Monday, June 29, 2015

May 26 – postdated (Part 2)


Feeling what seemed to be my own thoughts, thoughts that spoke of hate for me and the baby, helped me gain a little of the real Shalia back. I flew to that screaming bit of me, the part that was pure – albeit almost insane – Shalia. I separated as best as I could from the It. It still invaded my conscience, trying to consume what small mote remained.

It was a nightmare. One moment I was terrified and trying to hide from the invader. The next moment I was the invader, determined and homicidal. Alarms sounded in the ship. I pumped adrenaline and endorphins into my unaltered legs, making them run faster than I’d ever managed before. When I came upon the enemy – any Kalquorian – I used my enhanced arm like a battering ram. I knew I was doing a lot of damage if not outright killing those who got in my way.

I wandered back and forth, two different people. The weaker Shalia me could only watch as the stronger It me left a wake of carnage as it sought the hiding place it needed.

Besides my unborn child, I feared the most for Oses and Betra. I thought Betra might try to find me, believing he could talk me down. There was absolutely no doubt in my mind that Oses would come hunting. Sooner or later he would find me too. If I was too far gone, if I could not regain control, the It would not stop at killing either man. That scared me enough to almost give in once more to the urge to just scream and scream and scream.

Another awful scenario would be if Oses had to kill me to save the ship and anyone the It might come across. I was fine with giving up my life in that case. I would have rather died then be the vehicle through which the It ‘purified’ the universe. But Oses was still trying to fight through the trauma of not being as much of my protector as he felt he should be. I feared he might not remain sane if he had to end my – and my baby’s – life.

I thought about trying to reason with the It. To bargain somehow. Let my child be born and then take my body. We could ask for a shuttle with which to leave the transport.

The It heard my thoughts. It immediately turned them back. Even if the Kalquorians agreed to such a deal, they would no doubt blast the shuttle and us into dust the moment it could. The It knew they considered it too dangerous to be set free. No, the plan was to hide for the few hours it would take to gain control of needed brain centers, destroy and expel the child, and finish transformation of the host. Then it would free Other One, and they would carry out their mission.

I battled to cut myself off from the It. I succeeded, once more letting myself be consumed in emptiness. Whether that was a victory or not, I’m not sure. It felt like a substantial amount of time passed as I sat in the dark, blind and deaf to whatever my body was up to. I hid there in the darkness, marshalling my will as best I could. I thought of the life I still had before me, of all I’d survived to get to where I was. I thought of my dreams and hopes of the future. I fed my determination with the love I felt for those on the ship who meant the most to me: Candy, Katrina, Betra, and Oses. I thought of the child I had not yet met but already loved.

After psyching myself up as much as I could, I began to fight my way back to the surface.

Maybe the human will is an indomitable source of strength. Maybe love is more powerful than any other force in the universe, like the songs and poems have always insisted. Maybe it was just because Oses’ bite had worn off. Or maybe the It thought I had waved the white flag and given up. Whatever it was, I was given the might I needed. I not only mentally shoved aside the startled It, I also regained control over myself.

I had no idea where the hell I was. The room around me was empty of personnel. All around me were computer stations and vids, most of them turned off. The three that were on displayed only Kalquorian letters. I had only learned to speak a little Kalquorian. I still couldn’t read but a few words of the language yet, so it was incomprehensible to me.

I could feel the It on the outside of my consciousness, trying to shove back in to regain control. I didn’t dare peek into its thoughts for fear of it taking me over again. I had the feeling that if I weakened for an instant, I would never be myself again.

I saw only one thing in that small, dimly lit room that I recognized as something I could use to my advantage. It was a com, sitting on one raised table. I hurried to it and said, “Com Weapons Commander Oses, personal frequency.”

I could have cried with relief to hear that gravel voice issuing from the speakers. “Oses here.”

“Thank the prophets,” I cried, overcome.

“Shalia? Where are you?” He almost screamed the words.

“I don’t know. I’m in some small room with a bunch of computers that I’ve never seen before.” The alarms continued to sound from behind the room’s one closed door. “I’m afraid to step out in case Security decides to shoot me on the spot.”

“They have orders not to do so, to take you alive if at all possible. Stay where you are, though. I don’t want you hurt, which is a very real probability. I can trace this com signal to find you.”

“Hurry, Oses. I don’t know how long I can keep the It under control—”

My words ended in a scream. Vicious pain slashed through my chest. It felt as if my heart was being ripped right out. I fell to the floor in a heap, with Oses’ desperate voice calling my name through the com.

“Shalia! Shalia, answer me!”

As I tried to remember how to breathe, the It came at me. It overwhelmed me, demanding my surrender. Its determination to regain control lessened the brutal pain, allowing me to recognize the real danger of the moment. My consciousness fled from the intruder, retreating back into the dark corner where I mentally barricaded myself from being swallowed. I still had that bit of me, retaining my identity as Shalia. It had been close though.

I had no control over my body once more.  The It had taken command. This time, however, not all was dark in my tiny little patch of consciousness. I could still see and hear what was going on with my usurped body.

Now that the It and I knew each other’s weaknesses, we were both on guard. I knew that the next time I took over, the organism would retaliate with mind-stealing pain. It stood ready to demolish what was left of the real me at that point. I would have to choose my next – and probably last – battle wisely.

Warned that Oses was on his way, my body got to its feet. It propelled towards the door, where it spoke with my voice but not my words. “Door, open.”

The door obeyed, humming quietly into the wall. The It looked out into a corridor I was sure I’d never been in before. It looked out carefully, listening past the claxons for any hint of others. There were voices, but they sounded distant, well beyond the corner a few feet away. The It edged out and headed quickly in the opposite direction. I kept hoping Oses would show up, but there was no sign of him or anyone from ship’s security. What remote corner of the ship had I ended up in?

Three turns down other unfamiliar halls, and we stood before an in-house transport. We boarded it, and my voice ordered, “Shuttle Bay Seven.”

I felt a chill to hear where I was being taken. It was the same bay where the It had blown out the doors the first time it took control of me.

3 comments:

  1. Just out of general curiosity because I don't want the Shalia story to end, but if they were forced to take the baby & confine her indefinitely in some kind of stasis; to whom would the custody of her daughter go to? Her adopted dads? {And do they even know about this current crisis? } Run dna & determine baby's bio dad? She talks about saving her but not who'd raise her & her mom would not be a reasonable choice. All of which would make me very interested in reading a Kalquorian version of "3 men & a baby or two."
    Tracy I love your stories and am so grateful you share your amazing gift with us. Thanks so much.

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    1. Lily, the baby would be the child of the clan she picks but she hasn't picked one yet. There are two clans talking with her which means the child would be a ward of the ship. Betra, Oses and Tep are the closest to the child's mother.

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    2. Lilly, it's a good question. If Shalia was unable to care for her child for an extended time or permanently, it would cause some serious chaos. As long as she's aboard the ship, Captain Wotref would consult with those experts he has: Feru and Tep. He'd also consult with Earthers like Katrina to get their perspective. He'd also contact Shalia's adoptive dads, but since they are too far away to do anything, it would be more as a courtesy than anything else. In all likelihood, Katrina would take on primary caregiving as Shalia's closest friend (since Candy is also incapacitated) and an experienced mother. But Marcy is right in thinking Betra, Oses, and Tep would be heavily invested in the child's care too.

      Once on Kalquor, the baby would have to be fostered. No doubt Katrina would make a concerted bid to be her guardian until DNA tests discover who the father is. Once the father is determined, his parent clan might step in and take guardianship until he and his clan get home.

      Of course, you never know what complications might arise in all of this. Such is the world of Kalquor!

      The idea of a Kalquorian version of '3 Men and a Baby' has occurred to me too (not for Shalia's Diary, however). That would be something else, wouldn't it?

      Thanks for reading! Great question!

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