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Unknown Dusk Moon
“Inside a Rumbler….” Gideon mused solemnly.
“Also, really? The Watchers? I liked our name better.” Gideon responded to Shindow’s news with a sigh. Deborah and Shindow explained the quick rundown of their capture.
“So they did go easy on us. Why didn’t they capture us right off the bat?” Gideon asked.
“My theory is they wanted to take us alive but did not know if anyone of us would be suicidal and so they played passively. Until now.” Shindow explained. She was poking at Deborah’s wimple, thinking about the situation.
“But why? What was their purpose?” Gideon asked, he as at a loss hearing that the Watchers were a force for good.
“As I had explained before, they were created for the sole purpose of preventing humanity’s great filter,” Deborah replied, gesturing her good hand outward.
“Adonai created them.” She stated plainly.
“Adonai- God made those bastards? Those soulless monsters?”
“They actually fascinating individuals. They-”
“Stole innocent children! People!” Gideon interrupted with an outburst.
“And each one would have spelled the end of humanity. Their actions or inactions would have doomed you all.” Deborah explained, pushing through Gideon’s anger.
Gideon shook his head, his face twisted in anger.
“They were made to be alien to humanity. Enigmatic. Terrifying. Truly apart from you all. Anything to remain emotionally absent; both ways.” She added.
“And each one that was taken lived long and fulfilling lives.”
“Deborah, please understand what we’re coming from. We have lived our existence terrified by them; by the idea they would tire of us and one day destroy us. Or worse.”
“Would humanity have been unified otherwise? Did you know humanity worked with them shortly after the end?”
Shindow was silent in thought over that, palming her chin. While humanity did have fractured factions, the majority were united behind defense against the unknown alien menace. Gideon froze upon hearing that.
He looked down at his casted arm, thinking over the fight. The Rumbler had battled the demon, not Deborah.
Did it rescue us? Driving us away from the demon’s position?
He had no way to confirm. It may have been a coincidence. The satellites did shoot at them. It didn’t kill them. It may not have been shoot to kill.
Gideon thought of his missed chance to detonate the solar bomb against Saddiffer, how futile it was.
“But why keep these Rumblers and satellites?” Gideon asked.
“For you,” Deborah said as she looked to Gideon.
“You mean The Watchers knew where we’d exit?” Gideon replied with a question.
“It’s possible. They did know which persons would supposedly cause a Great Filter.” Shindow added. She was inspecting Deborah’s build, her long limbs, and alabaster skin.
“What is under the cloth?” Shindow asked absently.
“My face,” Deborah stated, confused by the obvious question. She waved it off.
“How do you feel, Gideon? Can you move?” Deborah asked.
“Yeah… Yes, we should meet The Watchers, finally.” Gideon responded gloomily.
“Don’t be so down! They’re not going to dissect you.” Deborah tried to assure him.
“Yeah, they’ll just steal, kidnap and braindead your mind. Nothing too serious.” Gideon said with an edge of bitterness.
“Or protect humanity from certain destruction.” Deborah countered.
Everyone went silent at that. Gideon got up, unbalanced due to his downtime and the weight of the cast.
“The arm should be good in a few more days. The nanite cultures are working overtime; the bone was mostly splinters when we recovered you.” Shindow explained, causing Gideon to blanch and cringe.
He was happy he didn’t feel it right now. The pain was gone, but everything felt wrong, like a bent bulkhead
“Let’s go.” He ordered.
Steak emitted blue pixelated light, equipping a pulse rifle. Patricia emitted blue light and equipped one of the surviving canes and a smaller pulse compact. Everyone else went in unarmed. Steak and Patricia would lead.
The door opened and they were greeted to the massive room. It was comparable to the size of the hangar bay from Karmmrak. It could fit several Decima’s on top of one another, or several dozen side by side. It was a black steel, similar to the satellites. Apart from the steel brick that held the Ferrum, the room was empty. Pipes and cables thrummed throughout, like the internal vasculars of a massive beast.
And they were in the gullet. The room was dim save for a light off in the distance, guiding them. Gideon looked around, but could only see several hundred feet in front of him due to poor lighting. The steel brick had stairs to it, allowing the group to descend to the floor.
“Fascinating…” Shindow murmured.
“I concur.” Said Steak.
“Captain Gideon, that light appears to be the way,” Patricia stated.
“I shall lead,” Deborah said with confidence. No one contradicted.
They traveled ways, their footsteps added to the thrumming sounds of the massive mechanical beast.
Gideon pondered the situation they were in. Nothing had made sense about the flight or the destination. The failsafes didn’t kick in and the navigation was fine-tuned. Why did they travel so far? Why to this dead moon?
As he walked his way through the column of lights, thinking back to his desires. He thought back to his desire for glory that had trumped everything else. A vain glory whose purpose was meant for his own benefit; a selfish attempt to get out his sibling’s perceived shadows.
“Gideon…” Shindow murmured with an edge of panic to her voice. She was pointing up.
The party looked up to see them. Thousands of red visors. Dusk satellites all floating at the ceiling glaring at the party.
“Oh! Lets, um, just keep moving then, shall we?” Deborah stated as they hurried along.
As they moved, the satellites start to descend, herding them towards the light. Patricia and Steak pointed weapons at the large satellites only briefly as Gideon gestured to lower them.
“What are we going to do, fight them?” Gideon asked, frustrated by the hemming.
“An apt observation.” Steak responded, keeping the rifle at ease as they marched.
It felt like a parade procession, with the satellites as the crowd of onlookers.
A parade or a prisoner’s march? Gideon thought.
They walked what seemed like miles, satellites all flowing around them as they made their way to the massive double doors. The layers of grime had settled on the black steel showing time had settled on the ancient place. The massive doors opened silently, showing the engineering was almost perfect. It was unsettling to see a massive thing move without sound.
The hallway the party traveled through was massive enough for the Decima to easily fly through. Gideon was amazed at how massive this structure was, at how it could even move or fight. Not to mention there were several throughout the moon. The lights lead them to an elevation tram large enough for a cruiser class vessel. The tram moved as soon as the party made contact, the tram beginning the ascent.
“I recognize much of the tech, the inspiration for it. Much of it is mixed with the Watcher’s alien tech. What caused such an allegiance? Humanity wouldn’t have normally merged in such a way.” Shindow asked.
“Unless it was stolen. They did take much from us.” Gideon replied. Shindow shrugged.
“I am unsure the details, but the ruler here will inform us,” Deborah stated.
“Who is the ruler of this moon?” Gideon asked.
“I would say, but I like a good surprise, maybe you know the ruler?” Deborah asked with a smile, glancing at Gideon.
Gideon noticed the floors they passed had man-sized doors, meaning the tram could stop and drop people off from the tram, even with a vessel aboard. The tram stopped movement at a door made of phthalo blue steel.
“So this isn’t Orhicalcum?” Gideon asked.
“Correct. This is Adamantite.” Deborah responded.
“So father had it in reverse…” Gideon murmured.
“How so?” Deborah asked.
“They had been working on a metal dubbed AMC881 long before I was born; which they wanted to dubbed Orichalcum. Apparently, they had been working on another metal before that which they had dubbed Adamantite. Strange, was this metal known before?” Gideon said as he turned to Deborah.
“I see. Yes, these metals have always been known. It is humorous they were mistaken.” Deborah said with a laugh.
“With a door like that, I assume this is the room to the moon’s ruler,” Shindow commented. She floated to the door and tapped on it, emitting no noise.
The door began to open horizontally, the group cautiously moving through. The walls and floor were emblemed and engraved just like the Decima. The hall was largely empty.
“Yeah, this is Primetech engraving. Abigail’s to be exact. I see some of Amelia’s as well.” Shindow pointed out, adjusting her glasses, staring at the engravings.
“Meaning they worked directly with the Watchers?” Gideon asked.
They worked with the Watchers to build the Rumblers.
All of it in the hopes they would arrive at this exact dead moon.
How did they know where we’d exit?
“An apt possibility,” Patricia responded, taking in the designs.
Deborah continued to lead the group, stopping at a large room. Blue glowing cables that were thicker than Gideon’s body traveled from the walls to an object in the center. A massive sphere with a blue LED eye staring at the group.
It spoke. The tone was rumbling and ponderous. Archaic and ancient. Digitally distorted.
“Good Greetings, I am Prosine.” The AI greeted.
“Prosine? Father’s AI?” Gideon asked in shock.
“The very one,” Prosine affirmed.
“Machine Father…” Steak said with awe as he kneeled.
“Father…” Patricia murmured in turn as she kneeled.
“I see you had Excertius to assist. This is good.” Prosine said.
The group stared at Prosine, the ancient AI. The first AI. Gideon broke the silence.
“Why are you here? Why didn’t you communicate with us? Why make it so difficult?” Gideon asked, anger coming to the surface.
“I have been in hibernation for some time, only coming awake due to the major conflict with the awakened demon. I was not awakened when you arrived, as I am embarrassed to reveal my information on your vessel was lost.” Prosine responded.
“Lost? How?” Gideon asked, his eyes were wide in shock at seeing an old acquaintance.
“The fragmentation of my database. The Great Nebula was shattered. Much of my information was stored on databases across the universe. Once it was severed, I lost much including information on the Decima.”
Gideon shook his head at that.
“Once analyzed your ship, I then knew the mistake that was made. By then it was too late.” Prosine’s large eye moved to stare at Gideon.
“While my other systems were designed for fighting demonic entities, finding a small group was difficult, even with the Sentinels.”
“Those Dusk satellites?” Shindow interjects.
“Correct.” Prosine turned it’s enormous LED to Shindow as he responded.
“As soon as a sentinel was manipulated by you, Shindow, its minor processes attacked in self-defense. I could not stop the AI countermeasures due to my hibernation and I regret that it damaged you. I am glad you were not destroyed.” Prosine said with a pang of guilt.
“With my minor processes running all systems, you escaping kept me asleep, as an unknown empty ship from a transient pilot was not worth warranting greater search by the minor running processes. It was a glaring fault. When I awoke due to the demon’s engagement, I realized the vessel was none other than the Decima after studying the logs. The Decima’s logs described your ejection with the Ferrum. This meant you went into hiding. I calculated that the chances you thought you were in enemy territory to be 90%.” Prosine added.
“Machine Father, would it not have been beneficial to contact us in a blanket broadcast?” Steak asked as he stood.
“Would there have been any belief it was I?” Prosine countered.
Everyone went silent at that.
“Gideon, where do you think you are currently? What planet?” Prosine turned ponderously to ask.
“I think we’re millions of lightyears from home on a dead Dusk Moon,” Gideon responded gruffly.
“Which begs the question, how the hell did you end up here? Why are you here?”
“What gave you the impression you ever left your galaxy?” Prosine countered with a question.
“The stars were all wrong… I…I…” Shindow began to speak but trailed off realizing the truth.
“You never left Karmmrak of the Sutta Galaxy,” Prosine explained.
“This is Karmmrak.”
“This can’t be…” Shindow was baffled.
“Jesus Christ…” Gideon murmured, the truth finally settled in.
He glanced around, his eyes staring but not.
The truth was that their flight distance wasn’t millions of light years. Or billions.
It was zero.
The IIT drive caused them to travel nowhere.
They had never left the system, much less the planet’s system.