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-   -   Destrillians: Awakening (https://thelifestream.net/oldforums/showthread.php?t=10427)

Alex 03/07/2012 10:57 PM

Destrillians: Awakening
 
Once upon a time, there was a world. It had many names, as all worlds do. Some called it Shale, and others called it Edost, and the politically-correct had made the decision years back to combine the two names together and thus wipe out the meaning in both.

Once upon a time, there was a continent. Anchored in the Northern Hemisphere, small in comparison to some of the other swaths of land that covered the world but still very, very powerful. Perhaps too powerful. The countries the continent was broken into were disharmonious on the best of days-- and destructive on the worst.

Once upon a time, there was a war.

As with all wars, it was rife with bloodshed and uproar and sorrow. Allegiances decades old were dropped like hot coals in the feverish want for a fight. It could be said, as with all wars, that nobody won - there was too much death, too much loss on both sides for anyone to truly feel victorious. But history textbooks are without sentiment, and they have an answer: Artolia.

Artolia, the superpower of Shaledost. That's what it was called back then, and even now it held the de facto title. Artolia was simply too strong to contest, though even something as cataclysmic as the war had not quelled the resentment between the countries. Oh, how they wished to rain vengeance upon their oppressors. How they wished. But it was effectively impossible, just as it had always been; Artolia's economy was too thriving, their armies too numerous, their weapons too meticulously manufactured.

Once upon a time, back when fire and blood dominated the war-torn world outside, the makers of those weapons sat for one day straight in a board room, and decided to make something else.

.oOo.

"Hello?"

A gruff, weary voice spoke into the phone receiver. It was far from the first time he had received a phonecall this late in the night. However, phonecalls at this hour never bore good news.

At first, nothing but static. This in itself was odd, as usually the communication lines were impeccable. He repeated himself. Then the voice came through-- small. Thin. Panicked.

"Mister Spencer?"

"Speaking."

"It's--" A catch in the voice; a pause. The woman on the other line began again: "There's a problem."

Jason Spencer raised his free hand to his creased forehead. It was going to be one of those phonecalls.

"How bad is it?" The question was redundant but procedural; the call wouldn't have been patched through to him if the problem was not almost beyond repair.

"Bad." It was choked out, like it had to wriggle past the gigantic lump in the speaker's throat before it sprang free. Another wave of static accompanied a brief fit of swearing in some foreign language, and then more words: "--calling from one of the safehouses near the main building."

That explained the poor connection. Those safehouses had been barely touched in years, let alone maintenanced. They had never been needed-- until now, it seemed. Spencer grunted his recognition, his free hand now moving to the half-empty glass of brandy that had been sitting forgotten on the black glass of the living room table. An idea for the scale of the problem was beginning to put itself together in his mind, piece by piece. If the staff had already moved to the safehouses, then the situation was indeed dire.

There was a pause, slung low and powerful in the air. Then, the caller cleared her voice, and with a tone commendable for its bravery given the words that followed, she spoke.

"It's Facility One, sir. It's gone dark."

Gone dark.

Spencer downed the brandy in one. Those two harmless words were company shorthand for a complete inability to establish any sort of connection to the facility's computer system or to raise its personnel via any form of communication. Nobody was even answering their personal cell phones. The facility was completely cut off; those eight letters meant it was dead to the world.

"How long?" It took all of his energy to force composure into his voice. The company would be looking to him for guidance and leadership. Now was not the time to betray that trust with his own unease.

"At least an hour, sir." There was a slight tremor to her voice; this was earth-shaking news to everyone. That a thing like this could even happen had been the stuff of speculation, hypothesis, morbid but light-hearted 'what if' talks around the water cooler. Put into reality, it had shaken everybody.

Spencer swore softly under his breath. It would be inaudible to the speaker on the other end of the line.

"Have you heard from any of the personnel?" He was reluctant to bombard the frightened employee with questions, but the answers would be crucial in deciding what do to next.

"There are one or two groups," she responded, her voice evening out now that she was being asked direct questions. She could answer direct questions. Being mechanical was easier than thinking freely at this point. "Nobody special. Just the few that made it out early. But--" There was the catch in her voice again. The Violan employee took a breath, and then continued: "But we haven't heard from anyone in Basement Five."

Spencer didn't need to be told. Given the nature of the work done in Basement Five, the problem was always going to have come from there. In fact, in hindsight, he thought, the only surprising thing was that it had taken this long for the phonecall to come through today.

"Mister Spencer?" The woman on the other line cleared her throat again, as if doing so often enough would dislodge the dread that had settled inside her. "What-- what do we do, sir?"

"Hold tight where you are and wait for further instructions. Someone will be in contact soon." Rattling off the commands with the rapid precision of a man used to issuing orders, Spencer cut the line without waiting for a response and dropped the phone to his lap. He had been reclining in a worn, leather armchair when the call had come in, quite relaxed and content in the low, soft lighting that filled the exquisitely furnished penthouse apartment.

Those feelings had evaporated now. He snatched the telephone up from his lap and rose from the relative comfort of his chair. He strode across the laminated wood flooring towards the apartment's tall windows, their watery moonlight cutting a fearsome, shadowy version of the man on the floor behind him. He cut an impressive figure himself, after all; no matter where he was, Spencer could fill a space with the commanding presence of an old lion, one whose mane of greying hair did not diminish its status as the lord of its kingdom.

The kingdom in question was the Viola Corporation, one of the planet's leading developers in everything from advanced robotics to biological weapons development. There was a good chance that half of the electronic devices in this apartment had been developed by his own company.

It was a business that left its President fabulously wealthy, but also in a precariously responsible position. The company's reputation for quality across such a vast range of products attracted considerable attention from the kind of interested parties which did not appreciate failure. Just off the top of his head, Spencer could list half a dozen high level projects that the company was developing under contract for three separate governments on two different continents.

Spencer knew with a grim certainty that it was one of these projects that had caused the crisis befalling Facility 1. However, his mind was far from the obligation to the Artolian government to see this project through to its conclusion. The situation needed to be controlled and contained before he could turn his thoughts to salvaging what was left-- otherwise there wouldn't be a single scrap to salvage.

He let his gaze drop away from the brightly lit skyscrapers of the extravagent city skyline and back towards the phone still clenched in his hand. Only half a dozen phone numbers were saved to this device. It was reserved for only the most important phonecalls in only the most extreme of circumstances.

Tonight more than qualified. Raising the phone back to his ear, he was greeted with the voice of a decidedly cheerless receptionist asking exactly who he thought he was and what he thought he was doing to be calling at an hour like this.

"This is Jason Spencer. Put me through to Vargas, immediately."

.oOo.

The Viola Corporation was both Artolia's shield and its sword. It had been that way since the war; their technology the most useful, their weapons the most deadly. While they had been successful before, it was after their victory, rising from the rubble and smiling infomercial smiles, that truly placed them in the favour of their country. They were Artolia's favourite little monster.

But monsters beget monsters. There were some things that Viola had tinkered with that perhaps been a little too ambitious of them; that had never seen the light of day. Some things that even the most zealous of soldiers would think twice about before using on a battlefield. Some things, locked away dark and secret in the labyrinthine laboratories that lay a mile underground, that their more cautious employees argued should never have been made in the first place.

But they had been made.

And now they were waking up.


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