Project Magenta - Chapter 1 Preview

Project Magenta - Chapter 1 Preview

Inside the Compound, Alecia's coworkers were already busy at work. She quickly padded toward the co-ed civilian employee locker room and stripped. From her locker, she grabbed a gray coverall and pulled it up over her body. The high-tech bodysuit covered her from neck to toe, the thick durable fabric hiding all sorts of high-tech sensors that would heat or cool the wearer as required, based on the environment that they were working in. Thin pink LED strips down the legs and under the arms glowed as the suit adjusted to Alecia’s body temperature. The glowing strips activated every time the suit performed a function, such as temperature adjustments or self-cleaning, keeping the wearer aware that its hidden microcomputers were performing functions properly. Alecia’s favourite feature was the ample thigh pockets, which made it easy for her to always have a wrench, ratchet, screwdriver, knife, wire stripper, and other tools quickly at hand. From the top shelf of the locker, she grabbed her safety glasses, a wide band of dark elastic with large round copper frames and dark lenses, a vintage item that her father had found at an estate auction and gifted to her for their garage projects. Alecia thought the goggles somewhat resembled an old-timey aviator’s helmet, but the antiquity of the item only made her love and cherish the gift even more.  Alecia pulled her safety glasses on and exited the locker room into the massive, rusty metal walls of the Time Well’s engine room. She exchanged greetings with the familiar faces of co-workers, as they rushed to find tools, move a welding cart, or weave between the metal racks of tools, machinery parts, metal pipes, and sheeting that lined the exterior of the massive workshop. The farthest wall of the engine room, opposite the locker room entrance, was the home of a metal platform topped with a massive heavy equipment crane that was mounted to the ceiling on rails, which allowed it to move large objects in the room from side to side. The metal plate centred at the base of the crane was framed on either side by 2 massive and identical engines. The stainless steel outer casings glinted like polished chrome, rising in a rounded arc from the floor to about 30 feet high at the center of its arch. The housing had slits cut into the metal to allow heat to escape and provide visuals to some of the working parts, should a mechanic need to take a look while diagnosing a problem. Small control panels and component housings seemed to grow out of the sides of the metal casing at the person level, allowing mechanics to run diagnostics, exchange parts, or access the inner workings as needed.   Alecia grinned as she nonchalantly padded over to a workbench, leaning on it and addressing a co-worker who was standing on a large stool while hunched over the workbench, cursing at some rusted metal part that he couldn’t get to separate from another rusted metal part. “Hey Benny, what do we get the privilege of fixing today?” Benny Hurley was an Australian Aboriginal with a penchant for fixing things, and as made evident by his step stool and small stature, he also happened to be a little person. Benny had a no-nonsense attitude and always had a witty remark ready. Benny wore a set of coveralls that matched Alecia’s, however, his uniform included a full helmet with a tinted face visor. Having grown up in a place where people are killed by falling coconuts, Benny was hyper-aware of head protection, possibly to an obsessive degree. His open visor allowed him a better look at his task, which apparently helped little, as there was no change in the free-flowing complaints that he issued. 

“We have to replace these bloody couplers for the coolant lines again!” Benny exclaimed in exasperation. “It’s just, you know, TIME TRAVEL!” he continued, to no one. “Heaven forbid they get us some decent couplers that the bloody coolant doesn’t corrode away every other week! No problem, it’s not as if it’s for something important, we’ll just keep changing these bloody rubbish iron couplers every couple of weeks!” 

Alecia chuckled and reached for her ratchet as Benny released a forlorn sigh of impotent anger. She then held her first aloft, Benny grinned and did the same in response, bumping fists to be followed with each of them opening their hand and pulling it back while making imaginary explosion noises. The pair padded over to the time lab, Alecia excitedly holding her ratchet aloft in the air with mock victory and Benny carrying a large netted bag full of iron couplers over his shoulder.  The experienced duo would make short work of this coupler exchange.

The time lab was a large open room with curved metallic walls. A smattering of workstations, complete with scientists in lab coats. High-end scientific computers and equipment were spread out in the open areas around the massive chamber. In the center of the time lab was the Time Well, the heart of Project Magenta.  The Time Well consisted of a platform and control panel mounted on a metal grating, which made it look as if it was hovering in the air. An additional wall of metal chain link rose from behind the control panel, allowing all of the necessary screens and control equipment to be mounted securely above the main controls. Below the platform was a circular opening about 20 feet wide over a 20-foot-deep pit, complete with metal access ladders for personnel to climb up and down on.

Benny climbed down to the bottom of the pit with his bag of couplers, followed by Alecia, who began using her ratchet to remove a row of curved metal panels from the wall, running next to the access ladder.

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