The Order of the Silver Star – Restart
Resurt opened the doors of the temple and walked into a huge room full of shadows as the only light was from the open doors. He stepped forward into the dust and stale air of the main hall. He was once again confused as he came to realize that no one had been in the temple for many years.
The shadows increased and the room darkened as the doors shut behind him. Soon he was standing in pitch black and found that all of the sounds from outside ended with the shutting of the doors. There was no light and no sound.
Resurt turned back to the doors with hands extended to find the wall without crashing into it. He noticed a light blue glow and followed it to the source – his hands. The symbol of the Order was glowing slightly and steadily increasing in intensity. He stopped moving and waited as the glow started to give him a view of the area around him.
He moved his hands around and detected an increase in the glow’s intensity when they were pointed in one direction. He held his hands out and moved through the temple in the direction his brightening hands pointed him. Soon he approached a control panel of some sort. He could see blue highlights on the panel in the form of the symbol of the Order. He placed his hands over the highlights and the panel lit up.
He felt a bump from behind as a chair materialized from the floor and rose up for him to sit in. The highlights on the control panel rose up and detached from the control panel and bonded as arms on the chair. He felt the chair wrap around him and soon a set of probes moved from the chair to his head placing electrodes across his skull and causing tingling sensations to flow through his scalp and into his brain.
The feeling was extremely uncomfortable at first and he had to concentrate to hold off the panic feeling he was having. It took a while but he finally relaxed and the chair quickly finished attaching itself. He wished he had a mirror so that he could see himself. He was sure that it must be a terrifying sight, although he actually felt safe and secure when it was complete.
He had just started wondering what would happen next when the control panel began to change. The panel morphed as it wrapped itself in a half circle in front of his chair in a way that put every part of the panel within reach of one of his hands. Once the change was complete, an arm came up from the back of the panel with a mirror – just as he had wished. A few moments later, it disappeared.
Two half shells dropped down over his eyes and his world changed. He was now in another place and time looking out of someone else’s eyes at a factory floor of incredible dimensions. The ceiling and walls were so far away that the workers all had transportation devices that they crossed the floor with. The person’s vision turned toward a monitor that showed a great battle. He could feel the worry and other emotions of the person the memories were from.
The monitor switched from battle scene to battle scene as it became clear that the war was being fought on many planets across an entire galaxy and the enemy was winning. His vision returned to the factory and he focused on the equipment being prepared all across the huge factory’s floor.
He knew there were seventeen sections on the floor although he could only see eight. Evidentially, he was able to receive some information in addition to the visual from the person who recorded this memory. The section was relatively square with four cylinders set near the corners of the square. The cylinders were made of a material that had a dull black finish with spirals of blue threads running up and around the cylinders. The four cylinders were connected together in a cube using a metal frame at the top and the bottom. There was a direct connection between all of the cylinders forming an unusual cube so that none of the connections touched each other. The cylinder on the far right had tubes that ran from its top to the top of the other three cylinders. The cylinder on the far left had tubes that ran from one third of the way down and connected directly to the other cylinders. The cylinder on the near left had tubes that started two thirds the way down and connected directly to the other cylinders. Finally, the cylinder on the near right had tubes that ran from its bottom to the bottom of the other three cylinders. The tubes connecting the cylinders were bright silver with gold threads that spread around and across the tubes as the roots of a plant spread moving from wide connections at the cylinders to thin but much more numerous connections in the middle.
In the center of the cube was a maze of wires that attached to the tubes through the threads. These wires ran to six points on the outside of the cube where there were black boxes connected to the two frames. The wires were the smallest components in the cube and the smallest wire had a diameter larger than the average man is tall. These cubes were massive.
His vision returned to one of the monitors that was flashing. He heard a voice ask, “When will you be able to activate the gate?” Then, out of “his” mouth he heard, “If I skip the testing, I can activate it in about half a year. But the tests will drain almost all of the power I have. I may be able to open it seven or eight times and only for one-way traffic. Three times if you want two way traffic. You are just not giving me enough time to build the power sources. I will need ten years to build a power source capable of keeping the gate open. What we have will only open it for a while and then it will close.”
The voice on the comm spoke again, “Half a year is a long time. We will lose a lot of planets. Still, I think we can hold on that long. As for your power needs, the Tall Man said he knows a race that will sell us power modules similar to those you have so that we can open it more often; however, he cannot give us a technology not available to either side.”
“I understand. I will do what I can do increase the pace of construction.”
His vision faded away and came back with the scene radically changed. He was still standing in the same spot but the construction was almost done. He “knew” that it was time to take the parts into space and build the gate. He also “knew” that he was ahead of schedule and waiting a visit from the Tall Man to discuss the power modules.
As he moved toward the nearest machine, there was a horrible sound over his head. He looked up to see a small ship inside the building with debris surrounding it from its impact with the building as it crashed through the roof. The ship hit the force field just inside the building and exploded blinding him.
He fell to the ground as the shock waves and heat struck him. He heard the siren signaling the imminent failure of the force field. He got up and ran to his security station just in time as the field failed and the ship, the pieces left, and debris fell.
Moments later, as the air cleared, he looked around the working floor of the factory. All around his position, pieces of the roof and the ship were scattered and, in many cases, burning. The pieces of the gate in the immediate area were damaged to various levels, including one major piece that was destroyed. His hopes crashed and he realized that he was going miss his deadline and that he was going to miss it by a lot. He realized how many millions would lose their lives waiting for him to get the gate back together again. He sat down on the floor of the plant and felt tears in his eyes. He closed his eyes and bent his head forward in despair.
Resurt felt the half shells move away from his eyes and the connection was broken with the vision. The chair slowly disengaged from his body and soon he was standing in front of the control panel. Then the lights in the room turned on.
He was standing in a small cove off of a main hall. The main hall stretched away from him ending in a half circle that contained a huge statue of a woman reaching out and holding a star. Along the length of the hall were 14 coves, 7 on each side, and all with a small control panel except two. The entire length of the main hall was approximately 100 times his height or 550 transors.
The word transor had just popped into his head and he realized that the vision he saw was in another language. As he thought about it, multiple new words floated across his mind as he mentally returned to the story he just lived. He was very curious about the war and if they lost due to the delay. He wondered why he was shown these images.
Resurt’s thoughts returned to the temple’s interior. The ceiling of the main hall was 55 transors high and slightly curved from the centerline out with a half circle at the end. The coves were all about 11 transors high. The walls were straight with an arch over the entrance to the coves with the coves being a half circle. The walls and ceiling were all a dull white with bright white trim that contained gold threads.
There were no windows anywhere nor were there any paintings or photos hanging anywhere in the temple. He noticed that, except for two of the coves, the only doors were the front ones he came in. He decided to check the two coves with doors to see if there was a bathroom or kitchen in the temple.
The coves with doors were in the middle of the hall. He went to the first one and reached down to grab the handle. The door opened as his hand came close to the handle. The handles glowed blue and swept away from him as he reached for them. Resurt stepped forward into the room and realized that this was a personal living area.
Directly in front of him was a long table with seating on both sides. On the right side of the table was a kitchen that included a cooler, freezer, stove, oven, an open grill, and a large prep area. The kitchen had cabinets with see-through doors that exposed cups, plates, and other eating and prep utensils.
To the left of the table was an area with comfortable seats and bookshelves. The book shelves were full of both antique and modern books. Resurt picked up a couple of the crystals and dropped them into the reader to see what was on them. He picked up the reading glasses and put them on. The crystal contained the history of a world near the core of the galaxy. He took the crystal out of the reader and put the glasses back.
Resurt made a note to himself to check the antique books. He thought it was interesting that they existed. Why not convert them to crystals as that would save space? He turned from the living area and moved away from the doors toward the back of the room.
The wall at the back of the room held 12 doors. He walked the length of the wall and each door opened as he reached for the handle. Every room was the same. There was an open area when you walked into the room with a desk that had a fold down bed above it. The back of the room had a personal toilet and refresher facilities and a draw curtain for additional privacy. There was very little storage space and no closets, although there was a clothing recycler that he would need to examine.
The walls were all dull white with bright white trim with gold threads as in the main room. There were no paintings, photos, designs, or icons hanging or placed anywhere. The rule clearly was efficient and sparse.
Resurt opened the cooler and removed a beverage. The container opened automatically as he picked it up. The drink had a pleasant smell, although he did not recognize it. He sipped the drink and let the cool liquid roll around in his mouth for a bit. The flavor was enjoyable and when he swallowed it his throat was mildly warmed without a spicy aftertaste.
He wondered what time it was and looked around for a clock. There was none to be found. He was curious about how long he had been connected to the story machine. There was so much to learn and, so far, no one to teach him except a machine. He finished the drink, placed the cup in the kitchen’s recycler, and went back into the main hall.
Standing in the hall just outside the door was an old man. The man had a short beard that was almost all white. He had almost all white hair on his head although he had little of it. Resurt was confused. Only primitive races went bald. The man also had wrinkles on his face and neck giving him the appearance of being an old man. He stood over 6 transors tall and had light golden brown eyes deep in his head. His nose was long and prominent but not out of place on his long and rectangular face.
The man stepped back and motioned him to follow. Resurt nodded and they walked to the other side of the hall. The old man opened the door to the cove and gestured for him to enter. When he nodded again, the old man smiled and it was obvious that most of his wrinkles were laugh lines. He reminded Resurt of his father and the man gave the impression to Resurt of a stern but fun father.
The old man stepped aside and motioned for Resurt to enter. Resurt stepped into the room and heard the door shut behind him. He turned and went to open the door to ask the old man some questions, only to find the door would not open. He tried again and the door opened. He looked out into the main hall but saw nothing. The old man had vanished. Resurt turned back to examine the room he entered as he considered the mysterious old man.
He was standing in a plain room with gray walls and no visible doors except the one he walked into the room through. He saw no lighting but the room was not dark and he could see no catches or latches anywhere. He moved to the center of the room and pondered the situation.
He noticed that his feet felt wet and looked down. He was standing in water and it was rising. The water was warm and, as he looked around, he could not see anywhere that it was coming from. He was concerned but didn’t panic as there had to be a reason for this room.
He wondered where the old man went and where the water was coming from. The water kept rising and Resurt tried moving around the room with no change. He looked for the door he had come in so that he could leave but it was nowhere to be found.
He thought about the door. Where had it been in the room and where should it be now. Did the door disappear or did he only think it did. When the water was up to his neck he started to worry. Did he miss some key instruction or was he not capable of handling this? And what is this?
A test. Yes. He realized that this was another test. He thought back to how real the chair was and considered if this was real or not. When the water reached his nose he started to pray. The water covered his nose and he remembered breathing underwater during the competition at Kuli training. Something was different. It was the pressure. There was no pressure against his body so this could not be water.
Instantly, the water was gone and he saw the open door. He knelt and gave thanks and the room changed again. In the corner near the door was the old man. He had a rather mischievous smile on his face and motioned for Resurt to walk over.
“Was any of that real?”
Resurt thought about the question for a while and then commented, “It felt real.”
“Very good. Now, what did you pray?”
“I apologized for not doing more with my life.”
“Did you think you were going to die?”
“No. But it was becoming more and more likely.”
The old man laughed and Resurt joined in.
“This is a simulation room. You will take the training from the chair and apply it in here. The training is designed so that each day you will spend about half the day in the chair, one tenth in this room, and the rest to study or sleep.”
“How long does the training take?”
“That depends on the person taking the training. You can go as fast as you can go. I don’t know anyone who finished in less than 2 standard years but we did have a number who were not able to complete the training.”
“Are there any others who live or work here besides you?”
“No, and I am an AI.”
Resurt was surprised once again. He thought the old man was real and perhaps someone he could chat with on occasion. He was a little saddened by the news and realized that the loneliness of the Temple was not what he expected.
“Sorry. I thought that there would be others here.”
“No. The Gatekeepers spend most of their time alone and so the training needs to reflect that to make sure the candidates are capable of handling the solitude.”
“You said most of their time?”
“No. That is incorrect wording. The Gatekeepers are mostly alone.”
“But not always?”
“True. There have been a couple who married; however, there are not many who would be able to handle the situation in either case.”
“Interesting. When do I begin my training?”
“You began today. You also passed the first session. You have completed a tenth of a year in one day. Your progress today is positive for successful completion of the training but only time will tell. See you tomorrow.”
The old man vanished in front of him and Resurt was alone once more. He walked out the door of the simulator and went back to the living area to see what type of food they provided.
Resurt sat down with study materials as he ate. He found that he was drawn to the Gster incident with the City of Gold. He was especially interested in T’Lhast who was supposedly over 200 years old and yet managed to maintain the appearance of a little girl. The story of her meeting with the Kuli J’Rontia and their rescue of the City of Gold was fascinating and he could not help but feel that it was important to him in some way.
He finished his meal and sat down on the couch as he considered where he was. He recently went from being an almost nobody to a key player in an intergalactic war of good versus evil. He now understood how pivotal the Gatekeeper is to providing resources where and when needed across galaxies and how severely the gate’s loss had damaged the war effort the past ten thousand years.
There was an immense undertaking ahead of him and he had felt doubts at moments over the last few days. They did not last long. All he had to do was go back to his memories of the Kuli school and the comments that J’Rontia and Tomli voiced about his abilities. If they believed in him, then he could do it. His challenge now was to do the best he could without quitting and he knew that he would die before he would quit.
Still, something told him he needed to find out more about T’Lhast and what those old books made out of paper were doing here. He got off the couch and went back to his studies wondering what death scenario would play-out in the simulator tomorrow.
The old man walked down the alley behind the Temple to a small tower. He entered the tower and climbed to the top where he spoke to a man in the shadows.
“He has completed the drowning lesson.”
“He is a quick study. Was he afraid?”
“Not much. His anxiety score was very low during the entire exercise.”
“What is your assessment?”
“I predict success. He learns faster in the chair than just about anyone who ever used it. He didn’t panic in the water lesson – he is only the second one to finish on the first attempt. He also included prayer at the appropriate moments and showed appreciation.”
“I told him I was an AI.”
“Not really the truth.”
“Well – he didn’t ask what AI stood for so I let him believe what he wanted. It actually helped with the assessment.”
“What are you having it stand for?”
The man in the shadows laughed. The old man joined in and a broad smile stayed on his face after they both stopped.
“Someday he will see through your wrinkles and age. He will recognize you when he does.”
“Yes. I agree; however, there is no one else left alive who can run the simulator.”
“You realize that we must win this time.”
“I will do all I can to have him ready as soon as possible. How are the other components coming along?”
“The Order is rising again and the blue are stabilizing. The Kuli are fading as a group but there are a few bright lights among them that I believe will hold the day until the sacrifice. The White Warrior lives as does the Last Light and the City of Gold has been found.”
The Tall Man stepped out of the shadows and the two clasped hands in an ancient sign of brotherly love. The Tall Man patted the old man on the shoulder and with a smile on his face walked toward the wall and vanished into a shimmer.
Trewst stood looking at the spot where the Tall Man vanished for quite a time. Then the old man turned and started down the stairs to go back to his work, training his descendant to operate the Great Gate.