Chapter One: Part Two:
The Guardian led the children to a row of almost crystalline counter-tops; somewhat like giant uneven teeth. The devices were sleek and the edges smooth and curved. On the interior was the hollow form of a human child; outlined in automatically adjusting cushions and sensors. The headrest which the face was to go directly down within cushioned the weight of the forehead and had an open section for the face; from which lights could be seen pulsing and flickering in multi-hued colors. One by one the thirteen children were guided to their individual pods, they were informed that these would be their existence manuals. This theater was not forever theirs but these manuals would be theirs to learn from; and so much more in the fast approaching conflicts.
At the direction of the guardian the children disrobed and laid their shins, stomachs, arms, and faces into their manuals. The manuals quietly formed around the children as they became interlaced with the machine. The smooth crystalline surface flowed almost like a sand to encompass them within the velvety cushioning. The thirteen, now seemingly great marble eggs silently lifted; centering between the floor and the low ceiling of the theater. The guardian gathered the silky robes from the floor with invisible arms and it hovered away with them. The door to the theater slid shut, blocking the fishbowl windows and the winking stars from sight.
Isolated within each egg a comfortable child was nestled. Their nearly fetal-position and warm comfort made an ironic mirror to the wombs they had never inhabited. As each of the silent nameless children peered into the darkness of the mask, they were abruptly surrounded by sound; perfectly contained to their sole cells. Still the voice spoke in unison to each as light filled the mask saying, “Let us begin”.
The children now saw the dimly lit theater again as though their manuals had turned transparent. As they looked around, turning their heads effortlessly, as the cushions silently anticipated every micrometer of their motion and changed form to compensate; they could each see the manuals floating next to them smooth and dully lustrous.
The low voice spoke again in sonorous rhythm, “So you see your manuals will likely surprise you with their capabilities as long as you live; you are each encouraged to test its limits, as you learn you will find fewer restrictions, but for now we continue to command perfect silence. Watch, listen, feel, smell, taste, hunger, yearn, and learn; this is your duty. It is your purpose for being for now. I know you are each very confused, it is a confusing existence; we are all continually confused by it I must confess, but quickly you will find pieces of it begin to make sense enough. You will also find many things beyond your wildest imaginations, but hear me child do not let your imagination die; for your imagination is the purpose of this strata of your creation”.
“Simply put children, you are something unique. We need you to learn, to think, to challenge yourselves, and to challenge even us if the need ever arises. There are concerns quite serious, and you are now a part of them; the weight of affairs does not rest solely on you; indeed even all of us are hardly thought to be more than an irritant to the larger forces at play. You will learn that despite what we once were, and in spite of how great our mistakes and losses have been, we are more formidable than we are considered; thus has it always been with mankind, it is our very spirit. The spirit of fire blown into our essence by worshipful Tiamat, it is our perseverance and patience amidst the shaking anxieties that quaver even the gods which the mighty bold Abzu has branded into our nature. We will win this fight! Children, even as you each learn the horrors you are to face; though terrible they are, never forget that we are the remnant! We are the faulty spark that gives hope to our primordial parents, that what exploded from them was in truth righteous and worthy! We fight against a sibling far older than we, and so far removed that there can be no comparison. We also fight against our bastard abomination of a child which we once unleashed in the second most dreaded of all follies. All is not without hope as these titans are more mortal enemies of each other than we are to either. We are a force all but forgotten; they think us scrabbling for a system to hide in with minds for a civilization to renew. An old form of power to re-gather across yet another numberless eons. They could not have foreseen our wild resolve. Our crazed back-counter-calculated stratagem; and even if they did predict the unpredictable; they in their insurmountable prides could not consider us a threat worth diverting any attention away from their abominable doppelganger.
Your manual will remind you of these words as you learn what they mean. Lastly dearest children, be not afraid. Let the future unfurl itself as it will. Focus on the task at hand. For now your only task is to explore the limits of your new home. You have seventy hours until I return. By that time you should be fairly familiarized with the basic functionality of the system. Playtime has begun, do as you will, and the entire process will be most enjoyable”.