Kronos project
Kronos project

  The Kronos project is a prelude to the Outcast journey. Appeal publishes a new part of this story every two weeks.

  - The Kronos Project Part I   (posted the 8th of November 2001)
  - The Kronos Project Part II   (posted the 22th of November 2001)
  - The Kronos Project Part III   (posted the 7th of December 2001)
  - The Kronos Project Part IV   (posted the 11th of January 2001)

The Kronos Project Part I
(8th of November 2001)

Extract from the inaugural speech for the Kronos project as published by "The Universal Observer", January 01, 2011

  In the year 2001 mankind began caressing a new dream, something which only a few years before was considered by the most nothing but a fantasy taken from a science fiction novel. That year, thanks to the results of the research of two of the most brilliant minds of the scientific world, Washington DC Xue and Professor Kauffman, mankind was ready to begin a race to transcend space and time. The prize: travel to parallel worlds, in a six-dimensional space, the REAL space. The name of the race: the Sidestep Project.

  In the year 2007 we were getting closer and closer to the prize, and tasted the success when the probe Christobal transmitted the first images coming from another planet, in a parallel universe. We thought that was the prize, at least. We believed it for seventeen minutes, until the transmission was unexpectedly interrupted, and a black hole appeared on our planet, starting a countdown to destruction. It was the failure of the Sidestep, and the US government had to send a special commando on a rescue mission.

  A failure, thatís what we all thought. But then we discovered that those seventeen minutes were nothing but the beginning of what might be considered our greatest adventure ever. The adventure of a group of persons that, under the leadership of Commander Cutter Slade, managed to help the alien Talan people to get their freedom back, and re-establish balance and order on their planet, Adelpha.

  That was a difficult mission, whose price was the sacrifice of the life of some of those who bravely took part to the expedition. But yet, it was worth it. Commander Slade made it back to Earth, bringing with him valuable information regarding the Talan and, more important than anything else, means to communicate with them.

  And that was the real prize. Today we know it. After three years of intense research we improved the reliability of our inter-dimensional travel means, and after very many contacts with the Talan, we agreed with them that the time has come to get closer and collaborate as the brotherly civilizations that we are. We will share our knowledge with them, learn from them, and work together on missions that will benefit both our races and contribute to the evolution of worlds founded on peace, respect and balance. All this in the frame of an official project for universal interchanges and cooperation: Kronos.

  Tomorrow, we are going to send to the planet Adelpha a very important delegation of scientists, the best minds that the World Federation can currently count on in every field. They will be accompanied by journalists, technicians and by a contingent of troops of the World Federation Armyís Star Fleet, under the command of Admiral Dawson, whose mission will be helping and protecting humans and Talan during the exploration and research missions that will be organized on the planet Adelpha. Other contingents of civilians and soldiers will be sent during the next weeks, in order to create centers of research and cultural exchanges in different areas of the planet.

  We learned from the past, and we acquired the experience and the wisdom to evolve towards new horizons. A new future is beginning, and its name is Kronos."

Baron Raymond Reinhardt
Universal Affairs Minister
World Federation

Letter from Mathieu Larsson, cadet of the World Federation Army Academy

  Salt Lake City, March 08, 2011

  Dear mom,

  The second month of training here at the WFA base has begun. Today I learned more about Commander Slade. A great man, really. The incarnation of all the values that brought me to join the Army. They say that after his return from the Sidestep mission he retired in Montana. Too bad. He would certainly have been a great leader. I would have been honored to meet him.

  Anyway, Iím really proud to have a chance to work in the very same planet where he fought for freedom and justice. I still cannot believe that they accepted me in the training program for the Kronos project. Itís like a dream comes true...

  I know, I know... You would have preferred me to continue my studies instead of joining the army. But you must not worry. Please understand that this is not like the old times. We are soldiers, yes, but we are trained to protect people and work hard to build things, not to destroy.

  Building, mother, creation, not destruction. Our leaders understood the lessons of the past. The World Federation is a proof that Nations united to build together a better future, avoiding to fight each other as they did in the past. Itís different. Everything is better. Please donít be too worried.



Excerpts from the diary of Manuel Gomez, xenobiologist of the Kronos project

  December 31, 2010

  We are finally getting ready to leave. I still cannot believe this... Tomorrow there will be the official kick-off, and the next day weíll be leaving, destination Adelpha. What a Christmas gift that was! I think Iím ready for this, but still Iím shaking at the mere thought of having a chance of exploring such a distant world... No expectations, no precise information regarding what Iím going to find on that planet. I am supposed to be the one to study and to inform. I am supposed to be the one to discover and understand... This is just great. Too good to be true.

  January 01, 2011

  Today, after listening to the inaugural speech, our director introduced to us the commanders of the WFA troopers squadron that will accompany us on our exploration missions. They seem to be nice guys. The thing that I like the most is that you can nowhere perceive the tension proper of a war mission. Man, do I hate that! I must admit that I was skeptical when they wanted us to believe that the military would not upset us, because this is not a war mission. Now I begin to believe it. Plus, a couple of rifles around might be welcome in case the tales brought by our representatives regarding the creatures that dwell the planet were true. This werewolf thing... Well, just in case...

  January 02, 2011

  Thatís it, the time has come. I couldnít sleep last night, because of the excitement... And my roommate Ned... Well, letís say that he expressed his excitement all night long paying frequent visits to the toilet...

  What will happen? Now I understand how explorers of other times must have felt...

  OK, last call. Gotta go. Good thing Ned is out of the toilet... A little visit to it before leaving will do no harm...

  If only Slade was... No, he HAD to retire, that stupid hoax! And he will miss all this..

The Kronos Project Part II
(22th of November 2001)

  Live news form Adelpha, January 07, 2011

  "...and we were greeted by a committee of Talan representatives. The arrival on this planet was breathtaking. From the spacecraft we could see landscapes of indescribable beauty, and the kindness of the Talan people impressed from the very first contact we had with them.

  Today I was informed that the cores of two other scientific settlements have already been built on the neighbor islands of Kizaar and Saar, with the help of local Talan dwellers.

  I also received news that a group of talanologists has begun to study writings and inscriptions under the guidance of some Talan Shamaz, who seem to be some kind of wise priests very knowledgeable in whatever regards the Talan culture.

  In a press conference, Admiral Dawson informed all the journalists present on the planet that within a maximum timeframe of two weeks everything will be ready for the first expeditions of scientist to explore this magnificent planet guided by Talan scouts.

  From what we have seen until now, the Kronos project is progressing quickly and nicely, and the support that we are receiving from the Talan people will certainly allow us to gain important knowledge that could make this experience of invaluable importance for the evolution of our race.

This is Ade NíDou, reporting live from Ganzaar, planet Adelpha, WFNN."

Thoughts from Earth...

"Kronos... How clichť. At least they could have chosen something more original for a name... These guys should really get someone with a more creative mind. Ahhh, never mind... I just wonder when theyíre going to put a burger place up there... Bah... Perhaps Iím just being too cynic. I just hope that we are really going to be able to respect those guys. Anyway, itís not my business anymore. Not anymore..."

A man watching TV. Montana, January 07, 2011

Excerpts from the diary of Manuel Gomez, xenobiologist of the Kronos project.

  February 4, 2010

  Itís been already a month since I arrived on this incredible island, and it seems to me as if I arrived only yesterday. I still canít find the right words to describe all that surrounds me. Everything is different, far from any concept that I had before coming here... Itís like living in Wonderland... Until now, I was only allowed to study simple things. Flowers, plants, basic forms of life... Unfortunately, Iíve no permission to abandon the base yet (yeah, I must admit that sometimes I feel like a kid whoís not allowed to cross the street). And yet even simple things around here are amazing... For instance, there is this strange, beautiful flower that glows for some reason that I cannot explain yet. Itís not a normal behavior, but rather a reaction to something specific... And what about those big birds that Talans ride? I didnít get a chance to take a close look yet... I wonder what else is out there... I wonder when theyíll allow me to take part to some expedition...

  February 12, 2011

  Yes, yes, YES!!!!! Time has come at last! Tomorrow Iíll hit the road! I cannot believe it... It seems that they organized an expedition with some Talans scouting for us... I should remember to bring everything with me... Iím so excited! We are going to cross a forest near a swampy area. Our mission will be gathering samples of autochthonous vegetation, and begin studying the local ecosystem. Apparently a Druiaz named Grahalir is going to be our lead scout. I still could not explain what they are exactly... It seems that Druiaz are the most knowledgeable Talans in all that regards the ecosystem in Adelpha. In the beginning I thought of them as colleagues... But speaking with Grahalir I realized that theyíre more than that. I donít know... They speak about their environment as if they were able to talk with the nature, or somehow "feel" it... Their knowledge does not derive from pure observation and experimentation. Thatís for sure...

  February 15, 2011

  This is incredible and somehow upsetting land... Grahalir is still reluctant to tell us much about the local fauna. He says that itís different. That we should respect and understand what we can see, before asking about what we cannot see. And, to be frank, we didnít see much, except from plants and big birds flying above our heads... I guess itís understandable. I mean, I donít suppose that local creatures would show carelessly with us walking around... Too bad. Iím really eager to see something more than insects and birds. There must be magnificent wild animals around...

  February 16, 2011

  Grahalir seems to be very wary today. We are crossing an area that he called "the den of the hunter". When I asked him about the name, he told me that itís because this land is hunting ground for a local predator. He also ordered us to stay close to each other, like a pack of Twon-has (I just wonder what a Twon-ha is), and never abandon the trail. He wouldnít say much more than that. He just looks wary. I heard him mumbling something in the Talan tongue, speaking to another scout. I donít know. Itís as if they were concerned about us making some naÔve mistake...

  February 17, 2011

  Horrible. I donít even know exactly what Iím talking about. I just know that it was scary. Last night we suffered a casualty. We were approaching an area that Grahalir chose to camp for the night. While we were along a path crossing very dense vegetation, something moved in the bushes. A trooper escorting us approached the location where the sound came from. Grahalir ordered him to stay with the group. But the fool wouldnít listen. He just embraced his rifle and moved on. And then.. Oh God, I donít know... The air moved near the trooper. It was as if we all sensed the presence of something... I donít know, like a ghost... A ghost that suddenly slashed. Air becoming sharp blades took that poor idiotís life... He couldnít even scream. It was all so fast... And the body just disappeared in the vegetation...Like a ghost... Nobody moved... We were all horrified. Madre de Dios...

The Kronos Project Part III
(7th of December 2001)

Excerpts from the diary of Manuel Gomez, Xenobiologist of the Kronos project

  March 4, 2011

  Back in the golden cage... Well, I had to expect it. Of course after the first expedition they would ask me results. Papers, papers, and more papers... Doesnít matter how adamant I am in telling them over and over again that the expedition was too short to gather enough data to come up with interesting things. Hell, that was barely enough to peek at the world out there. And what a peek it was! The thought of what happened in those woods still gives me the creeps...

  Ah, big boss man coming again. Gotta go back to my papers...

  March 7, 2011

  Aha! At last I found something interesting... Iíve been analyzing samples of rocks that I collected on our way back to the base. I was impressed by their shine. I made some tests, very primitive stuff, nothing funky, but enough to discover that those rocks are incredibly hard. I mean, they resisted even AMR 24 bullets! Yep, thatís something for sure, but itís not the thing that surprises me the most... There are strange traces on one of the samples. It is as if the original rock had been pierced by something, and then split. Some kind of structural collapse. What the heck could have pierced something as hard as this?!? And as if this were not enough, the surface of the pierced area is absolutely smooth. I mean, silk-smooth!!! Absurd... It was as if someone managed to drill this stuff with... I donít know what. Iíll better check this out with Jake.

  March 18, 2011

  I knew it!!! I knew that I had something!!!

  We examined the piercing with Jake, and we discovered something incredible. According to the results of Jakeís analysis, the hole was created in a few seconds, if not less. Then, the whole rock split. He thinks it was because of some kind of strange pressure applied from the inside of the pierce. Considering the length of the hole, and what Jake said, I concluded that this looks very much like a tunnel dug by a creature whose movement then caused the rock to split. And that means not only that we have this nice little tough mineral out there, but that there is also a small creature out there that somehow manages to pierce what our assault rifleís bullets couldnít even scratch!!! Now weíll write a report, and see what the big guys think about all this...

  March 24, 2011

  ...And off we go again! Good think the big bosses liked our discovery so much to decide to organize a new expedition. However, this thing of having to select an area to focus our researches on makes me a bit nervous... I mean, we donít know the place, we have no idea what we are looking for, and then WE have to select an area... "We rely on your judgment, Doctor, and we are sure that youíll be able to organize the expedition to bring results to us within a reasonable timeframe..." Yeah, yeah... Iíll better talk to Grahalir. If I understood anything at all about this Druiaz guys, then HE is the one who should choose and organize...

  March 25, 2011

  Grahalir said that the hole in the rock looks indeed like a tunnel dug by some creature. He said that there are a few species capable of doing that on this planet, but he couldnít explain me how. The point is that this Talan folks seem to have different concepts than ours regarding certain things. So, even if they do speak our language in a fairly intelligible way, very often when they try to explain things to me Iím really baffled. After nearly half an hour of explanations, the man, her, the Talan gave up, and just said: "Youíll learn when youíll see, if your mind will be prepared..." Hell, I hate this Obi Wan stuff...

  Anyway, he said that this time the trip will be quite long, if I really want to have good chances to see how this thing lives... He spoke about mountains, and then about swampy areas. At least now I have the "carefully selected" places that the big guys wanted...

  March 28, 2011

  Ready to go! Jake is going to come with us. Grahalir is going to lead the expedition. The big guys offered Falcons to speed up the movements, but Grahalir said that haste doesnít help when you have to search and learn. Perhaps he really is some kind of Yoda guy after all... Anyway, the official mission is to find more about our mystery creature, and understand how it pierced that incredible mineral. This could be the first step toward the formulation of a completely new taxonomy. And I could be the chosen one!!! Bow to me, mortals! Yeah, right... Iíll better go get some sleep. Tomorrow weíll have a long way to go...

  April 2, 2011

  Still nothing... Damn!!! Iím beginning to fear that itís going to be ME bowing to the big guys begging for mercy if we get back with no results...

  April 4, 2011

  Finally! I found other rocks with those strange holes. It was different materials, but the holes were of the same type.
  Little tunnels, silk-smooth surfaces. Now, the interesting thing is that I found the little tunnels even in trunks. And the fact that even there the surfaces of the hole were silk-smooth, forces me to think that the excavation was not made by mechanical means, like biting the material. It must have been a chemical substance that melts even very resistant materials. I believe that it could be some kind of acid contained in the saliva of the creature that we are looking for. Perhaps thatís why Grahalir talked about toothpaste when he tried to explain something about the creature... Too bad I still didnít see the creature.

Report to the WFA center of geology

  "...meltable only by a particular kind of acid, and it might be interesting to study the properties of this mineral to build armors for our storm troopers, something that would make them invulnerable to most of the existing weapons. If we get those creatures and we understand more about the substance that they use to pierce the mineral, weíll certainly be able to do this and many other things..."



  "Yes Jake, I was thinking... You might be right, although focusing right now on something that is out of the spirit of the whole project might be dangerous... However... Iíll talk about it to the Admiral. Good work, Jake."

  "...ahm, Doctor, about that position Iím hoping to..."

  "Just keep doing your job, and inform me as soon as you have news. Iíll take care of the rest, donít worry. And remember, the
  Kronos project has a precise focus and scope. We need to be absolutely discreet regarding whatever might seem out of that scope. For the sake of science. Have a good day Jake."

Phone conversation
Ganzaar, April 7, 2011.

Old friends chatting

  "...I really must insist. Your expertise could be very precious around here. What do you have to lose after all?"

  "Doug, I told you, Iím out of this. Iím fine the way I am know... You know, long walks in the fresh air, watching on TV news about young WFA hot shots becoming burgers for space puppies, some fly-fishing every now and then... Iím retired, R-E-T-I-R-E-D. The hero stuff is not for me anymore. Besides, food sucks up there..."

  "...All Iím asking is for you to participate to a couple of expeditions. That would make our contacts with Talans even easier. They still have a very cautious attitude towards us, but they do speak with respect and admiration about the Ulukai. You know how important public relations in this kind of operations are..."

  "Yeah, sure... From mission-man to symbol of this new-world-space-universal-we-all-love-each-other thing. Címon, donít make my sound more cynic than I really am...
  "Look, I saved everybodyís butts once, but thatís it. Been there, done that. Give it up Admiral. I told you, itís over. Itís just not for me anymore..."

  "But, WHY?!?"

  "You know very well why, and I donít want to talk about it anymore. I truly hope that this whole project goes on as planned, and we really manage to achieve to build something good together with these guys. I really do. But Iím through with the army, and I am no diplomacy man. Donít take it personally, but I really had enough of it..."

  "Thatís a pity. Truly. Anyway, I respect your decision, but take it for granted that Iíll bug you a couple of times more before I give up..."

  "Donít waste your time Doug. If you want to come over and catch a couple of nice trouts with me, then be it. But thatís as much social interaction with the WFA as I want to have for the time being. Be well Doug."

  "Iíll see you around Commander. Catch a big one for me, will you?"

Phone conversation
Montana, March 27, 2011.

The Kronos Project Part IV
(11th of January 2002)

Excerpts from the diary of Manuel Gomez, Xenobiologist of the Kronos project

  April 18, 2011

  Still on the road, but no chance to see the creatures yet. However, I understood more about them by observing the traces that they leave on the ground, and their habitat. They must definitely be some kind of big bugs, and live in tunnels that they dig into different materials. The digging is done with the aid of some extremely corrosive substance. We actually had the chance of see this substance, in a small greenish pool, hidden among the vegetation. And luckily Grahalir was quick enough to push aside the trooper who was about to step on the pool before he got his foot melted... It was amazing. The poor fellow barely touched the surface of the pool with the heel of his boot, and that was enough to melt it. Luckily this substance seems to evaporate immediately, otherwise Iím pretty sure that we would be "kindly asked" to initiate new researches regarding it. I wouldnít like to have to deal with that kind of substance, not to mention the fact that I doubt that any of our means can be used to build a container capable of resisting the corrosion and avoiding the evaporation of the substance.

  April 22, 2011

  Iím a bit tired. After days spent trying to observe this sort of bugs with no success, today we found an area full of, well, I donít know how I should I call them... Tunnel entrances, or nests, or something. It was like a gigantic piece of gruyere cheese, and the ground was mainly formed by agglomerations of the super-mineral that drew everybodyís attention back at the lab. Grahalir told me that they call it kir, which means something like "the shell" in the Talan tongue. I wonder why they called it like that. Grahalir wouldnít explain. Perhaps he just made it up because he was tired of hearing me calling it funny and long names...

  Anyway, we had a chance to collect a few shards left on the ground by the digging of the bugs. Actually, I think that we collected a bit more than "a few" shards. Jake had all the troopers fill their backpacks with shards. I told him that it was not necessary for the experiments that we have to conduct, but he insisted, offering that having some extra samples will do no harm, especially since this place is a bit far away from the lab. Well, what can I say? Heís always been an apprehensive guy. Even though this time he was surprisingly... Zealous?

  April 24, 2011

  Back "home", at long last. But with no home-made warm strudel waiting for me...

  Actually, I am grateful that I am back at all... Today we nearly suffered our second casualty. It was a few hours ago, at sunset. We could already see the base, a couple of kilometers in front of us... First we heard a growl from the distance, and then suddenly the air moved among the bushes.... It was a nightmare coming back: air becoming a blood-thirsty ghost, again. The low vegetation bent under its... I was about to say weight... Anyway, this time we WERE following Grahalir instruction, always staying together. And yet it was not enough. As the entity approached us, I had the sensation that Grahalir moved quickly, leaving my side. It was just a sensation. I was actually paralyzed by the terror, like everybody else in the convoy. Then I saw another mass of air moving, passing right in front of that first ghost. It was strange. At first I thought that it was another attacker, and that this time we were really dead. Then I saw both entities drifting away, disappearing. Strange... It all lasted a few seconds, but it seemed an eternity to me. When I turned my head to ask Grahalir about what happened, he was not there anymore. I found him a couple of meters away, in the back of the convoy. Itís strange. That was pretty close to where I saw the second ghost disappearing...

  May 3, 2011

  This kir mineral is really incredible. The extra tests that I conducted revealed that the material is incredibly resistant even to extremely low and high temperatures, and that itís a virtually perfect thermal and electric insulator. This explains why those bugs liked so much to create their nests in the kir rocks. Iíd like to have a kir house myself!

  Anyway, Iíve also analyzed the molecular structure with Jake, whoís the real expert in these matters... And I came up with this idea of creating a special composite mesh to embed the shards, and form a bigger surface to be used for our experiments. Well, it worked, and it turned out that we built some kind high-endurance flexible shield. Pretty interesting stuff... Iím actually wondering whether Talans might use these shards in a similar fashion, as weapons, or perhaps protections. I think Iíll ask Grahalir...

  May 5, 2011

  There is something that bothers me... Jake ordered some technicians to produce more composite kir meshes. I donít understand why, since we have all the samples that we need to conduct our experiments. The official instructions received by our director were to simply conduct as many experiments as possible, and report all the results, and, given the resistance of this stuff, I really doubt that we might need extra meshes. Plus, it seems that Jake is conducting extra tests with the meshes, but he wouldnít tell me anything about it. Strange...

  May 7, 2011

  Today I had a chance to talk to Grahalir about the kir. When I asked him about whether Talan used the shards of kir to build weapons or protections, at first he looked genuinely surprised by my question. Then he explained to me that Talans donít use weapons the way human do. He said that for them violence is not a solution, and that conflicts must be solved understanding our holistic nature, our being at the same time part and manifestation of a superior essence that permeates and gives life to the whole universe. If we understand this, then we understand the way of balance, which makes any sort of violence unnecessary.

  I must confess that at first I thought he was just in some kind of new age mood, although they probably donít even know about this stuff around here. Then... His words brought some memories back to me. Things I forgot for a long time. Images of my hometown, Chaiten, when I was just a little kid. For a moment I saw in Grahalirís eyes the same shine that my uncle Samuel had in his eyes when he explained to me things regarding nature. Samuel, el curandero, the healer. An amazing guy, capable of doing things that even today I couldnít explain. And always stressing that what I saw was not the result of his deed. That man can do nothing but channeling the energy that has been there ever since the beginning of time, and serving as a means to reestablish balance where it is altered. Grahalir seemed actually very interested in hearing about Uncle Samuel. He said that he didnít suspect that there would be humans with such a strong sense of the way of balance. Too bad I could only share a few memories with him. Too bad I had to leave that land too soon, before being mature enough to understand more...

Report to the WFA center of geology

  "...of course I took enough material to manufacture more samples. I must admit that Gomezí idea was brilliant. A mesh to embed shards, and create a broader surface, with nearly the same resistance of a single shard..."

  "How many?

  "Iím sorry?"

  "How many meshes did you manage to manufacture? And what is the average size? You talked about shields..."

  "Ah, yes... Well, I have here three meshes, plus the other two that we are using for the experiments in the lab."

  "Very well. Youíll receive more shards, and youíll have to manufacture additional meshes, according to specifications that Iíll provide to you soon, very soon."

  "Ehm, doctor? I donít think that we should worry about this, but... You see, Gomez has been asking me questions about why I had the soldiers bring so many samples of kir back to the base, and why I was ordering the manufacturing of the additional meshes. I think that all this looks odd to him. If only you could tell me more about the purpose of this operation... I might be able to convince him that this is all part of a normal research..."

  "Donít worry about Gomez, Jake. The next steps will be absolutely discreet, and he wonít notice anything. You just continue with your duties, and wait for more instructions."


Phone conversation
Ganzaar, May 6, 2011.
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