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The Architect

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"I am Keith Lewis. I turned 32 years old three months ago. I am the lead researcher and “architect” in a place known as Sanctum. I was hired by a government entity known as S.H.A.R.D. which I now know stands for Strategic Homeland Advanced Research and Development. They informed me that they had found something, some place. They took me to one of their many laboratories from there they connected me to a strange machine in one of the roo-"

“Keith, are you coming? You have another session in Sanctum today in a few minutes.” Keith’s friend, Dr. Kaspar Dietrich said as he opened Keith’s door.

Keith put his pencil down and closed his journal. He followed Kaspar into the lab.

“Give me a minute to calibrate the transporter.” Dr. Dietrich said, typing on his computer.

Dr. Lewis had done this many times before. He connected several wires to different parts of his body.

“You’ll be in there for three hours before Dr. Shen will take over.” Kaspar informed Keith.

“Understood.” Keith responded, hiding his excitement.

“Alright, clear your mind. Relax.” Dr. Dietrich calmly commanded.

Keith closed his eyes and cleared his mind. Suddenly a green light flashed. When Keith opened his eyes he was no longer in the transport room.

Dr. Keith Lewis was now standing in a small meadow surrounded by trees. There was a small log cabin at the edge of the tree line. He walked into the cabin and sat down on a small wooden chair in the corner. Keith thought of something simple for a warm up. He thought of a rose. He observed as what he imagined materialized in front of him.

“It needs a pot.” Keith said to himself.

Then a terra-cotta pot materialized in the air alongside the rose.

“Now all it needs is some soil.” Keith said, he then thought of a small amount of soil. It, like the others, formed in the air. Keith watched as the soil was put into the pot and the rose was delicately placed within the soil. All of this was done in the air without Dr. Lewis touching anything.

“God I love this place.” Keith said, leaning back in the small wooden chair.

Dr. Lewis suddenly stood up.

“What am I doing relaxing? I should be creating.” Keith said as he walked out of the cabin.

Keith stood outside the cabin. He closed his eyes and outstretched his arms.

“City… city…” Keith whispered, envisioning a sprawling metropolis.

When Dr. Lewis opened his eyes he saw what he had thought of. It was a massive city; complete with street lights, cars and buses. However there were no people.

He had tried to create people within Sanctum before but the closest he ever came to human life were very lifelike, albeit creepy, mannequins. Perhaps it was better that he couldn’t create people in Sanctum.

Keith decided to travel around his city. He could create a car but he had the desire to fly. However Keith still needed to see schematics of a helicopter to create one. Imagination was Keith’s greatest strength but it still had limits. To create something in Sanctum, he had to know how it worked. If he didn’t understand how it worked, it would only appear like what he envisioned, but it would not function.

Dr. Lewis chose instead to redesign the landscape so he wouldn’t need to fly. Keith closed his eyes and once more whispered, “Kingdom.” When he opened his eyes he was standing in the town center of a medieval village. Keith envisioned a metal disc, no bigger than a manhole cover. It materialized in front of him.

He stepped on to it and he thought, “lift.” The metal disc obeyed and lifted Keith about five feet off the ground.

“This is new.” Keith commented.

Keith had moved objects far larger than this but he had never moved an object he was standing on. It wasn’t a matter of if he could or not, it was a matter of control. Should he fall he could only panic. Keith doubted that he would be able to think, “Mattresses” or “Pillows” while falling from a great height.

He remained on the disc and he traveled around the small village. Even though he was only a mere five feet off the ground, he was incredibly excited. This meant that he could now fly within Sanctum.

“Hello doctor.” Dr. Shen greeted.

Keith’s disc immediately dropped to the ground as Keith’s concentration was broken.

“Dr. Shen. I didn’t notice you there.” Keith replied.

“I’m sorry for breaking your concentration.” Dr. Shen apologized.

“It’s quite all right.” Keith said.

“So you finally lifted yourself off the ground? I knew you’d be first.” Dr. Shen said, smiling.

“Thank you doctor. Perhaps you’d like to try it?” Keith asked.

“I’ll attempt it.” Shan said answered.

Dr. Shen took a step back and closed he eyes. A metal disc materialized in front of her. She opened her eyes and stepped on the disc. Once she stood upon the piece of metal the disc began to unsteadily rise.

“I’m doing it!” Dr. Shen exclaimed.

Keith didn’t say a word, he was looking off into the distance and he could barely see what looked like a floating object in the woods.

“Keith?” Dr. Shen asked.

Keith shook his head before responding.

“Yes?”

“What are you looking at?” Dr. Shen asked.

“I don’t know, it looked like a floating sphere off in the distance.” Keith responded.

“Maybe you thought you saw something and you just created it.” Mary Shen suggested.

“Perhaps.” Dr. Lewis responded, “Anyway, I’ve done enough for today. Good luck.”

“Bye, good luck to you too.” Dr. Shen responded.

Keith closed his eyes and whispered, “home”. When he opened his eyes he was back in the transport lab.

“Welcome back.” Dr. Dietrich greeted Keith.

“Thank you.” Dr. Lewis responded.

“I assume Dr. Shen found you?” Kaspar asked.

“Yes, she did.” Keith responded.

“Good.” Dietrich said before returning his gaze to his computer monitors.

Keith unhooked himself from the transporter and started walking back to his office to file a report on his most recent session in Sanctum. When Keith sat down at his desk however, he realized how little progress he had made.

He could not create life nor could he create anything beyond buildings or cars. His life was empty and Sanctum knew it. His wife had divorced him a little over a year ago. She claimed that he put his work before her despite how often he would take her to dinner. Was it such a crime to enjoy what he did for a living?

Dr. Lewis snapped out of what could’ve been described as a trance of anger. This was so unlike him, he never got angry. Perhaps his recurring solitude in Sanctum had caused it somehow. Dr. Lewis decided to finish his report and then visit the site’s psychiatrist. One hour later, Keith was sitting in Dr. Seward’s office.

“So Dr. Lewis, do you feel that these spouts of anger are caused by your wife?” Dr. Seward asked.

“No, honestly I think I direct it at her to create an outlet for the anger.” Keith answered.

“So you believe that this place, this sanctum, is the cause of your anger?” Dr. Seward proposed.

“I think that project Sanctum is a part of it but I’m certain that it isn’t the only cause.” Dr. Lewis said flatly.

“Interesting, I’d like you to start making regular sessions here. Say once or twice a week.” Seward said.

“If it doesn’t interfere with my work, I will.” Keith responded.

Dr. Lewis walked out of that door and never returned to Dr. Seward again. Keith walked down to S.H.A.R.D. Industries’ main laboratory hub. He then walked out of the sliding doors and into the parking lot. He pulled out his keys and unlocked the door to his 1994 Impala ss. He got in and drove to his apartment.

Keith arrived at the paper-ridden workhouse he called home. To say it was terribly messy would be a gross understatement but to call it unorganized would be a lie. There was a sort of method to his seemingly unsystematic placement of various folders, papers and files. Dr. Lewis ignored everything however and went directly to bed. He was too tired to even eat. The moment his head hit the pillow, Keith fell asleep.

When he woke up he was in Sanctum. He looked around, something wasn’t right here. Keith could sense it in the air. He closed his eyes and thought, “Pillar.” When he opened his eyes, he was standing on a hexagonal pillar that stood at least 100 meters in the air. Keith began to walk and with each step a pillar rushed up to his feet.

Dr. Lewis walked for what felt like half a mile. Then he saw the city he had built in his previous sessions within Sanctum. The only difference was that this version of his city laid in ruin. No, it wasn’t in ruin, it was destroyed. It looked like a war had been waged here. Keith formed a staircase that ended at his city’s outskirts.

“What happened here?” Keith asked himself.

Keith continued walking through his decrepit and forlorn city. He looked at the various buildings, searching for clues that would tell him what had happened. Dr. Lewis came upon a portion of his city to see that several of his buildings were impaled by hexagonal pillars not unlike the ones he had walked on moments ago. Then Keith saw it…himself, however the other him looked scraggy and his eyes not his own. They were the eyes of a tormented madman.

Keith watched as the other him raised a small, meter-long hexagonal pillar that was no wider than a pencil. The pillar was raised level with the other Keith’s forehead. The other Keith closed his eyes and whispered:

“Death.”

Keith woke up in his bed. It was 4:00 a.m. He sat up and noticed that his sheets were soaked with sweat.

“Good God.” Keith said, holding his forehead.

Dr. Lewis got off his bed and started his coffee pot. He drank his coffee in silence as he stared out his window. Keith observed the urban setting. He watched the cars and trains go by.

“Trains!” Keith suddenly exclaimed.

He immediately pulled out his laptop and looked at several schematics for monorails, subways and solar panels. He had to try it. He had to go into Sanctum once more while the schematics were fresh in his mind. He got dressed as quickly as possible and started his drive to the lab. He pulled into the parking lot and showed the guard his ID card before sprinting into the Sanctum Labs. However once he reached the transport room there was someone new watching the monitors.

“Who are you?” Keith said angrily.

“I’m Dr. Kidman.” The older man said as he looked up from the monitors.

“Okay, send me in.” Dr. Lewis commanded as he hooked himself up to the transporter.

“Sir, you need authorization.” Kidman responded.

“I’m Dr. Keith Lewis, the lead Sanctum Architect.” Keith replied, clearly annoyed and agitated.

“My apologies. I’ll calibrate the transporter.” Kidman said apologetically.

Keith took a deep breath as he tried to connect to Sanctum. He closed his eyes and when he opened them he was standing in his city. Dr. Lewis didn’t waste any time, he closed his eyes once more and began picturing the tracks that his monorail would use. He opened his eyes to see the tracks suspended several meters into the air by hexagonal pillars.

He closed his eyes once more and began mentally building the cars. He started with the wheels and built the inner components. He built it literally from the ground up. When Keith opened his eyes he could hardly believe it. He saw the cars. He walked towards the front car and when he approached it the door slid open. Dr. Lewis contained his excitement and stepped inside the car. He then walked towards the front of the car, were the conductor would work. When he reached it he pushed the main lever forward and the train slowly began to move.

Keith was ecstatic! He had created a working monorail, powered by solar panels within Sanctum. He rode on his train for only a few moments before stopping it. He stepped out of the train and closed his eyes. Before whispering, “More.”

When Dr. Lewis opened his eyes he saw the urban environment, what’s more he saw several new sets of tracks for other monorails, each leading to a different part of the city. Keith then created more cars to go on the other sets of tracks. When he opened his eyes yet again he saw so many trains going so many different places. Keith felt a sense of deep accomplishment and wonder before there was a shift in the air. Keith sensed something unusual. Then he saw it.

It was the floating object he had seen before. He called out to it but it didn’t respond. Keith started running towards the object, he was afraid that it would leae again but it just remained still and watched him. He was only a meter from it when he stopped.

“Hello?” Dr. Lewis asked.

No answer

“What are you?” He asked.

No answer.

At this point Keith developed an idea. He closed his eyes and whispered, “Car.” When he opened his eyes the small metal object turned and created the car.

“I see, are you a native to this place?” Dr. Lewis asked the metal sphere.

“Dr. Lewis?” Keith heard Dr. Shen call.

“Dr. Shen? What’s she doing here?” Keith asked himself.

Keith began walking towards the voice but he didn’t take his eyes off of the floating metal orb. To his amazement the sphere followed him.

“Interesting.” Dr. Lewis said to himself.

“Dr. Lewis?” Dr. Shen called again.

“I’m on my way!” Dr. Lewis yelled back.

Keith continued towards the voice, as did the orb. Dr. Lewis rounded a corner to see Shen staring at a monorail.

“Dr. Shen, I found something that will pique your interest.” Keith said smugly.

Dr. Shen turned towards Keith and her attention was immeditately was immediately drawn to the sphere.

“What is that?” Shen asked with a sense of wonder in her voice.

“I belive this is what creates what we imagine.” Keith answered.

“Are there more of them?” Dr. Shen asked.

“I don’t know but this one seemed to take a liking to me.” said Dr. Lewis.

Shen looked at the metal sphere and spoke.

“Are there more like you?” she asked.

The sphere “looked” at her. There was a long moment of silence before another sphere descended from the sky. This one chose to hover closely to Dr. Shen. Her sphere was almost identical to Keith’s with one exception: Shen’s sphere possessed a blue eye while Dr. Lewis’s orb had a red one.

“Dr. Lewis?” Shen asked.

“Yes.” Keith responded.

“This is only a hypothesis but what if these spheres are the manifestation our imaginations?” Mary Shen proposed.

“Then why haven’t we seen them before?” Keith asked.

“I’m not sure,” Shen said, “but that would explain why we can only create things that we know the inner workings of.”

“True.” Keith said.

“I should go tell the board about this!” Mary exclaimed giddily.

She closed her eyes and whispered, “Home.” However, when she opened her eyes she was still standing in front of Dr. Lewis. Her sphere was still gazing at her with its unblinking, ever observant eye.

“Wha— Why didn’t it work?” Mary asked.

“It’s possible that your excitement didn’t allow you to clear your mind.” Keith proposed.

“okay, I’ll try again.” Shen said as she closed her eyes. She exhaled slowly.

“Home.”

Dr. Lewis watched as Dr. Shen de-materialized in front of him. It was an amazing sight, if a bit strange, to watch a collogue disintegrate. It was beautiful in a way. Then Keith’s eyes moved to Shen’s orb. The sphere looked where Shen once stood for a moment before it fell to the ground.

The metallic clang startled Keith. He took a step back. The sphere now seemed empty and lifeless. It no longer floated but it also didn’t move when Keith tried to move it with his foot. Dr. Lewis didn’t dwell on her sphere, he had a larger question on his mind. Keith turned his back to Shen’s orb and began walking away, contemplating. His sphere followed closely behind him. Why did Shen have difficulty leaving this place? Surely an experienced Architect like her should have no problems clearing her mind. Dr. Lewis then glanced at his orb.

“So, what are you?” Keith asked, not expecting an answer.

“You.”

Keith whipped his head back to the floating sphere.

“Did…Did you just speak?” He asked.

There was a long moment of silence as Dr. Lewis started at the metal sphere. It simply gazed back at him with its single red eye.

“Huh, I must be imagining things.” Keith said unassuredly.

Dr. Lewis decided it was time to mix things up in Sanctum. This city had stood for too long. It was time to create something new. It was time to create a city that looked like it belonged in Sanctum. Keith began experimenting with a single building. This time Keith kept his eyes open and he didn’t whisper anything. He watched as his orb became several metal spheres and built the building before him. Keith continued to alter the landscape. The smaller spheres dismantled the old building and built new ones with the pieces.

It was during his observation of the sight that Dr. Lewis had an epiphany. He had never seen Dr. Shen create anything more complex than a building or a car.

“It is a shame… a waste, surely she should look at more schematics to expand her horizons within Sanctum.” He thought. “After all, this is a special place. It is unlike anything else found on this planet.”

Then it hit him. That was why he and his wife split up. She never unlocked her true potential like he had. She was always more cautious… just like Dr. Mary Shen. Suddenly, Keith became enraged as he noticed the similarities between his former spouse and his fellow Architect. He was so furious; his mind produced vivid images of extreme violence.

The spheres created what Keith envisioned but he was blinded by his own wrath. Then an image became very clear in his mind. It was far more clear than the others. It was a .45 caliber combat pistol.

Dr. Lewis was jostled out of his rage by a metallic clank at his feet. Keith looked down to see the very weapon that he had created in his mind.

“That’s impossible.” Keith said, taking a step back from the firearm, “You can only create what you understand…”

Dr. Lewis was unable to comprehend what this meant. He had set a chain of events in motion that would lead him down a dark path. Keith stepped forward and picked up the pistol.

“For science.” Dr. Lewis said before pulling the trigger.

The gunshot echoed throughout Sanctum.

“My God, I not only created a functional pistol without knowing it’s mechanisms but I created bullets that were compatible with it.” Keith said incredulously.

This was too much for Keith, he dropped the pistol and stared at it for several minutes. At this point, Keith realized that his session was nearly finished. However he couldn’t just leave a loaded weapon out in the open. Keith motioned “up” with his hand and the pistol was lifted by the metal sphere. He watched as the pistol dissembled itself. Dr. Lewis then raised the pistol until he could barely see it anymore and twitched his wrist, sending every piece of the weapon a different direction.

Keith closed his eyes, thought of the transport lab and whispered, “Home.”

When he opened his eyes he was standing in the transport room.

“Welcome back.” Dr. Dietrich greeted him.

“Thanks.” Keith said.

“So, I was monitoring your heartbeat and you had a massive spike in the last few minutes, what happened?” Asked Dr. Dietrich.

“Oh, did Dr. Shen not tell you?” Dr. Lewis responded.

“NO, she left the lab the moment she came back.” Dietrich answered.

“We found out what creates what we imagine!” Keith exclaimed.

“What? Oh my- what it is it?” Dr. Dietrich eagerly asked.

“A small floating metal sphere with a single eye.” Dr. Lewis explained.

“Wow, that explains why Dr. Shen left in such a hurry.” Dietrich responded.

“Alright, well I’m gonna go tell the board about the spheres.” Keith said, leaving the room.

Dr. Lweis checked the time on his watch, it said 7:16 p.m.

“This can’t be right.” Keith remarked.

He checked his smart phone. The time was 7:16 p.m. Keith couldn’t believe it, he had been in Sanctum for around 12 hours straight. He suddenly felt very tired.

“I’ll just have a cup of coffee and then I’ll get to work on the report.” Keith thought.

Dr. Lewis walked into the break room to see a group of researchers huddled together. He approached the group after grabbing a small cup of military-grade coffee. Keith approached the group but didn’t say anything. He chose to listen to the topic before speaking.

“So why does the Bureau have to visit now?” One researcher asked.

“I heard it has something to do with Project Sanctum.” Another chimed in.

Dr. Lewis left the group.

“The Bureau? Those warmongers probably want to turn Sanctum into some kind of base. I need to tell Dr. Shen.” Keith said to himself.

Dr. Shen’s office was in the Project Sanctum wing of S.H.A.R.D. Laboratories. It was only a glorified supply closet but it was practically next door to the transport lab.

“I should have that room. I’m clearly a better Architect than her. Why is she so special?” Keith thought to himself, “She doesn’t deserve it. She is too cautious She doesn’t even deserve to build in Sanctum if she doesn’t try to advance her skills. How dare she defile the world he created by her mere presence! End her!”

Keith stopped in his tracks. Did he really just have the idea to kill his friend and collogue over a room that would not aid his work in any way? Dr. Lewis took a deep breath and calmed himself down before resuming his walk to Shen’s office. He reached her room and knocked on the door.

“Come in.” Keith heard Shen’s voice call.

Keith entered the room to see Shen sitting in her desk with an older man wearing Army fatigues opposite to her.

“Dr. Lewis, this is Major Rick DeBard. He represents the National Defense Bureau. Major, this is Dr. Keith Lewis. He is our lead Architect in Sanctum.” Dr. Shen said.

“A pleasure to meet you Dr. Lewis.” Maj. DeBard said, standing up and extending his hand for a handshake.

“Likewise.” Keith said with pseudo cheer.

“Major DeBard will be joining us in Sanctum tomorrow.” Dr. Shen told Keith.

Keith suddenly clenched his teeth.

“She dares introduce this bohemian to Sanctum without informing me?” Keith thought to himself.

“Excellent, what time will tomorrow’s session be?” Keith asked.

“10:30 a.m.” Shen responded.

“Excellent.” Dr. Lewis said with a fake smile.

“Also, Keith, I have a theory as to what those metal spheres are.” Dr. Shen said.

“Really, I found out that they are what creates what we imagine.” Keith retorted.

“Yes, I was there, I believe that they are fragments of minds. More specifically the logical portions of our minds. The imagination thinks of it and the logic builds it. Making them-“ Dr. Shen explained before Maj. DeBard cut her off, “Engineers?”

“Exactly.” Dr. Shen replied.

“Did you already inform the Board of Directors?” Keith asked.

“Yes.” Dr. Shen replied.

“And?” Keith asked.

“They require... proof of our progress.” Mary answered, “So I suggested that they join us in tomorrow’s session as well.”

“Alright, I suppose I should tidy up the place. Excuse me.” Dr. Lewis said as he left the room.

Keith waited until he was nearly to the transport lab before slamming his fist on the wall.

“That whore! How dare she? Those old geezers on the board don’t care what we discovered, they just want money! Well, since they’re getting a tour of Sanctum I might as well show them all of Sanctum’s power. I’ll show those puny beings all of Sanctum’s power. I’ll show them what a lead Architect is really capable of.” Keith said, his voice seething with rage. Dr. Lewis entered the transport lab and connected himself to the transporter. He closed his eyes and he grew a twisted smile on his face as his mind connected with Sanctum.

“Thank you for coming, we’ll meet in the transport lab at 10:30 tomorrow morning.” Dr. Shen said as Maj. DeBard left her office.

Shen barely had time to sit down before she had another episode. She had a terrible migraine and she heard a mass of whispers. To her it was just white noise until one voice spoke. It was louder and more commanding than the others. Shen closed her eyes as she tried to listen to the whispers.

“Sanctum is in danger, you are in danger. End Dr. Lewis!” The voice commanded.

Then the migraine went away. Shen opened her eyes, when she did she was standing in Sanctum. More specifically she was standing in front of an Engineer.

“It’s just another hallucination.” Shen said to herself.

“While that may be true, hallucinations are information from your subconscious. I’d advise you to listen.” The Engineer said.

“It’s just noise.” Shen replied.

“Listen, watch, observe. Another has been corrupted by Sanctum’s allure. Prepare for disaster or be caught in the spider’s web.” The Engineer said.

Suddenly Shen woke up to discover that she was laying on the floor. Mary thought for a moment.

“What in the world just happened?” she asked herself.

Mary sat down in her desk and began typing what she had experienced. She described her hallucination in vivid detail. This was her 14th episode since she had begun visiting Sanctum. She stopped for a moment to study her notes. Then Mary had a sudden realization.

“All my episodes are devoid of logic and it is a possibility that the engineers are a manifestation of the logical portion of our brain. Perhaps they act as a bookmark or anchor to Sanctum. Perhaps a fraction of the logical portion of our minds never returns to the Architect.” She said to herself. Shen wondered if Dr. Lewis also had these hallucinations as well. She finished her report and drove home. She had a big day tomorrow.

The alarm went off at 7:00 a.m. Mary got dressed and prepared for the moment that would make or break Project Sanctum. She arrived at the main lab hub at 8:15. She went to her office to once again review her notes on her episodes. She went over these notes for several hours. At 10:00, Shen’s alarm on her watch went to the transport lab Maj. DeBard was already there and waiting by the door.

“Oh, Maj. DeBard, you’re early.” Mary said, clearly surprised.

“I’d rather be fifteen minutes early than 15 seconds late.” DeBard said with a genuine smile.

Shen felt secure having the Major accompanying her. She looked down the hall to see several board members walking towards her. Their cold calculating demeanor was intimidating to most. Shen however could play their game.

Gerald Fitz, the Chairman of the Board was leading the rest of the group. Shen greeted him first before greeting the rest of the board.

“Gentlemen, you have asked me and my collogue Dr. Keith Lewis what your money is paying for. I’m sure you’ve read my reports on Project Sanctum, however written words cannot express what lies within Sanctum.” Dr. Shen said in her best presentation voice.

“Dr. Shen, we’ve read your reports. I’m more interested on where this place exists than what it can do.” Chairman Fitz said coldly.

“Unfortunately sir, we lack solid evidence to support its location but we can hypothesize that exists in a space between dimensions.” Shen replied.

“Between dimensions?!” One member of the board exclaimed.

“I’d like to remind you that it is safe inside.” She said.

“All things considered, I think I’ll stay outside of this… Sanctum.” Samuel Ferdinand said, his voice giving away his fear.

“That’s fine sir, as for everyone else, please just step into the transport labs and Dr. Kaspar Dietrich and I will connect you to the transport. I’ll join you in a moment.” Shen directed the board.

“What?” several members of the board exclaimed.

“You mean you aren’t going first?” Chairman Fitz asked.

“I’ll be monitoring your positions from the monitors alongside Dr. Dietrich to make sure you all are transported relatively close to one another. I’ll be right behind you.” Shen explained.

“Besides sir, I’ll be in your group.” Major DeBard said reassuredly.

Once the four were connected to the various transport platforms, Shen began to explain how to connect to Sanctum.

“Please clear your mind. It’ll make transport easier. Now imagine the word Sanctum and all things related to it.” Dr. Shen said as Kaspar watched his monitors.

Major DeBard closed his eyes and exhaled slowly. He was the first to connect to Sanctum. Chairman Fitz was next, then Mr. Princton and finally Mr. Kopann. Dr. SHen waited a moment before turning to Dietrich.

“How long has Lewis been in Sanctum?” Mary asked.

“He’s been in there since yesterday. I was told he notified you.” Dietrich answered.

“Was he acting strangely at all?” Shen asked.

“He just seemed calm and collected, but his voice was unnaturally monotone.” Dietrich said.

This was what her hallucination warned her. She had sent the board straight to him. She had to stop him.

“Help me get connected.” Shen commanded.

Shen began to hook herself up to the transporter.

“Mr. Kopann just flatlined!” Dietrich exclaimed.

Mary closed her eyes and tried to clear her mind. When she opened her eyes she was still in the transport lab.

“Dammit, not this again!” Shen cursed.

Then, Dr. Shen saw the engineer. This time it wasn’t in Sanctum.

“No! No! No!” Not now!” Shen exclaimed.

“There isn’t much time; Dr. Lewis has spent too much time in Sanctum. He is drunk with his power. He threatens both Sanctum’s stability and the lives of those currently in Sanctum.” The Engineer stated.

Shen woke up to see that she was on the floor, surrounded by scientists and paramedics.

“She’s awake! Get me a stretcher. We need to get her to the infirmary! One paramedic said to another.

“No!” Shen shouted as she unsteadily rose to her feet, “I need to get to Sanctum!”

The paramedics tried to hold back but a quick punch or two to the kidney stopped them quite quickly. She pulled out a 9 mm she kept in her purse for self-defense and pointed it at the bystanders.

“I must get into Sanctum! The Board of Directors’ lives are in danger.” Shen shouted at them as she hooked herself up to the transporter.

She closed her eyes and imagined Sanctum. When she opened her eyes she was standing amidst a destroyed city.

“What happened here?” Shen asked herself.

Suddenly Shen was tackled by a hulking mass.

“Stay down Doctor.” DeBard commanded as he hid her behind a pile of rubble.

“What are you doing?” Shen asked.

“Someone in here is trying to kill us. I can only assume it’s our dear friend Dr. Lewis.” DeBard explained.

“Oh God…” Shen whispered.

“I need you to tell me how to create things here.” DeBard commanded.

“You just imagine something but you need to know how it works, like every mechanism.” Shen explained.

“Thank you doctor.” DeBard said.

He closed his eyes and Shen watched as a military assault rifle materialized between the two of them.

“Are you going to kill him?” Mary asked, clearly upset.

“He already killed Chairman Fitz and I doubt the other two are still alive.” DeBard said flatly.

“Alright, I understand.” Shen whispered.

The Major peeked his head over the pile of rubble.

“Alright, how to we get out of here?” Debard asked.

“Just close your eyes and imagine the transport lab.” Shen answered.

“Okay, thank you.” DeBard said as he leapt over the pile of rubble.

He raised the rifle level with his shoulder. DeBard was now in his element, a war torn city with only an AR-15 to back him up. He may be less experienced in Sanctum but he knew military hardware well. That gave him an edge.

“Tinker Tailor Soldier sailor, death punishes all without distinction.” Keith’s voice boomed like thunder.

Then a fragment of a building tore away from its structure and was sent hurling towards the Major. DeBard pushed the ground beneath him up to jettison himself above the impromptu projectile.

“Oh, you learned how to create. Dr. Shen must have arrived. I thought I felt a shift in the air.” The voice boomed again.

Then a strange vehicle rounded a corner. It looked like a tank but at the same time looked alien to DeBard.

“Major, how fast can you run?” Keith asked as the tank fired some kind of energy blast at the soldier.

A large piece of metal was raised to black the blast. DeBard looked back to see Dr. Mary Shen who raised the metal slab. DeBard created 9mm pistol and tossed it to Shen. The slab dropped and the major ran towards the strange tank. The tank surged forward. DeBard punched the air and a hexagonal pillar rose out of the ground and slammed into the vehicle. Dr. Lewis was hurled into the air. Shen created a meter long piece of rebar and sent it towards him like a makeshift spear.

Keith deflected the impromptu weapon with a slab of concrete. Dr. Lewis then used his shield as a platform to land.

“Mary, how dare you bring these people here?” Keith yelled, “They seek to pervert our work and corrupt this place!”

“Keith, Sanctum was meant for everyone. That includes people other than you and me.” Mary calmly responded.

“Then you’re no better than them.” Keith said, his voice filled with disgust.

“Keith, you need to-“ Shen was about to say before she was interrupted by a gunshot.

Dr. Lewis stood in shock for a moment before both he and his platform fell to the ground. Major DeBard had shot Keith in the chest, more specifically in the left lung.

“You bastard!” Dr. Shen screamed at DeBard.

“Doctor, he wouldn’t have let you finish. Look.” DeBard calmly said as he pointed behind where she was standing.

A piece of Rebar had risen out of the ground and could’ve very easily killed her had it been used to do so. Shen could barely believe that her collogue; her friend would’ve killed her without a second thought. Emotions swept over her. She fell to the ground. DeBard approached Dr. Lewis. The major still kept his rifle on Keith as he walked towards him.

“Tell me doctor, did you ever wonder what happens to someone who dies in this place?” the Major asked.

“Well, I have a hypothesis.” Keith said just before he coughed up blood.

“Alright, let’s hear it.” DeBard said.

Suddenly several pencil thin hexagonal pillars impaled the soldier.

“You die like anywhere else.” Keith said as he slowly rose to his feet.

This time Shen didn’t hesitate, she fired the sidearm given to her by the Major and fired a round into Keith’s head. He crumpled to the ground. Mary ran up to the Major and began instructing him on what to do.

“Imagine the transport labs! They can patch you up.” Shen shouted.

Major Stephen DeBard closed his eyes.

Shen watched as the soldier’s body slowly disintegrated in front of her. All she could do was hope he survived. She had one last thing to do. Shen realized that she must destroy this place. Its allure was too tempting for human minds. Then Shen’s Engineer floated down to her from the sky.

“Hello Mary.” It said politely.

“Hello.” She responded.

“While I disagree what your plan I cannot argue with you.” It said.

“Why not?” Shen asked.

“I am merely a manifestation of your logic. I exist only to serve you here.” It said.

“Then serve me. Help me to destroy this place so that nobody can be corrupted by it.” Shen commanded.

“Yes ma’am.” The metal sphere said.

The engineer looked towards the sky, as did Mary. She saw thousands of Engineers descend from the heavens. They scattered throughout Sanctum and began deconstructing the world. Shen closed her eyes and envisioned destruction, destruction not on a planetary scale but a dimensional one. The skies began to crack like glass. The ground rumbled and shook Portions of land fell away into an endless abyss of darkness. Her paradise fell away into nothingness, never to be found again.

DeBard woke up in a hospital room. He looked around to see a nurse adjusting his I.V.

“What happened?” The Major asked.

“Dr. Dietrich and several paramedics brought you here. I’ll let them know you’re awake.” The nurse politely responded.

“Thank you.” Debard said.

Moments later Dr. Dietrich walked into the room.

“What happened?” Debard asked.

“You were transported back but you had six hexagonal rods sticking in you. You’re lucky to be alive.” Dietrich said.

“And Shen?” Stephen asked.

“She flatlined a little after you came out.” Kaspar answered.

The soldier’s head lowered.

“Now it’s my turn, tell me what happened in there.” The doctor asked.

DeBard sighed before telling the doctor what he witnessed within the treacherous paradiso known as Sanctum.

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