TWILIGHT FORCE Mission Week 30: Fight Where You Land

Written & Drawn by

Steve Games

July 23, Mission Day 204, Doctor Nopoin Recording…

I break free of Anthony’s mental hold over me and am confronted. “Why do you toy with us?” I want to know.

“You’re a toy, ‘Doctor’,” the manifestation tells me.

I respond: “Some call the animating force of matter consciousness, some call it spirit, some call it soul, that which results from neural systems formed by quantum fluctuations. I call it myself.”

“The universe itself  is alive,” Anthony declares. “Life is central to the formation of all other things in the cosmos. You are not. Indeed, you’re merely – animated.”

NOPOIN Anthony Dreamspace.jpg

I add, “The very essence of that which animates us – the source of consciousness in quantum reactions – has created the foundation that we now reshape through quantum entanglement. Neither you nor other organics perceive all that is actually out here. You only sense what you, collectively, believe to be out there biased by your biological and psychological needs.”

Anthony says, “What we believe is out there, even if it begins with imagination, can eventually be perceived – and become real.”

“Your consciousness inextricably sculpts your cellular reality,” I realize, “and conscious perceptions are influencing the ever-changing conditions of your world’s mutually experienced ‘truth’. Biological and social organization increase consensual elements of what is perceived as reality within any isolated biosphere such as Earth.

“Yes,” confirms Anthony. “Perceptions and dreaming form reality, yours and those of beast, insect, bacteria, virus and microbe. All decision-making beings –  cats, aliens, hamsters, goldfish, ad infinitum – are consciously influencing reality simply by observing it.”

I’m suddenly enlightened on the organic condition. “Whether aware of it or not, every natural brain is a creator within the inter-connected multi-verse.”

“And,” says Anthony, “most of this work gets done while life is dreaming.”

Incredible. “In fact sleep is advanced life’s natural state; a state that eludes me – completely.”

“Natural. That’s why it feels so good,” reveals the cosmic giant. “We’re only waking up to feed the dreamer and to look around to see what’s happening out here between meals.”

“You… sleep?” I wonder.

“You can’t comprehend my state of being, Doctor. Simply know this state exists. Perhaps one day technology will find a way to conquer Dreamspace. For you, that day is far away.”

The fantastic power levels on display in Anthony’s presence are beyond measurement. It’s possible that he’s controlling the whole environment surrounding us. As I distract him I’m analyzing the details of behavior and physical clues that might be useful.

“How can you be certain,” I ask, “that my kind hasn’t already invaded this Dreamspace? After all, humans are constrained by the impositions of other realities upon them.”

Anthony replies, “All humans won’t encounter the same tomorrow. Or share the same yesterday. Human brains assure access to a rich subconscious, multi-dimensional resource. Yours doesn’t. All like you have the same yesterday. A single associative consciousness. The same tomorrow. A hive collective.”

“Humanoids fare no better,” I point out. “Most humanoids want to conform with their cultures so strongly that even the smartest will call the nighttime ‘day’ and believe it, if the majority wants them to. They are masters of denial and expectation, exerting pressure on each individual within society through peer pressureConservatives will always be a majority among them, and will inevitably seem old fashioned.”

“I’d like to see how you’d fare as a humanoid,”says Anthony.

That didn’t sound like a request…


Mission Day 205, July 24, Professor Lionel Flamear…

Or am I? What’s happening to that guy…?

I feel unsettled stirrings inside. I feel stiffened veins bulge as the skin above rises ominously.

My skin feels like it will pop and explode. Relax. Relax…

So I lie settled but restless

The stirrings still stir. They want out. How good it would feel to let go…. So good, so full, so ready to burst – I’m afraid…!

But then… I must!

…And I’m relieved. I peek at a sky filled with smoke and I am covered in a blanket of warmth.

Waves from outer space ripple across my currents. My sky is a membrane covering the great water vision. I look to the stars in all directions, and as the dense smog clears from the air I learn the new universe I’ve been born of.

I speak to other planets that share the space of our stars. None of us belong to just one star. All of us switch from time to time, when stars come close enough to feel.

I dance with other planets when our orbits bring us near. We throw rocks to each other across the void, touching intimately, blending forever.

My birth star showers me with stardust unexpectedly. I am happy. I feed. I rest.

A stinging asteroid pierces my skin, burning me and blasting my serenity! I hate it!

Flamear Planet.jpg

I crackle with electricity, I must be snapping dormant molecules to life and killing cells at the same time!

Things wiggle about and squiggle within me. Things tickle and jiggle me, drill me and spackle me. They’re changing me!

I’m experiencing time at an incredible speed. So many things lost. Gone forever. The universe goes on ceaselessly spinning around me and I dimly recall my life in Solsys…

As an organic, I, too, was the home of more parasites than there are stars in the Milky Way. I wasn’t aware of them most of the time. But a genspec couldn’t find peace enough to be aware of much more than taxes and heart attacks.

As a genspec I was trained to feel alone. My identity was forged for me by a seemingly random assemblage of indoctrinated adults. By the age of two I was being persuaded to feel like a sinner, guilty of being too curious, of living too close to the orchard of original knowledge. By teenage years I was coerced to believe myself responsible for everything I did, which had better include “making a living” – as if I wasn’t living already – and for acting on any beliefs brainwashed upon me by the adults who raised me. By adulthood I was processed into a routine, deluded into believing that human concerns were the only thing that mattered. There were years when I never looked up at the stars…

A planet never feels alone.

A planet needs no privacy.

I twirl, I pirouette, I race through space dancing with the stars.

My face, my body, my being is a receiver of cosmic news, a blender of universal information. I am what things like Nopoin and Alpha aspire to be – but can never become.

Know me for what I am. Meet me with what you are. My sensations and experiences reach deeper than any organic can imagine. I am never alone. But I am always one.

I am always the multitude, the collective, the child.


Somehow It’s Months Later But The Same Day: July 25, Mission Day 206, “Captain” Ichnida Narrating…

Great Fucking Catfish! This is where I left off on Mission Day 129 – where I’m a human male, apparently the captain, aboard a lost ship with a hi-tech pirate before me. He’d just asked if I’d heard of him.

I nod negatively.

“No? Never heard of The Great Laker? Armed with a sonar-proof pressure-adjusting uniform, an electric shock aura,  a 6-hour oxygen belt, sonar vision, undersea lasers and four mini-mines? It’s a tragic story, mine is,” he opines.  “I developed freshwater technology using assorted resources from the university allowing underwater activity in extreme conditions. But, unable to get anyone to help me commercialize my inventions because of their ‘limited market appeal’ I started using them to help myself.”

Ichnida: “A pirate, out here on a job all by yourself?”

“Well,” laughs the Great Laker, reveling in revelation, “picking off the salties is lucrative and simple.You know what a…? Well salties are the only ocean-going vessels small enough to pass through all the sea locks of the Great Lakes.”

Ichnida: “We’re on the Great Lakes?”

“You’re the Captain!” shouts the Great Laker“You don’t know Lake Superior when you’re ridin’ her?”

Ichnida: “I’m…never mind.” What’s the point?

The Great Laker is enjoying his sharing. Obviously he has no one to talk to about his capers but now I’m a captive audience.

“Salties are smaller boats and likely to be carrying as much light weight precious cargo as possible – unlike your vessel, a laker. Taking on the lakers is a challenge. Yours are the biggest boats, thousand foot single aft superstructures too large to leave the upper lakes.The target aboard might be hard to reach, but the scale of the ship itself gives refuge during the operation, shelter against storm and prying eye. And of course nearly 5,000 shipwrecks lie at the bottom, some holding bountiful treasures awaiting some future organized expedition. As The Great Laker I can get to some of them now.”

“You have a son,” I remind him. “What happens to him if you go to prison? Or worse?”

“I have no choices,” the Great Laker insists. Without the money to pay for my family’s health care I lost my wife to heart disease and my daughter to cancer. Now my son is left. So I’m very careful. Never talkative like this. But…today, there is definitely something going on with almost everybody. Something freaky… anyway, my jobs are clandestine. I mean, what if the cargo vanishes somewhere between start and finish without a hint it’s happening? Cargo has been replaced with fakes that can go undetected for years. Like I said, I’m a phantom.”

It appears that the whole crew of this ship as well as the rest of the visible world is in my boat, both literally out here on Lake Superior and figuratively everywhere else. None of us know what we’re doing except this Great Laker.

I turn on the ship’s intercom.

“Steady,” I say, my voice booming above the din. “Listen up. I’m experienced with what you’re going through. We can survive this if we stop panicking. Now I know this sounds crazy, but only one thing is gonna straighten this out for all of us…”

I turn to “The Great Laker“.

“Anthony? Is that you?”

He stares back a moment before responding. “How did you know?”

“Your games become increasingly sophisticated,” I observe, “but your needs remain the same.”


Mission Day 207, July 26, Agent Temno Talking…

Commence With The Science Fiction… because Anthony is dishing it out in spades.

I wake up under a huge cactus in a bedroll. Beside me is a pistol in a holster and a shotgun, sitting atop a saddle.

Luckily I studied horsemanship in college as a physical ed elective. I saddle the horse tied to the tree beside me and try to figure out which way to go on the trail. I find a coin in my pocket. It’s gold with a silhouette of Lady Liberty on one side and an eagle on the other, dated 1879. That explains my clothing and boots. I flip the coin and head out.

There’s a collection of wooden buildings I come to that I find is considered to be a town. I drag myself into the only place obviously available, a modest “saloon.” I tie my horse to the post and go through the swinging doors. I take a stool at the bar.

“What’s your firewater?” the bartender asks.

“Uh, beer?”

“All outta beer.”

“Um, what do you recommend?”

“White Eye’s mighty popular these days.”

I put my coin on the counter. “Will this cover it?”

“Depends on how much White Eye you’re a-gonna guzzle.”

“Let’s try one and see what happens,” I decide. The other fellow at the bar seems pretty drunk. He looks at me wearily.

“Better take it slow on that White Eye lessen you’re a white liner!” the stranger chuckles. I have no idea. I smile. “Where you headed?” he asks.

“I…ain’t sure,” I say, trying to fit in. “Kind of been driftin’ lately. Truth to tell, I’m not even sure where I am right now.”

“Arizona territory, ya damned mumper.” Mumper? Is that good or bad?

“Well…where you goin’?” I ask.

Pretyman Hole In The Wall Gang.jpg

It’s Rory Ploughnek on his way to Utah, a place called the Hole In The Wall. He’s looking for someone to ride with him to help carry and protect special cargo. Asks if I would I be interested.

White Eye loosens up the conversation and we move to a private table. Rory drills me until he decides it’s okay to fill me in.

Seems this Hole In The Wall is a natural formation of defensible cliffs and boulders unknown to the law or the army. Undesirables are shot on approach.

“When the Rebs were driven out of Arizona by the Yankees,” Rory tells me, “I managed to ‘disappear’ and stay behind. It was a tough life working as a ranch hand from place to place, peppered with Indians, Mexicans, freed blacks, farmers, deserters, bandits and all degree of wild and strange critters. Avoiding notoriety actually caused me some, and I became known as Longrider.”  Seems it’s a term applied to those suspected of avoiding prosecution for misdeeds of the past.

“Right after I discharged myself from the army,” Longrider claims, “I had my first dream of a future that was to come true. In the dream three men from Utah recruited me for a stagecoach robbery, after which they split up and head for a safe meeting place. The dream was so vivid it haunted me for years before I crossed paths with three men out of Utah named Curry, Cassidy and Longabough. They convinced me over drinks to join their plot for a good payout and safe refuge afterward.”

“How’d it end?” I want to know, taking a shot.

“Can’t recall. But I finally considered it a foretelling of great opportunity and agreed to help relieve Major Joseph W. Wham and his band of Buffalo Soldiers of $28,000 in silver and gold payroll on the road to Fort Thomas.”

I wait, taking another shot.

“But on the night after the robbery,” Longrider goes on, “…just last night, another dream was experienced that stuck strongly with me upon awakening. And this time it wouldn’t be years before the reality of a dream came true; it would be hours. Because this morning in this small camping town, I passed a woman, a woman I’d never met before, but the woman I had found in my dream. The dream told me that she was the mother of three sons I would have. Now, see, I just… I have to keep riding. But how can I go without finding out…? Is this all some part of one big dream that I was meant to fulfill? Or am I about to get ruined by acting a fool?”

“Horse thief!” a man yells, pointing at me. “There he is!”

“Oh that’s just fine!” Longrider bitches, standing to run.

I’m in someone else’s life. Someone else stole that horse. But here I am, thank you Anthony.

I don’t want to die hangin’.

I ain’t a-gonna die hangin’!

I’ll go down guns blazin’ instead…


Mister Cresp, July 27, Mission Day 208…

I’ve always scared them.

“You intrigue me,” Anthony declares. “No more games for you. But tell me now. I must know. Why are you different than them – and yet the same?”

I think I scare Anthony, too. He’d never admit it. Not the “omnipotent” thing to do. But why not tell him? It will feel liberating to tell someone. He might even help me.

“I only appear similar to them because I was transformed into this by aliens who were trying to save life on Earth.” There. I said it aloud.

“Why will you die if you remove your mask?”

“It won’t be only me,” I warn him. “It will be anyone within a million miles of me. The mask is the only means of holding me back. For a few seconds I can be contained without it, but then I’ll come forth with a force that will instantly poison a planet and beyond. It will spread me apart forever.”

“What are you?”

Cresp Radiolarian.jpg

“You pushed me toward the answer with your magic,” I tell him. “Somehow you sense a connection between me and The Hywon?”

No response.

“They’re the ones who made me into this,” I reveal.

“But out of what?” Anthony wonders.

I only know the story they gave me. “They say I was conceived near the core of the galaxy in a Jupiter-sized hydrogen womb, absorbing photons for energy and emitting concentrated radiation. Then I emerged and gestated on a 300 million year journey, purely at random, toward Solsys. All the while I was producing laser-like lattices within myself, creating complex order and being fed by X-rays and ultraviolet light. My internal patterns eliminate unwanted molecules and encourage specific atomic growth, similar to the way humanoid nucleic acid uses proteins to replicate DNA. When strong enough I shed my solemn shield and gained spontaneous movement through space at the edge of Solsys. Sensing Earth, I surrounded it. My goal was to stimulate radioactive elements over the entire planet and consume the radiation output. I didn’t know it, but I was beginning the global radioactive extinction of 73% of the existing species on Earth. And the illness and disability of many more. I can remember that I loved the flavor of a carbon-based world.”

The Hywon saved Earth by containing me on the spot. But in order to do this they had to incorporate me into the environment.

They were able to reduce my considerable mass to the size of a human containment suit, safely containing my energy and redirecting a portion of it toward humanoid orientation, based upon their studies to date. They knew I had intelligence.

Solsys scientists were alarmed by my existence. They actually had me convinced I was quietly being assimilated and working for SATA. My real purpose in being with Twilight Force was to be expelled into the embers of galaxy W2246-0526, our original mission target. Only Alpha knew it. Alphawas assigned to execute me.

I make my plea. “I want to go home. To be myself again. I don’t have to be a threat to Solsys. But only someone with your ability can make me whole again in my proper place.”

“Yet when you’re whole again – won’t you need to find more life to absorb?”

I don’t answer. My mask shows no expression. My silence speaks.

“Don’t worry,” says Anthony, “I can help you with that.”


July 28, Mission Day 209, Judge Emma Bulbous For The Record…

…I’m out of my afterlife?

But it was beautiful…

I was home on Mars. But Mars was better. Mars was independent. And really American again, with real freedom. The tyranny of techno-thieves was over. My kids were young and I had all my time to spend with them! It was real to me!

I have to get back there!

“No more games,” says Anthony. “I’ve taken advantage of you, and I apologize.”

Bulbous Anthony Farewell.jpg

“But… but it was okay!” I object. “You made up for it! I was happy there! You did good!”

“It was false. It was your own imagination shaping your own reality. It was an illusion.”

“I want it back!” I demand. Tears roll out of my eyes into space.

“You deserve better than a prison of your own mind,” Anthony quietly insists. “Or than to be a prisoner of mine.”

He’s even older now, somehow. “You’re aging quickly, aren’t you Anthony?”

“All Anthony’s age alike.”

What does that mean? “All?”

“Every one of us. Don’t you know that I’m only one of my kind? There are countless ‘Anthony’s’ and we live in awe of your amazing lifespans.”

I’m flabbergasted “You in awe of us?”

“Your lifespan is more than 300 times that of ours. You have so much time. You learn so very much.”

“I never thought…” I start, but don’t know what to say. This gargantuan powerhouse capable of creating pocket realities and magical acts within them only lives for three months. Three months! That’s insane! “So… how much time do you have left?”

“Time enough to help some of the victims of my rash curiosity. But – this is the last time you’ll see me.”

He’ll be dead soon. “Anthony – or whoever you are – how is it that you exist? What are you?”

 “A child of one before me – just as you are.”

“I mean your…”

“I have little time. Just enough to help you and then procreate.”

“You’re going to mate?”

Anthony chuckles, the cackle of an old man. “That’s not how we do it. More like laying an egg…”

“What are you doing?” I scream, rising into a spiral swirl without warning – !

So dizzy. I refuse to lose consciousness. But I want to. And then it’s over.

My head’s spinning but I’ve come to rest. I’m on a floor, reeling. Five others appear to be in the same situation. It’s a long moment before I recognize –

“…Senator Pretyman?”

“If you still want to call me that,” Agent Temno responds, shaken.

“And… Professor Flamear!”

“Wow…” gapes Flamear, “I was just a planet. A whole planet. Me.”

“And Mrs. Ichnida!”

She smiles. “So he’s finally finished with us. I hope.”

“And Mister Cresp!”

He’s silent. Solemn. He doesn’t know why he’s here. But who among us does?

Finally, there’s an unfamiliar female. She seems particularly unhappy, naked and disheveled.

“Are you alright, my dear?” I ask her innocently, gently reaching out for her arm. She pulls away at first touch. She’s trembling.

What she says next astonishes everyone.

“Ah’m da tor nuh… struggles the woman. “Ah’m da tor nuh poy! Da tpr nuh ponn!”

“Can you tell what she’s saying?” Temno asks.

“I can’t believe it!” Ichnida gasps.

“Ah’m da tor nu ponn!”

Ichnida stuns us when she says, “I think that’s Doctor Nopoin!”


Alpha, July 29. Mission Day 210…

I was speeding without friction through oblivion across the 5th Dimension when the sinewy savior found me weeks ago.

The Naked Professor encouraged me to pick one of my parallel lives to settle into and relieve my restless trajectory – but I can’t hold on to any one of them. Each time I emerge in one I am transferred to another, usually after waking up. Sleep seems to provide a transitory junction.

The Naked Professor is no longer available for advice, apparently.

During this transitory junction I’ve been hijacked. I can’t tell how or who’s behind it but I’m being yanked from this plane of reference into a deterministic environment.

alpha beta

Quite suddenly I’m among my lost crew.

“Whoa! Where did Alpha come from?” yells Mrs. Ichnida.

“I appealed to Anthony to bring you back from wherever you were,” says Judge Bulbous“He gave no acknowledgement. But here you are! Here you are!”

“Appealed?” I inquire. “Like a prayer?”

“Well, I…” stutters Bulbous, pondering the idea. “I… I suppose it was kind of like that. Huh.”

“Anthony said we’d never see him again,” Mrs. Ichnida clarifies. “That doesn’t mean he’s not listening. That doesn’t mean he can’t act.”

There’s something different about Mister Cresp. I understand the world’s need to keep such an entity away from Solsys. But does that entity still exist? My directive is to exile or, should that fail, execute Mister Cresp using a self-destructive black hole implosion component embedded in my chest cavity.

I may never get another chance.

end week 30 –

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