Five of them on an Eden Plant in the formless black; each assigned to Dream a specific element and that fed through the one who was assigned the element of spirit. The Dream Hive was a low physical impact read-scripter that meant that they could conserve physical energy. Energy was important out here – the environmental pressures of working in an unreal atmosphere were unbelievable. Bottom of the ocean? Vacuum of space? Nothing in comparison.
Hickman was the spirit-man; Bennett was on fire; Browning was running water; Carletti was responsible for air; and Gynosa was controlling earth. They would sleep and lucid dream and the lucid dream would be scripted into the injection module which was designed to imprint onto the formless black. Did this make them like gods? Ah, well, there were rumours about them like there were rumours about any of the more seemingly esoteric branches of the agency. At the end of the day it was a job.
His scheduled wake rotation prodded him more insistently than usual – that was not normal protocol and it already set him to worrying before he opened the communication. A status update requested? An assessment of safety parameters? That could mean only one thing … their organisation was under attack. That they felt the need to warn someone this far out from the reality core was not a good sign.
He looked at the stations Sentry log and the slaved AI did not seem to be overly worried about anything. Slaved AI, he smiled for a second at the thought – how different was it from them? Using a small capacity of their brain-power harnessed to shape a newly forming corner of the reality spectrum. The AI was slaved because asking an AI with free-roaming capabilities to sit here and do one thing had proved to be a recipe for psychosis. What a choice though – a lobotomy or psychosis.
He had the search filter look for any anomalies. He found one. Everyone in the Unscripted was linked to a Perimeter planet and an avatar who functioned as a reality anchor – theirs was Davide Mathieu; a great guy they had all met with and bonded with back before the mission was offically greenlighted. David had broken communication – every week a code was transmitted and every week he responded with an appropriate answer: this week, no answer. He let Parsneck know.
If there was a crisis underway how soon could he expect a response team? He wasn’t sure – it was an eventuality they all planned for but never expected to face. Their stability was now under threat – the question was, did they proceed with the scripting or did they knock it on the head? More script would mean less chaos and more order, but that tenuous link to perimeter space would be put under tremendous stress in the interim.
Man, if someone just decided to plug in a Deus-Ex-Machina Gate to shortcut their route out here the waves might snip their umbilicus and send them rolling out into the blackness. Hickman did not like this one bit – there were risks that he and his crew daily faced, and did so happily, but there were things that it was not reasonable to expect them to undergo. Did he wake them and tell them what was going down? They would each find out on their wake rotation anyway. Part of him wondered if he should just program in a compressed wake-cycle and get them through their necessary conscious periods with the minimum of fuss. It wasn’t fair for him to make that decision for them but it might be safest for them and the mission as a whole.