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.
There's a voice, in her brain. No, not a voice, some kind of playback, the machine telepathy thing again? She can read the minds of some of the robots, apparently? There's a rattling speaker grill noise, then a human voice, which sounds like the same woman from the comms panel. She's asking the robot if it can talk "like the others". She gets no answer aside from the same rasping speaking static. Asking it "why are you like this?" brings the same answer. She offers it some "structure gel" and then tells the robot it's "creepy as hell" and that she's going to shut it down. The message goes dead halfway through her second time assuring it she's shutting it down. Margaret barely has time to wonder about why she did that before there's a loud banging sound from around the corner.
Oh cool more telepathy aaaaaaaaa she's hearing the memories of someone maybe dying OH FUCK what is that noise time to run the other way really fast and then hide in a corner and see if it happens again.
After a minute or two of waiting, Margaret goes back to see what the noise was. She's hoping for people, or at least for "not the roof caving in".
The noise appears to have been the second robot, the static one, waking up and walking out, and then slamming a hole through the door at the end of the atrium which was previously closed, and which is now cratered outwards revealing another section of the facility. Down the new hallway a short distance is visible, ending in a turn to the right. On the end wall, some kind of duct or maintenance tunnel gapes open, with tentacables trailing into it. The robot is nowhere to be seen.
Huh, the robots of the future are buggy too--plus ça change. She wonders if robotics programming has drawn on anything learned from brain scans. Hard to say, since that one wasn't acting particularly humanlike.
Also, what kind of bizzare constraints were the people who made this place operating under when they decided to have all the hallways folded up on themselves like this?
She tries to get into the ductwork, because it's always so tempting to go into the ductwork and this time it really looks like she can get away with it, but with the diving suit on and the way the hatch is stuck shut she can't quite fit, so after taking a look around she backs out and goes around the turn into the new hallway.
The new hallways turns out to open into some large chamber--what a sign on the wall refers to as the "Robot Dock," apparently for the large airlock-looking hatch that the overhead rail leads to, though it also plays host to various other equipment in alcoves. A door on the far wall leads to the "Service Station". A fence with a locked gate almost divides the room in half, though it looks like there's an open portion at the far end by the door to the Service Station.
What sort of equipment is it? Is any of it omnitools, or otherwise potentially useful? If nothing else it could be a useful clue to how much technology has changed since her previous set of memories.
None of the equipment looks like the hand-held Omnitool picture from the Service Console in the Tech Depot. The first pair seem like some kind of generator or material processing equipment, their function unlabeled and indistinct behind proper guarding and signage about high-voltage equipment. As she wanders around the corner, there's a loud banging, and the overhead flood lights in the Robot Dock shut off. Suddenly, from the Service Station door, there's a rattle and several crashes. The door, secured behind one of the four-armed pneumatic seals, slams several times with white glow visible where whatever it was is almost breaking through. After a few moments, whatever it was (presumably the robot?) gives up and moves on--there's another noise like it climbing back into the ducts.
Whoever programmed that robot (or whatever uploaded human is currently being it, she supposes) should reconsider their life choices. She heads into the Service Station once the coast seems to be clear.
Whatever damage the robot's failed attempt to get out of the Service Station did doesn't seem to have done the pneumatic seal any harm, it falls away just like the last one, and then the door slides open smoothly. The room beyond is a mess. One the back wall, there's some overgrowth of the black goo (structure gel?) complete with glowing bits. Shelves full of equipment have been knocked over and scattered as the robot made its way from the tunnel entrance on the left to the one on the right, both closed now and sealed over with some more of the gel that almost appears to be setting like a scab. In the center of the room, there's another leak of gel from the ceiling, this one apparently fresh as the puddle is small. Navigating carefully around it, Margaret strikes gold--some kind of maintenance workbench for Omnitools. There's a scattering of tools (apparently screwdrivers, torx screw sets, Allen wrenches, and battery drill/drivers haven't changed much), a poster of an Omnitool's internals, and a cabinet labeled OMNITOOL In the center of the work surface, apparently freshly repaired, is an Omnitool, a glossy trifold pamphlet introduction to the "Omnitool v2.5 Smart Access Computer", and a service manual. Apparently, they can use some kind of short-range signal to activate various doors and devices, or be jacked into various physical sockets both for extra processing power of an onboard "A.I." assistant loaded in an external Cortex Chip module this one currently lacks, or as a physical security token for accessing advanced functions. The controls are a little rudimentary, probably because according to the service manual the device is sealed for use in environments ranging from vacuum to a rather terrifying 400 atmospheres of pressure.
Finally, some good news! Margaret thinks when she gets to the omnitool bench. She immediately pockets an omnitool, and also a couple screwdrivers and an allen wrench just in case, then reads the manual cover to cover. The mention of the range of environments gets her wondering where exactly this facility is. Probably not in space, regardless of the suits and the mention of vacuum--the gravity is earthlike and the corridors don't curve the way you'd expect them to for spin gravity, and more importantly, who would build a space station with no windows? No, more likely she's underground somewhere. Or underwater, which would explain the airtight suits. And of course there's still the simulation option.
Once she's done with the manual, Margaret explores the rest of the room some more, looking for a toolbox or something she can use to carry the rest of the tools in, and also checks out the far wall. The structure gel or whatever it is reminds Margaret of early 21st century speculations about nanotechnology, both the rhapsodies about it's amazing potential and the mutterings about why it might be a bad idea.
Margaret hits paydirt early in her search for a carrying case--a cargo tote labeled with a "Carthage Industries" logo and several barcodes, apparently intended for shipping to PTH2UP. It turns out to be large enough to hold most of the tools from the desk, with some tetris work, though the spare battery for the drill driver doesn't fit, nor does the large grinder/sawz-all. With that loaded (and she'll have to find someplace to scrounge up a carry strap), she investigates the gel. She's apparently not the only person to have cause to regret the gel--deep within the mass is what looks like another suit like hers, headless and full of something that glistens unsettlingly and might be either more of the gel, or blood--it's hard to tell in the light.
NOPE nope nope nope nope she is taking her stolen tools legitimate salvage and going Somewhere Else. Like back to the room with the terminal that wanted an omnitool inserted into it, maybe.
The lights appear to be out everywhere in this section now, but back at the Tech Depot, the Omnitool slides into the on the Service Console like it was made for it. After a few seconds of "scanning omnitool" and some kind of clicking disk noise, a computer voice reads off, somewhat stiltedly, "Service Console Upsilon Three Including Pilot Seat activated". A menu pops up, presenting "System Status", "3progresS5scaN-MP", "Omnitool", and "Inventory". Checking System Status first shows the following:
WARNING: Remote Access Denied
WARNING: Servers offline
WARNING: Main power suspended
-> Initiate WAU setup A.41iu
Emergency Systems: 13 days remaining...
The Inventory is the simplest, apparently just a tracker for the six "Haimatsu Ductile Suits" supposed to be stored here. Suit 3, hanging on the wall, apparently has an "unknown contaminant" but Suits 5 and 6 are "In Use". Apparently, all "Haimatsu Power Suits" are stored someplace called Omicron.
Under "Omnitool" is an entire sub-menu, allowing configuring a Tool Chip or Cortex Chip. It welcomes back user "Louise Meuron," and warns her Omnitool has neither chip, but a prompt allows her to unlock a tool box built into the console which holds a supply of Tool Chips, one of which is easy enough to load into the Omnitool. She's then able to flash on the latest security cyphers from the console's memory with an automated wizard (thankfully, as the user interface doesn't appear to be either Windows or a *NIX). There's also a worryingly casual training video for Field Service Operatives from one John Strohmier, Station Security Operative ("I have an office at Theta, come find me if you need any help") laying out that though Field Service Operative should have access everywhere, they don't given their Omnitool's restrictions to stop them from poking around places they shouldn't be such as research labs at "Omicron" unless they can find a way to work around them ("You're an engineer, for Christ's sake"). There's a brief flash of a diagram of the station, though badly distorted--apparently all the greek letters are different sections or zones. Apparently, with her Omnitool configured, Margaret now is equipped to go barging in all over the places. With her tool kit, she's even outfitted like a Field Service Technician.
The last section is the one with the strange name...which apparently turns out to be...well, her scan details:
28xY Terminal Scan
Beyond that, the scan devolves into some more uninterpretable characters, something about "WAU" and unavailable and then completed operations.
The controls for the "Pilot Seat" respond to her new Omnitool configuration, but none of the functions are accessible without somebody in it--apparently the seat is OFFLINE. There's a few reports, though, including one of "Wrangler" named Carl Semken getting shocked while using the seat to control a UH-3 vehicle to replace some heat shields causing a headache and nausea, then one later of other incidents (including to a "Gavin") of similar nature, eventually requiring "Prime Factor Jane Adams" to discontinue the use of the seats to require manual control or programming to be used instead, however slower it might be. So they...don't use these for scans, but instead some kind of tele-operation control?
The "13 days remaining" is pretty nerve-wracking but she knew this place was messed up. Also, wow, it's been 89 years. Her other self, the one who got up after the brain scan and went home, is probably either migrated to her own robot body or dead.
Being able to barge in everywhere sounds . . . pretty good at this point, actually, since if there's a way to fix this place or establish communications with somewhere that has people it could be anywhere. Also she gets the sense that the laboratory quarantine mentioned in the video is already a lost cause.
Seeing her own name in the files is unsettling without being surprising. She still doesn't understand why her mind in particular was here, or why she was woken up now. Maybe this place was doing neuroscience research? That could explain why her scan was in the facility's computers, but not why she would be woken up after everyone else was gone.
While Margaret ponders that, there's more ominous bangs and rattles, apparently the other robot is on the move again. Some are distant, then grow closer--there's a terrifying moment where a crashing rattle sends the gate on the hallway to the left of the Tech Depot slamming into the far wall as a spotlight sweeps against the wall, then it fades as the bot apparently turns and wanders off. There's one final-sounding hiss-slam of a door closing, and then silence for as long as it takes for Margaret to settle.
Margaret offers up a silent apology to all the people who were scared about autonomous cars. Being around something big and fast and controlled by unknown software is pretty scary, actually. Also, wow, all those people are also either immortal or dead. Her family and friends are either immortal or dead. What if she got married had kids and there are people out there who remember decades of her life that she doesn't? Whoever woke up a scan this old had better have had a good reason.
Eventually the runaway robot and the runaway existential vertigo both back off enough that she goes back to exploring for places she hasn't looked at yet.
There's one more corridor she has access to now, leading behind the Tech Depot and the Machine Hangar. The side corridor to the "Thermal Plant" terminates in a large, sealed door which even her Omnitool can't get working, but the newly opened hallway back to the Robot Dock shows three hatches--one large one for the robots in the Robot Dock, one smaller one that appears to be marked as an "external access," and then (down short corridor) one through a final hatch to the "Observation Tunnel" and "Observation Tower". Unlike the others, this one is active and invites her to scan her Omnitool to activate.
Observation Places are promising potential sources of context! Omnitool goes in the place and does the thing.
The door opens, and a short walk through stone reveals a glass corridor and the answer to whether she's in space, underground, or underwater. She's underwater, though apparently not too deep. Light filters down, diffused but fairly bright. Small barnacles and bivalves grow on the outside, and there's a little bit of moss on the inside, but someone has gone to effort to make it homey despite the industrial touches like a hatch in the floor. A table, chairs, and coffee cup indicate somebody liked to spend time here admiring the light and scenery outside--a nice change from the dark corridors of the facility she's seen so far, even without the dark emergency lighting. The table holds sketches of strange-looking fish, apparently somebody's art project. On the other side, she can see the outside of some of the access hatches, apparently...airlocks? Waterlocks? Whatever. Several large pipes parallel the tunnel across its length of a a hundred feet or so, one with bright blue letters UPSILON lightly overgrown with moss or kelp or something. On the same wall is one of the comm panels, again displaying a "DATA BUFFER AVAILABLE MESSAGE".
In the recording, a man (Carl? The voice is familiar from earlier, and his name was on the maintenance report) asks "Amy" if she's OK. She says she'll kind of miss the place as they head back to Theta. He assures her there will be plenty of time for watching the fish back at Theta, and he won't miss a power plant full of killer robots. Amy says that's cold, and it's not Theta's fault that it got "swarmed", and she'll sort of miss it after having worked there for years. Apparently, this one comes from around when the other was made.
At the end of the tunnel, after having examined all the (mostly corrupted) terminals and Amy's drawing station, the passage re-enters the rock on the other side of the underwater canyon. Up a flight of stairs, the passage to the "Observation Tower" is closed off, and Margaret has to turn to the right to "Security".
The view is pretty, but Margaret's not really capable of appreciating it as it deserves right now. All she can think about is how many miles of water are between her and civilization. And the implication that the buggy robot killed somebody isn't great either. Though at least, she thinks as she heads toward Security, it sounds like most of the people left in good order rather than dying.
(She keeps seeing that headless body buried in the gel. She hopes the kind of person she is now doesn't need to sleep.)
The next door's access button is red, even though the door stands open, and the case of the button itself has been cracked open by the pressure of more of the structure gel. Having failed to do the same with her prybar earlier, Margaret has a sense herself of the force involved in that. There's a steady drip of the gel from the ceiling, too. Walking near it, she's overcome for a moment, as a voice intrudes on her mind. A vaguely accented voice chatting in disjointed fragments about, "I don't understand" and "I just need to get back" and "What happened?" Her vision flickers disruptively as she walks past it.
All this telepathy and no people anywhere. It's not great. She keeps moving, heading through the unshuttable door.
As she steps through the door and into the next room, Margaret's experience fuzzes harder, and then the lights go out and the door slams shut behind her. She's trapped, alone, in a tiny room. Dripping in the distance could be the pipe of this facility, or it could be the miles of water forcing itself down into the walls, like the gel, like the monsters. There's a duct access on the wall, but poking at the red access draws a spark of electric shock and pain. Prodding the door control from the other side to go back the way she came brings the same. More pain. Why can this body even hurt? Her vision goes more staticky, more blurred. The only thing really lighting the room is dim red emergency lights from behind the grates in the walls leading to more pipe shafts, and practically clawing at the wall brings no solution, and a large white pustule of whatever was on the walls.
This one looks different though, less misshapen, more like an even blob of garlic, except with a spot in the middle that glows gently. In fact, the more she looks at it, the more it looks...good. Inviting. Something in her makes her want to reach out...and before she can even question what part it was, she's sticking a finger of her suit body down into the gel thing. It draws a wave of the feeling of being in a magnet, and part of it opens up with an interior glow as she prods it, and then there's something like an electric shock, but one that feels good...and then she's able to stagger back. She feels fine. Actually, she feels better. The light on the thing has gone out, as have some of the other lights on bits of the gel growths elsewhere on the walls, and the light on the access to the duct is new a calm yellow.