Major NoobOvomorphMember0 XPJan-23-2013 8:25 PM
Two Sacs float down the center of a wide elliptical corridor dotted regularly with bioluminescent clots, their light reflected in cold ferrous highlights along the vertebrate contours. There is no floor to speak of, perhaps no up and down, and it seems articulated, though it simply grew that way. A cavernous moan throbs through the structure, but the sacs themselves are silent.
They look like body bags gliding horizontally in a funereal procession, and are possessed of an odd dignity, solemn Wraiths sliding through space toward a stupendous sphincter irising open at the far end.
The Sacs enter a vast elliptical chamber clad top to bottom in thousands of glossy black coils. At the far end, the largest of several irregularities opens slowly like an elaborate wound, dark fluid pooling at the lips, and produces from its *****l folds a great fleshy chaise at one with its occupant. Strings of ancient caul detach from this abomination and float in zero gravity.
The thing in the chaise has been unconscious for over 2000 years ( one could argue its never been conscious ), and wakes slowly, arching and squirming like some fabled larva, flakes of moult peeling away and joining the aerial ballet of snot. It's lidless eyes are locked on the Sacs as they come to rest before it, but its reaction, if any, is unknown, its face frozen in a malevolent mask.
It would measure some 7 meters in height, if it could stand. But this being has only one purpose, and at long last the wait has borne fruit. Already word has been sent to the surface, and the dormant machinations of the SJ are awakening.
Integrated dodecahedrons of light assemble in the air, crystalline structures shifting and altering as they reduce ever smaller to the surface of the Wraiths, defining them in a three dimensional wireframe many terabytes deep, recording their every movement. Lines of foreign data stack and interlace as the Sacs broadcast their findings. They turn in space, slowly turning upright.
The one on the left is a Womb. Odd readings reveal Etir exposure, and this one has produced a Bioform. And survived. Much suffering. Squirming visibly through the Sac, the faint forms of a struggling Human transfer to the tracery of light around it.
The other one is still and reads dead, but is not. An artificial being.
The SJ Have little to fear from organic infections, but electronic infection is another matter. This puny thing is no risk, though. It's memory is near empty. The Inquisitor can't purge it, but the ship can. This one first, then.
The lips of the right hand Sac slide slowly down revealing the dome of Davids helmet, runnels of fluid sliding up the glass and rising into the air. The lips twist and with a click and a hiss his helmet floats away. Shaws voice is audible from his comlink.
His face is serene, fresh liquid covering his head, investigating the crevices with apparent interest. His eyes open as it explores them. He takes in his surroundings, fixes on the SJ. The sac slides down, undoing his suit. Stripping him.
Shaw: " ....where are you?"
A wound opens below him, revealing a restless roe of glittering adhesive orbs.
" David. Are we together? "
He does not struggle. He does speak quickly. " Yes. There is a Maker here. Ambient temperature, 28 degrees. Oxygen. Be prepared, you'll be stripped."
" Stripped? David, I'm losing you..."
" Not yet." It's hard to know what he means.
Hundreds of globule tipped cilia snake into the air and with quick jabs attach to his body, his head, his eyes, a huge Drosera securing its victim for slow consumption.
He clamps his mouth shut before the cilia can enter it.
As the sac leaves his feet he is dragged back in a graceful flip and head first into the wound. The sac spits his suit, still broadcasting Shaws voice, into the hands of the SJ.
An armed party of 3 has assembled at the Raijins dock. A stout vehicle with narrow slits for windows hisses to a muscular stop in the bay, and the shouting starts even before the doors open.
The Synthetic is the first to emerge, sidearm out. Ordinarily his word is law, but they believe he may have gone wrong, and here's their proof. That each bullet will find its mark is not in question. That command should ever have been given a Synthetic is.
3 more agents appear, carrying the bagged Pilot. A barked exchange in Japanese follows, the Synthetics' cold lack of urgency somewhat contradicted by the 60 caliber bore of his handgun.
A klaxon breaks the standoff. The dock strobes red and the huge doors begin to slide shut. All look about in confusion but the Synthetic, who holsters his weapon and motions his Agents forward. An order snaps over their headsets, prepare for immediate liftoff.
Through the dock doors a dust cloud is visible on the ground between the blast walls of the dome, something unbelievable at its center. Charging straight for the Raijin.
As the doors seal off this sight, the Raijins guns come to life, shaking her to the chassis.
Shaw's eyes are screwed shut to fight claustrophobia. Her breath comes in sharp pulses as she struggles to control her heartbeat. She's not in panic, but it lurks in the basement.
Her helmet illumination shows packed clusters of blue nodes pressed hard against the glass like bloodless cow tongues, displacing a clear viscous fluid that seems to secrete from their pores. The pressure on her body is not extreme, but she is certainly at its mercy.
David has stopped transmitting. They've been separated.
Something has happened during her time on the Juggernaut, cold and miraculous, her ties to Earthly things having all but dissolved, and a threshold of understanding seems within reach. This new remoteness is a sort of solace, but apparently not a barrier to fear. And fear is appropriate now.
With that thought the Sac contracts, and unseen nodes attach obviously to the seal points in her suit. Nausea ripples up through her. Something cold and infinitely sharp penetrates her suit near the kidney, slides deep into her muscle. She cries out, struggles impotently as some tincture cold and vaporous diffuses into her meat. The needle withdraws from the knotted tissue, smooth as a fish bone. Gasping, she opens her eyes and through tears she sees the nodes compress, and with a wiping sound they slide down, a vile curtain opening on her new reality.
The Dreadnaught orbits against an appropriately unsettled backdrop, the storm fraught surface of the Planet.
Joined with the Juggernaut, it looks like some Herculean particle of virus. Visible 900 kilometers on the horizon is the reflection of another Dreadnaught, but 2 of 111 in orbit, some of the most formidable defense in the galaxy. All stretching from a long slumber.
It delivers an encrypted flight path to the Juggernauts' OS, and initializes its launch sequence. Metallic ganglia withdraw from the Juggernauts' hull, and seem to atrophy back into the recesses of the Dreadnaughts' hide, like Elphabas' hands before the ruby slippers. The Juggernaut slowly spirals away, and with a terrible moan thunders 100,000 kilometers out into a magenta plume that will deliver it and its contents, 13 metric tons of Eitr, to the nearest black hole.
Shaw sees with terrible clarity through crazed geometries of light before her a gigantic being, yellow, skeletal, in a chair not unlike that aboard the Juggernaut but much, much bigger. A curved phallus arcs from... from where..... it has no feet. A chill crawls over her. This thing is part of the room.
Its flesh flakes and separates in an ancient process of moulting that makes it appear as though it's deteriorating underwater. 2000 years of dead cells separating, orbiting the body. Muscles arranged in foreign twists. A segmented hose disappears into its head, beneath two glaring eyes.
Shaw looks into the lamentable countenance of the SJ.
Whatever its injected her with is heightening her awareness to the point of breaking, and this to the very depths of her organs. Every muscle and bone, every pucker and squirt. A sense of vulnerability near maddening. No pain, yet. But she can feel her marrow.
The Sac removes her helmet, and the smell of the place overwhelms her, at once metallic and bilious, the scent of an iron stomach. A tooth rattling drone vibrates the structure, drowning out her thoughts. The scent absorbs into her mouth and sinus and permeates her body. The Sac slides down and begins to strip her. The drone reveals a certain rhythm, like a slow heart. Her body flushes with fever heat that only amplifies the bitter cold.
Davids helmet floats by.
Goose pimples rise through the wash of gel on her flesh. The Maker examines David's suit, like doll clothes in its peeling hands. They open, and the suit tumbles away in a cloud of skin.
Her arms suddenly come free, and she instinctively tries to swim away. But the sac still has her feet, and as she flails the head splitting hum in the chamber is frosted with slippery notes from above. She looks up.
Clusters of spiral uncoil from the ceiling, dozens of glossy black appendages that yearn down, thin as whips, and seize her arms, braiding around them to her pits. Cold as icicles. Shaw cries out. Similar appendages are uncoiling far below, her heart beating madly. The sac releases her legs. Cold touches on her feet, she recoils. Brief glimpse of Davids legs far below, disappearing into a boiling nest of translucent blobs. The whips close around her calves, slide coldly up her thighs. The sac inflates and blows her suit into the air as she is pulled into a taut X and delivered nude before the changeless gaze of the Maker.
The Raijin fires hundreds of rounds across the valley into the enormous horror that has emerged from the dome, bullets costing it legs but failing to take it down, a mammoth black tumbleweed of limbs that snap, bleed and regenerate as it rushes down the runway, leaving a wake of smoking craters. Megaton blooms of soil blast out from beneath the Raijins thrusters as they ignite.
The Synthetic, suited and helmeted, restrains the unconscious Pilot and orders the bridge to cease fire. He does not explain. Chewed oaths mutter in the bandwidth. The muffled report of the Raijins guns cease under the ascending roar of her engines.
The Synthetic quickly exits the Operating Room and in the corridor a violent lurch nearly sends him to the floor. He shoots his arms out straight in a surfers crouch and rises slowly.
On the Bridge liftoff prep is complete and all eyes are on the monitors as the Thing attaches itself to the ship, shearing antennas and armor as it does.
The hull cameras that work show many legs emerging from a cephalothorax armed with a radius of mandibles tearing entire plates of diamond hard ceramic from the Raijins hide. Already it has disabled communications, they've no way to broadcast, and no contact with home.
13 dead in less than 2 hours. All 7 that remain are here, suited and helmeted. With a crisp clicking gait the Synthetic enters and takes his seat and as one their shock webs inflate around them, locking them to their seats.
If he notices the new distrust on the faces of his crew, it doesn't show.
The Raijin lifts off, yawing severely under the weight of the Thing. As it gains altitude the thrusters fire and it soars skyward, a crackling nuclear teardrop of light.
As the she acquires escape velocity the Thing is torn from her hull and flails in space, 29 legs blossoming wide like a vicious flower, and disappearing back down into the clouds.
In the shock bed, the Pilots wounds are visibly growing shut, the scar tissue like boiled porpoise flesh.