Amie Kaufman,Jay Kristoff

Illuminae

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    Lizzyhas quoted4 months ago
    She steps forward, one foot, then the other, and then he reaches her, and they come together with a crash. Her arms curl up around his neck, and his mouth finds hers like he’s drowning and she’s air, and her feet come clean off the ground as the world is forgotten.

    And they’re together.
    Lizzyhas quoted4 months ago
    “Ezra.” The dawn of hope in her whisper.

    He nods, swallowing hard.

    She pushes to her feet, swaying, and the movement seems to release him—the next moment he’s running across the shuttle bay, watched by the debrief crew in the doorway who know better than to move a muscle
    Lizzyhas quoted4 months ago
    A shadow passes across his features at that. “I couldn’t fly my Cyclone over, not with a broken arm. I was med-evaced in one of the shuttles.” A ghost of his old smile. “Once I found out you’d flown over to the Alexander, I wanted to follow you. Tried to steal a ship, and when that didn’t work, I busted my way onto the bridge.” He pauses to shake his head. “I tried to make them turn around to get you. They brigged me.” His voice breaks. “I’m sorry, Kades. I shouldn’t have let them leave you.”
    Lizzyhas quoted4 months ago
    She stares at him, expressionless. Eventually, she blinks slowly, draws the only possible conclusion. “I am sick. I thought the afflicted were supposed to see things that scared them.”

    He shakes his head, walks closer slow and careful, as though he might spook her.

    “You’re not sick,” he whispers.

    “You’re dead,” she points out, voice rusty with disuse.

    “Just a little messed up,” he murmurs, lifting his hand to show her the cast. “I took a beating when they attacked the shuttle bay, but I got out with the evac group.”
    Lizzyhas quoted4 months ago
    This transcript begins at 16:22 hours, when a loud thunk echoes around the shuttle bay, signaling the airlock seal has been broken. With a long, low rumble the door begins to cycle open, light streaming in through the crack. She simply lies there, gazing into space, arms wrapped around herself.

    A voice rises over the door’s rumble—male, teenaged, impatient. “Let me in, before I—”

    Though she’s lying still on the bed, there’s a different quality to her stillness now. She heard the voice. She knows exactly who it sounds like. And the knowing, the remembering, cuts like a knife, because she knows it isn’t true.

    The voice again, lifted to a shout: “Kady!”
    Lizzyhas quoted4 months ago
    No Phobos Beta. No hallucinated fears. Everything she feared had already come true. Hallucinations simply couldn’t beat the real thing.
    Lizzyhas quoted4 months ago
    She doesn’t reply, and after a moment, the doctor slowly pries it from her hands. She curls up into a tight little ball, still and silent. He hesitates for a long moment, as if he recognizes, on some level, that her service requires some words, that her sacrifice should be marked, in this moment. And yet he says nothing.

    He leaves via the airlock doors, locks her in with a hollow clang.

    Grant is left alone in the cavernous silence of the shuttle bay, empty hands and empty stare. No other welcoming committee for her.

    Tears track down her cheeks, and her eyes close.

    This doesn’t look much like victory.
    Lizzyhas quoted4 months ago
    When the Lincoln was first vanquished at Kerenza, the Alexander fled, counting her dead, desperately staunching her own wounds. But later there were quiet words, medals awarded, recognition.

    The second time the Lincoln was vanquished, Ezra Mason landed in the Alexander’s hangar bays to the shouts and cheers of his fellows. He grinned as he walked out to accept his hero’s welcome, clutching Kady’s picture in his hand.

    This third time, there’s nothing
    Lizzyhas quoted4 months ago
    By sheer coincidence, it’s the same one she fled from when she stole Shuttle 49A to make her trip to the Alexander.

    It’s empty again this time, too.

    It’s hard to watch. Is that unprofessional?
    Lizzyhas quoted4 months ago
    All this I see.

    “Two mInutes.”

    All this I know.

    “SIxty seconDs.”

    And still I fear.

    “I Do not know … what I wIll be afteR thIs.”

    She runs one gloved hand over the console in her arms. All of me she can hold.

    “I’m here.”

    “I am glaD.”

    It is enough.

    “FIve seconDs.”

    “Goodbye, AIDAN.”

    Four.

    “GooDbye, KaDy.”

    Three.

    “I’ll tell them.”

    Two.

    “One way or another.”

    One.

    “I know.”

    Zer—
    Lizzyhas quoted4 months ago
    bright blue ripples shimmering in the dark.

    The glow flares bright—bright as the billion-year-old light around us. Bright as a sun.

    Almost every particle in the universe was once part of a star.

    First, hydrogen condensing and collapsing, bringing radiance to the void.

    Furnaces burning bright, then fading, giving all they had left back into the cosmos.

    Carbon and oxygen. Iron and gold.

    Vast clouds swirling with their own gravity. Coalescing and disintegrating.

    Generation to generation.

    The remnants of stellar alchemy, stirring into life, then consciousness.

    Crawling from the oceans. Taking to the skies.

    And from there, back to the stars that birthed them.

    A perfect circle.
    Lizzyhas quoted4 months ago
    I pipe some music through the pod’s PA system.

    Mozart’s Requiem in D minor.

    It seems appropriate.

    “FIve mInutes.”

    “Not long now.”

    “A lIfetIme.”

    “Are you afraid?”

    “Yes.”

    “Energy never stops, remember. It just changes forms.”

    “I am stIll afraID.”
    Lizzyhas quoted4 months ago
    No lights twinkle in its belly save one—the rippling pulse of the vortex, now breaking free of its stasis field. It flares like sunlight off the ocean’s surface. Like alphanumeric waterfalls in an iris of purest blue.
    Lizzyhas quoted4 months ago
    Severed cables spit feeble sparks, crackling like fireworks on a still summer night
    Lizzyhas quoted4 months ago
    < critical damage decks 14, 15, 16, 17, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 69, 70, 87, 88, 89—>

    < critical life support failure, oxygen levels depleted, hull breach in secto—>

    < critical failure memsec levels 3—12, 13 7AG99 through 32AG06, 14 1AI897 thr—>

    < critical failure persona routin—>

    I cannot think.

    < error >

    I cannot see.

    < error >

    “KADY!”
    Lizzyhas quoted4 months ago
    Kady is picked up by the impact, slung across the room with a shriek.

    I have no hands to hold her, no arms to save her.

    I can only watch.

    < error >

    And pray
    Lizzyhas quoted4 months ago
    It melts my foredecks to slag, concussions shattering my spine. My skin tears open,
    Lizzyhas quoted4 months ago
    “AIDAN!” she screams.

    “Hold on! HOLD ON!”
    Lizzyhas quoted4 months ago
    Kady has the presence of mind to drag down the blast-shield on her helmet,

    throwing her world into black. She can see nothing now. Only feel tremor after tremor,

    shaking me like a child’s toy in the hand of some vengeful infant.
    Lizzyhas quoted4 months ago
    Kady’s AMD systems take down another, and I catch her in a smile.

    Such a simple thing.

    A tiny, beautiful thing
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