First of all, I am terribly sorry for not replying to this earlier!
@Deadly, thank you for your input. I fixed the errors you pointed out and yes, Leo does need to step up and play the hero here.
@Azurus, heh, well, technically, being frozen solid does leave the body intact...
Now, to the main point of this post. For the past month, I have been working extensively on a complete rewrite of my prologue. However, since the character limit here works against me, I cannot edit it into the first post like I intended. So, it will be here with a link in the very first post of my story. The previous prologue has been [REDACTED].
Chapter 0.5: System Failure: Re-Initialization
"A king, realizing his incompetence, can either delegate or abdicate his duties. A father can do neither. If only sons could see the paradox, they would understand the dilemma."
“We’re losing him! Circulate coagulation serum. The damage is deeper than we thought!”
“No! No! Don’t take me! What are you doing!”
“His life isn’t important. He is no one, not anymore. Just the artifact. Besides, he won’t live once the life support is taken offline. “
“Very true, but it’s not our place to decide that. We’ll do what we can.”
They could never go back. The fragile balance of power that had held up for a millennia had been burned to cinders with the fiery torches of revolution. It had been the final straw on the camel’s back that snapped it clean in two. Now, everything was gone.
From their mounted position on the laboratory wall, lit computer screens made from recycled plastic components flickered as the news feed struggled to break through the martial moratorium on communication from the beleaguered capital. The aftermath of the coup shown even though the undoubtedly heavily-edited footage: a line of Hailfire tanks moved along Terra Avenue to the Magnet Train depot, Mainland Defense Force soldiers patrolled the tops of the government skyscrapers, firefights between the revolutionary army and the dwindling loyalists raged on the top floors of the Silph industrial area, air assault ships hovered above the chaotic city, and a massive plume of tar-black smoke billowed from the burning capitol complex fueled by the rage of the mob-rule that had taken control of the outer grounds.
The camera feed faded and was replaced by a man and woman sitting behind a desk, their appearances and features looking calm, but their eyes emanating fear. The well-dressed man in a suit clicked on a small screen to his left and the screen behind them suddenly restored the live feed from the capital.
“And we’re back. As before, we are not sure of any details, but sources tell us that the fighting has ceased in the outer sectors of the city and the capitol appears to have been thoroughly subjugated of terrorist activities. No word yet on the whereabouts of the Senators and President Radic, but reports are saying--” The screen suddenly blinked and was replaced with a dark picture, the sound cutting off as well.
A young man of about twenty-five sighed as he clicked the newscast out of his own personal existence. Regardless of what the reporters said, the situation had not calmed down at all since the first shots were fired in that morning. At least, for him it had not. He ran a hand through his unkempt black hair in a weak attempt to release some of the nervousness that had been building up inside of him all this time.
He turned his attention back to the computer flatscreen in front of him. Images of electrical blueprints and circuitry danced before the man’s exhausted eyes as he motioned with his hand over one of the blueprints. The sensor read the movement and opened the model. The man rotated his hand slightly, and the model followed suit. The Displacement Coils inside the machine were as they should be, that wasn’t the issue. He tapped on the glowing, blue, outlines of what appeared to be a metal ring. The man’s brown eyes narrowed as he traced a wire from the back of the ring.
“There. That’s the issue!” He motioned with his hand towards a switch on the opposite side of the room as he looked up from his seat out the wide observation window —made entirely from reinforced, recycled plastics. There was an audible click as the communication system between the upper and lower chambers of the testing room came live.
“ Henry! The third wire, that’s what’s causing the fault! Reroute it directly to the source and it should solve the problem! Quickly!” the man eagerly shouted as he keyed in the simulation on the model after said wire was rerouted. The diagram of the machine became animated as simulated electricity ran into it.
Simulation Successful: I.G Is Operational. Parameters Exceeded: Do Not Attempt A Short Charge Experiment.
“Doug, for the last time: I am not an electrician; I am hurrying as fast as I can. I know you want your inane plot to work, but it will take some time,” Another scientist, this one considerably older and with considerably less hair than Doug replied from the lower floor as he leaned behind a real-life representation of the model.
The balding man wiped his sweating hands on his dirtied lab coat as he switched the connections within one of the panels on the backside of the ring. The silver-colored machine itself was an impressive display of the final strongholds of industrial capability the Realm could still offer.
Suddenly, what amounted to an earthquake ripped through the facility. Both scientists gripped whatever was nearest to them --a recycled metal desk and the outer plating of the machine respectively. The reinforced concrete walls around them sprouted thin spiderwebs of cracks as dust rained down in small clouds from the ceiling. The flatlights plastered on the ceiling flickered as the power system was temporarily compromised.
As soon as the floor stabilized, Henry calmly finished making the final adjustment to the connection. The monitors behind Doug began flashing bright red in warning of impending doom.
“Doug, you and I both know the reactor won’t remain stable for long. The containment is going to fail in a few minutes,” Henry reported as he tapped a screen in the wall and the auxiliary lights in the chamber shut down. “We have just enough time to get out of here. Please, Doug, listen to me!” he suddenly shouted as another small quake rattled the floor ominously.
Doug simply shook his head as he got up from his seat and walked across the observation deck. The young scientist waved his hand at the scanner and a door smoothly slid open leading down to a elevator which connected the two chambers. With another dismissive wave, the metal doors slid shut and the freight elevator slid downwards the ten feet to the lower room.
“W- where ... Where am I? What is this place?”
Another seismic blast resonated through the massive science facility’s foundations, threatening to sever their fragile connections. The elevator ceased moving as the tremor continued --a standard safety procedure. A monitor in the corner of the small chamber flickered to life with a snap of Doug’s fingers.
A shot of the burning capitol again. This time it was a section of footage from several hours ago. Gunships screamed over the smoking top of the capital, their electric engines whining as their pilots maneuvered them through sniper fire. Doug attentively watched the scene --the mission that had caused this mess in the first place. The airships circled the besieged capitol complex, their outer guns flashing as bursts of heated plasma rained down upon the revolting military units.
Two of the ships landed on the burning rooftop of the senate hall. Gunfire enveloped the scene as a mob of figures dashed across the open space between the roof access hatch and the awaiting doors of the gunships. An eruption of static overtook the camera and when the picture was restored, the gunships were swiftly departing the burning capitol, smoke trailing from their wounds on their sides.
It almost succeeded. We were so close. And now ... Now we’re paying the price, Doug thought as the elevator began to descend once more now that the rumbling had stopped. The doors opened and Doug calmly walked out into the chamber --foregoing usual procedures dictating he be sanitized beforehand.
“What was it you always said about politics?” Doug asked as he briskly walked over the piles of wiring and forsaken computer monitors that littered the lab floor, his worn shoes scuffing themselves on the rough metal grates.
“That getting mixed up in them is a death wish,” Henry said without a second’s pause as he pushed his glasses up onto the bridge of his nose once more. “Now, about leaving this deathtrap,” he began before Doug placed a hand on his shoulder, silencing him.
“Henry. You may have heard what Eliza and the others said, but you can’t leave. We were assigned to watch over him, and I’m not going to evacuate until he is safely out of their reach,” the black-haired researcher declared as both of their gazes shifted to a steel gurney set up in the exact center of the room. Upon the object lay a seemingly-lifeless boy, the graces of late-teenage youth still present in his features and short-cut brown hair. In the teen’s stark clothes several blackened scorch marks burned through the fabric and left ugly welts and scars on the visible skin.
Next to the table, a series of apparati were stacked on top of each other like a miniature building. Wires and tubes from their fronts connected to various places on the teen’s body, such as a breathing mask and other monitoring devices. If it were not for them, Doug was certain that there would be little more than a corpse on the counter.
“Henry. He was one of two people they brought back. He didn’t deserve any of this. And you’re content to just ... Just leave him here?” Doug shouted. The other scientist looked over at the teen, a thick shadow of guilt weighed down his aged face. Suddenly he pulled away and curled his hands into fists.
“Listen to me, Doug: I have a life up there. I have a wife. A family, Doug. Friends. I have something worth going back to. Something you seemingly don’t have or care enough about to go return to. I already lost my grandson, Doug. I’m not going to let the rest of my family feel that pain again from losing me,” the senior scientist viciously spat as he brushed away Doug’s hand off his shoulder. “If you excuse me, I will take my leave now. Good-bye, Douglas, you stubborn son of a bitch,” he huffed as he stormed towards the elevator. Doug took a deep breath. He knew it would come to this. The guilt card with the teen had been Plan A, but now there was no other option.
“They won’t take prisoners, Henry.” The older man froze mid-step, his hand millimeters from pressing the button to call down the lift. Slowly, as another quake shook the floor and caused another hail of ceiling panels, Henry turned around.
“What -- What are you talking about?” he asked, his voice stuttering for a split second. Doug continued to stare at the man.
“They overthrew an entire government for one thing, Henry. They sabotaged the reactor for it. Do you honestly think that they won’t hesitate to shoot you the moment you get in their sights? Be reasonable. There’s no way out of this for us.” He slammed his palm on the gurney, inches away from the teen’s face to emphasise his point. He dug around his coat pocket, and after a second more of searching, he pulled out a small, folded piece of paper. On it, were the images of an older looking woman and a younger woman sitting side-by-side. He gently showed it to the older man.
“See? I have family out there too, so don’t think I don’t care, Henry. Because I do. It’s probability, Henry. We’re probably trapped.” The ceiling shuddered as a large chunk of rock suddenly fell in between the two scientists, missing them by inches as the wind generated by it stung their eyes.
“There is a way out for him, though. That’s why I need your help,” Doug implored as an alarm klaxon rung from somewhere on the burning world above. Henry closed his eyes and pressed his hands into the front of his face before huffing loudly.
“No! I refuse to lay down my life for a child who’s already dead! I have too much to live for, Doug! I’m not willing to give up the rest of my years for you or him!” Henry turned away once again, his torn and singed labcoat making a sharp swishing noise as he quickly waved his hand in front of the sensor to activate the elevator. The older man faced him one final time as the elevator doors sealed shut with a resounding clang of metal locks.
Doug felt like someone had punched him in the gut with an iron glove, he couldn’t breathe, and his vision seemed to go in and out of focus. After the year he had spent working with the veteran scientist, Doug was certain the two shared a sort of friendship, and it was that bond that Doug had gambled on. Now, as the doors shut, Doug knew that not even the illusion of brotherhood could keep a man from thoughts of self-preservation.
“I guess it’s just you and me now, huh?” he asked the lifeless body, his own voice becoming weak suddenly and nearly catching in his throat. A deep rumble shook the facility again. In the corners of the chamber, chunks of ceiling displaced themselves and smashed on the ground. Doug shook himself out of the semi-trace Henry’s swift departure left him in as the announcement system buzzed to life once again.
“Warning: fusion reactor core containment fractured. All Rogue Industries personnel are ordered to- to-to-to-t-t-t-t-t-- Warning: core containment fracu-fr-fr-f-r-f-f-- Power grid demands now exceeding supp-p- ... ly,” the digital male computerized voice stuttered as the mainframe was bombarded with radiation and heat from the fires that raged around the facility.
The flatlights and life support monitors flickered for a split second before returning online. Doug’s breathing ceased for the entire second the machines were dark. His eyes noticed that the heartbeat rate for the teen was increasing ever so slightly. He was waking up. No, he can’t see this.
Quick as a flash, Doug grabbed a small syringe labeled “Thiopental” off the surgical table. The medical tool abandoned by the team of doctors who attempted to save his life. Doug fumbled around with the needle for a moment before adjusting it according to the specifications on the data screen so the injector measured the correct dosage.
The scientist aimed the needle at an exposed vein in the teen’s left arm and plunged the syringe into it. He clicked on the release valve and allowed the numbing agent to work its magic. The results were swift, as the heartbeat indicator on the screen instantly cut down to half and kept dropping until he was firmly unconscious once more.
“Who ... wait! What are you doing? Don’t leave me here!”
“Forgive me, but you can’t know. You can never know,” he whispered as another cataclysmic blast hit the facility, disintegrating the holdings for the high-voltage electrical cables that hung near the top of the chamber.
He didn’t even have time to scream as several of the cables dislodged from their positions and swung down towards him, lethal sparks trailing from their ports. The thick metal wires slammed into the scientist, knocking him clear across the room.
Doug felt like he had collided with the grill of a magne-train. His breath was cleared from his lungs and replaced with the sensation similar to drowning. His spine nearly fracturing as the dense concrete surface rushes to meet it. His entire world went dark for several seconds though his other senses remained fully functional: the bitter smell of singed clothing assaulted his nose, while the groaning of metal support beams played an orchestra of pain against his ear drums.
However, despite every other sensation he observed, there was something that was very much lacking from coming into contact with the business ends of high-voltage cables: the utter agony that was associated with being electrified to death. Slowly gaining the courage to open his eyes, he saw that his numbness to the electricity was no mystery, for the dangling cables were completely lifeless.
“This is number seven, I believe?” Henry’s tired voice buzzed over the intercom. The old man himself visible in the observation deck, his hands tapping the holographic keyboards as he commanded the technology to his will.
Doug leaned back against the wall, his black hair gathering a coating of chalky powder from the shifting foundations. Taking a labored breath to refill his lungs, the man chuckled.
“Six, the time with the turbines hardly counts as I saved you from falling immediately afterwards... I knew you wouldn’t leave,” Doug mumbled as he shoved himself off the wall and stood to his feet. Shaking his head, he returned to the operation station in the center of the chamber.
“There was a fire blocking the hallway leading to the elevators, that’s why I couldn’t leave. I still think your plan is horrible, but, it seems I have no choice but to go along with it. What do you need?” Henry explained matter-of-factly as he tapped more sections of the glowing keys.
“I need this room and his life support taken off the main supply and patched into the emergency grid. The core is going to melt through the turbines in a few minutes, so we can’t rely on it forever,” Doug said, doing a quick calculation in his head as he switched the apparatuses around the teen back online. As soon as the monitors beeped with the faint pulse of the boy, Doug let out a sigh as he backed away from the table.
“Doug, I still have every intention of getting out of here alive. So, get yourself up here and start the procedure. Or else I’ll regret shutting down the power to those cords.” As Henry said this, the elevator doors slid open on a signal from the balding man above. Taking a final up close look at the teen, Doug reached into his coat and pulled out a small object wrapped in a layer of cloth from his inside pocket.
Pulling away a portion of the cloth, he saw the thin gleam of blue shine forth from the item. Nodding to himself in satisfaction, Doug rewrapped the cloth and gingerly placed it in the teen’s open hand. The scientist gently curled the unconscious fingers around the cloth as he whispered a silent prayer for success.
Turning around, Doug jogged across the chamber and entered the elevator once again. The flatscreen was silent this time around as the lift cranked upwards without issue. Just as the steel doors slid away to allow his egress, the melting core deemed it fit to throw another tantrum to signify its rapid death spiral. One of the most prestigious buildings in the entire Realm, taken down by a few jarheads with guns and a successful coup d'etat ... his thoughts reflected bitterly as Doug attempted to retain his balance on the walls aside the elevator.
Henry held a stance of stone as he weathered the rocking like a well-accustomed sailor to a mega-storm in the Puel Sea, off the coast of the remnants of Alima. The veteran researcher continued tapping the halo-keyboards, shifting both chambers to the private-yet-smaller energy grid even as unstable plasma energy from the fusion core disintegrated several of the many turbines Rogue Industries had installed in this facility.
“We have roughly seven minutes, Doug, until the plasma eats through the secondary containment and kills us. We stand a strong chance of not going to make it out of the blast radius,” Henry reported, pushing his crooked glasses up on his face once more. “Now, let’s get started.”
Doug nodded as he wiped a thin layer of sweat off his forehead as he approached the consols. He pressed his hands together and bent his fingers until they popped slightly. He didn’t need to loosen them up, but the feeling helped him deal with the immense stress building in the air. The monitors flashed incessantly as they impatiently awaited to execute the commands.
”Let me out of here! Let me go! Let me go! Please!”
Chats and graphics danced across the flatscreens, the status of the machine below wavered on the edge of stability as the rocking facility subsided for a brief reprieve. The statistics presented by the graph did not work out in their favor, and the odds decreased with every passing moment. Doug knew Henry could see the odds just as well as he could. The machine had never worked perfectly, even in its prime operating capacity it suffered faults --the most serious of these disintegrating the test subjects even before they were able to step through the gate. The only glimmer of hope was the fact that the past models were even worse with their survival ratio.
No. It won’t happen this time. It’ll be a clean get-away this time. Doug stated in his mind as his fingers began to move in the air over the holographic keyboard. The computer reacted to his actions by pulling up a login screen displaying the Rogue Industries company seal: a lone iron gear from the archaic days of the first Industrial Revolution crossed with two artifacts associated with that era-- a majestic, forged-steel longsword and a humble, rusted hammer.
“Henry, you were here when they shut it down last year. What was the source code they used? I can’t get past the firewall without it,” Doug inquired without even looking up from his monitor. Henry grumbled in discontent as he turned from his own monitor and consulted a small device he produced from the front pocket of his pants. The grizzled man stroked his short cut beard in thought, his other hand accessing the memory files in his miniature computer.
“Here, I found it. Take a look and see for yourself, as company policy prevents me from speaking that code aloud under threat of death,” Henry replied, turning the rectangular device so Doug could read off the seven-character code on the screen. “Got it! We’re off the main grid. Emergency power won’t last long, but it’ll be enough to get us through,” Henry reported, a small twinge of excitement slipping into his voice. Just then, the machines around the room flickered for an instant as their energy instantaneously switched to the private turbine located within the maintenance tunnels behind the walls.
Doug grinned as he continued to stare ahead at the glowing screen, his fingers moving as if possessed. “Thanks ... Now, just to add that in ... Accessing mainframe ... Reorienting server ... And we’re in!” Designs and charts popped up on the screen as Doug swiftly sliced through the cyber barricades put in place by his superiors.
“Oh, no...” Henry suddenly muttered as he enlarged a video feed on his own screen. “Doug, the military is evacuating. They know the reactor is going to detonate...” his voice trailed off as despair seemed to take over the scientist. Before Doug could even attempt to try and console his co-worker, his screen flashed in tandem with the blaring intercom system.
“W-W-Warning: R-R-Radiation levels exceeding safe exposure amounts. All Rogue Industries p-p-personnel are ordered to take shelter in the Omega, Beta, or Sigma anti-radiation chambers located on Decks: E, E-Two, F, F-Two, G, G-Three, H, H-BZZZZZzzzzTTT!” the computerized male droned before cutting off in a harsh static cry. Both scientists cringed as they instinctively covered their ears with their hands. The sharp electronic pitch issuing from the unseen speakers continued to blast for well over thirty seconds, during which time, Doug was almost certain he’d never be able to hear out his left ear again.
“The military has taken control. All employees of the Rogue Industries Celestial Range Research Facility are vacate the premises and turn themselves in at any MDF checkpoint immediately,” the ever-friendly voice had turned dull and emotionless, indicating someone had managed to tamper with its normal programming. If Doug had any doubts about Henry’s statement, they were put to rest with the announcement system’s garbled suggestion.
“It hurts! It hurts! Stop it! Stop it! Stop it! Please!”
The ground gave a slight jolt beneath their worn shoes. Doug shot a knowing look over at the older man, who nodded in reply. Silently, the two Rogue Industries employees typed in the alpha commands. The circular, steel gate of wires and conductors sparked in the chamber below as energy flowed into its long-unused components. Readings popped up on the screens and were quickly adjusted to fit their parameters as they drew closer to initialization.
“It’s the last thing. Henry, disengage the failsafe retrieval protocol,” Doug breathed as the final prompt opened on the screen, asking for a eight-digit passcode. He tapped his fingers impatiently against the cold, steel desk.
“I know I’m going to regret this, but very well,” Henry sighed as he tapped his fingers across the shimmering number keypad. The system let out a soft ding and proceeded to adjust the parameters of the experiment as the electric currents in the chamber below cackled with voltage.
Doug pressed a few more buttons in ordered sequence as the inner sides of the gate began to spark with arcs of energy along the terminals. Vibrations began to ripple across the faux-stone as the machine began to pulsate with raw energy. Doug gripped the sides of the desk tightly as he watched the initialization of the most unpredictable, dangerous, and all around most lethal machine in the Celestic Range facility.
“Doug. You know the statistics as well as I do. Scores of people have been taken by the gate, by one model or another. What makes this any different? What is with this ... kid that you feel so compelled to put your own life on the line for him, even though he’s as good as dead?” Henry inquired as he fiddled with the power levels. The teen below remained completely oblivious to the lightning that was starting to rain about him.
Doug looked out over the chamber through the glass. He didn’t know why he was doing this. He just knew that there was something that was altered this time. An acute variation in the scheme. A slight discrepancy in the story. A mutation in the sequence. A difference in the variables this time. A discontinuity removed.
It was an unobservable observation --rather paradoxical it seemed in hindsight-- but one that made all the difference in the world. Doug just knew that he had to do it. He had to save this teen at all costs. There was no scientific reasoning behind it, rather, most things in science would scream at him to disregard the notions.
“Henry, I honestly have no idea,” Doug mumbled as a flash of brilliant white light commanded their attention in the chamber below. The gate, the result of the greatest minds of theoretical physics, dimensional science, and engineering coming together across the shattered Realm to forge what amounted to an exit door to their prison. Steel and other impossibly strong metal compounds were combined into a large standing ring in the chamber floor, just waiting for another sacrificial victim.
The ground shuddered again as the liquefying Fate-class tri-fusion reactors competed with the Gate for the most ground disturbance. Metal beams and mounted monitors crashed and shattered on the floor as both power sources threatened to shake the room to pieces.
The equipment around the two scientists flashed the traditional deep red that most-often alluded to a high chance of ultimate danger. The announcement system blared another fevered command to abandon the complex before it was incinerated in a nuclear fireball, but both scientists paid it no need. The finest machinery in the entire world shuddered as a webs of energy congregated and spread to cover the open center of the Gate.
“Stabilize the heat exhaust! We can’t let it overheat! Not now!” Doug ordered as he dashed to the monitor residing on the opposite side of the observation deck. Heat rippled in tormented waves as the machines down below were pushed to their upper limits of operation. Sweat beaded profusely on Doug’s brow as he switched open the vent system. Its effect wasn’t noticeable to the naked eye, but made all the difference in the world to keep the instruments from undergoing spontaneous combustion.
“Let me leave ... I want to leave ...”
“Raising energy of the Coils to one-hundred and five percent of current levels. Dimensional radiation should reach ignition point in about twenty seconds. Doug? Are you absolutely certain? This is an event horizon; there’s no going back. Not for him, not for us, not for anyone,” Henry asked, his stern voice quivering with worry as his hand hovered over the action keys.
Doug was about to open his mouth as the announcement system gave a loud, static popping noise as the pre-recorded intelligence started to speak once again.
“Attent-Attention-Atteentiionn -BZT! The experiment initialization you are currently requesting has a ninety-seven percent chance of being against Rogue Industries: Celestial Range Facility Mandates on Acceptable Experiment Protocols While Undergoing Crises of a Catastrophic Nature, otherwise known as the R.I:C.R.F: M.A.E.P.W.U.C.C.N clauses. Security teams will be notified unless shutdown procedures are enacted immediately in accordance with the R.I:C.R.F: M.A.E.P.W.U.C.C.N clauses. This has been your final warning, [insert employe names here],” the orderly voice boomed, oblivious to the background apocalypse that raged just a few floors above and beneath them. Doug silently nodded his head. He had no idea what or even where he was sentencing the boy, but it hardly mattered. Even the burning depths of hell would seem a reprieve when compared to the atrocities being committed against them only a few hundred feet above their heads.
“Oh, just shut it already!” Henry snapped at the system as he then grew serious, his features becoming pale as blood was flushed from them. The old man swallowed hard as he closed his eyes and tapped his finger against the glowing circle that triggered the activation.
The thicket of wiring above and around them hummed with raw voltage as they threatened to suck the backup generator dry. The Displacement Coils inside the the Gate pulsed with a rhythmic energy, causing the cracks in the foundation to widen and split. Chunks of falling stone pelted both levels of the chamber, the scientists holding their arms above their skulls in a meager means of defense against the collapsing masonry.
“Security forces are currently occupied. Please step away from the machine voluntarily and assume the surrender position until Rogue Industries officers arrive to detain you for your disobedience,” the computer voice chirped over the PA even as a section of the observation deck floor crumbled; leaving only a crater of twisted metal supports and pieces of concrete.
“Doug, are you certain? There’s still time to reverse the charge...” Henry trailed off as Doug tapped the projected screen in a sequenced order that only raised the energy charge rate.
The black-haired man keyed in the final code set, the final piece the the algorithmic puzzle that had perplexed the minds of passing eras. “If I wanted to back down, I would have left long ago. Deep down, you feel the same way. I know it.”
Henry swore sharply at the younger scientist before giving Doug an exasperated sigh. He put up his hands in mock surrender. “You know? Being right doesn’t mean a thing if you’re dead, Doug.”
With that somewhat philosophical remark, the threshold was reached. The air in the lower chamber pulsed as if it was waves on a stormy sea. The event horizon was crossed and both men knew there was no way back as the monitors cheerfully chirped that the Displacement Coils were ready to radiate the dimensional radiation necessary to power the Gate.
“No ... Please, no ... No more tests ... No more surgeries ... Just let me die ... Please...”
Both scientists’ gazes were glued to the thick observation window as a radiant blue light erupted from within the tunnel-like machine. Beams of pure energy bathed the lower room as another section of the ceiling landed on the medical machines connected to the boy. Doug let out a cry as he nearly jumped forward into the glass.
Without those machines running, the teen probably had less than a minute left in his lifespan before death claimed him with his scythe. The floor beneath his feet suddenly subsided three feet, throwing the desks around him off balance and their contents clattering to the floor. Doug’s legs were torn out from beneath him as his face kissed the crumbling stone floor.
He felt the skin on his nose and right cheek scrape against the rough ground and tear. He tried to brush off the harsh stinging associated with the rough abrasion. Alarm klaxons blared throughout the entire facility as the automated voice calmly explained the protocol for a proper in a nuclear fusion supernova. Above them, bolted metal passages screeched as they slammed into the stone walls on their way to the ground. Gas and electricity supply pipes split in two from the tremendous pressure of half a ton of rock and wiring crashing down on them.
Suddenly, the lights died. The entire world was sealed underneath a coffin of eternal darkness punctuated only by the ethereal, pale white glow of the Coils beneath the thin metal sheeting that covered the gate. Doug hardly dared to breathe as a cloud of dust from the fragmenting ceiling entered the final stage of collapse. Flashes of bright red swiftly illuminated the room, bathing the wreckage in the color of fresh blood.
Doug felt hands grasp the lapel of tattered lab coat and ungraciously hauled the near-witless researcher to his feet. He shot a quick glance over at Henry. From in between the quick flashes of red light, he saw the man now sported a small gash on the bridge of his forehead and a bloody sleeve of his coat from his attempts to stay the bleeding. His glasses sat awkwardly on his nose, their lenses cracked beyond all hope of repair.
Neither man had time to speak as a wall of eternally while light engulfed them from the chamber below. The Coils had reached singularity with the Seal at last. As the dimensional wavelengths equalized, the less-than-miniature earthquakes intensified inversely to the length of the span of the disparity.
Doug just stood there; his entire mind enraptured with the stark white apocalypse streaming through the reinforced glass as it purged the heinous evils from the realm of their desperation-fueled actions. Phosphenes appeared before his eyes as the pure light seared into his brain. Henry screamed something that was lost in the screeches of the dying facility. Doug didn’t even feel it as the other man slammed into him, his thin frame somehow managing to knock Doug off his feet and sent them both crashing to the floor.
“Finally ... An exit ... The outside ... I’m fre-- ”
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