We are the only ones left. My companion grievously wounded, and myself, in so far over my head I can no longer see the surface.
It has been three days since the link back was torn to pieces. Three days since our leader, ever so certain of his own power, was ripped to shreds alongside it, as the Old entered.
Since then, we have been running - but it is always ahead of us. Always there, waiting, whenever we think we have found safe storage, or a link collection. It killed my brother four hours ago.
And here we are, in a nook that can barely be called a site, where we ended up after desperately following the last link we could find - and it's coming. I'm sure of it.
I turn to my companion, the Prober, hired just for this mission - where all my scripts have failed, where every weapon I've thrown against it has been brushed aside like so much vapourware, does he have anything that can stop that thing?
He notices my attention, but he can hardly move. His eyes are almost glazed over, it's a wonder he could survive that last link. But his lips move, first in a terrible cough - is that blood? - but then to form words.
"Did you... did you notice? In the last link collection? They were all dead."
I respond, without thinking: "Not all of them! This one was still up, or we'd be dead back there!"
He grins. "Yes, this one was still up. Do you know" - he coughs again, his body already coming apart under the strain - "do you know why? It's the same. It's all the same... the same server."
Server? I've heard this word. Who hasn't? The underlying principle of reality, or so they say, but... can he actually see them?
"It's the same server, that is why it worked. We're, we're cut off. Together with it."
Cut off? We're all alone in a world with that THING, that Old? Then, it's all over. "Can we... can't we ever return?"