We are back in the Trikru forest amongst the tall trees and interwoven greenery. It is misty and raining. A hooded figure cloaked in an ankle length cape, frayed at the hem, is running frantically through the trees. Suddenly, the figure, tripped up by fatigue and a stray root, stumbles towards a tree. A slender hand reaches out to brace against the tree’s bark and to prevent them from falling head first into the trunk. From the sizzling sound a raindrop makes when it lands on the figure’s bare hand, we realize the falling rain is that of the harsh and toxic black rain. With a flinch, the hand pushes off the tree before slipping back under the cloak and the figure sets off again.
This is when we start the song, “My Name Is Human” by Highly Suspect.
Now we shift from the tree tops and see as the figure sees. A hazy rusted structure appears in the near distance covered in vines and surrounded by thick bushes and small trees. It is the abandoned Drop Ship of the young prisoners, the hundred sky crew children that were sent down to the ground as the proverbial canaries in a coal mine. This is what the figure has been running towards, their hopeful destination. They trip and fall, just short of a puddle.
We shift in order to view our agitated protagonist from across the puddle.
The person is still as they take in a breath to steady themselves. Their hands have landed just shy of the puddle’s edge, elbows stiff and shoulders set just in time to prevent their face from falling too far forward. A lock of blonde curls cascades out of the hood, falling until its tip splashes then singes in the puddle’s toxicity. From under their hood, the figure looks up until we can finally see her. It is Clarke, her beautiful face marred with radiation blisters. Her blue eyes remain clear, fierce and determined. Gingerly, Clarke stands, skirts the puddle and begins to run again.
We begin to slip up to the canopy of the forest again in order to observe her trajectory. As we travel up we see that Clarke is closing in on the shelter of the Drop Ship. As we pull up further, we see a wave of cross hatched red lines scanning the forest floor, chasing Clarke, scanning for her. Clarke senses them, too, and tries to outrun and dodge them. The scan waves pass over Clarke and then back track.
“Target Located”, a disembodied voice calmly booms out from above us. We continue to watch Clarke who pauses for a beat, startled by the voice, before picking up her pace to desperately scramble between trees. But it is to no avail as the red lines always find her.
Three figures in radiation suits descend past us to the ground on black tow lines. The figures are bulky. They appear to be human.
“Retrieval Commenced.” The voice's neutrality renders it even more nerve wracking.
The alien figures surround Clarke and she attempts to fend them off, but our Clarke, though fierce, has been weakened by radiation and her recent desperate attempts to avoid capture. Two of the creatures grab and bind Clarke’s limbs while the third clasps a belt with a tow line around her waist. Still resisting, Clarke releases a deep and guttural growl. Once Clarke is secured, all four figures are pulled up off of the ground. Only Clarke looks up. A look of abject fear on her face as she speeds towards and past us.
Suddenly, we are on a spaceship in what appears to be a Mechanic’s Lab or Medical Bay. Or both. We are in the back of the room. Our view looks across a lab table towards the doors. Pipettes, syringes, wires and resistors are arrayed neatly on the surface of the lab counter top.
We see the right side of Raven in profile, her hair is pulled back and up into a ponytail. Raven is wearing a white lab coat and is filling a syringe with a luminous yellow liquid from a small opaque vial with a expression of deep concentration across her features. Out of focus in the background, the figures that captured Clarke push through the doors and drag our struggling Clarke into the room. Clarke is deposited on a table, her hands and feet secured to the rails on either side of it. The figures then back away and remove their radiation suits. We don't see their faces. Raven points the needle of the syringe towards the ceiling then flicks it twice to release tiny air bubbles from within the liquid to its meniscus. The air is expelled by her quick jab to the syringe's plunger.
We zoom to Clarke, our dear Clarke who is struggling against her bonds while regarding those who have captured her with a look of sheer horror.
Clarke asks, “What are you?”
Raven, ignoring Clarke’s question as she continues to focus on the syringe, states, “This won’t take long, Clarke.”
Startled by the new voice, Clarke looks up to see where the voice is coming from. Squinting her eyes into the bright lights. We shift to see as if we are Clarke. Raven is backlit but we can make out her distinctive silhouette despite not being able to see her face.
Clarke, hoping against hope that the silhouette belongs to her most ingenious friend asks, “Raven?”
Raven emotionlessly replies, “I will sedate you so that you may be calm.” Raven pauses briefly before adding, “The race can not allow you to be more damaged.”
Raven turns towards Clarke. We can see the syringe in Raven's hand. Despite the bright lights, the liquid within it continues to glow. Raven's face is eclipsed in shadow but we can see that her left leg is altered, that it is no longer in a brace. The pant leg has been cut at mid thigh to reveal a strong thigh muscle from which a series of tubes emerge before wrapping around Raven’s left knee and disappearing into the flesh of the leg’s shin and calf. The liquid in the tubes pulses and glows. It is the same greenish luminescent neon yellow in the syringe
Clarke realizes that something is off, this is not the sassy Raven she knows and loves. Can Clarke reach her, the sassy Raven that once was? She desperately calls out to her friend, “Raven?!”
Raven, ignoring Clarke’s attempts at talking to her, continues, “Once the welcoming procedure has completed, you will be processed and all of your struggles will seem like a dream.”
We slip past Raven's shoulder to have a better view of Clarke. The recognition that another friend may be lost to her seeps across her face. Clarke frantically recommences her struggle against her bonds. The three figures that had retrieved Clarke from the Trikru forest floor, lean forward to hold her down. One has a robotic hand. Tears starting to prick her eyes, Clarke sighs out, “Raven.” Raven and her syringe are closing in on Clarke. As she approaches her, we see that the base of the left side of Raven's head is a metal plate. That her limp is gone.
With Raven’s reply Clarke looks up at her again and we see what Clarke sees. Slowly, as Raven continues to approach, what is left of her beautiful face emerges from the shadows. Raven’s left eye is now metallic with a glowing yellow pupil. An infinity tattoo and bar code grace her cheek just below that eye.
“I was Raven.” She pauses for a beat before repeating, “Once.”
Raven injects Clarke with the syringe. Her metallic eye following the progress of the fluid in the syringe while her human one stares at Clarke. Clarke strains against her bonds and groans out a scream up to the ceiling.
We fade up from Clarke's screaming mouth. As we do, we realize that the figures holding her down are cyborged versions of Echo, Monty and Harper. Monty has a robotic hand, Harper has a series of glowing blue tubes exiting and entering her chest while Echo's skin has an unnatural glow to it. Raven finishes emptying the syringe into Clarke, puts the syringe aside and then reaches for a scalpel, starting the first incision before Clarke has passed out.
Is it possible for Clarke to scream louder? Yes. Yes, it is.
We fade up more, away from the figures on and around the table. We slip through the glass porthole above Clarke’s head, pulling away from Clarke and then the window until a ship we have never seen before fills the screen. It is rectangular in shape and has a blue infinity logo emblazoned on its hull. It contains the Skairipakru. The People Who Bring Death from the Sky. We see Becca's white rocket ship tethered to the Skairipakru ship.
Finally, our view slips off the side of the ship and then into the darkness of the starry sky. Clarke’s screams do not fade.
This too may pass.
This is when the song ends and you must wake. This is when you wake up, Commander. You must wake, Commander. You must wake ...
After receiving the gift of a dream from the Commanders who came before me, I like to wake slowly in order to remember as much of the dream as possible and return myself solidly into my current timeframe. I do this to prevent rash decisions and actions on my part. My attempts to remain calm, however, were not successful this time. Just as I opened my eyes to take in the dark starry sky through the large window in my candlelit bedroom, I heard a loud growly scream pierce the night.