The Masters

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The Masters
Chapter 1: Rebirth
The ship set down, lifeless, dormant. Its black body was once a void in space, it once could slip through space like a black cat through the night. Now the ship was rusted, corroded. It was once a sprawl, teeming with life. A veritable city to and home to many. Now it was empty and dead, mostly. The ship’s only occupants were dead; well no they just weren’t alive. Their lives had been suspended, frozen in time. They didn’t have names anymore, only numbers; they were P#2539 and P#2541. They now resided in the ships prisoner transport pods. They were adjacent to the ship’s cargo hold, in the bowels of the ship. It was a high security chamber. The pods opened. They had never aged; P#2539 was still twenty-six. P-2539’s skin dark and clean, his hair full and black and his goatee was still wispy, long and braided. His build was firm, time hadn’t weakened him. His passion was cooking. He wore a bright orange skin tight suit with helmet. P-2539 awoke his mind exploding as consciousness was forced back into it. He couldn’t think the pain was too much. He fell out of his pod. He was sore and cold but at least the clothes let him keep his skin attached. The floor was wet from the pods contents. He tried to move. The soreness exploded into blinding pain so he laid there. He turned his head. There was a kid sprawled a few feet from him, still unconscious. P-2539 knew him; they had been part of the same crew. They had been friends. In fact P-2539 had been P-2541’s only friend. P-2541 was new to the crew. Why were those numbers there instead of names? Why he knew this and not his own name he couldn’t figure out. Asleep, not drugged, his breathing was even and deep, mumbling something, so he was dreaming. P-2539 sat up on the floor next to his young friend. He put a hand on his friends back. P-2539 thought back or he tried to, he could not remember what happened before he ended up here or what seemed weeks before. He could think of himself as a cook. He remembered meeting his young friend and that his friend was an experienced pilot. He couldn’t remember any one else but he knew he must have known other people he was part of a crew. He remembered a ship. A nice ship just small and cramped, he could remember being cramped in that ship, cooking. He had done a lot of exploring with the crew going to uninhabited planets looking for exotic animals or plants. Sometimes they landed on planets where pirates and black marketers gathered. Always after new meats or spices. He remembered P-25—no, the kid, he couldn’t think of him as a number—he stayed on the ship at the helm waiting for the signal and he would take off. That was it, a vague past, feelings mostly, feelings of friendship and excitement. Or of cooking, but not what he did or how he made money. Or his name, just a stupid number. The kid stirred, “Oh…my head.” He was still half asleep. He rolled over with his head in P-2539’s lap. “Hey, Kid,” P-2539’s voice was quiet but it cut through the kid’s fog like a razor, startling him to full consciousness. The kid’s eyes focused on his older friend. “Oh, go—oh it just you, what have I told you about wakin’ people up: don’t, you too ugly.” Well, the kid was alive and seemed to be himself, a cocky smart-ass teenager. “Oh yeah, I forgot,” said a relieved and sarcastic 2539 shifting to let the kids head slip off his lap and smack the floor. “Ow. What is your problem, 253—wait that’s not your name is it? Uh-oh, my names not 2541 is it?” “When I woke up, those were the names I knew,” said 2539 mood darkening. “I woke up knowing those numbers not remembering how we got here or when— and how I can only guess.” “Well I remember being a pilot, and I also remember never leaving my post. Why are we here, I mean, why us? We almost never leave the ship,” 2541 was becoming distraught. He stood up and looked around, “We look trapped.” 2539 stood, put a hand on the kids shoulder and said, “That’s what I thought. And I don’t know how long we’ve been here or why we seem to be alone or how to get out.” 2541 looked around, his head swiveling like a deranged bird, eyes wide’ “You mean…?” “Yeah, kid, there doesn’t seem to be a way out, but I haven’t really had time to look around.”

“Okay, we need find a way out and then figured out where we are.” “I know, I know, but please can we come up with names to call each other. I can’t stand thinking of you as a number.” This idea calmed the kid down slightly. He started breathing evenly, “Okay that… sounds like a good place to start. Um…how ‘bout …uh, Jack.” “Well that sounds fine. What if I used the name: Xavier?” “Oh, wow, that’s a great name!” Well this was their birth. Jack and Xavier, they were experienced—somethings, they were part of a crew that did something-- but as of now they were infants, victims of time. The new men felt just that, new. Their thoughts were of new worlds and people and food. They both needed food. They looked at each other. Their thoughts turned to the old, their passions, the ship. They sat quietly for a minute composing themselves. “So… Jack,” started Xavier glad to be able to associate a name with his crew mate. “I think we should find a way out of this room and maybe check this ship or place out.” “Oh… yeah, you’re right, let’s go,” replied Jack pulling out of his thoughts. The two friends started walking around the room searching for anything. They kind of hoped for an emergency latch or a keypad or even a seam in the wall signifying a door. Xavier felt along the wall, knocking on places trying to find a hollow space where wiring may be. Jack just walked around waiting he knew about flying these things not fixing them. Xavier told him to look any way he didn’t know what he was doing either. The room was white and had nineteen pods in it and a door the same dimensions as a pod. Each pod was against the wall ten on one side nine and the door on the other. One and a half feet wide and eight feet tall with a two foot wide path between them, the room was cramped. The ceiling was a foot taller than the pods and there was a four-inch gap between pods. It was one of five others. “Hey, Xavier, look at this,” Jack was at the door, pointing at a gap wider than the rest of the doors seam. Xavier walked over to inspect the gap rubbed a finger down it and pressed his face to the space. From what Xavier could see in the gap it was a place where the paneling didn’t cover the inner wall. “Oh this looks promising, I can see wiring in there, it’s too bad my finger isn’t a half-centimeter wide,” Xavier rolled his eyes. “What if we cut those wires, maybe it would deactivate the lock or something, I don’t know. Xavier sighed deeply’ “you may be right but what are going to use to cut it.” Jack looked around the room; he kicked one of the pod’s glass doors. “What if we used broken glass?” “I don’t think that will work Jack, those pods meant to keep people alive and they need safety glass so they aren’t broken.” “Oh, well, that makes sense but how will we get out then.” “Well the pods unlocked, and then the door should have too.” “Wait, how, do you know about these pods and rooms and doors and all this stuff?” “I’ve read about them.” “Oh, well, never mind let’s just find a way to open this door. Or do you know how already?” Xavier knew Jack was still upset and let this jab go unanswered, “Jack, these can only be opened from the outside.” Jack sank and sat on the floor, “So we’re trapped?” Xavier walked over and put a hand on Jack’s shoulder. He crouched next to him and looked into his eyes, “it looks like that my friend.” “Why would the guards leave us in here? It doesn’t make sense, why let us out then leave us? “They wouldn’t. In fact they wouldn’t have let us out without guards to ensure we leave their ship. In other words Jack, I think we can assume the ship is empty and we are at some unknown planet.” “Then why did the cells open?” “It must have been a malfunction.”

Jack had nothing else to say. He felt that his life was over, like he would starve to death in a tiny room with a cook. Oh the irony. He laid down on his back and thought of the past. Or what he thought was the past he couldn’t be sure, he didn’t even know his own name. He looked at Xavier he seemed to be thinking of the same thing. He closed his eyes dreamless sleep took him.

Chapter 2: Salvation
Jack opened his eyes; he was still on the floor where he had passed out. He looked around the chamber, Xavier was leaning against a pod sleeping-- no, more like taking a cat nap. Jack spoke first, “well at least you listened to my advice about wakin’ people up. Xavier gave an amused grunt, “Well I thought I should enjoy the quiet, it’s such a rare commodity. “Ha. That’s why I like you. You jerk. There came a hollow bang from somewhere high above their prison. Jack’s gaze shot to the ceiling. “What was that?” “I think it was a hollow bang from somewhere above us.” “Yes, I know that but what caused it?” “Um…well, like you, I’m trapped in this tiny room, so I can only speculate.” “And what are your thoughts,” Jack was getting annoyed. “Oh. I think that someone came on the ship killed the power opening our cells and is now searching the ship for anything useful.” Jack was taken aback by this leap of logic, “you can tell that just by some booms from a ship?” “No. Like I said, I was just speculating” “Fine.” Jack sat back down. Xavier seemed happy to just sit and wait for death, Jack thought. But maybe he was right, he was smart. Besides when you think about it if they had landed on some planet then people would most likely explore this ship. Especially if it was abandoned. Jack couldn’t stand the silence, so he broke it. “Xavier, what can you remember?” “Me cooking and you flying, that’s it.” “Yeah, me t”— The door slid open. A head appeared in the opening and then vanished. “Hey, they’re in here!” The head reappeared followed by his whole body. Xavier heard people outside the room jog to the door. Then three people walked in to the room. They were dressed in long black cloaks. They were open in the front revealing thin black clothes that hugged their skin. They also had belts with what looked like weapons but none Xavier had ever seen. Xavier found that odd, he felt he knew weapons. Or had known them at some point. The ship’s halls were all plain white wall, wide enough for three to walk side by side. Xavier was in between jack and someone he heard called Remmy, with two men behind him and one in front leading. Their guides had been silent since finding them, except Remmy he seemed thrilled to talk. He was the one that had first found them. He was similarly dressed in black, with a belt, but he only wore a single holstered weapon. It looked like a knife sort of Xavier only saw a handle. “So what’d you do… how’d you guys get in there?” Remmy asked. Jack was all too glad to respond, “What do you mean.” “Well, I mean, why were you guys locked up?” “Because no one was there to let us out I guess,” was all jack could think to say, this guy was confusing him. “No… I guess I’m asking why you’re on this ship in those pods.”

Xavier couldn’t listen to the two anymore, “What, I’m pretty sure, he’s say is this is a prison ship.” “What?” “Think about it, no memory of who we are or when he got here, not to mention we’re numbers, prisoner numbers.” This got the leaders attention; he stopped and turned, “Wait, you have no memory. Um…I don’t know how to say this but they quit doin’ that-- I don’t know-- years ago.” Xavier stopped walking, he scratched his chin. He focused on the leader. “Okay. First, what’s your name, second, exactly how long?” Xavier didn’t seem to care too much; it was mostly to settle Jack down. “I’m called Dante and I’d say you’ve been here about 75 years, give or take. Jack was stunned he couldn’t speak. In A flash his world was gone everyone he knew except Xavier or Prisoner #2539 he didn’t even ‘know’ him. Xavier was excited. “Awesome so there’s new stuff and new people, oh and new everything.” “What’s wrong with you, we’re alone in this world.” “Nothing,” Xavier began, jack’s anger sobering him. “But look we’re on a new world.” Looking at Dante is it a prison?” Dante shook his head, “and see it’s a normal, friendly planet.” Dante broke in, “now I did not say that, this world is in a state of what we would call…um Del, the word please.” One of the men in rear answered, “police state.” Xavier visibly sagged at these words. “So, there’re curfews and 24-hour surveillance and stuff.” The man, Del spoke his voice deep and gravely. “Yes, that’s why we are here, on this ship. We are in search of weapons or anything useful or we were since we know how old this ship is there most likely anything useful. Jack finally spoke up, “what’s going to happen to us?” Dante answered, “We are going to take you to our base and get you ready. Jack felt fear crawl up his spine. “Ready for what?” Dante exhaled presumably pained by what he had to say, “A war, kid.

Chapter 3: Trisle

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