Chapter 10: Endgame

The following is an adaptation from a stage play script by Irena Trem. There are no direct reports, records, or trustworthy witnesses to the events recounted. As such, Irena’s play has become the most commonly accepted description of events available.

I have adapted Irena’s narrative to a more understandable prose form, more acceptable for this kind of text, but otherwise have left the details intact. Because Irena wrote the text in the heat of the Earth-Mars conflict in the 2560s–and is thus shaped by that historical moment–but also because her story was intended for theatrical performance, the narrative and characterizations of Taban and Kalian Morgan differ subtly from what I have been able to uncover in this text. In any case, I encourage you all to read Irena Trem’s glorious play The Morgan’s Synapse, and I apologize for my pithy recreation of the ultimate scene.

Matthew Connor, MD
Mars Colony, 2597

Endgame

”I’m done.” Kalian exited the office and walked over to the couch that Taban was reading on in the living room.

“Ok, Come sit, lay” Taban said, putting the book aside, spreading out the other cushions on the couch.

Kalian walked over slowly and finally collapsed next to Taban. “Can I be done?”

“Of course,” Taban said wrapping an arm around Kalian. “With what?”

“Damn writing,” Kalian said and leaned toward Taban. “I don’t mean that, of course, just for now.”

“Having problems with the research? The computer will sort it out,” Taban said. Taban patted Kalian’s shoulder gently, which was all the encouragement that Kalian needed to lay down.

“No it’s not that, the computer is crunching through the bioscans and session transcripts, and it looks like all is in order. Nothing surprising, of course.”

“Of course, that’s just luck, but it means we’re doing something right,” Taban said, taking Kalian’s hand and smiling.

“Right, so I was just replying to emails from telepaths on Earth. I felt bad that Kyp and Gus and all had been handling so much of our correspondence. Like I’m turning my back on people who want to hear from us, and it was good distraction from all the parts of the new book that I couldn’t possibly work on right now.”

“You know Kyp, and Gus, and even Matt, often say what we think better than we do–”

“Thank god for friends,”

“Exactly,” Taban continued, but was quiet for a moment while he found his place. “You know, we don’t have to work constantly. I think we’ve done enough for several lifetimes, the least we could do for ourselves is take a vacation,” Taban said.

“Right but we’re not olds or anything, and besides, you know as well as I that we never take vacations,”

“There was that time in Old Dakota–”

”–where we spent ten days drafting Manifestos,” Kalian said.

“Point taken,” Taban said.

“It’s fine, and I don’t think there was something particularly upsetting or anything, just takes a lot out of you, and then you feel guilty that it takes a lot out of you, and then it feels worse, and I’m tired and cranky. It’s not your fault.”

“I know. It’s ok. Well if you won’t take a real vacation, at least can you take the evening off and we can do something different? No guests, no work…”

“Is that an–I’m thinking I don’t have much choice in this do I?” Kalian asked, and then laughed, but stopped suddenly. “What’s that noise? Tapping,”

“No, not really–What?” Taban said.

There was an audible tapping sound, coming from the door. Taban and Kalian froze. In an instant the door slid open slowly and the room was filled with a flash and a low hiss. In the next instant two men, wearing face-masks and gloves entered the room.

By the time the door closed behind them, Taban and Kalian were unconscious. The men drew small pistols from holsters behind them, and held them ready.

“Hows the air? Toxin?” One of the men–Agent Thom Busby–asked.

“Clear. We’re safe,” The other said, pulling off his mask and then his gloves. Busby followed suit.

“Are they alive?”

Busby walked over, to the Morgans and felt each of their necks for a pulse. “Yes, they’re fine,” he said and sat down uncomfortably close to them on their coffee table. Busby’s knees almost touched Taban’s.

“Just stand there and hold watch, I’m going to wake them up,” Busby said, switching the pistol to his other hand and reaching inside his jacket and retrieved two packets that he slipped gently into Kalian and Taban’s hands.

“What are you doing?” The second agent asked, his voice wavered.

“Quiet, and stand there,” Busby said. “Watch the door, not me,” He produced a small vial from his jacket and uncapped it with one hand. Busby, held it briefly under each of their noses. The Morgans began to rouse, slowly, and by the time their eyes opened, Busby had recapped and stowed the vial in his pocket. The gun was back in it it’s natural hand.

“What the hell!” Taban yelled. Kalian tried to stand or sit, in fright but Taban’s hand, now stiff with fear of its own right prevented Kalian from standing.

“Calm down. My name is Thom Busby, but you probably already know that. In your hands you’ll each find a dose of chemical sufficient to end your lives. This pistol is loaded and should you–at the end of this conversation–not ingest the contents of your packet…” Busby trailed off.

“Pardon me, I think we can talk better in here,” Taban’s voice echoed in Busby’s mind.

Busby tried to turn, to say something to his partner, but he couldn’t he was frozen, as was the rest of the room. As were Taban and Kalian Morgan. Busby was confused.

“Sorry, if you think we’ll hear you but you can’t speak, there isn’t enough time. We haven’t changed anything, we’re just thinking a little faster, you’ve read the book, I’m sure you’ll understand,” Kalian’s voice echoed. No one moved. No one could.

“You can’t get away, you know that, I have enough on you and your friends to be convicted in any Earth court twice over, and you’re surrounded. The book says, that you won’t ‘use your powers for evil,’ but the book also said that the toxin we used should stun your telepathy, so I suppose we’ll see.”

“It already has,” Taban thought

“And I believe the term we used was ‘should’ stun ‘most’ telepaths. We are not most telepaths, but to be fair, it has stunned us,” Kalian added.

“We can’t stay like this forever, though, you’ll tire eventually right? What then? I’ve got a gun on you, backup and you have to know that I’m not afraid to kill you.”

“Weren’t we going to have a conversation?” Kalian said.

“Who needs to talk, you’ve proven that you’re dangerous, already, my science division has enough else of you to dissect,”

“We’d like to see your science division do better than what we’ve been able to do,” Taban thought.

“I bet you would,”

“Wait, by your science division do you mean Matt Connor et al?”

“Of course not, but that’s not of a lot of concern to you, because you’ll be dead.” Busby thought. “Wait, why are we having this conversation? Why am I talking to you?”

“It was your idea,” Kalian though. “And our little connection right now, probably gets behind your usual barriers. The threshold for communicating a thought is lower if you avoid speech. Given enough opportunity you’ll learn barriers.”

“And we have a lot of subjective time in us, so we thought it might be worthwhile to prolong our lives a little bit,” Taban thought, ”I’m sure you’ll understand. Besides, if you aren’t really going to kill us, it’d be helpful to know if we should make a break for it.”

“Taban, he is serious! See that?” Kalian thought, feeling somewhat frantic.

“See what? I’m right here too!”

“We know,” Taban and Kalian thought in unison.

“I see it, what about the assistant?” Taban asked.

“Unknown, and we’re stuck for real, we couldn’t take him out fast enough,” Kalian.

“Take him out? Isn’t that ‘doing evil’,”

“That’s the sad part about all of this, at least for us: We really can’t kill you. You might wish you were dead for a while, and we hope that you take advantage of that desire, but we can’t kill you–or anyone. And I think this of all situations qualifies as self-defense.”

“Maybe shooting you isn’t such a bad option any more.”

“That seems unpleasant, doesn’t it,” Taban thought.

“Indeed.”

“Why are we still talking? You’re not going to take the pill are you? And you’ve already said that you can’t get out of this situation, unless you’re lying.”

“That’s true, we can’t get out. Lying under these conditions is difficult. You’ve noticed that.” Taban thought.

“But we’re still human, you know, we’re not particularly keen on rushing into death, you understand.” Kalian thought, and Busby could have sworn that he “heard” laughter.

“What’s funny?” Busby thought. He was more aware now that he really didn’t have a filter at the moment, but he was glad that that thought didn’t echo loudly in his mind.

“I hope you can appreciate how odd and surreal this is for us,” Taban thought.

”I’d rather go out laughing than crying wouldn’t you?” Kalian thought before Busby had a chance to respond.

“It’s time, isn’t it,” Taban thought. ”

“I think so,” Kalian echoed. Sorry Thom to deprive you of the pleasure. You come of of this with one hell of a headache, but you’ll live.

Busby felt cold, freezing really. He started to talk, but his voice wavered. He stopped.

“Thom Busby, remember, remember,” Taban and Kalian thought together, the words echoed.

“Remember what? What’s happening!” Busby was frantic, and feeling colder.

“Goodbye,” Taban and Kalian said in unison, their voice growing distant in Busby’s mind.

The room slowly came back to life, and Busby collapsed forward, almost in slow motion. He screamed in agony, as soon as he had control over his vocal cords.

“Busby!” The assistant rushed over to Busby, slumped over, his head wedged on Taban’s knees.

The assistant lifted Busby’s head up. He was alive, but something was wrong.

“Go, lets’ go,” Busby whispered.

“Them?” The assistant.

“De–” Busby said, but coughed before he could finish “Get out!” He demanded.

“Ok, ok, we’re gone,” Buby’s assistant said as he pulled them both to their feet. They stumbled together as quickly as Busby’s condition would allow toward the door. They never looked back at Taban and Kalian’s bodies. They never turned the lights out.

Taban and Kalian Morgan were found dead, clutching “suicide pills,” by Doctor Mathew Connor and Kyp Ebner, the following morning. The lights were still on. The cause of death was a massive brain hemorrhage. There were no witnesses.

Thom Busby and his accomplice, were able to take a shuttle back to the orbital station before morning, and had boarded a transport ship for Earth within the day and Busby, who continued to hold a leadership position within ISA, maintained that he had never been to Mars.

Legacy

Irena’s account is pretty accurate, we think. Taban and Kalian Morgan were found dead, clutching “suicide pills,” lying on their couch. Taban was sitting down, a book he was reading at the time was found next to the arm rest. Kalian was laying down, head resting in Taban’s lap. They were holding hands. I supervised an autopsy later that found that the cause of death was a massive stroke-like incident. Though telepaths since Taban and Kalian have–understandably–been hesitant to test their ability to affect the neural physiology of the brain as Irena wrote, I think it’s possible that this is the case. Nevertheless, there are neural toxins in ISA’s arsenal at the time that could have produced a similar result that we were unable to detect during autopsy: this remains an open question that we will never be able to answer.

Furthermore, when Kyp and I discovered the bodies the next afternoon; however, the apartment was in general disarray, and suggested some sort of struggle. There were no witnesses, that observed anything unusual or heard any struggle. This remains a mystery, and I have heard no good explanation of what happened that night, though I would like to believe that Irena got it right.

Busby and his accomplice(s) returned to the orbital station that evening, and departed for Earth the next day, we figure: though there are of course no records, although one of the station’s crew reported seeing two aloof men at about the right time who claimed to be ISA agents. Busby, upon return to Earth became a key advisor in the central government on Earth with some authority over ISA, though Quinn reported that he remained secluded and out of reach for as long as she was able to watch him.

Kyp and I, and I think many of us on Mars then, felt guilty for a long time about not being with them at that moment. We knew Busby was coming, or in the area, we knew there was danger, but we didn’t do anything about it. This is, of course exactly what Taban and Kalian wanted, they insisted that we didn’t hover, and at the time I didn’t think that Busby would be quite capable of murder, which feels quite foolish to me now.

Taban and Kalian were among the most amazing people that I have ever known, and who I am glad to be able to call my friends and family. I am not a telepath, and without their friendship, and encouragement I would not have been able to connect with the telepath community: a connection that I hope has been mutually beneficial, although I can only verify that I benefited greatly from this experience.

I find myself wishing that I had had more time with Taban and Kalian, to learn from them, to be inspired by them, and to be able to remember the calm acceptance of all the good and bad parts of life. That’s why I think Irena’s portrayal is particularly accurate, because it captures this aspect of Taban and Kalian, and even if it isn’t strictly factual, this remembrance serves us all. I hope–and Kyp Ebner supported this view–that Irena was able to capture an aspect of Taban and Kalian Morgan that they would have wanted us to remember.

Life–for me, for other residences of Mars Colony, for all humans–was never quite the same after that. After the memorial, I officially and publicly resigned from ISA, with the full support and backing of the Mars Authority. The moderate flow of immigration that the Authority and the telepath community had been, increased significantly: by 2552, we figured that nearly ninety-five percent of the telepath population lived on Mars.1 Earth, which had been simmering since the release of the Morgans’ first book, came to a boil. There were full scale riots across the planet that lasted for weeks, and recurred fairly frequently for the next couple of years, according to most reliable reports. The conflict between Mars Colony and it’s the telepaths, and the governments–ISA, the various consortia, and Busby’s supporters–wouldn’t break out for years, but everyone knew, after Taban and Kalian, that it was on it’s way.

These are, however, stories that are much more common place than the story of Taban and Kalian. It’s hard to avoid telling any stories about the Mars Conflicts, even on Earth; but too often, the story of Taban and Kalian Morgan is forgotten and ignored. While there have always been flaws in attributing the causes of historical progressions to too few specific individuals, forgetting seems more flawed; but I am, after all, just a forensics doctor, who happened to be in the right place at the right time. Also, to be clear, that while Taban and Kalian Morgan were incredibly important to us all–and without them, the universe would certainly be a very different kind of place–similar arguments could be made about scores of people: Quinn Dasen, Kyp Ebner, Irena Trem, Gus Rosell, and so on. Without them, however, I’m not sure that we would have ever thought it possible to “change the world.” I can only imagine what our worlds would look like had Taban and Kalian lived.

Matthew Connor, MD
Mars Colony, 2597


  1. In fairness, and to be clear, even in the 2550 and 60s telepaths did not account for a majority of the Mars Colony population were not Telepaths, and that many immigrants between 2545 and 2555 were not telepaths. Telepaths, certainly paved the way, and had a great deal of influence over the development of a unique “Martian” culture, but never constituted a majority.

tycho garen

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