Author Topic: Eidolon  (Read 5584 times)

Offline bahgheera

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Eidolon
« on: September 06, 2008, 10:29:14 PM »
Quell woke with a start. Blackness. A dim green glow slowly began to creep into his vision. Green indicator lights, gauges and controls on the panel in his tiny compartment materialised out of the blackness. He came to remember where he was. Nowhere. Not remembering how long he'd been there, and not really caring. Floating on a random course through the Great Never, somehow lucky to survive the disaster he had brought on himself and his crew.

And was it worth it? He didn't think so, although he had at first.

He hadn't intended for life to go this way; hadn't intended to cross the line, to operate on the wrong side of the law. But in the vast emptiness, where you don't see another living soul for months on end, it's too easy, too tempting not to create a law of your own. And that was exactly what Quell had done, created his own law, his own moral code, and it didn't exactly take into account the feelings and well being of those around him. He'd just pushed a little at first, but as it occurred to him what it would take to get what he needed, he pushed more, and more, until one day it was obvious to him where he stood with regard to the laws of men. And he wasn't proud of it. But it was much too late to go back now, he was too close to his ultimate goal, to the thing he wanted most in life. That golden apple hung so close, he could almost reach out and touch it - in fact, yes! There it was, dangling from a shimmering branch, extending out of a mist of dreams and memories, from his fears and psychoses, there was the apple, golden, reflecting the warmest sunlight, a cool summer breeze wrapping itself around him, pleading with him to reach out, grab the fruit, the fruit that was especially cultivated, tended to by mystic forest gardeners for decades, all for him, the one man in the universe who was destined to own this pome of life. And as he reached out, fingers grasping, hand extending - he felt the glass front of the escape pod he was imprisoned in, the vision exploded in a thousand fiery filaments, and he was back in reality, back in his own tiny universe inside the pod, back on his way to nowhere in particular and at speed.

Quell continued his midnight drift. Empty mind. Trying not to think about anything. Least of all his predicament. For the only ship that was within a thousand light years of him lay just aft, five days distant by his reckoning, in millions of tiny, cindered pieces. For these five days, he'd been alone. Nothing to occupy, no one to engage the mind, and Quell already felt he may be losing his grip on reality, on his sanity.

Scanning the control panel for the millionth time, he noted - enough air and water for several weeks, food for possibly longer. The automatic guidance system of his pod had avoidance and collision recognition, and would keep him relatively safe from the occasional lump of ore and ice that lumbered across his path through this particular corner of the universe, displaying each one in detail on the tiny radar screen in the center of the console, this rock so distant, that one not so, this angle of trajectory and that. Looking at the console, there were a handful of these objects within several kilometers of him right now. And something else - there on the radar screen so faint and blinking so slowly he almost missed it, a contact.
« Last Edit: September 16, 2008, 08:41:47 PM by bahgheera »

Offline bahgheera

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Re: Eidolon
« Reply #1 on: September 06, 2008, 10:29:42 PM »
An hour distant. Now thirty minutes, now twenty, and he could finally see it. It was indeed a ship, a tiny one, compared to his last, although he admitted to himself he wasn't a good judge of size and distance when in the emptiness of space. But it was a ship, that was really all that mattered at this point. He altered his course for the twentieth time, drawing closer and closer to this bit of hope amidst the nightmare. His console still reported no life aboard, but definitely energy signatures, so he knew the batteries must have some life in them.

Still he approached. This craft wasn't of a familiar make or model, or even a familiar shape. It was an unusual design, a wide, flat body that swept from a narrow nose to a wide aft section. There were wings, or something like them, protruding from the center, but swept back, to give the ship a sleek look. Each wing curved down at the tip, with a sort of pad on the bottom, presumably for surface landing. He saw markings on the aft part of the ship, just near the engine vents, in some language he'd never seen before. The ship was painted with a strange design, tattooed fore and aft with a sort of tribal, but very angular design, painted in bright red against the dull metal of the ships structure. He was getting close enough now that he could see through the front windows into the cockpit area, no not really a cockpit, more of a bridge or command area. The ship was bigger than he thought, after all. Still smaller than his last one though. He didn't notice any obvious weapons displayed on the craft, but that didn't really mean anything. Mankind had developed such diverse weapons, so many different ways of killing each other, there could be almost anything on that ship for dispatching ones enemy.

Quell suddenly had a realization. If there was no one on board, how was he going to get inside? He could make out the outline of a door to a docking bay, but with no one on this craft to open it, to close it behind him, fill the airlock with atmosphere, then open the interior door, then he may as well be looking at another asteroid drifting by. He had problems to overcome, it was now time to activate the part of his brain he'd had altered years ago, that part of his mind that could, and had, subjugated all impossibilities to his own will, and turned overwhelming odds into the merest of everyday events. The reason he was still alive. He would discover a way inside this ship, he would open that airlock door, and close it, and fill the lock, and then open the inside door. He would do it, because now the airlock was the only thing standing in between him and his Ultimate Goal, the golden apple that grew on a tree in an orchard in his mind.

Positioned just a few meters away from the airlock door now, turning over the impossibilities in his altered mind, hoping to discover the one detail on the underside of each one that would make it a possibility, something happened. The airlock door opened.

Offline bahgheera

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Re: Eidolon
« Reply #2 on: September 06, 2008, 11:10:22 PM »
There were two straightforward explanations for why that airlock door had opened. Quell thought about each one. Either someone had programmed the ship to open on arrival of another craft, or - there was someone on board after all. Quell double checked all of his instruments, making sure he hadn't missed a bio signal here or a heat signature there. Never slowing though, still heading for the airlock. The ship filled his entire view now, lit by the light-years distant star behind him, light that streamed past the wreckage of his ill fated previous craft a few minutes ago, and now bounced off the one in front of him to land on his weary retinas.

The pod silently drifted into the frosted ship, slowing and finally stopping in the center of the small airlock. Quell rotated one hundred eighty degrees just in time to see the door to the outside close. A minute went by, then two, then five, and as the chamber filled with enough gas to conduct sound, he finally started to hear the hissing noise that indicated the airlock was filling with what he hoped was breathable air. Indicator lights above both doors changed from shades of bright yellow to deep red. Once the light stopped changing, he thought, it must be ok to leave the pod. The hissing stopped, the light remained the same color, and all the interior lights turned on, revealing the rest of the interior of the airlock. Strange architecture, odd design all the way around. If anyone was ever going to suggest that humans weren't the only inhabitants of the universe, then this ship would be excellent supporting evidence. Nothing made sense, not the way the doors were oriented so that the hinge was on top and they swung inward, not the shallow U-shape of the airlock chamber, not the strange markings, similar to the ones on the outside of the ship, that covered the walls inside, not the lack of any kind of screen or keypad or other communication device inside the airlock for calling inside the ship, and definitely not the strange feeling he had on the back of his neck. Something inside him told him this was wrong, very wrong, that taking this ship would bring him to a terrible end.

He suddenly realized he was still hovering a meter above the floor. He set the pod down, checked instruments to verify the atmosphere, and with great trepidation, opened the hatch of his pod. His atmosphere and the ships began to mingle together. So far so good. Now, he could only hope the same person or pre-programmed system that opened the outside door, would open the inside one. And right on cue, it did. The door slowly swung inwards toward him. Quell tensed, ready - but not really ready - for anything. Darkness on the other side. The door continued to open, and the lights from inside his chamber began to filter through the dim obscurity, revealing the corridor leading away from his airlock. With a loud reverberating 'clang!' the door finished its upward swing, and Quell was ready to step through and examine the corridor. Just as he took his first step towards the door, a dusky shadow swept past the end of the corridor and merged with the darkness. Quell tensed. So there was someone here after all. He stepped forward again, wishing he had a weapon, not really wishing to dispatch an enemy with his bare hands. But he would take what life gave him. Another dreadful step to the door, and with a shock he heard a voice. A distant voice, ethereal, hollow, malevolent. A voice that petrified him, rooted him to the spot, awakened all his childhood fears of demons and ghosts and creatures of the night. A voice that so terrified him down to his very core, not because of the sound of it, not because of the ghostly quality, but because of what it said.

"Quell!" it repeated.
« Last Edit: September 16, 2008, 08:35:55 PM by bahgheera »

Offline bahgheera

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Re: Eidolon
« Reply #3 on: September 16, 2008, 08:28:45 PM »
"Quell! Come!"

Someone wanted him to step through that airlock door. Someone knew he was here, and in fact knew his name. Which meant that this someone knew who he was, and probably knew what he'd done. But not necessarily what he'd been through.

"Quell!"

Again the haunting voice. This wouldn't be the authorities, they would have stormed the airlock by now and taken him down in a hail of bullets. He was well known in all the major systems by every government you would care to cross in a hundred years. The price on his head was heavy, weighing down his thoughts with imaginations of the violence that would be done to him should any bounty hunter or peacekeeper ever come across him with the idea of collecting.

"Quell, come!"

Focus, that was what he needed, clarity and focus. Keep his mind from drifting, even in this most tense of situations, stay on track. Thoughts were flash flooding his conscious, ideas were storming down out of the firmament of his mind, pale blue blazes of lightning flashing across his inner vision, taking form as rapid daydreams intent on destroying his composure.

"Quell! Quell!"

He finally began to marshal his thoughts. Began taking resolute steps towards the door. Determined that no matter how strange a development, he would not be moved, he would be a stone, a mountain of stone, unmovable in his perfect quest for perfection.

"Quell! Help me!"
« Last Edit: September 16, 2008, 08:35:23 PM by bahgheera »