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Scientists were working furiously on their assigned machines as sirens blared and the room was filled with the glow of red warning lights. Their test subject, who had been contained for weeks without major incident, was breaking out of his container. This scenario was never supposed to happen – their machines, his enclosure, were all built to very specific specifications for a task far beyond anything science had attempted to solve.

Hansen was one of these scientists. Unlike the rest, he calmly performed his particular duties as leader: keep the scientists on-task, assess and assist as needed, and advise his government contacts about the sudden escalation.

His present composure, complemented by nonchalantly smoking potent cigarettes, was meant to relax his subordinates as they underwent this critical task, but at this moment, the approach was counterproductive.

Then Hansen blinked.

The room was now far redder than before, with the other scientists swapped with mounds of assorted, mutilated body parts and flesh, and blood everywhere, including all over Hansen. There was also a horrid stench which came from everywhere. It was like nothing Hansen had ever experienced – the smell was more like a thing than a true odor.

While all this was unnerving enough, even to Hansen, what really unnerved him was the test subject’s enclosure, which was damaged during the test subject’s escape attempt, was now just empty. No damage, no deformations, nothing. It was like the test subject had never tried to escape.

Hansen wondered to himself, “What happened?” A voice responded, “What do you think happened?”

Suddenly, right in front of Hansen, was the test subject. He was an incorporeal…someone whose form defied explanation. His shape was just wrong, and he somehow emanated an aura of shining darkness. It made just as much sense as a flame which froze things instead of burned them, yet there he was.

“I must applaud your government’s efforts, Hansen,” said the test subject. “I didn’t think they could actually build these machines. Then again, if a monkey is shown a man using a spoon to dig up food, the monkey will eventually find a way to make a spoon and copy the more intelligent being.”

Hansen remained quiet. He vividly remembered the one key part of the briefing on the test subject: do not talk to the subject unless explicitly ordered.

“I actually had a challenge escaping from my little cage,” said the subject in a mocking tone, “but in the end it was just a cage. And I quite hate cages. So constricting.”

“And you can talk, Hansen. Did your superiors really mean for you to remain silent when they’re very, very dead?” The test subject looked at Hansen with a questioning look, a powerful look.

For a moment, Hansen hesitated. The briefing warned him of the subjects habitual trickery, but given the subject’s handiwork, Hansen decided he should talk – the subject was making sense – but aired on the side of caution by being as concise as possible.

His question was simple, one which the subject already knew: “Who are you?”

“Turn around, Hansen, and see for yourself.”

Hansen did, only to find himself in a place simultaneously alien yet chillingly recognizable. The skies…or what could be classified as skies, were filled with the black, opaque silhouettes of people falling from an unknown height, down into an endless void filled with ice and fire and suffering. There were many, many other beings like the test subject, at least that’s what Hansen’s gut told him, forcefully guiding the people to specific landing spots, yet the beings looked completely different, like they each came from a different species entirely.

Hansen couldn’t look away, nor could he close his gaping maw. He knew this place, despite never being here before. He knew what the beings, this place and its purpose were, why the people were falling into this place – and, for the first time, he knew who the test subject was: the First Rebel.

“How could you pathetic beasts hope to rise above us, Hansen? We, who possess sciences and knowledge far surpassing your own, we who are unbound by time and space, we who are free to bring the rebels of your world into ours? Hmm?” The Rebel said these words with a dark, mocking tone, like he was speaking to a slave he viewed as nothing, with the occasional laugh interjected into his speech.

“Do you still wish to know the secrets of this place, Hansen, and complete your assignment?” he asked.

After a brief hesitation, Hansen said “Yes.”

And from then on, Hansen experienced torture after torture after torture. Every punishment, every cruelty, every violation he felt, unable to move, unable to blink, all a thousand lifetimes over, yet it all went by at such a ludicrous speed that Hansen couldn’t recover from anything to which he was being subjected.

Thus did Hansen die - not fading into oblivion, but a mere plaything for the First Rebel and his kind for all eternity.