LOVE'S KNIGHT III
Prologue – End of the World
There was only silence. A strange, comforting, peaceful silence. He felt like there was, perhaps, something important that needed his attention, but it didn't matter. He couldn't feel anything, didn't feel the need to DO anything. He was content, there in that silent bliss.
Something sounded through the abyss of his sleep. Something that wouldn't go away. A constant noise, unrelenting in its existence. Yet despite this, he made no attempt to will it away. He allowed it to approach, growing louder and louder, until....
A feeling came back.
The cold, metal touch of the surface he laid on sparked the nerves in his body to life, causing his eyes to open, albeit slowly. His eyes felt hazy, blurry from his extended time of being unconscious. As he finally came to, he instinctively moved to rise up from the silvery steel floor, which was shining with red, flashing light. The entire room was exactly the same, for the regular lighting ahd given out, replaced with only red shining through the darkness.
"R-Red...? No......no, they didn't...!"
The blaring sound of emergency alarms assaulted his eardrums, piercing his brain and offering no harmony within his confused, but panicked mind.
A computerised, female voice accompanied the neverending alarm wail, relaying specific instructions.
"ALERT. An emergency situation has been declared. Code Red lockdown initiated. Containment has been breached. All personnel to evacuate. Repeat: An emergency situation has been declared. Code Red lockdown initiated. Containment has been breached. All personnel to evacuate."
Code Red. The awakened man knew exactly what that meant, perhaps better than anyone else in that facility.
A sharp pain shot through the man as he attempted to move, burning through the right side of his torso. He grimaced visibly in agony, looking down to see what was causing it. Down the full length white laboratory coat that he wore lay a deep stain of red, a different shade to the light strobing all around him.
"Ughhh!" The scientist groaned audibly as he not only saw the fact that he was bleeding profusely, but felt the flicker of pain become like a knife through his body. He steadied himself on a nearby desk, abandoned during whatever emergency was currently occurring.
Immediately, he almost jumped back in shock.
Laying on the desk, flopped over it like some kind of broken toy was another scientist. This man however, wouldn't be waking up. He was bent backwards over a chair facing upwards, his back seemingly broken in two by the impact. A pool of blood had formed underneath his lifeless corpse and his face was contorted in a gasp of terror.
"This is bad....very bad....if they've....ugh.....broken out...!"
The wounded individual's mind was racing with so many variables and scenarios, not to mention the shock of his wound and the realization of what had happened. He had no idea how much time had passed since the alert had been sounded or what the status of the facility and everyone else within even was. Looking further around the room, he made out more now that his eyes had adjusted to the lack of light. His nose also could smell nothing but death mixed with cold steel, an unpleasant mixture even to someone of his occupation. There were marks scratched upon the walls, long cuts and bullet holes. Many of them were covered in blood, and a trail of the substance of life let out of the far door at the end of the room. The heavy duty security door, normally key card-locked and extremely secure, had been blasted from its mountings by some kind of force.
"We....we should not have......ughhh....." The survivor struggled to keep himself steady as he attempted to move away from the support of the desk, but his wound was troubling him greatly. He held his left arm over it, hoping to at least stem the blood flow a little until he could get some medical attention. However, he had a more pressing task, one that time did not permit him to leave until later.
"If they reach....the city.....agh! There's.....there's only one chance....I only hope that they didn't.....get to him...."
Taking gentle steps, the scientist made his way out of the deathly room, heading out through the damaged door. The corridor had fared little better; the existing lights on the ceiling had been smashed, leaving just flickers of luminance amid the darkness and the background of red. The shuffling scientist didn't need any guidance to his destination, however. He'd traversed this particular route so many times before that it was practically burned into his memory, for more than one reason.
Presently, he came to a rest outside another security door, one marked with orange lines and chevrons. The writing in the centre read, in bold black lettering:
AUXILIARY CONTAINMENT B-1
ACCESS LEVEL: ALPHA
The survivor noted, thankfully, that the door was still closed and had seen no signs of combat. Indeed, the corridor up to this point had been untouched as if nothing had occurred at all. Only the neverending alarm, still repeating the same message, denied that fact. He reached to his right pocket with the same hand, grimacing as the act caused his wound to ache. From said pocket, he produced a slim, orange outlined keycard.
Dr. Volin Bannatyne
Chief of Research & Development
Clearance Level: ALPHA
The face of an older man stared back from the keycard, one with greyed, somewhat spiky hair that jutted outward at the sides of his head, leaving a bald patch on top. The round rimmed glasses completed the typical 'old scientist' look.
Dr. Bannatyne slid the card through the door's waiting slot somewhat hurriedly. Not wasting time looking back upon the past, and to what had been before he'd ever had that photo taken. Time was of the essence. The machine gave an audible beep and the heavy door slid open, allowing access to the wounded researcher.
The adjoining room was smaller than the one he had just awoken in, but was far more roomy and less cluttered with desks and paraphernalia. The main features of the Auxiliary Containment chamber were the unusual walls with their armour plated square patterns, designed to be reinforced against something. The other was the large tube like device sat in the middle of the room, looming ominously over all. Beside it laid a ton of machines, each monitoring some little detail about the metal container. Their blips and beeps punctured the eerie silence that crept over the chamber; that and the emergency alarm that still sounded.
Bannatyne approached the container, breathing heavily from the exertion. The old man supported himself upon the device, turning to the machines next to it. Several crystal clear displays showed the status of the container itself, as well as whatever lay within. The doctor couldn't see into the tube itself, for there was no window of glass peering into the hollow. His only way of knowing the condition of the subject contained within were the monitors, and he scanned his weary eyes across them, adrenaline keeping him focused despite his own troubles. He didn't have time to worry about himself. More was at stake here; much more.
"It looks like they didn't get to him.....that's....a relief...."
Bannatyne reached a gnarled hand to the main screen, activating it using touch. His finger's press caused several holographic buttons to fly up, one of which read 'SUBJECT STATUS' The scientist quickly gave another press, bringing up a diagram of a human body along with the relevant information he'd asked for.
BIOLOGICAL FUNCTIONS: NOMINAL
OVERALL STATUS: NOMINAL
UNIT READY FOR DEPLOYMENT
The blue glow of the monitor illuminated Bannatyne's face as he pored over the diagnostic report and breathed a sigh or relief. "Thank goodness...." The researcher brought up a new screen, swishing the previous one away with a flick of the hand. This new display came under the subtitle 'DIRECTIVE CONFIGURATION.'
Dr. Bannatyne paused, looking at the prison that housed the last one. The last chance that he had, that anyone had. So many thoughts ran through the old doctor's mind, of truths and lies, actions and inactions. "How....how did it come to this?" he uttered out loud, shaking his head and continuing with with his work, work that had to be done.
On the 'DIRECTIVE CONFIGURATION' screen, he began to program a series of commands. This was not a spur of the moment action, but had been carefully prepared over a great deal of time in case a day such as this one was ever to pass. Now it had arrived, a day the doctor had hoped he'd never see. He could only hope now, hope that everything he'd done to this point could be absolved....and that other things would perhaps make a difference. As he finished entering the last command, he paused before confirming it.
"Once I do this.....there's no going back. Not for myself. Not for anyone. Not for this world."
Bannatyne confirmed the input. The directives were locked in and the monitor displayed as such:
FURTHER ACCESS DENIED, CLEARANCE LEVEL ALPHA REQUIRED.
The doctor had done one part of what was needed, locking the console from any further use as a precaution. Only he had the authorisation to remove the directives now and he had no intention of doing so. Now there was only one thing left to do.
As he attempted to perform his final task, Bannatyne doubled over with pain, falling to his knees. His wound was getting worse; blood dripped onto the metal below him. He remembered what had caused him the injury and knew for certain that he was lucky to even still be alive....even though that didn't seem likely to be for much longer.
"Must have....hit a vital.....agghh! I...I have to....."
Forcing himself to act through the worsening pain, Bannatyne got back to his feet, reaching towards a double lever on one of the machine banks. A word printed above the level designated it as 'RELEASE.'
The doctor placed his hand upon the mechanism, preparing to pull it down. He paused once again, this time for longer. This was the turning point. The point of no return. Once that switch was hit, it was all up to fate. Would everything he had done count for something?
Bannatyne looked once more at the containment coffin, knowing full well what, no, who was sealed within. A being that he'd known for many years, yet didn't know a single thing about. A creation, both incredible and terrifying at the same time. A thing that he knew now should never have existed to begin with.
"Forgive me.....forgive me for this....but you....uggghhh....you must stop them.....you must!"
With his fading strength, Bannatyne threw the switch. The sound of something powering down could be heard. Shortly after, a loud whirring sound came from the containment tube as the lid slowly opened up, sending icy smoke jetting outwards as the airtight seal was broken. Another whirring sound came as the now open tube tilted forward, coming to a rest in a standing position. It ended its cycle with a jarring clank; everything faded out again, save for the constant alarm siren.
Dr. Bannatyne could only watch for a moment before his body suddenly failed him, causing him to slump down, his back resting aginst the monitoring banks. A slick of blood followed him, for his injury was by no means a minor scratch. He no longer had the strength to stand and he felt himself beginning to get colder. None of it mattered to him, however. He had done what was needed. His task was over, and so it seemed, was his life.
As his vision began to fade, Bannatyne saw movement from the open coffin. A figure stepped out, released from its artificial slumber.
"It's....up to you now.....you're....our.....last.....hope......" spoke the dying doctor softly, as he returned to the dark and the silence of sleep.
In one single instant, everything died.
It was almost imperceptible at first. Just a far-off sight, something that wasn't quite right with the natural order of things.
Most people saw the light that flashed brilliantly in the distance for a moment, like a shooting star had collided with another celestial object, only this wasn't taking place in the skies above. No, it was down below, just above the horizon. A flash of two powerful lights, smashing into one another. To behold it from afar filled many with wonder, others still with shock, yet more with fear.
Those who felt the fear had the correct response.
Moments after the crash of light in the air, everything changed. The ground began to rumble and the sky turned bright, brighter than the sun, so bright that the heavenly object was blocked out by its brilliance.
Then came the end.
Seconds after the collision event, a massive wall of unknown energy ripped through the world, laying waste to anything and everything that lay within its path. It radiated outwards from its epicentre, powerful enough that it spread across the entire globe.
Most had no time to even react. One moment, everything was as normal. The next, their life was extinguished. Vaporized into nothing by the deadly shockwave. No-one was spared. The young, the old, the weak, the healthy, the rich or the poor. All of them were claimed by the cataclysm.
The proud cities of the world, their skyscrapers, monuments, factories; whether they were a near utopian design of the future or a struggling slum, they were torn apart by the unrelenting force that had been unleashed. Glass smashed, concrete cracked, steel warped. Few structures withstood the shockwave, and even those that did were devoid of anything within, all of it blasted away by sheer force, leaving simply hollow ruins in their wake.
Even when the unnatural explosion finally came to an end, it seemed determined to snuff out all life, all light, all hope. The once clear skies were affected by the event, as if they were corrupted by the phenomenon somehow. A black veil, some kind of side effect, permanently covered the sky, blotting out the sun save for the few transparent places it could pierce through.
When the shockwave of the strange explosion finally dissipated, it did so as quickly as it came, in a matter of minutes. When it was gone, it left almost nothing behind.
On that day, 80% of the world's population was wiped out.
Yet, some survived.
This is the story of one of those survivors. One who lost everything, even before the world ended. The one who had no reason to go on, no purpose, no identity, no humanity in a world that had died.
The one who would bring hope back to those who had lost it.....and who would find his own again.