“Alright, my eight-cornered friends, you heard our spectacular overlord BLANK. Time to disengage and leave the compartment.” Little Helper said into the silence. His words helped Dent recover. Orders are easy to follow; no processing required. Dent could simply move, not thinking about BLANK’s voice.
“This is it, let’s go,” 321-O said, still somewhat shaken. In each compartment, the Initializers disengaged and slowly filed out the doors.
“I just hope that BLANK stays quiet,” Dent replied, “They are the most insufferable, annoying, over-the-top…”
His words died off as he exited. He thought he would hover out to see the customary grey walls, marked spots on the floor for each Initializer, and giant viewing screen at one end. No. The view in front of him was unlike anything he had seen before. Their former spots were squished into the entryway surrounding Dent, and the Hub that followed was an immense stadium stretching out beyond reason. It had an oval shape, tilted slightly inwards, with the rows all facing a giant silver cube that hung in the center. It was absolutely perfect. Spanning the outside of the stadium were hundreds of small platforms, each situated equidistant along the path. They shone with a fluorescent under-light, illuminating their white labels from below. This place was immense and awe-inspiring.
“Well, this is nothing like it was before, now is it?” Dent mumbled, still taking in the scene before him.
“Nah, it’s not,” He heard 321-O respond happily, “See that everybody? It looks AMAZING!” His voice chipper again now that the conversation wasn’t private, Initializer 204 went into full jabber-mode, “See that giant cube? Anybody have any idea what THAT’s for? Pretty weird huh? Maybe a disco ball? And those numbers? I wonder why they’re set up in those patterns around the silver hover-y thing. I’d love to know if it’s-“
“321-O, you are doing it again!” Dent said, exasperated with his friend. 321-O always wanted to be seen as less than he was. Though, in some ways Dent understood. He had noticed that almost every Initializer had a few strange quirks. Acts they needed to perform, intrinsic to their coded personality. He often wondered if others felt that same uncomfortable feeling he did when confronted with abbreviations, but for their own matters. If so, 204 would feel awful if he didn’t speak that way, simply because of his programming. This thought made Dent feel a special warmth for him. The fact that 204 put in so much effort to be himself, and accepted the discomfort that came with it, invoked Dent’s respect.
“Dent, how can you see this and not wonder? Right everybody?” His friend replied, gregarious as always.
“Damn straight,” a voice to their left agreed and asked, “this feels like it’s going to be important. Have you guys seen that yet?”
When Dent turned to the speaker he saw Initializer 2, Designation “Coeus,” tilted upwards slightly, looking into the sky.
Five enormous emblems hung in the air above, whirling around each other like massive spinning coins. Blue, purple, yellow, green, red, each with a unique symbol.
“Coeus”, is the name of the second offspring of Titans Uranus and Gaia. His name means “query, questioning” or “intelligence”.Awesomo’s Note
Before the Initializers had time to digest the scene, a multitude of Little Helpers stepped out from each compartment of the Train, speaking in unison, “So here we are, the new Hub. Like it?”
While they spoke, every version weaved through the crowd, pivoting gracefully through the many Initializers like water flowing downhill. Any obstacle was insignificant. The Little Helpers pooled to the front of the entryway, and continued as one, “Before you, you will find individual platforms, each with a number corresponding to your personal identifier. The first step of this event is to take up your positions.”
As they finished speaking, the Little Helpers flooded towards the center copy. As soon as they neared another Little Helper, they merged and became one. Then, more Little Helpers would merge with them, and so it continued. A few moments later there was only a single Little Helper left. He stood in the exact center of the entry to the new Hub. “Ready? Start!”
‘Ugh, here we go again,’ Dent thought, ‘why does everything have to be a contest?’ He readied himself nonetheless and started hovering as soon as the others began to move. He had already noticed that the outermost rows of platforms corresponded to the highest numbers of Initializers. The lower numbers must then be somewhere below them, closer to the center. He went as fast as he could, keeping an eye on his battery level and making sure that he didn’t use too much charge on extra speed.
“See you later Dent!” He heard 204 call out to him as he passed a platform with the number 162 on it.
“Good luck, 321-O. See you after whatever this is.” He responded, not looking back. He continued past one more row then saw the number 61. Dent stopped and looked to his left, noticed the number 60, and began walking down that aisle until he reached 42.
“This is it,” he said to himself as he drew near the glowing platform. Now that he was close, he could see that it was made from a transparent material. He glanced down before hovering onto it and immediately shot backwards, exclaiming “Water take me!”
He carefully moved closer again and tipped his photoreceptor over the edge. There was nothing. Not just darkness, but the absence of everything considered BLANK Space. Dent could feel it, a zone outside his scope. If he were to fall down there, he would be gone. His existence unmade, forever lost in a void that was not of this place.
Strangely, the nothingness was glowing. An intense blue light pierced from below, causing the unusual illumination of the platform.
‘Alright then, Dent.’ He thought encouragingly towards himself, ‘You can do this. Just. . . do not look down.’
Hesitantly he started to hover over the edge, slowly gaining the confidence to move just a bit further. Then a bit more. He progressed to the center and took up position directly over his number, facing toward the enormous silver cube that enveloped his entire view.
With his proximity, he could see its perfection. The surfaces were entirely smooth, with razor-sharp edges connecting them; it looked completely solid. Indestructible. Immovable. As if the cube would still be floating there even if everything else was gone.
A few suspenseful minutes passed as the other Initializers found their places. Looks like speed was not part of the competition. As the last Initializer, Doppler, slowly approached and mounted their platform, the light below Dent flashed. The glow increased tenfold, instantly blocking everything else from view. A soft-spoken female voice piped directly into Dent’s audio receptors, “Integration complete. Welcome, Initializer 42.”
Dent disliked the forced conversation and began attempting to move, noticing he was now locked into his spot, stuck hovering over the abyss. His battery started charging and the light below him subsided again. Why?
“Please remain calm,” The voice continued, “BLANK is about to arrive.”
Heedless of the voice, Dent struggled harder. He knew that it was useless, but it was about the principle. He wasn’t about to let some random voice tell him what to do. He had dealt with too many automated messages bossing him around.
To his surprise, the voice continued to speak, “Please, Dent, stop struggling. I’m having a difficult time keeping everyone in their place.”
The personal tone struck Dent, and he stopped trying to resist. “By lightning’s sake! Who are you?”
“I’m here to make sure everything goes according to BLANK’s wishes. You may call me The Overseer.”
‘That voice,’ Dent thought, ‘It could state the most terrible things and no one would bat an eye. Dangerous.’
Before he could ask more questions, the entire Hub began vibrating. A deep, rumbling sound came from the cube in front of him. It slowly built energy, starting as a deep grumble, then leaping up the octaves. Soundwaves grew closer and closer to each other, ramping up until the screech sounded like pressure about to explode. The frequency reached almost imperceptible heights, ringing Dent’s entire body, then blinked out of existence without event. The absence of sound was deafening: one clock cycle stretched far beyond its length.
Then, all Hell broke loose.
A colossal bolt of lightning burst out of the sky and slammed into the Silver cube. The accompanying discharge of energy brought with it a sound so powerful that Dent could feel it slamming his body. It would have picked him up and crushed him against the wall if the platform hadn’t held him in place. Terrified, Dent watched as the Cube started to collapse into itself, then expand again. Its previously smooth sides broke into a million tiny parts, each rapidly gliding across the surface, bobbing and weaving among each other. Electricity crackled and blasted through the enormous structure, binding each individual segment to the ones around it, forming a grid of interlocking bonds that acted as the confines of the cube. A deep blue light emanated from the core, bathing the Hub in twilight and washing away all other colors.
INTEGRATION COMPLETE. COMMENCING TESTING PROCEDURE.