You guys, I am still recovering from the fact that TINY COOPER WAS A ROBOT?!!! Well, that would explain his superhuman abilities of enthusiasm and gayness. But seriously, crazy shizz is afoot! And what is the deal with Cain? Apparently, you’re dying to find out, because last week, y’all voted to A. Follow Cain down the tunnel to find out what’s going on. Was Tiny saying something about Chance, or was he saying “something chance for something something”?
There better be a caterpillar offering some v. calming hookah at the end of this tunnel! Let’s slip on another paper gown (at least this one’s clean) and find out!
Chapter 06: DOES NOT COMPUTE
Cain holds out the clean paper gown, looking at you with what appears to be a smile playing upon his extremely kissable lips. Gah, the Sentries are probably already on your trail, and yet all you can think about are smoochies with Mr. Mysterious? Your Artificial Intelligence teacher is right—the human brain truly is a mystery.
“I swear, I won’t peek.” Cain says, tossing the gown into your hands. “That is, unless you want me to.”
Your cheeks flush with what is apparently all of the blood in your system, as your brain goes completely blank. “Um, no, I’ll just be a few seconds.” Wow, way to go, smooth operator! You duck behind some crates and pull off your gown, crumpling it up into a ball and tossing it on the floor. As you slip on the clean one, your eyes fall upon the crate labels, each one listing a different chemical. Suddenly, something clicks in your brain, and you realize that if combined, they would make for one hell of a Chem 101 lab experiment. Like, the kind that would not just set off the school sprinklers but pretty much blow them into oblivion. Wait a second…how do you know that?
You step back into the tunnel pathway, ready to quiz Cain on who ordered the Make Big Boom! kit, when he turns around and lays a big ole intense stare upon you. “Are you ready?” he asks, extending his hand.
“Ready for what?” you step closer to him, but avoid taking his hand. You’re pretty sure any physical contact would damage your remaining speaking abilities beyond repair.
“To change everything, of course.” Cain takes your hand anyway, causing you to wonder if everyone has suddenly turned into robots because SPARKS! He leads you into the darkness of the tunnel, towards the murmur of voices, although you realize with a pang that you don’t hear Sev anymore.
“We broke into these tunnels a year ago,” Cain says, his voice resonating against the metallic walls. “Rolex hacked into an old server and found the schematics. They used to be for steam, but of course post-Reckoning technology rendered them obsolete.”
“What are you guys doing down here?” you ask, acutely aware of the sweat levels on your palm. You consider loosening your grasp on Cain’s hand but, well, it is pretty dark down here, and you don’t know where you’re going.
“You’ll see,” Cain replies, and you swear you can hear the smile in his voice. You notice a glimmer of light ahead, and it grows bigger along with the sounds of voices. You turn the corner, and suddenly you’re in another chamber, larger than the last but with the same low ceiling. Crates and decrepit machinery line the sides, and you spot Rolex sitting next to—
“Sev!” You gasp and race towards her. She doesn’t appear to be in pain, and you wonder why you heard her screaming earlier. Then you notice Rolex holding her forearm, which has a panel (what?) open and wires spilling out (WHAT?!).
“Hey loser!” She smiles brightly, tossing her shiny blond hair in a signature move you’ve come to find, well, rather endearing. “Welcome to our secret hideout! It’s pretty cool, right? I mean, yeah, it could use more colors, and the floors are pretty dirty, but—”
“Um, Sev?” You interrupt her, still staring at the exposed wires coming out of her arm. “What’s…uh, what’s the deal with the, um, wires? In your arm?”
Rolex pushes up his glasses with his index finger and grins. “So, you never guessed?”
“Never guessed…what?” You suddenly become aware of the other five people in the room, all of whom look vaguely familiar, and all of whom are now staring at you. Cain takes a step closer to you and shoots Rolex a warning look. “Go easy on her, man.”
“I just figured that after what happened in Unit 25, you would have noticed.” Rolex pauses, then his face softens. “Wait, you don’t remember, do you?”
Your brain, no, your entire being is suddenly filled with a buzzing as the room goes in and out of focus. Breathe, just keep breathing, you tell yourself. Memories float under the surface of your consciousness, bright lights and sterile voices that haunt your dreams and quickly disappear at the sound of your morning alarm. You feel someone tenderly squeezing your arm, and suddenly you’re back in the chamber with Cain next to you, his brow furrowed. “It’s ok if you don’t remember now. You will soon,” he says.
“But what if I don’t want to remember?” You shake your arm out of his grasp and look back at your roommate. “Sev, what have they done to you?”
Before Sev can respond, Rolex presses something in her arm panel (seriously, that’s just…not getting any less weird), and she freezes, blue eyes wide and lifeless. “We didn’t do anything to her. Well, I mean, besides re-programming. She’s always been an android, we just hijacked her motherboard so she can spy for us instead of on us.”
Well, this would explain why she’s so freaking perfect all of the time. “Wait, there’s androids in the school? How many? Who are they?” Your massive case of paranoia is giving the rest of your psyche a big TOLDJA SO. “I thought this technology was still years away?”
Rolex gazes at you with a curious look of disappointment. “You really don’t remember?” You shake your head, and he sighs, restarting Sev (still weird!) then glancing back at Cain. “See, this is exactly why we need Chance.”
“I already told you, she’ll remember! We don’t need him. And—” Cain’s vehemence is interrupted by a low but insistent beeping.
One of the other people in the room, a girl who may or may not have tried to talk to you once in Hydroponics (gah, you really do need to work on those social skills), looks up from a small console and barks, “The Sentries are on their way!”
“Dammit, I thought we’d have more time,” Cain runs his fingers through the dark locks over his forehead. “Ok, we need to head to the outer reaches of the tunnel and find a secure location in the Outside.”
Rolex shakes his head. “No, we need Chance! We have to retrieve him before the entire school goes on lockdown.”
“Oh you silly boys,” Sev giggles, flipping her hair. “Didn’t you realize? They implanted a tracker in her arm, and it will be activated at any second. She’s gotta scooch, otherwise this whole place is compromised.”
Everyone stops and stares at you, an experience you’ve grown accustomed to over the past few months, although you can’t say it ever feels exactly comfortable. You’ve got to make a decision, and you’ve got to make it fast.
A. Head back to the school, find Chance and convince him to join you on this mission to… wait, what IS this mission?
B. Go with Cain to find a secure location on the Outside, where you can ask him the 1,000 questions you’ve got stored up?
C. Retreat back to the stadium so that even if the Sentries pick you up, you can claim you were simply out looking to score (fortunately, Sentries don’t understand high school social systems, so they won’t realize the ludicrousness of your excuse)?
D. Head back to school, get into bed, and pray that this is all the result of the spicy curry you ate for dinner (i.e. a very effed up dream)?