Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Ghost Town



She had heard of this place a thousand times.  She had seen drawings.  She had meditated on it, seen it in sharp focus through her mind's eye.  But actually being here was utterly different.  The XM flow was supercharged, tingling with an energy she had never felt before, like stinging spices, simultaneously painful and stimulating.  Dangerous.  This is where it had all happened.gs4c2aeponal6gdo8h

There was no sign that read ‘Niantic Project,' but the familiar blue logo appeared on sheets of paper littered throughout the facility and on occasional monitors which glowed like apparitions on walls and desks, automatically waking as she passed by them, then once again resuming their slumber.
 
The place felt haunted.  People had experienced something terrible here.  The original researchers were sentenced to a kind of death and placed in a Nest in a secret laboratory below the building.  A Nest that was only accessible by one possessing a Primal Object, like the Wind Jewel Jahan carried with her.  They had been turned into Simulacra by Calvin.  He had done it to himself, as well.

But there was something more than that...  the ghostly feeling extended further.  There were other dead here, too.  She had heard the stories about the chaos surrounding the body of Roland Jarvis.

She hadn’t known what to expect when she entered this hallowed ground.  Would the facility be guarded by HAZDATA guards playing out some government contract issued by Congressman Dasher?  Did the NIA or 13MAGNUS leave a trap for her?  Would they be lying in wait?  She didn’t know.  She had prepared for everything.  

Thus far, the building was empty, as if everybody had fled after the showdown between HAZDATA and the Corporations, like children fleeing a haunted house.  There was yellow tape in various areas from some investigation that had followed Epiphany Night.  She passed the project work area where Oliver-Lynton Wolfe’s exploding Power Cube had triggered the event, Enoch Dalby’s musical instruments, Carrie Campbell’s scrawlings over walls and floor.  At the time, nobody knew how valuable and prophetic they would be. A notebook lay on the ground nearby. Lightman's early attempts to decipher Carrie's Glyphs.w,yfm4u1pxr1rbf0n

She looked up at the crow’s nest where Calvin supervised his project.  The window was shattered.  She didn’t know when or how that had happened.

There was Henry Bowles' office where early work on ADA had been carried out and Richard Loeb’s area where ADA had begun to become truly sentient.  She saw the hat stand in the corner. His fabled gypsy fedora wasn’t there, of course.

Chapeau worried her.  She had considered having him killed or captured, but something told her not to.  Instinct.  Or maybe a distant voice.

She descended deep into the building and reached the lowest known floor, following the long dark tunnels using the map from Calvin's files.  She crossed dozens of nondescript doors before she saw it.  It was ordinary.  Just another door, nestled between some kind of hardware storage room and a room that seemed to contain some HVAC machinery.  ABADN.  She smiled.  At this very moment, Agents were battling around the world, in Okinawa, Milan, Oakland and a dozen other cities, but she stood alone in the epicenter.  She withdrew the Wind Jewel that Hank Johnson had pried from the hands of Quetzalcoatl Guzman days before and traced the Glyph pattern. 

Nothing happened.

She tried again, her brow furrowed. This didn't make sense.

Then she realized the truth.

Hank Johnson.

She had fallen for the oldest trick in the book.  She felt blood begin to pump in her forehead and cheeks.4tju7ibsehgyibn9,6n

He had switched the stone.  Probably with a forgery that he’d found in the dead Azmati’s cache.

Damn him.  Damn him.  She began to laugh, hearing it echo sharply down the long bare tunnels.