09:12 - August 20, 2008.
Sunnydale Crater, California.
It had taken the excavation crew most of the night to clear enough of the rubble so they could safely reinforce the entrance way with structural support, making sure that the ground was secure enough to hold them and their equipment as they worked had been the work of the Stark technicians that had accompanied them, working with third generation Stark Tech to actively map the crater and underground caverns for safety.
Through the night JARVIS had kept Tony updated on their progress, with live feeds coming direct from the engineers data logs and camera equipment, enough to give him enough of a map of inside the cavern so he would know what to expect.
“We getting anything?” Tony asked as he walked inside, using the suits sensors to map out the area and forward the information back to the excavation team.
“Indeed sir,” The AI responded. “The energy readings are much stronger now, located in the building east of here.”
“Record everything; I don’t want to miss a single piece of data here.” Tony explained as he started walking towards the building JARVIS had identified for him.
“Indeed sir,” The AI responded dryly. “Maps on record of Sunnydale prior to the collapse indicate this was part of the industrial district of the town.”
“I’m getting that,” Tony agreed as he looked around, using the lighting on his right arm to check over the large building that was only partially collapsed, it seemed the area the building had been on had collapsed around it, bringing the entire warehouse down into the crater where it had been sealed off with a landslide, obviously protecting the building from further damage. “Calax Research and Development.” He read off of the sign on the front of the building. “Pull up information.”
“Founded in nineteen ninety two, a subsidiary of Calax Industries. Originally funded to research robotics, it closed in nineteen ninety six.” The AI informed Tony, bringing up information on the company for him to see. “Calax Industries went into closure in two thousand and four; no further information on the company exists within public record.”
“Nothing about energy research or plasma dynamics?” Tony asked curiously, wondering why the energy readings he was getting were pointing him to a robotics factory.
“The warehouse indicated here was simply used for storage and research into robotics. No information or energy research was conducted by Calax Industries.” The AI explained.
“At least none that they spoke about,” Tony commented off hand, knowing full well that most companies worked far outside of their original spectrum of research. It was entirely possibly that Calax were performing tests on electro-plasma research here without publicising the research outside of the R&D team itself.
“Sir, sensors are picking up a single life form within the Calax building.”
“Alive?” Tony asked, stopping sharp in his walk towards the building and staring at it. “This building has been buried for nearly five years, what are the chances someone survived on their own here for that length of time.”
“Given proper provisions, it is possible sir.” The AI informed him. “However, sensors indicate the readings are erratic, indicating possible injury.”
“Lock on to the signature and direct me on,” Tony said firmly, heading into the building itself, the puzzle about the energy signature forgotten for the minute now that there was a possibility of finding another Sunnydale survivor.
“Sir, the life sign is within two feet of the energy signature itself,” The AI informed him. “It is likely whoever created the energy you are investigating is the life form in question.”
“I’m still not buying it,” Tony frowned as he pushed open the main door to the Calax warehouse, “No way someone survived the collapse of the town, and what, five years buried under a couple of hundred tons of rock and debris?”
“Indeed sir,” The AI responded to his rhetorical question. “Analysis of the air shows that this cavern did had a constant supply of fresh air, however it is unlikely that a human could exist in these conditions for the length of time indicated.”
“Sensors on full,” Tony commented as he walked further into the Calax warehouse, instead of the darkness he’d been expecting from outside, a soft eerie green glow was radiating through the corridors, lighting up the area for him.
“Sensors indicate both energy signature and life signs are coming from the level below sir,” The AI informed him.
“Kinda figured that out,” Tony said with an eye roll as he came across a corridor where the building had collapsed inward, blocking him off aside from a single open doorway leading down where the green lighting was emanating from. “Tell the excavation team to hold at the entrance, I’m getting a bad feeling from down here.”
“Indeed,” The AI responded dryly.
“Hold on,” Tony frowned as he reached the bottom of the stairs, kneeling down as he found a body there. “Dead.” He muttered to himself, looking over the body with the suits enhanced sight and sensors. “This is way beyond what Calax claimed to be developing,” He muttered, fingering the eye piece and black cybernetic implants. “Whatever they were doing here, definitely wasn’t simple robotics.”
“Agreed sir,” The AI informed him as it brought up readings from the sensors. “Sensors indicate this man suffered a severe cervical fracture. Cybernetic components are inoperative. Sensors are also indicating the presence of nanotechnology sir.”
“Forget the excavation team,” Tony glared down at the body, the green glow giving the grey skin of the corpse an eerie tinge and lighting up the black cybernetic areas with an ominous glow. “I want the full Los Angeles R&D branch down here now. Everyone from the team, and get the New York robotics branch on the next flight down here.”
“I have sent the required notifications,” The AI informed him after a beat. “Sir, there is still a single life form reading from twenty one feet ahead. Along with the energy signature originally recorded.”
“I’m getting a bad feeling here,” Tony commented to himself. “Get the excavation team back outside and topside, they’re to wait for security before proceeding any further.”
“A sensible precaution sir,” The AI agreed, forwarding on the orders to the foremen of the teams.
“And that feeling just got worse,” Tony muttered as he pushed open the only door in the corridor ahead to be treated to a sight that he would remember forever.
The single life form the suit was picking up was a human male, if it could still be called that. The man was in his mid-forties, and standing in some sort of alcove with thick tubes running down from the mechanical alcove behind him into his body. Advanced cybernetics covered the right side of his face and ear, leaving his right eye exposed though it was currently closed.
“Give me something here,” Tony commented, forgoing the lights here and charging his hand repulsers ready.
“Unknown sir,” The AI responded. “Sensors cannot penetrate the cybernetic armour; indications of power coming from the nodule behind the alcove show the implants are active.”
“Run a scan through facial rec,” Tony said with a frown, stepping around the alcove gently to investigate further. “I’m seeing something familiar here but can’t place it.”
“Running now sir,” The AI informed him. “Sensors indicate shallow breathing and diminished heart rate, possibly as a consequence of the cybernetic interface, indicating the man is within some form of meditation or hibernation.”
“Let’s keep him that way until we know what we’re dealing with,” Tony said with a frown, looking around the advanced technology that was all linked up to the alcove the man was standing in. “Focus recognition searches on Sunnydale inhabitants, narrow down the search to people still recorded as missing after the collapse of the town to within five years previous.”
“Search complete,” The AI said after a moment, bringing up the information. “Facial recognition indicates a ninety six percent match to Rupert Giles, recorded missing in Sunnydale as of November second, nineteen ninety seven.”
“He worked at Calax?” Tony asked, eying the man in the alcove carefully and taking note of the advanced armour that was covering his entire body.
“Records indicate Rupert Giles was the librarian at Sunnydale High School. A British National with previous ties to the London historical museum and arts foundation. Doctorate at thirty two, with qualifications in literature, history and mythology.” The AI informed Tony, bringing up the records for Rupert Giles.
“Sounds a bit over qualified for a librarian position,” Tony commented idly. “Who reported him missing?”
“The principal of Sunnydale High School, Robert Snyder.” The AI informed him. “Records show Doctor Giles went missing some time over the weekend of the thirtieth of October; he was officially reported missing on the second of November when he failed to attend work for two days. Records of his work prior to that show only two days of recorded absence.”
“The power signature is linked in to the alcove behind him, looks to be keeping him here in some form of deep sleep or something.”
“Agreed sir,” The AI explained, bringing up further sensor data for him to analyse. “Sensors indicate the power is being fed directly into the cybernetic implants, providing nutrition and liquids for survival.”
“This is pretty advanced,” Tony frowned as he stepped closer to the alcove. “Even by today’s standards, this suit is beyond anything I’ve seen…” He trailed off as he reached up his armoured fingers about to touch the cybernetic armour the man was wearing when the man’s eyes snapped open. “Hello?” He spoke aloud, activating the suits external speakers so his voice could be heard outside of the Iron Man suit. “Can you hear me?” He asked again after a beat.
“What…” The man started to speak but coughed and spluttered slightly, causing him to stumble down from the alcove.
“Get the excavation team back here, security and medical,” Tony shouted as he caught the man, cradling him against his suited arms to prevent him from impacting the floor.
“On their way sir,” The AI responded quickly. “Sensors indicate accelerate heart rate and pulse, indicators of extreme stress.”
“Not surprised if he’s been kept there since ninety seven,” Tony said, looking down at the man he was holding. “Can you hear me? Medical are on the way.”
“What happened?” Doctor Giles managed to gasp out, one eye blood shot red as he looked around, a look of horror and confusion on his face.
“I’m hoping you can tell me,” Tony commented, pressing a button to slide up the faceplate of his Iron Man suit so he could reassure Doctor Giles that he was friendly. “We found you here, hooked up to this machine. Pretty advanced stuff, and I’m guessing from your response that this wasn’t your idea.”
“Found…” Doctor Giles coughed again as he stumbled against the ground, trying to get his footing while holding on to the Iron Man suit for leverage.
“Hold on,” Tony said softly as he held his arm out for Doctor Giles to steady himself on. “JARVIS, tell the medics to get down here now. Ignore the body on the stairs, I want them in here, we’ve got one survivor.”
“Sur… survivor?” Doctor Giles coughed out, finally getting his balance and looking around. “Oh god…” He paused, his legs and arms moving in slow jerky motions as he brought his hand up to his face, almost in an effort to look for something before he stopped and stared at his hand. “What happened?” He asked in a dry raspy voice, looking up at Tony’s face.
“Medical should be able to tell you that,” Tony explained gently, seeing the agitation and almost panic on the man’s face. “Whatever happened here, I’d say you were at the centre of it.”
“I don’t…” Doctor Giles muttered, still staring at his hand before bringing it up to his head and feeling the cybernetic technology there covering the side of his face.
“I’m getting to that,” Tony said softly as he gently moved aside and knelt so Doctor Giles could sit on the alcove he’d nearly fallen out of. “I was investigating a power signature coming from the crater, it wasn’t until we got inside that we found you here.”
“I’m sorry,” Doctor Giles coughed again, rubbing his throat slowly in deliberate motions. “The last thing I remember… God, Jenny!”
“JARVIS?” Tony asked.
“Searching…” The AI informed him. “There are two hundred and eighty four records of Jenny within the time frame given and Sunnydale location.”
“Last name?” Tony asked helpfully, wanting to help out the man as much as possible to get his mind off the panic that was flooding his body.
“Calendar, Jenny Calendar. She was a teacher at…” Doctor Giles broke off as his voice caught again. “I… I was accompanying her to a Halloween party; she acquired this costume for me.”
“Jenny Calendar, records found,” JARVIS announced before switching to private mode for Tony. “Sir, Jenny Calendar, born Janna Kalderash, was marked deceased on February twenty fourth, nineteen ninety eight.”
“We’ll find out what we can,” Tony said aloud, keeping the information JARVIS had found to himself for the moment. “Records indicate you went missing on Halloween ninety seven Doctor Giles.” Tony explained, kneeling down so he could face the man fully instead of looking down at him.
“Missing?” Doctor Giles rasped out. “I… I can’t… what year is this?” He asked finally, taking a good look at the advanced suit of armour his rescuer was wearing.
“Oh eight,” Tony said softly. “It’s been nearly ten years since you were reported missing.”
“Good… lord,” Doctor Giles said softly.
“I’m guessing this wasn’t your idea then?” Tony asked, using the light on his hand to shine around and show Doctor Giles the advanced technology surrounding him.
“No, good lord no,” Doctor Giles frowned. “Jenny had organised a Halloween party, even got me this dreadful costume.” He explained, fingering the cybernetic armour. “Only, good lord…” He trailed off in amazement.
“Pretty advanced costume if you ask me,” Tony commented as he looked at Doctor Giles’ face and idly wondered what the suits sensors were telling him about his heart rate and voice. “In here.” He shouted off hand as he started to hear movement from the corridor behind him signalling the medical and security crew were on their way down. “So what happened next?” He asked, prompting Doctor Giles to focus on his memories and not on the panic and confusion that was evident on his face.
“I’d rather ask some questions myself,” Doctor Giles asked after collecting himself with a deep breath. “It’s quite obvious something happened to me here, however, you mentioned a crater several times and haven’t elaborated.”
“The Sunnydale crater,” Tony nodded. “The town of Sunnydale collapsed into an underground system of caves in two thousand and three. Rescue efforts were made but only a handful of survivors were accounted for.” He explained as the medics came into the room. “Just sit tight and let them check you over, like I said, it’s been ten years, by all rights you shouldn’t even be alive here.” He explained, looking at the advanced alcove that had obviously been keeping him alive after all this time.
“I’d rather…” Doctor Giles trailed off as the five man medical team moved slowly towards him and started setting up equipment, with one of them, obviously the head doctor, approaching him gently to ask some questions.
“I’m Doctor Johnson,” The Doctor introduced himself as he knelt down in front of Doctor Giles. “Do you mind?” He asked as he reached for his arm to check the man’s pulse.
“Full work up,” Tony explained gently. “Just let them do their jobs ok? We don’t know what this thing was doing to you or how you survived down here, so just let the doc’s do their thing ok?” He asked reassuringly before walking away and sliding his faceplate back down so he could talk with JARVIS in private. “Talk to me.” He said calmly as the interface from his suit came back into his field of vision.
“Sensors running through your talk with Doctor Giles indicate he spoke the truth throughout your questions sir,” The AI explained, bringing up a visual record of their discussion along with the readings from the suits sensors. “Doctor Giles has obviously suffered a traumatic ordeal starting with his abduction on October thirtieth nineteen ninety eight. Auditory records indicate high stress and confusion, while sensors were unable to penetrate the armour he was wearing, sensors picked up the presence of nanites within his blood stream and facial implants.”
“Calax were experimenting with nanotechnology in the nineties?” Tony asked in amazement. “I thought nanotechnology was theoretical back then.”
“Indeed sir,” The AI confirmed. “It appears Calax were further ahead with cybernetic research than anyone would have believed. The implants Doctor Giles received were obviously not FDA approved, which is possibly the reason for his abduction and subsequent experimentation.”
“What about his story of wearing this stuff as a costume for a Halloween party?” Tony asked.
“Unknown sir,” The AI responded. “It is possible he remembers events this way as his mind has blocked out the procedures forced upon him.”
“Memories created to hide traumatic events,” Tony mused. “Have to check with a shrink about the theories on that one.”
“Quite sir,” The AI responded. “It is worth mentioning that Jenny Calendar died of a cervical fracture much like the body you saw at the base of the stairs. No suspect was ever detained in the investigation of her death.”
“We’ll keep that from him until he’s well enough to take in the news,” Tony said with a nod, looking over to where the medical team were checking over Doctor Giles and exchanging puzzled looks over the cybernetic suit he was wearing. “Check records as well, I’m getting a very familiar feeling from this whole setup. The suit, cybernetics, the technology, all of it.”
“Indeed sir,” The AI responded by bringing up several screens of information. “Scans indicate the cybernetic implants and technology here are equal in design to those used on the television show Star Trek.”
“Not really a Trekkie here, just give me the lowdown,” Tony said impatiently.
“The Borg, a cybernetic race of beings depicted within two of the franchise series, Star Trek: The Next Generation and Voyager. Along with appearing in one movie, Star Trek: First Contact.” The AI explained, bringing up pictures and screen caps from the show and movies to illustrate it’s point. “The Borg are an alien race who assimilate other cultures and use cybernetic implants and nanotechnology to link their assimilated beings to a hive mind.”
“Pretty much identical to the setup here,” Tony said with a frown. “How can a fictional race have technology here?”
“Unknown sir,” The AI responded. “It is unlikely to be a coincidence given the exact nature of the technology duplicated here. The engineers obviously intended to duplicate The Borg technology in as precise detail as possible.”
“Is the nanotechnology a threat?” Tony asked, readying himself for a fight should the need arise.
“Unknown sir,” The AI responded. “Nanotechnology of this advanced nature is not within the scope of current technological means.”
“Well it obviously is as it’s here,” Tony bit back.
“Indeed, though it is unknown how the original creators of this technology managed to create it given the technology accessible at the time.” The AI explained.
“Get the excavators down here,” Tony said with a frown. “I was full security around them at all time; give me options on moving the entire setup here over to Stark Industries branch.”