Saturday, August 1, 2020

The Uplift Protocol: Issue 25


Issue 25: What is Past is Prologue


I live here. A realm between worlds. Only at night do I see clearly. The Spear awaiting the Shield’s call.—Unknown Data Entry. 

Forgive me.  It was the only way.—The Last Vigil of the Infinite.

What lies at the heart of everything? A cry cut short. Forever spinning.—Sleeping In Starlight, a memoir of the 22nd century.

Area Unknown
Time Unknown
Location Unknown

The man beckoned me. His features were shrouded. I sensed no hatred or malice. Just sadness. Mist swirled around my ankles but I felt nothing. This world was an endless expanse of gray. I continued to walk. Shapes coalesced at the edge of my vision. I shook my head. Only one face peered back at me. I knew it. The features burned into my memory for all time. The man’s vibrant blue eyes held me in place. A doorway formed. He pointed solemnly.
You must take it.
His voice echoed throughout my mind. My hands reached for the light. The pain shot through my whole body. I sunk to my knees. My breath coming out with short heavy bursts. This wasn’t right. This was not my power to take. I glared at the shadowed man with his guilt-ridden blue eyes. The world grew darker, a whirlpool of energy swirled around me, forming into an obsidian belt etched with silver trimming. Strange symbols dancing across its surface. Another entryway formed. Its surface shimmered for a moment. My muscles seized up. The shadow man positioned me. Placing my back to the undulating surface. It merged into my sides. Holding me in place.
His voice reached out to me once more, You will never be alone. This was the only way we could hide you both.

Murphy Household
Camp Osiris
July 2nd, 2079

                Eliza Murphy poked the mirror in her bedroom. Next to her, Mr. Apple gave her a push of encouragement. His voice was kind and gentle. You have to take care of him. Let him see through your eyes. To know this world.

*****

                Her gray eyes widened with surprise. She whispered, “Why is he in the mirror?” She placed her palm on the surface. After a slight hesitation, I placed my hand there as well. A jolt went through us both. I could feel her! The lightning connection. She smiled. “Want to play? I got some old board games. I like Battleship.” She placed the game before the entryway. One half in her world, one part in mine. I picked up the ship. Twirling it in my fingers. It had a feeling of solid that I wasn’t used to. The Scholar man looked at me for a moment, his whole body rigid. I still didn’t understand. Why was I in this world? This place? This Time.
 She left for a moment, bringing over some sort of stuffed animal. Pushed it through the gateway. It was...
            My mind drifted into hers. Dog. 4 legged mammals native to Earth and Bardax. The Scholar provided the extra information.  This plushy was in the form of a Siberian Huskey. She had named him Dexter. I wanted a name. Would this place give me one? Would she?
The Scholar placed his fingers across her temples. You will only remember this while sleeping. Upon waking, the world is only that. One filled with daily life.
I narrowed my eyes at him. My mind voice, the clear high tones of a child, >>Why?! WHY WHY!?<<  I stamped my foot with each word. Being careful not to disturb the Battleship. It was a gift from her. The only one who knew I existed besides my jailer. He frowned. Her eyes went glassy.
Chronos must believe you dead. He must believe her crippled.
Images flashed in a hazy sequence. Foremost was an emaciated grey face. Black orbs staring down at me with voracious intent. Then the world was on fire. Shouting and disaster. The pungent smell of smoke. A woman with black and greenish eyes. A rugged man with brown. His black hair in disarray. Her wails filling the room.
My nostrils flared.
The belt around my waist constricted for a moment. It’s melodic tunes swirling around me. Imparting a sense of clarity. The Void Walkers. They thought they knew what Unity was. The Scholar gave me a sharp mental prodding.
Sleep now. Learn.

Downtown Ashbury, Eliza’s Studio Apartment
USA (Texas)
March 22nd, 2096

            Eliza was filling me in on her day. A chessboard laid out. Her lips quirked. I knew what that meant, “Hey Dexter, so even though I won't remember this in the morning, dreamscape and all, there is something you can do.”
            I inclined my head, “What would that be Capt. Swiss?” It was a rather apt nickname. She laughed. I smiled. Unlike her, I knew all the memories hidden by Uplift Protocol. It made my jaw clench to the point my teeth ached. Her hand clasped mine. “I know. As far as the waking world is concerned, you can’t directly affect it. But you can give me a mental nudge here and there.” She winked. I looked at her with astonishment. A rather impish grin forming on my features, “Really?”
She giggled, holding up a hand, “Yes. As long as it's within reason. You have to mask it as one of my thoughts.”
 I retorted, with a neutral tone, “You do know that your Doctor has extra motivations right?” She looked perplexed for a moment. Her waking mind not quite ready for that adventure. She did want me to nudge though. SO pointing out the obvious shouldn’t be a problem.
Her voice was soft and strangely vulnerable, “Deep down, I do know. Our jobs are dangerous enough as it is. With all she puts in with my spine work, I don’t want to add to that.” Her eyes were pleading, “I’m not ready for that jump just yet. But I do appreciate the candor brother.” Our emotional link solidified for a moment. She did love Lorain. As a friend especially. Her heart wasn’t ready for a leap into other territories just yet. I forstalled more rationalization with a flip of a coin, “Worry not sister. Examine your feelings at a later date.” The golden disk spun between us on an invisible axis. She gave a polite bow, “Thank you. I imagine with all our left and right-hand shenanigans we will make an excellent team.” Her smile could light up the whole multiverse. I was biased of course. What older brother wouldn’t be.
Yes, I was the firstborn so I called the shots. Her face contorted with humor. “Oh yes, by a whole 5 mins. You were faster.” The light in her eyes dimmed for a moment, “Unlike us, Zachary is ok.”
 I nodded glumly.
Those Void bastards wouldn’t get another Murphy if we could help it. We shared a secret bond. My sister and I. One slumbering in the dark. The other flying with the stars. Forever tied. Twin suns circling in the vast tapestry of space. The Spear and Shield. Her eyes locked onto mine, “Quite. I hope in the end I'll be able to mind speak with the others. Mother is especially keen to see anything happen in that direction.” A burst of guilt ate away at my soul. Her voice became insistent, “It's not your fault brother. IF anyone knew what we were, the multiverse would be in many dire straits, especially from Thoth. The Keepers just want to feed everyone to Unity, Thoth wants to rule it. Not to mention the troubles with the Hidden House.”
I winced.
Remembering how those disks had ripped through my sister. Very nearly killing her in the process. Every night she slept, most of her general memories transferred to me across our bond, barring the most intensely private thoughts. Since I had most of her spine to hide me in-between the Weave, that extra Typherian kick came in handy, to the point that the Science Division would be equal parts excited and panicked by my mastery of Matter Manipulation. She punched me on the shoulder, “Any suggestions for the day?” I pondered this for a moment. “Our belts are in agreement, keep breaching the Observation barriers, based on projected patterns that will accelerate Earth’s standing in the Uplift arena.”
She nodded. The dreamscape began to collapse.
The last thing I felt was her arms wrapped around me with genuine affection.
Our work had only just begun.
A spear must remain ever vigilant against the dark.

Downtown Ashbury, Eliza’s Studio Apartment
USA (Texas)
August 22nd, 2102

            Jennifer Murphy poked her daughter’s midsection. “Are we getting enough to eat? I worry when you don’t eat a whole box of cookies.” Eliza yawned. Pouring herself another cup of coffee. Unity cult activity had risen in the last couple of months. So the Golden Redeemers were in high demand. Something compelled her to sleep a bit more than usual though. She couldn’t quite put a finger on it. She smiled wanly, “Just burning the cosmic oil is all.” That made her mother smirk. Zach rolled his eyes. “Mom thinks she knows everything!” Jennifer eyed her son with a sense of maternal joy, “What my dear son meant to say….”
*****

I winced. My little brother was at that age where he thought he knew everything. Even now he’s eyeballing me with that proverbial flame in his eyes. At six, he was an absolute spitfire. Gran-gran said dad was also quite the handful at that time as well. Based on mom’s stance, there would be a consequence later. I picked him up. Poked his nose with each word, “Listen to mom ok? Otherwise, you will be put in the dad’s time out scenario.” He put on a show of considering it. After a while, he nodded begrudgingly. “Fine.” His chest was puffed out. His head snapped to the doorway when our father walked in. With quiet authority, dad stated, “Zachary Abraham Murphy.” I set him down. He resolutely marched to dad.
*****
Zach sent out a cry to his mother, >>Its not fair. I wanna show sis my project! She’d love it. It's like Captain Cosmos and the World Eaters! Earth’s pretty close to having H’ysen Spheres anyway!<<
J’ino filled her mind with warmth, >>I know. But we all have these rules. How about this? We all go out to the movies later.<<
He buried his face in his father’s shoulder.
His mind voice equal parts pleading and sulky, >>They are stupid rules.<< J’ino agreed, keenly sympathizing with her son’s misery. He just wanted to share like any normal kid. By Typha’s standards.
*****
I went to the guest quarters to gather up the Bardaxian brigade. Watson in particular was excited, <<Yes! A proper mystery vid. My favorite. With it being an open-air holo-theater, we won't seem out of place at all!>> The Basset Hound’s tail thumped joyfully.
After we got back, I said my farewells to my parents and brother. I winked at him, “It’s ok Zach when the times comes, I’ll look at all your science projects.” He brightened considerably at that remark. Mother bestowed a kiss on my cheek. While dad gave me a bear hug. I missed this. I would have to make a point to enjoy more Sunday evenings at the house. I watched their vehicle lights fade into the distance. My enhanced hearing tracking them until I knew they were securely on the base.
My father sent a message: //Still ever-watchful huh? I do have a favor to ask. Keep an ear out for your mother and brother. I don’t want to worry them too much but it does my mind a world of good I’m not the only watchmen on duty.//
I rubbed my face. I should have known Marshmellow Man would pick up on all that. He was a General after all. He had to be with the projects he was working on.
 Lorain walked downstairs. Her hair was in disarray but pinned up in a half-bun.  I called out, “I'll make some more coffee. You got another night shift right?” She nodded. Her green housecoat covering her white cotton pajamas. A sudden yawn cracked my jaw. I found myself floating upwards. Doc’s soft feminine laughter filled the main room. Something was jabbing me in the stomach. I could bearly make out the end of the broom handle. Two green eyes gazed at me with amusement. “And you are supposed to be the one with epic level stamina?” She stated this with some tart enjoyment but the underlining concern was there.
 Her power washed over me. Even that wasn’t enough. My eyelids drooped.
*****
Eliza held back a fit of laughter. “Laying the Sleep Button on a bit thick huh brother?” I shook my finger at her. “Well, I wanted to talk to you. Lay in some choice suggestions.” I had her full attention then. “About what exactly?” My voice took on a tone of seriousness. “Unity.” A sudden intake of breath from Eliza, her question came out in a rush.
“In general or a person involved with it?” I gave her a moment to get her bearings. “Madam Mayhem. She’s a vital linchpin into the overall Keeper Axis on Earth. Her cult crazy message is just the surface level camouflage. She aims to use Thoth to open all magical lay lines on Earth and use that to fuel the gateway to Unity.” Eliza’s eyes grew more concerned by the moment. She replied, “Any good compulsions for me to keep track of then?”
I paused. What to say at this moment. The Power of the Black roared in the distant reaches of my mind. It would perceive the entity beyond the Ouroborous. At all times. In all epochs. That hunger twisting in the deepest recesses of the cosmos. Chronos and his ilk had no idea. I was the true gatekeeper against that infinite oblivion.
*****
I could see the war playing for dominance on Dexter’s countenance. What information to give. What to hold back. I knew he possessed a belt also but he was pretty evasive about its nature. I didn’t want to press him. He always had a whole mountain of weight on his shoulders. Besides, unless I could remember any of this in my waking hours I rather give my brother a sense of peace rather than add to his worry tank. I sincerely hoped that he would get to walk out in the sun. Free from this dreamscape. To be an actual family. I could see his eyes, so much like mine and mother’s, hone into the line of thoughts I had. His voice, usually very resolute and controlled, rang out. Filling my heart with a sense of discipline. Tempered by the knowledge that when we truly got to know one another in the waking realm, the true war would begin.
*****
I vowed, “One day we will meet. Sister. Beyond this Weave of Slumber.” I ran my hand through my beard, immaculate as my father would have wanted.  I laid my fist upon the surface of the vortex. My heart only a fraction out of tune with my sister’s. My voice echoed in the endless expanse. “The Void Walkers will crash upon my Wall and despair. For you are the kinder Shield. I am the Spear that will pierce the Endless.”
Inner Sanctum (Io)
Terran Sol System
Date Redacted

The machine heard the song.
It rang out across the Infinite.
Awaiting Rebirth.

Issue 24: Here
Book 1: Messages from Earth//Issue 1:

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