Thursday, 2 June 2011

Chapter 8: First Awakenings

It was not long after Vincent had left the lab that a group of AnthRobot security arrived at the scene, with the anti spintronic device still active they froze as they entered the radius of effect. This was not something the Hive Queen was expecting, in fact, it did not know what to expect. Security systems had picked up noises from this laboratory, crashing and wails of some sort, the Hive Queen thought that perhaps Vincent had come in, drunk, as has happened before, and somehow managed to create a physical malfunction in the local cameras. It did not consider that he may have been using an anti spintronic jammer, a terrorist device. This one fact changed the situation from merely inconvenient to extraordinarily bad. It immediately called in a contingent of loyal human security to check the scene.
Howard Briggs arrived at the laboratory within 20 minutes; he had been briefed by the Hive Queen on the way, due to the fact that within the radius of the anti spintronic jammer his spintronic implant would be useless, until it was deactivated. It was just before 2am when he entered the laboratory, whoever had caused the disruption was long gone by this point, the lights were still on and he could immediately see the room was a mess. There was smashed glass on the floor, a broken window and some sort of scientific instrument had crashed on the floor. This was next to a secure freezer. Wearing gloves, he tried to open it, and discovered it was unlocked. He closed it again; whatever the perpetrator did, he had access to this freezer, which narrowed the list of suspects down. Only scientists on this particular project had access to this freezer, whatever the project was, he was not at liberty to know. He began to search the lab for any active device that looked out of place. Most devices in the room used spintronic hardware and would have been deactivated. After a few minutes of searching, he found a small portable device attached to the underside of a workbench in a cupboard. He carefully detached it from the screw it was hooked on, and looked it over. He did not want to do anything with it; it may be booby-trapped. He walked it out of the lab and gave it to a colleague.
“I found this device, I think it’s what is causing the spintronic interference, can’t be sure though. It may be a booby trap, dispose of it,” Said Howard.
“Yes sir,” replied the officer.
Howard retuned to the lab and waited. After about thirty seconds, the frozen AnthRobots In the hallway began to reactivate, and he reactivated his spintronic implant.
“Hive Queen, I have discovered the interference device and have given it to one of my officers to dispose of, in case it is booby trapped” sent Howard.
“Good,” replied the Hive Queen “now please verify the identity of the perpetrator.”
Howard got back to work, his first instinct was to check for fingerprints, but he considered that there were gloves in the lab and the perpetrator could easily have put some on, he decided that the possibility that they forgot was not worth ignoring. After dusting the door to the secure freezer, the bench, and the glove box itself, using his spintronic implant he confirmed there were no fresh fingerprints. His next instinct was to check around the broken instruments and window for bodily fluids, if the perp cut himself there would be drips of blood.
Bingo, he found a small amount of blood on the window frame. Strange, he thought, his first assumption was that the perp had broken the window with something, seen it was too far down the six storeys and found another escape route, this blood indicated that perhaps they had in fact jumped out of the window. He had come via the broken glass outside on his way up there was no evidence of blood that he could see in the low light, and certainly no body. No one could walk away from that fall, could they? He took a swab of the blood on the window frame and contacted the Hive Queen with an update, and the proceeded back down to the ground floor, to reinvestigate the broken glass, giving the swab sample to an officer, to get DNA tested, on the way.
Using his torch he scanned around the scene, there was in fact a little blood on some of the shattered pieces of glass scattered around the place, he bagged some of them up, even though the blood would undoubtedly be the same as on the window frame, just to be sure.
With his torchlight, he caught a glimpse of something a little way off, it was a hypodermic syringe, with a little blood on the needle; he packaged that up too, and then saw a trail of small blood spots leading away from the building.
He Contacted the Hive Queen again.
“It seems the perpetrator has most definitely jumped out of the window, I found a trail of blood and a used syringe out here.”
“This is most worrying; I will order the anthrobots to check in the laboratory to check if my suspicion is correct, thank you Howard. Please turn the evidence over to anthrobot security.”
“I’d like to carry on investigating, if that is all right. No offence to you, but something is telling me there is more going on here than I first assumed.”
“No thank you Howard, I will be able to continue the investigation from here. You are dismissed.”
Grudgingly Howard backed down; he could not do anything without the Hive Queen’s say so. He returned the glass shards and syringe to AnthRobot security, and returned home. He knew the Hive Queen was not telling him something, but he was loyal enough to drop it, he would go home to his wife and sleep.
The Hive Queen’s suspicions had been confirmed; the test tube label F/C 0835666 had been emptied and replaced with water, and the syringe found by Howard Briggs had traces of the viral culture. All the blood was Vincent Blake’s, the blood round the window and on the glass shards was a direct match, but the blood on the syringe and the blood drips outside were showing changes to his genetic code, consistent with him having injected the culture into himself. If indeed he was working with the humanist underground, getting their hands on this new technology could prove disastrous to the Hive Queen’s plans, things would have to be put into motion sooner than expected.
* * * * * * * * * *
Rayna woke up in a bed, she could barely see, but she knew it was not her own. She ached all over, what had happened last night? Last thing she remembered was leaving a nightclub at about two. Was she really that drunk? This did not feel like her usual hangover, and whose bed was she in? She rubbed her eyes and tried sitting up, it was difficult but she managed it. It was dark in the room, the blackout window was activated, but she could make out everything now at least it’s shape, then the door opened and a man walked though.
“Oh, you’ve woken up” he said.
“Uh, yeah, where am I?”
“Don’t worry you’re safe, and don’t try to move too much, the aching will go away eventually, I bought you some water.”
“Right. I’ve woken up in guy’s beds before but I really can’t remember what happened last night, I must have been wasted.”
“It wasn’t last night; you’ve been unconscious for about 28 hours”
“Uh okay, what happened? Was I mugged or something, and you saved me?”
“Not quite, you were attacked and I guess I saved you, but I was also the one that attacked you.”
“Uh, what? You attacked me, and you bought me here, what are you kidnapping me or something, your loss, cause I ain’t worth shit, are you going to turn the light on so I can see your face?”
“oh no, nothing like that, I would turn the light on, but your eyes may be very sensitive, I was going to try an break it to you gently, but here’s my face”
Vincent turned the light on to it’s dimmest setting and Rayna immediately threw her hand over her eyes.
“Hey not so bright man, what’s the deal?”
“This is only the dimmest setting, this is what I was going to tell you, your new eyes may be more sensitive than normal, they’ll take a moment to adjust.”
“New eyes? What the hell are you talking about man, you ain’t making sense!”
“All will become clear, now look at me.”
Rayna lowered her hand and looked upon Vincent’s face, he had shaved not long ago, and the accelerated hair growth had slowed down to normal but his face was still a shocking sight. Rayna Screamed.
“Shh, not so loud, it’s still pretty early in the morning.”
“Who, wh… what are you?” Rayna said, petrified.
“My name is Vincent, and there’s nothing to be afraid of, I was… exposed, to a virus which changed my appearance, which I’m sorry to say I have inadvertently passed onto you.”
“WHAT, so I look like that too, like a fucking vampire. You are a fucking vampire!”
“No, no I’m not, there is no such thing as vampires; I assure you,” He said, “I tried using anti-vials to stop or slow down the virus, but it was futile. The virus has reacted some way with my ASRESCs [Aggressive Self Replicating Embryonic Stem Cells] and seems to infiltrate the system too quickly. Please do not be afraid, I have done everything I can to nurse you through this, to keep you well, and safe, from yourself,” Explained Vincent
“What do you mean?”
“When this virus first… infected me, the animal part of my brain took over; I attacked you, possibly fed on you, and transmitted the virus. Thankfully you didn’t die, the virus saved your life, and I have been keeping you here, feeding you sugar water so the same thing didn’t happen to you, you must understand I have been doing this for your own good.”
“Ok, what if I believe you, what now? You say you’re not a vampire, even though you look a hell of a lot like one,”
“I assure you the similarity is a coincidence, although…”
she cut him off “Say if I believe you, I can just go back to my life, right? So I might look a bit different but some guys are into that, I could make a good buck.”
“I don’t think that will be possible.”
“Why not?” She asked.
“Your physical changes have been a little more extreme than mine, as I was saying before the virus is designed to change a person, give them the traits of a combination of animals, in this case Cats and Bats…”
“You made me part bat? So I am a fucking vampire!”
“No you are not, please listen,” Vincent tried to calm her. “The transformations were originally supposed to be subtle, but something in the way the virus infected me, and combined with my ASRESCs, the transformations are more extreme. My transformation has favoured the cat aspects, but apparently yours have favoured the bat, and may look more striking that you have assumed.”
“What do you mean, show me!”
“Very well” Vincent left the room and returned with a small mirror.”
Rayna looked at herself in it and saw what he meant, her canines were long, like Vincent’s, perhaps slightly longer, but other transformations were apparent too. She hadn’t noticed before but her finders had grown, perhaps by another one third, and had begin to web, also she seemed to have lost weight since the transformation, she was a little tubby before but now she was practically waiflike, although her muscles seemed much more toned than they have ever been. Her ears had grown slightly, pointing at the top; her nose seemed to have widened, and wrinkled in the bridge and her eyes looked slightly sunken. The biggest change of all however, was a flap of skin under her arms running down her side to her knee, she lifted her arm up to look at it and a muscle she didn’t know she had pulled taught, she had a membranous flap of skin running up her side.
“Oh my God” she wailed and began crying. “I’m fucking hideous.”
“Please don’t cry” whispered Vincent, “I am so very sorry for what I have given you, but you are not hideous at all, it’s beautiful in fact, I am a lonely man, I want you to consider living here with me, I hope you can forgive me, and we can live with this curse together.”
“Fuck you,” she said through her tears. “Where the fuck are my clothes?”
“I’m afraid they were… damaged, I went out earlier to pick you up some more, they are in the bathroom,” He said, and she stormed off.
She locked herself in the bathroom for several hours, sobbing occasionally. Eventually she decided to emerge, and came to speak to Vincent.
“What if I do decide to stay with you, what then?”
“Well… I work with some rather shady individuals, who will be very interested in the changes we have exhibited, our changes may be passed onto many other people, we will not be alone then.”
“I’m listening, who are these people?”
“you may have heard of them, depending on who you listen to, they are called Humanist Underground, or the Anti Queen Terrorists.”
“You work with terrorists?” she shouted shocked.
“Yes, please be quiet, people may hear, but they are not as bad as the media makes them out to be, their goal is to save us all from oppression under the government of the Hive Queen.”
“I though the Hive Queen was good and stuff?”
“That’s just what she wants you to think, in fact for years she has been brainwashing people and conducting illegal research secretly, eventually she plans to have the whole world under her control”
“What about those people on Mars?”
“I don’t know much but I believe they are on our side, even though they say different. They supply the Humanist Underground with technology and funds occasionally.”
“I was going to go, you know, but I couldn’t afford it in the end,” She said.
“That’s good to know, one theory is, the Hive Queen encouraged the Mars colony as a way to weed out her opposition, get them all in one place.”
“Then what? Nuke it out of space?”
“Oh no, the Hive Queen would be more subtle than that, possibly cause a disease, seal off the planet, and say it is native to Mars, people would praise her for saving Earth from the contagion.”
“Wow yeah, that’s pretty heavy stuff, you know I think I will be better off with you, my life was shit anyway, I don’t want to go back to it. I’m Rayna by the way.”
“I’m glad” said Vincent and smiled warmly. “Rayna, that’s a beautiful name.”
She smiled back.
* * * * * * * * * *
Mack woke up at about seven thirty in the morning, lying next to Marina. It was not the first time they had slept together, but this time, Mack knew it was because of the revelations of yesterday, Marina was truly frightened by the implications of what they had learned, and she needed the comfort of Mack there. Mack kissed her on the head and she stirred a little, he got up, washed and dressed, and made cereal and drinks for himself and Marina. He took them back to his room gave Marina her breakfast, as she was now awake and sitting up in bed brushing her hair. She thanked him, as he sat on the bed and ate his breakfast. They began talking about what they thought might be happening today, the previous night they had not spoken about it much. They had lay in each other’s arms and talked about random things until they both fell asleep. Although they had been seeing each other increasingly for two months, and were, as some would say ‘an item’, they had not yet made love. This didn’t bother Mack, much, he knew she was the perfect girl and he didn’t want to ruin anything by rushing her, and due to her catholic up bringing, he knew he couldn’t rush her if he tried. He was more than content in her company, and he made sure she knew it. He was sure she appreciated it.
Mack had gone to see Doctor Carter the previous evening to confront him about whether his family were working with the Hive Queen knowingly or under its influence. He assured Mack that no one knew that they were working for the Hive Queen or not, most people couldn’t even fathom that it’s intentions were anything but benevolent.
“When it is possible, we will endeavour to undo the conditioning that the Hive Queen has put upon the people of Earth. We still do not really know very much, as to the level of conditioning more senior people in the Hive Queen’s government have received, but we are certain that no one is knowingly helping its cause. I assure you we told you everything we know for sure this morning,” He had said, and Mack had believed him, for the most part, it was just so much to get his head around.
once they had finished eating breakfast, Marina went to get washed and dressed and Mack accessed some TV for a bit, and by eight fifteen Marina was ready, she had to go via her own apartment to pick up some clean clothes but they still had plenty of time.
They left his apartment and headed towards Marina’s apartment, when they got there, Marina opened the door and they went in, Mack sat in the kitchen whilst Marina went into the bedroom to get changed. A couple of minutes later she had finished and they headed off back to the seminar room.
They arrived at their destination a few minutes early, and about half the group was already there, everyone had seemed to gravitate into preset groupings, based on who they had already met. Mack and Marina figured there would probably be plenty of time to get to know everyone else if they were set to work with each other, and the only person they knew already that was here was Rajid, who was on his own, no Bryan yet, they went over and said hi.
“Hello Marina, Hello Mack,” He said, “How are you this morning”
“Pretty good, thanks,” Said Mack
“I’m good, thanks Rajid. Yourself?” said Marina
“I am fine thank you.”
“Have you been here long?” asked Mack.
“no I was one of the last to arrive before you”
“so, no sign of Doctor Carter, or Doctor Petrova”
“no not yet”
A couple of minutes past and the clock in the room said precisely 9am when Doctor Carter and Doctor Petrova came into the room, almost simultaneously Bryan walked casually in the other door, and came to join the small group. By this point everyone was here.
“Good morning everyone, I trust you are all well rested?”
There were murmurs of acknowledgement in the room.
“Are we missing anybody?” he continued, “no? Good, in a moment I will be handing out to you personalised work assignments, which compliment your individual talents, although I’m sure you will all be working with each other at some point in the future. But first I’d like to talk to you a little more,” He paused for a moment before continuing.
“Yesterday we spoke to you about why the mars colony was created, and why you have been chosen for this group, what we did not tell you is what this group is for. You are all talented young individuals, all high IQs and determination. What we want from you is to put those brains to use, coming up with technologies we can use for the betterment of humankind, and perhaps ways to fight the Hive Queen. Some of the projects you will be working on are de-conditioning people loyal to the Hive Queen. Finding ways to counteract its influence and ability to surveil and control the population of Earth. Other projects less directed towards fighting the Hive Queen include space travel, primarily ways to open wormholes without having an established gateway at each end, something that the Hive Queen has yet to crack, and perhaps will not try. It is a patient being, and will happily wait for years, which is how long it will take for the many gateway ships it has been launching for the better part of the last decade, to reach other solar systems. You will also have access to the full processing power of MITCH which I’m sure you are all aware of and any other facilities you require”
One person, a young Mediterranean looking man attempted to ask a question, but Doctor Carter stopped him.
“All your questions will be answered in time, please be patient,” Was all he said.
Being fed all this information without clarification was beginning to tire Mack, but what could he do? Carter and Petrova obviously weren’t going to disclose any more information than they needed to, and there wasn’t going to be anywhere else he could find the information, his only options were to quit, which he wasn’t even sure he’d be allowed to do anyway, or wait, which would eventually quench his curiosity.
Doctor Carter began walking around the room, handing out sealed work orders to each person individually. Mack opened his immediately, and it simply said
Mack Philips – Britain – Western Europe
Intelligence – High
Practical Intelligence – High
Imaginative Ability – High
Calculative Ability – Moderate
Scientific Knowledge (Theoretical) – Moderate
Scientific Knowledge (Practical) - High
Spintronic Hardware/Software Knowledge – Moderate
Project Assignment – Engineering Concepts
Team - Design and Implementation
Everyone else had the same form, with personalised information. There was already heated discussion amongst the group. Marina showed him her form and vice versa.
Marina Porter – Indiana – Midwest States of America
Intelligence – High
Practical Intelligence – Moderate
Imaginative Ability – High
Calculative Ability – Moderate/High
Scientific Knowledge (Theoretical) – Moderate
Scientific Knowledge (Practical) - Moderate
Spintronic Hardware/Software Knowledge – High
Project Assignment – Engineering Concepts
Team - Cybertronics
“Well, good news, we’re both ‘Engineering Concepts’ whatever that means eh?” said Mack.
“Yeah,” said Marina “different team though, but like Neil Said, we’ll all be working together at some point. Hey Bryan, what’s yours say?”
“Theoretical Implementation, Engineering Concepts” he said as he passed it to them
Bryan Daggon – Massachusetts – Northeast States of America
Intelligence – High
Practical Intelligence – Low
Imaginative Ability – Low
Calculative Ability – Very High
Scientific Knowledge (Theoretical) – Very High
Scientific Knowledge (Practical) - High
Spintronic Hardware/Software Knowledge – High
Project Assignment – Engineering Concepts
Team – Theoretical Implementation
“Hey cool, we’re all in Engineering Concepts, I guess it’ll be designing machines or something” said Mack.
“Yeah probably,” said Bryan, “I just want to know what Theoretical Implementation means. I mean, how do you implement a theory? Ability to implement is what separates a theory from a practical reality right?”
“I guess, said Marina “perhaps it means finding practical realities for theories, like wormholes were only a theory for years before the Hive Queen worked out how to actually make one.”
“Yeah but that was the Hive Queen, it has the processing power of a thousand people”
“a thousand normal people maybe, but you’re not quite normal are you Bry,” Said Mack.
“Well I guess not,” Bryan brightened taking it as a compliment. “This is going to be pretty cool, I like a good challenge.”
Doctor Carter and Doctor Petrova escorted the group to a secure annexe of the colony, the other side of the colony to the habitation modules, requiring hand print identification to get access. He ushered them all into a separate corridor.
“This section of the colony is where you will be working. We have fully equipped labs and materials for your use, as I said before, full use of MITCH, and something else that I have not mentioned yet.”
He walked them along to a room off the main corridor.
“Within this room is a selection of things that you may be surprised more by than anything else you have been told the last couple of days”
He opened the door with another hand scan and walked in. letting the group follow him.
Inside the room were surfaces with items on them, in some cases, items suspended in a fluid, and in a couple of cases suspended by some sort of electromagnetic repulsion.
The items looked strange to Mack’s eyes. He got the sensation that the items in this room were old, very old, even though everything looked smooth, clean and pristine.
“The artefacts in this room are what many of you will be studying, as some of you may have guessed, these items are not human, they are in fact alien, extra terrestrial. We have estimates that put their age at several tens of million years: Predating primate evolution.”
Several gasps could be heard about the room, only from those were not too shocked to breathe.
“The artefacts are extremely tough, and heat resistant, we only have them because they survived the asteroid bombardment of the planet and simply floated to the surface. We believe they originate from a race of humanoid beings that lived in our solar system around the time of the dinosaurs as far as we can guess. Most dating techniques have been useless. Our only estimates are based on how soon after the bombardment they surfaced, from which we could make a rough guess at how deep they were with a simple calculation based on density of the artefacts. Knowing how quickly the artefacts would be buried on Mars, which without a biosphere is a long time, we could judge the age of them, of course our estimates might be way off if they were buried very deep in the time of their use.
“We think the beings were humanoid because some of the more simple artefacts show ergonomics suitable for a short human, and other artefacts have evidence of humanoid hand shapes, three long fingers with an opposable thumb. Obviously due to the age of the objects and the sterilising heat of the lava they rose through, we have found no biological material, or any actual images, so we are still only going by guesswork at this time.
“One of the original researchers come up with a theory that perhaps primate life was seeded on Earth by these beings, and nicknamed them the Progenitors. Progs for short, the name has stuck, and even those who do not believe the theory have not come up with another name, and for the sake of consistency that is what we generally call them.”
As he said this a Latino looking man, in his mid to late thirties, walked into the room holding a container with gloved hands.
“Hi Neil,” He said to Doctor Carter, “so these are the new recruits?” Neil nodded, and then the man addressed everybody as he placed the item on a surface and signed a logbook. “Let me introduce myself, I am Doctor Vincenzo Alonso, almost everybody calls me Vince though. Very nice to meet you all,” He said smiling “I’m sure I’ll see you all again at some point, but I gotta get back to work” he finished and left the room.
“Vince there works on our team studying what we believe may be a power storage device of some kind we have about two dozen other scientists working here already, with all you we will pretty much double our person power, which is quite a relief to many of our staff. We’re stretched pretty thin, and with more and more artefacts being discovered, and progress on most artefacts being pretty slow, you will all be a great help to our team.”
Doctor Carter ushered the group out of the artefact room and locked the door. They were all taken around the laboratories and shown some of the artefacts being worked on. As it turned out there were several projects being worked on other than Engineering Concepts, such as Material Studies, and Xenocology. Each project had a few teams specialising on specific aspects.
Engineering Concepts was tasked with learning how the Prog artefacts worked, and how to recreate or ‘backwards engineer’ them. A daunting task but Mack had never been so excited in his life.
That night Mack and Marina were hanging out with each other, they watched a movie and snuggled on the bed.
“Amazing isn’t it” said Mack to Marina.
“What?” she asked.
“Everything we’ve learned the last couple of days, you can’t say you aren’t amazed by it all.”
“Well, yeah I am.”
“You know, for the firs time in my life I think I am truly happy, I have a gorgeous, wonderful girlfriend who I love, for the first time I’m actually going to be doing something with my life, something that interests and fascinates me”
“I love you too Mack,” She smiled at him and kissed him on the forehead, then climbed on top of him and kissed him on the lips. He smiled back at her and she began undoing the buttons on his shirt.
“Hey, are you sure?”
“Yes Mack, I’m sure, I don’t think I’ll ever love anyone one as much as you, I want you to be my first,” She finished unbuttoning his shirt, and then took of her own top. They undressed each other delicately, Mack fumbled with her bra, but she took over and too kit off. They had never seen each other naked before and they began to kiss again. Then they made love, each for the first time.

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