Cargo Serial, Episode 1

A science fantasy serial.



October 2023


“Am I dead?” Rebecca could only see white. A sense of vertigo seemed to wash over her, but she wasn’t sure. She was certain she had a body, but couldn’t see or feel it. She wasn’t even sure she had actually asked the question. But she felt others. Like she wasn’t alone.

“How does she know the Holy Language?”

Rebecca jolted to awareness. That wasn’t her voice. But who? “Is this Heaven?”



“Where did you learn the Holy Language?”

The question felt ominous. Perhaps this wasn’t Heaven? “A Teacher gave me Samanya.”

“You call it,” a pause, “Common?” She got the impression the person was aghast at that trivial name.

“Well, yes.” Samanya seemed to encompass more than the simple word Common, however. Like origin, but more. She always wondered about that. The translation of the name was simply Common because there was no other way to express the deeper meaning of Samanya. “Am I dead?”

“What is a Teacher?”

“They’re like…” Rebecca stopped. “Why won’t anyone answer my question? Who are you? Are you an angel? Demon?”

She almost felt the smirk.

“Who we are is irrelevant.” A short pause. “Who is Steven Crow?”

“Uh uh. Quid pro quo, buddy. And that’s English. Well, Latin.” If Rebecca knew where her arms were she would have crossed them. She winced and saw Steven in her memories. She had met him briefly at the embassy on Endard.

“Answering our questions is not required. We just need to bring the memories forward.”

Smug. She got the sense that response was smug. “You know I’m a physicist, right? You want information brought forward, I can turn on the spigot and obfuscate everything.”

She focused on her math and lectures. Simple stuff. Irrelevant stuff. Basic gravity and velocity equations for orbital insertion. Automotive braking math at certain speeds. She dug her heels in and thought of math predicting basic fluid dynamics in a curved pipe.

“You are not dead.”

“Hah!” She wanted to cross her arms, but still couldn’t feel them. “Steven is just some fella from Earth who wasn’t a fella from Earth even though he really was from Earth and now he’s most definitely NOT from Earth. Sorta.”

“Her comprehension of the creature is limited.”

“I’m gathering that.”

“Two voices? Who are you?” Rebecca felt like she waved her hands in exasperation.

“I am still not detecting the Cursed One.”

“Maybe I’m in Hell after all?” Rebecca mused. “Why can’t I see anything? Am I in a hospital? Or is this a dream? I did a dissertation on Lucid Dreaming for my freshman year.”

“The Steven Crow has had contact with her.”

“I was working at the embassy. Everyone has had contact with me.” Rebecca sensed frustration from her interrogators.

“Not you.” Pause. “You’ve heard of Aliya.”

“There. She remembers something.”

“Okay, first voice is going to be Fred. Second one is Bob. And yes, we are acutely aware of Aliya. She caused the War.”

“She’s never met her.”

“Aliya may not have sent the attack, then.”

“Fred, what attack? You think she sent the asteroid?” Rebecca interjected. “And why this? Am I under anesthesia?” She imagined herself waving her arms around at the pure white.

A figure suddenly appeared before her, sitting in a chair. Interestingly, he looked like a regular human, dressed in jeans and a flannel button-down shirt. What her father usually wore. “We are very sorry. You do not have the information we need.”

Rebecca frowned. “Um, sorry for what? You’re letting me go, right? Waking me up? I’m just a dork out in the middle of space taking a joy-ride.”

“You will be terminated. We just wanted to let you know that it is not our desire to kill. Just a necessity.”

“So you are sitting in a chair here in this white whatever, just casually telling me you’re going to murder me?” Rebecca felt utterly helpless. Maybe she was already dead.

“It is a demonstration of respect. We had hoped you would not be conscious of us. But your lack of data felt like deceit and we had to make ourselves known. That knowledge of us cannot persist.”

“Make me forget then. Killing me because I’m having some hallucinations? Really?” She wanted to run, but couldn’t. She wanted to rage at the idiocy they were suggesting, but even that was denied her. She felt muted and hated the feeling. Was this all some torment of Hell after all?

“We…” Fred paused. He squinted at her. Even with his calm demeanor, she got the impression he became very alarmed. “You’ve been in contact with the Malakim! How have you survived?”

“Um.” Rebecca had no response, suddenly distracted from her growing terror. Then she saw him in another memory brought forward. Her physics professor, family friend, and mentor. “That’s Brian.”

Brian was talking to her about the cosmos. Rebecca smiled at the memory. He was a grizzled, aging black man who appeared as excited as a twenty-year-old. Was she never going to see him again? Or her parents? Then Brian stopped talking to her and looked around behind him.

“He sees us! He knows of us!”

“That’s just a memory. I think Mom said something.” Rebecca said, perplexed by Fred’s sudden departure from calm and dispassionate. Why was he so disturbed by a memory?

But Brian looked directly at Fred and smiled as he turned to face him. It was like he paused the memory and embarked on a gratuitous fourth wall-break. He leaned forward while Fred cringed. “This one belongs to me. I shall take your Drone too.” He reached out and touched Fred, who promptly vanished.

Suddenly Rebecca found herself alone in the sea of white. Or was she? “Hello? Brian?”


She flinched. “Bob?”


“Where am I?”

“In a stasis pod. Your counterpart put you in the pod in an attempt to exclude us.”

“Stasis? I’m in temporal storage?”

“Time is passing around us rather than through us.”

“Could you mansplain that again, please?” Rebecca tried to hide her confusion with irritation. It proved easy to do. A roller-coaster of emotions seemed to be coursing through her. She still had no point of reference. Just white brilliance all around her. “But, I’m aware. I’m talking to you.” A strong argument for an anesthesia hallucination dream. How could she possibly be aware of anything in the absence of time?

“Our consciousnesses are not constrained by time.”

Rebecca thought furiously. That seemed too easy. So’rn had put her in the pod to protect her. She was being attacked. Could she trust anything Bob said? Was she in danger? “Are you going to hurt me?”

“We are one, now. The Malakim has seen to that.”


“I am your Drone.”

“Oh, well. That explains everything. Can I, am I injured?”

“No. My previous Pilot had yet to issue a termination command. You are in perfect health.”

“I want out. How do I get out?” Rebecca felt herself squirming. She swallowed back a panic attack, refusing to give in to the tendrils of mindless fear that threatened to consume her. “Please, I want out. How can I be in stasis and aware like this?”

“We woke your consciousness to interrogate you. I am not able to return you to your slumber.”

“I want out!”

“I am currently working on that. Your counterpart is resisting me.”

“Counterpart. So’rn? Don’t hurt him!” Rebecca grew even more alarmed.

“Given your fondness for him, hurting him is not an option I am entertaining.”

Rebecca didn’t believe him. “You attacked him. Then me. Why isn’t he in stasis?”

“His armor resisted us. You had no armor. And he is the one who put us in stasis.”

“Oh. Yeah. Wow. I want that armor.” Rebecca remembered how robust it was. How alien it was. Fascination with it momentarily distracted her from her growing panic attack.

“I am your armor now.”

“Huh? Bob? Just what are you?”

“A Drone.”

“You’re that black stuff?”

“That would be correct.”

Rebecca sensed a little condescension. “Hey, I’m just Terran. Give me some slack, okay?”

“You are now my Pilot. There will be no slack.”

Rebecca sensed a pause. “Bob?”

The whiteness abruptly turned to black. Rebecca gasped and let out a squeak, then realized that she actually made those sounds. Blinking, she squinted. “I’m back?”

“Yes. Your sight will return when your nervous system reaches equilibrium with the flow of time.”

“That’s real funny, Bob. I wasn’t frozen in carbonite.” Rebecca reached up with her hands and touched her face. “Oh, I can feel again!”

“Your entertainment is quite peculiar. The similarity was unintended, however.”

“Can I see you?” She looked around in the darkness. “Where are you?”

“I am part of you, now.”

“Pfft. You’re a voice in my head. I may as well call you Jarvis, then. You need a British accent, though.” Rebecca laughed, relieved to be able to sense her surroundings. “I’m alive? I really am alive?”

“One moment.”

Rebecca was about to ask why when suddenly everything came into view. Not just the visible spectrum, but into the radio and X-ray and even into the gamma spectrum. Rebecca pushed on the sides of the pod, taking it all in. “Oh, my! Sensory overload! Did you do that?”

“I have augmented your limited vision.”

“Yeah, a little less, please.” Rebecca couldn’t squint or even close her eyes against the onslaught of light.

“Your brain will become accustomed to it shortly.”

“Sure. Not. I’m your Pilot. Dial it back now!”

“I’m your Drone. I will not limit myself or you. Just relax.”

“Feeling more like I have Venom than Jarvis,” Rebecca grumbled.

“You have me. You will be okay.” Bob said. “You may remove the cover.”

Rebecca looked up at the cover of the stasis pod. She sensed everything about it. Its mass, density, position in reality, even the quantum imperfections. “Oh wow. I might just throw up.”

She felt around the edge of the cover and found the release. Except, it was on the outside. “How am I doing this?” A little pressure and the latch clicked, allowing the pod cover to lift up. She reached up with her hand and touched it. The sensation was almost anticlimactic, given her expanded senses and abilities. Using her hands seemed insignificant now. She looked at them, wiggling her fingers. “Bob?”

“Our Unity,” he said simply, anticipating her unspoken question.


Sitting up in the pod, Rebecca spun around and saw an armored figure struggling through a black mass that restrained him. She felt him as much as saw him. As if she was the black mass. Relaxing instinctively, she sensed the organic mass abruptly fade from existence. It reminded her of the Keratian robes seeming to waft away when they no longer needed them. The figure stumbled and had to catch himself and she resisted the urge to reach out to him. “So’rn! You’re alive!”

So’rn froze, gaping at her. She actually saw his expression through his opaque armor.

“Um, what?” Rebecca suddenly felt self-conscious.

“Are you really… you?” So’rn took a wary stance, glancing around then back at her.

“Hey, you’re the one who wanted a stupid rock.” Rebecca swung her legs over the edge of the pod and stood up. She teetered a little, looking down. Why did she even have to stand? Gravity seemed so limiting. “Stop it, Bob. I like standing.”

“If you say so.”

More condescension. She looked at So’rn. “Are you okay?”

“You’re asking me?” So’rn shook his head. He tentatively reached and grabbed her hand, looking like he was ready to run away at any moment. Her massive wolfman, now afraid of her? “Over here. Look.”

Rebecca rolled her eyes and looked at a wall. It had been a display of the exterior of the ship. It abruptly changed into a mirror. She flinched, stumbling back. “Holy crap!”

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