September 3rd, 2012
The man named Roy Smith climbed off the old, beat-up boat that had taken him all the way from Japan to the Installation. He was more than glad to get off the old rust-bucket he’d been forced to pay for, since that bitch had stolen most of his funds.
But now, at last, he had arrived. He ran his fingers through his blonde hair as he stepped onto the pier. A group of heavily armed guards in full-body armour walked past him. They’d dispose of the crew of the ship, scavenge it for anything useful and then dispose of all the traces.
On the pier, two women and a man stood. The man and one of the women wore white lab coats, while the second woman was dressed in the same armour as the guards, only without the helmet.
She was tall, fit, and just generally so beautiful that he immediately pegged her as an Adonis-type. The effect was lessened a bit by her completely shaven head and the frown on her face.
The man in the lab coat looked like he belonged into a comic book, playing the mad scientist – he was reedy, had bad hair, bad teeth and oversized, tricked-out goggles over his eyes.
But Roy only really cared for the other woman, the one in the lab coat. She was the reason he had gotten this far, the reason why he would be able to support their most noble cause.
She was a short Chinese woman, maybe a breath taller than five feet, with straight black hair she’d tied up into a very tight knot fixed with two lacquered chopsticks, a very austere but pretty face and dark brown eyes.
“A good day to you, Mister Smith,” she said with what might have been a smile, offering him a gloved hand.
He took it, shaking it delicately. He didn’t want to risk setting her off – her temper was legendary.
“It is an honour to meet you, Miss Dusu,” he replied with an honest smile.
* * *
“May I introduce our chief of security?” Dusu said, turning to the shaven woman in battle gear. “This is the thirteenth Skulls, our organization’s most highly decorated officer.”
Roy nodded, offering the woman his hand, but she did not take it. “You got the rule book?” she asked with a voice that stood in stark contrast to her cruel, disapproving expression – deep and rich with dulcet tones.
He nodded as he pulled his hand back. Damn, I feel like I should freeze on the spot.
“Then you know the rules. Break them, and I will kill you.” With those words, she turned around and left the pier with quick, long strides.
Man, that’s a fine piece of ass. Though I guess my chances to tap it are in the negative range.
Then again, he might very well be the only other Adonis on the Installation.
Suddenly, the man in the lab coat grabbed his hand from the side of his body and shook it with a wide smile. “Welcome to the Installation, Mister Smith! Don’t mind Skulls, she’s always like this. And don’t be discouraged, even I got to tap that primo ass,” he welcomed him, speaking within a single breath in a high, nasal voice. He had really bad breath.
Roy was unsure how to react for a moment, but Dusu cleared her throat, which made both of them pay attention. “Mister Smith, this is the seventh Geek. He is in charge of the contriving half of the Installation, while I lead the gadgeteering half. Please follow me.”
She walked down the pier, her steps so silent he barely heard her move.
* * *
“The Installation is the second-largest manmade island in the world, and the largest floating island – the whole structure is exactly two hundred and four square kilometers in size, divided into two equal halves with a central section that serves as the command center and the living quarters for all of us, though we researchers get the better rooms in the upper levels, as opposed to the guards and support staff,” Dusu explained with a proud voice as she lead him deeper into the artificial island.
Roy was immediately smitten – his power’s focus was on biochemistry, but he could still very much appreciate the craftsmanship that had gone into the clean, futuristic complex.
“How many people are on the Installation?” he asked, trusting to his enhanced sense of balance to not trip while look pretty much everywhere other than towards the way he was going.
“Five hundred and seventeen, both researchers, guards and support staff. And one thousand and six hundred fifty-eight test subjects,” she replied immediately.
“One thousand four hundred and one test subjects. We lost two hundred and fifty seven during the last round of yesterday’s tests on my side,” Geek threw in.
Dusu gave him an annoyed glance. “You burn through test subjects too quickly. We’ll need to purchase a new batch by the middle of the month if it goes on like this.”
Geek raised his hands in a gesture of surrender. “I’ll strive to improve efficiency. Promise.”
“See that you do,” she replied, then turned back to Roy. “The organization usually provides us with more than enough test subjects, mostly from the South Asian or South African war zones. But we still need to be careful no one locates us – our protection is not perfect – so we can’t afford to waste them.”
He nodded absentmindedly. “And I will be working with you, Ma’am?”
“Yes. Your specialization should prove compatible with my own. Unfortunately, my last assistant proved to be literally too dumb to live,” she replied, frustration seeping into her voice at the end.
“What happened, if I may ask?” What I mean is, did you kill her, and what are my chances for dying that way?
Geek giggled, his goggles shaking wildly. “Stupid little girl, she got a bit too careless working with one of the samples, and-“
“You have samples?!” he all but screamed, stopping in his tracks. “I didn’t know it was possible to extract samples!”
“Oh, it wasn’t for quite a while. But Dusu here figured it out just a year after she joined us, and we’ve been extracting them ever since. Lost nearly half our staff in the beginning, before we figured out how to properly secure them, not to mention all the test subjects we wasted,” explained Geek.
Dusu snorted in a decidedly unladylike manner. “And the little idiot went and still screwed it up.”
Geek giggled again. “At least we got a fine new test subject out of it. And she screams in the prettiest way, I gotta show you sometime, Roy-boy,” he said between giggles.
Roy shuddered a little at the utter callousness in his voice, but caught himself before anyone could notice. Don’t want them to think I’m soft.
“I’ll strive not to disappoint, Ma’am.”
“Do so. I would hate to hand over another assistant for testing. Or disposal,” she said. Then she continued, shaking her head: “And I had such high hopes for the last one.”
“I shall do my best, Ma’am.”
Geek just giggled again.
* * *
They’d parted from Geek a few minutes ago, and Dusu had taken him right through the gadgeteering complex. After a few minutes of walking and taking elevators downwards – the biggest part of the Installation was actually beneath the water – they arrived in her lab.
“This is awesome, Ma’am,” he sighed as he saw all the cutting edge equipment, including…
“Is that one of Sovereign’s Cloning Chambers!?”
“Aye, it cost me quite a mint but I was able to purchase it,” she answered, now far more relaxed than before.
He almost popped the cork right then and there, and wouldn’t that have been embarassing?
“But let’s get to the important part – our work,” she said and walked towards a large circular table that doubled as a screen.
Touching a few buttons on the screen, it lit up and showed… it.
“Oh God, I’ve never seen such a clear picture of it,” he sighed, putting his hands on the edge of the table and leaning in as far as he dared.
She nodded. “We’ve got cameras and access pipes that allows us to get within centimeters of it. We need them, really, to extract samples, hopefully to find a way to wake it,” she explained.
“I… let me take a look? For a few minutes? Please?” he asked, enraptured by the sight.
“Of course. Five minutes, no more, though. We do have a schedule,” she replied, then fell silent.
* * *
The cameras reached all the way down to the bottom of the Mariana Trench, and the soft, almost gentle glow given off by the Sleeper’s body provided enough light to see it in all its beauty.
After a few moments of enraptured non-action, he tapped a few icons that had appeared on the screen, calling up some data on what he saw.
There were, of course, the coils of its beautiful serpentine body, one thousand and thirty-one miles long, roughly three-point-one miles in diameter on average. It wasn’t covered in scales like a snake, but instead had a thick, smooth white skin that looked more like that of a jellyfish. The computer informed him that the current theory was that this was merely its coloration during its hibernating state, and that it would change upon awakening, as any samples extracted also changed their colours in unpredictable patterns.
What was probably the back of its body was covered in crystalline growths that were currently semi-opaque and colourless.
Roughly at the center of the mass of flesh was a particularly thick, tall pile of coils, and atop it rested its magnificent head – it was made of the same crystal as the growths on its back, and he could make out an indistinct humanoid shape where its tongue would be, as well as four pairs of eyes, each the size of a large building, and a single eye thrice that size, situated vertically on the center of its draconic, smooth head.
There were no limbs to be seen, unless its tongue had any.
The Sleeper’s body was still, unmoving, hibernating.
It was everything he could have hoped for and more.
* * *
“It… it’s so beautiful!” he whispered in adoration.
“It is. She is.”
He looked up at her. “She?”
“Quite so. At least, the humanoid tongue in its mouth appears to be female,” she explained.
He gulped, looking back at the monitors.
“And we shall wake her,” he said, then he looked at her. “Why do you want to wake her? If it is not too much to ask, Ma’am.”
She fell silent and turned around, making him afraid he’d overstepped his boundaries. But then she spoke: “You know what I do. What I did. All those projects, all the sacrifices… and nothing came of it. The world is still wretched, still choked by all those disgusting monkeys. I decided that, no matter how hard I worked, I’d never be able to push mankind to enter the true age of metahumanity.”
Turning around, she gave him a feverish look. “We need a gamechanger. Something, someone to wipe the slate clean of all the trash. We need her to push us to the next level.”
He nodded with every word, watching her as she calmed herself down. She’d looked beautiful herself when she spoke of her visions.
“And you? I didn’t inquire about your motivation before, though I know you’re a member of the True Believers,” she continued, back to her usual calm self.
He shrugged. “It’s nothing special, Ma’am. I believe it is Ember’s fate to usher in a new age. And I believe that, if the Sleeper was woken, he, Desolation-in-Light and Ember shall become a new Trinity that will lead us to… well, to the same goal you dream of – the True Age of Metahumanity!”
She grinned again, stunning him with the unrestrained brilliance of the expression, and gave him an ID card. “Good. Very good. Welcome to the Installation, Roy Smith. And welcome, to the Companions of the Future!”