The crunch of boots on snow. Someone enters. He’s Chiss.
“Chon’aiml’adra,” he says. It’s a code phrase. She relaxes. He begins speaking again. “This is your last contact. Jairo is dead.”
“No…” She puts a hand to her head, red eyes blank.
“They’re all dead.” He hands her a datachip. 293-R is written on the side. It shines in the light. Her hand closes around it. “Your word saved a few. Be grateful for that.”
“We’re so close,” she whispers.
He looks at her. His eyes are hollow. “I’m sorry,” he says, “Scinost is terminated.” He disappears into darkness, boots crunching again. An icy wind gusts blowing white noise by the open door. She sinks to her knees, hands in her lap, clutching the datachip. In the corner, a security camera lies in pieces, remnants of her earlier work. Hoar frost dusts the edges.
Words echo in her mind.
No matter what happen, follow the code and your orders… no matter what… no matter what… no matter what…
A tear falls down her cheek and she frowns. Turning to the probe she speaks, “Transmit data, pattern alpha-script-two.”
A beep confirms the transmission. The walls suddenly collapse in suffocating pain. Blackness.