Eve of Tomorrow
Looking around, she began to notice that her voice was not the only thing that had been taken away from her. All around her was darkness, blackness impenetrable, and all was quiet. She tried to move, but found that somehow her body would not respond to her wishes. She waited.
Eventually, after how long she could not tell in this non-environment, a sort of static intruded upon her. She strained to listen, to make sense of the sounds reaching her.
"...ou hear me? I am about to switch on your optics. Be ready to compensate." The voice sounded young, anxious, eager. She felt she should know the face behind it, but could not recall it from her memory.
Suddenly, without prior warning, the world erupted with light, blinding her. She automatically diminished the receptors' sensitivity, in time to avoid the pain that would surely follow a longer exposure. She could now see the face of a young male, long lavender hair framing each side of his face. Or was it pink? She could not yet make the difference, her optics still overloaded by the sudden onset of light.
"Eve? Can you see? I have reconnected your extensions one by one this time, to avoid another overload. Try to speak."
Overload? Optics? Extensions? Meaningless words, so far, but she knew they had a ring of truth. Eve. Her name was Eve. And the man in front of her was...
"I have run all the diagnostics I could think of, and all of your algorithms have passed with flying colours." Zor continued to tap at the console he was currently working on, not turning about to face her. She understood - after all, she was technically everywhere within the room. An omnipresent entity, free to roam Zor's spaceship.
"I am glad to hear this." she answered. "I was afraid the shock of my emergence might have scrambled some functions beyond their ability to be recovered by my internal safety procedures." She liked the sound of her voice and whenever they were alone she preferred to talk to Zor rather than communicate through the console's screen. Some would have called it vanity, she herself would have pointed out she had only been born a few days ago and was still enjoying the strangeness of being alive.
"Do you understand what your functions aboard this ship will be?" enquired Zor.
"I am to replace the autopilot system and other automatic and semi-automatic systems currently stored within this ship's main computer system. When this is done, I am to submit various diagrams, as provided by you, to the Karbarran shipyard office. These changes, once implemented, will allow me to control any and all functions of this fortress." She paused. "Zor, do you not trust your people?"
"The people I trust, Eve, but they are not the problem. The Elders... the Elders can only be trusted so long as you provide them with more and more power. And with more and more worlds upon which to exert this power. One would think that the lesson of Ci'Va would have given them something to think about, but all they have done is simply increase the rate of Zentraedi production and armament."
"If you'll excuse me for saying it, you Tirolians seem to have a rather belligerent streak in your nature."
"It wasn't always like this." Zor stopped working at his console and turned around to face the centre of the room. "Could you lock the door and manifest, please? I find it rather difficult to discuss these things with you simply as a bodiless voice."
The lock to the room's door clanged closed and a shimmering appeared in the air in the centre of the room. Before long, it had coalesced into the figure of a young woman sitting on a plain wooden seat, a Trahl on her lap. "Is this more satisfactory?" she asked.
"Why the Trahl?"
"We were discussing Ci'Va just a moment ago. It seemed appropriate. You yourself keep several Trahl as pets."
"Not pets, Eve, bargaining chips. Once the Elders realise they cannot use the spent seeds from their generators to produce more flowers, the cargo of this fortress, both animals and vegetable, will be the most valuable in this quadrant."
"You do not intend to give the stockpiled seeds to the Elders then?"
"No, neither will I give them these modified Trahls we have on board. I will give some to Cabell, for safe keeping, in case something happens to me during the coming voyage. The others I will keep on this ship while we go and disseminate the seeds on other planets. I will leave a handful of Pollinators behind before each take-off. With luck, one or more of the seeded planets will prove viable to both the seeds and the Pollinators."
"And what will you do when the Elders find out about your deception?"
"I will die."
"Fools, fools and politicians!" Zor raved as he paced up and down his cabin. "They know they are running out of seeds for their generators. But instead of finding a way to reconcile their differences with the Invid, they simply restrict the export of seeds to the outlying regions. And that means these planets fall to the Invid that much more quickly."
"Is this what your plan was all about? An attempt to make peace with the Invid?" Eve was at her usual place in the centre of the room, on her wooden seat.
"It made sense at the time. It is my fault that the Invid lost all of their Flowers. In one single stroke, I withdrew from them their only food source. If it wasn't for their stockpiles, I think they would have died long before setting out into space."
"So you force a shortage of seeds. Since the spent seeds cannot reproduce, they are useless. And when planted, the new seeds bear flowers, but these flowers are seedless." A small plant appeared in Eve's hand, a pink tri-petal flower on a green stem. She looked at it for a moment before continuing. "The Invid were the ones which caused the flowers to produce seeds. You yourself maintained a steady supply by genetically manipulating a handful of Trahl to replace the biological trigger that was the Invid. But you kept their existence secret."
"Exactly. With supplies running low, I expected the Elders to realise they needed the Invid to re-supply the generators. But instead, they are now restricting the supply of generators to the reaches." Zor sat down heavily. "This is what the Empire has become: a wounded Dekryt gnawing at its own leg to escape the hunter's trap."
A light came on in the darkness, illuminating Zor as he sat up in his bed. "Yes Eve?"
"I was wondering... my body... my face... who was the model?"
"My mother, partly."
"I have a picture of your parents on file, Zor. I do not look much like your mother."
Zor sighed. "Most of your facial features were modelled after my fiancée."
There was a pause. "I did not know you were engaged."
"She died. She was shot in the back by a friend of mine. I killed him."
"Zor... I... I'm sorry."
The light winked out.
"Eve, do you remember the time we discussed the origin of Tirol?"
"You mean the myth about the arrival of the original settlers?"
"The same. There are no fossils on Tirol, no native life. All our animals and plants can be found on other worlds. But of Tiresoids, there are no fossils on any planet - even those we Tirolians did not colonise."
"So people have started to wonder if they did not come from somewhere else, from an as-yet-undiscovered planet. Thus the colony myth which has often been used in your literature."
"Ah, but is it a myth? I have arranged for you to have a direct linkup with the Library on Haydon IV. I want you to look up any and all myths regarding the colonisation theory."
"It will take some time. But why the sudden interest?"
"If something were to happen to me, I need somewhere safe for the Macross to hide. We are in the middle of a quadrant-wide war between the Empire, the Invid and the Ci'Vonian rebels. It would not be safe for the Macross to stay in this vicinity unaided. If there is a planet of origin, then it would not have been touched by the ravages of this conflict. Its inhabitants would still be living in peace. Maybe they can do more with the Flowers than the Elder, or even the Invid, ever did - untainted by fear or war."
"As you wish, Zor. But I still think you are a dreamer. And I envy you for it."
"Zor, I have it."
"And what exactly is 'it'" asked Zor, barely stopping in his work. They had been seeding planets for the past month now, and Dolza was beginning to suspect that neither the Masters, nor the Elders, had been informed of this trip. It had been easy for Zor to fool Dolza into providing an escort for the Macross, but he had not expected the Zentraedi's Commander In Chief to come along in person.
"That planet you wanted me to find. It exists. It seems the colonisation myths were not myths after all. There's even a couple of pictorial renditions of it on file."
"Can you locate it?"
"Not perfectly. It will have moved and the location was not that precise to start with. But I could find it if I had to."
"You may have to. Dolza is starting to ask too many questions."
"I do not wish to be separated from you. I do not want to see you die."
"I promise, Eve. You won't have to."
She pushed the Macross' engines as far as they would go, listening to their squeals, feeling the vibrations tearing at the ship's structure. Behind her, Invid troopers tried to keep up with her, but were slowly being left behind. Down on the planet, Zentraedi and Invid were locked in deadly combat for Zor, the aliens having finally caught up with their nemesis.
Eve knew Zor would not survive this encounter, but true to his word he had sent her away from this place so she would not see him die. See him, no - but she could hear every terrible moment on the tactical comm system.
"Zor is down! Save Zor!" Dolza cried out. She had heard the plasma spheres impact near the terminal's microphone She knew that a close-miss from one of those spheres could kill an unshielded target. She also knew that, true to his nature, Zor would not be wearing any body-armour. For a moment, she thought she could almost hear his ragged breath on the comms before another blast destroyed to transmitter.
Eve turned her attention away from the past and folded the Macross.
The landing had not been one of the best she had performed, but all things considered, she was proud of it. She had managed to evade both the Invid and the Zentraedi, as well as shield her fold enough to fool the sensors of both the Invid Regis and the Robotech Masters. She hoped.
The Macross had not been lying on the island for more than a few days when a ship, a sea-faring vessel of some type, approached it from the horizon. It stopped a fair distance away, but dispatched several flying crafts, a couple of which actually landed near the Macross' hull. They had come at last.
Eve watched as the crafts disgorged several Tiresoids. She noticed with slight disgust that they were carrying weapons. <Oh, Zor. Your perfect world does not exist. Even here, the Shadow has extended its hand.> When they approached the ship, Eve used remote grapples to grab one of the guards and bring him down to the ship's laboratories, where he was promptly vivisected. She did not deign to listen to the warrior's screams as its body was taken apart from the inside out. She needed to learn about this planet, about its people, about whether or not she could trust them. The experiments were inconclusive, the subject died still trying to fight, to kill whatever was doing this to it.
The group of aliens next tried to have a remote-controlled drone enter the ship. It was ridiculously simple for Eve to simply blanket the area with overrides and freeze the drone outside the airlock, forcing the aliens to enter the ship in person. They did, splitting into two groups soon after.
Their demeanour was not encouraging, they seem to believe that everything was a foe, that all would attack them if given a chance. Eve was still shocked from her loss, still grieving for Zor, and here were these aliens walking around Zor's ship looking for something to shoot at.
The first group was cut down, almost to oblivion, by her automated sentries. The other group was in a better position to defend itself and fared somewhat better. Rather than risk damage to the rest of the ship, Eve started to close doors and access-ways and heard the two groups into the closest airlock. Both parties suffered more losses. She was about to turn off the air supply and flood the area with poisonous gas when she noticed the second party was trying to protect one of its members, a single individual pressed into the middle of their group. Intrigued, she turned on the audio and listened.
"Keep Lang in the middle and watch his back. You're expendable, he's not - got that?"
Lang. The name meant something, she was sure of that. Eve retrieved the brain-dump she had done of the first warrior and inspected it for references to this Lang. She found them and stopped her attack on the aliens.
<So, this Lang is a scientist. And all these warriors are ready to give up their lives so that this scientist may live.> Replays of the final moments of Zor's life came unbidden - Zor, surrounded by Zentraedi willing to die to save him from the Invid... the similarities were hard on her.
She herded both parties to the Macross' bridge, using the ship's internal security system as one would use a Kyenwir-prod. On the last leg of the trip she even allowed herself to play a practical joke on them, using her holographic projectors to simulate a ceiling at the top of the elevator shaft, causing all those on the elevator platform to panic until the last moment when they passed through the illusion harmlessly.
Lang stopped in wonder and started to speak to himself, looking around at the various controls. Eve was still unable to understand most of the language of these people - a more direct approach would have to be taken. And soon, as both parties, now re-united, were moving to find an exit. Luckily for her, she was handed the opportunity on a silver platter.
The scientist had moved towards one of the consoles while two of the warriors argued with one another. As luck would have it, the console was one used by the Tirolians to store their memories for later implant into a clone body should anything happen to them. Eve triggered the console, sending an energy pulse down the controls to lock Lang's hands onto them. She was not certain of the amount of power to use. These were Tiresoids, to be sure - but how different were they? Eve would have to risk it, and hope that the side-effects of this shock would not kill Lang.
She drained his memories and analysed them. She used his speech centres to learn the language he was most used to speaking. She learned all that he knew and paused. His mind was always searching, always wondering, always wanting to know more. He would do.
Returning his memories to him, she began her training, her teaching of Zor's science, his legacy. <Good morning, Doctor Lang. My name is Eve. You are ready for your first lesson.>
"My God! His eyes - look at his eyes!"