The cargo elevator rattles as it goes further down into earth. The fourteen men and women fidget and throw looks at each other nervously, descending further down into the subterranean complex. "Heh... We are going to end up in hell if we keep going down." Said someone, chuckling nervously. Well, getting chosen to be put in stasis by freezing your body to almost absolute 0 temperature isn't something that happens every day. "Oh, it seems like we've arrived." Said the same guy.
The elevator stopped with the same noise one would expect from a heavy cargo elevator. once the door opened, a couple of scientists in white coat and a few security staffers awaited patiently for the fourteen volunteers. "Welcome. Welcome to N-18 Laboratory." Said one of the scientists, a gorgeous red-headed woman, tall and ample of shoulders. Still, although her presence was somewhat intimidating, her lovely smile seemed to appease any whit of aggressiveness her body may inspire.
"Please, step down the elevator. Mind the gap." Said the other scientist, a not so handsome man, with little sleep in his eyes and few hair in his head. With her naturally calm voice, the redhead doctor began to make the introductions. Dr. Samantha Noguerra and Dr. David Locke. "Before proceeding, I need to check everyone's ID." Said Locke. It was a bit tedious to check all those fourteen people where who they said they were, but as Samantha said with a shy giggle, it was a required measure.
"Well, now that everything is set, let's go!" Said Samantha in a cheerful tone.
Although it was well deep under a mountain, the complex was very well lit and polished. The walls were of a bright white with very modern orange stripes. The ground was made of some sort of dark metal, kind of textured so it wouldn't be slippery. Still, even if the place could look very cold and clinical, there was something around that brought peace of mind and easiness. Maybe it was in the light, maybe it was in the air, but as they walked deep into the complex, the idea of being put into a very expensive freezer didn't seem so overwhelming.
The soothing voice of Dr. Samantha also helped, filling the busy corridors of the lab with very basic explanations of how the processes of being put in stasis was. "So, once the temperatures reaches -459.67 Fahrenheit degrees, all molecular activity from and object stops completely. That means the object is absolutely stopped, it won't age or deteriorate." Said Samantha. "That's why you will feel like you fell asleep. But no need to worry, all of you will be monitored and observed 24 hours." Said the doctor. Then she smiled.
Their walk through the complex took them to some sort of 'pre-chamber', with some lockers on the sides and showers on the other side, all separated by just some thin walls of non-transparent plastic. "Well, this is a bit embarrassing." Said Samantha with a mild blush in her cheeks. "We need you to strip of all your clothes, clean yourselves with the soap on the showers and then put on the special jumpsuits on the lockers." Explained the doctor.
It seemed like each locker had a small tag with the name of each one of the fourteen volunteers. "But... Well, I already showered this morning." Said the same guy from before. The only 'bigmouth' jerk who seemed to be doing the talking. "Of course. But we need to make sure." Said Locke.
There was something weird in the water... And in the soap. Although the water was warm, it left a cold sensation on the skin. And the soap felt like it got under the skin, making the feeling of cold even more present. On the other hand, the jumpsuit was nice. It had been hand-made to each one of the volunteers. It followed the same pattern that the rest of the complex; white with some thin orange lines across the back, legs and arms.
"May we proceed?" Said Locke after both scientists made sure everyone was set and clean.
Then... Everything becomes slightly blurry. A feeling of angst crawls into the room, and from there security staff takes control of the volunteers. "I... Don't like this part." Said Samantha, her voice starting to sound distant and muffled, even if she is standing in front of everyone. "We cannot risk any subject thinking about this twice." Replied Locke.
Some of the volunteers tried to fight back, but it was of no use. Whatever was in the water had done something to the fourteen, making them weak and dizzy. Security staff handled them with ease, almost dragging them to the next chamber where sixteen stasis pods awaited for them. The pods were already open, made of all sorts of hi-tech materials. The lighting here was much more mild, of a sickening yellowish colour. The pods were set in two rows of eight, with a wide corridor between them.
"Be careful!" Ordered the voice of Locke as some of the security members were less than polite when putting the volunteers into the pods. Then, as the pods were loaded with each person, the thick metal doors began to close, caging everyone into their own freezing coffin. "This isn't how it should be done. It's the third time we lose an entire bunch of specimens, and its because they are put in the pods in a state of stress and angst." Stated Samantha. "Nonsense." Replied Locke.
The pods began to fill with a very thin mist. It was easy to breathe, but with each breath the temperature of the body got lower and lower. It got to a point everyone passed out. A deadly cold sensation, despair and loneliness being the last feelings most volunteers felt before losing their consciousness.
And then came a sound, distant first, it grew into a noise so immense it could be heard far away in space. There were no scrams, there was no life. There was only the obnoxious noise, deafening, with no end.
And then, nothing.
Silence followed for what it felt like decades.
Until one day a warm feeling began to grow in the pods. Starting from the chest, like embracing a growing Sun. The feeling was so nice and soft it brushed away any nightmarish memories, putting them away in a small corner in the back of everyone's mind. And the feeling only grew, and grew. For almost an entire month, the peace of that 'Sun' warmth embraced, appeasing any pain, but not allowing anybody to wake up.
Finally, the pitched noise of de-pressurization. Valves turning and gas escaping. Once more, and probably against all odds, your eyes opened again, just to see the thick metal doors of the pod open. It was almost like being re-born. Like waking up after being away for so, so long...
But there was something different. The lighting was the easiest to note. It wasn't sickening any more. It was a very pale shade of blue, bright enough to illuminate everything, but not enough to be be blinding. The floor... It wasn't metallic. Was still of a dark colour, but it looked like... Anything you could remember. It felt like plastic, yet it was much stronger and way softer, but it wasn't slippery either.
Whatever this place was, it most definitely wasn't the N-18 laboratory any more.
There where only ten pods there, set in two rows of five each. the small hallway between both rows lead to a closed door. A small door, almost as if taken out of a science fiction movie. "W-Where are we?" Wondered a voice. On the other end of the hallway there was another open pod, with one of the other volunteers stepping out of it, looking really confused. It was a man, one that had been quite silent before, and by his looks it seemed like he had been a lumberjack, or something related with cutting trees.
"What... I have no memory of this place." Said the man as he looked around.
Most people probably thought she was crazy for signing up, but Nina Hines had nothing left to lose. With the death of her father still fresh in her mind, and the whereabouts of her mother still largely unknown, that inconspicuous ad on the internet sounded like a lifesaver. She was a ghost in this world, a person with few friends, money troubles, a daily struggle with depression and the promise of something greater, something more, was too alluring to pass up. Nina signed up for the trip into the unknown the day after her father's funeral, thinking that the good outweighed the bad. After all, they promised that it would be like a dream, that time would pass by in an instant and they would all wake up in a better tomorrow.
It sounded too good to be true, and it was. From the moment that Nina set foot into that rickety elevator, her stomach was in knots. Looking around, brown eyes darting from one unfamiliar face to the next, Nina couldn't help but think that she had made the wrong choice, that they'd all been tricked. Her heart was racing by the time the elevator came to a stop, and a red-haired woman welcomed them to the N-18 Laboratory. Her smile did little to ease Nina's worries, and she found herself unable to speak as she and the others shuffled out of the lift.
Everything was so new, and all of it was happening so fast that Nina barely had time to listen to everything the doctors were saying. She caught bits and pieces, numbers and explanations that served little purpose. She wondered if she could run, if she could refuse, go on living life alone and wait for the inevitable. Before she could even muster the courage to utter a single syllable, the group was being taken to a shower. It was a nightmare, something that filled her with great anxiety as her shaking hands stripped off her clothes in exchange for a jumpsuit that clung to her wet skin. She felt different, she noticed, somehow more relaxed, but that feeling of dread and unease stayed with her. Looking around at the group, it was hard to tell how anyone was feeling—or maybe that was just the dizzy feeling in her head.
The world around her felt so slow, coming in warped flashes and when Nina felt a hand clasp her wrist, she didn't have the strength to fight. Others were making noise, though, putting up unnecessary fights and making things harder for themselves. Nina only wanted to lay down, to close her eyes and maybe sleep for a while, and the pod that she was forced into was cozy enough. Above her, the room continued to spin, that sickly yellow light turning her stomach before the metal doors closed in front of her. It was dark, so lovely and quiet now. Nina breathed a sigh, her last full exhale before the air turned calm and warm, gently lulling her into a chemical sleep.
There was silence after that, a certain kind of stillness as time continued to pass by. Decades and centuries moved on at the speed of light, the world shaping and adapting around those who slept, still frozen in time until something began to melt that barrier. It started slowly at first, just in the chest, a warming sensation that was like a beam of sunlight on the face, gentle and rousing as it spread through the rest of her limbs. Nina tried to smile, tried to embrace the feeling, but her mouth wouldn't move, nothing moved even as the sensation intensified and warded off the last of the chill.
Finally, the pod's metal doors opened and Nina's eyes found a blue light. The room was gorgeous, an easy reminder of how comforting submission could be. It took a few moments, but Nina found the strength to sit up, her legs felt weak as she forced them over the side of the pod and onto the floor. Fragments were beginning to come back to her, memories of N-18—this wasn't the lab. Looking around, Nina's brow furrowed at their numbers, there were less volunteers than before and she couldn't help but wonder where they had gone. Regardless, some men and women were standing, others looked sick and some seemed to be just as content as she was.
One voice in particular caught her attention, and Nina craned her neck to look at him. Vaguely, she remembered him from the elevator. He had been silent too. “This isn't the lab,” she said to him, her voice feeling foreign in her throat, croaky and underused. “I don't know what's happening.” That uncertainty normally would have unnerved her, but it was hard to feel any kind of anxiety when bathed in that pale, blue light.
Finally, Nina tried to stand. Her muscles were weaker, not used to bearing the same amount of weight as before, and she used the pod to stumble around the other side of the pod. “Where are the doctors?” she asked, not to the man, but to anyone who may have been listening.
There was a bit of quiet confusion and awe among those who were waking up. Many wondered what had happened, some others asked where where they, but just a few had noticed there where only the pods there, two of which were still closed. The man with the beard looked around in silence for a few seconds, trying to figure out what to do next. So, instead of wonder in quiet desperation, he walked towards the door at the end of the room.
Or at least he tried. It felt like he had forgotten how to walk. For a brief moment he wobbled and even fell to the ground twice, but he didn't gave up or accepted any kind of help from the others. The man simply pushed away the other's help and charged blindly towards the door.
Just a few steps away from it, the door opened, and from behind it a blinding light appeared. At first so intense it wouldn't allow the eye to see, but soon enough it lost brightness until it was easy to see where it came from.
The source of light was a bunch of particles floating around each other, leaving a long trail of energy in their path. Then the particles began to move in much more random orbits, quickly forming a vague shape of a human female. The man was left in shock, completely stunned by what were his eyes looking at.
The energy being looked at him, as if awaiting for him to speak. But he just found himself unable to stutter a word. Then the energy being spoke, but in a language unknown to everyone in the room. She then awaited again, and once more tried it again with another language. This second time turned out to be another failed attempt at communication, but it somehow felt a bit more comprehensive.
"Hello?" Said the energy being, finally speaking a understandable word. The man, who was the closest to door. looked back at the others and then back at the energy being. "Hello." Replied him. The energy woman looked happy, almost as if she was letting out a breath of relief. "Hello." Said the woman again, but this time she kept talking. "Please, try to remain calm. You are safe now." Said her in such a tone of voice it almost felt like being injected a very mild sedative.
The man, much more calmed now, stared into the bunch of particles forming a woman's shape in front of him. "What... Who are you?" Asked him. "I'm..." Said the energy being, stopping as if she had to process the answer. Some of the floating particles blinked and changed directions quickly. "My name is... My name is Anna." Said her, sounding much more confident this time.
It was odd that her words didn't seem to phase anyone—not the bearded man and not any of the others. Collectively, they were overwhelmed, senses overloaded with questions and trapped in the dark in the face of the unknown. Looking for some kind of comfort, Nina wrapped her arms around herself, feeling familiar as her thin fingers wrapped around her arms. She was cold, shaking slightly after removing herself from the pod, but compared to the other travelers, it could have been worse. At least she wasn't tripping all over herself, or crying out with dizziness.
If no one was going to speak to her, all she could do was observe. Nina watched as the bearded man charged toward the door, determined despite the atrophy in his leg muscles. She held her breath, wondering what was on the other side, if he would even make it. Cautiously, she took a few steps forward herself, clammy feet feeling sticky against the unfamiliar material below. The pod was at her back by then, empty and slightly forgotten as she focused her eyes ahead. With little warning, the door parted and everything changed.
The beam of light was awe-inspiring, a beautiful collection of swirling particles, glittering gold and silver among themselves as they created their own light. Nina's eyebrows raised, her eyes soft and wide as her jaw dropped slightly. She had never seen anything like that before, and suddenly, the room became a little more focused. Even those who had been wailing were now quiet, inspired by the being before them, and unable to look away. When it finally spoke, a few gasps filled the room, soft murmurs of confusion but Nina wasn't afraid. How could anyone be scared when something so new and so beautiful was before them?
That soft voice offered a feminine, otherworldly hum and Nina instantly accepted the promise of safety. Her arms were still wrapped around herself, desperate fingers hanging on as she stepped closer while the bearded man spoke and the being's particles collected into the shape of a woman. The transformation was marvelous, and Anna sounded confident and helpful, some kind of strange ambassador.
“What are you?” Nina asked, stepping around an older woman who had tears in her eyes. She looked ahead, at the collection of energy and resisted the urge to be more invasive, to act on the curiosity of human nature. “Where are we?” This wasn't the lab, that much was clear, but the room and the woman in front of their group pointed to something much larger. What had happened when they had fallen asleep in those pods? How much time had truly passed?
"An angel! She's an angel!" Said some of the others. Although Anna didn't had any facial features, eyes or even mouth, it felt like she smiled kindly at that statement. "No. Sorry, but I'm no angel." Said Anna in her soothing voice. She then let out a cheerful giggle and, once again, felt like she smiled. "I'm sure you all have lots of questions. And all of them will be answered." Said her. "But what do you say we move to a more comfortable place first?" Added her, gently floating a few steps away from the entrance.
"Oh... Excuse me, what about..." Said a shy girl's voice from someone. The shy girl was pointing towards the two pods which remained closed. "Do not worry. We are taking good care of them." Said Anna. "Now, if you would be so kind as to follow me. And please, there's no need to hurry." Added her.
Although Anna was talking for everyone, it could be seen how she often seemed to be looking at Nina and the man with the beard. "Over here." Said her, moving slowly, making sure everyone could follow her.
Unlike the room with the pods, the hallway was much better illuminated, with bright white light that seemed to be coming from the ceiling, although there was no bulb or any particular light source anywhere. The materials of the floor still felt the same, not like those from the grey and pearl-like silver walls, which were a bit more cold and with a metallic feeling to them. Everything was clean and polished, but so far nothing was so clean as to be reflective.
"You asked what was I, right?" Said Anna, briefly 'looking', towards Nina. "I'm a human." Said her, confident of her own words. She then giggled a bit and kept talking. "Humanity reached a point in knowledge and comprehension of the everything around them that the only logical 'next step' in evolution was to become the most pure form in this universe. And so we became this." Said Anna, gently waving her arm, making the tiny particles dance around, blink and float in a cheerful manner. "Energy."
There was a bit of confusion and silent mutters among the group. Getting such information about all humanity becoming energy had left everyone in such shock that everyone had stopped walking without them even noticing. "Wait. You... You are the entire humanity?" Asked the bearded man, looking as if he was struggling to not let all of this overcome him. "Oh, no, no, no. Is not like that." Said Anna, feeling as happy as always. "Although humanity transcended it's physical form, each one of us remained as an individual." Replied her.
"So each man, woman and children... Became a... Well, like you?" Asked the bearded man. Anna then felt slightly more sad than usual. "Well... No, not everyone. The complete history about humanity's transcendence is a very complicated one, and it took hundreds of years to accomplish." Said Anna. The bearded man noticed the difference in Anna's tone, and maybe because of that he decided not to dig deeper into the topic. But he definitely looked like he was interested about it.
"Oh, sorry. I believe you asked where we were too?" Said Anna, facing Nina once more. "You are on board of the Arclight. One of the finest and latest space-ships ever built by humanity before its transcendence." Said her, once more sounding very confident in her words, even if those were too ludicrous to believe. "Of course, this one isn't from that era. We built this one seven years ago and retrofitted for all your needs." Said Anna.
Of course that only brought even more questions. "We are in space right now?" Asked someone, sounding both excited and fearful. "Well yes, we are." Said Anna, inviting the group to walk just a bit more down the hallway. There was a window on the left side. It very, very darkened at first, but as they approached the glass became clearer. "To be more precise we are near sector 02-0C. Or Alpha Centauri, as you may remember it." Said Anna.
And they were in space indeed. Through the glass it could be seen a bunch of small dots, all of them quiet in space's pitch black canvas. Much closer than all those distant dots there were two stars, Alpha Centauri's binary suns. It felt so magical and unbelievable that no one felt like speaking a single word. Anna stared back at them, seemingly amused by their reaction.
In times of crisis, people turned toward their faith. If Nina had ever believed in that sort of thing, she may have thought that Anna, a swirling mass of energy, was an angel too. Her face read of confusion, of apprehension as others in group nodded their heads in agreement, sure that they had transcended to heaven from their pods. It didn't seem logical, and despite the calming, blue light that permeated the room, Nina still felt connected to the world around her. If she had died, wouldn't she have known? Wouldn't she have woken up to something besides the same group of strangers she had fallen asleep with?
Thankfully, Anna was quick to disagree, and seemed ready to usher them into the next room. Carefully, Nina followed along with the group, her legs still wobbly but growing used to supporting her weight once more. She paid little attention to the unopened pods, part of her not concerned or even interested as the group progressed deeper into the unknown. The next room was just as comfortable as the last, but it lacked the same ambiance. The blue light was gone, replaced by something pure and white, blinding yet gorgeous all at once. Nina smiled, relaxed further as she set her hand against the metallic walls. They were cool to the touch, and her senses were alive.
Pausing, Nina turned as Anna focused her attention, and she swore that she felt an energetic buzz beneath her own skin. Being talked to by such a being, even recognized was amazing, but the news was a hard pill to swallow. Again, it didn't make any sense, and Nina found herself shaking her head before the being gave a better explanation. The human race had evolved around them, transcended while they slept and Nina didn't know how to wrap her mind around that concept. She took a deep breath, eyes shining as she picked her head up at Anna.
The news just kept coming, however, unbelievable as heads turned toward the windows. Alpha Centauri was something that she had learned about in school, basic astronomy that had been taught for longer than text books were printed. And now they were near a star? Nina finally looked toward the window, swallowing hard as she gazed out to the blackness space. Her eyes found the shining beacons in the distance, twinkling as they light made it back to her eyes. It was beautiful, it was bleak, but none of it felt real.
“What happened to Earth?” she asked, letting her hand fall away from the window. Nina wanted to know everything right that second, wanted Anna to spill all of her secrets and catch the last physical humans up on what had happened in the time they had been asleep. “Why are we here?” There had to be a reason, something more than just a rescue or good will. Nina kept her eyes on Anna, on that mass of energy, but others around her began to murmur with the same sentiment. They wanted answers too.
Upon naming Earth, some of Anna's particles bounced and blinked nervously. "I'm... Sorry." Said her. "I'm afraid I can't answer that. Ever since the fourth downfall of mankind, and the following second renaissance, we've never returned there." Said Anna. "As a matter of fact, this is the closest we've ever been in centuries. You were recovered by autonomous scouting drones and machinery." The events she named only brought more and more questions. "Sorry." She said with a mild chuckle. "I know all of this sounds alien to you. We've installed an archive room on board this ship. You are welcome to check the history of humanity and more whenever you feel like doing so." Said her with a 'smile'.
"Which brings me to your second question." Said Anna. "We have very little information about your time period, which we estimate is between 1990 and 2090." Said Anna, sounding a bit doubtful for the first time. "We have filed that time period as the beginning of the second downfall of humanity." She said briefly. "Again, the history is way more extensive. In the archives you'll find all the information and answers you may need regarding this topics." Said her.
"So, you can understand we couldn't miss the opportunity of meeting a group of people from that age." Said her. "But, please, don't feel like you've become test subjects. What we are more interested in is in the sociological aspect of your society and how you used to interact with each other." Said Anna. "No probes, I promise." Said her, sounding somewhat teasing.
Although it became a bit difficult to detach some people from the window, Anna managed to keep the group moving. Soon, they all were taken to a part of the ship labelled as quarters. The place was just a long hallway with about a dozen rooms, six on each side, and one last room on the end of the hallway. As the label said, those were personal quarters, with double sized beds, a desk and a closet with a variety of different clothes in it.
"This is as far as I will take you." Said Anna, hiding a playful giggle behind her voice. "But let me give you a small debrief before I leave." Said her. So, all rooms were carbon copies of each other, left side ones being equipped with male wardrobes and right ones with female wardrobes. As soon as each one picked a room, that room was assigned to them, and so, being able to change the colours of its walls and furniture, clothing preferences and other minor tweaks.
The last room was a kind of 'all purposes' room. A place for them to be together, talk, play games, read or just let time pass. It had more than enough sofas, chairs and tables for all of them. It even had a large fridge with water, some regular food and some weird-looking one. "We've made sure everything is suited for your physiology and free of all allergens. so don't be afraid of eating anything you may desire."
Then Anna giggle mischievously once more. "Take your time, settle in. Once you feel ready look for one of us. One named Iroh." Said Anna. "He would love to have a chance to speak with any of you." And with such vague guidelines, Anna turned into a bunch of dots and floated away, disappearing from their sight in just a few seconds. "Hmphf.... I bet this is just one of those social experiments she said..." Said someone.
The bearded man looked around, slowly accepting everything that was around him. He didn't hesitated and was one of the first to pick a room, the first one on the left. As Anna had said, there were all kinds of clothes in there... All of them different, yet seemingly designed by the same brand. All had modern shapes, with a very clean and straight design. At first the clothes felt a bit wide, but almost unnoticeable, the fabric of the clothing began to shrink just enough to make a perfect fit for him. "Woah..." Muttered him.
Once he took a few minutes to settle in, he stepped out of his room. Most of the people seemed to be either too overwhelmed by everything or too amused by their rooms to go anywhere. "Hmm... Hello?" Said the bearded man, briefly knocking at Nina's room. Maybe it was because she knew hot to find the right questions, maybe it was because she had been to only one with questions... But it felt like she was one of the most interesting persons in the group right now. "I'm David Noguerra." Said him, offering her his hand for a handshake.
The hits just kept coming, but Anna's apology wasn't without suspicion. When Nina had signed up for the program at the lab, she hadn't thought much of society, and while things seemed to be getting worse by the day back in her time, hearing there had been four downfalls of mankind since then shook her to her core. In a sense, she and the others in the room were no longer children of Earth, but instead, the pet project of descendants, beings that none of them would ever be fully able to comprehend. The realization left her feeling hollow, more than a little shaken, but she didn't let that show on her face; it was hard telling how doubt may have been received.
After a little more explanation that brought no real comfort, Nina found herself shuffled off with the rest of the group. She looked over her shoulder before the room faded away entirely, giving one last glance out the window and to the stars that were so much closer than they had ever been before. There were so many questions in her mind, so many conflicting emotions that were sure to unsettle her the moment she was alone, but Nina kept her composure and followed Anna along. It was strange that they were being provided with so many things, but the sentiment was appreciated. After all, clothes and beds were the smallest comforts of an old home.
The swirling mass of energy made a few suggestions before showing them their rooms, and while Nina was curious about the other new humans, she did want to settle first. Bravely, or rather, less hesitant than some, she selected one of the rooms on the female side to call her own. The inside wasn't much different from the rest of the ship—clean lines, muted colors and modern architecture made the space feel cold. Curiously, Nina reached out and set her hands on one of the walls, feeling the plastic beneath her hand began to shift and change. Suddenly, the white wall was a deep green, something that reminded her of her old bedroom as a teenager. For now, it was all the comfort she needed.
Next, Nina moved over to the closet, still rather taken with and amazed by such sensitive technology. The suits that N-18 had put them in were bulky, but the clothes on the rack in the modest closet didn't look much better. Still, she reached out and selected something, unzipping the suit and letting it fall to the newly textured floor. She flexed her toes, feeling some kind of carpet there before sliding the garment onto her body. Much like the wall and the floor, the fabric changed shape and texture almost as soon as it touched her skin and what had once been shapeless and drab was now much more sleek. The mirror on the wall provided a fine view of black pants, perfectly tailored and a soft, comfortable shirt.
“How is this happening?” Nina wondered aloud, smoothing her hands over the fabric. It felt like cotton, the pants a little more like denim, but still Earthly in every way. She leaned closer to the mirror, inspecting her eyes and wondered if she was dreaming. It wouldn't have been the first time that her imagination had gotten away from her.
Before she could consider the strangeness any longer, a knock on the door tore her away from contemplation. It was the bearded man, the only other person who seemed to be just as curious as cautious as she had been, but it was just nice to see another human face and hear a voice that didn't have all of the answers.
“Nina Hines,” she responded, a soft smile on her face as she accepted David's hand and gave it a shake. After, she stepped aside, a signal for him to enter her room. She wasn't sure what he wanted, but she wasn't going to turn down the company when the only alternative was the mysterious Iroh. “This is all wrong, right?” she asked, looking for his opinion as she found a place on the bed to sit. The mattress was comfortable, soft, perhaps a little too easy to get used to.
David nodded towards Nina and gladly accepted her invitation to come into her room. David had never been the social kind of guy, but after seeing how they could be the last humans alive, or at least the last ones with his same shape, made him feel more talkative. "Oh... Y-yeah. Everything feels so sudden and... Impossible." Said him, taking a brief look at the green walls.
"I still can't believe any of this is happening." Said David, Then he let out a sarcastic chuckle. "We don't even know what any of this is." Truth was Anna's vague replies to their questions had only brought even more questions. But having a detailed reply out of her may have been a bit like being lectured in Human history. Then David fell silent for a second, as if caught by some thought in his mind.
"I don't know. Maybe is just me, but I don't feel comfortable with so many questions." Said David, walking towards the door. There was cheering and excited gasps coming from the other rooms. It would seem like the others got easily distracted by the amenities and 'magical' things on their rooms. "I'm going to look for that 'Iroh' guy and see if I can get some real answers." Said David. "Or the archives. Whatever I find first." Added him. Then he looked back at Nina. "Do you want to come with me?" Wondered him.
Nodding, Nina had to agree. The change had been so sudden, and it was still hard to believe that so much time had passed between that day at the lab and now. She wondered about Earth, about the history that they were being refused and why the transcended beings thought to save them. Somehow, they might have been important, but Nina still didn't understand. Inwardly, she told herself that there would be time for better explanation, that those masses of energy couldn't just keep them in the dark forever. They weren't pets, not something to be marveled and poked at. She just hoped that someone besides her would start to demand answers.
“I don't know,” Nina breathed a sigh and leaned back against one of the walls. It changed color around her, just where her warm flesh had touched the strange plastic-like material, going from that deep green to a much softer shade of blue. The glow changed in the room once more, casting strange shadows. “I don't know what to make of them.” She agreed, though, that all of this was uncomfortable.
The visit was short as David moved toward the door, and Nina realized that she didn't know what to make of him either. Pushing herself away from the wall, the color flooded back to green and she found her interest piqued with the mention or Iroh. When he invited her along, she smiled and gave another nod. “Yeah, definitely,” she said and followed him through the door. “I want answers as bad as you do.” Possibly more, but Nina wasn't one to compare scars.
Out in the hallway, the others were getting acquainted better acquainted with the new technology, easily swayed by the magic in front of them. It was impressive, but it felt like a distraction, and Nina didn't trust whatever motives were at play. Turning to David, her eyes were expectant, “lead the way.”
David nodded and walked out of the quarters. So far it didn't seemed like anyone was keeping them from going anywhere. Although the layout seemed fairly simple, everything felt like a maze. The hallways all looked almost identical, except from some small shapes drawn on the sides of the door frames and some slim lines of different colours. It would seem like the different colours and shapes pointed what part of the ship you where, but so far the only clear thing was that grey were the quarters.
"Orange?" Muttered David, curiously following the hallways with the orange lines. Someone let out a soft chuckle from behind them. It was one of those transcended humans, floating about 5 feet from the ground. Just a blur the size of a football, mostly particles floating and blinking as they simply floated away. Following it, there was a much more smaller bunch of particles, floating really close to the floor. The smaller bunch of particles stopped in front of Nina and 'looked' up at her. "Woof!" Barked the bunch of particles. "Topper!" Said the male voice of the other transcended human. The smaller bunch of particles quickly floated away, briefly forming the shape of a cute small dog before disappearing behind the same corner its owner had turned.
"What?" Wondered David. Then he looked at Nina. "This is just ridiculous." Said David, resuming his walk as all he could do was to laugh briefly at the idea of a transcended dog.
Soon enough the hallway took them to a wide room, all filled with desks, tables and screens. Obviously, everything was so technologically advanced it almost felt like magic. The screens were just the text and images on the screen, without any real screen or frame around them. The tables were made of some sort of glass, but not as cold. On the tables there were all kind of odd devices, some could be recognized as pieces of armour, guns and rifles. Some others... Some others were just too weird to even make a guess on them.
"Wasn't expecting you to pay me a visit so soon." Said a voice. it was the voice of a old man, deep and rough in tone. From behind one of the big holographic screens on the other side of the room appeared a bunch of particles and dots. This ones where a bit more intense in light, of a darker hue than the others so far. "Pardon me. I stopped using a human shape long time ago." Said the old voice, swiftly turning from a bunch of dots of chaotic orbits to a more human look-alike shape. It was tall and big, and its particles were no just forming the shape of his body but also some sort of armour or combat suit.
"My name is Percival. And you are?"
Once presentations where done, David was quick to ask. "Where are we?" Said David. Percival let out a chuckle. "Isn't it obvious? We are in the armoury." Said him. "Well, more like an antique museum, if you ask me. I'm still not sure why did we put any of this on board the ship. Last time humans used any of this was back in the war against the Oro. And that was more than ten-thousand years ago." Said Percival.
Needles to say, David was left almost frozen. Once more, it felt like each step they gave they found a dozen new questions, but the one that left David almost unable to move was the next obvious one. "What... W-what year is it?" Asked David. Percival remained silent for a couple of seconds. "You have not been told yet?" Asked him. David shook his head slowly. "We measure time in a different way now, but according to our archives..." Then he floated towards one of the screens. He didn't required tapping or even talking to interact with the screen. Information just appeared in the screen as Percival demanded it.
"Yes. We estimate it would be arround 70.000 A.D." Said Percival, sounding as if that information had nothing of value. "But that's just an estimation." Added him.