A/N: Thought I'd enter something in the Watty Awards (a really strange name :/) because who doesn't love competition? Granted, I probably don't have much of a shot but who knows? I hope you give this story a chance in any case. Please tell me what you think of it and correct me on any errors you find :D
The sound of footsteps woke me. It wasn't terrifying. It wasn't unfamiliar. There was no effort whatsoever to hide it. It was simple as far as footsteps went, one foot after the other.
So I looked up groggily from under my sheets, for a moment forgetting how my door was still shut tight or how a cool wintry breeze was somehow wafting into the room through windows that I knew I had closed.
It stood at the foot of my bed, outlined by a dim mixture of street and moonlight. One hand held heavily on the footboard, the other one splayed forward, beckoning, groping at the air mere inches between us.
The face, the face that reappeared time again in my nightmares, the rotting oval of a head hung mere inches away. It grinned at me. No sharp teeth there, nope, that would've been too easy. Where was the joy if your teeth could tear through flesh so easily? No, the teeth were all too human. Gnashing and rotting, clacking together in what sounded like excitement.
Until today, that image was seared into memory. Even after everything I've learned since, it always made an appearance in my nightmares, like a pest that wouldn't go away. The peeling rotten flesh, the milky white unseeing eyes that nonetheless seemed fixated on you, the putrid stench of its warm breath against my face - It was all still so vivid.
And the inhuman sound that passed through its mouth. It was just one word. One word that has haunted me throughout my life.
A/N: You honestly don't have to read this part. I just thought I'd add it in case you guys wanted to get a good feel of the setting :D
Global Knowledge Archive Program
Codenamed Operation: Coeus
Progress Report Version 17
By [REDACTED], organization Special Operations Unit ID# 27008
It was in the 20th century, in the midst of the Second World War, when a group of new world visionaries realized the rapid decline in global education. Situations during the war forced thousands of educational institutions all across the globe to completely close down whether for reasons of safety or the need for more facilities to aid in the war efforts. Many notable confrontations and skirmishes throughout the war were fought both in rural or urbanized area. These confrontations would result in the loss of many lives and the destruction of many institutions, both academic and non-.
In the aftermath of the war, a minimal estimate of 78% of all information previously available to the public were destroyed in fires, buried in ruins, or simply left unusable. Libraries, galleries, collections, schools - all information written, printed, digitalized, and recorded in these institutions were eradicated.
Recognizing the implications of such an overwhelming loss of human knowledge, a task force led by [REDACTED] was organized to find a possible solution to the dilemma. Supported and sponsored by a host of dignitaries from both the public and private sectors, not solely from the United States of America, the [REDACTED] was formed for the sole purpose of acquiring, recording, and organizing a database that will contain any and all information of import - a repository of all recorded human knowledge.
This team began an operation known as "The Gathering," searching for and acquiring all recorded information on all fields of study - including but not limited to Philosophy, Mathematics, the Natural Sciences, Theology, the Social Sciences, etc - all across the United States of America. It was not long before enough information was stored for [REDACTED] to become confident of success. Eventually, the range of the project was increased, spreading to other nations all across the globe.
Unexpectedly, however, the operation caused much friction with foreign governments and other independent organizations leading to various confrontations, a majority of which were not settled as peacefully as would be hoped. These instants were highly secreted, and exposed the organization to the existence of humans with extraordinary abilities as the skirmishes at times involved the use of such evolved humans.
It was not long after that discovery that a Special Operations Unit was created within the organization, with the purpose of seeking out and recruiting others with similar genetic mutations. It was decided that Operation: The Gathering would be halted for a seven year period in an aim to concentrate on the training and organizing of the special individuals for minimal casualties.
This move, however, proved to be the downfall of [REDACTED].
During the seven year developmental period, much stress was poured upon the involved dignitaries by various political powers leading to a strain in political and financial relations. It was not long before there was not enough funding to continue the operation, leading to the disestablishment of [REDACTED] and shelving of Operation: The Gathering and the newly formed Special Operations Unit.
It would be five more years before the Operation would be renewed and the organization revived. [REDACTED], notable for his influence in the private sector gathered and arranged a new legislature, composed chiefly of dignitaries in the private sector and few public figures that share the same vision as when [REDACTED] was first created. With renewed sponsorship and support, the organization was reestablished. As per agreement, it has remained anonymous since then in an attempt to lessen attacks directed at it - now only referred to in general terms (e.g. the organization, the company, etc.).
Along with the company, the Special Operations Unit was revived, reappointing original members of the task force such as [REDACTED], [REDACTED], and [REDACTED].
Operation: The Gathering was reconceptualized by a newly formed Board of Trustees composed of the original task force, several new members, and a select group of sponsors. The project was renamed Operation: Coeus. With the reviving of the project, many modifications of the original concept were implemented, all in an aim to increase the chances of overall success. The original database, composed of several libraries of information stored in compact disks, was scrapped, opting instead for the construction of a centralized database, to be named Mnemosyne.
The Special Operations Unit was placed under the care of Commander [REDACTED], upon the establishment of the organization's main office at [REDACTED]. Centralized agents and groups within the Unit have since been trained and subsequently deployed in retrieval skirmishes to acquire volumes of information in environments hazardous to anyone without the necessary skills.
Presently, with more than a thousand Yottabytes of data stored within Mnemosyne, an estimated 94% of all known recorded human knowledge from past to present has been gathered. As of today, nearly twenty five years after the establishment of Operation: Coeus and the construction of the supercomputer known as Mnemosyne, we are the closest we have ever been to achieving our goal...
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The ArchiveScience Fiction
If there’s one thing that Christopher Bennet learned from his father, it was the oversimplified truth that Knowledge is power with a capital P. Rescued from a scientific abomination and consequently recruited by a nameless organization, Chris has ma...