DreamPhaseAfter inventing DreamPhase, a device that allows people to interact with computers through a virtual environment while dreaming, 17-year-old Rachial Williams is now on the run for her life before her invention falls into the wrong hands. Framed for a murder she didn't commit, she is forced to leave the planet to help prove her innocence. With bounty hunters close on her tail, Rachial finds help in an unexpected ally. But will it be enough to clear her name and keep her from being dragged back to her home planet and executed?
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She woke with a start. Sitting up, she looked around the moonlit room. The room was ten by ten foot. At one end of the room there was a very large window which gave a magnificent view of the city outside. At the other end of the room there was a steel door; next to the door was a small keypad. The walls were very plain, only having a slight variation in the color so as to make them not seem so harsh. She looked out the frost-covered window at the moon, trying to figure out what time it was. She guessed it must have been about 4:00 in the morning. Slowly she stretched her legs before quietly climbing out of her bed. She quickly got dressed and tip-toed toward the door. As she neared the door, she pulled a rubber band off of her wrist and put her strawberry blond hair back into a ponytail. Upon typing a code into the keypad, she heard a small beep. She let out a sigh of relief. She slowly opened the door. The door cracked open allowing a reddish light to fill the room. She stepped out the door and closed it behind her.
Stepping out into a dimly-lit hallway she started walking off to her left. From what she could remember of last night, this was the way she had been brought into the room. She continued walking down the hallway, passing doors similar to the one she had come from. When she reached the end of the hall, there were two doors, one for the stairs and one for the elevator. She opened the door to the stairs and slowly descended.
About ten minutes later, she reached the bottom floor. She peeked around the corner at the bottom of the steps. There was a guard standing next to the exit. She knew she wouldn't be able to get past the guard, so she looked around the room for something to use as a distraction. Brushing back a piece of hair that had fallen from her loose ponytail, she heard the elevator next to the stairs chime. The door opened and a janitor came out with a mop and bucket. The man pushed his bucket with the mop handle across the floor over the exit. The guard stopped him. "Hey, I was told there were two of you, where is your partner?"
"She is cleaning the last of the windows and should be down in a few minutes."
The guard gave him a confused look, “I thought cleaning the windows was your job."
"It is, but today I had lot of stuff to do, so I had to start late. I wanted to get done on time, so I asked one of my fellow workers to give me a hand tonight."
"Okay, I'll see you next week."
"Yep, sure thing."
With that, the janitor left and she had an idea. Running back up the steps, she came out on the second floor. This floor was empty. She ran down the hallway as quietly as she could until she came to a supply closet. She opened the door and found a squeegee and some window spray. She kept digging and found a spare change of clothes the janitor kept there. She put them on, but they were too big for her thin body. She looked around some more and found a small cord that she was able to use to tie the pants up. The shirt was a little big, but she couldn't do anything about it. She grabbed the squeegee and window spray and made her way down the steps. When she reached the steps, she changed her mind and went to the elevator. There was no reason for her to use the steps with her disguise.
She heard the elevator chime as she reached the bottom and the doors opened slowly. She then remembered the patient ID bracelet on her wrist. She pulled it up her arm, hiding it under her sleeve, then exited the elevator. She walked over to the door and the guard stopped her. "Aren't you a little young for a janitor?"
"I am seventeen and I am still training, that is why I am using this instead of the power-sprayer." She said, holding up the squeegee.
"Alright." He let her pass.
Once outside, she looked back through the glass doors. The elevator doors opened and a janitor stepped out. Looking away from the building she began to run. She couldn't let them catch her. About an hour later she was exhausted. She slowed her pace. As she breathed heavily, she could see her breath. It was cold; her fingers were starting to go numb and she had an immense hunger growing in her stomach. She had to find someplace to go.
She looked up at the sky. The sun was starting come up and colored the sky with a light shade of yellow, it must be later then she had thought. Her eyes fell back down to the street level and she noticed the open sign on a diner a few blocks ahead of her. She made her way to the door and looked in. There was only the waitress and the cook; other than that, the diner was deserted. She opened the door and walked in.
On the inside, the diner had an old fashioned style to it, even though the diner itself was located in the bottom of a newly-constructed sky scraper. The moment she stepped into the diner, she felt better. The restaurant was warm and it felt good on her cold cheeks and her fingers were becoming easier to bend. Walking up to the counter, she climbed on to one of the stools.
"Good morning, miss, what can I get for you?" the cook asked.
"Well, I don't have any money on me. Do you accept direct bank transfers?"
"Sure, we can do that." He reached under the counter and pulled out a sheet of paper. "Here is the account info."
"Thanks," she said taking the paper from him. "Is it all right if I transfer a little extra? I need some cash."
"Sure, what would you like to eat?"
"How about some scrambled eggs and sausage?"
"Sure, I'll have it ready by the time you're done with the transfer."
She got up from the stool and walked over to the phone at the end of the diner. Picking up the phone, she dialed the number to her bank.
Back over at the counter, the cook placed a plate of eggs on the table just as she sat back down. "Here are your eggs."
"Thank you. I transferred the money into your account."
"Enjoy your meal, I'll bring you your change when you are done," said the cook taking an order sheet from the waitress who was now busy with the other customers who had come in from the cold. She ate her meal; the eggs were made just how she liked them. About 15 minutes later, she finished her meal, got her change, then left the diner.
Upon stepping out into the street, she was blasted with a cold breeze. The wind blew right through the baggy janitor clothes. I have to find some new clothes, she thought to herself. She walked down the street looking for a place to buy clothes. The first place she saw was a thrift store; they should have something she thought as she opened the door and stepped in. Her nostrils were filled with the scent of dust and musty old things. She looked around; the clothes were located in the back of the store. As she walked to the back of the store she noticed a sign.
All items that have blue on them are 20% off
I guess I am going to be wearing blue, she thought as she looked through the different racks of clothes. She found a few shirts she liked, but knew they would be inappropriate for what she would be doing. She knew it would be easier to find a job if you were dressed nice and she was going to be trying to find one very soon. After looking through most of the clothes and trying on a few different items, she settled on a light blue dress shirt and a pair of black dress pants that had a blue tag on the inside. As she walked back up to the front of the store, she passed a rack holding an assortment of jackets. Remembering how cold it was outside, she looked through the coat rack and picked out a black leather jacket. The jacket didn't have any blue on it, but it was the nicest jacket she found and it was barely used, so she was willing to spend a little extra.
After paying for her clothes, she changed and then sold her janitor clothes back to the thrift store. They weren't worth much, but it made up for the extra she spent on the jacket. Now that she was in normal clothes, she would try to make it back to her house so she could pick up some of her stuff.
Yesterday and today had seemed like an eternity. Early yesterday morning, life had seemed so simple, but now everything seemed more complicated. It happened when she revealed a project she had been working on for months. It was called DreamPhase. DreamPhase allowed people, while in REM sleep, to be able to either link with another person’s dream, or link to a computer.
Now it did take some learning to be able to use the DreamPhase technology, but the technology was still in the early stages of development. She had been working on it for a research thesis she was going to turn in for her doctorate. She had worked hard her whole life, always wanting to be an astrophysicist. She excelled in school and skipped multiple grades and was then dual-enrolled in college and graduated from high school early. Once in college, she was able to test out of the first three years of classes. Because of the amount of time she put into her schooling, she didn't have any really close friends, but she figured once she got her doctorate, at the age of 18, she would be able to spend more time with her friends. The day she showed her family DreamPhase, told her she was crazy. Despite these claims word quickly spread and soon companies were offering her money for the technology. Her family encouraged her to accept the generous offers that came in after other companies failed at creating their own version of the technology.
She was the only person who knew how to enter the DreamPhase, so a lot of companies started offering her money for the information on how it worked. She turned them down, wanting to start her own company based on the technology. There were a few companies that tried to manipulate the information from her, but with strong determination on her part, they had all failed.
Later, a very large company called Cromwell, Inc. offered her family a large amount of money if they turned her in. Her family wasn't her real family; she had been adopted as a young girl when her parents both died. They betrayed her. The company framed her for a murder. She had no evidence on hand of what Cromwell, Inc. had done because her family destroyed the proof. She would have been sentenced to life in prison, but she pled guilty under grounds of insanity. Due to the dream experimentations she had been working on and that fact that she had been accused of being a savant, which has previously been connected to other mental issues, her plea was accepted. That was how she ended up in the mental hospital. What Cromwell, Inc. didn't know was that she had the proof backed up. The problem was, she had sent the proof to a computer on another planet then told the computer not to reconnect to the internet. She had managed to escape from the mental hospital, but still had to get to the other planet to get the proof.
Stepping out into the street again, the wind didn't seem so harsh with the new jacket. She started walking down the street again, this time heading to the hover train station.
The train station had two levels, with one hover rail to each. The bottom level was almost empty, but the top was full of people waiting to board the train. She walked up the wide staircase that led to the upper level. As she reached the top step, she noticed there were police standing at all the entrances. She would have to sneak past them somehow. She looked around the station, trying to think of how she would get past them. Off to her right were a few different storefronts and food stands. The hover train was off to her left. People were crowding the large room. At the end of the room on the right side was a pharmacy. If she was lucky, they might sell her a pair of glasses off the display shelf.
She made her way through the busy room, heading for the pharmacy. She stopped to look up at the clock. She still had twenty minutes before the train was going to leave. Inside the pharmacy, she was able to convince them to sell her a pair of display glasses.
After getting the glasses, she purchased her ticket. She approached the boarding entrance. A policeman stopped her and compared her to a picture he was holding. She got a glance of the photo and saw that it was a picture of her.
"Miss, could you remove your glasses for me?"
"Sure," she said, pulling them off and getting ready to run.
The man compared her to the picture. "Sorry to bother you, you looked like the person we have been searching for, but your eyes clearly separate you. Here take this so we don't bother you again," said the policeman, handing her a yellow tag. "Just show it to an officer when they are checking people."
Taking the tag from him, she smiled and replied, "Really, it was no bother, but thank you."
She walked onto the train and found her seat. She was confused as to why she hadn't been caught. Then she remembered, he mentioned her eyes. Her eyes changed colors depending on what she was wearing. In the picture the officer had, her eyes had been green, but now her eyes were blue because she was wearing a blue shirt. The sale at the thrift store had saved her. She sighed in relief as the train started moving forward slowly.
The train ride was uneventful. She slept most of the ride. When the train reached its destination, she got off. A policeman was checking the passengers as they got off. She was stopped and pulled off to the side. She gave the officer the yellow tag she had gotten earlier. The policeman apologized and let her go.
When she stepped off the train, she knew exactly where she was going. She had the layout of this whole city in her mind. This was the place where she grew up. Walking down the street towards where her old house was, she knew what she had to do, but that didn't make it any easier. The closer she got to the house, the harder it became to suppress her emotions. She kept walking; she had to get the rest of DreamPhase.
She stopped in front of the house that used to be her home. She looked in the windows; she could see people moving around. Luckily for her, she had moved DreamPhase out of the house and hid it in the back of an old car that was kept out behind her old house. She ran to the backyard where she found the car. She opened the back door and climbed in, checking under the seat, she found a bag, just how she left it. She took it and left.
At first she wasn't sure where to go. Who could she trust? The police were looking for her. Everyone thought she was a murderer. She wished she had taken more time to form relationships with her peers. Maybe if she had, she would have someone to turn to. But instead she had spent her time getting a degree that wouldn't do her much good anymore.
It was when she was thinking about school that she remembered her physics teacher.
She got along great with him. He had assigned her to many different projects he was working on. And most of those times, she had been able to solve something he hadn't. He had encouraged her when she was ready to give up one semester. Since that day, she had worked harder and learned so much from him. He didn't say it until all of her classes were finished, but he told her that she was one of his best students. Of all the people she knew, he was the only person that she could think of that she might be able to trust.
Now that she had her bag, she reached in and pulled out a small cell phone and a small headset that looked like a piece of wire. She turned on the phone on then put it back in the bag. She hoisted the black backpack onto her back and then placed the headset behind her ear. She started walking again. Tapping the headset she spoke. "Dr. Steve Shaum," there was a pause for a moment. "Hello?"
"Hello, this is Rachial Williams" the voice on the other end interrupted her. "Hey, are you all right? I heard about what happened. Is there anything you need?"
"I’m okay. I would like to talk to you. Can I meet you?"
"Sure, I have three more classes today, but I will be free for the next two hours, so you could swing by the campus."
"Okay and thanks."
"No problem." The line cut out and the headset went dead.
She wasn't sure what she was going to tell him, but she was planning to ask him to take DreamPhase for safe keeping. She didn't want to be running around the universe with a very valuable piece of technology. She also didn't want it to fall into the wrong hands because she wasn't sure what it could do, or what its limitations were.
Twenty minutes later outside of Dr. Shaum's office, she knocked on his door. There was no response at first, so she knocked again. This time she heard him call out. "Come in, the door’s unlocked."
She opened the door to find him seated behind his desk helping one of his students.
"Oh, hi Rachial, have a seat," he said, motioning to the open chair next to the student he was helping. "I was just helping Josh with one of his problems. Maybe you could explain it to him."
"I can try," she said, leaning forward to look at the papers lying on the desk. She then proceeded to explain the problem to him. Once he was sure he understood, he thanked her then left.
"I think you would make a great teacher," said Steve.
"Thanks, but it doesn't look like that is going to happen anytime soon," she said, taking in her surroundings. His office hadn't changed much since she had been here getting help with one of her own problems.
"Not at the moment, but I am guessing you have a way to prove you're not guilty?"
"Yes, I backed up the proof onto a computer on the planet Aeolus. Then I told the computer to permanently disconnect from the internet. I would have asked someone to retrieve it for me, but you are the only person I can trust and I knew that you were busy with classes."
"Well, at least you know where the proof is, so you only have to get to it and not search for it. You do realize that the police will be after you the whole way there?"
"Yes, I will also probably have bounty hunters hired by a few different companies after me. My plan is to leave the planet to get the police off of me and then I will work until I get enough money for the fuel to get to the planet where the data has been saved. The only problem is with bounty hunters."
"They are after DreamPhase?"
"Yes, I got it 100% working. A few companies tried to get me to sell them the technology, but I said no. That is when they framed me."
"I knew you wouldn't have done it, but I wasn't sure why somebody would want to frame you."
"Yeah, that is kind of why I am here. I don't want DreamPhase to fall into their hands." She lifted her backpack onto the desk. "I would like you to take DreamPhase for safe keeping while I am gone. You can use it, or work on it. I just don't want these companies to get it."
"Are you sure?"
"Yes," she said, pulling a laptop and small black box out of the bag and placing them on the desk. She opened the small box and pulled out a handful of rubber bands. "The DreamPhase blueprints are on the laptop. These rubber bands have DreamPhase built into them. If you wear one of these when you fall asleep, you will enter DreamPhase. The rest of the information is on the laptop."
"Okay I will look it over."
"Thanks. I had better get going," she turned to leave.
"Hang on a second," he said, leaning over and digging something out from one of his desk drawers. He pulled out a small memory card and handed it to her. "Take this, you might find it helpful."
She took the small card and examined it in her hand. "What is it?"
"I designed it a year ago when I learned about the DreamPhase project you were working on. I figured if you completed it, there would be a means of implementing it. I haven't had a chance to test it, but if you load it into DreamPhase you should be able to learn everything on that card. It is filled with every piece of knowledge I could find on piloting and flying."
"Thanks, I'll have to try it out." she slipped the card into her pants pocket then left.
A few hours later she was sitting at the pilot’s seat of her newly purchased vessel. The ship had cost her complete life's savings. The ship was an old military vessel, a Wombat class fighter. It was a very small ship, only large enough for one person. There wasn't any cargo space either, just a small compartment under the pilot’s seat. The ship wasn't equipped with any weapons and only had a shield system capable of protecting her from radiation. The ship did have a working communication array, but it was the older kind so it wouldn't reach very far. The engine system was working without any problems and that is what she figured she would need the most. It had a class-two portal engine. It wasn't the fastest, but it would work. The ship used to be a military fighter, so the engines were faster than most engines out there. She just hoped that the engines would be enough to outrun the police if she encountered them. But for now she was worried more about learning how to fly. She didn't think it was that complicated, but she knew it required a lot of practice and that was something she didn't have a lot of time to do.
She had the pilot's manual resting on her lap, but some of it didn't make sense. She reached into her pocket and pulled out the memory card she had gotten earlier from Dr. Shaum and then pulled the rubber band out of her hair. She wrapped the rubber band around the card. A small portion of the rubber band lit up a blue color. The spot flashed, then a few seconds later the blue flashing stopped and turned green. The green light flashed twice then stopped. Rachial then removed the rubber band from the card and placed it around her wrist. Now to see if this works, she thought to herself as she settled back in the pilot's chair. She closed her eyes and tried to relax. It was hard after that day to just slow down. She wanted to quiet her mind to help her fall asleep, but her mind was racing with the things that had happened today. But finally she started to doze off. Within a few minutes, she had entered sleep.
About an hour later she awoke in her dream. Instantly she took control of the dream world and linked it with DreamPhase. She was standing in a large, open area. Below her were thousands of, what looked like, scrolling strands of text, on what appeared to be a screen. There were walls made out of text also. The whole world was bluish. The walls were covered with sheets of paper. Each sheet of paper had a title and then a description below in a fingerprint. Some of the walls had more paper on them than others; she walked over to a wall that only had a few pieces of paper on it. She reached out for the piece that was furthest to the right. The paper title read: Flight school, Complete ED. She tapped the paper twice.
Then the world around her changed. This time, was seated in a classroom with a bunch of students, and the teacher was at the front of the class, explaining to the students why they were there. He told them that he was going to teach them how to fly.
The world slowly sped up, everything started moving. Quickly, within moments, it was a complete blur. But not for Rachial, her mind was following every event that happened, as if it happened in normal speed.
The blur kept going for a few minutes and then it slowly started returning to normal speed. Rachial was standing on a landing platform. There was a man wearing a flight suit standing in front of her. "Congratulations, you have just passed the entire test, you now have your pilot’s license." the man told her.
Then the world started to fade away, it slowly returned to the blue text-like world. But as it did, she heard a disembodied voice. When she heard it, she recognized the voice of her teacher.
"Hey, congrats, you now know how to fly. The only problem is that since you have taken all of these classes and practiced only in your dream, you will only remember it as a dream. When you sit down in the pilot's chair, just do what seems natural, unless it is something crazy, you should be doing the right thing. Bye." The voice left and Rachial woke from her dream.
Rachial looked down at her watch; it was 7:00 am. It seemed like it should be later, she had so much stuff pouring through her mind. She felt a little dizzy. She looked out the window of her ship, the sun had just come up and the sky was a beautiful purple color. There were no clouds to be seen. After a moment, the sensation of dizziness passed. She looked around the cockpit of her ship. Things that had looked foreign to her last night now looked very familiar. She even knew what they were for. She would have to contact Dr. Shaum sometime to tell him that it worked. She tapped a button and the cockpit opened. She climbed out. She was going to have to buy some food for her journey, so she set off to find a grocery store.
She returned to the ship twenty minutes later with a small stack of M.R.E's; she was probably going to need them when she got to the planet because she was going to have to eat while she tried to find a job. She climbed into the ship and loaded them under the seat. Then she strapped in and did the preflight checks. Everything checked out working, so she started the ship’s power plant, then started up the antigravity engines. The ship slowly rose from its spot in the used ship lot. As soon as the ship had gained a high enough altitude, she engaged the main engines. The ship started moving forward quickly. As the ship started going, she increased the speed quickly and left the atmosphere, so as not to draw attention to herself. As soon as she left the atmosphere, she engaged the portal engine. She watched as the portal formed around the front of her ship. She knew how portal travel worked, but had never actually seen it before.
Once in portal travel, it would take her about ten hours to reach the next way point. She became bored rather quickly, and decided the best use of her time would be to work on DreamPhase some more.
Before she had been captured, she had been working on getting DreamPhase to work while you were awake. She was almost certain it was possible, but hadn't been able to configure DreamPhase correctly yet. The reason is because day dreams are harder for the system to grasp, because they are concentrated in a different way.
Rachial worked on calibrating DreamPhase for the next 7 hours. She had entered DreamPhase while she was awake. She had to concentrate to do it, but it had worked. She had a little more fine-tuning to do. Then she had another idea. What would happen if she linked DreamPhase to the ship? She started working on a design for the interface for the ship when an alarm started going off. She looked up and the HUD was flashing the ETA at one minute. The portal drive was faster than the salesman had told her. That was nice; it would make her journey quicker. She dropped the ship out of its portal and gave the breaking thrusters a quick fire. The ship slowed just as it reached the planet. She brought the ship into an orbit above the planet Ecasty, as she waited to get clearance to land. She got the clearance moments later and flew the ship down to the spot she where she had been told she could land.
Once the ship had landed, she paid a small fee before she took her bag and left the hangar. The search for a job began. She knew it was going to be hard to find a job where she wouldn't need to tell them who she was, but that didn't discourage her; she knew she needed to get one. The first thing she did was set up a fake account so that people would think she was a citizen. After that, she started walked down the street and applied at every place that was open on the first block.
An hour later, she had finished and went to the second level. The city was very large, so there were multiple levels of streets. The second level had raised walkways running along the side of building and connecting the corners of separate buildings. There were four levels in all. She spent the rest of the day applying everywhere she could. After the first twenty places she applied at, she got very fast at filling out applications. Having skipped lunch she was getting quite hungry around supper time, but there were still a few places left on the third level before she was finished. She applied at an outlet store, a janitorial service center, and only one remained: a cargo delivery service. She walked in and grabbed one of the applications. The manager saw her grab it and called her over to the counter.
"Are you looking for a job?" he asked. "Yes, sir," she answered.
"Have you ever flown a ship before?"
"What kind of ship did you fly?"
She explained that she had flown her own ship before, and told him it was an old military fighter.
He was very intrigued by this. He asked if it was a Wombat fighter. She told him that it was.