The roller coaster continues to squeak forward as we hurtle towards unknown destinations. Hope you enjoy your time spent in this world. ❤
Right Wing Utopia (The 10,000 total)
Alethea had been dismissed and given the rest of the day off to look over the quickly growing information store. It would be a simple task, as the implant could do most of the work assimilating it into a second-nature within her. Soon, she would scarcely know how it felt to have not been part of the Undergrowth or have the ability to tap into the nearly limitless knowledge stored in the virtual Library of Alexandria that we have built from radio waves. It would take a few days for the déjà vu to wane, but it was tolerable. In fact, she found it quite amusing, especially when her spirits were lifted. She walked down the entryway labelled above by “Mess” with crude blocky graffiti beside it that read “O’ Fun.” She smiled at the attempted good nature, as she continued down the hall which opened up to a gargantuan room of enormous size and width for a bunker. It seemed to endlessly stretch into the distance, and it was clearly meant for the support of a large fighting force. The spacious area contained a multitude of people, but few connections. Each division of six sat or stood as they desired, but always at their own table. While it was clear that conversations nearby could likely be overheard, there was no interactions between one group and the next. At least to a point, as each section of the whole had a uniquely decorated table displaying the name they had adopted for themselves in addition to colors, symbols, and a wide variety of ordainments. Some tables were lavish and royal, others were minimalist or cyber-sthetically inspired. While some colors may be repeated among the displays of group individuality, none could be mistaken as similar. To shield themselves psychologically, the groups had retreated to using these nonverbal methods of communicating their appreciation to what they had – the simple laughter of others in the Mess Hall. It was friendly competition, the closest communication that could be managed, and a morale boost that began shortly after the ReSYNC pod installation and removal of the kitchen facilities that were made redundant. Alethea nodded knowingly to herself, the information about the facility was already becoming simply a fact of life already, and gazed around until she spotted the empty Undergrowth table that was sandwiched between a support pillar and another table about two feet away. No one had acknowledged or even noticed her presence, all were busy playing games or some other activity among themselves. She glided gracefully over to her new clan’s area. The smell of it greeted her long before she arrived. It was a sweet piney aroma that perfumed the table’s sphere of influence with the scent of a coniferous forest. When she arrived, she quickly ascertained why; the table’s bench seats were covered in a thin layer of moss and foliage encased its own terrarium that was transparent yet not quite glass. The volatile organic compounds begin given off were quite obviously allowed to escape. A creeping ivy grew twisted yet elegant among the table’s supports concealing their true material nature most entirely. As Alethea glanced into the table, she gasped, “It’s full of trees!” If anyone heard her shock, no one made it known. The white noise continued unabated by her infiltration into the atmosphere. She moved closer to the table, and reached out to touch it but was denied by a soft, almost squishy, barrier. It felt strange, yet it felt familiar. Only a brief delay existed between her bewilderment and recognition – it felt like a soft patch of grass and dirt. It was an amorphous solid that mimicked the texture of the terrains that they could never enjoy, and it too allowed the passage of the forest’s smells to pervade the air. The tabletop might have only been but two inches thick, but it unmistakably contained what could be watched through its surface. While it wasn’t Alethea’s research interest, she had heard of such 4th-dimension technology, containing a world within a world, was in development. However, she never would have imagined to find it in this of all places. In fact, as she quickly surveyed and assessed the tables around them, each of them seemed to also incorporate some level of elaborate technical display. While the Undergrowth’s table was unique on its own, and was impressive in its own right, in context of the displays here it was par for the course. The various ways the groups expressed themselves overwhelmed Alethea with a sense of pride and imbued within her even more desire to protect each of these Komrades with her life, as she desired to see them flourish. The amount of different forms of beauty, whether art or science or skill, that surrounded her didn’t deserve to be hidden away in the depths of the great mother never to see the light of day. Such beauty was underappreciated by the Outsiders, but it mattered not as the Renaissance brewed within the confines of the bunker. With another burst of purpose, she became anxious with anticipation for the work that lay ahead of her beginning before next daybreak, and before she knew it she had arrived before her room to retire until duty necessitated her presence elsewhere.
Once Alethea was back at home, she was greeted by the smell of Alexa’s recently prepared dinner, which she graciously accepted and ate while browsing her now archaic laptop. It was completely benign, as she was no longer connected to the world of the Outsiders. Her communications could not be monitored being both in the Faraday cage of the bunker’s reinforced concrete and being even further removed from the constructed reality by the ReSYNC pod. It mattered not, as she could use her VAUX chip to provide her old technology a deeply encrypted, qcrypted, connection to the goings on among the surface’s inhabitants. After letting her online companions know that she was safe, she deleted the previously penned letter, and began to catch up on world news. Buried among the positive fluff, catchy new Elite Speak to share with your friends, and feel-good photos of objects, people, and things of distraction was a report that made her smirk with satisfaction. The headline read, “UNEXPLAINED ANAMOLY: FEW CASUALITIES, NO INJURIES.” Within the article was false condolences and reassurance that there was no cause for alarm. It explained that it was simply accidental, a military exercise gone wrong, but failed to explain it as the eyewitness continued to speak of it – instant vaporization of the base. The article rambled to increase the length, devoted resources to explaining away the captain’s credibility without a reasonable indication of why, and after a deep diversion stated that the final estimated death toll was closer to around 123,938 personnel. “Few indeed,” Alethea thought and tittered.
Alexa broke the peaceful darkness with a gentle transition to a soft sunrise and the smell of breakfast delights with coffee accompanied by mild electronic music. It was still well before dawn as Alethea exited the pod bound for the group’s meeting spot. When she arrived, the other five were already jacked in – she could see them just on the other side the jelly-like window. As she sat down, a crystalline cocoon of creeping vines covered her over in a cloak vanishing instantly from outward observers. On the other side, she was sitting at the table in a forest’s clearing, a space most real yet far removed, and the briefing began. No sound could be heard, except for the sipping of tea from each individual’s mug of fondest memory. There was no need for words, in this space, and it would have tainted the sound of life propagating around them. Yet, there was still discussion. Thoughts were free to send, in this realm, and they took great advantage of it; their thoughts were like ships between bays, and created the most efficient trade route to exchanging what was to be done. While outside of this dimension, there would always be hierarchy, but in here it was difficult to know who the originator of the cargo was if unbranded or coded. Being so newly reborn, Alethea would be unable to identify any of her coconspirators by linguistic cues even if she had wanted to, but this was somewhere between frowned upon and shrugged at according to the Undergrowth’s philosophy. Personal messages could be analyzed for decoding, as they did not conflict directly with any objectives. During the session, she learned that it was her duty to solve a problem that their team had for a long time; eliminate the group of patrolling metallic vultures on the Surface, and possibly attempt to capture one. She already knew that this last caveat had killed the last person to fill her spot, as they designed an EMP-net launcher that failed to bring down a single giant resulting in their immediate vaporization as the AT blasted out horrendous laughter through its acoustic system bellied from the user within. Alethea could hear the memory echo within her mind, as she had become too curious and listened to the comms that were active between the members of the group. She was informed that there was no deadline, and it was explained in an overly polite gentle message that her task was viewed as a suicide mission with a low chance of success, but they still had some hope. As the members finished their tea, they would nod with a smile and fade from the table. The meeting was ending, and they were to go and do what they could to bring progress under the name of their banner. She continued to sit and brainstorm in this quiet area, it was either here or her room for contemplation of this problem, but she noticed someone else lingering behind. Alexei was patiently sipping tea and smiled as Alethea looked up.
A thought flickered over to her, “Hiya! I hope I didn’t frighten you with my warning earlier. It’s just..” The thought trailed off while xe shrugged, and the thought continued, “We don’t want to offer any false hope. It might seem that you have been able to escape the fate you were about to put yourself through, but this is no better. The rest of us might not show it, and you’d never be able to tell without listening to the chatter amongst groups, but progress is slow.”
Alethea used the moment’s pause to interject, “I did take some of last night to review immediate activities. It seems as though most of the targets have been rather distant from the base. Why?”
“We’ve only been able to travel with our tunnels to send out agents into the field. Currently, the Slugs above have been searching for our operations. There’s plenty of us around if these old forgotten bunkers ever get turned inside out, but everyone would love to see that not happen,” Alexei let out a short breathy laugh as if to punctuate the obvious.
“Just survival so far, then?” she shot back with a friendly smirk. Xe simply nodded in compliance and faded out; she was not far behind as she felt the need to assess the armory to truly know what she had to work with. As she glimmered back into reality, Alexei was still standing nearby and gave a quick smile then ducked away fast-walking toward some quite important unknown destination. Shortly thereafter, Althea was rummaging through the armory that appeared to be nothing more than a simple brilliant white cube to stand within, but as she entered the walls began to speak in a smooth ambiguous voice, “Welcome to the Armory. VAUX status: Active. When you are finished with your draft, please let me know, and I will send it for finalization within the Foundry. Remember: Creativity can be rewarded greatly.” Alethea wondered if that line had been uttered as her predecessor tried to utilize this space, and couldn’t help but shake her head at the thought. She let that fade away, and set to work – if the stock could simply be conjured, it was time to contemplate the problem.