Whisperer in Darkness
June 1st, 2013 It was sweltering in the auditorium. That today had been one of the hottest in New York’s recent memory, with temperatures at an all-time high, was only part of the problem; far worse was the fact that several thousand people were now packed like sardines into a room meant to house perhaps five hundred at most. Reporters, journalists, photographers and cameramen all stood shoulder-to-shoulder with scarcely any room to manoeuvre in these cramped environs, and tempers had begun to flare the stifling heat and lack of space took their toll. Many of them had been crammed into this auditorium for over an hour, seeking the best spots for the coming conference; it was sure to be an historic event, but their hosts were long overdue and the journalists were growing impatient. An angry buzz like that of a million bees filled the chamber, the discontent murmurings of those kept waiting in such unpleasant conditions, and the constant din only fed upon itself by magnifying their irritation. But the all-pervasive smell of sweat, the constant noise and the lack of space were not the only reasons for their irritability; beneath the anger and annoyance was an undercurrent of fear, and even someone who was both blind and deaf would have been able to pick up on that easily. They were afraid, afraid that the events soon to transpire, the things that would be learned in this room, would change the world in ways that they could not even imagine. No one knew exactly what it was that they were about to hear, save that it involved the mysterious object from Jupiter which had dominated the news networks for the past several months; and where that strange enigma was concerned, nothing was certain. It was a situation that many of them would have preferred not to be in, and had they any choice in the matter most of the reporters would not have come. But for people of their profession, that was not an option; history would soon be made in this room, and all across the world millions of people sat clustered around their televisions, radios and computers, waiting with bated breath. The public had a right to know, and the press were obligated to inform them; and so they waited, doing their best to endure the unpleasant conditions until their hosts arrived. Forty minutes after the conference was supposed to begin, their patience finally paid off; a door at the back of the stage swung open, and the angry buzzing of the press died down to a soft murmur as a team of multinational scientists strode up to the podium. Hailing from all over the world, these brilliant men and women made up the Enigma Project, a joint initiative commissioned to study the object, and as they took their seats it was clear to the press that they were in high spirits. One of their number, a lean Caucasian man with a receding hairline and some salt in his fulsome beard, remained standing and flicked his finger against the head of a microphone; feedback filled the auditorium, prompting more than a few people to wince, and as the audience began to quiet down he raised his hand. The lights dimmed immediately in response to his gesture, and as a large projector screen slowly lowered down behind the panel of scientists he began to speak. “Good evening, ladies and gentlemen; I am Doctor Percival Hoffman, head of the Enigma Project. I won’t mince words; we all know why we’re here tonight, and that is to discuss the topic that’s been on everyone’s minds for the past nine months. As you are no doubt aware, the Jovian Enigma is an extraterrestrial object of unknown origin which had begun to emerge from within Jupiter’s Great Red Spot by February of 2007, and by fall 2012 it had fully emerged to begin accelerating towards the inner planets of the solar system—specifically, towards Earth. As of May 20th, however, the Enigma’s behaviour has undergone an unexpected change; it appears to have ceased all forward motion and is presently holding in a geosynchronous position between our planet and Mars. Our current estimates put it as holding at approximately forty-eight-point-five million kilometres from Earth, and observations from NASA—along with our colleagues in the Russian Federal Space Agency, China’s National Space Administration, the ESA and the JAXA—have managed to confirm several facts about the now-stationary object.” A picture of the Enigma then appeared on the screen, and faint chattering broke out as the audience took in the sight. Not all of them had actually seen images of the object before, and its appearance was certainly not what they might have expected; grainy and somewhat indistinct though the picture may have been, it clearly looked more like a planet than any sort of spacecraft. “We have confirmation that the Enigma is roughly spherical in shape, and that it is approximately two-thousand kilometres in diameter at its widest point; as such, it is slightly larger than the Moon and just under two-thirds the diameter of Mars. Given its immense size, it stands to reason that the Enigma might possess its own gravitational field, one potentially powerful enough to disrupt the Moon’s orbit should it come close enough. Furthermore, we have ascertained that the object emits a powerful electromagnetic field which extends to a radius of several thousand kilometres; this field has made it impossible for any potential lander mission to bear fruit, and our probes cannot enter the field without shutting down. “That said, even from a distance our probes have confirmed that the Enigma’s topography is clearly too regular and precise to be natural formations; from this, we can infer that it is indeed an artificial construction. For example, these items that might appear to be mountain ranges at first glance may in fact be some form of heat sink, weapons emplacement or propulsion system; and similarly, we have reason to believe that the long canyon located here at the equator may actually be a docking bay of some description.” At this comment the room came alive with exited murmuring, and a number of hands shot up amongst the press as they began to clamor for Hoffman’s attention. The spokesman for the Enigma Project remained silent for a moment, allowing the anticipation to build, then pointed to one of the reporters in the heart of the crowd. “Yes, you.” “Doctor Hoffman, Tracey Roads of The Montreal Gazette, ” said the reporter in question. “What exactly do you mean when you say that you have ‘reason to believe’ this canyon is a docking bay?” The aging scientist allowed a smile to spread across his face. “By that, of course, I mean that we have proof. The images that I am about to show you were taken at oh-eight-hundred hours this morning; I think you’ll find that they speak for themselves.” The crowd fell silent as the images on the screen changed once more, zooming in to show a grainy and pixelated closer view of the ‘ravine’; for a few moments this quiet persisted, but then a gasp rang out as something large and clearly artificial slid smoothly out of its black depths. The camera moved to follow this alien vessel, and the further it got from the Enigma the clearer the resolution became; after five seconds, those in attendance could see that the vessel, though still heavily obscured through pixilation, resembled nothing so much as a fat, platinum-coloured disk whose upper surface was festooned with a complex net of thick geometric lines that seemed to glow softly with an inner light. A raised hump sat at what appeared to be the front of the vessel, forming the vertex of an isosceles triangle with two similar humps at the back, and between them on the disk’s circumference were four fatty appendages which curved towards the fore like the legs of some insect. “The smaller vessel is between five and ten kilometres in diameter, ” Dr. Hoffman continued with a smile. “And should this craft maintain its current speed, we estimate that it will have arrived at Earth within three days, possibly less. I’m no fan of science fiction, ladies and gentlemen, but I think it’s safe to say that we are looking at a first contact scenario.”
June 4th, 2013 Dr. Hoffman’s prediction turned out to be right on the nose; less than three days after the press conference, the alien vessel had reached its destination. In the seventy-two hours before its arrival, Earth’s governments had scrambled to make things ready for their visitor from the stars. This proved a difficult task, however, for no one had any idea as to where this immense spacecraft would set down once it arrived. Attempts had been made to communicate with the alien visitors, to better coordinate the historic encounter that was soon to occur, but ultimately these met with little success; if the aliens were even receiving the transmissions from Earth, much less capable of understanding them, they gave no indication that this was the case. And so mankind could do little more than wait; all across the planet, millions of eyes were glued to their television screens and millions of ears listened raptly to their radios, hoping for news of the alien craft’s imminent arrival. All were close to bursting with anticipation, for if there was one thing that fiction had taught people about first contact, it was that there were a million possible ways that this could go down, and a great many of them were not good. Did these visitors come in peace, or were their intentions less than benign? Would they be sharing their clearly-advanced technology with humanity, or were they simply here to give mankind a cursory evaluation before returning to the stars, never to be seen again? Would this be the beginning of a new age for mankind, or mark the start of a downward spiral? These questions and many more like them dominated the talk shows, news stations and message boards, and as the vessel drew closer a climate of nervous dread descended upon the world; everyone knew that the events in motion could not be stopped, and that the world stood on the edge of a knife—a single mistake could spell disaster. As such, what happened next came as a relief at first. Rather than descend over any one landmass and risk offending the peoples of the world by seeming to favour one nation over all others, the alien vessel remained within the upper reaches of the stratosphere and took up a stationary position over the equator. It hovered fifty kilometres above the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, casting a vast shadow over the equatorial waters that seemed to blot out the sun, silent and unresponsive to all attempts at communication. The luminous patterns which ran across the surfaces of this fatty disk had grown dim, as though the ship were conserving power for some reason, and its four ‘limbs’ now pointed towards the four cardinal points of the compass. All across the world people sat on the edge of their seats, eager to see what would happen next…
HurrI think people might not be sure what kind of post we are supposed to make, but I'll give it a shot. "I'm telling you man, this is it. The real deal." Two young men sat on the terrace of their apartment, one playing a PS Vita and the other, strumming away on a guitar. "Whatever. It's probably all a hoax." The musician, Cole, was a skeptic. The planet had seen plenty of alien hoaxes before, and he was sure this one was just really elaborate. There was no time for silly things like aliens, magic, ghosts. That was all kid stuff. He had a dream, and he couldn't let anything distract him from it. He was way more concerned with plucking his strings. The other boy, Asher, however, was completely entranced by the vessel. He always had a fascination with the unexplainable and the mysterious. Aliens were so cool to him, that he just had to know more. He was cautiously optimistic. Asher and Cole were so different it was a wonder how they were best friends. Born and raised right in New York City together, going to the same arts college, and getting an apartment together. Asher finally broke his gaze away from the sky, to look at Cole and his guitar. "Man, you are really good with that thing. When am I gonna see you on stage? Or accept some little gold naked guy?" "Soon, dude... Real soon. And that's The Oscars. The Grammy's have the gold gramophone. You should know that stuff, Mr. Film!" Cole stopped playing for a second to smirk at Asher. "I must have forgot to do my homework that night!" Both boys laughed, before things quieted down. Asher kept thinking about Cole and the guitar. "Hey. I promise, when you hit it big, I'm gonna be the first person in that first row." Cole put his guitar down, for the first time all day. "Oh yeah, millions of people, huh? That'll be the day! Same time those aliens come down and kidnap us humans!" "Yeah, and they'll perform HORRIBLE EXPERIMENTS ON US! WO Ooooo Oooo!" Asher used his fingers to simulate feelers in his mouth. Cole laughed real hard. He held out his hand. Asher smiled at him and took it, and they shook. "It's a promise."
Elizabeth Maero sat on the tattered and damaged couch in her cheap and cramped apartment, watching the event with anticipation, although any who looked at her wouldn't be able to tell. Her son, a fourteen year old named Samuel, lay on the floor in front of her watching the television, paying more attention to it than she was, somehow both being more interested and looking less interested. Elizabeth couldn't tell what her son was thinking, but she herself was pessimistic about the matter. The beings seemed more advanced than them, so what good could they get out of them, except in the less than pleasant ways that always seemed to occur in terrible films?
みぞれ白雪Vladimir clicked on his computer's mouse, closing the internet browser. He could not, for the life of him, understand what all of the hassle was about. So apparently intelligent extraterrestrials existed. So what? They were only more people who'll annoy him.
His phone rang. He answered, talking for a short while before putting the receiver back in its place. Seriously, the amount of stupidity he was forced to go through... People thought that because he was in the army — like every other Israeli that wasn't an Arab — he'd be sociable.
He snorted. Really...
A cuddly sandwich of animé and magical girls and bespectacled folks." -Lily Winterwood
WalrusmasterChester sat in a rocking chair on his porch, shotgun resting gently on his lap. Normally at this hour, he'd be listening to the news on his TV through an open window. This wasn't a normal day, though, not by a longshot. No, he had the television turned to one of the few channels playing a movie instead of news about the men from Jupiter. " We will not go quietly into the night. We will not vanish, without a fight. We're going to live on. We're going to survive. Today... we celebrate... our Independence Day!" He cracked open a bottle of beer, listening quietly as he drank.
edited 4th Jun '12 7:54:17 PM by nman
Occam's Tweezers: The simplest solution is the best way to lose your job security.
The MaidA figure with hair as dark as the night which enveloped her stood high upon an antenna tower, which due to its function already was perched upon a very high hill on the outskirts of town. This figure did leisure work with the software installed on her cellphone, humming songs as she paused every once in a while to stare at the bright night sky from her high vantage position. Every strange twinkle of light on the blue black sky promised wonder and a peek at something nobody has ever seen before. Especially so on these days... when the unknown had stopped being something of legend and had come to pay a visit to humanity. Elena Anderson let out a wistful sigh and then left all equipment as she found it, sitting down at the heights, now dedicating her entire attention to the beautiful night sky and the wonders it promised. Thankfully, the young Engineer to be was prepared for the occasion. At her side there was a thermos filled with warm chocolate and an equally warm blanked which should protect her from the cold of night as she indulged in her fantasies.
If I'm sure of something it's that I'm not sure of anything.
Lord of the AviansZak was sitting down at his computer, playing some zombie apocalypse game with a couple guys from his swim team. In the living room, his parents were watching the news. As the news showed images of the disk thing coming from the space sphere, Zak's character was mauled to death, and a short string of curses came out of his mouth. "I'm down, guys!" he said into the mic, "Zombie ate my face!"
The Wordnomnom"That's way too much Ty!" "Typhoid" grinned, knowing he was winning despite the protests. “The world might be ending, Kitty, don’t you want it to go out on a high note?” The girl bit her lip and scuffed the toe of one of her neon green Converse into the ground while the male waited patiently. After a pause she reached out and clasped hands with him briefly; folded wads of paper passed from her to him. Typhoid set down what appeared to be a soft drink he had been sipping and tapped the lid once as he turned and walked away, resuming play of King Crimson on his MP3 player. It was his ‘working music’ and he was “working” very hard today. Behind him Kitty spilled a few technicolor pills from the empty drink cup into her palm.
While the breath's in his mouth, he must bear without fail, / In the Name of the Empress, the Overland Mail.
Crazed Lawrencian— To Guy Gastonbury, what went on beyond Earth was of little concern to him. He'd not put much belief in intelligent life from outer space visiting mankind, and while he guessed that there'd be other things out there, he didn't care enough to really look into it. That was for the shaggy professors and wide-eyed Astronomy majors to worry about. His father using the events for his ad-campaign, like many other businesses, had been expected. All those punny slogans set up everywhere. Even he agreed with Guy on the corniness though. Right now, he was seated at the office table, trying to get a handle on how the company was financed. The radio rumbling away about alien spacecraft provided just decent background noise. —
Proud member of the IAA What's the point of being grown up if you can't act childish?
A rogue of heartIn his small apartment, Leonard woke up to the sound of his clock radio broadcasting the news about the strange object out in space. He did not pay it much heed as he started on his morning routine, fetching his thick glasses from the stand on the bedside table. Whatever was happening in space, Leonard had other things on his mind. He had a meeting with his professor this morning, and old Mister Mandrake did not like tardiness. His head was still buzzing with his presentation as he collected his mail. Bills, his newspaper and...a letter from the hospital. He read it alongside his morning toast. More tests, more doctors trying to figure out a cure for his problem. Lasers, operations, drugs...there could hardly be a single thing that he had not already tried. Of course, he was very grateful for his doctors will to help him, of course. But sometimes it did get a bit...tiring. Nothing had helped so far... Leonard shook his head, as if trying to dislodge the thought by force. No, it would work getting depressed. He would keep trying, until the very end. His resolve reinforced and his breakfast finished, he stormed out the door, heading for his important rendezvous.
Mariachi styleTo say that the previous few days had left Adam Clarke uneasy would be a gross understatement. His admittedly small living space, already cluttered beforehand, now looked as if it was hit by some miniature tornado. Dogeared magazines and notebooks littered the floor, sharing space with empty pizza boxes and Chinese food containers. The Tennessee man didn't pay much attention to the mess though. Made the place more homey, he supposed. Not that he had much attention to devote to the comforts of home, given recent developments. They were coming back. They'd taken him away and left him on the side of the road. He didn't know why just yet, but this visitation would be the final piece of the puzzle. He could feel it in his gut. But on some level, he wondered if there wasn't more to this. It seemed that the more he worked out, the more inconsistencies there were in his theories. Like every time he thought he'd finished, a hundred more clues and suppositions were dumped in his lap. But he could hardly think about the nature of his work right now. He shuffled about his modest home, clearing a path between the window, which he would occasionally stop to peer through, the television whose picture buzzed and flickered in the corner, and the computer that seemed to be collapsing in on itself. The conspiracy community, if there was a community to begin with, had seen itself abuzz with gossip over the last few days, comparing notes and arguing and fearing for their lives. Adam was no different, though he knew that all he could do was wait and see. Briefly he considered getting in his car, catching a plane, seeing the saucer for himself, but no. He'd had his fill of those little green bastards for now. He could wait. And wait he did.
"Was JFK a mermaid? I don't know, I'm just asking the tough questions."
Whisperer in Darkness“…and as you can see folks, the alien craft is continuing to maintain its current position over the Atlantic Ocean; though I am no expert in such things, I’d say that it seems to be operating on low power—the strange lines running along its surface, which were so brilliant in the void of space, now seem dull and lifeless. The Enigma Project has been attempting to make contact with our visitors since they arrived some two hours ago, but no word has been given on whether these attempts have borne fruit as yet. We now take you live to NASA headquarters in Washington, where our man in the field Terry Voight has managed to get a hold of Doctor Percival Hoffman, head of the Enigma Project—” “Boring!” Jack declared, picking up the remote to change the channel. The ten-year old boy wouldn’t be caught dead watching something as dull and adult as the news under ordinary circumstances; all he really cared about here was the aliens. He had been so excited when he’d heard that real, live aliens were coming to Earth, and he could barely contain that excitement as he had waited for them to arrive over the past three days; it would be just like in his games and movies, with lots of action and explosions and everything! Or so he’d thought at the time. Now Jack found himself incredibly disappointed—their spaceship was cool and all, but all it had done since they got here was just hover over the sea, somewhere so far away that he could only watch it through the TV. They hadn’t even blown up any cities, for crying out loud, or asked anyone to take them to his leader; when were they going to come out of their flying saucer and actually do something?! Suffice it to say, the boy was swiftly running out of patience; the ship was the only reason he bothered to watch the news right now, and he could care less about what some dull old guy had to say about it. Might as well go back to watching cartoons instead of this gigantic letdown… “Jack, dinner will be ready in five minutes!” his mother called from the next room over. “Did you do your homework?” “Yeah, ” he lied, rolling his eyes. It was a Saturday; why would any kid do boring old school stuff when they could be watching cartoons or looking at what should have been awesome aliens? He levelled the remote at the TV and began to change the channel, but before he could do so the news anchor spoke up. “Wait a minute, we have a breaking development, ” he said, his urgent tone making Jack sit up and pay attention. “The alien ship seems to be doing something…” The view zoomed in on the spaceship, and though the picture was blurry from how high up in the sky it was, Jack could see immediately that the reporter was right; those geometric lines covering the ship were starting to glow with an eerie green light, a light that grew brighter and brighter with every passing second. A strange noise accompanied this lightshow, a throbbing hum that started off quiet and very low but which seemed to rise in volume and pitch as the patterns of green light grew ever more radiant. Jack stared slack jawed at this display, a grin slowly spreading across his face as he took in the sights and sounds of this strange event. Finally, something cool was happening! “Ladies and gentlemen, this is incredible!” the reporter continued, shouting to be heard over the vessel’s building roar. “The craft appears to be powering up, and I don’t know if you can feel this at home, but that noise is almost deafening and I can feel my teeth vibrating in their gums; it is an incredibly unpleasant sensation! We can’t be sure what it’s doing, but—wait…yes, I see! Those four appendages, the ones that look like arms or limbs, they have started to glow as well! Strange lights are forming at their tips, and if you look closely you might be able to see arcs of green electricity crackling along their lengths…” Flecks of static began to flicker across the screen as he spoke, and Jack frowned as the reporter’s words started to crackle and become indistinct. A faint buzz drew his attention to the living room’s lights, and he blinked in surprise as he saw that something was happening to them as well; the bulbs were starting to flicker on and off as though they were attached to a faulty circuit, and he could smell a faint tang of something that reminded him of burnt wires. “What are you doing in there, young man?” his mother called from the kitchen. “Are you playing with the circuit breakers again?” He didn’t answer, too enraptured by what was happening to formulate a response. On the screen, the tips of the spaceship’s arms continued to grow ever brighter, though the increasing amounts of static made it almost impossible to see them. Every electronic device and appliance in the household seemed to be going haywire in response to this, and though he had no way of knowing this his home was not the only one thus affected; as the alien vessel powered up, these disruptive effects spread to every corner of the globe and no one was spared from their grasp. A great noise like a thunderclap rang out as the screen flared a brilliant white for half a second, and then Jack cried out in alarm as the television suddenly went dead and every single light in the house promptly went out. And again, his household was not the only one affected; for five seconds, every single electrical or electronic device on the planet shut down without any warning whatsoever. Blackouts swept across major metropolitan areas, and many cities on the night side were plunged into absolute darkness; chaos and pandemonium erupted in the streets, where every lamp and traffic light had gone out, and high above the ground airline passengers shrieked with fear as the engines cut out and their planes slowly began to fall… Then, just as suddenly as it had begun, it ended. Jack blinked in surprised as the lights and television came back on; on the screen, the spaceship’s appendages had stopped glowing and the geometric patterns had grown dim once more. More to the point, it was now rising higher and higher into the air, and doing so at a rapid pace; in a matter of seconds it was barely visible save as a tiny black dot in the center of the screen, and the boy let out a disappointed sigh as he realized that the aliens were leaving. “That was a bummer, ” he muttered. “Hey, mom, how’s dinner coming?” No answer came. “Mom, did you hear me? I asked how dinner’s coming.” Again, silence greeted his question. That wasn’t normal; she usually answered him right away. Now that he thought about it, he realized that he had not answered her when she had asked him what he was doing a moment ago; normally she would have come in to check on him, but she hadn’t. Starting to get a little worried now, Jack got to his feet and left the living room, heading towards the kitchen. The trip took only a few seconds, and when he got there he saw immediately that something was wrong; her pot of soup sat atop the stove, untended—something that she would never do, especially not when the burners were still on. More to the point, though, was a most incongruous sight; his mother’s clothes, shoes and apron lay on the floor in a heap, and all of them were blackened with soot; the thick tang of ozone filled the air, as though a bolt of lightning had struck the kitchen, and faint wisps of green smoke hung over his mother’s abandoned clothes like a shroud. “…just in; we are getting unconfirmed reports that hundreds, if not thousands of people vanished from their homes and workplaces during the blackout. The missing individuals simply disappeared without explanation, leaving behind nothing but whatever clothes they were wearing at the time to show that they ever existed. Ladies and gentlemen, in light of what just happened and the fact that the alien vessel appears to have left our planet, this reporter deems it entirely possible that they may have been abducted.”
The first thing the young woman noticed as faint glimmerings of awareness slowly returned to her was that she felt wet; every single inch of her body felt as though she were immersed in water, her face and head in particular, but strangely the liquid was not cool. On the contrary, it felt warm to the touch, and though she could feel it flowing into her mouth and through her nostrils, she did not seem to be drowning; it was almost as if she were drinking liquid air, filling her lungs with precious oxygen and a gentle warmth that made her feel calm and at ease with the world. She realized this was unusual for a number of reasons, but strangely the young woman found it difficult to care about these bizarre circumstances; though she might not have had any idea where she was or how she had gotten there, she nevertheless felt content, safe and secure in the warmth of this life-giving fluid. It was almost like being in her mother’s womb once more… Mother… For some reason she could not shake the notion that this term meant something significant, that it applied to her more directly than in such a vague and objective sense. Was she not a mother? Did she not have a child of her own, who had grown within her in warmth much like this? She struggled to think of her child’s name, but the all-encompassing warmth of this place made it difficult to concentrate, and no matter how she tried the boy’s name would not come. Again, she found that this did not bother her anywhere near as much as she supposed it should have; her cares and worries felt so far away and insignificant in this place, the life-giving fluid and the pleasant sensations it brought the only thing of any importance. But where was here? she wondered, a faint sliver of curiosity working its way through the fog of idle contentment. Slowly, her eyelids flickered open, and luminescent red flooded her vision as the fluid rushed into her eyes. They stung with irritation for a moment, and she blinked once or twice in a vain effort to clear them out; realizing that this was pointless, she left her eyes open and allowed them to adjust. Gradually she began to notice darker patches amidst the faintly-glowing amniotic fluid, patches which slowly resolved into abstract shapes, then complex ones, and the stirrings of mild surprise flitted through her mind as she realized what she was looking at. Other people filled this womb, swaying gently back and forth like flotsam in the ocean currents, their hair billowing like fronds or tentacles. Every one of them seemed to be sleeping, their expressions masks of absolute calm, and idly she wondered if she was the only one to be awake; they were anchored to the floor and walls of this place, wrapped in flexible tubes of what might have been coral or plant matter that extended all the way up to the shoulders and concealed most of their bodies from view. The sight reminded her of an episode of an old cartoon she had watched in her youth, where the kids had been swallowed by one of their classmates and gone on a tour of his digestive system; it was like the bit where they were in his small intestine, and the other people here were those…what were they called again? Vickies? Villies? A vapid smile slowly spread across her face as she remembered the term one of the kids had used. Cactus-things…human cactus-things… She might have laughed at the silliness of that thought, but her eyelids had grown heavy all of a sudden; she tried to fight their closing, but close they did, and just like that she felt consciousness slipping away…
An unknown span of time later, the young woman snapped awake with a sudden jolt. The womb-chamber was gone, that much was immediately clear; her skin faintly prickled from the absence of that all-encompassing liquid, and she trembled briefly as shivers wracked her body. Once again she found herself unsure of where she was, what her name was or what had happened to her, and this time a proper sense of alarm and anxiety accompanied that troubling realization. She opened her eyes, but saw nothing; blackness surrounded her, pressing in from all sides, and as she hesitantly lifted up a hand to feel her surroundings she realized she was in a very small room of some sort—there was barely any room to stretch out. What’s going on? She wondered, a cold sweat breaking out in response to a burgeoning sense of claustrophobia. Have I been buried alive? A shockingly loud hiss filled her ears then, causing her to flinch; it almost sounded like gas being vented from something. Then she winced as a ribbon of brilliant white light suddenly flared into existence before her, and the young woman was forced to shield her eyes as it expanded until it seemed to dominate her entire field of vision. The hissing stopped then, and after a moment she cautiously spread her fingers to get a glimpse at the source of that illumination; strangely, however, she found that something translucent seemed to be blocking her eyes. Frowning, she lowered her hand and quickly squinted to protect her eyes from the harsh radiance. Fortunately, she quickly saw that such a precaution wasn’t necessary; the light had dimmed to tolerable levels, allowing her to take in her surroundings. She seemed to have been lying within an odd tube of some sort, a claustrophobically small cylinder whose insides were completely black, and the ‘ribbon’ she had seen just now must have been its front section splitting open like a pair of doors. Gingerly taking hold of the tube’s edges, she hoisted herself out and had a look around. Her current location was very strange, to say the least: she stood at the base of a large, egg-shaped chamber, whose smooth walls were an almost eye-searing shade of white. Thin, branching tubes which looked eerily like veins ran along them in complex shapes and patterns, pulsing faintly with soft streamers of blue, green and purple light which flowed from the roof of the chamber some forty feet above into a ring of tubes similar to the one in which she had just awoken. There were twelve of these capsules in all, including her own, and from the outside she could see that they were translucent, allowing her to glimpse what lay inside of them like a very murky two-way mirror. Curious, she began to approach the closest pod to get a better look at what it contained; but before she had gotten within two feet of the tube, its surface suddenly became opaque and highly reflective—and as she found herself staring into the eyes of her reflection, she let out a surprised gasp. The twenty-nine year old single mother was clad in a sleek, single-piece outfit made of a material she did not recognize; its legs stopped just above her ankles, leaving her feet completely bare, while the sleeves went no farther than halfway down her biceps. The suit’s fabric was predominantly a dark shade of blue, which made for a striking contrast with her lightly-tanned skin tone, and though it was not exactly form-fitting the garment nevertheless felt lighter than air against her flesh, almost as if it wasn’t there at all. Tiny lines resembling roots and arteries wound their way across its surface, forming intricate traceries of white and cyan that seemed to pulse in tune to the beating of her heart, and a most peculiar symbol lay over her abdomen—a brown circle containing a thick, yellow-green arrow that pointed downwards, both of which were outlined in a red the colour of dried blood. It was an unpleasant-looking symbol, especially given its location, and the young woman did not like it one bit; it brought to mind some rather unpleasant connotations about whoever (or whatever, rather; this place clearly had not been built with human aesthetics in mind) had put her in this outfit, connotations which made her shudder in revulsion. She began bringing a hand to her abdomen to see if she couldn’t wipe it off, but then she caught sight of her hands and stopped, staring at them in shock. Those were not the hands she had been born with. From just before the wrist her skin became glossy and green, almost as if her own hands had been lopped off and the hands of a completely different creature were then grafted onto the stumps, and where five fingers should have been there were only four. Translucent membranes that extended to halfway between her first and second knuckles linked her digits, and as she flipped these alien appendages over in mounting disbelief she saw that a black line ran along the underside of each finger, like some sort of seam. “What in god’s name?” she breathed. Scarcely had those four words left her mouth when the chamber came alive with a series of loud hisses; all around her, plumes of white vapour began to spew from the other containers, and even now some of these pods were beginning to crack open. It seemed as though the other occupants of this room were beginning to wake up…
The WordnomnomThe moment of Thomas’ awakening was violent. A gasp. A memory of pain like molten metal pouring into his veins. A throbbing sensation throughout his body, and then a blinding ray of light. He recoiled and, after calming himself, shoved apart the opening pod doors, attempting to appear intimidating. As he tried to rise he fell, half in and half out of his pod. He blinked and looked about, feeling a wave of embarrassment. A woman in some sort of freaky black…no blue jumpsuit was recoiling away on his immediate right. He had almost fallen on her. He swore under his breath and forced himself up and out of the tube, his legs feeling weak and his shoulders heavy. His shoulders were heavy. He took stock of himself and realized HE was wearing a freaky jumpsuit as well. It ran beneath his feet all the way up to his neck where it flared slightly and stopped just short of his fingertip, flowing from suit to fingerless glove seamlessly. His shoulders were different. Metal bar-like structures were mounted on the collar of his suit and around his shoulders and the back of his neck, forming a large mantle. He reached up to press on one of them and immediately retched as a deeply uncomfortable sensation ran through his body. The metal ran through the outfit. It ran under his skin. Ignoring the other splitting pods around him he touched the metal again, enthralled. Tiny silver-black fingers formed cords between the ones on his collar and a large cloak that seemed absolutely weightless hung down his back. He couldn’t help but think he looked like a superhero; a defensive mechanism to draw his mind away from the horror of his situation. He glanced at the woman again and back to himself. His suit was of a different cut and her…super-hero symbol…perhaps…was on her abdomen. He looked over his suit and located the same marking on both of his shoulders. The woman, he noted, was staring at her hands, which looked decidedly odd. He leaned against his pod and watched the others open, lost somewhere in the numb place between dread and wonderment.
While the breath's in his mouth, he must bear without fail, / In the Name of the Empress, the Overland Mail.
Elizabeth Maero awoke, and she stepped out of the odd structure. She was afraid, although she barely showed it, for herself and largely confused, but her thoughts quickly rushed to her son. He could take care of himself to a degree but, as her mind made the link to alien abduction, whoever was left had to have a considerable level of disturbance. She felt that she needed to protect him, but wherever she had ended up she couldn't do that without getting out. It was only at this point she observed everything else. She was wearing a form-fitting suit, and there were two others in the room, both also wearing similar suits, a woman with one rather similar to hers and someone else who's seemed to have some slight differences. She also noticed something else. There were four small holes in the back of her suit and, emerging out of them, were four tentacles, undoutbly part of her but inherintly odd. Black and fleshlike, abouth 30 CM long, and moving as if testing their ability to move.
The MaidHer last memories were those of big contrasts. A beautiful sight of blue black night sky dotted by thousands of stars and the far way city with it's countless lights seeming as if it intended to mirror that wondrous spectacle. She was cold there... sitting on the stop of the world the night breeze had made her retreat into the warmth of her blankets. Warm... Her next image was of lazy warmth. Instead of the cold wind cooling her skin, she was submerged in wet comfortable warmth. A nostalgic feeling which roused safe memories she didn't even knew she had. She briefly noticed the sheer red surrounding her as she sank down again into a heavy content sleep. But now she wasn't warm anymore. Something threatened to force her away from her quiet peaceful rest. Her eyelids fluttered softly before she opened her eyes to find an entirely black world... which slowly opened into blinding white. Her heart started to beat hard, as if she was just done running a race. Her mind was fussy, scattered thoughts and memories flashing through her eyes as she stayed still inside her pod, breathing hard as she tried to make sense of anything and everything. Eventually she moved. If she didn't move nothing would make sense. She didn't know how she ended up here... she was supposed to be up in the antenna or back home. She grabbed onto the edge of her pod, using her arms to slip outside... into an entirely white room... with two unknown people. She tried taking and step towards them... and then nearly stumbled and fell. As she felt her balance being completely wrong, Elena looked down... and the sight she encountered made her completely lose her calm and fall sitting down. Her legs were... wrong. They were a made of a glossy smooth black material... sleek but certainly not human. As she sat on the floor, hyperventilating a bit, she saw how the knees bent to both sides... how their structure was entirely wrong and how they had attached into a pair of nearly featureless feet which ended in a point, with no toes to speak off at all. Those were not her legs... they didn't seem like something alive or human... but still she could feel them. She then became dizzy and lightheaded to the point of being about to pass out when she tried moving them... and saw the limbs move at her command... felt the knees flexing and going into a more (to her sensibilities) normal position. "W-What the... hell..."
edited 11th Jun '12 4:03:29 PM by daltar
If I'm sure of something it's that I'm not sure of anything.
WalrusmasterChester must have drunk himself silly in the basement again. At least, that was what he thought for that first moment of consciousness, before he remembered some flashes of lucidity in a strange aquatic area - like something right out of The Abyss. His eyes hurt, so he pulled himself out of the pod with them halfway open, barely seeing what he was grabbing. He fell to the ground as he emerged, landing in a kneel. He coughed furiously, and tried opening his eyes again. He saw his hands, feet, arms, legs, torso - everything he could see, save for some crazy pulsing light on his chest - were covered in a strange, reflectionless, black, skintight, rubber-like outfit. No, not his hands - it was slight, but there was a minor gap where the fabric ended, and his hand - now the same flat black of the outfit - started. He drew his hand closer to his face, looking at it. He placed it against his forehead to support his head, pushing it towards him, only to accidentally punch himself with... what? His hand was no longer there, just a stub of a wrist. Looking down, his hand was on the ground, a thin black wire connecting it to his wrist. "Shit, get back there" he said to it, causing an incredibly irritating, unscratchable itching sensation inside his arm as he saw it retract back to its rightful position on his wrist, his face clenching. Only now looking up, he saw four others. Their clothes were somewhat similar to his own, but, while he was no one to speak, the people themselves looked odd. One woman even had tentacles. "Good God, " he said as he rolled back into a sitting position. "Who the hell're you?"
edited 11th Jun '12 8:03:54 PM by nman
Occam's Tweezers: The simplest solution is the best way to lose your job security.
HurrAsher immediately SHOT out of the pod, his body trashing against the floor, like it wanted escape and was out of his control. He awoke with the thud of his face hitting the floor, and immediately, sprang up onto his feet. The mix of strange lights and disorienting thinking made this very unpleasant for him. His brain was doing strange things. On the one hand, he felt like dying. On the other, he had bounds of energy, and wanted to run around the room many times over. It mad him happy, and sad, and excited. Then he saw the other people, and suddenly became angry. "WHAT'S GOING ON?!" As his anger built up, his body and all the veins on it started to glow red and blue, but slowly fading away as he calmed down.
Crazed Lawrencian— There had been a place of watery warmth, the young man had remembered that. It had a comforting familiarity to it, but he couldn't quite place what it reminded him of. There had been many other people floating about, and the young man had vaguely wondered how they were all breathing in an environment like that. The young man remembered lapsing into unconsciousness, all prior memory before the warmth a great buzzy blur. His snapped open again, and he was very conscious of the tight space he was in, combined with how the entirety of his body felt sore. A mental checklist, made through preparation for the worst, flipped to work in his brain. Who? I... am Guy...Guy Gastonbury. When? 20...13, A.D. Summer. ...June? Yes, June. Where? ...I'll get back to that. Unknown right now. How? ...If I was a bio major, maybe I'd have a clue. Wait, major, what's a major-student, I'm a student in...college. Studying...study, study, nose-grindstone—Business. Why? This... This can't be connected to what's on the news, can it? I'm just a man studying to take on... Pa...Ma... They're back home. But this... Sci-fi gone real... Aliens? What could they possibly want with the son of a businessman? This is horseshit... What will you do now? He noticed more clearly by every passing moment how much every muscle in his body ached, as if he had been hauling heavy equipment for a mile or more. He gave a hard blink as the pod he was in turned translucent, light flooding his vision. ...Get out of this thing. With a surprisingly small effort, the pod broke open at his push, and he found himself in a searingly bright white room, slightly chilly in temperature, and completely sterile. Guy looked about, and saw many more of the tubular pods, people emerging from them. Strange people. Like a man older than he with an eye coloured like nothing he'd ever seen, or a woman who looked about his age with glossy metallic black legs below the thighs. They all wore a similar kind of dark-blue, weirdly veined suits, the style differing for each individual, and they all seemed below him somehow. He took a step backward in surprise, and his gaze was quickly drawn to the strange difference in colour on his arm. He stared, his fingers flexing, at the off-white patches of skin which covered the appendage, like donor tissue grafts, but without the stitching. Large areas of steely muscle mass worked under the new skin, tightening when he made a fist. His eyes widened in realisation that he'd not had this sort of tone before, and he looked down. The corners of Guy's mouth drooped in displeasure as he saw yet more of these patches grafted onto his now mostly bared torso and legs, those strange outfits the others wore represented on him with a zipperless vest and knee length shorts. As his mind struggled to fight off the encroaching bewilderment, he noted the odd arrow-within-a-circle symbol present with the others was emblazoned on both right and left sides of his vest. Guy opened his mouth, took a deep, calming breath (which didn't work quite as well as he'd hoped), and spoke, with a mild drawling baritone.— "Let's... let's settle down 'fore we get too worked up now. There's gotta be an explanation comin'. Y'all... speak English?"
Proud member of the IAA What's the point of being grown up if you can't act childish?
The WordnomnomTyphoid ignored the sound and clamor taking place as the pods opened and began to explore the chamber, looking for doors, or signs, or some indication of where exactly he was.
While the breath's in his mouth, he must bear without fail, / In the Name of the Empress, the Overland Mail.
Just call me FallenA young woman felt the warmth around her… It felt so familiar, even if she didn’t quite remember where she felt it before. It still felt good, warm, comforting… Then, suddenly her eyes snapped open. It was like she could hear something… Something she shouldn’t. She felt the twinge of a headache, something wasn’t right… She then noticed just how small the space was, she tried to occupy her mind with other thoughts, other than how dark, how small it was in here… O-okay, just remember… Try to remember basics… N…Name… What’s my name… Ophelia. Ophelia Forsyth. Yeah, yeah, that’s it… The month... It’s… June, I think? I don’t know where I am but… I was… calling someone, I remember that…Watching the TV… The news, that alien ship, but I was calling…Thoughts of a strong woman came to her mind… She looked a lot like her… Mom… She’s back home, so where was I? … College. Yeah, that’s right! Think on that... think… Why am I here? I’m just… a student. A normal person! I was watching that alien ship on the news… Everyone was, I mean… Ophelia looked around, and suddenly there was a blinding light entering the pod. She pushed forward by instinct, landing on the floor. She could hear people talking, and blinking a couple of times, she looked up. Her black hair was in her face, in front of her icy blue eyes, for only a moment before got up on her knees and brushed it behind one of her ears… which were now pointed. Okay… what? Then, when one of the males talked, her ear moved in the direction of his voice. That’s… not normal. She looked around at everyone, and noticed that everyone had some sort of inhuman mutation. Then again, neither is that. Well… Any of that. I'm lucky to have gotten off with pointed ears that... uhm... move... She didn’t know what to think of all this… Ophelia just stayed quiet as she was getting up. She noticed that she was wearing a dark violet shirt with long sleeves and a pair of dark blue pants, both of which that fit her tightly. They were made out of a material she didn’t recognize. The symbol that seemed to be on everyone’s clothes was on the back of her shirt. She looked around, thoroughly confused. Where am I?
edited 13th Jun '12 11:25:28 PM by FallenAngelOfTheDark
Whisperer in DarknessTyphoid’s search would prove unsuccessful; beyond the now-vacant tubes which ringed the curving walls of this egg-shaped chamber, and the luminous veins which threaded their way from the tops of these capsules along the walls towards the distant roof, the walls were bare. At ground level, at least, there was no readily-apparent way of entering or exiting this unearthly room; how they had been placed inside the chamber to begin with was just as much a mystery as how they were meant to get out. The floor, however, was another matter entirely; were he to look closely, Thomas would see that the same symbol which adorned the suits of all those present was etched into the glossy black material, though its colours—heavily faded and dull in comparison to those worn by everyone else—made it difficult to spot at first.
The young woman stared in mute shock as all but two of the pods cracked open with a hiss and their occupants tumbled out, and as they emerged in varying states of disorientation two things became immediately clear. First, they were all clad in outfits made of the same organic-looking material as the one she now wore, though beyond the dark blue fabric itself and the common elements of those weird lines which resembled arteries and that icon of a brown circle containing a green arrow, they varied significantly from one person to the next. Second, and far more alarming, was the fact that every single one of these people—or at least, she assumed that they were people—bore incredibly strange and somewhat unnerving features, some of which were so bizarre and alien that the distinctly amphibian hands which had replaced her own natural, human appendages seem almost trivial in comparison. Not counting the man with huge metallic hooks jutting from his shoulders who had almost bowled her over a moment ago, she could see a girl with fleshy black tendrils protruding from her back, writhing about in a way that made her skin crawl; a young woman whose legs had been replaced with limbs of a glossy black material that ended in feet so basic and featureless that they could not be called human by any stretch of the imagination, and which seemed to bend both ways at the knee in a truly nauseating manner; a guy who stared at his right hand with an understandable grimace as it slowly winched back into place on a thin black wire protruding from his wrist; a fellow who might have been attractive were it not for the fact that his veins were glowing vividly like some sort of mood ring; and perhaps most disturbing of all, a hulking young man whose musculature was clearly visible through large patches of translucent white skin. The twenty-nine year old single mother fought the urge to retch at that last one; watching someone’s individual muscle fibres tightening and flexing with every movement they made did not a pleasant experience make. In comparison to these others, the last person to emerge from her pod that she could see—a young woman with black hair and blue eyes, whose pointed ears seemed to turn towards sound—seemed almost normal; the twenty-nine year old had once known a man who could make his ears wiggle in much the same fashion, though his had not been so…elfin…in appearance. Some of the others had begun to talk, expressing confusion and anger at this situation; and given the circumstances, she could hardly blame them. Then that fellow with the visible patches of musculature began speaking, asking for calm and if any of them spoke English in what was unmistakably a southern drawl, and—if only for the semblance of normality that such an action would provide—she decided to answer. “Yes, we can, ” she said, “or at least I can; I can’t really speak for anyone else.” She glanced around the egg-shaped chamber, frowning for a moment as she tried—and failed—to spot any sort of exit. “Given how weird this place looks, ” she continued, “I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that those aliens from Jupiter had a hand in whatever happened to us...” She trailed off then, the fog which had settled over her mind finally lifting and her eyes widening in horror as her memories became clear once more. Her name was Madeline, and she had a son named Jack; what had happened to him? Was he still at home, left to his own devices thanks to her abduction? He was too young to fend for himself. How much time had passed; was he alright? Or worse, had he been snatched away by the aliens as well? Had they done things to her boy, as they had done to her and everyone else in this room? Was he trapped somewhere on this gigantic spaceship, lost and alone? Madeline’s eyes narrowed. Not if she had anything to say about it…
edited 15th Jun '12 10:56:52 AM by SullenFrog
Elizabeth tensed, which was very visible in the movements of her tentacles, as the helix of light appeared and the rest of the room faded to black. "This is unknown. Therefore, it is dangerous." That was more along her son's line of thinking than her normal thoughts, but it seemed accurate enough. "It's best to be careful, although we don't seem to have much control here."
A rogue of heartDarkness. A strange sleep. The feeling of being born again. And then, the return to consciousness, like a whale breaking through the water with great strength, seeking the air of the world above. Leonard saw nothing, yet his eyes were wide open. He turned around. Where was he? In some kind of chamber. It reminded him of the scanners in hospital, except...different. If only he could see clearly. Slowly, the world swam into something resembling focus. Grey shapes and shadows drew silhouettes and edges before his eyes, and he could faintly make out humanoids and more chambers...but there was something off. It took him a while until he realized that he was seeing things that were going on outside the chamber he was in, as if there were no walls to block his vision. Leonard started moving. He had to get out. Pushing open his pod, he emerged into the group of other people. Their outlines were off, he noted. Someone with a feminine figure had what seemed like plants or possibly ropes extending from her back, and another was wearing a strange cape that to his eyes glowed strangely. What he did not see, however, was himself. He too wore the blue jumpsuit, with the strange symbol placed uncannily right over his heart. The easily most striking thing about him were his eyes. Black and white. The sclera was entirely black, a glistening onyx shade of darkness that gave Leonard's otherwise normal face an inhuman feel. And the iris and pupil were completely white, an unnerving light shade of pale that stood in stark contrast to the black sclera. His eyes seemed to be the inverse of the norm, yet they did their best in trying to help Leonard understand the situation he was in.
The WordnomnomTyphoid noted the floor and then gave up his search as the room darkened and the helix came to dominate it. He strode towards the center of the chamber and again took note of the various men and women around him. They were strange looking, made stranger by the unearthly light of the helix. “Man…Survivor got intense this season.” The joke was said softly, to himself, and it made him smile. Then louder, to no one in particular. “Anyone want to try touching the light?”
WalrusmasterChester sickeningly chuckled to himself as he heard Typhoid's question. "Looks like fate's hitting me with a ton of bricks." Still sitting where he had been for the last few moments, he fiddled with his right hand for a second. He then wound up his arm as if he were throwing a baseball, and tried to throw his hand at the light.*
Occam's Tweezers: The simplest solution is the best way to lose your job security.
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