Author: syver'ti PM
An awful piece written ca. 2000. The Lexx visits a planet caught in a time loop. Weird hijinks and shenanigans are pervasive. Let this be a lesson to all young writers in how NOT to conduct a narrative.Rated: Fiction T - English - Words: 8,271 - Favs: 1 - Published: 01-14-12 - Status: Complete - id: 7741500
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
The Lexx loomed large against the velvety backdrop of space, drifting silently through a dense asteroid field; the varied space rocks taking on the appearance of a mild sandstorm on some faraway desert world.
From the large insect's underbelly flitted a solitary moth, its lone passenger merging with the shadows cast by a distant, firey red sun in its last throes.
The small craft arced on an intercept course with a smallish planetoid, glistening scarlet in the sun's blaze. Constructs littered the surface, pockmarked and beaten by aeons of meteoric impacts, spanning for kilometers across the vast stretches of craters and plateaus the planet had to offer. A lacy mesh of sorts, the structures could be described as, cloaking the small orb in resplendent eveningwear for its final dances around the star.
Stretching languidly, Xev made her way from the warmth of her bed, through the twisting, pulsing corridors of the Lexx, to the narrow galley, where Stanley Tweedle was already in an impassioned internal debate over whether he wanted breakfast 'sweet, but not too sweet' or 'meaty, with a pleasant crispiness.' She ran her fingers through hair knotted with sleep and finally plunked down on a toadstool-like protuberance next to the hungry captain.
790 was perched on the counter, roiling its eyes about in abhorrence and blathering on about Tweedle's various attributes, or lack thereof. Moments later, the severed robot-head became momentarily airborne, thrust provided generously by Stanley's booted foot.
"Gaaaaaaahh! The beast emerges!" 790 tottered on the counter's edge, dangerously close to falling.
The love slave cut the robot-head a steely glare before batting 790 to the floor, where it rolled, unnoticed and neglected, into a corner.
Tweedle cast Xev a bewearied, pleading gaze, explaining, "He hasn't shut up all morning. Ever since Kai shut himself in his cryo-chamber, bucket-head here just won't shut it!" He thumbed where the discarded robot-head lay, shoulders slumping wearily.
Xev regarded 790 with little interest.
"O, lusty, icy object of my adoration!" it moaned piteously.
"Well, Stanley," Xev reasoned, "why don't you just take 790 to the cryo-chamber?"
"That's just it," Tweedle countered. "Dead-man wants to be left alone."
"Yeah, sheez, I know. Since when does Kai 'want' anything?"
790 sat still in the corner.
"Every night sitting by the Kai Kai,
I crave deep down for polar fun,
Long, long dark night staring at the sky,
Languishingly doth I wont for your-"
Xev scooped the disembodied head up from the Lexx's warm floor, clamping her head around its wailing mouthscreen.
"Shut up, 790."
"-bun," it finished, unperturbed.
Xev huffed, exasperated.
"Kai's been acting strange... stranger than usual since we passed that moon a while back," Xev reasoned. "I'm going to go check on him."
"Okay, Xev," Stanley waved her off, intent on feeding the hungry thing that growled and clawed at his bowels. "I'll catch up with you in a minute."
Gray walls stretched to the heavens, crowned by blaring lights: obviously a landing platform of sorts. Clean, sterile lines dominated the building's facade, advertising to the passerby of its significance as a resarch facility. A stretch of glass doors allowed admittance to the immense structure that was nestled amidst tall spires and squat domes.
The waning sun lingered for a moment on the horizon before giving way to the dark cloak of night.
A professional, bestooned with white labcoat and clipboard, stood in a stark room. Scrawling busily on the said clipboard, the young doctor had a certain eagerness, a bit manic perhaps. Unruly auburn hair sat atop a youthful face, set with eyes that, when looked at a certain way, made one slink back to one's respective dark corner. Full lips were quirked in a quizzical expression, brows furrowed, concentrating on the latest oddity to pop up in the Experiment.
She looked up, a lock of hair flopping into her face. Hastily brushing it aside, she regarded the addresser.
Tall. Dressed in black. Pale as a sheet.
"Yes? May I help you?" she queried.
The figure strode toward her, a curious, though not totally unappealing, swagger dominating his every step. "Doctor Siullian," he said again.
"Doctor Biyane Siullian," she confirmed, extending a hand in greeting. He clasped it, she noted later, with an unusually chilly hand.
"I am Kai, last of the Brunnen-G. I need you to help me die."
Siullian cocked her brow speculatively. "To die," she confirmed.
"Yes," replied Kai, in what appeared to be an exasperated manner.
"Well, normally, I'd suggest you be redirected to Dr. Crack Forkian, but oh, his methods are somewhat... intrusive." She trailed her hand slowly from her ample hip to rest it languishingly on an examination table, tracing small circlets on the surface with her finger. Her voice dropped to a husky notch. "Now, if you will sit here, I'll see what I can..." Siullian pursed her lips thoughtfully, "...do."
Kai obediently did so, propping himself on the edge of the table, hands clasped demurely in his lap, watching the short doctor manipulate various instruments.
Siullian began with a stethoscope. Popping the auditory fixtures in her ears, she instructed Kai to unfasten his shirt front. He did so. Siullian then lay much colder, metallic end of the stethoscope on his chest.
"Hm..." Puzzled, Siullian moved the scope to another area. "Breathe in," she instructed.
"Doctor, I do not... breathe."
"Right. Now do as I say."
Kai rolled his eyes heavenward. "I am dead."
Siullian broke out an appropriate vintage of glare, sharing it exclusively with her patient.
Another barrage of medical tests soon followed. Blood work, reflex exam... finally the young doctor retreated to a small cabinet located on the opposite wall. She returned, proffering a translucent, plastic container, label included.
"You know what to do with this," she said simply.
Her patient blinked, responding, "No, I do not."
Siullian shoved the plastic container in Kai's chilly hand, pointed to a smallish room at the end of the corridor, sharing yet another glare.
Kai simply handed the container back.
"I do not. I," he caught Siullian's icy gaze, pausing momentarily for the added effect, "am dead."
"Fine. Whatever you say, Kai, last of the Brunnen-G. I've seen worse cases than yours." She turned smartly, eyeing this latest challenge to her professional career over her shoulder. "I'll run these samples down to the lab." With that, she marched down the hallway, puzzled, if not slighly irritated.
Staring through the eyepiece of a microscope, Siullian pondered over this latest sample of tissue. The slide, marked simply as 'sample 011981,' mystified her. Backing away from the carnage that was 'sample 011981,' she rubbed her eyes, on the brink of being utterly and completely horrified, but her scientific curiosity kept her attention riveted to the problem at hand.
"Who did this to you...?" she whispered to the slide. She tore at the thought. Perching thin-rimmed lenses on her nose, she scribbled her observations on a handy clipboard.
'I need you to help me die,' he had said.
She mused, thoughtful.
"790, are there any planets in the near area?"
The robot head sobbed pitifully throughout the revelation as to that Kai was gone. Somehow convinced of a wrongdoing at its part, 790 resigned itself to sharing a gratuitous display of misery.
It halted, momentarily, in its lament to scan Lexx's viewscreen in a search for the requested planet. A cross-hair cursor lit up in the screen's lower left corner, zooming instantly to reveal a small planet wrapped in metal.
"There," it replied, sobs creeping in on the corners of its voice.
"So we go there. Stanley?"
Tweedle outstretched his hand, where the Lexx's control template fizzled into existence. He placed his hand on the appropriate cursor, which was followd by a curious chime. "Lexx?"
"Yes, Stanley?" the great ship intoned.
"Take us to that planet."
"As you command, Stan," Lexx bimboesquely replied.
Xev departed the bridge, preferring to ready a moth.
Doctor Siullian studied the notes of her superiors. From the regenerative experiments held on Praxxis IX to the breakthrough cloning techniques of the elusive MicroMary, she was able to glean at least a rudimentary database as to how to deal with her latest challenge.
Her mind was boggled. Where to start...
The moth landed close to a small complex of buildings. A small crowd milled in the square, concerned mainly with personal business. As Stanley and Xev stepped out, 790 in tow, a few heads turned their way, but the newcomers were easily dismissed as being commonplace.
Ve'etsu 'neio Moonport was a bustling spaceport, with ships flodding the major docks and various crews patrolling the streets in earnest. It was also the home of several small and independent pubs, located conveniently on every major streetcorner. It was one of these pubs that Stanley eyed with rapt interest.
"Stanley. That's a bar. I don't think Kai would be there." Xev remarked astutely.
790 wailed at the uttering of its beloved's name. "Kaiiiiiiiiiiiiiii..."
The pub was on the seedier side of town. Dark figures fluttered in the mind's eye, and then would flutter in your perepheral vision, tease the flesh on the back of your neck, then flitter off into oblivion. Still, the cheery lights dulled the feeling of dread as one walked into the Tiki Room.
Awash with multi-colored lamps and brightly festooned with various artifacts, the Tiki Room was a friendly gathering place for wayfarers and locals alike.
Behind the bar, a girl of no more than 20 tended her various patrons- passing a drink here, refilling an order there... Her indigo hair was tied in a playful braid, eyes twinkling merrily as she cavorted with a rather attractive male, also no more than 20.
Stanley, bravely enough, strode to the bar. Xev propped 790 on her hip, watching the normally cowardly captain with a bored stare.
Tweedle turned around. "I'm asking for help, Xev. The locals sure look friendly enough."
The indigo-haired girl caught glimpse of a man striding to the bar, looking and dressed strangely like a bell-boy from one of those five-star hotels in the more posh districts of the Moonbase. Her bemused gaze soon fell on a woman, dressed in lizard skin with a robot-head, impatiently tapping her foot. Obviously a party, she beckoned the newcomers in.
Stanley strode studdily over, addressing the girl with what could be called a purr, though one would not go as far as to call it that. "Hey, baby, I've seemed to have run into a problem..." He never got to finish as a meaty hand clasped 'round his neck.
"Boffy, dear, let my customer go." The girl lay a hand on the twenty-something man's arm, making him relinquish his death-grip around Stanley's neck.
"Now, you said you have a problem?" the girl smiled sweetly, almost too innocently.
"Yes," Xev sidled up to Stanley. "A friend of ours seems to have gone missing."
"Um, yeah. Well, he's 'bout this tall," Stanley raised his hand a few inches above his head, unconsciously including the added height of Kai's bouffant, "dressed in black..."
"And dead-aliciously gorgeous!" the robot head crooned.
"A tattoo on the side of his face," Xev added, tracing a line down her cheek.
The girl pondered this for a moment. Then she pointed over to a table in the far side of the pub.
Around the round table clustered several women, cuddled against darkly hansome men who looked eerily alike, complete with long coiffured hair and familiar facial tattoos.
The trio blinked, stunned at first, then with a dismissive shake of the head, responded in chorus, "Naah..."
"Well, he's kinda... dead," Stanley muttered.
"...yeah..." Xev echoed, eyes refusing to leave the table.
"Well," the girl said, "if you need anything, my names Am'mer. Just holler."
Kai waited patiently for the doctor to return. Her assistants had run further tests on his physiology, utterly fascinated, as well as stupified, at the testing's results.
The problem with his body being totally de-carbonized tickled the assistants' cerebrums.
Cybernetics awed them.
The substance called 'protoblood' might as well have induced total neural failure.
Finally, Siullian arrived, labcoat swishing in time to her radiant gait. Her face, however, was composed in a mask of professionalism, but that mask was quickly crumbling.
Her tone was serious. "I did some in-depth research and may have come up with a solution." A rush of exhuberance washed over her features suddenly. "The part about you being dead, however, is the tricky part. We can do away with most of the cybernetics and can re-carbonate your system. But..." she glanced up, catching his steady gaze.
Was it hope, she saw?
"...but your dependence on 'protoblood,' as you call it, allows you to remain in this alive-dead state. Whenever your supply runs out, it is still possible to re-animate if a new source is found. Chemical analysis of the protoblood has yielded that it is not entirely impossible to synthesize. And..." she concluded, still staring steadily into his eyes, "I believe that for you to truly 'die,'" here, she quirked her brows, "this dependence on protoblood must be eliminated."
Kai considered this for a moment.
"Do what you must, Doctor Siullian."
The bar was nearly empty. Happy hour had come and gone, and Stanley stared drunkenly through the bottom of his mug.
Once sucked into the Tiki Room, one never emerged back into the real world quite sober.
Xev experimented with biting into a lemon, licking the back of her wrist and slamming down a shot of something that would melt the paint off of any self-respecting wall. The unfortunate shotglass shattered onto the bar, along with the half-dozen other unfortunate shotglasses littering the surface.
790 was, strangely enough, attached to a blender by some means devised by the cute indigo-haired girl and her flunkies. The base whirred at high-speed, sending the spasming robot-head into a flurry of ecstacy. Its eyescreens swirled about, sporting a rather dazed look.
Apparently, the robot-head was a continuous source of amusement.
The stained-glass door creaked open, and in stepped Doctor Siullian and a half-dozen lab assistants. Jovial expressions were worn by each member of the team, hinting at some victorious goings-on.
Siullian sauntered up to the bar. "Next round's on me!" A hearty cheer from the few remaining patrons filled the pub. As well as a plaintative groan.
"..n' more..." Stanley lay half-atop the bar, taking on the appearance of a beached sea creature. He roiled miserably about, barely clinging to the emptied beer mug in his grasp.
A few eyes turned to the miserable Tweedle. Xev looked curiously at him, apparently unaffected by the massive intake of hard liquor. "Stanley doesn't know when to quit," she quickly explained.
790 continued to blend.
A hushed, exuberant conversation lapsed between the lab assistants. Picking up on key phrases that purpousely floated toward her, Xev listened, seemingly enraptured by the conversation, though for the life of her, she couldn't fathom why.
Siullian was engaged in a silent conversation with the young barkeep as well. A quiet giggle here, a bark of indignation there, and Am'mer motioned to a certain table in the back of the bar where the party of women and lookalike men still cavorted.
"No, well... yes, I see the similarities." Siullian shook her head. "But it just can't be..."
Xev's attention fixed on the two young females conversing. The barkeep's gestures gave insight into a part of the puzzle she had been missing.
"Come on Stanley. We're going." The love slave dragged the pitiful figure of Stanley Tweedle down from the bar. "790, you too."
"B-b-bu-t-t-t Xe-z-z-z-xev-v-v-v, Ai-ai-ai-ai-i am-m-m-mm-m mis-s-s-s-sera-a-b-ble-e-e! M-m-m-m-my-y-y h-h-he-eart-t-t ha-a-as-s b-b-bee-en-n-n br-r-r-ok-k-en-n-n! Ka-a-a-a-a-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i!"
A curious group of lab assistants and a certain doctor glanced at the robot-head, surprised.
The research facility loomed in the near-distant. Xev, a sobering Stanley and a rattled 790 in tow stalked toward the gray building. The doors opened without hindrance. Long, sterile hallways stretched before them.
What seemed like hours later, the trio of the Lexx came across a room filled with all sorts of curious devices. A soft hum wafted through walls filled with diagnostic equipment, processing centers...
They were totally at a loss as to where they were.
Xev poked around, surveying, stalking potential phantom threats. Stanley, meanwhile, had returned to the real world, but suffered from a pounding headache. 790 remained silent.
Not a soul had been seen all night. Perhaps, Xev mused, it was after-hours.
"Siean, would you pass me that pump attachment?" Siullian lay her hand out, waiting for the requested tool.
"This one?" She looked over to see the lanky young man holding up a mass of hoses and plugs. A tech head, she mused fondly.
"Yes... thank you." The tool was quickly dispatched to its job. Siullian hooked the various plugs to the tubes that consisted of Kai's protoblood receptacle, located above the sternum and finally plugging it into a massive machine, complete with strobing lights and pulsing sounds.
"Doctor Siullian? I..." Siullian set a silencing finger to his lips, gently shushing her patient. He lay prone on a table, stripped to the navel, pale skin awash with splotchy blue and various cybernetics.
"No need to fear. Once this whole process is over with, all will be set right." Icy blue met mossy green, speaking volumes more than just simple utterings could convey. She quirked her eyebrows, punctuating the meaning.
"Doctor, the dead do not... fear."
"As you say, then." Breaking the gaze, she instead looked to one of her assistants. Nodding, the assistant punched various buttons and pulled a myriad of levers.
The level of humming in the room increased threefold, with shots of electricity flashing between exposed capacitors and instruments resembling the arcane wheedling into a fury.
Loading a syringe, Siullian plunged it into one of the protoblood shunts, releasing a potent tranquilizer. She watched as her patient's eyes fluttered shut and tense limbs sag.
Various robotic arms soon dropped from the ceiling, whirring and chugging in response to their delegated duties. Sonic drills, laser sensors...
Siullian padded out of the operating theatre, deep in thought, leaving it to the techs and assistants to mind the hardware.
'Ice queen:' whispered behind her back, sometimes caught drifting from conversation. She prided herself in that, much to the astonishment of others. Able to withstand getting emotionally involved, professional, safe. She was one that could be trusted with confidential information. Reliable and efficient.
What had changed this? Maybe it was the ludicrousy of a request. Maybe it was the tragedy of a life. Maybe...
She sipped a steaming cup of tea, scribbling nonsense on her clipboard.
Maybe it was the final act of a vengeful heart, shut away for a lifetime, left ignored and wilting under the oppression of intellect. Maybe it was a reflection of herself she saw, hiding behind a mask worn not for wont, but for circumstance, for duty.
She had joked at first, innuendoed here and there. Yes, the request was ludicrous. As she peeled back the layers of meaning, however, she saw this request in a different light. An intellectual curiosity for her to immerse herself into -a puzzle, a plaything of sorts. Before the message was received, she had seen it as this. She had soon become... eager.
She had broken her oaths. In eagerness. Thrown confidentiality out the door when she stopped to chat with the barmaid. Giddy insight prompted this- this sharing of a remarkable revelation. Sauntering into a pub to celebrate a victory yet won. Heh. Professional detachment was moot... she struggled with this...
No, 'eager' was not the word. Before... before, it was all a game to her. Now, what was it?
...when had she become emotionally involved?
Sterile hallways beckoned forth those who sought help.
Stanley warily eyed the psychiatric ward, clutching Xev's arm tightly, partially for reassurance, partially for he still suffered from the Tiki Room's heady brew.
Xev shoved him off her arm, deposited 790 in his grip and inched forward into the tastelessly painted ward. The walls were the shade of green intended to calm and soothe, but were doing little to ease the flutterings of misgiving in Stanley's belly. Stark metal doors lined the hallways adjoining the main lobby, heavily padlocked and otherwise conveying a meaning of serious business.
The corridors were silent.
Stanley crouched defensively, eyes darting in alarm. He reached up, wringing his hat worriedly in suddenly clammy hands. 790 went rolling to the floor.
"Watch it, protien sac!" the robot head spat as it bounced across smooth, hard tiles.
"Stan?" Xev spun on her heel, coming to face with the cowering captain.
"Oh, n-nothing. Just thought I heard something." His shoulders sagged. Reaching down to retrieve the loathing robot head, Stan apprehensively looked around once again. Best not be bitten in the bum.
Xev voyaged forth.
Stanley let loose a wail of surprise. 790 tumbled from his grasp yet again.
"Pssst. Over here..." An arm could be seen waving from the bars on one of the many doors.
Stanley walked over, leaving 790 to spout a string of insults and curses that would melt most eardrums.
The arm looked harmless enough. At least not as menacing as a Mantrid arm...
Hydraulic arms compressed and chugged, flurrying around in a mass of coppery mechanics. Sounds of air ratchets filled the air at seemingly random intervals.
Biyane Siullian stood at the head of the operating table, eyes unreadable. Her techs and assistants had retired for the night, so she was left, here, alone.
A thin metallic probe was pressed through the prone form of her patient, sickeningly penetrating the pale flesh of his belly. It was extracted moments later, the robotic arm apparently satisfied with the results its parameters called for.
She gazed down into Kai's face. Vulnerable in drug-induced oblivion, his alabaster features seemed a warmer tone of pale in the dimmed operating theatre lights. Dark lashes fringed delicate eyelids, closed in a quasi-sleep for the time being. A stray lock of midnight-hued hair clung to the corner of his lips, partially open.
Hesitantly, she plucked the lock away. Her fingers brushed lightly against his cool cheek. His eyes fluttered. She jerked away quickly, heart pounding in her ears.
Nothing but a residual spasm from the nerve regeneration processes, she reasoned. Growing bolder, Siullian once again leaned over and touched his cheek,tracing down the fine jawbone until she had his face cupped in her hand.
So tragic an existence... she brought her face to within mere inches of his, studying each line of the skin, nuances etched there in the millenia since his first death.
The mechanical whirrings previously permeating the entire room stopped then, arms folding back into their respective receptacles. Siullian found herself staring into a stormy sea of green.
She recovered quickly. "The nerve regeneration process is complete. The next step to this will commence in a few hours."
"Of course. I just-" A quick brush of the lips. Taken by sweet surprise, her mind reeled.
Kai eyed her levelly. "Your... process seems to be quite effective. I felt..."
"...a sensation...?" Forgetting that respiration was required for life processes, Siullian was left breathless, barely able to croak that phrase out.
"Yes," he confirmed seriously.
"That's good... it's really, really..." Siullian paused, clawing desperately for her air of professionalism. However, it had retreated to the other side of the planet. "...good..."
"Until tomorrow, then?"
"Right. Gotcha. Tomorrow." She backed away from the table, somehow managing to dodge an equipment cart on her course of retreat. "Yes, sleep. I need sleep..." With that, she was gone, stumbling giddily down the hall.
Stanley approached the barred door. The arm was waving in a friendly manner. He came closer.
The arm snatched at something above his head.
"What?" Fumbling around for his cap, Stan noticed it was somehow missing. The arm had retreated back into the dark recesses of the cell behind the door. "Hey, give that back!"
Instead, he was met nose to nose with a dimunitive girl, gray eyes wild with something that bordered on the fine line between genius and insanity. Her wavy hair frizzled out from her head, on which Stanley's cap was perched. She grinned.
"I'll give it back..." the grin became wider, "...if you let me out of here."
Given the girl's harmless appearance, Stanley's jello-like heart appealed to his spineless courage. He jiggled the lock, finding it snicked open easily.
The mass of girl bounded out with the enthusiasm of a kitten. A sleeping kitten. Sauntering over to her savior, she waved his hat under his nose.
Stan immediately snatched it away. He glanced wildly around the room, looking for Xev.
"Hi," said the girl, "I'm Sarylk."
The sun rose over Ve'etsu 'neio, trailing rosy fingers over the western horizon. Gunmetal gray structures coruscated brightly in the dawn's light.
Siullian stood at a window overlooking the plaza below. People milled about, unconcerned with the goings-on at the research facility. Happy, ignorant little people. Unaware of... unaware of the Experiment.
What she knew was reserved for top-echelon only. To reveal this, the world would spring into a panic.
She closed her eyes, inhaling deeply the sterile air. The previous night was but a blur to her. That one moment, she could have held onto indefinitely. A smile crept across her face.
Alas... things like that just didn't happen. Weren't supposed to happen.
With a snarl, she shed her white coat, pitching it on a wing-backed chair. The door to her office whisked shut, crisp footfalls echoing down the corridor.
Stanley was beginning to warm-up to the strange girl, called Sarylk, though he still clung to his hat as if it'd flutter into oblivion.
"So... why'd you get locked up in there?" he queried.
Sarylk grinned, "They think I know too much, the small-minded idiots they are." She paused, rubbing her chin thoughtfully. "Little do they know that it's them that are ignorant."
"What do you know that they don't?" Xev chimed in.
"Think about it, bimbo. They obviously are too dull-witted to realize that their sun's going to go supernova. I estimate 20 years, tops," 790 rebuked.
Xev drop-kicked 790 down the corridor. It sailed a good ten yards before spinning to a halt.
"The tin can's right, you know," Sarylk defended. Two pairs of eyes turned toward her, with the third digital pair rolling indignantly. The girl shrugged. "They locked me up because I knew about the Veil Project."
"Yeah. Since the sun's going to go nova anytime now, the scientists at this research facility have been working on a way to preserve Ve'etsu 'neio from being consumed when the it does go 'boom.'" She motioned with her hands, graphically illustrating the nova. "I was part of the team that initially devised the project, though an information leak was traced to me, somehow." Shrugging dismissively, she concluded, "It doesn't really matter now, anyway. We're all doomed."
They continued in silence, Xev scooping up the abused 790.
Something, or rather someone, collided with the love slave and robot head. 790 went sailing again. Xev and the someone quickly regained their bearings.
A silent staredown ensued, the flesh on the nape of Xev's neck prickling slightly. She gave a small sniff, backing away and quirking her head curiously.
"Yes?" drawled Siullian, pressing displaced glasses up the bridge of her nose.
Xev narrowed her gaze. "Just searching for a..." she regarded the auburn-tressed doctor, "...a friend of ours."
Siullian returned the stare levelly, eyes looking over her frames. "If you would try the information desk, I'm sure they'd be of great help," she snappily replied. Turning away, she smartly clicked down the corridor, loose tunic and pants swishing with every step.
Xev snarled, ala cluster lizard.
"Yeah! Eviscerate her, Xev!" 790 shouted from its place on the floor.
"Someone's pissed," the girl called Sarylk commented softly.
"It sounds like you know her," Stanley ventured.
The wild-eyed girl thought, "Yes... I can't recall her name, but I've seen her around. Our respective departments have collaberated from time to time... I think she's head bio-engineer now..."
Xev exercised her claws, clenching and unclenching her fists. "She knows something," she intoned, watching the retreating doctor disappear down the hallway.
A thin wall of plexiglass seperated them.
Siullian clenched her clipboard, pen clenched between cold fingers. Her glasses rest atop her head, pushing errant bangs back into some form of sembleance.
Kai, uncharacteristically dressed in a sterile gray robe, hair loose, was led by two nondescript techs into the encapsulated room. A gurney attached to a hoist dangled nearby, waiting.
Passing by the glass, the Brunnen-G trailed his fingers over its smooth surface, pausing briefly where Siullian stood. Their eyes met. Lingering for but a moment, before being led away.
Tentatively raising her fingertips to the glass, Siullian watched as her patient was loaded onto the gurney. The techs stepped momentarily in, removing the gray robes and leaving flesh bare, gristly cybernetics yet to be removed.
The hoist arm swiveled its load upward and sideways, lowering slowly into a vat of a yellowy goo.
She turned away. Clipboard lay forgotten on a small ledge the window provided.
From deep within bunkers, spheroid capacitors rose. A low, thrumming hum reverbed off nearby buildings, creating seismic waves along the planet's surface.
Windows rattled. People rose from their cubeoids, looking around wildly and panicked.
It stopped. As suddenly as it had started.
The research center lay peaceful, seismic buffers nullifying any incoming wave.
Stan, 790, Xev and Sarylk stalked through the corridors, passing several hurried personnel along the way. They, however, were taken no notice of. Sarylk peered around, hmming thoughtfully to herself.
"They're up to something," she observed.
"What, then?" addressed Xev. "You obviously know something more about this 'Veil Project' than you told us."
"It can't be this soon... the project was in the experimental phases last month..."
"What will happen when this experiment proves to work?" Stanley asked.
"I... think that the planet will be encapsulated in a time-pocket."
"Quantum mechanics does dictate that time encapsulation is possible. However, as far as I am aware of, results of previous experiments have only been successful on the small scale. Nothing as big as a planet," the robot head supplied, rolling its eyes sarcastically.
"Then we'd better hurry before we're caught in the time pocket, too."
The trio and robot-head ventured down the hallway. They soon came to a dead end, the last door of the hallway being slightly ajar. Xev slinked through the opening, followed tentatively by Stanley. Sarylk brought up the rear, her turn to cart around 790 coming to pass.
They came upon a strategically-lit theatre, equipment stashed in all available corners. Robotic arms were mounted from the ceiling, folded neatly in their alcoves. A soft hum could be heard from the far end of the elongated room.
Curious, Xev marched closer.
Siullian clicked down the corridor, pulling fingers through wildly streaming hair. Her nerves were wracked. How could they...?
How could they start the Experiment?
It was too early. Way too early.
She quickened her pace, turning back the way she came.
Fingers pressed against a clear-sided tank, Xev startled as she saw the contents within.
"What is it...?" Stanley stopped mid-stride. "Whoa. Too weird..."
Sarylk stepped up. "Your friend?"
"My scrumptious lump of dead-man!" 790 wailed, distraught.
Kai was suspended in a viscous yellow fluid, dark hair floating loose and unbound. The crimson Brunnen-G tattoo running alongside his cheek was obscured, a mask of sorts fitted over his face. Not a scrap saved him from indecency, however. Patches of new flesh replaced where cybernetics used to lie, startlingly white even against his pale skin. The brace, however, remained, though it appeared almost less intrusive than before.
Clicking footfalls entered. Xev turned her orange-tressed head, eyes narrowed.
Siullian dashed to the scene, eyeing the intruders. "How did you get in here? This is a restricted area-"
"What are you doing with Kai?"
The young doctor regarded Xev critically. Twisting a control on the tank, she tersely replied, "He asked of my help. I agreed."
The form within shifted, stirring the viscous fluid slightly.
"And what do you have that he could possibly need help for?"
Siullian paused thoughtfully. "Kai said he wanted to die, and I found a way for him to do so."
Xev and Stanley started, each throwing a glance askance around those gathered. 790 blathered miserably, held secure in Sarylk's arms.
Kai's eyes snapped open. He reached up, ripping off the facemask. Looking wildly around, he broke free of the slight restraints holding his previously prone form. The brace let fly.
A screech stabbed the air. Pressure forced against the puncture in the side of the tank, causing the clear glass to crack entirely and deposit its load of surging fluid. Kai slipped limply to the ground. His brace retracted automatically.
Siullian sloshed through the yellow mess, stooping down to gather the prone form close. She pushed away a lock of hair plastered to his face, tracing her finger down the diagonal tattoo.
"Kai? Is he...?" Xev leaned over worriedly. She took in the still body, a single salty tear tracing a path down her cheek.
"Aaaaaaahh! You sadistic miscreant! You-"
"Shut up, 790."
"Don't tell me to shut up, Xev-a-yuck! You have no idea how much my heart aches, and you never will!"
Stanley stood back in mute shock, wringing his hat.
Trembling wracked the former assassin's body. Siullian pulled him close, a steadying presence. A ragged breath was drawn in, followd by a fit of coughing. His eyes fluttered open, taking in the anxious faces hovering above him.
"Kai..." Xev breathed, her face alight with a radiant smile.
His eyes tracked to Xev, holding her gaze for a moment before succombing to another fit of coughing. Her crestfallen features did little to conceal.
Siullian sighed, world weary eyes drawn shut. She pulled Kai's shivering form closer, holding him tightly.
"Attention: the Ve'etsu 'neio Moonbase will now be closing indefinitely. All off-planet ships prepare for immediate departure. Attention: the Ve'etsu 'neio..."
At the Tiki Room, the indigo-tressed bartender swiped away at the deeply-polished bar. Her patrons were few tonight- just a few rough off-worlders gathered 'round a pitcher of beer, jovially exchanging tales.
"Attention: the Ve'etsu 'neio Moonbase will now be closing indefinitely. All off planet ships..."
Am'Mer shook her head. The public address had been playing for hours now, blaring through the streets and shying away customers. She looked out the heavy stained-glass window, up to the sky dominated by a bloody red sun, watching repeller transports float above. The traffic flow, she noted, had become rather condensed since the announcement, people eager to leave the planet.
Why, exactly, she did not know. Life was good here, distemper replaced by all smiles when one entered the warm, inviting atmosphere of the tavern. She shook her head. Why would the administration of Ve'etsu 'neio close its ports when the planet prospered so?
The whole matter bothered her. Resignedly, she shrugged. There was nothing she could do about it...
She wiped at a mug, watching as the last customers of the night file silently out the door.
Two hands. Staring at them in fixed fascination, turning them over and over again, hypnotic. Time seemed slowed.
Dripping wet hands. The water came from somewhere. Looking up, oh, of course. A cascade, drenching.
A sudden numbness overtaking, reaching out with those two hands, searching for anything steady. Weak.
Tile. Fingers gripped for purchase on the groutwork. Can't. Slipping...
Yes, best to sit. Unelegantly. Fold up into a ball. Vision... hazy...
Water still falling. Can't seem to... lift body... Cold sweat breaking out. Shiver.
Thoughts fuzzy. Curl up tighter.
A sharp pricking. Tender flesh at the elbow. Pressure, some muted pain... threat.
Lash out. Rush of adrenaline. Indignant yelp from the assailant.
Tumble to floor, trembling. Something soft underneath. Heart racing.
Thoughts begin to coalesce. Still quite weak, however. Look down at arm. What is this red substance?
Eyes questioningly search. An unfocused shape... gray...
A voice, far away. Feminine, soothing.
"Simple glucose," it explained.
Coordination returns. Glacier-blue eyes. Concern, overlayed with an air of professionalism. Distant, however.
"Your energy reserves are low. For you to stay conscious, I had to inject you with this," the voice wheezed, awkwardly proffering a large syringe. "It's faster than ingestion, though a bit uncomfortable, I'll have to say."
"Wh..." staring at the site of injection. A mere pink stain, diluted by cascading water, ran from a small puncture wound. "What... happened to me?" He looked up, or rather, down.
A girl. Auburn hair clung wetly around her pale, rounded face, plastered to her skin and clumping in wavy locks. Large water droplets rolled down her forehead, racing down the bridge of her nose and pooling at the corners of her full lips. Icy blue eyes peeked from under wet lashes.
"Your major systems have established themselves," Siullan whispered, reaching up to tuck a thick lock of black hair behind his ear. She grinned radiantly. "You're mortal now, Kai."
Slack jawed, he managed to mumble out, "But you said that I'd..." Slowly, realization crept across his slightly flushed features, breaking into a grin matching Siullian's. Threading his arms between her waist and the floor, brace only snagging the sodden fabric stubbornly bonded to Siullian once, he clasped her tightly and, with an enthusiastic 'whoop,' rolled onto his back, Siullian perched on top.
"Eep!" she squeaked, taken by surprise.
"For me to die," Kai drawled, "I have to be alive..." He grin widened, followed by a jovial chuckle. Slowly bringing a hand to stroke Siullian's cheek, the grin disappeared, replaced by an intense green gaze. "I have you to thank, Doctor Siullian."
"You're wel-" Lips enveloping hers took Siullian by surprise. She blinked, trying to sort out the jumbled thoughts assaulting her mind, but to no avail. In sweet resignation, she sunk further into the torrent, letting the deepening kiss sweep her away.
All too soon, it was over, however.
The glaciers in her eyes melted, turning to a liquid sea blue.
"I think it's time for you to get dressed," Siullian, voice suddenly husky, whispered, her face nuzzled into his neck.
Nobody seemed to notice as a girlish figure plunked down a wailing robot head and disappeared stealthily out the nearest door.
"Hey, where's Sarylk?"
"If you were watching like you were supposed to, meat-brain, you would have noticed she walked out 'that' door approximately ten minutes ago." 790 crossly spat, rolling its eyes toward an exit at the far side of the room.
"Oh, and why didn't you tell us, you robo-sexual?" Stan retorted.
790 growled. "Well, 'I' was too busy lamenting the tragedy of my one true-love. Only the heart of a woman can mourn so deeply for one she loves."
Xev rolled her eyes, grinding the heel of her boot in between the cracks in the tiled floor. Arms crossed, she gazed to where Kai and the doctor disappeared moments ago.
Deciding to investigate, she stalked to the shower room.
Stony faced, Siullian changed into a dry set of scrubs. Standard gray.
Damn, she was only diluding herself. Of all the things that had come to pass...
Swept up in the moment, she surmised. Chiding herself for the breach in interaction, whether it be something true or all in her head, she couldn't remember. Thoughts and emotions became embroiled in an internal feud.
One thing led to another and... she did nothing to stop it. Inexperience led to trouble. Trouble led to consequences. Consequences she was yet able to swallow.
She had fallen hard.
A simple gesture, a quick glance- all this snowballed into a delusion that she immersed herself wholly in.
Toweling her cropped hair dry, she exhaled forcebly, deflating.
She studied the simplistic tile-pattern on the floor. Grays and blues dominated, with rusty-red flecks interspersed amidst the pattern.
If it were only so simple.
Heavy footfalls echoed. Siullian turned to see an irate, impatient Xev marching towards her.
"Where's Kai?" she demanded. "You didn't 'kill' him, did you? Did you?"
"Not a word. I don't want to hear your empty excuses about you helping him." Xev grasped the doctor's tunic about the collar, yanking her off the ground. An angry cluster-lizard snarl vibrated from deep within Xev's throat.
The angry woman turned. Seeing it as her chance, Siullian shot forth a forceful kick to the love-slave's midsection. Xev sputtered, dropping the short doctor, who scrabbled away to safety.
The Brunnen-G stood about ten feet away, dressed in black assassin uniform, hair piled neatly atop his head and forelock hanging loosely askance. There was something about his eyes, however... Xev peered closer, through the residual steam from the showers. Something...
"You're not 'dead'..."
"But why... why was 'she,'" Xev shoved a finger at the gray-clad figure warily eyeing her, "so intent on killing you?"
In response, a bemused grin etched its way across his face, enhancing the dancing laughter already in his eyes.
"Kai!" Xev raced to him, wrapping her arms tightly around his neck. Nuzzling into his chest, she purred, "Are you... truly alive?"
"I..." He shot a glance at Siullian. "I believe so."
Siullian struggled with her composure. Kai's glance had caught her unawares, pissed female she was. Wringing the towel she had been drying her hair with, her jaw trembled, she blinked back the angry tears that threatened to spiel loose. "Yes," she ground out lowly.
"Oh..." Xev's face alit with happiness. Placing a hand on either side of Kai's face, she pressed her lips against his.
Siullian whirled away, discarding the towel, face stony.
Alarm klaxons keened, accompanied by strobing, thrumming lights.
Stanley came storming into the room, panting and holding an irate 790 in his grasp. "Wh- what's that alarm?"
Sarylk punched buttons and twirled knobs in a concealed control room, humming a dirge from some land long since disappeared.
"This travesty must be set right..."
"Aaaaack! Get away from my beloved freeze-dried hunk o' love, Skank-hoe!" 790 screeched, eyes narrowed on Xev, seeking blood.
The alarms continued to screech, red pulsating in dimmed corridors.
"Something's gone wrong with the Veil Project. This facility must be evacuated," Siullian muttered from a distance.
"Where'd you land the moth, Stanley?"
"Oh, um... by that bar," he recalled.
"That's too far away. We'll never make it in time," 790 summed up. Its eyes narrowed on Xev, "However, if we lose some excess baggage..."
"There's a moth on the roof of this facility," Kai supplied, breaking Xev's liplock. "It would be much more expedient if we head for the roof." He looked toward Siullian.
She hesitantly returned his gaze. "This way..."
Spheroids protruding from the planet's surface pulsated with an electric blue glow. Current arced from one fixture to the next, weaving an energy net to encompass Ve'etsu 'neio.
Panting, the group emerged on the rooftop.
"Damn." Siullian cast her gaze to the sky, criscrossed by sizzling energy beams. To the Lexx crew, "You must hurry! Get off this planet, or you'll be trapped here!"
"I'll go prepare the moth. Come, 790."
"After you, Tweedle-puss," 790 muttered.
Xev led a flushed Kai to the moth. He stopped suddenly. Xev looked at him questioningly.
"Go on. I'll catch up in a moment." Xev headed for the moth, quickly jumping in.
Siullian turned, watching as Kai walked over to her. Her eyes threatened to cloud; emotion was almost overwhelming.
She looked up, meeting his gaze, steely gray eyes held in firm resolve 'not' to crack.
"I... I want to thank you for all you've done..."
"But, I wish things had been different..."
Her whole body trembled, emotions threatening her. "I..."
His arms threaded around her back, bringing her in close. Siullian startled. Weak-kneed, she slumped against Kai, mind whirling.
"I owe you my life..."
Above, the energy net crackled.
Siullian gazed numbly at some indefinable point above his shoulder.
"Yo, dead-man! We gotta go!"
Ducking down, Kai gently placed his mouth against Siullian's slightly parted lips. She sunk down, tears prickling the corners of her eyes.
"Kai, we must go!"
Siullian pushed him away. Hazy-eyed, she murmured, "Just go."
With a lingering gaze, Kai dashed to the waiting craft, hoisting his frame inside and swinging the eyelet window shut. The moth lifted off, flitting away on the wind.
Siullian watched the small craft disappear.
Spheroids screamed from their mountings, electric waves thrumming louder, deafeningly.
The electric waves let loose.
Time itself stopped as Ve'etsu 'neio was awashed with a searing blue light.
The Lexx loomed large against the velvety backdrop of space, drifting silently through a dense asteroid field.
From the large insect's underbelly flitted a solitary moth, arced on an intercept course with a smallish planetoid.
Constructs littered the surface, pockmarked and beaten by aeons of meteoric impacts, spanning for kilometers across the vast stretches of craters and plateaus the planet had to offer.
"Kai's been acting strange... stranger than usual since we passed that moon a while back," Xev reasoned. "I'm going to go check on him."
"Okay, Xev," Stanley waved her off, intent on feeding the hungry thing that growled and clawed at his bowels. "I'll catch up with you in a minute."
Kai stood atop a gray-walled construct, peering with dead curiosity at something before him.
Another moth flitted to the building, landing next to the pilfered craft that winged its passenger to the planet.
"Kai?" came Xev's worried query. She stepped from the moth, 790 perched, none too happy, on her hip.
"Whoa, who's that?" Stanley ogled, yanking his hat more securely in place.
790 glanced around. "This planet's dead."
"Heh, no kidding, robot head."
"What I 'mean' is..."
Xev tuned out the squabbling duo, handing the distempered robot head to the spineless captain. Walking up to Kai, she lay a slender hand on his cold shoulder.
"Who is she?"
"I... do not know." A gray-clad figure stood resolutely still, liquid eyes cast to the stars above. Auburn tresses framed her face. Kai reached out to touch her cheek. "Cold."
"...and somehow this planet's been frozen in time," 790 concluded.
"Then how come we're not affected? Answer me that, tin can."
790 harrumphed. "Why don't you ask one of the locals. There seems to be plenty of-Aaack!"
Kai withdrew his lips from the petrified figure's, quirking his head curiously afterwards.
Xev's voice wavered worriedly. "Kai?"
790 wailed, "You do not love meeeeeeee!" Bursting into pitiful sobs, the robot head was inconsolable.
"Erm, Kai, I know you're dead and all, but frankly, you're starting to really weird me out," Stanley chuckled nervously.
Kai looked at the red-capped man deadly. Returning his gaze to the girl, he surmised, "I... I felt it was the proper thing to do." He stared deep into her sky-blue eyes, thoughtful.
Xev's brow crinkled in puzzlement. "Kai, why don't we go back to the Lexx."
Stanley perked up to the idea. "Yeah, tuck you in all secure in your little cryo-pod, safe from any dead planets."
The crew of the Lexx made their way back to their respective moths.
Kai turned, regarding the short gray figure before engaging the moth's engines, thoughts full...
*experiment: to lock ve'etsu 'neio in a time loop- sun will go nova within 20 years, must preserve planet~speeding up time on the planet's surface. allows people to live out their ignorant lives, unaware that time has stopped around them... time pocket