119 119. Patient Zero

On the flattened mountainside of Mount Elbrus, a double heavy-duty metallic door slid open slowly. Mist was made by a temperature shock between two vastly different environments before dissipating revealing the athletic figure of a young man walking out on the oddly colored snow a mix of white, orange, and red.

His body was covered by a heavy yet slim protective suit that warded him against the cold, toxic air, radiation, and acidic snow even if where he was any of those was far less prominent than anywhere else on Earth, mountain ranges were not ceaselessly bombarded like cities.

This man was no scientist or anything of the like, no, he was an 'internet star' and this place behind was a bunker-slash-mansion, his bunker-slash-mansion or more accurately the one of his family, the Drennek of which he was the youngest son. His full name was Eric Drennek and his mother was a high-ranking member of the RDA as well as a shareholder and the founder of Fortune 500, a worldwide renowned construction firm.

In any case what it meant was that a big portion of the dead volcano was his property, a place isolated from all where he could live in peace and quiet away from the world but that wasn't why he was here. His status as an 'influencer' was created out of his peculiar passion, exploration, notably of extreme environments for the sight but also the adrenaline rush and that was why he originally came here, and as such that wasn't exactly what he was going to do today.

There have been quite a lot of changes within the last few hours… And like any good entrepreneur worth his grain of salt he was going to take the chance to grow his channel further. Even if it meant going against his Mother's order to stay in the bunker until a rescue team arrived, it was no more than hot air to him, and it wasn't as if she cared all that much about him, to begin with.

Mount Elbrus was not a place he was unfamiliar with, in his backpack was all the equipment necessary, and more. He had the gears that if worse came to worse he could get lost for two weeks and when he was found to have minor physical traumas that could be healed rather easily. He was reckless, not stupid, well that is what Eric likes to think of himself that is and there was a lot up to debate.

Whipping those unpleasant thoughts to the side a smile parted his face he clutched in his gloved hand a dozen small black pyramids, small inconspicuous devices but it wasn't anything as ominous as their description sounded.

They were drones, very sophisticated drones with next-generation technology but drones all the same.

Pressing a certain unseen button on each of them they glowed white then their forms changed, each grew four thin metallic branches at their base, then new appendages unfolded like fans into what appeared to be translucent membranous wings.

Then they began to beat at a speed above what the human eyes could perceive, once the pyramid drones reached a high enough frequency each of them flipped by themselves, the bottom becoming the bottom as they hovered all around the man unbothered by the frigid winds.

Elliot turned facing the middle cameras of one of the three drones he was controlling with simple AIs and an earpiece connected to his central nervous system. He then made the feedback of the cameras connect to his Nebula account starting the live stream using one of the family's personal satellites for crystal clear connection, hundreds of other antennas all around helping in as well.

The hundreds of millions of people that had been waiting for hours for him to start the stream poured in, many knew he was here even if originally it wasn't going to be about this alien lozenge but he didn't complain, usually, his stream averaged at five to ten million and it was only growing exponentially right now. He was elated in addition to going to see an alien artifact! Everything was secondary and to be figured out later.

"Isn't that an impressive start for a stream, we are going to beat the old world record in a few minutes if this continues at this rate.", he said aloud his face joining on the lower side of each camera for the viewers giving them the sight of a rather handsome blond young man with oddly colored eyes a clear sign of their lack of naturalness. But it was through those fake eyeballs he could see the rain of messages and donations.

And the faint burns indicated his eyes' artificial nature wasn't exactly a choice. It was one of the many reasons he hated his 'Mother' besides the psychological negligence.

"For those who don't know me, the name's Eric, and I have a passion for adrenaline and for today…", he trailed off, turning dramatically and walking in the snow in one specific direction.

"Today I was going to be climbing, and skydiving from the top of Mount Elbrus, yes this Mount Elbrus and this is why I had a change of plan with the recent world-shaking news.", he said, ramping up the tension, the rise of viewers and messages being sent informing him of how good of a choice that was.

"I'm sure none of you missed the news of an alien visit. But for those who don't then one of the three UFOs has landed on this mountain and I have decided to take it upon myself to grant you and the world a first seat to observe it! And when I say this I truly mean it.", Eric declared with grandeur as he spread his arm and began trekking on a certain path, one predetermined and calculated to his goal.

His ascension was quicker, far quicker than it should be normally as he would have not taken the terraformed route today but he didn't want to waste his time and that of his viewers so he took this route. Though it was still dangerous he didn't hesitate to take several more shortcuts by jumping, climbing, and the like without so much an ounce of hesitation.

'He is insane!'

'Habla Español estúpido.'

'Holy shit!'

'Feet pics pls.'

'Jump higher!'

'Mommy… I'm scared…'

'I was right! The world is freaking ending AAAAAHHH!'

And this was only a minute sample of millions more messages that were being flung at him and they were very tame compared to others. The only reason some could even be read was the way the stream was split and the moderators both humans and not, worked to filter things for everything to work as intended even if they were likely going to be overwhelmed.

Not that Eric cared all that much, well he did but if the message became overwhelming then it was more of a reason to be happy than worried since it meant big numbers and growth.

And speaking of big numbers, Eric smiled widely and said merrily with vibrating excitement, "And we broke the world record for maximum active viewers on a live stream!"

"To recompense you all beautiful people I will haste my steps, and nobody wants to wait half a day to reach our destination, now, do we?", he added and did just that but he still was careful and followed a path he knew wouldn't cause mortal wounds.

He continued speaking and interacting with his audience as a debate on aliens set in with many wild guesses from what was their purpose here, why and how did they cripple all military, why land on this place, why the objects were lozenges, what are their purpose, what are they made of, why Earth, why this oddly specific locations, are they all going to be turned to zombie and beyond.

However, none of those questions were answered in any meaningful way besides shaky theory and guesswork, not that it stopped a worrying amount of people from believing their idea to be an absolute reality. Some threaten one another with promises of death, torture, and the like, not groundbreaking news. It was humanity in a nutshell, at least here they can't beat one another to death with big sticks.

Then Eric suddenly stopped moving, something immediately noticed by his audience leading to great confusion that bubbled in various emotions from fear, anger, and even amusement.

'Young man… Come…'

An ethereal, deeply masculine, and multilayered voice brushed his mind or more appropriately the cybernetic implants connected to his brain but the streamer didn't know this and for him, it was no different. And so he froze, his body acting in a way he didn't know as a primal feeling he couldn't understand filled his system making his knees go weak.

"Did you hear that?", he asked his audience worriedly but the answer he got aside from the obvious trolls that were swiftly banned told him only he did and as such he rationalized it was only the winds.

But it proved the next second to be a false narrative as the same voice reached his mind, this time stronger and far more clear, it was to such a point he could sense where it was coming from. The sense of outer body awareness would have been headache-inducing if not for his experience using drones.

"The heart of the mountain…", he mumbled a frown appearing over his face. Internally, he was terrified but he couldn't run, not for some physical limitation it was far simpler, he didn't want to, his mind ablaze with curiosity about the unknown and the growth it would provide to his channel.

At this instant, he cared little for the whys and hows he was hearing the voice and the potentially grievous consequences of not only staying but going to the source. No, what mattered was to see it, it was as if his body screamed to go and his mind was getting hazier.

Without even realizing he had been moving and only stopped in front of a cave entrance, one he didn't know was here, his focus came back hitting him like a truck when he saw the massive shadow of stalactites and stalagmites but that led to this shadow that was the heart of his focus.

"This is odd.", he said confusedly, his heart hammering in his heart at what he was seeing, the chat behind with a short second of total silence before it exploded to the point no message could be sent.

What Eric and the millions behind were observing was a potent pulsing dark blue and vibrant purple light coming from deep within the cave, the source unknown but clear in its location. It was something nobody needed to be a spelunker like him or a knowledgeable individual to realize this wasn't normal.

And it evidently wasn't the glow from lava, the shock from the impact wouldn't cause an eruption on the dead volcano and lava by Eric's knowledge didn't emit this shade of light, the only reasonable option was bioluminescent life.

That wouldn't be far-fetched considering what he saw and what strange quirks lifeform surviving high radiation when not resistant could gain, nothing of the like of Godzilla but when it wasn't fatal there could be a very interesting change. Most were aesthetic like the one in the supposed pond below be it algae fish or whatever creature lived there.

Alas he was correct even if it wasn't in the way he thought but he was curious, the encouraging echoes of the disembodied pushing his inhibition down, and the rebooting of the various chats made the mostly encouraging messages from his viewer making this close to non-existent inhibition go even lower.

The first step into the cave was hard, his body filled with conflicting emotions, but the second was easier as he gained confidence in his decision. The third became even simpler, and as more followed all fear he should have was gone. His drones followed him while at the same time forming a chain to keep the signal clear to the outside world.

The sound of the harsh glacial winds disappeared to be replaced by the echoes of his footsteps in the spacious cave.

'WTF is that sound?'

'It's like a boom boom but rhythmic.'

'Affect the light, it goes high when boom and down when not boom.'

'It sounds like a heartbeat. HOLY SHIT IT'S ONE!'

Eric stayed silent at the messages sent to him, his cheerful voice completely gone as he breathed heavily and walked down the cave unperturbed. The voice in his mind getting more audible the further he progressed, his heart hammered heavily to the point he heard it in his ears while each heartbeat was to the rhythm of the lights.

Then came roots, massive sharp sinews woods deeply encroached in the stones, their body a mix of silver and obsidian black as within was a fluorescent liquid the color of the light that was light the cave.

'Ew, that's disgusting.'

'The F is that sht?!'

'Tentacle h@ntai incoming with twunk and an alien lifeform? I'm in, from the side.'

'It's so pretty…'

'Is it edible?'

The number of messages increased exponentially again while images and videos were taken and uploaded by the thousand swarming the internet and all media sources leading in the following minutes to a worldwide panic.

Without even realizing Eric had approached the strange root to the point barely a meter separated him from the alien lifeform, then the live stream was suddenly shut down and it snapped the young man out of his reverie but it was too late.

"Wh-I can't feel my legs!?", he screamed in horror as not only with realization came two others, his body aside from his head seemed partially paralyzed and the roots were creeping slowly toward his feet.

'Do not fret young man… This will only be shortly unpleasant… Accept my gift and do not fight it for it is inescapable…', the alien voice said, something akin to mirth could be felt within but also a sense of warmth and that all is going to be fine.

It would have almost tricked him if not for the roots having reached his feet and crawling up to his ankles all the while he was sobbing and crying to the point his throat burned and tasted like blood.

A few hours later four point thirty-seven light years away on the moon of a gas giant, a man of light smiled faintly at the sight of a blond man getting inspected in the best hospital on Earth located in Uthopéa, the white-haired Na'vi to his side decided to open her mouth to speak.

"Hubby, was this necessary to be so… What was the word, theatrical?", Eywa inquired with mere curiosity, no blame in her voice or anything of the like.

"And I might ask you back, why not my dear tree goddess? You seem fond of it as well.", Liam said with amusement, affection directed at her in his voice.

"That is a very satisfactory point… We cannot find flaws in that perspective.", she mumbled and the chuckle she got from her mate caused her to follow him.


My P@treon if you want to give me money and have chapters I have finished in advance, around 20.


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