Story:Preparation

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Preparation
User:Chromogar
MOClogo2020.png
Written 21 February 2020
Timeframe 15 Charu 4320
Story Arcs Daora Meredok story arc
Wordcount 1354
Character(s) Maryan Terschel, Gidun Yat
Location Pentapolis, Cathedral

Intense silence blocked out the rest of the world. In her metal box, Maryan Terschel sat, absorbing her consciousness into the rhythms of her body. The rising and falling of her chest. Air flowing into her nose and out through her mouth. Even the ticking of her heart. One, two, one, two, one, two. Twenty years ago, her mind would’ve been chattering in a dozen disagreeing dialogues. Not anymore. Now she was a textbook mediator. On other days, she would have been outside, where her body could feel the Gyrus dust falling like a cool summer drizzle. Where she could feel the feelings of the universe. Now was the time for an exploration of inner space. But now, now that she could smell each grain, she understood why CSMT forced her to do so many hours of meditation. Patience, for one and precision, for another.

‘Every interaction leaves a trace,’ the instructors never ceased to repeat.

Like a crime scene investigator, her discipline was forensic. She’d learned to see human beings as leaky bags of thoughts and emotions leaving detritus everywhere they go. Some of that became dust, floating up into the Gyrus,

‘The web connecting all the dreamworlds of the Primanna’ another phrase drilled into her mind a million times over.

The dust would be carried by the cosmic winds, perhaps to be felt by Maryan, being still and waiting for them. Usually they were fragments. A laugh here, a flash of frustration there. From anywhere, from everywhere. Rarely, it was something more than mundane. Sometimes these were special moments. A funeral, a wedding, bringing a baby home for the first time. It was moments like these that made her wonder what all the sacrifice was for. Here she was, nearly 50 years old and half of the intricate life plan she’d formulated by the time she was 18 years old had amounted to nothing. The other half had gone perfectly. She’d reached the highest non-political position she could. Children and CSMT cadets looked up to her. Beating up arrogant gods in a dozen exotic locales tends to have that effect. Fifteen years leading an effort to destroy a global crime corporation by finding the right paperwork that proved they avoided taxes...doesn’t. Still, despite her achievements, a gaping void lay in her soul. She couldn’t escape her father’s disappointment, which had intensified the frailer he’d become. They kept assuring her that they were proud of all the times she’d freed far-away people from a life of slavery to demons, literal or figurative.. Yet, something always overshadowed this. Something else was always more important. Something now impossible. All past now. All passed now.

Mum was still around. But only sometimes. Slowly, she was becoming more confused. Mum had to stop driving because she’d gotten lost three stads from home, on roads she’d driven for fifty years. It would come in waves. Sometimes she’d be her old self. Sometimes she’d struggle to recognise her own daughter.

Mum may have been disappointed, but she was never bitter. The time for bitterness had passed. In truth, Maryan was disappointed too. And that was all there was to it. The future was all that was left. One filled with as much uncertainty as the world’s. Still, she had untangled the knot of the past.

She was ready to go deeper, to dreamwalk.

The teachers at the Conglomerate States Dreamwalking Academy had tried to their best to break down the intuitive process into discrete, defined steps. Naturally, she was top of the class. Many had never dreamwalked before and needed a chemical jolt to force their minds out of their bodies. Maryan was part of a small group of people on Coracan who hadn’t forgotten to teach their children the ancient art; so she learned how to go one step further before everyone else.

Full dreamwalking, when the entirety of a person, including their body, leaves a world and travels through the Gyrus.

She had an old friend to talk to. The one guy who seemed to know every dreamwalker on the planet.

In an instant, she disappeared like rain into a river. She knew the way; she had been given the key.

A familiar grand cathedral reached above her and its dome seemed to float on a cushion of light itself.

‘Ah, Yat finally did some housekeeping,’ she remarked, seeing the usual mountains of esoterica had been reduced to organised molehills.

‘Mr Yat?’ she called out. ‘Gidun?’

He wasn’t…?

‘Hello, Maryan,’ an old man replied, emerging from behind an upright door without a wall.

‘Everything all right?’ she asked, studying the reorganised junk. ‘Is Daora ok?’ ‘Yes, yes.’

‘Listen, if anything...develops, let me know,’ Maryan said. ‘I notice you’ve redecorated. I like that you’ve tidied up.’

‘That was all Daora,’ he said. ‘You know I couldn’t do it.’

‘Yeah. I know.’

‘Any clues, Maryan?’

‘On what you’ve told me about what she’s been seeing? Nothing,’ Maryan answered. ‘That woman in her dreams isn’t anyone I or the CSMT databases know about. It’s highly irregular. Insanely rare to get anything like this.’

‘Why are you really here, Terschel?’

‘I don’t like what’s going on, Gidun. CS Metasecurity is going to be overwhelmed if there’s any sort of coordinated attack by the spirit warlords on Coracan. And if those idiots in the spirit parliament can’t get their act together then...then…’ Maryan started.

‘Then everything falls apart. War with the spirits will come to Coracan and people will die,’ Gidun Yat admitted.

‘Not to mention the rumblings from beyond the Veil! Or the detection of visitors from outside the Primanna cluster! First a Libertalian, now Earth-people!’ she exclaimed, exasperated.

‘Earth?’

‘Yes! And what’s more, we think they’re after deliberate contact!’

‘Contact…’ the old man mulled over the word. ‘Who knows about it?’

‘Five people. Me and the three other people who were Gyrus-watching at POPEDA right then. And you, now,’ she said. ‘I haven’t even told the rest of my department or my superiors yet.’

‘This is big.’

‘No kidding. This is going to be as big as the Panthalassa War,’ Maryan said. ‘There’ll be widespread panic when people start to realise that the world isn’t as boring as they thought. Social upheaval, anger at the inability of their governments to protect them. My job, and the job of CSMT, will be to keep as many people safe as possible. We’ll be overstretched and more will be asked of us than we can do.’

‘My question is,’ Maryan said. ‘Can you guarantee Daora’s safety?’

‘This is about more than concern for your old friend’s granddaughter, isn’t it?’ he said.

‘Yes.’

‘Then tell me what it’s really about.’

‘You know what this is really about,’ she answered. ‘Too many weird things have happened to her and your family. Cases of CHS and inexplicable erasures of individuals go back generations. Not even just family, but friends too.’

‘It’s like your family is...cursed...and Daora’s at the centre of it all now,’ she continued. ‘Something abomination unknown to science is following her and she is the strongest link we have to it.’

‘Good. And don’t forget that.’

‘I won’t. I’m not in the habit of forgetting things. Things like checking if there’s any chance a Dubium could get into a young woman’s vulnerable mind! You know, those creepy giant cockroaches that get high off torturing people’s minds? Yeah, those things.’

‘I think we’ve had enough here today,’ Gidun said. ‘Thank you for telling me about the contact.’

‘Great to talk to you again, Gidun,’ Maryan replied, any hint of annoyance or frustration gone from her voice.

And, just like that, she left to prepare a new mission. The Earthlings would be expecting an official meeting with representatives of the Conglomerate States of Coracan and Maryan Terschel would have to meet the visitors first.

And Gidun Yat, tinkering with a new tool for his granddaughter, was left with a painful awareness of the need to prepare her for the worst. A ‘worst’ that would be coming to everyone, whether or not, like Maryan Terschel, they’d volunteered to meet it head on.




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