floorplan

This is the second part of an adventure series where YOU determine the next step in the story. Read part one.

You decide the team should enter through the hatch in front of you. You give the metal slab at your feet a decisive nod and back away.

Your team’s tech specialist steps forward, drops his black duffel bag on the grass, and examines the hatch. On its surface are two uneven square panels. He slides both of them back, revealing a release wheel and a numeric keypad. The green and yellow lights you’re accustomed to seeing on a keypad entry are off and the red light is on.

The site is in a state of emergency lock down.

The tech specialist works quickly, pulling various electronic components from his bag. After removing the keypad, wires are cut and reattached to his gadgets. And then you wait.

This is taking longer than usual. The team is getting restless. The sounds of shifting rifles and boots are more frequent. Even your team leader won’t stop fiddling with the black bandanna on his head.

Another minute passes and green text flickers across the screen. The tech pulls another box from his bag, this one with an elaborate keypad. He types in a sequence and pauses. The screen flickers again with more green text.

The red light is replaced by a solid yellow light. You hear a loud click but the hatch doesn’t open. The tech straddles the hatch and twists the release wheel. A whoosh of air is heard as if the underground facility is decompressing. The tech tosses his gadgets back into his bag, steps across the hatch, and grabs the release wheel.

You grab your rifle and get into position with the rest of your team. Your team leader gives the group a cursory inspection and nods.

The tech heaves up on the hatch. Hot air blasts through the opening, carrying the scents of pepper and char.

A steep metal stair leads down into a shelter encased in steel and cement. From where you stand, your view is limited. The only light in the shelter comes from a flashing red emergency light.

Your team leader points at you and you sling your rifle onto your back. You grab the black box from your belt and lower it through the hatch. One moment the signal is as strong as if the hordes of hell were standing on top of you, and the next moment, nothing.

You look up at your team leader, palms up, and shake your head in frustration. You have no idea what’s going on. Maybe your equipment needs a tune-up.

Your team leader glares at you again and you know you’ll be assigned all of the crappy shifts tonight. He gestures to your teammates and they dart down the stairs in single file. You grab your rifle and follow them. As soon as you reach the bottom you get into formation.

The hall is long and narrow. There isn’t enough space to stand two abreast, so your formation is staggered. Two of your team members kneel in front. You stand behind them against the left wall, staring hard into the darkness ahead.

On the wall above your head, a red bulb flashes slowly, pulsing like a weak heartbeat. Its light doesn’t permeate the end of the hall. Beneath the bulb is a diagram showing emergency exits. According to the map, the complex is large and winding, and the hatch you’re under is one of two exits. The other hatch you saw is the second exit. A few feet ahead on the right is a small control room. The computers inside are all off. The desk chair has been rolled back to the opposite side of the room, as if its last occupant had jumped up and left in a hurry. The complex feels empty and the heavy silence makes your ears ring.

You check the black box on your belt. No signal. You glance back at your team leader and shake your head, letting him know there’s nothing to report.

He steps through your team and slips into the control room. His attention is drawn to a small object lying on the desk. You can’t tell what it is. It’s shiny and flat like an obsidian shard.

There’s a movement on your belt. All of the tabs around the metal ring point toward the room and needles on the black box are going wild. As your team leader reaches for the shard, the needles’ movements become more frantic.

You yell but he doesn’t seem to notice; his eyes are fixed on the shard.

As his fingers touch the shard, the red bulb winks out. You turn toward the staircase as the hatch above slams shut, encasing you in darkness. The locking mechanism in the hatch clicks. Your team leader shrieks, then all is silent.

The light returns. The side room is empty and your team leader is nowhere to be seen. All that’s left of him is his black bandanna lying crumpled on the floor. There are no other exits from the room. The tracker runs inside and looks around. She throws up her hands.

“What the hell?”

The tech sprints up the staircase. After a few minutes, he returns.

“Won’t budge. We have to find another way out.” He gives the hallway another wary look and mutters, “Routine rescue mission, my ass.”

You pull the emergency exit diagram from its frame. After studying it, you decide there are two options. You could continue the mission and head to the mainframe, hoping to shed some light on what’s happened here, or you could clear the way to the second hatch to ensure you have an escape route.

What do you do?

A: Head to the mainframe
B: Secure your escape route

Vote in the comments or on Twitter at #site27. Voting ends Tuesday night. The highest vote will be the next step in the story, posted on Fridays.

Image courtesy of army.arch

UPDATE: Voting is now closed. This Friday, you will head to the mainframe. Thanks to everyone who participated!