Mecha Dungeon Apocalypse - Prologue
A low hum filled the room as the door opened, automatic lights coming on as the man entered the room. The lights revealed a small office, with a desk dominated by a monitor and keyboard alongside various scattered notes and several stuck sticky notes on different walls. The man took a seat, and with shaky fingers re-activated the computer system. The screen turned on at his touch, revealing a recording software waiting for activation. The man took a deep breath, and activated the system. The recording began with relevant log information being displayed:
User detected: Dr. Ritter Conns
August 15th 2099
Site 3, The Bunker
As the log information moved to the top left of the monitor, a black screen fizzled to life as the appearance of the man came into focus. The image reflected onscreen showed that of a young-ish looking man in a tattered white lab coat blackened by soot and several laser burns. His apparent youth was belayed by what seemed to be a newly clean-shaven head that did little to hide the stressful lines of hardship and loss accumulating on the man’s face. The man cleared his throat after a moment before speaking, taking a deep breath.
“System log open, name, Dr. Ritter Conns. I am recording myself for the future, and out of habit,” he coughed suddenly before shaking his head. “Apologies. There was a lab accident earlier involving one of the alphas. The doctor would have given me a clean bill of health if I’d waited, I’m sure. It’s merely my nerves and throat that beg to differ, but this is more important.”
Dr. Conns coughed again before continuing, “The situation has deteriorated once again, I’m sad to say. My superior, Dr. Sistema, who usually makes these reports, will no longer be able to record these logs. She has passed away, leaving me the new head of Site 3.” The doctor closed his eyes and took a shuddering breath. “She made sure before she left that everything could and would continue without her. Without her sacrifice, the research gained at Site 2 would have been lost, alongside their prototypes. Due to radio silence, we only learned of this today, two weeks after the loss of Site 2. We here now carry the hopes and work for both Site 1 and 2, I’m afraid.”
The man coughed again, this time spewing up fleck of blood into his hand. He looked down at the droplets of red with a frown, but continued.
“With the loss of Site 1 earlier this year, this leaves only Site 3 as the last bastion for Project Bastion, Project Knight, and Project Lighthouse. Thankfully, we have enough resources and survivors to continue all three, but supply runs are beginning to drop. I’ve heard word that the civilian government has already begun mass-evacuations from Titan and Lunar Base, and that Earth will soon follow. Genetic profiling has already commenced to separate the best genetic lines for evacuation-”
At this the man scoffed and broke his serious façade. He rubbed his bald head with a sigh.
“Damn bastards, but at least they know it. At least they have the tech to let the computers sort through most of that morbid job. I doubt anyone of us is going to heaven for this, but the fate of the human race as a species has proven itself a solid and unassailable reason. A reduction in bio diversity to minimize negative factors is something no one would have ever imagined we’d have to do, but it has come to this.”
The man appeared to visibly aged as he said this, a deep grief on his face along with a determined resolve.
“Regardless, the loss of Dr. Sistema has left me in charge of the three projects. I’ve ordered as many non-essential personal as I could along with as many genetic line samples as possible to join the evacuation ships. Everyone else vital to the mission, including me, is staying behind. The Lighthouse prototype is almost complete, and if successful will change the fate of our species. The enemy would seem to know this as well, proven with the huge loses they took in destroying Sites 1 and 2. Though scouts haven’t yet been sighted within our range, its only a matter of time given the enemy’s progress towards Earth.”
“As such,” the man took a deep breath, “After consulting with the other department heads, it has been agreed that activating the tomb protocol will be done once everyone unneeded is gone. We’ll be taking on as many supplies as we can get with each supply run, and minimizing usage from today onwards. I don’t know who is in charge of the civilian government anymore, but I received their blessing a short while ago, and their gratitude, for whatever value that holds these days.”
The man gave a wry smile and chuckled, coughing at the end. He pulled out a handkerchief and dried his mouth.
“The tomb protocol will activate the seismic generators and release some of the magma from the thermal generators. The resulting seismic shifts will trigger the fault line beneath the facility and ensure Site 3 is buried where no one can find us. Combined with the advanced materials used in construction and the area’s volcanic activity, we will be well masked from any and all sensors. The decoy base is almost finished, which will serve to support the garrison base nearby. If the enemy do come here searching for us, then they’ll find a hard fight and enough of a target to satisfy their search and destroy needs. Only the leaders of the bases are aware of their role as decoys, those poor souls.”
“In any case,” Dr. Conns continued, “We remaining few should have enough supplies and replacement parts after a few more supply drops to continue our work until we expire of old age. Combined with the facility’s fabricating ability, the remaining thermal generators will ensure that the computers and systems remain active even if we should expire early due to accidents or piss poor luck. We expect to complete work on the Lighthouse alpha prototype codenamed Gamma within a few months to a year. Should the situation remain as it is on the surface, we will deploy Gamma only as a last resort. The prototype will require countless years to properly test to ensure it does not, fail-”
A hand appeared from outside the camera’s view as Dr. Conns had another coughing fit, but he waved it away.
“Gamma will be the culmination of humanity’s progress. Unless forced to activate it early, we will devote all of our remaining time and beyond to ensure it is our savior, and not another destroyer. This facility, once buried, will not resurface for at least a century if the tectonic estimates are to be believed. The enemy may change this plan, we shall have to see and leave it up to God, or whichever deity the others believe in. Steven, that reminds me, add a note for me to add the-”
The image suddenly vibrated and shook as if the recording had been interrupted, the last frame being of Dr. Conns being pulled away by several hands most urgently.
“End playback,” came the older, gruffer voice sitting behind the desk. “Begin new log, standard settings.” As the computer beeped back in confirmation, the screen shifted to that of a live feed. The image of the doctor flickered and phased out until he reappeared on screen. Dr. Conns compared his look to the old recording. He rubbed his short, white hair with his prosthetic arm, muttering something about cameras adding years before clearing his throat.
“Ahem. This is Doctor Conns, lead scientist of Site 3,” he began. “For now, this may be the last recording I think I’ll make for awhile. I know I’ve said that for the last several, but its fine. Turns out, time tends to fly without the constant presence of a day/night cycle. Now, where did I leave off…”
“Right, status update.” Dr. Conns grunted. “Where were we? Tomb protocol was. . . right, that long ago. Right, right. Ahem. Today was rather special, since Project Lighthouse finally produced a successful beta prototype. That’s right, we finally made one worthy of the name Gamma. Finally, finally…” The doctor shook his head quickly and wiped something away from his face. “Ahem, yes, Project Lighthouse prototype Gamma, has been successfully created and scenario tested. Standard bugs as expected, but performed beyond expectations. Still requires a long testing phase, ‘course, but a success is a success. Some of the guys and gals were happier than I’d seen in years. Couple of the little ones even got to try a sip of ‘adult juice’ for the first time, heh. Get used to the bitterness brats.”
Dr. Conns chuckled softly. “Well, since it became standard to not include vital information in personal logs, guess I can’t say much more. We’ve done what we set out to do, and no matter how many years it’ll take, humanity will have hope, when Gamma awakens. Even if, none of us are around to see it.”
The doctor stared into the camera for several moments before sighing, and turning off the recording.
It would never record again, but no one knew this. Nor did anyone in the facility know of the raging sandstorm above them, slowly wearing away the burnt tree stumps and fallen titans.