Written & Drawn By
Nopoin Medical Memo, Twilight Force Mission Day 29
Psychosis is rampant among the organics.
Each day deepens organic perception of the scale by which we’re removed from everything we know. They are never actually able to grasp the immensity nor the complexity of this environment. Our visceral introduction has tried their sanity.
Ironically, they cannot appreciate the richness and opportunity of this new situation. Ichnida and Pretyman only want to find a way home. Flamear is angry at everything. Bulbous is frightened. The organics have no perception of the reality surrounding us. To them this is a hollow, dead expanse. Still, they stare into the abyss.
Even Alpha, a respectable representative of ancient artintel engineering, doesn’t have the perceptual capabilities I’ve acquired. Nor can such a model, activated centuries ago, upgrade itself as can I. Alpha has a dawning realization of something uniquely valuable that we are in the midst of. But none perceive what I do.
We’ve never existed in a world without Historiscope. What was the old saying back in the 24th Century? “It was everyone’s comfort to know anyone’s business.”
Until now it’s been necessary to conceal my private intentions and rogue activities through distraction and misdirection.
I’ll not waste time on organics in the midst of this revelation. Let them harbor suspicion and haggle over politics. Without Historiscope they can no longer review my activities, recordings or idle moments. For the very first time in 20 generations there is such a thing as “privacy”.
And now there can be secrets.
Notebook Of Professor Flamear, Twilight Force Mission Day 30
I will not stay here. I will never stop trying to get home.
Mrs. Ichnida is the only one I trust. Can I convince her…?
“We have to take over. We have to dismantle Nopoin and Alpha.”
“Shh,” warns Ichnida, “Keep it down. Artintels still have ears everywhere, even with Historiscope gone.”
“We can do it,” I encourage. “You know how easily I took Nopoin apart.”
“Except it’s ready for you now, Flamear,” cautions Ichnida. “It watches you. By the way, technically, that’s our boss The President’s personal representative you’re talking to me about overthrowing.”
“These things don’t care about us!” I yell. Ichnida is taken aback, but I’m seething. “We’re nothing to them! Can’t you see? We’re in their way! They have nothing to go back for. All they have is insatiable curiosity. Nothing more than a constant hunger for more data…”
“I know,” Ichnida recalls, “Have you seen Nopoin communing with the observation portal? What is that calculator doing?”
Without Historiscope to reveal us, Ichnida and I go to the genhum and the humangen to ask if they will join in our mutiny.
“That would make you Alpha,” I point out to the humangen. Bulbous seems reluctant, though. So I turn to the genhum from Texas. “Senator, we need to get you back to the world to beat President Csaynik.”
“There’s no way outta this thing!” Senator Pretyman points out.
“Well…” Bulbous hesitantly reveals, “…There might be.”
State Department Briefing, Mrs. Ichnida, Mission Day 31
“You might want to stop referring to our potential allies by their genetic distinctions,” I suggest when Professor Flamear keeps calling Ms. Pretyman a genhum and Officer Bulbous a humangen.
“If you had a nose,” deadpans Flamear, “you’d call the distinction automatically too.”
“If I had a nose,” I retort, “I’d be standing over there and you’d be shouting.”
“We can’t trust those two,” Flamear warns. “Pretyman and Bulbous don’t trust each other, either!”
“But humans will stick together in times like this,” I remind my fellow genspec.
“Bulbous isn’t human! She’s a humangen!”
“Yeah, yeah, but the humans don’t have a problem with that as long as she’s not part animal or half plastic. They accept Martians as humans.”
“That’s only for convenience,” insists Flamear. “The humans need more help against the artintels. When the secession is complete, humans will turn on the Martians. It’s their way. And our Senator from Texas will turn on our Martian the same way.”
“But Doctor Nopoin is a threat to all of us,” I plead. “And so is Alpha, to a lesser degree. It doesn’t matter what’s happening back home. Martians might secede from the USA, but Bulbous can’t secede from this ship. And just how long can it be until something really bad happens? Before we’re crushed, or disintegrated, or driven insane by the knowledge that… everything you know is… that we’re just…”
I need to go home.
Jan 31 2776
Personal Diary, Ms. Pretyman, Twilight Force Mission Day 32, Feb 1
I can’t believe it’s February already.
This mission was supposed to last a week. Two at the most.
I can’t do anything else to push getting home. Fucking Alpha thinks it’s in Wonderland. But when we do get home…
“Give it over, Bulbous. I want that goddamned ring!”
“I’m the security officer on this mission,” objects Bulbous. “Who else but the security officer should be guarding the treasure?”
“The security officer ‘quit’, remember? Your state seceded! This is a USA mission and Resolution is American territory. So hand over the American goods!”
“I’m still an American, Senator. Perhaps I’m seeking asylum.”
“When we were all sick or out cold you declared a takeover in the name of the rebellion! Do I look stupid?”
“Are those two issues related? Yes you do. And that was then.”
“Oh, so your loyalty shifts when the wind changes direction…”
“Maybe I’m not reasoning up to par, Senator. Maybe being in this existential crisis is messing with my emotions. Do you have emotions any more or have you just rolled it all over to ambition?”
“I’ve had enough experience in the rough ‘n tumble to mosey over there and rip that ring right off of that chubby little digit you screwed it on to.”
“And when that happens would you like to be stunned, paralyzed or electrocuted? My security beam has all three settings.”
I hate this butterball bitch.
I might just have to make friends with elephant ears and tuna tits after all.
Mister Cresp, daily download, Twilight Force Mission Day 33, Feb 2 2776
Am I witnessing what’s happening? Or is this all in my head?
I am fading through the walls of Resolution.
I’m being drawn out of the ship – or – or I’m falling away from it? I’m not solid enough to stay with it!
I’ve tumbled out! The ship! It’s flying away! Help! Help!
I’m floating. These terrible corridors – so dark and empty. I’m a feather blowing randomly. An astral leaf in a cosmic wind tunnel…
Why did I do this to myself? No one ever survived polytropic transfer! What made me think I could? I’ve condemned myself to a sleepless hell.
What luck have I! What a life! In the end, stuck with a mask I can never remove, rolling endlessly into a monstrous gut! An…empty? What’s that?
A fog? A mist? A great wall of some shit that I can’t quit speeding toward!
Clouds? Chemicals? Acid? What am I plunging into?
Then take me! My life was ruined at the age of 12 anyway! That’s when they ‘took’ me the first time! Took me to improve me! Enhance me! Give me a better future!
And they gave me this! A face that can never be free! And a mask to cover it forever, that I can…
Can I take it off? Can I take it off and – die?
I reach for my face.
I can’t see my hands!
I can’t feel my face! Or my body! I’m… am I not here?
1st Officer’s Report, Mission Day 34. Feb 3 2776, Judge Bulbous serving
For the safety and welfare of the organic crew, I’m discussing with Flamear and Ichnida the possibility of replacing our present Alpha in order to try my theoretical method of returning us to our home space. But Ichnida questions our cohesion as a rebel unit.
“You know that Senator Pretyman over there is prejudiced against all of us,” Ichnida says, “you included.”
I keep selling. “Mrs. Ichnida, I’m sure your people of Atcifia understand how dangerous the Human First Movement is. But I’m still betting that Atcifia has already followed Bradbury in seceding. You’d rather be with fellow organics in this stand against the Artintel Alliance than alone when they clamp down on states left behind.”
Ichnida counters. “So Bradburians only pretend alliance with Texans to get their aid against the United States?”
“Texans are more open minded than you’d think,” I try, but…
“And human, while those are a conglomeration of animals,” drawls the Texan Pretyman. “Elephant ears and tuna tits alike. Any humanity in them is just enough to get ’em talking at best. All their feelings and instincts are savage. They’re the opposite of those android assholes but just as dangerous.”
“Oh, you! You, of the superior race!” shouts Flamear. “You bipedal miracle! You bend nature to your will and drag nature into your experiments! Then you call nature names and shred nature to pieces. Yet somehow you are not a part of it all. You came from Heaven and plan on going back. Why care what you leave behind?”
Executive Branch Liaison, Twilight Force, Alpha Log, Mission Day 35, Feb 4 2776
Having ascertained that Doctor Nopoin is processing information that I am not privy to, I assess its technical observables and conclude that I’m being played.
I confront the Doctor. “Obviously we appreciate more about this discovery than the organics. But you somehow are engaged on a higher level. Please explain.”
Nopoin ponders a moment. “Alpha, what do you know about our Host thus far?”
“This mega-structure is alive,” I propose. “‘Living’ is an accurate description of the functions I’m perceiving.”
“That’s basically true,” Nopoin nods. “But this is not an independent being. Even though nothing else is within the grasp of our sensors, the Host we’re inside is communicating with others of similar stature who reside elsewhere outside of galactic space. The nature of those communications is unclear. Are they exchanging ideas? Energy? Feelings? Sensations? Instructions?”
“Do you have a theory or at least an hypothesis?”
“Not yet. But that’s not all. Alpha, how long has our civilization watched for intelligent alien life?”
“Since the 20th Century. For over 800 years.”
“In all our history of looking to the stars, we’ve never found any other form of life to compare with the intelligence generated from Earth. This immense creature – if that’s what it is – has collected us. But not just us. It has collected others who, like us, have managed to breach intergalactic space. The Host, as we might name it, is a trap for advanced life.”
And Nopoin shows me this image:
end week 5