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Deeper into the facility

Posted on 24 Apr 2023 @ 2:34pm by Commander Kristiana Petrova & Lieutenant Commander Harva Taliborn & Lieutenant Commander Cintia Sha'mer

1,937 words; about a 10 minute read

Mission: Deus ex Machina
Location: Alpharius station

Here and there some minor damage to various surfaces, signs of fighting. Eventually, a body. A corpse. Half decayed. A humanoid alien, at first glance they might be forgiven to think it a human, but closer inspection revealed some subtle differences, made even more difficult to determine by the state of decay. The cause of death was easy to figure though, as the being's skull was caved in.

Sha'mer only glanced at the corpse, her mind far more occupied with other things. Other minds. Though everything in here she could see sharply, the minds themselves were nebulous, diffuse, hard to pinpoint, as if she was looking through a fog (that twisted tasting fog) and only could see shapes looming when they were really close. None were really close, that was all she could say. "Can't get a fix on them," she said softly, annoyed.

At least with a decent floor under them walking and concentrating at the same time didn't pose as much of a problem. That 'fog', though… She steeled her nerves and dove deeper inside it, probing. It grew denser the more she reached out towards where the centre of the facility ought to be. Safe to say that its origins were there? "I think what we're looking for is in the heart of this facility," she said, looking around. "But let's be very very careful. I have no idea what the hell we're dealing with."

"Poor fellow .. " Kris opined, furrowing her brows at the body. "Alright, let's keep moving. Towards the heart of the facility. Eyes and ears open everyone, on me," she added, carefully continuing her way deeper into the facility. More signs of fighting. Some crude, improvised weapons, every now and then another body, as they drew closer to the presences Sha'mer had been sensing.

The deeper they went, the less Sha'mer liked it. Some kind of deep sense inside her was whispering to her to just drop everything and hightail it out of here. She ruthlessly suppressed that feeling. This wasn't a time to run. She kept her mind open, searching, gritting her teeth against the foul sensation, probing ahead as they came closer to that centre. "There's something else in there…" She wasn't even certain whether she was speaking aloud or not. "Some other mind. Hiding? Shielding?" Like a bright light with a cloak wrapped around it. "Strong." Those senses were screaming at her now.

"Commander, I have a bad feeling about this." That was putting it extremely mildly. Her hand tightened around her phaser. She forced herself to check it was still set to stun. Too many people had been killed here and she still had no idea what caused it. She didn't want to add to that pile – not unless there was no other choice.

Kris noticed Sha'mer checking her sidearm again, something she considered a good idea. "Agreed, this isn't a good situation. Everyone make sure your weapon is armed and set to stun," she mused, halting for a moment to check out another dead body. Right as she did though, two live aliens - though they looked almost human - appeared around the corner and charged at the group, one brandishing a blunt piece of pipe, the other a makeshift knife.

They looked almost human, apart from some spots on the shoulders, somevaguely gill like structures high on the cheeks and very deep, glistening, glittery eyes. Their minds were dulled, as if being controlled from far away. Kris exclaimed and raised her weapon, though didn't open fire yet - not before the two were proven hostile beyond any doubt.

It happened in the blink of an eye - the one with the makeshift knife sliced at the nearest away team member, Harva, also the largest and easiest target, slicing through the EVA suit and drawing blood. The Sirran winced and growled, as the one with the pipe hefted his weapon for a blow on Petrova - though lances of fiery orange pierced the air and slammed into the two aliens, as the two securitymen and Petrova herself let fly their phasers, felling the two aliens, which landed with a dull thud.

It was all Sha'mer could do to step out of the way, her reflexes were at once slowed by the overwhelming flood of emotions from the crew (hitting her hard with her mental barriers down) and the dulled minds of the locals, and heightened with the screaming insistence in her mind that-

That it was too late, they were already in the thick of things, and she turned and looked at Harva. She could see the colours of his mind dim, that eerie overlay settling down over it and gripping it tight. She raised the hand holding the phaser, knowing she was already too late, and managed one choked "Commander!" before the chaos became complete.

Still things were happening in the blink of an eye - though for the people involved, it was almost like slow motion. One of the securitymen stepped forward, "Commander, are you - " but he didn't get to finish his sentence as Harva grabbed him by his arm and with a snarl threw him deeper into the corridor, like one threw a bag of garbage on trash day. The officer landed with a thud and a groan, sliding a meter after hitting the ground, dazed.

Now, the Sirran turned his attention to the next nearest person, Commander Sha'mer, baring his fangs with a rumbling growl and reaching for her.

The last thing, the very last thing Sha'mer wanted to do was to reach out to Harva's mind to hold him at bay. There was no telling what that thing, whatever it was that had a hold on him, would do with her. But as the huge Sirran turned and lunged at her, Sha'mer knew she couldn't possibly move away in time. There was only one thing she could do: she lifted her hands up and pushed, with her mind rather than with her body – her hands never even touched him.

Pushing a punching bag was one thing. Pushing a creature the size of Harva was something else entirely, especially with nothing but a split-second warning. She pushed herself back from him as much as the other way around, stumbled, landed on the ground. But now she had a telekinetic fix on him. Sort of. He couldn't come closer to her, but she couldn't get up. This was a battle of muscle against will, and this was a momentary stand-off. It wouldn't last long.

A swipe from a massive claw, missing Cintia by inches - a rumbling growl, as clawed feet dug in to the corridor floorplating. Muscles straining, yet the Sirran finding himself stopped as if by an unmovable wall, pushed back.

"Commander!" Petrova shouted, raising her weapon at the massive engineer, but no more than that. Not yet. The remaining securityman followed her example, finger brushing over the fire button, just waiting for confirmation - anything - to open fire. To put to sleep this hulking, snarling, growling lupine officer. Just hoping - wishing - that a phaser set to stun would be enough to do the job.

"No!" Sha'mer shouted. If they stunned him now, that last moment before awareness faded could be enough for the other mind to secure its hold on the engineer. She didn't have the time to extensively study it, absolutely not. But the standoff lasted long enough that she could see now that the outside influence was settling on Harva's mind like a veil, slowly working its way inward. Maybe, maybe… Her gut feeling was that she only had one shot at this.

Overcoming her own reluctance and aversion, she concentrated and lashed out with her mind. Once concentrated push, one mental command which was a ball of concentrated power. There were no words, but if it had to be described in words, that command came down to: GET OUT!

A stab of pain ran through her own head. It had been too long since she had used this part of her talents, since she needed to unlock this part of herself. It had always terrified her in the past, the sheer destructive power – when used in the right way, this power could kill. Killing was not what she had in mind right now, though. She just wanted to wipe this veil off and free the Sirran's own mind again.

Destroying that which placed that veil, which caused these atrocities… that was definitely not off the table for later.

The Sirran was winning the struggle, the push - straining, clawed feet tearing in to the floorplating, digging in, slowly pushing forward - but then Cintia lashed out with her mind and Harva recoiled, reeling, staggering back and falling backwards, landing with a heavy thud. He lay there for a moment, panting, trying to catch his breath, to find his bearing.

Back a ways the securityman he had thrown crawled back to his feet, groaning, limping, but alright. Petrova motioned for the other escorting officer to check on his department mate, as she partially lowered her weapon. "Commanders, someone please tell me what the everliving fuck is going on here?"

"Mindcontrol." Sha'mer rubbed her head with a trembling hand. "Something… It happened when that knife cut him. Maybe something in the atmosphere. Or maybe when it drew blood… I don't know. I saw it change, his mind, something pressed in it from outside… I managed to push it out." She kept a close eye on Harva's mind, alert for a renewed attack on it. "He should be fine, for now."

"For some nebulous definition of 'fine', sure," Harva grumbled, slowly sitting up. "I - ... that - ... Something about being run over by a freighttrain goes here."

Kris lowered her sidearm completely, though she kept it drawn. "You're saying there's something in here that controls minds? Takes them over by touch?" She glanced between Cintia and Harva.

"When that guy sliced me, I - something pushed on me. Drove in to my mind. I saw - .. I couldn't - " Harva stammered.

"It's alright, Commander. Catch your breath," Kris offered, looking over at the two security officers, one leaning on the other, as the two headed back to where Cintia, Kristiana and Harva were. "Are you alright?"

"Y-yeah, just got the wind knocked out of me," he answered.

That was a relief. Sha'mer waited until the team was united again, then finally answered the XO's question. "Something which controls minds, yes. That was that drone-like feeling. Something is controlling them from a distance, all of them. Which means that if they consider us a danger, they can attack us from different sides, in one coordinated movement. Because they are literally controlled by one mind. Deeper in there." She nodded towards the centre of the facility.

Kris listened, and made inventory of the team. They were all alive, but Harva's EVA suit was compromised and he was bleeding from a cut. The security officer's suit was also compromised from the impact and slide, and he was limping. Still, neither seemed to complain, so they were at least good to go. For now. "That is a problem. And I guess we know what brought down Ensign Walker," she answered Cintia, before tapping her comm badge. "Petrova to Odin."

No answer.

"Away team to Odin. We could use backup."

No answer.

"Well, It seems we're on our own until we solve this issue," she muttered. "Team, on me. Weapons hot, set to stun. Eyes open. Commander Sha'mer, please show us the way."


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