Template:PostCatH Post 52 opens with a brief explanation of current events for Clear and the Hopeless, detailing how Clear ahs become stranded in the Deep Void aboard The Hopeful and has no organic materials to power up the Power Core of the ship. The post flits between eight months since being stranded and six months. Upon the eighth month Clear and Mother, the ship's A.I., have activated the holoprojectors of The Hopeful to display the ghostly images of the past occupants of the ship based upon data that Mother has collected. Clear is unable to determine what these beings are but they appear to be humanoid. Upon the sixth month Clear has lost herself to depression and alcohol until Mother helps her in the Medical Bay using the new hard-light projector that she had found. She also reveals that she has found organic matter and Clear must investigate the DNA Storage room. The DNA samples she finds allows Mother to piece together the ghost-program and Clear can watch the mysterious beings live out their lives on the ship - hoping giving Clear some clues as to what happened. Finally Clear is unable to sleep in her own room, as it is occupied by the ghosts, so she sleeps in the Dreamviewer. There she meets Hope, again, aboard The Clearness but also a mysterious cloaked being who leads them to a new room that Clear has never seen. In this dream-room she sees bacta tanks and someone inside.
Introduction to Chapter Two
Clear and the Hopeless
Welcome to Chapter 2 of Clear and the Hopeless. This thread is written by myself, Britt, and exists in the extended universe of the Never-ending Story. Other Writers have a large degree of input on the narrative, including the featuring of many Characters taken from both in-universe NeS threads and from external self-made sources.
The Story follows Clear, a Martian Salmitton, who is the captain of the massive space vessel named The Hopeful. The Hopeful, however, is a dilapidated wreck with an ancient and mysterious history. It's state of disrepair is the butt of Clear's private joke, calling The Hopeful "The Hopeless". On a more metaphorical level, "the hopeless" also refers to the Individuals she associates with and join her on her adventures through space.
The Hopeful has has a new engine installed, the Bagan Noz Drive, which circumvents space-time by travelling through the dimension commonly known as Tartarus. Tartarus is, however, a dangerous and volatile dimension that damaged The Hopeful when they last jumped. It also drained all energy from the Power Core Clear installed long ago. The Power Core requires organic energy, however, to be functional again; at the cost of the organic material's existence, killing any person that touches it and converting them into energy.
Clear saw the deaths of her friends aboard the Mirare spacestation when Sue'san Dienhand destroyed the entire station. Mother, The Hopeful's A.I., committed a jump using the Bagan Noz Drive with poorly configured calibrations that resulted in the loss of all energy in the Power Core and severe damage to the, already damaged, ship. Six months of mourning and lamenting her fate, Clear faces the possibility of being stranded in the Deep Void for the remainder of her life...
Eight months after being marooned in the Deep Void...
Clear: "It's surreal... creepy even..."
She stands atop of the metal staircase that leads down into the hangar. People. Thousands of people. They unload luggage, mill about talking to each other or take orders from their superior officers. Clear has never seen so many people in one place in her whole life. Aboard spacestations like Mirare or Saffron 5 she was always in small enclosed spaces where there was never enough room for these sheer numbers. She resists the urge to run and hide. That would be childish. So many months all alone and now she is surrounded by unbearable numbers of beings.
Clear: "Are they... human?"
They appear human. They come in a variety of colours from white to brown to black or yellow, as does their hair. The hair, however, seems to be an even wider array of colours but Clear suspects none of the more inhuman colours are necessarily their naturally characteristics. They all seem bigger than the humans she'd met before but Clear's understand of human anatomy has always been skewed by her prior conceptions. She believes their increased mass for both the men and the women is down to them being military personnel. Of course they'd be bigger and stronger with all that training. She does think they seem bigger than Kiron Nightstrider and Cassra-Terrin Pullista and they were also military humans. That moment, thinking of her lost friends, swells a dark and empty pit in her stomach. It's removed when she sees some of the people approach the stairwell she's standing at the top of. She leans over the railing and stares down at them. A group of men. Clear's eyes almost fall from their sockets and she pulls back from sight of them.
She snaps in horror.
Mother: "What is it?"
Clear: "Why are they naked!?"
Clear: "Yes! They have no clothes on! I can see their... dangling about like... long... things..."
Mother: "I understand. The samples don't, of course, include clothing DNA so the rendering only produces their biological characteristics."
Clear: "Then how do you know what their hairstyle was like?"
Clear: "Oh... can you try to put clothes on them? I don't want to be walking around with bollocks staring at me everywhere I go..."
Mother: "Or you staring at them..."
The figures in the hangar shimmer. And then they are all clothed. Clear looks down at the men headed her way. They're wearing white one-pieces robes much like the fashion of her own people. Clear doesn't question Mother's choice, it's better than nothing at all.
While most of the holographic figures are interacting with each other and standing, seemingly firmly, on the hangar deck, others appear to be floating and walking down invisible steps from invisible ships. The group of men draw closer to her and Clear steps back, not wanting to touch them. The men are talking gibberish that Clear can't understand but they seem energetic and enthusiastic. A new home for them. She looks down at the rest of the incoming crew and then decides to stalk after the first group that went by her. They lift their arms to check pieces of invisible paper and when they reach their designated rooms they bid farewell to each other. Mother simulates the act of the door opening for Clear's convenience and she follows the man into his new room. He interacts with non-existent objects that she can only guess at before he slips into the bathroom where she decides to leave him be.
Clear: "Mother, keep a log of all their actions, especially important things. If any of them go for the weapon room... let me know immediately."
Mother: "I shall..."
Clear turns to see a group of women coming towards her. Their forms, like the men, are ghosted and their colours saturated. She steps back only to jump in fright as the man emerges from his room and passes straight through her. The man begins talking to the women in his alien language gibberish. Clear shudders. She felt nothing when he went through her but the psychological affect on her mind was to send chills up her spine.
Clear: "Just... who are they?"
"The (living) daylights that you beat out of someone were originally slang for "the eyes" (1752), extended figuratively to the vital senses." ~ Online Etymology Dictionary[Ext 1]
Six months since being marooned in the Deep Void...
Clear staggers out of the Dreamviewer room with a bottle of Old Grey in her hand. It's one of the last remaining bottles of booze from Mirare, possibly now one of the last to ever be made in the universe. To its credit it hits hard. The last of something should go out with a bang. It's a shame she can't go the same way.
She'd dreamt about "Hope", the green-skinned woman in a metaphorical galaxy from the depths of her subconscious mind. She isn't sure if Hope is supposed to be herself or if Hope the woman is supposed to be the Hopeless. The dreams have hidden meanings, some easier to see than others. In some ways Clear feels like Hope and her friends are living in some alternate reality and that scares Clear more than them being metaphors her subconscious wants to tell her. Hope dies every night, consumed by the darkness. The darkness of the Dark Water maybe. Or the darkness of the Deep Void outside. An endless ocean of darkness slowly consuming Clear's existence. How long would it be before those remaining friends in the Perseus Arm forget her? Will there be any left? Kokoro Lymn went through a mysterious portal to save her master, facing off against the Dark Water. Ffion Heul joined a superhero team that took an invasion their planet as a casual and common event to be dealt with like it's paperwork. And Princess Aurora Briarose... how long would she have without the medicine from Mirare? Could the medicine be replicated without Mirare? Dreams of Hope and her friends often bring tears to Clear come the morning as she sees them together. Perhaps Hope has it better, consumed by the darkness along with her friends while Clear is left to languish alone in nothingness.
She stumbles down the corridor, wandering aimlessly away from the Dreamviewer room. She feels hungry but eating seems like too much effort. She chugs from the bottle. It's easier.
Clear, through bleary eyes, turns to see a woman standing beside her. Pink-red skin, pink lips and thick white hair. Clear whimpers as she looks at her.
She reaches out hesitantly. She doesn't believe this woman is here. She can't be here. Yet her hand connects with the soft skin of a real person. Clear cries out and falls into her mother's chest.
Clear: "H-How!? How are you alive!?"
Her mother just hushes her daughter and strokes her hair soothingly. Clear drops the bottle of Old Grey and it clatters to the floor, spilling its contents everywhere...
Eight Months after being marooned in the Deep Void...
Clear has been people-watching for hours. She followed them around the ship, inspected what they were doing and tried to guess why they were doing it. They often interacted with things that no longer seemed to exist and Clear could only guess what equipment must have once existed aboard the Hopeless that these people were using. Most of the static equipment, such as console banks, seemed to be utilised as they currently stood. She watched them in the Command Centre. It was uncomfortable for Clear to find herself seated in a room surrounded by people that was normally very empty. She'd never seen so many chairs in use. The consoles at the front were being manned by three people, a job she usually did all by herself. Based on the motions and keys pushed on the consoles in the Command Centre Mother judged that they were uploading A.I. systems to the ship. Clear also tried to see what was happening in the Command Deck but, strangely, the holographic images always faded whenever they went through the locked door leading to that hallowed ground. Instead there was just Icer, still standing there forever burning.
Clear: "Are they your people, Captain?"
She puts her hand on the portal window and taps the glass. Icer looks like those people, built strong and beautiful. White skin and brown hair. Human but slightly different. Their non-human status was confirmed when Clear saw some of their images shimmer and distort into blurry ghosts of themselves. Mother ascertained that they were doing something with their bodies that her projectors couldn't simulate without necessary dating alluding to what they were doing. She assured Clear that whatever it was it was a biological function and had nothing to do with technology they may have possessed. They didn't do it often but it did happen a few times and usually got reactions from the other holograms.
Clear leaves Icer, pondering the problem, but decides she needs to get some sleep. She tired after a long day of excitement. Watching these people had been a marvel and a lot of work. She pushes the button for her room and slips inside, pulling a ribbon from her hair to untether the braid. But cries with fright as she turns to see people on her bed, forgetting that her room would have belonged to one of these people in the past, just like all rooms. She throws herself back against the wall before realising her mistake. Then she realises what the two people are doing. It looks weird because they're still wearing simulated clothes that Mother has adorned them with, but there's no mistaking the copulation of two adult males. Clear turns to leave, pushing the button to open her door again. She pauses. Grabs a beer and closes the door again with a sly smirk.
Six months after being marooned in the Deep Void...
Clear awakes with such a jolt that she falls from the medical bed and lands on the cold, hard floor of the medical bay. She recognises the alertness of medication being pumped into her system, a trick Alexis Thrain used to do to clear her of a handover. A foot falls next to her and Clear sees the boot.
She looks up.
Clear: "M-mother! You... you were real!?"
Clear pulls herself to her feet. She's less inclined to leap into her mother's long-lost embrace this time.
Mother: "I used data from Dr Thrain's procedures to help you. Do you feel well, Clear?"
Clear nods dumbly and allows her mother to guide her back into the bed. Clear lies back. She expects to wake up again at any moment.
Her mother is wearing Clear's leather savaging gear - the clothes she usually wore to go running around Mars. Tight to the body, protective against the elements and very mucky. Clear stares at her but her mother doesn't seem to feel the necessity to explain herself.
Clear: "Why are you here?"
Mother: "I thought you needed my help."
Clear: "How are you here?"
Mother: "You mean how do I have a physical presence?"
Clear winces at her own stupidity but refrains from facepalming. She groans instead and glares at the ceiling.
Clear: "Yes, Mother... how are you walking around?"
Mother's physical manifestation disappears in a shimmer of holographic light and floating there is a small diamond-shaped machine. Mother's voice emanates from the device.
Mother: "This is a holographic projector. It emits hard-light, so I can interact with the physical world. I found the device in the place you call Hebedee's workshop. I fixed it."
Clear: "It's nice that you can do this. Amazing really. But it seems like a waste of energy. There's barely enough to keep the lights on without you running around consuming energy."
Mother: "I understand that concern. However the holographic projectors use less energy than the lights of a room. I believe the benefit of my physical presence will be a greater boon than the energy loss. I may be able, in this form, to help counter that loss. At least that is my hope."
Clear shakes her head. Stupid word. Always has been.
Clear: "Did you say projectors? As in more than one?"
Mother: "The entire ship is outfitted with hoolographic projectors. They are fixed to the same fixtures as the lighting."
Clear: "Wow. Note never mentioned them."
Mother: "They are of little use. This hard-light projector is quite different than those holographic projectors. Those projectors only show images, not physical manifestations. I would say that they are normally unnecessary and do use more power than this device."
Her image shimmers back to life, projected from the device within her new body.
Clear: "Well you're very real feeling. So it's a pretty impressive device."
Mother picks up Clear's white one-piece and hands it over to Clear.
Clear: "How did you take my clothes off?"
Mother: "You are surprisingly cooperative when drunk."
Clear slips from the bed and pulls her outfit on, starting with the legs, then her arms. She finishes by zipping it up at the side. She turns to find Mother holding out the belt which she accepts and fastens about her narrow waist. Clear turns to look at Mother again. It's a strange sensation to see her mother standing there but not being her true mother. She likes it though. She's no longer alone.
Clear: "Did you find anything else interesting? I remember I asked you to search the ship for something that might help us. I guess that's when you found that? That hard-light thingy?"
Mother nods. It's an unusual forced motion that Clear finds creepy. The A.I. would have a lot to do to make her actions more natural and fluid.
Mother: "Many things. None that will help us with the power core though..."
Mother: "I did, however, find a lot of organic matter though..."
Clear: "What? Where? It's not those hamburgers is it? I already checked the synthesizer plant and there's nothing left."
Mother: "No. That materials was cleaned up a long time ago. There's no organic material left in the synthesizer room or the processing plant. The organic material is being stored in a different room. Data on the room has been classified, however."
Clear: "Classified? How can it be classified to you?"
Mother: "I was not installed by the people that put the classified certificate on this room. In fact many files are classified and I cannot access them."
Clear: "Typical Hopeless. Locked out of our own ship's files. Guess I'll have to head down to check it out. If it turns out to be a horde of slimy monsters, I'll be very upset."
Mother: "Perhaps you should take a weapon with you...?"
Clear: "... you think it could be a horde of slimy monsters!?"
Clear: "Right... I'll take my old carbine just in case then..."
Eight months after being marooned in the Deep Void...
Clear certainly feels she understands a lot more about male anatomy after that little science experiment. At least she thinks of it as a science experiment, makes her feel less dirty after she had Mother remove their clothes. She gets to the Dreamviewer. Mother had already checked and none of the ghosts occupied that room, unlucky for the salmitton. She yawns loudly. She hadn't drunk a drop of alcohol for two months. Ever since she headed off on her mysterious adventure to find organic material for the power core. Being free of alcohol had been good for that time, keeping her mind clear for the tasks that needed to be done in order to get her plot to come to fruition. There was a lot of trial and error without the more tech-savvy Hebedee here to help her, but she knew enough about machines to learn her way through to get the holographic projectors to work.
The room had been a very long, thin room filled with drawers like a morgue. She had been afraid to open them but when she did she found that instead of actual bodies the drawers were filled with DNA samples of the entire crew that once inhabited The Hopeful. It was Mother's hard-light form that gave Clear the brilliant spark to take that DNA, process it and create projections of them. Originally Clear just wanted to see what they looked like but Mother suggested she could create what she called "echoes". Using the ship's age-old system data, normally useless information stored in its lowest memory banks, she could pin-point individuals based on their names. With the DNA processing idea of Clear's Mother was able to put those images into the system, assign them to an echo imprint in the subsystem data and lo they had ghosts. Echoes. Living memories walking around the ship. If they ran the entire subroutine they could monitor these ancient people and learn much about them and what they did. Clear wanted to know about the superweapon and be vindicated in what it could and couldn't do and when it may have been used. So far, however, none of the people went near it. Anywhere near it, in fact. It seems that these people, much like Clear, didn't use even half of the ship. It was just too big. Evidently these people were, also like Clear, merely inhabiting the ship and not its original occupants.
Clear climbs into the Dreamviewer and lies back in the comfortable chair. It's more like her bed, she feels, than her real bed. She switches through the options. She doesn't want to dream of Hope this time. She hopes she can dream of something more relaxing...
Hope stands beside Clear and they walk down the corridors of the Clearness... or the Hopeless, Clear can't tell anymore. This time they are alone. Hope's friends are not with her, seemingly reflecting how Clear feels. But they are following someone. A tall figure, shrouded by a robe and a large hood. Clear thinks it's a man. He guides them and they follow willingly, almost eagerly. He walks past the room with the controls of the super-weapon. Clear looks inside. The door is wide open and the consoles are all active with a big countdown. But they keep walking by. Then they enter a new room. Is this the DNA storage room? It looks similar. There are fewer storage devices though. Just two. No three. A forth appears at the end of the room. But this forth one is not for DNA storage. There's a body floating inside what Clear thinks is bacta. Hope suddenly turns and runs but Clear feels compelled to stay. She doesn't know why. She turns to look up at the figure in the tank. The man-shaped cloak beside her suddenly drops to the ground in a heap. Clear looks down at it. Then up at the figure in the tank. The eyes open.
Clear wakes with a jolt, almost banging her head on the Dreamviewer.
Clear: "These stupid bloody dreams... they're getting more and more obnoxious."