[8FOLD] Incarnate #1 "Who Remembers the Rapture?"

Jamie Rosen jamie.rosen at sunlife.com
Tue Apr 4 18:18:52 PDT 2006

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||THE   ||              "Who Remembers the Rapture?"
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[When dates will have no meaning.]

Anomalies have been reported in the vicinity. The smart matter of her
suit has launched probes; some have returned, many have not. Against
the Doctor's advice, she has come to investigate. The anomalies are
concentrated, stronger the further she travels into this region. The
smart matter registers distortions, eddies, Siaran distensions in the
physical dimensions. The Doctor jabbers in her ear, interpreting the
information, counselling, warning. At times the speed of light seems to
slow to a visible crawl; at others, her extremities move faster the
further they are from her body. The smart matter works harder to
preserve coherency, building and rebuilding itself from interstellar
dust, plasma, loose molecules of hydrogen.

The centre of the disturbance comes into view. It looks like a
pinprick, a viral darkness spreading slowly, darker even than the
backdrop of space it stands against. The dust is streaming into it; the
light is curving around it and toward it. The Doctor is adamant that
they have gathered enough data: they should leave the area. She
disagrees and overrules the secondary voice inside of her; they have
learned much, but there is more to learn. The anomaly is beneath the
notice of her creators at present. The more she can catalogue, the more
easily they can deal with it if necessary. She overrules the Doctor and
moves closer.

The smart matter strains against its limits. The Doctor is frantically
adjusting it, pulling it closer to his body, trying to minimize the
stress put on it by the pinprick they are facing. She moves back
slightly and it grows closer. She pulls away and finds the distance
shortened. The Doctor has stopped speaking to her, too busy trying to
calculate a trajectory to escape the field in which they are trapped.

Around her light and space are contorting, and she realizes she is as
well. They are within the event horizon. Well within it. The pinprick
is an anomaly, yes, but little different from the microscopic twin
singularities within her core, too unimportant to bother those who
built her. If that should change, it will be dealt with, but by that
point it will be too late for her. The Doctor has advised her that the
calculations show no route of escape.

With no way out, she chooses instead to go in.
[1991. March. Ohio.]

She was spat out into space and came blazing through the atmosphere,
smart matter recharging from the heat of reentry, then feeding on the
pollutants in the air. She slowed himself enough to minimize her impact
on the ground, but she was too disoriented and fatigued to stop
entirely. The earth gave way as she crashed, and the tremors of her
landing could be felt miles away.

Slowly she dug her way out of the rubble that had piled down on top of
her. It was several dozen yards to the surface, but her progress was
swift and she soon found herself on the surface of the planet.

"Doctor?" she asked, brushing dirt from her suit.

"I hope you're satisfied," the second voice admonished. "You could have
gotten us killed."

"I didn't." She straightened up and looked around. "Where are we?" It
had been a long time since she had been planetside.

"I'm working on it," the Doctor snapped. "Nitrogen is the primary
atmospheric component. Carbon-based life. There are radio broadcasts on
a variety of wavelengths; the suit is tuning to them."


"Be quiet."

With the Doctor preoccupied with research, she takes to the sky to get
a better look at her surroundings: plants, some growing wildly while
others arranged in an obvious display of agricultural development. In
the distance she can see signs of industrialization.

"I've picked up enough of the broadcasts for communications purposes.
There seems to be a primary language in use."

"Can you patch it in?"

"Do you really feel you have to ask those sorts of questions? You
should have access to it now."

She paused for a moment. Yes -- a complex syntax, unpredictable at
times, but manageable at worst.

"I'm plotting our location with astrogative data, but it's hard to
collect enough with all the noise in the air. Whoever lives here, they
certainly don't mind cluttering up the EM spectrum... Would you please
go back down to the ground? Until we know where we are, I'd prefer you
didn't draw attention to us."

She smirked. "I think I could handle anything the residents could throw
at me."

"Most likely. But I would prefer it if you didn't have to. So please:

She did as the Doctor asked, coming to rest beside the crater left by
her impact. Bored, she instructed the suit to retract so that she could
feel the air on the surface of her skin. She may not have come into
being on a planet, but when her creators had made her they'd given her
as much of their old selves as they could remember, and that included
vague ancestral memories of the worlds of their birth. It was always
nice when she could indulge those memories.

"Well?" she asked. "Where are we?"

"I'm not satisfied with the data. The noise in the atmosphere must--"

"Come on, Doctor, it can't take you that long. You have to know by
now." She bypassed the Doctor and went straight to the information they
had gathered. The charts and figures appeared before her eyes, and she
took them in. Something wasn't right...

"What's happened?"

"That's what I'm trying to determine," the Doctor snapped. "As I

"Everything's in the wrong place." She banished the data from his
vision. "Doctor, it looks like..."

"I know what it looks like! But that's obviously not possible. Which is
why I'm still working."

She looked up at the sky above his head, then down at the ground
beneath his feet. "Is this the Earth?"

"You know it isn't," the Doctor snapped. "The Earth was disassembled
long before we were made. We've seen the Home Torus ourselves.
Nevermind that the star it circled would be but a burnt-out cinder by
now, and even you must be able to tell that the star this planet
circles is very much alive!"

"But If we've gone back--"

"If you are suggesting what I believe you are, let me assure you we
have not gone back anywhere -- or should I say anywhen. You know as
well as I do that travel through time is possible in only one
direction, and that is forward."

They stood in silence for a moment, keeping to their own thoughts,
their body immobile. As the Doctor revised and revisited innumerable
calculations, she scrolled through the language database the suit had
collated for her, familiarizing herself with it and listening to the
live feeds the smart matter was still providing, hoping to find out
what the natives called their home. Of course, it was not uncommon for
a race to use terms analogous to soil, dirt, and earth to refer to
their home planet -- or water, or air, or tree, if they were aquatic,
or avian, or arboreal creatures, respectively.

It was as she scanned the live feeds that she came across a cry for
help. One of the populace's transport vessels -- a passenger plane --
was in trouble, under attack by a half-dozen machines of some sort.
Without waiting to consult the Doctor, she took to the air once more to
confront the plane's assailants in mid-flight.

The robots were of various shapes and sizes: a winged centaur made of a
flat, unreflective black metal; two humanoid shapes -- one male, one
female -- of shining chrome and standing a good two and a half metres
tall; a tightly-coiled crimson wire that snapped out to strike at the
fuselage like a cobra; a crystalline, almost snowflake-shaped construct
about the size of a small car; and a golden moebius strip approximately
one metre in diametre that seemed to be focusing ambient light through
the open space within its body to blast away at the plane, starting to
carve it open.

She stretched a portion of the smart matter out to seal over the hole
forming the fuselage and barreled directly into the moebius strip from
the side, knocking its aim off and causing it to lose focus with the
daylight. This drew the attention of the other attackers, and the
centaur kicked off of the wing on which it stood and flew in her

Grabbing hold of the moebius strip with both hands, she tore it into
one long ribbon and swung it at the approaching robot, which batted it
aside. She took advantage of the opening this provided her to dart
forward and clothesline the centaur, then wrapped her right arm around
its neck and used the left to torque its head until it was separated
from its body. As the centaur's wings stopped beating and its body fell
towards the Earth, she flipped backwards and tossed the severed head at
the crimson coil that was still lashing out at the plane. The moebius
strip had reformed, however, and focused the sunlight into a beam that
incinerated the centaur's head.

More of her suit reached out, this time to cover the moebius before it
could refocus on either her or the plane. The matter began to consume
the construct, draining the energy it had stored within it while at the
same time converting its physical form into its base components and
reprogramming the molecules into more smart matter. As this was going
on, however, the female of the two humanoid robots grabbed hold of her
from behind and the male began to pummel her. Their strength was
considerable, but she was able to raise her legs up and catch one of
the male's arms with them, grapevining it together with its head and
squeezing. When the female let go of her to assist its partner, she
swung her torso backwards and used the momentum to drive the male
robot's head into the female's midsection. Before either could
recuperate, she grasped each of them and drove their heads together
repeatedly until they went limp, then let them fall.

Her suit coalesced around her once again, almost up to its normal
strength because of the additional smart matter it had built. She sent
some of the new material to assist in holding the plane together, then
pulled the rest tight around her and dove for the metallic serpent that
had continued to work on its target while she dealt with its
compatriots. Able to focus all of her attention on it, she was able to
overwhelm it quickly -- for all of its speed, it was very
single-minded, and when it tried to lunge at her she was able to duck
out of the way and grab it with both hands. Tying it in a bow to
neutralize its mobility, she then fed it to the smart matter. It wasn't
much, but it brought the suit back up to normal strength.

The sole robot not to have acted was the crystal snowflake, which had
sat apart from the action the whole time. And still it remained that
way, as though watching her. When she moved right, it turned clockwise
to follow; left, counterclockwise. She glanced over her shoulder and
saw that the plane was holding together, albeit shakily, and when she
turned back to the snowflake it was almost upon her.

She lashed out at it with her fist, but before she could make contact
it fragmented into innumerable shards that swarmed around her, darting
in and out unpredictably, slashing at her body. The smart suit was able
to intercept the attacks, but the number of them was lower than she
would have expected, however, as though only a small fraction was being
directed at her.

She looked back through the cloud of crystal and saw that many of the
jagged fragments were flying beyond her to the robots' original target,
the airplane, punching pinpricks into the fuselage. Instinctively she
shed the smart suit in the plane's direction, hoping to neutralize the
threat and repair the damage already done.

This left her exposed to the shards that remained in her vicinity, and
their attacks were redoubled. Most could be ignored as they could not
penetrate the surface of her body, but some were faster or sharper or
larger than the others and were able to cut her, sometimes even deeply.
She didn't bleed, but she hurt, and as time went on more and more of
the attacks were able to do damage. She couldn't pull the smart matter
back to her without risking the safety of those on the plane, and
without it she was in danger of being overwhelmed.

"Doctor?" she asked.

"How nice of you to remember that I'm here."

She gritted her teeth as a particularly jagged edge lacerated her arm.
"I need your help."

"Oh, you mean your 'Punch them until they stop' approach isn't working


"Yes, yes, what do you want me to do?"

She swatted the jagged piece away from her face and a second piece
pierced her leg. "Reduce the containment field on the singularities."

"What? If you were going to vaporize the creatures on board that --
that thing, why did you go to all this trouble in the first place?"

"No. Just..." One of the fragments tried to burrow into her nose. "Just
enough to--" Before she could finish her thought an energy pulse
vaporized the crystals that had surrounded her.

"I knew what you meant," the Doctor said matter-of-factly. "Would you
like some help with the rest?"

A series of controlled pulses, these focussed rather than
omnidirectional, assisted the smart matter in finishing off the
remaining shards. With the threat neutralized, she recalled what little
of her suit wasn't occupied with holding the plane together and had it
begin repairing the damage she had taken. Too fatigued to stay aloft
under her own power, she latched onto the left wing of the plane and
let the course of the aircraft dictate where she would land.

"Do you still think you could handle anything the residents could throw
at you?"
She remembers when dates will have no meaning.

She remembers words, although they may not, strictly speaking, have
been spoken. They are the oldest memories she has, predating the
Doctor, predating the smart suit. There was a brightness, or at least
the sudden perception of light where no perceptions had existed before.
And there was a presence. Her first memory is of that presence, and
those words.

"You are our finest creation. In all our time we have made much and
unmade more, rebuilt planets, dissected stars, constructed our own when
necessary. But you are without peer, the finest of our finest children.
We have made you in the image of our past, the one thought that shapes
us even after we have transcended its form and function. You are our
daughter, and you will be everything we ever once were or wished to be.
You will be our strength, our virtue, our potential. You will be our
memory, incarnate."


INCARNATE, all characters and contents (c) Copyright 2006 Jamie Rosen.
All rights reserved.

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