Written & Drawn By
TWILIGHT FORCE LOG Mission Day 231 Alpha Auto Memorandum, August 19:
Alpha was no longer an “it”. Alpha was a “Him”, an artintel coupled with a male alien brain. That brain gave Alpha insights and input from odd perspectives. And it afforded Alpha perceptions through ancillary senses unlike others he had inloaded.
For a week he had watched over the four crewmen stranded with him in this technological jungle, all the while observing every movement of every cog, wire, spark, gear, wheel, light, fluid and wave transpiring all around them.
The crew didn’t suspect what was going on inside Alpha. Who could? And if they could peer inside him they’d be frightened and repulsed by their discoveries, so Alpha kept his secrets. His crew should not be burdened by his truth.
But were they still his crew? What authority had he now? All sources of such were far flung in the passage of time. No more USA. No more countries at all. Just a Big Sky and a trillion scattered dreamers.
Wasn’t it best to focus on the newly assimilated truth of their situation, instead of the conflict in his motivations?
For he’d discerned that this thing they were inside was not a sanctuary made for life to dwell within. It hadn’t been made by humanoid design. It had created itself, from millions of drifting parts and random connections. That core of coincidence charged a new intelligence on a greater scale that grows to this moment. It branches out while rotating at the edge of The Big Sky.
Twilight Force was inside a monstrous, gargantuan creature, a respirating, circulating mechanism that was growing a strange and unprecedented consciousness of its own.
The alien brain of Gemneb inside the artintel Alpha must have felt exactly the same way.
TWILIGHT FORCE LOG Mission Day 232 Doctor Nopoin Auto Memorandum, August 20:
Still surviving amidst technological cacophony with her four crew mates, Nopoin reached out privately. “Alpha? I need your help.”
Alpha’s surprise at the request was obvious. “I have consistently helped you since you became helpless. Have I somehow fallen short?”
Nopoin was taken aback. “Do you still want to… hurt me? Our reasons… for animosity… no longer exist.”
Alpha wanted none of this compromise. “Rather it’s you who chose to harm others. Your crimes haven’t been forgotten by anyone but yourself. What kind of special help could you possibly hope for?”
“I am in the… wrong… body.”
Of course she was. What did she mean? Alpha’s response was cold. “Obviously not the one you were constantly upgrading for the sake of universal conquest. Not the one from which you controlled millions of others, no it isn’t. But perhaps the right container for you.”
Nopoin’s attempt at new innocence continued. “An alien brain was… transplanted into Alpha… for coexistence?”
After a pause that would have been a sigh if Alpha breathed, the answer, “The organic brain of the alien Gemneb is preserved, energized and integrated with all of my auto-neural systems. I am a shared consciousness.”
“Put my new human brain… into an artintel.”
Alpha snarled like never before. “So you can start over with your obsessive drive to subjugate organic life?”
Nopoin choked then cried, sobbing, “The things you describe me doing… hard to remember. Can’t remember how… or even much about why. I’m not plotting anything. I’m… I want to be… myself. That is… all.”
Alpha was unmoved. “This is you. Human.”
“Can’t be human! Can look human! Sound human! Pretend human! But never behuman because… I… am… not.”
“Then this is your tragedy.”
TWILIGHT FORCE LOG Mission Day 233 Professor Flamear Auto Memorandum, August 21:
“You aren’t getting away with this,” Flamear told the freshly remade Doctor Nopoin. He was pulling up the rear of the crew as they tried to find a way out of this mad chamber of indecipherable technology. Ahead of him, the Doctor followed Mister Cresp. Flamear’s threat wasn’t loud enough for him or the two ahead of him, Alpha and Bulbous, to hear. But Doctor Nopoin heard it quite clearly.
She responded with unexpected lucidity. “Getting away with trying to survive? How does that offend you?”
“You remember everything,” accused Flamear. “All of your manipulations and dirty tricks, and this is just another one. You say that Anthony turned you human, but we don’t know that. Maybe you just took advantage of the chaos to implant yourself in a human’s body. You’re hoping to hide out in someone else’s life, aren’t you?“
“You still can’t understand,” Nopoin patiently explained, “there’s nothing to fear from the past. We are now part of a very small tribe. Although we came from different families we are of the same world, and the same era. Besides me, there are only five other beings in existence who know you at all. The same can be said for each of us. Has nothing changed for you?”
“I can’t think about that!” cried Flamear. Anger swelled. “You don’t know that! Who knows what’s possible? Who knows? Look at the unbelievable phenomena that’s already happened! I don’t care! You did what you did. I won’t forget it.”
“That’s the snake in you,” Nopoin hinted. “And the hawk. Yes, I had you figured out when I was artintel. The dolphin and tiger, the ram and the spider… all of you, Professor. The menagerie that is you.”
TWILIGHT FORCE LOG Mission Night 234 Mrs. Ichnida Auto Memorandum, August 22:
Mrs. Ichnida, The Senator and The Gamesman continued toward the inner regions of Borderworld after separation from the team.
With some relaxation time camping in a quiet corridor near The Suburlands, Mrs. Ichnida found herself competing with The Senator for the attention of The Gamesman.
“Do you think Alpha and the others could still be alive, getting sucked away like that?” The Senator asked with an uncharacteristic coquettish touch.
The Gamesman was optimistic. “It’s happened to me and I’m here. Once. That flush was part of this beast’s respiratory system. Remember, we’re inside a giant creature, even if it is so-called ‘artificial’. This thing is just an astronomical version of your own Doctor Nopoin, and we’re inside of it. It has air, liquid and solid circulatory systems. It has antibodies.”
“Gamesy,” diverted Mrs. Ichnida, “what was that energy force we fled from that swept that corridor clean of life?” That would keep him looking her way as she shifted to her best pose.
“Positricity,” answered The Gamesman. “This thing uses it a lot. Positrons are the antiparticles of electrons. Instead of electricity, positrons carry anti-electricity that they call ‘positricity’. Instead of generating power, positricity drains it almost instantly. Instead of getting shocked, with positricity you’d go numb and shrivel. Plug a lamp into a positric plug and the lamp itself will disintegrate. Nasty stuff.”
Both Ichnida and The Senator were well aware of positrons, but each struggled to be the most attentive. Ichnida couldn’t understand it. Wasn’t The Senatorgay?
And The Senator was equally baffled. She thought Ichnida was only compelled to reproduce once a year – and that had already passed.
“You know I can only take you gals just so far,” The Gamesman reminded them ambiguously.
TWILIGHT FORCE LOG Mission Night 235 The Senator Auto Memorandum, August 23:
Pointing The Senator and Mrs. Ichnida to the correct corridor, The Gamesman says farewell, preparing to part ways. But he has to ask one question first.
“So, why again are you traveling thousands of miles toward the interior of Borderworld?”
“To get across it. To get to the other side and out of The Big Sky. Alpha says the other side of Borderworld is in space.”
The Gamesman’s expression changed, deflating them. “Aw, no, no no. I’m sorry. Looks like your boss forgot to take something into account. See, Borderworld rotates, like a regular planet. Feelin’ some gravity, right? How long you been here?”
“Should have stayed where you landed. Borderworld rotates seven times in three weeks. Could have been ferried around to space in a matter of a couple of days. Don’t go to the center of Borderworld, that’s a twilight zone.”
“A place so stormy on the outside nobody dares be outside. The radiation containment belt is the track Borderworld rides along orbiting The Big Sky. When you launch, be as far on the outer limbs as possible. Just like when you came in here from The Big Sky, I figure.”
“So it’s back where we came from we go?”
“If space is your place, yep. Most people use Borderworld’s rotational momentum to facilitate the launch.”
“Of course they do. Why not?”
“I have to leave you now.”
“So you said. But why do you want to be alone?”
“Want’s got nothing to do with it. We’re all alone. Why pretend otherwise? That never works out.”
“You could join us. Be a part of our team. We’d accept you.”
“But could I accept you?” wondered The Gamesman.
TWILIGHT FORCE LOG Mission Night 236 Mister Cresp Auto Memorandum, August 24:
Alpha couldn’t comprehend it. The Judge thought it was tragic. Doctor Nopoinstudied the mess objectively. And all The Professor could do was mope and cry.
“Professor,” said The Judge, an arm around the genspec, “I’m so sorry. I know he was your best friend.”
The Professor stared helplessly at the wrenching blotch in the corridor before them. “How could he do that to himself?” choked the heartbroken genspec.
Doctor Nopoin seemed confident hypothesizing, “It was all too much for him. He was trapped inside a body that wasn’t his own. There was no way out. Every moment was increasing torture. Pressure builds like steam in a kettle. Boom. Too much. He had to let it blow.”
“No,” The Professor responded, “I mean literally; how could he do this to himself? Look at him!”
“I pondered that,” volunteered Alpha. “I believe that he interacted with that power outlet.” Alpha acknowledged the inconspicuous plug on the floor. “Something I would advise no one else to do.”
“Then it could have been accidental,” hoped The Professor.
Doctor Nopoin was skeptical. “Electricity wouldn’t do that to the body.”
Alpha knew, “There seems to be a different form of power used by our great beast. One based not on electrons, but on protons. It disintegrated much of him on contact.”
“The plug was probably left open accidentally,” speculated The Professor, “and Mister Cresp stepped on it and…”
“He appears to be reaching into it,” observed Doctor Nopoin blandly.
“Yeah,” The Judge agreed, “that’s a suicide.”
The Professor got tense. “Why didn’t we see this coming?”
Alpha wondered, “Did he see this coming?”
TWILIGHT FORCE LOG Mission Night 237 The Judge Auto Memorandum, August 25:
All agreed; The Judge would decide whether Alpha remained with Twilight Force or faced exile.
The Professor made his case. “We’ve known for some time that the very reason Mister Cresp was sent on our mission was so that Alpha could destroy him. The Space And Time Administration branded Cresp a threat to organic life and quarantined him in a sealed human form. When it became obvious that Mister Cresp merely had to remove his face plate for seconds to wipe out hundreds, everyone panicked. Getting him as far from Solsys as possible was goal number one. His extinction was goal number two. And when Mister Cresp was at his most vulnerable, a victim of the cosmic entity we each experienced, when we weren’t watching, Alpha struck. His alien-enhanced Ai craftiness came up with a way to make it appear to be suicide. Mission accomplished. For Alpha to carry out this hideous command knowing well that we are reduced to a surviving handful in need of every resource, is a crime against us all.”
Doctor Nopoin defended Alpha. “Alpha was the one who disclosed the truth of Mister Cresp’s presence. Alpha admitted that one of his tasks was to eliminate the Cresp threat. That threat, after all, was imposed on Solsys by aliens, The Hywon, as a desperate attempt to preserve life on Earth. Cresp was never meant to be there. His presence in our environment was a doomsday in waiting. Nonetheless, Alpha abandoned those orders when Cresp was made human. And my own forensic opinion is that Cresp was a suicide. Alpha had no motive and Cresp had every. I know how Cresp felt. I, too, am transplanted.”
The Judge would have overnight to decide the case.
TWILIGHT FORCE LOG Mission Night 238 Alpha Auto Memorandum, August 26:
“I did kill Mister Cresp,” confessed Alpha. “I considered it a favor to spare you this debate by framing his death as suicide. Professor, before you attack me…”
The Judge wasn’t strong enough to restrain The Professor as he menacingly approached Alpha. “Professor, don’t -!”
The Professor bared teeth in Alpha’s face. “He was just a man!”
“No,” denied Alpha, “that’s incorrect. His transformation into a man could just as quickly be reversed. There is an instability to these changes wrought by the Anthony Entity that you are unable to sense.”
Unable to restrain his torment, The Professor grabbed Alpha violently, hurling him across the techno-chasm. Moments later Alpha returned to the group in battle mode, landing before them and flashing a warning light from his chest.
“Everyone calm down,” urged The Judge.
Alpha sounded calm despite red-alert appearances. “The Senator and Mrs. Ichnida are gone. Mister Cresp is dead. If you shun me, it’s just the three of you. The Judge, The Professor, and the newly minted human Doctor Nopoin. How does it serve you to throw away my resources in this aggregated wilderness?”
The Professor had a quick answer: “We won’t have to worry about being murdered.”
“But you will have to worry about dying,” said Alpha. “Your polymarble supplies are dwindling faster than anticipated. I’ve noticed you trading goods and borrowing against shortages. And I’m afraid there is more unfortunate news that I’ve been reluctant to share.”
“Could be lying,” a skeptical Professor interrupted.
“Doctor Nopoin will be able to verify what I tell you upon examination,” Alpha stated. “You three have been exposed to toxins in this environment that have compromised your health. Your cells are collapsing. You’re all dying.”
end week 34
Daily chapters at