Chapter 5.20 – Supercomputer

In the weeks that follow Faith’s daring underground rescue, there is an odd air of uncertainty surrounding the Barimen household; for Faith in particular.
By her best estimation, it started the evening she brought Doc home. It has continued, now, into her adult birthday. Her troubling vision in the cavern has only complicated matters further. In the past, her birthday wishes have been no-brainers. She had always wanted to learn who her biological father is, and bring him into her life. Her mother had always been completely honest about her past, and the circumstances by which she found herself pregnant with Faith. But the topic of her father was always an off-limits subject. Was she afraid of this man?
Faith realizes she has lived her life in a pretend world of pixellated monsters and online avatars, where shutting off the computer at night brings the peril to a tidy conclusion. Real life is not so tidy. She could have been killed in that cavern. Had it not been for the bravery of a total stranger, who owed nothing to her or her family, she would have been buried beneath countless tons of rock and earth.  What happened after Khaliq appeared in the cavern is a blur. They somehow managed to emerge with Kacey, after taking turns swimming and finding the next air pocket. The collapse had visibly shifted the hillside above the cavern. The concrete reinforced mine entrance crumbled inward and now lay buried under a rock slide unlike any Sunset Valley had ever seen. Thankfully, the damage was contained to the remote area of the old mine, and there were no injuries.
After they reached the surface, it was with the last reserves of her depleted willpower that Kacey solicited Faith’s promise to keep her away from the hospital. Kacey has been recovering at the estate since that night, but has kept herself reclusive and silent. Hope seems to be the only sim she will talk to. What makes Faith most uneasy, is the lack of answers her questions. How did she become trapped? How did she survive being buried beneath a mountain of rock and stone? How long had she been there? Is this the same Kacey from David Barimen’s old photos? And then there is the dream she had while underground…
After she emerged from the underwater cave entrance with Khaliq and Kacey, Jimmy nearly squeezed the life out of her with a crazy bear hug.  He had never been much of a fitness nut, but when Mark observed that he did not possess the athleticism to survive the underwater swim to help Faith, something in his head clicked. Since then, he’s managed to buff himself up pretty well (with enthusiastic help from Mark).

Faith Barimen - Good, Family Oriented, Computer Whiz, Adventurous, Brave

Faith blows out the candles on her birthday cake and joins Jimmy in young-adulthood. Their relationship had changed somewhat that night as well. The kiss he plants on Faith’s lips is clearly not a token of simple friendship; and there is a wild outburst of catcalls and applause from the friends and family that have gathered.
In the days following Faith’s birthday, Hope makes an announcement confirming what everybody with functional eyeballs has already deduced. She and Doc are going to be parents. Hope had already shared the news with Faith, on the day of the private wedding ceremony.
It was held on the same beach where they saved Kacey only weeks earlier. Although Hope had insisted she attend, Kacey would not venture out of the safe confines of the estate. Hope shows off the wedding ring as Doc pushes up the bridge of his glasses with his forefinger. Faith smiles as she ponders the fact that she was right all along; Doc really is family. It may have taken until adulthood to happen, but she finally has a “dad”.
Later that same evening, Jimmy and Faith take the opportunity to share a few intimate moments in the back yard by the pond. What they whisper to each other causes some very uncharacteristic giggles from Faith. She kisses him tenderly and says out loud what they both have wanted to say for years. She has loved him since the day he visited her after beating Becky Barnes in debate competition. He has been her best friend since childhood; and she looks forward to the day when he will be her husband and lover. Then, just in case he missed her not-so-subtle hint, she tells him to ask Doc for engagement ring advise; because Hope’s is pretty much perfect.
Faith catches movement in her peripheral vision, and she turns slightly to see shining silvery hair in the moonlight. Kacey is sitting at the bench on the opposite side of the pond. She kisses Jimmy and tells him to go back inside while she talks to the mysterious guest. Jimmy nods his understanding. This is the first time Faith has seen her outside of the guest suite since the night of the rescue. Faith has not told anybody about her vision that night in the cavern, but something tells her that now is the right time. She gently approaches the bench where Kacey is sitting, with large tears on her cheeks reflecting the moonlight. Faith sits down and gently calls her name. She wipes off the visible tears and tries to conceal the deep frown on her otherwise pretty face. Faith smiles and tentatively says that she disappointed that she missed the party. Kacey nods and apologizes.
Faith pauses as she studies Kacey’s youthful features. It is difficult to comprehend that the two of them are nearly identical in age. She begins by admitting that there is something she has not told anybody about the night she found her. After clearing the rock slide, she found …something beneath the rubble. Kacey turns her head slightly, as if suddenly very interested. Faith continues, describing the vision she had while touching “it”, skipping over most of the details until she gets to the part about Reid. Mention of the name causes Kacey’s fatigued eyes to widen with fear and concern. Faith continues, saying she overheard some kind of ultimatum. But she doesn’t understand what it means.
Faith is caught off guard as Kacey’s emotions come unglued with no warning. She weeps in long, extended sobs; as a helpless Faith holds her while the avalanche of fear, exhaustion, and grief unloads. Between fits of crying, she begs for the nightmare to stop. All she wants is a normal life; not this responsibility that has been thrust upon her. Faith comforts her while masking her own confusion, and asks about the responsibility. Maybe she can help. Together with Doc and Jimmy, they make for a scary trio of brains.
Kacey collects herself and thanks Faith for everything she has done. Faith smiles and brushes a lock of silver hair from Kacey’s face. She whispers the question that has been dying to be asked. How did she get down in the cavern, and how long was she trapped down there? Kacey closes her eyes and drops her head into her hands. She mumbles that it was a very, very long time ago. Faith can sense that she wants to answer, but after a moment, she just wearily shakes her head and apologizes. It is too difficult to talk about.
The women sit in silence for a short time until Kacey finally speaks again. She looks around to be sure they are alone, then tells Faith something amazing and yet very disturbing. What Faith saw in the cave is the same artifact her brother found in the abandoned mine when he was a kid. Reid claimed that it was an alien supercomputer capable of unlocking the secrets of space and time, through some impossibly complex algorithm. It was so complex, in fact, that it would require centuries to solve. It was about same time he learned of this caveat, that he also discovered the artifact was somehow attuned to Kacey, a young teenager at the time. And that is when the “experimentation” began.
Faith interrupts the ominous demur by filling in the remaining pieces from what she saw in her vision. Reid somehow sent her forward into space-time to check on the algorithm’s progress; using David as insurance that she will return with the results. Kacey’s face turns to a grimace again as she fights to hold back more tears. Then it hits Faith all at once. Kacey is the source of the temporal loop. She is bending time back to the point where David lay dying in the cavern. And if she doesn’t succeed, then David Barimen dies.
And no Barimen after him will ever have existed.
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10 thoughts on “Chapter 5.20 – Supercomputer

  1. Cool. I can’t pretend to understand the science, but I didn’t care. That last picture was awesome…who was it? Khaliq? I’m really hoping that Faith and Doc can fix this…and Jimmy, too.

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  2. Oh, wow. I could tell the ending of this post was going to be one of those that makes you shiver, and it certainly was. Finally, we understand why Kacey has seemingly never aged, and we see just how important her “mission” is…I only hope that the combined minds of Faith, Jimmy, and Doc can do something to rectify this evil!

    And just as I was thinking that all the loose ends of the legacy were finally coming together, I remembered something — we still don’t know why the land on which the estate sits is so important, do we? 🙂

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  3. Just when I though the temporal loop business would be wrapping up, you plant this one on us. Yikes! That final shot has me rather worried.
    Absolutely stunning update, as always!

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  4. Oh…wow…

    There are no words for how I feel right now. I’ve got so many questions! If Kacey is the temporal loop, does that mean that everything after that cavern scene is just a lie? If she succeeds in her mission, will it all play out in the same fashion? Because if she completes what she has to do, then she’ll technically never have done it in the first place, because the future hasn’t happened yet…

    And for that matter, how will she get back? And does this mean that David’s still alive on the cavern floor? I’m so intrigued and confused at the same time. Amazing job zoxell, simply amazing!

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