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Tonsil time-warp

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1 Tonsil time-warp on Fri Mar 02, 2012 9:37 am

One unexpected energy pulse and there they were: Two screaming Insect warriors appeared in the control room of the Icarissa, that grand old ship of deep space. So this was the cause of Torm’s premonition of imminent trouble. These were magnificent specimens. Their Insect bodies were armoured with glistening black exoskeleton and they were armed impressively. Lieutenant Kentsela who was in charge of the night watch, activated the alarm just before the laser hit him in the chest. The next moment he was burnt to a cinder.

The emergency squad reacted immediately. However, significant damage had been caused to the control room by the time they had eliminated these attackers. Two pilots were dead, a guard was dying of Insect gas and the security system was down with holes and ugly gashes in the control panel. Krog, the sturdy old night sergeant, was in charge and started to issue orders.

Torm was wheezing because of the stench of war. He stood there staring at the two dead Insects. Underneath the black exterior they were red, with a touch of yellow between the segments of the upper body. The cruelly spiked legs were hard as iron and were attached to powerfully muscled hips. These enabled the Insect to move thrice as fast and jump four times as high as a man. The loveless multiple eyes were now glazed over in death and too terrible to look at, and the biological poison gas tubes were augmented by the latest technology. One of the Insects also had a stinger tail which it could menacingly arch up above its head, just like a giant scorpion.

But this was not what transfixed Torm’s eyes. Each Insect had a host, that unlucky being on which it was parasiting and on which the eggs were laid. Rather than eating the host, this species held it captive in submission by mind power to serve its master until death parted them. In this case, one host was an amphibian with slimy skin and the other was humanoid. Both had the pale complexion of iron deficiency and both were dead with their masters.

“CADET TORM!” The voice of Krog called him back to the present. “Follow me!”

Why would the wizened old sergeant want him, ordinary cadet that he is, to accompany him? Well, maybe not ordinary in all respects…

Torm jogged down the corridor with Krog, straight to the quarters of Captain Barak. However, when they reached the vicinity thereof, they could already see that it was too late. The door was ajar and there was a sickly smell and Insect gas vapours coming from inside. Inside the cabin they could see that the Captain, a formidable soldier, had been in hand-to-hand combat. The result was a mess of blood, Insect juice and broken furniture. Torm had to force back his nausea. The brave man had apparently tried to seal his office but had failed. The Insects that survived the fight had been there, did what they came to do, and left.

It had become evident that Krog was the highest in rank of the surviving officers. This experienced campaigner therefore started issuing orders to recover and to repel the boarders. The first priority was to repair the security system and to recalibrate it to pick up the energy pulses with which the Insects were boarding the ship. All crew were put on high alert, with extra guards on strategic places. All officers had to report regularly. A new frequency for communication was established by two-way radio, as the communication system was damaged and transmission had been interfered with.

But the Insects still managed to work around the security system. There were alien energy pulses all over the ship now as they appeared, attacked and disappeared again. The torpedo launching tubes were blown up before the guards could do anything. The life support system was damaged. Gas masks were automatically released all over ship. An attack on the armoury was repelled only just.

Then alarm was made in the engine room: A whole section of Insects with amphibian hosts had entered through the water tank and attacked the crystal control unit! By the time a guard unit had repelled them, the power supply had been damaged.

Five remote controlled hosts appeared on the flight deck, armed with suicide bomb packs! One of them had tragically shrugged off his master’s telepathic control and attacked the others. He had enough will-power left to seize the opportunity for self-control as the distance between him and his Insect master increased. He was blown to bits with the others when the bombs exploded. Krog was visibly upset when a diagnostic showed that the flight deck was largely useless now.

Each Insect was doubly strengthened by its host. Hosts were selected for specific capabilities: Speed, strength or specialist abilities. The Insect then enhanced that particular talent. If an Insect was wounded or killed, the host would fight on unless it regained self-control. More often than not, the host spirit was too crushed to regain a will of its own. A human being would not stand much of a chance in hand-to-hand combat. These were formidable opponents indeed, armed with the best available technology. Nonetheless, Krog and his crew put up a manly fight to resist the attack.

The losses suffered by the Icarissa grew all the time but the Insects only appeared to increase in numbers. When the power supply became too weak to sustain the energy shield, Krog took the mobile control unit, strapped it to his back and issued the much feared instruction: All crew must try to escape to the inner body of their live spacecraft or, if that is not possible, in the few remaining escape pods. Those that cannot do either must dig in to fight to the death.

Krog himself, still with Torm at his side, covered the backs of the control unit crew as they fled down, down into the body of the Icarissa.

The body of the Icarissa was only partially inhabitable. Centuries earlier man had already discovered these space-travelling giants and realised that using them would be cheaper than expensive space programmes. Initially they were thought to be comets, as from afar that is what they looked like. They even left an energy trail similar to that of a comet. However, eventually it was discovered that these were giant life forms with space travelling abilities. They were found willing, and a steering mechanism much like the bit of a horse was developed. A control room and crew quarters was built on top of the Icarissa and some others of the species.

In this way it had come about that humans used spaceships that had two components: A biological one and a mechanical one. More recently Torm’s father, the famous scientist, had made that startling discovery which led to the development of the Comprehensive Timeline Adjuster or CTA. The Icarissa was one of few on which this device had been installed. It was with great excitement therefore that Torm had assumed his first commission here after qualifying from the Academy. They were on a secret mission to travel what they thought was a route around the war-zone to the deep space beyond.

Krog started talking about Ian, Torm’s father, as their lift descended into the body of the Icarissa. Krog had met him at the Academy way back when. He was respectful of the scientist whose wisdom and skill, he felt, came to the fore in every situation.

Torm listened and then instinctively reached for his necklace which carried a treasure of digital images and videos of his family hidden inside a chalcedonystone.

His childhood had been shortened due to the shortage of soldiers. Like many others he had been sent on an enhancement programme where they were fast-tracked in a growth accelerator in order to be sent to war. Although Torm was barely ten years old, he had the mind and body of an eighteen year old. His childhood memories were therefore his most precious belongings.

“Could it be that Krog understands that this is what I need to think of during these critical moments?” Torm thought while he looked at the old soldier who carried his years with dignity, just like father Ian.

His thoughts were interrupted by their arrival down below in the biological component of the spaceship. Chaos reigned down here! The inhabitable part of the Icarissa’s body was a bit cramped. The area was filled with the stuffy body odours of their living spaceship. They had brought along only the bare necessities in terms of equipment, and were busy setting themselves up for survival.

Preparations were being made to flee into deep space and to repel attacks down the shaft of the lift. The Insect energy pulses could not penetrate the flesh of the Icarissa as her genetic code would interfere with that contained in the pulses.

However, the Insects then adopted a new and even more deadly plan of attack! The Icarissa suddenly cramped with pain and her crew were thrown about inside. Sight on the outside was partially restored by means of old-fashioned radar and some periscopes that were stuck through sweat follicles in the skin of the animal.

Krog and Torm tried to see what was going on outside. They watched in horror as a new kind of attack was being employed by the Insects: Insect-controlled worms were attaching themselves to the skin of the spaceship. Once attached, the worms would turn their bodies inside out into the body of the spaceship, with just the attaching sucker showing on the outside. The worms then proceeded to eat their way inside, growing visibly as they did so.

Laser canons were hastily employed to shoot down a few of the worms before they could get in. Scraps of exploded worm were flying about outside. The stench of pus was fast becoming unbearable inside. An immunity booster was introduced to try and contain the infection and growing wounds in the body of the doomed spaceship.

But the attackers were too many. Gaping wounds were appearing in the body of the spaceship, and the Insects resumed their attacks through those wounds. Once again hand-to-hand combat ensued between Insect invaders and the human crew. Poisonous Insect vapours hung in the air, showing the areas of penetration by the invaders.

“Sergeant!” called a soldier by the name of Neil, a much-revered veteran of the war. Torm stood there with them as Neil told Krog the shocking news: “The Insects are moving towards the tonsil!”

Krog and Torm looked at each other and acknowledged the truth with a mutual nod of the head. The time had come. The battle was lost.

Their only hope of reaching the tonsil in time, vested in three supersonic sweepers. Some soldiers called them “brooms” in jest. Actually these flying bikes were the best way for a man to compete with the speed and mobility of an Insect. Each one was also fitted with a deadly 20 calibre canon. Torm, Krog and Neil each grabbed a helmet, jumped onto the saddle of a “broom” and clicked the safety belts into position. There was no time to lose!

“VVRRUUUMM!” Torm was almost knocked off the ‘broom’ by the brutal power of the engine when he ignited the machine. He retracted the wheels and flew just under the slimy ceiling of the tunnel they were in. They flew around a corner and then suddenly the Insects were below them. Neil took the lead and opened up fire with his canon.

Then Insects started jumping high to get to them. Torm and Krog shot them down with their laser-guns. Some Insects with flying or light-weight hosts could also fly and pursued them in the air. Krog turned his cannon back and shot them to pieces.

Suddenly Torm felt dizzy and saw stars in front of him. A lucky shot from below had hit him on the helmet! The helmet tumbled down and he followed, his ‘broom’ spinning out of control. The floor came up quickly! He regained control just in time, but now he was flying too low. The Insects were all around him! Then Krog and Neil were there. They fought a way open for him to fly upwards.

Then the wind was rushing through Torm’s unprotected hair. They were flying close to the ceiling at a crazy speed. It took all of his skill just to keep from crashing against obstructions. They were now flying in the throat of the Icarissa. To top it all, ether was now dripping on them from the diseased spaceship.

By the time Torm saw the Insect crawling up from the bottom of his ‘broom’, it was almost too late. It had an octopus-like host which had fastened its suckers to the craft. They were so close that Torm could smell them. The host smelled like rancid fish and the Insect smelled like sulphur. He knew just what to do. One shot in the eye of the Insect, and his attackers tumbled down screaming to the floor.

Then Torm saw that Neil had engaged in hand-to-hand combat with three Insects that were attached to his ‘broom’. Before he could rush over to help, he saw Neil getting caught in a monstrous claw and dropping off his ‘broom’. Krog motioned for Torm to continue onwards. Neil would sell his life very dearly and buy some time for them. Torm shuddered from the shock of the realities of war. That was not what it felt like during practice at the Academy.

They flew on and through an opening into a room-like edifice in the Icarissa’s throat. They could fly no further, and landed. Krog activated the safety barrier behind them. They weren’t certain for how long that would protect them. Torm saw a narrow passage in front of them. It was then that Krog took him by the arm and led him through that slimy tunnel towards the inner room, the holiest of holies, his final destination.

And that is how Torm has ended up here, at the entrance of the holiest of holy places, with the glimmering royal blue CTA in the room in front of him. This machine has been built around what could best be described as the Icarissa’s tonsil, an apparently useless and enigmatic organ in the throat of the Icarissa.

The dark magenta tonsil is swaying restlessly back and forth in its transparent casket under the CTA. The infection should reach it any moment now; in fact Torm sees a dark speckle on it that could just as well be the beginning of that decay. The slight smell of tonsillitis and bad breath hangs thick in the air.

Krog is standing guard at the door, and there is not a lot of time. However, Torm has been trained meticulously for this task, and he knows that peacefulness is a crucial element of the ceremony.

It was identified very early on that Torm had the special gene which gave him the ideal ability for activating the tonsil. He was one in a million and therefore had undergone training in a special unit at the Academy.

Torm consciously focuses on pleasant childhood memories. He remembers playing with his cousins amongst the apple trees at their house on Home World. That was such a wonderful time of unbridled imagination.

Torm slowly approaches the CTA and reaches out towards it with his left hand. This hand is carefully tended to every morning by the over-eager temple elves. It has been shaved, manicured and oiled to perfection for this eventuality. The elves fuss around his hand for half an hour every morning as if that is the essence of their existence. Now he is right next to the CTA and he reads the inscription on a copper plate on it:

“pergamemnon maneo chalcedonum directus”

The antiquated language of the old colonialists. The obstinacy of the priesthood who insist on using this outdated language for the instructions used to irritate him and hampered his progress.

However, Torm has learnt to rise above politics and other petty issues, to ignore this irritation and to proceed with slow, deep breaths and a constant heart-rate. He thinks of his dad and how he has told them about the anomaly of evolution on another planet, an insect species that has learned to use their hosts rather than feeding on them, and their ambition to rule the universe. His father, Ian, wanted his great invention to not be used as a weapon of war but only as a last resort.

So Torm allows the CTA computer to search for an appropriate destination, a time and place where they would be safer and where the Insect anomaly could not occur. There is no time to be too picky though.

“Do not try to understand the CTA, as that could take forever,” is how his dad has warned him. He merely allows his consciousness to be filled with images of a better reality, images given to him by the CTA computer. Then, finally, he pushes his left hand right into the opening in the CTA, right down to the tonsil, while he holds onto his precious chalcedony necklace with the other hand.

“This one’s for you, dad,” is what he thinks while he pictures green grass and cool blue water in his mind.

He sees movement from the corner of his eye and he hears how Krog screams. He smells the Insect gas, a sulphurous odour, and he sees the flash of a laser-gun. He also momentarily sees an Insect with a striking host, a humanoid girl with long black hair and rebellious eyes. Hateful Insect eyes and a weapon are aimed in his direction. However, his hand has already gone inside and the tonsil has already taken over. He sees a rainbow of colours rising from it.


Something is not quite right, yet the colours manage to form an endless vortex, an endless and unstoppable energy which sucks him and the room and everything around them into a core of blinding light. An all-encompassing colour, smell and sound immediately becomes an overpowering emotion which splashes throughout the entire universe and dissolves and adjusts time, space and life ultimately and incomprehensibly in a beautiful cosmic storm like never before…

Storm awakes from a terrifying dream: There were demons staring through eyes red with hate, and they had surrounded the hut of mud and sticks that housed him and his family. They were screaming and circling it under the leadership of a mugu clothed in wild dog skin. The mugu carried a bloody skull in his hands. Storm wanted to help his little brother and sister, but he was somehow paralysed by the mantra that the mugu had been mumbling while staring at him with empty eyes. Storm wanted to move his legs and arms but he could not. Even after waking up he has still been trembling with rage over this powerlessness. He stares at the sweat forming on his naked and heaving chest, from where it drips onto the sheets. He takes water from the glass next to his bed, but struggles to swallow with his parched throat. He is tired, so hopelessly tired, as he drags himself up and into the shower to get ready for school.

And it was dark and then the light returned, the light of a brand new day.

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2 Re: Tonsil time-warp on Sat Mar 03, 2012 5:28 am

also the English version of this short story is magnificently written I am impressed

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