Chapter One - It started with a dream
There was a distant voice shouting out to her; it sounded like a man was calling her name in desperation. His voice was rough and almost roared louder than the shrill screaming of a young child in the distance. There was the clashing sound of armour surrounding her; it was loud, and the metal clanking was thunderous and ear-piercing. She couldn’t handle the noise, and so she covered her ears and stared up at the sky, shaking furiously, hoping to find some form of comfort in the bright abyss.
The millions of tiny stars were flickering like candles, all the while there were bright streaks of aurora borealis dancing throughout the sky like a pastel creation. There was a large planet in sight, it was captivating, and beautiful. Its orange and red circumference shone brightly and its glow was nearly hypnotizing as it sat next to three much smaller, dull and grey moons that sat against the black void that was the rest of their universe.
She turned herself away from the violence, unable to continue witnessing blood splattering and steaming entrails spill out of her enemies onto the forest floor. The heaps of bloody flesh stank, and the putrid smell was seeping into her nose. She felt her body shake as her mouth began to fill with vomit; it was just a moment before she spewed all over the ground in front of her. The stench was making her insides churn painfully. She wiped her mouth of her sick and stared around at the scene in front of her.
Beside her stood a tall man, dressed in bronze armour, wielding a long sword and a heavy shield. His face was blood, and was full of rage. He was screaming incoherently at three wolf-like creatures with large, glowing yellow eyes. Their bodies were massive and had limbs that were long and lanky, mimicking a nearly human stature. They had long legs endowed with thick razor sharp claws on each of their mighty paws. They had patches of rough fur scattered all over their bodies and teeth that were so sharp they could easily pierce through the thickest armour in a single snap.
She began to scream as the wolf-like creature’s incessant howls began to fill the air around her. The noise seemed to be painfully permeating her every limb, as if the sound of their howling was seeping into her bones and shattering them from the inside.
The man in front of her in the bronze armour quickly thrust himself forward and grabbed one of the wolves by the throat, and penetrated its rib-cage with his long silver blade. He tore upwards and she heard the crack of its ribs before he ripped the sword out of its torso; it was dripping with hot sticky blood. The beast let out a sharp yelp of anguish before he threw it to the ground and landed in front of her. It’s eyes quickly faded as it lay next to her limp, and lifeless. In her horror, she attempted to scramble to her feet while the man ran forward, turning to her and ushering her to follow quickly behind. Everything was happening so fast she could barely hear him screaming her name.
Picking herself out of the wolfs blood, she got to her feet and attempted to catch up and run to them, but she took just a few steps before tripping and hitting the forest floor with a loud thud. When she composed herself, and looked up to run, there was a giant man in front of her, aiming an arrow at her brow.
Contessa bolted awake and sat up in her bed, shivering in fear. Her face was drenched in a cold sweat….
As her eyes adjusted to the light, she looked around her room and realized she was no longer in the dark forest. She began to warm up and thought to herself: it was just another dream. All of them different but somehow so similar.
After a revitalizing stretch, she turned off the upcoming alarm sitting on the nightstand and shuffled herself from her bed. She walked to the vanity and began to brush her long brown hair. She scanned over the mirror and tabletop and looked over all her textbooks that were scattered about. They ranged from advanced Biology and amateur Chemistry, different collections of encyclopedias and elaborate doctrines on Astronomy and Physics. She had always been fascinated by science and had been studying it in all areas for several years.
After so many years of studying, finally, today she would be leaving for Nunavut. She would be leaving on a three-week expedition to monitor the animal’s habitat in the changing climate. There had been a serious decline in wildlife population and their breeding habits, more than likely due to food shortages and intense journeys to find suitable habitats to raise their young. She was not the original choice, but as fate would have it, the original team member had just broken his leg in a skiing accident and she was next on the list to fill his place. Naturally, Tessa was highly intrigued and took the offer immediately.
Tessa was born in Baker Lake, Nunavut and left her cozy haven to live in Vancouver, British Columbia when she was just twelve years old. It wasn’t her choice to do so, but the employment rate was poor in Baker Lake at the time and her mother had to move to a larger city to secure a stable job once her father had passed away in a fishing accident. They never recovered his body.
Tessa opened her bedroom door and walked out into her small apartment; it was decorated with posters and pictures and various maps as if an orbit of her personal interests surrounded her daily in her home.
She began to make herself a pot of coffee and as the comforting aroma began to fill her apartment she slowly wandered about her home and reflected on the Degrees on her wall. She had studied for almost ten years now, and although she had obtained both a Master’s Degree in Biology and Astronomy (as well as a Bachelor’s Degree in Chemistry and Geology and spend a term studying physics) she always felt there was more to learn, more to experience… She had spent countless late nights and early mornings writing essays, papers, watching documentaries and researching for her projects… Her curiosity was insatiable.
Twenty-eight years she had been alive and the entire time she had always been an avid supporter of education and exploration. She always wanted to do more and prove the worth of her many interests. She was excited to be a part of this large project in her home land, and she wanted the world to know there was still truly a lot of progress to be made through science and exploration.
Tessa spend her entire life suffering silently while watching the Earth slowly decay because of blatant human ignorance, and she felt like she wasn’t doing enough to prevent it. Oil spills, fracking, the decline of fossil fuels and the refusal to fund research in free energy resources were haunting her thoughts throughout her everyday life. She felt as if maybe she helped provide methods to research more and provide solutions, people might start taking the scientific theories about climate change more seriously.
As the coffee was spitting out its last drops, she was perusing notes in one of her textbooks and something caught her attention. She had read that the number of exoplanets that appeared to be habitable for the human race had drastically risen in the last five years. Research showed that within a century, humans could be making considerable progress regarding travelling to one of these planets - she just wished she could be around long enough to see it happen.
Closing the book, she sighed.
She at first was incredibly nervous about her journey, but after much thought she hoped that if she left and changed her scenery for a little while, her internal dissatisfaction with life, and horrendous nightmares would go away. These feeling had been consuming her every day and night since she left Baker Lake twelve years ago; her nightmares were always filled with the same faces… The most recognizable of the lot was a slender but beautiful woman with long golden hair and shining emerald eyes. The other she always remembered was the tall man dressed in bronze armour; he had eyes as black as a void and he was always shouting. He frightened Tessa terribly, almost as much as the fanged man who donned leather armour and wielding a heavy ax… There was also a little girl - she was always crying…
Tessa shuddered and shook the eerie thoughts from her head before walking back into her kitchen to pour herself a mug of coffee. She watched the cream form a small whirlpool in the black gold she was about to consume and she topped it up with honey and turned to step outside. She walked slowly to her patio door and opened it, staring out at the horizon of the city landscape. There were thick snowflakes falling from the sky, which was unusual for Vancouver, but this year the snow fell heavily onto the congested roadways below. She stepped out and smelled the crisp air, trying to ignore the noise of traffic below her. She felt her chest tighten with uneasiness, and she shut her eyes and tried to block out the sound of the passing vehicle, honking mercilessly at one another ten stories below. The busyness of it all made her frightfully unhappy.
She trailed off into daydreaming throughout her cup of coffee, thinking about the pale blue and desolate Arctic countryside. When she came back to reality she peered inside and it was nearly almost 7:30 AM, and so she decided to go finish packing up for her journey.
Tessa had arrived at the airport just in time to board the plane. She began to walk down the stale blue hallway and boarded the tiny airliner. She was greeted kindly by the flight attendant and picked her seat promptly. She wanted to be near the window so she could rest her head upon the cool glass if she began to feel uneasy. She hated flying and hoped she may nap for most the flight. She stared absentmindedly out of the window as the engines began to hum with life. She felt herself grip the leather armrests on either of her sides as the plane took off, even though, as a scientist who was well aware of the physics behind it, knew it was safer than driving.
Tessa looked around at the other passengers on the plane. There were only five others in sight. Two of them were already asleep with their eye covers on, snoring quietly. One was listening to music and the other two she was unaware of as they were up ahead and keeping to themselves on opposite sides of the plane.
Tessa wasn’t sure how long she spent staring about the plane without much thought, but before long she drifted away into an uneasy slumber. She began to dream of the mystical woman, the one who was tall and slender with the beautiful golden hair tied back with those bright eyes. She was wearing a green leather vest and gray tights. Her boots were leather and were laced with what looked like white satin. She was calling out Tessa’s name and began to run through a dark and terrifying forest. There where ghostly figures and the wind was howling around her. Tessa tried to follow but she couldn’t run and she tripped. She felt like she was experiencing this dream for days - until she suddenly awoke when there was a slight rumble of turbulence.
She looked out the window and realize she had slept for nearly an entire night, and they were approaching the small airport outside of Baker Lake. She heard the flight attendant mentioning to passengers to suit up because the temperature was double digits below zero and it’s not a pleasant shock once you step off the warm and cozy plane. Tessa buckled up her jacked and put her gloves on, and she walked back down the narrow passage and began to smell that crisp winter air she’d been craving for so long. She was nearly blinded by the sight of the snow reflecting off the horizon when she walked off the plane.
She took a deep breath and continued towards the terminal. When she got inside, there were maybe twenty or so people scattered about the airport. She wandered absently for a moment, looking for a sign to direct her to the exit.
“Are you Tessa?” someone said from behind her. She nearly jumped out of her boots as she turned to the side and looked at the person speaking to her. He put his hands up quickly. “Sorry I didn’t mean to give you a fright, I’m here to pick you up.” He said politely. Tessa nodded and smiled before grabbing her suitcase off the belt.
“Yes, I’m Tessa.” She said, holding out her hand to shake his, “But you already knew that.” He man smiled and shook her hand back.
“I’m Jake. Dr. Roth sent me here to grab you so you wouldn’t have to wait for hours for the only taxi in existence in this place.” He chuckled. Tessa smiled, and Jake grabbed the bag gently from her hands. “Let me take that for you.”
She obliged and the two of them began to walk towards the exit. Tessa began to pull her scarf from out of her backpack and wrapped it around herself before zipping up her jacket over top. “My truck is the red one way back there, ready for the cold?” he asked. Tessa smiled at him, amused at his very poor attempts at humour. They began to walk together through the heavy winds and blinding snowfall. Jake tossed her luggage into the back canopy and she hopped into the front seat, slamming the heavy door beside her. After Jake turned the truck on (and letting it warm up for a lengthy amount of time), they rumbled through the snowy tundra.
There were unforeseeable stories of future events glistening in the reflection of the snowflakes.
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