R.T.E (Reference Time Experience) 12.29.2104.0553- 0953: Briefing
“My name is Lieutenant Robert Williams…… This derelict vessel, is officially classified As: hazard threat Black, code- Omega…… Should anyone find these data logs, I will leave this warning; The star-line SERAPHIUM is plagued by an incurable biological disease that causes insanity and death. Although it may be unbelievable to us in our new stages of scientific advancement, and in medical technologies; our efforts to contain this disease wrought by the plague has caused an unforeseen variant, in form of biological mutation…….. Individual victims that fell sickened by this infection and were treated with our anti-viral medicines, expiring in only four hours- time; past the first signs of metastasis, only to arise once again as: the walking dead.
I am the last survivor……For some reason, I am in every sense of the words immune to the ill endured effects of the manifested disease; but our doctors and scientists, they could find of no conclusion in reasoning on any explanations of this factor. Many theories have risen that perhaps introduction of the cure, to the final phase plague victim; may have mutated the plague to an air contaminate strain of the virus that is reversing the infection, but these specialists are now all long dead, and I am all alone. My stability is weighed…. I feel that I am running out of time. Should you encounter the plague ship: SERAPHIUM, destroy her! Do not board her! The plague is now an airborne virus to those who have no immunity to the disease. Although our radiation and biological screens, and E.V.A suits may guard us from the pathogens, these safe- guards will not provide for adequate protection from the evil that now dwells within her hull…..
This plague of waking death it is transferred through the saliva of the host, and into the blood stream of the victims….. There is something more…..
Images flash before my eyes…..... Massive alien structures of darkness…….. The smell of brimstone and fire rising from the engine deck. Chill of fear continues to grip at my spine, and shadows moving across the dimming light of my cabin, continue to haunt me…. Power reserves are nearly depleted…..
I feel as if I have just stepped in through the door to purgatory. I am in a living hell, of which I have no hope of escaping…What is that? Something’s wrong. Sounds of Primordial screams… Not natural for any known species….. I, I can’t focus…… Pain! Great pain! I can’t take it anymore ….. Have to end this……”
General Marcus Forrester turned off the monitor on mental visualization of the lieutenant’s ill-timed demise. Individuals gathered awaiting their superior for further instruction.
“The star-liner SERAPHIUM and her crew, were on route to Star Station Omega- Six. SERAPHIUM is classified as an exploratory science- class Earth vessel; the ship’s manifest detailing a standardized research protocol for an artifact of unknown architectural design…... We have lost all contactwith SERAPHIUM and Star- Station Omega- Six as well.
The origins of this artifact may hold clues to the source of this continually adapting, air-borne viral mutation….. It is a plague unlike any that we have ever seen.”
Major Amanda Rollins, raised two right fingers in a gestured attempt to interject a quick Question as the general continued with his briefing.
“All available information will be down-loaded to your: Personal Tactical Operations Networking Computers (P.T.O.N.C’s).
You will be equipped with standard body armor hazmat- E.V.A suits, grade-seven biological and radiation screens, and with standard auto-fire 360 pulse S.P.A.R.T.A.N (Special Purpose Assistive Rifle Tactical Assault Nemesis) Rifles…..You will be escorting two experienced teams of scientists to the star-liner. It is imperative that you keep these people safe and that you treat these scientists as valuable cargo.....
We will reach point of contact in twelve hours. Troops Alpha and Beta, will be assigned to the SERAPHIUM. Troops Gamma and Delta will continue onward to Star Station Omega-Six…..
This mission needs to be treated with the greatest of importance. After millennia of past searches, with our eyes aimed toward the stars around us; intelligent life is awaiting our trials in acceptance of an upcoming challenge. Time for first contact may be well at hand…..
The plague, it is an unknown variable of this contact. The factored cause of the disease may be countered with experimentation and the gathered scientific data. Our top priority as it always has been, is to the protection of all civilized worlds. We cannot allow this plague to reach any populated worlds. If a cure cannot be found, extreme measures will have to be taken…..
You have all been hazmat trained, and you know what you are in for.........You are all dismissed!”
Amanda Rollins awaited freedom of movement before standing, the woman’s thoughts focused on the extreme possibilities that are now being presented to them. Intellectually, in a silent challenge of her rationale over the possibilities of facing the walking dead in live combat. Hard decisions now force her to reconsider assessing the problem. Too many negative adverse probabilities on such a bizarre campaign of military conflict.
Having heard stories of many encounters with sickness and with hostile alien species, she is now drawn into a deep contemplation over the subject. Thoughts of a disease Reanimating the dead, coming across as a most perplexing situation.
Thankful that encounters with the evil living dead are in reality: a rare extremity in a long history of past military encounters, Amanda finally received the opening she was searching for. The crowd of Deep Star Rangers thinning out as prompted by self implied personal intentions; of non-productive relaxations.
Thoughts of eight hours uninterrupted sleep on her mind, Amanda put the celebratory noises of the other rangers quickly out of her mind; as she hastened an all too welcome exit from the Officers’ briefing room, and into the ships’ main hall access walkway. The woman’s silent thoughts of a good night’s rest, immediately interrupted; by the interjection of another calling.
“Hey Amanda….. Wait up…..”
Amanda Rollins turned slowly to look upon the other, a reflexive smile upon her face in an instant recognition of the other ranger that now approached her position.
“Major Daniels….. You still assigned to Beta team?”
Major Anthony Daniels gave in to an unexpected chuckle on words so casually spoken from the woman of his heart’s interest.
“Well…. I would prefer to be on Alpha team, but last I checked; that position has already been taken….. Mind if I escort you to quarters?”
“I suppose…. Don’t expect a stay over, or a nightcap though….... We both are going to need our rest….. I was just thinking about you Anthony…..”
Anthony Daniels smiled wide on this.
“Oh really? I am flattered……. All it took was talk of: cannibalistic zombies to remind you of my interests….. What do I have the honor of being partial to so experienced a thought?”
Majors Rollins and Daniels slowed their pace as they approached the platform lifts; the interests of Major Anthony Daniels slowly straying from the focus of the woman that now walks by his side, the majors’ distracted eyes slowly scanning the interior of the ship.
Amanda Rollins laughed from astonishment on the others’ curious amazement over the interior star-ship design.
“You have been assigned to the PARTHENON for three months now, and you still find fascination of the ship’s design….. That surprises even me, and I don’t surprise so easily.”
Major Anthony Daniels returned his attentions to the other; the man smiling whimsically upon her words.
“My first five years; I served on a space station….. Star-ship travel, it is somewhat of an overwhelming experience….. Any how: What are your thoughts on this mission? I mean, if you don’t mind my asking.”
Falling back into a silent revelry of contemplated thought, Amanda Rollins gave in, to a deep sigh over the subject.
“I think that I am going to sleep on it, and I will look over the mission logs; after I have gotten myself a little undisturbed rest.”
Major Anthony Daniels interjected another thought, as the platform lifts reached deck- actual.
“Private Jeffrey Thompson, he has actually heard of a registered account relating to corpse- reanimation. It is quite the tail from what I hear….. If you would like to join us, my-self and a few of the others have elected to download his story to the library computers for viewing at eighteen hundred hours…….. It may be productive to look at a past account before we are mobilized for active duty.”
Amanda Rollins peered at her watch,the woman’s eyes voluntarily drooping.
“The only excitement I am looking forward to is eight hours sack time, uninterrupted…..
Elimination of hostile animated entities will be a new experience for us all….. I plan on being fully rested before we reach drop point……. Besides that; I would just get in the way, of you and the wild bunch......”
Anthony Daniels shrugged his shoulders in voluntary surrender of Amanda’s words; the ring tone alerting the two rangers to the arrival platform of the opening lift.
“Okay….. If there is any important information to be told, I’ll take note of the data and have it added to the mission files.”
Majors Daniels and Rollins now entered the lift in silent thought; twin steel doors sliding closed behind them. Pressing the keypad for their deck selection, Anthony Daniels committed the lift to transporting the two rangers to quarters; the lift quickly carrying the two down passed the third deck and on to the fourth.
The two steel doors once again slid open and two young rangers entered the lift from the fourth deck; the two rangers pulled Anthony Daniels along the way. Amanda Rollins made a hasted exit from the lift’s platform; the woman’s reflexes barely evading an incoming headlock from one of the two new comers.
“Hey guys….. I was escorting the lady home…..”
Amanda Rollins looked hard to the three, a smug look of growing weariness now upon her brow. The major instinctively shook her head on sight of the three bar-room buddies, now preparing themselves for a night of intoxication- pending.
“That’s okay Major Daniels…... Your cohorts, are demanding of your presence. Be sure you guys report to detox before we reach our point of contact….. Oh, and whatever you guys do; please try to stay out of trouble.”
Anthony Daniels tried to break free of the two in obvious attempts of futility; the major soon giving in to their persistence. Captain Sean Cross slapped the irritated major on the back a couple of times as he selected the button for deck three on the lift’s keypad; the steel doors now blocking the major’s view of the quickly retreating brunette beauty, of so many a rangers’ heart filled attempts at conquest.
“Amanda is more ranger than woman Major…… She will stiff you any chance she gets. Phillip and I are on our way to the pub….. May as well come with us…...”
The man’s irritations quickly swayed. Major Anthony Daniels conceded to the ill- time bought, impending socialization; in the company of friends.
“Let’s do it….. Just remember the importance of the mission. Program your identification badges for sixteen hundred hours…. We don’t want to spend more than one hour in detox.”
Giving way to spontaneous thoughts of celebratory relaxation; Anthony Daniels and his company focused their conversing on alternating interests. The major’s thoughts of Major Amanda Rollins, detoured yet again until another time.
Thoughts of the mission fast invading her mind, Major Amanda Rollins breathed in an exasperate sigh of relief. Standing before the door to her quarters, she uttered the commanding words: “Unlock and open.” The security voice recognition protocols instantly matched voice tone and speech structure, to Amanda’s current data- bank profile. Quick to enter the confines of her quarters in order to dodge any further interruptions, the lights within automatically flashed to brighten.
The two sliding doors closing shut behind her, Major Rollins’ attentions are quickly drawn to the key-pad control unit on the right side of the entry. Resetting the security locks, the woman instinctively kicked off her boots, as she turned away from the key-pad; to take in an ever mindful, disassociated View of her cabin.
The Major’s bed drawing on her current attentions, Amanda Rollins was paced to an ignoring state, on the subject of cleanliness; as she trudged past the clutter of opened books upon her coffee table and two end tables, and the growing pile of crumpled paper lying just outside of her waste basket on the platform deck leading up to her kitchen bar.
Too exhausted to care for consumption, of any nourishment at present; Major Rollins hummed aloud the words to her favorite song, as she approached her station of rest. Dropping onto her mattress in full uniform, Major Amanda Rollins closed her eyes; wild thoughts of man-eating zombies, easily Invading on her efforts to focus.
Amanda Rollins called aloud to her personal assistant voice integrated quarters computer; a multitasking programmed unit affectionately referred to as “Pa”.
“Pa…... Decrease lights by 95%...... Give me some music….. Easy listening….. Multiple artists: my favorites.....”
“By your command, Major Rollins…... Cabin lighting now decreased by 95%...... Search and scan of musician’s: Rollins' preference, favorites one; commencing…. The temperature of your cabin is currently 65º; and it is now 1600 hours…... Do you require a temperature adjustment? Or time alarmed setting?”
“Adjust temperature to 68º..... Wake up time setting adjusted for 12:00 AM…..”
“Temperature adjusted to 68º....... Wake up time- alarm setting adjusted to 12:00 AM….. Good night, Major Rollins.”
Instinctively answering the computer with a good night of her own, Amanda Rollins fell fast to sleep; the sounds of easy- listening music, a welcome technique for her efforts in an on-going test, to achieve: maximum relaxation. Her thoughts now clearing, her focus is now drawn to a memory of the past; reactive thought- cast dreams, now invading her sleep.
In a bizarre reel of silent pictures, the sleeper is bared witness to events long passed..... Old forgotten memories rising to mind’s surface, from her subconscious thoughts. Memories active of romantic dinners for two, and of engaging times of star- lit walks on the beaches of home; have gathered her attentions, an insatiable grip of longing now causing a restless disturbance to her attempts at uninterrupted sleep.
Passive dreams quickly turned to nightmarish terrors, as her mind is soon haunted by visions of war, and of atomic explosions; of famine and of plague. Restlessness of sleep stirs the Major further as she struggled to be freed from these dream- time, nightmare situations. A comfort slowly washed over her thoughts, and the sleeper slowly relaxed. An apparition in light breaching the darkness. The silent smiling form of a daughter’s mother, reaching out for her in an attempt at gaining a comforted- thought. Amanda’s father quickly joining- in; by the side of her mother, the two long passed mentors in life’s unpredictable experiences- encourage her on her efforts.
Amanda, abruptly awakened; to the unexpected sequencing, of her dreams. Shaking an unwelcome terror from her thoughts, over the details of her nightmares; Amanda took stock of her surroundings. Her cabin, for all purposes of comforted sleep; remained undisturbed.
The alarms still armed, Amanda Rollins slumped back into her pillows; the woman consciously taking- in the music that had been continuously playing- once again. Amanda drew her thoughts to focus on a need for rest. Night terrors, seemingly passed for the time being, REM- sleep once again taking her in its grip; relaxation now washing over her. Strange symbols arose to stand as witnessed by her subconscious mind. The symbols quickly replaying themselves in a sequenced loop of thirty- one second intervals before fading.
Standing before her was an object of monolithic recognition: a smooth, four sided black slab of stone. The slab, tapering as it rose; to take on the shape of a pyramid high above. The obelisk pulsed with unnatural force of extraterrestrial existence. Amanda Rollins fell into a deep sleep, visions of the alien object slowly erased from her mind.
Anthony Daniels grew impatient with weariness, as he slowly sipped on this; his fourth beer, his overall enthusiasm of their visit to the ship’s pub; it was quickly drowned out by their dismal surroundings. The major and his two friends, they were all alone; the pub, this quiet and lonely tech- automaton, untended place of off- duty recreation: a dull and demoralizing sight.
His chin set down within his left hand, and his elbow down upon the cleaned metallic surface of the bar; the major gave in- to a need for grumbling over the situation. His discontent over the pub’s surroundings, an intolerable force of irritation rather than of relaxation.
“They just don’t make bars like they used to, do they?”
Captain Sean Cross, and Sergeant Phillip Reilly laughed aloud on the Major’s foul mood, and on his obvious inability to relax.
“I think the major is whooped Phillip….. He has thoughts of an unattainable brunette on the brain again.....”
“It very well could be captain, but the major is right; if you think about it. How long has it been since you were in a bar, that utilized pool tables and background music for free- form recreational activities? For that matter, when was the last time that you sat down to drink a beer; that wasn’t 75% water? Too much change, it is not always a good thing…..”
The grim reality of the situation, now weighed heavily on the three; silence is quickly asserted by all. The quiet pub now gave rise to discussions of the mission.
Captain Sean Cross slumped lazily down into the supporting cushions of his chair, his arms stretched out across to the other side of the bar’s table, and his chin squared firmly on the top of the bar.
“You two, you really know how to depress a guy………. Got any thoughts on the mission Major?”
“Yeah Major! Are we really facing: a plague of zombies? It’s not every day that we get a chance to star in a newly released horror flick.....”
“That’s what the briefing details. The big question on my mind is: where this strange affliction of viral walking dead, has originated from......”
Sergeant Reilly sighed aloud in a lacking of acceptance over the turn of conversation; an unproductive yawn now the basis of his own interjected opinion. Major Daniels readdressed the two rangers on the details of the mission briefing, and on the follow- up briefing; that is to take place in the library in one hour time.
“Private Thompson, he has either witnessed an actual case of corpse- reanimation; or he knows somebody else that has…. The boy, he claims to have recorded tapes on an incident that happened ten years prior to this event.”
Sean Cross scoffed bluntly on the validity of Private Thompson’s claims with a huffing noise, and a sideways smacking at the air with his right hand.
“Ah- 2094, it was just another year…. Nothing special ever happened back then to my knowledge. In my understanding of past events, it was a long and boring year.....”
“Still, I am willing to give Thompson the benefit of my interest. I have heard of other officers speaking highly on the boy’s integrity……. Well, we have forty five minutes left; and I don’t want to miss the private’s lecture. We’ve only had three, and four beers…… We can re-group at the library. After the lecture, I suggest that we try to get some rest. We may be able to skip detox if we can get three hours of uninterrupted sleep.”
Drawing their acceptances to a unified- agreement, the three officers paid- up their tab with a quick scanning of their right-hand fingers; as they took leave of the pub.
The pub’s only keeper, the porter; left his observation post to look on the officers, the aging man shaking his head on the bizarre details of their conversing; while visiting his well guarded, health- friendly, code protected establishment; the aging man speaking aloud to nobody in-particular.
“Viral plagues of death animation! Geese! What the blog, is the universe coming to? All this strangeness, and I may start talking to myself…..”