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Chapter One
Preliminary Scans and Archived Data

A faint buzzing could be heard as the capsule descended, slamming down against the rough terrain of the outside. The impact rocked the inner cabin, shoving Experiment XZ violently across the room, knocking the wind out of his lungs as he hunched over in pain.

Beep! Beep!

An automated voice sounded from within the capsule, "Descension complete. Chance of successful-arrival estimated at zero-point-seventy-nine percent. The order congratulates you on surviving the journey, Experiment code X-Z-001."

"What the hell..." Experiment XZ grumbled, roughly rubbing his palm against the top of his forehead, in a massaging motion. "Such a low success rate? Why even bother, you stupid machine."

"My apologies, Experiment X-Z-001, however, your journey had been predetermined by the directors of the operation. Please hold still, I will now commence a scan to evaluate your physical and mental strain on entry."

"You replied? Are you some sort of self-aware computer?"

"That is correct, Experiment X-Z-001. This system was developed in part to monitor the different Experiments during the Transfer."

Beep! Beep!

"Preliminary scan complete. Results returned to the system, categorizing and archiving for future reference. Would you like to view your scan results?"

Experiment XZ's eyes brighten, "Hmm, yes actually. What sort of information do you scan?"

"The preliminary scan only tracks basic physical and mental points, such as sanity level, cognitive ability, physical strain, exhaustion, and modification to the X-Z-001 sample."

"X-Z-001 sample? What exactly is that, in fact, why am I this... Experiment XZ?"

"Experiment X-Z-001 has been named as such due to the type of testing you've been involved in. It's not within my system's abilities to inform you what exactly has been done, however, there is one, single entry, that my system has been permitted to access. Would you like this information along with your preliminary scan results?"

"Yes," He answered immediately, "Tell me everything I need to know."

"Request approved, system unlocking all relevant information from the archived database. First information, scan results. Mental strain minimal, the scan has detected your prior mental issues were caused due to confusion and disorientation. It seems your successful Transfer has resulted in your cognitive abilities returning to near normalcy. Sanity levels have been evaluated. Data returned reads, vague. Meaning of return, unknown. Will need further information to find a new conclusion. Physical strain also scanned, data returning reads physical ability has been enhanced moderately through Transfer, will also need further information in future."

"The Transfer changed me that much, already? That voice... it did say this place seems to recreate people. Didn't it? I... think it did."

"Unable to find adequate data on this 'voice', please elaborate for archived information."

"What? You didn't record... Well, never mind, forget it. Instead, tell me more about this Experiment XZ, will you?"

Beep! Vroop! Bing!

Several mechanical sounds went off as the lights within the capsule lightly dimmed, "Request accepted, permission granted. Showing archived data, file protocol name Ascension Project, sub-file X-Z project."

A blue holographic monitor appeared against the wall nearest him, as several archives and journals flashed past the screen faster than one could read them. A recording began to play of a male voice, "In case of a world-ending event, the Ascension Project has been created, running the flag-ship protocol known simply as X-Z. Most of the chairmen have told me they'd prefer all information regarding the X-Z sample to remain confidential, however, I've managed to convince them to permit me the creation of this single recording."

"Allow me to formally thank you, the current holder of the X-Z sample, on your cooperation in these matters, your service is absolutely necessary for the survival of our people."

"You may already know this, you may have forgotten, but several years ago a terrifying virus spread throughout our world, ravaging cities and destroying entire populations. In order to survive, a select few world-leaders formed together to construct the Ascension Project, the very one you're currently a volunteer for. The year is currently August 13, 2136, and most of humanity has been forced either underground or into orbit, in order to survive the virus."

"For the last decade or so, humanity has been pushed to the brink of extinction. The only solution we've found is the Transfer experiment, which is of course where you, volunteer, come in."

"Through countless experiments, we've concluded that the energy manufactured from the Transfer has been adequate enough to power both our systems and research. Our very best minds believe that through the completion of the Transfer, humanity may unlock an unimaginable power, one capable of cleansing the virus and allowing us to return to normalcy as a species. Your actions are in service to that very goal, and we thank you for your continued support in the coming years."

The speakers switched off, a faint humming sounded throughout the capsule as the lights within the room returned to normal. 

"All remaining information is currently classified, and cannot be viewed at this time. Please speak to a director for further instruction."

The man stood there in shock, his brain still figuring out all the new information he's been told. "Are you telling me I volunteered for this? I highly doubt that... Plus, why wouldn't I remember a literal world-ending event such as that? You said my mental abilities had been scanned and returned with a normal reading?"

"Confirmation. Mental scan returned normal. This system is currently incapable of scanning for memory fragments and gaps, please converse with a director level developer for scan upgrades."

"So, you're saying mentally I'm fine... but my memories have gone to shit?"

"That is an accurate summation of the data that has been collected thus far. Archives suggest that physical exercise may be able to return memory fragments over time, along with rest and adjustment to this new location. The Transfer has been recorded as impactful to your physical and mental states, more data is needed."

"So what you're really telling me is that because of the Transfer, you don't really know what's going on? Huh. Tell me, does that archive of yours tell you anything about my real name?"

"Information unavailable. File missing and or deleted. Your only inputted name is currently Experiment XZ, also known as Experiment X-Z-001."

"So I don't have a name... I don't know who I am, or where I really come from. How can I even speak? I suppose it's lucky that from the countless things I could've remembered, I kept my language."

"Correction. Prior to Transfer, Experiment XZ's understanding of language was limited, along with subject's ability to form a complete sentence. This seems to have been caused by the experiments conducted both physically and mentally. Through Transfer, you've returned to normalcy from before the experiments."

"So because of the Transfer, I'm no longer a nervous wreck... well, that's good to hear. Let me think, let me think..." A few seconds passed as he thought, his finger tapping against his bare chin as he paced around the capsule, "Hmmm... from what I remember, wasn't there someone else in this place with me? I sort of remember an older guy being here by the time I was brought in here."

"Correct. From the archived data, it's been recorded that you entered the capsule alongside another Experiment, in an attempt to ensure the Transfer's success. Unfortunately, the second Experimental subject did not survive, and past away prior to Transfer."

"Wait, he died before the Transfer? But how is that possible... and how could he have improved the chances of Transfer? I know you said the rate of success was crazy low, but it can't be all bad, could it?"

"The success rate for a completed Transfer was recorded as zero-point-seventy-nine percent. This percentage, however, does not equate any previous attempts at Transfer, and only takes your own personal data into consideration."

"Hold on, you're telling me that even though my personal data was showing a less than one percent success rate, you still decided to go ahead with everything? Are you all nuts? Was I one of the first tests you worked on?"

"Incorrect. Archive shows your Transfer experiment number marked as three hundred, ninety-five thousand, two hundred and fifteen. Tests had commenced on average of one hundred times a day throughout the span of all of humanity, and have been occurring for nearly a decade. Your rating was superior to over ninety-nine percent of prior experiments, you were also the only successful case of Transfer to date."

A white noise seemed to fill his mind at the very mention of the experiment number. An unbelievably monstrous number, one that would crush anyone's spirit if there were no prior successes. "I... was the only one to succeed?"

"Correction. You were the only one to have survived by the director's knowledge. Due to the Transfer, no data can be communicated with the outside space, and so your home-world will continue the tests as usual until someone returns."


Suddenly, the entire capsule rocked, the sound of scraping metal screeched through the air as if being hit by something massive, which caused the lights around the room to shatter into sparks and the archived machine's voice to skip around a bit as it tried to deliver an alert. "Warning. Possible hostile... bzzz... outside.... remain inside to... bzzz... probability of survival."



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J Venior
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