LoE #1: Quest for Knowledge

Journey Entry #76
It’s been a week since our expedition to the planet TF-141 and the Angels we retrieved continue the fascinate us. Scans show their physiology is nothing like any recorded species to date. Not only that, but their body is constantly emanating Abyssal Aether. We’ve kept them quarantined but I’m beginning to think it’s unnecessary. Scans of TF-141 showed the levels of Abyssal Aether weren’t at a dangerous level and whatever negative effects this amount may have seems to take a considerable amount of time to occur. Today will be the day we put them through some direct testing.

I finish writing on my personal stationary and leave my bedroom to the sterile white halls of the Space Station Galahad. It was stationed ten Warp Gate trips from Testa Vitae and was filled with the best and brightest from the remaining universe. We stood as a beacon of regained progress for all intelligent life, both terrestrial and extraterrestrial. My name is ZEN, I’m a next-generation Android created to be free of possible corruption. This way, I could catalog new species as they’re discovered from the Dead Zones. Although my programming was changed significantly in recent years from cataloging to experimentation. Since I began working 6 months ago, our progress has increased by 37%. Though I admit, our progress would be much greater if there were more next-gen Androids like myself. The Order of Eodeb is paranoid about my kind and remained skeptical of me. I have yet to prove their concerns right.

“Hello Zen.” a red-headed woman says to me with data pad held tightly in hand.

Doctor Erica Shellgren was my companion since I first arrived. She loves me as if I was human and I love her for it. Though our relationship put us in an unusual predicament. Those capable and willing to produce offspring remained sheltered on Testa Vitae. The same went for the scientists on the Galahad as a means of having a self-sustained population in the event of unfortunate accidents or the loss of Testa Vitae itself. Yet our relationship would lead to nothing outside of simple pleasure and comfort while in the void of space. I can hear the whispers that the staff wants me sent to the frontlines with the rest of barren or chosen. But I know they’re all just scared of what might happen if I did become corrupted. I don’t entirely blame them but the lack of faith is disheartening. Have I not proven myself time and again?

“Hello, Erica. How are our guests?” I ask as we continue our walk.

“They seem to be awake. We were going to attempt feeding when you were ready.”

“Thank you for waiting. I appreciate it.” I smiled at her. She smiles back. We filled the walk with idle small talk…or what amounted to it nowadays. Did we find any more planets? Any news from Testa Vitae? What did we think of the last sermon from the High Chancellor? We were just going through the motions to contain our nerves. Any day could be our last and we didn’t want to spend it in an uneasy silence.

We head down to the bottom level of the Space Station through the main elevator where a special laboratory was kept. Sealed behind a wall of reinforced metal and glass were our guests. Angels, who according to the Notes of Roanoke, were known as Lamina ex quod Vitae Malum. What little was written in the Notes of Roanoke was expanded on from reports given by surviving Legionnaires. Unfortunately, neither was a fully in-depth scientific venture and left much to be desired.

I press a button on one of the nearby computer consoles to begin recording our conversation. “This is Doctor ZEN on the Space Station Galahad. We currently have three Lamina preparing for official testing after a week of scanning. Its skin maintains the same pale tone reports have stated as well as the elongated limbs, a head reminiscent of canines, and an anorexic frame. Its fingers are long razor blades and the eyes are covered by a thin membrane. Since it’s capture, it has remained docile and is seemingly dormant. Beginning feeding test.” I signal to one of our staff who triggers a small gate that lets a small pig into the pen. We wait a few minutes and nothing. “Three minutes have passed and the Lamina ignores the Pig specimen we let in for it to eat. In fact, it hasn’t budged an inch from its spot. Switching to test two.” I signal once more as one of our more exotic animals it let into the pen. A Tiger with a stunningly vibrant coat, for some of us it was our first time seeing a real one up close. It doesn’t take more than a few seconds for it to tear into the poor pig. Yet the Angel remained oblivious to its presence. “The Tiger specimen has eaten the Pig specimen without hesitation. The Lamina remains ignorant of both.” I pause briefly and notice the Tiger continue its meal without even flinching. “Previous reports suggest that animals are especially susceptible to the presence of Angels. But when inches from the Lamina, both animal specimens haven’t reacted to its presence. Almost as if it wasn’t in the room with them. Even the Angels feared explosive bursts of speed aren’t present. Perhaps when within the range of a Pure Aether Crystal they remain docile? I’m admittedly curious to test it but not willing to risk the lives of all the staff onboard.”

“The Angel doesn’t respond to a docile or potentially hostile prey.” Erica notes. “Test three will be beginning shortly.” she signals as a robot modified to look Human enters the room. I can’t help but have mixed feelings at the sight. Androids were banned yet we’re willingly sending a robot to see if it gets slaughtered. Curiously, the Lamina remains docile and doesn’t even notice.

“Angel continues to give no response. Past reports suggest this particular breed of Angel has an extreme dislike of artificial humanoids. I’m beginning to wonder if the Legionnaires tales are true or brought about by stress in the battlefields.” I sigh and begin to think.

“Angels kill anything on sight so why not this time?” Erica asks what we were all thinking. “Can it tell we’re observing it? Is it trying to keep us from learning?”

“If it is, we just have to force a response. Cleanse the room.” I order.

“Are you sure?” Erica asks questioning the decision. Above all else, it was her job to ask the things the others wouldn’t. To make sure I wasn’t…too inhumane…

“It will be a stress test. It should be painless for the Tiger. At least not as painful as if the Angel got to it like planned.”

In a flash of white light, the room is filled with a surge of magical energy. A mix of science and mysticism created to combat the Angels. Courtesy of the Notes of Roanoke and our scientists, the cell used Synthesized Pure Aether Crystals and Glyphic Lights. Combined, they were enough to kill an average Angel…Unfortunately, getting an Angel into one of these is often more trouble than it’s worth. The Tiger is vaporized in a painless fashion. The Angel should be burning like the surface of the hottest sun. But with my sensors, I can see through the blinding light at the Lamina. It didn’t flinch as the light burned its skin and ravaged its insides. It just sat there…looking straight at me…After 30 seconds we stop and the rest of the staff are surprised at the sight. The Angels singed body just sitting there motionless aside from the occasional twitching.

“The Lamina has survived the Cleansing. No sounds were made during the process and its only movements are random muscle spasms.” I stop to observe the Lamina heal before our eyes. It’s twitching fading as it completes the process. “It has successfully healed its wounds within twenty seconds of Cleansing. Its durability exceeds previous reports. Although this could be another deviant trait. Call up security, it’s time for the next test.”

Our onboard security was minimalist at best, we had a single Legion of 5. Just enough to help us feel safe but not enough to stretch the Order of Eodeb thin. I’m fairly certain they’re just pleased to not have to fight every single day. For this test I only needed one of them, the Lancer Cobalt, would suffice. He was a pale young man no more than 19 who stood at 5’7 wielding his spear that stood around 6 feet long. He was a Trelza from the planet Xano, a species of humanoids with feline traits. Most noticeable are the eyes, ears, and tails. Some have claws as well but given who they’re facing it’s hardly worth noting. He was named after the grey striped fur that covered his body like the Bengal tigers of old. He wore the traditional Legion garb, a suit of skintight silver bio-armor with a blue sash wrapped across the chest, silvery-white bands that glowed fluorescently were worn on the head, wrists, and ankles. Liquefied Aether Crystals filled the bands to give it the glow and provide ambient protection beyond the bio-armor. His spear had the same protection albeit on the handle and base of the spear tip.

“Good to know we nearly died so I can kill one of your pets in a week.” he sighed. Even before finding out we planned to capture Angels for testing, he wasn’t a huge fan of me or my staff.

“It’s part of the testing process. If you could, take your time with this. See if you can provoke it.” I request.

“Fine fine…” he complains. For the Legion, most were born and raised to exterminate the Angels. Helping us study them was seen as an affront to all their efforts. Though if we succeed, we’ll be able to save more lives. Maybe even reclaim the Dead Zones. It takes him a minute to find the entrance to the Lamina’s cell where he finally entered.

“Legionnaire Cobalt has now entered the Lamina’s cell for the next test.”

“I’d ask Eodeb to have mercy on your soul…” Cobalt begins, his hand kept firmly clutched to his spear. “But you don’t have a soul, do you? Not that you’d deserve any mercy.” he spins his spear overhead, swinging it downward and almost knocking off the Laminas lower jaw. What was left hung on by what remained of its left cheek. The seemingly unending toothy maw clear for all to see. Without its mouth properly closed, I can see a strange black glow coming from within its throat.

“That’s enough Cobalt. Please exit the cell immediately.” My warning wasn’t quick enough as the Lamina finally reacts. It lurches it’s head skyward and raises what’s left of its mouth. The black glow growing bright and revealing a Black Tesseract. In a flash of dark energy, both it and Cobalt are gone. All that remains is the Black Tesseract the drops to the crater in the ground left from the energy surge. My thoughts begin to run wild amidst the mummers wondering what just happened. But I try to remain focused. “The Lamina was keeping an unknown tesseract inside its throat. It glowed and now both the Lamina and Cobalt have disappeared. Send out a message to purge the other subjects and get the Black Tesseract ready for analysis. I don’t want to lose another one of us.”

While ZEN and the other doctors begin searching for answers as to the fate of Cobalt, the young Legionnaire found himself alone in darkness. His body unable to move as he floats in place. His prized spear nowhere in sight. The body of the Lamina that brought him here lay lifeless on the floor. An eerie purple light begins to fill the air as a number of arcane glyphs appear over Cobalt.

“Hmm…I expected to catch a Human but instead I caught a…what was it again…” a disturbing shrill voice says as it becomes faintly lit by the glyphs. It had a hollow skull-like face that was disturbingly expressive. Its pale skin seemed to have extra layers that wrapped around its body like a long lab coat. It’s fingers like blades that rivaled the Laminas. Its legs stood on blade-like daggers similar to its fingers. Each creating glyphs and sigils identical to the ones floating over Cobalt. Sigils that kept Cobalts spear floating above his right hand. “Ah yes, a Trelza. I haven’t seen many of you before.”

“Who are you?! Where am I?!” Cobalt shouts confused as he struggles to no avail.

“Why is that always the first thing people ask? With all the tales you tell about the Rift shouldn’t it be obvious when you finally see it?” his right eye raises as if to raise a non-existent eyebrow. “Now that you asked a question, I shall ask one of you. What is this weapon? The last time I caught one of you Legionnaires your gear was far less…streamlined.”

“I’m not telling you shit Angel!” Cobalt lashes out at his captor fearlessly.

“That’s fine, they never say anything at first.” the Angel glances at the spear as it disintegrates into thin air. His eye sockets glowing faintly black like the Black Tesseract before its activation. “Ah, so that’s what you did.” he says to himself. His destruction of the spear seemingly giving him all the information he needed to know about it. He then turns his attention back towards Cobalt. “Did you know humans have a peculiar saying? They say that there’s more than one way to skin a cat. I wonder what type of Humans would create such a saying. Especially given your feline heritage. Did someone already test it?”

“Stop talking about it and just get on with it then.” Cobalt snarls. “But you better make sure you get it right the first time or I’m gutting you.”

“Valhalla no, I already have tested a number of methods to skin cats in the past. It has provided very little data for future use. I’ve also learned it is, how do you say, cliché to lead into vivisection with such an obvious taunt. Besides, I want you alive as long as possible.” his teeth shining like white blades in the darkness. His nails hovering closer and closer to Cobalt’s face.

Journal Entry…#67
My Black Tesseract has gifted me with quite a prize, a young Legionnaire. It’s been a few centuries since I’ve had the joy of experimenting on one of those. I must say he was quite durable. His armor was a personalized bio-armor that matched the technology of his spear. It lasted a whole 15 seconds against my attempts to remove it. In the past, they didn’t last 3 seconds. But after that…he was far less durable. I’ll give him credit for not begging for his life as quickly as the last Legionnaire I acquired. He didn’t have any modifications so his resistance could be an innate stubbornness present in Legionnaires or maybe it’s one based on his species. I will need a new subject to test this theory with. If humans have remained as curious as they have in the past then my Black Tesseract will get me plenty more soon enough…

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