~ Restricted Files
~ Clearance Level: 74

Tri-Star System A92253.34/B03554.22/C00062.72
Article *-* PART *-*

Mission Ten

Communication Log between - - the Inter-Galactic-Mining-Network vessel Swift Evacuation Unit, {callsign OOTR72} [UNDECLARED)], and - - the Very Independent Curiosity Ship, Evenly Notional {reg no. --- (Unlisted)} [UNDECLARED] - - - - comms medium: secure inter-galactic information protocol

:VICSEN---::sigip: “I will remember, I will…”

:IGMN/SEU-OOTR72: “No, you won't Iago. That's why we've given you the Seers Eye”

:VICSEN---::sigip: “The what?”

:IGMN/SEU-OOTR72: “Your eye, Iago.”

:VICSEN---::sigip: “Yes, my eye, yes... This is so confusing.”

:IGMN/SEU-OOTR72: “Don't worry.”

:VICSEN---::sigip: “I'm going to remember, I really…”

:IGMN/SEU-OOTR72: “Just relax, it seems to work better that way.”

:VICSEN---::sigip: “What, there have been others?”

:IGMN/SEU-OOTR72: “We've tested a few, yes.”

:VICSEN---::sigip: “Tested what? What was I saying?”

:IGMN/SEU-OOTR72: “Don't worry, you'll be fine once you've landed.”

:VICSEN---::sigip: “Landed? Where am I going?”

:IGMN/SEU-OOTR72: “Just follow the Eye, Iago.”

:VICSEN---::sigip: “The eye, the eye... Yes, the Eye, I remember!”

:IGMN/SEU-OOTR72: “Remember what?

:VICSEN---::sigip: “What?”

:IGMN/SEU-OOTR72: “Just relax, Iago.”

:VICSEN---::sigip: “Is that my name…? Who is this?”

:IGMN/SEU-OOTR72: “No need to worry, just follow your Eye.”

:VICSEN---::sigip: “Eye…?”

:IGMN/SEU-OOTR72: “Your Eye will tell you everything you need to know.”

:VICSEN---::sigip: “What? Eyes can't talk.”

:IGMN/SEU-OOTR72: “It will show you.”

:VICSEN---::sigip: “What will? Show me what?”

:IGMN/SEU-OOTR72: “Just relax, Iago, you're nearly there.”

:VICSEN---::sigip: “Nearly where?”

:IGMN/SEU-OOTR72: “On the planet.”

:VICSEN---::sigip: “What planet? Sister, who are you?!”

:IGMN/SEU-OOTR72: “You're about to touch down, Iago.”

:VICSEN---::sigip: “What was that? I felt a bump… Why?”

:IGMN/SEU-OOTR72: “All will become clear Iago.”

:VICSEN---::sigip: “Iago?”

:IGMN/SEU-OOTR72: “Yes, your name.”

:VICSEN---::sigip: “Iago…”

:IGMN/SEU-OOTR72: “I'm going to activate your Seers Eye now, Iago. Are you ready?”

:VICSEN---::sigip: “I have no idea what you're-”

:IGMN/SEU-OOTR72: “There you go-”

:VICSEN---::sigip: “What the fuck?!”

:IGMN/SEU-OOTR72: “Just relax Iago-”

:VICSEN---::sigip: “What is this?! There are words, lines, why-”

:IGMN/SEU-OOTR72: “It's the Seers Eye-”

:VICSEN---::sigip: “What is the Arch? Why is it called 'objective'?”

:IGMN/SEU-OOTR72: “You've been given a very special eye, it will tell you everything you need to know.”

:VICSEN---::sigip: “But I don't… I don't understand.”

:IGMN/SEU-OOTR72: “I know. Trust the Eye, Iago. It is your only friend here. On Tescal.”

:VICSEN---::sigip: “Tescal… Where have I heard that name before…”

:IGMN/SEU-OOTR72: “Iago?”

:VICSEN---::sigip: “Yes, sister?”

:IGMN/SEU-OOTR72: “You are currently on Tescal. Your objective is the Arch. Everything you need to know is stored in your Seers Eye. It is your only source of truth. Trust it.”




Helen, 1 day
1807FU, 10.07.06


It was so bright that the insides of her eyelids glowed pink. She opened her eyes a fraction, just enough to allow some real light through. Her eyebrows sunk heavily towards her cheeks against the pain of being awake. Everything was blurry. Her head ached, though she couldn't tell if that was because of the light or something else.

She alternated between screwing up her eyes tight and blinking rapidly to focus her vision. She rose up onto her elbows, immediately feeling an acute complaint there. Her arms felt like they were trying to support a body composed of wet sand and were pitifully unable to do so.

Helen drew several sharp breaths, making a shush sound on the out-breath on which to focus, and stayed still for a few moments. Her senses began to swim so with great care she lowered herself back down, arms shaking with the effort.

What did I do last night? She wondered, thinking it must have been a very long time since she had last wound herself into oblivion. Where was I?

There was a dry tickling at the back of her throat, and trying to think only exacerbated it, so instead she surrendered to the warm air and the coarse but soft ground. The sun on her face and chest felt like the first days of summer, like it was recharging the core of her being. She smiled and tried to relax.

Helen let her arms flop out and felt them connect with many strands of something long and thin. They were smooth and waxy to the touch. She rolled her head to one side and opened the eye closest to the floor. It was difficult at first to see anything beyond the dazzled grey mesh of her eyelashes, but enough information passed through to suggest that she was lying in grass. Very tall grass.

She massaged the grass between her fingers and turned her focus back to the night before, expecting to receive patchy images of, well she couldn't imagine quite what, but there came… Nothing. She shook her head in reaction but instantly regretted it for the nausea rose again. Feeling the tickling build at the back of her throat, she fought to assert her will, vying to reclaim control of her body, and thought back further.

At first it was confusing, but the longer the sensation lingered the more she began to panic. There was nothing. Nothing that she could bring to mind. Nothing that she could remember.

It was dizzying. What little of the world around her that she could sense was crumbling and didn't feel real in the slightest. I'm not awake. She thought. I can't be awake.

Helen gritted her teeth through the pain and rose to her feet, grunting as she stumbled, thrashing the long grasses and thrashing for anything to keep her balance. Clumps of grass pulled out of the ground and the dusty earth spilled over her bare feet. There was an intense pain behind her eyes but she forced them open, the panic and adrenaline overcoming the urge to fall back down.

She stared in one direction, then another, and then another.

Stay calm.

She was completely surrounded by grass that rose high above her head. She shoved her arms through the grass in one direction and swept it aside to reveal more beyond. How in the Universe was she to get her bearings?

Survival instincts in full flow, blood pumping hard with shock, she jumped with all the strength she could muster. Her head drew level with the top but not high enough to see over. Her legs jarred against the ground on landing. Helen grunted and screamed herself into another jump, fighting through the resistance her body was throwing at her. This time her head rose just an inch above the grass giving her a split second's glimpse of the world above. She fell to the ground, collapsing into one side of the flattened clearing, lying on her back once more.

Breathing hard and shaking, mystified as to what was going on, she tried to make sense of what she had seen. There was just grass, and apart from a small hill somewhere close-by, that was all.

There must be more, something else to tell me where I am. There has to be!

With gargantuan effort she launched herself to her feet and aimed her legs towards the hill, hoping beyond hope that she was going the right way.




Iago, 8 days
1807FU, 05.08.06


His white cloak whipped behind him as he streaked across the swaying wash of green grass. Far taller than he, the grained tips reached high into the haze, engulfing his body into its woven mass. Battered out of the way by flailing arms, the tall blades swoop and recover once the wind of his journey has settled, leaving only a darkened trace of a groove in the landscape.

Keep running, brother.

The ground rose, and the grass thinned. A hill. One of the many that punctuate the infinite plain, bobbing up out of the ocean in a regular diamond shaped grid that defied all expectation of natural law.

Iago reached the top in no time and lingered underneath the pink-blossoming tree that lived there, panting softly form his exertions. Hesitant to leave this sanctuary, if it could be so called, he looked out across the expanse. His eyes jerked here and there; one hazel, and the other a blue so deep it would make any sky jealous.

Here though, the heavens wore a deep shade of red at all times of the day, varying in intensity only from dawn to dusk, sleeping in a night-time of swirling scarlet blackened by the absence of the suns.

Iago's grey skin seemed out of place in this landscape, as though it should already have been burnt to a crisp under the suns' glare. His blonde hair, so short its colour could almost not be determined, his sunken cheekbones but strong jawline, small high-riding ears, and large gap between his upper lip and nose, only served to intensify his oddness.

His blue eye altered its shape. Inside, tiny mechanisms manipulated lenses to bring the distant light closer, drawing the horizon closer to the solitary man in sharpest detail.


The man lingered on the hill top, scanning, wary of returning to the grasslands where he could no longer see for himself, where he would once again have to place his faith in the artificial baby-blue line embedded in his deep blue eye which etched itself across the ground. The only thing that lead him on.

Brother, brother, keep on running.




Helen, 11 days
1807FU, 10.08.06


Helen lay flat on her back, her brown-blonde hair strewn around, her grey eyes lost in the deep reds of the sky. The red quality to the light made her normally olive skin seem rich in tone, and her white cotton clothing draped off her frame to reveal a small, well proportioned figure.

She watched the breeze swell around the top of her body-shaped enclosure, the tips of the grasses encouraged to bend this way or that, and she felt the air wick away beads of sweat that had been forming on her forehead, despite having been motionless for the past quarter-day. The rippling movement had ensnared her in dream-like fascination.

She had tried running for a while, chaotic in her movements, though she never lost sight of the next hill to which she ran. Then she had tried to search in a more regimented manner, mentally mapping out the positions of the mounds she had visited, trying to discover any small irregularity in the monotony of the landscape. But now, ten days on, she was trying something else.


She felt that she was good at it, but couldn't be sure, because she still wasn't sure of anything.

In her hands, close to her chest, she clutched a small black oblong. It was the only object other than her clothing that she had. She had felt it bouncing around in her pocket during that first panic-stricken run but had only reached to inspect it once she had climbed the hill and sheltered under the wide reaching branches of the tree there. If there was a function to the little black oblong it had eluded her, and no amount of prodding or bashing revealed its purpose. However, it had become a source of comfort for her, and she had grown to like its perpetually cool touch. She fiddled with it while her mind wandered, far away from reality.

All instinct told her that she ought to get up and walk, regardless of having tried that for days. Maybe she would encounter more of the odd shimmers? Though she had found them to be frightening at first, they had turned out to be quite the opposite. When first she had climbed one of the hills to discover a host of shimmers streaming over the top of the grass towards her, she had panicked, turned and fled. She ran, never waiting for the things to catch her. On the eighth day of planetary confinement however, three days ago, she had decided to face them.

Having watched them approach her mound from as much as a kilometre away, she walked as calm as she could down the incline, on a direct path toward them. She had been scared, of course, but by the eighth day, the enforced life-cycle was really beginning to wear at her sense of adventure. Any kind of sticky end would be more interesting to her than running through a featureless environment forever. She had slowed her pace to a mere crawl as the tall grasses began to recover their grip on the land, around half-way down the slope. It was here that they had crossed paths.

Acting on instinct, she had held her hands at her sides, palms facing forward. There was the faintest memory of having done this before with animals on the planet on which she had grown up, though she could not imagine what those animals where, or why that particular memory had returned now. As the shimmers drew closer around, her body began to shiver from the top of her neck down to her pelvis, and quite involuntarily she had closed her eyes. With only the sound of the grasses whipping abnormally around her, she paused like this, for how long she couldn't be sure, but when she had felt ready to open her eyes again, the aliens were gone, and the grass was back to its lazy swooshing. It was as if her opening her eyes had been a cue for the dream to end, though she was adamant that it had been no dream.

How bloody boring, she had thought.

Since then, she had resolved to wait.

There was no explanation for her situation. It felt like she was going round in circles, regardless of the minute differences she had encountered on each separate mound. There was little point in continuing to ask the same questions to herself day after day, as next to no new information came to her. Tidbits appeared, every now and again. A flash of a landscape, a shadow of her parents… But nothing useful to her right now. So, she had found a tree she liked, plonked herself down against a nook in its trunk, and waited.

Maybe someone would come along and explain this unexciting oddity, or better yet, take her off this stupid planet.




Telleris, TOT: 84 days
1807FU, 10.08.06


Telleris woke uncomfortably quickly. The glare of the evening sunlight had sunk low enough to cut through underneath the canopy which had been sheltering him from the midday heat. He blinked furiously into the evening light, trying to clear his eyes of the residue that had built up there.

“I've slept too long…” He said.

He shuffled, mostly crawling, up to the trunk of the tree that had claimed this hillock as its own, and propped himself up against it. Still blinking the last of the residue away, Telleris let out a sigh, and felt his body relax against the hard wood. He rolled his head this way and that, vying for more support.

Had it been forty? Forty-five? Could it be fifty days since being stranded? He wished that he had been counting, but that hadn't seemed to be the most important thing at the time. He began crunching his powerful hands into fists. Those bloody idiots, he thought, those stupid, bloody idiots. We were all messed up, but... He made a conscious effort to relax, unfurling his hands and stretching them out in front of him, where he could see them.

Telleris watched as the shadow-line cast by the canopy above flexed with the evening breeze, ever so slowly trickling its way towards his feet. He tried for the thousandth time to remember what had really happened. Only snatches of images would appear before his eyes, just as a dream on waking does, and no amount of thinking made it any clearer.

An image of four people, standing, looking aghast in horror at a fifth person lying, stiff, on the ground. No features of the others were clear enough in detail to remind him of who they might be. Quite apart from that there was nothing in the image to tell him where they might have been. Were they in a room somewhere? The cells, maybe? He wondered. Then, a stronger image of Haune Cloud... Cloud collapsing... his mind obliterated by confusion. It had taken Telleris most of his time here to remember what his friend's name even was. How can you forget something like that? But there were many more things that lay dormant in his memory. Time had told him this. The longer he had been here, the more they had started to return. Memories of his life, his past, his incarceration. But also the first memories of the planet. Disturbing memories. Flashes of a fight, fleeting shards of impacts and blows, given and received…

He became aware of his right hand massaging his temple. He stopped it in its tracks and gave it a suspicious look, as if it held another key to the puzzle. Who were the other people in the images? Two in particular stood out as being definitely alive, at least during the memory that logically should come last in the sequence. There were two people potentially still on the planet. He'd fought with them, so he must have known them, if only a little. They must be here, they must be here somewhere... Unless…

Telleris tried not to think about the other possibility, that it was the last memory he held, but not the end of the sequence.

Did I kill them?




Gortigen, 16 days
1807FU, 10.08.06


“When... Will these... Bloody... Things... Stop... CHASING ME...”

He screamed, throwing himself at the grass. He had stopped being scared of them a while ago. More than anything now he felt an intense frustration.

Every time he sat long enough to meditate, they appeared. Not as they had done on the first few encounters, on the horizon, gliding eerily toward him. No, when he sat still, they appeared only a short distance away, forcing him to get up and go again. Next hill, next hill. He grunted as he ran, not really from exhaustion, although he was becoming more tired with each new uprooting. He grunted because he found a certain satisfaction in doing so.

The land began to slope up in front of him, making his journey harder, but promising temporary sanctuary at the top. He increased his pace and pelted the remaining distance.

“AAGHH... COME OON.” He shouted, for his own peace of mind.

The horizon opened out once more as he cleared the tall grass, half way up the hill. He neared the brim and slowed to a jog, caming to a halt underneath the tree at the top. Panting and feeling his blood pumping hard, he arched his chest and beat it ferociously with his fists whilst letting out a challenging roar to the grasslands. He recovered his breath somewhat, but still panting he repeated the act. Then, he watched, and waited, and when he was satisfied that there were no signs of the weird glimmering shapes, he sat down on the ground, linked his hands around his knees, and let his head drop.

The sound of his breathing becoming more controlled and the light rustle of leaves above were the only stimuli in an otherwise sensationally dead environment.

After a short while, he lifted his head again, and took stock of his situation.

Day sixteen. He looked around. More hills... more effing hills... He rolled his eyes.

“WHAT IN THE UNIVERSE!” He shouted, falling to his back, allowing the forceful impact to shock his body. He wanted to repeat the shock but couldn't be bothered to sit up. Closing his eyes, he inhaled and exhaled deeply. He seemed to relax, but a little nook right at the centre of his brow betrayed him. His eyebrows were only a few shades deeper than his dark skin and his lips were also closely matched, picked out better by the shadow cast by the evening light. He was bald and had no facial hair, but patches revealed themselves on his chest where his cotton shirt lay open.

He opened his eyed. The branches of the tree above him hung low to the ground, shooting horizontally out from the wide trunk for a good distance. Broad, red-brown leaves obscured the lighter-red sky from his vision, but he barely even took this in. He lost focus on the world around him and entered into the madness of the events since waking up on this forsaken planet.

Something inside told him that he was a survivor, that he'd been through many trials and come out the other end better for it. That memory seemed to be physical and come from his muscles. But for the life of him, he thought, this was beyond anything he had encountered before.

In a rather disconnected fashion, he sat, watching the world for a while, seeming to be content.

Through unfocussed, red ringed eyes, he found a comfortable gazing point on a hill, and stared. Through his exhaustion and relative comfort, he almost missed the flicker of a shadow that climbed to its top. It stood there, bent against the large tree. With an almighty effort, and a shake of his head, he snapped himself out of reverie. It was so far away, but it was definitely…

“Well, I'll be…”




Miles, 13 days
1807FU, 10.08.06


Miles leant against the faux-Plinder tree. It made him smile. It was a good imagination of one, but most definitely not one. Plinder was rare, even within the realms of the Free Universe, and that as such made it stand out. Miles had quickly found that he was able to recognise all of the varieties that he had encountered so far, deciding that it must be a speciality of his, but this planet was full of trees that were, well... Not quite right, he thought.

He craned his neck to look up the trunk to its full height. Must be at least eighty metres, and stood back a few paces to take in its girth. Six across, nearly twenty around... What wasn't right? It's just... It's just too perfect. That was it, too perfect, he mused. How does a tree get to be this perfect? Without being aware, his right hand went to his chin and began stroking his thick, dark beard, whilst his other hand made its way to his trouser pocket which began to manipulate the little black oblong that was stored there.

Come to think of it, how does a planet get so damn perfect? His brow furrowed as he turned his attention away from the tree and out over the lush scene. How... His eyes wandered here and there, half-taking in the surroundings, half-locating information locked away, deep within his subdued memories. How does -

His thought train stopped dead. His fingers which had been mutely active froze. A figure was sprinting down a distant hillside on a path that would bring them to the next closest hill.

A chilling panic rose from his gut.

It hadn't occurred to him that there might be other people here.

What to do, what to do...?

He felt his heart quicken, and he rubbed his hands down his clothes to combat the clamminess that was forming. He looked back up at the tree, plotting a path through the branches. Keep calm, keep a grip... Looking back to the figure who was now lost in the plains, he tried to make a calculation as to how fast they could reach the next hill, halfway between them. Had they seen him? They must have... They were running to him then. Friendly? Or were they chasing him?

At that, he felt his legs sink deep into the ground, immobilising any thought of flight. I'm being hunted? Hunted...? No that can't be right... Think, keep thinking...

He had supposed that the average distance between directly opposing hills to be anywhere between one-and-a-half to two kilometres, placing the two of them around three-and-a-half kilometres apart.

Could I cover the whole distance in... Twenty minutes...? Twenty minutes!

Should I be running?

He decided to keep as much distance as possible between him and his assailant. Wrenching his legs from the ground's imagined grasp, he backed away from the figure, increasing to a jog before turning and fleeing down the slope into the uniform maze.




Copyright Benjamin Talbott 2017