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“Attention. Attention. This is a class six security lockdown. Doors will be opened after teams have determined proof of occupant identification. Thank you for your compliance.” With a short, light hiss, the pneumatics close of the lab doors and everything switches to power-out mode. The equipment shuts down as the room is bathed in the red glow of stand-by lighting.
<sigh> And yet another day of work wasted. Third time this week. And I’m so close, so dang close. Like anyone would ever manage to reach this level of labs sixteen floors below ground level. Crey is nothing if not thorough. The security here makes the Pentagon look like an elementary school. And now another three to five hours of sitting on my thumbs waiting for some Neanderthal in a uniform to come make sure I am who my employee card says I am. All the data lost in the shutdown. Such a waste. And of course they don’t take these shutdowns into account when expecting results. They’re still gonna yell at me to produce the data.
I wonder. I wonder. Shouldn’t be too hard to cross wire the containment grid to the portable wave detector stand. That would probably give enough juice to do a test jump with the new parameters. Hmmmm. Yeah, that would work. The numbers look right, would only need to pump it for 15 microcycles at the new settings. I could salvage the entire day, actually get back on schedule. Let’s see. Power coupling to the left, remove the cover, fifth wire, third circuit, little twist. Exposed backup battery, static cage intact . . . . no axial, guess this port cord will work, strip the end. Yes, that looks right. And now, there, click in there, mem card out, in goes the stabilizer, connect to connect, and that goes there, a bit further in the back, that card will have to come out. All the grounding right? Yes. Yes, that looks great. And here we go . . .
The room lights up a bit as the generator provides enough power to juice up the device. It’s not prudent to ask a lot of questions when you’re a lab tech. The box had been cleaned up, most identifying marks removed, but it didn’t take a genius to notice a spot where a Portal logo had been pasted. I guess Crey was trying to edge into the market and figured the best way was reverse engineer the transport rings Portal Corp had. The box was the brains of the device, the number cruncher that made it actually work. Oh, now that’s a thing of beauty. The sparkles are a bit surprising, I hadn’t expected that. An aurora borealis effect perhaps, or pale hue, but the diamond points hovering in the air are nice. And the data is just perfect, perfect. Everything just as I thought . . .
“Lab activity is not authorized during a security lockdown. Identify!” What? Hadn’t noticed the security goon come in, and what a lumbering idiot he looks to be, like a gym teacher from hell. Probably got ahead on sheer vindictiveness. Ah crud, no, don’t touch that you idiot, any moron knows not to just yank out a cord from a science experiment . . .
And the room goes deafeningly black, then white. It’s funny, I would have expected a lot of sound; crunching, tearing, whistling, something. My nose perhaps three inches from the box when all heck breaks loose and not a single noise. All the events slowed down to comic timing. The flash, the maelstrom of energy lashing out from the pinpoint singularity I had opened. Funny, didn’t feel that though it must have shot right through me. A brief concussive blast knocks me back perhaps five feet before the gravitic implosion pulls me back to the center. Strange, I feel a bit cold, and I can see it all, though I shouldn’t be able to. The security goon with the look of dim distress for the fraction of a second he still had recognizable features. All the objects in the room picked up and pulled into a whirlwind, the pieces getting smashed smaller and smaller, until they break down past the sub-quantum stage; a stream of light and energy flashing
round and round, pulled around me, pulled into . . . . somewhere else. Tearing past the fabric of the world. I feel like I’m falling, and that’s all I remember for awhile.
Later, sometime later, not sure how long. I feel like I’m falling still. A bit dizzy, light headed. And speaking of light . . . . the emergency lights are gone. No red tint. No light, just dark. But I can feel the edges of the room. Odd, I can feel the straight lines of the walls, the smooth surface of them echoes across my mind like panes of glass. Feel so strange, a little cold, am I walking? I’m standing up, but don’t think I’m walking. I was thinking about heading to the door and I’m moving that way. No, not walking, no sense of movement aside from the strange, belly butterflies of free-fall but here I am at the door. Like I slid along the thought of heading to the door and arrived there. But no power so they won’t open. I reach to touch them and they move away from me in a direction I can’t seem to understand, a burst of light, diamonds flashing through the night sky. And here I am in the hallway, no emergency tint, the
regular lights are up.
I turn around and there is now a good sized hole where the door used to be, the edges sharp but smooth, as though the very atoms were sheared off to a certain radius. Yes, I can feel the truth of that. Literally feel it, the edges of the alloy the wall was made from echoing in my head. I can feel where the molecules, where even the subatomic structure has been rendered away. The room inside is completely empty, the contents pulled into the strange quantum implosion. I can feel the emptiness of the room, and more. An echo of a wound in the fabric of space in the center of the room. Closing over even as I notice it, seems reality likes to reassert itself. But the lighting here is strange as well, it has a blue cast on objects close by but fades to red the farther away they are. So strange, so strange. I just need to rest a minute and think about it.
And now, thundering around the corner; it must be important, those are Paragon Protectors. My goodness, how cautious they look when they see the door. Muttering to themselves, ignoring me completely. Not even asking if I’m alright. Am I alright? I look down, I don’t seem any different, even my labcoat is intact. But I can sense that I’m leaking something, bright trails of exotic subatomic energies flowing out of me. Oh ho! And what is this? There seems to be a hole in my middle. I can feel it there pulsing and pulling. Well I guess now I know where the little rift went. I guess the Protector in charge finally figured out what to do; push one of the underlings ahead. And he cautiously moves forward and bumps right into me.
He looks as confused as I feel for a second. Then reaches out to brush me once more. “Cloaked intruder! Possible hostile! Visible lab damage!” He’s shouting and the other Protectors look like they’re gearing up to get nasty. I’m a bit worried and am wondering about maybe getting out of the way when the falling sensation becomes a bit more pronounced. There’s a chill that moves from my middle out to my extremities then back in a quick pulse, the lights seem to shift in a strange direction and suddenly I’m behind the Protectors, about 100 yards further up the corridor in the direction I was looking. Well, useful and interesting. The Protectors are converging on the door where they last noticed me and I happen to hear one shouting for a complete security lockdown, class nine. No thank you, I need some space and time to dwell on these developments. Time for a bit of a field test. I shut my eyes and think about my parking space
outside, mentally indexing all the specific characteristics of it. Again the chill, again the twist, and now I’m breathing the exhaust of Kings Row.
And should I bore you with details? Of the Crey denial of knowledge? Of the systematic and very efficient erasure of the two employees lost in that accident, a security guard and scientist who simply disappeared as though they had never actually existed? Learning the limits and controls of this new existence? Or of my ultimate adoption of this new life of mine? One hero among many? From a faceless drone to a new legend; Grav Wave.