I wake up. Above my head, a grey ceiling. Where am I ? I sit up on the bed. The mattress is not too firm but not too soft, and a white sheet covers it. Covering my body, a grey bedcover. The cover is warm and soft, beckoning sleep.
The room itself is grey. Grey walls, grey wooden floor, grey ceiling. On the same wall as the bed is a grey door. Opposite to it is a grey desk, with two computer screens and a keyboard. One of the screens is black, the other is showing something, but I can't tell what. Opposite to the bed is a dresser and a fridge.
I stand up, leave the bed. Barefoot on the wood, I walk to the door, and try to open it. It's stuck. I can't open it. I rattle the door back and forth. Still won't open. There is a greyish window next to the door, but I can't tell what is behind it. I bang on it, call for help. Bang on the door.
Maybe the chair could break the door or the window ? I go take it at the desk, and while passing see that the black screen is in fact showing something. It's completely black, save for the bottom of the screen, where a cursor blinks, awaiting input through... I guess the keyboard ? Hm. Just above it is a line that says
>>SBT: Hello, Aria. Are you awake ? Type 'y' if so. Thank you.
Aria ? Is that... my name ? Probably. Well, it'll have to do. I don't have any memory. Not in the sense that i forgot them, more in the sense of 'I never had any'.
I look on the other screen. It displays what seems like a headcam of someone in a white metallic coffin. A female voice comes out of the somputer's speakers. "Good morning Aria." The voice is metallic and artificial, but still a bit feminine. "I imagine you have questions. Usually you would have been briefed, but unfortunately we are out of time."
Behind the voice, I can hear sounds. It sounds... I don't know what it sounds like. I think I can hear explosions.
>>CMD: what do you mean ? where am i ? why can't i get out ???
"I understand your concerns," the voice tries to reassure, "but this will have to wait." On the screen, the coffin opens. The person inside spills out, as indicated by the camera falling to the ground.
"Are you ok Aria ?" This was a different voice. A male voice, coming from off screen.
>>CMD: i think so
>>SBT: Sorry, Aria. The professor was not asking you. The both of us are referred to as 'Aria', but I will call you Aria only.
"Yes, professor" answers the female voice, "Though you should know that I am not Aria.
-Yes, yes, sorry, 21. Anyway, we're short on time. I know this isn't ideal but..."
Another explosion shakes the screen. After the tremor ends, the person holding the camera stands up. The room in which they stand is bathed in red and orange from the fires raging outside the windows. It looks like a laboratory, but debris have robbed it of its usual cleanliness. I see where the male voice came from.
A man, not old but not young either, in a lab coat. His dark hair is the same color as his glass frames, and his unkempt stubble matching his open coat and the hawaiian shirt beneath.
>>SBT: Aria, do you know what a serpent is ?
>>CMD: like a dragon or a snake no
"Professor, it seems our listener does not know what a serpent is. Could you explain it to her ?
"Uh... we are currently underground. As in a whole underground city. Every city is underground since the surface is a frozen wasteland. Also, regularly, huge creatures attack these cities. Long snake-like monsters that destroy everything. We found that to defend ourselves, psychic powers work pretty well, and so I tried to create robots with souls, that could use these powers. Soulbot N°21, here present -" "That would be me" "-is the, well, twenty-first attempt at that. But only the third one that works."
"Explain now what role Aria serves.
-Yes, so, uh, you, Aria, the one in the room, is basically the trigger to these psychic powers. 21 has already underwent the training simulation, and kinda knows how to use these powers, but ultimately they're yours. I would've sent you to this training too, but uh... yeah we don't really have time."
Another explosion. I turn around on the chair and look at the window. The room I'm in hasn't changed at all. Psychic powers ? Undergound cities ? Robots with souls ? What ??
>>CMD: do you expect me to fucking believe you ? let me out of this room,, right now !
"I understand your concerns, Aria, but this matter is most pressing. Please cooperate with us, even if just for a short moment."
And then, another explosion. "Professor, I ask that you leave to the shelter. It is no longer safe to stay in the lab.
-You're right. I'll get going then, take care, both of you."
And there he goes. Why do I have to do this again ? "Aria, concentrate on my voice" This is so annoying. I just want to go home. "Aria, focus." Home ? I don't have a home ? God I just want to go to sleep. "ARIA !" Oh.
"Focus on my voice. Focus on what I say." I look at the screen again and oh god oh god oh god what the hell is that. The room outside is half destroyed, the ceiling and a few walls missing. Outside, a city is burning. Buildings are ruined, and the sky is lit up by the flames. The sky ? no, more like the bedrock ceiling. Yeah ok we're in an underground city its all fine.
Except NO IT'S NOT god fucking hell this shit is absolutely massive. A great snake like thing, waaaaay taller than the building and so, so fucking long. It's body is red-brown-orange-white, it kinda looks like feathers ? and then the head is just. A big light with eyes.
God. This ? Is a serpent ?? Oh god.