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<<set $diegofriend to 5>>
<<set $diegolove to 1>>I was a year into college, when they discovered Yalna-6. Supposed to be some barren moon, one of twelve orbiting a gas giant in the Ado system. Exactly what it was, too; except this barren moon also happened to be the resting place of a structure undeniably built by something sentient; //anciently// sentient, according to the carbon dating.
Closest thing to a resemblance anyone could apply to it was 'temple'. Curling spires, strange linework carvings, monoliths reaching for the stars; the purpose of each section so vastly unclear that our woefully underevolved minds could assign only the supernatural as explanation. You know how humans are, //I don't understand, so it must be god//.
It was pretty clear from the lack of any discernable past or present habitable planets that the ancients who raised the structure didn't evolve here; but people called them 'Adoans' anyway. Not exactly a common naming convention, considering we typically name civilizations after the planet, not the sun. Granted, I wouldn't exactly argue against the idea of being called a Solaran. Has a nice ring to it. Hell, maybe that's all there was to it when they named the Adoans.
Yalna (gas giant)
"This is my time slot, Hansen."
"Oh, is it? The time guys must have gotten it all mixed up again."
"You're just bitter because you can't have me."
"I literally have a wife."
"Truly, the forbidden fruit!"
Oh my god, they were roommates.Anyway, turns out I was exactly in the right place at the right time. My major had, up until that point, been in engineering; not exactly what I wanted to do with my life, but frankly, I was a gifted-kid burnout and hadn't exactly figured out what I //would// wanna do anyway. Soon as I heard the news about Yalna-6, though? I knew, then. I knew I had to get on the earliest manned mission to that new fronteir I could.
So on that day, I switched my major to ancient linguistics, enrolled in all the classes I needed in anthropology, archaeology and astrobiology, and whatever the hell else I thought might up my chances of being considered for the mission. I was aiming high. Like, 'youngest expert on the Adoa Project' high. 'Dr. Hagen, 26, Discovers Purpose of Yalnaran Structure' high.
I'd like to thank eidetic memory for making that possible.
I graduated at 24 with three PhDs and a pilot's license under my belt. I submitted my application to the Adoa Project the same day. Spent three long weeks pacing the floor waiting to hear back. Felt like an eternity.
In the end, it was my credits in engineering that got me picked from the pool. When it comes to space missions, they like to fill the roster with cross-expert folks for the sake of lessening the necessary crew. I was a linguist who could also fix the ship if it broke.
<font size="+2">''Relationship levels:''</font>
Romance: $diegolove</small>It always starts the same.
<small><span style="color:gray">(Click anywhere to continue)</span></small>
<span class="continue-block">The nothing yet everything, inky black, darker than space. Empty, endless, constricting at the same time. How can something so infinite feel so //small//?
<span class="continue-block">There's another thing. I don't remember why, but I know I've felt it before. <span class="continue-block">Its a feeling like... <span class="continue-block">I'm a child, with a puzzle splayed out before me, alone in a room. <span class="continue-block">I know someone's watching, from the other side of the one-way glass. Watching my every movement, every twitch on my face, scrawling notes like every unconscious foot tap as I work through this puzzle means something, determines something, decides my fate. <span class="continue-block">I wish I could see that note pad. <span class="continue-block">I wish I knew what those lines meant, what I'm supposed to do, what I'm supposed to not do.
<span class="continue-block">There's no puzzle here. No one-way glass, no harsh circle of light. Just me, the dark, the infinite, and the feeling of being watched by something somehow //outside// the infinite.
<span class="continue-block">I don't know what it wants. I don't know if it has a note pad, summing up my actions in some strange algorithm. Its intentions are alien, void, empty; like looking into the eyes of a mantis and having nothing to compare within yourself to what you see there. I don't know what it wants from me.
<span class="continue-block">All I know is that I'm supposed to do something. Trigger something. But I have no idea what, or if doing so is in my best interest. Its the note pad I can't see. The meaning I can't divine.
<span class="continue-block">It's watching. <span class="continue-block">Calculating. <span class="continue-block">Waiting. <span class="continue-block">Maybe waiting until I let my guard down.
<span class="continue-block">Maybe it's just hungry.
</span>I startle awake to the sound of something hitting the floor. Momentarily delirious as filtered light fills my eyes, bolting straight up into a sitting position. The fearful prey feeling still flooding my veins with a cold chill, heart pounding.
"Shit, sorry man." Came a wistful voice from the other side of the room. I glance over, and the dream slowly loses its grip as my mind registers the figure currently bent down, picking up a water bottle. "I was trying to be quiet."
Diego Leon, in the process of putting his day pack together. He's one of the resident dual psychologist-physicians, five years my senior. People-person, caring, clever, tall, buff and looks damn good in a beard. If any gods exist, they really invested in this guy. To be completely honest, if the thrill of uncovering an ancient alien culture wasn't naturally more of a climax, I'd probably climb him like a tree. Not sure he'd go for it, though. Roommates for almost a year and I still haven't figured out which way he swings.
I sigh and rub my face with my hands, running them up through my hair, trying to wipe away the remnants of that sickening feeling in my gut, the ink on my skin.
<<link ">S'fine. Alarm's about to go off anyway. (+☺)" Ch1p3>><<set $ch1p2 to 1>><<set $diegofriend to $diegofriend + 1>><</link>>
<<link ">Never be sorry for blessing my morning with your lovely visage. (+♥)" Ch1p3>><<set $ch1p2 to 2>><<set $diegolove to $diegolove + 1>><</link>>
<<link ">Trying //real// fucking hard, huh? (-☺︎)" Ch1p3>><<set $ch1p2 to 3>><<set $diegofriend to $diegofriend - 1>><</link>><<if $ch1p2 is 1>>"S'fine. Alarm's about to go off anyway." I say dismissively, stifling a yawn.
Diego smiles and nods, turning back to his packing. <<elseif $ch1p2 is 2>>"Never be sorry for blessing my morning with your lovely visage." I quip flirtatiously.
Diego laughs at that. "Let's hope my coordinator feels the same when she finds out I'm late for my appointment." He turns back to his packing. <<elseif $ch1p2 is 3>>"Trying //real// fucking hard, huh?" I spit grouchily. Inside I know it's not a fair thing to say; Diego's a good roommate, always considerate. I'm just tired.
Diego frowns, glancing down, crestfallen. "Sorry, I'll do better. I know you've got a lot on your plate."
Ugh, beautiful idiot.
Diego turns back to his packing. <</if>>"That nightmare, again?" He asks gently, flicking his eyes in my direction as he works the bag closed.
"Same as always." I agree, swinging my legs down to the ground before reaching out to my nightstand for a cigarette. At the moment, I don't care that the good doctor is pretending not to disappointedly watch me light it up. We both know what he wants to say, and we both know that he won't. Not right now. "I know, patient confidentiality bullshit, but I gotta ask; I can't be the only one dealing with this, right?"
Diego hesitates for a moment, searching for the right words. "I mean, //nightmares// are prevalent in the colony. My colleagues and I figure its either a side effect of FTL, or possibly one of those weird frequencies resonating in this region."
"But none like mine?" I ask, taking a drag of the cigarette. He's doing a pretty good job hiding it, but I see a muscle in Diego's face twitch.
"No one's reported having the same dream over and over every single night like you since they got here, no." Diego confirms.
"Well, aren't I just special."
"We can talk about it later, if you want."
"No offense, doc; but I don't think that'll do much for me at this point."
"Up to you." Diego shrugs, slinging his bag over his shoulder. "See you later, Hansen." He says, turning off towards the door of our dorm.
I throw him a lazy salute in farewell and reach out for my tablet.<center><span style="color:orange"><h1>Dest:Exo</h1></span></center>
\Welcome to ''Dest:Exo'', an interactive fiction game. Interactive fiction (or a 'text adventure') is a type of computer game in which the player interacts with textual environments.
<small><span style="color:gray">(Click anywhere to continue)</span></small>
<span class="continue-block">Before we begin, I'd like to direct your attention to the ''SIDE BAR'', an important feature to the game. If you don't see the side bar, hit the right arrow button in the top left corner of this screen. In this side bar, you will find your inventory, useful links, your saves, and the option to restart the game from the beginning.
<span class="continue-block">As you play, you will soon discover that interactions with characters that end in a symbol affect the relationship you have with these characters. Some future choices may require a certain relationship level with a character to be utilized.
<span class="continue-block"><span style="color:orange">''Interaction Symbol Key:''</span>
(+☺) increases ''friendship'' level
(-☺) decreases ''friendship'' level
(+♥) increases ''romance'' level
(-♥) decreases ''romance'' level
<span class="continue-block">Finally, without further ado, click the button below when you are ready to begin the game.