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 Demios 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 subjects 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 it’s 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.