Thursday, December 22, 2016

The Aegis Directive: Subject 002

§ load s31.db 07Rx19 ...
§ echo Aegis Directive v7.4.141.02 ...
§ log entry subject.000: [Critical Failure] ...
§ log entry subject.001: [Terminated] ...
§ log entry subject.002: [pending] ...
§ echo s31.file subject.002: ...


§ load s31.program aegis.subject.002 -t -l ...

Jacob Amaro awoke with a start. His feet swung off the table he was sitting on and hit the cold floor with a slap. His feet were bare, and he wore nothing other than what appeared to be pajama bottoms. That was the least of what was odd about his situation. He had no idea where he was or how he had gotten there.

He looked around the room with frantic energy in the hope that he might get his bearings. The room was dark, with only a few non-distinct light sources to help him see. There was clutter all around the table he had been laying on. The table was metal, with cloth padding on top. Nothing in the clutter appeared to be useful. Not that he would know since he didn't recognize anything he saw anyway. The only other significant feature to the room was what appeared to be a closed doorway on the far side of the room.

"Where the hell am I," he said, if for nothing other than to ground himself. He hunched over with hands clutching his knees for support. His mind raced. What was the last thing he remembered?

It was in Afghanistan. His U.S. Army Ranger unit was hunting a warlord in the hills near Charikar. He was on point and had just cleared a dead-end inside the bunker they were searching. That was when he heard machine gun fire erupt behind him before his squad returned fire. As he turned to engage the hostiles, a grenade rolled past his feet. He yelled to his team just before everything went dark.

He looked around the room he now stood in with an air of suspicion. Had the warlord captured him? The decor didn't look typical for the Taliban. Even so, he had seen such strange things during his tour that nothing really surprised him anymore. He dismissed further speculation in favor of learning more about his situation and hopefully get out of here.

He moved to the door and gently touched around the edges. It appeared sturdy enough. If it truly was a door there were no handles or any give when he pushed against the surface. He only thought it was a door because it looked something like an elevator entrance, but with no gaps where he expected them to be.

His eyebrows furrowed and he glared in frustration. As he stared at the dull surface, it melted away and he saw a ghostly outline of a hallway beyond. The door hadn't opened, he just saw through it. His hand reached out to touch where the door had become transparent. He felt the same solid surface he expected from where the door should be. As his hand slid across the smooth surface he realized his hand was also transparent.

He jerked back with a hiss and muttered, "what the hell."

He looked at his hand to see it was now solid. When he looked back at the door he saw it was also solid once again. He let out an explosive breath and shook his head.

Were his captors experimenting on him with some kind of psychedelic drug? He didn't feel weird. In fact he didn't feel anything he should be feeling. His heart wasn't racing. He didn't have a burst of adrenaline. He didn't even feel remarkably hot or cold, considering the stressful situation he was in and his shirtless attire.

He looked back around the room. Maybe there was something in this stuff that could help. He began rifling through the boxes and containers. None of it looked useful and still, not a single item looked remotely familiar. There was plenty of things that appeared to have purpose, but he didn't know what any of it was or what it was for. He thought maybe the blast had left him with amnesia. But that didn't explain why he remembered his name, his family, his friends and what things like hammers, cars, and guns were. The only things that were completely unknown to him were the things in this room and how he had gotten here.

He began to grow angry and started throwing boxes and containers around. He screamed as he turned to the door and punched it with both fists. The door buckled on impact and flew outward into the hallway.

Jacob stood in the doorway, fists clenched, mouth agape, staring down the hallway where the door lay torn asunder.

He slowly lifted his fists to examine if he had hurt himself. They looked fine. Maybe the door was weaker than he originally thought. He decided not to question his blessings and bolted out of the room.

Whatever this place was, it might as well have been a maze. The complex was huge and he saw no one anywhere he went. In all his time serving in Afghanistan, he had never seen anything like this place. While he found almost as much clutter as had been in the room he had left behind, the place was devoid of dirt and grime. He didn't even see any oil or other type of industrial liquids as he ran through the hallways and rooms trying to find somewhere that was not here. Whoever this warlord was, he sure was an eccentric creep.

He stopped at one of the intersections. He wondered if he was going in circles. Everything looked the same any way he went. He looked down one hallway, and then the others. Nothing looked more promising than anywhere he had already been. He needed to collect his thoughts.

As he reflected on what he knew about the situation, he realized he wasn't out of breath. In fact he felt no different physically than he had back in the room where he had woken up in. In his haste to escape, he had been running pretty much at his full speed, and yet he didn’t feel exerted at all. Something was very wrong and it left him wondering if he was losing his mind.

He closed his eyes and tried to clear his thoughts. If he was going to get out of this he needed to keep his wits about him.

Once his mind was blank, he opened his eyes and saw an outside landscape shimmer into view around him. The sky was blood red, and the land burned with molten lava. Was this hell? He must have cracked to even think such a thought. Or perhaps that grenade back in Afghanistan had brought him the reaper and this was the afterlife. Just as he started to let either of those scenarios sink in, he saw a man-made structure along the side of a cliff. It appeared to have the same decor as the one he was in. That gave him a new although just as absurd thought.

Was he on an alien planet?

None of these possibilities were comforting. Even if he were on an alien world, how was he seeing any of this when he was still inside the structure?

He scanned the area around the structure and noticed what appeared to be a constructed platform attached. It had to be some kind of landing pad. He was sure of it because of what appeared to be a craft sitting in the center of it and no visible roads nearby to imply it drove. He had no idea of what kind of craft it was. Nothing he had ever seen before.

While he pondered his sanity and made wild speculation about everything he saw, he happened to look down at his hands. He had hands... He had hands and feet and a body. But that wasn't even as strange as it was to see that this body of his was flying about fifty meters over a lava flow beneath him.

If he had been more calm, he would have been certain he was dreaming. But he wasn't calm. He didn't go into a full panic, but he did become pretty worried. Whatever this was, he didn't know how to control it and that lapse in focus was just enough for him to go into free fall.

He fell like a rock right into the lava waiting below. The pain of the impact shot through his body. Since he landed on his hands and knees, they were what felt the burning first. The rest of his body quickly felt the oppressive heat as he started to cook. He screamed in agony, but the heat was so intense it felt like it would burn the air right out of his lungs.

But again, nothing about this was normal.

He had never been exposed to direct molten lava before, but he imagined the pain would be a lot worse than this. He was definitely in a lot of pain, but he had been through worse. It wasn't even enough to send him into shock. He pulled himself to his feet even while they started to sink into the thick, blazing rock soup.

When he looked down he saw a shimmer of light around his feet where the lava was hungrily swallow him up. There was also a strange sound emanating from where his flesh was in contact with the lava. It was something akin to a hum, with a slight static crackle. The fascination of what he was seeing distracted him away from the pain long enough to think calmly for a moment.

His mind was clear enough to know he should be seeing the flesh of his feet burn with smoke and blisters. This strange light show was nothing at all what he should be seeing. He didn't have time to ponder what this all meant. For the moment he was alive, and it was going to take awhile for the molten rock to swallow him whole. He could count his blessings later. For now he needed to find way to ensure he didn't learn what it felt like to drown in hot lava.

But how could he do anything? There was nothing to reach from where he was in the flow. He tried to lift a foot to walk, but the more he moved the faster his feet sunk. He thought about how he got here. He had been flying. As crazy as it was, he wondered if he could do it again.

Like a missile, he shot out of the lava and was back in the air where he had been before he lost control.

"Well I'll be damned. I'm Superman."

He felt stupid even saying that. But it made the most sense so far. He looked at the craft he had seen before, and zipped over to it at speeds that would have impressed even the Man of Steel.

Rock and dirt exploded from his impact when he landed like a comet. Once the ground settled, he stepped out of his crater and walked towards the craft. It was about six meters tall, and probably fifteen meters long. There were no wings on it, and he didn't see anything that looked like rockets or jet engines. If it was a flying craft he didn't know how it would get off the ground. He stepped to the side and ran his hand across the green metal. It didn't look like it was painted, so whoever had built this thing had tempered the alloy in green.

If this thing was some kind of spaceship, maybe it was alien. Abduction by aliens was starting to sound like the most reasonable explanation to all this. If he had been abducted by aliens, why would they give him superpowers and then just leave him alone. There has to be more going on here.

His pondering was cut short when he heard what sounded like crying coming from the far end of the craft. He stepped around a landing strut and saw a gang plank leading into the craft. He moved to the opening where he heard more crying.

He couldn't believe his eyes when he looked inside the craft. It was full of children. At least ten of them, none of which could be older than ten or eleven. They wore an assortment of clothing that told him they came from all different cultures and background. None of them appeared to be injured. Aside from the crying by several of the kids they all appeared healthy.

A little boy was huddled on the floor hugging his knees to his chest when he noticed Jacob. His eyes popped open, and he gasped. Then he shot to his feet and bolted into Jacob's arms. The cabin of the craft erupted with the excited chatter of the rest of the children as they all became aware of their visitor. Everyone moved close to him as if he was there to save them from some horrible fate.

Only one child said and did nothing. She was a olive skinned girl that looked to be older than the others. He looked over the children gathered around him and tried to calm them down. When his eyes met with the girl's, she glared at him in defiance and suspicion. He gently pulled free of the children and took a step closer to the girl. In a hush he said to the girl, "what are you doing here?"

"We've been captured by demons." Her voice had a south american accent, perhaps Argentinian.

He squinted at her. "Demons? Do you mean aliens?"

"They are demons from hell. We are lucky to still be alive."

Her choice of words alarmed him. "What do you mean, still?" He looked around at the small faces. "What happened to you?"

"There were thirty-two kids when I was taken. There are only ten left. The ones that are gone..." Her voice grew soft and she looked at the floor. "The demons ate them."

Jacob peered around the cabin, and then gave the outside a quick scan. If he was to believe this girl he was dealing with an unknown number of child eating aliens. What kind of horrors had these poor kids been through. He turned back to the girl. "You’re safe now."

She looked up at him and her eyes softened just a little, but she still pursed her lips in defiance. "You can't save us. They will eat you too."

The kid had a point. Even if he was somehow endowed with superpowers, these were space faring aliens with a carnivorous appetite for human flesh. He was on very unfamiliar ground against an unknown enemy and now he had a batch of children to protect. Oh, and he didn't even have a weapon to tie a pretty bow on this bag of dicks.

What he also didn't have was a clue how he was he going to get himself out of this situation, let alone save these children. The only thing he knew for sure was he wouldn't abandon them. Even if his body was torn apart, he wouldn't leave helpless kids to fend for themselves.

He looked the girl square in the eyes. "Are any of them here?"

"No. They left us a little while ago. But they will come back.” The first boy he saw ran to her and she hugged him close. Tears appeared at the corner of her eyes, the first sign she had shown to belie any weakness she felt. She whispered, “they always do." The two began to shiver despite the balmy heat.

Jacob could tell this girl had kept the kids together this far. This was way too much responsibility for such a little person. She needed hope. He noticed the glint of a crucifix around her neck and knew what he needed to do.

He cocked his head, “what is your name?”


“Do you know your bible, Alicia?”

“Yes… but.”

He looked over the other children who had gone back to huddling together and whimpering. “But what?”

“I must not know it well enough if God sent me to hell.”

His eyes snapped back to her. He took a deep breath. “Even if this is hell, the Lord has not abandoned you. Do you know the story of King David?”

“Yes, he was the king of God’s chosen people.” She paused for a moment then added, “he killed Goliath.”

“That’s right. And did you know that was no small victory? Goliath was a powerful enemy, a giant in fact! Nobody else could defeat him. None of the soldiers who tried lived to try again. But David beat him.” He nodded his head at her, “and David wasn’t much older than you when he did it.”

She pursed her lips and looked at the boy in her arms. “But I’m just a kid, not a solider.”

Jacob smiled. “David was a shepherd. He knew nothing about war and fighting armies.” He lowered his voice. “But do you know what he did have?”

She looked up at him. “What?”

He reached out and gently grasped her cross. “He had God.” They both looked at the cross and then at each other. He let the crucifix go, and then leaned back. “The only thing he had was the power of God to strengthen him and he bested a giant who had slaughtered the armies of his people.”

She was silent as she studied his face.

“Will you join me in prayer?”

She nodded vigorously with wide eyes.

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness. For His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows. Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

He closed his eyes for a moment to think about the prayer. Even though he had grown up as an altar boy, he had never been good with scripture before. But like his enhanced body, his mind seemed to be working with greater clarity and recollection than he had ever known.

When he looked back at Alicia she appeared much calmer and genuinely more confident now. He narrowed his eyes and his voice became serious. “How many demons are here?”

She squinted her eyes at him like she still wasn’t sure how much to trust him. “Four of them brought us here. I have seen more than that before.”

He considered his options. The craft might be one. But he had no idea how to fly it, let alone where he would even go if he could. Boot camp didn’t include lessons on stellar navigation. Even if the planet outside was not actually hell, it was hellish enough. Staying here might end up riskier than if he took a bunch of kids outside to dodge lava flows.

There was really only one option that made sense. Stand and fight. If he could capture one of the aliens, maybe he could persuade them into taking the kids and him back to Earth. His only hope was that these new powers of his were enough to give him an advantage.

He looked around the cabin and then started rummaging through anything he could open. His eyes lit up when he opened what appeared to be some kind of storage locker. It had a rack with several rifles. He had never seen anything like them before, but they definitely had an appearance like that of weapons. He grabbed one and held it to his shoulder. It felt like a weapon. Good balance, a trigger near the back handle, an obvious stock that came to a point where he assumed anything he aimed at and fired would die. Now he needed to test if his assumption was correct.

He ran down the gangplank, hefted the rifle to his shoulder and in the same action aimed at a big rock not far away. He pulled the trigger and a very narrow beam of gold light appeared at the tip with a hissing sound. The rock disinterested leaving a smoking void where the beam had laid waste to the center of the boulder.

He had a weapon now.

He grimaced at the rifle and then glared back at what was left of the rock. When he turned around he saw the children had gathered at the gangplank to watch him. He looked them over and sighed heavily as his face softened. "Nobody is going to hurt you anymore."

Even as he started to speak he wondered if others who had faced moral certitude in the face of certain death had realized how boned they actually were. Whatever. It didn't matter. He was going to give these kids a little false hope just in case he actually pulls this off. It would earn him a bit of credit towards keeping them in line while he tries to figure out how to get them home. He had enough family to know that kids could often be a tougher challenge than a whole army of bloodthirsty monsters.

Alicia spoke again. “Are you going to hurt them?”

He looked her in the eyes. “Yes.”

She pursed her lips. “Good.”

He looked over the others again. They looked scared, wretched really. He could only imagine what they had been through, and he didn’t like it one bit. He looked back at Alicia. “How old are you?”

She paused for a moment, “I’m fifteen.” Her voice broke a little when she spoke.

No way this kid was fifteen. He tilted his head to the side and decided to let her have this little untruth, for now. “Take the kids inside. I’ll come for you when it’s over.”

Alicia guided the children up the gangplank and then he was alone. He looked around to find a place to hide. His eyes landed on the rock he had cut in two. The thing had been over six meters wide but now had a meter void through the center. He walked over to stand in the space. In his haste to find a way to fight back, he hadn’t considered that he was giving up his element of surprise to his enemy. They would certainly know something is up when they come back to find this giant boulder blown in two.

As he stood there thinking about how stupid that had been and what he could do about it, something else weird happened. His body began to change. Change was the only way he could describe it, but this change wasn’t the way silly putty might change shape. The experience was more like dream transition when you went from one situation to another. He went from feeling like his normal self to feeling static and unmoving. When it was over, he could no longer move his legs, head or arms.

He would have panicked under normal circumstances, but nothing about today had been normal and yet he still felt cool as ice. Even though he couldn’t feel his head moving, he was somehow able to look around him. Only now he could see in three-hundred, and sixty degrees around him, all at once. It was a little overwhelming at first. But he quickly acclimated. He also saw something that was quite astounding. His perspective was right above the rock which he had blown in two, but it was now made whole.

He had no idea what had happened, but he didn’t have time to worry about it. He heard a series of squawks, and squeals as well as some grunting and hisses. When he focused on where it was coming from, he saw six figures coming out of the nearby complex.

They looked human-like; at least in that they had two legs and arms and one head. But they were short, no more than a meter and a half tall at most. They had dark purple skin with scales, white hair, a single horn that came out of the top of their foreheads and large fangs protruding from their lower lips. They also had nasty, yellow eyes. They wore some kind of clothing, and most of them carried some type of spear in one hand, and one carried what looked like suitcases in the other.

Jacob assumed these must be the demons that had been tormenting the children. He didn’t even care anymore that he knew they were not real demons, but rather some kind of ETs. His anger flared as his imagination played out scenarios where these monsters had done unspeakable things to the children, and it made him see blood.

Most of the beasts headed towards the craft, while two broke away from the others and headed over to a small building near the landing pad. He didn’t like not knowing where the other two had gone, but he needed to act quick while there were fewer of them together. In a flash, he zipped from the boulder to almost right in front of the aliens. He felt his human form again as he lifted the rifle and aimed at the one on the left side of the others.

The one in his gun sights barely had time to twist his face into a look of shock before Jacob pulled the trigger and the beam cut him in two. Jacob didn’t let the trigger up though. Like a samurai cutting his victim in twain, he followed through the other three monsters until eight halves of these creatures fell to the ground like dropped potatoes. Even he was surprised at what he had just done.

The shock didn’t last long when he was suddenly hit by a blast of green energy that knocked him on his ass. The jolt jared the rifle out of his hands, and his vision was clouded by green bolts of electricity that discharged over his body. It hurt worse than the lava, but he pushed the pain to the back of his mind and crawled back to his feet.

When he looked over to where the shot had come from, he saw the other two aliens had noticed what he had done. They were pointing their spears in his direction. More bolts of green energy flew his way, but this time he dodged the bolts with ease. His movement was like lightning as he dodged left, right, and even up into the air to avoid the shots.

He didn’t even bother with the rifle he had dropped. He was seeing red and was going to make these bastards pay for what they had done.

His movement was so fast that everything slowed down around him. He didn’t know much about physics, but he knew enough to know that he must have been moving pretty damn fast for things to feel slower relative to him than what he was seeing. He also knew enough about ballistics to know what happens to mass when multiplied by velocity. He flew right at one of the beasts causing a fine mist of body fluids to spray from his point of impact with the creature.

When the shower settled, he was standing where the creature had been, not an ounce of mess upon his body. The area around him was not so clean. In fact it looked like a slaughter house of green and red carnage.

He looked over to the last alien, who was pointing his spear at him and had a look of horror upon his ugly face. The beast snarled and squealed at him.

He took a slow step in the direction of the alien, and the beast’s grunts and growls increased. He ignored it, and took another step. The tip of the spear lit up with green energy. However instead of a bolt like before, a beam of energy burst from the tip and hit him in the chest. He braced for the pain, and tightened up his body to hold against the impact. Surprisingly he felt no pain this time. In fact, he felt a rush brewing deep inside him, as he forced himself to push against the discharging onslaught.

There was a static clap as the beam reversed and then exploded at the point of the spear tip. The alien was knocked to his back and his spear rolled harmlessly away from him.

Jacob walked over to stand over the the smoldering alien. He didn't know why, but he somehow knew that it was still alive. He could even make out a heart beat, two of them in fact. The beast’s eyes slowly opened. It let out a long, painful sounding squeak mixed with a hiss.

As he stood over his enemy, the darndest thing happened. The sounds it was making started to change. It began to sound like it was speaking English words among its monstrous chatter. “[squeel]... in accordance [hiss] must never [snarl]!”

Jacob was more shocked by this than anything else that had happened so far. He cocked his head to aim his ear at the beast. “Did you just speak english?”

“No … [roar] … your translator … [hiss] … calibrating [squeak].” The beast put his hands up to apparently ward him off and shook his head.

Jacob focused on the sounds the creature was making and the words he was making out. The creature and him locked eyes for a moment as if it knew what he was concentrating. After a moment it spoke again. “Good. Keep focus … [hiss].”

He heard footsteps and looked up to see Alicia standing nearby staring wide eyed at the creature on the ground. “Go back to the kids Alicia!”

“I heard an explosion. I thought you were dead.”

“Well I’m not.” Then he lowered his voice and muttered, “not yet anyway.” He looked at the creature. “But I need to speak with this demon about getting us off this rock.”

“But that’s not a demon.”

He looked at her. “What?”

“I’ve never seen one like him before.” She was still staring at the beast. “I don’t know what he is, but he’s not a demon.”

“I am Ark.”

Jacob looked back at the beast. “Ark? Is that your name?”

“Ark is my species. My name is Sarark.”

“How do you know English?

“I do not. Your translation subroutine has calibrated to my langue.”

Jacob looked himself over and then around him. “Are you talking about computers?”

“That is what you are. A computer.”

Jacob was not as shocked by this as he thought he should be. It sounded absurd, but quite frankly everything that had sofar happened to him was quite absurd. This was actually a pretty plausible explanation for everything weird going on. “So this is all a simulation?” He looked around thinking about video games.

“No. This is real. But your body is not.” Sarark lifted his wrist and whispered something Jacob couldn’t make out into his wrist.

Jacob’s body tingled and there was a soft hissing crackle sound that emanated from him. Alicia screamed and when he turned to look at her, the motion felt funny. She was staring at him in horror.

He looked down at himself, and couldn’t explain what he saw. He had no body. All he saw was a metal looking sphere. It had no distinguishing features, silver in appearance without reflection. It couldn’t have been larger than a softball, and appeared to hover without motion about a meter off the ground.

“What is thi... “ When Jacob spoke this time, his voice was not his own. It was harsh and electronic. It had a horrifying monoton resonance and sounded like there were at least twelve other voices like it overlaid to give it a sound like a strange echoing choir. “What have you done to me?!”

“I have disabled your holographic emitters.”

Jacob had no body, but his instinct was to act as though he had one. Without thought, he moved to Sarark and picked him up by the neck. But without arms, what he saw registered as unnatural and disturbing. Sarark was lifted up into the air by some kind of invisible force. He hung there in front of Jacob’s sphere gasping for air while his feet dangled below him.

Jacob lost his anger again to be replaced by shock and a little bit of curiosity. He released Sarark who tumbled back to the ground taking deep breaths.

Sarark looked sheepishly up at Jacob’s sphere floating before him.

Jacob asked, “what did I just do to you?”

Sarark panted as he spoke, “you can create a narrow point gravitational field to affect matter and energy.”

“What about how I got out of that place I was in? I was there, and then I wasn’t. Can I teleport?”

“Yes.” Sarark rubbed his neck to ease his discomfort. “You must calculate your origin to the destination before you can fold space, but it allows you to translocate yourself anywhere in the physical universe.

“I was in lava back there. Why didn’t it destroy me?”

“You have holographic and electromagnetic shield emitters. Your shields allow your holograms to be solid, and can project you from a great deal of damage.”

Jacob floated back up. “Give me my body back…” Even with his robotic voice, it became pained as he pleaded, “... please.”

Sarark slowly lifted his wrist while staring at Jacob. His lips moved silently and then became whole again.

Jacob immediately hunched over with his hands on his knees and panted.

“This is the you who you are now. You do not breath air anymore, but your body will feel more natural when it behaves the way a living organism would.”

Jacob fell to the ground and sat. What had they done to him…

Sarark sat up and looked at Jacob, barely panting now. “You are not Jacob Amaro. He is still on your world.”

Jacob thought about Afghanistan. “Am I dea… Is he dead?”

“No, but he is not conscious.”

“A coma… The explosion?”

“Your people preserved him in stasis. He was found many years after the explosion you remember. We extracted your mind from him to become this.”

“This?” Jacob stood. “I am a ball.”

“No. This is only an archetype. You have many.”

“Archetype? Am I just a literary device now?”

“No. The best way to explain it is that it's like a vessel you can inhabit to explore. But it is only a part of you, not the whole.”

“Great. I've been reduced to disembodied vaporware.”

For the first time Jacob heard Sarark let out what sounded like a chuckle. When he looked at him, his toothy mouth appeared to be smiling. “It is better to think of yourself as a transcendental vessel.”

Jacob thought of the craft the children were in. “I am a spaceship?”

“You are more than a space faring ship. You can go many places other than only through space and time.”

Jacob narrowed his eyes at Sarark. He spoke slowly as he stepped towards Sarark. “What is your role in all this?”

“I am here to help you.”

“I just killed your friends, and here you are telling me all this.” Jacob studied the Ark’s face. “I slaughtered them. For all you know I am going to kill you as well.” Jacob’s eyes widened with sudden realization. “For that matter, why was I even able to hurt your people? Shouldn’t that have been the number one safety protocol you coded into my head?  Why would you help me?”

“Because you do not kill without reason, and I give you no reason to kill me. We cannot place routines to override your mind, or else it would compromise its integrity and the cognitive matrix would collapse.” He gave Jacob a grave look. “You must have free will.” He looked at the ground for a moment and then continued, “I help you become I am Ark Technician. I am here for you.”

“So you’re tech support huh?” Jacob turned and walked away from him. He didn’t believe the whole story, let alone trust his new lizard friend. But there wasn’t really much reason to argue the point right now. He moved over by Alicia, who was gawking at him as if he were a fascinating toy. “What about these kids?”

Sarark shut his mouth tight and stared at him.

The silence irritated Jacob. He turned slowly and looked at Sarah. He took a step closer to him and spoke slowly, “why are you feeding them to demons?”

“The children are not being eaten.”

Alicia shouted, “yes they are! I saw the demons eat them!”

Jacob’s passed Alicia a concerned look. He stepped back between her and Sarark. “Tell me exactly what you’re doing with them.”

“Human children are the only active minds that can become Archetypes.”

“You are turning them into computers like me?!”

“They are like you, but not the same.”

Jacob felt himself getting angry. “What does that mean?”

“The children are cherubim, to protect.”

“To protect what exactly?”

“The galaxy.”

Jacob needed to know more about what was happening before he could wrap his mind around that. He shook his head and blinked. “So what happens to their bodies when you do this?”

“The cherub archetype must have a mind.”

“You kill them?!”

Sarark’s eyes widened. “No. Their human bodies cannot live without a mind, so the body is preserved in between space.”

Jacob would have had a headache right now. If he had a head. Instead, he was just growing more irritated that any of this actually made sense at all. “What does that even mean. Where does their body go?”

Sarark’s face became pained. “They are safe… in another dimension.”

Alicia sat down, hugged her knees to her chest and stared at the ground in heavy thought. Jacob looked at her and felt pain for these kids.

“What are you going to make these kids do... for you?”

“Not only for us. For all.”

“What do you mean? What are they going to protect us against?”


Jacob sighed. “Again, pronouns Sarark… Is that a person or a people?”

“The Anakim are giants. Evil, and ruthless beyond compare. They will come, and consume our galaxy.”

Jacob thought about norse mythology. “Ragnarok.”

Sarark cocked his head to the side. “Ah, the twilight of the gods.” He made a strange gesture with his arms and hands. Something like a rapid criss-crossing. “Yes, it is like Ragnarok.”

Jacob looked at Alicia and then slowly back to Sarark. “Where do I fit into all this?”

“You may yet be seraphim, if you can stand before Tetragrammaton. It is a grave test. If you pass, you must stop Anak.”

Jacob chuckled. “I think my translators are broken. I didn't understand half of what you said.”

Sarark did the lizard man version of a frown. “The words are the closest vernacular in your language.” He tilted his head and tried again. “You must prove you can wield these powers to fight the enemy.”

For some reason this all made too much sense to Jacob. “So, all this? I am just a weapons test?”

Sarark thought about it for a moment. “Yes.”

“To fight an army of giants that want to devour everything?”


“Great.” Jacob thought about that for a moment. “So if I truly want to do any good at this point in my life… “ The word life sudden made him smirk. He turned to look at Sarark, “I have to pass this test.”


He looked at Alicia and frowned. “Show me what I must do.”