Read Part 1 before reading.
“We are now in so called Entrance Security Station 1, or ECS1, as we called it,” the guide, representing The Corporation, explains. “The building was organized into four floors. Floor Zero, where we are now, was mostly serving for security purposes. It contains living quarters and storage rooms for the security personnel, who manned the defenses of the bunker and the entrance, who were also responsible for supervision and maintaining perimeter of the nearby area, and under normal circumastances, they were strictly off-limits to the other three floors. From this reason, there is also ECS2, down the hall, accessible only for our scientific personnel.”
“All entering and exiting vehicles and employees had to stop there, for a precise check of their identification and cargo, to maintain the strictest security possible, to prevent and avoid any undesirable information leak. These precise precautions were the reason, why we were able to introduce The Device as total surprise for the world, no one was able to anticipate it, or to disrupt the preparations. Please, follow me,” the guide asks us to follow her through the complex scanning frame, serving also as a mantrap.
“Any person, who entered inside The Facility, or who was leaving, was scanned not only physically, I mean checking possessions and health status, but also psychologically, using our advances sensors, to reveal any questionable intentions or status in advance. You can imagine, how tempting it could be for anybody, to sell our secrets to someone else. To ensure the integrity and success of the operation, for the last week before the announcement, nobody was allowed to leave outside again. But be assured, The Facility is very convenient place, calm and peaceful, so many scientists considered this week as the best time of their life, when they could enjoy the well deserved vacation.”
“As you probably know, The Facility is completely power-sufficient, and completely cut-off from the outside world by the means of communications. There were two computer systems, independent on each other: first was serving for security, defensive countermeasures, air-condition, lights, and overall operation of the site. The second was dedicated only for managing The Device.”
The whole area has still many signs of wild, even vicious fight around. It seems, that nobody tried to repair bullet holes and damage from explosives.
“The scanning system is active and you will be assessed as well, but only for entertaining purposes,” she jokes. “Please, move forward.”
“ECS 1 was serving as the final line of defense. The Facility has only one entrance, so the control of the traffic could be thorough, but we never wanted to make a total fortress from the building. After all, more you try to hold something, more it evades you, including effort of security. So as you can see, there are several cannon turrets at the roof, but only retractable, we didn’t want to spread some feeling of danger to our scientists.”
“ECS’s basic mission was to stop and hold the potential enemy as long as possible, until proper procedures could be launched, including sealing the other two floors, so the personnel inside could take the necessary precautions, and leave through the emergency exit to the surface. But to open this second exit, so called ‘Procedure Beige’ had to be started, serving for discarding The Device out of service, so it couldn’t be misused by the enemy. And I must say, that the defenders here fulfilled their pledge to the last word: the enemy reached the lowest floor too late.”
“Here is ECS2, and behind it, you can see three elevators. The big one was for the vehicles, they were unloaded on the Floor One, and two small ones for employees, plus they could use stairs, if they wanted to walk. But The Facility is so large, that nobody really complained for lack of sport. Let’s use the elevator.”
“Floor One was serving as a garage, storage and a workshop. We moved the supplies here, and the basic works to complete The Device were executed here as well. We won’t stop there, there is only some old junk now.”
As the elevator is slowly moving downstairs, the guide continues. “Floor Three contains power source for the whole building, and backup generators. We deliberately avoided using nuclear power, we wanted to use a clean source of energy. The Facility’s energy demands were not so high, as you could expect, so we used an alternative source, based on hydrogen fusion.”
“But we came to visit Floor Two, where the living quarters of our scientist were, plus The Device, of course. So, we are here!”
“As you can see, the walls are painted white, and paneled with white desks, serving for natural illumination, and also covering all the necessary cables. The temperature inside is maintained at 22.5 degress of Celsius, to avoid any damage by humidity for the sensitive electronics.”
I can’t resist to ask the guide, what is her professional background. She seems to be so young, and still, so experienced and well informed about all local secrets.
“Until I started working for The Corporation, I was just the same as thousands of my female colleagues, who leave universities and they are looking for their place in the world,” she explains. “But inside me, I felt, that they only place where I should send my CV was here, at The Corporation. They gave me extensive training, however, I wasn’t a part of this original Operation Naked Truth project. I worked as Business Development Manager at first, so they were able to test my special skills. Later, they promoted me, and moved me to Public Relations division. My last position before this special assignment was ‘VIP Executive Protection Unit’, so I have a high security clearance, and The Corporation knows all about me, about my nature, character, and also about my dreams. Not only they are fulfilling them, they are far exceeding them, ten times more than I could ever imagine.”
Did she use The Device?
“Several times. The exposure to The Device is strictly limited, so you don’t lose touch with your present and the physical world, however, I was even testing certain special features for the Military version recently. And by the way, the first operational prototype of The Device, which was originally placed here, wasn’t especially made for the security operations. It had in fact only one purpose – to show the world, that it really works. Only later, The Corporation diversified the product line to two main parts: Civilian, and Military. Also, we improved The Device in sense of miniturization, using nanotechnology. So this original type is quite obsolete, we could say. But believe me, it is still the most advanced machine the world has ever seen. However, we keep moving forward, improving our invention further. Of course, I can’t tell you more: classified.”
It seems strange, that The Corporation uses such well informed person as a common guide here, so she comes into direct contact with “outside” persons. Isn’t that a security risk?
“There is nothing like absolute certainty in life. The Corporation accepts the phenomenon of risk as natural part of life and their operations. They know, what they can share with any employee, including me. If they sent me here, they know what they are doing. You have to believe the world, not to defend and hide all the time. You know, the world is in fact a good place. Only we make it worse by our eternal fears and attempts of escaping. But where? There is no escape. We are trapped here, in our physical bodies, same like we are trapped inside this building now. Above us, there is fifty meters of thick concrete. But still, I know, that I am free, not confined anywhere. This is what The Device learned me – that any walls are just illusions we create from our own fear.
I always remember: The Coporation leaves nobody behind.”
When the last door finally open, astonishment is combined with total surprise.
The room is full of rubble. Massive explosion had to happen there. The walls and roof are black, ruptured cables everywhere. All equipment inside is damaged, in ruins. It looks like apocalypse, but there is no time for disappointment – in the middle of that mess, there is the most strange object we have ever seen, so strange with its simplicity, even minimalism, shining perfection, catching your eye, making you totally breathless and absolutely fascinated. It looks like from another dimension, another world. The strangest thing is, that it looks totally undamaged, like it would be indestructible, or delivered here later. Is it even original?
“This is a replacement, of course. The original thing was damaged above repair during self-destructing sequence, and we intentionally show a simplified version of The Device here. You know, the foreign states would give anything to get their hands on the complete version. You could call this an exhibit.”
It’s publicly known, that this original version of The Device used triangle shape. It really seems like a cage of pyramid shape, so magical and even scary. The material is a matt black, like some obelisk. It’s so captivating…
“The arms of the cage contain all necessary sensors, but to keep the minimalist style, all electronics is hidden inside, so the clean shape is maintained. You know, The Device isn’t just technology, it’s much more. A tool of new perception, ultimate experience… it would look bad with some cables exposed.”
We are not allowed to touch the black arms. The material is allegedly a unique alloy of steel, carbon, titanium, wolfram and also gold, and any human touch could damage it.
“During operation of The Device, the arms are sending and receiving immense amount of signals, so they have to be extremely conductive. No optical cables would transfer all data as fast as necessary, so in fact, the arms serve as one giant sensor and transmitting tool together. The Device has to work with inhuman speed, out of reach for any machines too, regardless how advanced.”
“The Device is controlled from a supervision room on this floor, where also Military command was established. The Military had their highest assigned deputy placed there, because to start launching The Device, or to destruct it if needed, only this deputy was authorized to issue an order. I just remind you, that since the moment of announcement, The Facility came under direct control of The Military, and all our personnel left the building immediately.”
We are still watching that regular shapes, with fascination.
The guide approaches the triangle cage and releases a retractable keyboard. “The Device gets the final instruction to start from the inside. The person, sent to a mission, has to made the final decision. He or she has to declare his or her will to do it, confirming, that he or she is fully briefed with possible risks and consequences.”
“If I remember correctly, the lauch code was 47381,” she touches the keyboard. And after a beep, the room is suddenly full of blue light.
We stil think, that it’s just an effect for the show. But when the guide turns back to us, her eyes speak clearly.
“Who wants to try it?”
In that moment, we all became only statues, unable to move. Does she really offer us using The Device? All mounths are suddenly open with only one question.
“Yes, it’s operational. It has all features as the original machine. And today, one of you can be last person who will ever enter it. After this session, we are obliged to disable this original version, because it’s allegedly too risky to use. It lacks some security features, which the newer versions have implemented already. It’s something like a car without brakes. Once you start it, you are no longer under control, you are rather just a passenger. So we agreed with the United Nations to end its operation forever. After today, all electronics will be removed, and only the empty black shell will remain here, in this hall, as a memory of our achievement. We won’t clean the rubble – all will remain as it is now. But the soul of the whole thing will disappear. So, it will be a great honor for one of you, to experience what only a few people before you did. And The Asset was one of them. You will now follow her traces, if you are courageous enough.”
“One of you will be able to discover the ultimate secret, that even The Corporation doesn’t know. You will reveal the real fate of our Asset. She really existed, but her last moment remains a mystery, as you all know. But this particular secret will be discovered – today, by one of you. You will be honored to know, what no human soul on this planet will ever know.”
“Why we chose an outside person? Because we like to play. We always deliver an ultimate experience to our customers, you know that well. And this is how we will prove it to you, to the public. All of you are outside persons, no one of you is our agent, a covert collaborator or something. No one of you came into contact with us in the past, you never worked for us. If you want to live your wildest dreams, now is the unique and the only one opportunity.”
“However, only one of your is capable to execute this special mission,” the guide resumed her speech. “It will be you, Catherine. You are a young but mature woman in good physical shape, the only person here, fully able to sustain the extreme demands of this task.”
The young woman was close to lose her conciousness. But some distant voice said “Yes” instead of her. Then, all matters became very quick.
“Dress this uniform now, and remember – just follow what others will do,” the guide handed over a package, containing a black uniform, high boots, tactical vest, helmet, a backpack and balaclava, and also an assault rifle.
The uniform and equipment of the enemy, who attacked this land during “18 hours war”.
“You won’t be forced to fire this thing. Just hold it in your hands, with strap around your neck, like this, like a soldier. And as I told you, do exactly the same that others will do. Don’t talk, don’t raise any suspicion. Just follow others and watch. Ready?”
“You have approximately half of an hour. Use this time wisely. This will be the last time any person will visit the past. This is a physical transmission, not a virtual one. Remember that.”
“But I am still a journalist,” Catherine objected. “It’s my duty to inform people. You want me to keep this secret?”
“Believe me, that when you will return, you will stay silent forever. and voluntarily. Your professional career as a journalist will end today, in just several minuters. But I still know that you will choose the right option. Thousands of your colleagues would literally die to be here, on your place, and you know that. You wanted to reveal some ultimate information about the world, the truth – and you will be able to do it. But this is the kind of truth that can’t be shared, only personally experienced. This is how The Device works. The experience is non-portable It’s a gift, but only for one person.”
“You will be inserted approximately 500 meters from The Asset’s last known position, located in the field at northeastern direction. We will watch your progress. Remember, any intervention into her mission, trying to rescue her, or collaborating with enemy will be considered as high treason and severely punished. But to avoid scandal, and to keep our secrets hidden, you won’t go before any court – you will simply disappear from the world.”
“Here is the transmitter of the enemy, but we altered it, so it instantly translates his language. This way, you will be able to intercept and understand his communication in real time. Insert this ear plug into your ear.”
“The original version of The Device caused diziness after insertion. But we corrected it, so you will have full bodily capabilities right after insertion.”
“You are ready. Just push the green button on the keyboard. We all will remain here with you. And we will meet you here again, when you will return.”
“And how will you get me back, after that thirty minutes?” the young woman hesitated.
“Don’t overthink it! Just take the risk. Trust the world, trust life, trust us, trust yourself! Good luck.”
The young woman entered under the arms of a pyramid structure, like in a dream. Dressed in a foreign uniform, with her face covered, holding a heavy assault rifle in her slim hands. She thought that she has to be dreaming, that they used The Device on her, that this all is just an illusion…
Her body took control. Her hand in a black glove slowly reached the button. She just switched off her mind, her fears.
She barely saw strange light and a buzzing sound around her. Like if the black arms around her were opening, sucking her inside. But it was too late to run away. She just stood, watching the group of people, who suddenly seemed so far away.
Now, she was completely alone, a hostage of modern technology… and her own dreams.
Continuation: “Inside The Facility: The truth disappears in flames”