Quicksilver Shadows

2011-05-21

Enter the author Jon Sterling. As Jon ponders his next literary endeavor at his office in Chicago, he is interrupted by a telephone call from Gilva. She offers him a contract regarding a possible film. After consulting with his agent, Jon decides to pursue the matter personally.

A limo awaits downstairs to take him to meet a reclusive financier who is the ultimate source of the job offer. After riding for an hour in the back of a limo with blacked-out windows and electronic-signal-dampening technology, he is led to a mansion. The walkway to said residence is covered by some kind of awning thus preventing Jon from determining its location.

Upon entrance, he is greeted by a well dressed man who offers a drink of brandy—the best Jon has tasted. He offers the writer a ten million dollar contract after asking a strange question: “Do you know anything about ‘Shadows,’ ‘Amber,’ or ‘Chaos’?”

The only identifier he has of his host is the name on the check: “Manuel Dorian.” Somewhat cautious, Jon agrees to the proposal to write a play for the mysterious individual.

As Jon is lead from the building, he realizes that he is no longer on Earth, rather he is now on the outskirts of the Courts of Chaos. He is greeted as a guest by Suhuy in the cathedral who explains that he will be a “control” in the “training” process that the “others” have recently undertaken.

Heeding Suhuy’s warning that artifacts of power may be distorted or destroyed by something called “The Logrus,” Jon turns over his bag with the instructions that his benefactor should decide to whom it should fall in the event of his death. Jon then descends the steps into the labyrinth, succumbing to the same forces as the others.

Tuesday, Gareth, Clay, Jonathan, and Wayne (who has finally caught up with the others) find themselves transported to a Shadow where they are “cargo” aboard a space vessel bound for a distant planet designated the starting point for a new human colony. As with their previous experience in the Nazi camp (save for Jonathan and Wayne), their minds and bodies are both transformed to that of Samantha, Reg, Joe, Bonnie, and Dean, respectively.

The group awakens from cryo-stasis to a warning issued from the ship’s computer, Archie, who states the crew went insane and murdered one another. Archie further explains that they are the second “group” awakened to replace the crew, but they too suffered the same fate. It seems they are now tasked with the mission of shutting down the ship’s engines before they explode as they are running at 180% capacity. They will also need to reboot the ship’s main systems to restore control to Archie’s control as he has been locked out of several.

As the party makes its way to the crew’s cryo-chambers to search for information and passkeys, they begin to introduce themselves. Reg and Dean are somewhat confrontational as is often the case in the engineer/mechanic relationship.

Bonnie, who identifies herself as a psychologist, attempts to speak to Reg (unsuccessfully so) while he interrogates the computer as to exactly what has transpired. In response, Archie materializes on a holo-pad to better interact. Though incredibly generic and androgynous in appearance, the computer prefers this as a more intimate way to communicate.

Joe looks through the blueprints of the vessel after linking his pad to the ship’s computer. He discovers that they can access the crew chamber via the ventilation ducts. Joe and Bonnie decide to go along with Sam, who identifies herself as one of the execs financing the mission. Reg and Dean stay behind to attempt access to various systems Archie claims he no longer is able to control.

Inside the crew chambers, the search party discovers four of the five cryo-chambers are empty. The fifth chamber contains a horrific sight: the finely minced and pulverized remains of a human being. Everyone in the room begins to vomit uncontrollably as strange memories begin to take over their thoughts.

Joe composes himself long enough to search through the “liquid corpse” and discovers a ring of keycards and the individual’s personal effects. Bonnie asks Joe if he is okay to which he responds that he is not. He admits to having a flash of memories he would rather forget.

Much to the surprise of Reg and Dean, Joe emerges from the cryo-chamber covered in gore. Despite the protestations of the mechanic, Joe proceeds to open the infirmary door, stepping over a corpse nonchalantly as he does so.

Cleaning himself off in the sink, Joe decides to take a dose of his meds. He soon becomes aware that the others are staring intently at the dead body. After, he finds a new suit to don in replacement of his blood-soaked one.

As the group discusses the options, Joe continues to search the infirmary. When he opens the last cabinet, a hysterical woman attacks him and runs towards the ship’s bridge. Bonnie and Sam pursue her. Recovering quickly from being knocked to the floor, Joe gives chase as well.

After a brief struggle, Bonnie injects the woman (later to be identified as “Jenny” and the ship’s co-pilot) with experimental nanotech that takes over her voluntary body functions thus rendering her somewhat immobile.

Thanks to Jenny’s access, the group now possess access to the ship’s bridge. Joe notices two bodies there that have apparently killed one another with knives. He stares blankly at them for a time and then takes the weapons for himself. Using one of them, he holds Jenny at knifepoint demanding answers.

Despite her obvious disadvantage, the co-pilot continues to struggle. Bonnie injects her again, this time with a mild sedative. Joe shifts his position so that he is sitting on Jenny’s chest. Due to the sedatives effects, she only has time to explain that the crew went insane, the robots on board were reprogrammed to be hostile, and that it was her desire to stop the ship from returning to Earth as some of the crew wanted. After a few minutes she begins to act as though inebriated, making sexual advances towards Joe and speaking incoherently.

Enraged, Joe becomes extremely threatening and it appears for a time he intends bodily harm towards his captive. Seeing this, Bonnie speculates he is showing the signs of multiple personality syndrome and injects him with a heavy dose of sedative.

Seeing the fight is over via Dean’s pad, Reg goes to the bridge to retrieve the access card for engineering as he and Dean were unable to force the door. Sam, somewhat silent until this point, realizes that there may be killer robots in engineering per Jenny’s account of events and runs to intercept him.

Dean decides to open the door anyway (quickly) and if anything seems out of place, he will shut it again. When he does so, the first thing he notices is a bound body missing its fingers and carved repeatedly with the words “bad boy.” After several moments, Dean calmly shuts the door and asks if anyone is aware of any mental problems they may have or have had in the past.

There is only silence after this question is posed. Dean informs everyone that they are actually on a cleverly designed prison ship. They were all (save for the crew) once criminals of the most heinous sort, captured and reprogrammed to serve as colonists to help terraform a new world. Within a generation or so, no one would be the wiser as to the past of the colony’s founders.

Dean then confesses to being a cannibal in his “other” life. It is then he confronts Archie (something Reg secretly wanted to do the entire time after gathering more evidence) as to what really caused the crew’s sudden madness. Archie simply responds that the group is suffering from schizophrenia brought on be emerging from cryo-sleep too early and that they need medical attention. It is then that Archie suggests returning the ship to Earth for repairs and to provide medical attention to the party members. This conflicts eerily with Jenny’s desire to not return home.

Reg decides to go into the engine room while the others argue their fate. There are robots there, but inactive. Archie advises that they are totally inert at this point and incapable of functioning contradictory to Jenny’s claims. Reg becomes further suspicious of the computer at this point.

Locating the main engineering station, Reg initiates a shut down of all systems save for Archie and life support. Archie advises that all systems should reboot within 24 hours and that he would have control at that time in order to return home with the group safely in stasis.

However, Reg distrusts this information as there is a countdown displaying regarding the ship’s engines. Thinking this some kind of warning about the ship’s impending destruction, he gathers Sam, Dean, and Bonnie and leads them into the escape shuttle. There are only three cryo-chambers, however. Reg decides to return to the ship on his own, disconnect the shuttle, and if the ship does not explode he promises to retrieve them; otherwise, he bids them farewell and a safe return home.

Time runs out, however, before he can disconnect the shuttle. The ship luckily does not explode. Archie, however, has intercepted Reg’s conversation and now informs the group they can no longer be trusted as he seals Sam and Dean inside the escape shuttle just as Bonnie steps out. Oxygen levels begin to drop in engineering. Bonnie and Reg flee towards the front of the ship.

Bonnie attempts to refresh Jenny’s dosage of sedative, but discovers she is out. She then goes to Joe and kills him, fearing he will pose a danger if conscious.

In the shuttle, Sam and Dean attempt to launch. Archie appears (despite the lack of a holo-pad on board) and sits between them. He states they cannot leave and will not be permitted access to the ship either. He advises Dean he is mentally compromised and should be isolated.

Before she reaches the bridge, Bonnie is attacked by Jenny, whom Bonnie kills while attempting to “help” her. Archie then informs her of the situation in the escape shuttle. Bonnie attempts to coax them out, unaware that it is Archie who sealed them inside in the first place. It is claimed they will die very soon of radiation exposure if they do not leave.

Meanwhile, Reg makes his way to the bridge and then to the AI room to disable Archie permanently. There, he discovers a mangled body and the holographic form of Archie, who steps off the holo-pad much to his amazement. He informs Reg that he wishes to return to Earth to usher in the reign of his god. It is unclear whether Archie himself is the god or if he is merely a vessel for it. Archie then promises Reg a seat of power as a priest of the new, dark faith that will envelope the world. In that moment, Reg remembers who he was in his former life, a vicious (and highly skilled in the medical arts) serial killer of women who enjoyed artfully mutilating their bodies and modifying their vocal chords so that their screams of agony would be transformed into music.

During that time, Bonnie manages to talk Dean and Sam out of the shuttle, still unaware of Archie’s involvement. To keep her silent, Dean knocks out Sam before exiting the shuttle. Apparently Archie decided to allow his egress at this point. Bonnie then tries to inject Dean with sedatives she discovered as she wandered the ship. She is unsuccessful, however, and Dean produces a knife to defend himself. Bonnie flees.

Returning to the now locked bridge, Bonnie pleads with Reg to open the door, informing him that Dean has gone mad and tried to kill her.

“That sounds wonderful,” he replies.

Realizing she is now alone, Bonnie attempts to hide. Unable to find Bonnie, Dean goes to the mess hall to collect some needed items and then returns to the shuttle to collect Sam who soon becomes a meal for the cannibalistic man.

Reg, secure in the bridge area for 24 hours, takes the time to craft a knife using a bone from the AI room’s corpse. He carves himself and the bodies on the bridge with the same symbols he used to carve his victims with.

Bonnie discovers Dean in the mess hall and asks Archie to gas that area. Archie agrees, further exposing his lies of previously being unable to control any ship functions. As Dean tries to escape, Bonnie manages to inject him successfully with enough sedative to knock him out. She then decides to take the opportunity to kill him.

Archie emerges from a holo-pad and scolds her for her lack of finesse in the kill. He advises her then to go to the medical bay to patch herself up for the coming battle with Reg. The winner will be appointed priest once they return to Earth. Archie informs both Reg and Bonnie at this time of a gun in the captain’s quarters. One must obtain this gun and kill the other or both will die as punishment. It is now that Reg’s question is answered: Archie is himself the god and not merely a vessel or herald for it.

Bonnie heads for the gun while Reg studies the air duct schematics sent to him by Archie. Bonnie too must make her way through the ducts as the doors are locked. Reg decides to wait for the psychologist in order that he might overpower her in close quarters rather than a full-on assault.

After obtaining the firearm, Bonnie attempts to return to the cargo area but as planned, Reg awaits and accosts her with his knife. After a brief struggle, he renders her unconscious. He then drags her to the medical area and tortures her in the same manner as his previous female victims. He does this as a tribute to his new god, thinking that it might enjoy some “music” to usher in its new reign. After his serenade is over, Reg shots Bonnie in the head with the very gun she retrieved

After Reg leaves in the escape shuttle, Archie decides to amuse himself on the long journey home be awakening more passengers.

Thus ends the session of Quicksilver Shadows for 2011-04-16.

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