FIVE NIGHTS AT SUBMACHINEI. Basement
<//incoming voice transcript 104-i:47
-Hello? Hello hello, hope this is getting through to you okay! Can you hear me ok? You should be able to. If not, well, hopefully you can find a fix for that.
So let's get started. As I'm sure you know, you are in a very special spot right now! A lot of people would kill to be in your position! Ha ha...yeah, well.. sorry, I'm not good with that humor. Anyway, just in case the drugs haven't worn off yet, I'll restate why you're here: you've been selected to attempt to retrieve the three so-called "wisdom gems" from the Knot of the superstructure known as the Submachine. Whew, doesn't that sentence just make you happy? To know that that famous note collected by the Player was a lie? I can't imagine what it would be like if the world was completely absorbed...anyway! Back to business. Here's the deal. As you may know the famous Player never actually accessed the Layer of Light. If it wasn't for that stupid device attached to his head giving him all those hallucinations, then maybe he would have been able to really see what was going on once he stepped into the Knot. Fortunately we haven't been able to detect any other Navigators around, heh. So you're safe!
But that means the three gems are still there, powering all of Submachine's existence. And you're the next to try to bring them back to Real Earth and kill the Submachine once and for all. Of course, it's not easy, and we've already sent 46 people in, at last count. But hey, you've got a good shot! Just keep positive and use your wits! You should be ok.
So, each "area" that the Player visited kinda got a little, uh, warped, after he passed through. So not everything may be as you remember seeing on television. Which is why you are probably wondering why the area around you looks a bit sketchy. Well here's the deal. Yes, you are in the Basement, and the elevator is still intact. You can move on to the lighthouse as soon as you've spent some time here. Unfortunately, the elevator only unlocks for a couple minutes every 120 hours. But it's all still good for the most part, because you only have to worry about stuff, uh, moving around for about six hours before that time, every twenty four hours. Usually we pick up the first noises almost exactly six hours before the elevator unlocks, so if you set your watch to 0000 when you hear the first noise, at 0600 you won't have to worry about anything until next midnight. But don't miss that time slot, otherwise you're gonna have to wait another 120 hours! I recommend getting some sleep and resting as soon as 0600 hits every day, because you won't have to worry about anything until "midnight" the next night. And then, hey, after five nights, you'll be on to the Lighthouse!
Ok, so take some time to look around. You've got a doorway off to the left and the right, and the elevator doors right in front of you. This computer should be on the left side of your desk, that's where you're going to look through the security cameras. This is to, you know, keep an eye on the robots moving around out there. You know them well enough by now from the reports of the others. Subby, Gemmy, Wormy, Cipher, and whatever the hell is number 5. Kinda wish we knew his name, huh? Poor guy who descended to the Root never could tell us.
So yeah, make sure not to drain the power, because the generator won't kick in until 0600. We still haven't sent anyone to fix that yet. We don't even know where it is. So only close the doors when you need to, by using the buttons on the wall. Watch the footage, keep an eye on things, and you'll be fine! Play the next file on this flash drive at midnight tomorrow, and I'll give you further instructions. I'd tell you to play it now, but they're already probably moving out there. Good luck!
I expected this, but my palms had already started sweating as soon as the drugs had worn off enough to where I could make out my surroundings. Fortunately, the small exterior noise meter attached to my watch had not recorded a single blip for two hours. The monitors had picked up nothing. TWO HOURS, and no motion outside this small yellow cube. I had peeked down the hallways, expecting to see the pipe, the valve, anything to reassure me that I was where everyone thought I was. That I was in the place everyone had seen, twenty years ago, when the Player tapes were released to the public. But the Submachine had grown in since then, twisting its tendrils of darkness everywhere and shifting everything outside of these four walls beyond recognition. It was a different world out there now. I stared at the broken tiles above the elevator doors for what seemed like an eternity.
We might not know too much about what is really out there in the Void, but we have footage from everyone else who sat in this same cushioned chair. I can still see the bloodstains on the armrests and the floor. The Sub-bots got less and less tidy every time they made a kill. On Night 1, here, it's usually Subby first. A collection of gray, rusted boxes, with long corrugated tubes for arms and actually quite wimpy-looking hands. But that hasn't done anything to deter him from grabbing onto volunteers' necks and crushing down on their jugulars with his two rows of small but quick teeth. His eyes remind me of a pair of binoculars, staring into empty space, and you never quite know where he is looking.
My heartbeat quickens at the thought, and the intravenous monitors inside my blood relay the information back to Command. They'll record every beat. They see everything I see, with the sensors circumventing my optic nerve. I have a direct tap in both my ears. In many ways, I'm not too different from what lies out there, behind my safe little cube. However it was necessary to get the alterations done in order to be able to go into the Machine.
But for some reason, they set up the cameras once, from the Basement to the Root, and then they could never access them again. So I have to check them all myself. Blasted technology. It can be so good except when it comes down to the most basic things.
My watch slowly creeps towards 0300. The monitors are dead silent.
I reflect on the choices made when preparing for this worldwide journey, now going on for twenty years after the Escape. The governments of the world ultimately decided that their technology, at least, the part they controlled, wasn't good enough for recon missions. And after two decades it hasn't changed. Humans are more valuable to keep these machines at bay, because of the whole "natural instinct" concept. It still hasn't been challenged by today's robots. More than ever, I damn those scientists for not working harder to try to overcome it, even in one robot of theirs. But I don't really blame them; they have been trying as hard as they can. Now, in this position, I just want to be the one to bring the Gems home so I can see my daughters again.
The clock passes 0300. I have nothing to do except look at my watch and check the cameras.
All twelve of the cameras are clear. Seven of the rooms are actually complete, though they house nothing like which we have seen on TV. Five of these rooms are empty, with the occasional bloodstain. One of the intact rooms contains a hanging man; image processing showed his face to match that of Volunteer 12. The Subnet has preserved his body perfectly, giving him the appearance of a fresh kill. The other intact room just has a mess of wires on the ground. Most of the time they don't move. Three rooms are partially destroyed, and contain the remnants of Energy Pipes and spilled liquid. The last two look off into near-empty space; only a few wooden slats remain floating on the screen. It doesn't matter which room; the Sub-bots are likely to appear in any of them. Though they do have patterns, recorded and studied for years. Most people have made it past the Basement and the Lighthouse because of this.
More time is spent staring off into space. 0325, 0355, 0410, 0430.
At 0445, I start getting antsy. Because for 46 times before me, the first noise has always, ALWAYS been recorded on the watches at 0450. No one knows why. It is never seen on screen. But it is heard. Now it is my time to hear it, the death knell that will only be the beginning of a long and painful journey.
0448. My eyes glance toward the opposite wall, where bottled water and cheap dinners have been provided for me. So graciously it seems, except for the fact that they are always put there by the Machine itself. It's never poisoned, but it still serves to convey the meaning that this game, this death hunt, is only a sick joke to the Machine. And the Machine always wins in the end. After it takes the body away, it loving provides sustenance for the next victim.
0449. My heartbeat, which has slowed somewhat in the past hour, picks up the pace. I count down the seconds, and with five seconds until, my eyes strain to pick up the slightest wave.
It never comes.
I wait twenty seconds, forty seconds after 0450. This is impossible. For 46 volunteers a noise has always
been recorded. But not for me. I imagine that the monitors back home are going as crazy as the ones inside my body are right now.
That's when the real fear kicks in. Something has changed. No matter how small, this change makes the hairs stand up on my neck. Suddenly the silence seems like my biggest threat.
It isn't until 0506 that the first blip is seen. And then I start to panic. It's late. It's never late! I am lost in the dark, even in this well-lit room. All the models for success have been thrown out the window. I don't know what to expect.
And I sit that way, in my own sweat, furiously draining power, until my watch beeps. It scares the shit out of me. It has been the first real noise I have heard since the belated blip. My fear is instantly replaced by a blanket of relief. The power bar starts steadily climbing, rocketing away from the 22% last shown. The generator has kicked in. The doors slam shut as my watch shows 0600. I have survived the first night.
Reaching behind me I pull the blanket over my body and lean back in the chair, still sweating, and let out a long breath. This is already too much. The fact that wild twisted robots roam the darkness just outside my doors. The fact that the Machine doesn't even "accept" humans in the first place unless they enter the basement from 2345 to 0000 (If not accepted the volunteers would burn to a crisp by hidden flame nozzles in the atrium room between Real Earth and the Submachine. Go figure that one out). The Machine has everything, impossibly, unfairly, under its control.
But it still allows us to play the game. And I am one night closer to the Knot.