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ABERRANT WEIDER STUFF: SEASON 2 EPISODE 03 - "Look What They've Done"

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“We wrap up our violent and mysterious world in a pretense of understanding. We paper over the voids of our comprehension with science and religion, and make believe that order has been imposed. And, for the most of it, the fiction works. We skim across the surfaces, heedless of the depths below. Dragonflies flitting over a lake, miles deep, pursuing erratic paths to pointless ends. Until that moment when something from the cold unknown reaches up to take us.
The biggest lies we save for ourselves. We play a game in which we are gods, in which we make choices, and the current follows in our wake. We pretend a separation from the wild. Pretend that a man’s control runs deep, that civilization is more than a veneer, that reason will be our companion in dark places.”
Mark Lawrence,
Prince of Thorns

More pops and crackles sounded around the room sparks flew illuminating more of the archaic computers there had to be dozens of them and dozens of the metallic coffin like capsules. With each electrical shortage the smell of ozone built up then it all went dark even the floor lights.

Sean heard the sound of gears and the whirs as lid lifted and capsules opened coughs as a boy and three girls tried to catch their own breaths, as the fluid rolled off of them they rose like the dead as the floor lights came back on.

Abel looked up and saw a bald girl staring at him it took several seconds for him to recognize ...”Sean?” But she didn't look...no..yes she di but that was...

Jeane sat up coughing and cracked her head on the top half of the capsule “@#$!@#”

Lilly rolled out of hers and sat facing Kia all of them were bald all of them were dressed in Identical suits that looked like the rubber suits divers wore but they weren't made of rubber.

There were five of them. None of the other capsules that looked like coffins had opened.

Jean stood rubbing her head and stepped up the the nearest capsule and peered into the window at the face inside. With a gasp she jerked back and away. She had seen a skeletal face the capsule was indeed a coffin.

Lilly had walked over to a desk and picked something up and was looking at it Kia joined her then Sean and Able lastly Jeane came over. Lilly was holding a small paper and cardboard calendar that was made with laminated paper, so while grimy it was still intact unlike the rest of the papers on the desk.

It was a calendar for the month of February, 1973

Spoiler

Ok this is the new chapter. Your characters are all the same apparent age as you were when you first turned into a key. You have No powers, and no Mega Stats, and no enhancements. all other stats and skills are the same as they were at the end of the last chapter. You retain all merits and flaws that do not pertain to powers. Due to just waking up all physical attributes are at -2 dots. this is temporary.  Memories You know each other and who you are you have every memory of everything that has happened before this and all of you have other memories as well but they are fleeting like glimpses of something out of the corner of your eye. for instance Able remembers playing baseball on the school team with Jeane but he also knows that Jeane is younger than him and didn't go to school... at first jean wouldn't remember bu t then she sort of will but then no that cant be right. It like you are remembering other lives. the room you are in is full of accumulated filth the computers are no longer functioning and you five are on your own .... any questions catch me in chat or pm me or use OOC

 

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Contradicting memories tumbling through her brain and sickness roiling through her gut as if she'd just transitioned to the Underverse, Jeane stumbled back from the desk and braced herself on one of the sealed coffin. Why was she damped down, and more importantly, why couldn't she amp back up again? Shit. This was so so so bad. What the...? If it was Abel's conspiracy, why would they leave her alive if they could just scramble her brain like this? This didn't make any sense. It hurt to think.

Focus. Concentrate. Whatever the hell had happened to her, there were constants to follow when things got really hairy. Run if you can. Fight until you can run. And give them nothing if they catch you.

She tried to peer through the darkness for a weapon, an exit, but the theatre-like gloom and swirling nausea did her no favors in that regard. There was flickering light at the very far side of the ruined room that could be a door, maybe, but... Anything was better nothing... "Guys, if you're you and not a trick," the tall girl croaked, "Whatever's going on, whoever's did this to us... We need to get out of here and off the grid if we can. I think there's a door, and I'm going for it before they send guards or something. Urgh." 

And with that, she started to stagger towards that hope, trying to regain her equilibrium in motion, one foot in front of the other at a time.

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Kia had no idea what was going on. She felt...sick and small. An instant of effort demonstrated why. The rest of her, the larger her, was just missing. She was just Kia now, and nothing more. It should have been scary, but the whole experience had a certain dreamlike surreality to it. Was it a dream? Even if not, did she really mind being normal again? It was a weird thought.

"This place is really old," she observed in a hushed voice on seeing the calendar. She pointed at the tape-deck-computer things. "Look at those. They look like stuff on old TV shows."

The former cheerleader looked at Jeanne as she started towards the door. "Guards?" Kia glanced around, then reached up to touch her own head, wincing a little in anticipation of being bald maybe. She liked having long hair. "I dunno, it doesn't seem like there's any alarms going off. Sean, Abel...what's going on here?"

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Lilly looked at the calendar and then around the room, assessing the situation. They all seems a bit weak and nauseous. Lilly's own legs felt a bit like rubber, but she could see that, at least physically, she was doing a little better than the others thanks to all the time she spent powered down. Her un-enhanced body was still very familiar to her,  whereas most of the others rarely, if ever, powered down. 

"Je- Jeane?" she said in a hushed tone, recalling her name with a bit of uncertainty. Her mind, her memories were hazy, overlapping and uncertain.

"Hold up and chill for a sec. Out best bet is staying together." she explained softly as she looked for some sort improvised weapon, and failing that, recalled the depth of unarmed combat she had learned. Or at least thought she had learned.

"Together we are greater than the sum of our parts." she reminded..

"Check the other tanks, there may be others like us. See if you recognize any of them, though they might look a little different than you remember." she said to the others, but could not help glancing at Sean.

"If there are others, they may need our help. Our powers are not what made us a team. We're still The Irregulars." she added.

Lilly then looked at the grimy, laminated card in her hand, trying to think through the fog in her head as she rand her hand along her smooth scalp, wiping away some of the liquid, almost in disbelief.

"And guys, I think it is probably later than 1973, like, maybe much later. This thing is grimy, and it takes some time to get that way. And yeah, this tech is old AF, but somebody went through a lot of effort to build it and keep us alive. It looks like this stuff is finally breaking down, some they might not expect us to be awake." she reasoned through the cobwebs in her head as she began to search the desk drawers.

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Abel emerged and shakily kept to his feet.   A quick check revealed he had no powers, None of them did.   Sean was Female, and Abel stood stock still for a moment, noting the incongruity with the memories he recalled best.  "Alright, so we have no powers, and our enhanced base abilities are all gone too, and we're all bald, and Sean, you're Female."  That much he knew wasn't right.   Before they'd gotten their powers, he grew up with Sean, they were both young boys together, That much he knew.  But he also had fleeting memories of growing up with Sean, who was a petite nerdy girl he knew, which was even more off.    He quietly reached to feel the back of his head and neck, to check something.  Finding nothing, he smiled.  "That would have been too much of a cliche."   Looking around in the dim light, he missed having the Intellect and processing power he normally did, in addition to the plethora of sensory abilities he'd grown accustomed to.  "So dimly lit room with more coffins, a calendar from '73, and tech that looks ancient.   Goddamn I hope we didn't actually lose."

He looked around, trying to organize his thoughts, which  had gone from a neatly well organized and encyclopedic high tech library to a musty old fashioned one in whatever had happened.   He scowled, fruitlessly chasing the phantom glimpses of other memories that he didn't recognize as what he'd considered normal until now, and let out a long sigh.  "Goddammit.    I have my memories, and everyone else's, and now another me's memories.  This is going to be truly insane."


He was holding his mind together through sheer will, and focusing mostly on those around him, using shared memories with them to anchor himself. Fuck this was hard without powers.   It was something he had always feared, everything he knew up for grabs, and yet, there was a part of him that was already questioning the validity of any of it.  What had really happened to them, and how would they proceed from here?

"I don't know Kia, I'm in the dark, literally and figuratively, as much as everyone else.  We need more information, one way or another."   Abel moved over to Kia, knowing this was difficult, knowing what he did about her own abilities.  "I doubt it, Kia.  This place is old.   Probably a forgotten facility by now."  He placed a reassuring hand to her shoulder, giving her a light squeeze, before moving to the wall and looking and feeling around for anything that felt like some sort of terminal, or even a light switch.  His touch light, but still somewhat awkward thanks to the effects of just waking up.  

"If we can't find a light switch at the very least, we're gonna have to open the door to get some light."

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The tall girl glared mutely at Lilly and the others from the shadows at the edge  of the group, a looming silhouette as she stalked the coffins, one ear out for the first sign of the door being opened. She wrestled with the nausea and the confusion, uncaring of the garbage words Abel was saying, lion's share of her attention directed inwards.

The memories spun and danced like glitter in a kaleidoscope, confusion making her think of something else, a memory she had that was not hers and yet hers. It was as if she was remembering different lives, all of them her separated by nothing more than a small jump and a thin veil.

She remembered her life as a military brat, getting powers, and becoming an Irregular

She remembered dancing to Beatles songs in 1967 at a slumber party with her best friends Kia, Sean, and Lilly.

She remembered the first time she meet them all when she turned fifteen and was sent to the most prestigious military academy in America  and how handsome she thought Sean, in this memory, a boy, had been.

Crazy. This was crazy. What had been done to her, all of their, heads?

Jeane was brought back to the outside world as her bare foot sank down in something very squishy and wet. With an angry indrawn breath, she stopped and turned and lifted her foot toward the light near the wall to see it dripping green muck. Ick. There wasn't enough light to see exactly what she had gotten all over herself, but there should have been. She looked at the wall to see why the floor strip wasn't as bright as the others, expression going taut at the cause. 

A skeleton sitting there with the top of its skull gone, hand lying next to an old pistol. Some kind of Colt model maybe? But if he used the weapon on himself..?

"Fuck," she eloquently concluded, bending to claim the weapon and stalking back to the group, forcing dark humor into her voice as she broke a little more inside at the implications, "Found us a friend and a tool he won't be needing. Anyone know how to shoot? Trade you this for something I can hit or stab monsters with. And a towel."  

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"I do," Sean claimed, her clear, melodious voice half an octave higher than she thought it should have been, holding out her hand for the proffered pistol. Her lips lifted in a half smile. "I'll see what I can scrounge up in trade."

Memories tumbled through her head like jumbled puzzle pieces from different puzzles all trying to fit together. She could remember never having touched a gun before. She remembered being a super-woman and peerless markswoman. He was a young man, just joining the military along with versions of those with her now. She grew up a farm girl, friends with Lilly, Jeane, Kia, and Sara, learning to shoot almost as soon as she could walk and ride.

It was disorienting... and it was not. Just pieces of her life, her lives, what it had been, what it was, what it could be, or could have been. Sean turned from craning her neck to look up at Jeane - a strange, yet familiar sensation - to glance around the gloomy, disarrayed and neglected room. For an instance, she had hoped, but no... Sara was still missing.

Missing in the here and now - wherever and whenever that might actually be - but not in the plethora of memories assailing her, old and new. Memories of laughter and tears. Ones where she was a girl, or a woman, and some where she a boy, a girlish one, or a man, tall and broad-shouldered. Some where Sara was wearing a wedding dress, or she was, or they both were, or it was someone else entirely - Jeane, Abel, people she had never seen before, yet knew intimately. Fights and arguments, Sara, taller and bigger than she was, slapping her hard enough that she hit the ground. One where she nursed a child at a swollen breast, and Sara stood over her shoulder, smiling down at their daughter.

Sean drew a shaky breath, then shook her head. "Okay... okay, we should look around a bit more before going out, maybe for a locker or something. We don't even have pants or shoes. Crack that door for light, if we have too. When we get out of here, we're going to stand out like a sore thumb." She smirked up at Jeane, as she ran a hand over her bald pate, and couldn't help by wonder if she had the head for it. "I mean more than we already will."

Sean drifted over to a few of the capsules, standing up on her toes to peer into the windows. She wasn't precisely short, definitely not as short as she could remember being, but she wasn't tall either. 5'4'', 5'5'' maybe, slim, but toned and taut, more modestly endowed than her other memories of being a woman.

Corpses stared back at her from the capsules, from varies states of decay all the way to skeletal. She didn't recognize any of them. She stumbled back in a gliding step, her stomach roiling. Some where still sealed, but most weren't and held scents of dust and desiccation, or the sweet, sickening smell of decay.

"I think it's just us, Lilly," Sean said after spitting out bile. "These other capsules, they look like they haven't been operating in a some time, some, in a good long time. Ours seem like they... failed just now. Or were turned off or told to open just recently." She added a muttered. "Whatever recently means now."

While Lilly checked desk drawers, Sean moved towards the walls away from the stacks of obsolete computer stacks and electronic equipment, looking for lockers or cabinets that might hold anything of interest, clothes, or files explaining what this place was. She found the gloom irritating, remembering when the dark didn't pose the slightest impediment to her vision.

"As for what's going on, Kia... I don't know any more than you," she admitted. "Activating the satellites shouldn't have, couldn't have caused..."

She trailed off, biting her lower lip. Activating the Exodus system was her most recent memory... and it wasn't, other memories clamoring for attention in her head. She could remember designing and building the nanite sized satellites, but she no longer had the impossible clarity of thought and recognition of patterns and connections to understand all the principles. Skills and knowledge that had bloomed inside her when she unlocked still remained, but now, in some cases, she could recall how she had learned and acquired them, bits and pieces of various lives settling inside her to make some new who was still all of those other selves.

Greater than the sum of our parts, indeed...

"This might be something with Hooli - or his, its kind - again, with or without Sara's input or involvement, or something else altogether. A type of attack by the Titans, getting a drop on us. We're jacked into a simulation that we can differentiate from reality - yet. Something else, maybe with harnessing the Genesis Particles, we, I don't know, got pulled into the potential from where they come. I don't know, I don't have the pieces to figure it out. Yet. But we'll find them, there just isn't any reason not to be cautious about it."

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Lilly continued searching the desk but was turning up little but the gooy remains of paperwork, mold and old paperclips and dried out ink pens. In one lower drawer she found what looked like an old bottle of whiskey the label faded and unreadable but three quarters full. In the same drawer she found an empty leather holster the material still holding up but aged and despite the moisture hardened to an unbend-able state. Also in that drawer she found about 30 bullets the brass corroded but seemingly intact.

Abel and Kia moved slowly toward the end of the room drawn to the flickering light while Sean began examining the capsules. Jeane not sure what to do looked back and forth between Lilly and Sean.

Sean for her part quickly tamped down the fear and revulsion of the capsule contents and began a more thorough examination. Not wanting to disturb the dead she moved back to the one that she had come out of. Almost immediately she began to make discoveries.

Able and Kia saw that the light was indeed an exit sign the end of the room held two doors one on the level and one under neath the exit sign set into the wall at the top of a small landing. Both doors were solid and in the dim light looked like they were made of steel. Able climbed the four steps and listened at the door. He could hear nothing looked down at the handle there was no knob only a bar which ran across the door at the height where a knob would have been. The bar was the kind that wen pushed would release the latch and allow the door to open. Able put his hands on the bar and pushed.

The bar didn't move. He applied more pressure and still it didn't budge. Kia joined him and added her strength to pushing the bar and suddenly with a loud snap the bar depressed but the door remained shut.

There was a surge of disappointment which was pushed aside as flickering light began to shine from the ceiling as light panels dark for what had probably been years suddenly came to life.

The light was harsh but diffused by the filth and mold on the covering of the in ceiling fixtures.  Only about a third of the visible panels lit up but it was still bright enough to illuminate the room, giving the young people their first sight of where they were.

It was the size of a high school gymnasium the walls were of steel painted an off white although there were sections that were red and blue as if the walls had some design on them but hat design was covered up by the computers. The pain, what could be seen of it was discolored and peeling in places from water damage. Two things dominated the room, The capsules, 48 in total, and the computers lining the walls of which there were twice as man as there were capsules. There were only two entries into the room from the doors discovered by Kia and Abel. Everything showed a level of age and corrosion that was scary. And worst of all...

None of them had any memory of this place!

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Lilly rummaged through the desk, a look of disgust on her face on what she found from time to time. There were a few bright spots though, such as finding the liquor and bullets, which she examined closely, tapping them on the desktop and rubbing off some of the corrosion with her thumb.

"Well, looks like we might have a few reloads for the pistol." Lilly said as she dumped the bullets out on the desk.

"We don't seem to have pockets, but you can probably tuck them under the edge of your sleeves." she suggested.

As the lights clicked on she looked around i wonder and confusion, her head a miss-mash of complimentary and contradictory memories, none of which involved this place.

"Okay. What do we know... The place looks like an old military installation, judging by the furniture, the Colt 1911 Jeane found, armed personnel and so on. The tech is old, like 60's or 70's. From the looks of things, this place was forgotten about, quarantined or whatever, judging by the dead guy who had the gun. The military, or anybody invested in whatever this is, would not have let it get like this. Looks like there's been no maintenance here in years at least, so I bet we are well past 1973. We seem to be the only survivors too." she said, going over things aloud as she tried to think things through, despite the cobwebs in her head.

"So I am just throwing this out there, but it may have been some sorts of fallout shelter thing, with us in 'stasis' or something to 'help rebuild humanity' or something." she suggested and then looked for Able and Sean.

"Sean. Able. There's still some power. Can you guys access those computers at all, maybe get us some more info?"

Lilly then looked at the doors and frowned. 

"The doors might be buried, at at the very least prolly corroded to all hell. Since we don't have any WD-40 handy, banging on the hinges and moving parts might break some of the corrosion free and allow them to move. We might want to wait on that though to see oif they can get any info from the computers. At the moment, it seems like there's nobody watching us or anything, so we seem to be safe for now. That might change if we open the door into a wasteland or something crazy. I know nobody likes to feel trapped, but just hold off for a few and given Sean and Abel a chance." she said to the others as she opened the bottle of supposed whiskey and took a small whiff.

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"Sure. Don't mind me," Jeane replied before turning and heading back to one of the open pods. She eyed the two telescoping rods holding the lid up, and smiled darkly at the anchor points for the rod. If this worked... One less problem for them, hopefully. Half crawling into the pod, she got a good grip on a rod, planted her feet and pulled backwards with all her weight and strength. The nut assemblies, weakened by neglect, groaned as Jeane continued to pull, fighting the disorder mental, physical, and emotional ravaging her, focus narrowing to maintaining her grip and pulling. Today had been too shitty for her to be beaten by a damned metal stick.

Come on come on come on come on...!

Thud! The nut assemblies gave under her horizontal pressure, sending her tumbling backwards to hit the filthy floor with her prize in hand and cry of both victory and alarm. The pod lid slumped to one side, giving it the appearance of a fighter ready to concede the match.  

"Ha! Take that, universe!" she crowed to the cavernous room and bouncing her feet, a laugh of victory bouncing out of her throat, waving her prize overhead, "That's plus one club. Who wants one before I start seeing about making it into a spear or an axe or a torch?!"

She could see the possibilities now, victory enabling her to focus through the fog, take one of those tape deck things, secure it with some cloth from her leotard... Long as she was careful, she could probably break loose some glass or metal to create the foundation of a shiv... Abel at least would probably want a club, so she shifted her gaze to the next pod, one ear open for requests, a feral grin on her face at the thought of being useful in even so horrible a situation as this was shaping up to be. 

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Abel  took one of Jeane's improvised clubs, Even as he set out towards one of the computers, looking for any signs that any of it was still working, and could possibly give them more information.  He had to clear away layers of grime, all of which lead him to believe that this place was ancient, and had obviously been up and running for some time.   "I got to comfortable,and now I'm paying for it."   he muttered to himself.  Certainly he was less than he was before now, but he'd spent a not insignificant amount of time learning as much as he could.   Even with that, he couldn't fathom what had actually happened.   

   As he let himself think about what had been memories began to assault him, bringing new questions and no new answers.   He drew upon the deep well of his self control, quieting the storm of memories.  "Focus dammit."   It was something the others had never really seen him do, speaking to himself, though certainly it had happened, back when he was  able to essentially perform self analysis, and correct the errors in his thought.

Centered again, Abel set about finding a working computer terminal, a starting point for them to learn about this new world they'd awoken to.  Quickly he came to realize there was nothing more to learn here, and moved to the other door, putting his effort into it, he managed to open it as well, with more help from Kia.

The next room was different, for one it was in much worse shape there was even  streams of water running down some of the walls to drain away under the floor through grates use to cover electrical conduits also there were no pods here, but there were lots of computer stacks,  desks with Terminals, and a large data reader, and racks of data spools.  "God it's all so retro, like the stuff they always show in old movies about NASA control.."   

He moved into the room, "Hey, come see, I think we might find something in here."   he called to the others, even as he head for the spools, looking to see how they were labeled, for some clue to their content.

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Kia found herself drawn to the other pods. The remains inside offered no clues as to who had been in them, but maybe...? She used her fingers to brush thick layers of dust and grime away, looking for name tags or something...surely they had to label these things, didn't they? She did find little metal strips with numbers etched into them, but nothing that seemed immediately useful.

"Ugh, this is so gross," she muttered. "Who do you think these people are? There weren't this many Keys in the project..."

When she saw Abel struggling to open a long-stuck door, she went to help him...and yep, there were more of those old style computers in there.

"Is that stuff still going to work?" Kia asked dubiously. "It's all dirty and wet in here."

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Sean let out a long, low whistle as she gave one of the open capsules - the one she had exited in fact - a closer inspection. It looked like something from ten or twenty years ago, even like fifty or sixty - depending on which slew of memories she was referencing from - but it was only an illusion. The thing was top rate tech, as advanced as anything she had designed or could remember encountering.

Looking at where she had been resting in the capsule, there were faint nodules that she realized attached to tiny, nearly invisible sockets in her suit when she looked at it closely. She'd taken the sockets simply for texture at first. She frowned, then gave her suit a tentative stretch, then a more vigorous one. Firm and snug as the suit was, when pressure was applied, the suit proved itself to have tremendous stretch. She eyed Kia, then Jeane. Seemed like they truly were one-size fits all.

The capsules themselves were composed of two chambers, an outer shell and inner chamber. The inner chamber looked like it would fit an occupant closely, but manipulating the edges, Sean found out the chamber could expand... and retract, in each dimension. Playing with it, it seemed like the inner chamber of the capsule could accommodate anything from a near infant to someone as big or bigger than Jeane.

Judging by the residue on her and the dry crust inside the capsule, when operational, the capsules were filled with some sort of liquid. Other than the gunk left on her, on them, there was no liquid left. She looked in and around the capsule, looking for a reservoir or tubing for the liquid, but didn't find anything. She did find wires under grimy grating that connected the capsules to the computer stacks around the room, two stacks per capsule.

The inside of the capsules, especially the upper part and around where the head would rest were extremely sophisticated scanning devices, measuring all manner of biometrics judging from the few indicators she could decipher. On the outside, under an etched serial number was a covered panel with a slot. Fiddling with the deep buttons under the panel, it looked like it was meant to issue a readout.... on something like a punch card? What retro-futuristic nonsense was this?

Power to her capsule was inconsistent, but with some grunts, a few kicks with the bottom of her feet, and some very careful prodding with some leftovers from Jeane's makeshift armory, she managed to get it running long enough to get the panel to print off a punch card. It sounded like an angry, ancient dot matrix printer.

Sean made a sound suspiciously like a squeal of victory. When the others turned to look at her, she just smiled.

"Give me a minute or five, I might have something." Her grin turned uncomfortable. "What I can tell you right now though is... I think we may have been in these capsules longer than we think. Uh, or think that we think. Whatever. They look like they are meant to support someone from almost infancy to adulthood, nearly without interruption. Looks like there might be another room below this one too."

Sean went to each of the capsules her friends had come from, memorizing their serial numbers and with curses and finagling, managed to get a punch card from each of them.

On 11/1/2018 at 4:43 PM, Abel Cross said:

"Hey, come see, I think we might find something in here."

"Anything there that looks like it reads punch cards?" Sean called back, heading towards the door Abel and Kia had gone through. "You know, for when computers were the size of... harrumph! The size of these?"

Passing by Lilly, Sean waved the punch cards. "Not sure about rebuilding humanity, but this had to have been some sort of Big Idea project that either had its funding pulled, or something happened to the people running it, or it was just... forgotten. And I have the feeling this project, whatever it was for whatever reason, was on the down-low. Hopefully these will tell us something, it there's something that can read them and has power to work."

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"Good luck with that. Something happened. Something bad. If you have a place to run to, you don't kill yourself alone in the dark like our 'guard' did. And all this has to be expensive, however it was supposed to work. *Someone* would have come to take it if they knew. To clean up loose ends if nothing else."

Jeane's voice was dry, angry, and promised future violence as she came to loom in the doorway, looking over water-ravaged chamber beyond. Finger-width stripes of mud ran diagonally across her face and head, a crude axe dangling from her left hand. A half-dozen shivs had found home in her rolled sleeves, perfect accessories for an apocalypse like the one she feared waited on the other side of the jammed door.

So many contradicting memories contorted and bounced off of one another through her brain, only adding to her frustration and worries. She wanted her family, her life, her god damn hair, back. To wake up from this nightmare. To be sure where she stood so that she could make the next jump.

"Every minute we spend here is a minute we aren't finding food, clean water, shelter, clothing, escape routes. Ya know, the basics of living if things are as bad outside as they are in here."    

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Able looked at Jeane a cross frown marring his visage but only for a moment then he nodded, “You are right Jeane. Why don't Lilly, you , and I see if we can't get that exit door open while Kia and Sean see if they can figure things out in here?”

“Sounds like a plan.” was Jeane's almost growled reply.

Kia looked at Able with a question in her eyes but he just nodded toward Sean who was already digging into the innards of the Card Reading machine. Kia caught the gist and nodded and sidled over to where Sean was mumbling and poking...”Sure do wish I had more light...”

Lilly led the way back out into the pod room and to the exit door jean and Able followed. She gave it a push after trying the bar, when it didn't unlatched she stepped back and gave it a healthy but restrained shove with the flat of her foot putting the power of her legs and back into it. It still didn't swing open but Lilly and Jeane, who had moved up beside her, heard it creak. “It opens to the outside so and hinges are out there, so that's a no go. I think I felt it giving a little. Abel see if you can find something to get between the door and the jam while Jean and I apply force with our legs.”

 

While they worked on the door Sean, with Kia keeping her company were busy in the computer room, with the last twist of a wire Sean stood and shook her head with a grimace. “I think I got power this is the weirdest thing I have ever seen. Most of it looks like it should be out of a nineteen fifties scifi movie then there's stuff like this,” she hand s a small chip to Kia who has no idea what it is, “That's almost a carbon copy of an integrated circuit I designed for our phones, well as close as you can get if I had designed and made it in nineteen sixty. This place and all of this is freaking me out.” She reached down and pushed a switch.

Almost immediately the machine began humming, behind then a half dozen of the large computer towers also began to hum and on several lights on the faces of the computer began to flicker, the reader began to hum louder and moving parts inside started to chatter. Spools of the computers started spinning forwards...backward stopping and starting the noise was very loud.

Kia handed the chip back to Sean, “Looks like you got power.”

 

With a loud crash the door finally gave way and popped open a few inches, Able almost smacked himself in the face with the makeshift prybar both Lilly and Jeane had to catch themselves from falling as well. The three gathered round the door as Jeane pushed to the front and boldly swung the door fully open her own makeshift weapons ready.

The door creaked and squealed as it swung away from them. The light from the room behind them gave them some illumination but they could only see a few feet into the darkness beyond. The door itself was set into a cement wall a foot thick, probably reinforced, it door opened onto a platform it's size unknowable in the darkness. A cool breeze several degrees colder than the air in the room blew in the scent it carried was one of wetness with an underlay of rot. The platform was covered by at least an inch of damp mud. They could gauge the thickness from the sludge that was left after the door had push through. To the left of the door (form the pov of standing outside facing the door) was a small metal standing Desk it had a lot of sludge on it and there was a slot that held several laminated cards each the size of a sheet of paper. An Ink pen was attached to the desk by a small chain. Above the desk on the wall was a machine with punch buttons labels 1-0 and A-F. Probably some sort of crude locking mechanism. The numbers displayed in the window across the top of the box read 1435280AAF. While Able had been looking at the desk and box Jeane had moved to the edge of the darkness almost out of the light herself. “I think this drops off here, we need some light.”

Sean worked quickly intuitively as if she had done this before. She fed the cards from the pods into the reader each time she did the computers whirred and clicked and spools spun. After the last card she went to the first terminal and prayed that it worked. It did. But what she saw was in comprehensible.

The system was displaying a computer code she didn't know, it was primitive but it would take time for her to decipher it.

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Kia watched Sean work, reflecting to herself that even without powers, Sean was pretty smart. And still a girl, which seemed kind of weird to her. Like, they'd all gone back to how they were before, except Sean. Even if she didn't look like a pinup anymore. What did that mean?

Her thoughts kept going back to that guy who'd shot himself and then just...lay there, rotting away for who knew how long. No one had come to clean him up. It was like...the last thing anyone had done down here. And all those dead people in the pods...were they why he'd killed himself? Guilt? Or maybe the place had locked up behind him and he'd been stuck here with no way out, and it had just been easier than dying of starvation?

Which reminded her...they hadn't found anything to eat yet.

"I'm not going to be much help for this," she said to Sean. "I think I'm going to look around and see if there's anything like food or water stored. Or a flashlight. The place looks military, they always have supplies stocked."

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Great. She was hoping that maybe, just maybe, that door could have led to the sky. For a second, she contemplated just going 'screw it' and testing the darkness anyway. She needed answers, and not the kind of out of date, probably deceptive, answers hidden on a machine that been dead for God knew how long. You couldn't get real information without eyes on.

Besides, Jeane really, really wanted to see the sun, one note of the few her broken chorus of memories mostly agreed on. Everything would be better then. It had to be. It would be. One foot in front of the other.

"There were a couple chairs that looked dry back in the vault. I could probably make some torches from those. Then we can get out there and kick some more ass," she mused aloud, a focused kind of angry now, "That cool?" 

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Once he'd done what he could Abel decided to just let Sean handle things with the decryption, and delving into the computer files.  As it was he would have to stand over her shoulder to even read it, and he knew how she hated that.  He sort of overheard the conversation of the others, and nodded.  "We should go.  "Kia, why don't we go together, that way if we do find something, at least there's two of us there?"  He looked to Jeane and Lily.  "Once we get the torches made of course."   Just sitting there wasn't going to do anything for them, it was best to let Sean work, while they worked in teams towards both exploring their surroundings, and securing essentials.

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"It's cool once Sean is done. Sure." Lilly replied to Jeane

"This may be our only chance to get some info. We arm ourselves with information, as well as the stabby and smashy bits you made, and then we go exploring.

"Right now, we are healthy and we were well nourished and hydrated. We seem to be safe and appear to be forgotten. Every door we open can change that, so we do not do it until we have to. We give Sean time and then we go, as a group. Sean might get some life-saving info here. There could be fallout or a Disraeli or who the hell knows what. Exploring could get the attention of people or things that mean us harm, so we do not do risk that yet. We give her a chance and THEN we go together we are stronger in pretty much every conceivable way."

"And when it comes to survival, even though our stomachs are empty, water is more important. It goes by the rule of 3's. Three minutes without air, three hours of exposure, three days without water, three weeks without food. Those are what will kill you. We can give up a few hours for Sean to work."

"Look Jeane. I know every part of you is saying to run right now. You hate standing still, but this is about all of us. We need whatever information we can get about our situation. Give Sean a chance and then we go together. We got each other's backs. Together, we are greater than the sum of our parts. Whatever is out there, we will tackle together." Lilly explained, her voice consoling and empathetic.

"I'll even help you make some torches to prepare. Cool?" she asked, holding out a fist for a fist bump.

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The fist bump went unanswered, Jeane's blue eyes staring down at Lilly's in the semi-darkness, embryonic fistbump thoroughly ignored. 

"Fine, but it'll only take one to make torches. I'll keep watch out here while you let Sean tinker," the tall girl replied after a very definitive pause for thought and choking down of her first, second, and third instinctive answers, "Don't worry. I'll stay just enough in the light to let my night vision kick in and yell if anything shows up."

She'd submit that much, but that surrender killed any desire or ability she had to be social right now. Not with  daylight potentially a stone's throw away. 

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7 hours ago, Kia Mizuki said:

"I'm not going to be much help for this," she said to Sean. "I think I'm going to look around and see if there's anything like food or water stored. Or a flashlight. The place looks military, they always have supplies stocked."

Sean barely muttered an assent so focused was she on the computer terminal, trying to figure out the interface and programming architecture. "Pants! Look for clothing too," she added quickly as Kia began to move off. "Boots. And anything that can hold water, in case we have to scavenge for it."

She tried to get back to the frustrating computer, but her teeth began to grind as she heard Kia and Abel poking about and listened to Lilly urging caution and to wait on her with what she could find out and Jeane wanting to go, go, go. And as much as she was trying to stay on task, her mind kept going on tangents on the slightest urging, bringing up new memories.

Her brow furrowed. A silver haired stripper in what seemed a retro Las Vegas? Really? And her main man was really a woman, a redheaded Sara almost as tall as Jeane, but much broader across the shoulders and more muscular than Lilly, tattooed and dressed in biker leathers. Sean shook her head, grunted, rubbed at her eyes with balled fists, then turned away from the terminal.

"Okay, look. Normally, I'd totally agree with you Lilly, but nothing about this is normal. I appreciate that you want to wait and see what I can learn from the computer, but it's going to take me a few hours - I hope it's only a few hours - to get to the point where I can query this thing and hopefully start getting answers. It's pre-DOS, and while I've read up on FORTRAN, this isn't that either."

I used to be the greatest computer hardware and software engineer the world had ever seen. I can also remember just a few years ago believing a computer was just a person good at math.

"Also, whatever I can learn will pertain just to this facility in all likelihood, not what's outside it. It's a closed system. Look around, do you notice anything missing?" Sean gave the others only a moment to consider. "There's no phones. And as bonkers as this tech is, it's all hardwired and I don't think this place is wi-fi or bluetooth enabled. All this, all of it..." she gestured around at the pods and computer stacks and spooling tape,"... is a single computer. Hell! I can't be certain, but I don't even think this place has any outside connections to remote power or communication grids.

It would explain why there's still power - intermittent though it is - while the place has otherwise been forgotten. Abandoned. And that guy." She nodded in the direction of the fellow Jeane had found. "From what I can tell, we've been here for years. Maybe... maybe decades. Anyone or anything that was trying to get in here is long gone or long dead. The computer is a closed system and so is this facility, I think. It's... it's like a Vault from the Fallout series. Minus the radical social engineering experiments hopefully."

Sean eyed the capsules doubtfully, then went to ran a hand through hair she didn't have, looking disgruntled when her hand slid across her smooth scalp. She did have a head for the look - if she didn't have the incredible curves the Irregulars had memories of her having - she was still very pretty.

"So, we still need answers, yes, but we're not going to find them all in here." She rapped the top of the terminal with her knuckles. "And with all these memories already clamoring for my attention, I don't need you guys hovering and waiting to see if I've 'found anything yet.' This shit is weird enough as is, stuff isn't..."

Sean shook her head trying to clear as she settled back in front of the terminal. "So go explore some., Lilly and Jeane, Abel and Kia, or all in a group, see what you guys can find out while I do the same. If nothing else, if there is a way out. I promise, I'll be safe. I'm a black belt of various degrees in eighteen martial arts - no wait, nineteen, just remembered another I practiced for, uh, over fifty years it seems - and have a gun. Or better yet, you guys take the gun, and leave me a shiv. I'll be able to handle any zombies or ghouls. Or scream real loud if I can't."

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Lilly sighed. With the quantum enhancement gone, it appeared that the gap in intelligence was virtually non-existent, or Sean was just not thinking straight. Either way, she was surprised at some of Sean's words.

"What I said is still true. You might only get info about this facility, but it could still be very important info, like about radialogical or biological contamination or something or just what the hell this place is. There is SOME reason why it was abandoned, or everybody was killed by... something. Nobody is going invest the kind of money for this kind of tech in the 60's or 70's and go through all of this trouble to just abandon it all. Answers might be on those cards or in this computer, and if anybody can get them, it's you." she explained.

Lilly then turned and pointed in the direction of the dead guy she found.

"And that dude. He died in her. Why? Was he trapped because the facility was sealed? Why the hell would it be sealed to that degree that he was trapped and would rather kill himself than wait? Or did some bug or something get him? We don't know, but maybe you can find out."

Lilly walked over to Sean and resting her hands on her shoulders, looking into Sean's eyes and managing a faint smile.

"And nobody is hovering. You do your thing. No pressure. Just do your best. We are just conserving energy, standing guard and hopefully giving time for this disorientation to pass.

Don't worry. We have faith in you. You got this. And if it does not pan out, then so be it, but at least we tried."

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Everyone was subdued and gave in to Lilly's suggestion. Kia and Able began taking the chairs apart while Sean wnet back to work trying to figure the code language the computer used. Jeane looking even more cross than before strode into the other room pausing at the door to toss an explanation over her shoulder. “Since we broke the lock I'm going to set up a guard to keep the boogy men out.” She continued on.

Time passed although there was no way of knowing how much Sean was getting frustrated and Able stood and went over to help hoping that the two of them could unravel it.

Suddenly Kia looked up from where she was wrapping the faux leather around a bar. “Okay I just thought of something. How are we going to light these torches?”

Everyone stopped and looked at Kia for a few seconds finally Abel said, “I'm sure we can rig something up to get a spark from some of this electronics. We''l figure something out.”

Kia set the torch she was working on aside and stood up “Well I'm gonna go look in the bathroom hope nothing eats me.”

It wasnt long after that that Kia shouted from the restroom at the back of the computer room

“Hey Guys! There's a closet back here it was all covered up with mold and stuff but there's a lot of stuff in here chemicals and some big boxes with latches with a label that says Survival!”

After wrestling the two boxes out of the closet the gathered back at there work area and opened them Inside they found full jump suits made of the same material as the suits the were already wearing the also found boots and under wear and socks everything was vacuum sealed and looked in perfect condition. There were two cases of rations which looked more like modern MREs than what they thought would have been available in the 60s and 70s. Then Sean gasped and walked over and picked up a device that none of them recognized.

“What is it?” asked Lilly

“It's a water condenser. It was designed to take water out of the air and basically give you clean drinking water about five gallons of drinkable water in a 24 hour period give or take depending on the enviroment.. I designed it but we never built any. There should be some collapsible plastic containers”

Kia rummaged around “These?”

Sean stared at the two plastic packs Kia held up, then she turned and looked back into the pod room then at the computer. “God I am such and idiot”

She jumped back to the desk and swept everything off of it with a clatter then began scribbling on the surface of the desk with a lead pencil.

Abel went over and studied what she was writing he recognized bit's of it “Isn't that one of...”

“The languages I was developing for our own operating system the ones I was working on didn't use any pre-existing languages as it's basis. But there are just some many things you can do with limited letters signs and symbols. And this is my language or rather it looks like a version made up of about three that I came up with and then programed into and existing computer framework.” She started typing into the terminal the nearest towers began clacking and the spools spun.

“I won't be sure until I get into this more but I think I know what this place is and why we are here.'

She kept typing and the stacks kept clacking and spools kept spinning. She stopped and looked at her friends.

“This place is a super computer I think, and we and the rest of those pods, we were the CPUs.”

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Kia frowned in confusion at that.

"But...that kind of makes sense for you and Abel maybe, but why would anyone want MY brain in a computer?"

She kept opening packages and distributing goods to everyone as Sean worked.

"Besides, what kind of computer would that even be? I don't really understand how that would work. Are all these weird memories like, things we were trying to compute?"

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The extremely unpleasant implication of Sean's deductions kept piling up in Jeane's head as she methodically looted the clothing boxes for a full outfit to change into. More and more and more, slowing the gears of her thought until she could barely bring herself to pick up a set of miraculously-fitting boots. She quivered where she crouch by the box, knuckles white and lips squeezed bloodlessly shut, eyes unseeing as the one truth she had been fighting became increasingly likely, fragments of hope crowded to the side and off the ledge into inky despair darker than the void she had been staring into while 'on watch'. The despair she had been running from ever since she had woken up in the pod and started piecing together hints into a logical whole.

They were fucked. They were cast God knew how far in the future, her world, her family, everything she knew and had been building gone if not destroyed. How much time had she lost stuffed in the pod? From what she could tell, all her scars were gone, the momentos of her adventures growing up erased by her power to heal or never there at all because she was some damned clone packed full of a corrupted version of her memories.  

"...This is your fault. You all took the magic away, and they caught us and they used your tech to put us on ice and then everything went wrong and they died, too. Nice to know your girlfriend did such a good job looking out for us after we did what she wanted, huh, Sean? Unless this is another trick from her and new friends, so fuck them," ranted the tall girl, dropping to her knees fully and breaking down into tears and laughter, arms falling limp at her sides. 

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Abel chuckled softly  "and here I thought the mental snapshot tech was bad..."   he still wante to know exactly how they ended up in the pods, and why they had no powers.

He looked to Kia and nodded.  "Just off the top of my head, they were trying to compute infinite possibilities, or something similar."

he looked at Jeane when she had her breakdown, and sighed.   he'd gotten a set of socks and boots already, and had been wondering how to generate a spark to light the torches up until Sean's  revelation.

"Still Sean, that begs the question of why if they went through the trouble of building this, of putting us into it, Did they really put us?  Are we copies?   I mean the memories are there, but with no powers, and all the incongruencies, how many lifetimes did we live out through the pods, and for what reason?   What were they hoping we'd accomplish, living multiple lives?"

He thought.  "Through it all, we were together though, so that's something to it.  Could it have been cell based,  Each team set a task, then taken offline as they succeeded or failed?   We need to know more of course."
 

 

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Sean closed her eyes as Jeane ranted again and a wave of nausea swept over her at the thoughts she was having right now and their implications.

“Jeane you need to get a hold of yourself. Your memories, my memories, all of our memories may not be real. And if I am right and Sara was real and since she was in all of my memories so I am inclined to believe she was real. She is probably in one of those pods in there dead, just like Alec and Tease and all the rest of our friends.”

She holds up the cards she had gotten from everyone's pods. “The pods we came out of are the only ones that were operational this number printed at the top I think is a Time Stamp showing how long the pod was in operation. The one I got from my pod shows 81,993,600.197. just doing simple math I figure that it is the number of minutes the pod was on, which comes to a tad over 156 years. All of our pods fall within a two year block with Abel's being the longest in operation and Jeane's the shortest.

To answer your question, Kia, and this is all theory right now. I don't think they were using us to think up things not exactly. I think we were merely the processors. The human brain is the most powerful computer in the world. I think we were in there to crunch the numbers and our memories may have just been dreams to keep us operating. But I don't know for sure or how, But I do know that I was wrong about one thing. This system in here is simply for controlling and inputting data into the system. There has to be another computer somewhere to take the data and where it could be used. And that means that there has to be a physical line for the data to travel and it probably isn't very far away.”

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Kia covered her mouth with a hand, as an association jumped straight to the forefront of her thoughts from what Sean had said.

"Abel had his powers first. Jeane last."

She looked away. "Was this all we ever were?"

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Abel had recognized that as well, the ordering was right.  "Could very well be that.   As for what, and who we are, well I'll say this.  I am me, same goes for each of you.  I'm not going to think any differently until it can be proven one way or another. "  He moved to take her other hand in his, looking down with a tenderness to the much shorter young woman.  "I feel the same about you now as I have since seemingly forever.  That's real, to me, no matter what."  He looked over to Sean.  "Same goes for Sean and Sarah.   We need to find this other terminal, the Master computer for this installation, and hopefully it will give us the answers we're seeking.  So let's get our stock of supplies together and set out to do some exploring.   Just think of it as one of Sean's old-style dungeon crawls.   though hopefully not with the deathtraps and monsters."

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Kia gave Abel a shaky smile and a nod, then squeezed his hand. She pulled away then to go give Jeane a hug.

"It's going to be ok," she assured the taller girl. "We'll help each other through this."

She had a lot of questions too, about her mom and dad, about all her other friends...who was real in there, who wasn't? Questions for another time though. For now she'd focus on the friends she knew she had.

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Jeane froze at Kia's touch, broken laughter trickling to a halt as she let herself melt into the hug, still sniffling and tears cutting trails through her impromptu face paint. Thoughts and contrasting memories spiraled down to a central point in the chaos as she let herself enjoy the hug for what it was, growing dense enough to start fusing and burning, a fitful protostar in the anarchy of her mind. She abruptly tightened her grip on Kia, pulling her closer.

"...I'm gonna kill 'em all for what they did to us, Kia. No goal is worth all these dead keys, let alone whatever they did with what they stole from us. They missed us five, and I'm going to make them regret the day they were born for this," she breathed to the ex-metamorph, deadly promise in her ghost of a voice.

The ghastly flicker of what superficially would appear to be a smile crossed the tall girl's lips, and she relaxed her grip, "So. Packing, yes?"

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Lilly found it a little odd that Jeane even assumed there ever actually were KEYs, and that it was not just part of the simulation. But who knows? Maybe there were or something. Or maybe Jeane just needed something to cling to, some fire in her belly, to keep her motivated and moving forward. Either way, it was pointless to say anything.

Lilly walked over to Jeane and Kia hugging and rubbed Jeane's back.

"We'll figure this all out and then it will be boots to asses.' she encouraged.

Noting Jeane's shift in mood, Lilly turned her attention to the cases of supplies looking over the contents of the thoughtfully.

"Okay.I'll take a pack. Any volunteers for the other one?" she asked, looking at the other before continuing on.

"We keep the supplies spread out among the packs and people, so the loss of one pack, should it happen, is not critical. Also, we take everything we do not use right now, even the boots and jumpsuits. Having a spare set of boots, or maybe something to trade, could be very valuable. If it is too heavy for whoever takes the other pack, then throw all the spare boots or jumpsuits or whatever in my pack."

"Sean, and Abel take the .38 revolvers. I'll take the Colt. Jeane definitely gets a K-bar knife, Kia too. Sean and I will take the other two knives. Those shovels are also pretty effective in a fight too, if needed as a last resort. They are more valuable as shovels though."

"I will take a compass. I was taught by my Da-" Lilly paused, and blinked and then shook the cobwebs from her head before changing her words, "I've been taught land navigation, and also know how to hunt to track."

"Get suited and booted and we will go look for the other terminal."

Lilly turned to Sean and asks,

"Any ideas on how to find this other terminal? Like a cable to follow or something?"

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"I've an idea or two," Sean admitted as she geared up, settling the revolver on her slim hips, balancing it with the k-bar on the other side. The jumpsuit and boots fit surprisingly well - the jumpsuits and bodysuits seemed made to go together, the textured surface of the former matching the surface of the latter, so their was no slippage.

Using one of the extra jumpsuits, Sean made herself an improvised satchel by simply tying the sleeves and legs together and slinging it over her shoulder, to help carry her share of the supplies. Shifting to settle and evenly distribute the weight, Sean was keeping her distance from Jeane, still mutely furious with the accusation that this was all her fault.

Jeane lamented the lost of their powers, of Keys, regardless if they really had had them, or if Keys had really existed. She had ladled blame on Sara too, though Sean strongly suspected Sara - or rather, her remains - moldered in one of the capsules. Her memories of her parents were far from consistent, and while she recognized them as her (or his) parents, they weren't the same people.

Sara on the other hand, no matter how different she looked, Sean knew it was still her. And now she was gone. Unless this just another level of the simulation or dream state or whatever it was... No! That way lies madness. You'd grow reckless, dangerous, always questioning what's real. Don't mention it.

Sean nodded at the grates on the ground and the terminal, cursor blinking as numbers and letters scrolled by on the monitor. "We should be able to follow the right cable bundle at least part of the ways. Further, we might be able to use the compass. Magnetic compasses are affected by electromagnetic fields, which electricity through wires emit. If there's enough power flowing and they didn't insulate the wires well enough, we might be able to track the cable to the other terminal by the distorted readings of the compass."

Sean smiled crookedly and shrugged. "If that fails, then it's some trial and error. Thankfully, we have some supplies to last us a little while at least." She frowned pensively. "There's another question we have to consider... What woke us up and why now? Something inside the... the system, something we did? Or something outside it?" She nodded back towards the capsules. "For the most part, none of the capsules look like they opened at the same time. Last thing I 'remember' is activating the Exodus system. Did that disrupt our... operating system, for lack of better term, or did the operators find the answer to a question they posed or otherwise did this system accomplish what it ultimately designed for? Was our awakening delayed, either on purpose or accidentally? Okay, that was more than one question, but they are all related."

Her frown deepened as she continued considering the capsules. Did she want to know, or not... Curiosity won, even if it would hurt. "Guys, give me a few minutes. I have to check something out."

Sean moved between the capsules on light feet, often only the top of her bald head seen above the capsules as she looked for something. She made a point of looking at every serial number, committing it to memory, before moving on. At one capsule, one that the others believe was next to hers, Sean paused for a moment.

She took a deep breath, the opened the unsealed capsule wider. Skin was shriveled to the skull, the brittle hair colourless. The shape of the skull indicated the corpse had been female, teeth and marking suggesting she'd been roughly her own age. It could have been her. She might not never know, but she took special note of the serial number on the capsule. The other terminal might be able to put names to numbers. She bowed her head, then closed the capsule as much as she could - it was all she could do.

She walked back to the others, a new tightness about her eyes. "Everyone in the capsules, at an educated guess, they were all about our age." There was a minutest catch in her voice, one that would only have been caught if one were listening for it. "And none of the capsules were empty. Now, I'm ready to go."

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"Well.." Lilly said as she shouldered a case, now converted into a pack with the frame found inside, "..it looks like we've been down here a long time without any maintenance or supervision, for reasons as yet to be determined, so the program was probably just left running.  Either stuff breaking woke us up, which is unlikely because none of the other pods opened, or the other possibility is that your and Abel's satellite network thing broke the simulation. You 'peeked behind the curtain' and the sim couldn't handle it, so it crashed with the blue screen o' death or whatever and we woke up. Otherwise, we would have probably ended up like the others when our pods eventually failed too." Lilly suggested.

"Or at least that would seem to be most likely, given what we know." she said with a shrug.

She checked the Colt 1911 and pocketed it and then unsheathed the K-Bar knife, giving it a once over before re-sheathing it.

"It also looks like to me, from what you describe of the tech in this room, it sounds kinda like humanity got a hold of some alien tech, from the Roswell crash or early portal tech experiments whatever, and then reversed engineered it as best they could, and integrated it with their 60's or 70's tech. That or we have been used as part of the supercomputer to figure stuff out and they reap the ideas we come up with, like the water condenser or that circuit you mentioned. That would not explain how they got the tech in the first place though,, so it probably a combination of both. Like, this 'supercomputer' might be their attempt and recreating some tech as best they could." she proposed.

"And you said you think we've been in the pods for 156 years and the date on that calendar is 1973 and the style and such of the tech looks to fit that time period well enough, so that means the year would be.. what? 2129 or so? Give or take a up to a couple of decades, depending on how long we had been in the pods already. If that is the case, then this place was REALLY forgotten about, or abandoned and sealed up for a hella good reason, most likely. Or maybe a earthquake buried us or something. I dunno." Lilly said with another shrug.

"Regardless, we're still the Irregulars. We've always been the Irregulars, in one form or another, through all of those lifetimes. We always came together and had each other's backs. We are a team, and more than that, we family, and we are going to figure this out." she said confidently as she looked from one friend to the next.

"When you are done in here, we'll head out and follow that cable as best we can and look for this other terminal." she said to Sean.

"I'll take point." she added, drawing and readying the Colt.

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"If we were in those things that long," said Kia as she pulled her boots on, having grabbed what she wanted from the survival kids, "Why aren't we all old and stuff? I mean...that's not normal, right? These things hooked us into a computer, but that wouldn't make us immortal."

She moved to back Lilly up. She didn't take one of the guns, but she had a knife and eternal optimism, and wasn't that better than a gun anyway?

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"If you can clone someone once, why not do it again and again and again when that part gets too old? I mean, long as you're writing off our entire lives as one long dream sequence as cogs in their system might as well write it all off as spare human #626. Anyway, let's just find the bastards, torch their bodies and works, and sprinkle some holy water on the ashes so they don't rise to do this shit ever again."

Jeane, dressed in one set of the extra large outfits, spoke without looking up, loading up one of the packs with goods and spare clothing, lips quirked at a private joke. Words words words. So many words that meant nothing and less than nothing. Fractured chorus of memories aside, she'd definitely want some 'her time' when the immediate crisis was over. She mentally catalogued her armory. K-bar in her boot. Axe at her waist through a belt loop. Six shivs hidden in various pockets. An unlit torch propped up against the side of the box. 

She thudded the pack up and down a few times to settle it's contents before sealing it up and shrugging it on, looking over all the pods with their morbid contents, "These dead kids need avenging since we're too late for the saving. Anyone got a spark ready for these torches?"

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They pulled up a grate that Sean indicated and after she pointed out the cable bundle to follow Kia, the smallest of them, dropped into the space under the floor. She easily found the bundle and followed it as far as a stone wall where it vanished into a conduit along with several other bundles and cables. Kia made her way back and told them what she had found.

After a short discussion it was decided to head out the door and see what they could find there Jeane used the matches lit her torch and pushed the door open and stepped out into the unknown.

Spoiler

jeane has information about what is out there so wait for her to post

 

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It turned out that making a torch out of synthetic stuffing and vinyl resulted in a truly acrid smell that brought tears to the eyes. Yay, science.

With Lilly on point and Jeane not too far behind holding up their foul source of flickering illumination, the deep dread drop turned out to be nothing worse than a four foot drop to underground rail track complete with 3rd rail. The rails lead into a long tunnel drilled from the stone and then finished with unpowered light fixtures. A mile and a half of flat track eventually takes on an upward slope for a mile beyond. Nothing moved in the dancing shadows beyond the torchlight in all that time, no branches or exits presented themselves. At least until they found the second rail platform and the tram itself. 

A little twelve-man model, the tram was rusted and neglected, looking like nothing so much as the skeleton of a long trapped animal. What it was trapped against was a huge metal door that cut off the tunnel and the tracks that went along it. A much smaller, second door was on the platform itself, opening outward from this side and much akin to the one that had bound them inside the macabre server room where the Irregulars had awoken from their slumber. 

"Seems obvious enough what's next," Jeane offered, holding the torch higher to illuminate the muck-covered platform, coughing from the smoke for the hundredth time, eyes watering.

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They gather on the platform and look at the personnel door it appears to be made of high grade steel and it looks like it opens outwards. There are no latches or handle visible beside the door in a rusted metal box is a old style land line phone.

The large door which the tracks go through is massive and is of the same type that is used in missile silos. it opens outwards as well and is operated by hydraulics which are now non-functional.

Spoiler

 

 

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Lilly looked at the door closely. The lack of handle or knob hinted that is was like opened from elsewhere, such as a control room or somesuch. 

"Well, the rooms we were in had power, so the phone might work. If it does work, and there is somebody on the other end, then we announce we are here. Time to give a wake-up call.." Lilly said as she reached for the phone and lifted it from its cradle.

She held the phone close enough to her ear to hear, but not actually against her ear, and listened for a tone or a ringing or voice for several seconds, otherwise she says, "Hello?"

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