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PostPosted: 16 Nov 2013, 08:49 
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Pamela very much doubted that the Person to whom she had been talking knew terribly much when he said 'Miranda' rather than 'Mirasa', though she did not think it would be amiss to study their magical Systems in greater Detail. She made a Note to herself to do that.

There was something distinctly odd in which he described Mirasa's Retrieval which Pamela found rather oddly bothersome; the Word post seemed all wrong there, and she had never heard of any Chaz, though he could well have been one of the numerous and anodyne Staff who were always about doing Things.



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PostPosted: 16 Nov 2013, 23:53 
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Xander felt the first drone disappear with a shudder. That was strange. He stopped and looked down at his map, scrawling both what he saw and what he remembered for a cause to this sensation, at first lost, and then the second went down. He was looking right at it as it dropped off of his map, and realisation hit him with the same force as the fear that set in the moment the creature made itself known. The roar resounded through the maze, making it hard to tell exactly where it had come from, but he had only to look to his map to see the location.

Far too close, he thought, scanning over his map again, Far too close indeed.

He started walking faster than he had been before, he could feel the void where magic had been before. It wasn't pleasant in the slightest, and every inch of him screamed to get away. If this creature consumed magic... he was in dire trouble. He broke into a run, being careful to follow the paths that his map suggested to be the most likely ways forwards. He ran as fast as he was able to, and cursed his age with every footstep.


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PostPosted: 24 Jan 2014, 18:37 
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After the cameras in the room were deactivated Mirasa continued to lay on the ground as the lights came on, diffusing the mild aurora by overpowering it. A few minutes later, the door opened and a team comprised of medical staff and security personnel followed by Mirasa's handler.

"We know you're still conscious. Your collar says so and you're laying in a pool of magical energy. We're guessing that is your last summon hiding in the only place still possessing the darkness for it to hide in this room. You can dismiss it, and we can attend you your wounds, or we can wait for you to pass out from blood loss, it'll dismiss, and we can tend to your wounds. I'm fine sitting here all day if necessary."

Mirasa rolled over and half shrugged half winced. "Ouch. Can't blame a girl for trying."

The handler stared at her blankly. "Yes. I can. Are you going to dismiss it yet?"

At this point, Mirasa sighed. "Alright, Alright." suddenly, flowing from the shadows beneath Mirasa, almost like it was crawling out of a den beneath her, emerged a large wolf, from what could be properly seen of it, it's fur so dark it was as though it reflected no light. Then, it dissipated, as though it were never there to begin with. "I hope you don't mind if I don't get up."
------------------------
As Xander Rounded a corner and the footsteps got closer, The lights in the Hall went out. "I have you now Sorceror, Surrender, and I shall devour you quickly." The footsteps began to advance down the hall.



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PostPosted: 25 Jan 2014, 22:48 
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The Feeds cut from Aran and Mirasa once their Tests were concluded. Neither seemed fatally injured, though she thought the Testing rather more severe than it needed to be. What were they to be sent out to do, anyway? The more she knew of the Organisation, the less she liked it. It was very bad of them to keep old Women against their Will especially.

She started when she heard a peculiar Voice speaking to the old Man on the only Screen left. She could not see whence it was come, which unnerved her the more.

'What on Earth is that?' she asked aloud, though she was not speaking to anybody in particular. 'It seems to be taking all the Light from the Place, but what Manner of Creature can do that...?'



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PostPosted: 26 Jan 2014, 14:44 
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"Anything with photonic energy powers. But here at least, it's a Dark Fae," James replied to the open ended question. He liked sharing information. "Their name is Falkner. That's what we call it, anyway. Don't know if it chose that or not." He looked to the other scientist in the room, "Did it choose that name? I don't know.

"Anyway. It's bad for Xander because it can manipulate waaaay more than photonic energies in this context. If he let's it sneak up on him in the dark handlers might need to intervene."



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PostPosted: 26 Jan 2014, 16:29 
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'What on Earth is a Dark Fae? I've heard of a Darkrai, but that's something that causes Nightmares, though I admit I've only seen those a few Times before,' Pamela answered. 'The Thing is probably rather like a Nightmare, though, I suppose.'

She wrote something down without waiting for Kepler to answer, though she was still looking at him as if she expected a Reply.



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PostPosted: 26 Jan 2014, 18:59 
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"Dark Fae are just Fae, except they're evil," Kepler replied helpfully. "Unless they're a really self-conscious and philosophical Dark Fae that's turned to doing good, in which case I guess their powers are just associated with evil." The gawky young man seemed to trail off, lost in thought for a little while before snapping back to the present. "But they're Fae. The gray folk. Faeries. Falkner's version acts like a hybrid between the more classical Fae of western mythology--where they're mischievous creatures whose powers vary widely, usually combined with some unheard of silly weakness--and a magic seal like in the Fire Emblem series. Like putting a line of salt across the doorway or something. What makes Falkner as a character special though is that he can manage his powers and weaknesses in a sort of cosmic budgeting system. He can gain craaaaazy powers, but at the expense of getting stupid weaknesses. He can also manipulate magical fields, which he feeds directly from instead of food and stuff.

"Fire Emblem was produced about the same time as the Pokemon games. Turn-based strategy game. Kinda like quantum chess. Seemed apropos," he added, anticipating Pam's next wonderment.



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PostPosted: 27 Jan 2014, 00:20 
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Pamela scrawled yet more Notes. Her Expression had gone rather blank, but she was thinking, How on Earth do People come up with these Things?

Fire Emblem as she knew it was a Series of Books, some very nicely illustrated, but it did not strike her as odd that somebody might have made an electronic Game of it. She had not read many of them, so she was not entirely certain what a magic Seel had to do with anything, or why a Seel would be particularly magical at all, but she was really more concerned for Xander, and about the Fact that this Person to whom she was talking gave her such an anodyne Impression that she was not entirely certain what to make of him. He was a little different to his Coworkers, as if he was not quite from the same Fiction.

I bet he's from a Satire, she thought. Those get old quickly, and are sometimes rather bland on Rereading.



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PostPosted: 27 Jan 2014, 22:07 
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Xander froze.

Then he cursed. Loudly.

All of his years of experience, all of the power running through his veins. Everything he'd said and done. And all it took to scare him witless was a little darkness and a beast threatening him. At least one thing could be said about him though, he was far more prone to outrage than he was fear, and now the latter gave way to the former quite willingly.

"You'll not find me an easy meal, creature!" He practically bellowed, every ounce of steel he could muster in his voice. The beast knew where he was, no sense in hiding. First he needed some light. His arrays were casting some light around him, even those arrays closest to perfection leaked a little magic as light after all. But it wasn't much, and certainly not near as bright as it should have been, and that most certainly wasn't enough for him to see by. He waved his hand up and made a series of circular motions with his spell-inscribed finger, casting new arrays around each of those he already had floating around him. The weaponised arrays wouldn't serve much purpose against a foe he couldn't see, so he re-purposed most of them. He wrapped these in new arrays that would cause the stored energy to leak out as light, very bright light, and activated them. Initially he had thought that he would have to tone the discharge of light down, but instead found that it was, again, nowhere near bright enough for him to see by. An affect of whatever had caused the lights to dim so sharply, he reasoned, and increased the vibrance of his arrays until they began to cast light again. It took some effort, but he managed it.

Without skipping a beat, he moved the arrays to surround himself. He directed three to hover around him, pointing down and outwards, quickly increasing the energy given off from them until he was bathed in a soft, muted light and was able to see for a fair distance in each direction. Then he had another coalesce into a sort of flash-light, keeping it afloat behind his head and over his shoulder, so that it would follow him as he looked about. The remaining two, unaltered arrays he kept, still weaponised, drifting close to him just beside his right arm, ready to fire at a moment's notice.

Xander took a second or so to examine his work, then his map, get his bearings, and then he began running again, keeping his eyes on his surroundings, and his hand weaving more arrays at his side. He headed for where his map was indicating that the exit lay, and he would be ready to move very quickly the moment this beast showed itself.


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PostPosted: 30 Jan 2014, 01:14 
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As Xander ran from the creature, in another room he was being watched.

"Set the video to setting five here. It is based on the creature's vision, and as such it permeates the shadows that it creates." The Lead scientist stated. "Ah. Yes, it looks as though the Beast is catching up to the magician. It'll only be moments till he needs a better plan." Suddenly a faint noise could be heard on The scientist and Kepler's persons. "Hmph. Such poor timing. I'll be back after the tests for the reports. The man in charge is calling." He said, walking out of the room.



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PostPosted: 30 Jan 2014, 16:19 
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"Kepler man away. Have fun Pam." James said flatly, following the scientist out of the room.



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PostPosted: 24 Feb 2014, 23:42 
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He could feel it behind him. The creature. It was quite an interesting presence, the part of his mind that insisted on remaining rational thought, in between struggling to maintain a grasp over the part of his mind that had given up to irrational fear. Xander picked up the pace, some small offering to the irrational thoughts, at least as much as he could. While he was still in relatively decent shape for his age, he was still rather old, and that did impose rather a large number of limits on his body.

Still, he forced himself to hold back, his free arm weaving more arrays as he jogged, more than ran, towards where his map identified the exit. He could hear the creature getting closer, screaming at him, and it took every ounce of self-control he could muster, along with the knowledge his map brought him that the exit was nearing, to keep his will from breaking, but he managed.

He waited until he could nearly feel the beast rear up to leap at him before he released the arrays about his arm. The first held position a moment, floating in the air for just a second, until Xander had passed it, when it let out a blinding flash of light. The second split into a pair, which moved away from each other horizontally until they hit the walls on either side of Xander, where they stopped immediately and expanded, appearing to burn themselves into the surface. The third surrounded Xander and levitated him from the floor a couple of inches, causing him to continue floating forward with his momentum running, then the fourth created a small kick of force behind him, shunting him forwards quite quickly, away from the creature. The fifth shot straight down to the floor, right between the two burned into the walls, and expanded horizontally in a line. It began projecting a wall of heat by vibrating the air above it intensely. The sixth, and final array, was buried within the fifth. A trigger for those set into the walls, waiting for the creature to disturb it.

Xander twisted in the air just in time to see the creature pass through his barrier. It hardly seemed to care, and appeared to simply chew its way through, consuming the magic that generated the field. It did seem to care, however, when the wall being disturbed set off his other arrays, which cut out a whole chunk of the wall each, about six feet in diameter, and propelled them straight at it at roughly half the speed of sound. Xander had made sure to keep his magic behind the chunks, though he wasn't sure how long such a precaution would last, if even at all. He didn't keep watching to find out, instead he twisted back to the direction he was travelling, and cast a quick array to slow himself a little, then another to kick him in another direction, turning left down another corridor within the maze, then doing the same to turn right at the next junction. His map showed that the exit was at the next right turning, and he didn't care to look as he waved the array sustaining it, and his drones, away, casting another to kick him around the corner, and hopefully out of the maze.


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PostPosted: 15 Mar 2014, 22:13 
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Elsewhere, Joe Masters placed a data tablet on his desk with a sigh. The Pequod didn't have the necessary protocols to contain this sort of subject, and if he didn't choose to play nice the security would likely need to put the subject down, with a worst case scenario costing significant amounts of lives and infrastructure, and resulting in the procurement of this "Lancel" being a waste of time and resources.

However, he didn't have too much time to think on this, as before he even got to organize his thoughts a call came in.

"I'm in the middle of something... Hmmm... Fine, I'll be down in a minute." he said before getting up and heading out the door.



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PostPosted: 17 Mar 2014, 12:23 
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Alyssa made another set of hand- and footholds up the wall in her new location and climbed up to take another sneak peek. She knew from what she'd seen of the sphere's direction of travel just a moment ago that it would have its back to her, but she also had to hope for some luck. If its patrol took it past the end of its current corridor and into the far end of the one she had just crossed, she should have time to slip over the wall, dash across that corridor and slip round the corner into the next one. However, if it only went as far as the end of its corridor it would be turning round to retrace its steps very shortly and it would be too risky to try to get across in that time. And it would also get tricky to stay out of sight of the previous sphere while she waited for this one to return and go past. Timing could get complicated. She hovered, her eyes barely above the top of the wall, ready to duck down not only at any sign that it was about to turn round, but also as soon as it began to turn the corner if it was indeed carrying on further - it would be side-on to her at that point and she didn't know what its peripheral vision range was like.

As she waited she was able see over the walls further ahead and take note of a few more significant details. The tops of two more droids were just visible, heading towards each other and then passing by each other a couple of corridors over. It looked like they were probably both patrolling the same circular route, but in opposite directions. As far as she could tell, they were the only other droids still left for her to get past. But possibly even more important to her than that piece of information was the sight of the rear wall of the maze directly behind them and, in the centre of it, a deep alcove with a ladder at the back. That must be the exit! Just two more droids and she would be out!

The one she was currently watching slowed and began to veer to the right. It wasn't turning round; it was going round the corner. Luck was on her side. Alyssa dropped back down behind her wall. She would have to gauge its speed and give it time to get fully round the corner. As soon as she was sure enough time had past she raised her head, checked that the coast was indeed clear, and slid over the top of the wall, landing almost silently on the other side. Straight away she crossed it and nipped round the nearby corner. She already knew from her reconnaissance just a few moments previously that the passage she was now entering was clear. Whether the sphere she had just avoided or one of the two up ahead came into it at any time she had no idea, but for now she knew that neither was on the verge of entering it.

Unfortunately, what she wasn't aware of was that the sphere patrolling the passage where she had made her previous set of indentations in the wall had just reached that spot, and noticed them. The information was promptly silently relayed via a radio link to all its colleagues. Now they were on the alert for an intruder in their maze. Instantly, they all increased their speed and rose up to allow their visual sensors to see over the walls.

Alyssa ran to the end of the dividing wall between this new corridor and the next one, and stopped to listen. She could hear a faint hum. Its position meant one of the two remaining spheres was at the same end as she was, but it wasn't close enough to be directly behind this wall. It must be in the next passage across. She remembered that the entrance into it was at the opposite end. So it should be pretty safe to take a look round the end of the wall; the sphere clearly wasn't anywhere near the opening so it wouldn't be able to see her. Keeping close to the wall she stuck her head round the end and glanced down the corridor she was about to enter. Almost instantly her attention was drawn by a movement above. There, directly opposite and looking straight at her over the corridor's far wall, was a sphere - clearly the one she had heard. It was already beginning to move, quite rapidly, towards the corridor's entrance.

What could she do? She dodged back behind the wall again and began to back up but she knew it would only win her a few seconds. Where could she go? If she went too far back the way she came she'd be running right into the path of the previous sphere. And then that one too came into view, retracing its route, now also above wall height and considerably faster than before. She was trapped.

In almost no time at all she had a droid bearing down on her rapidly from each direction and from the general hum that now seemed to be all around her she guessed that others were headed her way as well. Her mind raced. Only one possibility seemed to present itself, and that a very dubious one, but she could see no alternative. Now that the droids had risen up higher into the air, there was a fair gap between them and the floor. She had no idea about the range of the electrical fields that she new these things could generate, but in the demonstration with the rodent it had not been stunned until it was almost touching the sphere that it had tried to attack. The droids would presumably drop back down to attack as soon as they were close enough to her but, if she could react quickly enough and time it just right, when they were as close as possible but just before they dropped, might she be able to slip underneath? It was a long shot. If it didn't work she wouldn't have a second chance. She just hoped the shock wouldn't be fatal.

Alyssa steeled herself and took a deep breath as the droid ahead of her approached to within a few feet of her, then she suddenly dived at the floor, rolled with the momentum and came up on to her knees, almost as one movement, then took off at a flat-out run. The sphere's response was fast. It dropped down almost instantly and she felt the tingle of ionised air as it activated its electrical field as she went into the roll. And then it was off after her. Stealth was out of the question now. She wished she could take shortcuts over the walls - the space between them and the ceiling was large enough for her to slip through, but too small for the spheres - they could only take the long way round - but she had no time to make the necessary handholds for scaling them with the team of now fast-moving droids behind her. And there was no time to stop and see where the final sphere was. All she could do was sprint as fast as she could possibly go to the exit.

It turned out that the last sphere was in the worst location possible - directly in front of the exit alcove. It was clearly guarding it. Alyssa hoped that the sight of her hurtling towards it would draw it out, but it just remained there. What could she do? She had to get past it and she had to do it quickly - she was barely keeping ahead of her pursuer. And most likely, the two would soon start working together to trap her, or to drive her into the others which were most likely following up further behind. And this one wasn't hovering as far off the floor as the other two had been - she couldn't repeat that little stunt. There was enough space between it and the alcove to physically allow her to slip round behind it but she knew there was no chance of that unless it could somehow be distracted.

I wonder, she thought.

Without pausing she dragged her tee-shirt over her head and as she came within range she threw at the droid. Her aim was good: it landed on top of the sphere, draping down its front and obscuring what she took to be its visual sensor. For a moment nothing happened but then the droid began spinning in an effort to dislodge it and in the process moved further out from the alcove. This would be her only chance. She was gasping for breath by this stage but with a supreme effort of willpower she managed to control her breathing and steady it down until it was slow, gentle, and silent. She slowed her pace just enough to quieten the pounding of her feet and the slapping of her webbed toes against the floor, and dodged past. In a second she had reached the ladder and began ascending as fast as fast as her arms and exhausted legs would allow. She knew the second droid was close behind and it came as no surprise when it followed her in and inevitably it would rise up to meet her any second. She saw that the ladder extended into a narrow shaft above the level of the test chamber's ceiling. She was fairly sure it was too narrow for the spheres to enter, if she could just reach it in time. Just a few rungs more and she would be safe. But the sphere didn't didn't rise. It just approached the ladder near ground level. That was when she suddenly realised - the ladder was metal! It didn't need to reach her, only what she was holding on to. Just in time she entered the shaft, swung her feet from the ladder and planted them firmly against the shaft's wall on one side, braced her back against the wall on the other side and let go. She shuffled herself as far from the ladder as she could, but she was still too close for comfort. She tried to ignore it and forced her trembling legs to push her upwards, at the same time burning crevices into the wall by her hands to grab onto for extra support. It was only a short distance to the top, where she could see a trap door, but it felt like a mile. Slowly and painfully she worked her way up, inch by inch, until her head made contact with the trapdoor. Gingerly she raised an arm and tried pushing. What if it was locked? She couldn't survive here much longer. Her legs would give way and she'd fall down straight into the metaphorical arms of the droids. But it wasn't. It moved quite easily. A gentle shove sent it swinging up and back, where it hit the floor of the room above with a bang. With the utmost care, terrified that with safety literally within reach she'd make a wrong move and slip, she shuffled her body up to the opening, wedged her arms over the top and tipped herself out and on to the floor, where she lay gasping, her abused muscles too weak and exhausted to move any further.



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PostPosted: 30 Mar 2014, 11:25 
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Xander slowed himself down.

He was out of the maze, it seemed, and he'd made a fair bit of distance since leaving it out of nothing more than simple panic. Now he just had to deal with an overwhelming worry that the creature was still following him, and that he'd have to try and deal with it in this space, without the maze's walls to weaponise. He looked around himself as he caught his breath, still being held aloft by his arrays, then turned his attention immediately to the maze's exit. His mind raced with possibilities, desperate for an array or combination of arrays that would allow him to combat something that actually eat magic, but to no avail. He backed away from the maze, looking for a way forward while keeping his attention on the exit, where the creature would soon be if it were able to follow him out.


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PostPosted: 06 Apr 2014, 22:05 
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As Xander left the maze, the sounds of the creature screaming could be heard, up until the door to the exit closed behind him, apparently being soundproof.

-------------------------
After both the remaining Test participants exited the maze, the layout of the next room remained a dead end for a few moments, giving them the opportunity to catch their breaths, though after those few moments the walls began to shift, closing off the exit from the maze behind them and opening a long path before them leading to a doorway identical to the one they entered the testing chamber through. Between them and the door was they saw at the beginning of the test and the object on it turning out to be a large red button.



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PostPosted: 09 Apr 2014, 17:09 
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As the cries behind him faded, Xander allowed himself to lower down onto the floor, dismissing his arrays gradually, though keeping his defensive barriers up. He stopped and just let himself breath for a minute or so. Then the room began rearranging, which gave him a little scare though he'd never admit it, and he re-doubled his barriers almost instinctively, his fingers tracing and re-tracing the arrays in the air in a blur. This time he forced himself to breath, deep and slow, to keep his breathing controlled.

When the large red button showed itself, Xander had to hold back a cough. He had not been expecting that. Well, he would have found it hard to expect anything in this kind of setting, where everything was so alien to him, but he was preparing for another monster, or some dangerous device, not something so benign as a push-switch. He had to catch himself before he strode towards it and remind himself that this could not possibly be so simple.

He raised his hands and began casting arrays, creating a large circle floating in the air before him, about two metres in diameter, which would show various elements visually. This array was usually used as a security measure, to check people for arrays and other magics stored on their persons, as well as in medicine, to observe discrepancies between a malign object and its surrounding area, but he figured that it might be useful here. Sure enough, he found that the array-lens allowed him to detect very faint electrical pulses all around him, as well as heat and light, though again not much more than he'd have expected. It stood to reason that this chamber was shielded, to protect those outside should he attempt to break free, but that didn't interest him, he was more curious about the red button, and so he focussed the lens on that.


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PostPosted: 25 Apr 2014, 19:56 
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Alyssa's rest lasted mere seconds before it suddenly dawned on her with a sensation bordering on panic that with the trap-door lying open beside her there was nothing to stop the spheres following her out and, sure enough, as she raised her head to look, a sphere top did indeed appear in the hatchway. But it came no further. They must have been programmed only to be able to levitate to heights relevant to patrolling the maze. The test - or at least that stage of the test - must truly be over, she realised with an immense sense of relief. Her muscles, which had tensed for what would likely have been a vain attempt at flight, relaxed again and she lay back down and let her eyes rove around the space she now found herself in.

The lighting was quite dim and it was hard to see to the far side in the gloom, but it appeared to be a featureless, grey room. As far as she could tell there were no obvious threats in there but the fact that she also couldn't yet see any obvious way out was a definite cause for concern.

Surely they don't expect me to go all the way back through that maze again! she couldn't help thinking. But she forced herself not to jump to conclusions. Yet. Already her breathing was becoming less laboured and she felt less weak. She would lie here just a few moments more and then she'd go and investigate. There was probably a way out hidden in the gloom somewhere. Maybe the next part of the test was a puzzle and identifying the exit was her next task.

But then a quiet, but somewhat familiar, noise started up and she realised the walls were rearranging themselves. Almost immediately the opening beside her began to disappear from view as she found herself now lying up against a new wall that continued its progress across the room, narrowing it down to the width of a broad corridor. A similar sound at the other end of the room told her that another wall was also on the move. As the noise came to an end the lights came up and she saw that she was indeed now lying at one end of a corridor, at the far end of which was a door. On the door, even from this distance, she could see a very clear, red disc, apparently a button of some sort.

Slowly Alyssa pushed herself up and got to her feet. She didn't know whether to feel relieved that there now was clearly an exit from this room or very worried: the button was just too inviting. It must be a trap of some kind. Slowly she walked the length of the corridor and stopped in front of the door. The button seemed to be the only means of opening it - if indeed that was what it was for. It looked like she was going to have no option but to press it if she wanted to get out at all, but first she was going to make sure there was no other option hidden anywhere else that she'd overlooked. So she began to retrace her steps, examining the walls, the floor, the ceiling, looking for any sign of an alternative door control that might have been deliberately hidden. There was none. Having worked her way up the corridor and back again she found herself once more in front of the door. She pressed an ear to it and listened. Nothing. No hint of what might be beyond it.

There seemed to be no getting out of it; she would have to press the button and face the consequences. She took a deep breath. Her heart was pounding. Finally, hesitantly, she put out a hand and pressed her fingertips against the red disc. The moment she'd done so she backed up the corridor as fast as she could to give herself as much time as possible to see whatever might be coming through that door before it reached her. She just hoped it wouldn't throw some nasty trick like opening something other than the door - say a panel at the opposite end of the corridor - in which case she'd now be running towards the threat instead of away from it.



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As Xander Focused his array on the Button, it could see electrical lines going about the pedestal, but none that went directly to the button or from it. For all intents and purposes, it was an incomplete circuit.
--------------------------------

Kepler moved through the station taking a shuttle from the external testing area back to the central park district, the shuttle taking a different path near the final destination flipping near the end and entering the station near the bottom, now the top. After disembarking from the shuttle he made his way to an elevator which he took down a number of floors and made his way to the office of the Head of Operations on the Pequod.



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Xander made an effort to disguise his dislike of what he was seeing. No way to tell what, precisely the button would do until it was pressed, it seemed, and he didn't like that at all. He had no idea what this place used to power its devices, but it certainly wasn't anything like the array-based technology of his Burleigh. He let a frown show through as he altered his array to react to different sources of energy, cycling through everything he could think of that might give some small hint as to the function of the button, but aside from some strange disturbances picked up when scanning for more a more base magical source (which he put down to some kinda of protective barrier designed to keep people like him contained within these rooms), he made no progress, no major breakthrough or epiphany. All the act served to do was frustrate him.

He waved away his arrays grumpily and approached the button. Observing it from all angles before resigning himself to the simple fact that, unless this were an exercise in patience, he would have to press this mystery button to progress.

Considering it for a few minutes longer, Xander eventually decided that it made more sense to try it and see what happened than it did to simply wait idly. He took a moment to refresh and reinforce his wards, taking extra pains to protect himself from adverse temperature shifts, and then, haltingly, reached out to press the button.


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Kepler stood out side the door to the big boss's office, which was slightly ajar in expectation of the summoned visitors. He looked around, not seeing anybody else, and simply let himself in.

In the low but adequate lighting of the office he spotted his summoner, the scientist he had earlier been talking with while with Pamela, and some NPC he recognised as being important with accounting. He sidled over to the side of the room as Joe Masters entered behind him.



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Pamela circled through several Modes of the Camera while she watched both Alyssa and Xander approach their respective Buttons; Xander appeared to be using a Kind of Magic that one of the Camera's Sensors could pick up, but Alyssa appeared to have no such Ability herself. There appeared to be nothing happening immediately, but then she recalled having been in such a Space before. Her Labyrinth had had very different Puzzles, each requiring a different Pokémon to solve (save for Tilly, who was to be left behind), and when she had had Hettie go over and push the Button for her, there also seemed to be nothing about at first. It would be the Delusion-producing Gas for both of them, she supposed. It was a very nasty Trick — rather like sleeping near a Darkrai, which is not something one ever really ought to do. Attempting to capture Darkrai was one of her unhappier Failures, so she pushed it from her Mind and returned to watching the Tests after making a few more Notes on her Writing-Pad.



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After the two test runners pressed their respective buttons, nothing happened for several seconds.

Shortly, Alyssa noticed the room begining to enlarge as the walls turned yellow, unlike the other transformations the maze underwent, nothing seemed to move, it just... became. As the girl looked about, she noticed that not only had the room changed, but so had her clothes.

Xander's room on the other hand seemed to close in and darken, the shadows made almost solid. He could not see anything, but a feeling told him that something was in the shadows.
**********
In the observation room, a different perspective was to be had. As the two test subjects reacted to their changing environments, the visual and auditory sensors didn't detect any changes at all, at least as far as the rooms were concerned. Aly and Xander's vitals beginning to react told a different story.

"What do you figure they're seeing?" asked one of the Lab techs.
"We'll just have to see how they react." Replied another.
**********

After Kepler and Masters had taken their seats, the man at the end of the room spoke.

"I have been summoned by those above to answer for a few things, so we'll have to keep this short. How are the Participants' progress coming along?" He asked.



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"I'm fine," Kepler replied off the cuff. "I don't know what you want us to tell you about the others that you don't already know. Mirasa got hurt. Xander and Aly are in the self-generative phase of the initial test rounds. Still think you rushed them in. Aly at least. She only showed up last night."

"If you were worried about that, then you probably shouldn't have told us to expect her," boss man replied.

Kepler blinked. "True. I probably should have withheld that fact."

"You're withholding information now?"

"That's not what I meant. You know that." The man continued to leave a stony gaze on Kepler, who stared back blankly. "Is this a social cue? I feel like it is. I'm not good at those you should just tell me what you want."

The man sighed lightly but dismissively. "Just keep doing what you're doing."



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At first Alissa was confused. By now she was used to rooms reconfiguring themselves, but this was different somehow. For a start, nothing up till now had changed colour as it moved, and she wondered how the machinery had achieved that - the surfaces of the walls hadn't looked like they were made up of lcd's, or anything else that looked like it might be programmable in that way. For that matter, she hadn't even been consciously aware of the walls actually moving, but here they were, very definitely in a different position. Instead of looking down a corridor she was now facing across a relatively wide, well-lit room, 'painted' in pale yellow. But for some reason she couldn't make out any details at all. Was the room empty or furnished? Were there obstacles of the kinds she'd had to negotiate up till now? She simply couldn't tell. It wasn't that it all looked hazy; she didn't feel that something was obscuring her vision, or even that her eyes couldn't focus properly. It was almost as though her brain somehow couldn't focus, couldn't interpret the visual signals it was receiving. And that in itself was distinctly alarming. But slowly the scene before her began to resolve itself. She began to make out some tables and chairs - indestinct at first, but the shapes were recognisable. Then a window to one side (the left). There was sunlight streaming in through it. Some pale curtains, yellow too, she thought. And the tables weren't dark; probably some kind of wood, she thought. The floor was was a darker shade though.

And suddenly her blood ran cold. She knew this place. She had no idea how she had got here but she knew exactly where she was. And when she was. A glance down at her own body confirmed it. Gone were the pale green hooded t-shirt and faded jeans she had been wearing just seconds ago. In their place were the white t-shirt embellished with a red heart that had once been her favourite, and a pair of navy blue sweat pants, scruffy and unflattering but comfortable. She remembered them so well. But she also remembered exactly what she would see if she just turned her head a little...



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