Chapter I Unfortunate Discoveries
Ancient dust blows across the endless dunes of sand, a small space vessel streaks through the sky. Within the shuttle is Dr. Nexson, and Dr. Crowther, they were in the rear part of the shuttle, sitting in luxurious seats and enjoying expensive bourbon. "We've been searching this desert for two years now, you say this is a different type of discovery?" asks Nexson of Crowther. "Yes, absolutely" he chimes "How?" Rupert asks, glaring. "It's another work of technology, but it's very different from the generators and transmitters we've found before" replies Crowther, Nexson stares in silence. "You're not going to tell me?" he asks. "Any description I give you would be utterly inadequate, you've got to see it yourself, Rupert" replies Crowther as he slowly sips his highball glass. Nexson stares at his satisfied face, "This had better be good, you're holding up progress at the experimental weapons lab by bringing me here" he finally says. "Rupert, when have I ever let you down?" Nexson considers the question. "You're right, Ben" he says with a smirk, he reaches over and they clink their glasses. "You're always right" Benjamin chuckles lightly. The intercom sounds a tone and the auto pilot informs them that the shuttle is approaching the coordinates.
The shuttle turns as it flies toward a landing pad, situated next to a large, domed building, next to it was a camp for the excavation team. The landing thrusters fired as the shuttle began its descent, mechanical wines sounded as the landing gear sprouted from its compartments and caught the ground, making a small bounce. Two of the site's archeologists, sealed in environment suits with domed helmets approached the shuttle, a wind storm battered sand against their suits. The sealed shuttle door made some loud clanks and vented gas before it opened. Dr. Nexson and Dr. Crowther step down from the ramp, wearing their own environment suits. "Welcome to Mars, doctors" says Tim Morgan. "Nice to see you, Tim. This is the lead researcher at Echo labs on Deimos, Dr. Rupert Nexson" says Crowther. "A pleasure, sir" says Tim Morgan "This is Linda Vadell"
"Nice to meet you Dr. Nexson, please follow us. We don't want to take up anymore of your time than is needed" Linda says.
"That would be appreciated" Nexson replies.
The group walks toward the dig site, it was covered by a large white dome. They approach the dome's doorway, Dr. Vadell leans against a sensor plate, the ID chip in her suit is accepted and the doors split apart. They walk inside, there were two other sets of doors inside and a cabinet for holding environment suits, the walls were a dull grey. Dr. Morgan approaches a computer panel on the wall and began the depressurization procedure, the chamber began the sequence, sweeping away the dry Martian sand. The voice of the computer sounds, "Depressurization procedure complete." They place the environment suits in the cabinet and approach the doors. A cold wind blows from within the buried cavern, an ancient staircase is illuminated by modern lighting units, recently attached to the stone brick walls. The four UAC members descend the staircase, it seemed to go at least seven stories down. When they reached the landing at the bottom they found themselves in a large chamber, several tall stone doorways led in different directions. The doors were artfully carved with many images of the alien's culture, each door and column seemed to depict a part of their celebrated history. Five different streaks of coloured lines stretched off into the darkness. "We're following the gold coloured line." Says Vadell. They entered a passage in the middle of the room. They followed the gold line for almost an hour, passing mysterious hieroglyphic writing from an unknown time. They were soon led to a massive chamber, rust coloured rocks framed the sight, the ceiling was supported by massive stone columns, long hanging stalactites crowned the ceiling.
Before them were two tall control stations that still shone like emeralds, after all this time, step ladders sat at the base which the archeologists had set up. The pair of UAC executives walked toward a dusty apparatus sitting at the back of the room, examining the area's most minute details as they did. The object was almost three stories high, it had a rounded convergence at the top, intricately carved shoulders flowed down the body of the machine, the centre had a giant circular cavity that was coiled on its inside. It seemed to be in disrepair. They walked further, the walls of bedrock revealed ancient tablets. The tablets were as tall as the machine, the writing on the stone was giant. "What is it?" asks Nexson. "We performed a full analysis on the apparatus, we think it's a teleporter" Nexson was unmoved, "A very impressive find, doctor" he says as he walks toward the left-hand tablets, the lines of hieroglyphics flew through Nexson's mind, translating them on the fly. Nexson approaches Linda Vadell, he whispers, "Has your team translated the tablets?" "Yes, doctor" she replies, "The writings describe how the teleporter works, the method of it's construction, there's a log of the jumps that were made and where they went, but this last tablet..." She paused as she approaches one of the left-hand tablets"...this tablet describes a ceremonial ritual that is to be performed while the teleporter is running a specific mode of operation. It seems that this way our ancient friends could develop the ability to make a psychic scan of the extra-dimensional planes" she says proudly, pointing at the hieroglyphs. "Isn't this amazing, sir?" she asks, turning to face Nexson.
He stood motionless, glaring at Dr. Vadell, he sighs loudly and turns to face Crowther. "This is a problem, Ben." Nexson says quietly. "Huh? What are you talking about? I thought you'd be pleased to see this before administration gets their hands on it" Crowther says, apprehension was apparent on his face. "This type of discovery must be handled by the UAC's paranormal division. Your being here is very costly, Ben." He declares. "What? Paranormal division? The UAC doesn't entertain that type of fringe-science!" he cries. "You weren't supposed to find out" Nexson replies. "Doctor's please, what are you talking about?" asks Dr. Morgan, loudly. "This tablet that depicts the ancient rituals can only be seen, studied and handled by members of the paranormal division, and I'm sorry to say..." says Nexson as he pulls a pistol from inside his suit "...none of you were ever here" he says calmly, levelling the barrel on Crowther. "Rupert, no!" cries Crowther. A small bolt of plasma lept from the weapon and burns through Crowther's neck and impacts the stone wall behind him, he sank to the ground making sputtering, gargling sounds and holding his throat.
"Please Nexson, don't!" cries Linda. "We didn't see anything, Rupert. We'll do whatever you say" pleads Tim. "I'm terribly sorry, doctors, this truly is an amazing discovery..." he says as he pulls a device from his pocket. "...it's just standard procedure." Keeping the pistol steady, he holds the ultra-frequency transmitter to his lips, "This is Nexson, initiate bombing run on camp at dig site: alpha-zero-alpha. Confirmation: Romeo, three, Foxtrot, six, X-ray" he said. "Roger, confirmation approved. Deployment underway" crackled the transmitter. Without saying another word, Nexson fires the pistol into the two archeologists. He holsters his weapon and reaches for his mobile, he flicks through the options and begins scanning the area, a beam of glowing light emits from the mobile as he recorded the data. Linda puts all her strength into raising her head and looks up at the research executive, "Go... to hell... you bastard" she gently lowered herself to the dusty floor and fell into a final rest. Nexson soon leaves the dig site alone. Wearing the environment suit, he walks the surface of Mars toward the waiting shuttle. Two triangular UAC fighters swoop by above, dropping bombs below. The whistling of the falling bombs were heard before they exploded upon impact. Nexson boards the shuttle, it soon begins it's takeoff and flies beyond the Martian atmosphere, leaving the disgraced dig site behind as smoke rose up from the camp.
Chapter 2: Chapter II Deimos Rising
"...Now running signature Omega-38 against sequence 430-Alpha" said Dr. Kronos in the darkened research lab, a massive construct sat before him. Kronos watched energy patterns and equations scroll along the holo-monitor.
"Those patterns seem to correlate from here" came a voice from a small transmitter, sitting on the desk. "I'm going to send this pattern through simulations. Now begin an analysis on signature Terra-15" it said.
Kronos' hands danced across the holographic keyboard, the energy signature appeared in the centre of the emitted light. Kronos rubbed his chin as he studies the catalogued data, "I have a hunch" he says.
"Proceed, Victor" said the transmitted voice.
He continues tapping the keyboard. " I think our hardware may be masking some of the signatures characteristics. I'm lowering the intensity of the cadmium distributor and the plasma field generator" says Kronos.
"You are authorized, log the change and proceed" came the voice.
"Yes, this reading is much clearer now" says Kronos as he wipes the lens of his glasses.
"I see, try running sequence 821-Delta." Kronos tests the combinations of portal energy and the vibrational equation on his computer.
"That pattern correlates from here as well. I think we're finally getting a handle on these energy bands. Why don't you take a rest while we finish running these simulations" the transmitter said.
"Very well, call me as soon as you need" Kronos says.
"Roger, Echo labs. Alpha labs out."
Kronos rose from the large chair and stretched his back. The newly constructed teleporter stared back at him from its single, circular gate. He stared into the contraption for some time before he headed to the door to the adjoining hallway. He walked through the doors and found Director Banks standing across from the lab, looking through a nearby window.
"Hello, Victor. Why don't you join me in admiring the view?" the Director said. Kronos stepped beside William and took in the dazzling stars, a moment of silence passed between them.
"You know, I never knew the stars would be so many and so bright out here... They've always been my favourite thing about being on off-world stations" says the Director, calmly.
"I often find myself admiring them, as well. Their brilliance never ceases to inspire me." Says Victor. A passing comet adds to the infinite beauty for but a brief moment.
"We're getting close, Victor. We only have a couple hundred more patterns to calculate until we make history. I'm looking forward to the infinite possibilities that this project could open for us."
"As infinite as the stars in the sky..." Comments Kronos. William smiles at Victor and places a hand on his shoulder.
"Precisely," He says, "the short time until its complete..." Begins William.
"Is like the distance closing between us and those stars." Says Kronos, finishing the Director's thought.
"Had I mentioned that before?" William asks.
"You did, a couple years ago." He said.
"That's right, just before we launched this project... It seems hard to believe that we may be so close to those distant systems, accomplished in just a few years of development." He says.
"I've begun to wonder what mysteries this achievement may leave in its wake, and we will be the ones carving out the answers." Says the Director, smiling as he finishes his thought. Victor turns to face William.
"I'm being left in the dark, Will. Alpha labs dictates the signatures and equations for me to analyze, I feel more like an adding machine than a contribution." He says. "I'm sorry Victor, UAC's protocols can be overbearing, but I happen to know the very necessity for them. Take my word, the portal will begin test runs soon and your expertise will more than certainly be required" the Director replies. "How long?" Kronos asks "Could be a couple weeks, no longer than a month" he says. "Really, that soon?" "Really" Banks answered. "I can see now why you're so pleased" says Kronos as he continues to observe the twinkling stars. The directors chuckling echoed down the hallway.
Five weeks later:
Victor Kronos and UAC Director William Banks walked the spotless hallway of the UAC research division. "Everyone is ready on Phobos, we can get started right away" says William, he was wearing an expensive business suit with a black, long-hanging tie. "Susan is in the testing area now and coordinating with Alpha labs" he says.
"If this contraption works, I suppose these off-world stations may have a lot of new visitors soon" comments Kronos.
The Director sighs, " I don't know if we can maintain its classified status for much longer without terminating some of our loosely-lipped colleagues. I understand their excitement, but if there's anymore broken protocols regarding this project, I may be tempted to send them to a less hospitable assignment. I doubt they'll find AMUN's asteroid stripping operations to be quite as noteworthy" the Director said.
"Such a waste of good talent. If only they would observe their duties a little more, I would trust them with my life" said Victor.
"It can be troubling, yet that portal is worth more than both our contributions. An unpleasant reality, being Director, is learning how the most celebrated employees can so easily be replaced" he replied.
"Indeed. It seems I have a new lab assistant every couple of weeks, don't they know the standard UAC demands before they come here?" Kronos asked.
"They are briefed, but what could I say? We have to proceed on these priority assignments. If they are so compelled to destroy their careers, then so be it." Silence fell upon the two men as they turned a corner. Loud thumps were soon heard from down the hall, "Sounds like Corporal Revok" says William.
The thumping got louder and Corporal Revok came marching through a corridor ahead, he turned on his heel and continued his stride toward the two researchers, they soon met in the middle of the hall. "Hello Doctor, Director. Lovely day for a teleport, I hear" says Revok as he comes to a stop, he was wearing a grey, long-sleeved utilitarian uniform with bright blue cuffs and collar, he stood casually with his hands folded behind his back.
"Just another day at the office, Corporal" replies Kronos.
The Corporal tilts his head and glares at Victor. "I understand the preliminary tests went well and you're already going to send human test subjects" Revok says in an insinuating tone, the researchers silently glare at the Corporal. "High command's technicians have deciphered your forty-five thousand page specification report" says Revok with some masked apprehension.
"Is that right, Corporal?" asks the Director in a slithering, insinuating tone.
"Yes Will, that's right. High command is concerned about the safety of the science station, the levels of energy are utterly unheard of" he says loudly.
The Director turns toward Kronos, "Can you believe that, Victor? The Corporal is going to share his thoughts about omni-dimensional theory. Please, enlighten us" calmly said the Director.
"You two don't see any problem with ninety-four million Terra watts?" said the corporal, exasperation was creeping into his chiseled features.
"Corporal, really" says the Director in a slow, parental tone. "The portal systems are completely isolated from the rest of the station and the personnel assigned to it are the UAC's finest" he says proudly.
"Nevertheless," continues Revok, "high command has given me code-Amber authorization to attend this procedure and make an assessment of potential safety risks" he says.
"We didn't have any problems with our initial tests, what makes the good generals so concerned about this one?" asks Kronos, flatly.
"We're worried about system and feedback overloads. Further, you really have no idea where this portal is passing through" states Revok.
Director Banks chuckles. "Giving into paranoid delusions, Corporal?" he asks. "We appreciate your concern, but we've never required your oversight before"
"The risk to this station is real, if it goes into regular use, I'll need to know everything about it, as soon as possible" Revok replies. The pair of researchers became quiet as they glare at Revok, "You really think that this will persuade us?" the Director snaps. "I'm sure the corps is very interested, indeed. High command wants to treat our work as a new potential weapon, we have told them many times before that this project's clearance classification is above them and you" finishes William.
"This could be the most significant discovery since fire, or the wheel. We want to see this thing in operation" said Revok, barely holding back his rage.
"We're so early on in this project that we have yet to define what standard operation is" Kronos replies.
"Yes, and for that reason we can only allow trained specialists to be in attendance, and your code-Amber authorization doesn't impress me" adds William.
"Will, I've seen the details for myself and I can see why there is concern. Just take the extra precaution" the Corporal says, defeat moving through his words.
The Director releases a breath, "Listen, Revok. This is a project that we've had difficulty keeping classified as it is, but there are aspects to it that are, quite frankly, over my head. Several classified corporate divisions from across the aerospace industry are taking interest. We're forced to operate under the tightest of protocols and this is something that simply can't be allowed" he declares. "Now then, if you'll excuse us, you've wasted quite enough of our time."
Corporal Revok glares curiously as the two researchers slowly walk away, they laid each step with such precision that the Corporal could swear they were floating.
"Arrogant snakes" Revok says under his breath, he then turns and heads toward the nearest elevator.
Chapter 3: Chapter III The Trip of a Lifetime
"High command doesn't ever give up, do they?" Kronos asks of Banks.
"It's their nature, they don't like anything resembling a threat. As weary as I am of these exchanges, I do rather admire their attempts" quietly replies the Director. They eventually came to the doors leading to the testing area, sliding apart as the pair walked through. The lab was very large, the walls housed black coloured plating. A long control station stretched across the far side of the room, in front of a reinforced viewing screen, the controls were under a black, touch-screen surface. Beyond the screen was the recently completed Deimos teleporter, named 'Gate B', Gate A was on the other side of Mars on the moon Phobos.
It was a shining grey contraption with a ramp leading to the single centre gate, the sloping shoulders housed the delicate reverse-engineered hardware. The gate was a circular cavity, small emitters rounded the walls and a large intricate dish was fitted to the back wall of the gate. Two men in environment suits were in the secluded teleport area, occasionally stepping over large cables that snaked through the area. Behind the control station was a small audience composed of UAC executives and wealthy project investors, they were largely stone faced, framed by grey or black business attire. Several subspace transmitters lined the back wall, like old phone booths. A large holo-monitor played a muted news broadcast about an explosion at a Moxim corporate facility, many people seated seemed to be taking interest in the incident as they exclaimed their suspicions in hushed whispers.
Dr. Susan Carmichael and Dr. Allen Mason sat at the control station in luxurious chairs, coordinating with Alpha labs and running equipment checks, Kronos takes his seat among them on the left side. The Director was standing behind, proudly examining the ongoing positive results of equipment checks. William speaks into his mobile, "We're showing green across the board. Are you all ready on your end, Alpha?"
"Roger, awaiting final authorization" came the reply.
"Good, standby" he says and turns toward the people seated behind him.
"Greetings everyone" he says as he jabs the mobile into his pocket. "I'm pleased that so many have made the long trip to witness this historic moment with us. In just a few moments, the future destinies of the human race will be realized as our reach into the cosmos extends further than ever dreamed before" begins the director. "For as far as this path might take us, we must not lose sight of that which remains out of our reach. It's possible that this path could lead us to first contacts with foreign civilizations, but such immense achievements will likely be paled by the part of ourselves we have yet to discover."
The Director's speech is followed by a quiet applause from the seated audience. A UAC executive, Rupert Nexson rises from his seat and steps toward the Director and grasps his hand. "Very well said, William" he says mildly over the spattering of applause.
"Thank you, Rupert. I only wish my words could truly reflect the hight of this achievement" the Director replies, he turns toward the technicians. "Doctor Carmichael, are we ready to proceed?"
The centre throne turned to face the audience, Dr. Carmichael's image broke like a dark sunrise. She stayed perfectly still as the chair turned, she faced the Director and lifted her dark seductive eyes. Her hair hovers around the top of her head, caused by her intense psychic nature. Slithering shadows seemed to glide along her neutral expression, her youthful face was like carved marble. Her slender hands were templed before her and quivered like she was holding great energy between them.
"Our systems are linked with Alpha's, all equipment is stable and energy levels are more than adequate. We are ready for transport" she replies.
"Excellent, have you received Alpha's authorization?" She reaches for a thin slice of translucent material, it glows as she picks it up. She flicks the data sheet and hands it to the Director, the device flashes as it changes hands and switches to the Director's computer profile layout. He examines the authorization command and then uses a stylus to sign it with a flourish.
"Okay, here it is." He pulls a small black cube from an inner pocket, "Final authorization" he says and taps the cube against the data sheet and hands it back to Susan. She placed the flashing sheet upon the spacious armrest as she turns to face her controls.
"Alarm" calls the voice of the computer, "Experimentation is about to commence"
"Data stream active, Alpha is probing the hardware" calls Kronos, "We are receiving navigation data"
"Now energizing the transport coils" chimes Dr. Mason. Gate B begins making a loud humming sound.
"Data analysis complete, I am feeding the live stream into the data core" says Carmichael, her delicate hands nimbly adjusted energy levels and narrowed chaotic wave bands.
The humming of the portal began to rise in pitch, all eyes were on the circular gate.
"Gate will open in five, four, three, two, one" calls Mason. A bright flash shot through the area, the portal came to life with beautiful sparkling light. Tongues of brightness reached out from the gate, it felt like warm summer sunshine.
"Oh wow, it's beautiful" Nexson says to Banks.
"It sure is something, isn't it" he replies.
"All systems are stable and Alpha labs is ready to proceed" says Carmichael.
"Proceed, Alpha labs" the Director says into his mobile.
On the surface of Phobos, in the heart of Alpha labs, a man in a sealed environment suit walks ever closer to the portal. He steps into the gate and is engulfed by light. Brightness touched his mind, he felt energy invade his body. He dissolved into a sea of light and slipped into the conduit. On Deimos, the test subject appeared almost instantly, hovering in the gate's bright energy. The two men in the teleport area flank the bottom of the ramp. The test subject's feet touched the ground, he looks from side to side slowly.
"Roger, are you okay?"
The test subject jerks his head toward the query, bright red eyes stared back at them from inside the hood of the environment suit. The possessed human begins thrashing against the suit, the view-screen becomes fogged by fast breathing.
The Director approaches the control station, "What's this?" he asks.
"The medical diagnostic can't identify any definite cause" Kronos stares at the thrashing figure, the environment suit is ripped apart, the top hooded section dangled above the floor. The Director studies the diagnostic monitor, the program was already looping through its database, restlessly looking for the cause of the apparent infliction. "Oh dear. Susan, deploy emergency personnel" he says. She lifts a safety guard on the emergency button and presses it down. Warning lights begin spinning, accompanied by long alarm tones.
The test subject's face was changing before everyone's eyes, he could barely be recognized anymore. He takes a step down the ramp,
"Just stay right there, Roger. Help is coming."
The test subject screeches loudly in reply. The emergency personnel and a space marine storm into the teleport area, sealed inside environment suits. One pushed a gurney, others carried silver medical cases. A doctor led the team, indicated by blue stripes on the suit. They stopped at the ramp, looking up at the terrifying sight framed by portal energy. The team was unprepared for such intensity.
The former-human jumped from the top of the ramp, flying down head first and slamming into one of the suited personnel. The pair collide with surprising force head-on, he hit the ground and slid across the shining floor, almost bowling over some other people who step out of the way.
"What are you fools waiting for? Sedate him!" yells the Doctor. The dart gun is assembled from a silver case, the Doctor grabs it out of the underling's hands. The former-human raised its arms high as it delivered blow after blow to its victim. The Doctor squeezed the trigger and the tranquilizing dart hit its mark. The former-human flinched but continued scratching the environment suit's hood, it began leaking air.
"Get this freak off'a me!"
"Shouldn't he be out by now?" the doctor is asked.
"You're right, let's collar him" came the reply.
Short poles were grabbed from under the gurney, they were extended and fitted with shining collars hanging open.
"Delicately, now. Stay calm" the Doctor commands.
They move like professional athletes as the crept up from behind and clamped the collar on the former-human's neck and then pulls him away from the personnel it was attacking, to their surprise it began galloping its feet, motivated to continue the attack. They clamped more poles to the collars and pulled it away, the wounded personnel escapes through the sealed doors. The former-human stumbles as it fights against them, they clamp more poles to the collars and push him back. With some effort, they managed to bring the test subject under control and strap it to the gurney.
The Doctor opens a silver case and removes a syringe, approaching the test subject with it threaded through gloved fingers, places a digital stethoscope against the subjects chest and listens for a moment. Despite the attempt to sedate, the heart rate was racing wildly. He lowers the stethoscope and examines the syringe, turning the digital gauge and removing the cap, then pressing the point into the test subjects arm and pulls the plunger back, blood begins flooding into the clear barrel. The former-human squirms against the restraints and snaps it's jaw in protest.
"Escort the subject to a padded cell" says the Doctor, examining the fluid in the syringe, then capping it and placing it into a bag. The emergency personnel were filing out of the lab as the Doctor approached the window to the control room, pulls out a sliding bin connecting the two rooms and drops the bagged syringe inside.
Dr. Kronos leans to the side and retrieves the blood sample from the bin. He opens the bag and unscrews the pointed side of the syringe and attaches a digital module and plugs that side into his terminal. He begins a full analysis. The computer's digital gauges fluctuated as it studies the genetic information.
"Substantial genetic anomalies detected" chimes the cheery computer voice.
Kronos flicked through the diagnostic tools and began isolating a unique genetic sequence, the details of the profile began to piece itself together on the holo-monitor like a giant puzzle.
The small audience watched in silence, the Director was closely monitoring from behind.
"Susan, show me his DNA profile" he asks.
She selected an active window on the panel and flicked it away from her, the catalogued data appeared on the large holo-monitor.
"I'm seeing a spreading mutation, examine this thread, Kronos flicks the data onto the monitor. The trained eyes of the Director could see remnants of the original code within the mutated thread, but it had been drastically reformed.
"Well..." he says chuckling "...this is certainly unexpected"
"Genetic anomaly isolated" Victor flicks the data onto the far part of the monitor, everyone looked up and examined the data.
"If we deconstruct each thread and run a level seven analysis, we should find a glimpse of the origin of this mutation" says Susan.
The Director examines the data for a silent moment, "Proceed" he says. Susan taps her panel a few times and the scan soon begins.
"This will take a moment" she says.
"Mason, I'm going to need three secured copies of the computer logs of this experiment" says the Director.
"Yes, sir" Another moment of silence passed.
"Analysis complete" says the computer.
A twisted and foreign looking genome was on the holo-monitor. Muted gasps and a flutter of voiced intrigue moved through the audience.
Chapter 4: Chapter IV Shrouded Interests
In the blackness of space lies the planet Mars, it's smaller moon, Deimos, slowly orbits the rust coloured world. Deep beneath Echo labs, in a secret location, a meeting of the corporation's paranormal division is about to take place. An elevator descends into the heart of the moon, Dr. Rupert Nexson and Dr. Leonard Phillips share the car.
"Rupert? Are you listening?"
Dr. Nexson suddenly resurfaced from his deep thoughts.
"Oh, forgive me, Leonard. I had remembered something troubling, it seemed like I was light years away from here" he replies.
"What's on your mind?" asks Leonard.
Nexson sighs deeply "Benjamin Crowther" replies Nexson, slowly turning over the syllables.
"Gosh, I haven't heard that name in such a long time... What about him?" Leonard asks as the elevator comes to a stop and the doors split apart, revealing a spotless hallway, the walls were a deep red.
"Nothing much, I feel rather monstrous for having to kill him those years ago, he was a dear friend ever since we met at the institute" explains Rupert.
"Ben was hanging by some thin threads as it was, he could never follow protocol to the letter, botched five major experiments in his first two years and killed a lab assistant in one of them. If he hadn't inadvertently killed himself, he certainly would have been gone by now" says Leonard.
"If that man would just follow procedure and stop masquerading like he's the chief administrator, I wouldn't have had to kill him and the archeologists" Rupert rants. "All he had to do was recognize a priority-90 notification and send it up the chain, but that bulging dunce had to cherry-pick his assignments and try to implicate me in the process" he says.
"Sorry, my friend. People like that are a fact of life. Even in the twenty second century and in a corporation like the UAC, there are those that will lay themselves in ruins. Survival of the fittest, as it were" says Leonard.
"That's true enough I suppose, Leonard. That incident has been haunting my thoughts for a few weeks now" Nexson said.
"You did exactly what you were supposed to do; you're not a monster, Rupert. The institute made an error in granting him the advanced degree"
The pair walked in silence as Nexson allowed Phillips' words to sink in, the stopped in front of the conference room door.
"I know you well, Rupert, you can handle the weight. Events such as that are bound to leave their mark on our minds Take heart in knowing we don't often have to dispatch our colleagues" explains Phillips.
"I value your advice, Leonard. I shall meditate on it" Nexson says, he then gestures toward the conference doors, the pair walk inside.
The room was bright, large and square shaped. The walls were white, mounted upon them were holo-monitors broadcasting several news feeds. The pair walked toward the circular table, a flat, circular lamp hung from the ceiling above. Dr. Nexson and Dr. Phillips took their seats, they were greeted by Dr. Nolan Ward and Dr. Alice Wells.
"Hello Alice, hello Nolan" says Nexson.
"Greetings Doctors" replies Ward.
"Dr. Mason isn't here yet?" asks Leonard.
"He'll be here in one minute and forty-eight seconds" answers Wells, looking very comfortable in her seat. She receives curious looks from around the table "Watch, the man moves like clock-work. I'm surprised that none of you have noticed that" she states, flexing her templed fingers.
Nexson pulls out his mobile and notes the time, "We'll see about that, Alice" Says Nexson.
Some time passes, Alice reads the time on her mobile, "Five seconds" she says.
Just as the seconds slipped away Allen Mason enters the room. The scientists at the table play natural, trying not to tip-off Alice's prediction.
"Greetings, Doctors. Thank you all for attending this conference..." says Allen as he takes his seat between Leonard and Alice, they were all wearing casual, sharply trimmed attire. "...as you all know, this conference is security clearance nightshade-one, meaning this meeting has never officially taken place" he says as he glares at the faces around the table. "Right, then. The initial test runs of the portals has been made, as I'm sure you're all aware" says the Doctor, his hands folded in front of him. "What you may not have heard is that when the test subject arrived on Deimos, the subject was deeply affected by the trip. The test subject had to be moved to an isolation cell." Confused faces looked back at Dr. Mason.
"Dear, goodness" says Dr. Ward "Why did he need to be isolated?"
"The test subject was completely sane and rational on Phobos, when he appeared on Deimos, he was barely out of the portal energy when the technicians claim he went berserk, screaming and thrashing wildly, and one of the technicians was attacked by the subject. The technician is fine now, thankfully" he explains "His eyes have turned a deep red, caused by his... his continuing mutation, several of his bodily organs can no longer be recognized" he says, gesturing his folded hands. "This condition is unlike anything witnessed by the paranormal division before" Allen says.
"I'd like to see him" Alice requests.
"Certainly" replies Mason, he reaches into his suit's pocket and unfolds his data sheet, places it on the table and gives it a few taps, then flicks the active window, the holographic images from the cell appeared in the centre of the conference table. The cell had pale blue padding attached to the walls and floor, the test subject was fitted in a stray-jacket and muzzle, he was slamming his body against the only door. It screamed in a deep alien voice. It stopped, looked up at the security camera and stared into the eyes of the researchers.
"Mortals!" it screamed.
Mason muted the audio as the former human began fighting against the restraints.
"What the hell happened to him?" asks Phillips, conveying his disturbance at the sight.
"Other than our genetic clues, unknown" Nexson interrupts. "All we know is that the trip through the gateway has rendered him into this intensely feral state" Rupert finishes.
"I've never seen someone's eyes look like that, and it knew we were watching" states Dr. Wells.
"Indeed, the subject makes that display anytime it is directly monitored" explains Allen.
"After an analysis of the subjects DNA, a unique sequence was found that was causing the mutations we've seen affecting the subject" explains Rupert. "We were able to isolate the sequence and have formulated the BSK genetic serum, initial tests of the serum leads us to believe that humans are the only suitable test subjects for studying this anomaly" he finishes.
"Administration won't tolerate scaling back on this project after close to a trillion credits were spent on its development" says Nolan, rubbing his forehead.
"Administration is aware of this situation, they've informed me that the portal's test trials will continue, despite these complications" says Allen, emphasizing his words. "They insist that the portal be ready as soon as possible and that the ritual ceremony be attempted" he says with some apprehension.
"Were I not intimately aware of this project's cost, I would swear that upper-management had gone mad, but I suppose I can see their reasoning" says Wells.
"The Director has assigned me with finding test subjects for studying the genetic serum" says Mason, sighing and running a hand through his hair. "I have to admit, I'm very apprehensive about this request, I have no idea where to look for volunteers, prisoners on Earth have been deemed far too unstable to be trusted on these stations" Allen finishes.
"I'm not thrilled about this avenue, but I think I may have a solution" says Nexson.
"From my analysis, the only suitable candidates are the Space Marines. We need a subject that can survive treatment with their faculties intact, as fascinating as this phenomenon is..." He says gesturing to the former human on the holo-monitor. "...we don't want it to happen again. The corps' advanced training statistics seem to make them ideal for this type of genetic testing" he states.
"Delta labs had made a similar request, recently. Corporal Revok wouldn't hear anything of it, I'm afraid. He threatened to bring more bureaucratic scrutiny upon our operations than we've ever seen before..." interjects Wells, "...and I'm afraid that may not be an empty threat. The corps is very influential on Earth , if we push them too hard they could cripple our project with years of fighting through red tape" she finishes.
"If this project is to proceed, we may need their cooperation, whether there are repercussions or not" states Mason.
"I happen to think their threats are a well calculated bluff" assumes Nexson. "Most of their equipment is UAC property, I know that they have technicians busy reverse engineering our tech, but it doesn't change the nature of our relationship. The Space Marine corps cannot exist without receiving assignments from the aerospace industry and they can't gamble on their relationship with the leader in that field" says Nexson, casually gesturing his hands and speaking with princely arrogance.
"Hmmm" ponders Allen "I hadn't considered that, but your reasoning seems evident" he says.
"Well, any venture worth pursuing has that modicum of risk. I think it's worth it to call their bluff. A carefully selected marine is just what this project needs" comments Ward.
A silent moment passes as the assembled researchers weighed the idea.
"I think we should move forward on this. Are we all in agreement?" asks Allen. Nods of approval came from around the table. "Good, I'll see to it that this is expedited and kept classified. This meeting is adjourned" he says as he raises from his seat.
The genetic analysis lab was brightly lit, different stations were divided by thin glass with a frosted surface. The ceiling, walls and floor were lined with sloped, shining metallic plating. A small group of researchers were busy monitoring various automated DNA scans and ferrying samples between stations. They were wearing white, loose-fitting lab coats with black trousers. Victor Kronos and Leonard Phillips stood in an undisturbed part of the lab, staring into the holo-monitor, the recently discovered genome twirled in the glowing light. "I'm not sure where to begin, these chromosomes have a complexity far beyond conventional genetics" comments Leonard. "I think this chromosome may be a good start, C-98-D" says Kronos as he begins tapping the keyboard, he starts unwrapping the chromosome and information spilled across the monitor. "What's your opinion of these base pairs?" he asks. There's some similarity between those markers and the genetic anomaly. We're going to have to test it to be sure, however" replies Phillips.
"Naturally" quips Kronos. Phillips steps over to another station and preps the Protein Assembly Matrix for operation.
"I have to admit, Victor, I have a troubling premonition about this new avenue of research. I've never seen something so foreign" comments Leonard.
"I'm sure you know, but we can never be sure what direction bio-research such as this can take" says Kronos.
"All too well, I'm afraid" says Leonard. "How goes the search to find test subjects for this new project?" he asks.
"The Director tells me that Alpha has some subjects prepared" Kronos explains.
"Yes. Thanks to a recent breakthrough in induced hibernation, that should be the new standard" replies Kronos.
"Fascinating, as if our studies weren't progressing at light-speed as it is" Leonard replies.
"If recent events wasn't evidence enough, I can tell you that a new age of sophistication is quickly dawning" says Kronos.
Leonard reaches under the table for a large beaker and places it in front of the Protein Assembly Matrix. He unwinds some clear tubing and pushes them to the bottom of the beaker, he steps over to the controls and begins the formulation process.
"It certainly seems that way, Victor" he says as he taps the machine's control panel. Clear containers of liquid connected to the top of the machine begin draining various degrees of fluid, a low hum sounded from within and the centre core began spinning.
"...I only wish I knew where this path might lead us" Leonard finishes.
"Well it won't be our problem for much longer, it's in the hands of Alpha labs now" say Kronos.
Leonard grips a pair of control sticks, he guides mechanical arms to handle the beaker. The arms held the beaker and a small test tube, the arms tilted the contents of the beaker into the test tube and righted itself after the tube was filled. Kronos gently grabs the test tube, "Mark, would you come here please?" he says as he stuffs a black cork into the top, he then places the tube into the fitted slot of a black case. The case had a gritty texture on its surface with a red biohazard symbol on its lid. Dr. Espensen entered the secluded section of the lab, "Yes, Victor?" he asks. Kronos closes the lid and snaps the latches into place. Turning to face Mark, he says "Deliver this case to Dr. Nexson in Echo labs"
"Yes, sir" Espensen takes the case and promptly heads through the sliding laboratory doors. Leonard reaches for his mobile, "Yes, Leonard" came the voice of Rupert, "The BSK serum is on its way to you, now" Leonard says.
Dr. Nexson and Dr. Carmichael stood before the long control station of the experimentation chamber that housed the portal.
"The hardware is warmed up and the systems are connected. I'm ready to open the gate" says Susan.
"Proceed" Nexson says.
She taps the panel and the gate soon begins burning with bright energy.
"Are you sure it's a good idea to be sending the objects through the portal after what happened to our test subject?" Susan asks.
"This is the best way to keep it classified, sending it on a freighter could be compromising. It might seem risky, but we can always formulate another sample" Nexson replies. "Besides, the sample's being sent in a specially designed case for traversing the portal, it's highly experimental, but now is as good a time as any for testing" he says.
The doors split apart and Mark Espensen walks into the lab.
"Hello, Mark. Would you be a chap and suit up for us?" Rupert asks.
"Suit up? You're sending it through the gate?" Espensen asks.
"That's why the gate is open, Mark" Nexson replies.
Espensen releases a breath. "Alright" he reluctantly replies.
He steps over to a nearby cabinet and pulls out an environment suit, he quickly dons the suit and heads for the connecting door, case in hand. The teleporter sat before him, claws of light reached through the gate. Mark loads the case onto a cart and slowly pushes it up the ramp. He reaches the gate and gently pushes the case inside, the tendrils of light envelops the package. He looks toward the connecting window, Nexson looks up from his station, "Success. Alpha has received the package" he says.
Director Banks and Alice Wells walked a long winding hallway that housed secluded research labs, long windows curved along the edges of the walls.
"I can hardly believe the gumption of these fools. No appreciation, I tell you, no appreciation for scientific procedure" stammers the Director.
"Those are some of our most important investors, it's hard to believe that they would react like this" Alice says as they passed a lab worker handling ancient Martian pottery.
"I admit, the test subject's condition is troubling and completely unexpected, but they should understand by now, after years of cooperation, that the incident is opening up a new branch of discovery" Banks rants as he stares at his data sheet. "Those bean-counters are merely trying to impose their own self-importance on our work"
They pass an examination of mummified remains, they pause and observe the study.
"Pathetic, really" Alice adds.
"Hmmmm" grunts the Director
"Another prince?" she asks
"Not quite, you're looking at the great King Pu-Efram-Bah" states the Director.
"Oh my, when was this excavated?"
"About a week ago, in the Lunae Palus region" he answers.
"After learning so much about him and his dynasty, it's nice to meet him for myself" she says as they continued along.
"Our stock's losses just hit a hundred and sixty points" Alice frowns inwardly as she looks over at the data sheet.
"It's probably better to let it fall back before acting on it" she comments.
"You're right, the media would likely tear us apart if we were to react too strongly" the Director agrees.
"I've seen stock fluctuations affect people's sleep, don't let it come to that, Will"
"Thank you, Alice. I'm touched by your concern"
A research technician behind a nearby window notices the pair walking past and waves them over. They approach the window and the Director touches the intercom, seamlessly fitted into the wall.
"Yes, Doctor?" he asks dryly.
"I have something I want you to see" the researcher states.
"Certainly" came the reply. The researcher reaches into a hydroponic chamber, sitting at the rear of the lab. He turns around, holding a small metallic pot with a few stalks of vegetation sprouting from the top.
"Oh my, is that what it looks like?" the Director asks.
The researcher nods, "G-F-34" he says.
"Take a look at this, Alice. Our team has brought this extinct Martian plant back to life"
"Oh, yes. I remember the interest this sample generated when it was discovered" she says.
"...I wonder if it will become my new office plant" Alice giggles lightly and the Director returns a wide smile. They examine the resurrected life form for another silent moment.
"Thank you for sharing that, Doctor" Will says.
They exchange a wave of goodbye as the pair moved along.
"Isn't that something, Alice?" he asks.
"It's wonderful, Will" she replies.
"Ahh, what a way to ease one's concerns, the tumbling stocks can wait for later" he says as he folds up his data sheet.
Chapter 5: Chapter V Ritualistic Behaviour
"I'm not paid to ask questions about shipments, I just deliver the cargo" states the shady freighter Captain in the large, bright hangar bay. A sharp winged shuttle with a reinforced rear section filled the area, two levels of scaffolding rimmed the hangar's walls. Corporal Revok stared silently at the Captain, then returned to examining the shipment order on his data sheet.
"I can't imagine what use a crate of chainsaws would be on this station..." Revok says squarely. "I'll have to look into this. Wait here please" he says, folding up the data sheet, he then turned and walked toward a nearby control station.
He brought up the communications system and called the Administrative division. The holo-monitor soon filled with the image of a secretary, framed in a office setting.
"Hello Corporal, how can I help you?" asks the bubbly secretary.
"Something's off with the shipment that just arrived, I'd like to have the chief confirm the item" he says.
"The Administrator is monitoring a procedure at the moment, but I'll have him contact you right away" she says.
"All right, I'll be in my office catching up on some reports" he says. The Corporal and the secretary exchange some flirtatious comments before they ended the call. Revok walked over to the freighter Captain.
"Looks like it might be a while before the Chief Administrator gets back to me, you might as well relax for now" Revok states.
The Captain shrugs, "No problem there, Boy Scout" he says with a twisted smirk.
The doors connecting to the containment area swished open, a marine enters and approaches the Corporal.
"Corporal" calls the marine, saluting.
"Yes, Sergeant?" Revok asks.
"Major Mills asked me to deliver this to you" he says, extending a command packet. "He just said to keep it quiet, must be pretty important, sir" he says.
"Did he, now? Thank you, Sergeant. You're dismissed" he says.
"My pleasure, sir" he salutes, then heads for the doors.
The packet's surface was black and leathery, with a golden symbol on one side. An eagle gripping the top of a large shield, adorned with a shining star. The emblem of the Space Marine Corps. He opened the flap and looked inside, six data sheets sat neatly filed at the bottom of the packet. He pulls them out and starts reading, footnotes among the documents indicate that the UAC is using Space Marines as test subjects in one of their experiments. He drops the other sheets back into the packet and reads through a research report.
Location: Phobos colony, Alpha labs bio-research division.
Time: 1523 station time, seventh lunar cycle of Martian year.
Earth date: March 7th 2146.
Attending: Senior researcher Dr. Stuart Johnson and Dr. Nathan Young overseeing experiment with Chief Administrator Alex Burvochov and Assistant Administrator Pauline Wolfe monitoring.
Purpose: Human testing of foreign genetic sequence for reasons of strategic inquiry.
Outline: Study agent is classified as BSK-01 GS.
Test subject details
Subject name: Classified
Weight: 216 lbs
Height: 6'4 ft
-Physical examination of subject is positive; subject authorized for treatment at 006.
-Test subject is released from stasis and placed into protected observation at 017.
-Test subject receives injection of study agent at 022.
-Monitoring of test subject; vitals deemed normal at 035
-Subjects heart rate begins to elevate; vitals remain stable with minor fluctuating discrepancies; subject exhibits signs of moderate physical discomfiture and hyperventilation at 051.
-Subjects breathing returns to normal levels; subjects discomfiture has dissipated at 104.
-Cellular examination of subject reveals a successful fusion of genetic materials from the study agent at 116.
-Subject's condition is stable; subject is placed in quarantined living area for observation at 122.
-End of log at 127.
Rage builds in the Corporal's mind, the data sheet crumples in his enraged grip.
Dr. Nexson was in his office, station information scrolled along the holo-monitors fitted to the walls, from a wide window could be seen the planet Mars framed by starlight, the rocky craters of Deimos and the adjoining buildings of the UAC colony. He busily typed the keyboard, writing reports for the assignments under his responsibility. The brightness of the screen begins to sting his eyes, he dims the monitor a few degrees and rubs his eyes. He rolls his chair to the far end of his desk and grabs his cooling mug of tea and sips it slowly. He had just returned to typing when a loud clatter broke him from his concentration. Nexson looks up and sees a small mound of data sheets, messily piled on his desk. Corporal Revok stood hunched over the desk, glaring at Rupert from behind the transparent screen of the holo-monitor.
"What the **** is this?" he demands.
Nexson calmly turns off the holo-keyboard and monitor, they disappear with a buzzing tone. He then reaches for a data sheet, giving Revok a disinterested stare.
"They appear to be laboratory reports with a level ten clearance classification" he says with a dry tone.
"I don't care if they're bloody classified! Here..." Revok picks up one of the data sheets, "...section D, paragraph two. Read it" he growls.
Rupert takes the data sheet and reads it.
"I see" he says, laying down the sheet. "I suspect you are distraught about our choice of test subjects" Rupert suggests.
"I'm the station's highest ranking military officer, why wasn't I informed?" he snaps.
"Need to know basis, Corporal. Surely you must understand that" he says casually, with a shrug.
"That's not going to fly with me, Rupert" Revok says angrily, "What kind of tests are occurring?" he asks with large bulging eyes.
Rupert releases a long breath, "Okay, Revok" he reaches under his desk and presses a switch, the office door closes and the hardware switches off.
"First off, your concerns about the teleporter systems were proven correct. It is more dangerous than we thought" Rupert begins.
"I knew that damned contraption was trouble" says Revok.
"BSK-01 GS is a genetic serum that was extracted from a test subject that suffered severe mutations after traversing the portal - please, let me finish" he says with a wave of his hand as the Corporal tried to interject.
"Upper management is impressed by your meticulous devotion to duty" he explains.
"Your proven convictions regarding the teleporter system has granted you a great deal of credibility. It's for these reasons that we want you to hang around" he continues.
"We're stationed out here to pursue dangerous research studies, outside legal and moral boundaries. So the time has come for you to decide if this position as station chief is truly a suitable fit for you, high command has already agreed to play by our rules. Now tell me Revok, do you fly with us, or do you say good-bye to us?" Rupert asks, flatly.
"If you stick around, continue what you've always been doing here with our priorities in mind you'll be promoted and given top security clearance throughout the station. If you leave, you'll likely never find work in the aerospace industry again. This way, when it comes to our questionable test subjects, you'll be able to directly oversee operations" he says, exclaiming with arms raised.
"High command will be pleased and you'll never have a more luxurious position. How does the rank 'Master Corporal' sound to you?" Rupert asks.
"What does this entail, exactly?" Revok asks.
"This project you're so concerned with is a prime example of the questionable waters that our research has led us..." he says, reaching into a desk drawer. He pulls out a data sheet and starts flicking through it.
"...I like you Revok, but I'm going to be blunt. You can either sign this contract or you can be on your merry way back to Earth. I'm not bluffing" Rupert states.
Revok takes the data sheet from the executive's hand and reads it silently.
"This is quite the ultimatum, Rupert. Can I have until morning to decide?" he asks.
"Protocols dictate that this contract must expire in twenty minutes" Rupert explains.
Revok examines the data sheet for another moment before deciding.
"I guess I don't have much of a choice..." Revok says as he reaches into an inner pocket for his stylus.
"Consider it as a... understanding between two mutual parties, your duties will change very little" Rupert explains.
"All right, Rupert..." Revok says as he signs the data sheet "I'll play ball"
"I'm very pleased, you're a good station chief. I would have been unhappy to see you go" Rupert says, raising from his seat and grasping the Corporal's hand in a friendly gesture.
"You'll receive a change of procedure over sub-space from high command within the next hour" he explains, smiling. The Corporal returns a smirk, masking his apprehension.
The stars just outside the UAC base shine brilliantly. The halls of Echo labs, however, were pitch black. Due to an evacuation order, the halls were as silent as space. Space Marines stood outside the large doors that lead to the research complex. In the heart of Echo was the Level Ten-A experimentation chamber that currently housed the Gate-B prototype teleporter. The lab was bathed in flickering candle light, a intricate circle was drawn in front of the large device. The circle was lined with hieroglyphs from the dead Martian language, a single pillared alter sat before the gate, it had a bowl at the top that was filled with red wine. A small gong was placed to the front-left side of the teleporter.
Susan Carmichael was in the circle, wearing a black hooded ceremonial robe. She crouched low and lit candles surrounding the circle with a long match. The silence was broken by the whooshing sound of the sealed doors opening, Susan continued undisturbed. Three hooded figures entered the lab, Dr. Nexson, Dr. Kronos and Director Banks walked slowly in measured steps and stood in a triangular formation outside the circle. Dr. Mason was in the adjoining control room. Susan gently blew out the match and placed it aside, she took her place in the centre of the circle, a moment of meditational silence filled the area. Nexson picks up a small mallet and strikes the gong, the small group begin to slowly walk around the circle and chant words from the Martian language.
They walked around the circle more and more quickly, as their chanting grew louder and louder. Susan eventually lifted her arms and they came to a halt, facing the gate. Dr. Mason activates the portal, a small flame of portal energy began burning within the gate. The Director approaches the altar and briefly kneels before it, he then draws a ceremonial dagger and dips it into the spilled wine, he then draws the dagger through the air and completes several Martian characters as Susan chants in long tones.
"Dee-foos-mal-nam" she eerily chants, her words were repeated by the practitioners assembled around her.
Susan repeated the chant until she could feel an ancient energy from deep within the gate touching her mind.
She began her psychic scan of the portal. She could see hundreds of worlds, hundreds of civilizations. Their cultures, art, architecture, dialects and so many other intimate details. She could see entire galaxies of life, each foreign detail was more fascinating than the next. The portal's tendrils of energy gently reached out to Susan and mingled with her psychic waves.
"Entire worlds, emotions, life, I can feel them, I can see them all" declares Susan, cosmic energy filling her mind. She stood, gratefully drinking in the intoxicating, ancient energy. She allowed her mind to explore deeper into infinity, she transcends realm after realm of progressively advanced worlds in mental ecstasy.
She suddenly touched a intensely desolate realm, a brooding darkness seemed to sweep across the lab. It was evident from the look on her face, she was straining her focus. She opened her eyes. They were filled with intensity, they shone like a pair of small mirrors. A sinister presence moved over the assembled practitioners. Susan tries to tell Mason to close the portal, but the breath seemed to have been swept from her lungs. Will surfaces from him meditation and notices Susan's struggle.
"Susan, you've got to close the circle" he says.
She begins gesturing her ceremonial dagger, the other practitioners begin to chant.
"Attempting shut down" sounded the intercom that echoed through the chamber. Mason flips through the emergency shut down procedures. The gate shone even more brightly, a deep red growth crawls from the portal and covers the teleporter in a grotesque layer of flesh.
The practitioners watched as the gate glowed brighter than they had ever seen it burn before.
"You need to evacuate, the controls are locked out!" bellowed the intercom.
Susan hastily finished the closing of the ceremonial circle and the group then escapes through the door to the connecting control room. They stood around the control station, Mason was running through auxiliary commands. The hardware maintenance monitor was on the display, section after section of hardware modules fell into a malfunctioned state.
"The data core is corrupted" Mason states.
The gate burned brighter and brighter, rings of energy began radiating away from the gate. The surface of Gate B was covered in moving flesh that was beginning to cover the floor and walls of the test chamber. The Director reaches for his mobile and activates the station alarm.
"The system is running the communication program! The portal is connecting with Phobos!" shouts Mason.
"This is a nightmare!" shrieks Susan over the sound of the station alarm.
Inside the test chamber, the portal's energy was three times the intensity of it's normal operation, it was flanked by red spinning warning lights. Two large aliens then stepped from the glowing gate.
Chapter 6: Chapter VI Alien Visitors
Loud roars filled the teleport area. The aliens stomped down the ramp, causing it to clatter as it shook. At the control station the automated scanners were already cataloging information about the recent arrivals.
"What happened to the fail-safe systems?" demands Banks.
"The encryption locks are still in place, I couldn't tell you!" Mason loudly explains. Susan watches the aliens reach the bottom of the ramp.
"Dear lord, what have I done?" she asked, her response came in the form of another roar from the aliens. The grey aliens were muscular and stood on hoofs, almost seven feet tall. They had clawed hands, large jaws and pointed horns that protruded from their heads.
More aliens began exiting the portal.
"We have to get out of here and quarantine the lab" shouts Nexson.
"Mason, we can't lose the computer logs. Upload to main station computer"
Mason silently went to work assembling the files, everyone else watched the aliens. They stopped and held their arms over their heads and roared, a large, glowing pentagram appeared beneath their feet. Several points of energy appeared around them, smaller hissing aliens with spiked arms and shoulders manifested from a flash of green light. A small army of angry aliens was behind the screen, and there was no doubt about what they appeared to be. Demons.
They approached the control room and began scratching their sharp claws agains the barrier, making a loud screech. The researchers inwardly braced against the sound as they watched the aliens leave long scratches in the nano-mesh screen.
"Now upload over subspace to 10-42-89. Hurry" Banks says. One of the large aliens then pressed its clawed hand against the screen, a swirl of green plasma emerged from its palm and began burning the screen, prompting the researchers to panic.
"Okay, it's done. Let's go" shouts Mason.
Smoke was already brewing from the screen as they headed through the seating area to the doors beyond. The alien then punched its fingers into the molten mass. It soon began to warp and make a deep tugging sound, like a water tank about to burst, as the creature applied all its strength against the small hole. The creature single-handedly tears the screen apart, making crackling and ripping sounds. Nano-relays in the screen glowed brightly as they overloaded, the surface was scarred with burned out circuit paths. The researchers stopped at the entrance and looked back to see mobs of aliens spilling through the newly formed passage. The Director touches a small command panel.
"Quarantine laboratory" he says.
"Command authorized, quarantine conditions in effect" chirps the station computer, as the door closed and mechanical locks slid into place.
"That's not going to hold them" says Susan.
"Well, it will buy us some time" the Director replies.
Loud bangs quickly came from behind the sealed door, the pounding shook the supporting frame, accompanied by bulges that appeared on the door's surface.
"Dammit" says Kronos, "Come on, we've got to hurry"
They jogged the long hallway. The tortured sound of the aliens ripping the door apart came from behind them. The aliens had breached the laboratory doors, moving along the floors, walls and ceiling. The researchers soon reached a station on the monorail line, the Director called the car to the station as Nexson crouched low, drew his plasma pistol and began firing small green blobs down the length of the hallway.
He managed to bag a few aliens, but there was many more behind them. The monorail car stopped at the station with a sigh as the break pressure released. The aliens were getting close, Rupert continued firing until the monorail's doors opened, the researchers scramble into the car with the creatures not far behind. Kronos approaches the controls at the front of the car and slapped the command to start the elector-magnetic propulsion. The car's doors slid shut, aliens began pounding the doors. The monorail car begins its slow startup, the creatures followed its movements as it passed the adjoining windows.
"Wha... What the hell was that? Were those devil horns?" asks Leonard.
"That's what they appeared to be" the Director replies with some reluctance.
Nexson was watching security footage from the lab on his data sheet, it continued burning with
portal energy and releasing creatures onto the base.
"Unless the marines can contain this, we may need to evacuate the station" he says.
"Evacuate? Surely this can be contained to Echo labs, can't it?" asks the Director.
"We have no idea what else they're capable of. Judging from how quickly they breached the secured teleport area, I think we should consider it" Rupert replies.
"I'm going to be held responsible if this station is overrun" states the Director, angrily.
"We have even bigger problems, look at this" says Kronos, holding a data sheet. "The Phobos base is being infested with aliens as well" he says, indicating emergency messages being sent from there.
"Victor, how could this have happened? There's no way that the communication program can run on its own" Nexson asks Kronos.
"It seems impossible, I'd have to study the logs" he replies.
"When I was scanning the portal energy, I could see the alien's history" began Carmichael. "Our teleporters and the one on Mars were designed by those aliens. The ancient Martians suffered this type of alien invasion tens of thousands of years ago. The ancient teleporter was in disrepair when it was discovered, because the Martians destroyed it to stop the invasion of these... demons" she explains.
"Are you suggesting that we destroy the teleporters?" Director Banks asks.
"Yes" Susan says, nodding with some reluctance. "It's the only way"
"Dammit" shouts Nexson, "I can't believe we're standing here, entertaining this idea... Where's the monorail heading?" Rupert asks.
"I set the destination for the Command Center" replies Kronos.
The next moment, a pillar of energy formed in the center of the moving car. One of the smaller aliens teleported inside and hissed as it lunged at Leonard. He was caught off guard and slammed into the wall, Rupert frantically tries to grab for his pistol but was unable to reach it before the alien slashed savagely at Leonard, tearing more and more of his flesh. Susan stabs the monster in the back with her ceremonial dagger, and jumps back as the alien slashed at her with its claws. Rupert finally draws his pistol and and fired a single shot into the Demon's head. The shot travelled from the right side of the Demon's skull through to the left. It groaned loudly and slowly lowers itself into a heap on the floor, Rupert is speechless as he slowly lowers the pistol.
Victor quickly moves to the back of the car and removes the medical kit from a cabinet and places it on the blood speckled seat beside Leonard. He had claw wounds on his face, chest, arms and hands. The bleeding was bad. After a quick examination, Victor went to task.
"This will stop the pain" he says, depressing a syringe into his arm. He then applied a nano-tech healing agent to his most serious wounds, the monorail had already come to a stop at the Command Center when he was wrapping the wounds in gauze-mesh bandages. A marine had noticed the blood splattered windows of the monorail and deployed medical personnel to the station.
Chapter 7: Chapter VII Portal to Chaos
Major Mills stood in the small, crowded monorail terminal. Top level researchers that usually act like whispering statues were in the grip of unrestrained hysteria. The Major could barely believe what he was hearing.
"Are... Are you serious?" the Major asks.
"If you don't believe me, then take a look for yourself" Rupert says, gesturing to the monorail car. The Major stares at Rupert in a moment of incredulity, Rupert raises his eyebrows in an annoyed, daring response. The Marine then proceeds to enter the car. He saw Dr. Kronos standing beside Leonard to one side, in the middle of the car was the sprawled corpse of a completely foreign creature. He wasted no time. He walked off the monorail, brushing past the researchers and the medical personnel that had just arrived at the terminal and went directly to a comm unit, built into the wall.
Revok was in the primary surveillance control room, he was examining a layout of Echo labs on a large tabletop holo-monitor. His comm unit came to life.
"Major Mills to Corporal Revok" it said, Revok touches the unit.
"Revok here, go ahead Major" he says.
"Sir, a group of top-level researchers just arrived from Echo labs via the monorail. They claim that an infestation of alien creatures is occurring in Sector-B. There's an alien corpse in their monorail car, I think it's real" Mills quickly explains, Revok was already scanning the layout of Sector-B. He finds the source of the alarm condition, sees alien creatures occupying the halls of the research complex.
"Report to your squad, you'll receive orders soon" he calmly says.
He could see from the security footage that the aliens were beginning to take over Sectors A and C, and Sector-A connects with the rest of the station. He had to deploy units soon if there was any chance of taking it back.
He removed a cylindrical key from around his neck and pushed it into a slot on the console, a menu of emergency security protocols opened. He called tactical monorail cars to station, authorized use of energy weapons and activated Echo lab's sentries. He then picked up his comm unit and jogged from the room, yelling commands.
"Viper squad, report to Echo labs main entrance. Obsidian squad, report to monorail station A.
Nova squad, report to monorail station B" he loudly commands.
At monorail station B, the monorail pulled away as it was called to the circuit station. Director Banks takes notice, "That'a boy Revok" he says, "he's deploying tactical monorails"
Space Marines begin filing into the station, as does Corporal Revok. The tactical monorail soon arrives at the terminal. The marines immediately begin boarding the monorail as the researchers argued loudly. Susan shook her head in disagreement and steps over to Revok. "Corporal Revok!" she shouts over the bustling of marines, the Corporal looks over.
"Yes, Dr. Carmichael. Make it quick" he responds.
"The aliens are coming from the portal, experimentation chamber ten-A. The invasion will only stop with the destruction of the teleporter" she frantically explains.
"Okay, consider it done. Now get yourself off this station" Revok says dryly and then proceeds to board the monorail car, it soon pulls away.
The tactical monorail car had several computer stations and a large set of cabinets for holding armour and weapons on one side.
"Everyone suit up. We have an alien infestation originating in Sector-B, Sectors A and C are already being taken over. Viper squad are already making their way through Sector-A and Obsidian squad is on another monorail heading to Sector-C" he explains. "We are heading to Sector-B. Echo labs is empty of UAC personnel, so don't hold back on these things"
The five squad troops quickly donned their armour and helmets, they then grabbed plasma rifles from the weapons cabinet.
After seeing an alien appear from thin air, the Director was compelled to accept the need to evacuate. The researchers made their way to the escape pods on that level. Outside the base, the pods began to break away from Deimos and slowly drift away. Booster engines fired to allow the pods to escape the gravity well of the red planet.
Before the monorail came to a stop, two small aliens had teleported into the car. Their bullet ridden corpses were tossed to the rear section. The car came to a stop and the doors slid aside, the terminal was deserted.
"Nova arriving at Sector-B. Viper and Obsidian squads, report!" he say into his comm unit.
"Obsidian squad reporting, just arriving at monorail station, Sector-C"
"Viper squad reporting from Sector-A, weapons research division. Encountering multiple hostile units" came voices from the comm unit.
Nova squad moved into the adjoining hallway, each section was blocked by sealed station doors, they passed storage and mechanical rooms as they made their way. They moved through another passage, doors splitting as they moved into the area. Three different species of aliens turned toward the squad, piercing red eyes looked back at them. Two large alien creatures, five smaller ones, and two stomping creatures with large jaws filled the corridor. The marines flooded the short hall with glowing plasma. The aliens had no time to react, burning plasma turned them to variously sized smoking chunks of charred meat. They had no problem burning through more aliens in the connecting areas, they were soon heading to the Sector-B Atrium for their rendezvous with Obsidian squad. They waited for only a few moments, burning a few teleporting aliens as they waited. The far doors then raised up, Obsidian squad stood on the other side. They had blood splatter covering their armour, Revok stared deeply into the frontman's visor and saw red eyes staring back at him. Major Mills raised his rifle.
"Take cover" shouts Revok.
The squad of possessed humans fired long sweeping streams of plasma into the area, they soon moved into covered forward positions.
"Die!" one of them screeched, as they continued their wild-fire.
Nova squad was forced to fall back and find cover, Revok was completely unprepared for this scenario. The former humans strode fearlessly into the center of the area and stared absently as they took aim.
"Stop! Hold your fire!" shouts Revok to no avail, they went diving for cover.
"Open fire" commands Revok.
Nova squad fired back from behind shipping crates in controlled bursts, a marine is struck during the exchange. The four remaining marines takes down Obsidian squad, one former human at a time. They fell with large holes blasted into their armour.
The sound of discharged plasma was dissipating across the Atrium as silence took over the area again.
The squad erupted into hysterics, Revok stared silently at his comrade's charred remains in front of him.
"We're going to contact Viper squad... Then we are going to shut down that teleporter... and for the time being, I don't care what stands in our way" Revok states, his voice dripping with undisguised anger.
His three squad mates sounded off. The subsystems in the base were being covered in the appendages of the mysterious growth that spewed form the portal, the systems began to fail and forced the marines to rely on their armour's sealed environment. The marines endure their trek to the elevator, as waves of aliens teleported around them. They had no problem clearing them out, but a member of their squad went missing as they passed the Archeological research labs.
"He was just here, he can't be far"
They searched and and called his comm unit but there were forced to proceed to the teleporter, hoping the lost marine can survive and reach an escape module.
Revok and his squad boarded the elevator and headed to Level 5.
"We're going to sweep the experimentation chamber as quickly as possible, then all units will target the top-left part of the teleporter. If the portal hasn't closed, target individual modules until it does" he says, issuing commands. Their rifles were aimed at the doors as the elevator came to a stop and opened. The sound of snarling aliens and discharging plasma came from ahead, they quickly move toward the sounds. A group of large jawed demons had a pair of Viper squad marines cornered in a short hall on the right. Nova squad was unable to to stop them as the demons mobbed the marines and sank their teeth into their flesh. The alien's massive jaws savagely ripped at their limbs.
They opened fire on the demons, quickly dropping them and moved on, engaging more aliens further down the passage. The pair from Viper squad were beyond all help.
They encountered more and more resistance as they got closer to the teleporter, the door to the experimentation chamber was just beyond the next hall. The area was littered with corpses, blood splatter covered the floors and walls. A loud humming sound and streaks of light came from the door to the teleporter. They enter the area, stepping over the remains of the destroyed door. The growth of flesh was covering all corners of the room, it continued spewing from the portal which was now glowing with a red hue. The teleporter was covered in layers of the growth which had reformed it's appearance into a demonic shape. The experimentation chamber could hardly be recognized anymore, it looked like a corner of hell. Many large, small and floating, bloated aliens were in front of the burning portal, poised to defend their passage into our world.
The marines stormed the area and lit up the assembled aliens with streams of plasma as new arrivals continued stepping from the gate. Aliens charged them and tossed blobs of energy. With some difficulty, they neutralized the aliens and targeted the teleporter. From about eighty meters, the marines shot plasma against the surface of the teleporter, the three streams converged on the targeted area. They kept hammering the casing but the energy seemed to dissipate against the growth.
"Keep firing!" shouts Revok.
The plasma fire seemed to be drawn into the glowing portal and a grey pallet seemed to crawl from within. Staring into the growing void, they could see landmarks of another dimension. Within the deep, expanding realm could be seen a red streaked sky, pock-marked with floating islands. The experimentation chamber was being drawn into a hellish dimension.
Revok's mind went racing for a new approach, but it seemed that time had run out.
"We're aborting, fall back!" orders Revok as the alternate dimension expanded to half the size of the experimentation chamber. The marines turned to escape, running from the chamber and heading to the Level 5 escape pods. They entered the hallway with a strip of escape pods set into the wall facing away from the station. They were climbing into a pod when a large horned demon turned the far corner and tossed a green blob of plasma, striking one of the three remaining marines. The plasma caught him on the right side of his upper torso, it seared straight through his armour and melted into his chest and ate away at the flesh between his bones. Revok and the other marine watched their squad-mate's torso melt away, his screams were accompanied by sizzling sounds as he collapsed to the floor. Revok was stupefied by the marine's painful last moments, the loud stomping of the approaching alien finally prompted them to launch the pod.
The pod had only travelled a couple hundred meters before the marines witnessed the Martian moon, Deimos, slip away into the hellish dimension.
Chapter 8: Chapter VIII Union Aerospace Corporation
Saturday, July 9th 2146, 10:46 AM
Location: Earth, UAC Headquarters, Sydney Australia
It was a sunny day, only a few light, fluffy clouds were threatening the Sun's comforting warmth. A small group of news reporters stood in the shadow of the tall shining office tower. They casually muttered their usual gossip, unaware of the situation emerging off-world. A podium flanked by well dressed security agents stood in the far rear of a small courtyard outside the building's main doors, it bore the UAC logo and held a single microphone. As the media waited, employees came and went through the front glass doors like any usual business day.
A shining and expensive hover car pulled up from the road behind the assembled reporters and UAC President Charles Rosenburg emerges from the vehicle. He hastily made his way to the podium, his personal body guards following behind. He stood behind the podium for a few moments, whispering to other corporate officers, staring over at the media with concerned expressions before taking the podium.
"Ladies and gentlemen of the press, thank you all for coming" begins the President. He was tall and slim with sharp facial features, he had well-groomed black hair with a patch of greying, silver trimming the sides of his head. He was wearing a navy blue pinstriped business suit with a white shirt and black tie.
"Yesterday, at 4:12 p.m..." He begins with a note of distress in his voice, "...our listening stations began picking up the first in a number of emergency subspace transmissions from our off-world stations around Mars, Phobos and Deimos. The transmissions describe an accident relating to the classified teleportation systems that were established on those moons. Among other things, they report that the teleporters are operating out of their control and that dangerous alien creatures are entering the bases through active portals"
The chirping of birds accompanied the President's words, slightly taking away from the seriousness of the situation. The media personnel were silent, wearing faces of disbelief as they held out their recording devices.
"Many of the colonists on Deimos managed to evacuate. However, the moon was being tracked by our stationary sensors and recorded images of Deimos disappearing from its orbit around Mars. The location of Deimos is now unknown and we have lost communication with its main station computer" he continued.
"We have received reports from Phobos indicating that they are quickly losing ground to the growing alien occupation. Space marines stationed on Mars have responded to a distress call from Phobos and a rescue operation has been launched from there. We since have lost contact with the base and marines after the squad arrived" the President explains.
"Seven hundred and eighteen colonists from Deimos have survived after evacuating in escape pods. Fifty seven colonists are unaccounted for and are presumed to have been on the station when the moon vanished from our sensors. Of the Phobos colony, however, only one hundred and eighty two colonists managed to reach escape pods. Five hundred and twelve are unaccounted for, many are presumed to have been killed during the initial waves of the alien infestation, this is according to information from the transmissions we have received" he gravely explains. "The situation on Phobos has yet to be contained. If the spread of this infestation is not stopped, we fear the aliens will become a permanent resident of our solar system" he says, finishing his statement.
"I regret having to report to you all such troubling news. I will now take some questions"
"Do you have any indication as to where Deimos is now?" asks a reporter, after a moment of silent surprise.
"No, the disappearance of Deimos is completely unexpected. We don't know" the President replies.
"What was happening when the teleporters malfunctioned?" another asks.
"I cannot comment any further on classified projects, next question" he states.
"Is there any chance that the alien infestation could reach Earth?" asks a female reporter, after a another quiet moment.
"We don't know"
Beyond the boundaries of our reality lies the alternate dimension from where originates the alien infestation. Large jawed demons occupied higher, rocky territory. Spiked, brown aliens mobbed lower ground. Skulls littered the ground and were impaled on spikes that were stabbed into the dry dirt. A fiery sky burned with spectacular ribbons of moving energy and was dotted with floating, rocky islands, swirling portals and bloated, floating aliens. Above the surface of Hell was Deimos, it hovered in the surreal sky, largest of the floating islands. Within the doomed station, the growth soon meshes with the remaining systems of the station. In the teleport area, before the gate, the growth formed into a nest with strands of fleshy appendages converging on it. A giant slithering slug, resembling a brain with a face and grasping appendages crawled from the portal, squirming as it moved. It examined its surroundings, then made its way to its cozy nest. From there, the strands of flesh served to allow the Spider-mind to spread the reach of its influence to all corners of the moon, it also gave the creature the ability to access all the station systems and databases. The seemingly endless flood of information made the Spider-mind more and more powerful.
Deimos began to reform under the Spider-mind's will. Pits of swirling, bubbling bio-fluid that sat above advanced UAC hardware gradually morphed into a demonic, cybernetic nursery. From it emerged a variety of aliens with cybernetic modules weaved into their flesh. From the grotesque nursery then emerged a towering muscular, horned alien with a mechanical right leg that ended in a metal hoof and a dangerous energy weapon fused to the end of its left arm.
The birth of the Cyber-demon was a sight no man was ever meant to see.