NPA "Weir-Walker" Gauntlets
[DAY 3] The Ghost of Titan walks on through sunless seas, having died long ago.
REPULSION LATTICE INTEGRITY… NOMINAL
OXYGEN SIEVE… NOMINAL
The lettering on Sloane's HUD clarified into vision. She dragged a hand through methane fluid to her faceplate, absentmindedly trying to rub the grogginess from her eyes.
Motion in the dark surrounding her kicked up clouds of fine grit.
Her headlights flared as her fingertips clinked against her helmet—a Thrall came screaming into the beam of light, bubbles spewing from its jaws. Sloane's eyes went wide before she reflexively flipped the Thrall over her shoulder and kicked its jaw through its skull. Her power suit spooled and pushed stimulants reactively.
She pivoted and caught the sword of a Knight mid-swing, snapping the weapon in two between the fingers of her gauntlet and driving a shard of broken blade into its chest. Another Thrall crossed her headlights just before a silver streak whistled through its throat. Sloane eyed a selection in her visor, which hi-lighted over thirty dead Hive, slowly deteriorating in boils of tiny, rumbling ignitions that sent nerve-spasms through their husks. Her visor cleared the readings and snapped onto a friendly.
Síocháin drifted forward, Hive viscera gently wafting into the sea from the slender razors protruding from her shell. "You were out for days."
Sloane's face wrinkled in confusion. "I remember the Pyramid wave. Falling… dreams. Are you okay?"
"Hive found us, like you said," Síocháin said, retracting her blades.
Sloane grabbed the Ghost and hugged her to her power suit chassis for a moment. "Little killer. Really gave 'em the business."
Síocháin chirped. "Pyramid wave swept over Titan, bounced around a bit and centralized where the Pyramid stopped. Gravity went crazy, then the ocean. I think we're a few miles from where we were when all this started."
"The Pyramid stopped? Then that's where we're headed… after we grab some gear," Sloane said.
Síocháin dipped forward. "One more thing. Something's out there circling us. Not Hive. Can't quite pin it down, but it's big."
"Yeah?" Sloane said, thinking of what went through her mind before she lost consciousness. "Then let's not waste any time getting out of here."
Sloane lifted herself from the ocean onto a half-submerged Arcology platform where she'd stowed a variety of rations and munitions since Titan's skies went dark. Her power suit clattered against the steel-mesh floor; she waited for the echoes to die down before taking a moment to exhale in silence. In that quiet moment, she made out a faint voice.
Síocháin rose into view. "Do you hear that?"
"Was about to ask you…" Sloane said, standing. She snatched First In, Last Out from a stow locker, racked the foregrip, then followed the voice down a barnacle-crusted causeway to an old research lab with Síocháin in tow.
Fluid trickled down cracked walls surrounding rows of dead monitors. Glass reflected prismatic color from a gnarled tear in reality at the lab's center—as if it had been carved from another epoch and affixed to this one.
A Human that didn't seem to notice them paced within the tear—standing in a fully functioning mirage of the Arcology. Once he turned toward them, the tear spasmed and lurched forward and backward in time at erratic durations and speed. He was ripped both ways into non-existence as the tear flittered through events like a fourth-dimensional montage.
The tear held steady again, returning the man and his moment to existence. Síocháin took note of the badge on his coat that read "Gideon Tepin—NPA—Senior Marine Biologist."
Tepin looked upset and turned away before speaking. "She's afraid. That's why we're all having them. Something's wrong. She's showing us what's coming in plain view!" The man angrily swiped his hand through the air in Sloane's direction. "It's like she's screaming it into my head. I know I'm not the only one hearing it."
"It chose us." He stepped forward and placed his hand on the border between then and now. "I'm dreaming my own memories, but with little differences. Little omens. Black ships in the sky."
Sloane leaned forward, hand nearly pressed to that of the living memory playing out before her on the other side of the tear.
"She's trying to warn us. We should evacuate. We have to get her—"
The tear lurched again, ripped away; lost to the rushing passage of time and blinked into non-existence. Gone.
Sloane dropped her hand. Jaw clenched. "See if you can dig up any Arcology records on this."
"That marine biologist… Tepin… was he in some sort of captured time fluctuation? Is that… even possible?" Sloane asked.
"I've never seen anything like it," Síocháin said. "I'm not really sure."
Síocháin skimmed archived reports. "It's under 'TLev-01.' Looks like a psychic space whale some biologists were studying out in the ocean. They never got accurate measurements, but this estimate can't be correct. Over 150 meters? Report says it wasn't from here though, and refers to a lot of visions that personnel were having… which is… odd? Not a lot of alien species in Sol until after the Golden Age."
"I was having dreams while I was out, Síocháin. Of some other world, the Pyramid on Titan… the Tower. Like I remembered being there for each one."
"Well, I guess it could be an ancient space whale… or sometimes the Traveler gives people dreams. But are we going to ignore the obvious 'you were rendered unconscious by a Pyramid wave' explanation?"
"No… but we've seen enough weird not to knock it," Sloane sighed.
"Sure. I'll log that away," Síocháin said. "You know… the readings coming from inside that field Tepin was in were consistent with atmospheric records on Titan during the Collapse."
"What does that mean?" Sloane looked back to the spot of warped space-time. "Was he… real?"
"I don't know. I just know it wasn't a simulation."