Insula – Chapter 6: Messages

The encounter with Faa was odd. Aloe couldn’t help but still shudder thinking about the blank expression she had seen across her sister’s face. Regardless, she was able to inform her on the reports so she could correct them. Aloe was tired anyways and opted to head back to her quarters. She walked back down the corridor, passing by the dining lounge again. When she did, she was stopped by Eri.

“Hey Corporal?!” he said, almost falling over in his seat. He was still eating? The grapes were gone now, instead a bag of chips replaced them. Vexus – where did it all go? “Hey Lest, just hit me up. He told me to relay that your Caller’s fixed… or something like that – should be good to pick up.”

She sighed with discontent. All she wanted to do was climb back into her bed. She nodded, thanking Eri before continuing onward. Aloe navigated back through the halls until reaching Lester’s workshop again.

Lester was still seen hovering over his desk tinkering with a new “specimen” – it appeared to be another circuit board for some unknown device. He poked his head up when she came through – the optical lens over his eye, enlarging it apart from his other.

“Ah, good! Ya’ got my message,” he said with a smile. “Was afraid that vexin’ fool would’ve never mentioned it to ya’.”

He shifted away from his work over to the two Callers sitting off to the side. He picked up one handing it her. “This one’s yers,” he stated. “Ya’ had a loose wire that wasn’t connectin’ right. Ya’ were still receivin’ messages but ya’ couldn’t see them comin’ in,” he explained. “I also fixed ya’ display too. And stop bangin’ the vexin’ thing, I can tell that ya’ did.”

She smiled, not contesting his accusation. “Thanks,” she replied, strapping it on.

Afterwards, he handed over the other device. “This is Faa’s. Since she fried the vexin’ thing, I had to search for a whole new shell and transport everythin’ over.”

Her device appeared much newer – unlike Aloe’s where the color was fading.

“Give Faa my love for all the trouble for it,” he said sarcastically with a smile.

Aloe thanked him again, placing it into her pocket and exiting. She turned on her Caller which immediately began flashing from all the incoming messages. She recognized the three from Ven as he had stated. However, she was surprised to see so many had been from Faa.

How old were they though? The timestamp for the first one was from two days ago. She played the first message:

16:48 2REV:PL0490

Hey sis, just finishing up with this last inventory. I really need a break. Wanna catch up over lunch? Call me back, if you’re free in ten.

End of Message.

17:10 2REV:PL0490

Hey, it’s me again. I guess you’re busy. It’s fine though, l think I saw Eri up ahead anyways. Catch you later, sis.

End of Message.


Aloe couldn’t recall where she had been at that time. It wasn’t unlikely that she was too busy. There had been plenty occasions where she had gone almost a week without seeing Faa. Sometimes, it couldn’t be helped when the workload called for longer hours – it was all planet dependent. Aloe listened as the next message began:

33:24 3REV:PL0490

Hey, Aloe. I think I might’ve spotted something in the ore readings…I might’ve already pushed up the report to Ven though. I’m sorry, sis. I would have told you sooner, but I’ve been feeling a little under the weather. Might be pushing myself too hard. I’ll fix ‘em though. If Ven gives you heat about it, you can tell him this one’s on me. I’ll talk to you later, sis.

End of Message.

Aloe’s stopped in her tracks. That message, why did it sound so familiar? It was her first time hearing it though. And yet…

The next message began:

33:58 3REV:PL0490

Aloe, you would not believe what I’m looking at right now?! *gleeful giggling* Sis, you need to get down here ASAP to see this – T-this… i-it’s *giggles* I can’t even talk right. It’s amazing! I don’t know how to really describe it, but it was hiding among the crushed ore. *incoherent shuffling* It almost looks exactly like the ore.

I was going over the reports but they weren’t making any sense so I decided to check the containers. I almost missed it – probably why it was confusing the system too, but it’s definitely not ore. It’s like a small *STATIC* Aloe! I’m not sure how old it is or how long it’s been under the surface, but it’s proof – proof, sis! I knew it was a possibility of *incoherent shuffling* Get down here quickly. I’m gonna get this thing under the scope to see it better.

End of Message.

What was Faa referring to? Aloe almost didn’t understand the message because she was speaking so fast out of excitement. It was clear she noted the abnormality RE-00X, as she had named it, but what exactly was she looking at? She prompted the next message, eager to hear it:

40:10 3REV:PL0490

This is truly amazing, Sis. If I have to, I will come up there and drag you down here.*giggles* Where are you, you’re missing out on the discovery of the century?! I don’t wanna tell Ven…not yet at least. I wanna check it out a bit more. This thing – its cellular structure is almost identical to the ore’s chemical structure. It’s almost like the ore itself turned into organic material either that or…

End of Message.

41:05 3REV:PL0490

I’m having a serious nerd-spasm right now, Sis! *gleeful giggling* Guess what, I found more of them. One container was almost completely full of them. You’re not gonna believe it, but I think they are reacting to each other. The cellular structure appears to be…reanimating – I don’t think these…things were ever dead, but hibernating.

I ran a few tests and my theory was correct. The ore was not becoming organic but rather they were replicating the ore. It must be a survival mechanism of some of kind. I’ve never seen one this sophisticated. I have another theory that might explain it, but it’s still up in the air. I’ll explain later.

End of Message.

63:05 3REV:PL0490


Aloe, I need you! Please get down in the lab, now! Hurry please! *Sobbing* Get down here, NOW! It has me– W-what are you doing?! Stop! Stop it! *Banging* Please! *Banging* Don’t! *Beep* Pl- *Loud Burst of Static*

End of Message.

That was the last message from Faa. Aloe was stunned. What was going on in it? Faa had shifted from being gleeful to completely distraught so suddenly. What had happened?

She stared down at her Caller viewing the timestamp: 63:03 3REV. This was yesterday a full twenty-hours apart from the previous message. Aloe replayed it.

She listened to it, feeling her hands began to tremble. With the second run-though, she caught a sound she hadn’t noticed before; the sound towards the end. Her eyes lit up as she immediately took off in a sprint down the corridors. She made a sharp turn at the first corner. That sound, she knew it! She bolted down the next hall, picking up speed as she did.

Finally, she reached the main Ascender, almost slamming into the door. She repeatedly pressed the button on the panel to summon it, eager for to it arrive. It did so shortly, opening its doors.

Level for ascend? The automated voice requested.

“Source Allocate Facility!” She exclaimed, practically screaming the command. She was breathing hard, hands on her knees. How had she been able to run through four long hallways without catching her breath?

Acknowledged, the voice replied.

The Ascender began to move rapidly. Upon reaching the level, Aloe bolted out the doors before the voice could even announce the floor. She coasted down the steps, skipping many – luckily without stumbling. At the bottom, her eyes zeroed-in on the Igniter Chamber in the back.

Still breathing hard, she felt her heart crashing against her chest. Was it from the sprinting or the anticipation? Maybe both. She slowed down to a walk, approaching the machine slowly – her stomach twisting into a knot as she drew upon it.

Reaching it, she held out a hand hesitantly. She wanted to be wrong – hoped. Aloe pressed her hand across the Igniter’s control panel, prompting the door’s chamber to open. As it did, it released a loud beeping noise. She felt her heart plunge. Her fingers slowly etched over to her Caller without looking at it – replaying the message.

Her eyes were focused ahead, staring at the pile of charred ashes inside.

63:05 3REV:PL0490


Aloe, I need you down in the lab, now! Hurry please! *sobbing* Get down here, NOW! It has me– W-what are you doing?! Stop! Stop it! *Banging* Please! *Banging* Don’t! *Beep* Pl- *Loud Burst of Static*

End of Message.

The same beeping noise resonated in the message. Aloe felt her knees buckle underneath as tears teased her eyes. Her hand slowly fished into her pocket pulling out Faa’s Caller. Her eyes glanced at it and then back to the charred remains.

Against her will, her mind began to picture the horrible image of Faa inside the chamber, banging against the glass before the flames consumed her. It was her remains inside it. The Caller wasn’t dropped in the chamber – Faa had been wearing it. She had been roasted alive.