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Aug 01, 2021 11:34 PM
Soma but with a Margaret
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What about the T-shaped hallway further on?

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The hallway leads between a set of the vent hatches, and slumped at the base of one of the hatches is...a body. A human body, covered in blood. Too much blood to be alive. On the shirt pocket of the corpse is an ID badge: Carl Semken, 0722.

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Aaaaaaaaaaa corpse aaaaaaaaa oh wait it's Carl and he's fine not fine but not actually dead, that's still incredibly gross, she is stealing his badge but only because it doesn't have much blood on it and she's wearing nice thick gloves (has she mentioned she loves this suit). Now to bring the badge back and see what she can learn from that computer.

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The badge swipes on the reader built into the console, and reveals a menu. There's three options--an email system, a "power manager", and a staff list. On the staff list, it looks like most of the staff made it to Theta, but Amy Azzaro is apparently still at Upsilon Shuttle Station B.

In the messages, there's an unsent draft:


The power manager is less clear. there's six red icons.  "Thermal Chamber," "Const. Factory," and "Siphon" are all apparently "N/A", while "Comm Center," "Storage," and "Flow Control" are just "Off".

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It looks like she might be able to power some more stuff on from here . . . but she should really move that cable off of Carl first, it didn't look properly insulated and neither did he.

Also, now that she's thinking about it, Carl might not know that his biological body is dead. He would have swapped out of it before it died, right, and if he hasn't been back there he might think he can swap back in. Maybe that's why he asked for a doctor rather than an engineer. 

And she's going to have to be the one to tell him. Crap.

She hesitantly makes her way back to Assembly B. "Carl? I have some bad news."

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"Yeah, what now? Any luck getting ahold of Theta?"

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"Not--not yet. Also I found your biological body and, and, it was super dead. I'm sorry."

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"My biological bo...what? Come on, new girl, you got to wake up earlier in the morning to get that one past me. I'm right freaking here!" He waves a claw. "Look. Human hands. Human legs."

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Okay either this is a very weird prank or someone here (probably Margaret?) is hallucinating wildly. (It sure would be great if all of this was a hallucination and she's about to wake up in Toronto.) She does not especially want to admit to any of this train of thought; she is supposed to be getting help like a responsible person.

"Um, anyway, I need to move that cable off of you; I'm going to be shunting power around and I don't want you to get electrocuted. Can--can you tell me right away if anything I do hurts or makes things worse?"

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"Yeah, sure."

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Margaret picks up a relatively undamaged bit of cable in her heavily insulated rubber hands and carefully, carefully lifts it clear and sets it down on the floor where it's not touching Carl or anything else important.

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It takes some maneuvering to get the slack in the cable positioned right, but finally she's able to lift the cable off Carl. It comes loose easily enough, leaving behind a slick coating of the gel where it'd been resting on the robot carapace, and flops onto the floor.

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And! Carl does not scream or die at any point in this process! 

Now she can go and try to turn on the things that are turned off and hope some of them are closed doors that will become openable.

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Back on the console, trying to turn "on" the Comm. Center brings up a message that apparently there's insufficient power without either diverting power at a console in Assembly B or in "Flow Control". Tracking cables around, it looks like the auxiliary power cable which had fallen over Carl--who gives her a look and a "What the hell are you doing?" as she passes through--is the one she'd have to divert power through from Assembly B. She's able to open up the door to Flow Control, though, where a message on a similar divert handle says, "Read This! We strained the system. If you pull this lever, there's no turning back. Make sure you want it bad enough." Upstairs, there's a locker room with a set of more suits, like the one she's...in. One is missing, and there's a note on one of the lockers: 'Theta TURN AROUND. We sealed Upsilon to keep it working, don't fuck it up. A. Azzaro. Carl was not my fault." The actual airlock seems to be disabled, too--the door button into the lock chamber is inactive. Turning to head back down the stairs from the airlock area, there's a sign:

"Welcome to Upsilon! World's largest geothermal power plant. Gas refinery. Construct factory. Enjoy your stay!"

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Carl is very reasonable in asking that! She is a very confused college student from the past and has absolutely no business messing around with any of this stuff. But it's not like she has any better options! So once she's sure what everything does, she pulls the lever to divert power through the no-longer-dangerously-draped cable.

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"Are you lost?" Carl asks as she find her way to the power diversion control switch in Assembly B. As she flips it, the lights cut out and the spasmodically-moving robotic assembly arms freeze in place, though Carl's still lit by the lights on the glowing mass of structure gel anchoring him to the wall. "Ah!" Carl says, shocked. "Wha...what are you doing?" On the floor, clear of Carl, the gel layer on the cable sparks slightly.

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"Oh no are you okay, is--is something wrong?" Oh no oh no she's hurt him somehow and she can't flip it back

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"I'm fine...well, as fine as I can be stuck down here until you get a doctor for me, but you can't just go flipping switches like that. Somebody could get hurt. We're not all in suits, you know? Basic safety shit, didn't you go through orientation? Strohmier lecture you about just breaking into places with your omnitool if you feel like it enough and all?"

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"No. I didn't. I didn't go through orientation, I don't have any memories of the last several decades, I don't even know where this facility is or how I got here. I don't know anything about anything and I'm just trying to get the door to the communications tower open so I can talk to the person in Theta and get us both help, I'm sorry I'm not--someone better, someone who knows things, but I'm all we've got. I'm sorry."

She wants to add that she'll do everything she can to get them both out alive, but it feels like an empty promise.

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"I know it can feel like that, with everything happening up topside the last few weeks. Look, just go get on the comm to Theta, and see if you can get some help. You've got to focus on what you can do now, for yourself and for everyone left down here." Carl waves her out with a claw. 

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Does he. Does he think she has impostor syndrome. No, she does not have impostor syndrome, she just is the biggest impostor who ever impersonated anyone. But if he's going to insist on believing in her she's going to do her level best to live up to that. She gets moving again, goes back to the door that her power-diversion was meant to open.

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With the power diverted, the control console lets Margaret divert power to opening up the Comm Center door. Walking to the stairs up to the Comm Center, she's able to activate the lever for the big sliding (watertight?) door and move upstairs into, as promised, a room with a domed ceiling. Several large windows are set high in the metal dome, one trickling...more than is probably good for being underwater. Around the room are a few inert consoles, a few active consoles, and a large map of what looks like the Atlantic marked out with red string and pushpins. A few messages are printed out and also attached with pushpins. Reading through them, the picture gets grimmer.

She's on Earth. She's on Earth, underwater, and an asteroid hit and wiped out everything above the water. It said 05/09/2104 back on that console in the Tech Depot what feels like an hour ago...an asteroid hit the Earth 16 months ago, and she just woke up here now. On the other wall, there's a station that seems to offer a partial backup of some local site messages, and then there's what's clearly the main communications board which she could activate.

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She already knew that everyone she knew was dead, but now--everyone is dead. If she had kids or grandkids, they're dead. Civilization is dead. This bizzare underwater facility is a significant chunk of humanity. She almost understands why someone would have woken her up here--just to have there be one more person in the world. No wonder Carl thought she was losing her mind from stress.

She activates the communications board and prays to the obvious lack of benevolent deities that she can get through to Lambda again.

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The main comm panel lights up, but initially only with a single message: "LUMAR Link Broken, Manual Connection Required". Down at the keyboard, a smaller panel lights up with what looks like a directory.

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Are those . . . ping times? No, wait, they're depths. And Tau and Phi look like they're off the continental shelf, wow. Did these get built after everyone knew there was an asteroid coming, or were they already there? Never mind. She needs to get herself and Carl out of here before the leaky roof caves in and possibly crushes her to death and definitely floods everything. She dials Lambda.

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