Oh, hey it's my first multi-chapter fic. Goodness I had no idea what to do for a summary or a title for this. I actually had a lot of fun writing this one, so I hope you enjoy it. There are a few parts that can be a bit confusing, so I apologize. Some of it's intentional and some of it probably isn't. It was also edited at 5 am so I apologize for any mistakes except for continuity ones. You're just going to have to deal with those. Also, Kei apparently does all the work on the ship, yay.
"We're picking up a distress signal fifteen kilometers out, Captain," Kei said with a frown, her voice breaking through the soft, mechanical hum that had prevailed in the main control room for the past hour.
It was about time, too. I was getting bored.
The main computer flickered to life as it zoomed in on the unknown ship. It wasn't particularly large for a spacecraft, certainly smaller than the Arcadia. Probably a transportation ship, I thought. There wasn't any obvious evidence of disturbances from the craft. It actually looked fairly pristine to me.
"It doesn't seem to be in any sort of distress," I voiced.
"Ships are fragile things," the first-mate said with a smile, staring at his newest completed model. "Everything could look perfectly fine on the outside, but one little thing out of place on the inside and everything can fall to pieces."
"Can you identify the ship?" the captain questioned evenly, ignoring our conversation.
I watched as Kei continued to frown in concentration while nimbly gliding her fingers across the panel in front of her.
Finally, the tension between her eyes eased slightly and her hands paused. "It's called the Yūrei-9, sir. It's a civilian transportation ship." She paused. Her frown deepened again. "According to its records, it mysteriously disappeared about a week ago. It was carrying seventy-two passengers and eleven crewmen."
Well, that certainly makes things interesting.
"Prepare the probing sensor," the captain ordered, rising from his chair.
Grabbing the intercom speaker, the captain attempted to make contact with the ship. "This is the Arcadia. Yūrei-9, respond." Silence. "Yūrei-9, respond." The captain frowned and lowered the speaker. "Kei, scan for signs of life."
We all waited. The tension felt thick enough to strangle.
The computer made three separate pings. Now things were really interesting.
"Captain," Kei said uncertainly. "We're picking up three life forms: two in the upper starboard wings and one in the mid port wings."
"Do a sonar scan."
And the cycle repeated itself. Kei ghosting her hands across the console, the waiting, the silence. It was broken once more by the soft ringing of the computer.
"There are sounds," Kei informed us. "However, they're too quiet to properly pick up. Judging by the pattern of the waves, they're most likely breathing."
"How about we go take a look then?" Harlock asked, turning to leave.
Sounds like fun. "I'll go with you."
He didn't say anything to me, but I wasn't put off. He only said something when he objected.
Kei's voice sounded through the communication bug in my ear. "The group of two is currently closer to your position than the single one. Would you like directions to them first?"
She's hesitating to call them people, funny.
"Yes, Kei. How close are we?" the captain asked. His eyes searched the hallway that curved just enough to keep us from seeing what lay ahead. I felt myself frowning. The ship appeared to be the same on the inside as it had been on the outside – nothing out of place except for the eerie quiet.
"Only about two-hundred yards – head sternward down the hallway you're in. I'll tell you when you reach the room they're in," Kei responded, dragging me from my thoughts.
"Captain, why don't we just split up? I could go find the one on the port side, and you could get these two." The idea seemed to make enough sense to me.
Of course, I have a tendency to be wrong. "Don't be fooled by the silence, Daiba. Things may not be as peaceful as they seem. Remember, there are supposed to be over eighty people here, and obviously there's not. We don't know what's out there." He began walking. "Stay close. I don't have a good feeling about this."
I followed obediently. If the captain didn't have good feeling about something then we were probably all screwed. I unconsciously brought my hand up to rest on my gun.
The hallway seemed to stretch out infinitely, and the journey drug out even more due to our inability to see what lay ahead. I found myself jumping at the sound of Kei's voice in my ear.
"You should be coming up on it to your left in a moment."
Thank God. This silence of the place was deafening, and I was honestly starting to get a bit freaked out.
And then I was really freaked out. I froze in my tracks, and Harlock did as well. He reached up to press the receiver in his ear.
"Kei, could you scan for life again?"
"On it, sir." She paused. "Is there something wrong? You should be very close to where they were originally picked up on the scanner."
We were certainly close enough in my opinion. Even if whoever was over there was alive – heck, even if they were human, I really didn't care enough about them to want to see what was around that bend. The blood splatters that painted almost the entirety of the wall red in that area showed me more than enough. I could even faintly smell that metallic sharpness that could only come from blood.
"Kei, what did the scan say?" The way he ignored her question worried me. There was something he wasn't telling me, and it was really starting to piss me off.
"The two that you were headed toward are no longer on radar." Her voice was hollow. "The other one is still there, though."
"Daiba, we're leaving," he said, suddenly turning about and quickly walking the direction we'd come.
"Now," his tone threatened, and I ran to catch up.
"Captain, what the hell is going on? You know something you aren't telling me," I demanded as I reached his side.
"I'll tell you once we're back on the ship. Just stay close. Don't wander off no matter what you see or hear." His expression and tone were even, but his words worried me.
"What does that mean?"
"Hey!" I yelled.
Then the lights flickered, and when they came back on, I was alone.
I stopped and looked around as if there was somewhere he could have gone. The hallway was one long stretch with no intersections that we had come across. He had said not to wander off no matter what I saw, but what about not seeing anything? What in the hell was going on? Was this some sort of strangely lifelike dream? If so, when was I waking up?
And then my dream was a nightmare, and I was positive that was all it could be. The walls began to seep blood, painting them a bright crimson. The hollow tapping sound of footsteps was approaching me with a slow, steady rhythm, but I couldn't tell with direction they were coming from.
Tap. Tap. My hand went to my gun.
Tap. Tap. Tap. The lights flickered again. The blood from the walls had reached the floor.
Tap. I unholsterd my gun and brought up in front of myself.
Tap. Flicker. Tap. Flicker. The lights on either side of me were going out in rhythm with those damn footsteps that kept getting closer on one side of me that I still couldn't figure out.
Tap. Flicker. Tap. Only the light above me was left, and the footsteps were right next to me. The blood was in a circle all around me - closing in on me.
Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap. I sank to my knees gripping my head. I could feel the warm blood soaking into my pant legs. I figured out where the footsteps were coming from.
Tap. Tap. "Stop it!" I clenched my eyes shut.
Tap. "Get the hell out of my head!"
My, my we've certainly got a weak spirit for a pirate, don't we?
The footsteps ceased. My eyes snapped open. I was in a room somehow, a rectangular room with one long table covered by a white table cloth and surrounded by chairs. It was some sort of first class dining area. Most of the upholstery along with the floor was deep red. The same red that wasn't currently surrounding me or dyeing my pant legs. The same red as blood. No, now I was sitting at the head of this long table. Wait, when did I start sitting?
This was some nightmare.
Oh, sorry, boy, I do apologize, but I'm afraid this isn't a dream, or a nightmare, as you like it.
The voice was clear and precise in my head just as the footsteps had been. It didn't have a source, but somehow I knew when I looked up at the other end of the table its owner would be there. And he was, exactly where no one had been moments ago. His outfit was entirely a blinding white except for the inside of the cape he wore which was the same red that seemed to have started following me. He wore white gloves and a white masquerade mask as well. His hair was a short, choppy pale blond, and there was a malicious smile that didn't seem to be fading from his face any time soon.
I opened my mouth to speak, but the voice in my head cut me off.
Yes, yes, I know. 'Who are you, and what in the hell is going on?' You're awfully repetitive. Did you know?
I was stunned into silence for a moment. Then when I was finally about to speak again, I was cut off once more by the man across from me.
Honestly, haven't you caught on yet? I'm not only sending you my thoughts, I'm also receiving yours. You don't need to speak. And here I thought you were intelligent, but I suppose men of science often have trouble grasping concepts such as this.
Alright then, I decided. I would play his game.
'Where's the person I came in with,' I thought clearly.
Ah, you'll find out soon enough. Oh come now, don't be so angry. I assure you he has yet to be harmed. His cocky voice was really ticking me off.
'Yet? I really don't think you know who you're dealing with.'
I don't? Well, we shall just have to see about that.
'So are you going to tell me who you are, or should I just make up a name for you?'
You're awfully sure of yourself for someone who-
'How about Sparkles? I think it fits well with that whole, uh, clothing situation you've got.' His smile wavered into a scowl. Score one for me.
Ha-ha-ha, I've got to hand it to you, kid. That was pretty good, but you should probably shut up before he kills you. I paused for a moment. That voice had been different. It was warmer, more human.
'What? There are two of you now?' I questioned. A smile grew on Sparkle's face once more, and he tilted his head slightly to the side.
Are you losing it already, boy? It's not as fun if you start going insane this early in the game. We haven't really even started yet.
'Hey, don't screw with me. There was another voice just then.'
Wait, kid, can you actually hear me? There he was again.
'Of course I can. Your voice is echoing in my head'
Goodness, boy. I'm not sure if you're attempting to accomplish something here, but it really isn't going to do any good for you either way. Perhaps we should just go ahead and begin. We've had enough pleasantries as it is.
'What are you talking about, Sparkles?'
That's enough of that. His voice hissed through my head. From now until I end your miserable existence you will call me master.
'And why the hell would I do that?'
I'm afraid you aren't going to have much of a choice, kid. The other voice told me apologetically.
Now then, Spar- No, Master my brain corrected me oddly. Master interrupted before I could ask anything else. Let's begin, shall we?
He pulled something out from beneath the table – a gun – my gun. How did he get that? Why hadn't I noticed before?
Boy, you didn't notice before, because I didn't want you to. I am an in control of everything you think and perceive. Every decision you make is my own. I am your master.
'Oh, really, Mast-…Mas- Ma-' I couldn't even think the nickname anymore. No matter what I tried to call him, it always came out the same.
Sorry, kid. I tried to warn you.
Master looked absolutely delighted with my frustrations. Do you finally understand? Good, the word echoed through my head as he threw my gun toward me so it landed to slide perfectly up to me. I wanted to reach out a hand and take it, but, no, I didn't.
Just give it up, boy, Master said lazily. I've used this technique on over two thousand people, and only two have ever been able to resist it. One is dead, and the other you're going to kill for me.
The other voice's yell or thought or something was so loud that it made me dizzy for a moment.
There's no way. Kid, you're not from-
But Master cut him off. Alright, boy, time for you to go kill Harlock for me. Off you go then, he grinned as the door behind him opened.
I wanted to walk out the door. I wanted to find Harlock, and I wanted to kill him. There was no question of why of how. It was just something I had to do, wanted to do.
Don't you dare, kid. Don't you even think about it.
That was the one thing that bothered me - that voice. Master said it wasn't there, so why could I hear it. And why did it sound so angry?
I was walking toward the door. That other voice kept yelling. It was making everything so foggy. I had to go kill Harlock, but why? Did I want to? Of course I did. No, I didn't. Yes. No.
My next step put me beside Master. We were facing opposite directions. Our sleeves brushed. I wanted to kill Harlock because… because…
And then there was the sharp grip of a hand on my wrist. I turned toward the direction the hand was pulling me, but there was no one there. I had to… had to…
My mind was clear. Just for the shortest moment it was clear. There was a man standing there holding my wrist. I caught only the slightest glimpse of him - I didn't recognize him – and then thoughts, emotions, memories were all being pressed down on my head. It wasn't like before where the thought was just there in my head as though it were my own. These were definitely not mine, but they were trying to find space to be. It felt as though my head would spit at any moment. Fragments, images stabbed into me. A woman, a baby, the earth, destruction, lost, the woman again – no – she was different, snow, an explosion, fire, pain, a man in a white mask grinning, a gun I was pointing at myself.
NO! This wasn't me!
And just like that I was awake again. I was shaking so much, clutching my head. I could still feel the shards of memory fragments stabbing into me, but I wasn't forced to see them anymore. I felt so tired. I just wanted to sleep.
"Kid?" An uncertain voice came to me as though it were miles away. "Kid, are you…? I'm so sorry. I didn't realize that this would happen."
My exhausted brain registered red. Blood, it seemed to take me hours to realize. There was blood all around me and all over me. My hands no longer shook as I brought them away from my head. I couldn't conjure up an emotion as I stared at through my blood stained fingers to see a dead man who had once been in white. It was just red now. My vision blurred and faded. Everything was so red.
"Kid? Hey, hang on!"
I had woken up in the infirmary enough times to know where I was before I even opened my eyes. There was the sharp, sterile smell of all medical areas mixed with a hint of the dull scent of sake.
"Hey, kid, are you finally awake?"
I was not hearing that.
I was still dreaming.
"Well, you don't have to get up yet, I suppose."
Shut up. Shut up. Shut up.
I forced my eyes open and searched the room.
"Over here," he said calmly, grabbing my attention.
I had to turn my head to see him properly. He was sitting on the bed beside mine, waving his hand ever so slightly back and forth until he was sure he had my attention. I was certain he was the same man I had caught a glimpse of before. He was the one who caused me so much pain.
I made an effort to scowl and glare at him. "Who are you?" I asked forcefully as I fully took in his appearance. He looked to be about in his early to mid-thirties. He had wavy medium length auburn hair, shorter than mine, that seemed to permanently curl up in one spot on the side. He had similar deep brown eyes to mine and wore a dark red shirt with a black jacket highlighted by a few choice spots of yellow. His most defining feature, however, was the burn scar swirling on his left cheek. It crept up from his neck to brush beneath his eye without touching it.
"You shouldn't talk so loud," he replied to my question calmly. He watched me with interested eyes without moving even the slightest amount.
"Why not?" I growled. My voice was still was fairly loud.
"Because people will think you're crazy just like 'Sparkles' did." He smirked lightly when he said the nickname.
"What are you-?"
"Daiba, who are you talking to?"
I turned my head over to the other side to see the short doctor staring at me curiously. A syringe filled with a clear liquid sat ready in his hand.
"That guy over on the bed beside me," I responded simply.
I heard a sigh come from the other bed. "Goodnight again, Kid."
I turned my head back toward him. "Wha-?"
I was cut off again as the sharp sting of a needle pressed into my neck. Within seconds I was fighting to keep my eyes open. "What?" I slurred. What was going on?
"Sorry, kid. I tried to warn you." His voice was fading. "You're the only one who can see and hear me. To everyone else it just looks like you're talking to nothing. I guess you'd call me a ghost. I died some years back, lost count of how many, though. My name's Zero by the way. Warrius Zero. It's nice to meet you."
And then I slipped back into darkness again.
Haha oh continuity. I do apologize. Goodness it's 5 in the morning. Guess I should do my homework before school. Anyway, hope you liked it. I'll get chapter two up at some point.