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A lot has changed since the early days of MIFF. The Silence
was the first project undertaken on the MIFF. Ultimately it
would also find itself as the first to be abandoned
due to the disastrous effects of The Zarah Incident,
where a conflicting story arc and characters were introduced causing
major problems. The entire finale of the story was ultimately
cut but never picked back up and completed. As it stands now,
it was talked about trying to complete The Silence but nothing more
ever became of it.
Stranded! by Fire Nexus
Our hero, Samus Aran is stranded on a deserted planet, or so she thinks. Something is lurking to her as we speak. Let's hope she finds it. Her ship needs 3 days for auto-repair.
Darkness fell across the land. It came from the east and spread like a huge title wave over the mountains, leaving small pools of shadow in dips and valleys. Night was upon Tabnazsh and a cool silence welcomed it's arrival. Samus decided that she could no longer stay by her ship. The crash was almost certainly detected and she could not risk capture. Packing only necessary items, she began her trek east towards the foot of a huge mountain where the last remnants of the sun could be seen pushing back against the overwhelming night...
This is guard #435725 reporting in due to a break in the sensor grid. Probably just another Skeez Rat, but I have to... AHHHHHHHHHHHHH, no they were all killed!!!!
TRANSMISSION WAVE LOST
Within the canyon enclosing Samus's ship, something watches. Quietly; patiently, it waits. Staring at the wrecked ship below, it thinks to itself:
she will return. and when she does, I will be waiting...
The path ahead is nonexistent. Samus follows not a physical road, but one of pure thought. She can think of only one thing. That disturbing message she received only seconds before the crash:
...You will not escape us. No one escapes us. The Silence will
return and all that is living will be lost. I am The Silence.
For the first time in her life, Samus' only desire was not to fight, but to flee. She quickened her pace.
slowly; without any movement or physical reaction, something watches...
You were right master. This Aran, her energy is great. She feeds my whole clan, and we are growing healthy. It was good that you opened that anomaly 50 cycles ago, she has absorbed great quantities of that energy. Her fear makes her even stronger. My clan is feeding well. May the rathalk shine upon you with glory.
Inside the dark empty cockpit of Samus' ship the cold silence is punctuated only by the beeping of the proximity alarm. Even the bright letters flashing on the main screen fail to penetrate the inky blackness to any great degree:
Unknown lifeform approaching...
Samus was completely unaware of any trouble on the ship, and even if she knew about it, she wouldn't care. She had problems of her own...
...or did she?
Samus stopped running for a second, and looked back. She realized that this primal fear that had been concocted within her was for nothing. According to her scanners she was the only living life form within a 20 mile radius.
And yet, she felt cold. She told herself that there was nothing wrong. She was probably the only thing on the damnable, dead planet capable of causing harm, but this did not comfort her. At this point, the only thing that did make her feel more comfortable was running...
...so, she ran. Every minute moving her further and further away from her ship...
The dark hooded figure slowly turned and looked at his companion. Yes, the time was ripe. When Althor and Blaroc were aligned, the Aran had appeared. It was just as the master had predicted. Perhaps all was not lost after all.
His younger companion turned and spoke. "What do we do now? Yes, it is as the master predicted, but we were not told how to proceed. We should do something quickly!"
The older one replied, "Ah... always the impatient one. You sense the power, hmmm?" He looked intently into the younger one's eyes. "The primitives sense it too. I believe they have already started to feast on it. Be on your guard that you do not follow their ways for that path leads only to destruction."
"But, what are we to do?"
"Watch this Aran. Remember that the darkness makes her afraid, just like us, but unlike most her fear makes her stronger. Yes, this Aran is a strong one. We must figure out how to use this to our advantage against the silence. But beware for I sense something else is watching as well - something sinister." As if on cue, they both looked down at the lone figure trudging across the barren landscape.
"For now we must watch. Watch and wait....."
Sam.s t... Houston.....danger. Get off.... AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!
The Watchers knew better than to descend below the cliff at night. They feared for the Aran's safety. But they knew that she was a survivor. They knew that she could fight for her life. She could not die, not tonight, the prophecy said so.
Thousands of years had passed since the ancient oracles predicted the return of The Silence. The inscription was still perfectly preserved on the hard rock face where it had been carved over a millennium ago. "A thousand years the time of healing will last. But the black silence will return to take back what belongs to it. In this epoch the two great ones will join hands in the heavens and the other will fall from the sky. Without the other there would be no hope."
Come daylight, the watchers would send someone to meet the other.
Samus had not fully realized that daylight was breaking until she saw a tiny point of light on the horizon. The glowing ball slowly turned into a rising crescent as the sun returned to strike back against the retreating night. She looked over her shoulder to see the smoke from her ship's burnt fusion core rising above the horizon. It would vent for weeks. The sky was a beautiful red hue, and Samus' shadow reached far into the distance as if to urge her not to falter in her course. With the smoke looming behind her, she felt as if she was still unsafe. No matter how fast she ran, no matter how far she traveled, she could not escape the relentless fear that pursued her throughout that barren desert landscape. It was at this time that she sensed danger. It was not connected to her resident fear, but it was something else. She had presently entered a narrow section of the canyon, and this made her feel uneasy. There was not enough distance between her and the glowering walls. The outcroppings served as an ideal hiding place for predators. A rustle. She lifted her blaster, preparing for confrontation. Some rocks rolled gently down the cliff slope, and scattered for a distance onto the canyon floor. She rotated ninety degrees, and scanned the cliff wall. Nothing. Then she noticed that she had two shadows. Samus spun around prepared to vaporize her persuer. In front of her sat a short cloaked creature. She tried to make out a face beneath the draping hood but saw only darkness. The creature's choice to sit down just mere feet from Samus was most likely the only thing that saved its life. Samus released her finger from the partially depressed trigger, but she did not lower her blaster. "You are the Aran," the creature spoke in perfect English, "I have come to help you"...
"You are the Aran," the creature spoke in perfect English, "I have come to help you"...
Confused, Samus sputtered "W-what? You have come to help me? ....And how do you know my name?"
"You are the other." the creature replied. "You are the Aran. It has been foretold that you would come."
"Foretold, huh? ummmm yeah...." Samus said.
"You do not believe me," it responded. "We feared as much." Suddenly, seemingly without any movement, the creature was on its feet and walking away from Samus. "Come, I have something to show you," it said without turning around.
Samus fired a shot into the rock beside the creature. "Hold it right there! I want some answers NOW!" The creature, without flinching or showing even the slightest fear simply stopped. Slowly, even gracefully, it turned around to face Samus. "That's better!" Samus said. "Come on now, what's going on here?"
"We are the Watchers," it said. "We are the keepers of the sacred prophecies, the sworn protectors of all that is good, the enemies of the darkness and silence. And..." it paused. "The Silence will be after you first because you are its greatest enemy. Without you there is no hope."
This silence.... it was mentioned in the I received before I crashed!! Samus thought. "What of this silence?" she demanded of the creature, "What does it want?"
"Yes, it is well that you fear the Silence," the creature said gravely. "It is most dangerous indeed. But do not let the fear blind you from your purpose." It turned once again. "Come, you must let us help you. At least accept a map of the area." It started walking away once again.
Perhaps against her better judgement, Samus followed the creature. She would learn no more from it here, and a map would be helpful.... She scanned the cliffs and decided that she had best keep her blaster ready...
Samus followed the creature from a distance. She felt no connection to it. It just trudged along without faltering, without even looking back to see if she was still there. It was almost as if the creature could predict Samus' every movement. Finally, they came to a "V" in the canyon pass. Samus had not seen it before as it was well hidden. The creature entered the passage which ascended to a high place on the cliff above. Samus was not prepared for what came next. High above her, carved into the sheer canyon wall, was a massive temple. The face was elaborately decorated with an array of intricate carvings.
"This is the wall of time," the creature spoke without facing Samus. "It shows the entire history of the time of healing."
Directly above her, Samus' eye caught a strange inscription. It was in a language that she had never previously encountered. As she looked at the odd assemblage of randomly pointed triangles, a coldness came over Samus, and she remembered the fear that was always resident in her bones. As if the creature was aware of Samus' attention to the inscription, it answered "This is the prophecy of the great oracles. This is how we know of the coming of the silence... and you."
"Please follow." And the creature disappeared into the darkness beyond.
As Houston's ship crashed into the the Great Canyon on Tabnazsh, he realized that his transmitter coils had been frozen. He had managed to get out a garbled transmission, but it was too weak to be detected on the surface. He was puzzled though, What could've caused his crash? Also, how could the coils have been frozen? He'd had his ship inspected 3 days ago, it's not like it was out of repair! For now though, he'd better move. He'd seen those readings before. He'd battled a similar creature. This was The Silence. In fact, now that he thought of it, it must have it stopping him. Samus was in danger. This creature was simply a strong psychic presence. "There are species on this planet who feed on such energy, so how has it not been destroyed?" Houston thought out loud. But no matter. Samus simply wasn't equipped to deal with this monster. This thing that took his mother. That he had been chasing for years. He wouldn't let it have Samus, though. He simply wouldn't.
"Samus, if you're out there, answer me." He yelled into his short-range transmitter.
"Houston? Is that you?"...
"Samus?? Where are you? I have to get to you!"
"Houston? Thank God somebody's here. I took a really bad fall and broke my leg. I can't walk and I'm afraid I can't survive another day out here!" A blip appeared on Houston's homing locator.
"I'll be there as soon as I can Samus!" Houston replied and started out, following his locator.
Two cloaked figures stood on a cliff high above Houston and watched as he walked away from his ship. Just an hour ago, they had watched it fall from the sky and seen it crash. They turned to look at each other and the same thought raced through their minds: This was not in the prophecies! "We must warn the others." one of the figures said and they both turned and walked away from the cliff's edge.
Meanwhile, Samus was following the watcher into the Temple, utterly oblivious to the fact that Houston was on the planet or that he was getting farther away from her with every step he took.
This new development disturbed the master greatly. It was known that the silence could manipulate all things to it's advantage, but the prophecies would have foretold of another. Was this person’s connection to the other insignificant to the prophecies? Did this stranger have no effect on the approaching turn of events? What if the oracles missed something? What if all that he knew was wrong? This made the master feel uneasy. He sat in silence for some time before making a decision. "We will not inform the Aran of the stranger's presence."
"Should we send a messenger to meet him, my master?"
"...No, the prophecies could be adversely effected. It will ease the other's fear. Her fear is what makes her powerful against the silence."
"But, my master, the silence will become more powerful if we let the stranger succumb to it's influence."
"We must take that chance. The prophecies would have predicted any danger that would result from the stranger's arrival. He must go alone."
"Yes, my master."
Houston could think of only one thing. That thing that took him from his family so many years ago. He never knew what the silence was. But it was always in the back of his mind. No matter what mission he embarked on, no matter what part of the galaxy he was in, he tracked only the silence. It was HIS bounty. The bounty for his soul.
All that he knew of the silence was from that recurring dream that had haunted his nights forever: Wind. Stinging pain. He could move only forward through that massive wall of rushing pain. A voice. "Come to me. Seek me out. Then you shall feel no pain. Find me and I will consume you, for I am The Silence." More pain. Intense pain. He falls. His face touches the sand, the warm soft sand. Darkness, only darkness and silence.
And so, he continues his search for the silence. A silence to quiet his restless soul.
He looked up and scanned the horizon. In the distance, the sun appeared to be blocked by a light brown haze. A gentle breeze began to blow. A storm was approaching and he quickened his pace. Shelter could not be far.
Houston walked on and on, and realized something. Samus' leg would have been repaired by her suit within a few hours. She would have been able to walk by now. "NO"
Samus walked on with the messenger, and felt a strong resistance to go forward. She felt as if someone "...S.mus if you're .. there.. ans..r me." She jumped in surprise. "HOUSTON!!" Already the messenger could see her fear was dissipating. "Houston, I'm here, with a native. He's telling me about a being that is on this world. It's called The Silence." Houston found Samus on his locator and went at full sonic speed. He didn't care what amount of power it wasted. Samus wouldn't know of The Silence unless it planned to destroy her. He was going to reach her.
It watched in silence.
The trap had failed, but no matter. There would be other opportunities. It had hoped to keep the human's mind busy with thoughts of pain and haste, but something had gone wrong. The Houston's care for this Samus should have been enough to lead it straight into the trap. Perhaps his care for her had been overestimated? No, it couldn't be, otherwise he wouldn't be wasting such enormous amounts of energy to reach her quickly. In fact, the minions would be feeding quite nicely now, wouldn't they? Perhaps..... perhaps this could be useful in drawing the Samus out of the evil place, out of the place where it could not consume her, out of the place where it could not even touch her....
It quickly sent instructions to the minions.
Houston glanced at the power level for his suit and then turned his attention back to the rough terrain. He was worried. His suit had been fully powered when he crashed and should have been able to sustain top speed for at least 6 hours without stopping to recharge, even with his modifications. He hadn't been going for even an hour though, and power was draining rapidly. The powerlink or the cables could have been damaged in the crash, but surely he would have seen signs of power loss before now.
An annoying beeping started up, accompanying the flashing light inside his helmet. He stumbled and fell to his knees as the servos in the suit's legs failed. Using brute strength, he lifted himself up and dragged the now lifeless suit for a few steps before falling back to the ground, exhausted. The suit was just too heavy to walk in without power, and he would never survive on this harsh planet without it. He was feeling weaker every moment too. He toggled the emergency comm unit. "Samus," he croaked into the mike, "Samus..." His last thought before he passed out was a horrid realization that this was a trap and he'd led Samus right into it.
Back in the temple, Samus was screaming into her radio. "Houston! Are you ok? Houston, answer me!!! HOUSTON!!" She turned to the watcher and said, "I'm going after him. He needs help."
"I would not do that," it replied. "The primitives will most likely drain your energy just like they drained this Houston's. This temple is also a place of safety. We cannot be harmed here."
"Well, I'm not going to just sit here in safety while Houston is in trouble out there!" she retorted forcefully. "I'm going to go get him and bring him back so then he can be safe as well. Don't worry, I've had more experience with energy draining life forms than you could imagine." With that, she walked back down the long hallway and out of the temple.
The watcher could not help but feel a sense of foreboding as it watched her leave. The temple was a place of sanctuary for all, but this Houston had a feel of the Silence around him. Almost as if it was part of him... A feeling of cold dread washed over him. How could he be human if that was so? Yet all the signs showed him to be clearly human. There was more to this then anybody knew, perhaps even the silence. He headed towards the oldest scroll rooms. Perhaps he could find a clue to all this before it was too late.
Darkness. But not silence. Houston could hear a distinct beeping sound. The unceasing beeping drove it's way into the very depths of his mind. He had heard this sound before. A voice: "Self destruct sequence activated. Evacuate suit immediately." Houston's eyes fluttered open only to see the count down meter at T-04. Shit! he thought. He brought up the service menu and selected "eject". The suit blew apart at the seems and Houston stumbled to his feet. He ran, but he could not escape the blast. He felt a strong rush of pain in his back. It swept him off of his feet and carried him for some distance. He hit the ground. Pain, intense pain. His face touched the sand, the warm soft sand. Darkness, only darkness and silence.
· · ·
The messenger entered the last room in the temple. He slid the enormous stone slab away from the top of the granite chest. The scrolls had not been well preserved and the chest contained mostly dust and small paper fragments, remnants of a once great literary era. These scrolls predated the time of healing. They were written during the reign of the silence. After searching for some time, the messenger was able to produce one small paper fragment with distinguishable writing on it. It was in the old language, and the messenger could not read it. Only the master still knew the old writing. Gently cupping the paper fragment in is hand as to not allow the wind to lift the delicate letters from the tattered page, he brought the fragment to the master. The master's reaction was not as he expected. Finally after a painfully long period of silence, the master cried "We are the forsaken ones! We cannot resist the silence. She silence incarnate walks among us! The silence HAS returned, and all that is living will be lost!" Somehow, that tiny phrase, written on that tiny piece of fabric contained enough power to destroy everything that the master had believed in, and negate all that the the great oracles had taught over a millennium ago. And the watchers stopped and wept. Some knelt, some fell to the ground, but never before or after would such a display of grief be witnessed by any living being. But the master did not cry, he was already dead.
When Samus reached Houston, she found him naked and burnt. Fragments of his suit were everywhere, made merely shrapnel in the explosion. Samus' eye caught his main morph cube, with minimal damage, and realized that it could be used to rebuild Houston's suit. She quickly grabbed it. After shielding Houston, she ran back to the Temple.
The temple was deserted, with a few dead bodies inside. The first thing Samus did was put Houston in what the messenger called a healing pod. Searching through the Temple, Samus found the Master, dead in his chamber. Suddenly, he became thin, younger looking, and stood up. "Aran..." he said, in a voice that shook the room, but still seemed old and withering. “You must find the Nexus Crystals, it is my people's only hope. Here is a map, it contains data on the locations and powers of the crystals. Take it.“ ”What are they?" Samus asked. “The data cube in your hand will tell you all.." And with that the master died.
Her pulse racing, Samus stared in disbelief at the corpse in front of her. Had it really stood up and talked to her? She had never seen anything like it before. She slowed her breath and looked down at the Master's body lying crumpled on the floor. I don't have time to give him a proper burial, at least not right now, she thought to herself. She bent down, picked up the body and gently placed it on the table. She reached over and slowly closed the Master's eyes. That will have to do for now, she thought sadly.
Samus walked down the hallways back to the pod where she had left Houston she checked the readout and sank down to the floor beside it. She leaned back against the wall, took off her helmet and let out a deep breath. She studied the data cube the Master had given her, turning it slowly in her hand. It looked like a normal data cube, just a little old. It should still work.... Samus put her helmet back on and slipped the cube in the slot.
She gasped when she saw what the cube contained. The cube had almost 50 times the storage capacity of even the most advanced cubes available. Indexed on it was the whole history of Tabnazsh, and the history was immense. With a sigh of relief, she noticed that there were some items flagged "Important". She decided to take a look at those first. She decided to start at the beginning and selected "A Brief History of Tabnazsh" from the list.
After about 30 minutes of intense reading, Samus stopped and thought about the history of the planet. The early inhabitants of Tabnazsh were incredibly advanced "technomage-mages," blending advanced technology with powerful telepathic and telekinetic abilities. Unfortunately, the strongest of the technomage-mages fought for control of the planet, effectively splintering the population into many different kingdoms. It was at the height of this civilization when the Silence came. The Silence was more powerful than any one mage, and easily took control of the planet and decimated the population before 4 of the strongest technomage-mages came to their senses. Each one made a powerful nexus using their power, and then they combined their powers to make the Power Nexus. This was a formidable weapon alone, but when the other 4 Nexuses were docked to it, they formed a weapon powerful enough to drive the Silence from their planet. Then, all was peaceful for a thousand years. This was the Time of Healing. Sadly, most of the technomage-mages had been killed, and the 4 that saved the planet were old and drained of much of their power. Over time, most of the knowledge was lost most of the inhabitants of Tabnaszh forgot the ancient writings that foretold another coming of the Silence. Only a small clan who called themselves the Watchers kept the old traditions alive.
"Samus..." Houston groaned, "Samus, it's a trap!"
Samus took off her helmet and stood over Houston. "Houston, you're all right," she said softly. "You're back in the temple. The Silence can't reach us here."
"I hope you're right Samus, I hope you're right." With that he sank back fell asleep.
Outside of the temple, Samus spotted a Watcher sitting on the steps
in a seemingly catatonic state. It sat and stared and said nothing.
Samus approached the creature, it was the messenger.
· · ·
Samus knew what she must do. The watchers were all but extinct now, and she must turn to the ones that were mentioned in the history. The ones the Watchers called the primitives. Maybe they could help her find the power crystals so that she could get herself off of that damnable dead planet. Houston began to stir, and she disappeared back into the temple, leaving the watcher, possibly the last watcher alone to die in peace.
"Houston!" Samus called into the temple. Her voice echoed through the dark recesses of the ruins, melting into the inky blackness within. She put her helmet back on, not waiting for her eyes to adjust.
A rustling noise from the main alcove where she had left Houston drew her back into the darkness. She entered the room and saw him, leaning against a stone table, examining a parchment. Small scraps of his suit were starting to regrow and already most of his inner suit had reformed.
"Are you alright?" she asked.
"I'm feeling better, but it'll take some time for the rest of the suit to recharge. In the mean time, I think I've found something that we can use. I accessed the datacube and found the cipher for their alphabet."
"Can you read the map?"
"I think so. I'm still getting used to the language, but I'm pretty sure I know what it says. I also think there's something in here that could be useful to us."
"Good. What is it?"
"I've found another suit for me until my old one regenerates. It'll still take about eighteen more hours for it to be able to protect me from the planet, but in the meantime, I think I should use another one."
"Alright. Do you know how we can get it?"
"It's somewhere in this temple; in one of the alcoves where the Watchers kept their scrolls. The cube says they didn't know how to use it, but it was supposed to be a powerful tool used by the ancient technomage mages."
"Let's have a look at it."
Houston stood up uneasily, steadying himself against the table. "This way." He staggered down the tunnel, rubbing his sore leg as he went.
Turning on her lighting torch, Samus followed him deeper into the temple. Though she felt safer in here than she did out on the planet, that sense of foreboding still rested in the pit of her stomach like a parasite.
The two melded into the darkness of the ruins.
· · ·
Outside the temple, The Silence waited. It was only a matter of time before the minions would find the two offworlders. A black wind swept up from the canyon and blew loose dirt and basalt into the ruins and up above the canyon walls. Yes. All it had to do now was watch...and wait.
It did not take long for them to find the suit. It was located in a small compartment in one of the most distant wings of the temple. "It should be right here," Houston said, "Doesn't look like they wanted anyone messing with it." Samus used her cutting torch to break the massive seals on the door. Behind the door was another stone slab with an inscription engraved at eye level. Houston rubbed his fingers along the triangular patterns as if he were absorbing the information through his fingertips, much like a blind man does while reading Braille. He used the information that he had acquired from the data cube to translate the ancient tabulature. "Here lies the instrument of a great warrior. Bless the day when master and weapon be reunited once again." Puzzled, they both looked at each other as if to ask and answer a question at the same time. Samus' torch light flickered on the giant slab casting an eerie ambience on the whole situation. Houston pushed on the slab, and with relative ease the massive block of granite slid away to reveal a dark passage. They both proceeded into the tunnel, the torchlight producing a small oasis of light in that sea of blackness.
They finally entered the room where the suit was located. It rested on a large table in the middle of the room. "Hey, Sammer, that looks a lot like your suit," Houston commented, "I guess our technology isn't so different after all." But Samus didn't buy it, she stepped forward. It was covered in a thick layer of dust. She wiped the dust away from the visor to reveal a green tinted glass. She sighed, there was no one inside. The helmet looked back at her with an expression similar to that of a person looking at himself in the mirror. Samus gulped, trying to swallow the air that her lungs refused to receive. She turned the suit over, and brushed the powder away from the back of the neck. There was a number. Not an odd array of triangles, not some foreign inscription, but standard earth didgits. 305. That was her number. That was the serial number on the back of her very own suit! "No!" she cried out, "No, Houston, please!!!" Houston had seen the number as well, and the same thought ran through both of their heads: one of them would never leave Tabnazsh. "It's my suit, Houston. How could they get my suit?" But Houston could say nothing, he could not begin to guess what twisted turn of events rendered that millennium old temple as the final resting place of Samus' suit.
With the massive suit in tow, they both preceded to the central
chamber where they had set up headquarters. Houston approached his
recharging suit only to find massive globs of titanium growing on the
upper portion of the unfinished outer shell. The information contained
in the structure map had been seriously damaged in the explosion and the
control screen read "Not enough information for recharge.
Replication process aborted." The other suit would have to do.
· · ·
And so Houston prepared the suit for his own use. He polished every square inch of it until it was better than new. Houston took pride in his weapons. After he could clearly see his reflection in every contour, he was satisfied. "Give 'er a few thousand years, Sam, and yours should look as good as this one." They both laughed a nervous laugh. It was impossible to trivialize such an extremely serious matter.
"Alright. How do I get inside?"
"Should be the same as your suit. There's a panel on the chest that'll open up the top of the suit. You've gotta enter a code for it. It should be NGC-1275, same as the galaxy. I doubt it's been changed."
Houston brushed off the dark panel and tapped it. The cover slid up, revealing a series of keys. He typed in the code, and the red helmet and chest area lifted up, releasing a hiss of stale air.
The battery had been drained long ago and was too old and corroded to
recharge. Luckily his own had been regenerated and he used it instead.
He stepped into the suit. The inside carried the smell of ancient,
stagnant air. The smell of the interior of a tomb. The first thing he
felt was the fitting mechanism adjusting to his body size. The suit
hesitated for a moment and then the servos gave back a slight jolt. The
suit was alive.
Samus stepped back from it, unsure. Long ago, her mentor had told her about time travel. Somewhere in the back of her skull, she tried to dig out the lessons she'd learned so long ago. Something about meeting one's self...
Her revelry was cut off by a dull klaxon from somewhere within the ruins. She recognized it immediately as a proximity alarm and clicked off the safety of her blaster with her little finger.
Behind her, Houston had entered the suit and was turning it on. He gave her the thumbs up and took a step off the platform. "Let's get the hell outta here."
· · ·
The minions clawed their way through the entrance of the temple, twisting around the slumped body of the Watcher, its dull, lifeless eyes staring at the sun. Their tendrils wrapped around him, searching for any signs of emotion or fear, and, finding none, they wisped their way deeper into the ruins, black on black in the darkness.
Without the Master to power the defense systems of the temple, the Darkness was free to enter. And what better dark place than the hidden alcoves and dark corners of the temple ruins. The Silence had taught them well. search for the silent places.
look around the dark, black retreats of the world and drink from them.
The Minions swarmed over the dead bodies of the Watchers and leached them for traces of fear. They wafted through the cracks in the walls and drank their power. They sensed the room with tentacular strands, searching. Searching for the substance they thrived on. They searched the ruins for fear.
Alarms sounded in the great room. Yes. That would flush the offworlders out where they would be easily overwhelmed and destroyed, and their fearful emotions become one with the Silence.
They pressed on, deeper into the temple in a dark, cold rush.
The minions pushed deeper into the ruins, their filamentous strands
probing far ahead of them into the darkness. They tasted the walls as
they went feeling, measuring, absorbing. Samus’ local proximity alarm
began to go haywire. Something was coming, something in front of her,
no, below her, all around her. Then all was silent, the alarm stopped,
her breathing stopped, it was the calm before the storm. Then it hit
her, something hit her with enough force to knock her to the ground and
hold her there. The minions piled on top of her, probing with their many
fingers, trying to work their way into the suit, trying to swallow the
fear which lay beneath. At first she thought her suit was
malfunctioning, she could see nothing, nothing but the darkness which
waited outside. She toggled through each of her view modes: infrared,
night vision, motion, heat filtering. Nothing.
“Houston! Find us a way out of here! I’m gonna keep them busy!” Still running forward, Samus turned and fired a few rounds down the tunnel. Something screamed, its hideous voice echoing down the empty halls of the temple.
Houston accessed the map system from his datacube and desperately tried to find a passageway that would take them out of the temple. They were progressing deeper into the ruins with every step they took, and he knew they wouldn’t have enough power bombs to keep the minions at bay.
Two more blasts. As far as he could tell, their weapons only made the creatures angrier, and the radar screens showed the things were gaining speed...fast. Houston flicked on the map locator with his tongue and studied their location.
They were running down the main corridor of the temple and as far as he could tell, the only way in or out was back the way they had come, through hordes of angry minions. They would either have to find a way to kill all of them, or at least enough so they could make it back out alive, or make their own way out. And that meant finding a wall thin enough to let them out.
“Samus! We’re gonna have to burn our way out of this place, so try to conserve your bombs! As far as I can tell, those are the only things powerful enough to get us out of here!” Houston fired a short burst of plasma down the tunnel.
“Can we seal off a passage to stop their approach?” Samus yelled, her voice tiny over the internal com system.
“There’s a main support pillar in the large antechamber down the hall. Unfortunately, if we knock that down, the support structure will be weakened and the whole thing could come down on us!”
“That’s a risk we’ll have to take. My gun’s power cells are almost drained...oh hell!”
Still running forward, she turned and fired a couple of plasma bolts down the tunnel at the perusing hordes, then motioned for Houston to turn on his speed booster. She wasn’t sure even if any of the blasts had hit, let alone if a power bomb would stop what was behind them.
· · ·
The dark, cold torrent of darkness flooded down the hallway of the temple, its seething, writhing mass reaching out towards the two offworlders as they fled deeper into the ruins. Small, pitiful blasts from their weapons did little to slow down the throng; it was easy to absorb and deflect the plasma shells once they had recognized the frequency. With every attempt to stop it, the Silence only grew stronger.
Minions probed with their long, black tentacular strands, reaching out towards their counterparts as they surged down the tunnel in a miasmal rush. As the minions combined with each other, they gained momentum and power. Now, the individual demons had converged on each other, drawing power from one another to support the whole, leeching strength from the gloom surrounding them.
Soon, nothing would be able to stop them.
As the murky conglomeration gained speed, the offworlders activated a new system and charged down the tunnel in a blue flash, leaving twin trails of charred stone beneath. No matter. Soon they would run out of places to run to and there would be nowhere to escape the Silence.
Samus and Houston ran until there was a dead end. their location sensors showed that the thousands of individual monsters became on huge flowing mass. Then, the silence had an idea. Make his minions change shape into the creature that these two pathetic offworlders feared most. He probed their minds, inking into every crevice, and found what he was looking for. And a laugh of tremendous proportions filled the minds of the offworlders. Good thought the silence. Their fear gains. And then, out of nowhere, the glob of minions stopped, and changed shape. Samus almost collapsed as it appeared in front of her. The Mother Brain.
"Shit Houston, watch out!" Samus cried, as she stopped dead
in her tracks, the momentum of her suit still trying to carry her
forward. Houston stopped. He saw nothing.
Samus and Houston were trapped. They had no way of escaping the
hordes. Their beams were useless, the minions just fed on the...
“They’re retreating!” Houston yelled over the com system. “I don’t believe it! Where in hell did you get this thing?”
“I got the hyper beam from the Metroid larva I brought back from SR388,” Samus said, firing a couple more blasts down the tunnel, incinerating a few minions as the beam passed right through them. The conglomerate had long ago broken apart and the individual demons had begun to retreat to the safety of the catacombs. It wouldn’t be long until the only thing left of the horde would be a few stragglers. These could easily be wiped out by a few well-placed charged plasma beams. Samus turned back to Houston.
“The beam is actually a modified version of the Mother Brain’s most powerful attack, which she used to paralyze me and drain three full units of health. The Metroid larva had absorbed the brunt of the blast and channeled the energy. When the Mother Brain started to re-charge her health, the larva gave me the energy, modifying it so I could shoot it out using my blaster.”
Houston shook his head. “Helluva story. If anybody else had told me this, I wouldn’t have believed it in a million years!”
The two bounty hunters laughed, then took a look at their surroundings. The large chamber they were in was supported by several large columns with glyphs on them. Several large statues lined the perimeter of the room, giving it the look of an ancient Egyptian temple. A large pedestal stood in the center of the room, about a couple dozen meters away. Houston walked up to one of the pillars and started to translate it.
“It looks like this place was some sort of temple where they worshipped their gods,” Houston mused, following the glyphs with his forefinger. “These pillars chronicle their scriptures and are reminders for their order of worship. Some of them contain stories that I think are from their book.”
“Any idea as to what it has to do with us?” Samus asked, examining one of the statues, a large, hooded creature, twice the size of a normal Watcher. It held a staff with some sort of crystal lodged at the end. “What’s this?”
Houston looked over at Samus. “Looks like a technomage-mage. There were a couple of drawings of them inside the datacube, but the files were too dirty to give me a proper picture. Their staff is supposed to hold great power. And the crystal...looks like some kind of quartz to me, but I’m no geologist. Does your suit have a spectrometer?”
“Houston,” Samus turned to him, frustrated behind her helmet, “this is battle armor, not some sort of miner’s mech. If we’re gonna figure out what the heck this thing does, we should try to read some more of these runes.”
Samus took a step over to the central podium. Standing two meters off the ground, the pedestal had a small set of stairs in the back placed at intervals that a very tall Watcher could manage to climb, no problem for a six-foot human. On the sides of the pedestal were several detailed glyphs and brightly colored pictures, becoming more detailed the farther they got off the ground. About five feet up, a bright orange glyph caught Samus’ eye. She bent over to get a better look at it.
“Houston! Take a look at this!” Samus yelled eagerly.
The glyph represented a familiar bright yellow and orange space ship with a large, green viewport at front. Though oddly shaped, she knew the craft could easily maneuver through the thickest of asteroid fields. She knew, because she had built it.
“It’s your Starship,” Houston was looking over her shoulder, puzzled. “How’d they get a picture of it?”
Samus got up and climbed up the pedestal. Small clouds of dust flew out in all directions, her boots and gloves leaving tread marks on the undisturbed platform.
“Houston, there’s a book up here...probably their holy book. I also see a small inset that looks like you could fit the crystal on the statue inside.” Samus picked up the book and flipped through it. One of the pages had a picture of a technomage mage putting his (her?) staff inside of the pedestal. Beams of blue, charged light radiated outward from the cloaked figure. “I got a hunch. Let’s try putting the crystal inside.”
“Sam, I don’t think that’s smart....” Houston stepped back from the pedestal.
“Look,” Samus handed the open book to Houston. “There’s a picture here showing how it’s done.”
Houston read through the page, translating what seemed important. “It looks like they put their staves inside to charge up their power. We could use one of those...”
· · ·
The Silence doubled back, realizing its mistake. It had not waited long enough to see the off-worlders’ weaknesses, but had instead taken a gamble at destroying them early on with its lesser minions. Fortunately, these were easily replaceable...it could easily manifest more of them. Another horde could easily be sent back inside the temple to take care of them...
But no. The Silence had learned from its last attempt that the offworlders were stronger than it had originally thought, perhaps even stronger than some of the ancient technomages. It would have to try something different this time...the offworlders had proven to be susceptible to the Mindscan, and could easily be tricked into believing in something that really wasn’t there. Unfortunately, they could easily figure out it was a trick if one or the other did not share the same vision. But, if something was manifested in front of them, they would both think it was real. Their weakness was that they relied on their scanners and vision to perceive their world, not their minds. It should be very simple to create something they both wanted...
A Sense... The offworlders had entered the central amphitheater of the temple and had found something...one of the ancient staves... Yes. Yes, that could be a problem. They would have to be stopped before more power was gained.
In a short-wave telepathic frequency, the Silence contacted one of the Scouts. Deep inside the canyon, a small, almost indefectible bend in the light formed the figure of a jet black creature. Strands of darkness fell out in loops around it as the Scout re-formed into a solid, its ragged wings crystallizing into a paper-thin mantle. It swooped out from the shadow of the canyon and came to rest on a rock, absorbing the dim light and casting a film of gloom around it on the blood-red rocks.
find the offworlders. they must not be permitted to use the ancient weapons.
That was all the orders that were needed for the Silence’s followers. These, unlike the minions, were forever a part of the Silence and were much harder to replace. Extra care would have to be taken in order to preserve them.
With a swish, the Scout dissolved in a burst of ribbons and black gas, then disappeared, fully cloaked. Pivoting off the rock, it hovered for a moment, forming a wave pattern, and drew itself out, into the temple.
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