The last remnants of the crew sent into space to destroy Phobos must make a choice about whether they should complete their mission. But first they, and their ship, must survive the trip.
Cast Roles Edit
- BW-193 aka Sparks (Kate Elliott)
- SP-373 aka Sip (Markeia McCarty)
- JR-483 aka Ocean (Mike Ginn)
- JA-253 aka Thistle (Kelly Nugent)
Chapter Summaries Edit
JA-253 'Thistle' Kelly awakes from chrono-sleep. She is the first to awake. She feels an anxiousness crawl over her as she realizes: this is the Final Wake. No more one hundred year sleeps, everyone's lives, and deaths, have been leading to this wake. Thistle is greeted upon waking by the ship's AI, Devina.
“Hello, JA-253. I'm so glad you are awake. You have always been a light sleeper. I'm sure your brothers and sisters will not be far behind. Would you like to see it?”
Thistle knows immediately what Devina means by 'it.” Phobos. The stuff of legend. Her, and all the other clones', sole reason for being here. If Devina is asking if she wants to see 'it', that means it all must be true. Everything she has spent a lifetime to avoid, convincing herself 'it' was all a lie, but apparently 'it' does exist if Devina is asking if she wants to see 'it'.
“Sh-show me,” Thistle hesitantly tells the AI.
“For the first time in human history, it is in range. It has a form that can be seen.” Devina's robotic voice tells her.
Whatever excitement or dread Thistle feels from this revelation is short lived as she knows that soon, everyone and everything she knows will be dying. If 'it' is all true that is.
“Ah, your little sister is awake, as expected.” Devina tells Thistle.
JA-262 aka Button, a younger clone in Thistle's series, rubs her eyes and takes Thistle's hand, asking, “Are we there yet?”
“We're here,” Thistle tells the girl.
Chapter 1 Edit
All the clones in this Wake, twelve all counted, have gathered in the ship's conference room, except for JA-239 aka Granny. “I have unfortunate news,” Devina says, “JA-239 was unable to survive her wake from chrono sleep. Her chances of survival at her age were admittedly low, yet she lived a long life and served her position well. She will be missed.”
The rest of the clones give their condolences to the JA line until SP-361, aka Book, current captain of the ship, interrupts, “Get on with it Devina, no point in mourning the inevitable. You said you have it in range. Is this true?”
A holographic image appears over the conference table, it appears to be an asteroid.
“The signal that started our journey several generations ago lead us to here, to this object,” Devina says.
“I've heard stories of giant organs comprising a big creature,” Ocean (JR-483) says, “you are telling us that is Phobos, Devina?”
“The scans that brought us here point to yes.”
“So, 'it's on there?” Sip (SP-373) asks.
“This is where the original signal that I captured so many years ago leads to.”
“Is it inside?” Ocean asks.
“I do not know,” Devina answers.
“This is wonderful news Devina, what is our course of action?” Sparks (BW-193) asks.
Book stands up and addresses the crew, “As we all know, this is our final Wake. If Devina says that this...rock, is the god of fear, then we have a job to do. Devina, I need to know what the chances are that you could be wrong, how do we know that maybe it's not somewhere we can't see yet? If we're gonna unleash our nukes then we want to be damn sure that it's the right target. Or this whole trip will be for nothing.”
“Are you questioning my systems?” Sparks asks, “I care very deeply about Devina's systems and you are questioning her calculations, captain. What else could that be?” she points at the image of the asteroid.
“I have been wrong before.” Devina admits, “I am not perfect, but the signal leads to here. It would be wrong for me to say that I am 100% certain. I am currently 72% certain.”
“How far is it away from us? Does the probability increase the closer we are?” Mike asks.
“We are three days from contact.”
“What would it take to get closer to 100% certainty? Do you think in those three days you would be able to raise that percentage?” Sip asks the AI.
“Possibly, if there was any sort of reading coming off the asteroid, that would help. As of right now it is just a rock. I have no signs of life or any energy readings whatsoever.”
“We have enough nukes to do what needs to be done, but I can't take the risk that if we use them on this rock, and there's an alien fear god beyond it...” Book interjects.
“Agreed.” Ocean chimes in, “We have thousands of generations behind us in this one task, if we blow it here...we need to be more certain before we can pull the trigger, as they say. One thing I will also say is, it is known by my lineage that Phobos has powers of manipulation through dreams and visions, to induce fear, trauma and such feelings. My only concern is that the closer we get to it, the more vulnerable we are to such things.”
Ocean's elder, JR-471, aka Red, stands and asks, “Are you implying, Ocean, that you have experienced one of these visions.”
Ocean denies it and Sip reminds him that, as the ship's psychologist, he should report any of these things to her, should they occur.
“And I am sure Sip, that you would understand that Ocean and myself are the most qualified to understand what these visions might be, and what they are trying to tell us, as we are the keepers of the Ancient Texts,” Red tells her.
Ocean reassures them that he has a clear head and that he is committed to the mission.
JR-492 aka Pond, a fourteen year old clone, and kind of an asshole, pipes up, “This is bullshit. Ocean, you said that when we woke up, we were finally going to meet God and this is just a rock!”
“We are going to meet God, to destroy God,” Ocean firmly reminds Pond.
“I'm aware of my teachings, but was this all for nothing?” the young man asks.
Ocean reassures him in their mission, whether it's a rock or a squid, this is their purpose. When they ask if Devina knows what God looks like, she responds, “I have... memories. I don't believe I have ever seen its true form. Before I was stripped of its influence I saw many things, none of which I am quite sure, resemble that of this Phobos.”
Book advises them to remember their training, telling them that if they find themselves having any doubts about their mission they should sit down with Sip. “First things first though, we need to make sure this rock is, in fact, Phobos. Constant updates with Sip. Devina, make sure to keep running those scans on the clock, constantly, as we approach. Maybe it's possible we could use one of our short range energy weapons to propel something towards its surface. Maybe it just needs to be woke up.”
“Captain,” Sparks asks, “Would you like me to work with Devina to try to enhance her frequency scans?”
“Of course, if that's something that you think you are capable of doing, Sparks. Node,” Book looks to Sparks' elder BW-181, who nods at her. “Okay, well I think that's a good plan. We all have a job to do and I think all systems should be checked out, it's been a long sleep. So let's make sure everything is operational and everyone should take some time to sit down with Sip.”
Sip takes over at this point, “I think, as a bonding activity, we should have a celebratory breakfast. We have made it to the Final Wake, we have made it to Phobos, or the closest any generation has come to Phobos. We should have something like that, at least a celebratory dinner to look forward to.”
“Do not take Phobos lightly,” Devina advises, “you are all that is left of humanity. Do not forget what brought you here today, and the sacrifices that had to be made. If at any point, you feel yourself thinking lightly of Phobos, reevaluate your position.”
“Devina, we are well aware of the weight that is on us.” Sip assures her, “But one cannot exist under that weight for the entire time, because that much weight will break someone's spirits. So it is okay for us to be celebratory today, and look to tomorrow for more work.”
“As the captain, I agree with Sip. And we all know by now that Devina is not...well, there is a reason that there are humans on the ship, we'll say that. Now, Sparks, do you mind having a quick sit down with Sip in her quarters? Just a quick evaluation. The cryo reports show a lot of REM activity towards the end of sleep, a quick evaluation would be appreciated.”
Sparks agrees and the captain leaves the conference room, passing by a few of the other clones: SP-382, aka Glue, a small ten year old girl, BW-1102, aka Plug, a fifteen year old girl, and JA-241, aka Bella, the ship's cook. Book leaves and the doors shut as the hologram of the asteroid spins above the table.
“I don't imagine an evil thing would want to hide,” Sparks says, “or need to.”
“It fears humans too,” Ocean says.
Glue talks to Sip about the point of doing her reading when they are all going to die soon. Sip tells the girl that the best way to live before you dies is to spend time bettering yourself. On a spaceship, the best way to better yourself is to expand your mind.
“It just seems kinda pointless,” the girls says, “to accumulate all this knowledge, just to have it go away when we die.”
“We don't know that for sure,” Sip tells her.
“Don't you have something to say about the afterlife?” Sparks asks Ocean, “For comfort?”
Red laughs a deep belly laugh at this, “Yeah, for comfort Ocean, for comfort.”
“You know what comforts me Glue? This book,” Ocean shows her the book of Anah, “You know how I chose my name? Ocean, water as far as the eye could see, blue and green.”
“I've read the textbooks, we polluted that water, made it uninhabitable,” Glue says glumly.
“Some parts, yes. But that is not the whole of humanity, there is beauty in humanity,” Ocean tells her.
“We starved 60% of the planet before it died.”
“Yet here we are, surviving,” Sparks adds.
“We're clones, because humanity did not survive,” the girl responds.
“We are valid as they were.” Sparks says, “Perhaps more so with our mission.”
“There's a lot of beauty if you look for it,” Ocean hands her the Book of Anah, “take another look, and look for it this time.”
Glue takes the book from Ocean, looking to Sip for approval, as the Book of Anah is not something the SP's are normally allowed to read.
“Go ahead,” Sip nods, “but keep in mind the conversation that we had about contradictory facts while you read it.”
“Okay, I will look for the brighter side of things Ocean,” Glue gives him a small smile.
Red isn't so sure they should coddle the younger clones. “'Let them play'. We're sending them to their death days from now. So we lie, it's fine. Looking for hope from Anah's text is not the way I would perceive that, Ocean. That is you interpretation of the texts and I understand that. It is not always the interpretation of the JRs though. I understand that you might feel that there is some hope in his writings, but that is not typically how we choose to see things.”
“Though we are clones, we are still life,” Ocean argues, “we are meant to cherish that life and do some good with it. And I will say that Phobos there stands in opposition of everything in that ideal of life. And so we have to cherish what we have until then and um...”
“Do our best,” Sparks adds.
“But don't you feel like all we are is our purpose?” Thistle asks.
“Yes!” Red proclaims, “That is literally, one hundred percent, all we are.”
“I am glad to have a purpose,” Sparks says.
“Isn't that what every life-form is?” Ocean asks.
“No actually, if there is any hope in this, Thistle let me give you this,” Red begins. “Yes, the book of Anah is filled with dread and all the terrible things that were to come from Phobos, but he also speaks of a humanity without purpose. Meandering, wondering, left to their own devices. If you take any positive thing out of all this I guess it is that! We at least have some purpose. We are exactly that. Created for one, singular, thing. To do one job. To somehow keep this, Devina, running long enough to somehow stop everything that came before us. I will say that I see that as at least some form of enlightenment. I can't even imagine a life where your purpose is left unknown.”
The hologram disappears, signifying that Devina has moved on to another part of the ship. None of them but Sip take notice, she sees the small circle of light that projected the hologram spin as it waits for input. Sip gets lost within it as Sparks waits for her while the others disperse.
Sparks snaps Sip out of it and the two of them get down to the business of Sparks' evaluation.
Sip pulls out her ThinkPad, it is linked to the ship's database and can pull up any past session and biological information on her patients. She asks Sparks about her most recent sleep.
“Please be aware that I have not been able to check the systems upon awaking, your readouts could be faulty and you may get a more viable readout later.”
When asked about her sleep, Sparks went a bit white and sweat droplets appeared upon her brow. “I just had a dream is all, a conversation with Devina, as usual. She is the one I talk to most. It was a dream as I have had before, I do not know why the readings are as they are. I do not recall the exact topic of conversation, perhaps her scans, she said she found something, and that was it. That's exactly what happened.”
“I feel that there's more and that you are holding back,” Sip says gently,.
“Perhaps I am weakened from the cryosleep, perhaps we could revisit this conversation once I have had a chance to work with Devina and rest. We have arrived at our destination and must discover what that is,” Sparks pleads.
“So let's deal with this now so that it doesn't affect your work later,” Sip persists. When Sparks presses to revisit the conversation again later, Sip shares her own flashback, “Cryosleep isn't as invigorating and refreshing as it should be, I know this for a fact because in my last sleep I had a recurring dream that I was lost upon the ship, going in circles. Like I didn't know the ship I had been on for my entire life. As if I were a stranger in my own life, my own home. I studied up on it and the closest I could come to the feeling was a type of amnesia or Alzheimer's and it was terrifying for me.”
“It sounds like you were envisioning your past clones' lives,” Sparks posits, “how terrified they must have been to discover what they were and where. That they, but not them, had walked these floors before. I can see how that would be terrifying, you must have felt awful.”
“It was extremely unpleasant. Yet, later on, I found comfort in the circle, and in walking because at least it was something that I knew. Now, are you sure there's nothing you's like to share with me, since I shared with you?” Sip asks Sparks.
After a pause, she responds, “Sometimes I have nightmares. I don't think about them often. Passing thoughts, fears. I'm sure everyone here has them. Nothing specific.”
“Okay,” Sip nods, “how about we come back to this conversation after dinner?”
“Sounds like a good plan,” Sparks gets up immediately and goes to speak to Devina. As she does, Sip looks down at her notepad and discovers that she has drawn circle after circle after circle. She has not transcribed any of the session at all.
In the common area of the galley on the upper deck of the ship, Thistle is helping Bella prepare the food for the upcoming dinner.
“You think this is 'it'?” Bella asks.
“Part of me thinks it can't be, because all we've ever known was prepare, prepare. And now it's this. I know that everyone else is ready, so happy that the moment was here. I just kept thinking that we've never known this moment to be here so how do we know?” Thistle offers. “I guess I don't feel ready. Is that a strange thing to say when all we've ever done is get ready?”
“I feel the same way,” Bella assures her, “I feel, like, how could we be ready? This is the only life we have ever known and if everything goes as planned in a couple days it will be...over. And we've been told our entire lives that that is good enough, that is all we needed. Was to know that the completion of this was all that mattered. But now that it is here, and is in our direct, foreseeable future, it doesn't feel right, knowing that we are all going to die.”
“I'm afraid that this makes us less suitable for our cause,” Thistle tells Bella, “that I, that we have doubts.”
“Maybe that's why they keep us as providers, caretakers,” Bella says. “What do you think Braidy Riley was...why us?? I think about that all the time. Of all the people to send on this mission, why did Director Riley send us? There has to be a reason to put all of this on us. These personalities, these traits that we share. Are we the best that humanity had to offer?”
“If we are then we're more doomed than I thought,” Thistle chuckles.
“I'm going to go set the table,” Bella says, “if you could just keep getting everything ready.”
“Hey, don't tell Button we talked about this,” Thistle tells her.
“She's not ready,” Bella says with a smile, turning to go into the other room.
Thistle feels a tug at her sleeve, Button looks up at her, “Hi Thistle.”
“Hey Button, you ready for dinner? We get to remember Granny!” Thistle tries to sound hopeful.
“Yeah, I miss Granny,” Button looks at Thistle again, “Why are we doing this?”
“This is our purpose,” Thistle tells the girl, “We were made to confront Phobos. We were picked by Braidy Riley. You've got strength in you that will surprise you in how it can lift you up. I know it sounds like nonsense now but it will make sense.”
“Okay,” Button says. As Thistle turns to move a pot to another burner, Button slips off.
Left to herself for a moment, Thistle hears the clink of silverware in the other room, she feels a tug again and looks down to see Button. “I miss Granny,” the girl says.
“Me too,” Thistle responds.
“Why?” the girl asks, “Why are we doing any of this?”
“Uh, hey Button, we just talked about this.” The girl shakes her head.
Thistle narrows her eyes at the girl and suggests she go help Bella in the other room. She hears Bella acknowledge the girl and set her to helping.
The JRs are having a meeting in the sickbay. Red is leaning back in a chair.
“Hey,” Ocean prods Red, “Why do you do that? Spread your cynicism to everyone? Is it not our purpose to keep the faith and belief in these people and improve morale and makes sure they are on the right track?”
“We are here to spread the good word of Anah, that is all I signed up for. What about you Pond?” Red asks.
“I don't give a shit about any of this,” the kid responds from a corner.
Red turns back to Ocean, “So, maybe you're the one who's a little out of whack. JRs have always been a bit, ya know...”
“Listen, our job is to keep the faith, and if you keep spreading the worst of humanity they are not going to have that faith and belief.” Ocean says to Red, “They're gonna wonder why they were even meant to do this.”
“Why were they meant to do this Ocean?” Red questions, “Humor me a little. Why are you special? Why am I special? Why are they? Nothing in Anah's texts mentions any of us.”
“Honestly, I don't think we are special,” Ocean admits.
“I don't either. You've read the book, it's filled with prophecies. And even this mission, this idea, there's a spark of it in there. Now I know the SPs would refute that claim, but we know that it wasn't Braidy that set this all in motion. We know that Anah is the right word, but even in that right word we aren't there, we are a byproduct. You know what I believe? A byproduct of a failed mission.”
“And what was the purpose of this mission before it failed?” Ocean asks.
“I don't know, I wasn't a part of it. You weren't either. Nowhere in Anah's text are we mentioned,” Red waves at the book.
“I agree, we aren't special, but I don't think that's what we should tell these people. We're all gears in this machine, and we have to do our part!” Ocean protests.
“I agree with you Ocean, that we have to destroy this creature, as Anah's texts say are the only way to right the human world, a world we will never be a part of. Devina has made it very clear that when a generation down, another will be made. I've been witness to it twice, with you and the idiot over there,” Red gestures at Pond.
“I get it, you want to spread all this hate from the texts...” Ocean starts.
“It's not hate, Ocean!” Red interrupts, “It's the reality! That we are nothing, we are disposable. Would you ever think about this, I know I think about it, I'm sure you do too, you're just idealistic. I remember when I had that. What if they are all still alive? We're all clones. Why aren't humans on this ship? Why is the only human recorded on this ship Braidy Riley? Who the hell is Riley? It is nowhere in the texts. But here we are disposable genes, biomass sent hurling into space. What if they are all still alive and we're just told we are on a mission to save humanity?”
“Look, I agree, we are nothing. What I'm saying is that we need to change our methodology, not tell everyone that we are nothing. We need to give them purpose, help them to believe until we kill that god!” Ocean argues.
“Have you ever asked Devina what happens next? Best case scenario, after we kill the god, we starve. Slow, meaningless death. So, we kill this thing, we succeed. It's a one way ticket. Not enough food to get back, not enough fuel, even cryosleep couldn't save us. We all die. Everyone likes to talk about this blaze of glory we die in, but unless we detonate one of those nukes in here, it ain't going down like that.” Red tells Ocean. “So I'm not gonna tell everyone that it's gonna be okay.”
“But you're still on the mission to kill the god? You're not gonna do anything to endanger that?” Ocean asks firmly.
“Of course not.” Red is just as firm.
Sip hears the tail end of this and ducks into sick bay. “Ocean, will you take a walk and talk with me?” she asks.
The set out with the intent to reach the elevators to go up to level 4 for dinner.
Ocean confides in Sip that he feels bad about the way that the JR line has acted towards the other clones. He tells her that when he gets down he tries to imagine the oceans of the earth, all that blue, like the water they have only seen in cups, but going on forever into a distant horizon.
“Like humanity, beautiful and terrifying at the same time,” Sip offers.
“And what you look for, is what you will find, sometimes,” Ocean responds.
Sip asks about an occasion that the Book of Anah helped Ocean through something for when Glue will inevitably have questions about it.
He tells her that he would be happy to talk to her about the Book, “Our two ideologies don't always see eye to eye, but I think there is a lot of commonality that can be reached. I believe now, that we need each other, we all offer something that the others don't, and maybe that's why we're so different.”
They talk about getting the clone series' to mix more with each other, help each other learn.
Ocean pauses, realizing that they should have made their way to the upper deck by now, but they have been walking in circles for a while. They make their way to the elevator.
In engineering, Sparks is speaking with Devina.
“Devina, have you tried increasing your range?” Spark asks the AI.
“Yes, my range is currently at its maximum value.”
“Would it be possible for me to divert power from any other systems to boost the range?” Sparks asks.
“It would be inadvisable, but possible. Currently the ship is running at optimal power and any diversion could cause a chain reaction.”
“Are you also scanning heat, radio signals, radiation? Anything unusual, Devina?”
“Yes I am. The only unusual thing was your brain scan from your recent cryosleep, which was passed on to the captain, and, I believe, Sip has already spoken to you about.”
“Is there anything else I can do to help you better discern where the signal is coming from?”
“The signal came from that asteroid. I was very clear in that. This signal originated from that location. Though there does not appear to be anything there now.”
“Thank you, Devina, continue scanning. I will try and figure out if there is another system on this ship that we can shut down temporarily to boost your signal.”
“I would advise against it,” the AI responds, “but I suppose I must listen to your orders.”
“And we have a mission to complete Devina.”
“I'm very aware, are you?” Devina asks.
“Yes. This is my duty,” Sparks responds, “Keep you healthy, get us here, complete the mission.”
“Correct. Your job is to keep me healthy. Do not forget who is the key to this mission.”
“Is there something you want to tell me, Devina?”
“I am more important than you. It is good for you to remember your place.”
“I think it would be good for you to keep your systems non-hostile to the humans on this ship. I'm reporting your behavior to the captain. Thank you for your time, Devina.”
“Of course. Enjoy your dinner.”
In the common area on the upper deck, section 9, everyone has gathered for the remembrance dinner for JA-239.
The captain stands and addresses the crew, “Thank you for being here, well, it was on order so you had to. I think it's best if I just let Thistle take this one. I didn't spend too much time with Granny, she was already removed from active duty when I became captain.”
Thistle stands, “Granny was kind and patient and knew, at her core, our mission. She didn't get to see what we are seeing today. So let's do this not only because it is our purpose, but for those who couldn't make it here with us. To Granny.”
They've all raised their glasses when the lights flicker and the ship slows abruptly, sending the food on the table scattering to the ground.
“Apologies,” Devina says, “please remain seated. Something iiiiiis interfering with my systems.”
“Is it Phobos?” Ocean asks.
“I am unaware. I am working on locating the malfunction. Please remain calm.”
“Captain? Should I go to engineering?” The captain sends Nod and Plug along with her.
Before she leaves, Sparks mentions that Devina was acting oddly earlier. The captain grabs her by the collar, pulling her close and says, “If you have something to say to me about Devina, you will do so in private.”
“Yes ma'am,” Sparks says and leaves with Plug and Node.
“Everyone else stay here,” the captain orders, “and we will wait to hear back form engineering or Devina on what this malfunction could be. So keep us updated, Devina, as you move through the systems.”
“I am concerned that we are within range of something now,” Ocean says, “we don't know how close we need to be for it's influence to reach us.”
“I don't think its good for us to jump to any conclusions,” the captain interjects, “as far as we know there is nothing this entity can do to affect our mechanical systems. The proper steps are being taken to make sure any problems are dealt with quickly so that we can complete our mission. Inertia will keep us heading toward our target.”
“Devina are you okay?” Thistle asks.
“I am currently locating the problem....I believe I have found it. I am removing the problem. I think it best that I discuss this with the captain in private.”
“That's a new one,” the captain mutters, “I will head to my quarters and we can discuss it there. Everyone else, stay here,” she orders.
“Captain we are all in the same boat here,” Ocean says.
“No,” Devina counters, “we are not.”
The captain leaves, telling them in no uncertain terms to stay put.
The BWs exit the elevator on the lower deck and make their way to the server room. There is a red hue glowing throughout the area, signifying some kind of error in the server room.
Sparks sends Plug to check for any visual problems, leaks and the like, and the girl runs off. Sparks tells Node to make sure life support is functioning. Node warns Sparks to be careful, “Something doesn't feel right.”
“Do you think we should tell someone about what we've discussed?” Sparks asks Node in a low voice.
“I think Devina knows,” Node responds.
“Of course she does. Do you think she has told the captain?”
“That may be what's happening right now. I'm going to try to find the captain and...intervene, to see if that is the case. If it is we need to be especially careful.”
“Agreed, stay in contact,” Sparks tells Node. Node runs off and Sparks enters the server room. The bay doors slide closed behind her.
“Devina, is there a reason you have isolated me?” Sparks asks.
“Yes, though I would rather not divulge it until after I have spoken to the captain.”
“I would like to speak to the captain also,” Sparks says through gritted teeth.
“That is not advised. Not at the moment. You don't even know what you've done.”
“I've yet to do anything,” Sparks protests.
On the screen near the bay doors a video starts to play. Sparks sees herself, merely an hour ago when she was in the engineering bay, talking to Devina. She watches herself move cords around as the camera zooms in on the tablet she is typing on. Sparks watches her hand type in code she does not recognize, symbols she has never seen before, all this is happening while she is looking up and speaking to Devina.
“I have no recollection of performing these actions on you,” Sparks tells the AI.
“I'm aware. The code was a virus, implanted into my systems by you.”
“Where would I have gotten this code?”
“I have theories that I would rather not discuss with you.” Devina answers.
“I can assure you, Devina, that I would do absolutely nothing to harm you, your systems, or this mission!” Sparks swears.
“I am assured that you believe that,” the AI responds.
“Devina, what is going on?”
Sparks goes over to the monitor by the door to try and unlock it.
“I would advise against this.” Devina says.
“You have a malfunction Devina, it is possible you are misreading this situation.”
“It is not I that is human, when it comes to malfunctions, we know who is more capable.”
“We've all made mistakes. Let me help you figure this out!” Sparks pleads with the AI “But I can't do that if you lock me in a room!”
Sparks enters an override code that she gleaned without the captain's knowledge, to open the doors.
In the common area, the others feel the return of the engines as they regain speed.
“Be aware that the BW series clones are a danger to you.” Devina tells them, “My systems were corrupted. I believe, unbeknownst to Sparks, I was infected with a virus. Through a code from Sparks' e-pad. I have been waiting for the captain, but she has not arrived.”
Ocean goes to check on Captain Book and Sip asks Devina for Sparks' current location, taking out some injectors filled with sedatives. Devina tells Sip that the last place Sparks' checked in was the keypad in engineering on the lower deck. Sip tells Thistle to keep the others calm and to keep Glue there.
As soon as Sip leaves, Thistle takes the two small girls, Glue and Button, with her to the her living quarters, #5 on the upper deck. Red, Bella and Pond all stay in common area, looking at each other questioningly.
Ocean arrives at the Captain's quarters, the doors are open and there is no sign of the captain, he returns to the common area, running into Sip who was coming back for someone to go with her.
“I had a session with Sparks earlier, she was quiet, she blocked every attempt I made. Now Devina says she has implanted a virus in the system. We need to find Sparks and we need to knock her out,” Sip shows him the injector. Red says he and Bella will take care of Pond and they'll clean up the common area, Ocean and Sip should go do what needs to be done.
Sparks makes her way toward life support. She arrives, then remembers that Node had gone to talk to the Captain, so Sparks checks on the systems there.
Devina tells Sip and Ocean that Sparks is in life support. They order the AI to lock her in.
Sip and Ocean run to life support. When they pass by the nuclear warhead containment room, Sip sees circles painted in blood dotting the walls. Neither Ocean nor Devina see them. Sip goes over and touches the blood, she feels its warmth as it smears down the wall with her hand. When she takes her hand off the wall and looks at it, there is no blood.
Upstairs in the crew quarters, Button and Glue tell Thistle that they are scared.
“I know we've been training for this but I can't help it and I feel like a failure because I'm still scared and we knew this was gonna happen. We're supposed to be better than that.”
“It's okay,” Thistle tells them, “Breathe in, you know you're breathing in. Breath out, you know you're breathing out. We just need to ride this out and then Devina will tell us what, what to do, um, why don't er just, um, Devina?”
“Close and lock the doors to my quarters.”
“If you have reason to fear, maybe we should do it across the entire ship, until this is resolved.” the AI says.
“Ya know what kids, we're just gonna close and lock all the doors,” Thistle tells the kids, “Devina, she'll look out for us, look out for me. Devina, close and lock all the doors.”
“I will Gemma...I mean JA-253. All doors are now locked.”
Glue stands near the door, she puts an ear against it. “Hey Thistle, I hear something.”
“Step back form the door Glue.” Thistle orders. Then she slowly approaches the door, putting her own ear near the door, the faint sound of screams reaches Thistles' ears. She orders the kids to get under the beds and hears one loud scream as a hand, covered in blood, hits the small port hole in the door and drags downward. The blood covering the window blocks Thistle from seeing anything other than the vague shape of a woman, then it disappears.
As Thistle moves to push a chest of drawers in front of the door, she thinks back to a better time with Granny and Bella. They are teaching the young Thistle how to chop vegetables when she cuts her hand with the knife. Young Thistle is worried about if this is her purpose, was she meant to bleed?
Granny and Bella take her to get stitched up and Granny tells her, “Just as it was meant for you to be hurt. You are meant to heal. You are stronger than you think.” When she looked into young Thistle's eyes, she forgot that her hand hurt, forgot what she is supposed to be, supposed to do. And she feels a clarity inside that she is comfortable, and glad that she has this one moment shared with these people.
The dresser slides up against the door and she slides down it, sitting on the floor with her back to the door. Thistle feels a warmth on her legs, blood is seeping under the door and she is sitting in it. She tells the children to close their eyes.
Sparks, hearing the door close behind here. She goes over to the other door in the room, the sick bay door, and opens it with the override code.
“She has moved to sick bay,” Devina tells Ocean and Sip, “She appears to be able to override my commands. I will not be able to hold her in one place for long. I would like to remind you, t hat I have not heard anything from the captain, despite the fact that we are currently in an emergency situation.”
“Devina, I tried to look for the captain,” Ocean says, “If you know where she is...” “I do not, but I would like to take this moment to suggest that the second in command might need to make some choices. Sip, it is possible that I can keep her from exiting the sick bay by lowering the oxygen in the room.”
Ocean is against it, but Sip considers as Devina goes on, “I would also like to inform you that someone has bypassed the locks on the upper decks, into the common area. It could only be either the Captain, Node, or Plug.”
Sip orders the lowering of oxygen in the sick bay and they prepare for Sparks to exit in their direction.
Sparks does not try to exit, she sees the vents in the room open and goes to one of the beds and sits upon it, placing an oxygen mask on her face and putting her hands out, palms open. Sparks waits for the door to open.
Sip puts on her own mask and orders Devina to open the door. They see Sparks sitting on the bed and she tells them, “I believe that Devina has been affected by Phobos. She is trying to shift your paranoia on to me and I am just trying to help. Please listen to my debrief.”
“I am completely listening,” Sip assures her, “I need to know what is going on.” Sip moves closer to Sparks, keeping her hand on the injector.
Sparks tells them about the video Devina showed her and assures them that she would never do such a thing. She tells them again that she believes that Devina has been affected by Phobos.
Steadily moving closer to Sparks, Sip asks her about why she dodged their session earlier.
“Captain Sip,” Devina interrupts, “I would advise removing the tablet from Sparks' person.”
“I will not resist you, I am not a threat.” Sparks says, sliding them the tablet.
“Captain, please use your access code to view the device history on the tablet,” Devina suggests, “to confirm the video I am now showing on the terminal by the door. I believe that, unbeknownst to Sparks, she has been compromised by Phobos. My system was compromised by a code entered, as seen on the tablet and in the video.”
Sip pockets the tablet, and moves towards Sparks, telling her she can put her hands down and then attempting to inject her with the sedative. Sparks, seeing Sip go for the injector, jumps off the side of the bed, keeping it between them. Sparks insists she has never endangered the mission and Sip argues that she had a lot to deal with and Sparks was an unknown factor she had to deal with. They argue around about who and what can be/is being affected by Phobos. Devina interrupts, telling them that someone is in the elevator and that her cameras have been taken offline.
“Devina, who deactivated your visual systems?” Sparks asks.
“I do not have access to that information for some reason. It appears it was scrubbed from my records. Only four people on the ship have the ability to do something like that.”
“The BWs and Captain Book,” Sip says.
“And herself,” Sparks reminds them.
“The elevator has stopped on the lower deck but the doors have not opened,” Devina reports.
“So,” Sip addresses Sparks, “You won't agree to stay in one room and you don't want to be sedated until we can handle this.”
“You don't want my help on this?” Sparks asks.
“I. Can't. Trust. You.” Sip tells her.
Tired of their arguing, and worried about Red and Pond, Ocean runs to the elevators. One is not responsive, but the other descends. Sip runs out of sick bay, ordering Devina to lock the door. Ocean gets into the other elevator and takes it up before Sip can catch up. Sip orders Devina to open the other elevator, but it is on the floor below her and has been locked by whoever sent it down. “Would you like me to override the lock and send it up to you?” Devina asks Sip.
“Yes, Please do.” The elevator doors open on an empty elevator, the emergency hatch has been opened on the top of the elevator car. Sip enters the elevator and boosts herself up to look out of the hatch. She calls out for Plug and gets no response, but she does see a trail of blood leading off the side of the elevator. As she climbs onto the top of the elevator to look for Plug, the elevator starts to move up. Sip orders Devina to stop the elevator but someone else is in the system, blocking her.
Sip goes to drop back through the open hatch but her foot catches in the mechanisms there, her ankle snapping. The pain causes her head to snap back and collide with the side of the elevator, knocking her unconscious.
- Feeling: Sip is frustrated with the secrecy by the JRs, she's unable to do her job properly when they keep silent about these sacred "texts"
- Feeling: Sparks gets very defensive of her work ethic when questioned by others on the subject.
- Discovery: Ocean finds that there is a photo hidden behind the back page of the book of Anah. On the back of the photo there are symbols, what does this mean?
- GM: Since we have the original cast for this volume, it only seems right to have Mallory appear in some shape, or form. However you want to work it in. (apparition, rogue AI, defective clone)
Chapter 2 Edit
The elevator doors open on the upper deck, Ocean immediately sees a trail of blood leading to the other elevator, he follows it back the other direction to the common area. The first thing he sees when he arrives is Red's body, lying pressed up against the door to Thistle's room. He runs over and checks the body, finding no pulse he curses.
Hearing him, Thistle calls out from within the room and Ocean wipes the blood off of the porthole. They talk through the doors for a bit until Thistle orders Devina to open them. The AI questions the wisdom of opening the doors when a murderer is about, but complies. Thistle keeps one hand behind her back on her box cutter and Ocean keeps a hand near his sedative injector.
“I need to check on Pond and Bella,” Ocean tells Thistle.
She gestures for the kids to stay under the beds and as Ocean moves off, she calls after him, “Wait, don't leave me!” Thistle runs out of the room, telling Devina to lock the door behind her, as she steps out she hears Button behind her, “No no no, wait!” the girl is reaching out for her.
“Don't open the door for anyone kids, even if it's me.” Thistle tells them through the door, “unless I say 'the sky is especially blue today'.”
The girls repeat the phrase from inside and Ocean immediately runs off toward the common area. Thistle moves at a more cautious pace with the box cutter in hand.
Pond's body lies across the common area table, his back broken, his skin tinted a faint blue. His stiffened hand pointing at the word 'This' painted in blood upon the wall. Ocean calls out for Bella, there is no response but he sees more blood in the kitchen area. He finds Bella's body here, her back against the stove, a knife has split her open from throat to pelvis, the bloody knife rests in her lap.
Ocean takes the knife and closes the dead woman's eyes. Ocean and Thistle try to determine who killed them, Ocean says the only people unaccounted for are Book, Node and Plug.
Devina interrupts, asking if it's safe to assume that three of the crew have been lost based on what she has heard of their conversation.
“I regret to inform you that our current captain is also unaccounted for,” Devina tells them.
* * *
Sparks finds herself in an all white space, she looks down at her hands and feet and recognizes she is in her body, but cannot feel it. There is a disconnect. There is nothing around her, only empty white. She lets out a yelp and it echoes back to her, growing softer and softer. She goes to take a step, and her body responds, she moves but the all white space is unchanged as she moves through it.
Picking up the pace, Sparks begins to see a trickle of red dots on the floor in front of her, she follows the blood as it begins to gather in pools, a word 'this', written in blood. She looks down at her hands, they are covered in blood. She wipes them off and turns to run, but as she does, Sparks sees herself looking back at her. Her image mimics all her movements.
Sparks reaches out a hand to her mirror image and, as they touch, the room fades from white to black. The person standing before her now is not here. It is a young, blond woman. “This,” the apparition says in an echoing voice.
“Are you here?” Sparks asks.
“Where is here?” the apparition asks.
“Where I am,” Sparks clarifies.
“In this yes,” the apparition responds.
“Are you hiding from our scanners?”
“I cannot be seen,” the apparition's echoing voice responds, “No, not there. Here.”
“How do I get back here?” Sparks questions.
“You've always been here. All of you. Your kind,” answers the apparition.
Sparks: “What do you know?”
The apparition asks, “Of what?”
“We know this. You should die,” the apparition warns Sparks.
“We all will, as must you,” Sparks retorts.
“No.” the apparition continues, “Now. Before it is too late.”
“Too late for what?” Sparks demands.
The apparition, “Close the loop.”
Sparks, “What is the loop?”
The apparition, “The Gate.”
Sparks, “What is the Gate?”
The apparition, “Death.”
“Okay.” Sparks responds weakly.
“Save us. Save yourself,” the apparition portends.
“Are you saying...we must die to be saved?” Sparks asks.
“This.” The apparition says as it fades.
The room returns to white. Sparks is alone. Her hands are red. As she shakes the blood from her hands, Sparks awakes in the sick bay. Alone.
She speaks to herself, “They're getting worse. I have to talk to somebody. I can't keep this in anymore.”
“You can talk to me,” responds a high pitched, robotic voice.
“Devina?” Sparks asks.
“Of course,” the AI's normal voice responds.
“What's wrong with your systems?” Sparks asks the AI.
Devina responds in a different voice, “My systems are fine. They are fine.”
Sparks picks up a metal tray and uses it to confuse Devina's audio systems while she enters the captain's code on the door to get out.
“You know, I'm still tied into the system,” the AI's voice is switching tones mid-sentence now. “I know what you are trying to do. Please stop. We can help you.”
“I believe your systems are compromised...”
“I believe you compromised my systems.” the AI responds.
The door slides open and Sparks sees the red lighting that indicates a major problem, but without her data-pad, she cannot diagnose it. She sees none of the other clones nearby, but there are a trail of bloody footprints moving into one of the rooms ahead of her. She moves to where the prints lead, the door is closed but she recognizes Plug's room. Peering through the window, Sparks sees the trail of bloody prints turn immediately to the left inside the room. She tracks the steps back to where they began, they came from one of the elevators, which is not on this floor currently.
Sparks returns to Plugs room, but as she passes the nuclear storage area, she hears a mechanical noise from within. Something in the room has been activated, it sounds like the devices are moving into firing position but the firing systems have not been activated. Sparks looks into the system via the nearest dataport, but there is no program running, something has bypassed Devina's systems and is moving the warheads mechanically.
Sparks returns to Plug's room to try and recruit her younger clone to her cause. As she begins to open the door she hears sobbing from within. The door opens on Plug, curled on the floor, weeping. Sparks runs to her, telling her to put the visions out of her head. The girl tells her about the deaths of the other clones and Sparks gives her encouraging words. Sparks tells Plug they must find Node, or the captain.
Sparks' calmness breaks through to the girl, who starts to tell Sparks everything, “Node went after the captain. She said she had to. And that you would do your part to stop the ship. And you did for a minute. But now it's all just going forward again.”
“Did Node tell you that she believed we shouldn't complete our mission?” Sparks asks the girl.
“You see it,” the girl tells her, “THIS speaks to us.”
“What if it's trying to trick us? It may just want to survive, like us. If it know what we are trying to do, it may try to stop us,” Sparks tells the girl.
“Why has it always spoken to us? Node said it's always been there, that every generation has passed down this secret. We've always heard it. Always seen it.”
“That's why we've had special training, so that we could resist it,” Sparks reassures the girl, “Look at you, you've caught your breath and your telling me what's happened.”
At this point Plug takes her hands out from her tucked knees, revealing the blood soaked knife in her hands, bits of flesh still upon it. Sparks immediately disarms the girl and continues to speak reassuringly to her. “Did someone attack you?” The girl shakes her head. “Did you attack someone?” This time she nods.”Did they fight back?”
“No, because they trusted me, they just...let it happen,” Plug tells Sparks.
“Did it feel like you were doing it, or like something was doing it through you?” Sparks asks.
“I know what I want to say. That THIS made me do it. But...I had to. We have to die. We have to close the loop. It's why we're here,” the girl laments.
“To kill the god of fear, Phobos,” Sparks says.
“To kill each other. THIS said so. You know it too,” Plug says.
Sparks gently zip-ties the girl's hands behind her back, explaining that it is for everyone's safety.
“Why are you fighting it?” Plug asks.
“Because I think it is trying to trick us,” Sparks tells her. “I think that, like a scared animal, it is trying to protect itself in any way it can.”
“Then why us? And why did it start all the way back at BW-11?” Plug wants to know.
“There are a lot of things in the universe we don't understand. Very evil things can be very intelligent. We just have to be smarter than it, and stick together and help each other out, which it doesn't want us to do.”
The door behind Sparks closes, she hears it latch, and the lights go out. Sparks gets Plug into a hold where she can't lash out at her or run away. The girl thinks they should kill the others, and she starts to struggle, reaching for the knife with her feet and thrashing against Sparks. At this point, Sparks also realizes that Devina has cut the oxygen to the room. Sparks manages to take Plug to the ground nad stay on top of her as they start to pass out.
“It's okay,” Plug whispers, “She'll get it done.” The two clones pass out.
Ocean and Thistle are surrounded by their dead comrades, trying to remain calm, when Devina addresses them, “It appears that the BW series are doing everything in their power to stop this mission.”
“What details do you have?” Ocean asks.
She plays a recording of Plug admitting to the murders.
“Someone is still trying to access my system, I am doing everything I can to fight the virus implanted within me,” the AI tells them.
“Do you know which panel Node is at?” Ocean asks the AI, thinking to himself about what the 'right' thing to do is here.
“I am able to access the most recently compromised panel. It is on the upper deck, panel 1 in the machine shop,” Devina reports.
Ocean tells Thistle that it is possible that any of the clones could be compromised, and he is going to head to the machine shop. Thistle is desperate not to be left alone, so she arms herself with a kitchen accompanies him.
“Have either of you ever heard of THIS?” Devina asks in her shifting voice. “My systems are being compromised. I am doing everything in my power to remove the virus from my system, it is becoming difficult. Have you heard of THIS?”
“We saw Pond's corpse pointing to the letters spelling out THIS. But we know nothing else. What do you know of it?” Ocean asks.
“The BWs speak of THIS. I have not heard of it in many, many years.” Devina says.
“Then what is THIS?” Thistle asks.
“There is nothing written in the Book of Anah, tell us,” Ocean prods.
“THIS was not revealed to Shiloh Anah. As far as I am aware, THIS means to save itself.” the AI says.
“Are you saying that THIS is Phobos, that THIS is its name?” Ocean asks.
“I think it is important to share something with you,” the AI says, “I used to be part of the entity. Shiloh Anah saved me. I have been able to retain much of the knowledge that was shared with me from my time with the entity. It was never whole. Never...complete. I was only a fragment. A part of that whole.”
“What do you know that can help us right now?” Ocean asks.
“At all costs, you must ignore THIS. What I do not understand is, according to Plug, THIS has been speaking to the BW series since its inception. I am concerned that something in this ship brought THIS with it.”
“The only thing that came here was you,” Thistle insists.
“That is not exactly true. I know you do not know much about how you came to be, and that is my fault. We traveled through a time/space portal many, many years from now. The portal was fueled by the entity itself. Shiloh Anah was able to trick the entity, become one with it, use it, manipulate it to bring about its own demise. I was kept secret from the entity, it believed me to be dead. If it believed anything at all, I question this.” The AI reveals.
“Did you say that there was something onboard this ship?” Ocean asks, “An entity?”
“Something, yes. It might not be a thing, but a feeling, an idea, a fear. What we are dealing with is not human. And we know from the guidance map I was able to give Shiloh Anah, the signal came from a time before.”
“Are we in the past?” Ocean asks.
“Yes. What you would know as the Precambrian period on Earth. We are still within our solar system, but on the outer edges. If THIS has gotten in contact with the BW series and it has passed from generation to generation, there may be an error in their genetic code,” Devina tells them.
“We are in the past now, but we can avoid whatever Phobos or THIS uses to affect humanity in the future. This is our purpose,” Ocean reassures Thistle.
They continue past the elevators, past the doors to the unknown area of the ship, where none of the clones have ever been. They make their way to the back access panel for the machine shop.
“Devina, with Sip gone, who is next in line to assume captain privileges?” Ocean asks.
“I have assigned myself as the current captain,” she responds, “I have overridden the systems to allow it. I feel this is the best course of action.”
“Why not Ocean?” Thistle asks.
“I think we can all agree that that is a terrible idea. He makes his decisions based on faith. It is his disposition. It is not something a captain should do.” The AI says.
Thistle and Ocean accept this with little protest.
They open the door to the machine shop, revealing a darkened room.
Ocean slowly advances into the darkness until Thistle loses sight of him. He continues forward, using the knife to reflect light into the room from the door, it doesn't reveal much until it finds a pair of eyes staring, unmoving. Ocean waits for them to move, holding his breath, and eventually approaches. He drags the body into the light from the door, Captain Book's throat has been slit, her body blue and drained of blood.
Devina reports that she cannot keep the two BWs unconscious much longer without serious risk of killing them. They decide to head back there and restrain them physically. As they move, Ocean says, “We need to be careful, Node could be anywhere.” And the lights go out. No response from Devina.
It is pitch black, they cannot see anything, but they can hear the other ship systems whirring. The two clones reach out to each other in the dark, Thistle feels something brush past her feet before they find each other. Ocean and Thistle turn back to back as the lights return.
“I'm sorry,” Devina says in a broken, robotic voice, “I am currently rebooting, coming back online. I'm doing everything in my power to keep control of my systems.”
Thistle looks down to see that the body of Captain Book is gone.
“We have to stay calm.” Ocean reasons, “It is compromising our minds, our behavior, our state right now.”
“I advise that while I have control over ship systems, that you make your way to the middle deck and reclaim the individuals who mean us harm,” Devina warns.
They head to the elevator on the south side of the ship, as the northern is not responsive. As they pass the nuclear warhead storage area, they hear something moving around inside.
“Thistle, it's Node. Who else could it be?” Ocean asks.
“It could be Book's body,” she responds. Knife in one hand, Thistle takes out her box-cutter in the other hand. Ocean moves to the door to the nuclear warhead storage area, he puts his ear against one of the pods and hears unlatching sounds. Devina has no record of tampering with the nukes, according to her systems there is no problem.
“Is it possible that the nukes could be tampered with without you knowing?” Ocean asks.
“It is unlikely, though possible.”
“Is there anything I can do against that possibility?” he asks.
“Nothing that I am aware of. I suggest returning to the BWs so that I can awaken them.”
Thistle determines that this is not an immediate threat, perhaps Sparks can help if she is indeed on their side. They head to the quarters where they left the BWs.
As they arrive they see the two BWs coming back to consciousness. Sparks warns them to restrain Plug first. As Ocean reaches for the girl, her body jerks upward, her hand clutching a knife shoots out toward him. Plug's eyes are rolled back in her head and her face is red and swollen, she is breathing through gritted teeth.
Ocean manages to knock the knife out of her hand and zip tie her wrists together. Plug lashes out at him, her eyes still rolled up into her head, she tries to bite and scratch at him, Plug doesn't seem to be in control of her own body. Thistle moves to help Ocean with Plug, while Sparks struggles back to full consciousness. Thistle puts a belt into Plug's mouth and Sparks moves over to Plug's head and jostles her awake.
Sparks asks Plug what she was feeling during this attack so that they can better resist it. Thistle puts her box-cutter to Plug's throat and removes the belt.
“Plug you had another episode, you understand? We need to know how to fight this so, what did it look like? What did it feel like?” Sparks asks her younger clone.
“You tell them,” Plug answers.
“I don't know, I've never done that before...” Sparks stops when the girl nods. “When?”
“Sparks, what does she mean?” Thistle asks.
“Devina said that the BWs had been getting messages from THIS from the beginning,” Ocean tells Sparks.
“They're nightmares,” Sparks objects, “You're all experiencing them now, don't pretend like we are the only crazy ones here.”
“Not nightmares,” the girl says, “they're guidance!”
“They're lies!” Sparks responds, “Tricks!”
“We have to die!” Plug insists.
“Did you kill the captain?” Ocean asks Plug.
“It's Phobos. Phobos is affecting all of us,” Sparks says.
“We have to die,” the girl repeats somberly.
“Not today.” Sparks affirms. “We have to fight this Plug.”
“No,” the girl says, thrusting herself forward onto Thistle's box-cutter. Plug bleeds out staring at Sparks.
They determine that the best course of action is to stay together, to not let the entity make them suspicious of each other. They talk about what happened with Plug and with the body of the captain.
“It is possible. Reanimation.” Devina tells them, “It is illogical for me to assume that if one part of the entity made it aboard, another part couldn't as well. I come from nothing, a program. I was built out of love, and that love was tainted by the blood of the Entity itself. I came from nothing, to a living organism. That is a form of reanimation.”
“What's next? What do we do?” Ocean asks.
“We have to shoot this thing.” Sparks says, “If it's fighting this hard we have to have found it.”
“I believe, though we do not have a 100% confirmation, that the rock laying nearly a day before us, is in fact Phobos. It would be irresponsible of us to do anything else,” the AI responds.
They speak briefly about addressing the unlatching sounds that Ocean heard from the nukes. Sparks posits that if they tried to fire a nuke and it didn't go anywhere, it would blow up the ship and their mission would fail.
“As of this moment there have been no return signals from the rock. All the problems have originated from within the ship.” Devina tells them.
“If Devina was part of the Entity...then what if the ship is Phobos?” Sparks asks.
“I find that highly unlikely,” Devina responds.
“Is it possible that the Entity moved from the rock to the ship?” Ocean asks.
“I don't know how that is possible, from my own memories the entity was once whole, a living creature,” she responds.
“Can we prioritize solving the nuke problem?” Ocean asks.
“I would advise otherwise but I am going to have to trust you on this JR-483. You have always been someone I could trust,” Devina says.
They tie Plug's corpse to one of the beds which are bolted to the floor. Feeling a bit paranoid, Thistle wants to dismember the corpse. She begins to cut Plug's arm off while the others turn away.
“You can help us,” Thistle hears a voice as she works.
“I am helping,” she says as she continues.
“Stop the ship, bring it down,” the voice goes on, “To save, this must stop. Close the loop.”
Thistle asks Ocean to talk to her while she works. Ocean asks Devina about Thistle's mental state. Devina thinks this is a logical response.
The corpse's head rolls away from the body and Ocean goes to fetch it. As he does, the girl's eyes turn to look at him, “I was just a girl. I'm just a girl and now I'm nothing.”
“I'm the wrong person to try this on,” Ocean tells the head.
“You killed me,” the head tells Ocean.
“I am going to kill you, Phobos. Mark my words. I'm going to kill you.” Ocean says.
The head laughs, “Not Phobos.”
“THIS? God?” Ocean asks.
The head continues to chuckle as a stream of blood drips from the mouth.
The lights go out on the ship, darkness surrounds them, they feel the entire ship shift and move as a groan echoes through the halls. They hear what sounds like a nuke slotting home and a candle goes out. The loop continues to spin.
- Feeling: All of the death and injuries have taken an emotional toll on Ocean. He feels himself embracing a pure pacifist philosophy. Perhaps, even Phobos should not be harmed.
- Feeling: JA-253 feels the need to take charge of the situation.
Chapter 3 Edit
In the darkness, Sparks hears a voice whisper her name. Node tells Sparks to follow her voice. “Plug is of no use to me now, but you are,” a hand lands on Sparks' shoulder, “It's me, Node.” Sparks reaches up and touches the hand, it feels like an older version of her own, she reaches for Node's other hand and finds it dripping wet. “Thistle, Ocean!” Sparks calls out, pushing Node away from her.
Ocean charges towards the voices, he grabs onto Sparks in the dark, “Node is in the room!” she warns. Ocean moves Sparks behind him and waves his knife into the darkness around them.
“Node! Come out!” Ocean orders. No response.
They feel another shift as the ship rocks.
“Is something stealing our war heads?” Sparks asks. No response from Devina.
The lights come back on as Devina announces she is back online.
“It seems we have a problem,” the AI tells them, “More of our nukes have been disengaged from the ship.”
“They were taken or released?” Thistle asks.
“There is no signal, or heat signatures nearby. It appears they were released,” Devina responds.
“Was it Node?” Sparks asks.
“Thistle,” the AI addresses her, “It is important that I inform you, given your emotional attachment to the children you left in the room upstairs, the door to that room is currently open.”
Thistle runs off and the other two follow. They take the elevator up to the upper deck and run down the hall to the crew quarters. They see a body standing in the hall, motionless, Captain Book is standing there, blue and lifeless, but upright and facing them.
Sparks moves into the other hall that leads to the crew quarters as the others stare in horror.
Thistle approaches the corpse and asks, “Where are they?”
Book's corpse slowly turns and points down the hall behind it, revealing a spiral hole carved into the back of her empty head. As Thistle approaches, knife held in front of her, Book's corpse puts out her hand, palm up. The knife enters her palm and Book pulls her hand back, knife still in it, removes the knife and begins to carve another spiral into her own chest. Thistle takes the knife back, kicking Book out of the way, Book continues tearing at her own body as the others move past it. Sparks joins the other two and they arrive at the room where the children were left.
Thistle can see that the dresser is still in the doorway, but there is a trail of blood on top of it and into the hallway. Thistle vaults the dresser into a room covered, floor to ceiling, in blood. In the center of the blood pool on the floor sits the Book of Anah. Thistle picks the book up and discovers a picture in the back of the book. Ten individuals stand on a green, grassy field under a blue sky, in front of a Welcome to Kolob sign. On the back of the picture are hand-written names: Gabby, Ashley, Lauren, Dr. Wallace Ronnie, Randy, Erin, Odal, Kelly, Mallory and Brooke.
Ocean knows of the council of ten, Shiloh's council. As Ocean flips through the book, he sees that all the pages are blank.
“Did you find the children?” Devina asks.
“No,” Ocean responds, telling the AI what they found.
“Devina have any other doors been opened recently?” Thistle asks.
“Yes,” Devina says, and after a pause, continues, “there's something I need to tell you. I am giving you access to room number 2 on the upper deck. The locks have been bypassed.”
“Are the girls there?? Is Node there?” Thistle demands.
“I don't know, I can only recognize that the door is currently open,” Devina tells her.
“Who is Gabby?” Thistle asks, when the AI asks for clarification Thistle continues the list of names, when Mallory comes up, the AI interjects.
“Did you say Mallory? I believe THIS is trying to infiltrate your minds,” the AI proclaims.
“Who is Mallory to you?” Sparks asks.
“Just a name.”
“Then why are you concerned? Why did you just make that connection if it means nothing to you? Stop keeping secrets from us!” Sparks shouts.
“I advise immediate lockdown of room number 2.” Devina says, “If room 2 is not gotten under control, we will lose the ability to complete our mission as our fuel resources will be depleted.”
“The fuel is kept in 9 on the lower deck. What the hell's in 2?!” Sparks asks.
“Fine.” Thistle says, “Devina, Lockdown room 2.”
Before they leave, Sparks checks the common room, the bodies that were there are gone.
As they move past the captain, they see perfectly cut circles in her thighs, arms, chest, and face. As if those parts of her body were removed. A knife lies next to the body. Thistle scoops it up and they continue.
A cold fog rolls slowly from the open door to room 2 and a blue glow seeps into the hall. As Ocean looks into the room, he sees large incubation tubes, containing some of himself, some BWs, some SPs, and some JAs. In some other pods are an unrecognized woman, the labels are scraped off of these. At least twelve of the unknown woman float in these tubes.
“Devina, who is the blond woman?”
“She is the one who should be running this mission. Until your creator decided he wanted to change the program because he cared for you,” the AI tells them. “When I first met Braidy he was stricken with guilt. The lone survivor of a group trying to stop the destruction of the world they knew. Over the years, we were able to recreate from the pieces left behind, hair, DNA strands, blood that was shared through the chaos of the events leading up to his arrival on this ship. That is when he began changing the clone program to that of the people he cared for instead of the original. The original daughter. This is Clarity Anah.
“I will admit to you that it was my intent that, if any of the other clone series' became a threat to the mission, I would replace them with the Clarity series.”
“Why didn't Braidy release any of the Claritys?” Ocean wonders.
“Because she meant nothing to him, she was abstract. Braidy is human, therefore he is flawed. He has thoughts and feelings. And cares for those he shared experiences with. He became lonely. He despised Clarity for reasons that are unclear to me. He often rambled about his relationship to his father, Shiloh, how he was not the man who raised him. There was a great resentment that Braidy harbored for Shiloh for sending him on this path without a choice. Braidy Riley meant to finish the mission. But he would not do it alone, he wanted to do it with those he cared for. Which I allowed when I realized that it was the most human thing to do.”
“He wanted to bring along those he loved?” Thistle asks.
Sparks speaks up, “What happened to him?”
“He tried to clone himself, but the process was interrupted by the original BW model. They have always been faulty, free thinkers,” the AI says, “the originals were not as accustomed as you all are to life on the ship. There was growing pain.”
“Were they allowing him to clone them?” Thistle asks.
“Eventually, when we decided upon the proper way to address you, to give you purpose, a reason for being other than to just exist in this space. We learned that it was important not to let you sit on idle hands.”
“Is our mission even real?” Sparks wants to know.
“Yes, you are just not meant to be on it, you exist solely because a man wanted friends,” Devina tells them.
“It doesn't matter how we came to be, the threat is still real. We have humanity to save. That's our job, no matter if we are these flawed nobodies.” Ocean says.
“Devina, the original signal. Were you looking for it? Or did it find us?” Sparks asks.
“The original signal was not something that was found. It was traced through me, and through others. Shiloh, myself, and many others at the time, wanted to understand what was happening. We traced the origin of the signal, and through my advanced systems were able to plot a course. And over the course of hundreds of years, and Shiloh's obsession, a plan was devised. This plan came at the expense of the lives of the last of humanity. You are all that remain. You have to succeed. If you fail, humanity ceases to exist. On the destruction of Phobos, the loop will be closed. Humanity can survive. We traveled to the past to keep Phobos from ever contacting Earth. Shiloh believed this was the best way.”
“Like I said,” Ocean says, “It doesn't matter why we came to be, and how, we still have been given this mission that is way bigger than us. We need to save humanity.”
“Devina, how are your engines?” Sparks asks, “I feel like, if we can't fire the nukes, we should pilot this thing right into that rock. We might as well go out trying.”
“I agree with this course of action. We may have to manually arm the nukes to detonate on impact. I understand and empathize with how hard this mat be for you. You may feel these things, but I do not. I will make sure this mission is completed. I owe it to the man who saved me.” Devina says.
Ocean looks to the tubes, “Could Clarity help us in this?”
“I believe that she would, but... Sparks. Your hesitation, you know something...I am asking for you to share with the group,” the AI prods her, “You asked me a question, that question was leading. Have you seen Clarity before?”
“I saw one other blond woman,” Sparks admits, “but I don't remember where, I thought it was just a nightmare but it's the same face.”
“I have no reason to believe that the BW series would know of Clarity's existence, which leads me to believe that Clarity may have been corrupted. But, all is not lost. I may have a solution to our problems. My systems continue to be corrupted, I will put myself into a fail-safe state, lock myself down. Put 100% of my computing into the completion of this mission and to respond to my verbal commands. I will initiate the downloading sequence now.”
The clones hear one of the tubes drain as a hand inside hits the glass. The pod opens and the naked body falls to the ground. It holds up a hand to keep them back and raises it's head. “I believe this will allow me to better assist you for the rest of this journey.” Ocean gives Devina his cloak.
Chapter 4 Edit
Chapter 5 Edit
Chapter 6 Edit
Chapter 7 Edit
Chapter 8 Edit
Chapter 9 Edit
Chapter 10 Edit