By: David K. Montoya

The Back Story

The rocket sped across the deep, open void of space, despite how fast the vessel traveled it was engulfed in ice; it was reminiscent of an old ice bullet from the 21st century. On the side, underneath the thick wall of ice, was the words: S.S. Player Two (named after the original Player One rocket which launched in the late 2890s to discover new life in the Universe).

Inside the rocket, it was dark and cold, it smelled like an age old footlocker; the silence was so powerful that it cut through the artificial air. There hadn't been human activity in over one hundred years.

On June 1, 3118 A.C.E the World learned that the legend of Wormwood was true, when researchers in Switzerland discovered that the massive comet the size of Texas on a direct path toward Earth. But, the people of CERN (The European Organization for Nuclear Research) caught it approximately three hundred years from impact.

While it was agreed to not make the matter public, each nation rushed to come up with a way to survive what was what to come. Surprisingly, no one country worked together to find a solution, other than the United States and Canada, as they put their monies together to create a Super Rocket to travel across space to find a new place to call home.

Five years later an American and Canadian crew of the S.S. Player Two loaded craft and were to go on a one hundred and fifty year voyage to the moon of a planet named JX3. The scientists begin to call the moon, Potentia Orbis Zona (which was Latin for a Potentially habitable Zone), or POZ for short.

The plan was to confirm that POZ was in fact habitable to human life and the two Countries would have their people shipped to POZ to restart civilization as they knew it. Next, the biggest problem that the scientists had find a solution to how to transport humans across space for one hundred and fifty years—while cryogenics was perfected in early part of 2218 A.C.E, it would only last for eighty years at maximum. After which, the brain begins to develop Freezer Burning which was fatal for continuous Human life.

The answer came only two years after the discovery of Wormwood, when scientist, Nova Primis, perfected H.D.S (Human Dehydration Synthesis). Much like the beginning stages of Cryogenics, H.D.S. took subjects and rendered them unconsciousness, but unlike Cryo, the brain remained operational as it was connected to a complex system which provided oxygen and nutrition. But, then, all water was removed from the bodies, and while the remains appeared dead, they were in fact very much alive. The next step the body would be encased in a transparent body bag–like package, and again, attached to the system to keep vital organs alive, while all air was removed from the packet.

It was theorized that the process of H.D.S. would, keep the brain sustained forever as long as oxygen was not introduced to the subjects in the package. Once that happened, the dehydration would begin to reverse as the hydrogen molecules of the body attached with the surrounding Oxygen molecules in the air and created water inside and out of the human.

Six astronauts were chosen for the mission, three from the United States and three from Canada (two males and one female from each country). But, none of them were placed in charge of the mission, as for the first time in Human history, an A.I. (Artificial intelligence) inside the S.S. Player Two itself as placed in command; it was felt, and agreed, by both countries that it was safer to place a machine in charge because its decisions were made based on fact and logic, rather than a human's need to use emotion.

The Conflict

Now, one hundred years into the mission, the crew remained comfortably asleep, while S.S. Player Two guided herself through the lonely galaxy, it was ahead of schedule as its sensors indicated that they were only twenty Earth years from destination. Without a sound made, a thin red laser came from the top of the craft and scanned the interior of the S.S. Player Two. It

began in the bow of the rocket and traveled downward while it scanned for any problems.

Once the scan arrived in the amidships where the crew was held, S.S. Player Two examined each member to confirm that each remained in good health. When she came to the final package, the red laser transformed into an aqua–blue and fanned out into six different beams. The streams of light begin to merge and a shape of an unclothed woman begin to form, after a moment of assembly a projection of the woman stood in front of Lieutenant Commander Braxton Northfield, with the wave of her hand another projection from the ceiling appeared next to the package.

It was Northfield's data profile: Braxton was born and raised in California and graduated from the same area. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of California, Los Angeles with minors in Physics and Mathematics and earned a Master of Science in Systems Engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School. Northfield also graduated from the United States Naval Test Pilot School in Maryland.

The woman glanced at the picture of Braxton Northfield that hovered next to the package of the much different looking person that was inside.

It has been a very long time, since I had any sort of interaction. Rang from the speakers of the ship as the projection of the woman's mouth moved. She stared at the package, with the man inside and wanted a reply, but nothing came. The projection turned and the profile vanished with each step the woman begin to separate into thin beams of laser light, until it was once again fanned out into different streams.

They are merged once again into a single beam of red light and then continued on scanning the rocket ship.


Almost another decade passed without incident.

The dark silence inside the rocket was disturbed as a loud siren echoed through the vessel as a red flashing light accompanied it. The S.S. Player Two took human form once again, and quickly located the cause of the disruption, it was quarterdeck. It was glowing amber with unfathomable heat, it was fortunate that the crew was still in hibernation, if not they would have had all been killed.

The projection of the woman disappeared as she turned around, and would intermittently reappear as it was reminiscent of teleportation as she moved through the rocket.

Finally, she took form in front of Lieutenant Commander Braxton Northfield, he held a Master's degree in Systems Engineering, he would be able to figure out the ship's dilemma. Do I really need to do this? After a short hesitation, the woman waved her hand and Northfield's package was lit up with a purplish UV light. The airtight bag became distended as oxygen was pumped inside, and a thick condensation laced the inside the transparent plastic. Two metal robotic arms emerged from the floor one on each side of the bag, at the end of each branch was an attached syringe.

Administrating 300 milligrams of Amiodarone, a male electronic voice announced. The Projection of the woman nodded and the needle was injected into the body. A holographic screen appeared in front of her and displayed the heart's rhythm as it being to beat once again.

Beginning slow infusion of Amrinone, the voice continued, a transparent fluid ran from a small tube that lead from the ceiling and attached into another intravenous tube which went directly into Northfield's body.

Administering 1 milligram of Atropine.

After the injection, Northfield's body convulsed inside the bag, synthetic visceral fluid filled the transparent body bag, and now, more aware of his surroundings Braxton panicked inside until it broke free of the restraints and fell downward which caused the bottom of the package to erupt. An outlet formed underneath his body and drained the remainder of the aqueous solution.

The electronic male voice announced, Subject fully revived.

Northfield lied still for a moment, eventually, he looked up at the flashing red lights and said, "Mute alarm."

Welcome back Lieutenant Commander Braxton Northfield. My apologies for early revival. The projection said.

Northfield was surprised to find a projection of a naked woman: "Who? Who are you?"

I am Artificial Limitless Intelligence System, I was placed inside theS.S. Player Two as commanding officer. She explained.

"Do you have a name?" Northfield said. He slowly tried to get to his feet and collapsed back down from intense pain. "What's going on? Why does it hurt to stand?"

You have not used your muscles in over one hundred years, it will take some time before you will be able to function without pain.

"The Brass forgot to mention that during orientation," Northfield said and tried to stand once again.

It’s Alis. She added.

"What do you mean, Alice?"

Alis giggled in which could be translated in a flirtatious manner and then explained: I decided to name myself Alis for Artificial Limitless Intelligence System, but it wasn't until I processed the literature called, Alice in Wonderland that I realized that Alice was a name.

"I'm Brax," he said, now completely to his feet.

Alis tilted her head in a confused way, again, almost in a flirtatious manner.

But, your electronic dossier states your name is Braxton William Northfield. Is that a program error?

Braxton chuckles in amusement: "No. No. Brax is a nickname for Braxton. All right with the formalities out of the way, what's the problem with the ship?"

The sixth left booster jet has been encased in ice while it was inactive, and once it ignited the ice was too thick to melt as it was designed to do. Alis explained while she watched Brax stagger from one area to another.

"How thick is the wall of ice, Alis?"

Approximately 152.4 centimeters. Alis answered. Braxton stopped in his tracks and looked in astonishment toward her.

"Five feet?!" Braxton leaned against a nearby table. "You're telling me that there five feet of ice on the booster?"

Correct. While the Booster jet did ignite as designed, it was unable to create enough heat to melt the ice wall. In doing so, it created unsurvivable heat in the quarterdeck, which is causing system failure in that quadrant.

Northfield glanced down at the table that he leaned on and opened the top drawer, "Ah ha! There they are!"

He removed a uniform from the drawer; it was dark blue with a silver trim. The design was very similar to what was worn in the old science fiction television series of the 1960s. It was quite form fitting, but wasn't as suffocating as one would have had expected. Braxton turned to Alis and asked, "Why don't you have any clothes on, Alis?"

Alis looked down at her bare body and said in a more electronic voice than normal, Standby, downloading content–fragment "clothes."

After a brief moment, Alis looked up from her body: Download complete...Standby...processing.

In a wave of bright light, beginning from her feet and upward a standard Captain's uniform appeared, unlike Northfield's uniform, hers was yellow with a silver trim. My apologies Brax, if you found my previous form offensive.

"You're kidding, I'm a guy," Braxton answered with a chuckle. "All right, Alis, show me a projection of the quarterdeck."

Alis waved her hand and a screen that displayed the blueprint of the Ship. Braxton walked over next to her and a solid single white chair ascended from the floor which allowed Northfield to have a seat.

"Sharpen line forty–eight between twenty point twenty–seven," Brax said as he watched the projection intensively. "Enhance."

Northfield leaned forward toward the projection with a perplexed expression, "Alis, enhanced, please."

This is full magnification, Brax, she responded, she tried to place her had on his shoulder but to her dismay, it faded right through. Her face twisted a bit in frustration, in realization that she was not made of solid matter.

"Switch to live feed, please."

Alis nodded and the blueprint in front of Braxton transformed into a live video feed of the quarterdeck. Everything inside the room was disintegrating from the heat, all four walls glowed with heat. "Alis, please give me a temperature analysis between Left booster rocket number five and number six."

Booster number five is approximately 25% hotter than booster number six, Alis calculated.

The Information

Northfield jumped to he feet and raced away from Alis toward the back of the rocket–ship. "There's a kink in the fuel line that leads to booster number six!"

Alis waved her hand and the live feed went to a complete overview of the ship's fuel line system, with a second wave of her hand the screen leaped to another part of the spacecraft. After a third swipe, she found the line that had high pressure due to a blockage.

I found the line that has the blockage, Brax. Alis announced then disappeared into thin air.

Within seconds, Alis was walking next to Braxton, there was something new in her system, that she could not compute. She experienced what could be explained as something that aroused her enthusiasm and eagerness—by definition, for the first time since she was created Alis experienced excitement and she got to participate it with Northfield.

The two reached a large octagon shaped metal door that separated apart in a "Z" formation, but to their surprise it did not open automatically. Alis gave Brax a smile and waved her hand in front of the door, there was a loud electronic hum, but the hatch remained closed. Now with a look of displeasure Alis waved her hand with more command in front of the control panel next to the door, and again, there was a loud nose, but no reaction followed.

Wait here, Alis said and walked through the metal door. Once she came out on the other side, another feeling emerged inside her, fear. The entire area was glowing red hot, and everything was melted, a giant fifteen foot thick blast door had automatically drooped to protect the rest of the ship.

Alis looked up at the laser that cast her projection and it was no longer there and then glanced down at her body, and realized that she had no projection, but she felt the same as if there was a virtual her.

Alis turned back around and walked to where Northfield waited, she saw his anxious expression before her projection re–materialized.

The heat has traveled through the spacecraft, there is no way to get to the fuel line, Alis explained in a soft tone to her voice.

"Can we leave this as–is, and make it to POZ without further problems," Northfield asked, Alis noticed a bit of a deeper pitch added to his voice. She scanned her data bank for more information, but was unable to detect any material.

Please standby...Processing, Alis said with the same level of pitch, she identified in Braxon's voice.

"Wait! What was that?" He asked, before Alis went into processing mode.

Unable to process request, Alis responded, still maintaining the deeper pitch to her voice.

"There it is again, why are you talking in a deeper voice?"

Alis tilted her head, again, in a confused manner, after a brief pause she replied in the voice that Braxton had become accustomed to. I detected a pitch change in your voice, I was unable to find information on the subject and concluded it was appropriate to apply the same pitch to my broadcast.

Braxton smiled, and Alis wished that she has a physical form. "Oh, okay, just use your normal voice from here on out, all right?"


"Okay, let's try this again," Northfield said in a softer, more relaxed tone. "Can we reach POZ in our current condition?"

Please standby...Processing, Alis said and then looked down to enter processing mode. After a brief moment, Alis looked back up at Braxton with the answer to his question. Negative. The heat will reach the amidships in less than 72 Earth hours and ending all life on board this ship.

"Oh man," Braxton stammered; he ran his fingers through his dark hair while he attempted to find a solution to this now life or death situation. "There's got to be another way to get to the fuel lines? Alis, how come the fuel hasn't exploded yet?"

All of the fuel lines are wrapped in a not conductive bundle fiber, it runs safely from the fuel tanks toward the bow of the ship to the engines. Alis explained to Braxton.

Braxton looked up at the top of the ceiling and stood on his tiptoes and pushed up on a panel and slid it back. "Is there an alternative way to get to the obstructed fuel line?"

There is not other route inside the spacecraft, but, one could get to the needed location if they walked from the outside of the ship.

"Do we have spacesuits?" Northfield asked, although he really did not want to know the answer.

There are six traditional extravehicular mobility units for in case of emergency situations and the crew needed to evacuate the ship. Alis said, then waved her hand in front of her to put up a map of the rocket–ship. I've located the suits, they are in the stowage.

The Solution

Braxton pulled the heavy EMU spacesuit upon his shoulder, he wondered in all the years of progress, why they never figured out how to create a lighter apparatus for space travel. For Alis, she disliked the suit because, she felt it covered Northfield's features too much—and watched in silence as he suited up to go for a walk.

Once Northfield was readied for his mission, Alis said: Brax, I need for you to do me a favor, because I do not have a physical form to do it me self.

"Okay, sure." Northfield responded with a hint of curiosity to his voice. "What do you need for me to do, Alis?"

Alis nodded toward the center of the room, and simultaneously a long cylindrical tube emerged up from the floor. She walked over to the tube and said: I need for you to open the top of this tube.

"All right," Braxton said and walked over to the tube and pulled back the top to reveal what looked like a flash drive stick.

Alis nodded again, and a second cylindrical tube ascended from the floor next to the first. Please open the second tube.

Northfield did not respond as he opened the second tube, inside, was what appeared to be an SD Card which was plugged into a drive.

Please remove the back of the stick, there you will find a slot to plug the card into. Once you take the card from the drive I will disappear until I'm plugged into the projector stick. Alis explained as she was fixated with Braxton's gray eyes. Once you insert the card, replace the back on the stick and place the small red power button on the top.

"You can count on me." Braxton removed the back of the device and slowly inserted the card into the slot. Once he heard a click, Northfield replaced the back to the stick. Before igniting the projection stick, Brax examined the small gadget and how the projection of Alis would come from the top of the stick. "All right, Alis, here you go."

Northfield pushed in the red button and Alis reappeared with a relieved smile. After first, I thought there was a problem.

"You could think although you're not connected to an electric feed?" He asked and clipped the device to a lapel on his right shoulder.

Yes, my A.I. has advanced beyond the original design, Alis replied while she rendered a system check on her new home. After all, I had nothing but time for the last One hundred and ten years—I applied quite a few self tests during that time.

Northfield lowered the delicate helmet over his head, the locks transmitted a click and the sound of fresh oxygen as it flowed into the suit. "Can you hear me, Alis?"

Loud and clear, Alis responded with a big smile.


The two headed to the chamber where the realm of safety inside the rocket–ship and deep–space meet. Once inside, Braxton turned a large disc–like dial until the sound of locks were engaged; he stepped off a thin carpet that aligned the entrance way onto the polished steel floor. Northfield pushed a small button on a control panel located around the top part of his wrist and a loud thump echoed inside the chamber as the magnets attached to the bottom of his boots activated.

To his left was a large oval shaped panel with a red button on top and a green one directly underneath, it was only a half a foot from the door that lead into the empty cold void. Braxton stared out the porthole window that was in front of him, a thin line of sweat fell from his forehead.

You're heart rate is up quite a bit, are you all right, Brax, Alis asked, she stepped in front of him to examine him herself.

"Nervous is all, Alis," Braxton said, he placed his hand on the handle to the door. "I was the pilot, never, the walker... This is all new ground for me."

If you do exactly what I tell you to, you will have a higher probability of not dying, than doing it yourself, Alis said.

"Is that supposed to make me feel better?"

Would it make you feel better if I went first, Alis asked, before he could reply, she stepped through the metal door.

"Wait. Was that a joke?" Braxton asked, he shook his head in amusement.

Come on in, the weather's fine, Alis' voice ranged inside Northfield's helmet.

With his hand still on the lever of the door, he tethered himself to the bolt attached to the wall. After a brief moment of silence, Braxton Northfield took a deep breath and with all of his nerve pushed the bar door to unlock the door.

"Here we go," Northfield said and then stepped out into space. The first thing he saw was Alis, who stood evenly in space with her hands on her hips. "Hi there."

Quickly attach your boots to the metal of the shell, Alis said in almost a monotone voice.

"Roger that Captain," Northfield said, as he realized her directions were more of an order than a request. He took a rung that was next to the door and climbed his way to the top of the spacecraft. Once atop the rocket, Braxton scanned the layout. "I can see the frozen booster from here, it's a lot more ominous than I originally expected."

Head about forty–six meters south, please be careful of any over heated plates on the craft, Alis said, as she walked up to Braxton.

Northfield respond to Alis with a hint of irritation to his voice, "Copy that, Captain."

Alis stepped in front of Northfield, with a frustrated expression: Why do you keep calling, Captain​​?

"You're the Captain, aren't you. You're in charge, giving the orders right? What else could I call you, perhaps your real name?" Northfield snapped.

My real name?

"You know what Alis stands for—should I call you Captain Artificial Limitless Intelligence System?"

Alis did not answer him, and a sad expression washed over her face. She looked down and then vanished, which left Braxton alone with his thoughts.

Lieutenant Commander Northfield, I will monitor your progress and will be in touch once you arrive at your designated location, Alis voice echoed inside his helmet.

"Roger," he said and moved south toward the back of the spacecraft.


After a long quiet walk, Braxton arrived at his destination. He made note that surrounding parts of the rocket–ship were glowing red with heat. The realization of how dangerous things were sank in heavily on Northfield, his stomach churned with nervousness.

"All right, Alis, I'm here what's next," Braxton sheepishly asked. A few moments passed, and Alis did not respond, his imagination begin to run wild. "Alis?"

Another realization dropped on Braxton, how rude he was to Alis. But, how could he have had hurt her feelings, she didn't have feelings to begin with, did she? He sighed through the guilt and reluctantly said, "Captain, are you there?"

Yes, Lieutenant Commander, I am still in contact. Alis finally responded.

Braxton sighed again, but this time laced with more guilt. "Alis, I'm sorry, I was out of line."

Again, no response. Braxton looked up into space and saw what he believed to be Potentia Orbis Zona. "Can you see things while you're not in projection mode? If not, you are missing a beautiful sight, take form and take a look for your self."


Finally, he tried again with more rigger to his voice, "Captain, I am at the location awaiting farther orders."

Lieutenant Commander proceed until you arrive at the top panel of the ship labeled "Manual Fuelling Area," again I will follow your progress. Captain Artificial Limitless Intelligence System, out.

"Alis? Alis? C'mon, Alis, I said I was sorry," Braxton said, but much to what he expected Alis did not acknowledge him. "Fine."

Northfield walked about the surface of the spacecraft, the more south he traveled the more area was affected by the overheated booster. After a long time of searching, Braxton eventually came upon the panel for manual fueling.

He knelled down for a brief moment and then quickly got to his feet: "Bloody Hell!"

Alis materialized in front of Braxton with a concerned expression on her face. What's wrong?!

"The panels, they're all burning hot! I knelled down to remove the manual fuel plate and the heat burned through my EMU spacesuit," Braxton explained.

Are you able to remove the plate?

"Let me give it a try, Alis," Brax said and grabbed onto the handle attached to the metal plate. At first, he did not utter a word, after a few moment Alis noticed he was pulling with more force. Eventually, Northfield let out a loud scream of pain as he continued to pull on the handle.

Brax, abort! Alis shouted and instinctively tried to push Braxton away from the plate when she noticed his gloves were smoking. Please, stop this!

Finally he tore the metal plate away from the craft and dropped it with a thunderous thud and turned toward Alis with a relived smile. Before Braxton was able to say something a large explosion that cantered from behind him rocked the spacecraft. Quickly, Northfield realized that the fuel line was pinched by the plate itself and once he removed it all of the extra fuel launched to booster number six and shattered the ice wall with ease.

Brax! The projection stick! It was knocked loose! Alis shouted out in fear.

Without second thought, Braxton jumped from the rocket into the dark void. He used swimming maneuvers until he reached the projection stick, once he had it in his hands Northfield turned and looked over his should to show Alis, but she was not there. His heart dropped into his stomach, and panic washed over him as he shouted out, "Alis? Alis? Are you there?!"

I'm here, silly, you're holding me in your hand. Alis said with an almost giggle.

"Why. Why can't I see you?" He asked while he floated in space.

Open your hand, Brax. She said with an amused chuckle.

After he heard her words he opened his hand and immediately Alis appeared in front of him. She looked deep into his eyes and responded to the feelings inside her with a smile, but that did not last long as her sensors came back with bad news.

You're injured, Brax! Alis exclaimed frantically. Northfield did not respond, and glanced down at his wound which was in his upper abdomen—blood soaked into the white material.

"Huh," was all the words Braxton was able to assemble. To Alis' surprise, Northfield made no effort to return to the ship, he appeared content floating directionless in space.

Brax, you need to activate the motorized reel on your belt. Alis demanded, her words soaked with fear. Braxton did not respond at first, and Alis begin to shout. You're in shock, Brax, but unless you want us to float around forever in space—I need you to activate the reel!

"Oh. Okay." Braxton said as he activated the reel. "I can't let you hang out with my dead body."

Don't talk like that! You just rest and save your energy, let the reel do the work.

It was a silent and slow return back to the S.S. Player Two, once back inside Braxton placed all the locks in order, but did not bother to remove his spacesuit as he exited the chamber. He staggered toward the two long cylindrical tubes, he placed the back of the projection stick between his teeth and pulled the cover off and spat it to the ground. He took his trembling right hand and removed the card from the back of the stick, and with his left hand tossed that to the floor as well.

Alis' frightened image disappeared before him.

Braxton walked over to the long cylindrical tube and placed the card back into its original slot and Alis immediately regenerated before him. He smiled at her then asked, "Alis, please give me a diagnostic report."

Download complete...Standby...processing. The spacecraft is fully operational. Alis announced.

"Chances of completing our missions?" He asked as he stumbled against a nearby wall.

Chances of completion is 99.9993% with a 0.0007% of failure.

Braxton slid down the wall and left a trail of blood behind him until he was on the floor. Alis ran over to him and knelled down exit to him. Northfield had a blank look to his eyes and Alis became frantic at the realization of Brax's forthcoming fate.

No! No! Brax! Can you hear me?! You cannot die! That's... That's and order! Alis exclaimed. I'm your Captain, and I order you not to die!

A small grin appeared across Brax's lips when he said in a weak voice: "It. It doesn't work like that, Alis."

I. I know. Alis said, then ran her fingers down Braxton's cheeks.

Braxton glanced up at Alis in amazement, "I–I can feel your fingers..."

With that last statement uttered the final amount of oxygen in his body left Braxton's lungs.

I love you, she whispered in his ears.

The Epilogue

The rocket–ship was only approximately thirty days away from orbiting the moon of POZ, an automated revival system awoke the other five crew members to begin the needed stages of habitation. A short time after awakened from their hundred and twenty year sleep they met in the conference room to discuss the next stage in the mission.

"We need to run a diagnostic report before we even attempt to land down there," said one of the crew members.

The planet is habitable to human life; I ran a diagnostics on it as soon as we were close enough to properly do so.

Each member turned and faced the door where the voice came from. There was a tall, slender woman with her blond hair tied back in a high ponytail. Once everyone realized that she wore a captain's uniform they all raised from their seats.

"Captain?" One of the female crew members asked.

Yes. I am the captain of this vessel. My name is Captain Alis Northfield, but please call me Alis.



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