Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Overthrown
Chapter 0.5: System Failure
A young man in a white lab coat stood over a desk typing seemingly random numbers into the sleek computer that sat on it, inputting the necessary codes needed to cheat death.
He looked up from his work and out of a conveniently placed window in the rock wall to peer into the chamber below.
Another scientist, this one older and balding, was dashing about the inner perimeter of the concrete walled chamber.
He was connecting the last few wires that were chaotically laced from the ebbing power supply to a strange metal ring embedded in the wall that made it seem like a tunnel; a tunnel full of live high-voltage energy conductors and spinning metal gears that is.
Large rectangular computer monitors were placed at nearly every open space available, their screens occasionally flickering to life, and then returning to a monotonous black. The lab light fixtures mounted on the walls and ceiling where forced from the brilliance of an artificial sun down to a dull orange due to lack of power.
A deep rumble from under their feet shook the entire facility, and caused both men to pause their actions. Concrete dust gently floated from the ceiling like a grey mist, coating both scientists’ lab coats with a layer of the chalky grey substance.
The man from the lower room spoke, the advanced communication system ensuring that both men could hear each other, even through meters of concrete.
“Are you certain we should have stayed? I should have left with the others when the evacuation order went out, not fiddle with that machine!” the older man yelled as he pointed to the metal device behind him.
The man in the upper room sighed, as he mopped the sweat off his forehead with the sleeve of his lab coat.
“I’m not sure of anything anymore, Henry. I can’t tell if anything will work. But I do know one thing; I will do the duty I was charged with. The duty we were both given by the board,”
he spoke to his comrade, trying to seal off the other man’s feeling of doubt with a heavy layer of guilt.
The older man, Henry, returned his attention to the amateur job we was doing with the set of wires that came out of the tunnel-like machine.
This was a job for an electrician, not a scientist, Henry thought to himself.
“It’s true that we were given orders to watch over the boy, but we also have contingency orders that say that in case of a catastrophic situation-and this is one- the complete evacuation of company personal and important data is to be given first priority over the welfare of others.”
He paused to see if the man he was talking to in the upper deck was paying attention; he was barely.
“Even over the life of the president’s kid, Doug. We’re both defying direct orders by staying here, and I know that you heard the alarm, so you can’t use that excuse.”
He then looked over to the center of the concrete walled chamber where on a metal lab table laid a boy of about fifteen with brown hair that was cut short nearly military style; he was unconscious, most likely from the operation earlier.
He was wearing a light blue T-shirt with a single circular hole torn through the center of it in the lower right torso; a dried dark red stain blossomed from around the tear in the fabric.
A grim reminder of the violent coup d'état that had taken place only a few hours before.
Doug thought inwardly, he wasn't a traitor, the Republic was, not them. Now those same traitors had succeeded in destroying their refuge- the sabotaged reactors would overheat any minute now.
“I’m not going to stand aside and let him die like the others. I have the ability to ensure his survival, but if we leave then we seal his fate. Please Henry, I need your help, we don’t have much time left,” Doug said as he continued typing.
The building rocked again, small pieces of concrete fell from the ceiling along with the powder. A spider web of creaks spun its way across the entirety of the roof and the floor.
Henry moved to one of the flickering computer screens beside him.
The screen flickered to life to show six vertical cylinder-like items in a row; three of the six were flashing light red.
The screen then dissolved into static.
“Turbine numbers two, three and six are down, and four has almost reached capacity.” He broke his analysis of the flickering screen.
Henry looked up to the observation deck once more pleading with the younger scientist, “Doug. We have to leave. Now. If you won’t go, then I will leave without you. I swear I will.”
The man at the receiving end of the plea exhaled, “Henry, if you wanted to leave, you would have left with the others when the alarm first went off. Is the device connected?”
Henry groaned in frustration, the only thing keeping him from throttling his fellow researcher was the thought of what “murder” would look like on his employee records. Rogue Industries was merciless when it came to imperfection in its staff.
“Henry, we’re working on a time limit. A very explosive time limit I might add,” Doug chided the man, but the seriousness of the situation couldn’t be masked.
Henry nearly lost it, but he forced himself to take a deep breath before allowing his mouth to speak.
“Yes, everything is connected to the best of my ability. I even managed to patch it into the room’s emergency reserve power grid, are you happy now? Can we please just go through with your scheme and then get out of here?” Henry promised himself right then and there that he would see the surface world again before he died. He shook away the images of his wife's sobbing at his demise.
“Great. Now I can get the program started, hopefully it will work even if the main network is offline. Get in here before I initiate it.” Doug announced as a small metal door slid open in the wall opposite the tunnel device and the teen on the table.
Doug continued clicking away at the keys when Henry appeared in the room from the small concrete staircase which connected the two. The building shook once more, bringing a cascade of concrete dust and small pebbles of the stuff to fall in both rooms.
Henry watched over Doug’s shoulder, trying not to breathe in the dust as the scientist started up the computer program that ran the experiment.
The screen showed a symbol of a metal gear with a hammer and sword crossed over it like an “X”. Then the picture was replaced with white words on a black pixilated background.
Rogue Industries Employee Login: Accessing….
Load Completed/ Error 354: Local Network Connection Offline...
01000101011110000110100101101100011001010010110000 10000001101001011101000010000001110100011000010110 10110110010101110011001000000111100101101111011101 01011100100010000001101101011010010110111001100100 00101110001011100010111001100001011001110110000101 10100101101110///456282810029
“You do realize that this very experiment has been attempted before, right? And that every time it failed…miserably.” Henry reminded Doug as he simply shrugged off the comment and kept on typing.
The building shook again, being twenty floors underground didn’t make the situation any better; in fact, it only seemed to get worse as every rumble was akin to an earthquake.
The computer screens flickered slightly.
Processing Error 23: Opening Login. Please Wait…
Login Page Successfully Loaded.
Employee Number: 1498
Company Issued Password: **** *******
01001001011101000010000001110100011000010110101101 10010101110011001000000111100101101111011101010111 00100010000001101101011010010110111001100100
A deep rumble caused the chamber to vibrate for a moment. Several of the other monitors in the upper chamber started flashing red accompanied by an alarm siren.
(RogueIndustries.3246/ Test/ Sub-level Router?# = 3346)
Welcome To Rogue Industries Research Facility Employee Network.
Warning: Access Limited. Server Connections Have Been Interfered With.
Code 3: Main Network System Experiencing Difficulties.
Warning: Nuclear Turbines Maximum Heat Capacity Reached. Please Engage Emergency Emissions Exhaust Vents- Please Note That Rogue Industries Mainframe Viral Announcement System’s Previous Use Of Alliteration Is Entirely Coincidental. 01100001011001110110000101101001011011100010111000 10111000101110
[/r450-security system compromised@#=]
Initiate Trial Experiment Number 501?
01011001011011110111010100100000011001110110111101 11010000100000011100110111010101100011011010110110 01010111001001110011001000000110110001110101011000 1101101011
“Doug, I was here when they first created that machine. I had to modify the personal files so they wouldn’t show all the test subjects that were disintegrated by the energy blasts. I can personally tell you that whoever enters that machine will die.” Doug continued typing oblivious to Henry’s protests.
[Encoding Complete/ 4536277728830WWEDSCSD
01001000011000010111011001100101001000000111100101 10111101110101001000000110011101101001011101100110 01010110111000100000011101010111000000111111
“Why do you think it will work when so many others have failed?”
Henry scolded the man on the computer. Doug continued typing, oblivious to Henry’s commentary.
The building rumbled again, shaking the underground portion of the Rogue Industries Research Facility.
Reboot Complete: Commence Experiment Number: 501/D.T.T/325…Yes/No
“How are you going to make this different than all the others? What reason do you have to think that this time the device will work correctly?” Henry desperately asked as Doug hit the “Yes” option.
Trial Number 277 Initiating….
01000100011011110110010101110011001000000110100101 11010000100000011001100110010101100101011011000010 00000110110001101001011010110110010100100000011000 01001000000111010001110010011010010110000101101100 00111111
Henry glanced at the crumbling ceiling every few seconds. As he watched Doug select another selection on the start-up screen, pebble-sized debris clinked against the metal machines down below. The boy on the lab table in the testing chamber remained unconscious, oblivious to the destruction that whirled around him.
Trial Options- Safety- Fail Safes- Test Subject Retrieval System
Disengage Selected Safety Option? Yes/No…
Please Confirm Selection: Yes/No…
Yes 01000100011011110110010101110011001000000110100101 11010000100000011101000111001001101111011101010110 00100110110001100101001000000111100101101111011101 01011100100010000001101101011010010110111001100100 00101100
Henry’s eyes widened in disbelief, “You can’t be serious. Disabling that is asking for death.” He warned as he looked toward the boy down below.
Warning: Any Testing Protocol Modification Must Be Approved By An Authorized Rogue Industries Employee. Please Wait Until A Supervisor Arrives Before Continuing.
Testing Procedure Bypass Code Required:
Doug backed away from the computer station and wordlessly motioned for Henry to input the required code.
Henry scoffed, “Why would I change the protocol? You are the one trying to save that boy-who we could have easily left here and evacuated with the others! And now you want to deactivate the one testing factor that just might keep him alive when this trail fails? I won’t do it!”
“Henry, how many test subjects actually survived this experiment?” He continued without waiting for a response from the older scientist.
“I already know the answer. None. And all of them had that failsafe option activated, didn’t they?” Doug answered as the older scientist quickly realized that what he said was true.
“It’s time that we try something different. Now put in the code.” He asked as a chunk of ceiling fell in between the two bickering scientists, slamming into the crumbling floor with a thud.
Henry silenced his protest when he saw the murderous look in Doug’s eyes, and the clearly decreasing time limit for the facility and his life. He quickly shoved Doug to the side and bent over the flickering monitor.
Testing Procedure Override Code Required: **********
Processing…..Internal Override Complete.
27364011101000110100001100101001000000111011101100 00101111001001000000111100101101111011101010010000 00111010001110010011011110111010101100010011011000 11001010010000001101101011010010110111001100101001 11111
“Commencing Testing With Modified Procedure:” The automated announcement system’s voice boomed above the blaring alarms and screeching metal and concrete.
A rumble of machinery started then abruptly faded. Red flashing alarm lights appeared from the roof of the lab.
“Warning: Power Level Insufficient To Begin Experiment. Please Repair Damaged Rogue Industries Electricity Supply Cables Or Activate An Approved Rogue Industries Alternative Power Source Power Generator.
Emergency Operational Code Number: 332.”
The automated announcement system warned as the facility entered its final stage of collapse.
Doug didn’t even have to consult the computer for the problem. He dashed over to the wall on the other side of the observation deck where other pieces of computers and wiring crisscrossed the wall.
He reached a large metal lever, and quickly pulled it into a down position.
The entire room shuddered, a few of the computers sparked with the sudden influx of reserve power.
Henry watched as the computer screen automatically registered the addition of power.
Power Levels Returning To Optimal Operational Conditions. Experiment Can Now Be Initiated.
01001111011010000010000001111001011011110111010100 10000001101101011001010110000101101110011101000010 00000111001101101111001000000110110101110101011000 1101101000
>>>>>>Experiment Will Commence In Five Seconds<<<<<<
01001000011000010111011001100101001000000111100101 10111101110101001000000110011101101001011101100110 01010110111000100000011101010111000000111111
01000001011100100110010100100000011110010110111101 11010100100000011010100111010101110011011101000010 00000111010001101000011010010110111001101011011010 01011011100110011100100000011101000110111101101111 001000000110011001100001011100110111010000101100
Doug watched with baited breath as the inside of the machine started to hum as every last volt of available power was fed to the metal monster.
01111001011011110111010100100111011100100110010100 10000001101100011010010110101101100101001000000110 11010110000101110010011000100110110001100101011100 11001000000110111101101110001000000110011101101100 01100001011100110111001100111111
“Are you absolutely certain that this is what he would want?” Henry inquired as the ceiling released another rain of dust.
“No I’m not, but even if this doesn’t work,” He stopped to try and look through the ceiling, to the outside world.
“Death might be a better alternative then letting him return to the surface. They won’t be able to find him wherever he ends up.” Doug answered as the floor cracked visibly underneath their feet.
Doug whispered a prayer to anyone who was listening that the floor would hold just a little longer.
>>>>One Second<<<<0100010001101111011011100010011101110100 00100000011001010111011001100101011011100010000001 11010001110010011110010010111000101110001011100101 01100110100101101100011010010110011001111001
“Commencing R.I Experiment Number: 501/D.T.T/325. In Case The Energy Emissions Accidentally Causes An Explosion Or Somehow Rips A Inter-Dimensional Rift In The Fabric Of Space Itself: Please Evacuate Testing And Observation Chambers And Hope For The Best. If You Are Unable To Evacuate Due To A Structural Malfunction Or Other Reactor Meltdown Related Cause: Do Not Panic, Pray To Your Desired Deity For Salvation, And Calmly Accept Your Impending Doom.” The system warned one final time as the metal tunnel sparked with electricity and its many inner gears and components activated.
A bright white light started to glow from the interior of the tunnel; several of the computer monitors that surrounded the machine sparked dangerously.
>>>>>Experiment Online<<<<<<01000100011011110110111000100111011101 00001000000110010101110110011001010110111000100000 011101000111001001111001
The white light in the tunnel grew brighter as the many gears spun around with ungodly speed creating a high pitched whirring noise as the energy charged. The sterile bright lab light fixtures flickered as their limited power was sapped by the device.
The whirring noise projected itself over the rumbling and groans of the facility’s death throws. The brightness of the circular opening nearly blinded Doug as he strained to see what was happening.
Meanwhile, Henry was looking at the status of the trial on the monitor, and immediately knew what to do when he saw the warning sign.
Error 34765/b/b’’g/b’’h’’//;]’[‘[‘;: Fatal- ERRORRRREDRFESSEDCGT!@#!@((09437269440]]01011001011011110111010100100000011001110110111101 11010000100000011100110111010101100011011010110110 01010111001001110011001000000110110001110101011000 1101101011
“Transfer CompleteBZZZZZZZRTDDT ErrorErrorErrorError. SSSSSSSSELF TESt FaiLUReeee.” The system announced through its garbled voice
Henry looked through the window at the growing intense light; the whirring sound was almost at deafening levels. He squinted to try and get one last look of the boy they were doing all this for.
He looked down at the flickering screen once more.
>>>>>>FATAL System Error: PLEASE CONTACT A ROGUE INDUSTIRES EXPERIMENT SUPERVISORIMMEDIATELY!!!!!!!!25344<<<<<<
01001000011000010111011001100101001000000111100101 10111101110101001000000110011101101001011101100110 01010110111000100000011101010111000000111111
With that message, Henry turned toward Doug, who was still entranced at the bright time bomb. Without warning Henry tackled the other scientist to the ground.
“Get down! Now!” Henry yelled as he rolled off of Doug, and flattened himself against the crumbling floor.
Then a roar louder then anything either of the men had ever heard quickly drowned out the sounds of falling building foundations.
The observation windows were flooded with an overwhelming amount of the bright light, everything was painted as blinding stark white.
The glass in the windows blew apart, unable to take the energy pulses. Shimmering shards of window rained down from above.
The resulting explosion threatened to shake the room to pieces, but-miraculously- it stayed intact, for the moment.
Doug shakily climbed to his feet, Henry right behind him. The floor was no longer stable; total collapse was nearing.
The younger scientist slowly peered over the shattered window into the ruined room below. The metal portal was an inferno, flames belched from the interior of the metal device. Electricity sparked from the burnt monitors and melted wires.
Doug coughed from the smoke and fumes rising from the burning room below, the smell of burning flooded the upper chamber filling his lungs with the stinging substances.
Doug squinted at the center of the furnace where the table and the boy once existed.
His eyes widened in horror as he saw one half of the twisted remains of the metal table embedded in the concrete wall, and the other half nowhere to be found. The several computer monitors that decorated the room where either smashed and on fire, or no where to be found at all.
No, Doug thought, it didn’t work. I’ve… failed.
Despair had almost overwhelmed him when Henry yelled for his attention through the cloth he was holding to his mouth.
The senior scientist pointed at the blackened computer screen beneath the observation window. Struggling to keep his balance, he hobbled over to the desk.
There on the ash covered screen read the words no Rogue Industries scientist ever expected to see:
Experiment Number 501/D.T.T/325, Trial Number: 227 […///…]
Result: Success. Test Subject Was Successfully Transported Via The D.T.T Device. Transmitting Data….. Complete.01000100011011110110010101110011001000000 11010010111010000100000011001100110010101100101011 01100001000000110110001101001011010110110010100100 00001100001001000000111010001110010011010010110000 10110110000111111
01000100011011110110010101110011001000000110100101 11010000100000011101000111001001101111011101010110 00100110110001100101001000000111100101101111011101 01001000000110110101101001011011100110010000100000 01110100011010000110010100100000011101110110000101 11100100100000011110010110111101110101001000000111 01000111001001101111011101010110001001101100011001 01001000000110110101101001011011100110010100111111
Henry slapped Doug on his back with a grin that could have broke all world records.
“For fifteen years we’ve sacrificed scores of test subjects to that machine in hopes we’d achieve success. Until now, I thought it was impossible; a fool’s dream. You did what no one else could have. You’ve done-”
Henry’s speech stopped when another message sounded over the intercom system.
“Warning: Reserve Power Supply Depleted. No Alternative Power Source Detected."Any feelings of success quickly disappeared.
“In Accordance With Emergency Procedure Number 463999999999999999ERROR ERROR ERROR ERROR Protocolololollllll evvvvvvvacaterunforyourlife bzzzzzzzzzt” 01000100011010010110010000100000011110010110111101 11010100100000011001100110000101101100011011000010 00000110011001101111011100100010000001110100011010 00011001010010000001110011011000010110110101100101 00100000011001010110110101110000011101000111100100 10000001100001011011100111001101110111011001010111 00100111001100100000011000010110011101100001011010 010110111000111111
The building shook again.
“Structural Integrity Compromised: Building Collapse Imminent. Please Evacuate Allllll Vitttalll Rogue Industries Personalllll. A Fatal Error Has Occurrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrreddddddd” The voice fizzled in and out with static.
“ SSSSYSTEM FAaaAAILUREeeeEEE
ERROR NUMBBBBER: Nine, Nine, Nine, Nine, Nine, Ninnnnnnnneee
Disk Operating System Has FAILED SHUTDOWN Now.
Rogue Industries Wishes You A Happy Annnnnd Productive Apocalypse. Goodddd-Byeeeebzzztztzztt”
Then the room’s power failed, plunging the entire chamber into smoke choked darkness only broken by the occasional spark and the dim flares from the ruins below.
It was a few seconds later that the dull red glow of the emergency lights flickered on, barely providing enough visibility to see.
A bowling ball sized chunk of ceiling broke off and crashed onto the powerless computer, sending shards of glass and metal flying through the air.
Doug looked at his colleague, and nodded; it was finally time to go.
As if the building had heard their plea to escape, all movement stopped.
The floor ceased rumbling, the ceiling stopped trying to pelt them with pieces of itself, but the fire still raged in the floors beneath them.
Not taking time to examine the situation, they both ran to the metal security exit hatch of the observation deck.
Doug strained to get the stubborn handle to click open, but it finally did with a harsh screech.
The concrete hallway in which they appeared was in ruins.
The metal pipes that lined the interior of the passage had ruptured in the destruction and now were busy emptying their contents onto the crumbling floor.
Water from a overhead duct soaked the two scientists as they exited the hatch and scrambled to their feet.
The dim overhead floodlights were nearly blocked off completely by the smoke and dust clouding the air.
Research papers littered the floor along side the abandoned supply crates and dropped briefcases.
Ash stained the sides of the hallway and the debris on the ground with a flakey black covering. Documents containing vital company information lay half burnt among the wreckage. The men had to walk carefully to avoid the small fires that dotted the hallway.
“Flash fire,” Henry noted as they climbed over the fallen pieces of concrete ceiling.
“All the gas from the pipes must have ignited from one of the fires; torched everything like a furnace all within a few seconds.” Doug reasoned as he shoved a blackened metal crate to the side; it fell with a clang.
Henry found a small map mounted on the side of the tunnel covered in soot. He rubbed it clean with the sleeve of his lab coat.
“Alright, there’s an elevator area straight ahead that leads to the surface, they don’t have power, but there might be a stairwell we can take.” Henry told Doug who was listening while scouting the obstacles ahead.
“That’s great and all, but how much time does the reactor failsafe have until the turbines come back online and discharge?” Doug asked as he motioned to the senior scientist to keep moving with a wave.
That particular procedure only initiated when a catastrophic event occurred: shut down all power generators and reactors to ensure data files cannot be stolen, for a limited time that is.
“About twenty-five minutes, give or take.” Henry reasoned as he trudged his way after Doug through the ruins, silently thanking that he had stayed in shape throughout his many years.
They arrived in the elevator lobby with little time to spare.
Heat fumes vented upwards from the massive fire raging in the nuclear turbines in the bowels of the facility. Only a few feet below, Doug could see actual flames from the burning machines.
How could one person orchestrate an entire disaster, Doug thought as he looked around at the wreckage trying to find any viable exit.
The alarms where still blaring, but their noisy warnings fell on the deaf ears of the two fleeing employees as they carefully treaded their way around the gaping cracks in the floor and the fallen debris from the collapsed ceiling above.
Doug’s face drained of color as he finally saw the true nature of the damages caused by the enemy’s successful sabotaging efforts.
The glass tubes that housed the elevator were shattered in thousands of jagged pieces that shimmered in the light of the fires that leaked from the reactor rooms below.
Among the flame lit wreckage were bodies-dozens of them all dressed in singed Rogue Industries white lab coat uniforms. Their features where burnt making recognition almost impossible.
Doug didn’t know many of the people who worked in the massive facility, but he felt a sort of sympathy for his unknown fallen co-workers.
He wasn’t sure how long he had stood there with his head bowed, or when Henry had decided to stand beside him.
Doug slowly looked at the sixty or so year old man; he was muttering some sort of silent prayer only interrupted by the occasional groan of the metal support beams that held up the ceiling or a coughing fit from the man himself.
Henry ceased his prayer and simply turned toward his much younger colleague and said after another smoke induced coughing fit “Thank you”
He took as deep of a breath as he could before continuing, “This could have easily been my fate: burnt and dead. But you convinced me to disregard every order I know to help you try and save an innocent life. Even now I believe that he is indeed alive, and by your efforts alone. You did a good thing today Dr. Strickland.”
Doug smiled on the inside, glad to know someone was thankful for his work.
Fate, had other plans however, as the two men held their memorial the clock had continued to tick away the precious seconds. The safeguard had run out.
The room suddenly lurched violently; a loud metal groan echoed throughout the dim chamber. In an instant floor of broken glass and bodies began to crumble into the burning depths of the Rogue Industries Advanced Testing and Research Facility.
The two scientists cut their vigil short as they searched desperately for an exit, any exit-even a poorly lit, rickety, twenty-three story metal stairwell to the surface.
Henry went in first to test if the stairs would hold, while he did Doug gazed across the giant fire filled chasm that filled the area where there had been a room seconds before, and down into the dim red hallway from which they came from as far back as he could.
All his thoughts where on the boy: if he made it, whether his decision to send him had truly been the “best” for him, how would the revolutionaries take the news that the closest lead they had to breaking through the Seal was gone.
Gone someplace beyond the Seal itself-if the experiment really did work-unreachable by the rebels.
Henry was yelling, probably that the stairway would hold and to get moving, but Doug stayed put watching as the fires grew in intensity.
He reached into his pocket and pulled out a folded piece of paper. He quickly unfolded it and took once last glance at the flattened document before crumpling it again and throwing it into the nearest fire pit. Destroying the last shred of proof that the boy had ever come to Rogue Industries.
“Good luck” He whispered as he whirled around and dashed up the metal stairs, the loud creaking sounds growing less and less as he and Henry ran upwards towards relative safety in the torn world above.
Meanwhile, in the middle of a wheat field long after the sun retired beyond the western horizon for the day, a sudden flash of bright blue punctured the darkness. It lit up the dark stalks like lightning.
Immediately after the flash died down, a single soft thud resonated off the tall stalks of grain.
A muffled groan echoed throughout the darkened field, as the small figure slowly lifted his head.
He attempted to push up on his right arm slightly, but as soon as he contracted the muscles in said arm to move it, a sharp pain sparked from his chest to every single nerve ending in his body.
Spots danced before his already blurry eyes as pure pain lanced across his entire being.
The pain was too much; his damaged body couldn’t take it.
His hazy vision quickly faded to black as his head dropped back towards the dirt with a similar sounding thud. The last thing he heard with certainty was the soft crackle of a small flame.
Jumbled thoughts and shattered memories quickly flashed into his mind before disappearing entirely.
Memories of running, of pain, of a voice of someone important to him, but unable to remember who, of a key, of shouts and unfamiliar voices, of fear, of loud sounds and rumbling, of a circle of bright light followed by fire, and a phrase whispered from far away through all the chaos: