Revelations In The Light

Relative size imparts emotional information almost as much as it does dimensional information. A cat is a cat at any size, but a lion is to be fearsome as a shorthair is to be endearing. At a surface level, these details remain isolated to animate objects, but on a subconcious level, this extends into the realm of the abstract. Here, in the Backrooms, the only things that truly matter are the subconcious and the abstract. Junior Archivist Diana Evelynn had learned that through an extensive set of travels, and she'd also learned what it meant to be in the big city versus a small town, which struck her as very odd, considering this massive, sprawling city was dead silent.

Every once in a while, a hiss of gas escaped a pipe, the typical sound of fluorescent tubing replaced by the hum of neon signs. In spite of this, there was no one for those signs to advertise to. No one to buy the products they were selling, and no one to maintain them either. It was as if she'd walked into an edificial dead zone. And yet… she felt eyes. Not the eyes of an entity, although those she dealt with regularly blurred the line a bit. Still yet, not shifty, cyberpunk gang eyes, looking to rifle through her belongings and salvage what she had for themselves. Cold and dead robotic eyes.

Diana looked towards the camera, and watched as it rotated along the Y axis as she passed. Someone, somewhere, was watching her. Onwards she treaded, in spite of it. She picked up the pace to a light jog, trying to keep the clanking of her protective body armor to a minimum. The cameras started becoming more frequent as she ran down side streets, dodging debris and making her way closer and closer to the center of the city and towards the glowing beacon that had come to mean to her that there was hope. Hope to find supplies, hope to save her friend, and in turn… hope to win the war she'd inadvertently entered via her own hubris. The time for thinking she needed to comprehend was over, even if the time for her to plant her feet and fight had only just begun.

She turned the corner onto a clear thoroughfare, leading directly to the entrance of the tower. It climbed impossibly into the sky in spite of the buildings around it. From above, the rotating hologram burned down like a single eye, watching her. A lone figure stood, cloaked in black, in the center of the street. Before Diana had a chance to study anything about it, it moved with a blur into a nearby alleyway. She wouldn't be running from a fight ever again, and resigned herself to the distraction of chasing the shape down the alleyway. She rounded the corner, hopping slightly before coming to a sliding stop. Her sneakers squeaked on the pavement as she altered her momentum to face down the alley, slowing from a full sprint to a light jog.

This time, the figure wasn't standing in the alley… it was lying on it's back. Curled into a fetal position, the unknown inhabitant of the level didn't look quite like a fearful child or cornered animal… it looked like a dead cockroach. Unfortunately for it, however, it's appearance matched trademarked features of the Black Knights. Gone was the plate mail of the typical units, replaced by a skintight fabric, the same one beneath the plates on Diana's own armor. Sporadic metal plates did remain, but they were confined to the form of the thing wearing it, which, if memory served her correctly, was more or less identical in size and shape to Kevin. The faceplate from before was replaced with a rounded metal mask, the eyes of which were a semi translucent lens that had lost it's typical blue hue.

Not taking any chances, Diana crept closer, all the while slowly drawing her svartalbrander gladius. Her crouched walk was nearly silent, lest these were activated by sound or something. She wouldn't admit it to herself, but she was flying mostly blind at this point, something the Black Ninja would exploit over the course of the next 10 seconds. Her wide stance left a space between her legs, and as she prepared to hold her sword aloft, the lenses of it's mask lit up a brilliant blue as it kicked away from the dumpster it had been lying against to fly under her. Before she could turn around, Diana felt a hand touch her behind.

The last time someone had touched her rear without explicit permission, they'd not remained conscious for long after. Seeking a repeat performance, the archivist whipped around to a more than worrying sight: there was not one, nor two, but three of whatever this Knight variant was on the other side; the one she'd chased had righted itself such that two others flanked it. Raising her sword, she managed a single "You're-" before the unnoticed explosive device attached to her rear detonated.

The proprietary carbon fiber filament structure that the Black Knights had used to make the armor that Diana and presumably her opponents wore were near impervious to most forms of attack, as long as you include the compounded effect of the Backrooms positive reinforcement on belief. It does not, however, have the ability to counteract Newtonian physics (in and of itself), and although Diana herself remained largely undamaged from this attack alone, it did propel her forward, and directly into a punch that had been thrown a single moment before detonation, as if anticipating just this event. In laymans terms, the sticky bomb the ninja had placed on her ass blew her directly into a bonecrunching punch.

She spun around, suffering the second cranial impact in a single second when her temple collided with the same dumpster the original adversary kicked away from. She made a last second mental note to wear her helmet more often, before succumbing to loss of consciousness. As her eyes closed, she saw a blurry pink form approach from behind the Black… Ninja's? At last, she drifted away, unsure of what her ultimate fate would be. If this was the end, at least it came while fighting for a friend.

"Mmm… fuck. That's some good fucking Spummy. Holy shit. I can't believe I forgot how fucking delicious this shit is." Diana heard the clink of cutlery on a metal tin vaguely in front of her and to her left. Blearily, she opened her eyes a tad and squinted, the light sending shooting pain through her noggin. She made out the same vague pink blob she'd seen shortly before conking out earlier. "Hey, have you had any of this yet? I don't know where we are in the timeline."

As her surroundings came into focus, she could see what was lighting the figure; a large fire roared in the bottom of an old metal oil drum, somewhere in the city streets of 543. Why was she here? 543 was dangerous. The only reason she'd be here would be to… "Kevin!" She bolted upright on the old, ratty street sofa and shook her head to get a better look at her captor.

A young woman sat on a milk crate, wolfing down some sort of canned meat product at an astounding rate. The bottom was covered in soot, and a set of tongs nearby implied she'd cooked it in vitro. Her platinum blonde hair hung loosely, but her bangs had been pushed back from in front of her face for optimal eating conditions. She hadn't taken off any of her combat armor to eat, giving Diana a good look at what looked like it had once been a set of Black Knight fatigues. The armor, plates and fabric alike, had at some point been spray-painted pink lazily. Glowing faintly on the left-hand side of the breastplate, the symbol for "0014" glowed faintly. Diana got up slowly and cautiously, drawing her sword.

"Hey, what's the big deal, girl? You know me."

The former Archivist gave her a side-eye. "…Natasha?"

"What? No, that's my middle name." Her accent didn't match anyways. Which only left one other option…

"What have you done with her? Why are you wearing her armor!?" Diana brandished her sword in a vaguely threatening manner, which was counteracted by the fact that she slightly tripped on an aluminum beverage can while doing so.

A piece of canned meat fell out of the corner of Pink Girl's mouth, which she haphazardly wiped away with the back of the hand holding the spoon. "Oh, this is… ah. So, I can explain."

"Start talking."

"So, for starters… Natasha wasn't using this by the time I got it. We know each other already, except… am I even allowed to… no. You have to figure this out yourself I think… right? I don't really remember, it all kind of blends together. Can I see the Samsung please? I have to check something."

Diana blinks. "The what?"

"Your… the phone. In your right front pocket. I need to check it."

"What? Why? How do you-"

"The passcode is 1987 and the lock-screen is a picture of a character from your favorite anime. Come on, just hand me the phone." Diana gingerly extricates her cellular device from the indicated pocket and passes it to the interesting individual. She (presumably) puts in the proper passcode, navigates to Diana's gallery, and begins scrolling. "No way… I guess it is the first time."

"What is the first time? You're terrible at explanations."

The blonde hands the phone back, and pulls something out of a pouch on her utility belt. Diana flinches for a moment at the draw, but doesn't act. The stranger hands the item to her. It's a Samsung, an S10e: the same phone, albeit with a slightly cracked screen. Diana clicks the screen, and is greeted to an image of Levi, of Attack On Titan. "No… fucking… way."

She hands the device back. "So, Diana, I believe introductions are in order on my part. My name is Je-… Spitfire. The name's- I'm- that's my name. Spitfire." She extends her hand, but when Diana tries to meet it with a handshake, she second-guesses herself and tries to attempt a fist-bump. "I- yeah. Sorry."

"So, you're… from the future? You meet me and the… my team, huh?"

"Yeah, you could say that. It's great to see you for the first time, like this, I mean. I'm always meeting you at inconvenient times in the timeline, so… this is refreshing."

Diana squints. "Are you usually that bad at introducing yourself, or…-"

"Hey!" 'Spitfire' pouts. "I didn't really get that much of a social education, living my whole life in the Backrooms! I'm Native."

"You and I have entirely different definitions of what that word means, clearly. Anyways… I suppose a thank you is in order?"

"Oh, right. Thank you!" the young woman says, saluting Diana.

"No, I… you saved me back there. I think. I was very unconcious."

"Right. The Naito are pretty crafty. I'm glad I was here when I was. Everything according to plan, I suppose!" She winks suggestively, but the former Archivist can't possibly imagine how the situation was suggestive.

"Right… these, what did you call them, Knight-o?"

"Naito. Japanese for knight. Or night. They're like, knights of the night, and also, like, Japanese. Naito."

"Okay, as you say. What do they have to do with why I'm here?"

"I don't know."

Diana puts her hand on her hip and leans in. "What do you mean you don't know? You're from the future."

"Hey, please don't do the Mom voice at me!" Spitfire waves her hands in-between her and Diana. "I don't know how you meet me for the first time. What are you doing here in Level 543?"

"I'm… Kevin is injured. I don't know if he's going to make it. I need to get into that tower over there-" she says, gesturing at the ominous building, "and I need to get something that's going to help him. I don't know what it is, but it's in a box, and-"

"The Ebonichor. Right. I remember this story. Do I still have the… one sec." She rummages in a stained pink messenger bag for a moment, and Diana hears the sound of glass clinking. "Yep. Okay, I have the most important part of the mission already secured. The second most important part is that box, and I know exactly how we're going to get it."

"You do?"

"Yeah, and you won't even have to lift that sword."

The wind howls on the rooftop of a building nearby the ominous tower. As if sensing her thoughts, Spitfire speaks up.

"Yu-Utsu Tower. The Yu-Utsu Corporation is largely responsible for the Black Knight event, even if they were mostly unknowingly contributing. They're the main funding for Heimwehmut Industries, who employs-"

"Right, future lesson later, mission now. This is a great vantage point, but why are we up here instead of down there?" Diana points to the plaza below. A whole squadron of Naito are ambling around, setting up equipment and patrolling the entrance to the tower.

"Because you're here to film me kick their ass. Here," she says, holding out the future Samsung for Diana to see. She un-pauses a video, and Diana sees an already victorious Spitfire, standing on the steps of the skyscraper. She's beckoning to the camera, as swaths of Naito lie on the ground dying or already dead. Seeing just enough, Diana does not object when the phone is retracted before the end of the video. "Just make sure to get my good side! I've watched and re-watched this exact fight so many times I can execute it with my eyes closed."

"… right." She was getting a little tired of saying that, but what else was there to say? The pink-clad knight made her way down the fire escape, and stood in the main plaza entrance, just out of sight of the squadron. squatting down, she took something small from her pack. Not wanting to miss anything, Diana started the recording now.

Spitfire threw something on the ground. It unfolded, once, twice, three times, into a flat panel roughly the size of a yoga mat. A wire mesh hologram of… what could be some sort of a vehicle formed, and soon it gained a flat tone, followed by a texture, and then proper lighting, like it was being rendered. Diana recognized the design elements of a Chariot, though this was much smaller and didn't have a cockpit. The young woman put her pack back on, and draped herself over the vehicle like a motorcycle. She revved the engine, once, twice, a third time. One of the Naito heard the disturbance and pointed downrange, calling to the rest of the squad. On that note, Spitfire released the brakes and sped down the street.

One of the guards, posted in a ram-shackled tower, threw a lever. A hexagonal pattern filtered up slowly from the perimeter; a forcefield. Apparently, this was an anticipated maneuver, as after a single swatch was flipped on the console of the… 'Chariot-cycle', a cone of the same hexagonal material formed a hole in the wall, and Spitfire skidded sideways through it, a cloud of dust blinding several of the Naito. Somewhere in the confusion, she'd drawn a sword, which mechanically unfurled from it's compact form it had been stored in on a back harness to its full length, and she slashed clean through the neck of a hapless guard. After the two parts of his neck were severed, she threw it blindly behind her. It stuck dead center in a Naito mask, the owner crumpling.

Throttling to max, she pointed the cycle towards the makeshift tower, and stepped clean off. It shot out, unhindered by her added weight, and took one of the support struts out. The whole tower buckled slightly, and then began to fall, toppling onto the tent erected nearby. In one move, she'd eradicated both structures put up by the invasive crowd assembled below Diana, and she clearly wasn't done yet. From her kneeling position, she drew a single knife from her thigh holster. She flipped it, holding the double edged Black Knight dagger in a reverse grip. With her left hand, she motioned over the top of the other, beckoning the enemy closer. They obliged, slowly creeping towards the girl from the future. Focusing intently on the three remaining Naito in front, she didn't even see the one creeping on her from behind. Diana attempted to suppress the urge to call out, to warn her. What if something had… deviated from the original video? She still didn't know exactly how time travel worked; there could be something wrong.


As if on cue, the choice in stance had become clear. Typically, the dominant foot leads in a combat stance, but she'd stood with her right in the back, the same one she'd held a sword in. Either she was ambidextrous, or… no, it didn't look that way, as she lunged with it, backwards, towards a soldier it'd have been impossible for her to have seen. Hooking her heel at the crook of the head and shoulder, she spun, jumping and letting gravity be the leverage his head needed to travel directly into the ground, using his ankles as a fulcrum. She landed crouched, and with a snap of her fingers, one knife was three. She threw out her arm, as if to punch, without a chance of actually reaching the attackers who saw her momentary balance loss as an opportunity to strike. Instead, she released the knives, which shot like bullets directly into the foreheads of each of the three. The momentum, combined with the lack of mobility control following the immediate dispatch of the one organ that controls your muscles, knocks them clean backwards. A pool of blood begins seeping out from behind their masks, and Spitfire places one last knife in the head of the one who'd been thrown into the ground with a kick.

With copious amounts of bodily fluid leaking from every visible member of the enemy force, she waves excitedly at Diana, beckoning her to come down. "Well." Diana stopped the recording and gathered her things. "I'll be damned."

Soft muzak played as Diana and Spitfire ride the elevator from the ground floor to the penthouse suite, which Natasha had indicated was the location of the item they so desperately sought. Diana looked over at the new girl, until their eyes met and she looked away quickly. She coughed, less about the dusty environment in the long abandoned building and more to fill the awkward silence.

"So… how is it we meet, the other way around?"

Spitfire purses her lips. "Hmm. I don't really know. I was too young."

"Alright… how so?"

Only halfway up the elevator, she sets down her pink messenger bag. A loud glass clunk reveals itself to be the only item in the bag. "Well, I was born here. You already know that. That was into the encampment you form, shortly after the Knights are defeated. I know you better as Diana, Knight-Breaker and Overseer of the M.E.G.: Human Resources division."

"That sounds rather gratuitous."

"It wasn't your choice of title either. You don't tend to see eye to eye with them anyways, not after… well, that's a spoiler. Anyways, I have no idea what the first time I met you was, I would have been cared for in the communal nursery."

"Hmmph. Me, in the nursery. How far off in the future is this again?"

"I can't be specific. Time… in here… the more we understand, the less we're able to label it. By this point, you know this space doesn't work on the quantum mechanics model of physics, right?"

Diana nods curtly. "Kevin explained, right before… yeah."

"Discrete units of time get thrown out the window. You can imagine them, and the Rooms will work with you, but… they really work more in terms of units of events. Cleaning your equipment, having a meal, talking with someone… it's all about a 'event unit'. Those can feel like an outsider, one with a circadian rhythm, like anywhere between just under an hour to 5 minutes. To me… it's just a unit."

"Right." Diana closes her eyes and attempts to visualize this. "So, in these units…"

"15,000. It's a ways off. By then, the entire BK event will be over and you'll be… living what's left of your life."

"And I couldn't have done it if you hadn't been sent back, so… here you are."

"That's one way to look at it! I mean, you had to do it right at least once, or I wouldn't be here." She winks with her tongue out.


Diana and Spitfire step out into the penthouse suite. It could be assumed due to what was left of the décor that this had once been a cushy office, but those tend to require a frequent cleaning to keep up appearances. This was a dilapidated mess. The only thing out of place was what the former Archivist immediately recognized as a Black Knight supply station, parked next to a fountain. While still flowing, it needed a cleaning the worst of anything: pitch black liquid oozed out in thick droplets. She picked up the pace of her stride and began to examine it, searching for the latch.

"This place used to be in the Frontrooms, by the way. It falls in from way way in the future, at least, outside Backrooms time. Sometime in the 2070's. It may be the reason the Knights even fall. In that one, the roughly congruent actions of the knights stretch on for another 900 thousand event units. Heimwehmut tries to bring the nature of the Backrooms to the Frontrooms, and… this place happens. That's why it's unstable for visitors."

Diana, half distracted with the case, says "That's what Natasha said. I read about it in the archives, too. I don't get why, we've not had an issue and clearly the er… Naito haven't either."

"It's the suits. Stability whatchamacallits. Mine are a little out of whack, but I know how to tune them."

The case opens with a click, and Diana lifts the lid. "You're going to have to teach me how to do that. I'm still working out the kinks in the armor, so to speak." She picks up a case, marked with a Geneva Conventions approved Red Cross, and examines it. "Shit."

"I actually have to go soon, I don't-"

Diana ignores her. "Shit, shit, shit. They're empty."

Spitfire picks up one of them, daintily inspecting them. "Oh! Yeah, I totally forgot! Here." Moving away from the case and towards the fountain, she unlatches the top of the canister and holds it to the flowing fountain. "This is the Ebonichor. Retroactive causality means this is how the Sehnsucht developed the Black Knights after the Monarchs, but at one point they once had this as a display piece. Something about it conceptually stuck around, I guess." The ooze nearly flows over the lip, but she wipes it away with a glove and clicks the lid shut. She sticks the fingertip in her mouth for a second, looking guilty.

"Hey, don't… why the fuck would you do that? You don't know what that stuff does!"

She removes the gauntlet finger from her mouth with a pop. "I kinda do, though? It's highly nutritious, promotes cellular growth, and has some chemical components and nanomachines to increase complacency and servility. I'm resistant to that last effect though, genetically speaking."

Diana takes the box from her, inspecting it thoroughly. "What is it going to do to Kevin, then…" she mumbles to herself.

"He'll be okay, by the end. Here, one more thing." Spitfire draws from her bag the last item within: a 25 oz bottle of Rock Town Bourbon. "This is for you guys. Celebrate."

Diana takes the bottle, gingerly and with awe. "Where did you… how did you get one of these? I haven't had a good bourbon since… I can't remember when."

"I have my ways. Once your friend is better, crack this open and appreciate the last easy night before the end of the war. You'll thank me later."

"I'll thank you now. Come back to Castle 783, enjoy it with us." Diana pulls out her Svartalbrander, and wedges it between the tarnished marble flooring. The edges of reality blur, and she extends her hand to the benefactor of the mission.

"I already told you, I can't. I have… more pressing matters. Besides, I'm not old enough to drink, silly. I'm only 14! I'll see you on the other side?"

Diana lowers her hand, still trying to reconciliate the concept that she was just saved by a freshman, and gets ready to step through, when Spitfire grabs tightly ahold of her, squeezing like her life depends on it. "Sorry, I just… it's been a while. Take care, and… don't be afraid to experiment a little. Get crazy. If you get too stoic, too cold… you'll lose people. Important ones."

"Goodbye, Spitfire. Thanks for the booze. See you around." She waves as she steps backwards off the ledge, solid stone giving way to something moving and flowing, as her head sinks beneath the faux waves and into Cluster 2.

It took 36 hours before Kevin was fully recovered. Diana finished explaining the events of Level 543 to Kevin, who took it in stride. Natasha, who she'd tried to explain it to a day prior, while sitting at Kevin's bedside, holding him down when he thrashed in his dreams, had dozed off halfway through her description of the plaza battle. "Diana, you used to be very good at describe battles. Now, you bore me. What happen?" she said.

Kevin was less insulting about the matter. "I think it was unwise of you to trust this woman. She could have been sent by the Technicians."

"Technicians, Schmechnicians. She's a 14 year old little girl, Kevin. Chill out."

"I am at a nominal temperature, both physically and emotionally. In the future, I believe you should find some verification of their identity. The story seems rather incredulous, and the logic by which her description of time travel operates does not match any known theory in the Knight database. What is this drink?"

"It's bourbon. Good for you. It'll put more'n just that peach fuzz on your chest… or so my father once said to my brother. Before he left." The room is quiet for a moment, but not in a tense way. Natasha and Kevin acknowledge this with a nod, and he takes another sip from his glass, coughing slightly. "It also might make you say or do things you wouldn't normally. Spices up an evening."

Natasha took a sip, and spat onto the kitchen tiling. She poured the rest into Kevin's glass. "Bah! Americans have no taste in such matters. Now, a fine vodka, that would udovletvorit trebovaniya. I will go hunt. Be back tomorrow with large beasty or tolerable drink. Enjoy selves." Grabbing a pack of supplies, she stepped out into the autumn air and took a deep breath as the back door swung back closed. And the two of them were alone, once again.

"And when he left, I'll tell you, when he left… *hic*…" Diana began, but trailed off.

"Diana… Diane… you told me that story, I.. I think… 4 times." They're leaning on eachother now, each one too off balance to sit any other way. "Whaddabout… my story, Diana?"

"Mmm?" Diana looks away from the bottle empty on the table and at Kevin, who is trying to catch the light in what remains of the bourbon and ice in his glass. "What about it, Knight boy?"

"Well. I donreallyhave one, now, do I? S'all fake. I wanna real story." They lock gazes, and for the first time, Diana really looks into the red-tinted eyes of the knight that'd broken free of his programming and come to her aid. "I wanna be a real human. What's… wuzzat like, Diana?"

She blinks a couple times. "Are you… asking me to tell you what it's like t' be a human?"

"Nononononono. No, I'm not. I'm asking you to show me. You gotta show me. I need to see it. Feel it. I don' feel like a hu-man. Huuuuman. Humin." He drops the condensation laden glass out of his hand, and it shatters on the pavement, alongside Diana's last remaining thread of inhibition.

"Well…" she begins, starting to blush. "I could do that, I think. If you'd let me."

Kevin follows Diana upstairs as the Turbo encabulator sits untouched on the kitchen table, blinking it's single blue light, again, and again, all night.

rating: +12+x
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