Posts tagged ‘generation’

Rings of Fate S3xE2 – Explorer – Virus

Doctor Francesco Mitrioni sat at his desk innthe infirmay of the subalpha ring on Explorer. He was devastated, and read through the report from his colleague in the gamma ring hospital again.

“What’s up Frank?” Friends since birth, Admiral Dean O’Neill stood in the frame of the door. He hadn’t heard it opening. “Is it Thursday again?” Francesco looked up, onky realising then howndark his office was, compared to the hallway outside.

“Yup. 1930, as usual.” As the door slid close behind Dean, Francesco could finally see his face, read the concern in his expression. “You seem like you saw a ghost, so what’s going on?”

Again turning towards the screen Francesco shook his head. “The first death of a man from meningitis. Normally the implant should detect, and counteract the virus that caused it. In this case, it didn’t, although it was working. Dr. Khan is on the case, but he sent me his records.”

“Does this mean we’re not going bowling?” There was no real bowling alley, onky virtual bowling, but still someone had thought itnwould be nice to live the spirit of old, and had built a whole bowling rink for virtual bowling in a disused storage compartment.

Complete with seats and all, with several bowling lanes.

“I’m probably reading to much into this, the mans implant surely was faulty.” Francesco winked, turning off the screen. “Let’s go bowling.”

There was absolute silence in the morgue. The lights worked with out a flicker, nurses andnother staff had turned in for the night, the nightshift staff were tending to the needs of the living. If someone should happen to die, they’d bring the body in, and store it.

Doctor Rajesh Khan was grateful for the silence. It let him think as he examined the body of the meningitis victim.

In three generations of using the implant to combat viruses and other infections, along with birth control and health status, they still hadn’t eradicated the virus that caused this. Standing over the body that was lying on the autopsy table, he mused over that fact for a moment, shrugged it off and began. “Autopsy report on patient Alexander Xaver Fritzens.” He ran the scanner over the torso. “Internal organs show no abnormalities, except the to be expected signs of stress from running a high fever. Coagulation of blood is normal for the time, bodily fluids show no signs of abnormality either. Moving on to the head.”

A beeping noise made him stop. “This is odd. The implant is still active.”

Recording on hia glasses not only his words but also a video of his findings, directly streamed to his workstation, he commented on all he did or found.

The brain looked as to be expected in such a case, at least on the scan. Although he had worked on dead bodies during his education, opened them, held organs in his hands, he was genuinely glad that he had a scanner at his disposal.

An autopsy was not something he enjoyed. Putting the scanner back where it belonged he wandered over to a desk, sat down. Already there was a transcript on the screen. All that needed to be done was editing.

“Alright, let’s do this before I call it a day.” He mumbled to himself.

A soft thud behind him startled the doctor. As he looked around the well lit room, there was nothing out of the ordinary.

With a racing heart he went to his deceased patient, ran the scanner over him again, still found nothing outnof the ordinary, other than the still active implant.

Hoping that no one was pranking him he returned to the desk.

After he had corrected a few words there again was that thud. Unable to suppress a terrified shriek Doctor Khan shot o his legs again, looking around the room.

He saw something that terrified him even more than the thud. Alexander Xaver Fritzens’ arm moved, or at least twitched.

It bolted up, fell back on the table, creating the thud that he had heard before. “Resuming recording of autopsy in the meningitis victim. I had just witnessed the subjects arm jolt upwards and fall to the table. Three times this had happened so far, I suspect neuro-electric discharges in the brainstem.” Again the arm jolted upwards, but the other one followed, both arms stayed up.

Breathing rapidly Rajesh stared at the body, glad to be recording, otherwise he would be called delusional. Thudding the arms slammed against the table. “I,” he stammered, reaching for the scanner, not daring to look away from the body so his recording wouldn’t miss a thing. He couldn’t reach it, so he turned to look.

“Your turn Frank.” Dean sat down on the bench, drinking a sip of water. Francesco just got up when his glasses started beeping and vibrating.

“I thought we had the evening to ourselves?” Dean picked them up and held them in Francesco’s direction. “Dr. Khan?” The doctor raised his eyebrows, accepted the call.

“Calm down! What happened?” Dean watched and listened with the interest of someone whose game just got interrupted. “He bit you? What do you me…” Now the interest in the Admiral got earnest.

“The body, gotnoff the table, and bit you? Yes, please send the recording to me asap. Get the implant to identify any pathogens right away.”

As his friend put down the remote to bowl, Dean got up too. Not saying a word the two men left, gesturing the man who ran the place to cancel their game.

After the call ended Francesco watched the footage that he had received. Wordless he handed the glasses to Dean, who also watched.

For a few minutes theybstood outside the infirmary. “So, quarantine?”

“Not yet.” Francesco replied with a concerned face, walking inside. “Just see what you can do.” Replied Dean turning to head for the command centre.

Although a quarantine would not be orderd as of that moment, he still felt he would be needed there.

“Lucy! What joy to find you still here.” Heading for her station in the comand centre Dean smiled genuinely glad. “There is a situation developing on gamma, do me favor and see that you know everything about a possible quarantine. Restrict travel from and to gamma already, we can’t be too careful.” He kept his voice low as to not unease any of the other officers, some of which had friends and family on gamma.

Wide eyed she stared at him. “What kind of situation?” She gathered her composure, her family had lived on gamma, but her sister moved to beta and her parents to alpha, still it bothered her somewhere deep inside.

“A man who had died from meningitis and was clearly dead, rose from the dead and attacked the doctor. Now, we both have seen plenty of the old movies and TV shows, see that we can quarantine gamma at the push of a button, or two.” He mumbled, still in a hushed voice.

Quietly complying with the order given Lucy still felt uneasy with the situation.

Menacing beeps rose from the com console, the nightshift com officer turned to the Admiral. “It is a priority call sir, for your eyes only.”

Surprised Dean rushd to the small ready room and answered the call there. Over the years the purpose of that room had been changed several times. From a small meeting room, to a bunk room, to storage, to a meeting room again, then it was left empty, repurposed as a bunk room. Ideas had been tossed around to grow some food in there, but in the end, it was left empty again until Dean made it into a recreational area. During breaks staff from the command centre could relax, listen to music and play games.

He was well aware that some used it to play with one another and no game involved, but as long as they didn’t make a mess of it, he didn’t bother.

“Doctor Khan, I presume?” Dean looked a distressed man with dark skin and sweat beads on his forehead. “Yes, Admiral. I have dire news. It seems that I have contracted the disease. It is yet uncertain whether it was the attack, or during the treatment of the patient. I recommend you implement a quarantine regardless, I have transferred all my findings to Doctor Mitrioni, somehow the implant is not fending this one off. Several more cases have appeared.”

“Get well Doctor, we will do our part to contain this.” Dean jumped from his seat, rushed next door and gave Lucy a nod.

Only a few seconds later the alarm sirens all aboard the Explorer started ringing. “All hands, attention. Gamma ring has been quarantined, all personnel redently having been on gamma, please report to your quarters, or the nearest infirmary. I repeat, gamma ring has been quarantined.”

It was an eerie feeling wandering the hallway from the command centre, but Dean needed to see Francesco, it had been an hour since they last saw each other, and already events had developed beyond their last conversation.

Normally on a Thursday night at that time the hallways were a buzz with people, but since the announcement, it had quieted down.

Outside the infirmary however he found a que of people. Most were wearing makeshift face masks. They all seemed either terrified or aggravated.

“Are any of you truly sick?” Dean stopped at the que prompting them to turn around and immediately after recognising him assume composure. “If you haven’t been to gamma, haven’t been in contact with anone who was on gamma in the last two days, get the hell outta here! This is no time for hypochondriacs!” Half of the que saluted and shuffled off at various speeds. It had been the aggravated crowd mostly that was just standing there hoping to get a clean bill of health.

Once inside the infirmary the que continued, again Dean told them to leave if they had no real reason for concern, and eased the nurses and doctors work.

“Frank, these people are nuts.” Dean entered his friends office, finding Francesco going through some data.

“Rightly so. The implant isn’t working against that virus. On the contrary.” Looking over his shoulder to the door Dean wished he had stayed in the command centre. “Don’t tell me the implant is getting infected too.”

“Not per se. But sort of. At least in this one incident it was. I don’t know what had happened exactly, but the implant completely ignored the virus, and later tried to bring the brain dead body back to life by jolting the nervous system.”

“Why did he bite Doctor Khan?” Francesco shrugged shoulders. Both had seen the footage recorded.

The corpse jolted from the table and bit clearly in the hand of Dr. Khan with which he held the scanner over the body. Afterwards he fell back on the table.

“Accidental reflexes?”

“In any case,” Dean agaij looked over his shoulder at the door. “If anybody else dies of this, we should remove the implant. Can’t have infectious zombies running around on this ship.”

Francesco laughed at his friend’s words. “They’re not running. Jolting maybe, but not running.”

Dean smirked, “Don’t want any Jolters either.”

From Deans quarters, which he shared with his wife and two daughters, none of which had left the rooms since the announcement, it was onky a short walk to the command centre. On that short walk Dean had encountered not a single person.

Where normally dozens of people walked by, exercised, brought or retrieved reports, there was not a single sould to be found.

Training grounds in the gardens, deserted. Recreational facilities, including Dean’s favored bowling place, abandoned.

“What the?” He looked around the empty command centre. Only Lucy was at her post, the others, all but missing. “They routed access to their stations to their quarters, all stations at ready, sir.”

“This is ridiculous!” He punched a few buttons on his console after walkimg over to it. “Listen here you hypochondriacs! Everyone not showing up for duty in fifteen minutes faces court martial! Now, you don’t have to fear execution like in the old days, but permanent house arrest. That includes landing on 296! None of you will set foot on that planet, if you won’t have the guts to set foot on your posts! Got that?” He turned to Lucy.

“At least you are here!”

“Bob is having a cold, sir. I kinda thought I’m safer here.” She winked, indicating a joke.

Waving her off he asked for a Sit rep from gamma. “Three people have died from meningitis last night, and they all showed signs of activity after their demise.”

Lounging in his chair, his head redting on his left Dean listened carefully, concerned, but still somewhat disengaged he raised his eyebrows. “Didn’t I recommend them to remove the implants after death?”

“That’s the thing, sir. They did. Although sick himself Doctor Khan continued his work, and found that the implants have taken on a concerning attribute of the virus.” She handed him the tablet. Dr. Khan had taken fever dampening medication, since the implant wasn’t working properly.

“They are making copies?”

“Just like they would if a woman gets pregnant, they form one implant in the fetus, only here they form in various locations in the body. In patient zero they were right next to each other, in another there were five, in another there was one in the leg. All faulty concerning the virus, but otherwise working copies of the original, oddly enough they copied the unique ID number, something that normally shouldn’t happen.”

Looking at the data himself Dean found himself searching for his implant, on the back of his right hand.

Slowly he became suspicious. Was that meningitis a late revenge from the linkers? Something they hid in the ship, or that they slipped in during the brief indirect contact after their base on ES-p296-2 was discovered?

“Do me favor, see how Nye Charles is doing, and check on her family as well, and former Admiral Franziska Hardwick.” As he finished his sentence thendoor opened letting in Jesus Montoya, his com officer, and the elderly frame of Admiral Franziska Hardwick also appeared in the door. “She looks fine, sir.” Lucy’s statement was accompanied by a wide smile.

“Admiral. What brings you here?” ignoring hisnfirst officer Dean greeted his predecessor. “I thought you might need a hand up here.” The old woman grinned playfully, she had missed the command centre every day since her retirement.

Inviting her in with just a gesture Dean had no objections. “Sir, your requested checks show that all are in perfect health.”

Gaining also Franziska’s attention Lucy lowered her head again. Quickly Dean explained his concerns, which Franziska completely understood, but could’ve dismissed right away, as she too had heard of the odd behaviour of the virus, and checked on Nye first hand.

“Still it might be the linkers, they could’ve hid the virus on gamma before they left.” Dean had left the former Admiral tonsit in his chair, as he manned navigation. Apparently the officer who normally had that post didn’t value setting foot on RV-p296. “That’s right ma’am.” He felt taken back a few years when he was first working navigation, then under the former Admiral. There was one Admiral in between the two, she had retired and he was promoted. Sadly Admiral Sheila Dunston didn’t seem like she was working in her retirement, as she was not seennor heard of much since her retirement.

“It might also be a natural mutation. Evolution at work right before our eyes.” He said having cut of the remote controlling station at the quarters of the officer. “It might, perhaps, Admiral, you should talk with your chief medical doctor?” Franziska winked, reminding him that he was the Admiral in charge, not her.

“I’m a doctor, not a programmer!” Francesco threw the tablet on the table. He was tired, hadn’t slept at all since the outbreak. “How the hell am I supposed to fight this thing?”

“Perhaps you should become a programmer?” Trying to lift the spirits with his jokes Dean leaned back, to avoid being hit with something, as hisnold friend tended to become quite passionate and physical when stressed or enraged.

“Not funny, Dean.” Francesco pointed at a display in the wall.

Displayed was the que outside the gamma hospital. It was going halfway through the the ring. Francesco put in another feed.

“This was the third victim of last night.” A man in the que broke down, hastily people ran away from him, once he jolted upwards, spewing a spray of mucus out. A few times he twitched, until one man ran towards him.

Forbidden by regulations the man drew his gun, switched the laser on and fired at the dead man’s head, severing it in two, then again disconnecring the limbs.

Horrified Dean fell silent. “Get me a programmer, before they starthey start shooting at anyone with a running nose or so much as a headache!”

After the incident at the gamma ring hospital Dean had all communication lines with gamma restricted. Surely plenty of people had filmed the incident, and surely more than enough of them tried to get that video out of gamma.

It had been too late, as Dean discovered. The same footage that Francesco had shown him soon was all over the news, and soon people all over Explorer were spooked and close to panic. As a precaution he ordered the retrieval of all guns, the laser units were disabled and handed back out.

A curfew was posted, for all civilians, and non essential personnel.

“It is our duty to uphold the functionality of this ship.” Dean stood in front of his nav officer Oleksander Filipow. “Your misconduct, your cowardice, can not be tolerated. However,” he smiled, “I can not blame you. You did come forward and showed up today. Therefore your punishment will be for a tribunal to decide, once this situation is over, in the mean time you will be demoted a rank. Report to your post.”

Dakuting the man turned on his heel and hurried off. “Harsh.” Lucy commented, low enough for only him to hear.

“Yeah. I think that demotion will be enough. Unless he does something else stupid.” Waving her to follow Dean marched off the command centre, after a few turns they reached the barracks.

Suited in full body armor and combat helmets was a small portion of the security force. After the first encounter with the Harpies on Horizon the fighting forces on all the ships was increased. Even after the two species had reached a peaceful solution, there were still the patriarchists.

“Alright, you know why younhave been assembled. Riot control. You have to ensure that nothing on board this ship happens, that shouldn’t be happening!” A few eyebrows were raised, was the Admiral trying to be funny again?

“See that the curfew is obeyed, people can, and will, go to the infirmary, but other than that, well, you know.” His words were also transmitted to other security teams all over the ship, restrictions in travel inside the ship meant that now the rings were isolated from on another, except in true emergencies.

With a salute he dismissed them and turned with Lucy to head back to the command centre, when a nerdy looking man in his late forties, flanked by two strapping guards approached him. “Franz Hardwick reporting as ordered.” He was obviously a civilian, but at least he knew how to stand in front of the Admiral, surely his mother had something to do with that. “You’re going to head to the infirmary.”

“I’m healthy. And not a medical doctor.” He quickly reacted, seeming almost panicking. “I know. But your expertise is needed there, you see the virus interacts with the programming of the implant, and that’s where you come in.” Dean had his arm on Franz’ back, patting him kindly, like he would a friend. “You can be a hero!” He added, clearly striking a cord with the man. From Franziska and Franz’ documents he knew that he was single, and a loner. A walking cliché almost.

“A hero? Me?”

“Yes, now get to it.” Dean shoved him in the direction of the infirmary.

As the man, still flanked by the guards, walked off, Dean mused for a short moment why he knew so many people whose first name began with an F, but dismissed it.

“We have a problem, Sir. The Virus seems to have jumped rings, the quarantine was too late.” Rotating around to face Lucy, Dean moaned. “Where?”

The face that she made, made him cringe. “It’s everywhere, isn’t it?”

“Except subgamma. I took the liberty of locking it down. Nothing can reach subgamma physically now.”

Devastated by the ill news Dean rubbed his face. “I need to make a statement. What do the governors say?”

“Nothing really, they’re turning to us for information.”

Typical! Stern faced Dean marched on to the command centre. About everything these pin headed mouth breathers fight me, and now they want information and help!

Lit only by a display the room was drenched in cold blueish light, Francesco leaned in his seat. Over the couree of the day he had left the confines of his office to help treat people who either felt sick, or truly were sick.

Then he talked with doctors from various rings, they managed to develop a vaccine, but until it was ready for use there was a long way ahead of them.

The programmer, Franz, had made little progress. Apparently the implants analysed the virus, deemed it as a normal strain, released normal antibodies, and then went haywire. Franz hadn’t gotten behind that part yet. He assumed it was the a software glitch, that made the implant reproduce, and later try to resuscitate a brain dead individual by jolting the nervous system.

One suggestion of his was to deactivate the reproductive algorithms in the implants, which would mean that children would need to be implanted at birth. Somehow Francesco wasn’t too fond of that idea, but he wouldn’t dismiss it right away.

About twenty minutes before he had sat down to draft his report of the day, he had received a shocking video call from his colleague on alpha ring.

There had been this twleve year old girl with severe epilepsy in his clinic. When she had a spastic attack, some other patients thought she was jolting.

They had beat her to death.

Still the page for his daily report was empty.

Glad that there was no footage of the actual incident, he still couldn’t get the mental image out of his head.

A snoring woke him from thought. On the other desk was Franz, haunched over the table, fast asleep.

Perhaps they should tackle the algorithms for resuscitation in case of brain death or heart failure?

Again Franz snored, but sat up one heartbeat later. “I’ve got it! We need the make up of the new strain, and feed it into a new subroutine. That should keep new infections from happening!”

“And the already infected?”

“Uhm.” Snipoing his fingers he paused, rubbed his eyes, looked from the ghostly image of Francesco back to his screen. “A temporary fix would be deactivating the algorithms for reproduction, and resuscitation. But that won’t heal them.”

Francesco yawned, sat up straight and stretched. “Your idea might work, actually. Fever dampeners, and the update might gove the implant the time it needs to fend off the virus. Combined with the deactivated algorithms, this might work.”

Other than energy and data, each ring was functioning on its own. Dean took comfort in knowing that they could do that. Theoretically each pod was a life spending habitat on its own. He took comfort in knowing that, too. Sub alpha was now segmented, pods that were not afflicted by the virus had been sealed off, their inhabitants hopefully secure. Pods with afflicted people. That included the command centre.

In the ready room he had just laid down a member of the nightshift crew, who had broken down with a high fever at the end of his shift.

Lieutenant Lynch.

“When will your solution be ready?” Francesco administered a fever dampening drug to the man. “Soon, I hope. Franz is confident he can roll out the updates by tomorrow evening.” Grumbling Dean acknowledged that information, checking his gun. Like all others on Explorer it had no functioning laser at the moment, but he theorised that enough charged darts might overload the implant if Lynch should die and turn.

Through the open door he heard the alarming ring on the console at his station. Someone answered the call. “Oh, Admiral?” It had been Franziska. “You should come down to the infirmary!”

“Crap!” Francesco sprang to his feet, hurrying outnwith the Admiral. After a few moments the two arrived at the infirmary. A group of off duty personnel stood outside, they had their guns drawn, threatening the guards posted outside the infirmary, who in turn had their guns drawn. A few twitching people around told the two that the situation had already escalated.

The darts fired at the guards bounced off or stuck in the armor without harming the wearer, while most of the attackers were without auch protection. “Hey!” Dean yelled, not wanting to believe what he saw. A dart whizzed by him, the shooter was hit by a blow from the guards.

“Admiral O’Neill!” A distraught dictor from the infirmary squeezed through the guards protecting him from the mob. “It’s okay Doctor, return to your work.” turning from the man to the others, who for some reason had stopped fighting. “What the hell is wrong with you people? Do you think they can develop a cure faster if you start rioting?” He glanced behind the guards. “They have sick people here, for crying out loud! If you are down with a heavy fever, asking yourselves whether you’ll see the light of day again, would you want a noisy violent mob at your bedside? That aside, do you think you’ll stay healthy much longer if you go to where the sick people are?”

Not eaiting for anyone to reply Dean turned to the guards. “Disarm these people and throw them into the brig!” Voices grew loud that they needed a weapon in case they needed to defend themselves, but still they surrendered their weapons, after the Admiral asked them what they needed was a lawyer, not a gun, to defend them, and that medical attention in the brig was excellent.

Securing his gun in his pocket Dean left the scene, in his stomach he felt a load of anger he couldn’t possibly hope to overcome.

The vibrating glasses in hismpocket didn’t help him, especially after he saw it was his wife Moira.

In critical situations she tended to be really easy to panic. “What is it hun?”

He pause in between paces. “Diana’s sick?” He felt his blood rush faster, a cold sweat formed all over his body. Every fiber of his being tensed up.

“I’ll be there asap.” He grabbed Francesco by the elbow, a glance into Dean’s eyes told the doctor everything he needed to know. “Of course.” He smiled calmly.

Clearly struck by the concern on the doctor’s face Dean felt the urge to punch a wall. “How long has she been like this?”

“She dame down with the fever two days ago, and”

“Two days? And you’re phoning me today? My work and stress still allow me to be a man, and father!” Moira replied with a gaze that could freeze the raging fires of a star. Dean didn’t even get to ask why she hadn’t contacted the doctors.

Meanwhile Francesco administered a shot of the fever dampener, and continued his scan. “The implant has already multiplied, I’m reading four of them.” Still his expression grew darker. Amongst his dark prognosis for Diana O’Neill, he was also astonished how quickly the implants made a copy of themselves.

“I gave her a cocktail of fever dampening drugs, vitamins, antiviral agents and hope.” He tried smiling convincingly, failed miserably at that. “That bad?” Moira clutched her hands in front of her face, glad that she had left her other daughter with her sister. Francesco bowed his head.

Dean shoved him aside, went to the bed of his daughter. Gently he caressed her head. “Daddy’s here my little angel.” He kissed her forehead, tears welded up in his eyes. “I will always be here when you need me.” He hated himself for not having been home those last two days. When that crisis was over he would resign, spend more time with his family. “Frank?”

“Dean?”

“Get to work.”

Unable to walk at a normal pace to the infirmary, Francesco found himself running as fast as his legs would carry him. He almost ran over a bunch of people in front of the infirmary. Quickly regaining his posture he hurried inside. “Please tell me you are done!” He pleaded as he almost hit the door which was sliding away too slowly for his liking. “Thanks to the sequencer, I have the complete viral strain in the system, and I’m ready to beta test it. What’s the hurry?”

Catching his breath Francesco told him of Diana.

Only moments later Francesco was running again, to his disliking he had to inject Diana with a new implant, as the old implants wouldn’t accept the new programming once they were corrupt.

Again, he found the door was opening too slow as he stormed in Dean’s quarters. Moira sat at the door to the kids room, Dean at the side of the bed.

Both were crying. An almost tangible sense of sadness filled the rooms, overwhelming Francesco. Dean wasn’t facing his daughter anymore. He still held her hand but he was crying silently, facing the door. “She stopped breathing. I tried giving her mouth to mouth, but she wouldn’t come back.” Whimpering he told his old friend what had happened in those fifteen to twenty minutes he had been gone.

Now Francesco too felt tears welding up in his eyes. “We better,” he gestured with his hand, the injector in it. “Yeah.” Dean sobbed.

With shaking hands he took the device that Francesco pulled out from his pocket. It deactivated the implants in Diana’s body, so Dan wouldn’t have to see his daughter jolt up, spew mucus, or scratch him with the hand he held.

Silently gliding the device over her, Dean also turned his implant off following a silent nod from Francesco.

The doctor then gave a new implant to the Admiral.

Later Moira would receive one as well. Production would begin by the next day, to provide everyone on Explorer with a new implant.

But Francesco couldn’t feel glad for that.

He had failed rescuing his best friend’s daughter. He knew that Dean felt as if he had failed Diana, as did Moira for not bringing her to the infirmary.

Solace came to him in the fact that others wouldn’t have to go through that experience. That Dean’s other daughter, Anna, was safe, and safer after she had received an updated implant.

Contrary to what Dean had intended, he remained Admiral, as the outskirts of the target solar system were reached. Not two years down the road, the Admiral would become more or less obsolete. Dean hungered to settle down, near a lake, or river, and teach Anna, all about fishing.

Advertisements

Rings of Fate S3xE1 – Explorer – Colony


The sound of birds singing rang through the quarters of Nye Charles. She used to swing her legs ina fluent motion out of bed, now it was a battle to get them to touch the ground. It had been troublesome when Jacob was still alive, but in the last ten years the struggle had gotten worse.

Still she felt excited. Her grandchildren had so many discoveries ahead of them, and she kept optimistic to maybe share at least the day of reaching 296 with them.

Jeannine Gotthard, her eldest granddaughter worked in probe control. Her old department, and kept her aprised of everything that the probes sent back. Shortly after the intitial probe had landed its drones Eagle, Hawk, Bussard and Owl, the later replacing the crashed Falcon, the other probes arrived. After southern Equatoria was confirmed as the best site for colonisation, the followups concentrated there. Mapping out the terrain down to the last centimeter, cataloging every species, and preliminary colony formimg.

Her eyes fell on the map of equatoria as she listened to the news in the background. Election results from the alpha ring, whose governor had been found diverting food supplies to friends, and selling excess reproductive rights for “favors”. Immediately he had been impeached, the military’s first officer acting as a temporary replacement, as the entire bodynof government around the governor had been relieved of their duties and put under house arrest for the duration of the investigations.

A storm front once had flodded one of the fault lines, as they cracked open the ground with a large crevice. An earthquake a year or so later tore open what was left of rock forming a natural dam between the crevice and the sea. Now the sea reached hundreds of kilometres inland, creating a peninsula on the unstable side of equatoria.

It looked peaceful, and quite homely.

If one could ignore the frequent earthquakes, and remain ignorant to the fact that most of northern equatoria was going to be torn apart by RV-p296’s raging interior, as the continent drifted apart.

“I will see you.” She mumbled, noticing her speech was getting sluggish again. “Although I will be about a hundred and eight that day, I will see you!” Concentrating hard to overcome the sluggishness of her tongue.

Ever since the stroke she often encountered that problem, always fearing she had another one in her sleep. And I’ll see a doctor, later today. Moaning over her aching joints she heaved herself out of the seat she sat in. Looking around the large empty rooms she ponder about getting smaller quarters again.

Departing from this one was hard for her. Most of her life she had spent in these rooms. Jacob seemed to haunt these walls, a pleasant haunting. One stemming from her memories.

She had raised her children Jason and Joan in these walls.

Her grandchildren had sleep overs at their grandparents in their younger days. Only the ones she had from Joan, she remarked to her trainmof thoughts as her memories grew painful. With surprising agility she typed in a few commands on her tablet computer.

It showed the view on Bernards star from their current position. It was generally believed that was where the DEHumans went with the Ark1 remnant. Picking up Orion on the way, and turning the supposed colony around that star into one for them. “I love you baby.” She whispered, less sluggish she noticed, gently touching the screen.

After a few moments of lingering over the screen thinking of the lost son, Nye got dressed and headed out to see a doctor. While sitting in the waiting room she mustered up the heart to file for a change in accommodation. A new generation, a new family needed that room for themselves.

To grow, and feel happy, and develop good memories.

“Sluggish speech again?” Already the doctor in the infirmary knew her. “Yes.”

With a laughing face he complimented her in, laid her down on the apparatus, and began the scan. “You know, your implant would warn us if something should happen?”

“I know all about the implant, but also of its limitations. It would warn you, or us, if something dangerous were to happen, if it is minor, it won’t register that.” Nye sat up after the scan.

As always when she came for a scan the doctor turned the display over to her to see. Satisfied she nodded in approval, thanked him and left.

In the hallways again she began heading to the gardens, her granddaughter was waiting there with her wife. “Doctor Charles.” Admiral in retirement Hardwick shuffled up to her. “Admiral Hardwick!” Nye returned the greeting.

After Jason defected to the DEHumans the Admiral and Nyw had met oft times. Nye always suspected itnwas because that the Admiral didn’t trust anyone from the Charles family any longer. At least for a while, a sort of friendship had developed and stayed. “I have heard you want to give up on your big quarters? Why’s that?”

That was quick. “Look at me. I’m not needing that much space anymore, and I finally mustered up the strength to let go of the memories etched into thes walls.”

Supporting herself with a cane the Admiral pointed in the direction of the tube network.

In silence the two elderly women walked onwards. Although Nye was in her late nineties, she still had no use for a cane, or a walker. In secret she attributed it to Jacob. Always so damn proud of his gardens he took her for long walks. Throughout the entire ship. He only took the tube network when crossing from one ring to the other.

Until he died. Since then she walked alone. To the doctor, three decks from her quarters, to her daughter’s, also three decks away. To the gardens, two decks up.

Only taking the tube to her granddaughter, who lived on the beta ring.

Once on beta she exited near the gardens and walked to deck 17.

“I understand.” The Admiral sighed as they entered the cab. This one time Nye would make an exception.

“Did you hear anything about the DEHumans?” Every time the two met Nye included that particular question, in the vain hopes of ever hearing from Jason, it has become a ritual, more than an actual question, as the Admiral always replied with a shaking of her head.

As she did this time. “Did they show up on RV-p296?” Also a ritualistic question, any suspicious activity on 296 would be cause for alarm.

Both knew that they, and the other, were no longer at the source of information. There very well might be information they craved, but couldn’t get from 8ne another, because they simpky weren’t in the loop any longer.

“Strolling im the gardens?” Franziska followed Nye out the cab.

“Granddaughter wanted to meet here. You?”

“Yes.” Somehow Nye felt both glad and uncomfortable with the Admiral at her side. On the way to the place where Jeannine eanted to meet, Nye stopped at a tree. Looked it up and down. A smile came to her lips, Franziska at her side stopped too andnfollowed the older woman’s gaze. “Jacob had planted the seed of this tree on the day Jason was born. Now look how tall it is.”

“It bears fruit, to bad they’re not ripe yet.” Franziska remarked, hoping to avoid talking about Jason. “Few weeks. Come, we’re almost there.”

On a hill, designed after the one the Destiny gardeners and landscapers had built, stood Jeannine and her wife, Gloria.

Joan and her husband were also there, as well as Gloria’s parents, Fred and Wilma. Because of their first names they were often called the Flintstone’s.

Information that the former Admiral didn’t need to learn.

“We are pregnant.” Gloria blurted out a few moments after Nye had arrived. As probably intended the gathered family members were confused. Not as to how, but which one of them was. “Both of us.” Jeannine tweeted as happily as possible.

Franziska snickered, watching the still confused family. The two had applied as a married couple, had both their implants deactivated by default and then went to have procedures taken. “A loophole in regulations.” She cleared up the apparent confusion, followed by the details.

After several age long hours Nye sat down on a cushioned seat in the quarters now occupied by Franziska and her husband, who was out with a friend. It felt good to sit again. “So, what else is new on 296?” Franziska put a cup of water down on the table for Nye and one for herself. “Species on that planet seem to be predominantly trisexual. We have had observations of the natives that supported that notion, but only recently have we had the chance to examine their DNA. Like most of the indigenous lifenthere, they have three genders.” It had already been established that most species on 296 were trisexual, it came as a surprise to Franziska that the sentient natives were too. “Imagine that! Finding two partners to have children. You wouldn’t need to live with one other person, but two. Not two have to be in the mood, but all three of them. If one doesn’t feel like it, the whole thing’s off!”

Nye had to snicker at that remark. She very knew the struggle.

Mostly it had been her who wasn’t in the mood, but still. “I believe that two of them can do it, but without any offspring resulting from that union. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn one day, that they have religious scripture forbidding a union of two as sin, much like masturbation, homosexuality and sex for anything but procreation were doomed evil by many religions in our past.” The water was infused with a hint of lemon, perhaps even fresh lemon juice. Nye sloshed the cool liquid around her mouth, savoring the delicious taste.

“Equatoria is remarkably void of any inhabitants, save for wildlife. Ericsson drones have found evidence of previous settlements on the north shore, but they were soon abandoned, probably due to the geologic instability of the region. They set sails again and went home.” Neither could understand. After a lifetime on the Explorer they would settle even on the quake ridden north shore of Equatoria. Franziska had been born on the ship, and Nye was one of the very few who had borded the ship back on earth. She had finished her doctorate degree within the solar system, found love just barely outside it.

Some nights the fiery streaks on the night sky still haunted her dreams, although she found solace in what once was a nightmare.

In there she saw her father again, in that dream she was young again.

Weeks passed, turned to months.

Nye found herself taking a liking to the new quarters.

Crammed, small, functional.

A dream for someone who once worked in probe control, who liked having a multitude of things handy when you need them, in as little space as possible. Slowly but surely Jeannine’s and Gloria’s pregnancies began to show. Results from their implants showed that they expected a boy and a girl, just as planned, and that the fetuses were healthy.

Which was always good to hear.

Ever since their announcement Nye and Franziska met every fortnight to walk the gardens together. Ignoring the panting sounds from Franziska, Nye sat down on the bench next to her.

It seemed that these benches popped up everywhere in the ship’s gardens. The older woman figured it was due to the increasing numbers of senior inhabitants of the Explorer. The former Admiral rested her hands on her cane in front of her, catching her breath. “You’re in better shape than I am.” She admitted, with a tone of defeat in her voice. “If we were to do this weekly, you’d be in better shape too.”

Franziska was about to reply as she noticed that Nye began fumbling aroundnher pockets, she pulled out a pair of glasses, put them on her head with a sorry expression. “What is it my dear?” Immediately Franziska knew that she was talking with Jeannine, even though she couldn’t hear a thing the young woman said.

“Is something wrong with the baby, you sound agitated!” Nye raised her voice.

After a moment or two the expression on Nye’s face grew pale. Worried Franziska motioned to be informed, Nye quickly shook her head, to let her know that the baby was fine. “I’ll be over as fast as I can, I’ll be bringing the former Admiral, she’ll want to hear this as well.”

After she ended the conversation Nye rose to her feet again. “Let’s get moving, nearest tube entrance is fifteen minutes,” she looked the former Admiral up and down, “let’s say twenty minutes away.” A healthy young person might only need ten minutes, Nye mused, but said nothing.

“What is that urgent thing?” Franziska panted as they sat down in the cab. To be sure that they were alone Nye looked around for a moment. “Antimatter radiation has been detected.” She whispered under her breath, put a finger on her lips as if to hush Franziska, who wasn’t going to say anything.

Something in her protested, and wanted official chains of command observed, but that would also mean she’d only get the minimum information from the news casts, not the full story. So her internal protest was silenced fairly quickly.

Upon the arrival of the two old women Jeannine immediately rushed them to a small room adjacent to the probe control room. She told them to remain silent, pointed at a screen and rushed out again.

Later she informed Nye that her eager colleague, Karla’s son, had passed on the information to the Admiral in the meantime.

The screen that Jeannine had pointed out to them, showed a video feed from the control room. Judging by the quality, the camera was a glasses device that Jeannine hastily set up. A mere minute after Jeannine hadnsat back down at her post the Admiral entered, his first officer in tow. “What do you have for us?” His raspy voice was soothing to the ears, found Nye, but didn’t let that distract her from the information about to be revealed.

“Ericsson picked something up in the outer region of the solar system. ES-p296, a gas giant with three major moons and a bunch of tiny satellites, was pinpointed as the source. We sent thenprobe to investigate, but this is the first footage we received.” Jeannine put on her glasses and put in a command to show the information on on of the screens in the room.

Both Nye and Franziska felt weird, watching a screen, that displayed a screen displaying data. Magnification of the video footage showed an object appearing near one of the moons, and disappearing in its atmosphere. “ES-p296-2 is a moon that would classify as a planetary body on its own. It has a rich atmosphere, which would be breathable. Although far from the goldilock zone, it is kept warm by the gravitational tides created with ES-p296.” Jeannine paused shortly to elaborate that the moon was being pushed and pulled by the gravitational forces of its parent body and fellow moons, which caused enough friction to keep its interior hot.

Imformation that Nye and Franziska had since the probes originally passed through the system one by one,

“So this thing landed there?” Admiral Dean O’Neill raised his eyebrows, squinting at the screen. “Presumably.”

“It could also have moved off again, but there was no energy emission of such sort.” Karl also spoke with a distinct german accent, which baffled Nye. Schools were taught in English, and although all languages were endorsed, everyone Nye had met so far spoke accent free.

“Then we must assume this thing is still there. What can you tell us of it?”

Unseen to Nye and Franziska, Jeannine shrugged her shoulders. “Your guess is as good as mine. DEHumans, harpies, new aliens? Perhaps Ark2 fired up their antimatter drive and jumped ahead?”

“Unlikely, although they have the technology on the Kismet, they lack the antimatter. Keep this information under wraps for now, and aprise the Admiral and me if something new develops.” The first officer, Lucy Sandstroem, said in a stern tone, not blinking once with her blue eyes.

Recalling her name Nye realised that the names started to onky give away the ancestors, but not thenperson anymore. Ever since the Destiny had started sending the infirmary based telenovela with a certain Dr. Lucy Hansen, and her love interest Dr. Frank Smith, whonwas later replaced by another actor as the original actor defected as a linker, many girls had been named Lucy.

With a shake of her head Nye pulled away from her thoughts. Innage the mind becomes distracted again, she found, but concentrated on the screen again.

Admiral and first officer left, Jeannine excused herself, claiming to need another bathroom break due tonthe baby lying on her bladder, Karl just waved her off.

“I bet it is the DEHumans.” Jeannine sat down on the table on which the screen was mounted. “Admiral,” Nye turned slowly, “would you be so kind to open sensor logs of the last incident we had with them and their engines?”

“Certainly.” After a few moments the data that Nye had requested ahowed up on the screen. “Now my dear, open up the data you have gathered with the Ericsson probe, and do a comparison. Although every engine is unique, and they surely have an armada of ships with that sort of drive by now, it should give us enough hints to speculate with.” As another reference point in the comparison, Franziska drew up data collected from encounters with harpy ships.

“Well,” the former Admiral croaked with a dry throat, “we can rule out the Harpies.” Data comparison between the emissions of unidentified ship and the emissions of Harpy ships on record showed major differences. “It might be the DEHumans. Or an unknown party.” Jeannine sighed, sorrowful she caressed her belly.

If the linkers got a foothold in the destination solar system, it stood to reason that they might invade RV-p296. Something deep inside her hoped for a new alien race.

The thought of the linkers made her skin crawl.

“Lucy?” Admiral O’Neill held a tablet in his hands. “I did not know that the former Admiral Hardwick still was involved in antimatter research?” Although not restricted information, access to the data of antimatter engines was logged automatically.

The first officer slowly shuffled towards her Admiral. “It is either a coincidence, or far more likely, someone in the probe control department has informed her too.” Neither said anything specific as the command centre crew had no knowledge of the incident at ES-p296-2 either. “Shall I confront her, Sir?”

“No.” A playful smile on his lips the Admiral stretched his arms. “We should trust my predecessor, she won’t leak anything to the public, and her expertise is most valuable.” He recalled seeing Franziska oft times with Doctor Nye Charles, a retired scientist from probe control. Immediately the connection became obvious to him. “Together with Nye Charles’ brilliant mind they’ll figure it all out. If they have sufficient data.”

He stood up and walked a few paces to the exit. “If you’ll excuse me, I have a date with a pond and my fishing rod.”

Lucy had to snicker. There were no fish in the ponds aboard. The fish were only in controlled hydroponic tanks where vegetables were grown.

One time he had told her that fishing wasn’t about the fish. It was about the act of fishing, it had a meditative quality to it.

His grandfather had taught him how to fish, who in turn had learned it from his father back on earth. “Have fun sir.” She smiled taking his seat.

After he had left Tomasz Bereny approached her, asking what the whole deal was about, still smiling she told him to go back to his post, or else she’d ignorentheir friendship and note his behaviour in the log.

Usage of the Orion-drive inside the solar system was forbidden, so the Ericsson probe had to gradually pick up speed using conventional propulsion methods. Slingshoting around RV-p296 and its two lunar objects, it took a few weeks to reach a noteworthy speed in order to reach the moon in question. After the maneuvers were completed, another powerful burst from its engines propelled it through the solar system.

As it neared its final destination Jeannine sat at home, a baby in her arms, as did her wife Gloria.

During the months of the probe travelling the former Admiral, contacted the current one. He informed his predecessor that he already suspected her involvement, and was sort of glad over it, granting her full access, with the usual confidentiality clauses.

“This is an unofficial meeting, asnusual.” Jeannine greeted Franziska and her grandmother, first images of Ericsson were trickling in.

Sieglinde hung in a sling in front of her, fast asleep.

“Are those,” Franziska stared at the image before her. “Shipyards?” Shrugging her shoulders Jeannine too looked at the image.

“That my dear Admiral, is a space elevator. Or at least, the geostationary end of it.” Nye enhanced the image, revealing a tether from the object above the moon down to the surface. “Presumably constructed of material called carbon nanotubes. It might serve as a shipyard, or a harbour.” Calmly explaining Nye switched to the next image. It showed the assumed elevator end in greater detail.

Further solidifying the suspicion of a shipyard, as two partial ships seemed to be tethered to the station. “This might pose a problem. They might be preparing to invade RV-p296.”

Nye shook her head, her long white hair shaking as she did. “If they wanted, they would’ve landed right away. Whoever this is. I assume they know of the native population, and don’t wish to interfere.” Or to be bothered by them.

Ever drawing closer to the moon Ericssons pictures showed the station, in growing detail. Until the on board AI decided to aim its cameras and sensors at the surface.

At the base of the space elevator was a large structure.

Around it a sophisticated transport network that seemed to vanish underground. “Reasonable.” Nye thought aloud. “Minerals would be mined, from underhround.” She concluded her thoughts.

Most of what was visible on the ground had a dark red hue, which again made sense to Nye and Jeannine, sunlight out there was a lot weaker and any plant, or plant like organism would need to make the best of it, and so a red chlorophyll would have evolved as the best solution, most lifeforms on that moon would require other sources for energy than sunlight.

“There, what’s that?” Jeannine enhanced an image of a structure on the far side of the moon. Puzzled the two elderly women stared at the structure. It was twice as big as the base for the space elevator. Something glowed in the center of it.

“What ever it is, it is huge.” Nye mused, looking at the data the sensors had gathered from the structure.

“Energy emissions are of the charts.” An enhanced image of the structure came up next. From up close it looked sinister, as if it was a a planet destroying raygun. Again Nye checked the emissions.

“This is a problem.” She sighed after viewing that data. “They are going to use this on the gasgiant, I’m not sure to what end, but I fear it’ll be a problem.”

“Why?” Franziska followed her example and reviewed the readings. “There are graviton emissions coming from hat thing. We can detect that because the Ark1 and the Kismet were originally designed to utilise Gravitons in their propulsion.” Seeing that the Admiral wasn’t following her Nye paused. “In layman’s terms, a photon is a particle that makes up light. A Graviton makes up gravity. The Ark class ships were designed to ride on a wave of Gravitons and basically fall towards their destination.” Seemingly the Admiral understood. “I still don’t understand what these Gravitons will do to that Gasgiant.”

“ES-p296-2 is in tidal lock with its parent planet, the same side always faces the planet, this way the emitter can always project the Gravitons at ES-p296. I don’t know what exactlythe outcome should be, but this will either strip the planet of what ever resource they want to harvest, or it will be used to collaps the gasgiant, and subsequently, ignite it.”

“Like a sun?” Jeannine lowered her tablet, pondered while staring at a non specific point in the room. “It wouldn’t be like a sun, more like a dim shine. But it’d give up heat.” She concluded.

Although she had reservations, if those who had built the graviton emitter on the moon pumped enough energy intonit, they might achieve more than she thought possible.

As expected, Admiral O’Neill wanted a more detailed analysis of the emitter, and the space elevator.

Henwas still impressed by the eloquent presentation from Nye and Franziska. The two women told him everything he needed and wanted to know. “So what are we dealing with here? Linkers? Harpies? Something we yet have to meet? I’d like to know something about our neighbours since we’re about to move in there.” His attempt at humour was answered with not a single chuckle.

“Yet unknown, Ericsson needs to make one pass around ES-p296, to slow down and make a low fly over of dash 2.” Nye leaned on the table.

Some small voice in her head mused that many decades ago this might have looked sexy, if she wore something low cut. With some effort she chased that thought away. “Then we might get to catch a glimpse at who, or what, is down there.”

I bet it is Jason’s people. Another tiny voice went off. Although she had managed to tolerate it when other referred to the DEHumans as linkers or their self chosen name, she always called them Jason’s people.

“Alright. I hope you realise that soon we will be close enough to wave at them from our windows as we gracefully fly by.” He made theatrical waving motion.

Again, no one in the room so much as chuckled. Kind of disappointed, Dean sighed. “Dismissed.”

“Lucy, is everyone here cursed with a lack of humour?” He turned to his first offiver after all others had left. “No sir, may I speak freely?”

“Of course. We’re pals, aren’t we?”

“You’re not funny, sir, pal.” Correcting herself she winked leaving him alone in the briefing room.

Silently Ericsson passed over the moon, adjusting its course so it won’t collide with the elevator, entering an orbit. Both its AI and the humans that received its telemetry knew that it would be spotted right away. Probably had been spotted during its initial approach.

Cameras and detectors of all sorts were pointed at the surface during the first pass, during the second pass, detailed information about the elevator was gathered.

Equally silent the data was compressed, encrypted and sent to Explorer.

Marvelled by the magnificent engineering feat of the elevator Jeannine and Nye sat over images and telemetry, Franziska seemed more concerned.

“That is some serious stuff.” She stared at the ships under construction in orbit. “They’re building a thrid one. Three bays for ship construction, and I assume those pillars are for docking.” Her entire body tensed up, there was a knot in her belly.

Enhanced images from the surface revealed nothing. Wildlife, and plants, masnwell as disturbed soil, but no people, or aliens.

“Gran?” Jeannine sprang to her feet. Her face was pale allmof a sudden. Alarmed Franziska turned to look at Nye, who seemed to be fine. “There is an atypical file in this data burst.” Jeannine’s hand shook, almost vibrated. “It’s marked ‘Dr. Charles’.”

With shaky hands she handed Nye the tablet, who also felt tense and shaky.

Going deep into herself, Nye sat with closed eyes over the tablet, she took a deep breath. As she opened her eyes again she accessed the file.

The face of a darkskinned woman appeared. She had corkscrew curled black hair, and piercing green eyes. Behind her a man stepped into view. Although aged considerably Nye recognised him immediately.

“Jason!” A burst of tears came with that agonised squeal, one handnrose to her mouth. “Hello, Grandmother.” The young woman spoke as if she just had learned a foreign language, which Nye assumed was somewhat the case, as they would have no need to speak at all in their collective mind. “I believe you are wondering what it isnthat we have built on this moon.” She over pronounced every word, to ensure she spoke them correctly. “The emitter pointed at the planet, is designed to gather resources from its atmosphere. We advise you to keep the probe out of the direct line, mor else it will get damaged, if not destroyed.” She blinked for a moment.

“Our memory tells us you will want to inquire about the well being of your offspring. Jas,” she paused, blinking, “father is well. As is this,” again she paused to blink, “As am I.” The message ended.

Frantically jerking around with the tablet, Nye opened it again.

In silence Franziska got up and led Jeannine outnof the room. “She needs to be alone now.”

Reassuring both looked back to Nye who sat haunched over the display, sobbing. We wouldn’t be able to comfort her. She wants them to do it. With a sigh Franziska closed the door.

Admiral O’Neill seemed to be concerned as Franziska and Jeannine made their report, but at the same time his posture was a relaxed one. “So they’re not going to light up the planet?”

“No sir. They’re going to mine it.” Letting out an aching sigh as he got up. “Perhaps we can learn a thing or two from the linkers? I mean, have any of you ever had thought of mining a gas giant?” This time Lucy had to smirk at his remark.

“Do you intend to start negotiations with them?” Franziska sat down, she had remained on her feet during the entire report, much to her astonishment Nye had been right about the frequent walks. She was fitter now.

“I will extend friendly greetings, if something comes up, yes. If not, I won’t bother them, they had madenit clear they don’t want any involvement with us.” At the door he paused. “How’s Doctor Charles holding up?”

“She’ll manage. I think.” Jeannine replied, wishing herself to be with her grandmother, who was staying with Gloria and the kids.

“Fine. Let’s just hope the last years of our journey remain trouble free.”

Rings of Fate S3xE10 – Destiny – Revelations (pt.4)

Gradually the air in the conference room had thickened, almost becoming tangible. After hours of talking to Anne and evaluating the idea of reintegration the meeting was adjourned. Except Governor Egger, all present were for the integration of the former linkers.

Pinching the base of his nose Benjamin was relieved after they all had left. If that was not going to end in a disaster, he would be very surprised. Not because the linkers would do something sinister.

But because Egger would do something stupid.

“Sir?” Csilla entered the room. “Anne is back with the others.” Thanking her he got up.

“Why am I filled with doubt?”

Not quite catching on, Csilla came closer, gently the door closed behind her. “I had the opportunity to talk with her, sir. She seems to be truly interested in becoming an individual. To be honest, I think this will be a tremendous victory. It could very well be a prime example for reintegration of former linkers.”

Benjamin shook his head as he turned to the door. “Not her and the linkers are the cause for my doubts,” he pointed to the door, “it’s Egger. He isn’t alone in his convictions. I fear most people are filled with hostility towards the linkers, and it is us I have doubts in. Xenophobia is deeply anchored in our genes, we fear what we do not understand. We attack what we fear. Just look at our history. Immigrants, and minorities were always met with suspicion and hostility.” He wandered around the conference table to the back of the room. A door there opened upon his approach, leading into a small room, it was a small storage space for presentation and seminar material. One of the Admirals had a small server put up in there as well, to play through scenarios with programmers without affecting the mainframes. “We like to think of ourselves as these enlightened beings that have overcome their primal xenophobic instincts. Races and cultures of human people that were at each others throats for countless millennia are living peacefully side by side on this ship. We have made peace with the Harpies, we are avoiding contact with the natives on our new homeplanet to allow them to thrive without interference, we now even successfully encountered a truly alien race and reached a peaceful understanding with them. But when it comes to the linkers we fail.” He lowered himself to lean on the table. “Because it is too close to home, not as in spacial, but emotional proximity. They look like us, talk like us, they are us, in every biological sense. We could be them. We could become them, and that frightens people, and especially Governor Egger. And out of that fear we disregard our humanity, we revert to Xenophobic tendencies, and attack. When all the linkers want is to live as they please. Now some of them desire to live like us. And I fear that they won’t be able to, because our society doesn’t want to integrate them. That is what makes me doubt in the success of this enterprise.”

Csilla looked at the Admiral, and then began to clap. “You should’ve said that during the meeting. Maybe shame Governor Egger into agreeing.” She sat on the table with one butcheek, facing the Admiral on the ither side. “But we can’t change human nature. If wr couldn’t bring ourselves to it in all these decades, we won’t in the remaining years. All we can do, is set a prime example. Help make the fear of the linkers fade away into obscurity.” She smiled.

Making a disgruntled sound Benjamin pushed off from the table and continued his walk. “People like Egger aren’t so easily swayed, sadly.”

Dismissing her he left too.

His mind was uneasy, and he needed some time to think.

Like his predecessor he found solace in the garden, scheduled for a rainy afternoon, the paths and paved ways were clear of any activity that might distract him.

Of course, his analogy with the rooting branches had some downsides, he concluded. If the group of linkers he had on board were to root as individuals, that was fine. But what if they were to root as a new collective mind?

He shook his head sitting under a pear tree. That would make no sense. They would’ve overpowered Destiny, turned off the communication network, thus disabling the counter program, and taken over. Concluding that the linkers were not a communist regime that got rid of any free thinkers by eliminating them, or keeping them from leaving the collective mind, he looked up to the spine.

Still rain poured down.

The buzzing noise of his vibrating glasses disturbed the relative silence of just water pouring on the leaves around him. “Yes, Csilla?” Without looking he knew who called. Somehow George had always known not to call him when he was in the subalpha garden, and their children knew as well.

“We pulled the plug on Egger, but he had this public service announcement running a few minutes ago.”

Feeling his intestines tie into a tight knot Benjamin prepared himself in a second.

“Dear fellow Destinians, as you might be aware, there has been a terrible incident with the ship Horizon, after their rear section got abandoned, a band of struggling survivors was left stranded on the linker moon. Those brave souls were followed to Destiny by a pack of the linkers, who seek to undermine our society, and sow the seed of linkship among us, or at the very least steal our DNA by prostituting themselves. I oppose movements aboard this vessel to integrate these creatures into our society, attempts to enable their wretched plans. I call forward those of you who support this opposition of madness, we must impeach those in power who want to deliver us into the hands of the linker threat.”

Sitting in his office, obviously quite mad that all communication from and access to his offices had been shut down, Governor Egger was drumming his fingers on the desk. Out side the room he was in, was the office of his secretary, four men with guns stood there. Outside that another dozen were standing guard. He had gathered them in advance, but now they were sitting ducks as he was.

Unbeknownst to him a group of several hundred people had gathered outside the isolated offices, in support of him, who were boxed in by groups of people in opposition to the Governor.

Surrounded by his own armed guards, more than the governor could amass in his ring’s police force, Benjamin paved a way through these bulks of people.

Backed by the other two Governors he had a warranty for Egger.

Disturbed by the noise outside Egger looked up from his desk. Prior he had given the men outside the order to shoot intruders, now he had doubts whether he should have done that. To his relief the men outside did not follow his command, after a few angry shouts, they surrendered.

Only minutes later the door to his office was opened. Twenty guards streamed through the door, making it seem much smaller in a moment.

Then the Admiral followed. Stoic, as so often. “Governor Egger, I hereby place you under arrest for citing an uprising, and calling for civil disobedience and unrest. Possibly resulting in a conflict, as the armed guards in your offices prove.” He displayed a warranty on his tablet that he threw on the desk.

“You do know that this sort of conduct makes me and my claims seem much more legitimate in the eyes of the public?”

Ben raised but one eyebrow. “That is why we have a group of reporters here, following our every move, broadcasting live.” One of the armed guards tipped his helmet. A camera was mounted on it, he had missed that before.

“Those people were born into a life they did not chose. They however chose to live our way of life, and instead of giving them a helping hand, you want to punish them for what they were born as.” Benjamin leaned forward, resting his hands on the governor’s desk. “There is a term for someone like you: racist. It is you who the people of Destiny need to be weary about. You are the step in the wrong evolutionary direction, Governor. Human kind has evolved past petty racism. We do not fear or hate others simply because they were born differently. That, and only that, is our approach to new races and cultures. You are but a relict from the past, soon to be forgotten.” Turning to the nearest Sergeant, Ben gave him the command to take the Governor into custody.

Yearning for a quiet afternoon with George, Benjamin took a deep breath turning to the camera. “As you saw and heard, the Governor himself said it was claims, not facts, that he had stated. The oh so peaceful governor had his police force guard him. One guard even confirmed that they had the order to shoot. I think it is time for all of us to return home, spend a quiet evening with our loved ones, or alone if you need time to think. Our past instincts can not continue to lead us into the future. They can not come with us to RV-p296. These instincts need to remain with our ancestors, in earths tomb, and remembered only by history. We are not the people that have left earth any longer.” He walked a few paces towards the door, most of the guards around him had already left. “If the natives were to see us, and knew how we arrived, they would call us gods, or sky people in the very least. Although we are going to land in a remote part of the planet, uninhabited by the natives, we should act like sky people. Benign and enlightened. If we are wronged, we forgive and do not seek vengeance. If someone seeks help, we aid, and do not condone the actions that led them there, or in the current case, the actions of their parents and grandparents, that led them there. This is Admiral Benjamin Fuller, signing off for tonight.”

Gently the hand caressed Benjamin’s temple. “Moving speech you gave there.” George commented after watching a replay of the life stream. “I hope people are as enlightened as you want them to be.”

“They accepted a black homosexual Admiral. They’ll accept former linkers in their midst.” Ben smiled. His look fell on the two children on the couch, fast asleep.

All the trouble he had gone through so far, the heirs, the silicone aliens and now the linkers, was for them. So their future would be just as bright as he always hoped it to be. They should never have to grow up in a world with racism, or Xenophobia, in it.

Men like Egger sooner or later would twist and turn people’s perception of reality in a way that one day the natives on RV-p296 would be feared, hated and hunted eventually.

Such was not the world he wanted the twins to settle on.

He and George had adopted them before he had been Admiral, after their parents untimely end in an accident. Then he had vowed, to himself mostly, that he would do all in his power to lead them into a bright future deserving of them.

Satisfied with his efforts he got up.

“We should bring them to bed.” He donned a benign smile, slowly walking over, George behind him.

Civil unrest due to Governor Egger’s public announcement quieted down over a few weeks, Benjamin worked hard to paint an optimistic picture of the linkers that had come aboard. Together with the Horizon survivors he continued work on teaching the linkers how to function as individuals.

Much to his dismay the implants could not be deactivated completely.

They were too embedded in brain functions, to be turned off, without reverting their owners to an early developmental state, from where they’d have to slowly learn to grow up again.

A step he was not prepared to take. Instead the program prohibiting them from linking was directly inserted into the implant.

According to the task force he had drafted, that was done in a way they could not remove the program again.

It puzzled him a little in the beginning how the linkers should learn individuality, if they were always in the company of someone. Over time he realised that they were alone in their minds.

Tasked to engage in non productive activities, such as watching movies or doing art, they soon began to show emerging personalities.

Which was a great way to show the public, and the provisional government on RV-p296, their progress in becoming individuals.

Over time he also discovered that the climate controls had begun to simulate the seasons on Equatoria.

A circumstance the linkers and the survivors from Horizon had actual experience with, and could show the others how to react, since he and all others born on Destiny never had experienced any changes in climate.

Some time after Equatoria was chosen as the landing site, the climatic conditions of it were programmed into the computer, and the automated system designed to get the crew settled in with their new home kicked in, letting them experience the climate in the colony.

Of course, everyone had forgotten about it, so the first time it began to get colder the tecnnicians were called in droves, to fix an apparent problem, which was none at all.

Elections on beta were held three times in the remaining time to get to their destination. The first was a tie between two candidates. The second saw a winner, but she was soon voted out of office by the population on alpha as she was seen as unable to get things in her jurisdiction done.

Finally the planet began to appear on the viewscreen of both Destiny and Kismet, clearly visible out of the windows as well. A great sense of accomplishment filled Benjamin upon that sight. Lie Fah at navigation was staring at his console with a stern expression, concentrating on his task of establishing a stable geostationary orbit above Equatoria.

The other ships came into view. Shining as if polished, Explorer first drew the attention of the new arrivals. The rings were barren, when compared to Destiny’s, but the hallways interconnecting the pods that once had been there were dismantled, so the entire ship was slimmer.

Then Ben’s eyes fell upon a stumpy shadow of a ship.

Horizon. Or what was left of it, now called Dawn Horizon. “Welcome to RV-p296, Admiral, Prince.” A friendly face appeared on the screen, immediately Ben looked at her with surprise. Jane Mulgrew greeted him? “Didn’t you want to retire?”

“I had intended it, yes. I even went so far as to launch an investigation into my own actions, but allas I still am where I was when I arrived, the chair of an Admiral.” She looked around herself. “And Dawn Horizon is doing fine these days.”

“With all respect to your ship Admiral, she looks rather small.”

“Looks are deceiving.” Jane smiled. Of course she had heard of the aliens in the outer regions of the system cleaning up behind the beta ring disaster, but she chose not to comment on it, at least for the moment.

Benjamin drew breath to say something when the communication officers on Destiny, Kismet and Dawn Horizon stated that they were receiving a signal.

“Where is it from?” Ben looked to his side. Since it could be originating from Explorer, the surface, the moonbase or the linker moon, the silicone aliens or even the Harpies shadowing them for Commander Ony, he wanted to know the origin first.

“The direction we came from.” Csilla spoke now, instead of the communication officer, who was obviously too stunned to speak.

“From a certain Doctor Kurt Braun, chief scientific administrator of the colony of Mars, sent a few months ago.”

Rings of Fate S3xE10 – Destiny – Revelations (pt.4)

Gradually the air in the conference room had thickened, almost becoming tangible. After hours of talking to Anne and evaluating the idea of reintegration the meeting was adjourned. Except Governor Egger, all present were for the integration of the former linkers.

Pinching the base of his nose Benjamin was relieved after they all had left. If that was not going to end in a disaster, he would be very surprised. Not because the linkers would do something sinister.

But because Egger would do something stupid.

“Sir?” Csilla entered the room. “Anne is back with the others.” Thanking her he got up.

“Why am I filled with doubt?”

Not quite catching on, Csilla came closer, gently the door closed behind her. “I had the opportunity to talk with her, sir. She seems to be truly interested in becoming an individual. To be honest, I think this will be a tremendous victory. It could very well be a prime example for reintegration of former linkers.”

Benjamin shook his head as he turned to the door. “Not her and the linkers are the cause for my doubts,” he pointed to the door, “it’s Egger. He isn’t alone in his convictions. I fear most people are filled with hostility towards the linkers, and it is us I have doubts in. Xenophobia is deeply anchored in our genes, we fear what we do not understand. We attack what we fear. Just look at our history. Immigrants, and minorities were always met with suspicion and hostility.” He wandered around the conference table to the back of the room. A door there opened upon his approach, leading into a small room, it was a small storage space for presentation and seminar material. One of the Admirals had a small server put up in there as well, to play through scenarios with programmers without affecting the mainframes. “We like to think of ourselves as these enlightened beings that have overcome their primal xenophobic instincts. Races and cultures of human people that were at each others throats for countless millennia are living peacefully side by side on this ship. We have made peace with the Harpies, we are avoiding contact with the natives on our new homeplanet to allow them to thrive without interference, we now even successfully encountered a truly alien race and reached a peaceful understanding with them. But when it comes to the linkers we fail.” He lowered himself to lean on the table. “Because it is too close to home, not as in spacial, but emotional proximity. They look like us, talk like us, they are us, in every biological sense. We could be them. We could become them, and that frightens people, and especially Governor Egger. And out of that fear we disregard our humanity, we revert to Xenophobic tendencies, and attack. When all the linkers want is to live as they please. Now some of them desire to live like us. And I fear that they won’t be able to, because our society doesn’t want to integrate them. That is what makes me doubt in the success of this enterprise.”

Csilla looked at the Admiral, and then began to clap. “You should’ve said that during the meeting. Maybe shame Governor Egger into agreeing.” She sat on the table with one butcheek, facing the Admiral on the ither side. “But we can’t change human nature. If wr couldn’t bring ourselves to it in all these decades, we won’t in the remaining years. All we can do, is set a prime example. Help make the fear of the linkers fade away into obscurity.” She smiled.

Making a disgruntled sound Benjamin pushed off from the table and continued his walk. “People like Egger aren’t so easily swayed, sadly.”

Dismissing her he left too.

His mind was uneasy, and he needed some time to think.

Like his predecessor he found solace in the garden, scheduled for a rainy afternoon, the paths and paved ways were clear of any activity that might distract him.

Of course, his analogy with the rooting branches had some downsides, he concluded. If the group of linkers he had on board were to root as individuals, that was fine. But what if they were to root as a new collective mind?

He shook his head sitting under a pear tree. That would make no sense. They would’ve overpowered Destiny, turned off the communication network, thus disabling the counter program, and taken over. Concluding that the linkers were not a communist regime that got rid of any free thinkers by eliminating them, or keeping them from leaving the collective mind, he looked up to the spine.

Still rain poured down.

The buzzing noise of his vibrating glasses disturbed the relative silence of just water pouring on the leaves around him. “Yes, Csilla?” Without looking he knew who called. Somehow George had always known not to call him when he was in the subalpha garden, and their children knew as well.

“We pulled the plug on Egger, but he had this public service announcement running a few minutes ago.”

Feeling his intestines tie into a tight knot Benjamin prepared himself in a second.

“Dear fellow Destinians, as you might be aware, there has been a terrible incident with the ship Horizon, after their rear section got abandoned, a band of struggling survivors was left stranded on the linker moon. Those brave souls were followed to Destiny by a pack of the linkers, who seek to undermine our society, and sow the seed of linkship among us, or at the very least steal our DNA by prostituting themselves. I oppose movements aboard this vessel to integrate these creatures into our society, attempts to enable their wretched plans. I call forward those of you who support this opposition of madness, we must impeach those in power who want to deliver us into the hands of the linker threat.”

Sitting in his office, obviously quite mad that all communication from and access to his offices had been shut down, Governor Egger was drumming his fingers on the desk. Out side the room he was in, was the office of his secretary, four men with guns stood there. Outside that another dozen were standing guard. He had gathered them in advance, but now they were sitting ducks as he was.

Unbeknownst to him a group of several hundred people had gathered outside the isolated offices, in support of him, who were boxed in by groups of people in opposition to the Governor.

Surrounded by his own armed guards, more than the governor could amass in his ring’s police force, Benjamin paved a way through these bulks of people.

Backed by the other two Governors he had a warranty for Egger.

Disturbed by the noise outside Egger looked up from his desk. Prior he had given the men outside the order to shoot intruders, now he had doubts whether he should have done that. To his relief the men outside did not follow his command, after a few angry shouts, they surrendered.

Only minutes later the door to his office was opened. Twenty guards streamed through the door, making it seem much smaller in a moment.

Then the Admiral followed. Stoic, as so often. “Governor Egger, I hereby place you under arrest for citing an uprising, and calling for civil disobedience and unrest. Possibly resulting in a conflict, as the armed guards in your offices prove.” He displayed a warranty on his tablet that he threw on the desk.

“You do know that this sort of conduct makes me and my claims seem much more legitimate in the eyes of the public?”

Ben raised but one eyebrow. “That is why we have a group of reporters here, following our every move, broadcasting live.” One of the armed guards tipped his helmet. A camera was mounted on it, he had missed that before.

“Those people were born into a life they did not chose. They however chose to live our way of life, and instead of giving them a helping hand, you want to punish them for what they were born as.” Benjamin leaned forward, resting his hands on the governor’s desk. “There is a term for someone like you: racist. It is you who the people of Destiny need to be weary about. You are the step in the wrong evolutionary direction, Governor. Human kind has evolved past petty racism. We do not fear or hate others simply because they were born differently. That, and only that, is our approach to new races and cultures. You are but a relict from the past, soon to be forgotten.” Turning to the nearest Sergeant, Ben gave him the command to take the Governor into custody.

Yearning for a quiet afternoon with George, Benjamin took a deep breath turning to the camera. “As you saw and heard, the Governor himself said it was claims, not facts, that he had stated. The oh so peaceful governor had his police force guard him. One guard even confirmed that they had the order to shoot. I think it is time for all of us to return home, spend a quiet evening with our loved ones, or alone if you need time to think. Our past instincts can not continue to lead us into the future. They can not come with us to RV-p296. These instincts need to remain with our ancestors, in earths tomb, and remembered only by history. We are not the people that have left earth any longer.” He walked a few paces towards the door, most of the guards around him had already left. “If the natives were to see us, and knew how we arrived, they would call us gods, or sky people in the very least. Although we are going to land in a remote part of the planet, uninhabited by the natives, we should act like sky people. Benign and enlightened. If we are wronged, we forgive and do not seek vengeance. If someone seeks help, we aid, and do not condone the actions that led them there, or in the current case, the actions of their parents and grandparents, that led them there. This is Admiral Benjamin Fuller, signing off for tonight.”

Gently the hand caressed Benjamin’s temple. “Moving speech you gave there.” George commented after watching a replay of the life stream. “I hope people are as enlightened as you want them to be.”

“They accepted a black homosexual Admiral. They’ll accept former linkers in their midst.” Ben smiled. His look fell on the two children on the couch, fast asleep.

All the trouble he had gone through so far, the heirs, the silicone aliens and now the linkers, was for them. So their future would be just as bright as he always hoped it to be. They should never have to grow up in a world with racism, or Xenophobia, in it.

Men like Egger sooner or later would twist and turn people’s perception of reality in a way that one day the natives on RV-p296 would be feared, hated and hunted eventually.

Such was not the world he wanted the twins to settle on.

He and George had adopted them before he had been Admiral, after their parents untimely end in an accident. Then he had vowed, to himself mostly, that he would do all in his power to lead them into a bright future deserving of them.

Satisfied with his efforts he got up.

“We should bring them to bed.” He donned a benign smile, slowly walking over, George behind him.

Civil unrest due to Governor Egger’s public announcement quieted down over a few weeks, Benjamin worked hard to paint an optimistic picture of the linkers that had come aboard. Together with the Horizon survivors he continued work on teaching the linkers how to function as individuals.

Much to his dismay the implants could not be deactivated completely.

They were too embedded in brain functions, to be turned off, without reverting their owners to an early developmental state, from where they’d have to slowly learn to grow up again.

A step he was not prepared to take. Instead the program prohibiting them from linking was directly inserted into the implant.

According to the task force he had drafted, that was done in a way they could not remove the program again.

It puzzled him a little in the beginning how the linkers should learn individuality, if they were always in the company of someone. Over time he realised that they were alone in their minds.

Tasked to engage in non productive activities, such as watching movies or doing art, they soon began to show emerging personalities.

Which was a great way to show the public, and the provisional government on RV-p296, their progress in becoming individuals.

Over time he also discovered that the climate controls had begun to simulate the seasons on Equatoria.

A circumstance the linkers and the survivors from Horizon had actual experience with, and could show the others how to react, since he and all others born on Destiny never had experienced any changes in climate.

Some time after Equatoria was chosen as the landing site, the climatic conditions of it were programmed into the computer, and the automated system designed to get the crew settled in with their new home kicked in, letting them experience the climate in the colony.

Of course, everyone had forgotten about it, so the first time it began to get colder the tecnnicians were called in droves, to fix an apparent problem, which was none at all.

Elections on beta were held three times in the remaining time to get to their destination. The first was a tie between two candidates. The second saw a winner, but she was soon voted out of office by the population on alpha as she was seen as unable to get things in her jurisdiction done.

Finally the planet began to appear on the viewscreen of both Destiny and Kismet, clearly visible out of the windows as well. A great sense of accomplishment filled Benjamin upon that sight. Lie Fah at navigation was staring at his console with a stern expression, concentrating on his task of establishing a stable geostationary orbit above Equatoria.

The other ships came into view. Shining as if polished, Explorer first drew the attention of the new arrivals. The rings were barren, when compared to Destiny’s, but the hallways interconnecting the pods that once had been there were dismantled, so the entire ship was slimmer.

Then Ben’s eyes fell upon a stumpy shadow of a ship.

Horizon. Or what was left of it, now called Dawn Horizon. “Welcome to RV-p296, Admiral, Prince.” A friendly face appeared on the screen, immediately Ben looked at her with surprise. Jane Mulgrew greeted him? “Didn’t you want to retire?”

“I had intended it, yes. I even went so far as to launch an investigation into my own actions, but allas I still am where I was when I arrived, the chair of an Admiral.” She looked around herself. “And Dawn Horizon is doing fine these days.”

“With all respect to your ship Admiral, she looks rather small.”

“Looks are deceiving.” Jane smiled. Of course she had heard of the aliens in the outer regions of the system cleaning up behind the beta ring disaster, but she chose not to comment on it, at least for the moment.

Benjamin drew breath to say something when the communication officers on Destiny, Kismet and Dawn Horizon stated that they were receiving a signal.

“Where is it from?” Ben looked to his side. Since it could be originating from Explorer, the surface, the moonbase or the linker moon, the silicone aliens or even the Harpies shadowing them for Commander Ony, he wanted to know the origin first.

“The direction we came from.” Csilla spoke now, instead of the communication officer, who was obviously too stunned to speak.

“From a certain Doctor Kurt Braun, chief scientific administrator of the colony of Mars, sent a few months ago.”

Rings of Fate S3xE10 – Destiny – Revelations (pt.3)

As Benjamin had predicted, hells fury awaited, and washed over him in the conference room, in the form of governor Egger. The other governors were equally displeased with having linkers on bord, but as usual it was Egger who was furious, yelling and red like a tomato.

“Governor, I not only understand your outrage, I had shared the same mistrust towards the linkers as you.” Ben tried a little diplomacy, “When they arrived I had them shackled and led to detention cells. They are, however, not linked. The program we have in place thanks to our Harpy allies,” he nodded towards Commander Ony, who was still aboard to learn about the elusive silicone aliens from their database, in light of the current development he had her included in the meeting. “prevents them from doing so. I see no chance of them overcoming this obstacle, otherwise Harpy networkers would’ve done the same.”

He prepared for another rage filled series of claims and assumptions not based in reality from Governor Egger, but found him silent. Perhaps he was gathering strength.

“In a certain sense, these people are children, discovering life as an individual for the first time. We have an opportunity here. To test our humanity, it is our duty to give them the chance to live life as nature has intended for them.”

“They threw their natural development out the window the moment they linked!” Governor Egger jumped up, apparently he had needed the moment to rest. For a split second Ben wondered if the governor would have a heart attack one of these days.

“They chose not. It was their fathers and mothers. By the same logic you are applying, you could say we have no business to live on RV-p296, as we should’ve followed our natural way and die with earth. But we never left earth, we were born on the way to our new refuge.” Shaking his head Benjamin sighed, rested his hands on the table. “Governors, Commander, Prince Hassan. We can’t close our eyes to the problem we inadvertently created. The linkers very existence, our cause. Those linkers wanting to leave their collective mind, also our cause. We a re obliged to help them.” With another sigh he took seat again. “Of course, I understand your concerns, and I assure you that every precaution will be taken to contain the threat. Their access will be limited, they will not have permission to set foot on the colony, unless the implants are one hundred percent inactive.”

Governor Egger gasped for air, by the way his veins stuck out Benjamin knew he was about to launch another shout, when Governor Jones from beta interrupted his colleague. “I want to meet them, or one of them. I was given to understand the spokesperson for the linkers is among those we have in detention?” Confirming both the information and this request with a nod and few words Benjamin got up. Csilla left and returned moments later, with the descendant of the Charles’.

“I am Anne Charles.” She greeted the room, a feign smile on her lips. She felt uncomfortable, clearly, but still tried to fit in.

“Are you truly committed to becoming an individual?” Jones played with his glasses on the table. “Affirmative.” She replied, insecurely she looked to the side where Csilla pursed her lips.

“Yes, I am. All of us are committed. Your stranded crew members showed us life as an individual, I want to experience it as well. The others too.”

Csilla nodded, in the hopes to bring Anne to a stop.

Rings of Fate S3xE10 – Destiny – Revelations (pt.2)

Sitting on a comfortable cushioned seat in the ready room Benjamin yearned for the days in the recent past when this room was his office. But that would not happen again. Maybe in the last months leading up to the arrival at RV-p296.

If they would let them land.

Once word was out that they had taken linkers on bord, the entire colony might be preparing to deny them landing.

And he couldn’t blame them.

This is a feast for Egger. I can see him barging through that door already, yelling. His head dark red, the veins on his neck standing out.

With a sigh Benjamin closed his eyes, but still got up.

“Csilla?” He entered the command centre. His first officer approached him. “Sir.”

“I want you to keep communication lines to RV-p296 closed for the time being.” With a displeased expression she looked to the communication officer’s station. “It’s too late sir.”

Cussing Benjamin lowered his head. “We need a plan, sir.”

He knew that. Slowly he dragged his feet to the door. “Get me an appointment with the governors. Face to face, no video conferences. Be there as well.”

Before he realised it, Benjamin’s pace brought him to the detention center, to the isolated cells with the twenty something linkers that had been brought aboard.

Out of instinct he sought out the first linker he ever met, the Charles woman. “Greetings again, Admiral.”

He returned the greeting, looking her in the eyes. “What does it feel like, what you are feeling? Why have the others of your kind isolated you and sent you to us?”

Genuinely thinking for a moment she blinked a few times. “A longing for solitude. A curiosity how individualism feels like. The collective mind feared that this curiosity might disintegrate it, thus it severed all ties to affected minds. A few of us were isolated, the experience was mostly horrifying, the collective mind drew strength from that, but there was a nagging doubt. We are the embodiment of that doubt.” She feigned a smile, but Ben could see that she was terrified.

“How does the experience feel now? The program coursing through the networks of this ship is disrupting your ability to link with the others.” He nodded in the direction of the other cells. Some of the inhabitants were sitting in a fetal position in a corner, next to them, in the next over cell another, in the same position. Almost as if they could link, but Benjamin saw them holding hands, trying to feel that they aren’t alone.

“We are,” she paused, her eyelids fluttered. “I…I am, alone. Terrified. There is only one source of thought, mine own.” She took a few deep breaths. “Imagine, being surrounded by friends and family, all your life, feeling all the love and kindness that brings with it, and suddenly youre marooned. No friends, no family. Only strangers who never felt that level of intimacy, and can not provide you with a worthy substitute.”

“In essence, you’re addicted, as well as you are discomforted.”

“Yes and no.” She inched closer to the bars separating her from the Admiral. “We feel incomplete. Phantom limb like. All our lives we have been part of the collective mind. Now we are not.”

Nodding Ben began to understand. “For some plants it is possible to cut off a branch and make it develop roots on its own, although they’re not part of the tree anymore. I hope the same can be said about you.”

“Our…my thoughts exactly. Our…my father, brought knowledge of that into the collective mind from his father’s experiences, as well as genuine biology experts.” Her feigned smile shrank with each time she had to correct herself. “Just understand that integrating you into our society will not be easy. For any of us. There is a lot of mistrust and surely hostility against you.” The fact that your implants cannot be removed isn’t working in your favor either.

Donning a more genuine smile than before the young woman nodded. “Surely we can contribute to your society in a meaningful way. We retain knowledge of our common consciousness. We still actively think, and work on problems when we sleep, unlike you.” She took a step back as Benjamins glasses vibrated, spooked by the unusual sound.

Quickly he answered the call from Csilla, telling him that the meeting with the governors was set for an hour from then.

“There is one vital thing we must do before you can begin the long journey to becoming part of our society.” He smiled a painful smile. “You must have names.”

Rings of Fate S3xE10 – Destiny – Revelations (pt.1)

Gently the enormous body of the gas giant inched its way into view on the screen on the command centre on Destiny. The linker moon was clearly visible at this point, a red marble against the multicolored body of its parent planet.

A constant stream of gasses led to it from the planet below, directly on the other side, around the other end of the space elevator, the shipyard had grown like a giant tree, it shaded a quarter of the surface below. Not far from that structure a lonely escape pod orbited, emitting an automated emergency signal ever once in a while.

It was from the surviving crew members of Dusk Horizon, the name hastily given to the rear half of Horizon, after it broke apart.

“Contact the linkers please.” Admiral Benjamin Fuller had his eyes fixed on the structure. What are you planning with all this?

“They are already calling, sir.” With a fascinated gaze in his eyes Benjamin ordered Lieutenant Trebuchet to put the call through.

“Your survivors have been informed of their imminent departure, and are ready to go with you.” A young woman, not the one reported as the linkers spokesperson, had appeared on the screen. She was pale, had green eyes and blond hair. “We must also inform you that they will be taking on additional cargo.”

Concerned Benjamin squinted at the view screen. “What kind of cargo?”

“Several containers of hydrogen, our scans have detected your fission reactors missing, this will be aiding efforts to rebuild a second fusion reactor, as well as several people.”

Doubting he heard right about the second part of that sentence, Benjamin shook his head in disbelief. “Several people? Do you mean your people?”

“Please inquire about this with your crew members as they arrive.” The line closed. Instead the normal view was returned, showing a ship disengaging from the complex.

“Sound the alarm, bring me every available person qualified to handle a gun to that docking port.”

Quickly he turned on his heel entering the ready room, he came back a moment later handing each of the officers a gun. “Keep a close eye on us, if anything suspicious happens, do not open that door, even if I am outside it. Understood?”

Leaving Lieutenant Lie Fah in charge, he left together with Csilla to head to the docking port assigned to the ship to dock with.

Although the Harpies had been generous enough to leave the human ships with a program that crawled through communication networks, disabling the DEHumans link, Benjamin was cautious. They could adapt to the program. Analyse it and return to their brethren to work on adapting to it.

Or they could choose to quietly infiltrate everyone’s brains with a chip, and then disable the program.

Throughout his career he never had to draw the gun, except on the firing range. He opposed violence, although it sometimes seemed like a quick and easy way out of things.

But if that would’ve been his way, he would’ve beaten governor Egger on at least two occasions.

Still, he felt good surrounded by men and women holding guns pointed at the airlock behind which the linker ship was docking.

Humming mechanically the door opened, revealing a small group of humans. They were clearly shocked to find the hallway outside the airlocked stuffed with armed security personnel. “That’s not the homecoming I had hoped for.” A woman with asian ancestry stepped forward with a disturbed expression.

“Please, do not be alarmed. But we have to make sure that you are in fact not linkers.” A little saddened Kanitha nodded, stepped out of the airlock. Following her were Jackson Sutherland, April Wallner, Nepumo Ricosta, Francine Harris, Maria Trinidad, and a woman Ben did not recognise from the crew files, but instead from video logs of the usual spokesperson for the DEHumans.

Immediately he and the others around him tensed up, weapons were pointed at her. “Doctor Charles I presume?”

Wearing a blank expression she stared at him with an empty gaze, almost frightened. “We are, disconnected. Where are the other parts? It’s so quiet.” Stammering she looked around in confusion, and bewilderment. After a moment she caught herself, looked at Benjamin. “We do not have a doctoral degree, but the Charles’ were in our ancestry.”

Kanitha stepped up to Benjamin. “She has no concept of a singular person yet.” They both looked at her, Kanitha with a friendly compassionate look in her eyes, while Benjamin seemed more scientifically interested.

“We may, inadvertently, have had a negative impact on a few of the DEHumans. A seed of disengagement if you will.” Jackson Sutherland stepped also forward, however minutely, as he did not want to seem threatening.

“So, they want to leave the linker collective?”

“They were already placed in a sub collective, as our influence over them was discovered, those who had been affected were severed from the others, and sent with us.”

Still not sound on the idea of having linkers aboard his ship Benjamin rubbed his chin. “They need to be placed under surveillance, restricted in access, and the implant in their brains need deactivating. Better yet removal.”

Kanitha looked to the Charles descendant. “Admiral, they are all second or third generation. They have no names, no identities. Even worse, they were born with the implant. It is tied into their brains as if it were natural. Their implants can’t be removed.”

Still rubbing his chin Benjamin looked to Csilla for help. “So, you’re saying, they also need supervision? Find their way in life as an individual?”

Jackson nodded. He knew where this was leading without knowing any of these people around him.

They would be made responsible for the linkers.