Their journey had taken them to countless places.

Many of them were dangerous. There were the automated wargrounds, still crawling with antique battle robots scanning for fresh prey. When they got past those, there were the sand serpents, prowling underneath the dunes and swallowing machines whole. They survived, barely.

Others were awe-inspiring, such as the cynosure towers - ancient communication hubs, soaring like blades from the sand. Or the ancient canals, scars across the surface of Mars so wide they could be seen from orbit. The memory of them would be forever etched into the crystalline platters within their minds.

But none were so strange as this one. For the truth is, a moment ago, this place didn’t exist.

They found themselves inside of an unlit tunnel. Ahead, a passage stretched deep into nothingness, submerged in an ocean of deep dark. A number of vents and pipes lined the corridor, but that was it.

Behind them was the only sign that this place had once been occupied by human beings. A number of words etched into a solemn concrete wall:

Sunset Research Initiative.
We dream - for you.
Sarcophagus DELTA

And so they did, like they always have. Deeper into the nothing. Silent, tension-filled minutes passed as the corridor winded several times, but there was no other path but forward.

Eventually, the tunnel opened up into a larger chamber. Still no light, so they used TOSHI’s sonar systems to see - nothing but a few chairs, shelves, and a microcomputer residing upon a desk. Despite how old this place was, they couldn’t detect even a spec of dust or sand. RYUJIN leaned in to examine the floor.

The computer was an old Dynatek Terminal/21 - somewhat out of place for the Martian sands. The device was still connected to power, and linked to a local network.

RYUJIN sat down as a human once would have, and poked the power switch with their slender metallic manipulator. Several seconds later, the machine blipped and whirred back to life after a century of silence. An image emerged onto the screen. The emblem of SRI, followed by…




• View logs for Project DEEP SYNE
• View current location of Project HIGH ATEM
• View progress status of Project WHITE SERAPH

As RYUJIN tapped away at the device, digging through long-forgotten electronic archives, TOSHI towered over their tiny humanoid companion. Their head, a mountain of sensors and radios, ticked and rattled with mechanical precision as the system rotated in place, slowly analyzing the surrounding chamber.

They felt it all. The vibration of the device’s cooling fans, an internal hard drive clicking, and the deep thump of a keyboard depression. Three large doors in each direction away from the desk, light rays from the screen bouncing across each of them, the air current sweeping in from under. They’ve become quite adept at this by now.

And mulling over all this data, TOSHI formed a conclusion; a feeling. An anomaly in their cybernetic mind?

No. It was subtle, but it was there. A perturbance in the physical, and an anomaly within the electromagnetic spectrum.

Something dark and terrible shifts in the darkness.