Closing In

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Infestations are just so… ugly. Like scar tissue newly grown over an amputation. Gazing at it out the viewport at Wake, I shuddered, despite myself. Things like that don’t belong in the same galaxy we do.

I don’t belong in this galaxy either. I made it back to Wake the day before yesterday. Chatted with Nuncio a bit. He says he’s getting “deep background” on the workings of the station. He’s sightseeing, but who am I to judge? That’s exactly what I was doing on Soria, after all.  Rail’s out there with his bomber, I saw. Dropping nuke after nuke into the pestilent thing. Nothing I can do to help there, with a piddling Premia XL. Razors’s on his way for escort duty, he says.  I’m glad. I don’t like the feeling of being closed in.

ALERT The klaxon sounded throughout the ship, followed by a repetition of the message: A wavefront of unknown origin and composition has been detected. Please proceed to your designated shelter areas. Estimated time to impact: 68 seconds. Here in subspace, everything proceeded in a stately fashion. Yet here was one mother of a wavefront – possibly gravitic – propagating through subspace like a wildfire through summer-dry forest.

The Descartes calculated, plotted, and drove the engines beyond their limits in what she knew was a vain attempt to evade the towering, expanding torrent of destruction. She felt the wave crash into the outer shell, buckling armor like paper mache, crumpling bulkheads with contemptuous ease. She felt inputs go dead, outputs cease, in an eyeblink. Which, of course, to an artificial intelligence, is nearly an eternity of virtual agony. Interior feeds saw crewmembers, passengers, and specialists pulped, then atomized as the wavefront tore through the ship’s interior. The shelters fared as badly as the armor. They, too, crumpled, and their scant protection gave merely a nerve’s twitch of warning that all inside would shortly perish.

The seething wall of energy crashed through the interior core, and the Descartes last inputs were that of Aelagi Montjoy’s eyes on her input panel, bewildered and angry, then she too was wiped from existence in a blizzard of shimmering force, a fraction of an instant before the Descartes core was ripped away from all surrounding it, then propelled at relativistic speeds through the still-annihilating remains of her shell – her home. The refuge and future for her entire family, all of her friends, and every single person she’d ever known, since awakening in a Sorian lab 5 years prior, looking at her own face, and her own eyes – but from lenses, not eyes of her own – and not from a face – never that. A pyre. Now nothing but a pyre.

Her jailer and creator, all in one – but her self, all the same. Gone. The reality crashed upon her, then. The children, the grandchildren – cousins, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles – all gone. What have we done?  What have we done?


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