The beginning of the end was heralded by a loud klaxon alarm.
Men and women shuffled about the hallways of the compound, carrying clipboards and wearing suits or lab coats. It seemed like any other day at the lab, but it wasn't.
Today, in the year 165 AE — or 2439 CE by the archaic way of counting — was testing day.
This would be the third test of the new tech in the past three months. If this one was successful, as had been the previous two, the lab would be granted production rights and the go-ahead to announce their discovery to the public. There was a slight buzz, a little more excitement than usual as the workers bustled about to play their part in making this miracle of science a reality.
Janes especially was having a good day. He rested with his arms propped up on the railing of the observation deck, chewing on a pencil absently as he gazed upon the product of years of his labor.
'We made it,' he thought, a brief smile sneaking across his face. 'I did it.'
He stood and stretched, setting himself down on one of the several chairs on the balcony. He hoped more than anyone else for the success of this experiment. This one was more important than the previous two combined.
This would be their first human trial.
They were going to, for the first time, send a human from one point to a distant other in the space of a single second. And they had Janes to thank for it. But ever since he'd announced his success in transporting inanimate objects — and more recently, animals — to his superiors, they had been breathing down his neck about getting it into production as soon as possible, if not sooner. Janes had been hesitant, but he had agreed that if the first set of human trials were successful, then they would make the announcement to the public. This was the first step.
He mused over what it might say.
"Acclaimed scientist invents teleportation, no nahir involved," he muttered aloud, the words rolling off his tongue. He liked how they sounded, how they tasted. Janes shook himself, chuckling once at his daydream.
"No nahir involved"... Nahir my ass. He'd never been a fan of the whole nahir magical gobbledygook, despite possessing limited use of it himself.
He jerked up out of his chair, startled by a realization: it was nearly noon. Nearly time to begin. They were on the receiving end, the other lab several miles away. The observation deck began to fill, all with coworkers who had helped just as much as he had to get them to where they were today. All were praying to the gods for success. None could afford failure.
After much preparation, double checks, and quintuple checks, the technicians below the deck gave the thumbs up, and the device activated.
The device was quite a beautiful thing. Twice as tall and wide as a man, sleek shape and polished metal came together to form what was just as much a work of art as a work of science. The sculpted and patterned arch rested on a platform, inside a clear box with the front side missing. Everyone within the box jogged out of it, getting to a safe distance in order to watch. Nobody wanted to miss the history being made here.
The box... Janes didn't like thinking about the box. But he knew it was a necessary safety precaution. Teleportation seemed to deal with an entirely new and unexplored branch of science, and there was really no telling what that could mean. It was best to have the option to lock the device up if need be.
But Janes didn't want to think about that. Not when they were so close to success. They had a medical team in the room, ready to take the vitals and check the systems of the man who would come through, and he knew they would clear him. They had to.
The device powered up slowly. It didn't glow or anything of the sort. Instead, it seemed to warp and bend the air around it — especially that which was within the arch — remaining clear enough to see through it. He found it fascinating, and knew the others on the observation deck were just as enamored, what with the increase in whispers and quiet exclamations of excitement.
He could see a technician talking into a com device below them, and knew they were speaking to the other base, making sure everything was set before making the transfer.
Janes' heart rate picked up, and when the machine started fluctuating faster, he could feel his throat dry up and his stomach drop with suspense. They'd succeeded before, he told himself repeatedly, so why should today be any different?
But something was different. He could feel it: in the hairs prickling upward on the back of his neck, in the chill that ran down his spine, in the flash of cold fear that assaulted his mind... Something was wrong.
Not two seconds later, the machine imploded.
A burst of colorful lights flashed on and off in quick succession, blinding him as he fell out of his seat with a cry. He hit the ground hard, unable to even open his eyes see what was going on. He could hear screams and cries, probably all from people he knew, but they were faint, as his ears rang.
He could feel his skin crawling, waves of something strange and cold washing over him and enveloping him. He could feel it burning his skin, and as it entered his mouth, his insides. He couldn't even scream.
The cacophony of light and sound lasted what felt like an eternity, but as quickly as it had begun, it stopped.
Janes opened his eyes, squinting. The intense burning sensation had passed, but he still felt as if his nerve endings were tingling painfully. When he's finally managed to regain a semblance of his sight, what greeted him was mind-numbingly terrifying.
The man was there. He stood right in front of Janes, mere inches from his face. His eyes were black and sunken, and his skin was gray, barely seeming to stretch across his cheekbones. Despite having empty eye sockets, the man seemed to stare at him, a hollow, rotting feeling expanding outward in Janes' chest as he watched him.
And as quickly as the man was there, he wasn't.
Janes was left breathing erratically, trying not to panic from shock and terror as he struggled to sit up. A sharp pain in his leg drew his attention to it, and he saw that a shard of metal was embedded into it. Pulling himself forward on the ground with his hands, he reached the edge of the balcony and stared down at the destruction.
The machine seemed to have melted, leaving nothing but a dead husk of the masterpiece that it had once been. The top of the box had been blown off, and isolated spots of a green tinted fire bloomed in and out of existence in various spots across the room.
Sparks and strips of metal showered down on the ground around him in slow motion, as if it were a horrible dream. The klaxon alarm faded into the backdrop of his consciousness as Janes stared upon the horror he had wrought.
What have we done?
A little teaser for you guys! I just felt like posting it cause why not. The actual story release schedule won't change, but I had this written already and even though it's extremely rough, I thought it'd be fun to get some preliminary opinions. :)
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