Our little corner of unpredictability
January 15, 2018

Copyright (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0): 2017 David Noë

Co-authors/players involved: David Noë, Laura Loolaid, Kieyotie McDermott, Drew Eckhardt

The original forum thread ran from May 2014 to Oct 2014.

Read more about the Forum Leakage project here: http://bit.ly/2gkGNrm

Read previous post in this series: http://bit.ly/2mGGryS  

 

And now, let us continue to part 10!

 


Corey awkwardly stretched his body into a control seat and prodded at the console. “The interface looks familiar enough.”
Elder Knux crouched by another workstation, trying to get a peek of its underside. “‘Looks’ being the operative word. How do you actually run this thing?”
Corey grinned. “Heck if I know. Only one way to find out!”
He placed his hands on the controls.The console gave off a few encouraging beeps, then a display activated and the whole control centre lit up. “Nice. So it’s official, we have a new ship.”
“What do we do about the old one?”
“Ah, sod. I didn’t think of that.” Corey dug out his datapad and poked at Moirai’s tag. “Hey, it’s us.”
“Indeed, your identification is displayed very clearly.”
“Hmph, yes, very well. There has been a development, we have a ship.”
“Yes, I am aware of that too, I am guarding it.”
“Er, no, I mean… we have a new ship. We were… ah, it’s a long story.” Corey straightened himself in the seat. “What’s important is, we need to get our gear to the ship… the new ship somehow.”
“I see. Would it not be the easiest to bring the new vessel over to the landing site?”
“But… I mean… Surely we can’t just fly over.”
Tanikki dropped the manual she’d been reading. “Why not?”
“Oh! Right…” Corey turned back to the datapad. “Yes, what she said. We’ll be on our way shortly, Don’t let the other ship out of your sight.”
“Of course not, I am guarding it.”


Corey folded the datapad away and gave the console a determined frown. “Very well! Let’s see if we can get us to the beach.”

The lights flickered, and his console gave off an exaggerated audio chime, followed by a pleasant artificial voice. “All systems online. Airborne sequence engaged. Calculating vector: scrapyard-beach. Altitude adjustment engaged. Descending. Vector complete. You may now disembark.”


“Ah, we are done. That was neat.” Corey glanced around, trying to make eye contact with the others. “How did you do that?”
“Why you looking at me?” Tanikki shrugged. “I didn’t do anything.”

The pleasant artificial voice spoke again. “It was I, Alexis. I extrapolated your intended command sequence based on the two-way interaction. I also cleared your personal pad of non-essential data.”
Knux chuckled. “There goes that gigasecond of smut.”

Amidst the suppressed giggles and snorts, Alexis spoke again. “You may now disembark.”

“Hmph, Well, alright then.” Corey stood and cleared his throat. “Er, ah, yes. Excellent! I thank you on behalf on my crew. We shall disembark now.”


November 22, 2017

Copyright (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0): 2017 David Noë

Co-authors/players involved: David Noë, Laura Loolaid, Kieyotie McDermott, Drew Eckhardt

The original forum thread ran from May 2014 to Oct 2014.

Read more about the Forum Leakage project here: http://bit.ly/2gkGNrm

Read previous post in this series: http://bit.ly/2A2TK2b

 

And now, let us continue to part 9!

—————————————–


Corey took a long, thoughtful toke. “A recap of what the fuck just happened? Anyone?”
Smith stepped out from behind the rubble, barely able to contain her chuckles as she saw Corey’s contorted expression.
Knux tried to hide his own snicker. He cleared his throat and forced a serious frown on his face. “From what I gather we didn’t time travel. It only seems that we did, but in fact, we have been pulled into parallel reality. Dimension. Timeline. Or something.” He shrugged.

Corey’s face settled into a pout. “From where I’m standing, the things we see here have already happened a long time ago. So what’s up with that?”
“Apparently, the time flow is not synchronized between these realities? So if we travelled between timelines, we’d end up at a different… er milestone? Makes sense to me!”

Corey huffed and spat. “Since when are there parallel timelines that you can travel between? I mean, come on!” He began pacing back and forth. “This is stupid!”
“Perhaps-” Knux rubbed his stubbled chin – “perhaps that is how things have always worked. We just didn’t have a way of knowing about it. What if that’s just… how reality, well, is?”

Knux stood, happy with his ability to provide a logical explanation. He cast a gentle magnanimous smile towards the others and nodded. Then the smile vanished, and Knux clutched his hair, a wild look in his eyes.
Smith examined the Elder with a frown, and waved her hand in front of his face. “Hey… you all right in there?” She turned to Corey. “Uh, I’m not sure what just happened. Your friend here… looks like his brain just crashed. Do we need to restart him or something?”

“Uhh…?” Corey shrugged.
Knux sank to his knees, and began mumbling to himself. “…all for nothing… haven’t changed a thing…”
“Does he often get like this?” Smith crouched by his side and looked up to Corey. “Do you know what he’s on about?”

“Yeeeahhh…” Corey lit another smoke. “I get how this must sound to you, but… we thought we’d figured out how to time-travel. Go back, fix things, you know. We thought we HAD fixed things. Saved loved ones, prevented disasters, you know the drill. If we have merely… side-stepped to another timeline it means we never interfered with all that. Everything is still happening.”

Knux was rocking back and forth, still sobbing and mumbling. “…for nothing… still happening… all gonna die…” He looked up, his natural eye dulled by tears. “And there’s nothing we can do to help!”
“Unless you find a way to return to where you came from…” Smith looked at the two men’s despair and hoped they hadn’t heard her wondering-out-loud. She stretched to hide her discomfort and let her eyes wander across the junk piles. Farther on the path, next to the hull of a toppled cargo drone, there were three human figures approaching. “Um, guys, you know these people?”
Corey glanced at Smith. “What people?”

“Look, look! I think they’re headed here.”
Corey squinted: a guy, large in size, and two women, one of them taking measured strides, the other skipping along the path. He nudged Knux, and pointed at the approaching group. “Un-fucking-believable…”
The measured-strides-woman waved and smiled.

Corey flashed a huge grin at Smith. “Allow me to present: Tanikki Kall’ovyj, Reesto Chelik, Mia Loki! Some damn fine crew I’ve had the pleasure to work with! Never expected to see any of them alive again,” he added quietly.
Knux got to his feet and brushed himself off. “You know it’s not really them-them, right?”
“Shut up, you twat, you’re ruining my moment.”


As the group drew closer, Tanikki spoke up. “Look at you! Not too shabby for an old man!”
“You ain’t so bad yourself, haven’t you aged at-all?”
“Technically I’m supposed to be dead, so, no.”
“So what brings you to our corner of the scrapheap?

Mia poked her head out from behind Reesto’s wide back, her dark eyes shining. “We’re improvising!”

Tanikki chuckled with a nod. “Lil’ Miss Space Cadet is right. According to the original scenario we were supposed to take positions at the bar, act naturally, and once you’d arrived, pretend we belonged there. Here. In this… you get the idea. But then you…” She drew an arc in the air.

“Yeah-yeah. They told us. We were early.”

“Right. So our handlers decided to skip the spectacle and send us to r-v with you directly.”

“We went to a briefing!” Mia clung to Reesto’s arm, attempting to spin him around.
Reesto stood his ground, smiled, and extended his right hand.

“Oh, right!” Corey waved his arms around with an awkward giggle. “Soo, introductions. Smith, Reesto. He doesn’t talk much. Tanikki… and junior surgeon here-”

“I’m Mia!”

Corey caught her high-five. “The one and only. Er… And our resident cyborg here…”

“Oh, that is engineer Vee-One. We were briefed about you.” Tanikki moved in for the jumble of handshakes. “Didn’t say anything about you, though.” She tilted her head and looked at Smith.

“Oh… I guess I’m not really supposed to be here.” Smith drilled dirt with her bootheel. “I just kinda hopped in on the ride.”

Corey stepped aside and climbed atop a little dirt mound. Taking his best captain-y stance, he let his voice boom. “People! Now that we have all gathered here, let us board and see what good old Alexis has to offer!” He fumbled with the security sequencer until the outer hatch popped ajar. “Yes-yes… through here. Let’s locate the command centre. Naturally we can’t expect the layout to be exactly-”

Tanikki put a hand on his shoulder. “It’s all right. We were just briefed, remember?”

“Right! Everybody follow Engineer Kall’ovyj!”

To himself, Corey mumbled: “That went well.”


November 8, 2017

Copyright (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0): 2017 David Noë
Co-authors/players involved: David Noë, Laura Loolaid, Kieyotie McDermott, Drew Eckhardt
The original forum thread ran from May 2014 to Oct 2014.
Read more about the Forum Leakage project here: http://bit.ly/2gkGNrm
Read previous post in this series: http://bit.ly/2m3MNe0

And now onward to part 8!

—————————————–

“Briar…” Corey muttered through grit teeth.
“Briar?” Knux accepted her hand.
“That’s Briar Rose to you.” She grinned.
“Quite a thorn in my ass, too.” Corey added with a scowl. “So what brings you here? Last time we met, you had me at gunpoint, happily blabbering about your bright history with the good Doctor.”
“Cervonious?” Knux broke the handshake and stepped back.
Corey stood his ground with a blank stare. “Not gonna lie, with all the weird stuff going on, I’m glad to see another familiar face. It’s not one I trust though.” He pulled out a cigarette. “And how would you know what we did “last time”?”

“The mixed feelings are mutual. Come, I will brief you on the way.” Briar waved them along, farther into the scrapyard.
“Now, technically speaking, you and I have never actually met. But I do know quite a bit about you two.” She pointed at Knux and Corey. “A version of me met with you briefly, and explained some things concerning Dr. Cervonius that likely didn’t make any sense at the time.”
She paused to pick up a compression control, looked it over, and tossed it back into the pile.
“The gist of it is that Doctor C has encountered your inter-dimensional boogieman, I mean, “the skilf” during his trans-dimensional experiments. One concept he learned from them was ‘setting the deck’. This is how they fight. They pick a stream of spacetime continuum that has the parameters they like. They will then invade the sub-variations of that continuum, keeping the “parent-timeline” intact; they learn by making all the mistakes and suffering all the losses, and with that knowledge assure themselves a victory in the “main branch”.”
Rose continued leading the others through the junkyard. “That brings us to what Greg, I mean Doctor Cervonius is doing. We have been learning how to manipulate spacetime continua using similar principles. He is using their own tech against them, cheating the reality if you will. With some tutoring from his multi-reality counterparts, Greg’s been gathering his own army. You are going to meet many people you know, people who are not the same. Like myself.”

Corey cut in. “Wait, if I was planted here, does it mean there was another me? Here?”
Briar suppressed a sigh. “What you need to understand is… This is the fabric of reality we are speaking of. Sure, we can change the parameters and “players” of any given timeline, but predicting where the reality takes it from there is another matter. Every new “traveler” brought in will trigger more unpredictability; multiple inserts multiply the chaos effect. That’s why we generally avoid allowing duplicates in any reality.” She sent a quick side-glance at the elder Knux.
“But how-”
She kept walking, her eyes on the ground. “Often enough you can simply choose a timeline that is lacking your chosen “player”. Sometimes there are negotiation options. Sometimes… not. Enjoy your free rejuvenation and don’t think too hard, you will give yourself nightmares.”
Briar came to a halt. “This is my ride.” She hopped into a junkyard service vehicle and pointed beyond the nearest heap. “And there’s yours.”

Corey looked where she was pointing and his eyes widened. He looked at Knux, then back at the ship. “Is that…”
“Yes. That’s Alexis… With some upgrades.” She threw a security sequencer to Corey. “Get on board, re-acquaint yourselves. Any questions you’ve got, ask Alexis.”
She fired up the trucks thrusters and spun around. “I’ve got a couple people to kill, but I’ll meet back up with you at your camp after dark. Tell your friend she can come out of hiding. And try not to get yourself killed before I get back!”


October 26, 2017

Copyright (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0): 2017 David Noë

Co-authors/players involved: David Noë, Laura Loolaid, Kieyotie McDermott, Drew Eckhardt

The original forum thread ran from May 2014 to Oct 2014.

Read more about the Forum Leakage project here: http://bit.ly/2gkGNrm

Read previous post in this series: http://bit.ly/2xZscYM

And now onward to part 7!

—————————————–

“Welcome back!” Moirai called out. Knux was with her, his arm wrapped around her shoulder as she limped them both forward.
Corey jogged over to help. “How’s he doing?”
“He seems to be recovering.” Moirai glanced over his shoulder towards Smith, “Who’s your new friend?”
“You guys get to know each other, I’m going to check the ship.”

Their vessel was in a sorry state. Still upside-down, but rolled onto its right side. A pool of water and oil mix had congealed around the base.
He propped Knux against a large metal container.
“Quite… the mess…” Knux muttered, stretching out his natural arm.
“You’re telling me…” Corey replied absent-mindedly, “How you holding up?”
“My bionics are pretty damaged… My eye is stuck on infrared, need to keep it shut and rely on my normal eyesight… And my arm…” He frowned at the mess of wires and goop. He pulled himself up the side of the container, Corey rushed to his aid, but was shunned away. “I’ve got this…”
“While that may be, we should be helping one another, you’ve got nothing to prove to me.”
“I know that, I’m not proving anything to you, I’m proving it to myself.”
“Bah, fine…” Corey muttered and turned his attention back to the ship.
Behind him, Knux managed to work himself upright. He reached to a release mechanism and dropped his useless bionic arm to the ground.
Corey jumped. “Gah! Freaks me out when you do that! A little warning next time?”
Knux ignored him and started tinkering with the bionics.

* * *

Corey had climbed atop the wreckage until he’d found a suitable hatch above the waterline. He worked his way in, and to the almost dry cargo bay, powered up his blaster and, with a shit-eating grin, aimed at the exit. The doors flew off and landed with a mighty splash.
“What the hell man!?” Knux spat out some mud.
“Oh relax would ya?” Corey skipped back to the shore “I got the door open!”
“You could have killed me!”
“With a cargo-bay door? You’ve been enough of a challenge for Cervonious AND the Skilf!”
“Ugh! Don’t remind me.”
“That’s…” Corey fell silent, rubbing his chin.
“What is it now?”
“I just thought of something. Who’s our enemy here?”
“What do you mean?”
“Well… We arrived back on T-Nine, but why? Who are we fighting? And more importantly, who sent us?”
“That should be easy enough to figure out. When you were on Tucker Nine originally, who were you fighting then?”
“Cervonius. Although back then we didn’t know it yet.”
“So what’s changed?”
Corey stomped the mud. “The Skilf.”
Knux wiped the last bits of sand off the arm socket. “If the timeline holds, then it’s gonna be a while until the Skilf show up again…
“Then my money is still on Cervo. He could be up to something, that’s why he’s pulling us back in time.”
“But we killed him and wiped out his entire network.”
“Exactly!” Corey paced back and forth, stabbing air with his index finger. “What if this… reality is his failsafe? A way to bring himself back?”
Knux set his bionic limb with a click. “But if Cervo could really manipulate time, why doesn’t he just…” He shrugged.
“Who knows what reasons he has? Then again, things are different here, too different. What if this is all a simulation scenario? What if we’re trapped in some sort of purgatory? Are you even real?” He ignored the Elder’s snort. “For all we know, we could be hooked up to an Educator right now!”
“What’s so different then? You’re pretty much on the same course: grab the ship on T-9, crash it on Ar-Kaos. All you need to do now is find and repair the Alexis, hire Boats, take the job from Zhao… and we’re back where we started.”
“You weren’t even there! And Trouble was! Where is he now? And what’s up with the new faces? I’m tellin’ ya something weirder is going on here.”
Knux offered another half-shrug. “So what do you want to do then?”
Corey action : “Go get the Alexis.”
“Didn’t you just say, we don’t really know what’s going on?”
“Doesn’t matter. We crashed here so that we could find the Alexis. So let’s go find the Alexis.”

***

As they were approaching the fence, Smith took in the glorious sight of towering scraps ahead. Oftentimes she’d feel overwhelmed, yet oddly blessed at the sight of industrial leftovers, especially in such large quantities. To shake off the excess sentiment, she turned her attention to the path ahead. The ground was now littered with small components and debris bits. She instinctively picked up a few nuts and bolts, carefully placing them in chest pockets, then paused and gave an apologetic smile.
“Sorry, old habits.”
They were almost at the gates now. She noticed a small heap of takeoff-obsidian discarded by the fence. This was too much. “Ooh! Shiny!” she exclaimed and skipped towards it. “I’ll be right back!”

A ship’s roaring overhead brought her back to reality. She hastily stuffed the handful of black tears into a belt pouch and hurried towards the gates.

The sight of her newly-found crew at a gunpoint made her drop into a crouch and slowly back off. She peeked in through the metal sheets and rubble piles, a thousand emergency scenarios and rescue plans rushing through her brain. She barely knew these people – but she felt oddly responsible for their well-being all of a sudden.

As Corey entered the scrap yard, a low vibration filled the air. From a far-away corner a ship was  slowly rising into sight. A very familiar ship. Alexis rose, made a hovering turn, and took off towards the spaceport. Despite his older, wiser, and better-trained mind, Corey felt rage and despair rising in him. Yes, things were proving to be different here… but this was too much.
Then something hit him in the chest, twice. He looked down and noticed spots of blue ooze on his armour, soreness building up underneath.
“You’re early, Fucker!” A shapely brunette climbed down from a pile of crushed shuttles carrying a customized rifle. “You were supposed to go for a ‘We survived’ drink first, and only come here tomorrow morning.” She slung the rifle. “You also need to work on your situational awareness. I saw you two staring like you’ve never seen a spaceship before. Almost felt bad about tagging you.” She offered Knux a hand and a smile, “Almost.”


October 23, 2017

Copyright (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0): 2017 David Noë
Co-authors/players involved: David Noë, Laura Loolaid, Kieyotie McDermott, Drew Eckhardt
The original forum thread ran from May 2014 to Oct 2014.
Read more about the Forum Leakage project here: http://bit.ly/2gkGNrm
Read previous post in this series: http://bit.ly/2zwBInz

And now onward to part 6!

—————————————–

Corey struggled with the unknown vessel’s outer hatch. He glanced at the tow crews who had stopped to re-align the floating wreckage – again. The irritation gave Corey strength, and he yanked the hatch off with one frustrated motion.
He stepped inside, looked around, and listened. Silence.

Begrudgingly, Corey allowed himself to rely upon his enhanced senses, and followed the faint shuffling sounds deeper into the shuttle. He found a human figure strapped to the upside-down pilot seat above his head.
“Nice shuttle.” He climbed over some burnt electronics. “Love the end-of-days decor!” Through the age-old command-stress crust, Corey’s younger self was asserting itself.
The figure uttered some words but the headgear muffled them all.
Corey examined the figure in the chair, and noticed how the safety harness was cutting into the protective suit. It also became very clear that this was not his partner Trouble.
“Oh. Sorry, I was expecting someone else… Hi.”
Corey dropped down and stumbled outside. He peeled a torn bit of metal off the scrap ship, then returned to the pilot to cut her down. Before severing the final straps, Corey readied himself and caught the stranger.

They made it out to the daylight and sat atop the wreckage. “So…” Corey offered his new acquaintance a smoke. “What brings you to Ar-Kaos? Besides us I mean. Fame? Fortune? A taste of the high-life?” He took a heavy drag on his own smoke and glanced back to the shore.

***

“… expecting someone else.”
The voice drifted away and got lost in a jumble of ethereal noises. Then there was light – proper daylight. There was sky, there was water, she was breathing. And then there was this guy, waving somewhere, talking apparently – she couldn’t quite concentrate to make any sense of it. She fumbled towards a shoulder pocket and pulled out a small multitool. With some effort she was able to break her visor’s seal and pop it off.
The guy was still talking.
“Those,” she croaked.
She pointed at his smoke.
“I got those. My shop… Paper… Licorice.”
She gratefully accepted the smoke handed to her. She only smoked on occasion, but this here certainly qualified as “occasion”. She leaned back and flicked some ash away.
“Who were you expecting then?”

His eyes narrowed, “I… I’m not sure anymore… I figured my old buddy had tagged along from Tucker 9, but instead I’ve met two new people and an old friend who has no business being here…” He took another deep toke and watched as the wind took the fresh ash before glancing back at the woman, “Name’s Corey… Corey Henderson, Commander of the Alesha Last Defense Flee…” He trailed off before giving a re-assuring smile, “Eh… Just Corey, how about you?”

She watched the last embers fade atop the debris. Peeling gloves away, she extended her right hand.“Call me Smith,” she said. “I’m sorry I jumped your ship.”

***

Standing on the mountain, he watched the ship crash into the water. It was happening again. Things were different this time, of course. But they always were. He watched Corey Henderson climb from the wreck and thought of killing him right there to save time. But satisfying as it would be to watch him die, Corey was integral to making things right. Hopefully, the variations this time would allow him the opportunity to save-
It didn’t matter.
The man turned back to his fighter. Once again he had the chance to make a difference. His ship rose from the ground, and faded from sight.

He had some time to see how things play out. The Alexis was here. Then again, Boats was not: this time he had run harder, faster, and had racked up a bigger debt; in this incarnation the debtors would claim more than just an ear or a finger. He had thought about stepping in to replace Boats, but too many changes in the timeline would prove just as counterproductive as too few.

***

Br’er Rose walked through the junkyard.The smell of hot metal, old fluids soaked into the earth, and… something always made her to enjoy these places. Many saw them as graveyards, but, unlike with ships, taking pieces from a long dead corpse wouldn’t bring another another person to life. She knew what she was looking for, she had seen it before – but it wasn’t where she expected to see it. Not surprising, with the way things had a habit of changing.
Then she saw it – in a back corner, sitting crossways atop two others.
Mallory had run into an asteroid field, her drunken pilot relying too heavily on the autopilot; Yolanda’s crew hadn’t bothered with the basic filtration maintenance, had all asphyxiated before she crashed into the Lindos Space Station; Alexis was the trifecta, done in by a simple compression dampener. Between all three ships however, there were enough parts to put two into service. Now that she had found them, she hurried back to the salvage office and made the purchase.

***

Three men surveyed the damage on Tucker 9. Even without uniforms, their conduct was unmistakably military.
“So he finally made it?”
“That was the message, Commander.”
“It appears to be the case, sir.” The second subordinate stepped closer. “I ran some interviews and looked over the security scans. Despite all the false alarms so far, it looks like this time Corey’s really awakened.”
“Thank you, Captain.” The tall man gave the ruined city another look, wishing he had been able to prevent the loss of life. But certain events had to flow a certain way. He turned back to the others. “It’s about time.”