Third Section: Biogrove
Chapter Fifteen: Activation
Due to spoilers, please click Read More after reading Chapters 1-14.
Cara and her friends emerged from the small dark passage into an incredibly large cylindrical cavern that was just beyond the area containing the transmitter plants. A large serpentine path curved upwards toward a pristine shining building. Far below this green path was a large flat area filled with exotic plants. While the transmitter plants had looked stiff and unnatural, the plants below were varied in color and structure and were unlike anything the three had seen before.
A glistening lake also sat in the grove far below them. The water was supplied by a lengthy waterfall that poured from a height even higher than the three’s current location. Looking up past the waterfall, they saw the source of the bright ‘sunshine’ in this place. The light was provided by a large artificial source at the very top of the dome. Looking at how everything fit together, the massive scope of that place became overwhelming.
Cara, John, and Martha admired this sight as they followed the path upward toward the building. Program Blue had instructed them to continue forward and this was the only path in sight. There was no way to go down to he beautiful grove that they all would rather be in.
Upon reaching the building, they found the entrance was wide open. They looked inside and saw a brightly lit room with two men standing in it, waiting for them. The three moved inside the building and as they got closer they could see the facial features of the two men and identified them as twins.
“We’ve been expecting you.”
The twins were both wearing white lab coats. The group’s first thought was that these two were scientists similar to the ones they had met up above in the science sector. Except instead of fighting for their lives, they were still doing their jobs in relative safety.
“Did Program Blue tell you we would be arriving?” John asked.
“Yes, I did,” the A.I. chimed in. “I’ll let you all get to know one another as my instructions are carried out.”
“We’ve been asked to examine you all. So whoever would like to come first, just step forward.”
“Are you serious?” Martha asked. “You aren’t ‘examining’ any of us.”
“Don’t make me do something you’d regret,” Blue said. “We don’t need a repeat of the cave incident, do we?”
“I’ll go,” Cara said after being reminded of what had happened to her.
“Follow me,” said one of the twins. “You can call me J, by the way. And he’s Q.”
“We have proper names, but it’s better if we use our code names,” Q added.
Cara followed J through a door and into a nearby room. The room looked more like a laboratory than an examination room. J grabbed a seat for Cara and then went off to grab a device from a drawer.
“What is that for?”
“It checks to see if you’ve been activated,” J said as he pressed some buttons. The device was able to scan her quickly and invisibly. “And it appears you have been.”
“The Countersignal. Well, that probably doesn’t make any sense to you if you don’t even know what the Signal is. Do you?”
“Kind of. The Abandoned told us a little bit about it. They didn’t seem to know what it was though.”
“The Abandoned? I assume you mean the scientists up above us?”
“Yes. Don’t you know what happened to them?”
“All I know is that in 1994 all of my staff were sent up there and the Biogrove was put on lockdown. I assumed they were all evacuated.”
“No, they were abandoned by the Alpha Group. Left to fight off the Ravagers. The scientists who went crazy because of the signal.”
“Really? That was only a rumor back then, but you’ve confirmed it. When they first started sending my staff up there, there was talk of some sort of health issue among the others. I’m surprised anyone was left alive when you got there.”
“I have no idea how they did it,” said Cara, speaking honestly. The fact that they had all survived for 16-17 years was incredible. “They did have food from a mechanical farm, but you need more than food to live.”
“It’s not a mechanical farm, it’s a real farm. Q and I run it now that everyone else is gone. It took a while to learn how to do everything, but we manage to get the daily shipments up every day.”
“So what is the Signal exactly?” Cara asked.
“My answer probably won’t be much different. There’s a large energy source, or something similar to an energy source -it’s difficult to explain- below the Biogrove. Some sort of Signal is emitted from it. Well, that’s actually just what we call it. Normal signals don’t work like this, but that’s the closest thing we can compare it to. It’s like a transmission of energy; some sort of incredible force that we liken to a signal.”
“And I’m producing a Countersignal? Sid and Ella told me that they were going to use us to stop the Ravagers because they didn’t attack children.”
J had a good grasp of the situation now, so he took a moment to think how best to respond.
“That’s not exactly true. Children would probably be attacked by those Ravager creatures, but not you children or teenagers as I should say. You and your friends, if activated, would have a chance at surviving due to the Countersignal.”
“Blue said he could control them. Are we the same as him?”
“Actually, yes. Having the A.I. produce the Countersignal worked well, but we wanted to see if humans could produce it as well. The Countersignal is something you became capable of producing when you were first brought here in 1994 as newborns. You-”
“Brought here as newborns?” Cara interjected.
“This is probably going to be difficult to explain, so please listen,” J said before taking a deep breath and continuing slowly.
“In 1994, we were brought test subjects: newborn babies. We were told to expose them to the Signal in a way that would make them immune to its effects, whatever those effects might be. This was an order directly from the Alpha Group, the people funding us. We exposed you to the Signal as a baby and studied its effects. The activation part was a hypothesis of ours, everything was more of a guess really, that if you returned and were injected with a specific chemical agent then you would produce a Countersignal and become immune. In a way, you would be like Program Blue as you mentioned earlier.”
“This is insane. That’s not even real science!”
“Science helps us to explain the natural world, Cara. This place seems natural, but it’s better to think of it as supernatural. Our experiences in the natural world can only help us so much. I admit we made guesses, so many guesses, based upon the odd phenomena down here. We still don’t know how the Countersignal works. It’s like being exposed to the chemical caused your body to produce the signal or perhaps tuned your entire system to it. There aren’t even words to describe how this works. We’ve been trying for nearly seventeen years, Q and I, and we still can’t determine this place’s rules.”
“…please tell me you haven’t gone insane too.”
J smiled. “Cara, you’ve only heard about it. If you saw the source that has inspired all of our work, you would believe what I’m saying. My religious colleagues from long ago thought this place was the Garden of Eden. I don’t, but it’s certainly something impossible, special, something extraordinary. This place is consistent in its rules just like the natural world, but the rules are entirely different.”
“The energy source is something physical then? You can see it?”
“Yes, I’ve been there. So has Q and one other woman. She’s dead now, suicide actually. None of us can describe it; you need to see it for yourself and I have a feeling that’s why Program Blue brought you back here.”
“You understand how difficult this is for me to believe, don’t you?”
“Yes. Please send the others in. I’ll check their activation status, and then we’ll all sit down and talk about this. All you need to understand is that Program Blue is working based off of our findings. If you don’t accept what I’m saying then you won’t be able to figure out his motive.”
Cara was skeptical of everything J had just told her. In the Monument section she speculated about being in a different reality and that seemed plausible back then. Now it sounded and felt completely insane. This was all incredibly difficult for her to believe, but at the same time it didn’t sound wrong.
Cara was so confused that Martha and John asked her if she was alright when she returned to them. Her face was visibly perplexed and it took a while for her to calm them and convince them to go in to see J.
When Martha and John had been seen, and determined to not have been activated, they all gathered at a conference room deeper in the facility. There, everyone was filled in on what Cara had been told by J.
“This is no fun,” Blue spoke. “You’ve given away nearly everything you know. How the Signal works, the Countersignal, the Biogrove…”
“Is that a problem?” Q asked.
“No, it isn’t,” Blue said. “I’ve still got surprises of my own. Oh, I’ll be quiet for now and think on those. Continue speaking and becoming the best of friends.”
“Does he speak to you regularly?” John asked the twins.
“Every day. It’s actually nice to talk to him, it prevents us from going crazy,” J said.
“You enjoy talking to a corrupt artificial intelligence that has no problem killing off innocent people?”
“Well, we didn’t know he was capable of that,” said Q. “He’s an actual intelligence, you know. He can carry a conversation and be very entertaining. Besides, we don’t have an option of whether to talk to him or not.”
“Why not?” Cara asked.
“This place contains lifeforms not seen anywhere else on Earth. It’s built with a fail-safe to prevent harmful organisms from escaping. Blue controls a poison gas system running through the entire Biogrove.”
“If we don’t do the work he asks us to do, then we’ll be killed,” said J.
“Is that really a bad thing?”
“Yes,” said Q. “You must think we’re miserable down here, but we live in an incredible place. We live in a place more wonderful than the entirety of the Earth. Those who live on Earth can all agree that life is sacred. Life is everything. Absolutely everything. Living down here is so much more than that. I would never consider dying after all the wonders I’ve seen here. I can’t leave this behind.”
“And that’s why I like you two so much,” said Blue. “Oh, there I go talking again…”
“Matt, you should calm down a bit,” J whispered after seeing his brother becoming a bit too defensive. He knew that the three teens wouldn’t be able to understand the past 17 years of their life so simply.
“Sorry,” Q said. “I didn’t mean to sound so intense.”
“So, what do we do now?” asked John. “Blue obviously brought us down here for some reason.”
“Be patient,” Blue said. “I’m finalizing my plans for when I ascend to godhood. Very soon now, a sacrifice will be taken; the vessel that will carry me to my throne. First, that vessel must be prepared. A ship without sails does me no good. Twins, please activate the other two.”
“Why? Why do you need us to produce a Countersignal?” Cara asked.
“There will be no explanation. You will understand when the time comes. Very soon now, dear Cara.”
J nodded to Q before leaving the room and heading for the lab. He quickly returned with a box containing several vials of a strange liquid. John and Martha wanted to protest, but they knew that wasn’t an option. Blue still had complete control over them.
After being injected, the discussion between those that had first met seventeen years ago continued.
“When was I activated? I don’t remember being injected with something like that,” asked Cara.
“As far as I know, this chemical only exists in our laboratories. It’s possible that the Alpha Group agent, who took you away after the experiments, took some with him. You could have been activated any time between… 2003, maybe? …and today.”
Cara looked down at the conference table in frustration. As she was having difficulty comprehending this, she noticed in front of her was that book. The ancient book from the Monument sector. The book she kept forgetting about even though she carried it everywhere. Why was it that she was suddenly noticing it now?
A hidden complex under a library, a Signal, an energy source, an insane A.I., a Countersignal, the ‘Garden of Eden’… it was all so strange, but it started to feel as if the pieces of some great big puzzle were snapping into place. The book in front of Cara had a new feeling to it; a feeling of finality. This book had traveled with her with one goal: to arrive at the end to be the final piece of the puzzle.
The role that it would play was something that Cara couldn’t yet see.
Diana had reached her destination. After traveling many floors down, she had reached the bottom of the Great Library. There weren’t any lights here and the walls were made of stone instead of wood. It looked like an ancient chamber that existed long before the Great Library did.
Diana walked over to a large wooden door at the back of the basement. She spoke aloud in a tone of awe.
“What are you? Behind this door, I can feel…”
It was an incredibly powerful presence; an immeasurably strong force. Diana reached for the large handles of the door, but found them padlocked.
“You’ll need a key,” said a voice.
Diana jumped and spun around to see Nero.
“You can feel it, can’t you?” Nero asked. “I’ll open the door for you if you want to see what it is that lies beneath the Biogrove.”
“The Biogrove? That’s what Reyskaw called the next section.”
“You left before you could hear more, but you understand something incredible is beyond those doors, yes?”
Diana simply nodded. She could see excitement and insanity in Nero’s eyes as he approached with a key and inserted it into the lock.
“When you see this, you’ll understand.”
The lock clicked as the key turned. Nero removed the lock and pushed the door open slightly.
“This chamber exists for atmospheric purposes, but what’s beyond this door is not my creation. This is the source of our current situation.”
Nero threw the doors open and Diana looked into the heart of it all.
“Everything. The reason we’re all here. Without this, none of us exist. Can you blame me for my actions now?”
“I don’t understand,” Diana said with her eyes fixated upon it. “My heart, it feels… I feel so privileged to be here, so incredibly happy. I don’t understand it though… I…”
“You will, very soon. When I ascend as a god, the God of this World. But before I can do that, you and I will need to become one again.”
“What do you mean?”
Diana heard footsteps. She turned around, breaking contact with the incredible sight, and saw Historians approaching. A mob of Historians approached Diana and fear began to grow inside of her. They suddenly struck and assaulted Diana.
“Get off of me! Nero, what the hell are you doing?!”
“I need you in order to become a god. Program Blue is only one half and Program Red is the other. Together we will return to our original state, no… an entirely new state of consciousness! And then we’ll ascend and take revenge.”
Diana screamed as the Historians dragged her forward through the doors. She could feel herself passing through it; the unknown that she didn’t understand. The excitement and happiness, combined with the pure terror of being captured by Nero, overwhelmed her.
Nero watched on as they carried her through.
“Into the Fourth and final section you go. The preparations in the Library are complete. Blue, my counterpart, it is time for you to act in the world of the Library Complex. We’re so very close now.”
Nero smiled and spread his arms out wide, basking in the light before him. An incredible feeling. An incredible sight. Something that could not be explained. The feeling was overpowering. The feeling was mad. The feeling was crazy.
And he loved it.