The Operant Unconscious Project: Redemption

Chapter 02 - Iced

The outer airlock of the station opened and Kollin, Zachary, and Andrew stepped in. Kollin closed the outer door and proceeded to the inter-control panel. Kollin fiddled with the controls for awhile but nothing happened.

"These controls are locked," said Kollin, "I can't bypass them."

"Let me take a look," said Zachary as he approached the control panel. Zachary punched in a few commands and sighed, "You're right, we can't bypass anything but that's because it's locked from the inside."

Kollin looked around at the small airlock; "Maybe we could find another way." Kollin spotted what he was looking for and pointed to a small air vent. "That vent should lead to the air compression system, right before the system should be a service door."

"We're too big to fit in that vent Bjorn," said Zachary as he inspected its size.

"Not all of us are," replied Kollin as he pried the vent cover off.

"I guess you mean me," said Andrew as he began taking off his pack.

Kollin set the vent's cover on the floor, "Yeah, I do. Now Andrew, listen carefully. You need to find the service door and then come around to this door and let us in. Do you know how to open this door?"

"Well, I hope he does! He IS my apprentice," said Zachary.

"Don't get offended technology god, I was just asking," said Kollin.

Kollin pulled out a small pistol and handed it to Andrew. Andrew knew how to fire a gun but was a little confused about why Kollin was giving him this gun.

Apparently, Andrew's confusion showed on his face so Kollin said, "Zachary said the door was locked from the inside. That could mean a number of things. So it would make me feel better if you took this with you." 

"Okay", replied Andrew.

Kollin put the holster on Andrew's belt for him and then said, "Please be careful, I'd hate to have to explain to my son and your father why you got hurt." Or killed was what he was most likely thinking but Kollin never liked to scare anyone.
So Kollin picked Andrew up and hoisted him up to the open vent near the ceiling.
Once inside Andrew took out his flashlight and proceeded forward. A few yards into the vent Andrew was forced to stop because the vent would no longer be going horizontal but straight down. 

"Oh this is great," Andrew peered down the vent with his flashlight. "I can't see the bottom." Andrew could hear the faint sound of the air compression system.
"Well, it can't be that far down", thought Andrew as he flipped himself around.

Andrew lowered himself down the shaft feet first. Once he was halfway down Andrew spread his legs out against the sides and then let go. Instantly Andrew began sliding down the shaft at a fast pace. As he slid, the sound of the air system got louder and louder and the air got thinner and thinner.  As it got harder to breathe Andrew pushed his hands and feet against the walls even harder trying to slow him down. 

Slowly but surely Andrew's descent halted.  Once he stopped Andrew lodged himself in the shaft, took his flashlight back out and looked around.  About twenty feet below him he could see the service door.   About a foot below the door was a large fan.  Andrew would have panicked but the air was getting too thin to waste time. He let himself slide down to the doors level and found that he couldn't breathe at all. 

Andrew was reminded of the time he was kicked in the chest by the government soldier and spent what felt like forever trying to catch his breath.  Andrew and Isaac had gone to some government facility to steal information and Andrew was caught off guard.  

Andrew snapped back into reality and quickly studied the door.  Andrew grabbed the handle and turned but the door was locked.  Now Andrew began to panic.  He used one foot and kicked at the door but nothing happened.  Andrew began to feel lightheaded and drowsy and was thinking of falling into the fan.  He gave one last kick at the door as a final attempt and BAM.  The door flew open.  Andrew quickly got inside, closed the door behind him, and was gasping for air.  Andrew slid to the ground with his back against the door.

"Thank you God for letting the door open," He thought as he looked around. Andrew seemed to be sitting in a service room that had many doors.

After catching his breath he slowly got to his feet. He immediately began searching for the exit, not forgetting he was on a mission. All the doors were well labeled and Andrew soon found himself picking the lock of the exit door.

Andrew remembered when his father had taught him how to pick a lock. He was five years old and still thought of his father as "super-dad." He and his father had had such a wonderful relationship a few years ago but since his mother's death, his father never seemed to be focused anymore.

Andrew got the door open within a minute and left the service room. He slowly wandered the hallways of the old space station with his pistol in his hand. He soon came to a computer display on the wall.

"The computer should have a map," he thought as he turned on the display. Andrew could tell the station was old by its clumsy software and hand controls but he soon found what he was looking for. "Let's see, I'm here and they are…here," he said to himself.

He studied the map until he had an idea where he was going and then set out for his destination. It took him a few hours to make his way to the door but he got there without any problems. Andrew had to hotwire the doors control panel to get it to unlock but soon he was again staring his friends in the face.

Zachary threw his arms around Andrew and said, "Thank God you're alright! You've been in there for almost three hours."

Kollin called into the ship, "He's back!"

As Zachary let go Sarah, Mathew, and Julian came into the airlock. Mathew squealed with delight and practically tackled Andrew while Sarah just sighed with relief. Julian, however, was different.

He stared down at his son with a very serious look on his face and said, "What took you so long."

Andrew was a little hurt by his father's lack of concern but replied, "Besides the fact that the service room for this vent is eleven floors down and that I had to find a map. Well, I'd say that almost falling into a large fan, almost passing out from the lack of oxygen and the fact that the service door was locked. That probably slowed me down."

Julian was silent but continued to look Andrew in the eyes until tears spilled down his face. Julian looked away and spoke to Kollin. "We should continue at once, we are behind schedule."

"Right. Sarah, go get Micah and tell him we're ready," said Kollin, "And Julian I need to speak to you on the bridge at once." Julian turned and walked back into the ship followed by Sarah, Kollin then turned to Andrew. "I'm glad you're okay Andrew, go ahead and get ready."

"I suppose you want the pistol back, sir," said Andrew as he began to loosen his belt.

"No, keep it, you might need it. Besides, I have others," replied Kollin as he turned to go back into the ship.

"Alright Andrew," said Zachary as he pulled Mathew off of him, "We've got to prepare our equipment."

Micah soon came out to join them and was well armed.

"Going to war?" asked Zachary.

"Bjorn told me we would all need weapons," answered Micah, "Except for Mathew."

"Aw, how come I never get to use one?" moaned Mathew.

"Your aim needs some improvement," said Micah.

"Yeah, you almost took my head off last time," said Zachary as he checked his equipment.

"I'm getting better," said Mathew a little hurt.

"We didn't mean anything hateful, Matt. And you're right, you are getting better," said Zachary.

"For now just stick with Andrew, he's got a better aim than most of us," added Micah.

"Does that mean Matt is going inside with us?" asked Andrew.

"Yeah, Bjorn wants his son with him," said Micah.

Just then Kollin and Julian came back into the airlock accompanied by Samuel. Micah handed Samuel and Kollin a gun but when he offered one to Julian, Julian just bowed his head and Kollin shook his head as if to say, "I said he can't have a gun." So instead Micah handed the gun to Zachary.

"First thing, once we go inside, we need to find a map. As Andrew has told us, there are many levels to this station and it would be easy to get lost. Samuel and Zachary will carry the equipment in the back while Micah and I will head up the group. Julian and the boys will be in the middle," said Kollin. Then he kneeled down to Andrew's level. "Andrew, I want you to protect Matt, Okay," he said as he handed Andrew two more clips for his pistol. Andrew nodded his head to show he understood. Kollin stood back up and rustled the boy's hair.

They carefully entered the station and found a computer terminal to give them a map. Kollin told the computer to display where the suspended animation chambers were located. It did as it was told and in its old screen bound display the map came to life. After Kollin had studied the map for awhile they continued. They encountered no problems along the way but everyone remained on guard just in case. Soon they came to a door labeled S.A.C.

"This is the room we want," said Julian as he ran his hands across the letters.

"Zachary, come open the door please," said Micah.

"My hands are full," replied Zachary from the back, "have Drew do it."

Kollin motioned for both of the boys to come forward. Andrew got to work right away on the door while Mathew clung to his belt. Moments later the door popped open and slid back slowly. Kollin patted Andrew's shoulder and whispered "good job" as he and Micah went into the room. Everyone else waited for the signal that it was safe.

"Come on in," called Kollin from inside.

The rest of the group walked into the room. As they entered Andrew's jaw dropped at the sight. It was a large room that was at least two stories tall. There was nothing in the room except for a tall thick pillar in the middle that went from the floor to the ceiling. The pillar looked like it was made of glass and it was frosted with ice from the inside. Surrounding it were several control panels.

Kollin was standing next to the glass and was looking inside. "Hey boys, come here," he said as he stepped back a little.

The boys started to head for Kollin when all of the sudden Julian came up from behind and picked them both up.

"Holy crap dad," said Andrew as he tried to catch his breath, "warn us next time."

Julian carried the boys up to the glass so they could look inside. Andrew peered inside and could make out the vague outline of a body. Within minutes Zachary had the controls figured out and he was punching in commands. Julian set the boys down so they could go watch Zachary.

"How do you know what commands to enter," Andrew asked Zachary.

"I just know, something told me," answered Zachary.

"Zach, are you ready?" said Kollin. Zachary looked up from his panel and nodded. "Alright, begin then."

Zachary typed in one final command and then spoke, "Computer, begin reanimation process."

The computer started flashing in response and the giant glass pillar started making hissing noises. Andrew could see that the frost on the inside of the glass started to disappear. Soon the pillar itself began to disappear as if it too was made of ice.

"Stop!" said a voice from behind. Everyone turned to see an old woman standing in the doorway holding an assault rifle. She looked as if she was in her mid-fifties, with graying hair and a tired, worn out face. "Restart the animation chamber! Now!" Her voice was husky but stern.

Zachary looked over at Kollin for instruction but Kollin just looked at the woman and smiled. "Dr. Jane Bender, how are you?" said Kollin.

The woman looked a little confused for a moment and then her expression changed. "Kollin, I didn't recognize you, my boy. What has it been, eight years?" she said.

"It's been nine years Dr. Bender," said Julian.

"Julian, ha, you're here too," said Dr. Bender. She looked around the room and then laughed. "Everyone is here but Isaac, how wonderful! Now you've finally been caught."

"You really expect to stop us Doctor?" said Kollin still smiling.

"Yes I do!" replied the Doctor. "Maybe catching you will get me off this space rock."

Andrew suddenly heard a small gasp behind him and wondered who had made the sound but he didn't dare turn and look. Andrew felt Matt slip his little hand into his own and grip tightly. Andrew could feel that Mathew was shaking.

"I'll keep you safe if I can," thought Andrew as he squeezed Matt's hand.

Suddenly Dr. Bender dropped her gun, put her hands on her head and screamed. She pulled out a knife and ran towards the suspended animation chamber.

"She's going to kill him! Stop her!" screamed Kollin.

Andrew quickly drew his pistol and shot her legs out from under her. Dr. Bender collapsed on the floor, letting her knife slip away. Samuel picked up the knife while Micah rolled the old woman over.

"Wow, nice shot Drew. You got both her legs," said Micah as he studied the Doctor's wounds. But Andrew wasn't listening.

He was staring at a dark haired boy who was sitting up inside the suspended animation chamber. The boy had short, jet black hair and was staring at Andrew with solid black eyes. Suddenly the boy smiled at Andrew and Andrew felt himself relax. The boy began looking around at the others and his smile faded. But then he fixed his gaze on Julian.

"Julian?" said the boy in a confused, but soft tone. Julian just smiled. "You're a lot bigger than I remember," said the boy. His voice was ever so soft and almost had a relaxing sound to it. "How long have I been asleep?"

"It's been nine years, give or take a month," said Kollin.

The boy looked at him sharply as if he didn't realize Kollin was standing there. He stared at him for a moment and then smiled.

"I'm sorry Kollin, I didn't recognize you. Has it really been nine years?"

Kollin nodded slightly. The boy looked back at Andrew and then at Mathew.

"You have to be Kollin's son," said the boy as he stared at Matt. Matt grinned. Then the boy looked back at Andrew. "And you look a lot like your father, Julian, did when he was a boy, but you don't have his eyes. In fact, you look a lot like…"

The boy stopped and then looked oddly at Julian, "I'm going to need someone to explain this to me." He looked back at Andrew, "How old are you?"

"We can talk about that later," Julian said before Andrew could answer. "Right now we need to…"

The boy closed his eyes and shook his head, "No time like the present; I won't go anywhere without knowing at least a little bit of what's going on."

"Jesse we don't have time to explain but if Dr. Bender signaled anyone that we are here then we'll need to get away before…" Kollin started to say.

"No one is coming," Jesse interrupted. "I would know; out here in space, I can sense a lot more than I use to be able to while on earth. Which brings me to my first actual question; why can't I hear any of your thoughts?"

"Everyone except me is wearing a device designed to block telepathic activity," said Zachary.

Jesse looked over at Zachary and smiled, "You've gotten older too; you're still cute though."

Zachary grinned, "Actually you're a little older than I remember too, weren't you eight the last time I saw you?"

"Yeah well they didn't put me into cryo-stasis for three more years after they sent me up here," replied Jesse. "This station wasn't finished yet. Although shortly after it was finished everyone but the good Dr. Bender left."

Jesse then began to slide towards the edge of the chamber he sat in and then slid right off and collapsed onto the floor.

"I was expecting my legs to work," Jesse said as he sat up.

"Oh oops, sorry I forgot to warn you about that; your limbs will need a little time to readapt. You'll be able to stand in about an hour," said Zachary.

"Thanks for the warning, Zach," said Jesse.

Andrew stepped forward to help Jesse up but Julian suddenly yelled, "Stop! Don't touch him, Andrew!" Andrew looked at his father in confusion. "He can feel many things that we can't. He can feel your emotions, your pain, your confusion, everything. It hurts him to touch anyone."

Jesse looked up at Andrew and then at Julian. "I'm flattered that your father remembers that and I appreciate his concern but I'm cold and this floor is cold and I would like to get up and maybe get some clothes."

Andrew suddenly realized that Jesse was, in fact, naked and it really was very cold in the room.

Andrew really didn't know what to do so he stood there for a moment. He finally decided that he should ignore his father's warning and he offered Jesse his hand. Jesse smiled slightly and then placed his hand in Andrew's.

Andrew saw that Jesse winced as his damp, clammy hand touched his own. Andrew got up under Jesse's arm and hoisted him to his still unsteady feet. Zachary came over and threw a blanket over Jesse's shoulders and Jesse quickly wrapped himself in it. Andrew noticed that it didn't take much effort to keep Jesse standing even after Jesse wrapped his arm tighter around Andrew's shoulders and neck. Jesse was pressed right up against Andrew's side and Andrew could feel his breathing. Within a few seconds, though, Andrew noticed that Jesse's breaths were getting heavier and heavier.

"Are you alright?" Andrew asked Jesse.

Jesse looked right into Andrew's eyes and smiled. "I'm fine Andrew, just a bit overwhelmed. That's all."

"Do you want to sit back down? I don't want to hurt you," said Andrew.

"No, you're warm and I'm still cold," replied Jesse, "If I'm not too much of a burden then please hold me up."

"You're not a burden, we can stand," said Andrew.

"Thank you," said a voice in Andrew's head. Andrew looked Jesse in the eyes and Jesse smiled. "You can hear me, can't you?" said the voice.

"Yes," Andrew said softly to Jesse.

"Ok," said the voice. "So touch overrides your blocking device."

Suddenly Jesse straightened up and said, "Hey, Julian. What's for breakfast? I find that I'm really hungry."

Everyone chuckled at that.

"Well I haven't eaten in a few years," said the voice in Andrew's head.

"Jesse, are you speaking to my son without using words?" Julian suddenly said sternly.

Jesse looked scared as he slowly nodded his head.

"Don't you hurt him, you understand me," said Julian. "Just don't hurt him. I still suffer from what you did to me."

"That wasn't my fault, Julian. You know that!" Jesse shouted. "I didn't want to do it!"

"I know, but I still know what you are capable of and I don't want my son to end up like me. Or worse, like our late friend Kevin," Julian stated.

"Well, now that I know you don't trust me what are you going to do with me? How about a flogging? I haven't had one of those in awhile," Jesse said coldly.

"What do you mean?" yelled Julian. "What did Jacob tell you about us? That we would be your friends if you asked us? To hell with Jacob, he's the reason we have to come get you."

"Andrew, let go of me please," said Jesse softly.

Andrew didn't think it was a good idea but he did as he was asked. Jesse sank to the floor and then reached out his hand toward the chair Zachary had been sitting in. Instantly the chair flew over and landed in Jesse's grip. He pulled himself into the chair.

"That's a nice trick," said Julian, "are you going to get one of our weapons next?"

"It's too bad you've become an unforgiving prick, Julian. Dr. Taylor used to hold you in such high esteem. So did Jacob but as you said 'to hell with Jacob' I guess he doesn't matter anymore. He still loves you too, but I guess that doesn't matter either," said Jesse.

"Shut up!" yelled Julian as he rushed forward. He went right up to Jesse and punched him in the jaw. Jesse had closed his eyes so he wouldn't try to fight back and was now laying face down on the floor.

"Julian! Stop," shouted Kollin as he and the others rushed forward to restrain him. But Julian proceeded to kick Jesse in the ribs before they got to him.

Jesse spat blood on the floor as he tried to get up. Julian shrugged off a few of the others and was about to try and hit Jesse again but this time Jesse raised his hand and Julian stopped mid swing as if frozen.

"I know you don't like me Julian, I know I hurt you. But I promised I would never hurt you again, I promised Jacob that I would never hurt any of you again. But keep in mind I'm only a boy, Julian, if you continue to hit me you will end up killing me and I won't fight back. I won't break my promise."

Jesse lowered his hand, releasing Julian from his hold, and then closed his eyes and awaited the next blow. But it didn't come. Julian looked lost as he just stared at Jesse.

Andrew rushed forward and forced his father to sit in the chair Jesse had fallen from as everyone else gathered around Jesse to see if they could try and help.

Julian was staring at Jesse but Jesse still wouldn't open his eyes.

"I'm sorry Jesse," Julian finally whispered, but Jesse didn't move.

"What do we do, Bjorn?" Micah asked, "Do we touch him? I think he needs medical attention now."

"I don't know," replied Kollin.

Andrew, with Mathew once again clinging to his belt, went over to where Jesse sat and sat down next to him. He very carefully moved Jesse's blanket so he could see where his father had kicked the boy. There was already a dark bruise forming on his ribs. Blood slowly ran out of the corner of Jesse's mouth and dripped onto the blanket.

"Jesse, will you talk to me?" Andrew whispered. "I want to help you but I think they are afraid they might hurt you if they try and treat you. Will you let me treat you?"

Jesse didn't say a word but he did node his head. Andrew motioned for Zachary to give him the medical kit. He pulled out the scanner and began scanning where his father had struck. Jesse's jaw was just bruised but three of his ribs were broken.

"Dad," Andrew said to Julian, "you broke his ribs. I don't care what he did to you years ago, you knew he was sorry but you…did you come here to kill him? Did all of you come here to watch my father beat the shit out of an eleven-year-old?"

"We are here because we need his help," said Samuel.

Andrew ignored him and continued, "I don't care if what he said to you hurts, he didn't touch you. And he is sorry for what he did in the past, whatever it was. You taught me to always forgive and to not let what other people say affect my judgment or me. If you try and hurt him again I will do what he promised not to."

"No," Jesse moaned, "don't stop your father. I understand why he hates me."

"He hates me because I'm here and Jacob is still trapped," said the voice in Andrew's head.

"Jesse, I'm sorry," said Julian. "I never meant to hurt you, and I have forgiven you. It's just that…"

"I'm sorry I'm not Jacob," said Jesse.

"Will you forgive me, Jesse," pleaded Julian.

Jesse opened his eyes and looked at Julian, "I already forgave you, Julian."