Lotte and Atlas made their way down the dark hallways of the abandoned Academy. Every classroom and hall was empty, filled with snow, after the windows had broken. As they walked through the empty building, they heard a low hum coming from below.
"What do you reckon is down there?" Atlas asked quietly.
"Not sure, maybe a generator or a server room?" Lotte shrugged, as they finally approached the door for the lower level, it was a heavy thick metal door, Atlas pulled but it wouldn't budge.
"Hey, gimme a hand" Atlas asked Lotte, she nodded and pulled at the door too, they both fell backward as the handle snapped off.
"Ouch" Lotte said as she rubbed her back, after hitting the cold floor.
"Why won't it open?" Atlas asked, as he got to his feet.
"It's probably locked" Lotte shrugged.
"If it was locked, it would have at least shook, that thing is solid" Atlas said, as he tried pushing the door, as he did, he fell through and tumbled down the stairs.
"Ow..." He laughed from the bottom of the stairs. Lotte looked at the door once more and noticed a sign that said 'Pull', and erupted into laughter.
"To think we're meant to be the saviours of the world" Atlas laughed uncontrollably, as Lotte made her way down the stairs and helped Atlas up.
"Hey were only Hubun... and Human" Lotte giggled.
"I think our problem is, we're too smart" Atlas joked, before shining his torch around the basement, the humming was still coming from below, but it sounded even louder now. The room they were in was tiny, and there were no doors that could lead to other rooms, the floor was dirt too, despite it not being the bottom floor.
"Something isn't right here..." Lotte pondered. "Why would a staircase come down to a room this small?" She asked. Atlas nodded and walked over to the furthest wall, it was made from stone like the others, but the stone was noticeably newer.
"Looks like Crystech wanted to hide something before they left" Atlas smirked, as he kicked the wall. The wall crumbled down, revealing a hidden hallway, the walls were covered in cables and coolant pipes.
"What the hell is this place?" Lotte asked, as she stepped into the hallway. Lights suddenly began to flicker on.
"Welcome back, Doctor Rychard Pyre" A robotic voice welcomed. Atlas and Lotte looked at each other, confused.
"That's not creepy at all" Lotte whispered, Atlas nodded and put the torch away, as he walked slowly down the corridor, to a door at the far end. Lotte followed close behind, keeping watch on the basement behind them.
"I don't like this, at all" Lotte grumbled, as they eventually neared the door.
"Alright, get ready" Atlas whispered, as he summoned his Celestial Blade. Lotte nodded. Atlas slowly opened the door, as he peered through, he saw a huge server room below a glass platform and staircase leading down, at the far end of the room there was something, but he couldn't make it out.
"Why'd he need to hide a server room? Plus, what's it for? The Crystech network servers are in the Crystech Spire, last time I checked" Lotte asked.
"Yeah, something tells me this isn't part of the Crystech Network" Atlas shook his head, as he walked onto the platform, before heading down the stairs. Lotte followed close behind, when they reached the floor below, the servers towered over them like huge black monoliths.
Between the monolithic servers were huge long straight paths that seemed to extend into eternity.
"When was this place built?" Lotte asked.
"I... don't know" Atlas shook his head, as he began making his way towards the far end of the room.
"Where are you going?" Lotte asked.
"I saw something... this way" Atlas frowned, Lotte nodded and followed behind him, the servers gave off a huge amount of heat, that was only helped slightly by the coolant pipes, which were drawing cold air from somewhere on the surface.
After four or five minutes of walking, they eventually neared the area where Atlas had spotted something. As the rounded the corner, Lotte fell backward in shock. Atlas stood horrified as a row the width of the room was filled with students and citizens, plugged into some kind of device. Atlas' eyes glowed red as he walked toward a nearby console.
"What is this sick shit?" Atlas demanded to know, as he turned on the console.
The console displayed the status of every single device that a person was hooked up to, several of them were highlighted red, signalling that the user was dead. Lotte walked up behind Atlas and gazed at the screen, noticing the title.
"Project: Auxiliary Paradise" She read. "What does that mean?" She scratched her head. Atlas nodded and read a linked research file.
'Project: Auxiliary Paradise is an experimental project to test whether the human mind can be transferred into a network, and if it can be brought together as a supercomputer, while the host's consciousness is placed in a 'paradise'.
The goal of this project is to devise a computer AI that can surpass all that come before it.'
"There's another file here, results" Lotte said as she pointed at the screen. Atlas nodded and opened it.
'Results of Project Auxiliary Paradise.
The project was an absolute failure, human mind rejects the paradise and other realities it has been placed in. As a result, the minds are not structurally sound enough to form a super AI. With the darkness closing in, this project will have to be put on hold...
I cannot remove the subjects from their stasis. I tried on several of them, but they wake up screaming, before trying to kill me in terror... I cannot fix this. What have we done? I hope Rychard burns in the hells for this, along with me.
Signing off, for the last time.
I don't want to put my name to this, I'm going to end things...'
Atlas and Lotte stood in silence for a few moments before looking at the pods.
"They just left them in there?" Atlas frowned.
"Why were they so terrified, what... what sort of sick simulation are they in?" Lotte asked herself. The hum of the servers was the only sound that filled the huge room.