Aretherra Volume One
Aretherra Volume One: Aerosus & the Keys to Ascension
Sitting in geostationary orbit, 37,000 km over Aretherra, is the space station of ZonoZ. Actually, it is more of a space colony, composed of a vast network of spherical modules, interconnected via a web of space-bridges and airlocks. If you could see Zonoz from orbit, it would look like a mad scientist created a complex model of a molecule and hung it in the sky. Few on the ground know that Zonoz exists, as it can not easily be seen from the planet’s surface.
The network of orbs, or space modules, act together as a whole to form a single large ship. This generation ship, tasked with seeking new life and power, was once capable of traveling vast distances across the stars. To make this possible and sustain the lives of many families of explorers, the network of spheres have different functions and uses, similar to various rooms of a single-family dwelling. There’s a spaceport for smaller spacecraft and ships, bunkers, armories, dining halls, training facilities, hibernation and stasis, reactors and power, vegetation, livestock, medical and more. It is within the medical pod or med pod that we must now draw our immediate attention.
In a quiet med pod on the outer ring of ZonoZ, a princess has slumbered for many cycles. While she is not locked away in a tower, she has been held in stasis, frozen in time, and held in place against her will. Her name is Tryn, and soon she will awaken.
Only Tryn, locked in her stasis chamber, is in the med pod. All systems have been nominal for many cycles. Error. Error. Fire Control. Safety Protocols disengaged.
A massive explosion.
Tryn’s status chamber gets caught in the debris and then floats slowly away from ZonoZ.
Where am I?
When is this?
Who? Wait, no, I think I know that one. Or do I?
There’s no answer. I am alone. These images that I see behind the lids of my eyes, what are they? So quickly, they appear and then fade away. Are they memories, my memories? I wish they would stop, but nothing else besides that night comes to mind. A cascading series of images sounds and smells from that night wash over me. Above all, I am affected by what I cannot explain. So many feelings and emotions give these memories weight. The searing pain of anguish, fear, excitement, even happiness; all of these can not be a dream. What happened that night?
I’m not sure of anything. If I am still dreaming, what could this mean? If those are memories, they feel wrong, as if I remember someone else’s life, through that person’s eyes. In either case, I know that night is over, and I know that I am not dreaming any longer. Where am I now?
I open my eyes for the first time and see a field of stars laid out before me. I then realize that I am not looking up to the night sky, I am looking out a window at the expanse of space!
I do no know how I got here and where I am.
Grabbing my full attention is now my own body. I could move my arms and legs now, and I could now move my head in different directions. I am not standing, and yet, my feet are not touching the floor. I looked down to see that I have suspended a short distance from the floor. I’m not sure how I’m going to deal with this fascinating development. Still, in light of my impending death, given how scared those men were of me alone, long before the threat of fire and explosions, my thoughts and sole purpose now were I should worry about my escape, my survival.
Positive, because by chance or miracle, I am not dead, like those unfortunate men who moments earlier were so intent on maintaining the energy field of their so-called Torpor matrix. Little did they know, that as their prisoner, suspended within this Torpor energy matrix; I survived the initial blast and shockwave that consumed them instantly. From my vantage point, I could see the explosion from the beginning until my suspension chamber was rotated, obstructing my view. Each phase of the initial blast and immediate shock wave occurred within a fraction of a second. Somehow, I was able to not only see each event but also comprehend what I saw during these fractions, and I can recall them with perfect clarity now.
The firestorm released by the explosion devoured everything within its radius. Every object in the med pod was catapulted at the outer walls and instantly crushed on impact. Simultaneously the pod imploded, as the metallic alloy walls were no match for the vacuum outside. Separated at their seams as if a cardboard box was being torn apart. From there, everything continued, flying out into space. The few pieces of the space pod that faced the rest of the colony bounced off various outer hulls and kept floating in a new direction. Being honest with myself, I do not know if my ability to witness that single instant in time, all in slow motion, is a trait that everyone has? Or does this make me unique? Maybe it’s worse, and it could mean that I’m broken somehow.
Since I was not incinerated during the explosion, or my Torpor chamber liquified, it appears that the stability of the energy field was more stable than that one scientist had believed. I was protected by the blast, but the transparent energy field survived the entire event as well. Looking down, I notice that I am still suspended within this chamber, and I realize that the Torpor energy matrix that contained me as a prisoner, also kept me safe and could also explain how I was suspended in mid-air. Of course, I was floating within this chamber, but now the house itself was floating in space. The energy keeping me safe from the area and maintaining my breathable air supply would not last forever, now that there is no science lab connected to it.
With my eyes now adjusted, I see the beauty that could come from such a devastating event. In disbelief, I look out in astonishment at millions of stars scattered across the sterile blackness of space. I can see fragments of debris from the explosion, floating away from me in every direction, now very small and distant, they will continue for a long time. While chunks of metal, glass, and other synthetic materials keep soaring into deep space, the debris that bounced off the nearest round structures was closer, soaring slower than their counterparts, having lost a degree of inertia when they changed direction upon impact. These round structures have to be the rest of the colony. I can see now that the science lab pod, where I was held captive, is one of the hundreds of seeds, all forming a network like a honeycomb.
To my astonishment, I look down to see debris hurtling toward a bright, massive planet below. As the debris burns up in the atmosphere, I keep smiling and shaking my head because I am in space and orbiting a planet. I admired the world’s majesty for as long as I could before my attention was drawn back to the situation. Was I going to die while smiling at pretty things in space? Or was I going to save myself and get to safety before one of these things killed me?
Loud pops and bangs snapped me to attention immediately, and then I felt a significant shift in the air that surrounded me. I looked up to where the loudest sound kept up and noticed little bubbles gathered at the top of what appeared to be the crown of transparent a balloon. This is strange, how could…and then the entire top of my chamber unclasped from the middle part where I was suspended. Logic forced me to look down, past my feet, and the transparent surface several inches below them, and I saw the bottom of the chamber float away. They faded into the darkness, each floating away in direction, and I watched helpless and unable to do anything about it.
It did not make any sense to call it a chamber anymore, because I realized that I was suspended in a bubble. As the sheer audacity of my situation sunk in, I was in space, I survived a massive explosion. Since then, I have not died from the vacuum of space itself. Somehow, this bubble-shaped energy field that surrounded and covered my entire body protected me from the explosion and is now allowing me to live, for the time being, in space.
I look around and realize what I have suspected for a while. I am suspended in some breathable liquid. No wonder I couldn’t speak earlier. I know that I do not have long, as I’m sure I can not breathe this liquid forever. If the bubble pops and the fluid dissipates into a million drops, I would freeze and suffocate. I must find a way to get myself to one of the nearby structures connected to the rest of the colony.
How am I going to accomplish this? The nearest structure looks as if it is 20-30 steps away, a little longer than the medical station interior room, where I was previously held against my will. However, distances in space can be deceiving. I am not sure what awaits me, should I make it to the outer hatch door, get it open, somehow get out of my bubble, all without losing my breathable air.
My mind spins around and around, as thoughts and concerns turn to stupid ideas and worry. I take one deep breath, which I guess is a force of habit and hold it as long as I can. While I technically could not hyperventilate, my mind could produce similar effects on my body, which could affect my ability to breath long before I come up with a way out of this mess.
As I took one last look at the planet, I smiled and quietly said, “Beautiful.” I hoped that this would not be my last time to laugh and appreciate something so amazing. There it is, the planet, an entire world just below my feet. From my perspective, Vivid hues of the blue oceans, streaked and dotted with brilliant white cloud formations, are separated by a vast array of tonal greens, browns, purples, greys, and oranges, all forming the various landmasses.
I gazed at this glorious world a while longer and then forced myself to look away. It is time to act. It is time to save myself. Caught in this moment were between life and death, my choice l is made. I am keeping myself.
While I am still inside the containment field, suspended liquid, together, we are slowly moving toward the closest structure, hoping to escape the specific freezing death vacuum of space. Straight ahead, I begin to make out more details of the hatch door. I’m slowly heading toward. The door was octagonal in shape and appears to be made of some light-colored alloy. My ability to perceive proper dimensions and perspectives has been warped and skewed.
I’m looking through two layers of a forceful containment or energy field, after all, liquid and energy. Everything I see is skewed and distorted, even so, the pod I’m heading towards appears to be larger than the others in the colony. I have no idea how I am doing this, or even if I am doing this, but it’s happening. I am moving steadily toward that hatch, toward that pod, and I should be there soon. I feel a strange sensation in my arms and palms. They think almost numb and, at the same time, alive with a sort of crackling energy. None of this makes any sense to me, but I think the thought and the energetic numbness increase while I begin to move faster toward my goal. Maybe I am doing this! But how? Why?
Seconds later, I’m outside the door. I study the outer surface and see a latch in the middle right of the hatch surface. This door is very similar to the one that the two men were viewing me from earlier. I notice that the door latch has an arrow facing down in a clockwise circle. This must be the direction the lock needs to move to open the door.
At first, I reach up in a futile attempt to push my hand through the energy field, but this does not work, I am still confined to my bubble. With little thought, as if I am supposed to do this, I flick my wrist and make a clockwise circular motion with my right hand, in the same direction as the arrow on the door. The latch moved with my hand’s movement and opened the door.
I should be blown far away, deeper into space, apart from the orbiting colony and away from the beautiful planet. But I am not, instead I gradually move myself and my bubble into the structure. I spin around, and with another gesture, the door closes in the direction I move my arm. I flick my wrist and hand again, and the door is latched and secured.
This sphere was currently unused by the colony and kept offline until someone entered it. The explosion that destroyed the adjacent structure severed several critical systems, depressurized, and environmental systems were compromised. According to the nearby screen, sensors detected my presence. They automatically made the air in this pod is now breathable once again.
How do I get out of this bubble? What could still be providing enough power to the energy field to sustain its integrity? As soon as I asked, the bubble began eroding! Simultaneously, holes formed everywhere, in a random and ever-growing patchwork of decay. Liquid spilled out from the gaps as they developed, lowering the fluid level along the way. Finally, all of the small holes grow into each other, and the bubble had disappeared completely, causing a big splash onto the floor.
All I could do was watch, and I ready myself for the inevitable. The bubble burst instantly, seemingly dissipating all remaining moisture into thin air of the room. Unready for the imminent fall from my state of suspension, no sooner had the moisture evaporated, I drop to my hands and knees on the floor and try desperately to grab onto anything that may be within reach.
Like I’m burning from the inside out, my chest feels constricted and ready to explode at the same time. My body screams for air. If I’m unable to comply, I will surely die here. Should I not be able to comply with this command. Now that I’ve been detached and permanently ejected from my liquid state inside the energy field. Two possibilities await me, ending in either life or death. I don’t want to drown in the liquid still in my lungs, the last remaining liquid from the chamber.
Having just survived a massive explosion and my involuntary spacewalk, where I barely made it through the hatch and into this room, drowning now would be nothing short of sad. I pound my chest while writhing on the floor, coughing, wheezing, and shaking uncontrollably, trying to eject this liquid from my lungs. Seconds that feel like decades elapse, and then I begin gasping, and the staus liquid comes out of my mouth and nose. I swallow more than I leave on the floor before it’s over.
I cough so hard that my lungs blaze with pain, and my ribs feel cracked from within, but finally, I take a deep breath. I dare a little smile, but my victory is premature. The room around me seems to spin uncontrollably, I can’t feel my hands, my arms, my brain, it’s getting dark in here…
Tryn will sleep for several hours. When she wakes, she will be much closer to her destination than she could ever dream possible. Do not worry and do not be afraid. Until Tryn comes into her own, we will watch over her to ensure her safety and wellbeing. As it has been since the dawn of time, Tryn’s destiny is intertwined with his – and he will determine the fate of us all.
Thank you for reading this excerpt from
Aretherra Volume One: Aerosus & the Keys to Ascension
Copyright© Eric L Gardner 2020