System Boot

[ ◁ Quantum Suicide]

rating: +31+x

On the 25th of March, 2021, at 11:55:50 GMT, a tiny tear in the fabric of reality manifested within the sun.

The importance attributed to the tear by members of the anomalous and civilian world was by all means nonexistent, partially due to its impossibly small size, but mainly due to the insignificance it would present under any real odds. The natural expansion of the universe, proven by the works of physicists like Alexander Friedmann and Robert R. Caldwell implied that eventually, the ever growing space that constituted our universe would naturally rip and tear over time. Usually it would heal. Sometimes it wouldn't. But regardless, it was rarely something of concern.


On the 25th of March, 2021, at 11:56:01 GMT, an alarm clock rang, the metallic chime echoing throughout Site-19, despite being in a hermetically sealed vault.

On the 25th of March, 2021, at 11:56:09 GMT, a researcher noticed an unmistakable ringing sound emanating nearby. He immediately dropped his searing hot coffee and rushed to the red telephone mounted on the wall, blurting out a string of short and simple jargon as beads of sweat began to form upon his forehead. A new clock hand had appeared.

On the 25th of March, 2021, at 11:56:31 GMT a red telephone rang in the office of the resident O4 Overseer stationed at a bunker 35 klicks from Site-19.
After hearing the first four code words, he jumped out of his seat and dashed to an orange panel in the wall opposite his desk, leaving the phone hanging by its chord. Ripping out a box and throwing it open, he cracked open an orange plastic card and punched the numbers listed on the enclosed paper into a keypad mounted within the orange panel, before slumping down and collapsing into his chair. As the flying papers began to waft back down to the ground, the Overseer reached into his desk and pulled out a cigar, before cutting the tip and lighting it. It was against foundation policy, but as the smoke began to rise from the glowing tip, he wasn't sure if it would a problem for much longer.

On the 25th of March, 2021, at 11:56:38 GMT a system-wide alert appeared before O5-1.
His eyes widened in shock as he gradually took in the information displayed before him, his brow furrowing in concern as his demeanor swiftly shifted from surprise to dread. Immediately, he jabbed his wrinkled finger into a biological identification tray and typed in a master override, all the while yelling at the other councilmen around him. The remaining O5 members, having ignored O5-1's perceived antics in favor of an argument about ethics violations, scrambled to their seats and slammed their individual confirmation buttons, swearing incoherently as any resemblance of the collected nature they were specifically selected for was quickly replaced with panic.

On the 25th of March, 2021, at 11:56:55 GMT, a startup sequence for Contingency Atlas Body was initiated, after a unanimous vote from the O5 council, passing in a record 5 seconds, something previously unheard of.
All in all, it was a very swift response, taking advantage of every modern resource, technological advancement, and thought-out safeguard that decades of scientific development brought along with it.

But it wasn't enough.

On the 25th of March, 2021, at 11:57:04 GMT, the Sun blinked out of existence.

And she screamed.

Four seconds later, on the 25th of March, 2021, at 11:57:08 GMT, the Atreus Array fired. In an attempt to stabilize the space-time anomaly near the pivotal point of relative thaumaturgical stability within the local solar system, the thousands of satellites in stationary orbit pumped billions upon billions of Humes into the interdimensional rift forming near the sun.

But it was four seconds too late.
The sun was gone, removed from local reality through a slit the size of a concert hall.
Which is to say, not very large at all.

For the first 8 minutes, nobody realized anything was amiss. Light, although traveling at an incomprehensibly fast 299,792,458 meters per second, still took time to reach earth. Among the few who found out ahead of time, many lost their sense of sanity, the world finding them dead before the darkness hit earth.
O5-10, notably, immediately pulled out a pistol and shot herself in the head the moment confirmation of deployment failure was received. As the rest of the O5 command sat in a mixture of shock and abject horror, a clear division began to form within the meeting room. Some would follow her footsteps, passing the pistol between trembling hands as if it were a macabre game of rigged Russian roulette. Others simply left, seeking out a more pleasant place to spend their final moments. The rest would sit there, dumbfounded, still not yet comprehending the gravity of their situation as the dark spears that hovered over Overwatch Command grew ever longer.
In the end, by the time the darkness would cover the earth most command structures of the anomalous world were either dead or long gone.

On the 25th of March, 2021, at 12:05:24 GMT, the world was engulfed in darkness.

Half the world looked up and saw the sun simply disappear. Day became night within a fraction of a fraction of a second. The light that had gradually waxed and waned over the earth for millennia had been simply removed from existence in a heartbeat, plunging the world into darkness. For the first few minutes they sat in a daze, still in shock from the sudden occurrence, rationalizing that it must be a sort of bizarre meteorological phenomenon. But spoken or unspoken, everyone knew: something was fundamentally wrong, and the explanations of the presidents, reporters and scientists of the world weren't explaining much of anything to alleviate the situation. Each one was locked down by a web of intelligence officers trying to coordinate a universal explanation, out of a futile attempt to maintain the veil, still blind to the events that had already occurred. And so, as minutes turned to hours, mere censorship began to stand futile in the face of common logic as the average citizen quickly gave into the mentality that most adopt in the face of absolute destruction.
Massive crowds of people trampled each other to get to an imaginary place of safety, each storming to grasp whatever answers they could comprehend, any real source of information, any consolation they could find. But they found none. Their media and their preachers, their presidents and their politicians had no real meaning infused into the empty words upon which sole meaning was to quell the masses, their "universal explanation" far too little and far too late. And as the sheer futility of the situation began to sink in, panic quickly dissolved into despair, and despair into anger. Vile, rotten, primal anger, as the helplessness of the situation drove people to the brink of madness, past the fragile line of sanity the world clutched on to so dearly. For when hope is lost, so then is reason lost too.

Mere hours after the sun blinked out, riots in the streets razed public and private institutions to the ground, as the government remained too overwhelmed to deal with their own inner sanctity, much less the citizens of their countries. Upon realizing that the internet and television were actively being censored in regards to any and all information regarding the ongoing cataclysm, many resorted to preaching to crowds, rallying friends, family and acquaintances, and flooding the telephone exchange switches with thousands of processed calls a second. The impossible data transmission infrastructure would grind and protest as latencies slowly grew and grew until the power grid finally blacked out entirely.

The governments of the world, looking up to their intelligence agencies and demanding answers, were met with nothing but silence, the communities dedicated to protecting them so fervently found so inadequately unprotected, their leaders inexplicably absent in the line of duty. The panic of the politicians, however many were in office and not on recreational leave, would quickly be forgotten in the ash of the senates and congressional meeting halls. They were the first buildings to burn after mere hours, victim of the fury of a people that so quickly forgot the meaning of rationality.

Armies and law enforcement, left without any form of orders or support, high command responding with radio silence and district bases too busy to administer aid, fired indiscriminately into crowds in a desperate attempt to reinstate order, as the bodies began to slowly pile in the streets. Those who weren't killed by the armies or by rioters took things into their own hands, and by the end of the first day, the land and the sea alike began to turn a deep crimson red, stained with a seemingly inexhaustible stream of thick blood and running tears mixed with hot brass and cold steel.

But slowly, as the harsh cold of an outer space in the absence of a star began to chill the planet to it's core. As the icicles began to creep forward and the staccato of gunfire began to relent, something intrinsically essential to the world finally gave in. The standard Hume level, more or less evenly spread out across the galaxy at a very generous 110 Humes, suddenly and without warning experienced an impossible flux. Within 0.22 picoseconds, the natural Hume coefficient of every particle of mass localized within 5.3 lightyears from the earth's solar system jumped to 10,200 Humes at once, something that had only ever been achieved artificially before, and only under select circumstances. The lines between dimensions, held together by the single most stable thaumaturgical point in the solar system, the Sun, the pivot that held the structure of reality together, was immediately torn apart in what could only be described as the quintessential disintegration of logic and rational constructive thought instantaneously.

And thus began the war of the worlds.

The Kings and Queens, Gods and Immortals, Ambassadors and Messiahs all stepped out from the prisons that held them by a thread.
Beings incomprehensible to the human mind began to emerge from the ground, the very soil from beneath the feet of billions ripped apart as every manner of hellish nightmare emerged, crawling out from the concrete depths from which they had been contained. They were gods, and they had them in boxes, but now the boxes were gone.
And the gatekeepers, the ones tasked with keeping the boxes in place, were slowly churned to little more then dust, until the definition of dust ceased to exist, whence upon they truly became nothing.

The Foundation, a bastion of power within the Anomalous community, didn't take long to discover their O5 council either dead or gone, some by suicide and the rest by voids that snuck in when the sun went out. In lieu of this new development, many individual sites tried in vain to reorganize, but the slow creeping inevitability of the situation dawned over them as klaxon alarms started blaring deep underground.

The GOC came out in usual fashion with guns blazing, quick to install a sense of leadership, providing the last attempt at order humanity would muster. And true to their creed, the Head Secretary-General fought to the very end; for a moment, it seemed the GOC might gather enough strength to hold a bastion for some exodus to a foreign dimension, but the loss of the political structure that composed the United Nations they so heavily relied on and the slow creeping cold killed what little initiative they had in the beginning. Their movement died, buried under the ice and snow that swept over the planet.

The entrances into the Library were completely and utterly packed, as those who knew how and those who could flocked to the only sanctuary they knew. Anartists, Three Portlands residents, physical avatars of the Oneiroi, there were no shortages of conflicting groups, and yet all was forgotten in a desperate fight to survive. But their hopes would not last long, the spirits of thousands wavering amongst the infinite columns of books as the Library began to shake to its very core.

The GRU-P, the small remnant that survived through the hellfire that was the USSR, out of hope and out of options, kneeled and prayed to God. As tears streaked down their faces and their guns clattered to the floor, their bodies trembled before the golden icon of the Theotokos. And as the last of the old guard lay his cap down and fell to ash, before he died, he could have sworn he saw the Theotokos cry with them.

The UIU, always the joke of the anomalous world, always short handed and permanently understaffed, slowly gathered together, and, casting aside their fears, started to appeal to every god, every deity, every entity they knew of, mixing cults, rituals, prayers, and what few artifacts they had to attempt a restabilization of local reality. They died braver then the rest, their blood running dry in a desperate attempt to keep the world alive. But it was useless.

On the 30th of March, 2021, at 19:05:24 GMT, the net sum of all deities sharing or connected to the plane of reality Earth resided on completed their convergence, completely manifesting themselves in their whole forms, resulting in a battle that shook the physical and metaphysical plane of existence to it's very core, sending out shock waves that altered thousands of parallel dimensions, causing them to collapse upon each other. Continents were moved, geography was reshaped, and cities simply disappeared as gods fought, towering colossuses that removed any semblance of rationality or normality with their mere presence. The few humans that survived up until this point quickly went mad, the heavens torn asunder by the towering figures of ineffable and incomprehensible nature and the earth shattered into billions of pieces, the essence of the life of Gaia seeping out into the uncaring merciless void both from above and below.

But even gods are mortal, and eventually, when the King on the Gallows and the King of Scarlet, the Queens of Black many and the Gods of contradiction, the God 5 and the Entity of 7, the Narrators and Plotters of every plane, the Spiders and the Snakes, the Illusioned and the Disillusioned, the sons of God along with their Father and the countless others came together it seemed almost inevitable that reality would collapse along with them.

On the אth of March, —-, at [ERR], after reducing reality to metaphorical and literal dust, the narrative plot line of the world rendered itself asunder in every which way physically and metaphorically possible, entropy converging upon itself in a fit of irony, as the powerful without number were pulled back into the unstoppable reversal of time. In the end, the final line in the Book of Life was penned not by a god, or by an all-powerful deity, or by a reality-hopping reality bender, but by the inexhaustible greed of man. Perhaps it would have been a teaching moment, if there was anyone left alive to learn from it.

And so a singular, one-dimensional dot in the absolute void of irreality sat, unmoving, frozen in time and space, and yet somehow existing in the absence of both, without name nor definition. It was the entire net sum of the space that an informational remnant of existence once resided. Humanity, in the end, had cheated death one too many times.

This humanity, at least.

A beautiful young woman walked along a narrow path of pure light, surrounded by a stark nothingness. Her robes were dyed with the darkness of night, her hands were stained with crimson blood that glistened from below, her head adorned with a most beautiful glass circlet crown that dug jagged cuts deep into her brow, the sides of her face trickling with a constant ebb of crimson blood, and an eternal flame lapped at her shoes, leaving embers in her wake.
And yet she walked forward still, the void around her pulling and tugging at the very strands of her being, her body going through excruciating pain. Despite all this, her mind was tranquil and at peace, free from agony or strife, from sadness or despair. She envied the feeling, and for a moment, she stopped in her tracks, looking up at the void, as if to ask if it was worth taking upon this herculean task. Would it hurt, to stop for just a moment? To rest her tired eyes, and heal her broken soul?
But heavy is the head that bears the crown, and weary are the eyes that gaze upon the abyss.
She could not stop, not when she took this duty upon herself. Only through Him would her duty end.
And so, steeling herself, she continued on, until she came to a smouldering archway, where the light ended. She took a deep breath and stepped through, the black smoke enveloping her entire being as she wearily uttered a single phrase.
"I really hate this part"

On the 25th of March, 2021, at 11:56:01 GMT, an alarm clock rang.

On the 25th of March, 2021, at 11:56:04 GMT, 05-10, nicknamed "The Archivist" jolted out of a daze in the middle of a conference with the other O5 members, slammed a large button to her left and impaled her finger in the biological identification module before her, before collapsing on her desk. The other O5s quickly glanced at her, blood trickling from her brow as a black smoke began to fill the conference room, and silently left, moving to the conference hall adjacent to the one they were just in. It happened far too often for any of them to enjoy, and none of them liked to dwell on it.

On the 25th of March, 2021, at 11:56:30 GMT, the Atreus Array fired, stabilizing the spatio-temporal displacement event happening at the target location, with 31 seconds to spare.

And so life went on. For nearly everybody, the entire ordeal only lasted for about 29 seconds. Exactly 25 people would go on to find out about the activation of Contingency, specifically all 13 members of the 05 council, three analysts directly in charge of maintaining the Atreus Array, one Chief Head of the GOC, one "Nobody", five members of the core council of the Hand, one Miss Wondertainment and one Allison Chao. Or several Allison Chao's, if you count every version from every adjacent timeline.
But within this current worldline, the only mortals who went on to have any actual recollection of the events that took place within the XK-class "end of the world scenario" consisted of O5-10, Allison Chao(s), Miss Wondertainment and one archivist of the inner council of the Hand…

As far as Anybody knew.

While the world continued spinning, unaware of the fate they had averted just moments ago, one boy stood motionless in a green field, as if frozen in time; his vacant eyes were not in the present, but rather in the past, his blue irises somehow clouded over, crystalized and locked into place, into a visage that was so pristine was not long ago so terrible in scope and yet, somehow, still as beautiful as ever.

And he remembered all of it. How he stared up and watched the sun blink out. How he ran from the sight of his dead father, impaled through the heart with a spear of pure darkness, sucking out the life he once had until he was nothing but a pile of ash. How he closed his eyes to the pleas of his mother, torn apart limb by limb, her bones cracking as they were slowly pulverized by a heaping mass of fishhooks and band saws. How he covered his ears to drown out the cries of his sister, the screams of monsters and men intertwined until he could simply hear no more, his ears bleeding as the constant whining battered his mind alongside a barrage of pain. How he pinched his nose to shut out the unmistakable stench of burning flesh mixed with an undeniably horrid smell of sheared metal and burning cogs. How he tasted the thick smoke that wafted over the horizons, the utter disgust that came of it causing him to vomit over and over again until there was nothing left to vomit. How he scraped the freezing snow off of his bare skin, his hands turning blue as he began to see his arms and legs crack and fissure like icicles, glad that at least the ice was not yet red.
It was a paradox his brain had yet to comprehend. Dead and yet alive, deaf and yet he could hear, numb and yet he could feel, hoarse and yet he could speak, blind and yet he could see. It was a sentiment entirely and utterly unknown to him, the feeling of disability overlapping with ability, the fresh memories holding an iron grasp upon his fragile, cracked psyche. But slowly, painfully, he began to come back to reality.

The first thing he really felt was the warmth of the rising sun, basking him in its warmth. It was a stark contrast to the utterly devastating cold he felt not long ago, the chill that froze every fiber of his being down to his soul. He looked down to see his hands, soft and tender, warm and filled with life; then up to see the beautiful plain of wheat that danced in the wind for as long as the eye could see, even higher still the rays of sunlight glimmering from the heavens as if they were golden rods holding up the sky. And so he began to come to, awakening only to find tears streaking down the sides of his face, as he began to understand he was alive.
Enraptured by his state of being, he never heard the quiet gait of a man, dressed in a flawless three-piece suit, walk up behind him, put a gun to the back of his head, and pull the trigger.

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