The Travelers, Chapter 6: Hope Springs Eternal

Cassandra secluded herself in silence, moping in her room for what seemed to be hours on end. The recurring thoughts of a possible wedding, with her in a beautiful gown, him saying the magic words “I do,” a honeymoon in the Bahamas or Paris, a candlelight dinner, losing her virginity in the heat of passion, they roamed through her mind over and over, as if she was desperately trying to escape where she was really at, a five walled room with cold steel walls, an annoying computer and a tiny, single person bed.

She knew Keldin meant no harm and was doing his best to treat her as a guest, but this felt like a prison despite the fact that she could exit the room any time. There was no place she could go, where she wants to go doesn’t exist anymore, and hasn’t existed for thousands of years. Even just the concept of thousands of years was almost beyond her, and in the back of her head rose the thoughts of denial, as if this were nothing more than a delusion.

The door opened, and a familiar figure walked through. He was cleanly shaved, both on his face and his head, and he was both tall and built like a basketball or football player. It was an old friend of hers, “Andre? Andre?! Is that you?! But…but Keldin told me Raynor and I are the only humans left, how did you survive?” she asked, half shouting in desperation at him.

“No, I apologize Cassandra but I am not a human,” he responded, in a voice she remembered quite clearly as Andre’s voice.

“Wait…what? But you’re my friend, how are you…” She asked, before being interrupted.

“I am only an android, I was designed to disguise my body in the form of the most appealing to the individual I am speaking to. I am designed for…I believe your human word would be, therapeutic purposes.”

“…Oh…I see,” her head sunk as she became almost instantly dejected again. “Wait…if you’re supposed to look like who I want to see or be around the most…or whatever you said, why wouldn’t you look like James? Or how about my mother or father?!”

“I don’t know, is James a friend of yours as well?” the android Andre asked, taking a seat.

“He was my fiancée, and the last person I laid eyes on before going into that cryogenics chamber. That STUPID CHAMBER,” She said, banging her fist down on her bed near her. “But…I loved him, we were going to be married.”

“I see. What was he like, why don’t you tell me about him?”

“He was brilliant even by brilliant standards, a gifted genius, and yet so gentle. I’ve met a lot of self important jerks in my field of work, scientists who think they’re the greatest damn thing to ever walk the earth, including that prick Mark…” she said, slightly annoyed. “But he was different, he had a wonderful sense of humor, and he really cared for me as I did for him.”

“He sounds wonderful, when did you first meet him?” Andre inquired.

“We first met…hey wait a minute, what the hell do you care? You’re an android, probably designed to ask this series of questions just to get my mind on something pleasant. Just…just go away.”

“Well, I may be mechanical, but I am still quite sapient.”

“Umm…what?”

“I’m not just a program, I can think for myself,” it said. “But I understand if you feel like being alone, I’ll be outside if you need me.”

He opened the door and walked out. Cassandra wanted to say something, and even tried to mutter something but no sound came out. She could only become reclusive again, going back into her shell trying to deal with the fear, the anxiety and the depression of her now unknown fate.

Meanwhile, a couple of doors down Raynor walked out of his quarters. He began walking towards the commons area with the synthesizer for a bite to eat, almost walking entirely past the large black man standing near the wall smiling at nothing.

“Holy crap! Another survivor?!”

“Nah, unfortunately I’m just an android, currently set to look like a friend of Cassandra’s.”

“Oh….cool. Well, bye,” he said, walking straight past him and grabbing a snack for himself.

Cassandra heard the whole event; the doors weren’t exactly soundproof even if they were steel and iron. “How can he just take this so lightly? It’s like he doesn’t have a care in the world now that…well, there is no world.” She kept muttering to herself almost becoming angered at Raynor’s behavior, but eventually got over it, reminding herself that he had nothing to go home to in the first place, and she did.

It kind of scared her in fact, she wondered if she would now become so jaded like him now that she has nothing to go to, or return to. She began crying, at first small tears welting up in her eyes, and then an eventual downpour, “Why did this have to happen? Why did it happen to me, what have I done to deserve this,” she cried.

She heard a knock at the door, “Go away Andre, I don’t wanna talk to you right now,” she screamed in frustration.

“I’m….sorry, it’s just me,” Raynor stated. “I uh…heard you crying and wanted to ask if you wanted to talk or something.”

“God just leave me alone! Why does everyone think talking is the answer, I just want to be ALONE!” She screamed.

“Oh…okay, my bad I guess,” he said, walking away down to his room. She heard the echoes of a sliding door brush open and then brush close, clicking against the wall.

She was alone, she knew it wasn’t the best thing for her to be alone right now but that was all she wanted. Eventually, the stress and the crying caught up to her, and she drifted to sleep dreaming of her late almost-husband.

She woke up what she guessed was half an hour later, mildly cold due to sleeping on top of her blanket, instead of underneath. She rubbed her eyes and nose, sniffling a little, still quite depressed. She got out of bed and began walking to Raynor’s room, feeling rather guilty yelling at him when he just wanted to help.

“Raynor…you in there?” she asked softly. “Listen, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to take it out on you.”

She paused, hearing no response, “Raynor?” With no response the second time, she opened the door. He wasn’t there, she figured he was in the commons area again for some reason but something caught her eye. He noticed the two family pictures he had on him when he was frozen, and the little black bow lightly wrapped around the pictures.

She walked away and the door closed itself, clicking on the walls yet again. Andre walked by, “If you’re looking for Raynor, he’s currently up on the bridge with Keldin, watching the beginnings of the terraformation.”

“Oh really? I should probably see it too…” she claimed, “since it’ll probably be our new permanent home.”

“Would you like me to escort you there?” Andre asked.

“Sure, I guess.” She didn’t really want the company of Andre, but she didn’t know her way around the ship and so there wasn’t much choice. While in a lift being elevated up towards the top level she asked the robot “why do you think you appeared to me as Andre instead of anyone else?”

"Don’t worry, it’s not because of anything subconscious in your mind or anything.

I should apologize for lying to you, I’m sorry but I knew who James was even when I asked, I had to have known when I scanned your mind to find a suitable disguise. If I were to look like James or your mother or father right now, or any of your loved ones, there’s the possibility it’d be more traumatizing.

Afterall, would you want to even talk to me now if I looked like James, but you knew I wasn’t him?"

“I guess…that’s a good point,” she stammers.

“It doesn’t mean you can’t talk to me as Andre or James though. The disguise isn’t just an appearance, it’s from your memories. I can speak with his dialect and mannerisms, and know the things you know about him, creating a sort of makeshift character for him/me.”

“Umm…I’d rather you didn’t. I’d rather you just be yourself, whatever you are.”

the android giggled for a moment, “Keldin told me you humans were interesting, and indeed you are. I find it perplexing and humorous for you to ask an android who was built to disguise himself as different beings to simply be himself.”

“Hehe, well when you put it like that I guess it doesn’t make a lot of sense,” she chuckled with him.

They finally arrived at the bridge, looking out at the spectacle. Mars and Venus, as well as the debris of earth were now visible. It was an awe inspiring sight to behold as the three anomalies began to merge together.

At first, it looked as if they crashed into each other, destroying everything around it, but it eventually took a spherical form like before, only much bigger now that there were three planets involved. The molten, corroded looking rock began to change on the inside as well, and within an hour it turned from a molten volcano of a planet into a familiar but different looking green and blue world both Raynor and Cassandra were all to familiar with.

“Wow, it looks like there are three Pangaea’s,” Cassandra exclaimed.

“Pangaea’s?” Keldin and Raynor simultaneously asked.

“It’s what our land mass looked like millions of years ago before they separated themselves into 7 continents. I can’t tell how big they are in actual measurements but they’re huge, just like Pangaea was.”

“Interesting,” Keldin stated through his thoughts. “And it seems that the planet is stabilizing too.”

“Wait, the basic fundamentals of an ecology should interfere with it stabilizing. On our planet, we had animals that breathed oxygen and exhaled carbon dioxide, and plants that breathed and exhaled the opposite. You don’t have that here.”

“Actually, we do. While you were the only live species I recovered, I did recover a number of DNA strands for both plant and animal lives, and incorporated them and some of our own plant/animal life into this terraformation.”

“Woah, really? So you mean some of the animals from Earth will be there too?” Raynor asked, basically asking what Keldin just said.

“Indeed, I’ve created a visual representation of the species if you’d like to see what we recovered. We don’t have names or types or anything, so the best I could do is sort it by size.”

“Awesome, yeah I definitely want to see!” Raynor exclaimed, excited at the thought of even just normal animals from their earth being here. On a small computer terminal, he began scrolling through the various animals, from large to small seeing first a few rather terrifying creatures he thought to be extinct and on display in museums, then leading down to smaller creatures.

Cassandra looked over his shoulder for the most part, “Hey look! Cats and dogs, the kind we had as pets made it through.”

“You had animals as companions in your time?” Keldin asked.

“Yeah, I had a cat of my own once when I was little, not sure what kind she was but she was a mix of orange and brown, with a cute little pink nose and a really fluffy tail.” Cassandra’s reminiscing of her cat brought her a modicum of comfort, and then Keldin began punching a few buttons, scanning the planet it seemed. A few moments later, a very similar looking female cat was transported aboard the ship.

“You mean like this one correct?” Keldin asked.

“That…that was amazing, how’d you find something like that so fast Keldin?!” She said, for the first time in twelve thousand years with a smile on her face.

"It was fairly simple. I know this can’t replace your old cat, but after hearing about your troubles, maybe you could use a friend like this?

I’ve already scanned her for harmful bacteria and other organisms, and she’s fine. For now, we’d need to keep her secluded in your room until we land on the planet, but I will allow you to keep her if you like."

Cassandra bent down to Keldin’s level, basically getting on her knees, and hugged him. Keldin wasn’t sure what this is, but figured it out when she thanked him repeatedly. It was the first true happy moment she’s had since she was unfrozen, and the first time a glimmer of hope crossed her mind that maybe things would be alright.