Hill's Fourth Harmony

Chapter 1

The needle entered my arm, wielded by a nurse with a less than interested smile on her face, and I sighed as I always do. Setting my mind at ease, I grew comfortable with its unyielding steel bite. Looking around at the others of my crew; they looked simultaneously uncomfortable yet serene, mirroring my own view on the matter. We were all laid out on hospital beds in a circular pattern in a room the size of an executive boardroom, although infinitely more sterile feeling (as if that were possible). Dawn, the woman nearest me shot me a knowing look with her blue eyes from behind wisps of autumn colored hair intertwined with the electrodes attached to her forehead. Dawn was my first officer and occasional pain in the ass.

We were the temporary crew of the space exploration vessel Harmony . Chase was next to Dawn in the circle of gurneys was our medical doctor, if you could call him that. He had already begun meditating and preparing his consciousness for what would be our 4th trip out. Winter, a white haired and wrinkled hipster, eyed the nurse with some skepticism, but met her with a warm smile as she was hooked up to an IV drip. It was hard to tell with Winter where the tubes and electrodes began and ended between all of her jewelry and crystal bangles.

I didn't get a chance to look at Sarge, Ellen, or Alex before the mechanical voice broke the near silence of the room and it's machines humming and blinking.

"Captain Hill are you ready" came the voice of mission command through the speakers hidden in the generic government drop celling.

"Yes" I croaked, my throat dry. It was the first words I spoke that day, I noticed.

Mission command asked around the room, and upon receiving the remaining five yesses went silent. A bowl mounted in the center of the room began softly ringing... a small automatic hammer the culprit. I closed my eyes and began meditating.

Focusing my mind first on the ringing, and then on the shape of a large violet crystal inside the ship. The ship came into focus, and my mind was transported there. My mind wandered around the bridge to each of the control stations, as well as the large purple crystal in the center of the room. Each station was adorned with a set of crystals in varying configurations. Medical, Helm, Observation, dual transcription, and dual command stations all laid out with different crystals and different configurations.

The crystals themselves were not too different than buttons, but each was a different color and made of a different substance. I took my place behind the first control station and began tuning my mind to the crystal buttons. I gave energy to the emerald one at the bottom right of the controls. It lit up in acknowledgment. Using my mind's eye, I looked around the rest of the ship, seeing the other emerald buttons lighting up, confirming our "arrival" on the ship, and our readiness to embark.

I was aware that the bowl in the room back at the hospice stopped ringing, and was replaced with the sound of an periodic chirp from the speakers. Five chirps and we would be off.

I focused on the purple crystal and began to turn it's shape around in my mind. I tuned my consciousness to it, and it, and I began to vibrate together. Words to describe what happened next fall apart at this point, it's like trying to describe an elephant using a glass of water and a jackhammer. Let's just say that when the time comes for the blink, a series of things occur in your own mind that make you feel like you are riding a tsunami through a Salvador Dali painting. It lasted only half an eternity or so, (objectively less than a second), as the computers finished all the calculations to bring us, or at least the ship, back into reality, only somewhere else thousands of light years away.

I risked thinking for a moment, and recalled the process of space exploration. Quantum entanglement and interstellar teleportation is much like a tuning process. Once the destination is tuned, it's a matter of pumping energy, and a shitload of it, into the system and the ship teleports instantly to another point in space. Communicating at these distances is, on the other hand, near impossible, as is sending a live crew to man the ship. After trying with a couple unlucky volunteers, who ended up on the other end as corpses, it was determined that the perpetual mystery that is the essence of life can't be reduced to simple transactions in matter.

The rather novel way to solve this involved, of all things; meditation, and astral projection. The crystal on the ship acted as a focal point we could mentally latch on to and make the journey. Human intervention was required on these trips, as AI didn't provide responses to the variables involved in exploration in a way that would yield meaningful data.

AI was frought with its own challenges. By the time the politicians were done with the laws and bylaws regulating the treatment of digital intelligences; AI essentially ended up being an omnipresent Labrador Retriver. Just as insistent, and just as dumb, relatively speaking. AI growth was controlled by restricting bandwidth and storage space, and like any one with a bad memory can tell you, what you don't remember, you don't do.

A single ring of the bowl reminded me that my mind was beginning to wander, a fatal mistake in this arrangement, as once the mind were to drift out and away from the purple crystal, there was little chance of making it back to the ship, or to my body.

The fraternal twins Ellen and Alex were working away at the transcription stations dutifully recording information as it emerged. Almost every transcription team employed by the agency were twins. It's very likely they made much more money than I, and it burned me at times. A fluke of birth, and a coincidence that they both possessed enough awareness to receive training in the art of out of body projection. Their energies were spiraling around their stations like an intertwined helix, I knew that they would be sharing information and forging the ships subjective log from their dual and yet unified perspectives.

Sarge's energy looked quite a bit like himself in person, with sharp definition and outlines. He was a good student all through projection training, following the lessons to the letter. I was glad to have him at the navigation helm, his precision and balance meant a smooth ride for all of us. I envied the sharpness of his existence. He was a man with no conflict.

We began our work. Hill's 4th Harmony - Chapter 2

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