The Octahedron (AKA Empty House of the Absent Architecht)
Pyramid on a volcanic island, pyramid in an ice floe, the pyramid, lewdest pyramid, add your own to the mix
None / multiple / not applicable
: A building.
Very clean and sharp, befitting of a regular polyhedron. (It's a bad, bad place to be.)
Originally, a place to grow scions of humanity; since then, a hiding place for all manners of things (people, objects, activities) that do not stand the light of day.
Cosmic (and it's still not enough).
Seen from the outside, the Octahedron is a regular octahedron built out of white marble, each peak topped with gold. It is, roughly, the size of two Kheops pyramids (AKA Great Pyramid of Giza) stacked on top of one another. As one might gather from the Octahedron often being called a pyramid, not all of it is usually visible above-ground. Often, only one peak sticks out, slightly slanted, of whatever substance the rest of it is buried in. It is thus easy to underestimate its outside dimensions, even before encountering its truly anomalous properties. Attempts to view or scan the Octahedron via non-visual means often show it as an opaque box. Its temperature tends to be even and slightly cooler than its surroundings. Its surfaces are hard to break via force, but should one succeed and analyze them, they appear to be made of marble and gold, just as they look like.
The Octahedron has been found in at least two different places in Nexus, both Seaside: on a volcanic island formed by recent eruption, and inside massive iceberg surrounded by a vast ice floe. It has since disappeared from the latter location.
There are no permanent entrances into the structure. It is capable of creating such on demand. It is also capable of depicting instructions and warnings on its outer surfaces in glowing blue glyphs and pictures. Said glyphs are part of a whole logographic writing system native to the structure, though it is capable of translating them to images and other languages... poorly.
The inside surfaces of the building are often black, so black they reflect nearly no light. This makes traversing its interior spaces relying on visual senses extremely disorienting and difficult. The building is capable of alleviating this by providing signs and outlines through blue liquid flowing within its wall. The material of the walls resembles glass, and it's possible to crack them with sufficient application of force. For descriptions of individual rooms, see below.
It might be odd to ascribe a personality to a building, but the Octahedron does indeed have one. Well, had one. Now, it has several. They do not get along.
The entity most visitors interact with to at least some degree is a guidance system. It reads their minds and listens to their words and does its best to guess what they mean, changing arrangement of interior spaces and tunnels to lead them to where it thinks they want to go. This is somewhat more anthropomorphic than what the basic program might deserve; based on its own words, it is not really existent as a person, except when a living, thinking being is directly plugged into it.
If you are plugged into it, the guidance system attempts to take a form that adheres to what a person might think of as mighty, fearsome and authoritative.
This form is based on quick associations and as such is variable and deeply personal. It might appear to you as your father, or your teacher, or even as your deity; and while it usually freely admits it is not truly any of these things, it might still act the part. While it is questionable if such an entity can truly want anything, some people have asked it of such things nonetheless; in attempt to answer the question, it has expressed a wish to guide all those lost inside the Octahedron back into the light.
Other entities or side-personas of the Octahedron are known as Lanterns, Sentinels and Apostles. Little is known of these as of yet. Some or all may have gone completely insane during their long abandonment. The last have not been seen, if they can be seen at all, and have only been described in sinister terms by people who themselves might be insane (and are very, very dead).
The most immediately noticeable ability of the Octahedron is its ability to distort gravity: when close to the structure, "down" is towards the closest outside surface of the building. Since typically only part of it is above ground, this can lead to various other distortions. One the more common ones is the feeling that the "pyramid" is absolutely upright compared to its surroundings, which may make walking towards it feel like walk uphill or downhill. Which way gravity is distorted may depend on angle of approach and alignment of the structure compared to its surroundings. There may even be spots around the structure where gravity is effectively zero. Thankfully, none of these effects or tidal forces caused by them have proven strong enough to cause direct injury; inner ear disturbances, nausea, and falling or tripping on a hard surface are still possible. Staying at a distance is enough to save one from these effects - typically, being more than 100 meters away from closest visible portion of the structure is enough,
The second most noticeable ability of the structure is to alter its interior configuration, changing rooms and tunnels around. Sadly, some people only notice this after they can no longer make it out.
Anything left unattended inside tends to vanish without a trace. Or, perhaps, moved to one of the special rooms...
The structure's ability to influence gravity applies within it as well. It could let people walk on walls or on the ceiling, or make them fall out of the nearest exit, but is usually content to maintain local gravity at a level and direction convenient to people passing through. The more hostile applications are usually triggered by attempting to use or create portals from within the Octahedron, into some world it does not already connect to. In such cases, the structure will not-so-gently nudge the guilty party towards the nearest exit.
The interior spaces are vast, much vaster than the structure's outside dimensions would allow - this is because the structure truly exists in many more dimensions beyond the usual three plus time. Its tunnels connect to myriad worlds, some which might have no other connection to Nexus at all. It may even connect to multiple different temporal eras of the same world, allowing travel to the past or future and forcing one to consider all paradoxes and risks of such endeavors.
All of this, it does, mostly just by existing, despite malfunctioning and lacking power. One dreads to think what it could do, if restored to proper form.
the structure was built by humans, to raise their children in, so they could reach a higher level. This much is known; the full details, if they exist, are buried in an archive somewhere within the structure. But this was just the distant beginning to its story as pertains to us. The last children of the humans who built it left the structure long ago. It was left empty and dark.
Into that darkness, myriad creatures crept. It is not known who first found the structure in its empty state, nor when or where. But once it had been found... more creatures came to it, from many different worlds. Eventually, this included humans, of cultures that had no part in building it and no comprehension of what they had found. Some dreaded it. Some worshiped it. Some appropriated it for their own use. Many understood it was a place to bring children to, but they misinterpreted why, or how to connect their children to the building. Hence, some children were sacrificed to it. Other were simply abandoned within it. These poor souls became lost and adapted to existence in the dark, somehow unable to die yet beyond the help of the structure's guidance system.
Yet others used the structure as final repository of their artefacts. Some may have been considered treasure, left within for safekeeping. Others, may have been sacrifices. And yet others... may have been considered too dangerous or horrifying to be left in the sunlit world.
People of Nexus have been last of the bunch... insofar as linear time has meaning to this forlorn place.
special rooms that have been seen by visitors from the Nexus:
► Control room
A curious room mimicking the brain of the person to request entry - as in, their brain as seen from the inside of their skull, if there was space in there to fit a handful of humans to gawk at workings of their nervous system. One wall has two large windows, symbolizing eyes of the person the room is keyed to. They tend to show whatever that person sees, or they might show static if something stops the room from reading their mind.
In the middle of the room, there is a black chair, somewhat similar to a dentist's, with arm and leg rests, as well as restraints for four limbs. This chair tends to be accompanied by a floating tray of syringes, as well as a floating instructional slate of black glass-like material. The slate typically has pictorial or animated instructions for how to operate the instruments: a person is meant to sit on the chair, then have one of the syringes pierced into their temple. The syringes are typically filled with glowing blue liquid and connect with tubes to the floor of the room.
This room is meant for directly connecting into the guidance and control systems of the building. The person thus connected falls asleep and experiences intricate, interactive hallucinations similar to lucid dreaming. In these hallucinations, the guidance AI persona of the building will appear to them in one form or another. Other people in the room can observe these encounters through the windows of the physical room.
Of people of Nexus, this room was first found by Leah Juliet Vulpan and Magdalene Wright
The armory has two main parts: the long corridor and the cubic hall. The long hallway is filled with alcoves at steady intervals. Each alcove contains one or more mannequins outfitted with clothing, weapons and equipment that was left behind in the building by some past visitor. Sometimes, the mannequins and the items show signs of damage and may be arranged in positions reflecting the final fate of whoever owned the items; it is suspected these dioramas display events that happened within the structure itself. The length of the corridor varies and can be adjusted via controls gained from the control room. It is not known how many mannequins there are in total - hundreds have been witnesses, with objects belonging to colonial era British and various African cultures.
The cubic hall appears to have a set size, with each side being 50 meters. The most primitive, and thus common, weapons are of stone, bone and wood, and the floor of the room is completely covered in piles and piles of them - the earliest samples have long since been ground to dust. At the edges there are also complete skeletons, humans, animals and monsters alike, propped up as if they're ready to come back to life and strike at hapless explorers - not that such has ever happened, as of yet. Corners of the room are dominated by five giant statues, resembling humans clad in dark robes, leaning on great swords. They have skull-like masks, the first resembling an eagle, the second a wolf, the third a ram, the fourth a snake, and the last a demon. Where the fifth statue is, is a good question. Anyone can clearly see there are only four corners, yet if one travels from foot of one statue to another, counting them one at a time, by time they complete the circle, they will find themselves at a statue they have not seen. Attempts to fit all corners in one's field of vision may lead to a perception, similar to common optical illusions, that the statues are constantly changing places, even when all other evidence shows they are quite still.
What do these statues watch over? In the middle of the room, on top of a small hill of rocks, there is a small pagoda made of human bones, of such height and width that a normal human can usually reach and take an item from its top. On the top, there is a single piece of sharpened flint, perhaps a primitive tool or a weapon. Indeed, it would be easy to believe it to be the very first weapon held by human hand, when that human decided a second human would be better off dead. It radiates bloodlust and whispers evil ideas into all unshielded minds nearby. It does not force anyone to carry out such ideas, but like the millions of bones around should tell... it does not need to.
Of people of Nexus, this room was first found by Leah Juliet Vulpan and Magdalene Wright
Hraithre wrote:Then there's the archive. The expedition might catch the first glimpse of it through Geneva's drones, if they send them ahead. The tunnel goes on for almost fifty meters and the stairs go down two hundred, so it's a considerable walk - another demonstration of how little physical dimensions of the structure as seen from the outside constrain its interior spacing. The stairwell turns into metal for the last ten meters and descends into a dome-shaped room. The room is faintly illuminated by thousands of cylinders inscribed with blue glyphs lining the walls. Reaching the bottom of the stairs and looking around, it feels like standing inside a cross of an amphitheatre and a mechanical planetarium, with a large floating wheel, ten meters in inside diameter and twelve on the outside, circling the stairs at height of one and half meters. The entire room is maybe fifty meters in diameter, with other, smaller rings, mechanical gears and pulley systems both floating in the air and connected to each other in a way that gives the impression of something half assembled.
Near the bottom of the stairs, there is a familiar looking chair on a slightly elevated platform. The base of the platform looks like it can rotate. There is likewise a tray full of syringes - one of them is attached to a dessicated corpse sitting on the chair. The tubing connecting to the syringe piercing the corpse's left temple is still glowing blue, but it's clear even from a glance that no information is being passed into or out of this poor person's skull.
Hraithre wrote:[Mia] can hear other machinery below the floor and behind the walls, still active after all these years. If she pays careful attention, she might occasionally notice a cylinder being withdrawn or replaced. Somewhere within the walls, there is a still an active mechanism maintaining and making more of these cylinders.
What they are, is not hard to surmise. They are memory storage - each cylinder has a core of a canister filled with that blue liquid, with layers and layers of thin film wrapped around it, each layer inscribed with glyphs. The entire history of this building and everything that's happened in it is probably inscribed here somewhere - but it's clearly not meant to be searched through by hand. Even being magically able to decipher the text like Mia is, without an index, finding anything of worth here might be undertaking of a lifetime
Of people of Nexus, this room was first found by VIGIL expedition consisting of Mia, Calm Reed, Sara Afif Khafir and Geneva
when attempting to give instructions to humans in pictorial form, the structure often defaults to depicting them naked. This has lead to some theorizing that the structure is, in their words, "lewd". An alternative explanation is that the structure implicitly adheres to a kind of philosophy which considers people, but not clothes, to be real.