or was he foolishly angry at her having Blessed them? That was absurd; they were better off Blessed. Everyone was; she herself was living proof.

Then he was on her, and stabbed the knife at her stomach.

It bent and broke, of course, but that was enough. Elizabeth Greene stiffened and narrowed her eyes, her wilted green eyes locking with the man's hateful brown ones. Furious, boiling rage shot up inside of her. This... this Other had struck her. He had touched her.

How.

Dare.

He.

Quick as a snake her fist was out, and then she punched him, and then he was ripped in half by the blow and died. Good; he should've known that Others didn't deserve to touch her, not after all they had done to her. His legs fell to the ground, but his torso flew back to the nearest building and splattered on the wall.

Elizabeth Blessed Norilsk, and kept going. She ran through the Russian landscape, her Blessing overcoming India even quicker than it had overcome China, her Flying Children bringing it to Indonesia, New Zealand, Australia, and all the islands in between. Blessing those silly Other machines called 'airplanes' had given her Hawaii before she even reached Alaska. Meanwhile on the other side of the world, Europe was Blessed, with only Norway to go.

Tearing across the land, she shook her head at the thought. Why did the Others name pieces of land like that? It was just land. Naturally that thought led to her remembering that she had once been an Other, before she'd been Blessed. That thought made her shiver; she was happy she didn't remember her time as an Other.

Within a day or two of continuous running, not needing sleep or rest or other silly Other things, she stood before Moscow and was ready to go in and -

A flash of light.

Kra-THOOOOOM!

A surge of heat and force lifted Elizabeth Greene off her feet and the shockwave deposited her a mile back. A mushroom cloud rose from the center of Moscow, buildings crumbling and melting. Before long the heat of the nuclear inferno faded, leaving only a white mushroom cloud, filled with radiation that could could could not harm her, drifting away from the ruins of an Other nest.

Elizabeth sat and bowed her head. She mourned for the Others that may have survived, who may have been Blessed, had the Others not killed their own kind like so.

Did they truly fear her so much they were willing to kill themselves to not be Blessed? Hate her so much? She was doing nothing wrong!

There was a rush of air behind her. Elizabeth Greene snapped around with a hiss, green arcs of electricity flickering between her fingers, but relaxed when she saw who it was.

Her Holy Child, standing there with an unreadable expression on on on his young face. "You know, you don't have to do this, mother. A lot of people are going to die if you keep doing this."

"More will die long term if don't," she rasped. "Stop sickness, stop aging. Protect."

"And food?" he asked simply. "Water?"

"Take from air, tiny things in air, enough. Doesn't work for Others, works for us," she insisted.

Her Holy Child chuckled, scraping one of his feet in the dirt. "Mother, I never would've taken you for a breatharian. That's actually pretty funny." He smiled, and Greene's heart melted. "Oh well, whatever works for you, I suppose. I do still need meat." He dipped his head towards her. "Thanks for not going for the animals."

"Don't need to Bless animals," she rasped with a smile. "Not aware, not in pain."

"Either way, thank you. And I suppose I can't talk you out of going on with the outbreak?"

Outbreak? Was that what the Others were calling it? That didn't make sense; diseases made an outbreak. She didn't carry a disease, she carried a Blessing. Though the one day transition was painful, so that may have been a part of it. Either way it it it was stupid.

"Can't," she responded slowly.

Her Holy Child sighed and shook his head. "Well, I tried. But Mother, I want you to think about something. Once you've circled the world, and there exists no place you have no touched, where you cannot see, and all the humans are in your hive mind and only do or think what you want them to... what then?" Then her Holy Child was gone, zipping away in a blur of black that not even Elizabeth could hope to keep up with.

She sighed and turned back to the blasted, irradiated ruins of Moscow. Her Blessing was spreading quickly; soon Norway would also be fixed, and most of Asia was already underway. The region vaguely called the Middle East had surprised her in how early it had been Blessed; airports hadn't been closed back then. Her children numbered in the billions, pulsing in her veins and the back of her mind. It made her so so so happy to know that all of them were once Others filled with worries, and now she could keep them safe and happy, shouldering their burdens herself. After all, she was strong enough to so do.

Still, she couldn't get her Holy Child's question out of her mind.


All too quickly, Elizabeth Greene left the Sahara Desert behind. She'd liked the Sahara Desert, it had been so dry and none of that stinging-slowing water was there. The sand did make it a little harder to run, yielding beneath her feet instead of pushing her forward, but she still made good time and brought her Blessing along with her.

The last Others were in South Africa, and so Elizabeth took the ocean route, going down from Egypt to Sudan to Ethiopia and so on, memory-transfering languages and Blessing as she went, easing the immense suffering she saw. Meanwhile, her children moved south from Spain into Morocco, Guinea, and further.

Of all all all the continents she liked Africa the most, so far. It was hot and it was dry and while she knew that not the entire continent was like like like that, the part she was in was. Hardly a month after being forced to kill her Tainted Child, she was so close to winning once and for all. Sadly, no planes or boats or anything anything anything like had gone to South Africa with her Blessing, but that wasn't a problem; she was so so so fast. She didn't have her Tainted Child's ability to surge through the air or glide like a bird, but in pure speed she far surpassed him.

She wasn't entire sure what her Holy Child was up to. She'd made sure to have her children turn off ovens and the like to avoid a rash of fires, but he was going around operating Other machines, playing with one or two for a day or a week, and then moving on.

So much had happened. The Others' military power was was was broken, and she was certain they were preparing their 'final stand' in South Africa, feeling like their backs were up against the wall, like the cornered animal she'd been in the past, giving each other inspiring words to inspire them to do the wrong thing, opposing her. She was tempted, in part, to just let them be; she had over six billion children, after all. But no. She'd come this far, she was going to finish it.

Besides, she'd be a monster to just let them keep suffering like that, whether or not they realized they were suffering.

She continued running, through a savanna filled with wildlife, leaving a trail of her Blessing behind her to diffuse through the air. In front of her, she saw another group of Others, seemingly not as technological as the ones that had trapped trapped trapped her in the Cold Dark Place. She slowed down and walked into their group. Their clothes were quite colorful, a firm contrast to the gray suit that Elizabeth Greene had long ago transformed into part of herself.

She came across a group playing that chasing game and... and... and they were children. Other children. She smiled and approached one. Neither of them spoke, she just knelt down before him and pressed her hand to the little boy's forehead and thought, their language. There was a flash of pain in her head, and the boy collapsed, instantly unconscious. She held her head until she could reorganize the language -

"What did she do to him?!"

"Is she the one they were warning us about?"

"Someone get him some medicine!"

All of that was of no consequence. Elizabeth brought both her hands up over her head and raised her left leg. Once she was far enough back she stomped the ground and lowered her hands, then threw them to the side and expelled a thick red fog from deep within. Without further ado, she sprinted away from the nest of brightly dressed Others.

Most of Africa was sparsely populated, but that wouldn't pose any issue. The Others were out of places to hide, out of ways to stop her. Their science had failed to poison her and their weapons had failed to hurt her. Their ingenuity would not save them them them, no amount of cleverness or will or 'human spirit' would let them continue to defy their mother.

It could only end one way.

Elizabeth charged further further further south, through Tanzania and Zimbabwe. Her Blessing spread south with her, fixing the other countries she passed by, her children following her into South Africa. She spent some time wrapping around, cornering the Others, and then she came across their last stand, in - fitting - Port Elizabeth.

It was nothing compared to the Bad Men. It was nothing compared to her Tainted Child. They'd formed up a great defense, expecting her to come charging into their town, but instead her Throwing Children carved tunnels beneath them. She used those tunnels and again summoned all her might, wrapping herself in flesh taken from the animals of the plains and bursting forth, obliterating their main force with a single crimson shockwave. After that her Throwing Children punctured other places, her children spilling in from below. From the first strike, it didn't take ten minutes, and the few that survived were Blessed.

One day later after Port Elizabeth, the last of the Others was taken into her family. At long, long last, she had completely fixed her former species. There would never be a war again. Never again would they suffer illness, or worry about making their own choices. She'd provide for them all, as a good mother should. Nobody would ever be alone again.

Elizabeth Greene took a week to make her way back to North America, to the spot where Manhattan had once been. She constructed, using her mesh, a little shelter for herself on the grave of her Tainted Child and sat in it. She took a look around the world through her childrens' eyes. Her Holy Child was still... experimenting with something. The Americas were Blessed. Eurasia was Blessed. Africa was Blessed. Oceania was Blessed. Elizabeth smiled to herself. Finally, it was done.

So she kept her children happy and safe, moving them away from tornado or hurricane risks or the like, then had them stay still once safe. And then, for a long time...

... nothing happened.


It was the Time for Waiting, but there were were were many differences.

She wasn't in the Cold Dark Place. She was safe and warm. She wasn't in horrible horrible horrible silence, she was surrounded by the murmuring gratitude of her seven billion children.

She didn't have to worry about the future, everything would be exactly as it was, forever. The continents might move and the animals might change, but her children would endure it all. It wasn't just a prediction; she'd make sure of it.

Occasionally, she had to ask some of them to move somewhere else due to a temporary danger. Eventually, she planned to have them all in a cave surrounded by her warmth, and she was doing that, but it was difficult finding enough caves for seven billion people. But despite that, all was well.

Her Holy Child still worried her. Even as the months turned into years turned into decades, he continued to play around with Other machines, imbibed from their knowledge.

It didn't matter to her: her children were safe. Nothing else mattered.

Decades turned into centuries. Centuries turned into millennia. Every now and then the stars above flashes as a supernova erupted somewhere, far away. The sun and the moon traced dancing circles above her head. The city of Manhattan crumbled around her, yet she remained firmly rooted over the spot where she'd murdered her son.

Sometimes she slept. She'd never slept before completing her quest, she'd never needed it; sleep was when she was inactive and unaware, unable to protect herself, but now she sometimes slept. After all, she could protect her children even in her sleep, and there wasn't anything she needed to protect herself from. She slept, and she dreamed. She dreamed... formless things. Horrific things. Joyful things. Once or twice she caught a glimpse of herself as an Other, of from the time Before: an argument, a cat, falling autumn leaves and falling shards of orange glass. They were never concrete and never stayed with her long.

Time continued to pass. The planet's biosphere encroached on her, on the island that was once Manhattan, so she battered it back, ensnaring both the island and the place that had once held Hope. That done, she returned to the endless Time for Waiting, in the same spot. She hadn't even needed to move from her shelter to do so, she could control her Blessing from anywhere. She kept those places sacred, kept them hers.

Five thousand years passed, and all her children were beneath the surface, safely reinforced by her mesh of tendrils. Her Throwing Children had carved tunnels where needed, and now no surface event would hurt her children. The stars and planets spun dizzy waves over her head as the year seven thousand passed without incident, as did eight thousand, nine thousand, ten thousand.

In what Elizabeth estimated was the year thirteen thousand three hundred and eight two, she had a visitor.

He walked over the field of red and white, twisted tendrils. Farther away, on the edge of the island, Greene could feel a giant metal thing parked there. Wherever her Holy Child stepped the mesh briefly turned black, before returning to its natural color after a second or two. From within her half-egg shaped shelter, Greene watched her Holy Child, Pariah, approach. His four back tentacles were laid flat along his back, limp. His eyes sparkled with some plan for the future. What plan? Everything was already as it needed to be, there didn't need to be any further plan.

He stopped a body length before her. He tilted his head briefly. "Mother."

She stared at him. "My son," she rasped with the power of seven billion minds behind her echoes.

He flinched at that. Had she hurt him? Oh she hoped she hadn't. "Yeah, I guess I am. Been a while, hasn't it? Since we talked."

"Been watching."

He smiled and shook his head, brown hair flopping. "Figures you would, mother. You never could stop worrying. Anyway, I'm here to say I'm leaving."

She tilted her head. "Leaving? Where. Planet mine."

"That's just it, isn't it? Do you even know what I've been doing?"

"Other technology, toys. Playing with them," she responded.

He rolled his luminescent eyes. "No, no. I've been developing them. Someone's got to, after all. Took me a while to get the math together," he said with a self-satisfied nod. "But I'm fairly sure I've figured out faster than light travel. About time, too. It's been over ten thousand years, after all."

"And?" she she she asked.

"Mother, I'm leaving the planet. You're welcome to come with me, but if you do it'll only be you."

"No, family," she insisted.

Her Holy Child sighed. "I didn't expect anything else. Very well, mother. Goodbye." He turned around and turned into a black blur, flickering back to his metal construct. A short while later, Elizabeth Greene looked up to see a rising spot of light near the Hudson River, which surged into the sky and vanished from sight.

It... didn't matter. It was... it was just one child. She had so many others to comfort and protect. It didn't bother her that he'd abandoned her.

It didn't. Really.

She kept telling herself that for a very long time.


Ten thousand years turned into fifteen thousand, into twenty thousand. Twenty thousand years of nothing but keeping her children safe and happy turned into fifty thousand years. Fifty thousand years of being the only one with free will turned into five hundred thousand. Five hundred thousand years turned into five million years of carrying out the Reason for everything.

Over in Europe, the continents shifted, closing off the Mediterranean Sea from the Atlantic Ocean, turning it into a vast salt flat. The air cooled down, which Elizabeth hated, and ice sheets crept down. She made sure they didn't reach her island; her mesh gave off a lot of heat, and she could lift small glaciers. Even if touching the giant blocks of frozen water stung her.

Strange creatures roamed the land in the absence of the Others. Lizards with sticky fins. Enormous bats and tall birds that hunted monkeys. The stars above shifted their positions over and over, the endless spirals they traced over Elizabeth's head ever-shifting.

She kept her children happy.

Five million years turned into ten million years. The ice retreated, and the animals kept changing. Greene didn't care about the animals; the only thing that mattered was family and the animals were not family. Now and again one made its way to her island, and she snapped it up with her webs, carried it to her, and ate it.

Twenty million years. Twenty million years and a hundred seventeen. Sixty million. One hundred million.

The continents kept shifting. Elizabeth's island stopped being an island, but her mesh kept her territory even. The underground tunnels her children stayed in, happy and warm and secure, were occasionally shifted but her Throwing Children could burrow new paths easily. But Elizabeth's attention couldn't be everywhere, and not even she could completely safeguard against earthquakes. She would mourn forever, but at least she still had six billion children.

A hundred and fifty million years after her her her quest's completion, she told herself again that she wasn't bothered by her Holy Child abandoning her.

Two hundred million years in, there was a great calamity on the surface. A blazing supernova burned through the atmosphere, scorching away some sort of protective barrier. The radiation didn't bother Greene in the least, nor did it bother her children, safe underground. But the burst of energy wiped out many of the other life forms. Elizabeth watched them rebuild, and watched as as as the continents merged.

Three hundred million years of protecting her family, and they separated again. The squids that had been growing smart - almost Other smart - dumbed back down. Elizabeth's territory rose on a mountain range. The planet underwent great changes as it shifted, cooled, warmed, as the moon crept further away, as the ozone reformed.

To Greene and her family of five and a half billion, nothing happened at all.

Once it was six hundred million years later, Elizabeth did did did notice that a lot of the plants weren't like they used to be. They seemed to be shrinking, in both size and type. Old types of plants, like trees, vanished. The animals shrunk as a result. She didn't know what happened beneath the oceans, though; too much water.

Eight hundred million years. Nine million supernova. She didn't pay much attention to the sun and the moon, but the eclipses were in the tens of millions. Even though there was no such thing as a total solar eclipse that far out.

It was getting hotter and dryer. That was good, Elizabeth liked that. Her territory, which had weathered earthquakes, volcanoes, and everything in between, remained in the middle of a vast desert. She'd gotten better at protecting her children from the slightly-less-frequent quakes. She hadn't lost any in a while and that made made made her so happy.

Eight hundred million turned into eight hundred fifty. Turned into nine hundred. Turned into one billion.

At that point it got too hot hot hot. Not that the heat itself was a problem, but the oceans boiled off. Elizabeth Greene didn't care that it killed off most of the animals and plants, or that the air pressure was crushing, but the humidity made her skin ache and writhe against her with red and white tendrils. And so, she fully cocooned herself in her mesh. Her children, deep beneath the ground, were unaffected, just as she'd promised to keep them. She could see nothing within her cocoon, and outside the sky was permanently overcast with the clouds made of oceans. But beyond that, nothing continued to happen, and Elizabeth Greene was just fine with that that that.

A billion and a half years after she'd killed her Tainted Child, she told herself again it didn't bother her that her Holy Child left. After all, she still had five billion children.

Two billion years. Nothing happened.

Two billion one hundred million. Nothing happened.

Two billion two hundred million. Nothing happened.

Two billion five hundred million. The ozone was worn away, battering the small single cells of life down. Elizabeth had to pull some of her mesh territory in to feed herself, but she hardly needed any to keep going.

Two billion eight hundred million years. It was getting hot, even for her. She pulled in more of her tendrils, and chanced a peek outside her cocoon.

The clouds were gone gone gone. The sun was burning hot and yellow, but noticeably bigger than when Elizabeth had seen it last. All around her, the rocks shimmered with heat, partially melting in some places. The heat from the sun reached deeply into the planet, forcing Elizabeth to send her children deeper. But she didn't like were things were going. If the sun could blow away the ocean clouds, then then then couldn't it also blow away...

Greene decided not to think about that, and instead drew in more of her mesh to feed herself and focused on keeping her children happy. They deserved it.

She told herself again that her Holy Child's departure didn't bother her.


Three billion five hundred million years in, it was too much. The sun had blown away the last of the atmosphere. And deep underground, with no way to get it back... her children suffocated. Slowly, too, over years. Elizabeth didn't let them feel any pain, she made sure they were happy all the way to the end.

She sobbed and wailed and cried. She cursed the heavens and cursed the sun. She cursed the Others, and her Holy Child, and her Tainted Child, and herself, anything she could think of she cursed. It was all for nothing. Her family was gone gone gone. Dead, and there was nothing she could've done to save them. For a long time she sat in her cocoon and felt sorry for herself, the Time for Waiting replaced by the Time for Mourning. After forty years exactly, she stood and pulled in her cocoon entirely.

Elizabeth Greene gasped as the air was ripped from her lungs by the vacuum. Her body insulated the rest of herself so it didn't hurt her, but it it it still felt so weird to have no air in her lungs. All around her, the land was blackened, grayed rocks, shimmering under the heat of a large yellow sun. It looked... slightly more orange than it had before.

The heat was enormous. It wasn't instantly deadly, but it forced Elizabeth to slowly cannibalize her own body to repair itself. Slowly but surely, she grew lighter, dropping from two tons to one ton, to a thousand pounds, to two hundred, to one hundred fifty, over the course of two years.

The entire time she didn't move, letting the sun and the distant moon spiral above her, the unfamiliar stars trace their courses. Her feet sank partly into the soft ground, but never more than a little.

Greene wondered what it would be like to die. She'd come close with her Tainted Child, but pulled through in the end. That was the closest she had ever come to true, utter death, or perhaps a fate even worse. Elizabeth tried to picture, in her mind, an eternal sleep, never waking up, never dreaming. She could picture it too, and it horrified her. She didn't want want want that.

She wanted her family instead, but they were dead too.

The sun beat down on her fiercely, but she didn't move. Nothing had happened for so very long, until... something did happen.

A pinpoint of blue light descended, and Elizabeth's wonderful wonderful wonderful sharp eyes picked out that it was a metallic Other ship, which descended until it hovered high above her. It opened, and from it emerged... emerged...

Her only son.

He kept two of his back tentacles in the ship and lengthened them, dropping down until he was only slightly above the ground, eye level with her. "Hello, mother," he said.

"Came back," she whispered, a rush of air around her coming from... from where? Her Holy Child's machine? Either way it was still so hot.

He nodded. "I did. Figured I'd check in. It's been a long time. How're my siblings?"

She clenched her fists, but didn't have the strength to ripple with tendrils. "Dead. No air underground or above."

He frowned. "I'm sorry to hear that," he said, voice coming from every direction at once. "How're you?"

"Dying," she said, her voice echoing long after her lips stopped moving. "Too hot."

Her Holy Child blinked and shook his head. "Oh. Guess it's been that long, huh? I didn't even notice. Oh God, it's been such a long time. Wonder what I missed."

"Nothing," she responded in her shredded voice.

"Hmm, I'll take your word for it. So mother, what do you plan now?"

She shrugged. "Nothing. Nothing to do."

He raised an eyebrow, which briefly writhed with black tendrils. "Sure about that? I've been around the universe, there's quite a bit out there. I'm sure we can find something." He held out his right hand.

She narrowed her eyes. "Asking to leave home," she hissed.

He wasn't intimidated at all. "Yes, I am. Mother, come. Please. We have so much to catch up on. It'd be a waste for you to die."

"Reason for everything gone," she insisted.

"I promise you. We'll find you a new Reason. As your son, I promise."

Elizabeth looked around at the dead world. "Fine. Not die here." She reached out and grabbed her Holy Child's hand.

He smiled warmly at her. "I'm so glad you can see things my way, mother." He began lifting himself - and her - up. For the first time in billions of years, Elizabeth Greene left her Tainted Child's grave behind.

And left the desiccated rock that held her greatest triumph and her failure to hold onto that triumph, an ascended with her Holy Child to the stars beyond. Maybe she could find others to Bless out there. After all, it was a big place, and she was nothing if not patient. She could wait wait wait to find others to Bless.

Again, the Time for Waiting began.


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