The walls are shaking again. Like thunder. I wonder how deep they've gotten now? Good thing we're so far in. This room was meant to hold. Too thick to breach, supposedly. We'll see if it crumbles under the weight of the Vex.
"You're worried they'll get in here."
It's almost like he can hear what I'm thinking… Then again, who knows what kinda dirty tech he put in our heads?
"There are only two places on Europa I built to be impenetrable, and this room is one of them. Stop worrying, and activate the new model," he says.
He's breaking protocol again. Every Exo and human in this room can see it. "Dr. Bray explicitly stated we were to wait for her return—"
"I am the only Dr. Bray you take orders from now. We have to assume Elisabeth is dead."
The talking robot head is just as cold as the old man was. What else would you expect from the psycho who died and made himself into an all-seeing AI? Here's to hoping the unconscious Exo in front of us is nothing like the real thing.
"Now activate him immediately, or I will promptly deactivate you."
Okay, okay. I trigger the Awakening Protocol. The Exo's eyes light up. It's confused. I remember that feeling. Who am I? Where am I? Where'd my skin go? At least we woke up with protocols in place. This guy's entering a war zone. Can't be pleasant.
"Who am I? Where am I? Am I… metal?" the new guy asks. Called it. The AI takes the lead.
"The answers to those questions are rather complicated, and our usual methods of easing you into this reality are not currently at our disposal. So I will attempt simplicity in my responses."
The AI goes on to quickly explain where we are, what Exos are, how they work, and why they're important.
"…And once you've completed your training, there will be a shiny new toy waiting for you to commemorate your accomplishment. Why? Because you're special. Unstoppable. A fighter and an intellectual—better than the rest. Nothing in the whole universe will be able to stop you," the AI finishes.
"I see. That sounds… good. And who… what are you?" the new guy asks.
"I'm glad you asked. I'm Clovis Bray. And you and I are—"
"Why is he awake?" a voice demands.
Dr. Bray—she's alive! Came in through the tunnel. This should be good.
A couple Exos trail behind her: Noe-2 and Mia-9.
"I thought you'd died, Elisabeth," says the AI, "So I asked Wen-1 here to wake him up." Dr. Bray flashes me an angry look. I ought to unplug the AI bastard.
"So you broke protocol," she says.
"I put the protocol in place, Elisabeth. I can break it. I only need someone I trust to initiate the signal."
I can sense Dr. Bray's frustration. "The Vex are everywhere. We should be evacuating Europa. There's a group of survivors pinned down in Bunker E15. I need help rescuing them."
"That can wait. I've equipped Charon's Crossing with an advanced signaling technology connected to the Warmind and his bunkers. If we match that to the communication signal used by the Vex, we could theoretically lead them off-world and salvage what we've built here. But the Vex have cut off internal communications channels and Cloud Memory Collection. You'll need to do it manually, Elisabeth," the AI says.
"That'll lead the Vex straight to Mars. Earth. You've said it yourself: the Vex desire only annihilation. You're talking about billions of lives lost. I'll play no part in that," she says.
"My sweet naive granddaughter. Humanity never stood a chance against the Vex, and those lives are expendable. Besides, each one lost is an Exo gained. Another soldier to fight against the Vex. The future is Exo. It's Bray. Our legacy—that's all that matters," the AI replies. The new guy's listening in. He may be a bit of a blank slate, but he's not digging any of this.
Dr. Bray's jaw is clenched something fierce. Looks like she's gonna attack. I don't blame her.
"Perhaps our legacy should be burnt to the ground," she says.
"Elisabeth… are you planning to activate the Morning Star?"
"Once I get everyone I can off-world, I'll do whatever I have to. We won't lose any more lives over this."
Hell yeah, lady.
"Everybody, listen up. Exos and able-bodied humans—I need you. Grab any weapons you can, and let's go," she says. We're all in. Weapons in hand, we start piling into the tunnel. Even the new guy, but Dr. Bray's not about it.
"Hold on there. You haven't gone through any initiation protocols. You're not ready," she says.
"If there are lives to be saved, that's where I need to be," the new guy replies. He's oddly determined.
"Where you need to be," the AI interjects, "is with your family. Me."
"Every instinct I have is telling me to reject you," the Exo retorts. Nice, new guy.
I bet if Dr. Bray could smile, she'd be doing it right now. She grabs a gun out of a cache and tosses it to the new guy. "Perhaps you're ready after all," she says. New guy stands steady. Handles the weapon well. He's definitely ready for this; protocols be damned.
"Elisabeth," the AI says. He wants the last word. As usual. "I will protect our legacy."
"That makes two of us," she says and closes the tunnel door behind us.