The Tartarus Gate

Posted in Website by - August 19, 2018
The Tartarus Gate

Released July 2006

With a bit of visual rebranding and a restructuring of the individual releases’ title format, the seventh series of Bernice Summerfield kicks off with ‘The Tartarus Gate’ by trusted scribe Stewart Sheargold. With Benny missing from a dig and seemingly removed from space and time completely, Jason overcomes the limited resources of the Braxiatel Collection that is currently facing even bigger problems to track her to the religious order CroSSScape and the planet Cerebus Iera, a dangerous world with rumoured links to the mythical gateway to hell.

CroSSScape brings with it a series of strong ideas, and its plan to use Bernice as a vessel of god once released from hell since she has previously had a goddess inside her head is a nice nod to continuity within the core threat. This religious order exists in a realm of pure mind and mental energy without a physical component, though this way of life is limited by their continued need for bodies to communicate with others races. With Bernice forced to live out day after day of perfection at an idyllic beach she can only observe, her happiness provides a tone and dynamic wholly distinct from other stories’, but it’s fittingly Bernice’s diary in the real world that provides the physical impetus for the plot as the CroSSScape uses its temporal factory to regress Cerebus Iera to an earlier point in time like it has done for so many other planets facing extinction events before.

Through the datascape, CroSSScape members are able to use other members as contact points for instantaneous transfer anywhere, but Cerebus Iera has some sort of barrier around it that does not let ships pass by, giving it the claim that it is on the edge of the universe. Understandably, other organisations have grown suspicious of CroSSScape’s motivations for helping other planets, and CroSSScape now believes that it has found the mythical Tartarus Gate that features in so many myths and legends and that a mysterious box that appeared in the datascape which could not be opened led the group to seek. The box drains power from the datascape, however, and the displaced energy from the planetary temporal regressions has illegally helped to replace that, but the plan for this world is to take it to a time when the gate was last opened to allow god to escape once more. With the factory gaining sentience and a trade for Bernice’s mind to continue to live in the datascape as the god inhabits her body in place, events head at a rapid pace for a bombastic climax.

‘The Tartarus Gate’ is also another strong outing for Jason who shows his dedication and devotion to Bernice by risking his life to find and save her, crossing universes and uncomfortably finding himself to be CroSSScape’s backup plan due to his own unique history that makes him amenable to the plan as well. Fittingly, Jason has the opportunity to regain any memories that he chooses, but proudly asks for all of them knowing that it will involve the bleaker times at the hands of his father and of Braxiatel. He suggests that the Braxiatel they know is already an alternate and darker version of himself, and he now knows that he has been used as a murderous pawn in Braxiatel’s schemes. This is a breakthrough moment that should have tremendous repercussions going forward, yet the absence of Braxiatel and the sequence of events don’t really allow for Jason to be pushed forward as much as might be expected. This less developed characterisation also applies to the supporting characters as a whole who are somewhat sacrificed for the heavy science fiction concepts to feature before a solid but rushed resolution, creating a dark and intelligent season opener that doesn’t quite deliver the heart and soul that features in the franchise’s best through its personal emotion and sound design to make plot elements more than simply plot elements.

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