The Expeditionaries - The Librarian
Episode 2 - "I Have No Eyes And I Must See"
A young, Smeet sized 4D looked up into the only thing he could see that was relateable - the eyes of his mother. Like her, he was wrapped int the flexible, fabric like circuit boards ripped from the innards of a Voot Cruiser's paneling. His strange colouring a result of genetic malfunction that ran in the clan. Many years before they would travel to Citadel for refuge, they sat in a heap - small square block of flat ground. Their tents made of metal and tank hulls, they looked like someone had plucked out a vital piece of machinery from a bundled mass of technology. An odd blotch of brown, dirt - something not even their ancestors saw on their native planet in centuries. Everything had an intense, yellowish-red hue, this being due to their relative closeness to the Sun on the Surface. A revered, god-like fire that continues to burn. A result of an Irken weapon that pined down into a planet's core, erupting its flames and fires to engulf an entire surface. It was stopped by the miles upon miles of circuitry and cities, conquered and built on top of each other - a feat only Irkens could be proud of. Instead, it ruptured underneath, a blood blister under the skin. The fire rages beneath the planet - slowly crippling its gravitational pull. Any day, the entirety of Irk will crack and drift away.
4D was such an unfortunate being in a universe much larger than him, so unfortunate that was instead born here - rather than anywhere else, as anything else. Being born an Irken, especially one of the few left - was the galaxy's cruelest practical joke. His mother 3V3 looked down at him, almost with disgust. But she could not express that alone with just her eyes. Her fragile body nearly died birthing him, she wished for a still born - to end the suffering she continued to prolong by pumping out Smeet after Smeet. She was so lucky, two were born without any brains and were essentially dead. They could be processed into canned food and nothing of value was lost. K4 was supposed to be a horrendous mutant, like her first born - which came out with half a torso and six legs coming out of its mouth. She wished it to be aborted, which Uncle was so kind to try. He cut up most of it, but the stress from the whole ordeal forced her to push the rest of him out. Monolith grinned upon misfortune that day and granted K4 life.
In the land of the eternally unfortunate, 4D was the most lucky and fortune. His only major deformity being his eyes and weakened antennae. From his protective cocoon, the quickly maturing young boy could only ask what happened to his now deceased father. Wonder and intrigue in his eyes, the world looked so big now - it was sad that this was as big as his world was going to get. "Your father was what we called a 'Scrap Sailor'. Him and men from the other clans, they managed to refurbished a hovering vehicle... they would use it to glide across the hostile fields, navigating beyond any obstacle with ease." She told the story with such cold distance, Irkens never made good mothers, having natural birth evolutionarily become obsolete in the last few centuries before the Great War was a huge contribution to that. But 3V3 especially was already empty inside, vacant - hollow. Like the frames of the skyscrapers that once dotted the sky like stars on the Irken glowing horizon. "He was a brave man, taking the same old thing - which he dubbed the "Banshee" out into the fields. It was just him and his friend Fisher - a very strange Clanbrother, who would go out and scout ahead for the Expeditionaries."
And so 4D became entangled and enthralled by the story, even though the words it was described in were as bland and dull as the endless landscape of devastation that surrounded them. Only there was no somniferious light to shine upon them to give further comfort. Comfort was gathered in the company of friends and the company of friends only. Clan Brothers were stronger together than any other force - even evolution. The Scrap Sailor named 5C00 looked over his magnificent contraption, the Banshee. A hover platform rigged with refurbished anti-gravity boosters and an impressive stirring rig, ripped right out of the console of an antique, third generation Vootcruiser. Wearing a blue scarf, make-shift armour from reinforced scraps and tinted goggles to protect him from the nearby Sun on the Surface's violent rays that still managed to shine through the large magnetic dust storm that surrounded and hid its true nature. The incognito curtain hiding proof that the planet was once very much so alive. "This right here, is the largest step toward exploration any Expeditionary could ever dream. For generations, this bastard piece of shit was pushed down my family by genius inventors, mechanics and engineers until I managed to finish it one day. Now we push on toward the greatest expedition of our lives." 5C00 exclaimed to his jolly crew of all but one lone Expeditonary with a major stick up his half and a ton of salvaged explosives for what they called 'mining'.
"Ha! This poor thing is barely holding together like your head! Poor fucker has seen more bumps and chips than rookie moving through the old gardens!" Fisher was a short, chubby Irken with a third arm growing out of his lower back, under his ultra-PAK resembling a hooved tail. He tried his best to cover it up, including the smell, but the thing was revolting as ever - but came in hand when it came to lugging great finds like precious artifacts. Wrapped tightly in gorgeous, almost feminine fabrics they found over the years - he had no idea his fat ass was wearing a cheap curtain. He told all his Clan Brothers it was the aristocratic, diplomat clothing of yesteryear. Truly no one believed him, yet everyone was gullible enough to sit around and listen, eating up every word like it was pre-Great War food. "You beat my ass with your embellishments, like I am to be impressed! Now tell me why we are heading out into the fields, when the only thing left unscavenged is the Great Library?"
5C00 cocked a smile and stepped onto his hover platform, they onward toward their inevitable destination. A large protective dome, all of its bubble-like glass long ago shattered or taken, to be used as bath tubes or cooking pots for Smeet formulas. Even with all of morality gone, they could not feed their young dead embryos just yet. Even if they were just clusters of cells. Fisher grabbed his makeshift satchel of explosives energy cells from a long nonfunctional infantry weapon. But, with some know-how and retinkering, the ingenious fat ass managed to get it working again - by completely redoing the entire system it was built around. When you thought about it, all of Irk was now just like one of these eggs. If someone was truly daring enough, they could end this nightmare by somehow disrupting the Sun on the Surface. Its fires actually pulsed through the underground tunnels of all of Irk's top secret bases and exclusive, invite only coffee shops. One door could build up enough pressure just to release it all again - effectively collapsing the entire planet. Perhaps that was Fisher's intentions with his new found skills of refurbishing old weaponry in a world where war among each other did not even exist anymore - to destroy the one thing they warred against, the planet itself. 5C simply wanted to just become an astronaut, flying away from this wretched place. The Banshee was just a prototype for something much greater in the future he was working on.
"I cannot believe you. I really cannot. You think we can just barge into the Great Library? This is the big one, the last time an Expeditionary went there - they came back with the Dream Chips, but at the loss of how many lives? How many of that clan just died that day so we can have dreams and memories that are not even our own to call?" Fisher was the biggest nihilistic shit lord of them all. It was easy to be negative enough as it was in this current state of living, but he somehow turned even the brightest moments into the darkest days into an eclipsed asshole that spouted some non-nonsensical shit. "I should do you a favour sometime and break your legs, then your brother take all the glory from you again by fucking your wife." No filter, no censor - it was a harsh world and some people just enjoyed to make it harder. 5C ignored the ranting and negativity, he swatted it away with an absence of words - he could make a swarm of flies leave him be by just looking at the sternly enough.
Him and Fisher crept up on the Great Library - shivers rolled up and down their augmented spines. A strange creature dwelled in there, a gnawed and twisted machine of flesh and machine. But not the kind that reveled into today under the guise of Irkens. This was a creation that lived well before the Great War. It was immortal for even its time. It was more than just the typical mythical Politician sightings Expeditionaries shared with each other - it was something called the "Librarian". A cyborg so advanced, it was the only one of its kind to survive the Great War - supposedly it emerged from under ground. The Great Library had an extensive catacomb of archives underneath it. Most of the copies were erased by passing magnetic fields on the surface, but the dream chips remained. No one has gotten deeper down into the tunnels - into the graves of the Old Ones themselves. That is, until today - it was going to be the most ambitious Expedition in history to date. "Do you feel it, my friend? Fisher, do you feel it now?"
Fisher replied with an empty stare, a piece of copper wiring in his mouth to idly chew while his own tinted goggles hid any sense of emotion. But the Scrap Sailor continued. "That is the ghost of our ancestor's ambitions creeping up our backs! The Space Jockeys must feel like gods now, but imagine how they felt when they first made a machine to shoot into the stars, my friend? Now that is a dream to behold..." Sailor was one of the few, possibly the insane - who believed their ancestors were actually Space Jockeys. That at one point or another, they left their planet and was forced to glass it - perhaps to avoid enemies from ever discovering their secrets. That is why there were no bodies, not because of gristle-eating politicians or "Librarians" wannabe-morticians experimenting on the dead inside the Great Library - no, simply all Irkens left their homes for a new life in the stars. It was hopeful thinking, but sadly entirely untrue. "Time to see what was so important, they left behind only to burn away... we are the new sailors, the new astronauts of our time! We were left behind, but soon we will learn what our brothers knew by heart from Smeethood how to craft machines to fly in the sky again..."
The Banshee and made the trek to the entrance of the Great Library - lowering itself into a maze of fortitude and mystery. Many died here, so many - just curious to find a single, non-erased holobook to explain what was once the world of Irk. But truly, any Irken should just look around the world to see that. "You are going to get us killed..." Fisher said, not taking time to find any humour in his own words as he used casing-lighter to light the fuse of his refurbished grenade. Dropping it to the floor below - casing in the ceiling of the catacombs. They wanted to get in and out as fast they could, before they drew in the infamous gaze of the hunting, watching and ever present Librarian everyone so feared. The explosion was sadly mild, but the crumbling of metal and old circuitry hitting a strangely concrete floor was so mesmerizing and rewarding to Fisher. "I wish every expedition started out this way. Now - let us lower ourselves into the very depths of damnation and retrieve something worthy of bringing back with us to the heavens, yeah?"
With keen attention to detail to the shape of the hole, it was a miracle the ragid and obtuse Banshee managed to be lowered professionally and almost eloquently into the catacombs. Fisher activated their headlamp, a now extinct piece of technology that was once even an heirloom among expeditionaries. "Ooooh, Children of the Underground! The vanguards of your destruction have arrived! Put down your arms and surrender to your new found gods like the vermin you are!" Fisher launched himself over the flimsly, welded railing and onto the concrete. His boots making a convincingly unique sound never heard before. The fat little man danced in joy - hopping about to try and recreate the distinct sound again and again. "What is this? This hard texture? It feels like rusted metal beneath my soles but it has not the smooth texture. No... this was intentionally rough and durable - but for what purpose? Didn't the Old Ones walk with bare feet?" There were so many 'nostalgic' facts about the Old Ones that were complete fabrications. One in particular including a tale about how they used to worship their weapons and prayed to a machine-like god that lived in the center of Irk to ensure their advanced tech worked in battle no matter the circumstance. But when all the Irkens died, the god became angry - shooting out of the planet and leaving fiery rubble in its place, the Sun on the Surface. Or perhaps, it was this god who became so discontent - it merged with Monolith and helped Irk reach its demise.
"What are you? A fool or a Smeet who just saw the stars for the first time? You have no idea what is going on, do you? You are just here for the glory. Bah to that! You want to live in glory on this planet? Fine - I am going to find something that will be a schematic to the stars we were all surprised by in our young, innocent Smeet eyes!" A frustrated Sailor jumped off the Banshee, still at consistent hover to ensure it did not stall on them later after a period of lacking use. Flipping his blue scarf back over his shoulder, her marched down one of the hallways and activated his headlamp - surprised to see the archives were mostly burnt out, inactive holobooks after all. The foot steps of his father still encased and immortalized on the ancient, untouched dust below. "I feel like an insignificant insect on the arm of a god - and all you can do is tell jokes and laugh at the greatest discovery we have ever encountered!" He twirled back, to see if his comrade and Clan Brother had fallen far behind. "I mean yeah, we kind of blew our ways in here like assholes - but eh, the Old Ones built an Empire on such bluntness and irresponsibility, right?"
There was no reply, just darkness - an unnatural darkness. As if something large and looming was blocking the hallway behind him. The Librarians, sleek black body was meters taller than him - scrapping the top of the ceiling above them both. Its presence sucked in such air and dense particles with ease, centuries radiation had not even chipped the bio-mechanical armour it wore. A standing, living relic of an empire that co-existed alongside the Imperium stood before him. It truly was like finding the stars for the first time. "You are not Fisher!" The words were ridiculous but in good logic. There was no other way but to retreat back into another realm of unbelievable darkness, so Sailor did the unthinkable - he ducked under the Librarian's slender, long legs and darted for the Banshee. Behind the Librarian was a glowing light that floated toward them, only to arch over his head and land between him and his pursuer. "Did you just throw a fucking bomb at me!?" Sailor questioned loudly and with a furious anger that nearly collapsed his mutated heart valve and third dwarf lung.
Sparks and smoke kicked up behind him, temporarily confusing the Librarian long enough for Fisher and Sailor to hope back onto the Banshee - blasting it upward toward the surface. Fisher grinned and shouted allowed, he could not have been happier to not only confirm the existence of the mystical Politician inside the Great Library - but also to blow it the hell up. "Haha! You see that Sailor, that is how you deal with legends from the Old One's world! The same way they dealt with all of their own, decimating it! A shame I did not collapse the entire catacombs around it and erupted the planet..." Fisher was disappointed with his own achievement, while Sailor simply scoffed and focused on the retreat back up. But before they had accomplished freedom - Fisher's third arm is grabbed and tugged back into the darkness below by the Librarian, hoping to return some vengeance long over due. Sailor looked back only for a moment to catch a glimpse of the politician's eyes and even a sliver of their face, hidden by the casted shadows of the archives secluded environment.
"Your father was never the same again, he was never the brave man ever again either." 3V3 concluded the story, seeing now that her son had managed to fallen asleep in her arms, despite the engaging tale she spun out for him. Fictional or non-fictional, up to the only scholars left around to decide - the Smeets they would raise to be expeditionaries. She starred toward the Great Library's entrance - collapsed entirely years ago after a magnetic storm dropped an entire subway system on top of it. "He never saw anything but the blackness of those ever again. He could never look back into mine..." Even in a world where the concept of love was gone, a tear dripped from her dry socket. She starred at the shadowy figure that loomed over the ruble, the politician in a way - became her husband's lover before he took his life. After all, it was the only thing he could think about, talk about and see when he closed his eyes. She wondered what that politician had in him, that made her feel so obsolete.