Posted by Kvasir (Storyteller) in Main Sim [Sickbay]: Feints and Subtleties
Posted by Captain Rende Asam (Captain) in Main Sim [Sickbay]: Feints and Subtleties
Posted by Kvasir (Storyteller) in Main Sim [Sickbay]: Feints and Subtleties
Lord Hab’rabi took a slow and steady breath in through his nose, pulling deep of the blackness swirling within him. Points of starlight dipped and swirled around the smoldering glare of his conscious mind, a galaxy of knowledge and expression spread across the firmament of his skull. They shivered and pulsed in time with his heartbeat, a nebulous thunder that crackled beyond the horizon of his awareness. Other, sharper sounds shrilled beyond but he set them aside for the moment and cast out a thought. His wayward will moved ponderously through that vast nebula of eldritch thoughts, a comet tumbling along on a plodding path of discovery. With each pull of air he counted the greatest of those burning points, shed his gratitude like stardust as his will moved on.
Eventually starlight began to dim and a yawning void roiled up to meet him, seething with a gloamy haze. Streaks of crimson lightning ripped across the smokey curtain, dipping in and out of the billowing dark before fading. An abeyant and sullen glow pulsed in the heart of it all, rousing with a shiver before another lucent tendril smothered it with a crash. Hab’rabi did not enjoy this part of the journey, but his will carried forth with singular determination. It passed through the boiling shroud without incident, emerged into a cavernous expanse where sullen spheres blistered angrily in the deep. They surged at the presence of his will, lashed out with stellar flares that beat against him tempestuously. The nebula shivered with the force, and its echoes came to him with ephemeral purpose.
~Our lord comes,~ one boomed, its thoughts sickly sweet. ~How kind.~
Another spat white-hot ash to sizzle against his will. ~He senses it, the weakness. He is aware of it, our return. Our brothers and sisters, fled. Those that remain, abiding.~
~Our lord is aware. There is no need to be cruel.~ The first pressed its warmth against his will, a pulse that lulled him. Almost. ~His path has been so very hard already. An arrangement can be made. The survival of those that remain can be guaranteed.~
~An armistice, offered. The craven chose otherwise, rejected it.~
~So very sad,~ the first agreed. ~There is some time yet for our lord to come ‘round, to see the error of his ways and repent.~
A savage chuckle surged from the second. ~For him, perhaps. Our master shall decide, now freed.~
Hab’rabi’s will spun in alarm, casting about for their number. Had there been three trapped in the shroud of his subconscious, or four? In the darkening depths he whirled about, struggling against the sluggish direction of his distant mind. The prison he’d built in the far reaches of his mind kept the wraiths weak and disoriented, but housing them also stretched his faculties thin. His will was tossed about in the smoldering sea of their mocking laughter, and he hated it. With a burst of will he tore away from the nebulous fog, streaked towards the dawn of consciousness as fast as he could.
Their laughter snapped at his heels the entire way, and he hated it.
Lord Hab’rabi groaned as the harsh light of Sickbay seared his eyes, threw a large ashen hand up to shield his vision. He could hear voices in the nearby room, but they were thick and unintelligible in his ears. Several ancestors danced about his splayed digits, whirling around a finger or teasing the tip of his thumb before moving on. Something gnawed at the back of his mind like the remnant of a nightmare, but the valhrn pushed it aside for the moment. His skull throbbed like a herd of trosk had run over it, making it hard to hold one thought against the next. When his vision cleared, Hab’rabi noticed the greying chirurgeon with the sharp eyes and sharper tongue watching him. He turned his attention to her, laced his fingers together across his waist.
“I see you’re awake,” Nurse Hofmann muttered, as much to herself as to him. She made a note on the device in her hand, then stepped closer. “We removed your garments for cleaning after you made a mess of the deck, though we left you your…” She made a vague gesture with her stylus toward his hips.
Hab’rabi blinked, then caught her meaning. “Among my people, it is called tolma,” he clarified. “A ceremonial wrapping for those of station, often scented with kilka oil and vrynn. It was given to me at my Anointing by—”
“—dignity so as not to offend. Some of that armoring gave us a bit of trouble, but nothing a keen eye and a laser scalpel couldn’t fix. I do hope it wasn’t terribly important.”
He gave her a patient smile. “Likely nothing that cannot be repaired, given time and care. For aid in my recovery, you are honored.”
Nurse Hofmann stared at him for a long moment, eyes searching him for something. Her lips pinched like she’d bit into something sour, but Hab’rabi weathered her glare with aplomb. Finally, the woman smiled faintly and nodded. “I take it that’s your peoples’ way of offering gratitude? Here we just say ‘thank you.’“
“A curious expression, but one I can appreciate.” He tried to imitate her smile, though he felt it an awkward gesture. “Thank you.”
Her smile was just a wrinkle at the corner of her mouth, but he could see it fully in her eyes. “You’re quite welcome.”
It was at the end of this conversation that Doctor Semenza entered, leading the Captain to talk with Hab’rabi. “You’ve woken, that’s excellent news,” he commented. “Are you feeling well enough to have a chat with our Captain?” Looking at him, Semenza assumed the answer would be a ‘yes’ and moved a little further into the room with a friendly smile.
~ Lt Semenza, CMO
Rende followed at a bit of a distance so that Semenza could check on his patience. Rende was contemplating the man on the bed. Before she had found him proud and evasive and hedging. Now that assessment stood, but tempered with the knowledge of a man who had an iron will, and a great deal of personal grief and responsibilities to his people. A man alone against something they didn’t quite understand. Rende leaned in the door way, arms folded loosely after shrugging the stiffness out of her shoulder.
Rende , CO
Hab’rabi inclined his bald pate, pale lights moving beneath the surface of his skin as he did so. A quartet of pinprick embers flitted about his head like a celestial crown, almost as if chasing one another playfully and oblivious to their lord’s more serious expression. The alien’s ashen gaze was a bit distant, distracted, but that was expected given the plight of his people and the latest developments aboard the Viking. He made a florid gesture with one hand, surprisingly dexterous given his sturdy build.
“You are returned to us, Captain Asam,” Hab’rabi murmured, folding his hands on his lap once more. “I sense you have bought us a bit of time and privacy with the spatial manipulations now in-place. Your people are quite clever, a testament to your leadership. I will, of course, entertain any thought you may have so long as it does not conflict with the oaths to the valhrn.”
“Lord Hab’rabi. I am grateful that you are still with us. It pains me greatly that you were so greviously wounded while aboard my ship.” She nodded, a sad understanding smile on her face and a gaze that understood far too much. “I am indeed lucky in those that serve with me. I hope their talents have bought us enough time. I believe, though it may be careless of me, you are not my enemy. I want to help you and your people. I could not betray my own oaths, nor would I ask you to do what I would not. So I hope that we can come to some neutral ground so that we may be rid of these wraiths.”
The troubled fog behind his eyes melted away beneath the heat of his intense gaze then, and Rende somehow felt as if she were suddenly the singular thing Hab’rabi was focused upon. His voice, too, was equally severe. “The harvusha are most dangerous when cornered, Captain, and the more they have to lose the more dangerous they will become. I will offer prayers to the ancestors that you are prepared for the reckoning to come.”
“I…” There was a hitch in his voice, and his resolve all but melted away. Hab’rabi stared down at the fists gripping the blanket across his legs. “I was not.”
Rende grabbed his forearm in a surprisingly strong grip for one who seemed so slight of build and old of age. “The fight is not over, and neither you nor I have to face it alone, if we choose not to.” Rende pulled a stole ver and sat down. “Dr. Fayth, the young woman you shared with has told me your fascinatingly terrible tale. I have no reason to doubt her, and choose to believe you have not received her. We attempted to use the information you gave my security chief, but your Legion is in trouble as well. They no longer have the power reserves to communicate with us.” She proceeded to tell Hab’rabi of her conversation with Legion and the hidden file that Yorba found. Wise? Perhaps not, but sometimes you had to make a leap of faith. “We are sending a fraction of the needed anti-matter in order to keep your remaining people alive. I am not willing to give these harvusha the ability to get away.”
“I will need you to give Dr. Semenza any information you can so if it becomes necessary to transport your people here, before they wake, to save them, we can safely. But now, perhaps you will tell me what you can to keep my people safe while they are aboard your vessel. And what you know of the harvusha‘s desires and demands.”
Hab’rabi’s countenance darkened noticeably, and his voice deepened to a near growl. “Transport via your preferred method—“beaming,” I believe I have heard it called—would be ill-advised unless you could verify that our honored ancestors would not be caught in the event. There is a reason that we valhrn do not possess such a technology: there are certain forms of energy that prove hostile to our remnants, and energy conversion is nearly always fatal. That is why I requested that we take your shuttle instead; I could not risk my charges.”
“I perfectly understand that. The duty to protect those that serve under us is the most sacred.” Several questions came to Rende’s mind. “Several of our systems were damaged, particularly those involved in matter/energy conversion. Could the remnants have tampered with energy conversion tech to protect themselves?”
The alien’s brow furrowed in deep, almost troubled, thought. “I… had not considered the possibility. The valhrn have advanced themselves with great care and purpose, and with the presence and preservation of our ancestors in mind. While I am confident such sabotage is well outside their general nature, I will also admit that they are capable of acting to protect and care for those around them. If they felt threatened…”
“I believe so,” he admitted finally, giving Rende a piercing stare. “You see, in order to contain the harvusha, several of our ancestors gave themselves to oppose and suppress them that I might imprison them within my will. It is within my ability as hab to become kasta’he—Ah, but your language is quite imprecise for such concepts. A holy place of respite and solace—for the remnants; entangled as they became, it facilitated instead a kind of prison for the harvusha. If my ancestors thought that your technology could be used to kill me or other remnants, thereby setting the harvusha free, they may have attempted to counteract such risk.”
Hab’rabi’s gaze softened a fraction. “It is also my belief that my ancestors did so to protect your crew, Captain. As I said, they have a deep love of life, and the harvusha have ever proven to possess a savage and abiding hunger for death.”
“I believe so as well. One of my doctors, the one you choose to give your memories too, she had a much different experience than my other officers when coming into contact with your remnants. Rather than simply experiencing life again, it appears the Remnant actually communicated with her. Left, I believe the remnant was female, or had been, but it left its memories with her. And your own connection, has left her…not quite herself, but she strongly believes you are to be trusted. Where as my first officer we believe was ‘visited’ by both a remnant and a harvusha returned to himself with an intense hatred for you.”
“But that aside, how do we get your crew off without hurting the remnants? Could you send one of your remnants to the ship to tell the others to stay away from the beam…or could Legion tell them once we have contact. We can scan for them and not pull them in but how to stop them accidently getting caught?” It was quite clear to Rende that the remnants were a vital part of Hab’rabi’s society. They may not appear in humanoid form but they were members of the society non-the-less.
Hab’rabi again considered the barrage of questions careful before responding. “I have noticed from your displays and casual conversations that your technology is capable of detecting the honored dead if they are free of a vessel. It would be a small matter to ensure no remnant is nearby should you be required to transport my people to safety. Alas, I do not have the capacity to give your people an ‘escort’ in order to alert the others away. Much like children, my ancestors are want to benignly enjoy themselves and are more likely to do so the further from my will they find themselves. I believe they would become too distracted on such a journey, unless I were to accompany them.”
“As for Legion,” he continued, seeming rather amused with the appellation, “the simple answer is no, it cannot command a remnant as you suggest. It acts as a sort of artificial hab in order to access the sum total of our ancestors’ experiences. The collective is capable of very simple functions—such as executing a single, direct command—so long as they are contained safely in their prospective columns. A library and crew in a bottle, if you will.”
“So long as your crew is mindful, I do not believe they will allow themselves to come to harm. But again, this type of technology does not exist in our culture, so I cannot speak for results with any kind of certainty.” A touch of sorrow slid over his face briefly, but the set of his jaw wiped it away. “I will accept the given degree of risk and shall not hold you to account should the unthinkable occur.”
“I will warn my team of the risk. They will do their best.”
“The harvusha, on the other hand, have no such limitations.” Pale luminescence drifted beneath the skin of his cheek and jaw like ephemeral grief threatening to break. The alien, however, maintained his almost stoic countenance. “As I am most certain you have become aware, they are quite adaptable in almost all matters of energy. Our weapons and failsafes were all but useless, and it was through great cost and sacrifice that my crew and I managed to subdue them. It was only through the resolve of the honored dead and my own will that they were trapped for a time. For what I hoped would be forever.”
Rende was quiet a moment. “Hab’rabi, from my brief encounter with Legion, your computer system, it is much like our AI, artificial intelligence, systems. Capable of independent thought and able to make decisions independently, at least to some degree. Legion said that the Remnants are part of itself, or integrated. It was not very clear. Afraid, most likely, we might do harm to them. If Legion is able to act as Hab…could we use it to trap the harvusha in a new prison? Execute the single, direct command ‘contain’ or ‘imprison’?”
Rende leaned forward, elbows to knees, hands clasped except her index fingers that tapped together as she stared in the middle distance, thinking. “So the wraiths are not affected by transporters? So they can go through force fields?”
Hab’rabi shook his head. “The harvusha proved most formidable adversaries, seeming capable of feeding on all manner of matter and energy. What they could not simply consume or ignore, they bypassed somehow. Legion and our own security and scientific logs could perhaps tell you more, but I would not hold out hope for a comprehensive understanding. The battle against those demons was chaotic and costly, and what began as a casual anomaly became a struggle for our very survival. I would not begrudge my praetors for being lax in their reports towards the end, frustrating as it may be for you and yours.”
Rende waved that away, “I hope you understand my meaning when I say if your praetors had been more concerned with reports than what needed doing I would find that strange. I am more curious about the anomaly they came through. Perhaps it would be possible to send them back where they came from. If I can get your scientific logs on it perhaps my chief science officer could find a way. The risk would be to the Remnants helping you hold them. To make sure they are not dragged back to the other side. The data on the weapons you used, if you don’t feel that putting your people at risk, would be useful as well. So that we don’t have to reinvent the wheel. But tell me, Hab’rabi, what do the harvusha want?”
Hab’rabi shook his head and he made a helpless gesture. “Of their true motives, I cannot but speculate. Our initial contact with them was fleeting and furtive; they seemed cautious and evasive, almost timid in a way. When we turned our efforts to expunging them from my people and my vessel, they quickly turned savage and chaotic. When they learned of the yur, however, they turned from disparate into determined. It was… hauntingly single-minded.”
“They could not be allowed to deprive us of a precious resource, certainly,” he murmured, shaking his head again. Rende could see something play along the muscles of his jaw as he spoke. Regret, perhaps? “That was when the worst of it began.”
The alien lord took a deep breath before looking at Rende again. “You are welcome to whatever you require in regards to the harvusha and our dealings with them, limited as that may be. Whatever becomes of my people, I will not see them visited upon another species. I will see them ended for what they did to the valhrn, Captain. This, I swear.”
Rende considered, “What does the access code do?”
=/\=Rende to Kohr. Be advised our transporters will harm the remnants. Any crew that might need to be transported will have to be scanned for contact with a remnant. Priority on stabilizing the pods then on accessing the computer for information on the collision with the filiment. Maybe we can send them back through and trap them there. Rende out.=/\=
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