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  • Writer's pictureDrake Roberts

Prologue




The darkness of the room enveloped Dax like a blanket of night, his field of view non-existent. Its hulking cold metallic door that supported his back was frigid like a fall night, the ones he remembered when he and his father would run from house to house in a frantic fun filled adventure to try and fill as many pillow cases as possible with candy that would last him for months. Dax’s mind traveled away from his nightmare reality, a compartmentalization tactic he employed often in order to keep his mind from losing its sanity. A small glimmer of light began to grab Dax’s attention, glowing brighter and then dimming to an almost void filled darkness. He thought of the twinkling stars at night that he used to watch from his window with the telescope his father had bought him a few Christmas' prior. He loved to look at the stars; his imagination would run wild with adventures derived from his favorite space action movies that he would watch every weekend like clockwork with his father. Dax would often imagine he was some great star fighter pilot hero that would bring peace to the galaxy with his trusted robot friend at his side, vanquishing all evil without question. As the flashing kept its persistence, it began to drag Dax away from his dreamstate, bringing him back to the bitter reality he found himself in.


As he opened his eyes he squinted hard, focusing in on the flashing as his eyes adjusted to his dark surroundings. The flashing was titian in color, which reminded him of the pumpkins that his father and he would carve every halloween; his favorite holiday. As his eyes focused as he noticed the flashing was coming from some kind of console screen further into the dark room that he was now locked inside of. The bright orange flashing stood out boldly on the pitch-dark background screen, like a twinkling star far out in space. As his eyes fully adjusted he noticed the floor was cluttered with all sorts of debris, each flash revealing more and more. Small shipping crates littered the floor, flung from their shelves by some unknown force. Shelving units stood on either side of the path leading towards the console, untouched by countless years or even centuries. Canisters also were strewn about, their contents unknown, sitting on the floor forgotten like treasure in a tomb. He felt he was the first to enter the room in ages, like an adventurer seeking fortune within some ancient ruins. Directly to his right was the console connected to the door, its screen a dark red that simply displayed the word “Offline”, a result of Mirk fying it, saving his life in the process with his Blastarr pistol. The pain in Dax’s heart came rushing back as the battle that happened moments ago still was fresh, like an open wound.


His mentors, two humble beings that went out of their way to train him and care for him when he had no one else, were destroyed by those walking abominations, creatures created by the horrific minds of the Ubraxian science techs. BR4V3 had given his life in order to slow down the incoming chargers, using his awesome static powers, opening doors, cutting through the creatures like a hot knife through butter.


BR4V3 was overrun by the sheer number of them, and as he looked back at Dax, the door about to close at any moment as he strained his power with all his might, peering at Dax and told him simply: “Remember your training child, the stars will guide your path” the words leaving his mouth with a smile as the door snapped closed around his body and the creatures that had impaled him.



The snap was loud enough that it echoed down the halls of Sector G, causing a ringing in Dax’s ears. He swallowed hard, as the pain flooded his heart and he thought back to those dreadful moments. His mentor sacrificed himself in order for Dax to survive, he could not quit now. The memory continued, tears running down his face like a warm summer stream.


“I'll cover you kid, just get that door open!” Mirk yelled as he began taking well aimed shots with his Blastarr, felling the chargers with each round.


Dax worked frantically to open the door, the console was one of the fabled ghost systems, ones that had been corrupted by an unknown source making it immensely difficult to crack.



“Almost through!” Dax yelled back as Mirk reloaded his heavy revolver.



As he did so, one of the chargers lunged at him causing him to duck quickly and as he did aimed carefully to his side and finished the charger with a single shot, right next to Dax. The creature fell hard at his feet, gurgling inside those terrible helmets as it breathed its last breath.


“I'm in!” Dax said as the console lit up with its bright cool blue screen. As the door opened Dax felt a hard shove come from behind him, sending him flying into the room on his stomach, the air briefly knocked out of him.


He looked back quickly and saw Mirk aiming at the door console. “I'm proud of you kid, never give up.” Mirk said with a warm smile.


Dax noticed the colossal creature standing behind him, its large arms that were ended in three finger hands slowly wrapping around Mirk's body. A bright flash filled the dark gloomy room Dax found himself in and with a storm of electrical bolts the door closed shut as quick as it had opened, sealing him inside his pitch-dark sanctuary.


Dax got up in an instant and began banging on the door, screaming for Mirk. “Mirk!” “Mirk!” “Open the door!” Dax yelled as he pounded on the thick metallic door with all of his might, but all he heard on the other side was silence.


Mirk was gone, taken by those nightmare creatures, his friend, the closest thing to a father he had left was killed by that monster that towered over him. An image that was branded in his mind.



The entire battle felt as if it was just a dream, luring Dax away from reality as he sat, his back against the metallic door that separated him from those things. Sadness overwhelmed his heart that was quickly followed by something else. A fire of anger and determination began to grow within him. The words of BR4V3 and Mirk resonated within his heart. He couldn’t give up now, not after everything they had taught him and how far they had gotten. No one had made it this far into Sector G, let alone killed any of those creatures. Dax wiped away his tears, now more determined than ever and began to get to his feet. He planted his heavy combat boots firmly on the dusty floor and pushed himself up against the metallic door that supported his back. His boots squeaked under his weight as he stood up, focusing his eyes intently on the light in front of him that was no longer flashing, something that grabbed his attention by surprise.


Dax looked down at his Cosmic Cadet and noticed that it was glowing red, usually it had a cool blue color, a trademark of Cog Initiative equipment. As he looked at its screen he noticed it was reading: “Error”.


This confused Dax; the internal power core could run for years according to the manual that came in its crate when Mirk had first given it to him as a graduation present for becoming a full fledged Cyber-Runner. Even the visor that was connected holographically was offline, filling his vision with a deep red hue. Dax flipped up the visor onto the top of his head. His life saving technology was of no use to him in this abnormally dark room, he would have to wing it the best he could. His entire kit, including his powered suit and boots, were all powerless, a feeling he could hardly remember before Mirk had given him the combat suit. One that provided him with emergency medical triage, silent step capabilities, even magnetic stepping, was now useless to him. He knew all too well something was causing this issue but was unaware of its source. Dax looked back up at the now still console, straining his eyes intently to see what populated its screen.


Now that the floor was dimly lit and his eyes had adjusted to their peak performance, the narrow clear and dusty path lay before him, leading directly to the motionless console. His boots thudded hard on the metallic surface, instantly warning him of the lurking creatures just beyond the door. He would have to move slowly and silently now that he couldn't rely on his Silent Step ability that his powered boots provided him earlier. Dax crept forward, hushed squeak sounds coming from the treads of his boots meeting the floor. As he approached the console screen he could now make out that there was a message sitting still on the dark console.



“What does that say?” Dax thought, his curiosity beginning to get the better of him.



Just in front of him was one of the crates that had been flung from its shelving, blocking a direct path to the console. Dax picked his left leg up, carefully balancing on his right as he stepped over the crate, and followed the same action with his right. As he placed his right foot down he was just a few more steps from the console. The message was some kind of statement from what he could make out but what kind? His curiosity at its height. Dax approached the shadowy desk the console rested upon and slightly bent forward. The message startled him while also causing great confusion.



Upon the screen read: “Greetings Dax”. He read the message over a few times, not fully understanding such a simple statement.



Why was this message sitting there, waiting for him to find it- who could have possibly put it there in the first place? Those questions raced through his mind as he frantically thought of a possible rational answer. Before he could blink the screen shut off with a zap, one of which reminded him of the old TV that sat in his living room where his father and him would often watch together.



The darkness of the room completely enveloped him now, save for the dim red glow of his devices. A loud snap came from somewhere beyond him, somewhere deeper in the room, past any hopes of field of vision. With it came a loud engine sound, that whined similar to that of the truck his father drove daily, and won trophies at car shows, a beautiful memory he would not soon forget. It began to hum louder and louder as Dax stood frozen, not sure as to what he should do. Before he could wrap his mind around the location of the object, a bright blue glowing cord chased away the consuming darkness running from behind a stack of crates and traveling to where it was connected a mere step or two in front of him. As the engine ran it pulsed causing the cord to do the same, brighter and dimmer like clockwork. The longer the engine ran the more cords began to shine like the previous one. Within moments a dozen cords illuminated the room with its pale blue glow, all of them leading and connecting to a central object in the room. Dax took a step back, his hand on his weapon.



The object was obsidian in appearance and towered over Dax like some kind of giant cylinder. It would not have been visible save for the multiple cords running to it. The lights from the cords began to travel into the object and move upward, illuminating alien symbols the farther up the light went. The symbols were a mix of Cog and something unknown to Dax. As the symbols continued to move up the object it began to show a large multi layered cog in its center. The more symbols began to illuminate the more of the gears started to turn, all of them moving in opposite directions then the last. Dax stood both amazed and on edge at this spectacle.



The engine was now running at a peak volume, as if a race car was moving around a track desperately trying to grab first place. Just as Dax thought the lights couldn't be any brighter, causing him to shield his eyes, the engine powered off with a loud bang. A low hum filled the room now, coming directly from the capsule in the center of the room. The pale blue symbols danced on the surface of the object, like an intricate hologram being projected from an unseen source, one of which reminded Dax of the times his father and him would see a movie in their local theater.


A thought came to his mind: “With all the noise coming from this room, why weren't those monsters banging down the door by now”?



Dax was ripped from his thoughts when he heard a loud hiss come from the object, with its plumes of warm steam began to race from dark vents on all sides, filling the room with a warm and damp atmosphere. Dax took cautious steps back, his hand tightly wrapped around the handle of his Blastarr hand cannon. As the steam drained from the object, the symbols on its surface began to dim, slowly travelling down the object, past the dimming cog and to the floor. The room now bathed in pure darkness, Dax stood on guard, waiting for some horrible fate to befall upon him. The steamed began to slow and with it the hiss calmed down to infrequent drips.


The object standing like a hulking monolith seemed to draw in the darkness of the room, presenting itself as an even darker void. Dax stood motionless, like a gargoyle perched high upon a stone building. The hairs on his neck stood on end as it felt like all of the air was sucked from the room.



Small dark orange lights flashed on near the floor, dissimilar from the ones that illuminated the cord, these were much more vivid and did not pulse, a solid light. The lights were in pairs, separated by what seemed to be a single step. Dax focused his gaze upon them and just as he did so, the light began to spread upwards in a parallel formation. Soon they were eye level to Dax but continued to travel upwards, dwarfing him. His heart began to race as he followed the lights raptly, wondering what it was belonging to. As the lights spread upwards they joined into a single vertical line, separated only by a heptagonal shape high above Dax’s height. Just as the shape was finished being outlined, a bright lightning bolt snapped and danced inside of it, revealing small pylons inside of it that joined at its small center. Meanwhile, the lights went separate ways; one moving left and one moving right and two moving directly vertical. The lights that had travelled to either side began ending in small circles both in sets of five, while the vertical ones lit up three vertical lines that were completely symmetrical. As the lights travelled upwards a haunting revelation came to Dax’s mind. He remembered watching that commercial for the first time weeks before his birthday, the immense joy it brought him to know that his favorite character from his favorite space action movies was finally getting a collectors edition figure made and was just about to be released.


The dark orange lights transcended his imagination to fantastical battles and melee scenes and the dark metallic armor plates of the droid made him imposing, one that commanded fear. He could remember the day of his birthday when his father and best friend had surprised him with the toy and accessories for it, a day he would not soon forget. His birthday wishes had come true and he held that magnificent action figure in his hands vowing to never let it out of his sight so help him. Dax was catapulted back to reality when he saw a pinhole shape start to glow with its eye patch outline and next to it a honeycomb with a dark red center.


The wind was frozen within him, his muscles locked up as if he had been in a movie and the viewer had pressed the pause button. His mind could not process what he beheld a mere few steps in front of him. He stared, as if caught in medusa's trance, not able to look away no matter how much his mind could will him to. How could an object he so cherished, so loved be more than so? His heart pounded now, like a drum of battle, his palms sweaty and his spine shivering as if in a blizzard back home.


“I have to be dreaming, none of this is real, I'm sure I'm back in Mirks hutt sleeping off a hard training day,” Dax thought as he noticed the hot red eye looking down at him, staring directly into his soul.


He felt as if his heart stopped beating, time even felt as if it had been paused for all of eternity. The hum that had filled the room must have stopped ages ago, or at least it felt that way to him. The silence was broken by an unmistakable sound, one that Dax had come to cherish but was now filled with horror.


As the three vertical glowing slits bounced, so too did the words shatter Dax’s mind: “Initializing startup sequence”.

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