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Jack waited at the conveyer belt, Waiting, Waiting, Waiting…  AAAaaaAAAaaaAAAaaa WARNING! WARNING! The signal for a fire! Jack leapt to his feet and ran but found himself at a dead end. There was a single door.

Jack ran to it, banged it, pulled it, kicked it, and even tried to smash it open! After deciding that trying to force it open was useless, he noticed an electronic keypad, and a sign that said: AUTHORIZED PERSONNEL ONLY. Jack saw a PLEASE ENTER CODE sign above the keypad. It was a five-digit code, but had letters as well as numbers. He looked back. The fire was already choking the corridor behind him. Suddenly, all the lights went out. An electric shortage! Which meant… He glanced at the door. They had popped open!

Jack sprinted inside. Suddenly a voice appeared from nowhere, and a strange one too! It wasn’t the generic calm, female voice. It was a low, robotic voice. Jack jumped, and a robot appeared. It was exactly the robot you would expect The Voice, as Jack called it, to come from. It was pure black, with a skeletal body, four legs, and a hunched back. A single red eye glowed at the top of the back, with a yellow pupil in it roving to search the breached room. It scuttled toward Jack, and raised a clawed hand with a thin finger pointing at Jack.

With a start, Jack realized that it wasn’t a robot at all, but a cyborg, or cybernetic organism. Almost a robot, but not quite, as a brain was cradled visibly at the base of its hunched back. Wires stuck into the brain, and one visibly tensed as it delivered news of Jack’s presence in the room. The Voice came again-but not from the cyborg! It seemed to come from the walls of the room, and resonated over and over in this way, the robot-that is, cyborg- introduced itself as Captain Gerard Djedler of the LabRats (NeuroTech).

Jack learned that he was in the primary meeting hall of the top-secret LabRats, who created new technology for DreaMachine Inc. Jack worked for DreaMachine as well, but he got off on weekends, and, as an engineer, made sure everything worked. He had brown hair and green eyes. He was 6 foot 5 inches, and had a small house in Ouyrettebo d’tikciuq.

The LabRats stayed in the lab for years on end, pumping out new technology to increase the efficiency of DreaMachine. However important the LabRats were, robots were the backbone of DreaMachine. Arms cranked, presses whirred, pumps hissed in a maelstrom of sound. Jack would wear noise-cancellation earphones to block out the whirlwind of blips, hisses and whirrs.

On the table, there was a DreamSet, a device that allowed you to program your own dreams. A shelf held a box saying: WARNING DO NOT OPEN. On the wall there hung a diagram of the brain, and books like Thinking: Fast and Slow and How We Decide were held open by spider-like robots that scuttled to you and gave you a book.

Suddenly, the door slid closed with a whroom. Jack looked around, and was suddenly blinded as the lights flickered back on. The electricity came on, and Jack tried to call his wife. However, a large sign appeared saying ACCESS DENIED. Jack swore, but regained his composure as a section of the wall slid open. Interested, he followed Gerard into the door.

Jack screamed. Large canisters lay suspended from the ceiling, but that wasn’t remotely scary. What scared him was what was in them… Brains were hanging in them, swaying limply in the embrace of wires. Gerard (or Cap’n Djedler) gestured around. Despite Jack’s impulsive shriek of terror, The Voice proclaimed proudly that these were the brains of the finest LabRats, feeding information directly to people’s minds. It was rather like the Siri of the olden days (back in good ol’ 2015), and Jack couldn’t help but be impressed by it, even though he was repulsed. Computer banks lined the walls, so that the signals from the brains would not have to travel far. If signals traveled too far, they would get all muddled up. Then, he was ushered into a pod. The walls around him warped and blurred, and everything went black.

The next morning, he woke up in a recliner, without any recount of what had happened after the fire. He heard his wife calling him for breakfast. He walked over, and dug into his plate of czinn (deglutiat piscis). Jack’s pet europa gar was swimming in his HydroSphere, which at that moment dispensed a wad of food into the sphere.

A flash! A boom! And all the lights went out! Jack reminded his wife that electric storms were not altogether uncommon, due to the high amounts of Teslic energy generators. Teslic energy generators were common because electric energy was very useful. It was used to power the HyperTrain network, NeuroPhones, Mechoids, even the expensive CloudCraft. CloudCraft were massive floating “hives”, flying around and offering their aristocratic owners a different vacation each day. They were arranged in intricate systems, but a NavCom allowed you to get to different rooms easily.

The next day… lights had still not powered up.

A week later… still no power.

Clearly, this was no ordinary electric storm.  Jack went to DreaMachine HQ to help with the problem, leaving a note saying “We’re going to see the electric generator regulations”. They held a conference to decide what to do. They decided to check on the regulations of the tesla generators. They all left except for Jack (he wasn’t important enough) and a young woman who introduced herself as Lily Djedler. Ahhh, that’s what she was doing here. Of course, the daughter of the LabRats captain would be allowed here. Suddenly she pulled out a piece of paper and scrawled: Finally gone. DreamSets are brainwashing. Get. Out. NOW!  Then Lily got up, turned, and walked into a strange, almost ethereal swirling blue ellipse. When Jack looked back, Lily was gone. He remembered the thing she was wearing on her back, which had obviously been the result of the Experimental TeleField. This device manipulated particles to disassemble atoms at point A and reassemble them at point B.

The next day Jack pondered her message. Why would the dreamsets brainwash people?  What kind of corrupt tyrant would do that? Another question was: if it was fake, where would she get that idea? But… no, it wasn’t a joke. She was the son of Gerard, of course she would know.

Jack began to formulate a plan. The lights had not turned on yet, so the electric storm was still happening. That meant the DreamSets would be out of power so people weren’t being brainwashed. He slipped flyers into mailboxes, held secret meetings, and prepared for an active revolt against DreaMachine. After a tiring day, since he had just held a meeting in a scraphouse, Jack went home, collapsed onto the recliner, and began to read by electric HoloLight. He had just finished chapter three of The Time Machine when his watch ticked 18:00, the time to begin the attack. Jack jumped onto a HyperTrain, hopped off at the scraphouse serving as a rendezvous point, and met with everybody. Lily and Jack would lead the attack to usurp the CEO of DreaMachine.

The pack of humans crept stealthily up the stairs. All of them had DreaMachine Engineer clothes, and Lily had access to pretty much anywhere. Lily pretended to be leading them to her suite on the top floor. Her suite was right next to the CEO’s room, so it was perfect. Outside the door of the CEO’s room, Tim produced a 5-nanometer thick knife, and cut the door hinges in half, as the knife was diamond-tipped, they lunged in, and found… an empty room, with a single letter on the floor. Jack picked it up and read:

A clumsy attempt. I am Niecalpuo’ylliwrevendn’if, watching footage of you blundering around in those ridiculous outfits. For now, you can have DreaMachine.

Jack cheered triumphantly. Their goal had been accomplished. They turned off the brainwashing. The next morning Jack furnished the room and took his place as CEO. He lived finely, and never had a worry in his life, except for having to be responsible. He charted the CEO’s disappearance as Calamity 023. Gerard and the LabRat conspirators who developed the brainwashing were arrested. They were freed when interrogation revealed that they were forced to do it. However, Gerard mysteriously disappeared from the face of the Earth… and his burned shell was discovered two years after his disappearance. Malcolm Harbon was fined for illegally augmenting his generator.

Meanwhile, on Niecalpuo’ylliwrevendn’if, the CEO stepped out of his CloudCraft. A doorman walked forward, and greeted him. He walked into his private mansion and began to watch the footage. He chuckled at their “ridiculous outfits.” He kept chuckling…

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