The building where they're doing the brain scans isn't that far from campus, so it's not hard for Margaret to show up a few minutes early. She brought some homework to work on if they're not ready for her yet, but it turns out she's too excited (and maybe also nervous) to focus on Engineering Systems Design right now. She double checks the room number in the recruitment email and knocks.
"Oh, did I pull you out too fast? Sorry. Um, can you get the doors to the hangar open? Also I don't know where the Tech Depot is."
"Sure, let me see what I can do...hang on...there we go, behold...the DUNBAT!" Catherine sounds happy for a moment, as the lights in the hangar outside the window snap on, highlighting a massive, clawed submarine shape hanging from the roof, and a camera snaps on showing "DUNBAT Interior". The inside, though, is covered in WAU polyps. "Hang on, what?" Catherine says. "It's...quarantined, with some kind of security cypher."
"What, like it has a computer virus? I guess the WAU is more like a computer virus than it is like a lot of other things."
"Something like that. It looks like security locked it down while they figured out what to do about it," Catherine says.
"I guess that's up to us now, then. Want me to go take a closer look? Maybe I could--try to scrape some of it off?" She sounds pretty doubtful even to herself, and even if she knew it would work it doesn't sound like a pleasant job.
"We'd have to get in first, they've got the entire hangar quarantined," Catherine says. "And this is a serious cypher."
"Hmm. I'm afraid I don't know anything about getting around that sort of thing."
"I don't either, this is like...q-comp level cracking," Catherine said, "We'd have better luck trying to figure out who set it than cracking it with Theta's resources. Let me unlock the rest of the station I can, maybe you can find something about who set it up." There's a click, and some additional lights come on, including the computer workstation over to the right--a conventional one, with an office chair and a remarkably normal-looking gray desktop case. Out the window, Margaret can see the lock lights on the accesses on the other side of the room turn from red to yellow.
Huh, there are quantum computers in the future, Margaret thinks as she sits down at the workstation and starts looking through the available files. That's cool. Also cool: she's been standing and walking for what must be quite a lot of hours at this point, and she doesn't have the sort of aches and physical weariness you'd get in a regular human body.
The computer shows a few menus active, and a few others greyed out as "Mainframe Inaccessible". "Site Status" reports the station in good shape, with the WAU controlling the air and station structure to within nominal levels. Despite the grime, slime, and troubling piles of debris, the WAU is apparently still keeping the station intact. The next thing is a set of maps, frustratingly unlabled, showing the three levels of the station and tracking "blackbox beacon" locations. Finally, there's a list of the staff, with far too many listed as "missing" or "dead".
Theta staff list (1/1/2014):
Alvaro, Emma – Astrodynamics Expert – THETA
Bass, Robin – Field Service Technician ((Deceased)) – THETA
Chun, Catherine – Intel. Systems Engineer ((Missing)) – THETA
Cronstedt, Dorian – Admin. Supervisor ((Deceased)) – THETA
Davis, Jessica – Structural Engineer ((Deceased)) – THETA
Defreine, Joaquin – Field Service Technician – THETA
Evans, Shawn – Field Service Technician – THETA
Fisher, Martin – Wrangler ((Deceased)) – THETA
Fourqurean, Keith – Overseer – THETA
Frost, Matthew – Biomimetics Expert – THETA
Hill, Jasper – Software Coordinator ((Missing)) – THETA
Ivashkin, Nicolai – System Architect ((Missing)) – THETA
Komorebi, Maggie – First Responder – THETA
Konrad, Guy – Wrangler ((Deceased)) – THETA
Koster, Alice – Payload Manager – THETA
Lindwall, Sarah – Payload Technician ((Missing)) – THETA
Masters, Nadine – Medical Doctor – THETA
Pedersen, Ian – Software Engineer ((Missing)) – THETA
Reed, Imogen – Mechatronics Engineer ((Missing)) – THETA
Sarang, Mark – Intelligence Analyst ((Deceased) – THETA
Strasky, Peter – Dispatcher – THETA
Strohmeier, John – Security Operative – THETA
Thabo, Richard – Mechatronics Engineer – THETA
Wolchezk, Heather – Site Service Engineer – THETA
Adams, Jane – Chief Factor – UPSILON
Daviau, Marishika – Wrangler – LAMBDA
Finley, Gavin – F.S. Technician ((Deceased)) – UPSILON
Goya, Javid – Wrangler – DELTA
Grau, Nathan – Capt. Of Port ((Deceased)) – LAMBDA
Hart, Vanessa – Dispatcher – LAMBDA
Jonsdottir, Vigdis – Dispatcher – UPSILON
Josic, Chris – LAMBDA
Krier, Astrid – F.S. Technician ((Deceased)) – DELTA
Meuron, Louis – F.S. Technician ((Deceased)) – UPSILON
Rogers, Baxter – Geotechnical Engineer – UPSILON
Shankar, Aashish – Wrangler – UPSILON
Wan, Brandon – Wrangler – DELTA
Robin is NOT dead and Catherine is NOT missing and she's going to keep it that way as long as she can. But it's information she ought to pass on. "Looks like the people here don't know what happened to your original body either, as of January first. Or five other people."
"They're...missing? For four months? Does it say where or when? And if everyone else was around...where are they?" Catherine says, sounding concerned.
"It doesn't say where any of the accounted-for people were other than presumably at Theta." She reads off the list of who was dead, missing, and neither.
"Reed's missing? She was...she was nice."
"Are any of the missing people ones you remember scanning? I know some of the ones listed as dead are."
"No, I did myself first--I had to know if it would work. That data might be in my lab on what the me that I was did after I was scanned," Catherine says.
"Is your lab around here somewhere; should I go check?"
"It's in the R&D area, near the dorm level you should be able to get to it from here with the hatches I was able to open," Catherine says. "You should definitely check it out."
"Alright. Is this another area where you'll be able to hear me from lots of places or will I need to come back here to tell you anything?"
"I'm tapped into the intercomms for this level, so I ought to be able to hear you and you should be able to hear me," Catherine says. "I don't like this, I can't hear anyone moving around other than you. It doesn't make any sense--this was the center for all of Pathos-II. If there was anyplace people should still be, it's up here by the gate and the dorms."
"Yikes. I'll let you know if I find anyone alive. Or any other way." And off she goes across the hanger to the R&D area and the living quarters.
The corridor leading up to the living quarters seems to be cut into the rock of the seabed, and it seems like the WAU has made stabilizing any potential leaks a priority--clusters of polyps and solidified drips of structure gel lurk in the corners where the rock walls meet metal door inserts. Another WAU bulb tops a large cluster of polyps in one corner, but for the moment Margaret isn't particularly "hungry". Up a small ramp, there's a hatch off to the right labeled "R&D/Laboratory," what looks like a storage room to the left, and then down the corridor straight ahead Margaret can see what looks like an institutional lounge or waiting room--she can just barely make out a well-worn couch and some tables.
She'll want to check out everything eventually, but "R&D/Laboratory" first.
Proceeding down the corridor, it looks like it'd previously run towards the same lab section accessible from the large doors in the hangar bay, but now it's turned into another T-junction, as the door marked "laboratory" is closed and displaying a flickering red light, with structure gel leaking around and dried holding it shut. There's another room to either side of the hall, though--one with a pilot seat like the one back at Upsilon's Tech Depot, the other looking more like a computer research lab.
"Well, this is it," Catherine says over the nearest PA speaker. "I spent so much time here, even before the comet, and afterward...afterward there hardly seemed like anything else worth working on than the ARK."
"It was the most important thing.
I don't think I ever said--thank you. For saving humanity."
She walks into the computer research lab.