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"Chapter 1.1: 3797 - The Scientist": Dr. Nika Temsmith has been fascinated for some time with the disappearance of a Dr. Delinis. Some time ago, his exploration party had discovered an uncharted civilization, and found it deserted. What had been there, though, was a significant crop of tr
Appearing in "Chapter 1.1: 3797 - The Scientist"
- Dr. Nika Temsmith
- Commander Pohl
- Dr. Delinis
Synopsis for "Chapter 1.1: 3797 - The Scientist"
Dr. Nika Temsmith has been fascinated for some time with the disappearance of a Dr. Delinis. Some time ago, his exploration party had discovered an uncharted civilization, and found it deserted. What had been there, though, was a significant crop of trilliums - a species of value. Not long after discovering that crop, though, his party was attacked by something, and he disappeared. Nika is puzzled by these events because now intelligence has found that the city Delinis discovered had been populated - so why weren't they there when he showed up?
She is called away from her investigation by Commander Pohl, who wishes to see her at the command hub. Additionally, a message from command was blacked out, so that Nika's AI, "Essie", could not read it for her. Commander Pohl warns that a sentient virus called the Caul has reached their colonies on Crius, and that she hoped to keep it a secret from everyone else until they have word from survivors. Despite their attempts to develop a vaccine against it, the Caul is adapting quickly, out-thinking them. Because of this development, command is cutting Nika's mission short to a week. She must work out a barter system with the natives within that time, or more aggressive methods will be pursued.
Nika's mission has been to establish communications with the natives after Dr. Delinis' team's perilous encounter with them. As it happens, the trilliums that grow on this planet are perhaps her people's only hope for a functioning vaccine against the Caul, and if they cannot work out a way to get them from the natives, they will be doomed. She is angry to have her time limited so much, worrying that she will not be able to succeed, but without any other option, Nika acquiesces to her commander's orders.
Nika knows that the Caul will likely reach this planet of Atabithi in just a matter of time. The virus has been actively seeking to destroy the human race for years, to the point that only four thousand human beings remain, scattered to the outer reaches of the known universe in simple colonies. The trillium species that Delinis claimed to have found on Atabithi on his ill-fated excursion contains a unique chemical compound that the Caul cannot break down - unfortunately it cannot be synthesized. They need the flowers themselves, and in order to get them, they need to Atabithians to cooperate. Nika has at least managed to establish regular contact with a member of the race outside of their city's limits. Though they do not appear to be hostile, they are private, and no Earthlab scientist has ever been invited inside.
The wall which bars their entry is marked with a series of intricate hieroglyphics and carvings. Nika and Essie have been working on a translation program to decipher the pictorial language, but they haven't quite cracked it yet. Now, Nika approaches it again, noting that her contact is not there. The emissary has met her there at the same time every day for the last three weeks, and the absence is troubling her. Though Essie advises against it, Nika decides to approach the wall to investigate. Surprisingly, she discovers that there is an opening in the wall, just large enough for a person to pass through. Worried, she has Essie confirm that the Atabithians are present. The AI confirms that there are nearly one thousand persons residing inside. Determinedly, Nika decides to pass through the doorway without a security team's accompaniment. What she sees on the other side fills her with wonder.
A great many of the Atabithians have gathered around the entrance, with an obvious matriarchal figure waiting at the end of the path with fields of trilliums growing behind her. Shaken, but curious, Nika continues, activating the translation program. At Essie's suggestion, Nika kneels and explains her good intentions. The matriarch responds, but Essie's program is incomplete, and they cannot make out much of her meaning. The Atabithian puts out her palm, holding out the flower of one of the trilliums, which Essie confirms is the species they require, however, the matriarch seems to want Nika to eat it, with no knowledge of what that might do to her. Putting faith in the natives' passive nature, Nika places a petal into her mouth, and has a sudden, almost psychedelic reaction.
Essie attempts to override Nika's authority by calling in Earthlab for assistance, but as Nika is dragged away by two other Atabithians, she begins to have hallucinations of her mother, and feels comforted. The Atabithians guide her to a a pyramid at the end of the path, and leave her there. Confusingly, there appear to be artifacts alien to the Atabithian culture inside it. As the door slams behind her, Nika realizes that Essie has been disconnected from her, and cautiously ascends the stairs before her. She emerges in what appears to be an entirely different world, and is surprised to find a human man there.
Appearing in "Chapter 1.2: 1921 - The Soldier"
- William Pike
- Pedro (Dies)
- Sir Terrence Morgan
- Dr. Delinis
Synopsis for "Chapter 1.2: 1921 - The Soldier"
William Pike had been seduced into this expedition after attending an exhibition at the geographical society where Sir Terrence Morgan had claimed that the lost temple of the Incas was real. Now, William is struggling through the heat of the jungle accompanied by his friend Clayton and some guides in search of that fabled place. Unfortunately, he is plagued, somewhat, by memories of his own past as a soldier, rushing through the jungle foliage. Clay snaps him out of it, demanding of their guide why the suggested route seems to circumvent a particular area. Pedro, the guide, warns that they should not go that way, but William insists. After all, what lies ahead is exactly what they have come for.
Ahead, they are surprised to find a native village where people have been strung up and killed. However, they discover that one of these victims is still alive, if dressed unusually. Unfortunately, the man appears unresponsive, having apparently lost his mind. This development causes Clayton to lose his nerve, and suggest they turn back, which only draws William's ire. He begins to doubt whether Clayton even believes Sir Terrence's claims - which were the whole reason they came. Angrily, Clayton admits that he only agreed to come to make sure that William would be taken care of. After all, his friend hadn't been himself since the war. Their argument is cut short when the natives return, and kill everyone except Clayton and William, who run for their lives.
As William runs, he looks back, and sees his friend fighting the natives off so that he can escape. Desperately, William makes the sacrifice worthwhile, dodging the roots and vines of the jungle's trees until his hurried running causes him to trip. At that moment, a native leaps out at him, and instinctively, William thrusts his machete through the man's chest. Addled by the experience, he stumbles out into a clearing and is surprised to see a pyramid which can only be the lost Incan temple. As he approaches it, a rustling in some nearby bushes catches his attention, and he hopes that it is Clayton. Instead, though, it is a strangely dressed woman he does not know.
- The book is presented in such a way that it can be read from front to back or back to front, if turned upside-down, with a different "front" cover on either side. The two stories intersect at the middle of the book.
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