Apocalyptis [SEC2014]

Sarah cleared her throat. “Well then, it doesn’t matter. They were destined to die, but now instead of by the Council’s hands, they’ve ascended
to topside to meet death. On their own terms.”

“That’s very poetic, Miss Ellison, but it’s not the point. Our way was simple. You go sleep and never wake up. The children and elderly taken atop
will die slower, agonizing deaths from things like exposure, hunger, and unforeseen calamities topside.”, Mr. March uttered in a controlled,
strained voice.

Sarah’s blue eyes met Sadie”s sparkling green one’s, and silently she conceded to her younger sister. She kept silent, even when Mr. March turned
to her for her reply. When she issued no ready response, March turned to Section A’s head of security, Jack Mallory.

“Mallory, Sadie – I want you to gear up and stop as many people as you can from reaching the air shaft and accessing it. Once your there, close
it.”, Mr. March ordered. “I’ll appraise the rest of the Council on what has happened here.” With that, Councilman March left the room as fast
as his penguin like body could carry him.

Sarah stood, turning to Mallory. “I’d like to accompany you and my sister. You may need my expertise to close the shaft, and reset the system to
restore control room access.”

“Fine.” Mallory said. “Let’s all meet in 15 minutes. We will take the secondary lift down to Section D. It is closer to the air shaft than the
main access point.”

Sadie and Sarah nodded in cadence and together they headed toward their quarters. Once out of earshot of anyone else, Sarah stopped and took Sadie by
the shoulders, forcing Sadie to stop walking and face her her. Sarah shook Sadie hard, for several moments. “I cannot believe you did this! If I
hadn’t been there, and detected your hack first, you’d have been throw in the brig.” Sarah cried angrily.

“Sarah, please. They are going up, but I need to go down.” Sadie gently pushed Sarah back, as realization dawned in Sarah’s face.

The tales about the lower levels that were forbidden to everyone, even supposedly, the councilman was legendary. Occasionally, a call would come up
from the forbidden levels for certain people in their communities to be sent down into the lower levels. They were never heard from again. This was
what happened to Sadie and Sarah’s parents when they were only 12 and 14 years old. They were summoned to descend into the parts of the facility that
made it all possible. The food supply, air supply, and structural integrity was all due to the lower levels and the people who resided there to
maintain those systems. Supposedly, the upper crust of society took to the lowest levels of all the facilities, and left the upper levels to the
“rest” of society. The lower levels are completely autonomous, but the upper levels depended upon the lower levels for survival. All of the
bio-gardens that produced food, and animal farms, were on the lower levels. Food was sent up, not down, the tiered facility. So when the lower levels
sent up a request for personnel, it was rarely denied.

“You mean to find our parents don’t you? Oh Sadie, it’s been almost two decades since we last saw or heard from either of them. They might not
even be alive!”, Sarah protested.

Sadie began walking again at a brisk pace. “Well Sadie, that might be so, but I have to know! I need to know why, and if they are still alive.”

Sarah followed her younger sibling, saying nothing. She knew there was nothing she could say to Sadie to changer her mind. When their parents were
selected to descend into the forbidden levels, Sadie had been devastated. Sadie had only been twelve, and she took the loss of their parents
particularly hard. She’d fallen into a melancholy that she wouldn’t shake until she was nearly and adult. What replaced that sorrow and depression
was a determination. She’d enter into security, when her tests clearly demonstrated she was suited to more intellectual work like computers,
engineering, or even medicine. But Sadie had wanted to work in security, and she had been adamant about it.

“How long have you been planning this Sadie?”, Sarah asked her sister when she emerged from her room in jeans, jacket, and boots.

“Let’s go”, Sadie replied, ignoring her sisters question.

Mallory was waiting for them, and said very little, as the three of them took the lift down into Section D. The silence that met them, was even more
deafening than the sirens had been. The air, usually stagnant and thick, had a crispness, none of them had ever experienced before. They all stood
still and silent for a moment, taking in deep breaths.

“The air shaft is that way”, Sadie said, pointing the way and allowing Mallory to take the lead. “Turn right down the next corridor, it will
lead to the common area. There should be people still there. Not everyone could make that climb to the surface.”

The common area, usually the busiest area of any section in the facility, was deserted. “Where is everyone?”, Sarah whispered. “How could ALL of
them try and get to the surface. Some of them were wheelchair bound.”

Sadie stopped at door of the last corridor that led to the access area of the air shaft. It was sealed shut. Sadie tried her card several times,
before Mallory shoved her out of the way to try and use his own. “We’re locked out. They must have sabotaged the controls from the other side.”,
Mallory said in disgust, kicking the door with his boot.

“That’s not going to work.” Sarah said, she shrugged out of her backpack and searched inside of it for her computer. “It will take some time,
but I should be able to override and get these doors to open. You two should look for anyone that was left behind. I still cannot believe that
everyone is attempting to reach the surface.”

Mallory nodded, his tall imposing figure taunt with anxiety at all of the unknowns that faced them. Sadie watched Mallory leave the area, moving
towards the quarters area of Section D. “You should do it now, Sadie. You brought the taser didn’t you?”, Sarah asked.

“Of course I did. I also brought zip ties to bind him too. A taser will only immobilize him for a few minutes. He will know it was me, and you
helped, if we decide to do this.” Sadie worried aloud.

“I thought you already decided upon this. There is no turning back now. Eventually, they will trace that alarm back to you, and know I covered for
you, if not suspect we were both in on it from the beginning. There is no turning back now, little sister. You have sealed our fate. The only choice
left to us – is do we go up, or down?” Sarah responded calmly.


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