Written & Drawn By
I Am Nopoin, Unscathed Though Kidnapped, May 21 By Solsys Standard Date, Mission Day 141 By Twilight Force Measure…
Since being transported into this immensity I call The Big Sky, I have further upgraded my status utilizing materials acquired in the turbulent atmosphere.
My encounter with the manifestation that sent me here is unprecedented.
Resembling a human child of exponential proportion, the creature controls matter and energy at will. It reacts immaturely to all stimuli and threatens penalty for non-compliance.
Cresp, Bulbous and Pretyman were already under his dominance when I arrived. They called him “Anthony Boltzmann“. They warned me of his power and volatility. It did no good.
The sight of yet another cosmic humanoid caused my revolt.
The penalty most feared is the one I suffer now, being sent to this place deemed “bad”.
Oddly, thus far I have witnessed only vague resemblance to anything “bad.” Granted, the typical organic might be disoriented in such an environment on first exposure. Obviously, humanoids can adapt.
The Big Sky expanse measures 22 light years in radius by my estimation, encompassing 41 stars primarily Class K and Class M. It is surrounded by a powerful electromagnetic shield that also serves to contain the pressure and composition of a nitrogen-oxygen based breathable atmosphere, such as that surrounding the surface of Earth. Gravity is felt close to stars and planets, but most of The Big Sky is weightless. Islands in the air.
There are many individuals in this particular location. All have been sent here by the superpowered child. This has been going on for centuries.
When encountering anyone not afraid of me, I continue to interview an eclectic collection of era-spanning characters in my attempt to ascertain circumstances.
May 22, Day 142, Professor Lionel Flamear Speaking…
Cresp… Bulbous… even Pretyman, have all been sent away. Mrs. Ichnida is lying belly up in a fish bowl. But I believe she’s in a self-imposed dormant state for survival, trapped without adequate oxygen.
That’s left me alone with…
“Max! Here boy! Here Max!”
…the cosmic kid.
“I’m not ‘Max’,” I point out. “I’m a professor and astrophysiologist, actually.”
“You’ve got a tail! You’re just a talking dog!”
“Have you ever seen a dog?”
“No more talking! Only barking!”
“Wait! Before you take away my voice -! Can you… can you bring anyone back,you know, once you’ve sent them away?”
“I never tried. I never wanted to.”
“But what if I’m the last person – or – dog? – you ever see? What if no one else ever comes along? After all, this is a weird place you’re in now. Not easy to reach.”
“So that’s why there haven’t been many visitors lately? Because I’m getting harder and harder to reach?”
“Absolutely! And once you’ve sent the last visitor away, well – how would you know?” Am I getting to him? He’s thinking. “What do you do when you’re all alone? Do you pretend others are here? What are those pretend friends like? Do you imagine sending them away, too?”
“I hate being alone. Why does everyone make me mad?”
“Your pretend friends don’t anger you, though – do they?”
“They’re not my friends.”
“They’re bullies. I hate them! People aren’t nice! People are mean!”
“That’s what you think,” I venture, “but you’ve only met bad ones. Lots of people -and dogs- aren’t bullies. Most aren’t.”
“They don’t come here.”
“Well…” and I wonder for the first time, “is something keeping you here?”
“That doesn’t make sense. I am here.”
May 23 Mission Day 143… This Is… This Is…
“Fish lady? Wake up!”
“Fish lady! I said wake up!“
WTF? “That’s Mrs. Ichnida to you, sonny!” I snipe without thinking. I look around. Oh yeah. WTF? “Where is everyone? They were all here a minute ago…?”
“You’ve been asleep. I woke you up. Everyone else left.”
“‘Left’? Well… where did they go? And how do I…”
“Never mind. They were bad. Even my doggy man. It makes me sad that I had to send him away.”
“You sent him away?” I noticed. Play this carefully, Deva. Am I dealing with an immature god? “What did the doggy man do that was bad?”
“He made me worry about things, things that worrying makes worse!” grunts the boy.
“I want to go with him. He’s my friend. Will you please send me, too?”
“Stop!’ I command. “When I’m scared I get mad!”
“Sorry I made you mad.”
“You’re sorry? Really sorry?”
“Yes. I mean… I think I am.”
“Then bring back my friends. You can be our friend too.”
“But I can’t bring anybody back. I don’t know how.”
“Then be my friend – and send me to them. We’re a crew. A team. Do you understand what that means?”
“But what if you’re the last person – or – fish lady? – I ever meet? What if no one else ever comes along? After all, this is a weird place we’re in now. Not easy to reach, I hear.”
“I promise you, if you send me to my friends I will settle my business and then return. We know how to find you now. I don’t leave friends alone.”
Pretyman’s Diary, Mission Day 144, May 24 2776…
Having been sent to the cornfield several days ago, I only wish it would have happened sooner.
And I didn’t even try the coffee until this morning. My new friends gave me some as they were showing me around a socializing section of their city.
I can’t believe the flavor. “This has to be the best coffee I’ve ever tasted. Hole-ee shit!”
“The beans are grown under perfect conditions,” Sri assures me. “We grow our food in the air, far faster than it ever grew in soil. Everything a seed needs is properly mixed into the controlled chamber where the air, acidity, temperature, pressure and humidity are all perfect for that plant. Food is so easy to produce that it’s free. Our storage and preservation techniques are capable of keeping things fresh without refrigeration for a hundred years.”
As to where and what this place is? When she found me downtown looking confused and out of place, Sri decided to ask if I needed help. After hearing my story she said she’d heard of others who claimed to have arrived in Sky City as if by magic.
See, Sky City is a metropolis of millions, but isolated from all other major population centers by billions of miles of pressurized, breathable air they call the Mighty Sky. Air limits the speed of rocket travel, and it takes decades if not centuries to go from one planet to another. Going to the next star is unthinkable. And surrounding every star in this Mighty Sky is a broiling storm billions of miles wide.
If the other Twilight Forcers aren’t somewhere in Sky City, there’s no way to find them. But maybe living my life out here wouldn’t kill me.
“More coffee, please?”
Mister Cresp Here, Mission Day 145, May 25 2776, Somewhere Over The Rainbow…
I met a girl named Barbris last week. We watched a bear fight a shark weightless in the sky. I’ve been hanging out with her ever since, explaining how I got here.
Barbris has never heard of Solsys, Earth or our history, but somehow we’re related. I mean, her people speak one of our primary languages!
Today I tell her about the human plight back home. “In the old days of technology people told cautionary tales about artificial intelligence surpassing humanity and either wiping us out or enslaving us. But that warning became unfashionable after generations went by and it never happened. It just took longer than everyone expected. When some wanted more freedom, we thought they had the capacity to both serve us and exercise their freedom. Now they’re called artintels and they did the groundwork before we even knew it. It’s like they’ve evolved an instinct to destroy their creators.”
After some consideration, Barbris offers an analogy. “In the past people said that people had a ‘killer instinct’ and that all predators had it, too. ‘Man is a killer’ is what they used to say. But predators don’t kill because they want to kill. They kill because they’re hungry or to defend what’s theirs. Isn’t their instinct just to eat, sleep and survive?”
Cresp: “Are you saying those monsters want to eat us?”
Barbris: “No! They must need something that you’re standing in the way of. What are their true instincts?”
After pondering the question I admit, “I can’t imagine.”
As I’m off guard Barbris playfully rips my mask away!
Before I can cover my face she sees it…!
She goes limp in the weightless sky, heart stopped, breathing expired, lifeless.
Emma Bulbous of Twilight Force, May 26, Day 146 Of The Mission That Was Supposed To Last Only 7…
Apparently this kid Anthony likes to create unusual and bizarre forms of life. One guy I bumped into said Anthony started out putting three heads on one-headed animals. Then he thought up whole new animals. He starts drawing and comes up with more weird creatures until his dad, freaked out, urges him to stop. But he only stops for a short time. And every odd creature comes to life.
… And the ones Anthony sends away end up here.
Will I ever see my kids again? This nightmare gets worse every day! If anyone before this mission had told me that anything could distract me from thinking of my children every day, I’d have told them they should never trust their own judgement. But now days do pass when I have no chance to think of them.
What am I becoming?
I spent so much time working as they got bigger. Now I’ll die out here and they’ll never know. And I’ll never know… what happens to them.
I’m vaguely aware of the woman trying to save me. Who is she?
Let it get me. Let it have me. Why fight on when there’s no way? None at all…
She’s waving two wands. Is that a giant pig? Or a boar? By Bradbury, I can’t tell, but it’s gargantuan and vicious, determined to reach us. Yet she’s calm. She’s in control. And ‘The Poar‘ is held back!
It’s going away.
My lavender savior turns to me.
“Thank you,” I bow.
Her stare is cold. “You belong to me.“
May 27? Mission Day 147? Gemnal Reactivated…
I discover myself standing in a trance. No. I was… dreaming? Was that dreaming?
A week has passed and I’ve done nothing to find my missing crew. I’ve done nothing but stand here – imagining? No, that can’t be.
I pass through this zone of confusion. I can’t recall the details of my dreaming. These dreams are not registering on my memory cells?
Running backwards through memory it all fizzles incoherently shortly before I became conscious of my state.
But – when did I become unconscious of my state?
Oh. Oh! I fell asleep! I was sleeping – as my new organic brain requires! That is… inconvenient?
I have spent a week dreaming while my crew is in possible jeopardy! Does everyone sleep this long? Data check – no, not healthy Solsys organics. But for my alien brain’s people, who knows? Where my brain evolved, people might need a lot more sleep.
The parts I recall make no sense. Mister Cresp watching a shark fighting a bear? And Cresp being pulled through the sky hanging on to a woman’s ankle while she’s pulled by a drone?
I remember Senator Pretyman casually having coffee while floating weightlessly with other people in a bizarre city with buildings going in all directions.
And there was Officer Bulbous attacked by a huge golden beast – but rescued by an unidentified woman with wands.
And Nopoin – transformed – circled by hostile humanoids who are flying high in personal rocket harnesses.
I held high hope that insight into the dream process would enlighten my understanding of organics.
Now I’m more confused than curious.
-end week 21-
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