Unto The Breach


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Chapter 1

The average life of a human being. If you were to take a step back and look at human behaviour from an external view you would most likely realise how odd the average life of a human being was. They fell in love once or twice, went to school until they didn’t and then threw away their hopes and dreams to live out a life filled with a chain of bog standard jobs that had nothing to do with the fees they were steadily paying off. To spice things up they would perhaps go out to drink with their friends once in awhile, only to feel absolutely terrible in the morning. Then the daily grind begins anew in a repetitive cycle. For the majority of people this was fine, many would say that keeping your head down and living an average life was the best way to good. Of course, they would say, something a bit more interesting from time to time would be nice, but there was no way that they could describe things as bad.


This was the average life of Clyde Lyre. When he was younger Clyde had dreams of being an astronaut, many kids did, but Clyde believed it this dream with a passion. All throughout childhood and high school he worked hard on science and maths and all the trivia an astronaut could possibly need. By the time he was ready to move on to college his dreams had faded, and while he still wanted to do something sciency, his lack of physical prowess had shot him in the foot. So Clyde Lyre went the way of many other young hopefuls, and despite the odds tried his very best. Just like those young hopefuls it appeared that his very best wasn’t going to be enough. Instead of jetting among the stars Clyde was jetting between the shopping aisles, stacking tins on shelves and making sure things weren’t going out of date. His dream remained, burned in him passionately, and he looked up at the sky with envy.


Statistically no life can be average forever. There will be one or maybe two anomalies that set certain days of a person's life apart, anomalies that were guaranteed to happen. These anomalies could be small, like perhaps seeing a celebrity down the street and managing to stop them for an autograph. But rarely these anomalies were large. Intense, world breaking, destructive anomalies that would set someone’s life on a different path entirely. Before these anomalies happen there are ripples, they force themselves back through time and settle themselves in your gut, twisting and squirming uneasily. The body knows it’s coming, even if the mind doesn’t. This was the average life of Clyde Lyre, and it was about to be ripped apart.


Running down the aisle of a supermarket was an ill advised thing to do. The floors were slippery and the soles of a shelf stackers shoe tended to be more worn than most due to the heavy hours of use they were put under. At this point Clyde didn’t care. His feet slapped the tiles with reckless abandon as he huffed and puffed his way toward the staff break room. Clyde didn’t own many expensive things, but he made a point of always keeping an up to date smartphone. Usually it was snugly tucked away in his pocket, safe and sound, away from prying hands and eyes. Only this time he had forgotten it, likely on the table in the staff room as he had been drinking his morning tea. He didn’t have enough money to pay for insurance, so unless it was still there, he would have to go out and buy an older model. This would, of course, still be rather expensive. Even older phones carried a hefty price tag, but there was no way he would resort to using a phone that didn’t have access to a half decent internet browser.


All of that would be irrelevant if his phone was still on the table anyway, which he was sincerely hoping it was. He burst through the door of the staff room thoroughly out of breath and immediately began searching. It wasn’t on the cheap plastic table that took up the corner of the room, and when he dipped his head under that he could tell that it wasn’t on the floor either.


“Shit,” Clyde cursed to himself, before sinking down onto one of the cheap plastic chairs.


Clyde was understandably upset. Not only was his phone the only line he had to the internet, and with that the numerous amount of science chatboards he was signed up to, it was his only line to the girl he was meant to be having a date with in just, clyde checked his watch, three hours. He gave an exaggerated sigh and ran his hand through his hair. It was not the best end to his friday night, and if the swirling unease in his stomach was anything to go by, the night was yet to get worse. Clyde stood, gave one last huff of discontent, and stormed out the room. He did not know it then, but this would be the moment that changed things forever, and as his phone blinked lonesomely under the raggedy sofa over on the other side of the room, it was already too late.


Clyde slammed the front door of his one bedroom apartment and began to pace. He had decisions to make, after all, and pacing always helped with that. On the one hand he could dash over to a phone store and hoped he remembered his login details to the dating app that he had been using, though considering he hadn’t had to sign into the thing for months it was a shot in the dark. Alternately he could take a shower, try to cool off, and then make it to the date at the time they had previously agreed on. He tapped out a rhythm of four on his palm to help him think, the rhythm had always helped him make decisions in the past, not that they had always been the right ones. Clyde made the choice that any man would make, he decided to go on the date.


He had met Sophie online around three months ago, and they had hit it off almost immediately. He was into science and she was into science fiction, and although they weren’t the same thing the pair took great pleasure in debating the evolution of technology. They had, apparently, also gone to the same high school, though considering Clyde had never really socialised much during those years it wasn’t surprising that they had never encountered one another before. The real killer for Clyde was Sophie’s eyes, in certain pictures their icy blue iris’ seemed to glow, and whether that was just his overactive imagination, a trick of the light or some nifty work on a photo editor Clyde didn’t know. He also didn’t care, he was smitten.


Half an hour, one lukewarm shower and half a can of aftershave latter, it was obvious Clyde was going on the date. He passed the swirling unease off as jitters, pre-date butterflies, his nerves playing up on him. He thought, quite rightly, that a great change was about to happen on his date with Sophie. He would go from being that lonely geeky guy who sometimes worked the tills to that less lonely geeky guy who sometimes worked the tills and also had a girlfriend. To Clyde this was a great change indeed.


It was this series of events that led Clyde to be sitting alone in a central London pub alone. He had a warm, half finished, pint of beer on the table in front of him and his head bobbed drunkenly from side to side. Around him people were chatting and swaying in time both with the music and the pulsing heart of the city itself, spilling out of the pubs doors and onto the streets themselves. The stale smell of beer on the sticky carpet combined with the happiness of everyone else of the room only served to make Clyde’s mood plummet even further. He had hoped that Sophie would be different. It wasn’t the first time he had been stood up, and it wasn’t the first time that someone had cancelled on him at the last minute. Clyde laughed half heartedly at that thought, she probably had cancelled on him. If he’d had his phone he would have known that, but he didn’t.


Clyde took another sip of his drink, grimaced at the temperature, and then abandoned it altogether. It was no good moping around in the pub he should have been meeting up with the potential love of his life, no good at all. That and the growing pressure in his bladder needed to be relieved, and that was a call of nature that he did not want to ignore. He staggered through the waves of people, the ground uneven beneath his feet and his head lolling slightly from side to side with every step, Clyde had never been one that could hold his alcohol. He almost fell down the stairs, but grabbed the banister at the last moment, chuckling slightly at his near injury. This always happened. He fell for a new regular manic pixie dream girl, one that would never love him, one that was far out of his league, and then drank away his sorrows afterward. Even if he had work the next day. He braced himself against the wall and did his business, nearly slipping against the tiles and falling into his own unpleasantness. It hadn’t been a good night. It hadn’t been a good year. In fact, for Clyde, it hadn’t really been good since he flunked out of physical education.


Clyde staggered over to the wash basin and washed his hands. He looked up into the mirror and caught sight of his bloodshot eyes, once bright and filled with hope, now drowned in drink and despair. If his father could see him now the elder Lyre would have probably told him to pick his socks up and to keep marching on. Clyde thought it would be pretty hard to do that considering it was the height of summer and he was wearing sandals. He blearily made his way up the stairs once more, barged his way through the happy throngs of party people in the pub, and made his way out into the fresh open air. He breathed in deep, staggered forward a few steps, and looked up into the sky with envy. The moon hung solitarily in the sky, the stars blotted out by the light pollution of the city.


“Fuck you,” He yelled, pointing haphazardly at the sky, imagining the handful of people hurtling around the planet at that moment. “Fuck you and fuck what you’ve done. I could’ve done that, easy,” he hiccuped and staggered another few steps forward.  


While people were looking at Clyde, and some had pulled out their phones to film the raving man, none were prepared for the van that swerved around the corner, tailed closely by police cars with blaring sirens. No one was close enough to Clyde to push or pull him out of the way. Instead it hit him. It was a glancing blow off the front corner of the bonnet, enough to flip the drunken man through the air. To the horror and dismay of those filming on their phones and pointing at the funny drunk man drunkenly shouting at the sky, his head hit the ground first, cracking wetly on the pavement. Blood bloomed out from the back of his head, a torrent of gushing red and gristle. The man driving the van got out, his hands held to his head, and tears streaming down his cheeks. It was meant to be a routine job, a simple break in, no one was meant to get hurt. He was brought to his knees by one police man while the other cautiously stepped over to the downed drunk. He put his fingers to Clyde's neck, but it was no use, the man was broken.


Clyde Lyre was dead.

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Chapter 2

Void. Darkness. An infinite black. Small pricks of light drifted down from above, there was no direct source for these little orbs, they flickered into existence and then slowly made their pilgrimage down into the unknowable. Sinking and sinking until, eventually, they blinked out as suddenly as they had appeared. In the middle of all of this was a man. His black hair came down over his ears, scruffy and unkempt, a wild mane. While he seemed dressed to impress his black slacks and grey polo did little to alleviate the man’s very obvious pot belly. Though a pot belly was something usually ascribed to a man of advanced age, it was clear that this man was young, at some point in his early or late twenties. He woke screaming.


“Oh great, another screamer,” said the void.


“Please, he has just died, show some compassion,” the void replied.


“Look, everyone dies eventually, why do we always get the screamers?” the void questioned.


“Because we are on premature, and that usually involves something bloody and terrible,” the void replied once more.


Slowly two shapes became clear in the darkness, made up of a substance blacker and darker still. The only reason they were visible at all was due to the outline they left against the little glowing specks. They were both the shame height, both the same width, and both had no discernable features of any kind. They were manifestations of the void, and from the void they were made. The man was still screaming.


“Clyde Lyre would you please be quiet,” the leftward figure said, placing its hands on its hips much like a school teacher might. Clyde complied, his voice tapering off into a hoarse choke. He sat there, shivering, gazing out at the void and the lights, before finally settling on the two figures before him.


“I said compassion,” the rightward figure chastised, nudging the other slightly.


“Where…” Clyde began, his voice small like that of a scared child, “What is this place?”

“Compassion this, compassion that, it worked didn’t it? Already quiet, and asking the right questions already!” the leftward being said.


“Yes ,well, it wouldn’t hurt if you were a little nicer from time to time, would it?”


“Never tried, actually. Wouldn’t know, it might be excruciatingly painful. As for you, little human, welcome to death!”


Clyde stiffened like a board. Tears prickled at the side of his eyes until they eventually started spilling down his cheeks and into the depths of the void below. He curled up into a little ball and let the sobs wrack his body. He couldn’t believe it, he couldn’t be dead. It was a preposterous notion that didn’t deserve this level of emotional response. But if that were the case, why had he automatically started crying? It was like his body automatically knew they were telling the truth. The memories came back slowly, one by one, swimming into focus. The phone, the stand up, the drink, then finally the van. Clyde let a hand trail up to his head, his hand came back both red and wet. It was true, he was dead.


“Oh, look at what you’ve done now!” the creature on the right said.


“Well how was I meant to know he was going to react like that? You are being quite ridiculous.”


All humans react like that, it’s basically human 101. You mention death, they lose it and turn into shivering wrecks, case and point,” the creature said, gesturing to Clyde with an arm that seemed far too long for its height.


“Ugh, this is too much. Calm him down so I can recover his memories before he fades too much, if you’re so good at all this human stuff,” the one on the left said, crossing its elongated arms in a huff.


The one on the right shook its head and sat down beside Clyde. It put its arm around the sobbing man and drew it forward, wrapping its too long arms around the man in a tight hug. For a moment Clyde resisted, trying to pull away from the gangly creature, but he quickly found that he felt rather cold and the creature was rather warm. So instead, he let himself be comforted, and folded into its embrace. The creature cooed softy at the man, running its spindly hand through his hair, careful to avoid the fracture in his skull. Within no time Clyde was as quiet as a newborn baby in its mother's arms.


“There,” it said quietly, looking up at its companion, “Humans require a little bit of compassion is all.”


The creature detached from Clyde’s embrace and drew itself up to its full height, and while Clyde looked disappointed that the physical contact was over, he didn’t begin to bawl again, though his bottom lip trembled threateningly.


“I’m dead?” he squeaked, “Is this hell?”

The creature that hugged him laughed, a high pitched tinkling sound that was rather pleasant. “Would a demon of hell truly try to comfort a newly dead human?” it asked, shaking its head, “this is not hell, little human, but nor is it heaven. In your tongue… purgatory would be a better word.”




“Yeah, the bit before you go to hell,” the one on the left sniggered darkly. Clyde started crying again.


“Oh by the…” the nicer creature seethed, “there is no hell, Clyde.”


Clyde took some deep breaths to get his emotions under control and managed to choke out, “No… hell?”


“Oh way to ruin all the fun. You and your compassion nonsense, I really do hate getting paired up with you.”


“Well, that was just uncalled for, I can understand being mean to the human but being mean to me is just out of order entirely.”


“Enough of the arguing already,” the shadowy figure on the left turned to Clyde, “No hell. No heaven. As if your puny human imaginations could even begin to understand the majesty of what lies in this realm before you got here,” it said haughtily.


“Then what comes next?” Clyde asked, bringing himself to his feet unsteadily.


“So eager to get to the next when you haven’t even explored the here,” the compassionate one said, gesturing to the expanse around them with its absurdly long arm, “How charmingly human of you.”


“Okay,” Clyde said, beginning his calming taps of four on his hand, “Explain?”


“Purgatory, sort of, like he said,” the rude one began,”This is the void, the eternal space between dimensions, the thing that keeps universes from crashing into each other and bouncing around like intergalactic pinballs. When a sentient being dies, its soul comes to the void to be judged on whether they have lived a worthwhile life or whether they have lived a life that is unworthy.”


Clyde winced at that, remembering his countless hours of loafing around the house after work in his underwear, eating nothing but packs of doritos with a side of coleslaw, “Is that why I’m here… am I unworthy?”


“Oh hoho, you are eager aren’t you, even for a human. We’ll get to that shortly, very shortly, before your final brain waves unravel. That’s how you get lost to the aether, don’t want that, lots of spooky things out there.”

Clyde’s eyes widened, and it looked like he was about to start crying again.


“But you don’t have to worry about that,” the kind one cut in, “because we are going to get to the judging very quickly. After which, depending on your quality of life, one of two things will happen. If you lived a worthy life your soul will be imbued with light, and you will be sent on the eternal pilgrimage down below, where you will be filled with energy and become one with the universe. On the other hand, if your life wasn’t particularly worthy, you will simply be reincarnated in a new world, one which will give you the best choice at living a fulfilled life!” It finished off chirpily.


The information was too much for Clyde at first, and he needed a moment to register it all, but as it did a smile began to blossom on his face. Whether his life was judged to be worthy or not, and let’s face it the likelihood was leaning to the latter, he would just be reborn in a world where things were designed to go right for him, at least that's how it sounded by the way the kind creature before him explained it.


“See, compassion and understanding, works every time,” the creature said smugly.


“Yeah, well, your kind and compassionate speech took a bit too long, and as a result look at our charge’s right hand.”


The creature on the right could not, as there was no right hand to look at. In the midst of all their chatting Clyde had slowly started to undergo the processes the creatures of the void fondly referred to as unravelling. The human’s astral body slowly beginning to unfurl due to the strain of a physical manifestation in the void. If it were allowed to continue to the last, the human would be scattered, forced to walk the void for eternity, never allowed to become one with eternity.


“I don’t have a hand,” Clyde stammered, raising the offending arm. He expected to see a stump pulsing with thick, red blood and exposed gristle, but instead he was met with a shimmering light.


“Right, yes, good point, no more time for explanations! You don’t have a hand, which means we need to get on with the judging and sending you off on the pilgrimage or off to another world,” The kind one said, “Now this may sting… just a bit.”


The meaner of the two voidlings rushed forward, seeming to expand and fill his whole vision. The blackest black that he had ever witnessed, covering him entirely. It was suffocating, and the nice one was right, it stung. It was as if every nerve in his body was being assaulted at once, lighting his body up in a map of pain. Then the memories started. He was a baby, fresh born into the world, wriggling and screaming in the arms of a doctor. He was a toddler, waddling across the floor to his mother, who had a beaming smile on her face. He was ten years old, dressed in a tux, everyone around him was crying, his mother had died of cancer. Fifteen years old, smoking behind the sheds at school, kissing Melly Smith full on the lips. Eighteen years old, realisation he wouldn’t become who he wanted to become, Melly had left him years ago, yet he persisted. Twenty-three, he was working in a shop, looking for dates online, loafing around in his underwear. Twenty-four, still at the shop, he was drinking in a bar, he was walking out into the street, shouting at the sky, cursing the universe he had been born into. He was lying on the ground, blood seeping from the wound in his head, he was dead.


The void dweller pulled back, slowly, as if it were afraid that the human it had just judged would break apart at a moment's notice. Although it had been mean and crass before the entire vibe of the entity had changed, going from twisted malfeasance to… understanding. Clyde staggered, but managed to hold himself up, though he couldn't hold back his silent tears. He really had lived a meaningless life, and that struck him deep to the core.


“Well then…” the kinder of the two said, trying to keep the emotion out of its voice, “I guess we both know where you’re going, new universe and all that.”


“Yeah… Um… Yeah,” Clyde replied, unsure really of what to say.


“From your mental reading space was kind of your thing, so that’s where you’re going, life among the stars like you always dreamed!” It continued, its previous bouncy chipperness returning to its voice. “Don’t worry about all the logistics, we’ll sort that out on our end, you’ll be implanted into the universe as if you had always been there, or as close to that as we can get. Be careful, sentients only get one re-do, if you mess this life up it’s going to be the unravelling for you, and trust me unravelling is not a pleasant experience.”


“But I have so many questions,” Clyde began, “How will I know what to do, what does living a worthy life even entail?”


Though the creatures had no faces he felt as if they were both giving him a knowing smile, as if that were a question that they had been asked all too many times. They didn’t answer him, of course, that wasn’t the point of the reincarnation process. It was about learning, self discovery, a second chance. As Clyde’s body slowly faded away, the man himself still asking questions that went unanswered, the two beings slowly faded back into the void once more, as if they were never there to begin with. The blips of light, the souls of the worthy, drifted ever downward, pinpricks against an eternal void.


Below, it devoured.

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Chapter 3

Clyde woke up with a gasp, his hand immediately going to his head to check out the damage. But there was none, no blood matted his previously sticky hair, and there was no crack in his skull exposing his innards to the outside world. The seemingly irreparable ultimate end of death had been reversed, and he was whole once more. He felt a rush of emotions, one after another, rapid fire and disorienting. He was relieved, not being dead was a good thing after all. He was scared, this was a whole new world he knew basically nothing about, other than the fact he was somehow going to fly through space in it. Primely, the emotion that overrode and combined it all, was excitement. Those creatures he had talked with before had said that they were basically going to set him up with the dream. He was going to fly through space and be a total badass. No more dead mother to worry about, no more chronic alcoholic father, and no more stood up online dates. He was free from all of his troubles in his past world, and honestly it felt fantastic.


He took stock of the room he was in. It was, in two words, simply sleek. All the surfaces in the room, from the ceiling to the floor to the walls, seemed to be made of the same gun metal material, bar some black carpeting on certain sections of the ground. The bed he was lying in was made up in navy blue, a deep colour that he appreciated well enough. His bed seemed to be coming out of the wall rather than the floor as one would have usually expected, and the only light came from a series of lights that fit in between each metal panel on the ceiling as well as the windows that looked out into the dark reaches of space.


Clyde’s heart skipped a beat and he all but launched himself out of his bed. The windows. The windows looking out into space. Not space far up above, from the surface of a planet, but space right there in front of him. An infinite expanse of inky black littered with the pinpricks of far off stars. On Earth it had all felt so far away, but now here it was, right outside his bedroom window in all its majesty. There was just a little bit of glass keeping him safe, and out there, the wild plains of the unknown. It was beautiful, it was terrifying, it was fantastic. Clyde wanted to explore it all. He would explore it all, or at least as much as he could. There was something about seeing it all right in front of him that left Clyde in a state of pure, unadulterated awe. When you stood on the surface of a planet you were somehow separated from the infinite scale of the universe. While you could acknowledge that it was all out there you had the rock and earth under your feet to keep your grounded. When you were actually in space, things became a different matter altogether. There was nothing to ground you anymore.


Clyde gazed out of the window into the ceaseless expanse of space. It stretched out for light years below him, light years above him, and light years to the sides. Far out there were the tiny twinkles of other star systems, glimmering prettily like diamonds on a jewelry shelf. It was beautiful, it was breathtaking, and it was making his head spin. Looking out there into the depths of forever… he was terrified. Clyde turned away from the window, tapped his fingers on his palm, and sucked in a long breath of air. It was fine, he was fine, whatever civilization he had now become a part of were clearly pretty good at this whole space thing. The room he was in looked as if it were made to be well lived in, which suggested that they had been at this thing for a pretty long time, and that helped him calm.


Clyde noticed the data-pad on the bedside table, which was also a gunmetal grey. That was a colour that could get boring after a while, and Clyde hoped there was a way to add a splash of colour to the room if he had to spend any prolonged period of time in it. Clyde walked back over to the bed, grabbed the data pad, and sat down cross-legged. There was only one button on the front of the machine, though it looked similar enough to a tablet device that he wasn’t really worried. He pushed the button and it did indeed power on, though Clyde quickly found that he couldn’t understand any of the words that were written on it. A beam of light leapt out of the machine and he dropped it, but not before said light was able to collide with his forehead. Slowly the words on the machine morphed from the strange symbols that he couldn’t quite get a grasp of into the English he was used to.


Welcome to the Federation Recruitment Initiative [CLYDE LYRE].  You are one of many across the Galaxy who are trying to enter the Elite Protector Corps, the group of brave souls dedicated to protecting our sovereign borders of space and the alliance of planets and civilizations that the Federation is made up of. Your FRI will take part in three stages, testing your decision making skills, your hand to hand combat skills, and your pilot abilities. From there you will be assigned to your division, and you better make sure to do good out there, because only the best are accepted into the Elites! Good luck, the FRI begins now!


“Wait… begins now?” Clyde muttered to himself.


“Alert! Room integrity at 88%, and falling, you have 300 seconds until window blow out! Doors non-functional, please evacuate this area and report to the main deck!” the computer replied.


It took a moment for Clyde to realise what the computer systems had said, and then another moment for him to avoid the onrush of panic. The data-pad had claimed that the first test in this recruitment initiative thing was going to test decision making skills, obviously he had to make the right decisions to escape the room before the windows blew out and explosive decompression sucked him into the icy blackness of space. That was quite obviously something he wanted to avoid, death by space to soul-death by unravelling didn’t sound like the most fun way to go.


“Computer, estimated chances of survival?” Clyde shot out, casting his eyes around the room for anything immediately obvious to help his escape, there was nothing.


“Estimated chances of survival for occupants of this room are less than 10%!” the too-happy voice of the computer chirped back at him.


“Oh, great,” he mumbled to himself, “Why are the doors inoperative?”


“Debris have locked up the opening mechanism, there is no way to repair this fault!”


“Teleporter systems?”


“This phrase is not in my memory banks, you have less than 250 seconds to vacate this room before window blowout!”


“Are there any other ways to get out of this room? Air ducts, waste tubes, anything?”


“The air vent system is located underneath the bed in this room!” The computer replied.


Clyde immediately leapt to the ground, pulling the boxes that lay underneath the standard bunk away and throwing them out of the room. It would be a tight fit, but he would likely be able to squeeze through the venting system if he tried hard enough. The only matter was actually getting the grill off the front of the vent, there didn’t seem to be any screws connecting it to the wall, and after giving it a solid tug there didn’t seem to be a way to just pull it off either.


“Computer,” Clyde called out from under the bed, “What secures this grill to the venting systems?”


“Magna-clamps are used to hold the grill in place, these can be disrupted with a brief electro-static shock!” The computer helpfully responded.


“Oh and how the hell am I meant to... “ Clyde cursed and remembered the pad. Surely it worked off of some kind of electronics system, if he could figure out how to open its casing and cross some wires he might just be able to short circuit the thing and cause the shock he needed.


He slid out from under the bed, ignored the computer telling him he only had a hundred seconds left to escape the room, and grabbed the data-pad. He brought it down as hard as he could against the metal floor and smiled as the thing burst open, revealing its internal wiring. He ducked back under the bed and sidled up to the grill, all the while scraping the plastic casing of the wires away to reveal the metal within. All it took was two pieces of the wire to collide, a shower of sparks, and the grill fell to the ground.


“Thirty seconds remaining until this room is unfit for habitation,” the computer announced.


Clyde wasted no time in jumping into the air duct system. After wiggling his whole body into the air duct the computer gave its final ten second countdown, and then everything went to hell. He heard the glass shatter first, and then felt all of the air begin to get sucked out into the expanse of space. Clyde braced against the sides of the duct with his arms and legs and hoped it would be enough to stop him from being blown away as well, surely there would be some sort of secondary hull for this exact scenario. In just a few seconds he was proved right as the air flow returned to normal and he heard a heavy, metal, clank resound from the room he had just left. Clyde shuffled his way out of the duct, his heart hammering in his chest, unsure if he was about to cry out in jubilation or break down into hysterical laughter. The choked sound that forced its way out of his throat was a strange mixture of both.


The door of the room swished open with a mechanical click, clearly the thing wasn't as blocked as the computer had lead him to believe, and that meant he couldn't really trust anything that happened after this point. Clyde didn’t know if he would have actually been sucked out of the window after the explosive decompression, but he wanted to err on the side of caution. He would treat every challenge as if it were legitimate, but would be deeply wary of every scrap of information the computer systems gave him. Until this was all over he would be on high alert. He stood in the center of the room, poised and ready, but nothing happened. The computer wasn’t giving him any instructions and he couldn’t hear any sounds coming from out in the hall. A small smirk crept its way onto Clyde’s lips. The computer, and whoever was running the tests, clearly expected him to go out into the corridor and confront the next challenge. So Clyde did the only thing that made sense, he turned around, snuck back under the bed, and crawled straight into the air vent. Two could play at the sneaky game, and from every movie he had ever watched, Clyde knew that humans were always the most conniving and the sneakiest.

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