**The story below is a draft **
“Greetings travellers. I Neptune, the grand AI of the city of Atlantis, welcome you to this place.”
Five strangers, united in an adventure none of them yet could understand, stood around the central console in the room as the hologromatic personification of the Atlantean supercomputer hovered eerily before them.
The large semblance of a face was comprised of thousands of small globes of light that simply hovered in the air, each moving and varying in hue as the features of the chromatic visage rose and fell with it’s ‘speaking’.
To Jack’s left was Arun, the young boy he’d encountered upon first arriving and exploring the extremities of the city. Together they’d proceeded further inwards to reach the centre of the incredible place, having made good progress before they met Jenxu, the girl to Jacks right. She’d been starving when they found her wandering aimlessly about the centre of some piazza square, seemingly not having the foresight to have packed any supplies for her compelled quest, so Jack had gratiously shared some of his and watched as she wolfed it down greatfuly. He had thought and still did now, as he stole a glance her way, that she could be one of the prettiest girls he’d ever seen. She caught him looking at her and smiled, he returned it in a healf-hearted fashion that he hoped came across as only having just noticed her, convincing her maybe that he hadn’t been staring at her but simply had started with her first before beginning a surveil of all those present.
“I and this city have slumbered for over 2000 years, waiting once more for the arrival of the progenitors lineage, those ancient habitors of this majestic construct and finally you have arrived, heralding the beginning of a new age of prosperity.”
Beyond Jenxu was Rasputin, a tall handsome boy of many more years than Jack or Arun and probably a fair few more than Jenxu, if he’d guessed her age of maybe 15 correctly. Jack and his two companions had only come across Rasputin and the final member of the five, Ayesha, after they had finally arrived at the centre of the cityscape. A tall imposing building had been everpresent in the distance to Jack since arriving and he’d reasoned fairly after some thought and time that it must be a place of importance, perhaps a city hall where a ruler of sorts might live, maybe simply a municipal building where the administration of running the city was undertaken everyday. With no other leads to play it had been his best choice of action and he’d easily convinced Arun and then Jenxu of the same after meeting them, the three had continued ever forwards and had made it in good time to the grand building after just a few hours travel from them all having met, their excitement growing as they came closer and closer.
“It has been many years since the re-genesis protocol was activated, and the genetic heritage of the founders was dessimanted amongst the populace of this planet, that you have arrived all together now speaks of fate and destiny.”
When they had finally arrived at their destination the building had been breathtaking, it had the same ethereal quality of many of the other structures in this underwater marvel but the level of complexity in it’s carvings and substrates was phenomenal, the building was a substantive work of architectural art and had clearly been a place of significance. Upon reaching the courtyard that surrounded it they’d met first Rasputin, he’d approached them cautiously from behind and watched them for a short time to ensure they posed no danger. Once satisfied he announced his presence and greeted them openly and warmly before leading them to where Ayesha was resting the two of them having created a small camp under one the couryard awnings. The five of them sat and spoke for a while, all had felt the strange pull to leave there homes and adventure out to find this hidden place and all of them had found a door on some forgotten isle which had brought them here via a magnificent craft, this shared mystery creating an instant sense of comraderie between them.
“You are all the key, the key to rebuilding this once great city. Here you will be Kings and Queens for whom the city will provide, your every whim will be catered for, your every desire fulfilled, you will want for nothing and you shall have everything. By your hands the city will once more awaken.”
Rasputin had recounted the story of him and Ayesha’s arrival first to the grand building. After many hours walk they had come to it and whilst at first elated to have arrived the feeling was soon soured when seemingly the only entrance was shut to them and would not open, worse than this there was no discernible mechanism by which it would, no keyhole, no keypad device, no finger or eye print scanner or anything beyond what they’d seen in movies. Jack upon hearing about the door had asked to be shown it and all five of the newly formed party left their makeshift camp and headed with rising inquistiveness to the unopening entrance.
“I ask of you now, fulfil your destinies, allow this city to live once more and activate the cities systems once again. Your DNA is the key to unlocking Atlantis and for it you shall be rewarded. You who have designated yourself as Rasputin, step forward and claim the boon of being first to start the process, step forward and place your hand for but a second on the control console.”
When they had all come to the door Rasputin had pointed out how although there was a recess he was not sure it even was a door as he could not see gaps anywhere between the door shaped wall and the encompassing arch. They all noted however the distinct patterns that seem to mark it as a feature of importance, with some of the runs Jack had seen previous running through it’s centre. Jack raised his hand to feel them, to make contact with their intricate patterns under his finger tips, to connect to them physically and see if it provided any intuition on how the door might open. Arun followed suit out of curiousity and as he touched the door face a soft pink light emanated from where he’d placed his hand, a matching green one appearing under Jacks simultaneously. They both withdrew their hands sharply. They looked at each other then looked at the others. Slowly one by one, with Jack going first, they placed their hands upon the door and watched as for each a colour would appear until when finally Ayesha placed her hand, with a soft blue appearing beaneath it, the door let out a deep hum and with a hiss of escaping stale air began to peal back and disapear before their very eyes.
“Jack, are you paying attention”
Arun had snapped Jack back into the moment and away from his thoughts of Jenxu and away from the overwhelming sense of pressure that had been building in him since they all entered this room. For the first time since arriving, something felt out of place, he wasn’t sure what, but something felt wrong. His focus shifted from Arun to Rasputin as the older boy stepped forward. Why was he stepping forward? Jacks memory played back quickly what the AI had recently said to quickly gain some context and a word stuck out to him “unlock”.
Rasputin reached his hand out to place it on the control panel.
What was locked? The city was locked. Why was the city locked? What was Rasputin doing? Unlocking. He was unlocking the city, the city that was empty and deserted of all life except this artificial thing in front of them, the city that must have been locked for a reason and perhaps should remain so…
Rasputin’s finger made contact.
A shimmer of red ran across the face of the AI.
Before Jack could finish his warning a compartment to the side of the control panel opened and a shining tendril appeared with an unfathomable speed, gripping Rasputins hand and holding his it in place tightly.
“What…” Rasputin was jerked forward at the force of it and fell to one knee. A second compartment opened and another tentacle appeared, much slower but then menacingly now as it slowly and inveitably made it’s way to a prone Rasputin.
The girls screamed and Arun backed away in fear.
“I thank you children.” Said the AI. “You have begun my ressurection at last. I thank you, but, alas, my need of you…. is fleeting.”
With that the other tendril thrust itself into rasputins chest and he let out a scream of pain, worse was to follow as it seemed to jack that before his very eyes that the boy was becoming paler and paler and more like a living skeleton than the shining example of youth that he had clearly been.
He gasped and gurgled and reached out. “J.a…c.kk”.
With that he fell to his knees and was, most undoubtedly, dead.