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The Odessa Project

You might have heard about the Korvax. As you may know we are quite famous around this galaxy. We are a peaceful race that has dedicated its existence to science. We are against violence and condemn anyone who would hurt another being. We believe that with the power of technology we can create an utopia for all. I have stood by that belief from the moment the Entity gave me life, until the day I joined the Kor.S.A Initiative. That was the moment my entire existence turned out to be a lie. It has changed my life forever and now I am about to change yours. Everything you know about us has been deliberate deception.

It is not by coincidence that all intelligent life here, including some of our own, think we are peaceful Entity loving beings. We are known to use our superior technology to bring about a better galaxy. We seem to be the perfect Utopian bunch. Thinking about the lie still makes me sick to my second stomach. The only way I can live with myself is to write it all down. Maybe one day if someone gets to read this I can make up for what I’ve done, for what the Korvax have done. You see, the Korvax only want one thing and one thing only: to gain knowledge of all things. No matter the cost. The utopia where all beings can live in peace and harmony will become reality. Only there will be no intelligent life left to enjoy it. Except for the Korvax of course. That is where the Kor.S.A Initiative comes in. It’s full name is the Korvax Scientific Advancement Initiative. It’s an organization that, from the outside, is mostly involved in studying the galaxy. It consists of lots of scientific facilities on the planet Editos right in the middle of the Dally quadrant. Good chance you have heard of it by now if you are reading this.

The Kor.S.A Initiative however, is far more than a scientific facility. Deep down under the surface of the planet in the lowest parts of the underground tunnels, lays the real Kor.S.A facility. This is where the Odessa project is being run. I have been a part of the Odessa project for nearly eight standard years now.

When I first joined, I thought I was a recruited scientist, fresh out of school. I don’t recall ever being happier than the day they came to take me there. To work at the Kor.S.A Initiative was a great honor. Especially on the northern hemisphere of Sotales where I’m from.  It had been decades since someone from the northern hemisphere of Sotales had been given the honor. It would always be someone from the southern side where the competition among students was the fiercest. Until I was chosen.

I was born to a fairly standard family. My primary parent, my father to some species, raised me and my sister by himself. His name is Sano and not a day goes by that I don’t think about him. I have no idea who my secondary parent is, but that is not uncommon among the Korvax. Sano had always been driven by his faith of the Entity and I had grown up believing all that the Entity stood for. Peace, knowledge and the creation of a galactic utopia. Raising his children with the same values that entailed. When I look back now I suspect that Sano had other motives. I think he deliberately chose to raise us on the northern side of our planet. This he did, I reckon, to avoid any of his children getting chosen. I think he might have known about the Odessa project, but I can’t be sure. He hadn’t counted on my obsession with being the best however and he couldn’t have kept me away from school if he had tried. The educative system in place for the Korvax is the best there is and it is mandatory. From the moment I started school I was the best of my class and I worked hard to rise further up the educational ladder. Only one student per solar system is considered for acceptance at the Kor.S.A Initiative. There are roughly 3000 systems inside the Korvax territory but only a hundred students would eventually be allowed a place each year. I had gone above and beyond to become one of those hundred, almost exactly eight standard years ago. Ironically, I stood out that much more because I was from the ‘dumber’ side of Sotales. With that in mind my educative accomplishments looked even more impressive. I haven’t seen or heard anything from my family since the day I got onto the ship that brought me to Editos. I now understand that there are far more important things than knowledge. I regret the moments spent on the Atlas which I could have spent with my family.

In the account of all that has taken place since that faithful day, I will tell you my story. I hope that somewhere deep down, you might find the mercy to forgive the things I’ve done, for I cannot. I hope it won’t be too late to stop the plans that have been set in motion. If it is already too late, at least the truth of what happened will be out there. Entity have mercy on my immortal soul.

How it all started

As I explained earlier, it all began eight standard years ago. I had just passed my eleventh year and was now considered a full adult. The acceptance letter was brought to me by a tier one and her escort party. Tier one is the highest rank you can reach while being under the employment of the Kor.S.A Initiative. Except for the overseer of course. I later learned her name was Masuan. I recognized her immediately as a tier one, although I didn’t know who she was at the time. If I had known what I know now, I would have run. Not that it would have made any difference. Every recruit is collected by a tier one. They do this to give the recruit a sense of importance and to let them think the Kor.S.A Initiative could not exist without them. They do this to make us obey them and it had worked perfectly on me.

I was so shocked and proud that it was a miracle I even took the time to hug Sano and my sister.

‘Be careful’. Sano whispered to me. I didn’t know why he said that and there was no time to ponder. I had just managed a mere ‘goodbye’ when I was escorted out of my house to the transport ship that stood waiting for us at the communal landing pad. The thing barely fit and that was the first time I had ever seen a ship thát big in real life. Our neighborhood landing pad was pretty state of the art so that was an accomplishment. I remember walking through the streets towards it with everyone staring at me. I had done what no one here had done in decades. When we walked up to the ship I finally felt myself again a little bit. I turned around and took one last look at the city of Dorou I called home. It was the last time I would see it. At the time there was only one sight that caught my eye. The portal that stood in the center of town. The tip of it was visible above the buildings. I had used that portal every day to transport to our quadrant’s educational planet where I had given all I had to become the best. Studying had been all I ever knew from the moment I started school, back when I was two. It had worked, I was about to get on this ship which would bring me to Editos. I was a tool of the Entity and I would be used to create the galactic utopia for all beings. My lifelong dream was about to come true and indeed I had never been happier.

The great planet of Editos

The journey itself only took about half an hour  despite the fact that we had to travel all the way to the other side of the Korvax territory. I managed a glance at the cockpit’s control systems before our captain shut the door behind him. All of it looked state of the art and I suspected our hyper drive would be more capable than anything currently on the open market. As I had thought, the jump only lasted a spit second. It took more time to get to dark space and make the jump than to actually jump. In the blink of an eye we had traveled thousands of light-years. Yet I had felt nothing, not even the slightest tremble of the floor or the tiniest engine sound. The g-force suppressors and gravitational stabilizers were above anything I could have ever imaged.  Yet I wasn’t surprised. We where the Korvax after all, masters of science and technology. I was surprised however, that this level of spaceship was not shared with the public. If that had made me suspicious then, it didn’t last long.

I was distracted when Editos finally became visible through the little window on my left. At that point I think I may have been staring with my mouth open. No one could see that of course, but still. This also was like nothing I had ever seen. The planet was enormous. One of the largest ones inside the boundaries of the Korvax territory I knew of. The main cluster of structures was located on the southern hemisphere. We were currently approaching them and they reflected the light of the nearby star. From this distance, the city only looked like a twinkling point of light but when we drew closer I could make out more and more details. Our ship descended and my window began to glow with a soft orange light. I griped my seat a little tighter but I shouldn’t have bothered. We broke though the atmosphere in seconds and, like before, the ship gave no indication that it had just done so. The ship didn’t seem to slow down however,  and the main city we were heading for grew rapidly closer. I could make out every detail of every building and it felt like we would crash right into it. At the last second the ship pulled out of the dive and righted itself. The ship touched down on a landing pad in the center of the enormous city. It was so big that from our current position, I couldn’t even see the mountain range to the north. Of course I knew everything there was to know about this planet and its scientific cities. We had just landed in Great Korvaxion, the main cluster. From this city the entire planet was overseen. Ten smaller clusters are dispersed around Editoses surface and each of those clusters has their own specialty to which their research is devoted, and here I was, walking out of the ship onto the planet of Editos. I stepped down the ramp of the ship as if in a dream and when I came to the bottom my feet just stopped moving. All my senses were devoted to gazing at this amazing place.

‘Great Entity’ I whispered under my breath.

Then I felt someone touching my shoulder. I started and turned around. Masuan was standing there looking at me. Of course I couldn’t see any emotion behind the helmet. The face of a Korvax remains hidden to the outside world. Only the closest relatives will ever be allowed to see it. That is the way of the Entity. I did however experience an uncomfortable sense of foreboding with her shadow falling over me. Almost like the hand on my shoulder was a threat. Before I could react or really think about it however, she spoke.

‘Follow’. Was the only word she said before she walked away from me.

I looked around to see if the rest of our escort party would come with, but they had remained in their seats, staring straight ahead. I quickly moved to follow Masuan but I kept my respectful distance.  Keeping my head faced forward and my back straight, I tried to copy her brisk pace. I could not help my eyes from wondering though. I tried to take in as much of Great Korvaxion as I could before we reached the closest building. A breathtaking piece of architecture the Korvax were known for. The wall we approached looked like solid white stone and I could see tiny red shimmers that reflected the light. Those tiny red crystals reminded me of something I could not quit place. Before I could remember however, we reached the building. The wall in front of us split silently open to let us through.

‘Welcome back commander 39 Masuan.’ A calm female voice spoke. It was like the voice came from everywhere and nowhere at once. A moment later I realized that was exactly the case. That must be the planet’s interface Editos Artificial Intelligence or E.A.I. The ever watchful eye that looked over everyone, making sure no creature would ever be harmed here, or so I thought at the time. Without reacting or even sparing a glance backwards, Masuan continued inside.

The building was as beautiful on the inside al it was at the outside. It had polished white surfaces and the same red crystals shimmered in the stone. Then I remembered why the red crystals were so familiar. The whole building was made out of Thamium9. This was highly irregular due to the fact that Thamium9 was mostly found on asteroids and is use to produce hyper-drive fuel. In its natural form it is very unstable. I took a tentative step inside but nothing happened. They must have found a way to stabilize the molecular structure. I moved on to study the rest of the interior. At first glance, it looked like there was no ceiling. This made for a stunning display of soft, slightly purple light filtering down. In the center of the atrium stood the biggest standing stone I had ever seen. The power of the Entity was almost visible through the grandness of it all.

Masuan proceeded forward and I followed, but not before I took a moment to look up. I bathed my head in the light of the Ronas, the star that gave this solar system life. I decreased the light filter on my helmet a bit to get a better look at it. Through the filtered display of my helmet I could see the star as a tiny dot, slightly purplish white.  I also noticed something  like a heat haze moving across the ceiling. I realized the building wasn’t really open, an energy field functioned as the ceiling. When I looked back down I corrected my vision and sped up to remain walking behind Masuan. We crossed the atrium and came to a slightly raised platform on the other side of the standing stone. This side was also open and I could see that the energy field extended to the floor here. Behind the energy field there was a beautiful garden with all kinds of exotic plants I had only seen on the Atlas. I remember thinking that this garden must be what utopia looks like.

Masuan had stopped beside the platform and a pillar of red crystal had risen up out of the floor. She put her hand on it’s flat surface and a soft beep sounded.  Suddenly the platform began to glow with a faint blue light. I looked up to see what Masuan was doing, only to find her staring at me. She raised one hand and gestured from me to the platform. I had grown up with the knowledge to never aders my superiors before they had granted me that right. My head was spinning with a thousand things I wanted to ask but I kept silent. Instead, I swallowed down my curiosity and stepped onto the platform. I walked to the center and turned around to face Masuan. This was the first time she spoke a complete sentence to me.

‘This is where I leave you. The Kor.S.A Initiative has chosen you to do great things. Embrace your destiny as a being of knowing and use that knowledge to create a better galaxy for all creatures and all Korvax. Until we meet again.’

The Odessa project

She lowered her hand onto the pillar once more and the platform I was standing on began a steady downwards decent. I could only stare at Masuan as she disappeared out of sight. I remember being very confused at that point. All creatures and Korvax? That almost seemed to imply no other intelligent life was included, but that could not be right. The proud feeling that had seemed to light me up from the inside began dimming down. Instead I felt a weight settling in my second stomach and I haven’t been able to shake that weight since. They chose me because I was smart. And I knew when something wasn’t right.

My decent continued downwards and by the time the platform stopped moving I was very deep underground.  Another beep sounded and the wall in front of me split open to reveal something that could only be described as an enormous stone cavern. The stone here was not the beautiful smooth white from above but grey and dull with sharp edges. Part of a naturally formed cave structure. It spread out before me and doors similar to my own started opening up all around the walls. Out of them stepped other Korvax. I could guess how many there were. A hundred confused applicants to the Kor.S.A initiative stood in this bizarre place, not knowing what to do. Then the same female voice I had heard before echoed through the cavern.

‘Welcome subject group 1.1.039. You are chosen to become part of the Odessa project.’

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Fleur Hartsuijker
Fleur Hartsuijker
Fleur is, and has always been a dreamer. Wanting to take off to other worlds, leaving this one behind. And more often than not her imagination takes her there. She loves reading sci-fi and fantasy and has always been a enormous Harry Potter fan. Her alter ego Elterna has always be her videogame nickname (Pokémon is her guilty pleasure).

She lives near Amsterdam in the Netherlands and currently teaches geography to high school students. Next year she aspires to go back to university to pursue a study in Earth Sciences, but for now No Man's Sky is the next big thing.
By |2016-12-11T02:40:17+00:00July 13th, 2016|Column / opinion, Roleplaying|0 Comments