Chapter 1:

EPISODE 1: 00000001:ONE

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  "Ughf."
  Trisha turned around in her desk to look at Quil, "seriously?" She whispered, "There's like," She looked over at the clock on the wall and then back to Quil, "five more minutes of class. Can't you stay awake that long?"
  "Its junior high. None of this is important." Quil propped his head on his desk. He held his hand up to make a puppet.
  "The Higgs Planal is the malleable plane that houses quantum superposition, theorized by Nikola Higgs. While both the Higgs Planal and our current plane exist in the same universe, neither directly interact with wah-wahwah-wah-wahwaaah"
  Quil rolled his eyes just before slamming his face down into his desk.
  "Mr. Alighieri," The teacher shouted to the back of the class, "Is there something you would like to say?"
  Quil gave a slow and bored shake of his head.
  "Then please try," emphasis on 'try', "to stay awake for the remaining minutes of class."
  As soon as the teacher went back to focusing on the lesson, doing his best to rush the last few paragraphs of the chapter before the end of class, Quil proceeded to, more gently, lay his head back on the desk.
  "You don't really care at all, do you?" Trisha asked rhetorically.
  Quil cocked one divisive eyebrow and one condescending cowlick.
  The world outside of the classroom looked far more appealing than the dull white-walled cell that he was locked into day in and day out. Even still, it's hard to wake up chipper at the crack of morning bloom, when those massive petals spread out to catch as much light as possible from the surrounding galaxies around the vagabond colony. A colony searching tirelessly for perhaps a more natural place to root itself. The Lotus, as it is called.
  To Quil, it was little more than the epitome of mundanity. Perhaps the place met perfection too well. From the perfectly engineered mechanics that kept it self-sustained and self-maintained, to the pristine look of everything due to the unique heavy air that casted programmed illusions with the proper electrical charge. Locally, this hazy golden air was simply referred to as "Augmentation".
  Even the political stance of the Lotus was perfect. Well, really, that's a bit subjective. Certainly one could go into the semantics of why the Lotus's role in the reigning political parties was perfect or not, but to Quil, it was perfect. Neither did the Lotus sway allegiance to the Galactic Imperial Empire nor did it sponsor for the Federation. Its stance was purely neutral.
  The only bit of excitement came in from the network outside of the Lotus. News, media, and culture flooded the network about events outside of the Lotus every day, every hour, every minute, and every second. These stories, from triumphant victories of the underdog rising to fame, to despondent tragedies that separated families and loved ones, regardless of their content, these were the only things that really seemed to inspire Quil.
  Quil perked up a bit as he watched a kid outside climb out of the water channel near the school. The kid looked familiar - or, at least, he seemed familiar. It's awfully hard to say for sure considering Quil is watching him from the third story of their school.
  Quil followed the kid as he tripped over himself trying to run faster than his body would allow him - as if he was in a panicked run from something. What could possibly have him worked up so much? Quil's gaze dashed back to the channel where another kid - who also looked familiar to Quil - climbed out, kneeling down a little to catch his breath; a cold looking object in his right hand.
  Who could they be? Why do they seem so familiar?
  Quil raised his head to look across the classroom. Among his (rather bored and anxious) classmates, most everyone seemed to be present in class. Mostly. There remained two empty desks. Quil thought for a moment. That object the other kid was holding; it was dark, and he seemed to carry it as if it had some weight. The shape was unmistakable. The first kid to stumble away in fright was running from the gun the other kid held.
  Quil's eyes widened, making him leap out of his desk as he slung his bag over his back, "I need to go to the -" He trailed off in a shout as he sprinted out of the room while he pulled his bag over his back.
  Trisha sighed as she let her head droop with the exasperation towards Quil's fanaticism. The rest of the class seemed bewildered by the strange display Quil presented, but to Trisha, it was a display all too familiar.
  A large arm, holding an ashamed Quil placed him back into the classroom, "- to the bathroom, please," he resolved his previous outburst.
  The entire class just ignored this as Quil quickly bolted out of the room again, trying to catch up with the two students he saw outside.
  Quil busted through one of the back doors of the school, leading through the courtyard that fed out onto the street parallel to the water channel the two absentee kids had come from.
  The footsteps by both of the boys were still wet, giving a definite direction they had gone running. Quil could feel his heart beating fast. It was only a matter of time until the pursuing child caught up with the other and ended his life.
  Quil shook his head as he tried to shake the thoughts that seemed to weigh him down. They were clearly too heavy for him to keep a strong pace, the best thing he could do was try to lift them from his mind so he could pick up his pace to catch up with the missing children.
  "No, hang on!" One of the kids said in a hastened voice as he was downed, his back pressed against a wall, cornered by the assailing child.
  The menace smirked as he aimed the gun down at the child's head.
  Quil's eyes widened, taking in the small twitches the menacing child's finger made as it rubbed against the trigger of the gun.
  Quil closed his eyes and shook his head. Now-or-never.
  "Stop!" He shouted as he dived towards the assailant, taking his arms, twisting them upward, pointing the gun away from the victim child. Quil could feel the muscles in the menace's arms tighten.
  The few instances it took for the events to happen felt like minutes. Quil's eyes widened in horror, feeling the child's finger wrap tighter around the trigger. Quil pushed off of the child, shielding his own head as he dived to the ground sending objects flying out of the partially unzipped bag on Quil's back, just before the snap of the gun.
  There didn't seem to be any sort of exciting bang. Just silence. Did he do it? Did he save the kid?
  Quil, still shielding his head with his arms, looked up from the ground just in time to see a shoe stomp on the pudding cup that had fallen from Quil's bag, splashing the brown jiggly snack across his face.
  Quil reflexively backed up from the sudden spray of sweet deliciousness. He shook his head to get some of the pudding off his eyelids, as he opened them to see the menacing little shit point the gun right at Quil's chest as a quiet little pop was let out of the gun followed by a mildly sharp pain of a plastic BB striking Quil's chest.
  One of the kids shook his head in disappointment, the other scoffed. "Wow, I really thought he wouldn't do anything."
  The two walked together away from the alley where Quil remained in shock. He could hear them giggle, "You don't think he is gonna tattle, do ya?" One asked.
  The other laughed. "I doubt he will."
  Quil's eyes fell flat in annoyance as he slapped a hand onto his face, and swept off the pudding that was caked onto his face.
  Without a word, with only stiff muscles, Quil grabbed the spoon that had fallen out of his bag and stuffed it back in, then turned around and walked back towards the school.
  "There you are," Trisha said, rushing up to Quil as he stiffly continued his march towards the school in the dense gold light of the closing afternoon.
  Trisha looked bewildered at Quil's face as she motioned toward her own face. "You have a little -" she grimaced, "you probably know."
  Quil said nothing, his eyebrows still lying heavy and flat, he could only stare daggers back towards Trisha.
  She shook her head as she began trying to flatten out the two cowlicks on the top of Quil's head, "Why do these things always stand up? I'm pretty impressed with the resiliency of these hairs. It seems like no matter what you do they are always standing up, even with pudding."
  Quil swatted Trisha's hand off of his head.
  Trisha sighed, "I don't know why you do these things. This is life Quil. I know you are bored, but, honestly, boredom is the one epidemic of life's woes that you should be happy to have. There are others who have much worse problems -" she trailed off as Quil began walking (still stiff with his frustration) faster to create a gap between him and her.
  Trisha sighed as she watched Quil unlock his bike from the bike rack.
  Quil pulled his goggles off his head to wipe off the spackle of pudding that had glazed the lenses from the torrent released by the smashed snack.
  "You gonna come over tonight to help with the project?" Trisha asked in a more calm tone, hopeful she would at least get a response out of him.
  Quil strapped his goggles back to his head, then flipped them down over his eyes as he stepped over his bike. He looked over at Trisha, his eyes still showed his anger, but they were much softer now. "Yeah" He spoke with little reflection before peddling off.Bookmark here

   The fridge light turned on as Quil leaned down to look inside for a drink, his goggles still on from his bike ride. He reached for a pudding snack before his eyes fell flat again, and instead, changing his mind to grab a juice box. He closed the fridge door, and headed to his room, making sure that he waved to his mom, "Hi mom,"
  "Oh, hi, son -" Though he was already gone as she heard the door to his room close.
  Quil threw the wet rag he used to clean his face to some side of the room (doesn't matter) as he stepped over to plop down into his chair at his desk.
  His room was a boy's paradise of framed blue prints to famous retired Galactic Imperial ships, to retired Federation ships, and even ships of infamous bounty hunters. He had scale models of ships decorating his desk, while books on the Lotus and manuals on the operation of small battle jets - his favorite, and quite obviously most read manual was the "Manual of Versatility on Galactic Imperial Empire Jets" - along with plastic models of armed mobile frames that populated his shelves in menacing poses.
  He set his watch into a dock shaking his computer from its hibernation, putting on the news as he sagged down into his chair with a bubbly sip of his drink - his goggles, still on over his eyes
  "-are still researching the possible culprit that may be behind the attack on the Federation's Capitol Star Cruiser, Unity. After searching through the wreckage, it was confirmed that none of the council members survived the attack. Early investigations on the attack have been unable to determine the motive behind the attack. However, with the destruction of the head council, Sanrenese and Telkian alike have each issued their own statement concerning the state of the union -"
  Quil gave only a moderate skeptical cock of his eyebrow through a lengthy sip of juice. He opened a new tab to browse as he let the news sink into the background.
  The council's capitol ship is a heavily armored cruiser, with phase-polarizing shields to protect from beam weapons and impact panels to repel projectile weapons. Some Imperial cruisers have weapons that can pierce those kinds of shielding, but they'd have to be pretty daring to step up against the Federation's capitol ships.
  Quil called up the holographic keyboard and did a search on the Council. "The members are pretty inconsequential, only acting as judges to decide multiracial disputes. Whoever attacked wasn't targeting them, unless they voted against someone recently. Then maybe that person would have a reason to be upset, but for that person to have a fleet of ships to take down a capitol ship, it would certainly have to be someone pretty influential."
  Quil scanned through recent Council cases to find out if any could have been wealthy enough to own a fleet of ships. While there were some noteworthy people of great importance, it would take trillions of credits to own and maintain a fleet capable of wiping out Star Cruiser Unity. Of the people of great importance on the list, none would have enough credits to sustain a fleet like that.
  "I'm pretty certain this was an attack by the Galactic Imperial Empire, but why would they want to attack?"
  Quil flipped back through the listings of the available appointments with the Council. One kept showing up: INTAL rep. Rheiser. Rheiser, Rheiser, Rheiser. Appointment denied. Appointment denied. Appointment denied.
  Rheiser certainly seemed persistent.
  Quil lifted his goggles back on his head to help him get a better look at the screen. Over ten appointments to try to show the council 'a chance to give Terrans an opportunity to reach their galactic dream as a vagabond race'.
  Quil scrolled up through the dates heading towards the present, "it looks like for the past several cycles there hasn't been a single time slot to give the council members a break."
  'INTAL rep. Rheiser
. Appointment scheduled.' He was the last scheduled appointment before the destruction.
  The light in the hallway outside of Quil's room turned on catching his attention. He looked at the clock on his computer - 21:34. He ripped his watch from the computer dock, shutting the system down. He jumped out of his chair and tried stepping over to the window when he kicked the foot of his bed. "Ow, Shhhh-" he covered his mouth with one hand while he gripped his toe with his other hand as a single tear formed.
  He let go, then moved his goggles over his eyes. He slid open his window and stepped out onto the trestle that rested against the side of the house.
  He tapped his watch, "Trisha," He said as she popped up on the screen of the watch.
  "Where are you?" She responded.
  "I got a little distracted. There was an attack on the Federation," Quil responded, hoping it was convincing enough for her to forgive him.
  "Of course you would get sucked into that." She sighed exasperated, "Just hurry and get over to my place. I don't have all night to work on this."
  "I Just wanted to call and let you know I didn't entirely forget."
  "Right," She shook her head, "you didn't," finger quotes, "'entirely' forget." And with that she disappeared from his watches screen.
  Quil tapped the screen of his watch, lighting his goggles up for the nighttime.Bookmark here

   The camera wobbled a little as Trisha leaned in, trying to align it just right.
  "There," she smiled as she moved away, grabbing Quil around the shoulder and pulling him in close to her.
  Quil kept his eyes away from the camera. He looked away, ashamed, perhaps embarrassed.
  "C'mon," Trisha whined, looking at Quil, "Put on a smile for our friends out there!" she grabbed the corners of his mouth, lifting them into a smile.
  Trisha let go of Quil, a bit annoyed, but kept her charm going for the camera, "Bah, ignore him, he's just a bit shy." Trisha cleared her throat, "Hi, I'm Trisha! I'm Head Engineer of Rocket Propulsion here at Trisha & -" she paused, nudging Quil with her elbow, but after she didn't get a response, she filled in for him, "- Rabbit's Space Exploration Limited! If you got this message; congratulations! You have received the message from our maiden launch of the...hmmm," she stroked her chin, then looked at Quil, "We didn't come up with a name for our rocket yet, did we?"
  "Gaben," He said softly.
  "Yeah, that's what - wait really?" She did a double take.
  Trisha cleared her throat, "Well, there you have it, you received the message from the maiden launch of Gaben. What is this message? Well, we just wanted to say 'hi' from the Lotus! We're two kids with big dreams. One-day, I would like to start my own robotics engineering development team! Too ambitious? Well, we got this message to you, right?" She laughed confidently.
  Quil moved his head to look at the camera, "I, uh," he stared deeply into the lens. He thought for a minute, lingering on what his wish was. He knew what he wanted, but he found it hard to say. It was something that Trisha always has to bug him about, something she likes to always remind him of how stupid it is - even though she's the one over there talking about owning a whole engineering team.
  "Well, go on, Quil," she nudged him, "tell our foreign friends what you want!"
  Quil bit his lip as he tried to come up with something else, but that one thought was just there, haunting him, lingering in the front of his mind, harassing him. Even in the rare event this message reaches someone, and reaches someone who could help him, there was still a chance. Nothing was coming to his mind, except for that.
  "I want off this place. I want to leave and never come back, no matter what the cost is!" he blurted it out so quickly, in hopes he could say it all before his mind or Trisha stopped him mid-sentence.
  She leaned forward and ended the recording.
  "Oh, geeze," she swept her bangs aside as she looked away, "here we go again."
  Quil looked away from Trisha, moving toward the dock for his watch that she kept in her room. He launched the computer and began opening up his programming sheet.
  "That's it?" She turned to him, "Nothing more?"
  "How far along are you with the propulsion engine?" He ignored her.
  "You know that's the video the whole universe is going to see. Do you really want them to see you look so desperate?"
  "Hmm," Quil continued to ignore her as he typed in his functions for the broadcasting program for the rocket.
  Trisha sighed. "The engine is calibrated, but there's a bit of a snag." She paused, hoping to hear if Quil was going to push the conversation forward. Seeing as how he was far more engrossed in his programming than what she had to say, she decided to continue the conversation anyways. "Given the conditions the augmentation has been under lately, the resistance against the rocket requires a far more powerful thruster." She picked up a small cylinder of fuel for the thruster and twirled it between her fingers, "That, isn't the problem. The problem is that we need a stable base that can take the heat of the thruster," Trisha grimaced as she continued to receive the silent treatment from Quil.
  Oblivious to Quil's sudden shift to rummaging in his bag, Trisha gave a heavy sigh as she turned to face her own work. With a blank screen and the caret blinking in anticipation of an input by Trisha, she let the frustration of Quil's particular wooden attitude settle. Though, this was swiftly interrupted by the presentation of a glistening wet hand that held tight a black can of cold, sugary-deliciousness. "Huh?" She was taken aback by this sudden gesture.
  "Tart: as always." Wooden in his generosity.
  "Is that what made you take forever just to get here?" she cracked the drink open then took a sip, followed by her resting her chin in her palm as she waited for Quil to respond.
  He nodded. "I figured we would need the energy." he looked at her as she took another sip, "I was under the assumption we had a lot further to go." He cracked his drink and took a small sip off the top.
  "How far are you with the program?"
  "Mostly finished. It's a matter of making sure there are no bugs with the encoding codec to broadcast a signal that can be picked up."
  "Hmm," she swirled her sugar drink can around in her hand, "I've pretty much finished up my work here, outside of finding a good, sturdy base."
  "Any idea for that?"
  Trisha smiled, tapping a couple times on her watch, then flicking the information to Quil's watch.
  "There's word of a retired starship rotting away in the junkyard," Trisha mentioned as Quil read over the information he was sent. "Looks like it was an exploration unit - not much in the way of military grade shielding."
  Quil raised an eyebrow, "This junkyard is closed to the public."
  "Right!" she grinned ear to ear, "I say, we hop in there, track down this ship, and see about ripping off one of its thermal plates. It's not like anyone else is going to be using that ship!"
  Quil grimaced.
  Trisha rolled her eyes. She sighed, then fell down to her knees pleading, "Don't think about how closed off the place is! Think about it as a way to finish our project! Besides, it'll be fun! You want adventure? Well you can't spell 'adventure' without 'danger'!"
  "Actually, you ca-"
  "Shut up! I know."
  "We have school tomorrow." He tried to deflect the conversation.
  "I know. We'll need to go late anyways, so I was thinking this coming weekend," she smiled as she pulled a bag from around the corner of her desk, dumping its contents out on the floor. "I have pliers, gloves, screw drivers, a spoon," she filed through all of the junk on the floor.
  Quil's cowlicks lowered as his eyes glazed over.
  "I'm ready for this weekend," she smiled.Bookmark here

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