The elevator deposited Megan and Dennis on the sub-basement level of the building; the doors sliding open to reveal a long, narrow, empty corridor ahead.
“Where are we?” she asked.
“Where the magic happens,” he replied, smiling.
Dennis stepped out into the corridor and the fluorescent lights above became lit as if in response to his presence. They revealed that the corridor wasn’t quite as barren as Megan had first thought.
On either sides of the wall were large numbers written boldly in red paint; but as she soon realised, the paints weren’t just paints. Thing is, whenever Dennis got close to them, they came alive and began to shimmer, reacting to his presence just like the lights seemed to have some minutes earlier.
The entire area is one giant, intelligent technology, Megan realized; the entire building even, if she was being honest.
The techs, the people, the secrecy. Whatever Olympus was about, a lot of resources had obviously been put into it to ensure that it was a success. And here I am, dumped in the middle of it all, she thought.
Just then, Dennis reached the part of the wall marked 14. “Here we are,” he said, tapping on the number and immediately, it disappeared to reveal a virtual hand scanner.
“Confirm your identity,” an AI voice just like the one Megan encountered outside the building said.
Dennis placed his right hand on the scanner. “Dennis Ahmad, Director.”
Immediately, the wall responded and slid away to reveal an entrance. “Welcome, Director,” said the AI. “Please proceed into the laboratory.”
The laboratory, as the AI had called it, was unlike any Megan had ever seen before; not that she had seen that many laboratories, truth be told. But even at that, she knew that the lab was unlike any other.
For starters, it was very large; like it was so spacious that three passenger aeroplanes could easily fit inside it and still leave room to spare. From one end to the other of the room, workbenches long enough to accommodate fifteen people standing side by side, lined its length in neat rows.
About eight scientists, all dressed in lab coats and surprisingly, looking under the age of forty just like the people in the workspace above, manned the workbenches. They chatted away on topics Megan recognized ranged from Chemistry to Microbiology, and advanced combination topics like Biochemistry, Astromicrobiology, and others that she couldn't exactly pinpoint under which subject they belonged.
To the side of the room, various equipment used for different diagnostic and monitoring activities in various scientific fields lined the wall; and there were some that Megan couldn’t recognize or guess what it could be used for.
It's like one big, very inclusive, very expensive science fair in here, she thought.
“This is incredible,” she voiced out, unable to stop the awe coursing through her at the sight of the wonder before her that was Olympus.
“You haven’t seen anything yet, Miss Months,” Dennis assured her before waving to a bearded man who looked to be in his late thirties at the front workbench and he came forward.
“Let me introduce to you Edward Barnes, doctor of physiology from New York University,” he introduced the man where he arrived. “Doctor, meet Miss Megan Months. She’s a psychologist.”
“Nice to meet you, Doctor.” Megan shook hands with him.
“The same here,” he replied.
From the look and the jovial way his body was around her, Megan realized that Dr. Barnes wasn’t at all surprised to see her in the lab or hear who she was. In fact, if she was to guess, she would say that he had been expecting her to see her come in with Dennis. But how could he have known of my coming when I myself only received the invitation last night? she contemplated.
Arthur Dean, the response came to her almost instantaneously. It looked like the man had informed the whole of Olympus of her arrival before he even asked her. No wonder he had to threaten me into it, she mused.
But then the question rose again in her mind. Why? Why did he go through all that trouble just to acquire an everyday psychologist like me?
“So, how’s the subject today?” Megan snapped back to the present when she heard Dennis ask the doctor.
“He’s doing great,” he replied. “His vitals are good, his physio excellent. We’re about to run some base test on him now if you care to join us.”
“Of course.” Dennis signaled Megan to walk with them.
At this point, Megan was confused again, which was really saying something because nothing had made sense since she left her house that morning.
But the thing was that tests, diagnosis, and “subject” discussion were things she believed were more likely to be encountered in a medical environment than what she thought the lab should be fitted to do. Why will a covert, threat-response organisation concern themselves with medical procedures? she wondered.
Anyway, Megan followed Dennis and the doctor to the end of the room, past the medical equipment.
Immediately they approached the wall, it slid open to reveal a smaller room. This one was much darker, with only three scientists manning three different monitors that displayed what Megan discovered to be vital life signs: heart rate, breath rate, room-body temperature, glucose conversion rate, energy levels. It was an intricate survey of a person’s body and bodily functions; and it was live.
“Whose charts are these?” she asked.
“His,” replied Dr. Barnes, pointing forward.
Immediately Megan looked up, a light came to up to reveal a see-through glass on the other side of which was another room with a boy. He was a teenager, presumably sixteen years old at the most, Black, crew cut hairstyle, and the look of determination in his eyes.
The boy wore a silver turtleneck suit made of a fabric that Megan couldn’t quite place because it glinted in the light like metal but also looked flexible enough to be cotton, or wool, or any other fabric that everyday clothes were made of. The suit shimmered with every movement he made and she realised that whatever tech was present all over the building was also present in it; possibly the reason why the doctors could so intricately monitor his body too, she considered.
Megan tried to get a reading on the boy then but to her surprise, she got nothing.
Well, not nothing nothing. He did have some emotions coming from him: determination, excitement, the usual thrill of a situation that most teenagers had whenever they were about to embark on something new.
But none of those emotions, she knew, truly linked him to Olympus. There was absolutely no emotion from him about the people who watched him or what they were about to make him do; and that made her apprehensive.
“Who is he?” she asked Dennis. “What does he have to do with Olympus or threat assessment?”
“Patience, Miss Months,” he replied. "You'll find out soon enough."
He nodded to the doctors and the sound of a speaker coming on sounded in the other room.
“Hello, Jay,” Dr. Barnes said, his voice carrying even though he had no obvious mic on him. “Are you ready to go?”
“Hello, Doctor,” he replied, jumping up and down, and shaking his hands and legs like an athlete before a race. “I’m locked and loaded.”
That was the only command Jay needed as he tensed his muscles and his vitals began to change. His heart rate picked up, his breathing and the room temperature too; his glucose conversion rate went up, and his energy levels began to build.
And then, in full view of everyone, Jay lit on fire.