The GCW building stood tall in front of them. All around, a purple dusk with tints of gold crowned the fields that stretched off to nowhere. The plants were swaying under the gentle wind, but this building was not. It stood, tall and firm, refusing to decay and topple like its many brethren. Indeed, the building was relatively well conserved after having spent two hundred years in the open. A few cracks here and there, windows a bit dirty, but not even ivy had dared to climb upon it. They had heard this was due to the Ideal inside. When an Ideal went inside a building and made it its gut, the decay of the building stopped, or at least slowed down. This made it easy to know which building housed a gut or not.
Jhin got close to the glass door. Despite being entirely made of glass, they couldn't see inside. Dusk was on its way, but there should still be enough light to peek inside. And yet, it was... well, it wasn't complete darkness. They just couldn't see what was inside.
The door opened automatically. Even after two centuries, the circuitry was functional. And, there was still power. Intrigued, the two went in.
The inside was dark as well, but not to the point where you couldn't see anything. Dim light bulbs shone upon a slightly grimy checker pattern on the floor. The walls were covered in large and twisted cabinets, full of paper and forms from the past, and even outside the furniture, tall piles of paper rose nearly to the ceiling. A strong smell of coffee and paper filled the air, accompanied by a choir of typewriters, keyboards and printers of an unseen origin. They advanced cautiously in this unknown place.
The first thing Melissa noticed, is that the layout made no sense. She was always trying to keep track in her mind of where they were, and more than once she felt that the place they were in was outside the building itself. It also seemed like it was built by a mad architect : corridors spliced midway through into two, each side leading directly into a wall, stairs leading up or down but with no opening in the floor or ceiling to account for it, hallways turning at a right angle forming squares with three or five sides. None of it made sense.
The second thing they noticed was remarked by Jhin : it was all corridors. There were no side rooms, no offices. There was a complex background noise coming from many office supplies, but they could see none of it. There weren't even printers.
And so, stumbling in this chaotic and unorganized maze, they saw someone. Holding a tall stack of paper in front of them, they were clothed with the classic black pants and white shirt of office dress codes. But their head was unseen, simply an undistinguishable dark mass.
"Uhm... Hello ?" called Melissa
-Yes ? I'm busy, so be quick.
-We were wondering about how to get to the, uhm, director.
-Oh, I'm afraid you won't be able to see them without an appointment, and their schedule is full for the next few months.
-We do have an appointment" said Jhin "But this office is so maze-like we're going to be late.
-Oh I see. Then I'll just... " started the Ideal, and without finishing they nearly threw the pile onto the floor, in a corner.
"If you would follow me." And away they went. Navigating the maze without looking behind them to see if they followed, the Ideal seemed like a fish in water. A very burnt out fish, but a fish nonetheless.
After a few minutes, they arrived in front of a door, the first they had seen since they entered the building. The door was wooden, with a panel made of cloudy glass. "Here you are. Please remember to say it was me who led you here, that'll put me one step closer to my promotion." and after these few words the Ideal went running back the way the had come.
The door was imposing. Both Jhin and Melissa were hesitant to open it. But after a few seconds of waiting, the door opened by itself into a dark, indistinguishable room, beckoning.
Inside the room was even darker than the rest of the building. The only light were coming from countless screens, each showing complex graphs and values.
Two hundred years ago, during the broadcast of the final discussion in which Enner had participated, chaos had ensued. While a lot of people hadn't believed the discussion, thinking of it as a hoax, a large part had believed it, or at least thought something would happen. During this short moment, merely an hour or two, the stock market had fluctuated so violently and so chaotically that even two hundred years later, ripples could be felt. In these short few hours, entire companies valued at hundreds of billions of dollars collapsed practically instantaneously, and small companies saw their value skyrocket.
Nowadays, no one was paying attention to the stock market. It was a relic of the past, of a society that no longer cared about living day to day but instead about hoarding a large, but useless pile of artifacts.
No one cared about the stock market, except for one Ideal. An Ideal which, by themselves, were running thousands of smaller companies they had bought for dirt cheap, and were trying their hardest to reestablish some sort of order in the peaks and valleys of value graphics. This Ideal was the Ideal of the marketplace. And currently, two interlopers had come and were about to throw all that hard work away.
"I believe you did not, in fact, have an appointment scheduled."
-Indeed. We were just tired of having to walk around aimlessly.
-Think of it as a security system. Indeed, you would not have found the way was it not for an underperforming employee.
-We'll make you an underperforming boss, don't worry.
-Even if one company fails and crashes, a thousand others will rise to fill the gap. You have no hope of defeating me.
-We've seen tougher speeches from tougher people."
Enough had been said. In the bluish, flickering lights, a shape appeared. It looked like a man with long arms and legs, dressed in a black costume. He wore a tall, black hat, and his large, devilish smirk was adorned by a thin mustache and a pointy beard.
Without even moving a finger, two of the screens next to him turned toward the duo, and stretching arrows, direct continuation of the graph, soared and plummeted chaotically, but launched toward them. At the last moment, Jhin jumped out of the way and dodged. But Melissa wasn't so lucky, and was hit in the leg.
Using his jump to his advantage, Jhin smashed one of the screens nearby and launched it toward the Ideal. He tried to jump out but was too slow, and slammed down to the ground under the weight of the screen. Nonetheless, he raised a hand, and from it came a greed and an I.T construct. The constructs circled a bit around his hand, then launched toward Melissa, who was still on the ground.
Quickly she sprang upwards, and grabbed a nearby screen to shield herself. The two constructs crashed into the screen and broke it into small pieces, which she threw to the side. Then, without warning, she launched a large rust construct toward Jhin, who grabbed a screen and deflected the construct with it toward the Ideal. Not fast enough, he couldn't get out of the way and took both the screen and the construct directly.
He collapsed on the ground, and the air felt strange. Without even noticing it, Jhin and Melissa were outside the building. It was nighttime, but even under the pale light of the thin moon, the windows showed what it was like inside. The Ideal had dissipated, and with it its gut, leaving behind only a desolate shell. Rows of cubicles covered in dust, fallen down chairs, and cracked walls.
They went back inside, and rethreaded their way, this time in a place that was not thrown together haphazardly, back into the director's office. Inside, a wall of screens was collecting dust. On the large desk, among the obsolete paperwork, they found the key to the harbor.