Thursday, May 28, 2015

May 21

Today could have been better.

Tep wanted to do some of his tests with me conscious. That was fine and dandy for the blood tests, urine analysis, that kind of thing. For taking skin samples ... mine and the Its ... local anesthesia was employed. It didn’t go so well.

I was never in pain. However, the It does not want to be tested, not when it is aware of what is going on. It had a few surprises in store for us all.

I first felt it stir as a separate entity when Tep programmed the medibed computer to take blood. When activated, the medibed sends one or two ‘arms’ to move from beneath the bed to cover the patient. These arms are panels that contain computers, injectors to deliver medicine, scanners, and extractors ... like for taking the samples Tep wanted. I had two of these panels over me for the tests. One arched over my chest, and the other covered my abdomen.

“I might keep these panels in place to track where those alien feeder veins are going,” Tep told me. “That way, scanners will pick up if they start moving in the direction of the baby.”

“Sounds great,” I said absently. I was interested in what he had to say, particularly when it comes to my daughter. However, I had detected some concern and a twinge of anger from the It.

Oses and Betra were there. So was a squad of four security Nobeks, headed by Oses’ second Ebnad. They were present just as a precaution. I was still in partial stasis, my body frozen from the neck down. How much trouble could I cause?

I didn’t want to find out there was a scary answer to that, so I duly reported, “I can feel it’s aware of what’s happening. The It is not happy.”

Dr. Feru, the psychologist who was helping Oses and me get past our PTSD of being kidnapped and held prisoner, was also in attendance. He moved closer, his kind face concerned. “Is it separate from your thoughts, or do you feel them as your own like before?”

“Separate. It can damned well stay that way too.”

Feru grinned at my bravado. I wasn’t being bad-ass to impress anyone, though. I had to be strong to protect us all, my baby the most.

“Blood sampling complete,” the bed’s computer reported in Kalquorian. I frowned. I didn’t think I had gotten so far in my language lessons. The It still felt separate. Was I retaining some of the things it had learned when it infiltrated the ship’s systems?

“Send samples to lab,” Tep told the computer. “Tag it as first priority.”


“Set for local anesthesia. Left arm and lower abdomen.”

“Scan indicates alien exoskeleton on subject’s left arm, requiring piercing of bone. Continue with procedure?”


“Carve the damned thing off if you want to,” I muttered.

Tep arched a brow at me. “I’d prefer to recover you in one piece.”

I felt a couple of tiny pinpricks on either side of my belly. I felt nothing from my arm, but there was a jolt from the It. Its need to fight was on the rise.

“Somebody’s getting cranky,” I warned. “It wants to resist.”

Feru cupped the top of my head with his palm. “Let me know if the sensations you receive from the parasite start feeling more like your own thoughts.”

He hoped to talk to the It if it gained control over me. From the nightmares and the little bit of thought I’d experience from my unwelcome guest, I doubted he would find his efforts useful. The It didn’t want to be reasoned with. It had a goal, and the goal was to destroy. That’s what it had been made to do. I thought the only real question that needed answering was who had made it? And did its creator know how to reverse its effects on me and Candy?

My stomach went numb. Tep ordered the panels to collect samples of the exoskeleton, the feeder veins, skin, and placenta. That’s when the It went full-blown crazy.

Rage filled my skull. It was enough that I couldn’t transform this body as quickly as I was programmed to do. It was unthinkable they had captured the other one like me and sent it to sleep for the moment. But for them to think I would allow them to test me in an effort to find a weakness? No. I could not be stopped. I would not be stopped, not by these weakling creatures.

Then I was back to Shalia, tearing myself free of the It to shout a warning. “I’m losing myself to it!”

Now I had two separate consciousnesses in my head, both fighting for supremacy. Feru was asking or telling me something, but I couldn’t pay any attention to him. I had to keep this thing from taking me over, from erasing me from existence. I was terrified that would be what happened if I gave an inch to the It.

From then on, it was the two of us shouting from the same mouth. One moment I was saying stuff like, “It thinks it can get free. Watch out!” Then the It vented its rage with, “Lower creatures will be eliminated. Purity will be maintained! Order will prevail!”

I could feel the It trying to assert itself on my brain. It didn’t hurt, but I could almost sense a clawing, a grasping, a bid to get a real foothold over my psyche.

“No! I will not let you! My name is Shalia Elizabeth Monroe. My name is Shalia Elizabeth Monroe. My name is—”

I interrupted myself with the It’s big play, one none of us saw coming. In perfect Kalquorian, words shot from my lips like machine gun bullets. “Emergency override of all Medical systems. Dr. Imdiko Tep authorization one-five-zero-four—”

Over me, Tep’s eyes widened in horror the instant I started speaking. As I yelled his authorization code he shouted, “Voice recognition! Cancel emergency override! Erase Tep authorization from the system, security protocol!”

Ebnad roared, “Acting Weapons Commander Ebnad confirmation of head medic’s removal, authorization beta-seven-three-three!”

“-seven-two-delta!” I finished screaming.

There was a moment of absolute silence. Then the computer said in its usual flat, emotionless tone, “Head Medic Tep’s authorization erased from system. Dr. Zaw currently with sole full Medical systems authorization.”

Before the It could start rattling off more codes, I yelled, “It’s got all the authorization passes for this department. You have to take them all out.”

“Fuck!” Ebnad swore before using his security pass to take the whole system, minus the stasis fields, offline. Fortunately for us all, none of the patients in Medical were in life-threatening situations. I didn’t have Ebnad’s security codes, so I couldn’t disable the stasis field holding me prisoner. That had been my primary objective.

Oses stepped forward, looking down at me gravely. “How much of the ship’s systems has the It gained access to?” he asked me. “Whose codes, what departments’ access?”

At his question, my unwanted guest drew its consciousness back, trying to shield itself from me. However, it had been so intent in gaining control over Medical and stopping Tep from his tests that the It had left itself wide open. I caught the answer before it slammed the door shut on me.

“Nearly everything except bridge and most security functions,” I answered. “It got into some lower-risk security accesses, which is how it got the shuttle bay doors open during yesterday’s attack. But it hasn’t yet gotten into weapons, navigation, power, or life support. It has every intention of getting hold of those codes as soon as it can, however.”

“Damnation,” Ebnad growled. He looked to Oses. “I’d like to reset everything, from food services right up to the captain’s codes.”

“Agreed. Once you wipe the system and input new accesses, the invaders’ that have taken over Mataras Shalia and Candy will have to start over again from scratch – if they somehow manage to escape stasis.” Oses’ tone said he was pretty confident that wouldn’t happen.

I hated to rain on his parade, but I remembered one small nugget that had crossed the It’s mind during our battle. “It thought of Candy’s confinement as temporary. It is confident that you can’t keep either of us locked down forever.”

The weapons commander’s eyes narrowed as he looked at me. “You’re sure of that? I don’t know of any creature capable of escaping stasis.”

“The It has no doubt it will get free,” I reiterated. “It is only a matter of time.”

Feru blew out a heavy breath. “Tep, were you able to get all your samples?”

The head medic shook his head. “Not one bit of tissue before everything shut down. Subcommander, I know you have a full plate, but I need my department back up and running as soon as possible in case there’s an emergency.”

“Of course. We’ll get to that immediately. Let me get to my console on the bridge. I’ll have everything back up with temporary codes within fifteen minutes.” Ebnad glanced at the rest of the squad. “Stay here and keep an eye on things.” His glare in my direction was decidedly unfriendly.

Betra’s face was lined with worry. “Now what?”

Tep was on his handheld, tapping on it at lightning speed. “Once Medical’s systems are restored, I’ll put Shalia under heavy sedation. I’ll get those samples, whether that damned thing in her wants me to or not.”

Monday, May 25, 2015

May 20, part 3

Tep put me in a private room. He got busy arranging the tests he needed to subject me and my unwanted guest to. I remained in partial stasis to keep me from taking off and committing mayhem should the It get the upper hand again.

Oses remained with me while Betra went back to my quarters to fetch a few things. My Imdiko lover returned with my prettiest nightgowns, my handheld, hairbrush, and other little things. He set the handheld on the table next to me so I could speak to it. My diary, music, and audio story files were there to keep me amused during this incarceration.

It is an incarceration. I am a prisoner in Medical, held by stasis and the terror of the thing taking me over.

I gave in to panic for a little while. “Promise me,” I begged Oses and Betra over and over. “Promise me the baby will be saved, no matter what it means happens to me. You have got to keep my child safe if I get to the point where I can’t make those decisions anymore.”

They said all the right things, assuring me that my little one would survive this nightmare. I’m sure Betra meant it at the time, but who knows if he’ll falter if the worst happens? He’s told me he loves me, and sometimes love makes us weak. If it comes down to pulling the plug on me, I’m not sure he can insist.

Oses, however ... well, he’s Oses. I have hopes his brand of uncompromising love will take care of whatever comes. He’s had to face the possibility of it before. I think I can count on him.

When I continued to cry, devastated by all that had happened and continued to happen, the men did their best to soothe me with gentle kisses, whispered comforts, and loving caresses. When that failed, Oses went for what only a desperate Nobek who couldn’t beat someone up would think of: sex.

I was jolted from my despair by him flipping up the nightgown I’d been dressed in by the orderlies, exposing me from my swelling waist down. I gasped as he spread my legs and planted a wet kiss on my pussy.

“Are you insane?” Betra hissed at him, looking as shocked as I felt. “This is not the time for sex!”

“She’s stopped crying,” Oses pointed out. If not for the heat in his purple eyes, the look he gave me would have been quite bland. “It’s a good distraction, I think. It’s up to you, Shalia. Do you wish me to stop or continue?”

I stared at him, flabbergasted. “Oses, I’m being taken over by an alien organism!”

“Yes, I know. But right now you are still Shalia, the woman I crave. You were also getting hysterical, which does you no good. I have snapped you out of that.”

He had a point. However, my mind was far from wanting a lurid encounter. “I do not feel like fucking, Oses.”

“Not yet,” he shrugged. “Maybe I can change your mind. You are helpless under a partial stasis field. That puts you unequivocally under my power, something that usually makes you happy. I can give you a little sexual pleasure to help you feel better. If Betra will stop looking so affronted, he could help too.”

Betra shook his head at Oses. “Only a Nobek would think of fucking at a time like this.”

Oses rolled his eyes. “I said nothing about actual fucking. It’s against regulations for intercourse in Medical anyway. However, Shalia can be serviced. Maybe she can even achieve climax. Maybe not. But we can try to take her mind off her troubles, if only for a little while.”

Betra looked like he was getting angry. It was a crazy idea, all right. Plus I had another concern, which I voiced before the Imdiko could give Oses the verbal tongue lashing he was no doubt planning to unleash.

“Oses, you can’t want to touch me. Not with this – this awful thing on me. In me.”

The Nobek looked at me. There was love in his eyes, but not the soft dewdrop love of poetry. Not a sappy, silly love. This was hard love, the love of a man who would kill in its name. It was an uncompromising love that said nothing would keep Oses from doing what had to be done to shelter me.

“It is not you,” he said. “The invader can never take you from me. Nothing, not even death can take you from my heart. I see only you, Shalia. The It cannot change that, and it cannot have the part of you that matters most. If the only way I can show you that is through lovemaking, then that is what I will do.”

With that, he buried his face in my pussy. My instincts were to buck him off, to slug him, to pull on his hair to get him off me. Yet I was helpless to do anything but take it.

That thought was enough to switch my gears. My mouth had been opening to tell Betra to kick the Nobek’s ass when I realized there was nothing I could do physically to ward Oses off. Damn the man, he’d been right when he said that was one of my triggers. My pussy gave an insistent throb of need.

Even now, I’m not sure how lust could have overcome my terrors at such a moment. Maybe it was the love I’d seen in Oses’ eyes. Maybe it was simply an animal instinct to hide, at least emotionally, from what tormented me. Whatever it was, it had me gasping all of the sudden as desire lit its familiar but still wondrous fire.

I moaned, my vision turning hazy as I looked at the dark head moving between my legs. Lips, tongue, and teeth worked my sweetest flesh. Oses’ breath was warm on me, its heat seeming to seep into my core.

I guess my reaction to those most intimate kisses convinced Betra that Oses was on the right track. The Imdiko’s mouth found mine, and his hands curled over my breasts. While Oses concentrated his delicious attack on parts south, Betra handled everything from the waist up.

Mouths and hands played over my body, taking me away from the horror for too brief a time. It was the best they could do however, and I sank into the pleasuring with gratitude.

With one hand moving over my belly, as if he sought to comfort the child in me, Betra’s other hand and mouth teased and tormented my breasts. One moment he nipped and pinched. The next he kissed and caressed. Then he sucked and squeezed. The sensations went from twinges of pain to soft pleasure to stabs of excitement. One bled into the other until it was a continuous pulse of bliss that suffused all of me.

Meanwhile, Oses plied me with fingers and mouth. His fingers worked in and out slowly, putting pressure on all the best, most sensitive parts. His lips surrounded my clit, sucking it into his mouth, trapping it carefully between his teeth, and lashing it with his tongue.

I lay beneath the two men, unable to move. Rapture swelled within me as they took advantage of my inability to even twitch, devouring my frozen body until billowing delight shattered me. When those first surges of ecstasy quieted, they resumed with more intensity than before. They made me climax twice more before they deemed their work done.

I floated in a hazy aftermath, my body sated and my mind quiet for the moment. I felt strangely secure as Oses and Betra straightened my nightgown and bed sheets, making me presentable once more.

Some semblance of sanity asserted itself. It told me my lovers would protect me as best they could. If the day came when they no longer could keep me safe, then they would guarantee my child’s well-being. With my earlier hysteria bled out, I could think again. Thanks to Oses and Betra, I once more knew exactly where everything that mattered most to me stood. The universe was still a catastrophic fuck-all, but at least now I had stable bits to keep me sane.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

May 20, part 2

By the time Oses got me to Medical, we had a security detail of six Nobeks surrounding us. We burst into Tep’s department like I was dying with only seconds left to be saved.

It felt that way.

The doctor wasted no time. “Put her on the table for a full scan,” he ordered Oses.

Oses had to remove the cuffs that held my wrists prisoner behind my back to lay me down. He bared fangs at the security officers around us: they had drawn their blasters. I for one welcomed the show of force. There wasn’t the slightest peep from the It that had invaded my body. I thought perhaps it knew it was in danger and that kept it quiet.

Though Oses was clearly unhappy to have me under armed siege, he didn’t say anything to object. It was pretty obvious that I was behind the shuttle bay incident. Under the It’s control, I could be very dangerous to this ship and crew.

“Computer, place patient in stasis from the neck down,” Tep said as soon as I was in position.

Good, I couldn’t move. Oses snarled at the others, “She’s secured. Put the blasters away.”

I’m sure they could have challenged him since he was on leave, but no one did. Oses was held in high esteem apparently, no matter what his current status was. They immediately holstered their weapons.

Tep muttered and scowled at whatever the scan showed him. “All right, all right,” he said. “She’s certainly infected with the same organism as Matara Candy, but nowhere as much. It’s barely left the arm. One feeder vein in her chest, two in her brain. There seems to be something else here though, something on her wrist...”

Betra’s voice informed me that he’d arrived. “It looks like that cuff Candy got her for her birthday. The armor is growing right over it.”

Tep tapped like the world’s fastest typist on his computer station’s keyboard. I’ve never seen fingers fly so fast. “Actually, it’s growing from the bracelet. There is no separation between it and where the armor connects to it. Did Matara Candy have one of these pieces?”

I stared at the ceiling overhead. “Yes, an exact duplicate. She bought it from a vendor on Darotkin.”

“How long have you been wearing it, Shalia?”

I couldn’t remember the last time I’d put the thing on. I searched my memory, but all I could come up with was the night of the special dinner with Betra and Oses. I’d worn the bracelet and the pretty blouse Katrina had bought me. The one that matched the dress she’d bought for my unborn daughter.

I swallowed. Tep had said the It was only in my arm, chest, and brain. It hadn’t gotten to my baby yet.

“I don’t know for sure the last time I put it on. The latest I remember wearing it was eight days ago. I don’t remember ever taking it off after that.” I looked at Oses, pleading with my gaze for him to believe the next thing I said. “I don’t remember going into the shuttle bay today either. One moment I was in my quarters, and the next I was in the bulkhead where we found Candy. The computer there was counting something down, but I didn’t know what. It must have set off the bay doors opening.” My voice ended in a little sob. Men had died because of me.

“Easy, pet,” Oses murmured. He stroked my hair, his fierce face trying its damnedest to be comforting.

Tep’s frown deepened, putting big furrows in his face. “Candy came into possession of these cuffs during shore leave. That was ten days ago. Did she start wearing hers immediately?”

I remembered her sliding it on right after giving me my birthday present. “Yes.”

“I’m going to operate on the theory that the organisms affected you both in the capacity of memory. You wouldn’t realize you were still wearing the pieces once they had the chance to infiltrate your bodies. I’m betting it sends one of those veins ... or whatever the green tubes are ... straight to the brain as quickly as possible.” The doctor paced, considering. “Only two days’ difference between the times you put them on and forgot you were wearing them. And yet the organism has spread so much farther in Candy than in you. Why is that?”

I interrupted his worrying. “Are you going to put me in full stasis too?”

Tep shook his head. “I’d like to run tests first. I want to know if there is something in your genetic makeup that is fighting this organism. If we can figure out why it is invading you more slowly, that could be the answer to saving Candy and you from being overcome.”

I wanted Candy to be okay. I wanted me to be okay. But someone else was my overriding priority. “What about the baby? You can’t let this thing get to my child.”

Tep paused for only a moment. “Right now, it is nowhere near the fetus. I can’t let this opportunity to study it pass, Shalia. However, I promise that the instant I detect any of these veins heading in the baby’s direction, I will put you in stasis.”

“The thing is still taking Candy over even though she is in stasis,” I pointed out. “Can you take the baby if you have to?”

Tep wrung his hands. “At this stage, that would be dangerous. A few more weeks and she will be at a stage of development that will give her a better chance of survival. If we can’t—” he paused.

“If you can’t stop the organism from advancing,” I supplied, grimly stating what he didn’t want to.

Tep nodded. “If it comes to that, I will deliver the baby. We’ll do all we can to ensure her well-being.”

I said, “Even if it means you have to give up on me.”

Betra’s sharp intake of breath came at the same time that Tep’s brows shot up. “I am in no way saying it will come to that,” the doctor insisted.

“It could,” I grated between clenched teeth. “Let me tell you why.”

I reported my dream then, making sure they knew the first dream of being an armed killer among many others had occurred well before seeing the armor on Candy. I didn’t want them to take the insight lightly. I ended with, “I think the nightmares were the It’s memory of an earlier time. With it connected to my brain, I believe I am seeing some of what it’s done in the past.”

“The It?” Tep asked.

“That’s what I’ve been calling this thing. It was made to kill. It has no conscience. It takes pleasure in destroying.” I swallowed a surge of nausea, remembering that heady thrill of power that had accompanied my bloodsoaked dreams. “It cannot be stopped once it’s in full control. I don’t think I can make that clear enough to you. It will not think twice about killing all of you.”

Between clenched teeth I finished by telling Tep, “If you have to, take the baby and destroy both me and the It. You cannot let this thing get loose.”