Beyond Black Doors: A Knights of Obscurity Tale

by Mai Bolivar & Leonard Anthony Arcilla

Prologue

"Doctor, the device is ready."

She glanced up at the young blonde assistant researcher in the pristine white lab coat standing in front of her table. Kafra Corporation has always prided itself in hiring individuals with both beauty and brains. Even scientists are no exception.

She adjusted her glasses, nodded towards the assistant. "Thank you, Ms. Blossom. I'll be with you shortly," she said. The assistant beamed at her, nodded, and walked out of her office.

The doctor stood up to follow, but paused. Her eyes roamed over the chaos on her desk: a stack of tumbled paperwork, a cellular phone blinking solemnly with a single red signal light, a couple of open books on Soul Physics and Spirit Theory, and a small framed picture of a man in armor holding a baby. She stopped at the last.

He looks so happy there, she thought fondly and wished, not for the first time, that she could at least call her husband and son. But there was no signal this far off into Mt. Mjolnir, location of Kafra Corp.'s most secret research laboratory, and even if there was, their research required them to severe all contact with the outside world. There'll be time for that later. After this is over, I'll make it up to both of them.

She shrugged into a lab coat hanging by the door and walked off down quiet lamp-lit corridors towards the chamber where they studied the device. Most of the scientists in the research facility were inside the chamber, busy checking out energy readouts from various machines, all connected via long corrugated tubes towards the containment unit that dominated the center of the room. Young interns bustled about on a multitude of errands.

The containment unit squatted in the center, like a monstrous octopus whose tentacles ensnared the machines lining the walls of the circular room. Inside the spherical glass container, the device hung suspended in clear viscous liquid. She walked towards the device, her thoughts intent on its mysteries. Almost two years and we've found out nothing about you.

The object they referred to as the "device"-classified more formally as Unknown Device #2874SP-was unearthed a decade ago in the outskirts of Glastheim Ruins by a group of Kafra Corp. explorers. They were sent there to determine the feasibility of extending Kafra service to that far-off place, but instead came back with something else. The device was a scientific and magical anomaly: a featureless black cylinder that seemed to radiate energy and at the same time draw it from its surroundings. It seemed hollow and yet felt quite solid. And we don't know how to open it, if indeed it can be opened.

Stopping just in front of the containment unit, she peered at the device. It slowly turned inside, and her eyes seem to slide off its surface, as if protesting about the unnatural smoothness. It's obviously an energy source used by the Ancients. But for what? And how was it harnessed?

The blonde assistant that summoned her appeared at her side, holding out a pair of dark-tinted goggles. A similar pair hung about the assistant's neck. "The test is about to commence, doctor."

"Begin energy bombardment," she called out, as she removed her glasses and adjusted the goggles over her eyes.

Behind her, scientists began pulling a series of levers. A low whine started as the vacuum tubes on the machines lit up, crescendoed to a loud constant buzz. The smell of ozone filled the air. From several of the tubes came multi-colored radiances, flowing into the containment unit in a rainbow of colors.

The containment unit scintillated in prismatic chiaroscuro. A pulsing colorless glow emanated from it, joined with the energy they were feeding into the container. She gasped when she saw it: a seam has appeared along one side. The pinpoint line expanded. Unknown Device #2874SP was opening!

Finally! When this is all over, I'll go home to my husband and son in Prontera-

And then the containment unit exploded.