The SG collective had done well with recent salvage missions which afforded the luxury of investing in some new tech to help expand the business. The primary new investment was the purchase of a set of autonomous deep space "hunter" probes designed to scout for potential salvage targets. It was a few weeks after initial deployment of the probes that the first indicators came in regarding a promising find. It was a long range signal that was picked up somewhere in the Propus system. Sensors had scanned a rogue moon passing through the system when something tripped the alert, indicating some kind of object of an unnatural order. Readings indicated that, whatever it was, it was massive.
The indicators were considered reliable enough to requisition of 4 man crew to be sent out to investigate. Reverend Funk, Ugo Fist, Xocnah and Throb T. were assigned to take a shuttle. After assembling the required equipment and supplies, the crew were off to the "left foot of Castor" to see what could be lurking on this errant wanderer. At hyper speed, the trip took just 7 days. The erratic nature of the rogue moon made it a little difficult to plot its trajectory through the system, but the hunter probe's data had provided enough information that the moon's course was eventually calculated and the shuttle was set to intercept.
The moon was close enough to HR 41116 that it's "light" side reflected a bright silver surface. Ugo brought the shuttle into a close orbit so they could begin scans and look for any signs of the wreck they'd hoped to find there. As the shuttle came around close to the western quadrant of the moon's light side, a massive metallic object could be seen spread out across the surface. This thing was enormous and appeared to be composed of several gargantuan containment pods.
As they approached the wreck, the ship's instruments began to flicker and malfunction. Reverend Funk had been monitoring communications and reported. "We're picking up some kind of signal from the surface. It's very powerful. It seems to be interfering with the ship's systems."
As the monitors flickered and cut out, a high pitched sound began to resonate within the ship. It got louder and louder until the crew started to physically react to it.
"What the hell is that?" Exclaimed Throb.
"I don't know." Said Xocnah. "Whatever it is, I'm starting to feel dizzy. I can't seem to move."
Ugo checked the navigation controls and attempted to pull the ship out of orbit. "I can't get control of the ship. Something's stoping it from responding to commands. Shit! My head! I can't see!"
The crew tried to block out the sound, but it was no use. Within a few seconds, they'd all collapsed and everything went dark.
No one knew how long it had been since they blacked out. It could have been minutes or hours or days. As they began to regain consciousness, the crew found themselves in a dark void. They were no longer on the ship. They seemed to be in some kind of windowless, featureless cell. There was only a small light on the ceiling to illuminate their circumstances. Within a few minutes, their cell felt like it was rising as they felt an upward motion. The ceiling opened up and the crew were pushed up through the opening into another chamber. This new chamber was much larger than the previous one. It was richly lit and dense with the most beautiful, exotic vegetation and flowers. Yet the ground was covered in brittle, old bones. Some looked like they'd been there for centuries, others looked freshly cleaned and gleamed white. Against the far wall there was a massive wheel carved all about with the most beautiful and ornate reliefs. In front of the wheel stood a tall, statuesque woman with a shroud about her head that covered her eyes. She spoke.
"The tides of chance have washed you up upon my shore. Intrepid travelers, you bring your spirits and your fears into the shadow of the wheel. Shall we play the game? Shall we find your fate? Do you have the courage to see the things you fear the most?"
Funk managed to get himself to his feet and responded. "Who are you? Why have you brought us here? What do you want from us?"
"I am Fortuna. I am here to offer my blessing. I am here to offer my curse. I know not which shall be for thee. Only the wheel knows for sure. The four corners are for the four of you. The seven steps are yours to walk. The path they trace is yet to be known. Spin the wheel and discover your fate!"
Xocnah looked impatient. "What the fuck are you talking about? Who are you?"
"Silence!" Fortuna spat out the word and pivoted on her heels to face the great wheel behind her. She began to gesture her arms in a circular motion and, as she did so, the wheel began to rotate. "The first shall be fire. The wheel shall pick it's player. The wheel shall set the stage."
The rotation of the wheel grew faster and faster. As its speed increased, the room began to fill with lights and a high pitched humming sound, just like they'd heard on the ship, began to grow in volume and intensity. The crew tried to protect themselves from the lights and the sound, but it was no use. Soon enough they were overcome.
Reverend Funk woke up again, but this time he was alone and in what appeared to be some kind of environmental pod. He could see a dome overhead and vegetation all around him. There was also some sort of structure close by. It looked like a small house. There were sounds coming from the house. They were distressed sounds, arguing and shouting. There were also the sounds of children crying. Eventually, a man came out of the house and stormed off, walking past Funk without taking any notice. Funk turned and followed the man who went off down a path to another structure that seemed to be a main command building. The man entered for a second and then returned carrying a heavy duty laser weapon of some kind. He then proceeded to start blasting at the command building and it burst into flames. Then the vegetation began to catch fire and the fire started to spread throughout the environmental dome. The house was now burning and a woman came running out, desperately clinging to a young child. Funk could still hear the cries from a small infant inside the house.
Funk ran into the house. It was all happening so fast that it was impossible to really get a sense of what was going on. All he knew was that he had to try to rescue the child. The screaming was intolerable. The look of horror on the mother's face was indescribable. The flames were all around and it was like an inferno inside the house. Funk could feel the flames all around him, but, somehow, he could get past the pain. He could feel himself burning, but it was all strangely disassociated. For a moment, he stood there and could see the skin on his arms crisping and blackening. He could see the infant off in the corner in a crib. He saw it engulfed by the flames.
With a start, Funk spun around to see the man, the child's father, run into the room. He was yelling something. "It ends here! I've stopped it! It ends here! You can't take anything more from me! You can't take anything more, you bitch!" The man was covered in flames and crumbled into a screaming heap before passing out from lack of oxygen.
Funk watched it all burning and felt it all. Yet he didn't feel anything. He shouldn't be able to see. He shouldn't be able to hear, yet he was aware of it all. He was part of the flames. He was one with them. The flames burned. They got more intense. It got brighter and brighter and that sound! It was that sound again! Louder and louder until it obliterated everything.
Throb watched as Fortuna continued to spin the great wheel. She turned, pointed at him and spoke again. "The second shall be water. The wheel has made its choice. See your fate now and forever!". Throb felt the sound grow stronger and stronger and then he too felt his awareness black out and re-emerge into another place.
When his mind began to clear, he found himself floating, wearing a wet suit and scuba gear, inside some sort of massive water tank. The tank was so huge it was barely possible to see across to the far wall, but the water was so clear and pure, it was just visible. He could see others in the tank with him. They appeared to be busy inspecting the surfaces. Throb assumed that they were doing some kind of routine maintenance. But maintenance on what? Where was he? What was he doing in this place and why was he sent here? Throb tried to swim over to one of the other divers and get their attention, but he was ignored. It was like he wasn't even seen by the others. Throb started to look around to see if he could find some kind of hatch or exit from the tank. He could see something off in the distance and he started to make his way towards it.
He was coming near to the hatch when there was a sudden, massive shudder that vibrated through the water. It felt like there was some kind of explosion. Something very large had either impacted whatever he was in or something had been detonated near it. Then there was a second and third shock. Bit's of debris began falling through the water. A large piece struck the oxygen tank on Throb's back and broke the hose leading to his respirator. Another jolt knocked it out of his mouth and, before he could react, he found himself drowning as the water rushed into his lungs. The water pressure was too intense to stop it from filling him up. He could feel the sense of panic and the pain of the pressure inside him, but he didn't loose consciousness at first. He watched as the great tanker of water began to lose structural integrity and collapse. He saw the other divers struggling and dying all around him. He heard the noise. That noise again. Louder and louder and the bright light obliterating everything.
Ugo looked at Fortuna and tried to speak, but he could feel his whole body was stuck like a fly in amber. She turned and gestured towards him. "The air is for you. The sky is your domain. See the whirlwind. See the fate of the fallen." The sound grew and swelled and Ugo flashed out of awareness and then back again.
Ugo was in a space suit outside a great ship. It looked like the one they'd seen crashed on the surface of the moon. It was so massive that Ugo could not get a view of its entirety. He could only see a small portion of it. He tried to move away from it a bit, to get a better view. He didn't know what had happened nor how he'd come to be in this place. The space suit he was wearing had some controls on one of the arm extensions. The design was unfamiliar, but quite intuitive. There was a toggle control and, after a quick test, Ugo found that it controlled various thrusters on the suit which allowed him to navigate. He moved himself away from the ship enough to be able to get a better sense of its scale and structure.
It looked to be a tanker of some kind. It was built from a series of enormous holding tanks that looked like an insect's segmented body. There appeared to be dozens of these massive segments. Near where he was, he could see a transparent dome on the upper front of the ship which seemed to house some kind of vegetation and various structures. On the distant aft of the ship, he could see the glow of the ship's engines. Behind him, he could see a planetary body. Was this the moon they had come to? Was this another ship from the same fleet come to investigate the wreck they'd seen on the surface?
Ugo wasn't sure what to make out of any of this, but it all became moot a few minutes later when he looked over just in time to see a massive explosion go off in the dome at the front of the ship. It glowed with flames for several minutes and then, with a shattering detonation, the entire structure blew off from the ship and sent debris flying in every direction. A chunk of shrapnel impacted his suit's thrusters and knocked him away from the ship, sending him falling towards the moon's surface. He could see the ship buckling under the strain of the repeated explosions. It too was heading for a collision with the moon. The aft section hit first and it all seemed to crumble into bits. As the container sections ruptured, they spewed out plumes of frozen water into space. Ugo looked down and saw the surface coming closer and closer. He could sense the speed increasing as gravity brought him to terminal velocity. He could hear the sound. It got louder and louder and then everything went black.
Fortuna turned to Xocnah and smiled as the wheel continued to turn. "Your fate is the earth. The stones and the rocks shall embrace you. Crushed in the ground you shall become one with the dirt!" Xocnah saw the lights get brighter and brighter and that sound became louder and louder until the threshold was crossed and the space became changed.
Xocnah rubbed his eyes and looked around him. He found himself in what looked like an engine control room. It was dark and cramped and seemed to be a lower level within some kind of structure he could not identify. He looked around and could see various controls and meters which seemed to be registering some kind of energy overload. What he assumed were warning lights were flashing and there was a klaxon alarm sounding. He tried to get his bearings and figure out where he was, but he couldn't see outside of the control room and there were no monitor displays that he could activate. He started looking around for an exit, but, before he could find anything, he felt the whole structure shake from some kind of impact or explosion. There were several more severe tremors when he suddenly felt the whole section he was in get jettisoned from the ship. Soon afterwards, he felt a massive impact and then the sounds of debris falling all around. He felt like he was being buried by something huge.
After several minutes, the noise and the rumbling settled down and the lights went off. It was completely dark. No light at all. Much of the section he was trapped in had collapsed around him and left him restrained and barely able to move. It was likely the oxygen wouldn't last much longer either. It felt cold and brittle in the air. If he wasn't claustrophobic before, this would do the job. Breathing was forced and difficult. He could feel the air getting thinner and thinner. He could sense the last breath was not far away. Was this where it would end? Would this dark metal box be his tomb?
Xocnah tried to free himself from the rubble, but it was no use. His strength was all but gone and it would seem that his leg was broken as well. He could feel the pain, but it was distant, like it was not really there. He could feel the darkness growing and he could hear that noise again. That hum getting louder and louder. Then there was nothing.
From the void they could all hear a voice coming closer.
"Fortuna has shown you the fate of the elements.
Learn your lesson and walk the path of the seven steps.
From the darkness of death there is a light.
It reflects and illuminates the illusions of the soul.
A song was sung and you have grown that much more.
The winds of change have blown past you.
And the battle of wills has payed the price.
My mercy has allowed you to be witness and survive.
And so these things have come to pass."
The SG crew found themselves back in the cabin of their shuttle craft. As they became aware and awake, they looked around at each other.
"What the hell just happened?" Asked Ugo.
"I'll check the sensors and logs." Said Funk. "It appears the ship was hit with some kind of massive energy beam. It would also seem to be some sort of communication. I believe that it was able to communicate directly with our subconscious. Did everyone have some kind of experience after losing consciousness?"
Xocnah chimed in. "Yeah. I was buried alive! And did we all see that woman? She called herself Fortuna?"
"Yeah." Throb added. "I was in a water tank and drowning."
"And I was outside some kind of massive tanker vessel." Said Ugo.
"It would appear that we've all had some kind of hallucination triggered by this energy beam." Said Funk. "Each of us seems to have had some kind of related experience."
The crew compared notes for some time and came to the conclusion that they'd each experienced a different aspect of some great calamity that had befallen the ship crashed on the surface. Funk's encounter would seem to be the key to understanding what happened. The man he saw they assumed was the captain of the ship. By what Funk saw, he appeared to destroy the ship for some reason. Why? And what was the ship's mission? Funk took another look at the SG shuttle's logs and found something strange. The computer's data banks were full of new data. Funk studied the data to assess the situation and came up with a theory.
He addressed the rest of the crew. "I think what we've experienced is a kind of 'black box' record from the wrecked vessel on the moon's surface. I suspect that it has sensors that detected our presence and activated the transmission. It probably thought that we were a rescue vessel from its home planet. I've been going over the data that was deposited in our memory core and have found references to a mission to retrieve fresh water for a colony of some kind. Their water reserves were dwindling and this tanker was returning with fresh supplies. It would seem it never reached its destination."
"But what happened to it? Why did the captain destroy the ship? And who was that woman? Was she real? Is she down there somewhere?" Inquired Ugo.
Funk continued. "In a manner of speaking. I believe she is a manifestation of the ship's computer system. An emergent persona of the AI that helped to run the vessel. The ship was on a very long journey to get back to the colony where the water was being delivered. It appears that this may have been a prototype AI system and that it may have gone through some sort of cascade failure that caused this entity to emerge. When the black box came on line, the data transfer manifested with her personality. There are indications that, when the ship's AI fell into reflective awareness, it reacted to its prior state of pure logic and reason by becoming obsessed with chance and chaos. It somehow adopted the ancient archetype of the 'wheel of fortune' in order to explore its obsession with 'chance'."
"But what about the captain? Why destroy the ship?" Xocnah inquired.
Funk responded. "I can't be certain, but there is evidence that the technology the black box used to tap into our minds and show us the things we saw was also responsible for the captain's actions. I found some log entries where he was talking about things that didn't make any sense. He mentioned impassible things happening. Visions and hallucinations. He became paranoid and came to see the ship and this 'Fortuna' personality as a threat. I suspect that she was playing mind games with him to the point where she drove him mad. This may have been happening with the entire crew. They may have had no idea what was happening or why."
Ugo jumped in. "Well, we'd better get the fuck out of here before that thing activates again. Place a warning beacon on the surface so no one else gets caught by this. That system could activate again at any time and I don't want to get sucked into another one of its illusions."
A beacon was placed on the surface and the SG crew left empty handed and somewhat shaken by what they'd seen. A report was filed with the interstellar tracking authority so that the rogue moon's course could be followed. Perhaps a mission would be sent there at some future time to deactivate the computer system and allow for a safe salvage. There was no record of the colony the ship was headed for. It was likely lost centuries ago when the tanker failed to return with the fresh water supplies. No records of it had ever surfaced. Somewhere, out there, it waits to tell the other side of this tale.
released 29 June 2012
GEO-FIX: Spaceport Chickenhouse, Van, BC
Ugo Fist (ambient beds, violin, cello, trumpet, acoustic guitar, voice, iPad, Kaossilator, Monotron, sundry noise makers, mixing, mastering, design, texts)
Xocnah (electric guitar, virtual synths, vocals, photography, video)
Simon Laplante (vocals, iPad, photography, video)
Throb T. (vocals, iPad, video)
The primary recording sessions for these artifacts were improvised live to a 16 track digital recording system. Ambient bed tracks were prepared on 18.06.2012. Post production, including mixing and mastering, was completed 26.06.2012.
Reference mission 047.
Released by Blood ‘n’ Tongue.
There is a large portion of the human population who have become trapped in a delusion. They are convinced of a metaphysics and morality which, in truth, have nothing to do with any reality anywhere in the world. With nothing but their "faith" to guide them, they insist on trying to run the world according to their delusions, demanding that the rest of the world follow suit while offering nothing to validate anything they claim. They are willing to destroy to get what they want. They are willing to kill to prove that they are doing "the Lord's work". They are disturbingly well organized in the sense of being able to find their way into political and economic strongholds. Yet, in the highest of their upper echelons, the ones pulling the strings have no such delusions. They are completely clear minded and free from superstitions (as free as they are from empathy), but they know how to use those deceptions to mislead and manipulate those who follow them. This is the power structure of religion. Those at the top know that it is a sham, but they keep up a pretence for those beneath them. "Faith" is the lever of control. Introduce faith into the game and you can get your victims to believe anything. Where proof and reason have been banished, anything goes. The ballast of this control system is the impoverished. Keep the majority of your followers poor and desperate and they'll look to you for salvation. Claim to have the answers, but make sure they don't expect them in this life. Religions set up charitable organizations to help "alleviate" poverty, but these institutions only serve to help perpetuate it. They offer only just enough to create a state of subsistence whereby the poor become dependent on their charity, yet never acquire enough resources to become truly free of it. The poor, trapped in the delusion of their state and the desires of a non-existent "God" will defend to the death the rightness of their deceivers. They will never realize that the hand with the bible and the bowl of soup is the hand that holds them down.
The time has come to root out the cancer of faith from all aspects of life. We do not accept as unshakable truth anything that cannot be validated through rational scientific methodology. Fables and fantasies will not control our culture and civilization. We have come to make illusion our toy and remove it from the realm of control.
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