Chapter 5: Moon Dust

Four years have past since that ten year old android became a human being. Of course it took Orin a great deal of time to accept certain facts of matter such as his cellular makeup and organic tissues. He had refused to believe what he had seen all his life, witnessing other Droids having limbs replaced and technical assessments being conducted by removing the entire head and placing it back on. Although it never happened to him, he accepted it as fact and common practice. Orin grew to resent John over the years for his deception. Paul, an insurgent of the Skyscrapers is Orin’s trainer, he had attempted to piece back together Orin’s fractured image of John, but to no avail. Orin has a discussion with Paul about the past and future and morals of an 18 year old. They introduce some of the other characters. cut back to Earth with Verium and the Mind. Verium displays allegiance to the mind in horrible ways. perhaps an experiment on the soul of a captured human. the test of orin commences and higher up skyscrapers are introduced. Orin attends his first meeting and all they know is revealed. knowledge of two planets. the tale of two planets

The Sirach. A ship from another time. One of the last remaining human vessels in the solar system…

Journal Entry 192:

I’ve never known anything else. I never knew how vast space really was. I never knew. I never knew Gwenavere. It’s been 4 years since the Outpost. I’m still writing these entries hoping to keep my brain sharp. I had another grueling training session with Paul this morning. I feel so different. I’m another being entirely, I know it’s true! Everything they have been telling me is TRUE! So much to say but now I need rest. I still dream of Ken, and of Julia… Most nights I can’t wait to go to sleep.

The year was 2049 and Dr. Mann has created life, or at least a reflection of it…He secretly called it the Shadow of Mann or as the media playfully deemed it S.A.M. Although Dr. Mann handled the accusations and controversy as best he could the protests and fear created a movement for an entire generation. But like all movements after the core generation grew old and died, the fight fizzled away as the new children of Earth fed on the convenience that technology provided. Few cared of the why and all concerned themselves with the when…

Orin’s eyes shoot open at the sound of a hard rapping at his door. “Orin! Get up kid, let’s get to it!” yelled Paul. Orin sat up on his bed stretching out, catching his reflection in his com-lenses on the table next to him. Although they didn’t function anymore he still wanted to keep a part of his past among other small things he held dear. Now an anxious age of 18, Orin was driven to learn all he could about the Skyscrapers mission. Orin rubbed his eyes and walked to the shower to get ready for training. His eyes focused and face expressionless. He donned a new uniform, having grown out of his Outpost gear from years ago. His Ivory colored tactical uniform was lightweight and durable (reference to clothing tech of the future) He was intrigued by the way The Skyscrapers color code their ranks, Ivory representing the Bone of Man, Gold representing the wisdom and vice of Man, Emerald representing Life, Aqua representing Water the key to all existence, Garnett representing the blood of our being, and Finally Jet representing the culmination of all knowledge and skill. He was looking forward to his test to graduating to his Gold uniform. It was just one week away.

“That’s it kid, c’mon!” Orin leaps and dives through obstacles, twisting midair keeping his sense of direction landing on his feet. “Keep GOING! …don’t stop kid…” With focus and verging on anger Orin sprints up an incline and leaps to a chain swinging across a gap. His feet touch down on a thin beam lining the next obstacle. “Wait, hang on! You’re missing the point…you have to go through the course not over it!” Orin paying no mind continues on the beam, dodging as red laser lights sweep past him threatening his completion of the course. He hesitates before the final leap. “Yeah…looks a little too far now doesn’t it!” taunts Paul. “C’mon climb down let’s take it again.” Orin takes a step back and leaps with all his might, the ledge getting closer. His toes just miss the edge and his body slams hard on the platform flinging Orin back flipping into a pool of water. Paul turns rubbing the inside of his eyes. “AHHHH!” Orin yells beneath the water with all his energy flexing every muscle in his body, anger and frustration feeding his will.

“Captain! Captain Runner, we are reaching the dark side of the moon within one hour.” announces Gwenavere the Senior pilot. “Inform the gatekeeper, and make sure Paul has Orin prepared to demonstrate.” “Yes, Captain.” Gwenavere was a young pilot all of 21 years old with great spirit. She had an athletic build that was flattered by her Emerald uniform. She was well versed in the known relics of humanity, as well as the test of demonstrations that Orin was about to undergo. Her superior Captain Runner had short white hair and a veterans face. His rough features were sharp and mirrored his obvious will. His garnett suit was well kept and was hypnotizing to see, being that it was the only one on the ship.

“Orin I know you think that all these thoughts are new thoughts, and that all these feelings have never been felt by anyone else but you, but you’re wrong. you just haven’t  been learned of those who have come before you. you are unique but you are not special. think of where you are, think of what you’ve seen, Do you really think that all of this just appeared? you come from somewhere you come from someone. You share DNA with other people, never forget that and always remember that your life Contributes to your family name. how are you going to honor it?” The words of Paul resonate deep within Orin. He suddenly feels the air move around him.  he notices the feeling of his clothes on his skin.  he is reminded of the deception of his past and relishes his state of awareness.   knowing that despite his impatience it would be unwise to heed Paul’s words.  gaining an awareness and separating himself from his emotions was the first step in a very long journey.   “ Paul, you’ve never told me your last name...”

The sound of hundreds of fan blades spinning across a diameter of 100 feet, slowly imitated the pace of a heart beat. White walls vaulting 60 Feet high and thick bundles of cables lining the floors spanning 30 feet across could accommodate even the largest of planetary species to pass. The shadow Verium traces the center of one of the bundles navigating to a rendezvous.  Staring entranced at the metal wires and conduit capillaries, his mind wanders. Arriving at a silver door decorated with ornate geometric patterns, Verium brushes a distinct path with his finger on the door as it illuminates in delay. The door slowly separates at the center granting Verium passage. Within the room there are three figures draped in darkness aside from the red light diodes lining the helmets of the two which were standing, the one sitting was slumped over in a crude excuse for a chair, red fluid pooling around him. “Report.” demands Verium as he tosses his cape across his opposite shoulder covering himself. “Resilient. Not like the others.” responds the saffron units in unision. “Quiet.” orders Verium. “What others?” managed the bloody figure. “What is the grade of your knowledge?” hisses Verium. “What is the color of your suit?” he presses. The pulp of a man remains silent. It is unknown if his actions are by sheer willpower or by inability. Verium daring his proximity, steps forward into the fluid. The two saffron units begin to recite protocol. As saffron speaks Verium’s blade passes swiftly brushing over their shoulders and the room to silence once more. The fan blades pulse as he places both feet in the blood. “You can have everything, immortality, pleasure… tell me where they are.” Silence. Verium presses his finger into the person’s chest slowly puncturing the skin as the man screams in pain. “Speak now.” whispers Verium. “...pain... is temporar...” Before he can finish Verium presses through into the solid backing of the chair. Silence once again. Looking down at the body he wipes his hands on his cape and slowly raises his eyes to the ceiling. “He’s all yours.” he says as he exits the room.

The walk seems to last forever... Time enough to reflect on the past four years. The transition was primed. Orin was yearning for change. The routine of daily tasks and droning on was eating him from within. The fresh knowledge of biology and technology flipped his world inside out. Each step he took down the hallway of the Sirach he imagined those steps he took to his door at the Outpost. Clenching his fists he remembers John and the lies he fed him. “If I really am human, then I must have inside me what everyone is so desperately searching for. He counts his steps behind another young man seemingly close to his age. He had never met another who was preparing for the test of demonstration. Orin contained himself from talking to the young man in front of him. Four years, he thought. Four years of education and training. Paul has done his job well. “I’m ready for this.” he says to himself aloud. The boy  in front of him shifting his head to steal a glance.

Moon dust was displaced in a thick cloud as the Sirach touched down in the darkness. It rained  down in slow motion around the Skyscrapers as they exited the ship. They walked single file, a trail of illuminated suits, like the bioluminescent creatures of old Earth. Orin studied the landscape in awe. His thoughts racing, he struggled to stay focused and disciplined. The Earth looked like a sapphire jewel against the blackness of space. It peaked over the jagged horizon line of the lunar surface. Over the intercom of his helmet he hears Gwenavere giving instructions to the troop. ’listen up everyone, upon entering the bunker keep all equipment on and activated. We will Give you further instructions as we reach the grand corridor. Congratulations everyone on making it this far. Remember to kneel and bow your heads before the Commander.’ Orin’s imagination ran wild trying to picture what was waiting for them inside the black gaping cave that they approached. He felt ready to burst with anticipation.

Helmet lights bounced on the rugged terrain; the illuminated boots were hypnotizing. One of the Ivorys kept glancing to their left, it was obvious that everyone’s peripherals were starting to play tricks on them in the darkness.  From the top of the mountain the tread, Orin could see the sunline below separating light from dark. He counted only 5 other Ivorys other than himself. In the distance he could see the Garnett suit of Captain Runner up ahead and the Emerald Suit of Gwenavere not too far behind. The Ivory in front of Orin turned over their shoulder and waved over Orin. Glancing all around for other higher ranking suits, all he saw were two Aqua leaders crossing the ridge. Orin ran up to the Ivory in front and communicated using sign language.  ‘Are you ready?’ singed the Ivory?’ Orin could barely make out a soft face behind the glare of her helmet. ‘Of course, no doubt in my mind… I’ve never met another Ivory on the ship, is your heart beating as hard as mine?’

‘Stay close.’ She said. Orin, taken aback, looked up and saw that the trail of lights was gone. He didn’t see any of the higher ranking illuminated suits anywhere. Slight panic hit his chest and he was reminded of the Outpost. He noticed that all the Ivories were frozen where they were, the lights of their helmets tracking the landscape for any trace of direction when he realized that the facility entrance was gone as well. Thinking maybe he just got turned around for a bit, he checked the other directions but the cave had completely disappeared. ‘The test of demonstrations has begun’ announced a electronically shrouded voice. OR (It’s started, signed Orin’s new companion.)

Orin tried to talk to the other Ivories but their communications were programed to “receive” only. Everyone huddled together and started to sign to one another. The movement was chaos. However, one thing was certain to all of them and no doubt was the first thing terrifying their minds: Oxygen supply.

Commander Runner strutted down the Grand Hall to his audience with the Administratum. Gwenavere, slightly behind, kept pace at his right. The hall was black marble stone with ornate silver trim and illustrious gold stepping stones on the floor. The stones were surrounded by crystal clear water, which rippled ever so slightly as the Commander and his second passed over the steps, for submerged below them was a guardian that knew no mercy; only hunger and duty.

The group must work as a team to find out what happened. Its either a test or something horrible has happened. In the midst of the chaos Orin recognizes Julia. Although she does not see him Orin stays quiet and waits just in case his eyes are playing tricks on him. They find themselves alone with limited air and no food.  Orin realizes the reality of the situation when one of the Ivorys gets caught in quicksand and is ultimately lost.  In panic they lose more air and ultimately make it to the base after undergoing a test of strength and will. Orin finds out that the other Ivories were Android decoys to evoke his emotion and push him to the limit. Only Orin and Julia are human.

Next Chapter: Chapter 6: Phantom Limb