AN: I own nothing.
Chapter 10: The Doctor and his Monster
The three of us stepped off the tram and onto the crew deck, ready to find the nav-boards and put an end to this torture. When I took my first look around I noticed that there were tiny candle like devices, all of them alight.
'You think the power had gone out in this area some time ago?' Jason mentally asked.
I shrugged, 'Maybe, there's more down and through that room so it must have at one point.'
My RIG link opened up and Hammond took up the screen. The security chief wore a frown on his face.
"What happened?" Isaac asked from behind me.
"It's Kendra, I haven't been able to get a hold of her. one minute I had a strong fix on her RIG, the next it just vanishes." He stated.
"How could that have happened? Do you think that the person who was blocking you is doing the same to her?" Jason asked.
Hammond shook his head "No, when a RIG is blocked it's like covering a speaker on an audio recorder, you're still able to get some readings from the RIG." He explained, "No, this is like her RIG just… turned off."
I heard Isaac gasp behind me. "That should be impossible. A RIG is linked to the spine and reads electrical impulses from the brain, as long as the person is in physical condition nothing short of having it removed surgically would turn it off." He said in a matter of fact tone.
"Couldn't she have just kicked the bucket?" I asked. Isaac and Hammond gave me a funny look.
"Pushing up daisies?" I tried. The look persisted. "Off the tweet? Bought the farm? Bit the dust? Sang her last song?" Now they really looked confused. I sighed, "Is she dead?"Realization donned on Hammond's face while Isaac just nodded in understanding.
"In any case no, there would have been a user warning, broadcasting her injured status to us, and if she died we'd be alerted. Anyway I couldn't get a hold of her and now have no way of tracking her through the ship." My RIG pinged along with Jason's and Isaac's. "I've sent the three of you a nav-point. You'll need crew cards to get around on this deck. Hurry though. This place creeps me out." With that Hammond cut the line. I gave heavy sigh and motioned for the others to follow. We followed the line of candles to the end only to be met with a disturbing sight. Some dozen well preserved bodies covered the floors, their bodies virtually untouched, save for the metal spike that was protruding from each of their heads and the white cloth masks covering them, laying under a alcove in the wall, a second floor right above. The even more disturbing thing was the wall; it was covered in some form of language, written in blood. It didn't make sense due to the fact it was in some alien language, but even with that it was clear that whoever did the writing was a special kind of insane. I guess that's a given since whoever did this had written this in blood. Even still, the strange markings formed some kind of consistency in the beginning but when we hit the middle the writing became more erratic, towards the end it descended into complete gibberish. In front of the wall was a pedestal and on that pedestal sat a sculpture of something, taking the form of a double helix. I heard Isaac groan from behind me when his sight caught the sculpture.
"What's up?" I asked. The engineer turned to me.
"That's what the unitologists worship. They call it the marker. It's a lot bigger; we found it on the planet and pulled it up. Then the killings begin, soon after a week the whole ship is on edge before we go into lockdown. I'm not totally sure, but somehow what's going on has to do with that marker." He said, eyeing the sculpture warily, as if it were a cobra. Primed to strike at any moment.
"Correct Mr. Clarke." Spoke an electronic voice. We all spun to the sound to see a large hologram much like that of our RIG links. The screen itself held the image of a somewhat large man, his suit indicating he's work on medical deck. He seemed to be in his mid-thirties, his hair was swept to the side and looked to be blonde, although the pale blue color of the link didn't really help.
"Dr. Kyne." Isaac said, stepping forward.
"You know this guy Isaac?" Jason asked as he gave the doc a calculating look.
The engineer nodded. "Yeah, he worked with Nicole on the medical deck. Technically he's her boss."
"Correct Mr. Clarke. While I'm sure you have questions on Ms. Brennan's whereabouts the fact of the matter is that I do not know where she is." Kyne said, answering Isaac's unasked question. "Besides there are more important matters to attend to. The Red Marker." An image of what had to be the Marker popped up right next to Kyne's own. I quickly got why it was called the Red Marker as this image was in color and showed all the runes that covered the artifacts surface glow blood red. "This was brought up by the excavation team on Aegis 7, within twenty four hours this ship the USG Ishimura was sent to retrieve it via orders from the church." Isaac stiffened from next to me.
"Which church?" I asked, but I had a feeling I already knew.
"Unitology." Was the doctor's simple answer, this time I heard Isaac growl. However Kyne was undeterred. "However we are here illegally, and the Marker, was the prize of this skirmish. The Marker is the cause of all of this, the necromorphs, the delusions that followed its excavation. It is the cause of all of it." The doctor whipped around violently, as if he'd just been hit by some invisible source. "I don't have much time, we need to meet. I'll send the coordinates soon. For now you must stay vigilant. Find the navigation boards. Then head to the security station. We will speak there." And with that the line cut. I turned to look at the others when my RIG link opened up and a very familiar face with it.
Dr. Challus Mercer's face.
A heavy scowl made its way to my face when I caught sight of the deranged doctor's insane smirk.
"We meet again my friend." He said, his voice dripping with insanity, his bearded face covered in dried gore.
"What do you want?" I growled out, "We don't have time for your insane ravings." To my great irritation, the smirk never left his face. To my even greater irritation it grew.
"Oh but you do." He replied smoothly, "Your time is closing in. Soon you will join your brothers, waiting for the transcendence. Just as Mr. Temple is, and just as he shall be." Before I could make any kind of retort the link feed panned to the side until it stopped on a even more familiar face.
Zachary Hammond's face.
My eyes widened in horror when he came up on the screen. He looked like he was just coming out of unconsciousness; most likely Mercer caught him off guard and managed to get the drop on him. I didn't wait for the madman to start talking like he undoubtedly would have; I activated my locator and followed the light blue beam with my eyes to an elevator which went up to the second floor.
'Not enough time for that.' I though frantically I looked back at Jason 'Hurry, I'll need your help.' I thought before I ran back out in front of the alcove and jumped. I due to my enhanced muscle mass I sailed up and over the railing and onto the third, landing rather clumsily due to my inexperience with landings. Thankfully I recovered quickly and turned to the door that would hopefully lead me to Hammond. As I dashed up to it I heard the telltale sounds of the elevator behind me rising. I slammed my fist into the open interface, denting the metal of the door. When it opened in the most painfully slow way possible I was greeted with the sight of Hammond tied down to a chair from behind a window looking into the mess hall, Mercer standing a few feet away from him, his back to me. Hammond was glaring weakly at the deranged doctor, who held a metal spike not unlike those in the bodies we had found in his hand. I stormed up to the window and gave the doctor the hardest glare I could muster from under my helmet.
"You came rather quick." Mercer drawled out, not turning to look at me.
"Let him go." I demanded, "Or I'll come in there and make you let him go." A hiss brought to my attention that Jason and Isaac had arrived.
Mercer just laughed. "No… no I do not thinks so. This man has bravely accepted his fate." He said, moving closer to Hammond.
I snarled at the madman as I raised a fist to strike the glass, "Knock knock psycho!" I shouted before launching my fist forward. It sailed towards the glass, but Mercer never even gave me a second glance. About six inches from the glass electricity arched through the glass surface and into my hand. Every muscle contracted, every nerve ending felt as if it was on fire as the electrical current ripped through my body, the metal suit amplifying the intensity of it preventing any kind of sound from escaping my lungs. It was about five seconds before I was launched backwards. I hit the ground with a pained thud, twitching from the remaining electrical currents jumping through my body.
"A valiant effort." Mercer mocked with a laugh, "But wasted in the end. I've set the disruptor shielding to organic matter, you won't be getting in. He will be transformed, embraced by the Hive Mind. "
I slowly forced myself into an upright position, my teeth clenched as the shock had yet to leave my system. Hammond managed to look in my direction, his half lidded eyes held something, something I couldn't recognize. But when he looked at me like that I felt a cold pit in my stomach.
"Live." He whispered. It was so soft I almost hadn't heard it. "All of you. Get off this hulk, live." Mercer roughly grabbed his chin and force the security officer to look at him.
"Live." Mercer raised the metal spike. "And please. Don't let me become one of them." He brought the spike down. A sound of the spike entering his head was probably the worst noise I could have possibly heard, I was familiar with it, how could I not be, with all the necromorphs I'd killed it become a kind of soundtrack to the low hum of my energy blades and the sound of Jason's weapons going off. This shouldn't have been any different. Yet it was, it sounded wrong. In no way should it have been different, but it was. A bitter taste found its way into my mouth. I idly looked up at Jason to see he wasn't fairing any better. His whole body was stiff, the PCR clattered to the floor, his limp fingers unable to support its weight. Then I felt something in my mind click. The world around me slowed to a crawl as I watched Mercer let go of the spike, I watched as Hammond's body hit the floor, his eyes now dull, devoid of any life.
"There take him, embrace him!" Mercer's mad voice brought me out of my thoughts and back into the world. "Transform him! Make him as one of you!" My hand curled into a tight fist. A flurry of emotions came upon me, sadness, despair, disbelief, hopelessness. But all of that was quickly decimated by the next thing I felt. Rage, pure and simple. It rocketed through my system like adrenaline. Yet despite this I remained perfectly still. I should have been shaking in absolute fury but I remained totally still. After what felt like an eternity, I reached out, taking hold of the PCR and slowly pushing myself up. When I was at my full height I pressed the rifle into Jason, forcing him out of his shocked state.
He looked at me then to his rifle, slowly he took the weapon. I let my hand drop before looking back to the madman.
"Pray" I said quietly, but loud enough to catch his attention. "Pray that your precious necromorphs find you." The mad doctor just laughed, somehow amused with what I had said. I however wasn't finished, "Because if I find you first, there won't be anything left to turn." I stepped forward slamming my fist into the wall by the window.
"So pray to your necromorphs! Because I am COMING FOR YOU!" I roared. For the slightest of seconds, Mercer's smirk faltered. Then his face twisted into a heavy scowl.
"It will be a wasted effort." He all but growled out, "This is the fate of all mankind. And there is nothing you can do to stop it."
I gave a hollow laugh, scaring myself slightly, but the fear never made its way to my voice. "Fate is taking a back seat on this one. It's just you, me, Jason" I extended the energy blade on my free hand, "and three feet of solidified energy." I heard Jason's rifle come to life, out of my peripheral vision I saw Jason aiming down the weapon's sights. The laser sights aimed at his chest.
A smile suddenly came to the man's face, although it was obviously forced it still did the job of pissing me off even more.
"What you wish to happen and what will happen are two entirely different things." He said in a tone of forced confidence, "Good bye, the next we meet it will be at your transcendence." And with that he left. In seconds he was out of view, my hand slid from the dent it had made in the wall and fell back to my side, my other hand joining it, energy blade deactivated
"Come on." Isaac urged, placing a hand on my shoulder, "We need to get the cards, and take care of his body." I turned my head to the engineer, not really looking at him. Even after all this I never would have thought that seeing someone get killed would have such an effect on me. 'I suppose nothing could prepare me for this. Killing necromorphs is easy, but watching someone die is entirely different.' I thought to myself, momentarily forgetting the link.
'Nothing could have prepared us. But we can't just stand here.' Jason thought back, 'Right now we need to get the cards he had on him, then we can deal with his body.' I looked back at the wall before forcing myself to stand upright. Nodding slightly we all entered the mess hall and made our way to Hammond's corpse, weaving though various debris scattered through the room. Once we right next to his corpse. I knelt next to the man and took a hold of the metal spike still lodged in his skull; with a hard jerk I ripped it from his head. I looked at it for a moment before I crushed it and tossed it to the side. Isaac knelt down next to me and gently rolled the body over, exposing his RIG. He opened his own and made a few commands before Hammond's leapt to life and two cards appeared just to the side. Soon after the RIG shut down once more, Jason and I both picked up a card. We made a quick search through the pantries the three of us found some cooking oil and a lighter. I wasn't sure if it would do the trick but it was all we had found. We poured all of the liquid on Hammond's body, lit the lighter, and tossed it in. Thankfully it did the trick and Hammond lit up in a blaze of orange. We all stood there for a moment paying our respects to the man and left, splitting up to find the three nav-boards.
Dr. Challus Mercer felt strange. Wrong, something in his mind railed on about them, the two who traveled with Clarke. Something about them feeling wrong. The man staggered to his knee's grasping his at his head, in an attempt to stop the pain. In another situation he would have welcomed the feeling as the Marker speaking to him but this wasn't it, it felt different. As if something was eating through his head.
"They cannot be allowed!" A harsh and cruel voice whispered. Mercer looked up to see a shadow floating in the air, blood red 'eyes' looking at him with distain. "Do not allow them to succeed! Kill them! Allow them to succeed and ascension will be kept from you!" Mercer jerked violently, fear and madness raging through his eyes.
"NO!" He yelled frantically. "I can't be denied! I've worked so hard!" The shadow gave the doctor a hardened glare.
"Then kill them!" it roared, "Do not allow them to succeed and you will be rewarded!" with that the shadow disappeared, nothing pertaining to it having been there on the first place. Mercer took in a few heavy breaths.
'I can't be denied!' he thought frantically, 'I won't be denied!' he pulled out a metal spike from his RIG. Looking at the object for the longest of times. He tightened his grip on the weapon and opened his RIG interface, cycling through the windows. Soon he stopped at one that showed a video of a lone necromorph stuck inside of a glass tube. He smiled insanely before pressing a key which read Thaw. They would die, he would not be denied his ascension, and his child would make sure of that.
Hathaway scowled slightly as he looked over the set specs of the two kids. They weren't any kind of special ops by any means, but he had to say it was impressive for two children with no type of training (not including the skills that were telepathically downloaded), to do as well as they were. He gave credit where credit was due, didn't mean he had to like it. He sighed and took a swig of his coffee, grimacing as he fought the urge to gag at the taste. He really hated it but it did help on long shifts. Still it didn't negate the fact that it tasted like piss.
"You still all bent out of shape?" a voice asked him. Hathaway would have groaned but he restrained himself, settling to give a glare at the voice's origin. It being a tall man, his red hair hanging over his dark green eyes, his form covered in the standard issue body armor.
"Not in the mood Mathew." He all but growled out.
Mathew just smirked, "Come on Jackie." He said humorously, "We're off duty, so it's just Max." Hathaway ground his teeth at Mathew's use of his name, Jack. Mathew was another one of the guards on the station, also another one of the people who seemed to have no problem with the two boys being chosen to save the multiverse.
"Come on give the two a break, they've done well so far. Most can't claim to survive as long as they have." Mathew said as he sat down to the annoyed guard.
"And so the record begins again." Hathaway mumbled lowly, Mathew however heard him and arched an eyebrow in confusion, silently prompting his coworker to explain. Hathaway sent the red haired man a hard glare, " 'Give them a chance' " he growled out, " 'They've survived this long so they might just work.' " The blond haired man gritted his teeth and gripped the edge of the table he was sitting at tightly.
"They know NOTHING of the real world!" He half shouted half snarled, surprising Mathew. "The world they know is in their stupid little GAMES! Sure they do well now but just wait! Once they have to hold a gun, have to look a man in the eye and pull the trigger, once they have to watch as the life drains from his eyes. They. Will. BREAK!" Mathew edged away from the blond captain. The read head suddenly became aware of multiple eyes being directed in there general direction. He looked around the mess hall to see that nearly all eyes were on them, or to be more accurate, Hathaway. The captain, scowled at all the people, he stood, gathered up the specs and walked to the door. Stopping at it to turn and say three words.
"You're all fools."
"I hate puzzles." I ground out as I moved the various bunks in an attempt to gain access to the nav-board. "Why are the bunks even set like this in the first place?" I asked myself as I stepped through the gap I had created. "Must make late night snakes a real pain." I followed the path that the beds seemed to be set in to come to the sight of a multitude of bloodied bodies littering the floor.
'Candles' illuminating the room. I scowled from under my helmet; the arrangement of the bodies was that of a pile, and all of the bodies had some nasty lacerations, like they were done with blades. Necromorphs were near me, playing a game of hide and seek.
"ha ha ha ha ha ha he heh…" laughed a voice. I spun to face the origin, only to be slightly sickened by what I saw. A woman covered head to toe in gore, cuts adorning her body, and a mad Joker-like grin taking residence on her face. I took a few cautious steps to the clearly unstable woman as she continued to crackle madly. When I was within five feet of her she moved her right hand upwards. Showing the pistol in it. I jumped back, priming my energy projectors. She however didn't notice or didn't care as she continued to raise the weapon. I tensed and prepared to fire when the barrel was pointed at me, but was surprised when it continued to move. I watched slightly bewildered as the woman brought the weapon up and under her chin.
"You can't have me." she said in an eerie sing song voice. "Monsters won't have me." I raised my hands in a calming manner taking a step back.
"Hey it's okay, I'm here to help." I said slowly and carefully, "The… monsters can't get you right now." The woman gave a throaty snort in return. "No…" she said her voice going quiet. "They can." He voice became more erratic. "They will." She tightened her grip on the gun.
"Hey don't do it, I can help you. There are other survivors. We can protect each other." I said a bit desperately. The woman lowered the gun a bit before speaking.
"No. You can't." then before could react she pulled the trigger, her head exploded into a fountain of gore, her body falling limp afterwards. I ground my teeth together in frustration before noticing a faint glow. I walked up to the light and my RIG designated it as the nav-board I was looking for. With a sigh I knelt down and picked up the card, storing it into my RIG inventory. I pushed myself up and turned to leave when my comm. opened up.
"This time there will be no escape for you my friend." Said the crazed voice of Dr. Challus Mercer, "You have been most resourceful up until now, but that ends here." My face contorted into a heavy scowl, I was in no mood to listen to his ravings.
"Bite me." I barked out "Rant and rave all you want, it won't change the fact that when I find you, I'm going to use your spine as a back scratcher.
"Your time has come!" Mercer shouted, seeming not hearing me. "My child is free again! And now you will play your part!" As if on cue a crash resounded behind me. I turned my head the necessary amount to see a large and very clearly pissed off Hydra looking at me.
"Motherf-""RAAAR" The Hydra took a huge swipe at me, catching me by the side, interrupting me mid curse. I skid to the side, before turning and throwing a haymaker at the necromorph, the attack sending the creature fly back, impacting the wall with a heavy thud. I'm sure it would have roared at me again but I advanced on the regenerating necromorph. I needed to let out a lot of steam. I threw a right at the creature's chest, feeling a satisfying crunch as the attack shattered bone. Then a quick left, impacting the side of its head. I could unfortunately already hear the bones in the necro's chest healing again. I suppose this could be seen as a blessing, it meant I got to really let out some aggression. I beat down on the necro's rapidly healing body with a flurry of hits. Each one breaking newly mended bone over and over again. The metal groaning slightly as each hit seemed to dig the monster deeper into it. I took a large step back, rearing my arm backwards before launching it forwards. The target? The Hydra's head. The effect was the creature's skull imploding. With a growl I ripped my fist out of the space that once held the necromorphs head and gripped both of its bladed arms. I planted a foot on the Hydra's chest and pulled. Seconds later my foot sunk as it made a large depression in the monster's chest, two more seconds later, both arms ripped off. Being not too keen on the thought of two mini-me hunters I tossed both arms into the air, activated my energy blades and sliced the appendages apart. With that I turned and began to walk away ignoring the Hydra and its newest head's roars. I weaved through the metal bunks, using my strength to push the large metal bunks apart and back together, using them as a way to keep the Hydra from getting to me too quickly when it managed to dislodge itself from the wall. I opened up a comm. with Isaac and Jason.
"You guys got your nav-boards?" I asked.
"Yeah I got mine. Had a nasty scrap with a few with a lurker but no worse for wear."
" Took a bit of work but yes." Were their quick replies.
"Good, we'll meet in the security station. Keep your guard up though. Mercer freed the Hydra and it's on the deck. I… trapped it but there's no telling how long it'll stay that way."
"Got it, weapons primed at all times." Isaac confirmed
"Roger, Roger." Was Jason's annoying imitation of a robot, the line cutting after
My eye twitched slightly in irritation.
'Idiot' I thought at my friend, getting only a snort in response. While walking I activated my locator, and followed the blue line to the security station. Finding the both Jason and Isaac had somehow beaten me to it. With I sigh I pressed the interface and the door slid open showing a rather small room the far section separated by a wall with two windows. On the other side of was Kyne, his back to us, pacing the back and forth. We all stepped up to the glass, Kyne never noticing us as he whispered to himself. Jason looked at me before tapping the glass. Kyne spun around faster than I thought possible and blinked when he saw us, relief dancing across his face.
"You made it!" he exclaimed, raising he hands as if praising some god of his. "Thank god you made it." Case and point. "I've been following your progress. I know you want to repair the shuttle and escape, but escape is impossible at this point! Mercer removed the nav-cards from the ship!" I blinked in surprise. 'The nav-cards? But he just had us get them. Why would he be worried about the cards? How is escape impossible?' I thought.
"NO!" Kyne shouted suddenly, startling me. "No, no, no, no, no, no, no!" he said frantically. "Don't give up hope!" He looked down as shame flashed across his features. "At first I lost hope. Tried to scuttle the ship, disable the systems. But she changed it." Kyne turned looking at something to his side for the briefest of moments before turning back. "The church! They think the Marker is divine!" He cried out "But they don't know what's happened here! They don't know what's been released!"
'Jason, something's telling me that Dr. Kyne isn't entirely sane.' I thought to my friend
'Yeah, just look at him; he's shaking like a leaf.' He thought back.
Kyne whirled around facing us. "L-l-look at this!" he tapped his wrist and a RIG link screen popped up in front of him. It showed what had to be the planet's surface; it went on for a few seconds before a large mass rose from the ground, roaring as it did so. The video abruptly closed.
"That is what we found." He said "At the core of the planet. Mercer calls it the 'Hive Mind'. It's the source. Controlling the necromorphs telepathically!" He threw his hands down his face contorting into anger. "We were so stupid! Amelia…" His face softened at the mention of the name. he looked to the side. My eyes followed him and for an instant I saw something. It was shorter than the man but not by much, taking the shape of a person, a woman. While 'her' body was a shroud of shadow, not unlike the girl I've been seeing. The difference was 'her' body was covered in blood red markings. Not unlike those we'd seen on the wall back by the tram. But as suddenly as she appeared she disappeared again. I gave Jason a sideways glance. 'Did you…'
"She knew, she knew it could be stopped, by returning the Marker to the planet." Kyne continued as he looked back at us. "It was what was containing the Marker within the planet. Return the Marker, and seal the hive mind."
He looked down, his shoulder's slumping in a sudden depression. "Please Amelia…" he moaned quietly, "I bear much of the responsibility for this tragedy." He paced slightly. Almost as if he was trying to avoid some invisible person's gaze. "Now I must take responsibility for ending it. Atone for my sins." The woman's shade appeared again, her hands on Kyne's shoulders, her head leant in as if whispering in his ear. One strange thing was her eyes. While I couldn't see them at my current angle, I could defiantly see the flash light effect they were giving off. The unnatural light seemed to both illuminate and darken the room at the same time.
Kyne looked back at us. "And the three of you can help me. Repair the shuttle, get the Marker on board, and we can end this… forever."
I looked at the doctor carefully, sizing him up. While I wasn't all too sure we should trust him, we didn't exactly have a lot of options.
I gave a hesitant nod and the doctor tapped his wrist, activating some hidden function. On cue a door to our right opened up. I gave the doctor and the woman looking at us from over his shoulder. Against my will a cold shiver ripped through my spine from under her gaze, like someone was walking on my grave. I gave one last glance before exiting, Jason and Isaac following right behind.
It was quick trip to the shuttle bay, and ultimately uneventful. This allowed me to think on the case of Kyne, or to be more specific; the woman. She looked somewhat like the little girl we had been running into; the only difference that, while strange had a kind of, warm, feeling to her, that and her cheerful disposition sets you at ease. The woman though, it felt like my insides were taking an ice bath just by looking at her. Everything that could be wrong with her was wrong. With a heavy sigh I shook my head, trying to rid it of the thoughts plaguing it. I stepped into the shuttle, scanning the area for a place. Within a few seconds I found a loose panel and pushed the cards into their places. Jason and Isaac stepped into a nearby control center and began a system's check. Suddenly though the quarantine alarm went off, and a loud crash echoed through the room. I sped out of the shuttle and looked to the origin of the crash to see one Hydra, and it looked really pissed off.
Arokhsteel reporting for duty.
What's up guys? I've been trying to get this one out for a while now but it just kept fighting me. As a result this chapter ended up being a bit longer than I normally do. Thanks for being patient with me on this one.