If you missed the last episode, you can find it [url=https://www.bungie.net/en/Forum/Post/223657809/0/0]here[/url], or if you need to find a previous episode, you can find them all in the [url=https://www.bungie.net/en/Forum/Post/220441594/0/0]Master Post[/url]. Please give a bump, upvote, or leave comment if you enjoy this and any other chapter!
[i]Alarms are blaring, sirens screaming as rain thunders down on Verrier Compound. The high winds of Neptune scream against the compound structure, adding to the din as the researchers and security personnel of the station bolt for their posts.
“SKY SHOCK INCURSION DETECTED. YUGA SUNDOWN HAS BEEN DECLARED. AS OF CLS000 A HARD CIVILIZATION KILL EVENT IS IN PROGRESS ACROSS THE OPERATIONAL AREA – “
Dr. Gottfried pushes past the mob, struggling to reach his lab in time, a frame behind him struggling to keep up –
“Doctor – “
“You know how much we’ll lose if we can’t get the sample off-world!” he cries, shoving his way down an adjacent corridor. “If we can just get it to the Ishtar Collective or even Clovis Bray – “
A massive shudder hurls Dr. Gottfried to the ground, the frame toppling down beside him.
“Doctor,” the frame begins again. “A skyshock incursion has been detected. All personnel are – “
Dr. Gottfried pushes himself to his feet with effort as the deck sways slightly.
“If you’re not going to be any help, go on without me. I have to get the sample out of here.”
He turns and rushes toward his lab, the frame hesitating behind him – after a moment, though, the lights in its eyes flicker and processors within its head beep rapidly –
Dr. Gottfried slams into the door to his lab, punching the code in with trembling fingers – as the doors slide open, the frame runs up to meet him, a hint of new intelligence in its stare.
“Doctor, it would be unwise to remove the sample. It could attract the invaders.”
“Attract?!” Dr. Gottfried exclaims as he bolts to the sealed containment field. “From the preliminary reports they’re not going to stop regardless, you think a little sample like this would attract them anymore?!”
The frame follows his eyes down to look at the small amorphous blob twisting, undulating and reshaping itself within its containment field – as if it can sense that it’s being watched, the dark shape slaps against the containment field, causing it to hiss –
“We don’t yet know what this is or how it operates,” the frame protests. “It could operate according to any number of theories: acausality, paracausality – “
“And what the hell would a frame know about any of that?!” Dr. Gottfried asks incredulously as he disengages the containment field from its base, carefully tucking it in its case for transport.
“Because you should have suspected by now that I am not your frame.”
Dr. Gottfried stops for a moment to look at the frame carefully.
“No,” he says after a moment. “You’re not. Did you just hijack this frame to warn me, or are you really planning on using everything you’ve got to stop me?”
“Rasputin has already given the order. We cannot disobey his directive.”
“Oh, screw Rasputin!” Dr. Gottfried cries, finishing securing the containment field in its case. “There’s still a chance – “
“Rasputin wouldn’t have declared a Yuga Sundown if there was,” the frame replies coldly.
“It doesn’t matter, he doesn’t know we’ve got this, this could change everything, it could give us a fighting chance – “
“Or it could lead the invaders right to wherever we take it,” the frame retorts. “Meaning any resistance, any survivors that come in contact with your sample would be doomed.”
“You don’t know that!!!” Dr. Gottfried screams. “There’s always a chance, always hope!”
“There’s less than a 0.00000001% chance that such a hope would be anything more than folly,” the frame replies cooly.
Dr. Gottfried turns his face away, conflicted, as he weighs his options. The frame watches him as the alarms continue to blare –
“I still have to try,” he says finally as he whips a hidden pistol from beneath his white lab coat. Pointing it at the frame’s head, he pulls the trigger and steps over its decimated body, exiting the lab –
Dr. Gottfried bolts around the corner, speeding away from his lab as he rushes to the nearest lifeboat – beside him, a frame is ejected from its housing port, eyes glowing as it turns on suddenly by itself.
“Doctor,” it begins as it rushes to keep up with him. “You must not jeopardize the survivors, if you take the sample onboard, you’ll be risking all their lives.”
“To save trillions and quadrillions of lives!” he screams back, firing at the frame wildly. He clips its body and it tumbles to the ground, broken, as he continues to race toward the lifeboat.
Around another corner, a monitor springs to life, an amorphous face comprised of code speaking to him:
“Doctor, you must listen! I will be forced to quarantine any ship you bring that sample onto.”
“We have to get this sample to the right people!!!! Why can’t you understand that?!!! This may be our one and only chance to – “
“The risk is too high.”
“No, your calculations are wrong.”
“If I didn’t quarantine you, any of the other warminds would. There is no choice – you must abandon the sample.”
“Doing so would be abandoning humanity’s chance for a future, a chance to defeat this….this….darkness,” Dr. Gottfried says sadly.
“Everything dies eventually,” the face on the monitor replies, with almost a hint of sadness in its voice.
“But everything keeps fighting until the end regardless,” Dr. Gottfried sighs as he points his pistol at the monitor and pulls the trigger. The screen explodes as he takes off again, rushing toward the lifeboat –
Around another corner, Dr. Gottfried finally finds it, running directly into the Captain –
“Gottfried!” the Captain cries, rushing to usher him aboard with the last-minute stragglers. “Where have you been?!”
“Had to save a sample from my lab!” he replies breathlessly.
“You idiot! This isn’t – “
“Trust me, Captain, there’s nothing more important than getting this sample out of here.”
The Captain nods knowingly to Dr. Gottfried and finishes packing the lifeboat, sealing the doors behind them. Before he can issue any orders, though, the ship’s lights flicker and shut off, the emergency lights casting a dark red glow over everyone onboard.
“UNKNOWN CONTAGION DETECTED ONBOARD,” a voice booms over the loudspeakers.
“What the hell?!” the Captain barks. “Helmsman, take us out – “
“UNKNOWN CONTAGION DETECTED ONBOARD,” the voice repeats over the loudspeaker. “EMERGENCY OVERRIDE – “
“Kennedy!” the Captain barks. “Release emergency overrides!”
There’s a slight pause, and then –
“NEGATIVE, CAPTAIN. MAINTAIN EMERGENCY OVERRIDE IN EVENT OF QUARANTINE – “
“Get us out of here!!” the Captain bellows.
“NEGATIVE, CAPTAIN,” Kennedy says firmly.
The Captain turns to eye Dr. Gottfried suspiciously.
“What’d you bring?!”
The Captain wheels around to see his son, no more than seven, looking up at him with fear in his eyes, the normally crisp naval uniform he’s dressed in wrinkled and dirty from the mad scramble –
“I’m sorry, Captain,” Dr. Gottfried says as he opens the case. “It’s our only hope of survival.”
Dr. Gottfried shows the Captain the interior of the case, and the Captain draws back quickly as the small dark blob smacks against the side of its containment field once more.
“YOU BROUGHT THAT THING ONBOARD?!!”
“It’s our only chance to defeat it! We have to study it, figure out its weaknesses – “
“WE WON’T GET A CHANCE TO STUDY IT!!!”
“Daddy?” the Captain’s son asks again, scared.
The Captain glares at Dr. Gottfried, daring the scientist to look his son in the eyes. Another shudder rocks the ship, and everyone onboard sways, grabbing onto what they can to maintain balance.
“Kennedy,” the Captain asks, a cold sense of calm in his voice. “The sample that Dr. Gottfried brought onboard is still contained. Can we leave it behind and – “
“UNKNOWN CONTAGION DETECTED ONBOARD,” Kennedy repeats. “EMERGENCY OVERRIDE IN EVENT OF QUARANTINE – “
“You’ve killed us,” the Captain says sadly, still summoning enough anger to glare at Dr. Gottfried in hatred. “You’ve killed us all.”
Dr. Gottfried finally looks down at the Captain’s son, at the disheveled naval regalia he’s dressed in, and sighs.
“I just wanted to give us a chance.”
The Captain turns his back on Dr. Gottfried, bending down to hug his son as another shudder rocks the ship, throwing everyone inside around like rag dolls. Dr. Gottfried climbs with effort up to the nearest monitor embedded on the wall, and hails Kennedy.
“Transmit my research to Ishtar and Clovis Bray,” he says wearily. “If we can’t get the sample off-world, we can at least give them something.”
Dr. Gottfried watches the monitor, seeing his research transmitted from his lab and into the stars. Turning around, he tries to catch someone’s eye, to share a moment with someone as the ship rocks again, but can’t – everyone’s pointedly looking away from him.
“I just wanted to give us hope,” he whispers quietly as outside the ship, the Darkness slams into the surface of Neptune, dark tendrils infecting the planet, the compound, the ship –
Moments later, it’s all over – there’s only the debris and wreckage remaining, cast off into space to float endlessly through the vacuum, among them the remnants of a child’s naval uniform, a small innocuously-sealed case, and the casings of the old Wartsats of Neptune, the identifying stamp KND visible across its surface.[/i]
Loading, please wait. This may take some time...