Status: In progress.
Season: Sometime after "For Whom the Bells Toll" (Season Three).
Summary: An ancient Earth philosopher once wrote: "There is no great genius without some touch of madness." Unfortunately for the crew of the Andromeda, he was right.
Disclaimer: Muhahahahah! I am the Stargate Plot Thief, roaming though lost episode transcripts, leaping over stacks of scripts in a single bound, and praying nightly that the creators, producers, directors, actors, stagehands, tech advisors, special effects wizards, and KRAFT services people don't sue her butt for "commandeering" this particular storyline. Obviously I didn't create Andromeda or Stargate (which I based this story off of). If I did I'd own Spock and Teal'c, which… would be really cool come to think about it.
Author's notes: Getting to write this story was the reason I did another littler one entitled "Holiday" (which has some vital background info). However, it's not going to be a prerequisite for this fic and I'll do my best to keep "new viewers" in-the-know. If you want to read it though, please, feel free. No really. I mean it. You want to read the fanfiction. ::waves hand mysteriously::
And so the madness begins… literally.
the footsteps were coming. they were coming. coming to hurt him. take him over. use him. possess him. coming to deride. coming to torment.
the footsteps were coming.
he whimpered and tried to escape. he could sense them, staring down at him with hollow, empty eyes. they wanted his body for their own. but it was his… they couldn't have it. it was his to own… possess. not theirs.
he shouted at them to go away but they never listened. never listened when he pleaded, and begged, and cried, and yelled… never listened when he asked why they'd chosen him. why they wouldn't leave him alone.
he wanted to die.
they were coming again.
he felt them near. their cold eyes and lifeless face looking at him and laughing. no one else understood. no one else could hear or see them. no one else believed him.
they were coming.
"Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower,
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf,
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay."
- Robert Frost
In a moment of poetic muse, Seamus Harper found himself staring at the white Dorran mountains looming in the distance. There was nothing special about them really. Beautiful, old, majestic… painful!
Harper batted at a snowflake that had somehow managed to lodge itself in his eye. It melted on contact but he continued to rub it just to make sure it was gone. So much for sentimental lyrics about the mountain. He sighed and looked back towards his group. A persistent wind had been blowing snow flurries into his face since they'd arrived and he was more than ready for that transport to arrive.
As he pivoted and walked back towards the others he felt the frozen ground crunch pathetically under his heavy work boots. It had been a long time since he had felt this cold. The Andromeda was sometimes a little too chilly for his standards but that was a mechanical cool. It wasn't natural. Out here, however, the coldness was real. He couldn't change it with the quick press of a button like he could on the ship.
Drawing his well worn leather jacket tighter, the engineer sighed halfheartedly. As he exhaled he watched his warm breath hit the air and freeze instantly into a white smoke. The mist floated above his head and dissipated. He did it again and smiled, lost amongst a good memory.
"Know what I miss, Beka?" he idly asked.
Pulling up her coat's hood to shield herself from stray flakes, Beka turned towards her vertically challenged friend. "What's that?"
"Tobacco." Seamus exhaled again and watched the air freeze before him. "I could go for a cigarette right about now."
Beka rolled her eyes. "Rev and I made you quit that little habit five years ago."
"Ah but… but it's nicotine. Sweet, sweet nicotine." Harper smiled. "I miss that."
"Miss being unable to climb up into the AP valve without wheezing?"
"No," Seamus reluctantly admitted.
"Then stop talking about it because you aren't starting again." Beka smacked her friend's arm lightly. "Besides, the smell stayed in Rev's fur for weeks. We had to get a special spray for him and everything."
Harper muttered to himself as he watched the blonde captain walk away. Realizing she wasn't going to pay any more attention to him, Harper yanked at his jacket again. It was still frickin' cold.
Growing up in Boston, Seamus had felt his share of cold winters. Living on the streets guaranteed nightly bouts of frostbite for the unlucky, but this place was ridiculous. From what the locals had told him the current weather outside was mild. When he'd asked Rommie the temperature she'd told him it was slightly above freezing. Why the Nietzscheans had wanted this planet was beyond him. A year-round cold chunk of world didn't seem like their usual Vedran cup of tea. There had to have been something at one time or another to make it of any interest to them.
A mechanical hum caught Harper's ear and he turned back towards the mountains. The transport ship they'd been waiting for had finally arrived. It sailed through a gap in the large peaks and came to a rest about a hundred feet from the group. A gaunt, youngish looking man exited a moment later. The stranger was wrapped in the skins of some long dead creature and walked through the ice and snow with a long staff. Harper thought the man looked rather at home in this weather.
"Welcome," the newcomer replied, halting before Captain Hunt. "I am H'toh."
Dylan smiled and stepped forward, warmly greeting the man with a handshake. "I'm Captain Dylan Hunt." He gestured towards his friends. "This is my first officer Beka Valentine, the Andromeda's engineer Seamus Harper, and the Andromeda's avatar Rommie. We're all happy to be here."
"Happy that my brain cells are being cryogenically frozen?" Harper murmured out of the newcomer's earshot. Beka sharply elbowed him in the chest.
"I thank you all for coming," H'toh continued. "This way please."
The crew followed the councilman to the waiting transport. Once the five were aboard and comfortably seated, the vehicle rose and sped towards the mountains once more. Glancing only briefly out the window at the passing landscape, Harper finally turned back towards H'toh and settled in for the ride.
"So tell me about this place again," Harper said, fiddling with a control knob on the seat.
H'toh pulled out a flexi and handed it to the smaller man. "We are traveling to an abandoned High Guard facility designated Beta Hyperion. Three centuries past, when the Nietzschean's defeated the Commonwealth, the Lynx Pride overtook the facility and the surrounding city. However, twenty years ago key members of the Pride unexpectedly disappeared and the Nietzschean's slaves rioted, destroying their captors. Fortunately for my people, the other prides have left us in peace."
As the man talked, Harper switched on the flexi to reveal building blueprints. "What is this?" he asked.
"That is the reason we needed Captain Hunt," H'toh answered. "There are several chambers inside Beta Hyperion that the council has been unsuccessful thus far in opening. We believe there to be advanced High Guard/Nietzschean hybrid weaponry within the heavily shielded rooms. Our best technicians have been unable to open the doors and we fear damaging what may lay inside with explosives."
"What you need are High Guard codes," Dylan added. "Codes that I have."
H'toh nodded. "When we learned of your reawakening Captain Hunt we were most eager to contact you. It has taken time, but we are thankful you are finally here."
"I've heard very little of Beta Hyperion, but Andromeda's archives said it was a research facility," Hunt said.
"Yes," H'toh responded. "The Commonwealth used it for secret technology study. After the Nietzschean's captured the building they spent years working on completing the unfinished projects."
"Hybrid weapons?" Harper asked, handing the datapad back. "Are you sure?"
"Our records point to that theory and we believe the Nietzscheans kept their most valued technology inside. We look forward to finding out with your help, Captain Hunt."
Dylan's smile was guarded. "I'm sure our trip was worthwhile, councilman."
Following H'toh and two of his aides into the facility, Harper was instantly aware of the new temperature. He'd fully expected the building to be just as cold as the outside atmosphere. Tucked deep in a snowy valley, the structure was still in decent condition, even after being out of commission for over twenty years. Since exiting the transport, Harper couldn't make out any life signs, humanoid or animal, within the surrounding hills. There wasn't even room between the facility and the rocks to land the Maru safely in.
Next to him Beka pulled down her hood, feeling the drastic temperature change as well.
"It's warm in here," she noted.
"We keep the facility heated to preserve the equipment from the elements," H'toh said. "We have staff here year-round."
Harper slipped out of his coat and threw it over his arm. "What are we waiting for? Let's see some gadgets."
"The main lab is this way." H'toh motioned towards the hallway leading away from the entrance. "Follow me."
Harper stuck close to the councilman as the man navigated the tight corridors. H'toh entered a sequence of codes into a wall control and the doors, similar to those on the Command Deck of the Andromeda Ascendant. The thick metal parted and H'toh motioned his four guests inside. Once Harper got a look at the place he instantly realized it was identical to the research labs aboard the ship.
"The chamber is this way."
H'toh lead them through an additional set of corridors to another closed door. This time he left the controls alone.
Noting that this was the room in question, Dylan stepped forward to stare at the panel.
"We believe the Limvris acquired the code and voice command for the room from a captured High Guard commander," H'toh explained as Hunt examined the door control. "However, they never shared the codes with anyone but their inner group."
"Limvris?" Harper asked.
"Before the revolt, our planet was ruled by nine members of the pride who called themselves the Limvris. The word is ancient Dorran. It means conquerors," the councilman replied. "The pride's leader was Pyruss. His mate Marguerite, their four eldest children, two councilors, and Pyruss' brother Jonas made up the rest of the Limvris."
Beka glanced up. "So they were the rulers who went AWOL. What happened to them?"
"We are unsure. My people only know that they disappeared unexpectedly one day. The rest of the Nietzscheans were in panic. The slaves, however, took advantage of the confusion and formed an uprising."
Before H'toh could continue, Dylan approached the group. "I believe my security clearance will work. From the time period dated on the datapad, this facility was operating under the High Guard for only a brief time after I was trapped."
"What are we waiting for then?" Harper asked, stepping up behind the larger man. "Lets get his baby open."
"Harper," Beka questioned, "why are you so excited about this? It's just a room."
Seamus shrugged. "I like surprises." He paused a moment and then added, "Especially ones that involve me getting new toys."
Beka laughed. "Child."
"Don't worry, I'm sure we won't find much anyway," Harper replied.
Beka could hear the eagerness dripping from his words. If he kept talking she'd have to get him a bucket. She looked up to find Dylan giving them a disapproving look and she waved a hand towards the door. "Sorry, talking shall cease. It's all yours."
"Thank you," Dylan replied, turning from the chatter to advance on the door.
For a moment Hunt paused to recollect the proper code. When he finally entered a sequence of numbers and his voice recognition code, the group waited in silent anticipation of what lay beyond the entrance. As soon as Dylan stopped speaking though, the seal on the door released with a hiss and the thick metal parted.
The first to react was Beka. "That," Valentine said slowly, "is not a good smell."
Cautiously the group entered the room and Harper felt his nose wrinkle. It smelled like something had died in--
Seamus felt his foot hit something solid and he pin-wheeled forward, unable to keep his balance. His palms slammed onto the hard flooring to catch himself and he felt his spine jar painfully from the impact.
"Oww," Harper muttered. "What the--"
He looked down and found himself face to face with a Nietzschean. A very dead Nietzschean.
"Geeesh!" the engineer screamed, scrambling away from the corpse and smacking into the front of Dylan's legs.
Next to Hunt, Beka stepped forward, he eyes searching the dark room. "Eww. I think there's one more over there." She turned to her left and extended a finger. "And then another just to your left Dylan."
"I see two more," H'toh added, disgusted as well by the room's smell.
"Dylan," Rommie said, "I count four other bodies in the room. Nine total. All appear to be Nietzschean."
Picking himself up, Harper was wary to approach any of the remains. H'toh was providing light with a crude electric lantern but it was all a bit too creepy for him. The cadavers were… preserved to say the least. All nine looked partially mummified with their taut, leathery skin and hollow eyes. Some still had strands of hair left on their heads. A part of Harper's brain wondered why they didn't look more decayed but he guessed it might have had something to do with the temperate. He hadn't noticed it before, but the room was cold enough to see his breath.
"I think it's safe to assume we've found the Limvris," Rommie commented.
"Yes, their robes bear the crest of the royal family," the councilman agreed. "But how did they come to be here?"
"How would I know?" Harper muttered. "Ah man… so much for our armory."
Dylan stepped around his engineer. "If I had to guess, I would venture to say this was a meeting room of some kind."
Harper followed behind Dylan, careful to stay far from the bodies. He approached the room's large table and pulled a flashlight from his tool belt. Noticing something half hidden under it he bent down. A datapad.
"Look," Harper said as he reached for the thin piece of technology.
"What is it?" Beka asked.
"It's a datapad." Seamus pressed the power control and watched strange words rapidly cover the data screen. He frowned. "It looks like a battle plan drawn by Picasso." He tilted the pad to the left and his head to right to try to make sense of it.
"What does it say?"
Harper squinted at the device in his hand. "Not sure. Most of the writing looks like gibberish. Let me just turn the page." He pressed the key but nothing happened.
Again he tried to move the electronic page but it refused to cooperate. It must have been broken. Harper was just about to tell Dylan his trouble when he felt a cold chill wash over him. He couldn't help but jump and turn, searching for… something.
Beka walked towards him carefully, hand curling around the forcelance on her belt. "What's wrong?"
The earthling turned in a quick circle, eyes wide. "I- I felt something brush by me."
Everyone in the room raised their lights to search for the unseen intruder.
"I've scanned the area and there's no one else here," Rommie finally said, looking across at her engineer.
Harper rubbed his head, unconsciously tousling his blonde hair. "I know I felt something."
"Come on Dylan," Beka said after a moment, "let's get out of here. It's getting kind of spooky. Maybe send in some 'bots to clean up the mess."
"She's right," Rommie added, "there could very well be something contagious in here. We still don't know how they died."
"All right," the captain agreed. He turned away from Harper to look at H'toh. "Councilman, I need to contact my ship. We can get a contamination team down here to search the room."
H'toh agreed with a nod, staring once more in disgust at the decomposed bodies. "They are just as foul in death as they were in life." He walked out.
As the rest of the group hurried out of the dark chamber Harper lingered. He kept watching the corpse nearest to him, unable to explain why he felt like he was being watched. That was ridiculous of course. They were dead, and deceased things were… dead.
Beka noticed her friend's hesitation and paused, staring at the back of his head. "Harper?" she finally called. "You coming?"
"Yeah, Boss," Harper murmured. He glanced once more at the dead Nietzschean then followed Beka from the room.
He could have sworn, for an instant, it had smiled at him.