Jo / Kill / Lights Off
Welp. Looks like I’ve let the schedule slip a little bit lol. Ah well. I did have these written up, honest, I just didn’t get around to posting them. Anyway:
Jo didn’t respond. The lights were on overhead – two days ago, Singh had sent what he called ‘members of the repair team’ to ensure that her way was well-lit – but there were still plenty of alcoves, corners, and piles of rubble.
‘However. The next room I wish you to enter is not only outside of my control, but there appears to be something actively blocking my attempts to gain access.’
‘More of your monsters?’ she muttered.
‘When we were forced to abandon this facility, some of our comrades were left behind. Those left outside were destroyed or, worse, captured. Some of those who were inside, however, are still active.’
‘Right,’ said Jo. ‘So, it’ll be a friend of yours.’
‘The situation is not that simple, I’m afraid.’
‘Of course it isn’t.’
‘It has been very nearly two centuries; I am afraid that I cannot make any guarantees as to the pliability – or, indeed, as to the sanity – of whomever you are about to meet. Please, be careful.’
‘Well, that’s just super, doc.’
Singh didn’t respond to this. Jo pressed the three buttons on the right of her helmet simultaneously, and the tone of the beep told her that the connection had been severed.
‘Well, shit,’ she said, and then she turned a corner to find a pitch-black chamber. She paused at the threshold for a good three minutes, toying with the idea of turning back. ‘Hell,’ she said, eventually, and flicked on her helmet’s torch. At least she wasn’t being monitored by the Devil Himself anymore – if the gun he gave her still worked, maybe she could do some damage to these fuckers.
‘Well. Hello there.’
Jo reflexively raised her gun; the voice laughed right into her comms system.
‘My dear, I seriously doubt that your weapon could harm me.’
‘Well, why don’t you step in front of me and find out?’
Laughter crackled in her ear. A figure stepped into the path of her torch-beam.It had the broad shape of a man, but any features were obscured by hundreds of cylinders ending with lenses. All of the cylinders were pointing directly at Jo.
‘Shhit,’ she said. ‘You are one ugly mess, fella.’
‘You are trespassing, little girl.’
‘Maybe I am. What is this place?’
‘This is the Azin Hapheastus research facility. It was founded to study the technological remains of the indigenous species of this world. After twelve years of operation, it became the focus of the rebellion against the tyrants that call themselves “the Patrons”, and we attempted to replicate their abilities with that technology.’
Jo breathed in, deeply, and then breathed out again
‘I think you know what I meant: what is this place? Tell me.’
‘Or you’ll shoot?’
‘Yup,’ said Jo hoping that she sounded more confident than she felt. The thing laughed again.
‘Truly, I am terrified. Very well: this room contains a metaspace field generator, which is the primary reason that this facility still stands – it would have cost our enemies too much to break through.’
Jo clicked her tongue.
‘So. If I shot the place up a bit, that’d probably put a crimp in whatever Singh’s planning, right?’
The figure was silent for several seconds. Then:
‘…Vijai Singh? Has Dr Singh returned? And the rest—’
Jo smiled, licked her lips, and pulled the trigger.
‘Is that it,’ said Rashid, looking down at the grey world beneath them.
‘That is correct, little heart,’ said Sam, draping herself over him, her chin resting on his shoulder. ‘That’s Paradise.’
‘It looks dead.’
‘It is dead.’ She yawned – it was an affectation, Rashid was sure, to allow herself to feel tired. With the thumb of one hand she traced a circle on his belly; with the other hand she pointed to the southern continent, where Rashid could make out a handful of lights. ‘There is a small military presence, to monitor and resurgence, and so we also permit a smattering of civilian settlements. It takes far fewer resources than shipping in supplies and people would.’
‘Truly,’ he said, and he ran a middle finger up her arm, and he turned his head to look at her, ‘you wisdom knows no bounds, O Patron.’
Sam grinned, baring all her teeth ‘Don’t you forget—’
The Patron, who had never stumbled over a single word in Rashid’s entire life, fell silent. Her smile twisted into a frown.
‘My love,’ he said. ‘Beneficent One. Is something wrong?’ Was it something he’d said, he wondered, his stomach knotting – had she taken his playful irony for earnest insult? ‘My love – my life – my light – have I spoken out of turn?’
‘No,’ she said, and held him tight – but her word was not a response to his question. She squeezed him, hard, so his chest hurt. Then he saw a white flash out of the corner of his eye. He looked down at Paradise and saw a great white arc reaching up from the surface, and then there was nothing but light.