Ruins of Eternity. Part 2
"... The local population, even despite our cruisers in orbit, was not going to surrender and still resisted. But Hatred that pushed us forward, stood at the head of the assault squad and entered the main temple of the planet first. It was there, but much later, that I accidentally discovered this legend while analyzing the surviving manuscripts in the temple. They say that long ago, in the time immemorial of the first war, these artifacts were found. In manuscripts they were called ‘Shards of Primordial Darkness’ and they were believed to be parts of the Signal that became available to us, imperfect creatures. The shards, if you believe the ancient records, had fantastic powers. But only the elite could use them. All the others who were close to the artifacts lost their minds..."
She stopped reading and stroked the old plastic diary pages with a graceful gesture.
— Lieutenant Hari — she thought. — He was so in love with Hatred, just like all the rest then. I remember him. — She looked me right in the eyes. — I remember everyone and everything. Always.
I involuntarily tried to swallow. But my mouth was dry.
— I should probably take the diary with me. In memory of Lieutenant Hari. — She raised her hand with the diary and it immediately disappeared from my sight. And I was hoping to get a hundred or so credits for it. If I could just stay alive!
—I see you also miss him? — she smiled at me. My heart skipped a bit from her smile, but I steadied myself. — I am compensating for your loss. As soon as you complete my assignment.
I remembered her past assignment. Rocks and thin ice over lakes of liquid hydrogen and methane. An abandoned city full of deadly traps. An underground complex with huge hangars of ancient starships. And the dungeons, where the sarcophagi of the ark still stand and wait for their time.
- My former friends, who have recently become enemies, owe me one thing. They borrowed it, and they're in no rush to return it. You will remind them of this.
- As always, ‘Hit and run’?
- You're bold. And this is why I like you. Kill them all. They did not live up to my expectations. Take the container and bring it to me. You know, I'm always generous to loyal friends. Unfortunately, friends are so hard to find and even harder to keep. Everyone wants the container. We've had a leak of information. And someone is assembling Cybers for a strike. But don't you worry. We will ask our friend the Broker to assemble the mercenaries. They'll cover you from orbit.
Suddenly she took a step and was right beside me.
- Don't be afraid. I can protect you from the of the ‘Cursed Legacy’. You can resist its call. For a while.
She touched my cheek with her palm. All my implants flashed pink for a split second. At that moment, I was again wearing a helmet with the visor turned off. I felt the tension begin to release me. The time of complicated conversations is over. It's time to get to work.
Star Conflict Team