12 December 2017

Awakening. Part III. Illusions


Alex was holding Wilhelm Tate's wrist. Memories of their battle with the security chief were still fresh. He shot him once, just like the others. But unlike others, Tate refused to fall. He attacked his enemy. Alex shot again. And again. Until the pistol had no charges left.

— I do not think that the security system can be triggered by this.

— You are a pessimist. Relax! — Maria's voice sounded... cheerful.

— The fingerprint scanner reads the capillary pattern, which...

— It's not real.


Alex once again looked at his hand and realized that it did not look dead. Woven with tendons and muscles, thin wires and soldering contacts protruded from the stump.

— Masterful piece, — said his companion, then added: — He was full of electronics. Not a human. A puppet. Perhaps those who pulled him by the strings, still look at us through these dead eyes.

Hurrying to hide from this gaze, Alex headed towards the hangar with all-terrain vehicles.

— And who am I, if not a puppet?

— You're clean, that's why you were chosen.

— I did not mean implants.

— You're capable of making decisions, Alex. But right now you are confused and you are being guided. It will pass.

— I agreed myself, Maria. I remember.

— Yes.

— But still... I do not feel freedom.

— No one despises slavery like Biones. Each of them was born a slave. A living ship that eats the Signal. Created to reach its source. But Biones became free.


He went to the hangar door and put Tate's hand to the scanner. The panel rang with a melodic signal and the lock opened. Alex dropped the hand to the floor. The memory of the security chief's murder, so fresh a minute ago, almost disappeared.

— Are you making me forget, Maria?

— Yes. Should I stop?

— Don't. I did not want to kill him... and the rest. I do not want to remember how much blood I have on my hands.

With these words, the blood began to disappear from his skin and clothes. As if slipping from perception.

— Figuratively speaking, — Alex added, and jerked the door knob.

The door did not yield. Through the porthole it was clear that someone had blocked it from the other side with a crowbar. Alex took a deep breath and clasping his hands around the steel canvas, arched it out. The grinding of metal echoed down the corridors, but it was immediately muffled by the roar of the turbine engine. With confident steps, Alex went in the direction of a single all-terrain vehicle in the hangar. It was a titanic machine, just its wheels were at least as large as a small house. The rear loading ladder was raised. The boxes left on it by the dead workers fell to the floor of the hangar or rolled down inside the vehicle.

Without waiting for the outer gate to open completely, the car moved from its place.


Alex quickened his pace, then started running. The ATV rammed the opening gates and slowed for a second before escaping to the surface of the planet. This second was enough for Alex to reach the loading ladder with a single leap. Rolling over himself, he got up inside the cargo compartment of the all-terrain vehicle.

In the twilight, an ugly yet beautiful construction of green crystals appeared before him. The steel cables that had pulled it were riveted to the floor.

— They found Crystallids on the planet, — Alex whispered, — but they did not report it to me...

It was one of the smallest Crystallids that Alex had seen during his time at Ellydium. But this one  was different from all the others. The gangway behind the back slammed shut and the faint glow of the crystal was the only light source in the compartment.

— An ancient builder drone. He was here during the great Star Conflict, — Maria explained.

— Biones and Crystallids were at war?

— Since they first met.

— And Crystallids destroyed those who created Biones?

— No, Alex. They were killed by time. The creators forgot their culture, their language, lost their minds. Years are cruel. Millennia are ruthless. But when they reached their goal — the source of the Signal... the once-great race turned into nothing more than animals. Parasites on the body of the great Bione.

— And the Crystallids?

— They were already waiting for them there, at the source. They themselves fed on the Signal and attacked as soon as they saw its energy reserves concentrated on Biones.

— Iridium.

— Yes, it is similar to fat in your bodies. Stock for a rainy day.

— This is what started the conflict.


Something stirred in the darkness of the cargo hold.

— ATV is on autopilot. He's here.

But Alex did not pay attention. He ran his hand along the smooth surface of the Crystallid and stumbled upon a rough hole in its body. Around it were visible traces of a plasma cutter.

— Tate took something from this drone. Something very important.

— You must take it back.

— And destroy all those who are involved, — said Alex and Maria at the same time.

Suddenly the whole bay was lit by bright beams of searchlights. They came from a four-meter construction — a loading exoskeleton. Inside, behind the protective beams, sat a man in an engineering suit. The machine lifted two manipulator arms. One equipped with a gripper, and the other with a riveting device.

— I dare you.


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