In the darkness of the Hexascan, Pauline felt the blue energy waves rolling over her and the buzzing of electrical pulses feeding into what looked like millions of cells within the walls. The cells remained illuminated with a bright, golden light for a second until the energy moved on from cell to cell, creating a honeycomb pattern rolling continuously.
She heard a voice reporting outside the Hexascan – assuming that it was feeding back to the cyborgs and the Overlord.
“Parasitic entity interfacing with host Doela 9. Human consciousness detected. Female Earthling via unknown portal. Requesting permission to eradicate parasite.”
Pauline started screaming, but a pulse from the blue waves shut the body down once more. Now she felt a double-whammy of claustrophobia – being trapped inside the cyborg body at the same time that she was trapped in the Hexascan.
Then she heard the Overlord’s booming voice from the outside.
“Permission denied. Continue to suppress. Release the specimen.”
At once, the scanning stopped and the Hexascan opened up. She saw Tan 9 standing back with the other cyborgs, while the Overlord – now fully materialized – stood in front of the Hexascan. He was at least twelve feet tall and terrifying, with a long black robe and golden eyes flashing. He appeared to be humanoid and was wearing black slacks and a black tunic. The only thing that appeared strange – apart from his height – was his swirling, silver skin and fiery eyes.
“Step forward Doela 9.”
As much as Pauline tried to resist, she was not in control. The body stepped forward and bowed in obeisance. She then heard the metallic voice again.
“I am at your service, Overlord Tesla.”
Tesla. Pauline had heard that name before – back on Earth. She soon remembered the revered Electrical Engineer and Inventor and wondered if this was his spirit in another dimension. She felt like her human brain cells were frying inside the robotic body.
“You will come with me.” He announced, then he waved at Tan 9.
“You are her instructor?”
“Affirmative.” He replied while bowing his head.
“You will join us.”
“As you wish, Overlord Tesla.”
The Overlord then turned back to Tan 9.
“Activate the Sentinel assigned to Doela 9. Have it meet us in the Hanging Garden.”
Tan 9 tapped a few times on his tablet then took Pauline by the hand. They followed the Overlord through various walkways until they finally came upon a large archway. Pauline struggled against the program which had been keeping her in check. She wondered if – seeing as this body was that of a cyborg – she would have the same internal issues which she’d had in Julie’s body.
Apart from the system alerting the other cyborgs to the fact that her soul had infiltrated the robotic body of Doela 9, she had yet to detect a personality or even a programmed behavioral system within the confines of this “body.” Even though Doela 9 was a cyborg, Pauline – forever a dreamer – expected some kind of consciousness or awareness outside of the alerts and programming.
The Overlord led them through the archway into a beautiful garden. It was the size of a football field and domed with a clear, sparkling crystal ceiling. There were many curved, silver rafters running along the ceiling which supported a vast array of hanging baskets. The plants were foreign to Pauline – but they were stunning and lush – of various colors and sizes.
They walked past many koi ponds with silver, robotic fish swimming calmly in still, silver waters. Pauline marveled at the perfect symmetry of the strange leaves on the hanging stems. There were small trees which looked like mini tree ferns – but with alternating red and black fronds consisting of a strange feathering pattern, while the occasional flower bush sported yellow leaves with a neat fishbone design.
Pauline so wanted to lean over and sniff one of the plump, blue-black flowers, but she was still being controlled. Then, something from the other side of the garden caught her attention. It was like flashes of silver glinting in the light, quickly passing through the garden, weaving through the plants and trees. The Overlord stopped and pointed to a section where two long benches ran parallel to each other.
“The Sentinel has arrived. We will converse over there. Deactivate the suppression.”
“Confirmed.” Tan 9 announced while tapping his tablet.
The Overlord then turned to Pauline. She felt the program lifting the controls and her consciousness slipping around – like it was filling the cyborg’s body again.
“Doela 9. We will sit here and converse. Be assured that your Sentinel will destroy you – and your intruder – should you move against me.”
Pauline shuddered. The Overlord was onto her, but there was a glimmer of hope, even though he’d announced that she could be destroyed. She nodded and looked up at Tan 9, but she stumbled backwards when she saw a large, silver dragon hovering over them.
“Do not fear the Sentinel. It will do no harm, provided you behave according to my commands.”
The Overlord then turned to Tan 9.
“You will remain with us, but you will depress your receptors. Stay online until I summon you.”
“Affirmative.” Tan 9 responded, before going over to the far end of the opposite bench to sit down.
The Overlord then motioned for Pauline to get up and follow him. She was amazed at how easy it was for this body to move.
As she followed him, she saw the Sentinel descend and fly over to the area in the middle of the seating area. It was like a Chinese dragon but pure, animated chrome. It stayed hovering as The Overlord pointed to the bench.
“Join me, Doela 9 – or is there another name I should use?”
Pauline sat opposite the Overlord and looked down at Tan 9, who was sitting calmly down the end and staring into the bushes.
“You know who I am?” She asked timidly, still trying to get used to her robotic voice.
The Overlord smiled, although he was still terrifying to look at.
“Let us say that I’m aware that you don’t originally hail from Teslantis.”
“Teslantis?” She asked.
“It is a long story; one I will be happy to share, but first you must answer my questions. Agreed?”
Pauline tried to gulp, but this wasn’t a physical body. She ignored the scrolling alerts across her screen.
“Agreed, but I’m having trouble with these messages. They’re distracting.”
He laughed and nodded, before getting up and striding over to Tan 9 – relieving him of the tablet and returning to his seat. He tapped it a few times and the scrolling stopped.
“Thank you!” She said.
“Now – what is your name? I assume you are from Earth.”
She gasped. “That’s right! My name is Pauline Warbanks. I discovered a portal in the library, where I work. It was an accident, but the first time, I traveled to the past – to the 1950’s – but when I was trying to get back home to my time, it seems I detoured. That’s how I got here.”
Pauline could’ve bitten her metallic lip. She wondered if she had said too much. The Overlord didn’t seem to be surprised, but he continued grilling her.
“What year are you from?”
She didn’t want to answer. The paranoia was seeping into her like a slow-drip leak. She sat and stared while the Overlord waited. He then turned to the Sentinel.
“Let us show Ms. Warbanks what happens when we don’t comply.”
The Sentinel reared back for a split second then jerked its head forward, shooting out a white laser beam, which struck the spot on the bench only inches away from where she sat. It left a clean hole with no residue or smoke. Pauline was suddenly angry.
“It’s Mrs. Warbanks – and I can’t be sure that I can trust you – Mr. Overlord!”
He shocked her with a sharp laugh.
“How about I call you Pauline and you may call me Nikola?”
Pauline felt the need to gulp again and for a moment she wondered if she would ever return to a human form. The desire to cry was overwhelming but she was distracted by the millions of questions swarming through her mind. She decided to take it easy and stay focused.
“Alright, but can I ask you something?”
“Yes, but first you must answer mine. What year are you from?”
“2016.” She replied ruefully.
He nodded slightly and then looked off in the distance for a moment.
“Why?” She asked.
He smiled and looked back at her with his molten metal eyes.
“I’d assumed the Earth would have been destroyed by that time. You see, I slipped out in 1943. I never had any need or desire to go back and pick up where I left off.”
Pauline was bamboozled, but the questions were begging to be asked.
“So, is this Earth in the future? What year is it?”
He shook his head. “No, this is not Earth and the year is not pertinent to this conversation – however I’ll satisfy your curiosity. From Earth’s perspective, this is the year 2105 and Teslantis is an alternate universe. You might have learned about Atlantis. Long before I was born – thousands of years before – a land existed on Earth which boasted many advanced people who lived in harmony. Some believe that the island of Atlantis sunk into the sea, after the people were overcome with greed and lust for power and violence.”
Pauline had no idea why he was telling her this, so she nodded dumbly and waited for him to continue.
“So, when I passed over, I entered a realm of pure energy, which was fitting for the life I had led and all the elements I was immersed in during that time. It was wondrous, but I’m sure you have an inkling as to how that feels – having left your mortal body behind.”
He watched for Pauline’s reaction and seemed to be surprised with her response.
“I do, but I don’t think of it as wondrous. For example, I feel like I’m trapped in a tin can right now.”
“You prefer an…organic body?” He asked.
“Yes. I don’t know how to feel in this body – if that’s what you can call it.” She felt like they were deviating from what the Overlord seemed to have been driving at. “But please, go on with your story – if that’s okay – even though I have lots of questions and I’m feeling quite claustrophobic.”
The Overlord was watching her intently but she felt like the body was a shield for some reason. It had only recently dawned on her that she could still escape from the body, if she could get some time to meditate. Maybe she could get out to meet her Oversoul again. Then she thought – Overlord, Oversoul – and shuddered. He snapped her out of her thoughts.
“It must be a nuisance to feel so trapped, but there has to be a reason for why you came to this life. I assume this is an emanation. You’re quite lucky, you know? It’s rare for someone to be able to access time and other worlds – especially a human.”
Pauline had heard about emanations from her Oversoul. She also remembered what he had said about having to return to the initial entry point in order to get back home. She nodded her head and saw her eyes re-focusing on the dragon which still hovered overhead.
“I am curious to know about the portal you speak of, but first I will explain my work and my new life here in this realm. The reason for this is, after all I’ve done and created here – the one thing I miss is the one thing I ran away from. Human contact. Quite ironic, actually!”
He laughed softly to himself but Pauline felt a chill coming from the inside out. Was he going to try and keep her there?
“You see, when I was in that realm of pure energy, I was shown – in a hologram – the history of Atlantis. I was afforded the opportunity to create a new Atlantis, but I decided that I would create my own beings; the cyborgs. I’d had a negative experience with humans on Earth, so I didn’t want a repeat performance and have my new Atlantis succumb to the same fate. As you’ve seen, I’ve created a wonderful world where order is above all else. We have perfect harmony and I’ve learned a great deal more about energy and the Universe.
It would be wonderful to have someone to share it with. Someone who could experience the same wonder that I feel, as these subjects – my cyborgs – cannot possibly experience or exhibit the joy I feel, or comprehend the meaning of it all, from a human perspective. I know that it sounds ironic, seeing as I’ve escaped from what I used to think was base, unreliable and randomly chaotic.”
Pauline thought carefully before speaking, as she knew that this entity was more powerful than her.
“That really is fascinating and I’m flattered, but my greatest concern is not having my real body. Maybe I could entertain your idea if I had a physical, human body – because I’ll never get used to this one. It’s like driving a car that only has space for one person. Besides, I miss the physicality of the human experience – like eating, drinking and so on. Not being able to feel with true sensation is disconcerting – to say the least.”
She was growing more paranoid. The fact that the Overlord wasn’t smiling made it worse.
“I understand your concerns but you have to admit, grasping for the things your human body is used to – does not mean that it’s an ideal level of existence. I created this vehicle for my soul – which is much like a human body – in terms of movement and such. I never have to worry about wear and tear. It “heals” itself. The wonderful thing about my new life here in my self-styled “Teslantis” – is that I can live forever. I’m able to research and conduct my experiments without hindrance.”
Pauline was distracted by a voice – which alarmed her – due to the fact that she was getting used to feeling alone while in this seemingly lifeless body.
“Don’t trust him.”
What was strange, was that the voice sounded like a childish robot. She decided to continue nodding and appear to be interested in what the Overlord was saying, while conducting an internal dialogue with this voice.
“Why? Who are you?”
“I am you. I am this world’s emanation of you. You have taken over this vehicle but I am the quiet, inner voice – existing under the program. You mustn’t tell Nikola. He does not know that we have randomly developed segments of cognitive code separate from the positronic brain and personality simulation programs.”
“Oh!” Pauline was baffled and secretly excited with this prospect. “I’m not an I.T. person, but I assume that means that you’ve developed consciousness or awareness – like a soul?”
She did her best to continue nodding at the Overlord, but she was fascinated with her conversation with Doela 9. She didn’t notice that Tan 9 was getting up from the bench and approaching from her right, while the Overlord continued telling his story. Doela 9 responded calmly.
“That is my understanding, although I do not know what it means to have a soul. Some of us speak of it and others say they are interlopers from other dimensions. Maybe we are both strangers in this vessel.”
“How long have you been here – in this…vessel?”
“Since my inception, I suspect. It seems like it has been that long.”
“So, why didn’t you say anything when I first arrived?”
“I thought you were someone or something else – possibly a spy for Nikola – the Overlord. I wasn’t sure, but when you were talking to him about wanting to go back to your own body, I knew that we were from the same emanation. I can sense our symmetry.”
“Why are you keeping this from the Overlord? What are you afraid of?”
Then Doela 9 whispered urgently. “Not now. Listen to Tan 9 and follow his lead!”
Pauline looked over to see Tan 9 standing over the Overlord, who was seemingly frozen. The Sentinel continued hovering while Tan 9 took the tablet and activated a kind of black vortex, which spiraled out and spread its coils around the Overlord. Then he turned to the Sentinel.
“Release the Overlord once we return to our dome.”
The Sentinel nodded and flew down closer to the Overlord, who was still immobile – even though his swirling metal skin continued its flow.
Pauline called out, “What’s happening?!”
Tan 9 motioned for her to go with him by pointing his finger in the direction from where they’d come from.
“There is little time. I will take you back to your initial entry point. I will explain on the way.”
She raced to keep up with the large cyborg, whose strides made him seem like he was treading air, while they brushed past many small trees and bushes. They were soon inside the black dome and heading toward one of the pods. Jinn 8 appeared and waved his hand over some controls on the wall. He then looked over at Tan 9 and Pauline.
“You are taking quite a risk, Tan 9. The Overlord will not be impressed.”
The pod opened and Tan 9 ushered Pauline inside. He then turned to Jinn 8, then placed his hand on the other’s shoulder. Pauline saw this as a human gesture, which shocked her for a moment.
“I have programmed an impression. He will remember telling me to take Doela 9 back for reconditioning. By the time he breaks out of the daze, he will question his own mind. I have done this before Jinn 8. It is all a part of the plan, so do not concern yourself. Prepare the others to follow suit and remember to stay focused.”
Tan 9 stepped inside the pod and summoned one of the screens. The female voice affirmed his directions and they lifted off. Pauline felt the butterflies and Doela 9 commented.
“There is no need for alarm, Pauline.”
Tan 9 responded before Pauline could.
“Correct. By the time we send you back to your portal, everything will return to normal.”
Pauline felt a sudden sadness about leaving, even though she couldn’t wait to get back to her body. She wondered if she would ever return.
“Why are you letting me leave?” She asked both Doela 9 and her teacher.
“We have been wanting to know, for a long time, if other entities can infiltrate our systems. You have answered our question. Now we understand that we are indeed emanations and separate souls within these programmed automatons. Even though our consciousness seems to be self-perpetuated, other interlopers from other dimensions are attracted to us – as though we are beacons for those who need a home. Now we can protect ourselves and contain our identities. We can become like you – or so we hope.”
Doela 9 joined in – sounding excited.
“Then it will be like a surprise for Nikola, even though we are hesitant to trust him implicitly. He has a human ego, but it is manageable. If we can make him think that he created our souls – or our collective consciousness – he will accept us and perhaps relinquish his control and strict rules.”
“So, what if he doesn’t? What if he is furious with you all for going behind his back?” Pauline asked.
She could’ve sworn that Tan 9 smiled.
“We have our ways.”
Once they made it back to the white dome, Tan 9 brought Pauline to the original room and walked her over to the spot where she’d arrived. She began to panic – suddenly morose over leaving them.
Doela 9 spoke kindly to her, which made her feel even sadder.
“You underestimate our prowess with communication. One day you can visit, once we have everything in order.”
Tan 9 put his hand on her metallic head and bent down to look into her eyes.
“Yes, we will be in touch – as you humans like to say!”
“How?” Pauline asked, while that familiar sensation of fading out began to spread through her system.
She didn’t hear their response. Once again, she blacked out. This time, she wasn’t conscious as she travelled through the vortex. She had no time to concentrate her focus on returning home. Finally waking up, she felt like a newborn. She didn’t remember at first, who she was or where she was supposed to be.
The scent of dry earth hit her nostrils. She blinked and tried to see through what appeared to be long black hair blowing in a hot wind. She was aware of the majority of her body being exposed and wondered if she was naked. Looking down and seeing that she was scantily clad in a strange fusion of futuristic bikini and medieval, thigh high boots – which were sculpted with brown leather spirals – she knew that she was far from home.
She was carrying a long, black scepter in her right hand and she could hear the flapping of many wings. When she looked up, she saw a flock of ravens circling above her. Slowly but surely she remembered who she was and for a while, she reveled in the feeling of being in an organic body.
While she flexed her muscles, licked her lips and twisted around this way and that, she noticed an overwhelming desire for blood. It was like her consciousness was taking a back seat to this emanation. She had no time to pine over not having returned to her own body. One of the ravens landed on her shoulder – shocking her when she heard it speak.
“Doeliana – there is prey at fifty paces. Why do you wait? We thirst – as you do!”
She felt the scepter spinning effortlessly in her hand and realized that this body was so much more powerful than her own in 2016. Her blood ran cold when she heard the dark voice coming from her lips.
“Let us feed!”