#Chapter 1: The Compromise
(set:$name to (prompt: "Enter your name:","name"))
"The day has finally arrived. You have been chosen, $name. There is no choice but to proceed."
[[What is going on?]]
"What is going on?" You whisper into the darkness.
Next to you comes the sound of scraping. It stops and you see a woman's face suddenly before you, outlined in the candlelight. Her eyes seem hollow in the darkness and it scares you. “I'm worried about you...” she says almost angrily. “Since the Menacers brought you here you are [[forgetting]] more and more.”
She crawls back into the darkness and returns with a small pouch. “I don't have many memory stimulants left...” she careful extracts a small white pill and holds it out to you. “If you don't act like you have much left up there, they may not want you anymore.”
"Maybe I don't want to remember." You say.
"That isn't an option, $name. Please, you need to try before they get here."
[[Take the memory stimulant|Stimulant]]
[[Turn away|Save it]]
The pill sticks in your throat as you swallow it dry.
You brace yourself for the rush of blood that you know is coming to your head - the stimulants make it feel as though your head will explode but they are the only way you can remember anymore... [[---|memory]]
You turn your face away in silence.
The sound of her breathing fills the room, carrying the hint of a wheeze. You know the sound means something you should be concerned about, but you focus your mind on the darkness…
“You are becoming like the rest.” She says. “Don't you remember you were chosen to be the donor? This isn't the time to be selfish. You have to try.” You can tell she is trying to stay calm.
[[Fine, give me the pill|Stimulant]]
[[Remain silent|Story]]You remember...
The Menacers came and took away those who were left as part of the attempts to preserve your kind. Since then, you have seen very little of the outside world. There weren't many places to go where the Ahumans' technology couldn't trace you all, but some of the Menacers were trained in the Ahumans' technology and were able to set up basic interference shields in underground bunkers.
Everyone became accustomed to the darkness, but it began to steal things. Memory seemed to be the first thing to go. Slowly at first, then in large pieces, memories dropped off like rot so that you didn't know who you were anymore...
You have been hiding for so long... You can't remember the last time you felt like you were your own ....
[[Why can't you still hide?|hides]]...The hiding can't last... The resources have run out and everyone has taken on the gaunt look of despair and hunger.
That is why the Menacers made The Compromise. They had to give in to the Ahumans plans to...to collect their information... no one understands how or why...but all will be revealed at the Harvest...
A horrible feeling sweeps through you as the memories continue to pulse through your racing mind...
Before the harvest, all groups are allowed to contribute one data donor for the Ahumans information collection. The Menacer leaders cast lots for who would go. As soon as your name was pulled, you could feel their hope dissipate.
A silence of resentment hung over these last few days as you waited for the Ahumans’ summons. The leaders turned their back on you, as they had hoped it would be another... but who?
The stimulant is starting to wear off...you feel both fear and relief at the thought of soon being able to stop remembering.
...Soon the escorts will come to take you to the Ahumans...who are they?... the [[Ahumans]]...
Cruel... (transition: "dissolve")+(transition-time: 10s)[They made a clean sweep...a cleansing]
(transition: "dissolve")+(transition-time: 15s)[...they only speak the currency of information....if you had it]
(transition: "dissolve")+(transition-time: 25s)[they treated you like gold...]
(transition: "dissolve")+(transition-time: 35s)[It is time to [[go]]...Oh, if only you could just sleep...]"Come, you can't go to sleep now, they will be here any minute." She forces you to sit up to stop you from curling up on the cool floor of the bunker.
In the distance you hear voices drawing close.
She grips your shoulders hard. "Listen, not all have turned away from you. The others... they have fought too long and lost too much. They have forgotten what we once were... what we could still be."
She takes one of the white pills out of her pouch again and slips it in the seam of your ID band. "Take [[this]] just in case... and remember me."
The door begins to open. You look at her without knowing what to say. She tries to smile, "Whatever lies beyond the harvest, I hope to see you there."
A voice from the door says "[[You have been summoned.|Chapter 2: Transport]]"Don't forget, you have a memory stimulant in your ID band.
[[Back|go]] (text-style:"shudder") [#Chapter 2: Transport]
[[Begin]]#Chapter 3: Data Collection
[[Begin|Clothes]]#Chapter 4: The Harvest
[[Wake up]]"You leave me no choice then," she says.
"I can't let them take you away without reminding you of what happened. You have to at least pretend you know what is going on." She draws the candle closer so that you are both illuminated in the dim light.
"We've been in hiding for...maybe two years? Maybe more, I have lost track... everyone has. The Menacers cast lots for who would go for the data collection. You were picked. I can't explain to you what the data collection is...none of us truly know what it means, but it is what came of the Compromise between the Menacers and the Ahumans. The Ahumans are letting us all send one person...we can only hope it means something of us all will remain alive."
[[You remember something about the Ahumans|Ahumans]]
(text-style: "blurrier")[You have been sitting for so long in the dark that your eyes can barely stand the natural light. You try to keep them open, at least for this first part of the trip – you are curious to see what the world has come to since you were taken out of it. All that is visible is a dense fog. Somehow it is fitting – you are going from being wrapped in the darkness to wrapped in the] [[light]]. As your eyes adjust, thoughts start to pour in...
You suddenly remember travel is no longer conducted with cars. Somehow the Ahumans were able to create transporters with their technology that could convert the gravitational pull of the earth into energy. A trip that would take hours, took a matter of minutes now. And of course they regulated this too. Before the Menacers took you, all travel was restricted to using transport stations and tracks, no private ownership of a transport vehicle was allowed.
You thought you had forgotten all of this, but the return to light brings with it a return to a level of consciousness you lost in the darkness. Maybe you would [[be of use]] to the Ahumans after all...
At first, it doesn’t seem like much. You have the sensation of missing someone. A scene flashes in your mind – across from you is a woman. There is a table between you two similar to what you would find outside a coffee shop. She is laughing and turning away from you in a shy way that you immediately feel homesick for.
A name starts to form on the tip of your [[tongue…|Arrived]]
You try to reach back in your mind for where you found out about the transport vehicles. You sense that you were able to ride them for a short time…was it right as the system was being tested?
You feel a compeling to turn your head to the right and in your mind you see a poster on a wall that says Liberation! in bold black letters against a rich blue background. When you turn your head back you see a podium, and at the front is a person in the midst of a speech...
“You all are losing sight of what they are stealing from us! They are luring us in with compromise. The reversal of global warming and elimination of disease has caused us to become sheep. Don’t let them steal your [[minds!|Arrived]]"
The transporter starts to slow and you feel exhausted from the effort of remembering spread through you. You hope there will be time to sleep. If only you could just sleep…
[[Chapter 3: Data Collection]]Before you can exit the transporter, one of the escorts brings you a package containing clothes. “Please put these on. Then we'll go.”
They leave you in the small space to change. You pick up the top piece and see it is a long tunic like shirt made from a material you’ve never encountered before. It clings to your skin with an odd metallic coolness and you can tell there is something alive in the fabric.
[[Intrigued]]Something about this feels very wrong. You know from the little the leaders of the Menacers actually told you that the Ahumans have developed technology beyond anything you have seen before. The way that the clothes seemed to want to become part of you as soon as you touched it...
"[[Hurry|hurry]] in there, Madam is on a tight schedule." Calls the escort.
In spite of yourself, you look closely at the inside of the tunic and the sleeves to see if you can figure out what makes the fabric so.... electric. You can tell that the shirt itself is a piece of technology, but besides the material, it seems like an ordinary piece of clothing.
"I better [[hurry]]," you think.You have also been supplied with a pair of pants made from the same material and a pair of woven sandals that prickle against your feet as you put them on. As soon as you are done dressing, the escort reappears.
You are lead down an enclosed tunnel that leads away from the transporter. Somehow the tunnel is brightly lit, but you can’t discern the source of light. Down at the end, you see a door with a woman waiting in front of it. As you draw closer to her, you suddenly feel a hum go through the tunic and your skin grows warm. The tiredness that kept creeping in earlier has been replaced with an anxious tension. It makes you want to cry,laugh, and scream all in one… a horrible fear comes over you that you might just do all three, and once you start, it won't [[stop|look]].
Focusing on keeping your breathing calm, you hardly notice you’ve stopped a few feet away from her. You look at her self-consciously and she smiles at you.
“What an honor to have you come. I will be your carer during your stay.” She keeps her hands folded over her stomach as she talks, “You may call me Madam.”
[[Tell her your name]]
[[Smile and say nothing]]
You sense she is waiting for a reply, and you try to think what the correct response is in a situation like this. Polite conversation didn’t make its way into the bunkers with you, and you find the performance of it all sickening. “I’m – “
“Ah, ah, ah – “ Madam says, “You will find that the names of the past are not to be spoken here. During your stay you will be called [[participant 58]].”
The act of polite conversation is jarring after not having to perform it for so long. You are still trying desperately to control the rising anxiety that is grasping at your every nerve, so you smile and nod.
She continues speaking as she opens the door, “You will be called [[participant 58]] during your stay here, as names of the past are not to be spoken any longer.”
“Participant 58,” you repeat. Once again, you are being stripped of what little you have. Even your name is being taken from you. All that is yours now is your ID band. You feel the weight of it suddenly on your wrist and the anxiety grips you with a new force that makes your legs go nearly numb. You wonder if they are going to require that you give it up.
[[Try to push the ID band up your arm]]
[[Do nothing, and hope they won’t say anything]]
Madam opens the door and motions for you to walk through. You take the opportunity to quickly move your ID band up your arm as you move inside. It is covered by the tunic sleeve enough that you feel it will go unnoticed. Suddenly Madam’s hand grabs you where you’ve moved the ID band, and you suddenly feel her breath at your ear.
“Make no mistake,[[$name|ID Band]], you have no secrets here,” She whispers.
Madam opens the door and motions for you to walk through. In the panic of trying to focus on walking and obscuring her view of your wrist, you trip and start to fall. Madam catches you before you tumble fully, grabbing your arm with the ID band in the process. She holds your arm and gaze for longer than is needed and you feel the hum in the tunic start again. She knows, and you suddenly realize it goes beyond the ID band. She knows you. You don't know how you know, but somewhere tucked away in your worn down mind is the [[answer|ID Band]]."This way, please." Madam continues in front of you and you follow her in a daze. Your mind works frantically to discern what is going on. Madam knows you somehow. Not only that, she wants you to know she does...but why? [[Do you know Madam too?]] You suddenly see her eyes again as they looked in the darkness...how her hands felt grasping your shoulders as she begged you to remember you weren't alone. How could you not feel alone when you didn't even know who she was?
But the way she knew you tells you that at one point you knew her. That even though you forgot, she still is placing some hope in you. You know you should take this time to try to remember more, but you fear what will be unearthed once you open your mind up.
You close your eyes, and tentatively practice trying to remember more…
[[Reclaim a memory]]
[[Reclaim a fact]]The Escort has gone and it is just you and Madam as you follow her down a series of hallways. The place has a vacant feeling and you realize for the first time since you were chosen that you are finally asking yourself what you should have been thinking about all along – what is really going on here?
You look at the back of Madam's head and wonder...
[[Ask her a question]]
You can’t wait any longer, you need to say something now in case this is your only chance. You speed up so you are nearly walking on Madam’s heels. “What is going on here? [[How do you know me?”|“How do you know me?”]] You whisper.You can feel the ache of unanswered questions building up inside of you, but you feel like you need to wait. Something about this whole situation makes you feel like you need to bid your time before you [[act]]. “That isn’t for me to say,” Madam says, stopping at a door finally. She holds her hand to a panel on the door and it opens. She steps to the side and motions for you to go inside. You try to catch her eye, but she keeps her eyes set towards the [[inside of the room]]. Madam finally stops at a door. She holds her hand to a panel on the door and it opens. She steps to the side and motions for you to go inside. You sneak a glance at her face to see if she will look at you, but she keeps her eyes fixed on the [[inside of the room]].You enter and see that the room is no bigger than a cell. The walls are a dull white and in the furthest corner is a twin size bed. Filling the other corner is a small green chair with a side table next to it. A darkened screen hangs on the wall closet to the door. Besides this, the room is empty of decoration.
[[Turn to talk to Madam]]
You turn around to talk to Madam, but she doesn't give you a chance to say anything.
"As your carer, I am here to ensure that your stay goes smoothly and that you are taken care of." She presses a button on the screen in the wall and an announcement appears that simply says "Welcome".
She turns back to you and continues talking, ”You have been through a great deal, the Ahumans understand this. They would like for you to take the night to rest and adjust to being above ground again. I will need you to take a nutrient supplement now. You will find you will feel better after you do.”
An escort appears at the door with a tray that contains a glass of water, a pill cup, and a small box.
Madam takes the tray and excuses the escort. She turns back to you and hands you the [[pill and cup]].
"Wait!" You say, confused. "I don't understand. I have so many questions..."
You rush to continue talking, afraid she is going to cut you off again. "I was never told much. I was picked by chance and they never explained what it meant. Please, I know there is something...I know that I am here for the data collection, but I don't understand what that is and why I was chosen. How will I know what to say? What if I don't have the right answers? What..." You trail off as you consider all the questions that you need answered. Madam remains silent and looks away from you, as if she is considering carefully what to say.
"All I can say right now is that you are chosen to provide information for the data collection. What you need is already in you. Use this time to reflect." She looks at you before she goes, but her face tells you little about her feelings.
The door closes softly and you are left [[alone]].
The frustration of not having answers grows inside of you. You are surprised by the force of your emotion as you haven't felt this strongly about something in a long time. You realize the tunic is humming again.
A warmth spreads through your limbs and makes your mouth suddenly taste bloody. The pill is taking effect. You can only imagine the damage living in the bunker has had on your insides. The anxiety you have been feeling dissipates and your body begins to feel relaxed. Your mind feels calm and clear, like you might be able to actually work out what you need to do.
As you think, you pick at the seam of your ID band. You search for the pill the woman in the bunker gave you and are relieved to find it is still safely tucked inside.
Could this be the time to take it?
[[No, you should explore the room first|Room]]
You let yourself down cautiously onto the bed. It feels strange, almost too soft. You have become so accustomed to sleeping on the floor these last…years?
The temptation to sleep comes back to you, but you know you don’t have time to rest… you have to try. You need to find some kind of clue.
[[Return|Room]]Grabbing the little handle, you gently slide the drawer open and look inside. All that sits inside is a square not much bigger than your palm. It has circle in the middle of it that glows green.
That doesn’t do you any good.
[[Return|Room]] As you take the pill and drink it down, you watch her. She sets the tray down on the sidetable.
"I'll return shortly with a meal. You will be required to stay in your room for the night unless you have an urgent need. Should this be the case, you will find a device in the side table there that will call me directly." Madam starts to head towards the door.
The little box is light in your hands as you pick it up. Could it be empty?
On closer inspection, you discover it is more cube than box as there appears to be no way to open it.
Why would they have left it?
The door slides open again, and Madam reappears with a covered plate. She sees the box in your hands.
You feel as if you have been caught doing something bad.You can sense yourself wanting to apologize. Instead you turn to her and plead, “Please tell me [[something]], Madam.“
Your mind is clearer than it has been in a long time. With the consciousness that has returned since being above ground and the healing effects of the nutrient supplement - the memory stimulant might just be the final key to lift the last of the fog that has enveloped you for so long now.
You place the pill on your tongue and swallow.
Unsure when Madam will return, you decide you should probably look around the room to see if anything in here can give you a clue as to what is going on.
[[Sit on the bed]]
[[Open the side table drawer]]
[[Look at the box that was on the tray]]
The tunic begins to glow with lines of blues and yellows, like veins all over your arms and chest.
The room starts to waiver, and you close your eyes against the wave of dizziness it creates.
“What is going on?” You think.
You open one eye to see if it has stopped and, when you do, you see that you are no longer in your room. Instead you find yourself in a lab. Your arms and legs are strapped to the table and where the screen was on the wall of the room, there is now a window where you can see blurry figures moving around.
[[“Participant 58 has returned”]]
The voice comes from somewhere around your head. You try shifting positions so you can see, but find that a strap is holding your head in place as well.
You feel a panic rise in you, “What is happening?” You call out.
“Remain calm, soldier, “ the same voice from before says. A figure moves so it is standing beside you. You move your eyes to see who it is and you find it is Madam…no not Madam – the Commander!
“You figured out how to make it back. You’ve [[passed]] your first simulation.”
The relief floods over you as the panic fades and you realize what is going on. The simulation, of course. You laugh, “That was one hell of a ride!”
“The first one always is, but you did well private. Let’s get you unstrapped and debriefed so you can get home and rest up.” The Commander steps back as two nurses come and release you. “I’ll see you soon,” she says and leaves.
When you sit up, you see you are wearing the same tunic and pants you had on in the simulation. “I noticed these were humming and getting a little warm in there,” you say to the nurse. “They might be a little glitchy.”
“Yeah, several participants have reported that lately. We are working out the kinks as quick as the government will let us. They make you test as quick as possible so they can roll the tech out to be used, but of course they don’t give you the time you need to iron out the wrinkles. That’s the Menacer Guard for you.”
“Yep, and that’s what us privates are for – underpaid test dummies,” You say, and the nurse laughs.
“Well private, you are good to go, report to the commander’s office. She will debrief you.”
[[Stop and talk to the techs behind the window first]]
The relief that you feel at everything being back to normal fills you with a kind of child-like giddiness...you can't believe how real...how horrible it all was inside...
You still can't quite figure out how you made it back... in every simulation there is a 'key' that releases you, so it must have been the pill. You hesitate in front of the commander's door, and suddenly feel afraid of what you will find on the other side. You knock and hear [[“enter”]]. “Come on in and have a seat, private. You did good work today.”
You smile and feel the return of some of your giddiness.
“Thank you ma’am, it was an honor to be chosen to test the new mindtech.”
“Yes, we only chose the best from your incoming group in the boot camp. Your career in the Menacer Guard is off to a great start, you will be sitting where I am one of these days if you keep it up.”
The Commander’s words fill you with a pride that you feel slightly bashful about. It has been your dream to join the Guard since the wars between the Ahumans and the Menacers started, and you can hardly believe it is coming true. “That means a lot coming from you, ma’am.”
“Alright, I just have a few questions to ask you to make sure everything checks out okay and then you will be discharged.”
“Where are you?”
“On base in the main Menacer headquarters.”
“Why were you here today?”
“I am one of the Crainotechnicians selected to test out the new mind weapons the Menacer Guard has developed for the new battlefront.”
“What is the new battlefront?”
“The new battle front is the mind warfare that the Ahumans are waging against our people.”
“Who are you?”
“I am private $name of the 44th Sector Squad.”
“Very good, private. Report for duty at 0800 hours tomorrow for continued testing.”
Finally at home, you open your door and Rusty immediately steps in your way so that you have to pick her up to close the door.
“Silly cat, I missed you too,” you say, smiling as she bumps her head into your mouth. You put her down and take off your boots.
“I’m home!” You call out. You hear nothing. “Hmm…maybe she had to go out with her study group tonight,” You think.
Heading for the kitchen, you feel the thrill of the day come back to you and you decide you need to celebrate -
[[Decide to stay in and watch a movie]]
“I think I’m going to get dinner out, Rust. If you are good, I might even bring you home a little treat.”
Rusty meows in happy agreement as you make your way to the bedroom to change.
“Lets make some popcorn and watch a movie, Rust.” Rusty meows happily and rubs against your leg.
As the popcorn pops you look around the kitchen to see if she left you a note. “I wonder if she is mad I left without saying goodbye this morning…”
The microwave dings and you grab the steamy bag. You look in the fridge and find that there is still one beer left. “Hey, last time she got the last one. Don’t look at me like that Rust, I earned this one [[today]].”
As you remove your clothes, you think again about the strange humming and warmth that the simulator vest was giving off. The memory of how it felt to be in that world comes back to you and you feel a touch of panic return.
“Woah, $name, calm down. You made it through, it is just the first time jitters.”
Removing your ID badge, you sense something fall to the floor.
Rusty runs to the spot and begins trying to eat whatever has fallen. “Rusty, stop!” You yell and grab her. When you look where she was you feel sick.
On the floor is a [[white pill.|Chapter 3: Data Collection]]
In the living room you plop down on the couch and sigh. When you think back over the day…the simulation… you feel a little of the panic creep back in. “Woah, $name, calm down. You made it through, it is just the first time jitters.”
You grab the remote and press power.
“Welcome" in simple words fills the screen. You feel a humming in your chest and when you look down you realize you have the tunic on.
[[-----|Chapter 3: Data Collection]]
You feel like you should stop and talk to the techs before you go see the Commander.
"Nothing against the nurses”, you think, “I just need to make sure the techies get on that glitch.”
You enter the hall and the door to the control room behind the window is slightly ajar.
As you start towards it you hear one of the voices inside mention “Participant 58”. You stop. You know you shouldn’t eavesdrop, but you feel frozen. Part of you still feels the need for answers to questions you don’t remember anymore.
“The memory stores are almost damaged beyond repair.” You hear the same voice say. Were they talking about you?
[[Try to get closer to see if you can see something|closer]]
[[Go talk to them|talk]]
The relief you felt before disappears. Something is off. You press yourself close to the wall and go as close to the door as you can manage so that you can just see inside.
When you peer in you can see a display screen that looks like a brain scan. The writing is too small for you to see what all it says.
“58’s biodata remains inaccessible. Somehow the Menacers were able to hide all the information in the damaged regions. Unless there is an activating memory event, we are wasting our time trying to hack this one.”
[[Charge in and demand answers|talk]]
You rush in and find that there are three figures sitting in a small lab filled with displays that show different brain images. The figures turn towards you, but they have no faces. Their bodies shift in a shapeless way that makes them seem more liquid than solid.
You are struck dumb with shock and your knees buckle. Falling to the floor you notice again that the room waivers and shifts...
[[Black out|Chapter 3: Data Collection]]
You can’t keep listening, you have to run.
[[Head down the hall away from the control room|down]]
[[Take a left into a side hall|left]]
You risk running past the room and start sprinting down the hall. At the end you can see there are double doors and light coming through the windows.
As you run you sense that you aren’t being able to move any closer to the doors. If anything they are moving further and further from you.
“That is enough” you hear from behind you, and everything goes black.
[[Wake up|Chapter 3: Data Collection]]
You decide to slip into a dark hall to the left and run as soundlessly as your heavy boots will allow.
But as you run, the hall becomes darker and soon you can’t see anything at all. You stop and turn to go back the way you came, but when you do you see that everything is pitch black.
You body begins to feel weird, like you are floating. There is a pressure building in the atmosphere around you and you feel it begin to press in on your chest.
You can’t breath.
The darkness engulfs you so that you feel it has filled every part of you.
[[Wake up|Chapter 3: Data Collection]]
"You have to tell me something, Madam. Who are you? Why am I here? Please - you said you are supposed to help me, so help me!"
The sound of your voice makes the room feel smaller. Madam sets the plate on the side table. "Sit and eat," she says, "you need to build your strength back."
"I want an answer from you," you say without moving, feeling a surge of confidence. Madam looks at you and starts to speak but before she can she grasps her stomach and falls to the floor gasping.
[[Go to her]]
She writhes on the floor in pain and continues gasping like she is being choked. You go to her but feel helpless, “Madam –"
She grabs you and pulls you closer to her. “$name, [[don’t you know me?”]] She breathes out in a horrible long wheeze.
The wheezing continues behind you, but you can’t bear to look back. You know it can’t be real because Sara died that day. “Please, what is this?” You cry out.
The memories start to flood back and you are back in the times before you were taken to the bunkers. Sara and you sit outside a café. She laughs and turns her head away from you in a shy way that makes your heart ache the same way it did that day...
She turns back and smiles at you, but in the next moment her face turns into a grotesque grimace as she doubles over and falls to the ground. She is holding her stomach and gasping…
You want to stop the memories but they come so strong it is as if you are there again.
You search for the source of the bleeding, but there is too much blood and everything becomes too slippery and sticky. She keeps grabbing you, pulling you to her as she wheezes and gasps for air.
She is suddenly drowned out by screams. You look around and see the Ahumans transporters surrounding the neighborhood. People are in chaos and trying to escape. You feel the terror of being caught surge into your arms and legs and all you can think is
You are thrown out of the memory and once again you are in the room with your head against the wall. Your mind feels like it has suddenly been iced over and the intensity of the memory of Sara’s death feels like a distant ache. Your tunic is vibrating so violently that you feel dizzy with the force of it. You turn to see if Madam is still on the floor, but you find she is gone.
On the floor where she fell is the box. You crawl to it and discover that as soon as you touch it, the tunic stops vibrating.
You look down at the box and notice a button has appeared.
As soon as you push it, the room flickers and pulses and you [[pass out.|Chapter 4: The Harvest]]I'm sorry, $name, you have to [[continue|gasping]].“Wake up, $name.”
Your eyes feel heavy with sleep, as though you might be able to sleep for days if they would let you. “They who?” you think.
Slowly, your lids open and you find you are in what looks like a hospital bedroom. Machines beep nearby and an IV trails from your arm up to a bag full of a cloudy liquid. “Where am I?” You say, cringing at the dryness of your throat.
“You are in the sick bay, I’m your attending doctor.” When you look to the side of the bed you find a doctor sitting in a chair watching you. Their face is covered with a mask and they are writing something down on a clipboard.
[[Ask what is going on]]
[[Wait and see what they say]]
You swallow to try to relieve the fiery sensation in your throat. “What is going on? Can I please just finally know what is happening?”
The memories of the last…how long has it been? You have no way of knowing. Everything that has happened since you were taken from the bunker floats in and out of your memory and you realize you are crying.
[["I’m here to answer your questions."|answers]]
Not knowing what to do, you close your eyes again to try and focus. Your mind feels fragmented and the pieces of everything that has happened in the last…however long floats in and out of your memory.
“I’m here to tell you what has been going on.”
[[You look at the doctor and nod|answers]]
“There has been war during the years you were in hiding with the Menacers. What you may not know is that the war has been one, not of weapons, but of technology. The Ahumans’ plan to remedy the major issues in our world – that of poverty, pollution, weapons, illness…it all worked. But…” The doctor trails off and looks over their shoulder, as if worrying someone will overhear.
You look towards the door, but find it is closed. You wonder if someone else is supposed to be coming soon...
“But, there were compromises that had to occur for the great healing that was brought to the earth by the Ahumans. You see… the Ahumans gave up their humanity to be able to do what they did. They crafted new brains that once fused with the human brain created a functioning capability that was unlike anything the human brain or AI could do alone. And these new minds were all interconnected so that they were like one huge body functioning with thousands of brains that could draw on limitless information banks.”
“What do you mean, they gave up their [[humanity]]?”
You ask, dazed by what you are hearing.
“I mean – they lost what makes people human. With the fusion of technology, their brains lost the capacity to feel emotions, to have any kind of empathy… any sense of self. They simply became driven by their programing, which from the beginning was to solve the problems of the world. And they did this at all costs.”
The doctor stands up, and they begin to pace in front of your bed.
“You went underground because they had decided that the remaining humans who had not adapted the technology needed to be eradicated, and they began the cleansing. The Menacers found you among a group of survivors that had escaped a raid and took you with them -”
“Wait, wait – what do you know about that day?” You yell, suddenly [[terrified]].
The doctor rushes to your side and clasps a cold hand to your mouth – “You need to keep your voice down,” they whisper. They look again towards the door and wait. “You asked me to give you answers and I am trying my best. I don’t have much time…”
[[Demand to know more about that day]]
[[Stay quiet and listen]]
They take their hand away from your mouth.
“You need to tell me about that day, I don’t care about the rest – tell me what you know,” You angrily whisper, barely able to keep your voice low. Your eyes immediately begin to take in the room to see if there is anything you can use to defend yourself.
The doctor stands back up and paces again. They stop and come back and look at you.
[[What happened|one of them]]
The way the doctor has behaved since you woke up feels odd to you, but you sense that they aren’t trying to hurt you. You can tell the terror of what the Ahumans have put you through isn’t over and this may be the only time you will get any kind of… closure? Answers? You aren’t sure what you are trying to get out of this, but you know you need them to keep talking.
The doctor stands back up and stays silent for a moment – “There is too much to tell and so little time…”
They turn back to you and you meet their eyes.
“They used us all. The Menacers… the Ahumans – they are using us to develop a whole new warfare of the mind. The last remnants of the human race are being harvested for what the Ahumans call biodata. The clothes they put you in when you first arrived, it was the collection device. As soon as you put them on they placed you in a simulation that would make you remember things... they wanted it all but they couldn't take it without you remembering."
"So Madam?" You ask, unable to help yourself.
"She was a plant to activate your memory. They had access to information about that day with Sara and thought if they recreated it, it would activate the rest of your memories and emotions...all the things they were greedy to collect."
"But why? Why would they..." You stop as angry tears come to your eyes.
"They realized it was those kinds of emotions that would be most useful as weapons. They knew how debilitated humans were by them...so they decided to try to gather them so they could use them against the last of those who are holding out against them. The Menacers knew this was why the Ahumans wanted a human and they still went through with the Compromise... they felt they had no other choice.”
The doctor stops talking and looks at you. You feel dizzy. The amount of information and the weight of everything feels like too much on your already overburdened mind. All you can think to ask is, “What do you mean “us”? I thought you were [[one of them]]?”
The doctor keeps looking at you and slowly sits down on the bed. The mask still obscures their face so that all you can see is their eyes.
Removing the loops of the mask from their ears, they reveal their face. You see in front of you the same woman who was with you in the darkness.
"What? But how..." suddenly you recognize who she is.
“Sara –" is all you can get out. You sob at the sight of her. You have no idea what is happening or how it is that she is here, but you grab her and hold her. The sobs come out of you in deep moans and you feel like everything that was closed up inside you has released.
“Shhh, shhh – it’s okay, everything will be okay. Listen to me, we don’t have much time.” She says stroking your head.
[[Now is the time]]
“Now is the time, $name. You need to take the pill I gave you, the one in your ID band. I had to take a chance that you wouldn't take it before the right time, but it is the way out.”
You are too overwhelmed to even process what she is talking about, “The pill? But Sara, how – “
“There is a new uprising - neither the Ahumans or Menacers will see it coming. I escaped with a group of the others and they allowed me to come back for you... we need you. But that is enough for now. I promise all will be made clear soon, but I need you to just do as I say for now. There is a way out of this, but we only have a short amount of time. I’ve disarmed the Ahumans' alarm system for the time being, but once they notice, they will fix it fast and find us. I need you to take the pill – they’ve placed something inside of your mind that will allow them to track you. The pill will cause a disturbance in their tech and buy us some time to get far enough away so I can work to disarm it fully.”
You look at her and feel the surge of hope and memory come back to you. How did you forget? What do you still have to remember? You aren’t sure, but you feel like there is something stirring inside you that existed before… you were ready to fight in the past, and it was crushed. But now…
“It’s time to come back and fight, $name.”
[[To be continued...]]
“no, no, no, no…” You back away from her as quick as you can. Pressing your face into the wall, you suddenly feel the click of recognition.
What terrifies you isn’t the fact that you know her, but that you realize this can’t be happening now because it has already happened before –
Madam, her falling to the ground, wheezing, gasping for air, grasping on to you… no, not Madam. [[Sara.]] #TO BE CONTINUED