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Portal Aurora tenebris

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Part 2

Riley's voice was the first to break the silence that hung in the cabin, clinging to the furniture and equipment.

- How long ago?

Aristeas' microphone rasped, distorting a gloomy grin:

- About six months, maybe give or take a week.

- Why didn't you say it earlier?

Aristeus hesitated to answer:

- I hoped I was wrong. A few days earlier, the Lunatics had attacked the vantage point, and I blamed it on stress and lack of sleep.

- We do not hope, Aristey. We assess the situation and understand the consequences! ..

- I know. But even if I had said before, nothing would have changed.

Aristeus was right, and it confused Riley's always even, orderly thoughts. Reflections about today's trials have faded into the background, in a perfect brain predictions, exit options, ways to postpone or at least slow down the approaching madness of Aristeus replaced each other.

The children of the dawn never had any illusions about their fate. Each of them knew that one day they might feel differently. It always started out the same. At first there was a burst of energy, like a second wind - unrestrained freedom of thought, crystal purity of the mind, an endless supply of strength to experiment, try again and again. Then came apathy, heavy, like an endless sleepless night. The reaction slowed down, emotions subsided, the personality itself was replaced by plastic, pliable nothing. It was so easy to confuse all this with a surge of strength and overwork that many preferred to ignore the first signs, rather than slide into paranoia.

The obviousness of the situation was revealed at the third stage - when gadgets realized that they were not fully in control of what was happening. Obsessive thoughts, nervous movements, monstrous ideas appeared. The personality collapsed, memory decayed, and thinking turned into chaos, finally turning the scientist into a madman.

Now it was waiting for Aristeus - the last comrade from the past, the only one who saw the face of the head of the Children of Dawn and knew what kind of person was hidden in the cocoon of an irreparable suit.

- So this is goodbye? Riley had a hard time asking the simple question.

Aristeus exhaled, suddenly grabbed the fasteners of the helmet with his fingers and began to unfasten them one by one. He disconnected the breathing hose, the instrument wiring and simply pulled off the helmet-hood, revealing his face and for some reason smiling. The harsh light of white LED lamps outlined sharp features and sunken but shining eyes.

Riley did not escape the fatal - sparks of fanatical fever rushing in wide-open eyes, from the last forces of restrained madness.

Hearing a heavy, dull sigh from Riley's microphone, almost a groan, Aristeus smiled and patted the other's shoulder.

“When the dawn comes, for which we are so fighting, greet him and for me too,” he simply asked, hastily putting on his helmet.

Riley escorted the scientist to the car outside the complex, unable to say a word. It was painful to feel something long forgotten, like a hedgehog rising in my chest.

Aristeus did not speak or ask - everything was clear without words. But when his hands wrapped around the steering wheel and the engine roared, he heard:

“Greetings… old friend.