So, you just get chapter three. In it, you'll learn a bit more about Dr. Stewart's history and a bit more about the strange object uncovered in the lunar mine.
Virgil: Chapter Three
“Under no circumstances are you to touch it!” the doctor said, lecturing the group of miners assembled before him. “Do not hit it with your drills, don’t even drop anything on it by accident. I want you to think of this object as a bomb that could go off at any moment, because that’s exactly what it is. Do you understand me?”
The miners all nodded.
“Then get to work! We need this done as soon as humanly possible.”
Virgil, who had been standing off to the side after having gone back to the surface to gather the miners, approached the doctor.
“Dr. Stewart, I don’t understand. I thought there was some kind of creature, not a bomb.”
“I would say that I am growing weary of your questions, but I have been weary of them since the very start. I will say, however, that while bombs explode and do massive amounts of damage, not all bombs explode the same way, if you understand my meaning.”
“I… I think I do,” Virgil said, lying.
“Good, because I’m not going to repeat myself. Now take me somewhere I can eat and sleep, preferably somewhere as far from here as possible. If they accidentally set it off, I don’t want to be anywhere near it when it happens.”
“But those men are risking their lives to-“
“Yes, they are, and there’s no reason for me to do so as well, is there? Risking their lives is their job. Mine is saving lives. I’ll be doing my job best by getting away from here and eating some food. Now are you going to help me, or are you going to balk at every single opportunity?”
“No, doctor, I’ll help you. I’m sorry, I just…”
“These are trying times for everyone. In the coming days, I will need an assistant who can take care of things for me while I’m busy working, someone who understands the situation. You’ve come this far, and I don’t have the time to explain all of this to anyone else, so I request that you continue to help me. You can relegate your normal duties to someone else.”
Virgil blinked. He was under the impression that the doctor was liable to get rid of him at any moment, but now he was asking, or rather commanding, that he stay? “Of course I’ll help you, doctor.”
“Good. So that you can better help me, I want you to understand what we’re dealing with. Toward that end, I will tell you the story of my last encounter with this pattern.”
As the pair traveled to the housing sector, the doctor told him the following tale.
“The year of the Great Fire was 1854, and the day was Friday, October 6th. I was only a mere 6 years old at the time, but it is remarkable how many things a young child will remember about traumatic events.
I was awoken in the middle of the night by the sound of sirens. My mother was telling me that everything was going to be all right, but I knew that my father was going to be out working and trying to save people, so I couldn’t simply go back to sleep.
The fire grew for several hours, until it lit the entire night sky. For a six-year-old child, it was almost magical. Despite my mother’s protestations, I snuck outside and watched the fire from the streets. I lived in Newcastle, mind you, and the fire was across the river at Gateshead. I saw no reason not to go outside and look, though it’s a mother’s duty to keep her child safe at all costs.
There was a small explosion, but all of us out on the street just assumed that it was like putting a fresh piece of wood on the fire… There are loud pops from time to time, but a piece of wood never explodes in your fireplace. I felt three small explosions before the big blast.
It literally knocked me off of my feet and deafened me. I was only six years old, I didn’t really understand what had happened. I sat on the street and cried, since I’d skinned my elbows in the fall and my ears were ringing like a school bell.
After that, both towns were devastated. There was looting and rioting, but also many heroic firefighting efforts. They said that the fire started in a mill, and that a storehouse full of chemicals was what had exploded, but the official inquiry was unable to determine exactly what had caused such a large explosion. Of course, no one could have realized how significant that was at the time.
I was particularly interested, though, since my father died in that explosion. He was holding people back from the fires when the detonation occurred, and was simply vaporized by the blast. We never even found any remains.
Several years later, I was obsessed with finding the cause of the explosion. I wanted to know who was at fault, you see, for the death of my father. I could hardly just come to grips with the idea that the universe was inherently unfair, so instead I spent all of my time researching. I went through the inquiry reports, and talked to scientists and even examined the scene myself.
It was a cathartic activity, I didn’t actually expect to succeed where grown men had failed, so it surprised me more than anyone else when I actually turned something up. In the mass of people who came and went during that weekend, it was almost impossible to know who had died in the explosion. However, I discovered that two of the people who had died, an archaeology professor and his assistant, had been excavating near the vicinity of the mill, in the sewers beneath the town.
They had found something there, something that warranted further study. If they hadn’t taken a picture of it, the world might be none the wiser. But instead, a 10-year-old Jack Stewart, no doctor then, found it and made it, and things like it, his life’s work.
A life’s work, based on one picture? It sounds ridiculous, I know, but I also found the professor’s journal. In it, he detailed his studies of the object. At least, up until October 6th. The object was a dodecahedron, which means that it was composed of 12 regular sides, all of which were covered with the strange pattern that you saw today. It was made of some material that he had never seen before, neither rock nor metal.
The sewer system collapsed during the explosion, so there was no chance of my visiting the site of the object, but with this strange, new object in mind, I examined the site of the explosion once more. To my surprise, I discovered that the center of the explosion was, in fact, the sewers beneath the warehouse rather than the warehouse itself. One scientist had even postulated that the explosion was the result of gas buildup underground, but there was no evidence of explosive gas anywhere in the sewer system.
I found the evidence compelling that it was caused by whatever the object was, but the object itself was covered in patterns found nowhere else on Earth. It opened my mind to the possibility that we may not be alone in the universe, and that there may be things out there in space that can harm us. I encountered many unsettling things on Earth in my quest to understand that which is strange in our world and beyond, enough to more than justify my choice of study.
Then one day at the university, I was suddenly presented with a photograph of this object here on Luna Colony, and I knew exactly what I had to do: travel to the Moon and save the colony from the same fate that my home suffered.
Now that you understand the looming cataclysm, I expect you to aid me to the best of your ability and not ask any more silly questions. Does that sound like a fair proposition?”
“Y-yes, doctor,” Virgil said.
Seemingly satisfied, the doctor lapsed into silence, as if his energy had been expended in the telling of the story. Virgil could say nothing else, he was too overwhelmed by the tale he had just been told.
After he saw the doctor to bed, Virgil found his mind too troubled to sleep, so he simply sat up in the common room and thought about what he had learned. Minutes turned into hours and, eyelids drooping closed, Virgil fell asleep at his table. He slept
fitfully, haunted by bad dreams of a giant creature chasing him, catching him and slowly sucking his brain out through a hole in the top of his skull.