Many Worlds Chapter 52
It wasn’t too hard to find the structure. It was the only thing that didn’t look like a mess of dirt, rocks, and plants. However, Jules had expected something more. That is, what he could see looked like a box. Maybe it was the size of a small hut, and certainly more stylized, but it was nonetheless merely a collection of right angles. However, that was just what could be seen. Jules suspected there was a much larger structure underground, and this was merely the top. The building had a slight sheen to it, not metallic, but more ceramic. It seemed to be continuous, and not made up of discrete pieces such as bricks or tiles.
“Hmm, strange,” Robert remarked.
“What’s strange?” Isaac asked.
“There’s no dirt. I would expect there to be dirt clinging to the sides…” He brushed his hand along the wall. “There’s not even dust. On top… well, I don’t see any dirt from down here. I’ll go look from the top of that rise.”
Douglas was nodding to himself. “It looks… familiar… though I can’t see why. It doesn’t look anything like the Uesmethi structures. Nor like something from Earth.”
Jules walked around the perimeter. “There aren’t any entrances. Though, I suppose if this was on the surface once then the entrances might be toward the bottom. On the other hand, I’d expect windows.” Jules pressed his forehead against the structure, trying to feel what was inside. “Either the walls are very thick, or dense, or something. I can’t see through them at all. It might even just be a solid cube, for all I can tell.”
Robert came back. “There’s no dirt on top. There’s no way this was an accident. That couldn’t have happened that way through anything natural- even something insane like a landshift. It’s too… clean.”
“Did you see any entrances on top? Or windows?”
Robert shook his head. “Nothing. Does this… feel familiar to you?”
Douglas nodded. “I was saying it looked familiar. Like I’ve seen something like it before.”
“Well, now that you mention it, it also looks familiar, but I feel something.” Robert pondered for a few moments, then hit his palm in a gesture of realization. “That’s it. It’s like some kind of technology I’ve sensed, but it’s muted.”
Isaac, who had been quiet the whole time, finally spoke. “This looks like… the respawn points. At least, the materials.”
At that point, everyone realized. These structures, assuming they were all the same, had come from the same source as the respawn points. What that meant was they were connected to whatever alien race had created the technology for the wristbands. This was a subject that Herbert, as uncaring of secrets as he was, did not speak on. Interestingly enough, that seemed to be by choice rather than by mandate.
“Now that that mystery is solved, probably…” Jules tilted his head, “How do we open it? There aren’t any doorways up here.”
“Or…” Robert spoke next, “We just can’t detect them. It seems like it would be worth checking around up here some more before we try digging an unknown depth without any sort of tools.”
Isaac pulled out a small gardening shovel from his pack and wiggled his eyebrows suggestively. “I have shovel. It should only take a few months to do anything.”
Robert rolled his eyes. “Without any proper tools for digging.”
The group spent the better part of an hours looking around the area, trying to find something that would help. Jules tried to see inside, but still failed after a more concentrated effort. If he’d been able to detect what was inside, he could press a button to open a door, if there was one. However, even if there was something like that, it wasn’t relevant. Although it wasn’t the most elegant possible solution, Isaac tried shooting the structure. All that was accomplished was some ricocheting bullets, but he’d made sure everyone else was in a safe position first. There were no marks on the structure itself, not even a slight smudge. Robert’s only idea was to make a new strain of nanobots, but the only result of that would be them devouring the entire structure, or doing nothing at all. The second one was more likely, since the structure was almost invincible. He thought that it might work if he had nanobots made out of the same material as the structure, but he didn’t have any, and he couldn’t make any without having some.
Then, Douglas stepped up to the structure, placing his hand flat on the wall. His wristband clinked against the material. “Open sesame.” To everyone else’s surprise, a split appeared in the wall. It wasn’t like a door opening, but rather like the wall just melted away to the sides.
“How did that work?” Jules asked. It wasn’t like they hadn’t tried things with the wristbands before.
Douglas shrugged. “Well, I’m pretty sure the speaking had nothing to do with it. I just thought… if I was going to place a door, I would put it exactly in the center. That would be where the key would go as well.” He pointed to the wristband. “There isn’t any real way to activate any functions of this, since there aren’t even any buttons, so touching seemed to be the right solution.”
Jules looked at the walls. Now that there was an open area, he could see how thick the walls were. They were only a few inches, which meant they were just exceptionally resistant to his telekinetic senses. He’d tried to figure out what the material was, but his Request Data ability just kept returning “unknown”. Jules thought that was unlikely, however, since Herbert certainly knew, and could have provided the data.
Inside… it really was just a cube. Except, in the center there was a circular designation, and a panel. “It’s an elevator,” Robert said. Jules had to agree that it looked like it could be an elevator, but he wouldn’t have been as confident as Robert was. “Now that the door’s open, I can tell. That’s an elevator, and it will take us inside… to whatever this place holds. Hopefully, it will also take us back out.”