Gunfire and explosions played out a distant and constant dread tattoo, punctuated by the occasional shriek of rocket fire or the hurtling and rapid thwack thwack thwack of a rotary aircraft buzzing low over the city’s rooftops.
Metz watched ripples appear and vanish in his glass of whiskey as the distant rumbles of thunder and violence shook the room. The battle had begun in the afternoon when Krullefor marines began a combined arms assault across the Gulormola channel, launching themselves into a hail of weaponry from all the various groups in the newly independent district who didn’t want them flexing their newly minted legal authority as security contractors.
The lights in the safehouse flickered ominously and Metz wondered if the city’s powergrid would survive the next few days of violence. The room vibrated as a fireball piled up in the harbor, its shockwave climbing into the sky above the distant lightshow. Metz shook his head and took another sip of his drink.
Despite the conflict washing across the city, Metz was focused on his computer terminal. The message displayed on it was more ominous than any of the fighting going on outside. Alien, impossible, disturbing, it settled into his stomach like the burning icy fragments of a forgotten nightmare.
“Hi Metz,” the doppelganger said to him, “It’s me, well, you. You won’t remember making this message, and hopefully you will never have to see it. But if you are seeing this, you need to know this isn’t a forgery, so, when Alyia was dying, you promised her you would find the bastard who killed her. Unless you suddenly changed your mind about keeping that a secret after twenty years, it should serve to prove that I’m you.”
Metz felt a cold sweat spread down the back of his neck, he took another nervous sip of whiskey, his hair standing on end. Something was very wrong, he didn’t know what this message was about, how he had sent it to himself or forgotten making it, but it was a sign that something was very amiss. Deja vu was creating a pinched feeling in his sinuses, making his eyes water as the message continued ominously along.
“If you’re seeing this, it means something has gone very wrong and data containment has failed in our lab. Jaxia is probably dead which means containment protocol falls to you. In the back of your desk drawer is a metal box, the code to access it is 496890. Inside are two autoinjectors, you need to take the red one, it’s the only way you’ll remember long enough to do what needs to be done. After taking it you need to go to the location listed in this file and proceed into the bunker under the warehouse and set off the device located in lab E296. This should stop the containment breach. After that, trigger the self destruct on the facility and use the green autoinjector to erase your memories of the last few days. The less you know, the safer you’ll be. It’s…” the other version of him looked nervously over his shoulder into an empty corner and went pale, “Oh, and work fast if you don’t want to die.” The doppelganger picked up an autoinjector from the desk and injected himself before quickly ending the video.
“What the ■■■■ was that?” Metz said to himself. The sounds of battle continued in the distance, punctuated by the occasional flash of light as an explosion climbed above the rooftops of the city. The angel knocked back the last of his whiskey with a grimace and yanked open the drawer to his desk. The metal case was there. It had been there the entire time Metz realized, dumbfounded.
Metz had looked right at that case at least a few times a week for years, any time he’d opened his desk drawer, there it was, in plain sight for him to see. It had been sitting right there the entire time, and yet something about it made Metz pass it off as inconsequential, irrelevant, just background clutter not worthy of his attention. He picked up the case, slightly afraid if he stopped looking at it he’d forget it existed again.
As he picked it up a holoscreen keypad appeared on the surface, and Metz quickly punched in the code, removing the pair of color coded autoinjectors from inside. He still had no idea what this was about, what he was getting himself into, what he had already gotten himself into. But it was clearly deadly serious, serious enough to warrant erasing his memories. That alone made him nervous.
His terminal chirped as a connection request came through. It was Endorsei. Normally a message from the sociopathic monster that was the Cartel’s Jovian research division commander would set Metz on edge, but he was already far more on edge than Endorsei could make him. If anything, if anyone, could know and understand what was happening, it was her. He idly thought he should have seen the message coming, of course Endorsei would know what was going on. He tapped the accept button.
“Metz,” she said, and Metz instantly felt the blood drain from his face. Endorse was actually nervous. He could see it in her face, read it in her expressions. Something had managed to scare the monster that was Endorsei Edlrif, and that was scarier than anything he’d seen thus far.
“I’m here,” he croaked out through painfully dry lips.
“Did you get a message?” She asked him breathlessly. “One from…” she trailed off, uncertain.
“From myself?” He asked, “Yeah, I did. What’s this about? What’s going on?”
“I can’t tell you that.” she said, “But I can tell you that I got one too. Do what it says. The fate of the cluster might depend on it.”
‘En, what’s happening? What is this?” He begged, desperate for answers, for more information, for anything to explain the events he was being sucked into.
“It’s possibly the end of the goddamn human race, now get to ■■■■■■■ work,” she ended the message, leaving Metz once more alone in his office. He looked down at the injectors, took a deep breath, and stabbed the red colored one into his neck, just like he’d seen himself do in the message. And he saw, and saw, and saw.