Thursday, May 28, 2015
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.”