"In a far and distant galaxy inside my telescope, I see a pair of eyes look back at me."
Chapter 1 - The End of it All
"Eight minutes to impact. Eight minutes to impact."
The intercom's foreboding words rang throughout the facilities seemingly endless winding halls. To those inside, it felt as if all the oxygen in the air had been replaced with a gaseous fear; the iron plated walls rattled and creaked as the comet grew closer, heralds of its inevitable destruction. The facility's central computer could not tell a lie - the message it constantly broadcasted via intercom was all too accurate, but it didn't take any calculations to see that. There was no longer any blue in the sky. Only fire.
"Seven minutes to impact. Seven minutes to impact."
A team of military officials - a random assortment of ensigns, naval officers, and lowly researchers - raced through the underground facility towards the central control room. Sprinting at full speed, they were practically tripping over each other as the unnatural earthquakes grew more severe by the minute. The shaking was incessant now. Not even the iron walls and 50 blocks of rock and dirt could shield them from Yersinia's wrath now.
"Six minutes to impact. Six minutes to impact."
The control room's heavy steel doors whisked open as the group approached them. Sensing Officer Caraval's presence among them, the scanner perched above the massive door's frame beeped to life and allowed them to enter. Now the iron plating on the walls looked as if it was ready to simply peel off, as if it had gained sentience in the last moments of its life and was desperately attempting to flee from the comet's doom.
"Five minutes to impact. Five minutes to impact."
Officer Caraval raced up to the main computer, the rest of his group filing in moments after with no direction. "Commander Ash! Sir!" he shouted, looking around the room for any sign of life. But it was in vain; the Commander and everyone else who'd been stationed in the command center were probably long gone by now, seeking shelter in the lower levels. "Damn cowards," Caraval said to himself, kicking the main computer's frame in frustration and cursing under his breath. "I should have known panic would get the best of them."
"Four minutes to impact. Four minutes to impact."
Just then, the main computer's monitor activated. It should have been shut down by now as the power generator was surely on its last legs, but something had been manually entered into its system. The words appeared on the screen one by one, but Caraval didn't have to wait to know what it was meant to spell out. "S-A-V-E-Y-O-U-R-S-E-L-F," the monitor warned, though Caraval knew the time for that was long gone.
"Three minutes to impact. Evacuate immediately."
The Officer clasped his head with his hands, shaking in what appeared to be a mix of anger and fear. In desperation, he began to madly bash the buttons of the commander computer, entering in what appeared to be a password for some unknown system. "ACCESS DENIED," it blurted out, to the Officer's dismay. An ensign approached him, calmly placing a hand on his back. "Officer Caraval... sir... we can still make it to the lower levels. There's still time," she said, though it was clear she was trying to convince herself rather than reassure her superior.
"Two minutes to impact. Evacuate immediately."
Sirens, deafening in their volume, were now blaring throughout the facility. Caraval flinched at the interruption, immediately turning back to face the ensign. "Stupid girl! Can't you see?" he raved. "We're doomed. We were doomed from the damn start! We had a chance - but that damn Commander! He was the last one with the command codes to initiate the facility's emergency defense sequence... he's killed us all!"
"One minute to impact. Evacuate or retreat to lower levels."
Things were now eerily quiet. The sirens abruptly cut out, as did the lights. Caraval assumed that the power generator had finally died as a result of the lethal earthquakes. But somewhere in the room clicked to life in the final moments; a red light began to flash, and a compressed robotic voice began to declare "Evacuation protocols complete. Refueling emergency detachment vessels. Ejecting."
From below the ground, a great shifting was heard in the Overworld's core, as if it had begun to spit something out from its foul belly. The sound was instantly recognizable - the emergency flotilla of spacecraft had been ejected from the facility's core, the flotilla that Commander Ash insisted had been rendered unusable by artificial earthquakes hours ago by the sheer force of the incoming Yersinia comet. But he had lied. Before Officer Caraval could curse the Commander one last time for his deception, it happened. The earthquakes hit their apex; a great crash shattered the entire group's eardrums. Everyone in the room immediately fell to the ground, and before they could even process what was happening, everything went dark.
Though the tiny, insignificant, fleshy bodies within the underground facility met their untimely end at that very specific moment, the catastrophic, world-shifting event had only just begun. It was more than world-shifting; it was world-splitting. Moments after the great comet, Yersinia, impacted the Overworld, billions died. But life has a strange way of clinging on, desperately fighting to remain even in its darkest hour. In truth, the Overworld was far from total eradication. Though many had died, one thing was in fact born. Forged from the fire of the Overworld's last moments, a new world had been birthed, and the ancient cube planet gained a little sister, just over 1/3 of it in size.
Vector IV was born. And just as it did on the Overworld, life found a way.
Chapter 2 - Space Oddity
Lithium only had the faintest idea of what great secrets the mysterious Overworld held. Since his birth, he'd been able to look into the sky and see its silhouette there; sometimes, it appeared as a dark and distant blocky shadow barely distinguishable from the indefatigable snowy night's sky; sometimes it appeared as a sort of second son, casting its rays down to the surface of Vector IV and incinerating any poor soul unfortunate enough to be without shelter.
Other times, however, its beautiful features were clear as crystal. This only occurred in the intermediate times of the day - dawn and dusk, respectively - when the small moon's scarred surface was just barely habitable; not too warm and not too cold. Still, even when the whether was merciful, any given traveler still had a myriad of horrors to be mindful of. Lithium knew this all too well.
As a young child, his father shared with him tales of the olden times when every hour of the day was pleasant and hospitable. But that was when he himself was a resident of the Overworld. He spoke of a great collision by a dreaded comet that split the cubic planet in two. Most of the world remained intact, but Lithium's father was at the wrong place at the wrong time and was thus one of the few beings in history to dwell on the surface of both the splintered Overworld and its accursed moon, Vector IV. It was his father's nostalgic tales that yielded Lithium a vague knowledge of the world above.
Things were different now for the young scavenger. On a day he hardly cared to remember, his bunker was assaulted by a crew of vicious raiders in green power armor and great mechanical wings. The boy evaded detection, but his father was not so lucky. Strangely, the raiders only seemed to care for bloodshed. Not a single valuable or crop was stolen from the bunker. It was this small mercy that allowed Lithium to become a self-proclaimed master of the wasteland of Vector IV and eventually come across the plucky band of survivors that he had owed his affiliation to for so long now.
The day had been a long one. Lithium headed out from Camp Reston at the earliest possible hour, taking advantage of the dawn's shelter. For all the habitable hours of the day, the scavenger scoured the torn surface of the moon, grabbing all that he could feasibly carry and hauling it all on to his personal flyer. A modest vehicle, it had served him well for many years despite its relative cheapness and required fairly little fuel and upkeep. Though it was technically personal, it could carry up to three riders at a time. For this occasion, however, he dedicated as much space as he possibly could to cargo storage.
He had taken refuge in a small Blackiron bunker far from any civilization to escape the warmer hours of the day. As its name suggested, it was built was obsidian-reinforced iron, a material heavily utilized by most settlements on the moon. One could live comfortably in its walls for quite some time before it deteriorated due to the harsh elements, but Lithium had no intent on staying a second past the coming of dawn.
"This is Lithium to Camp Reston. Pick up."
"This is Camp Reston, fashionable and fortified since whatever year it was when we built it. How can I help you? Over."
"You don't need to say 'over,' when it's just us, Ned."
"No idea what you're talking about. Over."
"Whatever. Have the gates open when I arrive in... I don't know, two hours give or take."
Lithium switched off his communicator, stowing it in the hidden pockets of his black envirocloak. To match his flyer, the envirocloak was relatively cheap but he owed his life to it. It changed it features depending on the climate it detected outside; it faded to black during the night hours, white in the day, and a comfortable gray in the hospitable hours. It had been fastened by the locals on Vector IV. Lithium suspected the people of the Overworld would never bother constructing such a piece of equipment.
The envirocloak flashed gray, heralding the arrival of dusk. Working quickly, he gathered what weapons and supplies he had and stepped out into the harsh atmosphere of the moon. It was still quite warm, but at the very least it was manageable. Flyer in tow, with a quick refuel the vehicle hummed to life and rose up a few feet off the rough ground, hovering there in idle mode. And with that, he was off, more than prepared to make the long trip back to his home in Camp Reston where his friends wait anxiously to size up the day's haul.
Every weekday, the residents of Camp Reston took turns going on day-long scavenging runs in the region surrounding the settlement. Pickings were usually slim, though occasionally something interesting like a rechargeable Torch Cannon or a Shockblade would be recovered from the endless junk piles of the moon. Even in the modern era where flight was common and energy guns were standard issue, the blade was still viable. It merely had to adapt to the demands of the current tech level, and that it did.
With the hot winds blasting against his face, Lithium rode on for an hour straight, constantly peaking to his rear side to ensure he wasn't being followed. The memory of the raid on his childhood bunker was still firmly in his mind and he sorely did not want to relive it again. Still, in recent days, local settlement raids had ground to a halt. Lithium was thankful to know this, but somewhere inside he longed to catch the green armor clad raiders once again, if only to find the answers he'd been longing for.
The momentary recollection of the raid threw Lithium off guard, and he nearly didn't notice the makeshift barrier directly in his path. It hadn't been there this morning when he set off; someone was following him and was waiting for him to return. Immediately after noticing, a green blast emanated from the barrier, the telltale sign of a Torch Cannon wielding assailant. The blast hit the flyer and was absorbed into its metal case. It was enough to knock Lithium straight to attention, and he quickly disabled the vehicle and hopped on to the ground to face his opponent.
The hidden assailant kicked over his cover and lined up a shot on Lithium with his Torch Cannon. His features were completely covered by his envirocloak, which shared the same color as Lithium's. "Sorry boyo, it ain't personal - it's just you or me!" the raider said, twisting the knob of his Torch Cannon in an effort to cool it down faster for another barrage.
Lithium grunted, throwing back his gray hood and drawing his massive Shockblade. The hilt's red lights flashed to life and the blade began to hum, a sign that it was primed to strike.
"Then fill your hands, you son of a bitch!"
With not a sliver of hesitation, Lithium charged at his attacker. The gap between the flyer and the barricade was roughly 6 feet - just long enough a distance for a relatively low powered Torch Cannon shot to still be deadly. A second after the blade was primed, the attacker's weapon cooled off, and another shot came his way. With a sharp angling of his Shockblade, Lithium dispersed the energy blast, its waves shooting off in all directions after colliding with the blade. The attacker was hopeless - there was no chance of his weapon cooling down in time.
Not deterred, with one fluid motion Lithium angled his blade over his shoulder and brought it down on the attacker's head, killing him instantly.
Trying to ignore the fact that he'd just been attacked dangerously close to the so-called safe haven of Camp Reston, he noticed that his flyer's propulsion mechanism had been fried by the stray shot. The vehicle hovered lazily above the ground, but refused to move forward. Sighing from exertion, he made the long trek back to the camp, pushing the flyer and all of its scavenged loot along with him.
Chapter 3 - Ned Sucks a Big Asshole