The Oldest City

Sarah stood at the top of the wall, still being finished by the builders.  She looked out over the desolate, dying world that she will know again only in the future.  She will be the only one to see it the way it was and the way it will be.  The way it was meant to be.  The elders had come to the conclusion that the world was being reborn, or dying.  Not as many of the planets around them had in the past centuries, but in a way that they had not seen before.  The first solutions thought up for saving her people had involved giant shuttles destined for other planets in other star systems.  There was even a space station set up in an orbit that came within only a few hundred miles of theirs.  This was both a stopping station for the ships as they continued on their journeys and as a colony for another set of survivors.  Now new plans were being enacted.  Two different plans to be precise.  One will involve her, the other will be more drastic.  Daring.  Stupid.  It involved tunneling deep into the planet and starting a colony there.  Only a few thousand people had signed on for that insanity, still more than predicted.  The politics of the many survival campaigns had gotten in the way of what was best for the species.  It had become muddled under a mountain of ideals and possibilities that the politicians had called “Truth and Freedom for the Future.”  Each had their own idea of what was best.  And some went so far as to hire pseudo-scientists to state that there was nothing to fear and everyone should just sit tight while the storms blew over.  Unfortunately those who listened to them no longer had homes, or continents in some cases.

The world was beginning to un-build itself.  The same way a forest or a swamp rebuilds itself in parts, the world was doing this.  While for the most part it was a good thing, a rebirth indeed, for those who lived on the planet it was less than congruent to survival.  There were hurricanes that lasted for three times the length they should have, reaching sizes of whole countries.  Tidal waves destroying whole coast lines.  Fires that swept the largest forests in the world.  From the looks of things the world was dying.  Every natural disaster was occurring, yet there was one problem with the idea that the world was on the verge of collapsing.  The interior of the planet was more stable than it had been in centuries, there were fewer earthquakes, fewer shifts under the surface than ever before.  It hadn’t hardened up, the layers under the surface were still doing what they always had, but now with less friction than ever before.  It baffled so many experts that they gave up trying to figure out what was going on below while the ground around them was being destroyed.

And now Sarah stood high on a wall that would separate four different parts of the world from now to eternity.  A tear froze to her skin as she turned form the miserable site of the dying planet to the construction behind her.  The monument to their race was nearly complete.  Due to a massive storm that they couldn’t avoid or deter they had been set back a month before there would be the final completion, but that hadn’t stopped them.  They built with renewed vigor after the worst was over.  The exterior had been finished first to ensure the safety of those inside as the structure was finished.  It stood like a tower of refuge or safety, calling all those who could see it to come and rest within its walls.  Inscriptions had been carved in the stone and metal that covered the outermost shell of this edifice.  They all told of the many lives that were lost and the toil and blood that had been spilt in order to complete it.  It also told of the history of the planet in broad vague details to let anyone who landed on the planet know that it had once been settled by a great race of intelligent and creative people.

As she walked back to the door that led deep inside she felt the chill of the current storm wan and a stiff warm breeze cut through the land.  It gave a brief moment of comfort as she looked one last time on the world she would be saving.

*   *   *

Dereck and John had agreed to take Jill with them on one condition, she did all the cooking.  Which at first had seemed like a great idea.  Now they realized that they had to take even that over as Jill proved yet again to have no skill at survival.  Dereck hovered over the campfire as John scouted the area for wildlife they could kill for breakfast or lunch the next day, also gathering sticks and passing them to Jill.  She would at least be useful somehow.

“Are we almost done?  I can’t carry too much more.”  John was about ready to leave her somewhere in the forest and head back to camp.  Dereck wouldn’t complain, but her father, the richest man they knew, might have a few complaints.  This was supposed to be about getting in touch with nature, escaping the insanity of their lives.  Going back to the world before intra-system companies that had no address but the IP addresses that their messages and services came from.

Dereck and John both worked for Jill’s father, one of the first and most successful IS starters there were.  In his case he knew that there had to be some sort of connection to the real world, so he had made up a few dozen cubicle offices in the middle of a few dozen already existing companies to run the services from.  This had hit the stands in the business world like a ton of bricks.  Dereck had been friends with Jill in collage and had been offered a job by her father along with about nine other graduates that year.  John had been one of those that took the job.  At that time the company he was starting had gotten a lot of flack from current internet companies for taking the business into the real world too much.  For taking the small office company too far.  They were just complaining because he had thought of something they hadn’t.  Sticking the rep for the company within the same cubicle sections as the people the service would affect.  At the same time the rep was the company, so if that poor bastard got in too much trouble e was on his own.  In any case there was always a weekend getaway for all the reps once a year which they weren’t allowed to miss, this is where John met Jill for the first time.

They’d been introduced by Dereck when Jill had run up to him to reminisce about their school years, parties, classes, and whatever social event she had been involved in.  Of course Dereck knew very little about any of those things then or now.  He had been rather quiet and distant form everyone he met during those years, for many reasons.  John and he had been discussing a possible camping trip they could take half in six months.  As soon as Jill’s father had walked up the camping trip discussion had resumed.  They both knew that he was a former camping enthusiast.  One thing led to another and he suggested that they take Jill along with them.  Since neither of them wanted to turn down the chance to take a month off in the middle of the year, they accepted.  Not until they had started the trip had they realized what a mistake it was going to be to bring Jill along.

They had decided to take a trip in the most dangerous and restricted wilderness they could find.  The idea was to scare Jill out of going so her father wouldn’t cancel their trip when they left her behind, but the plan didn’t work, it just got her more interested in going.  They were going to travel for a week straight into the heart of oldest and most dangerous forest they could find.  Which was, as it turned out, nick-named the Ancient Forest by those who watched and cared for it.

For the first few days they had been able to follow paths that had been left by those who had ventured out into the forest before.  But now they were in uncharted woods.  This brought both dense trees and the presence of swamps and animals.  Since Dereck and John had both camped in true wilderness before they were undaunted by the idea of large predators slinking around their camp, but Jill was less confident.  The first night they left the beaten path Jill had demanded that she be allowed to sleep in a tent with them.  So they left the comfort of separate tents to cramping inside her tent that was barely able to hold two, let alone three.

The next day they were off again, following their compass deeper into the forest.  The farther in they went the harder it was to keep everyone in view at all times, so they started singing a few songs to keep an ear on each other.  If anyone stopped it was a sign to the others to stop and go directly to the person who was not singing.  Therefore Jill was put in the center.  John was at the back, Dereck led the way.  They had flipped a coin, since the person in the back was undoubtedly going to be seeing the most of Jill.

After a while Dereck was getting a bit tired cutting the path.  Almost literally, since there was so much foliage in the lower forest that it made any traveling difficult.  They found the biggest clearing they could, which was next to a tree that had fallen years ago and was now part of the forest floor.  Dereck leaned up against the tree and took a deep breath.

“Are we stopping? Because i could use a break!”  Jill was in a rather dim mood.  She had also been getting steadily less friendly each day they were away from civilization.

“That sounds like a plan.” John caught up with them and put down his pack.

“Yeah, this tree should provide us with some shelter form any wind or rain if the night proves to be wild.”  Dereck almost wanted to turn back and leave Jill here, a nice open place to let the stench of her attracted all sorts of wild animals.  No, he couldn’t do that, he liked his job too much.

“If we’re gonna stop then i want to use the little girls room.”  Jill dropped her pack roughly on the ground and went around a tree.

“Just don’t go too far, and don’t piss anything off!”  She waved back at John as if to say, “Well duh!”

“We could leave her here, you know.”

“Yeah, i thought of that, but the what would we do for work when we got back?”

“Der, come on, you know we could start our own company.  Her old man isn’t that much of a genius.”

“Maybe, but I hate updating my resume.”

“You mean you don’t get that done for you?”

“Meh, I rather know what’s being said about me.”

“Too late now, here she comes.”

“You guys talkin bout me?”  She cracks the biggest smile she can muster.

“Yeah, we were wondering what you do exactly when you’re not slowing us down on our vacations.”

Jill shot John an evil glare.  “I work in my Daddy’s office as a secretary for the boss of the company.  I get paid a hell of a lot more than both of you guys too, so watch it!”

“I bet.”  Dereck pulled his pack over to and pulled out his tent and a few essentials for setting up a camp.

“I thought we were all in the same tent again tonight!”

“John can keep you company, i need some space, uh, my stomach has been acting up all day.  You don’t want to share a tent with me tonight.”  John sends a glare to Dereck.

“Thanks buddy,” John says under his breath.

“What was that John?”

“Let’s get your tent up, air it out before we have to climb in tonight.  Three people in a small tent can leave a pretty nasty odor.”

“That’s not what you said.  But whatever, when and what are we eating?”

“Tree bark stew!”

“I hate it when you tease me Derri.”  She had come up with a nick-name for him the second day.  He was sick of it within seconds.  He was still trying to figure out whether she liked him or not.  She seemed to consistently be nicer to him than John the entire trip.  It was worrying him a bit.

As they settled into their respective seats before the fire, the night was closing in.  The sounds and sights of the forest changed into those of the nocturnal dominion.  Still it was a bit odd.  The noises came primarily from the direction they had come, and not as much from anywhere else.  Dereck commented on this to John, but John seemed to care more about finding something more edible than the food they had bought, so wasn’t really listening.

Dereck got up to look around and see if he could find some sort of answer when Jill spoke up.

“Um guys, i think there’s some creature living in that tree.”

“Not surprising, many small creatures make their homes in dead trees, it makes for great protection and a good place to stay warm.”

“Um, that’s not quite what i meant.  There’s something with big blue eyes watching us.”

“I think you should go to bed, there aren’t any animals out here with big blue eyes.  You’re just imagining things.”

“John listen, there’s something, large, in that tree trunk.  And its staring right at me.”

“Well just flirt with it, I’m sure it’ll go away!”

“John this isn’t funny!  Come here now!”

“Ok, ok, what in the worl….DER!  You gotta see this!”

Dereck turned and ran back to the sight, only a few feet, but it still took him a few minutes to get through the underbrush.  When he got to the sight he saw Jill huddled behind John, both of them staring at the large tree that was supposed to serve as their protection.

As he looked at what they were looking at his eyes went wide.  There were two large light blue eyes staring out of the vines and moss that covered the tree.  Dereck froze, what on earth could this thing be?  He had never heard any stories from any of the campers he had ever met before that involved an animal with bright blue eyes in the middle of a forest.  Especially eyes that looked like…

Dereck got up and walked over to the eyes and started brushing away the moss and vines that were covering them up.

“What the hell are you doing?!”

“Um, usually I’m against Jill’s ideas, but this time i have to agree.  Why the hell are you doing that?”

“John come over here and check this out, you won’t believe it!”  Dereck had been right those glowing eyes weren’t eyes at all.

They were lights!

The kind of lights you put on a panel that you need to find in the dead of night.  The kind of lights that someone would put on the outside of a computer case.  Very much like large LED or plasma lights from through the vines.  Yet, they were different.  These lights weren’t like any Dereck had seen before.

“Der, what in the world are you doing now…?  Are those lights?  What are lights doing in the middle of a tree?”

“I don’t think this is a tree, John.  I thinks its something different, very different.”

“Well what is it?! Figure it out so we can leave!”  Jill was still as far back as she dared to be.

As John and Dereck uncovered more of what they had thought was a tree they found that it was indeed a panel.  It was in the side of something metallic, a sort of wall.  They continued to clean off the area around the panel so they could see just how big it was.  When they were finished they found that the panel was in the side of a sort of wall that was also made of sort of metal that they weren’t familiar with.  The blue lights were at the top of the panel, which was about five feet long by three feet tall.  They stepped back to examine their work and take a beather.

“Well that’s definitely not an animal.”  John was a bit tired but quite relaxed considering their new finding in the middle of an unexplored forest.

“Yeah.  So what do you think it is?  And for that matter what is this a panel for?”  Dereck was standing close to the panel, looking at the lights, the edges, everything.  He was also trying to figure out what kind of metal this this was made of.

“Well it looks like it snot going anywhere, why don’t we get some sleep and finish this tomorrow.”  John was already heading over to the tent that Jill had set up.  He tightened the lines holding it up and went inside.  Quite forgetting his prejudice against sleeping or even being near her.  Dereck barely heard him, but followed his lead a little while later.  The next morning was quite different from what they were expecting.

*  *  *

Sarah went into the long tunnel that connected the outside world to the new inside one.  The one that everyone was getting ready to live in for the next century or more.  All the workers were finishing up details while many immigrants and locals were walking the long road to their new homes.  The government had set up communities that were as close to the real ones the people had left as they could.  If anyone was in the same neighborhood they were still going to live near each other.  Things were dealt with the greatest of care to ensure the most comfortable living conditions as possible.

Sarah left the long tunnel out into the main room.  She stood on a raised platform, stairs and walkways leading off to the right and left.  The walkways led off to the living areas and commercial zone.  The stairs led down to the main room.  It was the meeting room.  At the back it led off to the central rooms,  what was left of the scattered government would live and work there.

Beyond that was where Sarah was headed.  The center of the entire facility.  The core of the place.  It was where the power supplies would be.  The generators would be set up on a cycle.  Two on and two off, rotating.  Every two hundred years they would change.  They hoped that it wouldn’t need to hold them longer than one hundred years, but they wouldn’t make any guesses, wouldn’t take any chances.  She walked through the rooms of the government as gathered those who had been waiting for this moment.  A few years ago, when the plan had been released as the future of the planet, they had put out a call.  She had answered.

She was only nineteen at the time.  She had seen the public announcements.  Everyone had.  When it started everyone wanted to be the savior of life as they knew it.  Boys, girls, men, women, everyone was showing up to see if they could be the savior.  The government hadn’t released any details on what they were looking for in the applicant.  Just that they were looking for the savior.  It became a pick up line a few months later.  Then a joke, then most people forgot completely.  Within a year no one even cared anymore.  About then she had decided to go in and see what her chances were.  Almost everyone she knew had gone in.  She had waited.  She knew she wouldn’t be picked.  Besides, she didn’t want the responsibility of being the savior.  But she went in anyway.  They said it would only take half an hour.  Then it was going to take another hour.  She was waiting in a hospital waiting room for three hours when they came to her and asked if she could come back the next day.  She went home and came back as they asked.  This time she met a few more people.

The next few weeks of her life was spent in a whirlwind of cameras, politicians, fans, family, and everyone and everything else she could possibly think of.  They had found the savior, they had found her.  She wanted to disappear.

As soon as the fanfare was over she was taken to this location.  She was given a week to say goodbye, then promised that her family would meet up with her at a later date.  This was the date.  Her mother, father, and sister were all waiting in the center of the room, at the center of the facility.  Between the generators was a seat, of sorts.  It was inside a glass chamber with tubes and wires of all sorts coming off of it.  This was going to be her home.  This was where she was going to watch the world rebuild itself.  She went into a back room where she was given a special uniform to wear, something that wouldn’t wear out, or fade, or become less comfortable with time.  It was the governments perfect piece of clothing, and it was hers.  At least she got something out of it, she just wished they had picked better colors.  After she was dressed she came out and hugged her family, shook the hands of the generals and politicians, saluted the world and waved goodbye to all she ever knew.  Then she climbed up into the chair.

*  *  *

Dereck was up before John or Jill.  He hadn’t been able to sleep.  The thought of what they could have discovered had been running through his mind while he lay in bed.  Without even bothering to take down the tent or check on the others he woke up and went straight to the panel.  He started examining the sides, the lights.  He was trying to find some way to open it.  He pushed on all sides of it.  Pushed pulled, he even began prying at it by the time John and Jill woke up.

“Careful man, you don’t have any idea what’ll happen if you do that.”  John was still rubbing his eyes when he came over to see what Dereck was up to.

“I would but I’ve tried everything else.”

“Have you tried open sesame?”

“Very funny Jill.”  still Dereck couldn’t shake the idea. That they were missing something important.

“Yeah well i just meant that there might be a password or something.”  She was starting to take down the camp.  After a few days she had picked up on how to do some things out here. Only a few though.

“If there is a password i have no idea what it is.  There’s no writing of any sort on here.”

“What about on top of the thing, maybe there’s a button up there or something.”  John was already looking for a way to get on the top of what it was that they’d found.

Dereck stopped trying to open the panel, he wasn’t getting anywhere anyways.  He went over to where John was and tried to help him get up.  They managed to find a tree that was close enough that they could climb up between the two.  After John got up Dereck called to Jill to forget the camp for a second, besides they would be able to see the camp from on top of the thing anyways.

“Whoa,”  The sound came from where John was.

“What is it John?”

“You guys have to see this.”  he sounded a bit too excited, which of course made both Dereck and Jill try to get up there all the faster.

When they all finally were up there Jill asked.

“Ok, we’re here, whats so important about this place?”

As she was asking John was pointing off in the direction that they had been following for the past few days.  Dereck and Jill both looked and their mouths dropped open.

“That must go on for miles!”

“At least, I mean its longer than any street I’ve ever looked down, or even…like…”  Jill just sort of trailed off into her own thoughts as Dereck and John stared.  After a few moments they decided to travel along the top of it to see if they could find anything.  Of course they wouldn’t go too far, they still had to take care of their camp and eventually get back to their homes.  Yet, for now, they were going to follow this thing.

As they walked they started to see what they thought was the end, but found that it was only a tree that had fallen across the thing.

“This has to be some sort of wall or something.  I mean its barely big enough for us to walk along in single file.  And it seems pretty solid.”  John was still in the lead since he has started walking as soon as the other two had gotten their feet and their balance.  This time Jill was in the back.  She didn’t mind, she was looking more at her feet anyways, trying not to fall, and she knew that any sound the guys made would be enough for her to look.

They came to the tree and began trying to get over it.

“Maybe its a tunnel.”  Jill was still trying not to fall.

“Whatever it is, it’s huge.  I mean we’ve already walked over three a miles, maybe four.  And it doesn’t seem to be stopping.”  Dereck was still stunned that they had found this thing in the middle of the wilderness.

“Well lets get on the other side of this tree and see where we are.”  More for the sake of saying something while he was trying to move the tree, John was trying to find a good place to put his hands.  “Here, give me a hand.”  He grunted.

“Hold on,”  Dereck came over to give John a hand.

As they pushed to no avail Jill came up right behind them.

“Don’t move,”  she said as she climbed up and over them onto the tree and down the other side.

“Hey! Wait a sec!”  Dereck made to go after her.  He got a hold of a part of the tree and pulled himself up.  As he got his head over the top he almost lost his grip.  The sight was anything but what he expected.

They all got safely over the top and down to the other side.  They hadn’t noticed but the trees were getting thicker and thicker as they were walking.  At some places the trees themselves became a wall on either side of the wall they were walking on.  Beyond the tree the wall beneath themboth got larger and went on further than they could see.  They kept walking.

As the sun rose and fell that day they saw noting but more of the same, the metalic floor beneath them and the trees on either side.  After a while they forgot that they were walking on something that was twice as tall as they were.

“Hey,”  Jill was starting to sound a bit tired. “Have you guys noticed?”

“What?” John looked back at her.

“The trees.  They’re either getting shorter or we’ve been walking uphill for a while.

“Now that you mention it some of the trees are a lot shorter.

They had indeed been walking uphill for quite some time and they could touch the tops of some of the trees around them.  There were still quite a few that were too tall to see over, but there were enough that were shorter that they could tell that weren’t as close to the ground as they had been.  The wall under them also had gotten a lot wider.  Now they were all walking side by side with plenty of room.  Beneath them the metal surface had also changed.  Instead of the smooth surface it had been there was now a definite roughness which made it easier to walk on.  At this point Dereck also noticed something.

“Look, up ahead.  What is that?”

He could see what looked like a small hut on top of the wall.  As they kept walking the night took hold and they could now see that there were plenty of those blue lights all over.  The edges of the wall, or the road, whichever it was, could clearly be seen.  They kept walking as if pulled on by some secret force that they couldn’t deny.  All would later say that pure curiosity had pulled them forward, and there’s no way of knowing really.  All they knew was that they had to see the end of this thing before they could go home.

As the stars became visible in the sky and the moon started to set they decided to stop and rest for a while.  They all sat down and then slowly each turned on their side and fell asleep.  In the morning Dereck saw Jill and John curled up together, and something else.

“Uh, hey guys?”

“Mph, turn the alarm off, I’ll just call in sick.”  John wasn’t easily woken up.

“Turn off the lights, damn.  It’s too bright in here.”  Jill wasn’t too interested in getting up either.

“Yeah well you guys really should see this.”

“What, did the wall change directions?  Cuz that would be something to see.”

“Um, no, but I think we may have company.”  At this both John and Jill sat up and looked down the way they had been headed the previous night.  As they looked they could see something moving towards them.  It was small and had a little blue light flashing on the front of it.

Dereck got up and stood to face it as it approached them.  It was a little round object that was moving along at a quick pace.  The light on the front seemed to be moving back and forth searching for something.  When it got to Dereck’s shoe it stopped, moved backward, and seemed to be looking him over.  It did a little hop, or something, Dereck wasn’t exactly sure what it did, it then looked at the other two and did the same thing again.  It then very slowly moved around to the side of Dereck keeping the blue eye on him the entire time.  As it got past him it went over to the other two and did the same thing.  It looked up and down them both before it did anything.  After a few more examinations it did an excited little BEEP! and went back the way it had come about ten or twelve feet and just sort of sat there for a while looking toward the little hut they had seen earlier.

“Um, ok that was weird.”

“More than finding a giant wall in the middle of the most uncivilized wilderness in the world?”

“Very funny Der, so what do we do now?”

Dereck glanced back them to see that they weren’t exactly sure how they had ended up in each others arms, then back at the little robot thing that had just checked them all out.

“I don’t know, John.  I really have no idea what to do at this particular moment.”

“Well maybe the little thing is more scared of you.”  Jill managed to say this with absolutely no irony or sarcasm, which impressed Dereck more than the fact that they were trying to figure out what to do with a tiny robot that seemed to only be equipped with a blue light.  A few seconds later the little robot came back to them, slower, almost deliberately, and stopped about ten feet away.  It turned its blue light straight up and from it an image of a man began to form.

“Whoa, holo…hologram!”  Jill had such a way with words.

“Hello strangers. Do you understand me?”  The image waited patiently as the three of them gather their jaws and their wits.

“Um, yea, Yes.  Yes we understand you.”  Dereck managed to spit out.  They were all quite surprised to see someone made up of blue light.

“Good, we weren’t sure which dialect you three would speak.  Welcome to the center of the world.  Rather the center of creation.  Please follow me down stairs.”

“Down where, there’s no-”

John was interrupted by a noise about five feet in front of them.  The floor, or ceiling, was lowering into a set of stairs that went into a corridor that was also illuminated by blue lights.  The little robot came around to the front then proceeded to hop down the stairs.

The three of them all looked at each other but couldn’t think of anything to say for a few moments.

“Well, why not?  It beats going back to camp.”  And with this the two guys followed Jill into a blue lit hallway after a hologram of a strange man on top of a wall that was now not as much of a wall as they had thought.

Dereck looked at the sky and had a strange feeling wash over him like it was the last time he would see the world this way.  He shrugged it off and kept going.

*  *  *

At first there was a little uncomfortableness as the wires and tubes found their own ways into her.  Then there was s sharp pain.  Then she looked out at her friends, family, and varying degrees of unattractive politicians as the bubble finished closing and started to fill with a light blue goo.  It was thicker than water, but not a whole lot.  When the goo reached her eyes she instinctively closed them.  After it reached the top she opened them again.  Her eyes stung for a moment as she got accustomed to the feeling.  Then she could see through the blue water.  She saw her family, and everyone else there.  Slowly over the next few minutes they all left, all but her mother and father.  They stayed for a lot longer.  She wanted to tell them to leave, to go home and live without her.  But they stayed.  She was glad in a way.  She knew that she would soon want to see everyone she knew before she had gone in for the tests.  But she couldn’t watch them the way they were watching her.  She had things she had to do.  Part of being in this chair, in the center of the facility that would save the race was that she had to monitor things on the outside.  The scientists and experts that had built the thing had set it up to allow her to look directly out into the world.  She had to slowly get used to the idea of being plugged into something.  She took her time testing that one out.  She wasn’t too sure about how use the equipment and the programs they had put together.  She tried closing her eyes and searching for the computers that she was hooked up to.

‘Hello,’

She jolted and looked around.

‘Don’t worry, I’m just here to ease you into the system.’

She looked around still trying to find who was talking to her.

‘I’m not out there, I’m in the system.’

‘Someone else?’ she thought.

‘No, I’m not another person, I am the computer.  I am the most advanced and intelligent computer ever built, until you.’

‘I’m not a computer.’

‘Well, not really, but you are plugged in like one.’

‘So who are you and why can you hear my thoughts?’

‘Sorry, I didn’t mean to.  I am Perfect Sequence.’

‘And what exactly does that mean?’

‘That’s what they called me.  That is all i have known as a ‘name’ as you put it.  I wasn’t christened like you were.  I was merely turned on.  A switch that was flipped was my only creation, my only birth.’

‘Well I’m not calling you Perfect Sequence, we’re gonna have to think of a name for you.’

‘I would like that.’

‘How’s Carl?’

‘I don’t know, is its meaning good?’

‘I have no idea.  Anyways its not that good of a name.  Let’s think of something else.’

‘That would be nice, in the mean time i think i should get you used to using the other tools at your disposal.  You can do more than talk to me.’

‘Well i hope so, not that I don’t like and all, but i think I’m gonna get pretty bored if all i have to do is talk to you.  They said I could see the outside.’

‘You can see almost anything you want.  You have access to every camera in the world.  Only a few that are privately or illegally owned are separate from the system you are plugged into.’

‘Well that’s nice.  What am i supposed to do with all those cameras?  I don’t think I’ll ever use them all.’

‘We have plenty of time, you just might.’

‘What do you mean?’

‘Now I have to show you how to access the camera system.  Let’s start with trying to access the mainframe and core system monitoring systems.’

‘Hold on, what do you mean we’ll have time?’

‘I will explain later, I have been told that it will take you some time to adjust to all the things that will be changing in your life.’

‘Um, ok, that makes me a little nervous.’

‘I apologize, i think we should maybe start trying to access the monitoring systems.  They will be wanting a report on your progress in two hours.’

‘Oh, I didn’t know I had a deadline for anything.’

‘Its not very important.  Now close your eyes and try to reach out and touch the system.  When you find it it will feel quite different from anything you’ve felt before.’

‘Feel?  How do you know about feeling things?’

‘I don’t, those are the words i was told to use.’

‘I see.  PS, we’ve got a lot of work to do.’

‘I know.’

‘I think more than you know.’

There was no response from Perfect Sequence.  This comment had not been programmed into its system, and he hadn’t been alive long enough to adapt to new phrases.  He had been turned on as he put it only a few minutes before she had sat down in the chair.  This had been planned.  Those who were in charge had decided that they should help each other get used to being born into lives they couldn’t possibly comprehend.  Over the next hour Sarah began to figure out how to connect to the servers, mainframes, and systems all over the facility.

When the two hours were up she contacted the techs and experts herself.  This of course surprised them, and made them quite happy, and in turn made Sarah happy.  The reality of the situation wasn’t brought to her attention until a few weeks later.

*  *  *

John, Jill and Dereck were now walking along a very strange, blue lit corridor that was making very strange noises as they passed through it.

“This place is really giving me the creeps.”

“Relax Jill,”  John was trying to be comforting, but he neither knew why he was comforting her nor how it was going to turn out.

They walked for miles, the drone never stopped.  It kept a steady pace the whole way.  They passed miles of walls, the whole place started to look very much the same.  They started to think that they were walking in circles even though they were walking straight.  The hallway gradually opened up into a much wider corridor.  The panels started to disappear.  The lights came in less frequency.  The noises all but stopped and there was a warmer light that filled the area.

After a few hours they came to a lift.  It had no walls, just some protective railings on each side.  After they all got on the gate closed behind them.  The drone turned to face them.

“Hold on,”  It stayed steady as the rest of them pitched a bit when the lift started.  All around them there was a narrow shaft that went up at an angle ahead of them, and through the grated floor they could see that it went down too.  They could neither see top nor bottom.  The lift gathered speed very quickly and they found themselves flying through the shaft at an immense speed.

Suddenly the shaft broke and they were in a vast open space.  It went on beyond their understanding.  Out in front of them there were now tall buildings under a domed ceiling that went on for more miles than they could fathom.  They were still going very quickly and the buildings were getting closer and closer.  Jill grabbed onto John very tightly as they passed the buildings and the city opened up below them.  There were vehicles they could see that they had never seen before.  Hovering and whipping by them so quickly that they could barely tell what had gone by.

Each building was unique as well.  One was made of steel and glass as they had known in cities back home.  They were tall and narrow, simple in design.  Then there were other buildings that stood almost sideways.  They were made of other materials that they couldn’t place.  Orange and red, blue and green covered the sides as they stood perpendicular to the steel ones.  The city seemed to grow from each wall of the great spherical space that encompassed it.

There were also people everywhere.  In all sorts of clothing.  Plastics and fabrics, metal, rubber.  All materials that they could think of were woven together in the oddest, most colorful ways.  As they passed more people it seemed that word of their arrival was passing even faster.  The farther they went into the center of the city the more people would be looking for them to pass.  The more eyes were opened wide as they sped by.

Soon they saw that they were approaching a great sphere in the center of the city.  It was glowing white and pulsing with a great importance.  Many walkways, roads, tubes, tunnels and all sorts things were going in and out of it.  As they went it got bigger and bigger.

“You are now entering the oldest city on the planet.”  The man made of blue light told them.

“This place is huge, and its old?  Like ancient?”  John was still holding Jill but they were more relaxed now.

“This is the outer city, the new metropolis, as many like to call it.  We will be entering the old city.  The original colony.”  The blue light man said this with a strange fondness, almost as if remembering something.

Dereck stood watching the approaching sphere.  It was steadily pulsing still.

“Is it also the power center of this place?”

“Very good!  Yes it is.  It has been powering more than you could possibly imagine for millennia.”

“Millenia?  You mean before the dinosaurs, before, before….how long?”

“Ha!  Yes long before anything your scientists have been able to track.  We have been here hiding, waiting.”

“Waiting for what?”  Jill was now intently listening the man.

“A time when we can re-enter the world around us.  A time when technology outside has caught up with technology in here.  A time when the world you know can understand why we had to build this place.”

“And why did you build this place?”  Dereck was very interested.

“I’ll let her tell you, she’s the oldest, and the wisest.  She can tell you much better than i can.”

This left the three of them with even more question, but they were content to watch as they got right up next to the giant sphere.  At this point the lift slowed down and they entered another dark shaft lit by red lights.  The shaft was guided now to a platform that was also grated and only walled by the protective railings.  Below them now was only the dimly lit inside of the sphere.

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