THE PURIFICATION - First Scene



Chapter One

Dr. Albert Snowden waved his hand through the air, causing solar systems to slide across his view. He marveled at the holographic models that the planar cartography lab could generate. Standing in the middle of the room, he could use arm and hand gestures to soar through the galaxy, and beyond. He wished he had this technology back in college.

Thump! Thump! Thump! Thump!

He sighed as he ran his hand over his balding head and tufts of gray hair. After pausing the holograms, he glanced over at his early twenties niece, Emily, sitting at a desk in the corner. Of all the places to be on a ship that could travel through space and time, she chose to be there, thumping her hands away as she browsed an embedded screen in a desk. She had on earplugs that fit snugly and dodged strands of her dirty-blond hair. The nanobots that coursed through him gave him heightened senses, and one of those was hearing. Maybe her nanobots were not helping her hear his frustrated sighs.

He shook his head as he went over to her desk and tapped at it. “Emily!”

Emily looked up and pulled out an earplug.

“You’re thumping your fingers again.”

Emily hunched her shoulders. “Sorry.”

He eyed her. After a moment, he went back to the center of the room. With a quick tap in the air, the holographic models swirled around. He had been studying a planet called Gliese 832c in a solar system about sixteen light-years away from Earth and wanted to see if there was a model with information on it. As he swiped his hands through the various solar systems, looking for Gliese 832c, he reflected on where he was. Evaran had saved them from an alien abduction and allowed them to travel with him on his ship, the Torvatta. Being able to go through space and time was just one thing they got to enjoy. He was uncertain of half the things he had learned, but there was one thing he was certain of—reality was much stranger than it let on.

Thump! Thump! Thump! Thump!

His blood boiled as he snapped his head toward Emily. With fire in his step, he hustled over to her. He slammed his hand down on Emily’s desk.

Emily jumped as she took out her earplugs. “Sorry …”

“Isn’t there someplace else you can do that?”

Emily’s eyes widened.

Before Dr. Snowden could respond, Emily scrambled from her chair and ran out of the room. He sighed as he massaged his temples. His temper disappeared just as quickly as it had come. The anger flashes seemed to occur much more frequently since traveling with Evaran. There were some instances where it was warranted, but he found that even small things could set it off. Emily had become a target of it for the first time. Maybe it was the nanobots inside him. For a short while, they did carry the essence of another person, but that had been resolved. He shook his head as he pinched his hands at the holographic models. They dissipated as he exited the room.

The planar cartography lab was his favorite spot on the Torvatta. Not only could he go there to unwind, but it was a place of research. Evaran had mentioned that it had the capability to show every place in the universe, but that it was locked down to this universe, timeline, and places Evaran had been. Upon request, Evaran allowed Dr. Snowden to see additional parts of the Milky Way galaxy that coincided with Dr. Snowden’s research that was done while teaching astronomy.

He walked through the empty research lab. Gadgets and devices lay around haphazardly on top of tables. He enjoyed this room a lot, although not quite as much as the planar cartography lab. His mind snapped back to the situation as he walked out of the lab and into the main area of the ship.

Looking around, he saw the front third of the disk-shaped ship was empty. He did a quick check into the two doors to his right and three doors to his left across from the entrance. The doors led to dimensional areas that did not take up any area in normal space. Dimensional mechanics, as he had come to understand it, was something he had on his list to learn more about. He went to the command area in the front of the ship and saw V, a metallic-skinned robot with lines and designs segmenting his body, in front of a U-shaped console. It still amazed him that Evaran had built V.

He stood behind V and followed V’s gaze to the two front screens hanging on the transparent walls. One screen had data on it, while the other showed Evaran leaning over the blue semitransparent waist-high guardrail on the roof edge. Dr. Snowden shook his head at Evaran’s hair. It never appeared to move, even in combat. Evaran’s fair skin was a constant as well.

“Dr. Snowden. Is everything okay?” asked V.

Dr. Snowden jumped. “Yeah … was just looking for Emily.” He had become used to the robotic-sounding voice of V, with its raspy digital effect, and the particular way both Evaran and V spoke.

“Analysis. She entered the living quarters three minutes ago. Her pace, heartbeat, and breathing suggest she is upset,” said V.

“Yeah … that’s on me.”

“Is she in need of comforting? I am knowledgeable in several calming techniques.”

Dr. Snowden chuckled. “No … it’s something I need to take care of.” He pointed a finger at the screen with Evaran. “What’s he up to?”

“Analysis. Evaran is studying the rings of Saturn.”

“Ahh. I’d been planning on going up there myself after the lab,” said Dr. Snowden. He tilted his head at V. “I woulda thought you’d be up there.”

“I am not sure if it is appropriate.”

Dr. Snowden jerked his head back. “Why’s that …”

“Evaran studied cosmic phenomena with U4, my predecessor, on the roof. It was a common occurrence.”

Dr. Snowden studied V. He knew V had limited emotions but did not know that V was capable of feeling like this. “Was U4 designed like you?”

“Yes. She had a similar body and an orb mode with less functionality, but she preferred body mode, while I prefer orb mode. Her death occurred on Evaran’s first visit to Earth.”

Dr. Snowden’s eyes widened. “Were they … close?”

“Yes. She traveled with Evaran for three hundred twenty-three years.”

Dr. Snowden’s jaw dropped as he gazed at the screen. He knew Evaran was probably older than he looked, but not three-hundred-plus-type old. “How old is Evaran exactly?”

“You must ask Evaran that question.”

“Fine … ,” said Dr. Snowden. He furrowed his eyebrows. “Do you … want to go up there?”

V tilted his head at Dr. Snowden. “Yes.”

Dr. Snowden placed a hand on V’s shoulder. “Then go on up!”

V paused as he studied Dr. Snowden. “Acknowledged.”

A smile lit up Dr. Snowden’s face as he watched V head to the elevator that went to the roof. His smile faded when he went to the living quarters. He took a deep breath and pressed a button on the console outside Emily’s room. After a moment of no response, he pressed again. Still nothing. He pressed another button. “Emily … I know you can hear me. I just want to talk.”

The door slid open, and he entered the room. Emily was sitting on a couch in the middle of the large living room at the end of the short hallway he was in. She sat with her knees pulled up to her chest, and her puffy eyes dominated her face. He sat in a chair perpendicular to the couch. A digitized roar made him jump up. He reached under himself and picked up Mr. Smith, a stuffed tiger toy that Dan, his deceased brother and Emily’s father, had given to her as a child. He half grinned. “Why, that little rascal.”

Emily chuckled.

Dr. Snowden sat back down and looked at her. “Look. Back there, in the lab. I … lost control. Not mad at you, just … edgy for some reason.”

Emily looked down. “It’s okay. I know when I’m not wanted around.”

Dr. Snowden stiffened. “That’s not it at all.”

Emily raised her head with lips turned down. “Just feels like sometimes you don’t want me here.”

“No … why would you think that?”

“Mom left me when I was born. Dad left me when I went to college. Then you were going to leave me to travel with Evaran. Just feels like life is trying to make me be alone.”

Dr. Snowden studied Emily. It never crossed his mind that she would feel this way. “Two of those were out of your control. As for leaving you, I wasn’t going to go with Evaran if you didn’t want to come. We do it together, or not at all.”

“You would’ve resented me. I only came because you wanted to go.”

Dr. Snowden sighed as he sat next to Emily. “We can leave whenever you want if you’re not happy.” He put his arm around her. “What’s important is you’re a part of my life, wherever we are or go.”

Emily nodded and leaned into him.

“You’re the most important thing in my life. You’re a Snowden, never forget that,” said Dr. Snowden in a cracked voice.

“I’m glad I’m a thing and not a person then.”

They laughed and enjoyed the moment.

Dr. Snowden stood and gestured toward the door. “Want to see something interesting?”

Emily perked her head up as she dried her face with her hands.

“Apparently, Evaran traveled with U4, V’s predecessor, and used to hang out on the roof, studying stuff with her. V didn’t join Evaran because he didn’t feel it was appropriate.”

“V … was anxious?”

“Seemed that way. I encouraged him to go up before coming here. Care to join me?”

Emily smiled as she stood and nodded.

They exited Emily’s room and headed toward the elevator. When they got there, V stood in front of it.

“V? I thought you were going up?” said Dr. Snowden.

“I am running simulations on the best approach.”

Dr. Snowden shook his head. “You think too much. Come on, we’re going up and you can come with us.”

“Acknowledged.”

They entered the elevator and exited it when it reached the top.

Evaran stood on the edge of the ship’s circular roof, leaning out over the waist-high thin blue shield that ringed the edges. He turned his head to the side. “I was wondering when you three would show up.”

Dr. Snowden and Emily headed off to the left side of Evaran while V went to the right.

“Things happen, you know. Find anything interesting?” asked Dr. Snowden, glancing out at the sparse objects in Saturn’s rings.

“Just admiring the water ice formations.”

Dr. Snowden looked around. “What ring are we in?”

“According to Earth terminology, we are in ring B,” said V.

Emily shook her head. “No idea what you’re talking about. It looks cool, though.”

V glanced at Emily. “I agree.”

Evaran tilted his head at V with narrowed eyes. “Do you like looking at things like this?”

“Yes.”

“You should come up more often when I am out here.”

“Acknowledged,” said V, glancing at Dr. Snowden.

Dr. Snowden grinned as he saw V’s lights glow a bit brighter. His grin faded when a low thumping sound emanated around them. Everything outside the ship faded to black for a brief moment, then eased back into view. It reminded him of how traveling in time looked when he first saw the Torvatta do it. “Umm … what the heck was that?”

“Interesting. It would appear a timeline update has occurred.”

Dr. Snowden’s eyes widened as Emily gripped his right arm. “A cascading timeline update. A CTU, right?”

“That is correct,” said Evaran. “Do not worry. You are protected from any timeline change while on the Torvatta.”

Dr. Snowden’s heartbeat ramped up as he looked around. He knew that timeline updates only went forward in time, but the Torvatta’s reaction was new to him. To be able to go through it, and see what update had been done, was awe inspiring to him. He hunched over and gripped the guardrail shielding as the sound faded away.

When it had passed, he heard Emily gasp as she pointed out into the rings. It had hundreds of small ships flying around the rings, shooting lasers and scooping up objects.

Evaran nodded. “Your first timeline update in a temporally shielded ship. You will get used to it. Now, are you ready to explore?”


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