Welcome to the next installment of Captain’s Journey. In case you have missed the previous parts, here they are in order.
- Bad Dreams
- Call the Question
- Dreams Remembered
- Desperate Measures
- Picking up the Pieces
- First Contact
- Danger Close
- Down Below Station
“Before you leave, would you please swing by medical Jaxx?”
With the firm knowledge that I was already behind some scheme, I wandered the halls of Chikara delaying my departure as long as possible. I entered the medical bay as a table slid out of the opposite wall.
“If you can place your right arm on the table, I will make it so that we can maintain contact while you are not on board. If you were a stronger telepath, this would not be necessary.”
“Why thank you for pointing out one of my shortcomings. What next, I have a bad haircut or halitosis?”
“I am merely providing an answer to this troublesome problem. I will still be stuck here in the hangar bay but will be able to access the wave and pull data for you. If I am able, I will also slice the security feeds which will allow me to exert some minor control of station systems.”
“Aren’t you just the handy one. An eye in the sky is a good thing to have. Just don’t put yourself at risk. I don’t want to lose you.”
I place my arm on the table which emits a soft hum and a tantalizing warmth. I feel a slight tingle and black and red tattoo appears on my forearm in the shape of two twining dragons. The images heat to just the other side of bearable and then return to normal.
“You should be hearing me both physically and mentally. The true test of this, as you are a captain, will be when you are no longer on board.”
“Once I am a few corridors away I will utilize the connection.”
Knowing that I will not be bereft of my ship as I venture out into the station, I am able to complete gathering my things to beard the lion in it’s den. I disembark from Chikara to a cacophony of sounds and scents. Where the Kossun base was silent and antiseptic, Down Below station is a veritable assault on the senses. The air reeks of the filth of thousands packed into tight quarters. The air scrubbers keep the air breathable but do nothing to enhance the ambiance of the setting. Layered on top of this noxious miasma are the more pleasant scents of spices and perfumes hinting at hidden delights.
The sights are also a clash of contrasts. Instead of one homogeneous design, there are combinations of structures and textures that only a mad symbiont would find beautiful. Behind all of it lies the alien bulk of the station; dark and quiescent as if nothing we do matters.
Waiting at the end of the gangplank are two V’sharn. Standing at nine feet tall and bristling with muscles and edged weaponry, I surmise that these two canine aliens have been sent to escort me to meet with the head of the Hierarchy, Spider. When I had last been here, this lupine race had been on the rise as personal guards for the Hierarchy. They were loyal to a fault and only switched allegiance when they felt moved by the Mu’Harn, their ancestral animating spirit. I know nothing of this Mu”Harn but the V’sharn are formidable warriors and excellent Companions so I felt safe since I was not attacked on sight.
I step off of the gangplank and something weird occurs. The walls of the station light up. Hidden swirls and conduits are limned in a pearlescent white light that shines from deep inside the metal. The room is filled with a portentous weight for a moment, as if I am being regarded from afar. The attention is so heavy that it makes my chest feel like the air is being squeezed out. Before panic can set in, the specter of ill-regard passes leaving the lingering after effects and these strange lights as evidence that anything had happened.
I stagger slightly and grab my chest, “ Did you feel that?”
The V’sharn to my right growls and leans down to peer at my face. “Hakar felt nothing. Are you sick? Do you need to be cleansed before we take you to Spider?”
“Oh, No no! I’m ok. No cleansing needed! Just not been on a station in awhile. I think I was having a little trouble adjusting to a different gravity. I am fine. Please, take me to Spider.”
Hakar pokes my chest with a taloned paw. “You are not telling me the whole truth, little man. Your emotions say that something is wrong. They also say that you speak truth when you say that you are well. This does not bode well but Mu’Harn spoke that I should be here to escort you. So, I hope your half-truths are not lethal.”
“I promise you that I am not ill. What I am not mentioning will cause no harm to you or Hierarchy to my knowledge. I do not even know what it is that I am seeing.”
Hakar squats down in front of me with his muzzle in front of my face. His breath washes over me as he stares into my eye and I feel his talent lick up against my shields. Despite my training, I can feel him pulling little bits of information off of my shield. It is a very bizarre feeling but not unpleasant.
He reaches forward after a moment and puts a large paw on my neck. He pulls my head forward and touches it to his forehead.
“It seems we will not be finished with this simply. When you have need for an empath, come find Hakar. I will be waiting.”
With that enigmatic statement, he stands and growls at the Other V’sharn.
“Follow us, we will escort you to Spider. We are instructed to get you there safe and this we will do.”
I step forward and take my place between the two towering guards. I puff out my chest like I am the most important person on this station and deserving of such an escort. This will hopefully increase my credentials in the circles I am soon to rejoin and keep the lesser jackals off of my tail.
As we stride out into the crowded thoroughfares of the station, The strange light from the hangar keeps pace with us. The sensation that accompanied it’s first appearance is thankfully absent. The people making way for us seem not notice this subtle change in their environment. I and my escort are enough excitement to keep their attention for a few minutes and cause a stir once we have passed.
“You there Chikara?”
“Yes Jaxx. I have been unable to access the station’s system. I will keep trying. I will keep you updated as to my progress. Be careful.”
Chikara’s voice in my mind fades as I continue forward. We are ushered into the administration section without any delays and take a lift to the highest level that overlooks the luxurious residential sectors.
Hakar and his littermate stop before a set of large gold and platinum doors. The place their paws on panels on each side of the doors which slide open without a whisper. I step into a room that is coated with every form of opulence that one can imagine. The man behind the desk stands to greet me as I approach.
It hits me like a hammer to the gut; this Spider is a lie.