“I’m an academic.”

“Thanks for the warning.” Jake threw the makeshift launcher over his shoulders and spat his cigar-stub into a puddle where it hissed and didn’t quite extinguish.

“Do you have something against study?”

“No. Where would we be,” Jake said, then grunted as he kicked at the door. Again he kicked, sending showers of splinters to the polished floor of the hallway. He sniffed and reared back, throwing himself forward with a final, timber-shattering lunge. “Huh,” he grunted, and stepped over the door’s remains.

“Where would we be?” the scholar called after Jake, taking care not to enter the new room. He had been very cautious since Alphonse had scouted the second chamber and been sliced into neat cubes of meat by hidden tracking lasers.

“-without all these centuries of knowledge collected by folks like yourself?” Jake said, poking his head back into the hallway and grinning at the scholar. “It looks safe enough. Stay close.”


In the beginning, there is darkness.

This is how most stories should start; in the ethereal blackness of space, and of nothingness.

Here, in a senseless void, we can gain a deep understanding of the primal state. We must put this condition in our memories, so that in moments of duress we may call upon this memory and know that in the beginning, there was only emptiness.

Not even a feeling of loss or melancholy, for these feelings have not yet been discovered in this place. No shattered dreams or reminisces, for we have not yet had the time to experience anything.

Upon the staring face of this eternal night, let there be light.

Just a pinprick at first. This is birth, as we would dictate it. No sudden explosion of chaotic sound and color to traumatize our newborn senses. Here, we are in control. Just the tiniest point of light, glowing faintly in the distance, like a star. The light is so indistinct, so dim, that we are not really certain if it is there.

It begins to grow. Slowly at first, then gaining more volume over time. Mild enough that we are not blinded by its majesty. No, we become aware of the light and its power under our own terms, for we are here to master not only ourselves but also the universe we will be birthed into.

The light fills our field of vision, suffusing our reality with a beautiful golden glow within which we may bask. A radiance that comes from all points and enters us completely. This is our light, what we have created.

It is now that we understand and accept warmth. The light heats us, and we realize that the dark and empty place we have just come from was intolerably cold, yet we did not feel it at the time.

The light is at once a gift and a curse. It shows us one path while illustrating the folly of the past. We begin to see the light as a guide. Though it is mindless itself, it came from the mind, and in so doing must have purpose. We entwine ourselves in the contemplation of this purpose, and on occasion shiver with the recollection of the void from which we have come.


A blast of cool air buffeted his head as he passed through the turnstile. He looked up, perturbed, and noticed the port. It was an off-white vent, yellowed with age and bearded with a thick black fur he took to be dust.

He wondered how many times he’d passed through this gate before realizing he was being bathed in dirty air. He’d been coming through this exit of the transport station for almost ten years and never once had this disturbed him.

Continuing through and stepping to one side, so as not to inconvenience any of the other early-morning commuters, he took a moment to study the port. It was not the only hole in the ceiling above the multitude of turnstiles: there was one for each gate, totalling twenty on this side of the station. He watched as the people walked under them, oblivious to the mild rustling the cold air caused, the minor damage to the careful hairstyles of the throngs of office workers on their myriad ways to their morning employments.

He’d be late if he waited any longer. A sudden fear seized him, causing a cold sweat to pop up on his shaven lip and under his chin. He couldn’t be late, not this morning. There was important work to do. He put the vent out of his mind and continued to his office.

Everything continued to go according to plan.