Beholder – Prologue

They descended down the emergency staircase, constantly circling around the broken down elevator shaft. Forty five metres straight down into the mountain ground. An atomic explosion straight on top of the base would wipe the entire city up top clear from the area, yet the place they was heading for would barely shake. Airtight, thick metal grids, an auto generated safety engine powering the entire place. Security measures to hold out an entire invasion. Automated turrets, electric wiring through the floors even corridors made specifically to seal off and suffocate any intruder. An interior ecosystem, food supply for generations and quarters for over one hundred people. Everything had been switched off. The old security had, to the most part, stopped working as the generator had died down a month ago. As a last resort the entrance had opened to the public above. Few systems had still been online and it had taken the first scavenge force three days to get past the first few parts of the system. There are still areas that are unsafe but the area that they was heading for had been thoroughly swept several times. The soldier with him had opened all the doors, leaving imprints on the chilled metal handles. He had not been allowed to touch a single thing, not even doorknobs. He knew that she did that out of orders. The thing he had been sent for to inspect were far to important for her to take any chances.

As she opened the last door for him, they entered a giant room. Looking up, he can barely see the roof in the weak light of the flash lights. The room is filled with metal cases. Block after block, piled on top of each other, all connected by throngs of wires. In the centre there is a circle of old screens. Computers. Complete with keyboards and controllers. All turned off at the moment. Just a glance at it all made him realise that the things around him had been state of the art when pieced together. Two soldiers is waiting by the consoles, giving them both a salute as they get closer.

“At ease, boys” She says with a smile on her lips. “I’m lieutenant Helen Creighton and this is Tank, we’re from the Maverick Hunters” With a motion towards him he came closer and moved straight for the consoles. The smile on his face grew larger as he breathed the still dry air. A system like this was something he had only dreamed of before. Old tech now, but the sweet system of information. The lieutenant cleared her throat to get his attention. “As I was saying, I want you two to take us to the computer still active.” Both the soldiers both stare towards him strangely before they started walking. They open a small door, previously looking like the rest of the concrete wall and moved inside. Entering he came face to face with a giant screen showing number series. Concave making a half circle around a small podium. A pair of gloves connected to a keyboard.

“It’s been like this since we found it.” One of the soldier said, the lieutenant nodded softly towards him giving him a smile. “Thank you, Corporal. You can leave us now.” Both the soldiers saluted once more before leaving, closing the door behind them.

“I’ll never get used to all the saluting” She said in distaste as she watched him by the podium. He hovered over it like a child over a birthday present. For all the time she had known him that had always surprised her. How someone would be so happy to get to explore machines. The older the better. He would have been a great archaeologist if machines had existed long enough. With machines it never counted the same way. Opening his palm towards the controls he started as he always did, analysis. The screen suddenly flickered alive and the counting of numbers suddenly stopped and changed with thick metal bars suddenly ejecting in front of the exit. In a heartbeat the lieutenant had armed her weapon and was aiming it towards the screen. A female face appeared, covering the complete wall. Smiling vaguely towards them. He slowly closed his hand and moved it away from the controls.

-I have been waiting for you, Thomas- A monotone voice echoed inside their heads. No emotions. He could barely chose between been shocked by the situation or be fascinated by it. The lieutenant quickly moved up beside him, grasping his shoulder to pull him away from the podium. “How do you know his name?” She screamed at the screen. -I know you as well, lieutenant Helen Creighton- “Who Are You!?” He leaned close to the lieutenant whispering in her ear. “Helen, the machine isn’t here. If you shoot, you can’t kill it from here.” She looked towards him disturbed. Looking back towards the screen she lowers her weapon with an annoyed grunt. The woman on the screen had not changed her visage, nor even moved her eyes for their movement. Only her lips moved as she spoke. -I need you, Thomas R. Jeffrey to connect with the control unit in the centre of the room.- He tried to move towards the podium but before taking a step the lieutenant took his shoulder again. “Why do he need to do that?” -I have information for the Grand Marshal Signas of the Maverick Hunters that matters the security of the entire world- “What kind of information?” -Vital- She stared in disbelief towards the screen, then looked over towards him. He could barely contain the joy of tinkering with the computer, smiling wide and not keeping still. Urging her to let him go. “I don’t know, Tank, is it safe?” He nodded franticly “Uhu, I’ve got a bunch of active firewalls always protecting me, and my own mind on top of that. I’ve got seven processing…” “All right, all right. If you think you can handle it.” “Oh, yes I can.” She stood still for a while studying the quiet face calmly looking back towards them. Something was bugging her. Cutting into her stomach. “Why did you lock the doors?” The lieutenant asked and by the end of the sentence the metal bars silently slid away, then silence again. Looking around herself she finally turned towards him. Prying deeply into his eyes, he was looking forward to it. With anticipation she never seen in him before. Moving aside he quickly went to work. He sat down by the podium checking the different wirings before releasing the appropriate wire of his arm and plugging it in.

The second the pin locked the cord into its hold Tank shook back, as if being hit in the head. A security wall fell down around the podium locking her from him. The metal bars shoot back in place behind her. Readying her weapon she fired a load towards the glass of the security box, blasting it to pieces. Quickly she pulled the cord. It did not let go for the first pull, forcing her to pull harder. With all her strength she pulled the wire out with the parts connected to it. Disconnected, Tank started screaming and shaking. The screen flickered once and turned to black and the metal bars once again slid aside. Without a second thought the lieutenant picked him up and ran out yelling “MEDIC!!!”

“His body has fully recovered from the interior burns. However, he has developed a personal disorder. The computer seems to have infected his mind and he is no longer capable of clear thought. I suggest he get a secured room at the mental institution. Maybe he is able to fight this thing, but his value to be saved weighed over the danger of attempting is lower. No attempts of entering his system shall be made at this time”