Elitsa's Quest

by PatternShift

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Elitsa’s first life ended when she fell asleep as a girl of ten and did not wake the next day. Her second life began when she woke up in the hospital in Darklight City, holding the hand of Viktor, the first Renouncer of Oneiri Station. His eyes were closed, the sound of his breath slow and steady. She had lost two years of her childhood to the Dream World; she came back to herself on the doorstep of adolescence.

Something about that memory of this older man—impossibly tired, sitting next to her, still asleep himself—filled the void of her absent memories with a new purpose. She woke up knowing Viktor had helped to rebuild her, that he had freed her from whatever snare she had stumbled into. She did not yet know how to avoid that snare or free herself should she be caught again. Or how to bring back anyone else, as Viktor had done.

Not all of the fourteen he saved were imbued with the sense of purpose that had come to Elitsa. A few joined her, but almost all of them were older, and they did not have the same open stretch of life before them. She was, at that time of her return, the appropriate age to embark on the ancient tradition of apprenticeship. And so she became the apprentice of the absent Renouncer.

Elitsa worked with the machines on Oneiri Station to excavate all she could from the Renouncer’s journals and the logs of his activities. She compiled various notes and fragments into his teachings and provided commentary for the Renouncer’s final account. She followed in his footsteps, learning the techniques he described, modifying and improving what she could. At the age of thirty-two, she returned to the surface and saved three more of the untethered. She had been able to cut a decade from the time Viktor’s preparations had taken him, using his work as her shortcut. These extra ten years were yet another gift this stranger—her mentor—had given her.

Viktor’s rescue of the untethered became the founding myth of the Vaskania system. Many came to Oneiri Station, inspired by what he had done, and joined Elitsa and her students. She taught all that she could; each time she went to the surface, she brought more Renouncers with her, and they returned more untethered to their bodies. Other inhabitants of Prime sometimes made the journey to the station to pay their respects. Elitsa led them through Viktor’s garden, which she and the others maintained in their waking hours. Ultimately, the lens through which all saw the Renouncer’s work, the voice in which they heard it read, and the face of the order founded in his memory to continue his work—was Elitsa’s.


released April 2, 2019


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PatternShift Longmont, Colorado

Cinematic sci-fi synthwave from outside the solar system.

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