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Nenicirene's picture

I remember that night quite clearly. I had been up late, as is my habit, working in the laboratory on the gear-drive for an automaton. After swinging by the cafeteria, I was my making my way to the dormitory stairs, a bottle of juice in one hand and a pastry in the other, when the klaxons started sounding. It was the red lights and long blearing of the fire alarms, pulsing to indicate a code 3, fairly serious, on a level below me. We'd gotten used to the yellow of the intruder alarms, what with the troggs raiding us almost nightly. I turned around and began heading up, and was no more than halfway across the nearly-empty dining hall when the green biohazard lights and their accompanying high-pitched wail started pulsing frantically—a code 1, instant death on contact. I dropped my food, and I distinctly heard the sound of the bottle shatter on the metal floor, and I had enough presence of mind to hope that no one would cut themselves on the shards while fleeing. The fire alarms jumped up to a code 2 right after, and I don't remember much of the run up. I guess my adrenaline had kicked in by then, and I was reacting rather than acting.

The next bit that I remember was after I'd gone up the external elevator, and was almost three quarters of the way up the entrance ramp. From deep below me, there came an explosion. I felt the sound of it through the soles of my bare feet, rumbling up from someplace far away. The blue earthquake alarms flashed once, then went dead. I ran even faster, but the blast wave came up the tunnel, a wall of air pushed forward, and knocked me on my face. I think I passed out, but not for long, because when I lifted my sore face from the floor and tried feeling it, the blood was still running from my nose, and I wasn't freezing to death yet. I couldn't hear a damn thing, though. It's strange. Between the bottle shattering and the blast, I don't remember other sounds. There must have been the slap of feet on metal plating and quick puffs of breath and the occasional screaming, but I don't remember it. I remember the sights better, but not the sounds.

I stumbled, bloody and disoriented, up to the mouth of the tunnel, and found a mob of refugees, huddled together for warmth in the snow. No one knew what had happened, was happening, or was going to happen. We were cold and scared and confused. The alarms weren't sounding anymore. In truth, there was no sign of life at all from the black void that had just vomited me up. After the cold had time to work its way into our bones, sharpening our senses again, a general murmur of consent went up that we needed help. Some of us trudged through the night to Brewnall Village, and rousted the local dwarves. They sent runners east to Ironforge to bring relief, and I collapsed by a fire. The next day, I was in the trauma ward in Ironforge; someone must have carried me though the cold. Whoever that was, thank you.