God of the Abyss

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
The universe was burned in a war with machines, and now what remains of humanity lives in pocket universes beyond our own. Engineers man gigantic stations that help bring refugees from the main universe to the pockets. But there are conflicts brewing, especially amongst those who believe God lives beyond their tiny bubbles. But there is also a deeper, more sinister truth at work...

Submitted: June 30, 2015

A A A | A A A

Submitted: June 30, 2015



"Your shift has ended, Engineer," said the AI. Priscilla wiped her eyes and sighed deeply. She was alone in the Anchor's command center. It was finally time for her to go home, to stop being a caretaker. She left the room and met up with Sam, the other Engineer on duty. He always made the same joke. "Ready to take a dip in the River?"

Priscilla, feigning a smile, said "You know it," and walked a bit faster. Sam matched her pace. The pair quietly made their way down the hallway to their transport, an ovoid container with seats and little else. As they sat down, a soothing female voice said "Welcome to the Anchor's departure point," and the craft's door slipped closed. It pushed away from the Anchor.

The screens powered on, and Priscilla looked out into the Universe's vast emptiness, hoping to see the planet-sized Anchor one last time before going home. It meant so much to her, despite the misery of her job. Billions of refugees from the dying universe needed her and Sam to make sure it kept working. Sam, clearly not weighed down by the responsibility, said "Look look look! The thermal attractors! My million mile forest. That old triangle of yours wouldn't be much without em. Wow they're beautiful."

The top screen blazed red as they came into view. The things jutted out of the sides of the silver-white triangular prism that was the Anchor. Priscilla couldn't help but agree with him, even though he'd sort of insulted her. She was going to give some clever retort, but a familiar, irresistible cold crawled up her, and she was asleep. The craft had put them into cryo sleep in preparation for their journey through the River, the tunnel of space that the Anchor worked so hard to keep open.

Some time later, they were roused by the in-flight computer. Sam yawned and said "Cryo knocks you out real good, huh?"

Priscilla barely managed a chuckle. They had just finished docking, and she rushed out the moment the door opened. They were in the arrival section of the Cradle, the Anchor's counterpart. It resided inside of a pocket-universe, or Alluvial. That was the Anchor's job, to hold open the connection between the universe and this Alluvial. Priscilla smiled at the familiar sights. There were military police, or Milpol officers, around, and busy immigration officials were checking in a batch of refugees from the universe. Seeing the faces of their children reminded Priscilla why her job was so important. They'd be stranded there without the Anchor. Sam, pleased with the joke he'd thought of, said "Man, good to be back. I like this triangle better than that one. You're not in charge of this one."

With a hint of a frown, she replied "I like this one too. It doesn't have some moron watching the power."

He bowed slightly, in deference to her good comeback. She rolled her eyes and they kept walking. He took a moment to think of a reply. "Hey, it's not my fault this one can get power from that stupid Construct. The panels are ugly. Not at all like my forest of fire."

As they weaved through the people, she said "That 'stupid' Construct keeps this Alluvial intact. I think you're jealous."

Sam shrugged. "Regardless, I don't like it. I wish we had a real star, not some star sized machine."

"Sam, you've never seen a real star."

"Whatever. That's not my fault."

She sighed, a hint of annoyance on her breath. "Sam. The AI blew 'em all up, and we're here now, so deal with it."

They were through the packed immigration center. He moved to her side and said "If the machines were smart enough to make a fake star that can violate thermodynamics, you'd think they'd be smart enough to just make a real star."

They passed the next shift of engineers. Both were women. Sam waved at them and they, smiling, waved back. He walked backwards for a few seconds to watch them until they disappeared in the crowd. "You aren't their type," She said, chuckling softly. She subconsciously pushed her hair back.

He made a mischievous face. "I don't need to be, I just need to be stranded on the Anchor with them for long enough."

She laughed this time. "You're stuck on the Anchor with me for a solid month and I don't even get that desperate."

They were nearing the tether, a massive cable that connected the Cradle to the City Slab, a continent sized metal structure that supported a large amount of the Alluvial's population. A fat Milpol officer was sitting at the gate, and he cheerfully said "Y'all going home? A month out there goes by too slow, huh?"

Sam laughed and said "Yes sir! No more dying universe for us, time to hit the City Slab."

The officer chuckled. "Y'all have a good one. See you next time!"

Priscilla smiled as they passed him. The tether car was mostly empty when they sat down. Sam took the inside seat, which annoyed Priscilla. She liked to look out through the screen. He leaned his head against it, taking up even more viewing space. As the doors closed, Sam said "Here it comes…"

As if on cue, the tram's recorded, upbeat voice said "Welcome to the Cradle's tether transport system! This will take you to the City Slab, the largest slab orbiting the Construct. We'll be moving at twice light speed, by contracting space behind you and expanding it in front, the same mechanism that holds the Anchor to the edge of the universe! If you look out the screen to your left," -Priscilla subconsciously obeyed- "you will see a bright, pulsing orange light. That's Alluvial Main's Construct! It produces energy at an efficiency rate of over a hundred percent, keeping the Alluvial intact and growing so more people like you can make the journey each year! Welcome to your new home!"

The recording finished. Priscilla leaned forward and put her head on the seat in front of her. She looked out the portion of the screen Sam wasn't blocking with his big, curly hair. He was, of course, asleep already. She admired his ability to knockout that quickly. The somewhat limited view on the screen was dominated by the beautiful edge of the Alluvial. It was a never ending dance of black and white streams of particles. She was mesmerized by it, but always liked thinking about the abyss beyond it. The Allfather's Pilgrims, a strange militant religious sect, thought god was out there. She didn't know if that was true, but the Allfather, perhaps the most powerful individual in the four Alluvials, certainly thought it was. As she stared at the cosmic ballet, she forgot about the Allfather and thought about what it might be like to venture beyond that border.

The City Slab grew in the front screen until the buildings, themselves miles tall, eclipsed her view of the Alluvial's edge. That meant they would dock soon. Sam snored himself awake in a vulgar display, although Priscilla couldn't help but laugh a little. He was decently handsome, it was just that ego that put her off. He rolled his head over and smiled at her. She answered with a face of casual disapproval. The tram stopped, and the cheery recording said "Welcome to the City Slab! Unfortunately, due to a technical mishap, tram transport to the other Slabs is offline for the time being. Our team is hard at work bringing it back online! We apologize for any inconvenience."

They silently debarked and went out onto the platform. Priscilla noticed an unusually high Milpol presence. Aside from the officers, however, there was hardly anyone around. Sam tiredly waved goodbye and went off his own way. She thought it odd that he'd left off his usual offer to walk her home, but ignored it and walked down the stairs. There were a few more people around below the tether station, but not many. The loudspeakers chirped to life; the Allfather's Pilgrims had hacked him on. It played as she walked home. "Surrender to the abyss my children. Out there is not an end, but a beginning! Unity with god. Soon your fellow Pilgrims will join him! What will you do when the time comes?"

She lived fairly close to the tram station. It made getting to her shift that much easier, although with her salary she could easily afford something far higher up, away from the constant shadows of vehicles flying overhead, and with a constant view of the Alluvial's edge. She turned into the alley that led to her apartment. There was someone leaning against her door. She at first thought it might be Sam, but this man was much too burly. She called out "Are you lost? That's my door you're leaning against," and waited for a reply.  

He shoved off the wall and walked towards her. She took an instinctive step back. He was undoubtedly a Pilgrim, with the odd tattoos on his face, but he was wearing a plated hardsuit like the Milpol officers. She didn't know civilians could get those. His was very disturbing, however, as there were hand-scrawled markings all over it. She was about to turn and run when a strong hand came across her mouth and a needle went in her neck.


"I'll rip you to pieces," Sam said, followed by some muffled noises and grunts. Footsteps, closer to her. "Don't you dare touch her, I'll—"

Priscilla felt her head jerk back and she opened her eyes. A helmeted man was there, the light overhead searing her eyes. She was dizzy. "If you hurt her—"

Sam yelled in pain. A Pilgrim, short on patience, told him "Shut up or next time you die."

Priscilla's guard let her go, and as her eyes readjusted, she realized where she was. They were on the Cradle, in the immigration room. None of the officers were here now. She could vaguely hear one of the Allfather's sermons… no, it was too close, too real. There were a lot of Pilgrims. They had guns and were wearing hardsuits like the one that had kidnapped her. The source of the sermon was behind her. It got closer… the helmeted Pilgrim forcibly turned her around. Sam started to say something but he was beaten into silence.

She was face-to-face with the Allfather himself. He was eerily old. "I," he began, drawing a breath, "am Allfather Lath. You're quite important, Engineer. Your friend Samuel has made a choice, the very same one which will be offered to you soon. He chose wrong."

Her guard grabbed hold of her as Sam reached for her. She called out his name as a single shot rang out. Priscilla, already crying, screamed. Lath said "I need you to choose, Priscilla. Not now, but soon. Make us whole."

She said nothing, staring at Sam's body. A rough hand jerked her back to the Allfather.  "Answer him," the deep voice demanded. She was quiet. Lath sighed and stroked his long beard. "You need some information. It's fairly simple. We will shut the Construct down, the Alluvial will collapse, and we will join with god. He's just out there, Priscilla, in the abyss."

Her lip quivering, she yelled "Then take a ship and go be with him, but leave us alone!"

Her guard kicked her in the lower back. Her spine ached. Lath ignored her. "This Cradle will be destroyed with or without your Engineer's knowledge, and the River will break. When it's gone, those in the universe will have no choice but to reach for god. The Pilgrims you see here have willingly made the sacrifice and are ready to go there, to forestall their own union, to preach to the unwashed masses."

She was too horrified by Sam's death to listen to what he was saying. "All you'll find is emptiness and death," she said, each word laced with acid. She steeled herself for another beating, but it never came. The Allfather was staring pensively at the Pilgrim behind her. Something important was going on. "Allfather, we must go quickly, they'll be here any—"

The three doors blew open, and she was forced to the ground. A knee was pressing painfully into her back. She heard several Pilgrims yell at once "Protect the Allfather!" and he was ushered away. The knee lifted as the sound of heavy boots rushing through the doors filled the space. In the next moment, she was hauled up and thrown over someone's shoulder, who carried her out one of the doors. Milpol officers! They were Milpol! The shooting started the next instant.

She was carried down the hallway until she was finally placed against a wall. The officer cut her restraints. The fight was still on in the background, and more officers ran past them towards the room. Her rescuer said "Are you alright Engineer? I'm Officer Santos. We came to secure the Cradle and intercepted chatter about captured Engineers. I'm sorry we didn't get here in time to save your friend… are you alright? You look hurt."

She forced a small smile. "I'm fine, just, just carry me a little more gently next time, okay?"

He nodded vigorously, helped her stand, and they walked towards the tether. They got to the station, and Priscilla looked out into the cavern of the Alluvial. Suddenly, two bright flashes dominated the sky. Priscilla immediately knew what they were. Two of the Cradles for the other Alluvials had just exploded. Their connected Streams, smaller versions of the River, imploded. It sent waves through the whole of the edge, an amazing, yet horrifying, sight. The Allfather's voice boomed over the loudspeakers. "Fellow Pilgrims! Half our brothers and sisters have made the journey! Unity is near! Our purpose is nearly fulfilled! Do not give up now!"

Santos's face hardened; if he was afraid, he didn't show it. Priscilla was overcome with fear. They'd just killed millions of people, if the Allfather was to be believed. With grave urgency, she said "If they want to destroy the Construct, they have to take over the Dive. If we get there, I know how to lock it down. They'll lose."

Santos looked back inside, as if listening to the fighting for a clue as to how it was going. "A-Alright… I'll go with you. We'll take the Milpol tram. It's faster. We'll have to stop at City Slab and transfer though, they knocked out the transfer cables. At least the fighting died down over the past day or so."

"The past day or so? What do you mean?"

He looked her over. "Oh. You don't know… I suppose you really have been gone for a week then. The Pilgrims started, and have mostly won, a war. We didn't have the men to stop them."

She'd been out for over a week? That was horrifying to her, but she couldn't dwell on that or Sam's death. She had things to do and emotions would only get in the way. It was hard, but she fought through them. Santos persuaded the singular officer at the Milpol tram car to let them take it. He was right, they were much faster than regular cars. They got to the City Slab within a minute.

Gone were the shadows of vehicles flying overhead, the proud Milpol officers at attention, the people walking about. Now, the tram station and its surroundings were empty, cratered and burned from various weaponry and long-finished battles. They got out of the tram and went down the stairs, the same ones Priscilla had used on her way home. Santos said "Stand back a bit, please," and thick sheets of white popped out of his armor, which made Priscilla jump. "Hard light. Stops kinetic rounds. I've got room-temperature superconductive wire embedded as well, so I'm fairly laser proof," he said proudly.

She retorted "I bet that makes you feel safe. Not so much me."

"Well, allow me to make you feel safe," he said, as they continued down the stairs to go to the next tether station. "I have a .33 light speed pellet gun and a megawatt laser. Enough fusion going on in my backpack to keep all my armor working and get lasers or pellets going."

"Didn't help Milpol win."

Santos had no reply. She was right. They were soon climbing the steps to the next station. They were going up the final step when Santos put a rough hand on her shoulder and pushed her down, making her back hurt again. He made a shh gesture with his finger, and then peered up. She looked too. There were four Pilgrims like the ones at the Cradle. Soldiers. They were facing away, towards the Dive, as if they expected trouble only from that direction.  

Santos whispered "Gotta kill them or they'll follow us, or worse, call for help."

Priscilla stayed in cover and watched him. He unholstered his pellet gun and shot the leftmost Pilgrim, and the one to his immediate right. The other two dove for the ground. They fired back with lasers. A beam hit Santos in the chest, and she could very clearly see the superconductive wire now. It grew white hot as it absorbed the energy. He ducked down, narrowly avoiding a more punishing shot. "Damn things, invisible," he said, very serious. "Not a continuous beam, but they've got a tremendous rate of fire, so they might as well be."

Priscilla was terrified, but he looked confident. They heard muffled voices, and Santos peered back up. One of them shouted and he dropped down again. "I'm just gonna have to take whatever they give. If I go down, you run, and run fast."

She nodded, and he stood once more, firing as he went. She was behind the wall, so she couldn't see what was happening to the Pilgrims. His helmet took a hit, leaving the wire glowing. But after a moment he stopped shooting, and lowered his gun. She took that as a sign that it was over and went up the steps. He ignored the glowing wire, and Priscilla assumed it would dissipate on its own. "Come on, we've got to get out of here. They probably called for help."

 She followed him past the bodies, or what was left of them. "Things travelling at appreciable percentages of the speed of light don't leave much," he commented, rather casually. They got into a slightly damaged Milpol car and he powered it on. They were soon off towards the Dive.

They rode in silence, and were just as cautious as before when getting out of the tram car upon arrival. Santos was walking in a crouch, and Priscilla did her best to stay low with her back injury. She whispered "Why are we doing this? Isn't the Dive in Milpol hands?"

Santos didn't respond. When they got to the edge of the access, right before an open space in front of the forbidding, sloped walls of the Dive, he stopped them. Priscilla spotted two Milpol officers out front. She nearly stood up, but Santos kept her down. "No, wait. Look at them."

Priscilla was confused, but she looked at them with a discerning eye. She didn't notice anything out of place. One was similar in height to Sam, which only made his death hurt again. She'd managed to forget, but the pain had come back now. She didn't even like him that much, it was just that he was familiar, the only person she really talked to.

"They're not Milpol. Officers don't stand like that. Especially not during a war. They should be in position, ready to receive whatever gets off that tram. But instead they're out here advertising that they're Pilgrims," Santos said, shaking his head. He very quickly rolled out of cover and killed one of them. The other got his hard light up and Santos's pellets pounded against them. The man fired back, but his aim was off. Santos shot his foot and he toppled over. When he hit the ground the hard light flickered out and Santos finished him off. His adrenaline pumping, Santos yelled "Come on! They probably heard that! We don't have much time."

They ran for the door. He pressed his palm to it and it slid open. He went through first, and Priscilla stayed close behind him. He took them through the twisting corridors, all oddly empty, to the control room door. There were three Milpol imposters crouched by the door. Santos whispered "Gotta kill em fast," and, using his laser, burned neat holes through their necks. Priscilla was afraid of someone so able to just casually take life. What need did the Alluvials have for someone who could kill like this? The last war had been against the machines, fifty years ago, when they ruined the universe in an attempt to kill Man. That was something else she could deal with once this was over… back on the Anchor, doing her job, normal. Just normal. Not this hell she'd been dropped into.

"Aha!" Santos exclaimed, and the door popped open. He'd been messing with their equipment. "They were almost done overriding it. Good thing we got here when we did," he said cheerfully.

They went inside. It was empty, like everywhere else they'd been in the Dive. Priscilla thought it odd that such an important installation was so empty. Something was clearly wrong, but she didn't know what. Ignoring her intuition and flooded with urgency, she ran to the main console. She was about to start typing on it when Santos, right behind her, said "Priscilla, there's uh, there's something you should see."

She turned her head and looked at him, confused. "What is it?"

He frowned, and pointed to the other door. As if on cue, it opened, revealing Allfather Lath and more Pilgrims. Priscilla nearly tripped she backed away so quickly. They came out of nowhere. Was this just a nightmare? It felt real… Santos grabbed her and held her. She struggled to get free, but couldn't. "You! You're one of them. Oh god, those were Milpol officers you killed!"

It made sense now. The Pilgrims at the tram actually did only expect resistance from the Dive. "I'm sorry Priscilla, but please, what he has to say, it's much more important. Please, just listen."

Priscilla was shocked, and turned towards the Allfather. "You… you people kidnapped me! You drugged me for a week or more! God, who knows how long it was! Clearly I can't trust you! You killed Sam…"

Santos released her, and she slumped down against a console, alone now more than ever. Allfather Lath walked silently to her and placed a comforting hand on her shoulder. She wept bitterly. "Leave me alone," she pleaded.

Allfather Lath smiled at her. "We, Engineer Priscilla, are not your enemy."

"Then who is? You killed my friend, you started a war, you destroyed two Alluvials! Millions of people, dead in an instant! Sure sounds like my enemy!"

Lath's heavily wrinkled face grew hard. "Miss Priscilla, you've been to the other Alluvials, yes?"

"No, but why does that matter now, of all times? Get on with it, kill me, and destroy the Construct! Have fun with god."

He sighed. "Have you, on your… many shifts, been away from the Anchor, seen the billions of refugees waiting? Where, and on what provisions do they reside? Ships? Planets? The Anchor itself? What do they eat, drink? Billions of people cannot live in space like that for long, much less fifty years."

She was still crying. Shaking her head, she said "No, I haven't, and I don't know what they eat, but it must be something. I've seen them in the Cradle! Stop toying with me and do what you're here to do!"

He smiled at her without even a hint of condescension. Santos, who had moved to the door, anxiously said "They'll be here soon."

Allfather Lath, still comforting and confident, said "I know… I know. This won't take long," –and, turning back to Priscilla, added– "A few people at a time, they say, because it takes so long to grow the Alluvials. But one wonders, where does the metal for the slabs come from?"

She felt a small pang of terror. She didn't know that either. She had wondered these things before, she knew it, but she willed herself to reject it. "If we can make energy we can make matter! I don't know. It doesn't matter. Milpol is coming to kill you."

He nodded in slow agreement. "Back to the Anchor. It sits where it can be cold. Its thermal attractors, therefore, are also where it must be cold. Millions of miles are nothing to the universe. Perhaps a quadrillionth of a degree of temperature change over that distance."

Santos was bouncing on the balls of his feet. He said "Hurry, they're coming."

Allfather Lath put up a hand. "It will be okay, child. She knows. She sees it. More. The War, they say it ended fifty years ago."

"As everyone knows," she said, defiantly.

"Fair enough. However, a leviathan contradiction, Priscilla, hangs over your very head as we speak. The Constructs. Thermodynamics, I am afraid, is not so easily violated. You know the math. You know this."

She shouted "Look outside! Apparently it is! The machines…"

He crouched down, his white robe clumping on the floor. He pulled his hood down, revealing a shaved head. He took her hands, but she pulled away. "Are you tired at all from your exertions today, Ms. Priscilla?"

She realized she felt fine, but it had been such an exhausting day… "Get to the point. Enough nonsense about what you think is wrong with the world!"

He sighed. "This won't be easy."

Santos, fear in his voice, called out "They're nearly here!"

The other Pilgrims took out their weapons and powered up their hard light. They went to the door with Santos. Allfather Lath was focused on her. "They are about to die, Ms. Priscilla. Do you know what for?"

She sarcastically said "To be with god, in the abyss. I hope he pardons murderers."

"It is with no wrath or malice that I have done what was necessary. And they aren't dying for god, or for me. They are dying for you."

Her mouth fell open. She whispered "Wh-why?"

Still crouched, he said "You are about to hear a very hard truth. The war, as you know it, never happened. It wasn't even a war. Humanity lost. There was nothing to be done in the face of perfect efficiency and boundless dedication to victory."

The Pilgrims started to shoot. Priscilla heard pellets smack the walls behind her. She was confused now more than anything. Lath looked her right in the eyes, but it wasn't threatening at all. It was calming. She didn't know what to think. His words sounded so right, but she couldn't believe them. "Ms. Priscilla, to be frank, you died in that war. You and everyone else. The absolute enormity that was Man died on that day."

She broke down. "No! You're lying! How do you know that? Any of it?"

He was quiet for a moment. Priscilla wasn't even aware of the fighting anymore. She was singularly focused on Lath. "Ms. Priscilla, I am a machine. I helped destroy you."

He let it sink in. Her heart was beating out of her chest. She couldn't speak. Everything but his face vanished. "I'm trying to rebuild people, Ms. Priscilla. We killed every last one of you, and I believe we made a mistake. The Anchor, the Alluvials, all of it. Nothing but a clever stage. You don't spend a month out there on a shift. Perhaps a few minutes when the next you is ready to begin the trial. In fact, it's only a few hours from when the Milpol officer tells you he'll see you next time to when he actually does. When you get kidnapped, all that happens is the stage is reset. I'm trying to remake people so that our wrong is righted. I know what the real Priscilla would do at the end of all this, and so I am trying, through successive trials, to make a you, Ms. Priscilla, that will do it properly, that will do what the real Priscilla would. It used to be so bad that the door to the Dive was locked before you got here, and before that, you figured out Santos was a Pilgrim much too early. This is the first trial you've asked how I know any of this, so what I tell you will undoubtedly change, but it is worthwhile to see what effects revealing everything produces. Emotions are difficult, however. I have not been able to replicate the system perfectly. Fortunately, your awareness is not such that you realize you are genuinely unable to consistently feel sad about your fellow Engineer's death."

Priscilla was silent. It was too much. She couldn't believe him. An explosion in the hallway caught her attention briefly, but Lath's voice drew her back. "Don't worry. Santos and the others will hold them for long enough. You've at least advanced far enough to make the choice."

It was all a lie. She was here, right here. She didn't feel like a replica… this was too much to handle. He was fooling her into destroying the Construct. He kept talking, kept up his lies. "The projection is perfect. The contradictions I stated don't become apparent until I mention them, and even then, you can still reject them through logic. There might be other Slabs, curious that transport to them was shut down, for some unknown reason I might add, which forced you on a specific path. There might be other Alluvials. The third Stream is still functioning after all. Perhaps my Pilgrims just failed to capture it? Machines might've discovered flaws in thermodynamics. Which truth you accept as the real one is up to you. There is sufficient evidence for either. That is the beauty of it, though. A perfect test. The real you would reject the lie utterly and make the proper choice."

She no longer felt sad or frightened. Only torn. He was presenting it so convincingly, so matter-of-factly, that her everything, that her identity, was falling apart. She felt human, but did she even know what that meant? No! She couldn't give in to him. Allfather Lath was a manipulator; he'd gotten millions of people to believe that a god resided in the abyss. He'd gotten men to die for him, which meant he was perfectly capable of being absolutely believable. Did he just want her to do it so his twisted mission would be complete, but he somehow blameless? Or was he really an ageless machine, trying to right a wrong, and this was the only way to do it?

Lath stood, and she did the same. She turned to the console, and looked it over. She turned to see Santos. He was the only Pilgrim left. He rounded the corner, killing the officers as he went. She knew he wouldn't survive very long. She looked back to the screen. Why did she know a sequence to shut down the Construct in the first place? Perhaps for emergency situations… Lath put a hand on her shoulder. "You know the choice."

She heard Santos cry out as he slammed against the end of the hallway, firing beyond where she could see. She heard his hard light shatter and a second later his body hit the ground, reduced to bits. An avalanche of boots was coming towards them. Her heart was pounding. They'd be there soon. They'd save her from Lath. They'd kill him, and she'd go back to being the Engineer. She could verify that the other Alluvial, the Slabs, existed, she could go see the refugees, and she could then come back and make the choice. Lath spoke. "I know what you're thinking. They'll kill me, they know who you are, you'll be spared. But that's not how it works. You're at the command console with the Allfather. I'm an unarmed old man, and you aren't in chains. You die here, regardless of what you do. Only a few seconds left. I'll do what I can."

He stepped in front of her. She was frantically trying to decide. The first officer rounded the corner and shouted for them to back away. She couldn't. She had to decide. Allfather Lath cried out in pain as the lasers hit him. The screens above suddenly lit up with the explosions of the other two Cradles, which meant the billions trapped in the universe were doomed, and the only other Alluvial had collapsed. There was no one else. If she destroyed the Alluvial, the human race was finished. Crying, she backed away. She couldn't do it, she just couldn't do it.

She never heard the shot.

© Copyright 2020 KyleLautrec. All rights reserved.

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