Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Asmodeus, Nov 4, 2012.

  1. [​IMG]


    The sarcophagus lid of the Palenque ruler, King Pakal, depicts him on a cosmic journey; some say a fall into the Underworld. Others, like Von Daniken, see neither the trunk of the World Tree, nor the tendrils of the Mayan water monster, nor the wings of the celestial bird.

    They see a space capsule.

    And from this one picture, a tradition was begun - a legacy of conspiracy theorists, crypto-theologists and dreamers who Matthias Green was proud to count himself a part of, and who held to one simple and shattering edict...

    That God was an astronaut.

    A framed copy of this photograph decorated the wall of Green's living room, and had inspired the decor that followed - dark wood and ivory offset by onyx. After the dining room it was the largest chamber of his mansion and held what qualified as his favoured children. A library shelf of Sumerian texts, life-size statues of the Annunaki angels, a piano furnished like a pharoah's coffin and, between rubber plants and orchids, a dozen orrery models of the solar system.

    And underneath that very picture, Green himself, in his own strange device.

    The billionaire sat in what looked like a gyroscopic chair, a throne with metal rings that allowed it to tilt and spin. But there were further appendages - mechanical arms that clamped his limbs and worked them back and forth. The chair was designed to give him a full workout, to manipulate the muscles that he, by his own power, could not. In this manner he spent an hour each day, ensuring no muscle mass was lost in his half-paralysed body.

    It was for the sake of appearance more than health. His wife called it his 'Vanity Machine'.

    "They're going to die."

    These ominous words broke the silence of the evening. Matthias paused the machine as a stack of papers, like colliding birds, struck against the rings and seat back. And having settled in a heap around him, they revealed the silhouette of his wife by the writing desk. "How long have you been there, dear?"

    Andrea Green, personal secretary and media magnate, stood in grey suit with folded arms. It was the pose she used when putting up a wall - a wall no man would cross. "A pair of armchair theorists," she exclaimed, "A Star Trek fan, an unhinged surgeon, two thugs, a gutter-press journalist... Need I go on?"

    "We've discussed this." Matthias unstrapped his belt and looked down at the personnel files thrown by his wife. Photos spilled from wallets, medical reports and resumes mixed with press releases.

    "Only one of them has any low-orbit experience!" Her hand swept out to indicate the pile. "And you're putting them on a crash-course with the real astronauts who should be on this mission."

    "There are no real astronauts," Matthias pulled his wheelchair over and lifted his first leg onto the footplate. "Only people scared for their careers and families, even their lives." He gripped the arm rests, grunting as he transferred over to drop, clumsily, into the wheelchair. "Real astronauts, Andrea, were complicit in the biggest cover-up in history. I'll not have the Irideus crewed by minions of an establishment that desecrated the course of truth. I want the uninitiated."

    "You're not at a press conference anymore, Matthias!" She came to stand over him, leaning so her shadow swallowed the wheelchair. "If you don't want me to watch you die, go to the Paris apartment. Don't blast yourself into space to get away from me."

    The words revealed the truth of it. There was not so much anger as pain in his wife's eyes. It was love that had brought her to this confrontation, suffering that had made her hurl the files. Helplessness that edged her words.

    He looked away, adjusting lifeless feet to their proper place. "I'm not going up there to die, Andrea."

    "Don't you dare finish that sentence."

    "I'm not going up there to live, either."

    "Then what?" She placed her hands on the arm rests, leaning fully over him. Her blonde curls brushed his face, soft strokes around the daggers of her eyes, and as always she smelled of vanilla. The perfume she had worn when they met at the ice cap social, a decade ago. "Why are you putting these people in danger?"

    Lights splashed through the window blinds, yellow gloom repainting the decor and lending motion to the silence. The first of the limousines were winding their way up the mountain road. A song of tyre on gravel and guard dogs straining, of detector sweeps and water fountains, set the background to the tension of man and wife.

    "Because..." Matthias settled a blanket across his lap, eyes downcast, voice soft. "To have you ask that, Andrea... and to be among comrades so ill-prepared... to have all our fortune put at stake... and to know that powers beyond imagining have forbidden us to even try... yet to try nonetheless..." His eyes lifted. " the very essence of being human."

    The sound of the house staff opening the front doors punctuated his answer. And with it the outside world came rushing through the mansion halls: car engines idled, doors popped, assistants greeted the mission crew, cameras snapped. The press event was unfolding. But the Greens remained frozen, gazes locked.

    And in the end, as Matthias had made the answer she could not dispute, so Andrea made the exit he could not oppose. She turned on her heels and walked out, faster than he could ever follow. "Tell the guests I have a headache."

    The billionaire was left between the angel statues, hunched in his wheelchair, as his wife climbed the stairs. It took a few moments to compose himself. The sun was fading and soon the stars would be out to hang above the coming press conference, their light prophetic, their silence siren. It was seven days till Launch.

    He hoped his crewmates were not exhausted from their training. He needed them in good spirits for this conference. He needed the world to see... to trust this mission... to send them shooting to the heavens with all humanity's good intent.

    Matthias fetched an ionising rod from the desk and used it to pick up each dropped personnel file, one by one. And as they stacked on his lap he felt their weight, a heaviness more than physical.

    This would be their last night of luxury, before they were taken to the Irideus Hangar.


    #1 Asmodeus, Nov 4, 2012
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2013
  2. The world swirled around her. Every star, every galaxy, and the universe’s secrets so close she could almost taste it. This was the truth. She would know the truth soon. Numbers, words, different characters. People of all races and religions. Every whole part of creation flew through her mind. The mind, the heart, the soul. Was only one of them able to contemplate the truth? Or was one meant to embrace the truth will aspects of there selves? She was close… So close… Just a little further. A hand stretch away…

    Trinity Solara’s eyes snapped open. The light from the dawn seeping in from her window shields. She yawned, stretched and sat up on the bed, smiling softly. She loved that dream. She loved to analyse what it meant. She loved to let her mind wander into infinite possibilities. But she knew she had had this dream again for a specific reason. Irideus. Today was the day of Irideus. And it was going to be spectacular.

    She rubbed her eyes, and swung her legs gently over the bed. She tapped her small desk beside her bed and her window shields rose up and she was soon soaked in early sunlight.

    “Good Morning, Dr. Solara. I hope you had a peaceful sleep.”

    “Good morning Virtue-L. Indeed I did. Today is the big day. My clients have been informed that I shall be leaving?”

    “Yes, Dr. Solara.”

    Virtue-L was a Self-dependant Artificial Intelligent Entity. She was an amazing help to Trinity and Trinity swore she had a mind of Her own sometimes.

    Well it was time to get ready! She showered and washed her hair. Just as she wasting it up in a towel, she glanced at her reflection in the mirror. She had been waiting for this day for a long time. The day that no one seemed to support. The day that would was “impossible.” The day she would contribute to history. The day she would be apart of making a difference. Her research was already renowned, but that just wasn’t it. She craved new knowledge, but not to make her famous off it… She could never explain it to anyone. She just loved to open her mind for no reason. She loved to lose herself in the possibilities, the chances, the opportunities that the world just seemed to hide under the surface! She gave herself a beaming smile, “The greatest knowledge of it all will be given to me through this journey.” She walked out of the silver bathroom with a murmur, “The truth.”

    Once her body and her hair and been dried with a thermal heat blaster, she put on her clothes. This she did with the help of no technology. She felt humans could get too wrapped up in a machine crazed world. Sure, they were very effective for many tasks, but bathing, dressing, making food. That should be done by hand. It was your body and your responsibility to take care of. Not some machine’s task. She wore a white shirt, a red waist coat, maroon jeans and red boots. Nothing completely crazy. Something that would remind you of decades ago. Trinity gave a wistful sigh. She then pulled out a three-quarter length white lab coat and put it on, almost gently. It fitted perfectly and she took a final glance in the mirror, “This day… Will be the greatest of my life.”

    She took her Tablet from its charger and took a deep breath, not very necessary, but… Appropriate in a way, “All ready.”

    She opened her door and took one look back at her home. She resisted the urge to whisper a fond goodbye to it as she walked out, closed the door, and glimpsed the lights go off behind her. In front of her house was a jet black limo, a chaffeur holding open the door,
    "Dr. Solara?" Trinity nodded and gave him a smile.
    "That would be me." The chaffer was most likely supposed to interact with the Doctor, but she saw the sides of his lips twitching into a smile. She ahd that effect on people.
    "I am to take you to the Green Mansion, ma'am." he said primly, still smiling at her. She of course mirrored it and climbed into the limo. The window screen that usually diveded the driver and passenger was open and Trinity watched as he took his positon and started it up. Trinity smoothed out her trousers and gave him another dazzling smile, which she made sure she caught in the mirror, "You have such a interesting profession! You must meet very influetial and important people!" She was hoping to start a nice conversation...

    In the next 20 minutes the chaffeur had told the politely listening doctor about everyone he had met at his work, his wife, his children and the fact he was soon going to be a grandfather. They arrived at the Mansion less than 10 minutes. He stepped out and even from inside the car, she could her the shouts of people. Her door was opened and she stepped. She thanked her kind chaffeur and he tipped his hat to her, a broad smile and delighted that someone had taken a interest in him.

    Trinity took a look at the scene and her eyes widened just a fraction. The hoards of people shouting, talking, laughing, cameras clicking. People spotted her and that was followed by screams of,

    "Look!! It must be a crew member!"
    "She did arrive in one of those snazzy limos! You're right!"
    "She's looking perfect, snap her!!"

    She tried her best to keep smiling, but as the people loomed in on her, she feared that she would be crusced and trampled on before she even got a perfect looking "snap" of her. Her eyes darted around her best bet was to find Matthias or another crew member and hope they could save her... She was expecting an amazing out turn, but this... Well... Overwhelming to a T.


    Attached Files:

  3. Eli rolls up to the carpet in a black luxury sedan, the break squeaking subtly as he comes to a hault. He idles there for a moment as he looks on at the crowd of people which has begun to form outside of the mansion.

    He had been offered limo porter service to and from home this evening that he might freely partake of all the evening's festivities, graciously refused. This overnight celebrity status was something that made him a little uneasy, and being driven around town just contributed to this strange feeling of rock star iconization that had begun to settle on him now that he and the rest of the crew had become household names.

    He'd never been much of a drinker anyway, and the act of driving was gave him a sense of normalcy. It made him feel in control.

    Eli stepped out of the car and placed the keys in the hand of the attending valet, clasping his hand he slipped the young man twenty dollars.

    "Thank you my friend, please be careful, the shifter does have a tendency to stick."Eli uttered, more concerned about the young man than his vehicle.

    The valet nodded his head, his demeanor softening with Eli's words. "Yes, Mr. Stolarz" The young man eagerly moved around to the drivers side and a moment later he and the Lexus were gone.

    Eli turned his attention to the path ahead of him, the crowd was a sea of business suits, tuxedos and fancy dress atire reminding him of the red carpet on Oscar night. Immediately he felt under dressed.

    In a moment of discomfort he quickly looked down himself to do up one of the buttons on his white sport jacket. He'd worn a light purple dress shirt and a nice pair of slacks, but he still stuck out around much of the crowd.

    Eli had never been one for black tie events, the only times he'd ever worn a suit were when attending court or temple, this was neither.

    Though the sun had already begun to set, he placed a set of brown tinted aviators over his eyes from. This wasn't so much a fashion statement as it was to shield his eyes intermittent flashes from the paparazzi and other media lined up along path.

    He paid no mind to the bombardment of questions as he begins to walk the gauntlet towards the door. In his experience, no press was good press.

    Up ahead he noticed a block his path, among the crowd he quickly recognized one face he was happy to see.

    "Trinity Solara..." he whispered to himself, studying her for a moment.

    An eloquent and sociable woman one on one, she seemed at that moment not herself, overwhelmed by the flock of vultures were now descending on her, Microphones and voice recorders stretched well beyond that comfortable distance.

    Eli couldn't help but smirk and shake his head to himself, the poor woman has no room to breathe.

    Pushing his way past a writer from the New York Times who had begun to close the ring of bodies around her, he placed a gentle but strong hand upon her shoulder before speaking as not to startle.

    "Doctor, such a pleasure to see you again. " Eli said, removing his glasses, his tone warm as if her company were an unexpected gift. With a soft smile, he turns his gaze from her to the wall of reporters still closing in around them, speaking so only she can hear.

    "These people, they have no respect for one's personal space. You must be firm with them, otherwise they will trample you." With that, Eli pushes his body forward , placing his palm out in a waving motion ahead of them like a torch, fending off the mob which has gathered. His crowd control instincts kicking in.

    "Ladies and gentlemen please! I know you have all come for the press conference, but please be so kind as to stay behind the felt barriers! All of your questions will be answered during the Q & A later this evening!"

    His soft tone becomes deeper and more stern as he addresses the crowd. The wall of men and women begins to part as he moves steadily toward the door, the good Doctor in tow.
  4. Trinity's eyes stopped searching for anyone she knew. This was very... Thrilling seemed to be the fitting word, but at the same time... It didn't.
    She smiled to the crowd and she saw some lower down their cameras and beam back at her. To bad that irregular ability of hers didn't make jouranlists stop bombarding there very random and off-topic questions at her.

    Then she heard a voice. She turned to face a man. Someone she didn't recog---... Oh, how could she be so foolish! This situation really was getting to her. She gave another smile, a smile of relief and an odd happiness, "Lieutenant Stolarz! Likewise, of course. It has been so long."
    She listened to him explain about the press and she had had the small notion that it would be as hectic as the way he described it, "I suppose I shall be useless in this situation, never being to such a public event before. I feel so weak with you having to come to my rescue, greatful as I am!" she gave a chuckle.

    Lieutenant Eli Stolarz. A intelligent, kind man who Trinity had the utmost pleasure of knowing. She respected him highly and was happy she would be on this mission with someone she knew. The thought of meeting new people was very exciting, but having someone she was aqquanited with gave an extra form of "comfort". She smiled at the crowd as Eli gently pulled her through. Questions of her personal life and relationships with the crew had stopped and now people either just took pictures of her as she walked past or suddenly smiled at her.

    They finally made it a safe distantce away from the crowd, close to the building itself. She walked forward a little in order to turn to Eli, "Thank you very much. I think I am definately safe from a "death-by-trambling" experience." she laughed and bowed her head to him. She looked up and indicated to the large, glass double doors looming in front of them, "Shall we?"
  5. There are roughly 300 million steel framed shipping containers sitting in stock yards around the world.

    Most of these are rusting away left over from years ago. Victim of outlandish spending habits of the generation from the turn of the century. The cost alone the oversized crates take up in storage space alone is ridiculous, even from business standards. The irony of is that the only reason the boxes lie scattered across the planet as they do, is because it's a cheaper option than reuse. When it all comes down to it, the added costs of removing rust to meet international standards, crane expenses, shipping fees and relocation costs to new storage yards the end result winds up as a large heap of trash. A number of programs have been put into place over the years to try and work down the numbers. Cutting the bins to fit 55 gallon oil drums, melting down steel into base components and even repurposing metal for use as plating in the joint war effort overseas had been wide spread lately. Some of these were more practical than others, and others were almost artistic in their own right.


    Eight 40' containers went into the production of the house. Six months’ time, one hundred and sixty thousand dollars in equipment costs and not a dime spent on labor. It had been Nikolai's project over the years he hadn't been swamped with work or research. He had once worked out a figure that if he had used conventional housing methods, the price tag in question would have been a touch above four hundred grand. Not bad for a man who'd never taken a class in architecture.

    Sweat beaded down the face of the Russian Surgeon as he circled the last lap across his property. A trail dug a few years prior with a Shovel and a few other hand tools. It wasn't much, but it kept the man from eating branches on his 10ks. Taking a heavy trail of breaths, Nikolai slowed his pace down to a light shuffle as he moved up along his drive way. As he looked up, the surgeon raised a quizzical brow to the outline of two men standing in front of a black limo. A tactless lawn ornament he neither ordered nor wanted.

    "Good evening sir." The driver began in a tone a done that reeked of disingenuous intentions. "I'm here to transport you to the Mr. Green's personal Estate. We called, but you don't seem to be carrying your phone on you."

    Sevlanka checked his watch and narrowed his eyes. "This... ah, Reception not till 1900." He replied wiping the sweat from his brow and passing by the car entirely. "It does not take three hours to make it this trip."

    The directness of the answer caught the driver unexpected. "I understand that sir, but several media representatives have been assigned to the grounds in order to get face time with certain members of the crew. We thought you might like to get there early and catch an interview."

    Nikolai rolled his eyes at the damned flock of vultures. "This is my last afternoon I plan to have for quite some time. I intend to make my appointment, but I will not waste time on carrion feeders looking for meal. The ride is not needed and I trust you can find your own way off of my property." The statement was cold as the surgeon made his way up the stairs to his home. The stuttering reply of the driver sounding behind him.


    After a shower, some last minute packing and one last walk around the grounds, Nikolai packed his own vehicle and made his way out to Green's estate. The Russian was practical man, and it showed in his taste in vehicles. The truck he drove was an old 4x4 he had kept around prior to the major push the states had made towards the lunch boxes that littered today's roads. While the paint wasn't too badly worn, it wasn't exactly a luxury vehicle in any semblance of the word.

    While not late, the Doctor arrived just shy of right on time. The beater of a truck got a number of stares as camera flashes galore lit the old vehicle up like the 4th of July. Half a dozen reporters rushed to Sevlanka's door as he stepped out of the vehicle. A look that seemed more annoyed than anything crossed his face as he reached into the bed of his pickup and removed a pair of Army issued green duffle bags that had been worn down from years of use. Questions about the comings of his work into total knee arthroplasty, why he choose to jump on the mission, and how he planned to balance his new position with his research were tossed at him like the scatter of buckshot. The Russian had never really been great with groups and his hearing hadn't exactly been ideal since his time in Syria. While he was sure the lot had the best of intentions, the mass of words came out as muffled jargon to the stoic surgeon. "'Scuse me." He replied pushing through the lot with little pomp or circumstance.
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  6. <IMG src= align="right" width="450" style="padding:5px;">In moments Green's security were on-hand to compliments Eli's efforts. Velvet ropes were re-cordoned and the more zealous paparazzi strong-armed to a distance. Another detail opened the way between the front door and Doctor Sevlanka's 4x4. In the manner the Red Sea of intrigue was parted, here and there, to let the celebrities through.

    A pair of butlers opened the mansion doors, and with smiles as disciplined as their bows conducted the three inside. The din of the crowd was muffled thereafter and the environmental controls readjusted. Eli, Trinity and the Doctor found themselves in a hall tiled in black and white marble, complimented by giant replica chess pieces and, between a sweeping double-stairway, a statue of a Grigori. There was no mistake in its placement. Matthias had clearly taken sides in the cosmic struggle - allied with the curious Watchers, the aspiring Gilgamesh, the daring Prometheus. These were his inspirations. This was his creed.

    <img src= align="right" width="250" style="padding:5px;">With a subtle whoosh the billionaire himself slid across the tiles in his wheelchair. Another servant was behind him, ready to help, but Matthias was determined to approach under his own power. The chair was almost a sports model, sleek and manoeuvrable. "Welcome, welcome. Good to see you all again." He circled them, swiftly, as if test-driving the chair, then spun to a halt beside Nikolai. "Been working the quads, Doctor, like you recommended. Should keep my centre of balance right for the zero-G."

    He tipped back on the wheels and shook hands with the others. His British accent had not dropped in all his years with big business. "Mister Stolarz, thank you for getting our biologist here in one piece. Miss Solara, you're looking dazzling as ever. Sorry about the zombie horde," he nodded to the now sealed doors, which almost throbbed with the excitement beyond. "Someone at the launch centre must have let slip. Either that or the studio. Viral marketing, eat your heart out."

    He came back quickly from the digression and smiled up at each of them. "Well, you must be famished. I've heard the training those space-monkeys are putting you through is pretty intensive. Two years of prep compressed into five months." He shook his head in wonder. "Wish I could be there with you all, walking in deep sea suits; flying upside down in the back of jet fighters; throwing up in simulators." He jabbed a thumb over his shoulder. "Got my own people training me separately, but I doubt it compares."

    It took him longer to come back from this next digression. Blinking from his reverie, he spun the wheelchair and moved ahead of them. "Anyway, walk this way." He headed towards the dining room, flashing another smile over his shoulder. "So to speak..."

  7. Clark chose to take the limo.

    He could have driven himself. But then, he drove himself every other day of his life, every day that he was not about to go into space. He wasn't a man who insisted on a lot of ceremonies. He wasn't fond of jewelry and never insisted on special occasions and ceremonies, but he saw their purpose and at times went for the special. And riding in a limo to the mansion of a world-famous billionaire. A world-famous billionaire who was taking him into space.

    Clark involuntarily looked up at the moon-roof at the night sky. Whenever his gaze was jerked skyward like this, the enormity of space came crushing down on him. One small man on one small planet in one enormous universe. But that thought had never discouraged him or made him feel insignificant. If anything it had only heightened his desire to be out there. Even if it would be impossible to see it all in one lifetime, he felt the need to try. But... someone else had a different idea.

    He tried not to think about it, he didn't like being angry. But it did light a spark of rage inside him, to have his dream denied without explanation. And that did create some small sense of fear at the enormity of space. He'd always thought about the good it would bring humanity... but what else was out there?

    He brought his gaze back down to the interior of the limo and forced the dark thoughts away, tried to put his mind back on the track of excitement. Last time he'd been in a memo... high school prom, wasn't it? And back then they were trying to fit a dozen teenagers of varying moods into the one chamber. Here... there was space. Room to stretch out. Room to think. He just needed to not think worrying thoughts.

    Clark had never properly learned his way around the mansion, despite coming to see Matthias as a friend who at least understood his dream, if he didn't exactly share in it. The rooms and halls were a blur as servants led him in a side entrance, professionally only letting the mass of press get a glimpse of the approaching limo. The decor of the manor had never excited Clark. As much as he liked Matthias, he'd never liked the Ancient Aliens theory, and all the decorations now not only bothered him, but brought back the dark thoughts he'd tried to suppress while in the limo. But there was no reason to show anything but a smile to his friends as he saw them. "Ah, Matthias," He said as he crossed the space between him and their host, hand already outstretched, "Sorry about the delay, the crowd out there is not insignificant."
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  8. The want or ability to be late or miss the conference was an illusion, of course: lackeys with clearance tags in large, clear-plastic wallets hung around their neck descended upon him well before the session was scheduled to be held. There was no need for them to say anything, but he still managed to make them wait around for at least five minutes by humming and hawing at the holographic display on his desk, showing an exploded view of the warp engine. Even as he placed both palms on the desk and rose with an air of finality, the orderly's hopeful glint in his eye was extinguished as he slowly reached into the drawer of his desk for his keys, eyes fixed on the rotating cross section until the very last moment.

    Riding the company shuttle, luxurious as it was, was nothing new to him. As director of a significant division of Raquia industries, one of his jobs was to handle public relations, and he had long gotten used to weaving tantalizing tales, to talking up the science just enough to keep people interested. However, the last minute preparation for the ship's launch had kept him inside the office, and he was not able to shave the thick stubble on his chin, nor eat enough to stop his cheeks from becoming slightly sunken. Regardless, all he had to do was adopt the persona of a cranky genius, which gave him an excuse to ignore the reporter's questions while his mind dwindled over the details of the launch.

    He didn't really believe in what he told the reporters, anyway. Richard had decided a long time ago that what he really liked doing was solving problems. The context of the problem didn't matter so much as the challenge it presented. Granted, his affinity for the engineering sciences ended up steering him to the biggest and most challenging problems of the century, so he in the end was forced to admit that, possibly, he enjoyed rocketry and massive-systems propulsion. At the same time, he was not quite sure what the point of this expedition was. It didn't solve any problem that was immediately obvious to him. It could have been the first strike against overpopulation or dwindling raw materials on Earth, but it chose to tackle the most nebulous "problem" of all: the origins and (supposed) fate and purpose of the human species in the vast, almost certainly meaningless universe. Altogether, a bit frustrating, but of course, a spin could be put on it. Anything could be spun.

    The shuttle dropped him off at the front of the house with little fanfare, but he still managed a smile and few cursory words for the reporters. When one builds a career based upon grant money, one learns to pander to the ones giving it. Employment in the private sector had given him freedom (economic, but had taken away some intellectual in return), but old habits died hard. He exchanged jokes with the reporters regarding his appearance ("Just getting a head start on my voyage look!") and ascended the stairs to the house, catching site of the earlier arrivals just as they disappeared into the dining room. He followed.
  9. Trinity respected a lot of people. Namely, those who lived outside the world, like she did. They were not afraid to go that extra mile, break that limit that the people with no imagination or creativity had made. They could bring themselves so high, that they needed to look down to see the world they had broken free from. Matthias Green was one of those people and he fascinated the Doctor.

    She loved studying people. It was amazing and a respected (and feared) talent she possessed. One that allowed her to figure out many details about a stranger on one look. If she could find that much with one look on a stranger, then people who she knew very well couldn't hide anything from her, unless they were very, very good at it. Matthias was one of those people. She could subtly spend hours searching him over and find the obvious characteristics from personality, skills and qualities... That was all she could find. That made him one of her favourite clients, even if he didn't actually know he was one.

    She shook Matthias's hand when he came to face her, "Why thank you, Matthias. Oh no, I should be the one apologising. If I had ever come out in public more often, I would know how to handle them better." she gave a small chuckle. It was true. The crowds had never seen her face at any press conference or any release of new research. The closest they would get is secretly taken pictures that had leaked their way out into the big, wide world that was the media. Trinity Solara could click her fingers and know many things about many people... Problem was that they made her nervous. All of them together, when she couln't read a single thing behind a flashing eye that was desperate to capture her in its sight. She had a close friend and agent answer questions, which assumed were going to be asked. Most of the time she was on the ball, but then there was that odd time when a trouble maker popped up with a completely off topic question that her friend could never answer. At the very beginning, she had a fake entity. A woman fitting the small description they had of her. Eye-candy for the press. That idea became a loss when the press had their suspicions and found out that woman's real identity. Her life simmered down after a while and Trinity remained close friends with her. She didn't hate the press or despise it... She found it "tricky" to work around. So this was the first time they had seen her face. Trinity Solara again began to contemplate is she would actually make it onto the ship after tonight's event. A thousand feet and blinding flashes could do bad things to a person.

    She followed Matthias into the dining room and her eyes widened slightly. The decor was absolutely beautiful. She had never been in his home before and this was very much what she was expecting, maybe a little more. She drank the ambiance in, forgetting about the commotion outside. She gave a smile to Matthias, "Matthias, you keep a wonderful home."
  10. Nikolai's gaze fell on the chair bound man as he rolled into the room. The doctor's eyes looked over the man's legs with a raised brow. Sure enough, the lines of muscle tone could be made out if the time was taken to do so. Really, the act was commendable in ways that not many people would ever care to realize. Getting into fitness is always an intently personalized process that usually stems from the desire to become better. That desire could stem from anything really but for the average human being, it's not common for one to adopt a fit lifestyle if their progress cannot be perceived. The doctor had seen a number of people survive crippling injuries over the years, only to give up on their physical therapy just weeks into it. In order for one to stick with the work, patients often have to find that sense of gratification in something else for months at a time. This was one such man who despite knowing he'd been served the very real possibility of never walking again, continued an intensely complicated regiment for no other reason than mass distribution. Nikolai, while often not one to see the value of ceremony and status games, found a great amount of respect to be had in such drive.

    He, of course didn't say this and acknowledged the mention of the quad regiment with a grin, nodding to the millionaire.

    As Green led the lot through the twisting corridors of his home, his eyes danced around the architecture of the room. Thoughts of how sections were built played against his mind as he admired the home. It was a touch gaudy for his tastes but he could appreciate the difficulty in construction having been there himself. In comparison, his project had been less ambitious but likely not nearly as well staffed. All the same, the doctor was fairly certain that one couldn't sculpt marble with a TIG welder.

    As Doctor Sevlanka passed the construct of the Grigori, he paused and took the time to look it over. Russians often bore the stereotype of being blunt in the finer things of life. While Nikolai's demeanor likely reinforced that claim, he was no stranger to appreciation of skill. The statue was likely Italian in design and if circumstance permitted, would have found it perfectly reasonable finding the same work of art in some corner of the Vatican. As before, similar focus was placed on lines of muscle tone in the piece and the doctor wondered how many bodies were referenced to get the knees just right. The thought that such work came from a block of marble and a hammer was impressive.

    As the rest of the group continued with Matthias, he lingered behind and continued admiring the piece. It wasn't until the mention of food caught his ear that he moved to catch up with the others. Time constraints had kept him from eating after his run and he wasn't about to turn down the offer.

    He'd just hoped it wasn't anything too outlandish.

  11. Rachella

    “Camera 4, move in closer towards the door. I want you to lead them into the foyer. Camera 2, I don’t care for that angle. When the cars pull up, walk around the front following the driver. Then, when they step out, hold your shot for a full profile as they walk the line. Camera 3, don’t let those news dogs get in your line. That square is reserved for you. If I see one head or microphone in that shot, your leads out. Comprende?”

    “Loud and clear, Chief?”

    “Same here, Chief”

    “Yea, yea, Chica; keep your skirt on. I’ve got this…”

    Camera 3 lazily averted his lens from the backs of the paparazzi mayhem before him, finally setting himself in a better line of focus for the task he was assigned to. Rachella Consuelo rolled her eyes, mentally marking Camera 3, again, for his insolence.

    Who did he do to get on my team? He should have already set his position before I’d corrected him – that’s textbook common sense!

    When Raquia Industries requested her production team to document their unprecedented attempts at the proven impossible, she requested from her employers, Drugan Productions, to assigned her with fifteen more professional crewmembers (camera men, audio techs, editing staff) to add to her already perfected six-man team. This project required a larger, flawless crew, but what she received was less than what she’d desired. The new members only made the years and years of covering the creation of the Irideus harder to deal with. She’s kicked more new crew members from this team than any other production crew she’s built thus far. Determined as ever to find that perfect ‘Dream Team’ combination, she’ll continue to do so – starting with Camera 3. But, time was up…

    “El stupido elephante…” she lightly mumbled her aggravation as her eyes remained on the small screen around her wrist; all recorded scenes and sounds from the twelve cameras and five boom microphones around the sophisticated mansion were being stored for her use later. She had real time access to her orchestra as the action happened, and proficiently conducted them from the sidelines. Regardless of her frustrations and stress for recording a flawless event, gathering any and all visual copy her video team could muster; this tenacious crew-master wouldn’t let it show, especially in the presence of her client and his ‘actors’.

    “What was that, Chief?” Camera 5, Biloxi, overheard.

    She cleared her voice as she spots a limo turning into the long driveway towards Mr. Green’s home. This was it – the first arrival of this great adventure. “Heads up front crew, the first eagle has landed. Camera 1, tighten up on the limo a bit; follow it wide until it reaches the front door. Then, pan back and wait for the next. Collect some more landscape shots from that angle too.”

    “Copy, Chief.”

    Light chuckles followed – an indication that they understood why she ignored Camera 5. She was in the presence of importance and would not divulge in expressing exactly what was on her mind at that moment. Her original six-man team (Biloxi, Harris, Navid, Elad, Caroll, and Ionis) knew who their weak links were and how she was going to deal with them after this event was over. No one really knew who would be venturing into space aboard Irideus, but according to how all the new professionals have not been to Rachella’s liking, it was easy to conclude that the original six were shoe-ins. It takes years to build up camaraderie like they had, a family – it’ll takes a lot more to break it too.

    Standing in an inconspicuous corner in the foyer, Rachella’s Armani dress suit blended well in the shadows. The electric blue florescence radiating from her wrist computer's panel tinted her tanned skin tone in cooler tones – matching her cold and calculating demeanor as she concentrated on her assignment. Yes, as always, she was on duty – collecting scenes from this breathtaking event within a new history, finding spectacular visual copy for a story she’s been building on ever since it’s conception in the mind of its creator – Matthias Green.

    Rachella wasn’t certain why this multi-billion dollar philanthropist choose her, a former young daytime soap star turned documentary writer, to take on the challenge of showing the world his heart and soul. She’s only been in the film business for about three years now – her debut document: the tragic SpaceX’s Dragon mission that attempted to send a three-man crewed ship passed the Van Allen Belt; the same trick Mr. Green proposes to the world he can successfully pull off. Her cut-throat film was not what the space engineering company had in mind. They’d figured a sweet writer would sugar-coat what they didn’t want the world to know – make them look pretty for the camera. Instead, Rachella bulldogged throughout the entire 8 year production, fighting with fangs and claws to keep the truth visible to all. Their miscalculations and mini conspiracies were an ironic slap in the face to the world, and in return for their lies – three astronauts lost their lives.

    If that was why her team was chosen, because Mr. Green wanted his documentary to stay as real and as honest as the people who participated within it; then he made the right choice. Rachella’s not one who favors fake reality shows and the flat, uninteresting imaginations of falsehood. Living, breathing life – that was her actress, her stage, the beauty before her camera. This is what she was passionate about capturing; the true life story of life itself, of the combination of ideas, creativity, theories and passions from all forms of minds – what can truly come from this twisted mass of wonder and curiosity? What mysteries can be discovered and solved in the mist of such powerful efforts? How far can they go? If Mr. Green was going to go this far to prove to the world that there are truly no limits, then her obsession for the truth was her qualification for this.

    Rachella accepted without batting an eye – and that’s where her problems began.

    Her cell phone chimed in her ear – just when the next set of vehicles began to cruise down the driveway. Quickly, she pumped the tempo up for her crew, barking more commands to navigate them to the perfect shots to show off Mr. Green’s invited guests as they stepped from their chariots. The paparazzi’s persistence actually created an intensely interesting rescue scene causing Lieutenant Stolarz to rush in to aide Dr. Solara. Automatically, two of her original crew, Biloxi and Harris rushed in to strategically follow the action as it entered the foyer area, giving Rachella spectacular images and great dialogue for later editing.

    Again, her cell rang, and this time she didn’t ignore it. Who thought they were important enough to interrupt her during work? With her eyes still on the actions taking place throughout the grounds, she tapped the right side of her head-mounted camera, that looked more like a trendy set of glasses, Rachella read the name displayed before her eye, rolling them as she tapped the side again and began to lightly speak.

    “Not now, Augusto. I’m in the middle of a shoot.”

    “You’re always in the middle of a shoot,” the disgruntled voice on the other end growled. “You’re probably leaving tomorrow - for good – and I’ll never have another chance to speak my peace about this again. So, either we’re talking right now, or I’m flying down there tonight.”

    Mierda! I don’t need this now… “Alright; just give me a sec.” Rachella tapped the call on hold. Taking a deep breath to sustain her anger, she radioed her secondary chief controller. “Cho, take Chief. I’ve got an important call I can’t ignore…”

    “Again?” she finished her sentence with a chuckle. “Sure, I’ll cover the footage and tag you when Green enters.”

    She thanked her and strolled down an empty hallway to take her call in somewhat of a private setting. All that witnessed this was the few statues and painted eyes around her, the few estate staff who managed the household, and the hand full of security cameras Green had in his home.

    She tapped the Bluetooth button again, prepared for the broken record she was about to hear. “I’m not backing out of this, Augusto; thought you figured this out by now.”

    “I’m not going to argue with you again… I know you’re too stubborn to listen to reason, so I’m just going to say this once and that’s all. It’s either that doomed ship – or me. I won’t wait for you…I can’t.”

    It wasn’t a shock… Actually, she’s realized this two-faced attitude her fiancée has ever since his 5 years in Afghanistan. She waited for him then, but when his return was at the cusp of her introduction into the SpaceX saga, the whole ‘I’ll wait for you too’ thing didn’t work so well for him. Then he proposed to her…obviously hoping it would tie her down to solid ground, but her head was meant to float with the stars, and there were more stories to tell out there. His Latino ego thought little of her, to think her so weak…

    “Rachella, Prof. X had entered. You’re up!”

    She had to cut this call quick and she didn’t care what it made him think of her…

    “No problem, you go do that, Cabrón; make sure you take your cat and leave my key.” He could feel the Jolokia spice in the tone of her voice. Milk won’t smoother than heat away any time soon.

    She ended the call and rushed back to the foyer to catch Mr. Green’s entrance. Her task throughout this whole documentary, besides management of the filming, and writing the final product; was to capture the mighty Matthias Green through it all. It was an experience and an honor she did not take lightly – and had just dropped her fiancée for it. It was vitally important to her to show the world the true essence of the man capable enough to create the Irideus. Such dreams do not come to those incapable or unworthy to handle them. She believed he did fit into a completely diffenet category. And even though she had her fears, especially after going through this once before and witness an unwanted ending, there was just something about his man and this mission that held no taint. Everything felt – blessed. As if – someone was waiting for this one man’s dream to be fulfilled…

    Rachella retook command and tapping on her wrist and head camera on as she slipped into the atmosphere surrounding Mr. Green. After the introductions she followed quietly behind the group of prestigious members joining him into the dining room area. She ran through the names present before her, making a mental note of their exploits.

    Mr. Green, of course, present and accounted for as he properly greets his guests. Dr. Trinity Solara – well known for her work in Psychology, but equally impressive with her theories in Xeno-biology. A must for such a mission like this. Who knows what we might run into. Lieutenant Eli Stolarz – already showing his attentiveness in highly-stressful situations. Hopefully, there will be no need for his expertise during this mission, but if so... he’s the right man for the job. Ah, the master of medicine himself, Dr. Nikolai Sevlanka. He is one tough Oreshki, but the best way to get to a doctor, is through medicine.

    “Chief, we’ve got an employee entering in the front, and a stalker entering through the side.”

    Rachella continued to record the group before her through her head-camera while she tapped her wrist computer to watch the Astro Scientist step out of a limo parked before the garage area of the estate – captured by the security camera up link and Camera 9; while Cameras 2 & 3 kept up with the Chief Operations Engineer stepping down the red carpet with less fanfare than the others who entered before him.

    “Camera 9, keep up with him until he reaches the group. Don’t enter the dining room. The other techs have it covered.”

    Rachella continued to spy on the newcomers, waiting for their intro before her lens then they are welcomed by Mr. Green.

    And there’s Clark Duredan, the Bill Nye of AstroScience; and Richard Jones – the man behind Irideus, the one who makes that bird dance. Um, everyone’s here except…we’re missing two more important people…

    So far, so good… the team was almost complete, and the night was about to commence.
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  12. If there was an art to arrival, Melissa Ardent had learned it long ago. She also knew just where she stood in the eyes of the public. Never had she shied away from ridicule of her theories, not once had she flinched in the eyeblinding lights of the paparazzi. Of course, she also almost never arrived on time for social functions. Work was one thing, she’d be there on time or early. But events like this? There was certainly something to be said for being fashionably late.

    So Melissa had taken her time in picking an outfit. The glittering black ballgown she’d once worn for a diplomatic supper no longer sat just perfect. It would work, but it might also be too glamorous for such an event. She wanted to appear respectable and in fashion. Sadly, sequins and a seven year old dress didn’t do much for that image. Her uniforms, past and present, would not work. The former was a harsh reminder of a lying world. The latter spoke of future potential and, for maximum impact, would not be shown to the public until the walk to the Irideus.

    The very thought of that walk, that procession to the immortality of history, caused tears to well up in her eyes. She knew she’d feel it, feel the change, the eyes, the hope the world’s watchers gave to the crew. Only this time it would be real, not some horribly arranged facade. A smile lifted her cheeks and she new a moment of bliss. There was a tap on the door.

    “We need to do your hair and makeup. So hurry with whatever you’re doing!” came the voice of a very annoyed stylist. Melissa’d paid her usual people extra to come to her home and make her look amazing. She knew the cameras would turn her way. She knew how to impress and she was determined to do so.

    Finally, she chose a respectable outfit, let her hair and makeup be done in a style and fashion to match, and let a rather worried looking chauffeur lead her to the limo that had been sent. The closer they got to the mansion, the more excitement crept into her veins. She felt like a child on Christmas morning, waiting to unwrap the biggest gift in the history of all Earth. Imbued with this youthful energy, she was practically bouncing in her seat by the time they reached the carpet and a wholly different walk than the one she would take a few days from now.

    It took a moment to gain self control. She’d done this before, in a way. She knew this, but that didn’t chase the excitement and butterflies off. As the door was opened, she stepped out, smiling and waving with all the regal bearing of a queen. The waving was momentary, and she accepted the shrug the driver placed over her shoulders and made her way past the crowd.

    Each step was momentous. More momentous than fake footprints on a pretend moon. More momentous than a falsified nebula or a race for space on network television. No, this was real, she could feel it. She would be a part of it, and she would help make history. But more important than that, so much more important, was that truth would finally be heard, seen, and brought to Earth.

    The doors opened. She stepped inside.
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  13. <IMG src= align="right" width="450" style="padding:5px;">"Why thank you," Green acknowledged Trinity's compliment as he shook Clark's hand. The men were old friends and Clark was more than used to Green's inability to focus on one topic at a time. "A hundred percent eco-friendly; solar powered electricity and heating, bio-filters tapped directly to the water table, compost boost-generator. A lot of what you see here will be on the Irideus. We're rolling out eco-homes all over the West Coast and hybrid units for the cities. Richard can tell you more about it..." As he said this he waved to the man behind them - Doctor Richard Jones, making the most unobtrusive entrance so far.

    Then the doors opened a final time to admit their star-struck pilot, Melissa Ardent, who had seemed to cause the greatest uproar of all. A din of cheering and camera flashes framed her as she practically bounced through the doorway. Matthias gave her a similar wave. "This way, Lissa! You're just in time."

    With a thrust of his arms the billionaire propelled himself through the archway into the dining room, where servants had finished laying the table. The onyx surface was laid out with each of their favourite dishes (which practically everyone in the world knew thanks to the media frenzy) along with three bottles of champagne in ice buckets. Green spun himself to one side of the door then ushered the guests through.

    "Take a seat everyone. Think of this as your last supper. Or at least the last good one. Doctor Sevlanka assures me the food at the space centre is GOD AWFUL."

    The last ones through the door were the film crew: one fiery latino, Rachaella Consuelo, and an only slightly less-fiery Jamaican, Biloxi. "Come along you two, and don't forget to eat. Mister Biloxi, I see you've avoided the pre-flight barbers for another day. Congratulations." The billionaire exchanged a glance with Sevlanka, who on more than one occasion had threatened to irradiate Biloxi's food and thus eliminate the threat of zero-g dreadlock disasters.

    A butler promptly closed the door, pausing only momentarily to lean and whisper in Green's ear. "She's still in the lab?" Green muttered, "Fine... just tell them to get her here as soon as possible." The butler nodded and shut the door.

    "Seems our tenth disciple is running late," Green announced to all of them as they took their seats. "Efforts to extract our comms officer, Miss Whittles, from her work have proven fruitless once again." He wheeled his chair around Biloxi, who was setting up his camera on a robotic mount. Coming to the head of the table, he settled himself in place and gestured to the food. "Eat, my friends, eat! You've earned a reprieve."

    And so an hour passed in nourishment and conversation, the team who had become like family over recent months falling into the pattern of the same jokes, the same anecdotes, the same disputes on what lay beyond their world. Those who had been laconic before remained so, and those who were wont to dominate proceedings took the conch as always. There were even some jokes at Miss Whittle's expense, earned by her prying and control freak nature in the training sessions.

    Whoever had thrown up in the jet planes... whoever had been dragged out of the diving tanks by sexy lifeguards... whoever had failed the mathematics tests or baulked at the sight of hypodermic needles... they were all ridiculed afresh in the banter of the evening. There were even some One Small Step for Man puns thrown in for Green.

    And when they had eaten their fill and craked the champagne, a sense of quiet and serenity that had been absent these last days - even these last months of hectic training - began to take hold. Green smiled and rested his arms on the table. His voice cut through the conversations of his guests. "Well, this is it, my friends. Welcome to the final week before launch. Tomorrow morning we'll be flown to Galveston City, and in seven days time we'll be departing Earth orbit."

    <img src= align="right" width="250" style="padding:5px;">He could feel the mixture of energies around the table. Fear, excitement... perhaps even disbelief. But whatever each individual felt one thing was clear - they were, each of them, sharpened individuals. The crash-course training had made them fit, and the diet prescribed by Sevlanka had brought clearer skin, healthier hair and stronger bones. This time last year the 10-man crew had seemed rather ragtag, but now, in the very least, they were starting to look like astronauts.

    "As you're all aware, the media frenzy has been growing steadily over recent months. Details have leaked. And there isn't one of you here who isn't a household name by now." He paused momentarily, his thumb running over his wedding ring as he remembered his wife's words. "And that is precisely why I have chosen each of you. I needed people who would be trusted... who would be admired... not by the governments who lied to us or the corporations who kept us addicted to fossil fuels... but by the people of this Earth... Because in every person on this planet, in every city and village... in every household, cave or cardboard box... there is that eye that looks skywards and wonders.... what more than darkness lies out there... and what more than stars look down on us?"

    He took a sip of champagne before adding. "And I don't have to pay you as much."

    Whatever laughter there was broke the tension momentarily. Rachaella checked her watch then gave a nod to Green, signalling that the studio was ready for the uplink. Pulling his wheelchair back slightly, he motioned to the camera that Biloxi had set up. It was self-manouevring, gyroscopic on wheels callibrated to the floor of the dining room. It would move to each of them in turn, whie Biloxi tweaked the sound levels.

    "Well, it's time for our close-up. The world has been screaming for an official press release since we went public, and we've got a lot of sponsors, governments and families who'll want to know why we're doing all this." He checked his watch. "In sixty seconds that camera will be streaming live to 1.4 billion households. In a word, my friends, history. I know some of you may be camera-shy, but I have to insist on a few words." He said the next part quietly, as if to himself. "We are the heroes of our time."

    As more champagne was poured Rachaella started counting down, verbally first, then just with fingers, her other hand pressed to her ear as she listened to the studio updates. Then, as the camera light went green, a screen on the wall showed a replica of what every household in the world was seeing now: Green facing the camera with the other crewmates behind him. The image was crisp and sleek, the lighting almost metallic, as if they were part of some historic painting, etched in gothic poignance.

    "Ladies and gentlemen, esteemed colleagues, majesties and premiers, followers of all faiths, boys and girls: good evening to you. My name is Matthias Green, CEO of Raquia Industrites, and I am speaking to you tonight from my estate in Southern California, a week before the first ever extra-orbital voyage in the history of Mankind, known hereafter as the Irideus Mission."

    There was background murmur as he spoke, the echoes coming from Rachaella's earpiece as the words were translated into over a hundred different languages.

    "Irideus was named after the Goddess of Greek Mythology, Iris, a divine messenger and the personification of the rainbow. By choosing this name we hope to be the iridescent light that follows the rainclouds we have suffered. And our message is a simple one. No more lies. We travel to find the truth beyond this world - to learn the nature of the alien transmitters that have come to be known, in many nations, as The Spires of God." He took a breath as the camera panned out. "And I know there are many of you, both at home and abroad, who do not endorse this mission. In the recent rioting seen across Africa and in the Russian Republic... in the terrorist attacks suffered by the European Union... in the several attacks made against employees of Raquia Industries... we see the fear that still holds us. Many of you believe that whatever power that created us has forbidden us to leave this world - and that the Irideus Mission is the worst kind of folly... the worst kind of sin."

    He wheeled slightly towards the camera. "But I say to you now, people of Earth: whatever you believe, we stand as one, united as a species. And we should not be told to fester in the shadows. Since we first crawled from the primordial mist, since our gods first created us... we have dared. We have aspired. We have sought to learn the truth about ourselves. That is the human spirit. That is what drives us. The Irideus Mission is not one of insolence or avarice. It is something inevitable in the essence of who we are."

    Silence followed as his words were translated. Biloxi made a slight adjustment that brought the camera closer. The picture settled on Green as he lowered his head. The sadness that crossed his face was unmistakeable, caught in pixelated sharpness, along with the softer drop in his voice.

    "I have motor neurone disease."

    To most around the table, and most witnessing the presentation, this was the first time the billionaire had openly stated his condition. Green's eyes remained lowered. "It is still in its early stages. I have a year at least. But science has yet to win the battle against this condition, and what awaits me is nothing short of a painful and indignant death. I have invested 90% of my fortune in the Irideus Mission, with the remaining set aside as compensatory funds for the families of employees should the mission fail. I have nothing to gain in this venture but the revelation and comfort that I might take to my grave."

    Another pause. Green moved back towards the table. "As mission leader, I will not presume to represent any nation, interest group or creed. The time for agenda is over. It died when the Conspiracy was uncovered. I just hope that... whatever is out there... I might look upon it with the eyes of the dying man... with the eyes of all who must face their own mortality."

    An echo seemed to follow his words, a psychic ripple as, all across the world, news of the billionaire's ailment flooded magazines, newspapers and talk show reactions. Questions of whether he was fit to lead the mission, whether he was suicidal, whether the whole endeavour was conceived by impending dementia - these things would fill the airways. It would be the first of many controversies to rock this voyage.

    "Well, enough doom and gloom," Green smiled again, as if emerging from shadow, "Time to introduce you to the rest of the crew."

    He looked to the team-mate beside him and the camera moved to capture the next introduction.

  14. The world was silent after Green ended his speech.

    It was as if someone had cut the strings of a piano as it gently played to the fifth concerto of Beethoven. Motor neuron disease was more commonly known among the states as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease. It was a neurological disorder that overtime broke down cells which controlled voluntary muscle activity in the body. There was no cure and its victims got to watch first hand as they withered away. It wasn’t exactly a pleasant way to leave the world.

    Doctor Sevlanka stared with parted jaw and awestruck demeanor at the weight of the statement. Here was a man who showed nothing but drive in his day to day life; a man who never spoke without direction or compromised his goals with excuses. Despite being stricken lame by fate, Matthias Green had managed to carry the watching eyes of the world upon his shoulders. In the distance, announcers galore would be chiming in over the airwaves to get in their sound bites at the heels of such a statement. They’d be outlining the nature of the man’s illness, his chances of survival and even the near suicidal insanity of what it would be to follow a dying man into space. They’d be concerned with the remains of the man’s fortune, the possibility of the mission’s success and the ratings the press conference would roll in.

    It was a single sentence that would be remembered in records for years to come. It’s not often you get to witness history first hand. It’s less often that you get to be the person that follows it. The doctor slowly turned his gaze from the host and glanced around the table, meeting the eyes of his compatriots as the silence lingered awkwardly. No one wanted to follow that, who could blame them? A handful of expressions were exchanged amongst the crew as the lot seemed to ask each other who would be next to take a bite at the lime light.

    Seeing that no one else was stepping forward, Nikolai placed his hands on the table and rose slowly. The entire experience felt surreal, as if he was watching himself through the same camera lenses that were placed upon him. As he stood, the doctor glanced down at his hands and attempted to collect his thoughts. He had never been one for public forums like this. More often than not it was those hands that did his talking for him. “I… had something prepared for this,” The doctor began as he glanced around the table. “However in light of recent events it seems… not so appropriate.”

    Sevlanka paused for a moment as his words left him. His mind remained on the words of the man who spoke before him. What at first the whole job seemed as nothing more but a publicity stunt for a privileged man with an adrenalin fix had become something so much more. “My name is Dr. Nikolai Sevlanka; I am the medical supervisor for the Irideus and its crew. I came on this mission for strictly personal reasons. When one of the Forbes top ten comes to you to say you should go with him into space… You say no problem. You don’t exactly turn down the proposition.” The doctor paused as a single breath of a laugh escaped his lips, “Though, after 14 hours in an underwater chamber without so much as deck of cards to pass time, you mill the thought over a time or two.”

    The doctor took another short pause and lifted his hands from the table, interlocking his fingers in front of him as he slowly picked back up his pace. “In my time on the Irideus project I have learned quite the number of things. I’ve learned Ms. Consuelo is especially entertaining around needles,” A slight grin peaked out of the corner of the doctor’s mouth before he continued on, “I’ve learned that the human body can survive quite effectively on meals bearing texture somewhat similar to cardboard. I’ve learned that Mr. Stolarz and I share similar sentiments of swapping especially colorful stories while people are eating and I’ve in turn learned that in depth analysis of how to suture gastro-intestinal incision... apparently makes for poor dinner conversation.”

    The doctor’s smile widened as he continued the light roast of his comrades. The smile held for a moment before Nikolai turned his gaze back to Matthias. Sevlanka waggled a finger, pointing at the man as his demeanor took a more somber tone. “But this man,” He began giving a slight pause as if to choose the right words, “This man I have not learned yet. I’ve crossed continents, I’ve brought children into this world and I’ve watched grown men leave it. In all that time I’ve never met quite anyone like this man. I tell him that maybe he should not be in space and… he tells me that he writes my paycheck.” A sarcastic sort of smile sits on the doctor’s face for a short moment before continuing.

    “I’ve never seen him complain. He does not make excuses. I’ve watched him work sections of muscles for no other reason than ideal distribution of mass in zero G without so much as making frustrated huff.”

    Doctor Sevlanka took one more pause as he arranged the last of his words in his head before speaking them. The last thing he wanted at this point was to slip up just over a common translation mistake. “This is a man that does not quit and in all my schooling, my years in medicine and my time in Syria… I can’t think of a different man I would more readily follow to the end of the world.”

    It was an awkward way to end a response to an awkward silence, but the doctor could not think of anything further to add to his statement. It was the first time he had complemented the director’s progress in any facet since he had joined on with the project. Words can be finicky things.

    Having no more to say on the matter, the Doctor slowly took to his seat and let out a deep breath.
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  15. Off camera, Richard attempted to stifle a yawn without much success. He followed it up with a mouthful of pasta - spaghetti tossed in a simple garlic and olive oil sauce. He was not an especially fit man, and his diet reflected that. Although the good Doctor's regiment had forced him into some space-worthy semblance, without it he would have happily subsisted on a diet of pasta alone, eating simply being an inconvenience that interrupted his work.

    He could not help but wonder at certain points of his employer's speech. What purpose was there to life if humans had truly stuck their hand out of the primordial goop? That puzzle, to him, was a dead end; there was no closed form expression to it, no numerical approximation, the only speculation offered from the alcohol-tinged breath of armchair philosophy.

    The camera swiveled, and he stood up to meet it, placing his hands on the table to push himself upwards, as he had done in the lab.

    "Irideus", he began, "is a testament to ingenuity and our ability to build upon the work of those before us."

    Pause: "Since the giants who paved the way with relativity, the equations that power Irideus have moved far beyond our ability to visualize. In short, they only exist on paper. We manipulate the invisible, unseen universe. To many of you, it may seem like magic. But don't be mistaken: the feat of science and engineering is the culmination of an entire history of experts unknowingly collaborating on our greatest adventure yet."

    Richard rubbed the stubble on his chin.

    "Some of you may not have been convinced by Mr. Green's speech. He is an esteemed man, but there are realists among you who would decry his vision."

    A knowing smile. Was he agreeing with his own assessment? "But this missions will also answer practical problems. The same people who disagree with this mission on pragmatic grounds should realize that we are poised to answer long term questions about sustainability and off-world colonialization. We plan to gather vital preliminary data on human longevity in space, as well as the exciting possibility of gathering extraterrestrial resources."

    "We seek to answer ... "

    "Not only the question of why ... "

    "But 'what next?'"

    Speech concluded, he sat down.
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  16. Clark's head was swimming after Matthias's speech. Other members of the team were speaking, but wasn't paying attention to what they were saying. Oh he could hear them, sure, but that's not where his mind was. As Matthias spoke it was like a weight coming down on Clark's shoulders, like an enormous hand pushing in back in his seat. It wasn't every day that a close friend announced that he was dying- and thank God for that- and especially not on the eve of one of the greatest undertakings in human history. But as the timing rolled through his mind, his lips started to twitch into a small grin. The dramatically perfect timing amused him, broke the weight of the announcement off of his mind.

    So when the camera came around to rest in front of him, he'd regained his good spirits. He gave it a smile and a wave, before starting his introduction.

    "I'm Clark Duredan. I expect most of you out there already know who I am, it's not as though they found me under a rock," He stopped, letting out a short laugh, "If anything I was trying to find them.

    "I've always wanted to go into space, wanted to see space travel a commonplace thing. I won't lie, I was raised on old Sci-Fi, and it's that optimistic spirit that infected me, and it's truly the reason that I'm here now. I need to see, I need to know who it was that... that locked us onto this planet.

    "Because I believe that we are capable of so much more, that we can be so much more, that when... when our eyes aren't downcast, when we're looking up to the heavens and knowing that what's out there is within our reach... that the future will be ours. I've studied physics, mathematics, and the workings of space in preparation for this day. I'm here because I'll probably have a good idea of what's going on when we find something. And, like hell I would let a good friend like Matthias go into this alone.

    He smiled as he leaned back in his seat, giving a short nod to the camera. "And I need to personally thank everyone who's followed me online, all of my Cadets," He said, referencing the informal name of the community that followed him, "who've helped me get this far and helped the Irideus project with their support. I promise you it'll be worth it."
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  17. Trinity has sat and listened to Matthias speech, her eyes half closed. A look that could be mistaken for boredom, but it was in fact the entire opposite. When she fell deep into thought, it was a well known fact to all who knew her that Trinity Solara went into a trance. Taking in all information around her, listening, focusing, her mind clawing at everything, eager to know more, eager to break down, analyse. Once he finished, her trance was broken by that force of awe that was left behind after such speeches. It was silent, but lingered in the air around them. Powerful.

    She listened carefully to all the introductions that follwed. Doctor Nikolai Sevlanka. Though no personal ties to the man himself, she knew of him and respected him highly. She set aside a slot in her mind to make sure to get talking to him sometime. Richard and Clark Duredan followed. Like the good Doctor, she was only aware of the men's reputation and had never spoken to them personally. Some would say she needed to socialise more. Trinity said it added to the fun of learning more about them at a first glance.

    She gave smiles and small, quiet chuckles when the timing called for it in each intro. Clark seemed to have finished. With a deep breath, she decided that it was her turn. She hadn't written anything down and then memerised it over and over in front of a reflection of herself. Habits and practises like that amused her. Her own technique was to think abut it long and hard. Have a part of her brain piecing words together. She gave a small smile to the camera and began what had been lingering around in some part of her brain for so long, the words flowing naturally, as if she had indeed studied over them for hours on end.

    "I am Dr. Trinity Solara. I am the Psychologist for the crew aboard Irideus and their Xeno-Biology Theorist." She gave a smile to the camera, "I hope you don't mind, but I would like to bore you with some facts that I felt suitable for the evening." She gave a small chuckle and then continued.

    "Dreams. In Japan, they don't say "have" a dream like many of us do. They say, "make" a dream. In human history, we have had dreams and we have made them into reality. We dreamed of flying. Contraptions were designed to fly us high into the air, take us over seas and to distant lands. We dreamed of touching the stars above our heads and look at us now." She took a pause to let the meaningful "history lesson" sink in.

    "As the years flew by, so did technology, so did science and thus, so did our dreams. We suddenly realised that we could afford to dream bigger... We did of course and I always look around. I look down and I look up. I wonder about the changes and I'm sure I'm not the only one who does. Did we do the right thing? Was it wrong to manufacture and create so much within the world? You can't answer that with "yes" or "no". These can be considered trick questions in a sense. We humans have created so much to help people and living things... But then with that, we destroy some living things. One can't just create. We must destroy to create. It's simply that."

    "But there is one thing we can create without destruction... A new age. We are setting off on this fantastic voyage on this incredible ship to find one thing. To discover one thing and one thing only. The truth. The most powerful weapon we humans have, but one we throw about carelessly. When we discover this truth... We will have just created a new day, a new life. People's eyes will open and change will come again, like it always does. This time, the only thing we'll have really destroyed is lies. Shadows hiding the true meaning..." She again paused to let this all be taken in, even she needed some time to collect her thoughts and continue.

    "I am only glad that I could be apart of this journey. Of this time that will be marked in history. An over-exaggeration?... Dreams start as over-exaggerated thoughts and nothing more. I am joined by some of the finest people I have the pleasure of knowing and even have the pleasure to still meet! This for me is an honor. This for me is an oppurtunity of such vast porportions. This for me is an adventure... A dream come true. Thank you."

    With one last smile, she sat down and her head became clear, going over everything she had said... She smiled, satisfied.
  18. Eli sat back in his chair comfortably as he listened to the speeches made by his fellow crew mates Nodded in respectful approval at Matthias' words of inspiration and snickered with a smile as the good doctor rehashed what he could only assume were fond memories of the past years training. He felt as if he were back amongst family in Haifa. And with this though his soft smile melted into a flat distant expression. The expression of a man a thousand miles away.

    His gaze washed over his comrades and drifted out to the sea of faces and flashes outside. So many people. The sight reminded him of the protesters marching through the streets of Gaza l. He imagined the angry shouting of fathers swearing revenge and the tears of mothers cursing boarder security for forces for refusing to allow ambulances through checkpoints to treat the wounded.

    Eli had never blamed the Palestinians for taking action against the colonists. Not like the hard liners in parliament and IDF high command. Eli identified little if any with the Zionist ideology. The idea of retaking what is rightfully ours was akin to burning down someone's house because it stood on the land which your great grandfather once tilled.

    He would have rather had nothing to do with the defence effort, but his father went on and on about how it was their duty as the chosen people to defend the land Has-hem had rightfully given to them. There was of course just as much pressure from without. He would have faced prison or exile had he refused to complete his two years of compulsory service. So, seeing it as the lesser of evils, Eli joined the Fire and Rescue division.

    Until that point he had been relatively sheltered from the experiences most of the world had come to associate with the occupied territories. But over those two years he came to learn much of the true nature of human beings. The horrible things that men were capable of doing to one another because one coveted what the other had.

    He thought back to a sign he once read hanging outside a cafe in Gaza.

    'You take my water, burn my olive trees, destroy my house, take my job, steal my land, imprison my father, bomb my country and starve us all. BUT I am to blame. Yes. I shot a rocket back.'

    It was all true, and Eli was well aware. And who could blame them for fighting back? He certainly couldn't. But did he ever speak out against what he saw? No, never in public. To do so in the homeland would have meant career suicide and Eli had a family to feed. The best he could do was try to control the damage done. Slow the inevitable progress of the fires of hatred which would sooner or later consume every man, woman and child in the region.

    'Zev...', he thought to himself and breathed a sigh of regret. 'If only we'd left when we had the chance. Perhaps things would have been different, we could have-'.

    Just then, his thoughts were interrupted by the an other.

    "Lt. Stolarz..." a voice said.

    Eli snapped back to reality and turned his gaze to the camera. He'd had no idea who had been calling him or for how long he had ignored them, all he knew was it was now his turn to speak. With a clearing of his throat he brought a glass to his lips and gathered himself. The way he sat upright in his chair with his hands folded together and resting on the table in front of him. It all looked so practiced, the sign of a man who was used to giving statements.

    "Good evening, everyone. My name as many of you already know is Eli Stolarz and I am the situational response Officer for this mission. And it may surprise many of our more...Fundamental viewers to hear me say this, but I am a man of faith."

    For a moment he stopped again, he could hear muttering from the crew as they whispered to one another. The topic he broached seemed somewhat inappropriate given the occasion. Eli paused once more, considering whether or not to continue on this path, but pushed through this inner resistance.

    "Shortly before leaving Haifa to begin my training for this mission I was visited by a Rabbi from my temple. He was very distraught, as were my parents, to hear that I would take action against the express word of our creator and ascend to the stars. Many other people have ridiculed angrily with the same question since."

    "I could have shrugged off his question and left without a word, but this man I could see was truly concerned. So I gave him my honest answer, which I feel I should share with you now."

    As Eli continued he unclasped his hands and began to speak animatedly with his hands as men of his culture often do.

    "Throughout history, there have always been malevolent forces which have attempted to manipulate us. Asmodai, Satan, the Djinn, the Asuras...In more recent times our own governments. Why? Because they were threatened by what the common man is capable of should he be privy to the truth."

    With each and every word, Eli's posture began to soften, he began to ease back in his seat. His words became less calculated and more inspired. Initially he had planned to speak of the flight crews training for tackling the hazards of deep space and how everyone aboard relied on one another. But in the heat of the moment, this pressing message seemed somehow more important.

    "My friends, I have been taught by my creator to trust in the words spoken from within. Not fear the words from without. Were it truly the voice of Ha-Shem crying out for us not to seek out beyond our planet, then why is it that we look up at the stars at night and feel a sense of wonder and yearning!"

    "Thousands of years ago my people were promised a land of plenty where we would live out the rest of our existence in peace. We thought we had found it here on Earth, so we fought for it and I assure you it has not and I'm not sure it ever will be a land of peace." Eli's tone softened as he spoke these more difficult words, images of gruesome evidence began flashing before his minds eye. His head lowered a moment in reflection before looking again to the camera in stern confidence to make his final point.

    "So I do this not to fly in the face of creation, but rather to be an instrument of its will, and work to help fulfil a vision which was promised a long time ago to my people, to all people. Thank you..."

    With those final words Eli looked to his fellows unsure of how his spiritual perspective of their mission might be recieved by the more academic members in attendence.
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  19. Eli's speech left as great a ponderance as Matthias's, the first mention of religious wonder echoing through the airwaves and across the world. No doubt his words would resound in the Vatican, in the holy mountains of Tibet, in the Mosques and Synagogues of the Middle East. To imagine those echoes was to imagine gunshots perhaps, or whispered prayers - all the consequences such statements would bring. Would be there be more attacks on Irideus Mission staff, more effigies burnt in the streets, more harangues from the lecterns of every faith? For certain the works of terrorists and militant states had escalated since the Spires of God were discovered. Those who foresaw a coming judgment, the descent of angels, the breach of divine contract - all raged and denounced the sinners around them. Some said there would be world war; global anarchy. And this was just one of many reasons why the Irideus Mission had been fast-tracked. The new President wanted answers. And he wanted an end to the National State of Emergency.

    Indeed, so great a pause was left after Eli's speech that when the camera turned to the mission pilot, Melissa Ardent, she was in the midst of taking a giant mouthful of a barbeque bacon burger. It was stone-cold of course, since everyone else had finished eating an hour ago. But such was Melissa's excitement that she had not even paused to eat during the meal, swept up in conversation with the others and in the slight but perpetual bouncing with which she sat.

    For a moment she was a deer in the headlights, her mouth hung open. Then, with as much grace as she could muster, she placed the burger back on her plate, adjusted her formal attire, and pulled her auburn hair out of her face. This was the poster-child look - the most publicised face of the Irideus Mission. In the media frenzy it was Melissa, the former astronaut and conspiracy heroine, who filled as many magazines as the others combined. She was the scrappy spark the teens identified with, the high-achieving student parents admired, the victor in a man's world esteemed by feminists, the feisty pornstar of male fantasies. With her bionic right eye twinkling like the stars she coveted, Melissa gave a smile to the camera. Every inch of her was twitching with adrenal excitement.

    "Well... I guess you all know who I am..." Then she reached down and flapped the top bun of the burger, putting on a funny voice. "And I'm the last burger you'll have for two years!"

    There was silence. She laughed nervously as the camera gaped at her. "Erm... sorry... Anyway, Matthias tells me I'm the Mission Commander, which is pretty grand if you ask me. I prefer to think myself the monkey who pushes the buttons. Though I guess the buttons are a little more sophisticated in the Irideus..."

    She trailed off, making up her speech on the fly and glancing longingly at the burger. There seemed to be a sadness beneath her smiles.

    "Well... I never had much of a family growing up. Not many friends either, what with all my studying. I guess that's why NASA could never really threaten me like they did the other astronauts. It also meant I was good at playing on the internet and hiding my tracks - and that's where most of you came to know me. They all thought we were conspiracy nuts.... but I guess us monkeys were pushing the right buttons after all."

    She coughed, shifted in her seat.

    "Well, what I'm trying to say is... training with the Irideus Crew these last months... it's been like having a real family. And all you fanclubs out there... all my Twitter followers... well... I don't wanna let any of you down. You've all been... well, I'm gonna try my hardest for all of you. Piloting the largest vehicle ever constructed is no easy feat. But I guess I've been steering my way through darkness all my life. So this is my element, right?"

    She trailed off again, and after a pause the camera started to move on. And it was at this point that Melissa leaned forward with a last word. "Oh, and I promised I'd say this. If I get control of Planet X from the Annunaki, I'll be sure to crash it into Memphis!"

    And with this strange shoutout, Melissa sat back and waited for the camera to move, her hand poised on the burger.

  20. Rachaela Consuelo

    When the circle of introductions had been given, all full of shocks, tickling of thoughts and possible conspiracies, and even a bit of humor; what remained were Rachella and the hand-picked production crew members cleared to embark on this mission. She poised herself along beside Cho and Biloxi as she switched the scene over to Camera 7 to manage.

    Standing in a comfortable spotlight on her, Rachella placed her game face in position before the camera.

    “Good Evening, I’m Rachella Consuelo, Chief Documentarian/Narrator for this mission from Drugan Productions. My crew: Miss. Cho Ionis, Editor in Chief and Tech Support; and Mr. Christopher Biloxi: Audio Director and Video Tech.”

    Rachella turned and nodded to each in her introduction before returning to the camera herself.

    “We are…just observers, standing on the middle ground between the truth and mental imagination. All sorts of natural phenomenon, and positive or negative life-altering situations, would never be properly recorded for the records, if someone wasn’t there to observe it when it happens – in its natural state. This is where we come in…

    “All sorts of phenomenon can lead themselves to prosperity through the eyes of someone in the middle-ground, someone who does not hold a soft spot for hiding delicately sensitive moments from the view of the public, when dealing with what is free-range. I hope, through the eyes of my highly skilled production crew, you – the viewing world – can become observers with us as we venture into space. You will be present with all of us as we learn once and for all that the fantasies of childhood wonder were not cultivated in vain, and that we can believe in our imaginations. On behalf of Mr. Green, we will observe the truth together – uncensored and unabridged. “

    She paused for effect – allowing the viewing audience to feel the tension of this thought in their minds.

    “Our last documentary of the tragic SpaceX Dragon mission was a devastating reminder of how government and corporate censoring and conspiracies can destroy lives, as well as imaginations. To console any concerns you may have, I can honestly assure you that the Irideus mission carries no ills, holds no lies, or harboring falsehoods or controversies since its conception. All of the initial information about the construction of this vessel and the crew managing it are solid and guaranteed by Mr. Green as such.

    "The first part of Irideus’s story: The Birth of a Vision – Irideus from Heart to Soul will air tonight after this broadcast. You will have your first sneak peek into the man behind Irideus, and the mastermind engineers he’s collected to construct this amazing and innovative work of art – designed to venture above and beyond all odds. All broadcasting of this mission from here on end will be a series of live feeds and recorded data coming directly from my crew. Nothing will be hidden from your view, with consideration to announce the need for viewer discretion. You will be just another observer standing in the middle ground, witnessing history – purely – as it happens.”

    With a content smile across her face, she made the ending tag-line, “Again, this is Rachella Consuelo with the crew of Irideus. Tune in to your local morning news in seven day to watch the broadcast of the launch, and expect to see us again as we maintain a life feed of the entire process. Thank you, and good night.”

    As soon as the red light darkened, Rachella relaxed, turning to the dinner table with a brighter expression on her face as she nodded, “Broadcast done. You guys did great.”

    But that was all she could say. A lot was expressed that were not as shocking to her as it was for the others, but there were a few things that she was unaware of – which irritated her curiosity. As she continued to check over the other cameras, moving and conducting their actions as she made her way back to her seat at the dinner table, she made several notes on what she’d just heard from the other crew members and forward them to Cho. There were more stories here to dive into…personal emotions that will, sooner or later, reveal themselves during such a tight-wadded mission that could possibly span for a year. A lot of things happen when people are huddled in a tin-can with no sunlight…