Author : Chris Abernethy
I don’t know why I ran.
Caution, paranoia, groupthink… pure blind panic maybe, god knows what finally sent me scurrying up out of the elliptic, screaming in tight round ol’ Ares and out into the darkness.
Guess it won’t really matter, hell it’s not like there’s anything up here to actually be running to, though that’s half the reason I hurled myself out here; last place anyone would look because it’s the last place anyone with half a brain would run… no easy way back, nothing to slingshot yourself round; just you, the black and all that delta-v you’re sat barrelling along on…
To start with I hoped, kidded myself, maybe even prayed that I’d just jumped at sounds in the night, that all the little things that had spooked me turned out to be a series of coincidences; nothing but an addendum to the catalogue of meaningless accidents and lives sacrificed to the cold depths of space.
But then the reports started coming in, slow at first; lost Kuiper Belt terraforming teams spiked from one in ten to nine in ten, the deep imaging array on Charon fell off the grid, SatGov declaring a state of emergency after all contact was lost with Rhea colony… the litany of loss went on.
I suppose that’s when people started to really worry, EarthGov statements that “these rumours of a crisis are baseless fear mongering” not withstanding, but things went ballistic when the Belt mining stations started dropping out; one or two at first, then dozens, then hundreds… the industrial heart of the species was going dark and the only thing the politicians had to offer us was, “No comment”.
Panic was all but inevitable, people ran where they could; to other colonies, to satellite rings, to the hills, to each other.
Things seemed to peak for a moment when the UNSC special forces were sent in to find out what had happened in the Belt; days of upbeat but oh so serious reporting from the media as they moved towards their targets, then silence… for hours, nothing.
God knows what happened to those soldiers, even trying to patch things together after the fact it’s hard to find anything concrete about what happened, what they faced, why none of them came back.
One thing I can tell you from the fragments of coms chatter that I’ve scrapped together from what filtered out; they died bloody, they died hard, they went down howling their defiance at an unseen and implacable foe.
After that history seemed to pause; whatever was lurking malignantly in the heart of our system stopped reaching out for a time, bland assurances were issued, whole worlds held their breath.
Then it went for Earth.
Have you ever listened to a planet die? Listened to millions of lives being torn away in an instant and billions more screaming for a reprieve that would never come?
We were culled, wiped from the face of universe like a flawed design, something best forgotten…
I huddle here terrified and impotent in the night watching the shattered remnants of civilisation’s light gutter out one by one in the darkness, knowing that as each light goes out it will never come again, and I mourn the slaughter of my kind.
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