Thursday, July 31, 2014
February 26, part 3
Thank heavens Oses’ startled state lasted only a couple of seconds. Glidas hadn’t even finished her shocked scream when the Nobek launched himself at the Tragooms.
He was smart enough to go for a knife one of our enemies wore on a bandoleer strapped across its thick chest. In an instant blood was spraying, Tragooms were shrieking, and Glidas was yelling the command to set off the collars.
All three combatants hit the floor, howling in misery. I regained my own presence of mind and shouted, “Oses’ collar, off!”
An instant later, Oses was back on his feet, snarling. He went for the still writhing Tragooms once again as Glidas stared at me in disbelief. She turned to run.
I don’t know where the strength came from, but I heaved Finiuld from off my shoulders and hurled him at Glidas. I ran after her without waiting for the bodies to collide. If she got to the collar controls and turned mine back on, we were well and truly fucked.
I’d hoped Finiuld’s body would hit her about mid-back, but that little bitch was so close to the ground that my aim was understandably off. His limp arms still managed to clip the top of her head as he sailed over her, and she stumbled. I caught her easily.
Amped up with adrenaline and fear of being re-captured, I grabbed hold of Glidas and smashed her face-first against the floor. At some point I registered I was repeatedly bashing her head against the ground. I don’t know how long I’d been at it, but my arms were beginning to complain from aching fatigue.
Oses’ voice dragged me from my desperate terror. “Stop, Shalia. Stop. It’s over. Stop.”
My mind returned from whatever distant place it had gone, taking up residence once more within my skull. I became aware of Oses’ hands on my shoulders. I looked down at the Ofetuchan, whose head I clutched between my hands. When I saw what I’d done, I puked. To judge from the flesh, bone, and greenish-red fluids on the floor, I’d done considerable damage, possibly erasing Glidas’ face.
Once my stomach was back under control, I filed away the horror of the bodies lying in the corridor and the fact that one of them was dead because of my violence. I had to push all that aside for the moment or my sanity would have left again. It might not have come back had I not made myself blind and dumb to what I’d done.
I let Oses help me to my feet. He used his skirt to gently wipe off the gore on my hands and arms. “Are you all right?” he asked.
I looked into his face. He had flecks of blood dotting his cheeks. Carnage, carnage, everywhere. I was so tired of blood and guts.
I had this funny feeling in my head of distance, sort of like the disconnect I’d experienced when I’d allowed Oses to torture the Earther man Finiuld had captured. I was still in danger of taking a major mental vacation. I had to get out of the corridor, where the Tragooms stank of blood and shit and a recently living being’s brains were splattered on the floor beneath me.
“Let’s get to Finiuld’s quarters,” I said. “I need to keep moving.”
Oses nodded. He didn’t say anything, probably because he knew there was nothing he could say that would make things right in my head.
Of course, going to the Little Creep’s room meant carting that body around on my shoulders again. At least he wasn’t leaking anywhere. I made that count for something as I hefted the unwelcome weight once more. For some reason, Oses took Glidas’ phase control off her body and kept that. I didn’t know why since it would be useless to him, but I didn’t question him about it either. It was too much effort.
I managed to get us to our destination without any problem, probably because I was concentrating so hard on my task. Minutiae at that point was my saving grace. It kept me from thinking of the things I’d seen and done. Placing one foot in front of the other, searching for that particular portrait in the corridor, and deciding exactly at what point we should pass through the wall were wonderful distractions from the horror of what had gone before. With Oses’ hand on the small of my back, we stepped into Finiuld’s quarters.
I thought I should have felt pride in us making it. At the very least, I should have been cheering in celebration. All I felt was tired, however. Tired and used up.
I let go of Finiuld’s body and let it drop to the floor. The softness of that surface emitted only a soft thud when he hit. I swear, I could still feel his weight on me though. I even checked to make sure I’d really unloaded him. He stared up at me, his head facing the wrong damned way, like some grotesque broken doll. I thought I would puke again, but I was too exhausted for even that.
“Where is the control panel, Shalia?” Oses gently prodded me. “Show me so we can turn the collars off.”
His voice was like a beacon through the fog that kept encroaching on my mind. I pointed at the silvery desk-looking thing. “There. Access control panel.”
Once again, the lights, levers, and buttons appeared on the surface of the computer. Oses’ eyes widened in appreciation.
“You just tell it what you want and it obeys?” he asked. “I’m surprised there aren’t better safeguards than that.”
I shrugged. I was in no shape to think long and hard about how Ofetuchans’ minds worked. “Finiuld probably thought it was perfectly safe in his private room. I guess he was sure I hadn’t figured it out since he never switched my collar back on.”
“What of the female?” Oses wondered out loud. He didn’t seem to be questioning me. “She said this was her ship. Why didn’t she have the controls in her quarters? Was Finiuld in charge of them on her behalf?”
Even though the Nobek only seemed to be musing out loud, I had an answer for him. “If these are only for the collars, I doubt she needed controls. It seemed we belonged more to Finiuld than her. Except for those Tragooms she had guarding her, Glidas had nothing to do with the collection to my knowledge.”
“It’s a mystery,” Oses murmured. “But one that can be solved later. How did you turn off your collar?”
“Turn off the collar of Kalquorian Nobek Oses,” I said. “There. That should do it.”
“It didn’t do anything,” Oses said, glaring at the computer as if it was his most hated enemy. “No acknowledgement. No change in these lights.”
“I know. But you can touch Finiuld now and it won’t hurt you. Nor will my command, since he gave me that ability to control you. Collar, punish Oses.”
Though I’d uttered the command that should have sent my Nobek friend into shrieking agony, he remained standing there, unaffected. A grin slowly spread across his face.
“Wonderful,” he breathed. Just to be sure, Oses went to Finiuld’s crumpled form and poked at it. He remained pain-free. His sigh of relief filled the room.
“Should we turn off all the rest?” I asked. “Except the Tragooms, of course.”
Oses took Finiuld’s phase controller off his belt and came back to stand before the controls. “De-activate all collar controls except those of the Tragooms,” he ordered. “Place all control over Tragooms’ collars with Kalquorian Nobek Oses and Earther Shalia Monroe.”
As usual, the system didn’t do anything that we could see that confirmed Oses’ dictates had been received.
“And now for this,” Oses said, holding up the phase gizmo he’d gotten off Finiuld. “Transfer control of Ofetuchan Finiuld’s phase converter to Kalquorian Nobek Oses.”
I blinked. That would be damned handy if it worked, though I’d already decided Oses would be lugging the Little Creep around from now on.
Oses suddenly disappeared. I jumped about a mile in sudden panic before I recovered myself. “It worked! I can’t see you anymore.”
Oses re-appeared. “Excellent. Let’s see if the other one will do the same. Transfer control of Ofetuchan Glidas’ phase converter to Earther Shalia Monroe.”
He handed me the gadget he’d taken off the woman. I thought at it to make me phase.
“Are you trying to phase?” Oses asked.
“Yeah. Apparently it’s not working.” I scowled at the gizmo and then tossed it to Oses.
He tried his luck but it wouldn't work for him either. He put it in his belt.
Oses said, “She must have had her own control panel in her quarters. That’s fine; we’ll make do with the one until we locate the controls for hers.”
The little shock I’d gotten when Oses phased had chased away most of the detached feeling in my head. It lurked at the edges, promising to sweep in if I experienced too many more shocks, but I was starting to feel like myself once more.
“What’s next?” I asked Oses.
“Now we take control over this ship. We need to find its bridge or command center.”
“I wonder how many Tragoom guards we’ll run across?” I worried.
Oses showed me the knives he’d taken from the two he’d already taken care of. “Don’t worry. If for some reason their collars don’t respond to our orders, I will handle it.”