Boarding the Mothership
Echo-1: Part 25
The bottom bay door opened on the black spiky ship. Our transport ship was on a straight path to dock. I took up a position behind them and stayed close. No more fighters came. No more shots were fired. We were going in. The transport repositioned itself under the Magus and drifted up into the docking bay. I followed in close behind. The bay doors closed behind us with a clunk.
The docking area was large. A row of tug ships with the big clamps lined one wall and there were various transport ships and fighters on the opposite wall. We passed through an inner airlock door. The transport settled on the deck, its main hatch opened and the ramp came down.
The dock pressurized. I thought about just blasting all the ships parked in the bay. I was still in battle mode it seemed. I hovered above with my finger on the trigger waiting to see what would happen. There was no one around.
Mox came rampaging down the transport ramp riding atop the monster polar bear. X rocketed out behind him in the Rust-a-gogo. There were two black shapes clinging to the outside of her bike. She tore off down a row of fighters and drove out of sight into the darkness of the vast hangar system.
There were two side hangars, both full of docked ships. There was a huge metal door in the middle of the back wall of the dock, the entrance into the main sections of the ship.
Veronica walked out with the rust Sentinel droid behind her. Werner and Forklift pushed out the portable whale tank, one behind it and one in front. The 100 Year Lifespan virtual simulation unit was stacked on top of the empty whale tank. Last, but not least, was Dr. Death bring up the rear. He held his rust cannon in two hands, it was obviously now armed as it emitted a thin blue line of light in front of it, a space version of a laser sight I assumed.
X came racing out of the left hangar and shot down the right hangar.
X on the transmitter: “These hangars are full of ships, but no crew. There doesn’t seem to be anyone around. Hands, scan for life signs.”
“Oh, shit, right.”
I focused on the scout’s array system. There were tens of thousands of life signs aboard. Mostly Mega Therion, but some other types of beings as well. The whole ship seemed to read as one big active robot. Even all the ships that seemed dormant in the hangar registered as active. It must be all controlled via the virus beam.
I turned to Styx, he sat there motionless.
“I may leave you. Stay here and scan everything. Get as much information as you can.”
“Sludfast. Affirmative.” Styx came to life and started pushing buttons and interacting with the ship’s navigational controls.
I knew he was in control then. He had me worried there for a minute with his sitting extremely still thing.
We changed our position in the dock to face the main door. The team had lined up in front of it. X raced out of the right hangar sans any outer passengers and glided to a stop beside the Sentinel droid. Death moved to the front of the group turned around and waved up to us. He was signaling that I should blast the door open. I wasn’t sure about that.
Styx spun his head toward me. “Control. Station. Left. Of. Door. Klegzit.”
I told the team there seemed to be a control station to the left of the door. I watch as Veronica ran over and started pushing buttons. A small door inside of the big main door opened up and a very skinny humanoid robot came through.
The droid had simple steel arms and legs with single flex joints. Its head and body were steel cylinders. The head had a slit that glowed pale green. Its eye I assumed. It walked over to the control panel Veronica was at, stepped up to where she was standing. She backed up a bit. The droid took the controls.
“Welcome to Mega Therion. Welcome to the Magus. Your ships will stay here. Please proceed to the cathedral. The Vedma welcome you with open arms.”
The droid twitched twice and the big door opened. When the door opened we were faced with two large cannons pointed right at the group on the ground. A humanoid droid manned each one. The skinny droid at the controls repeated its command.
“Your ships will stay here or we will kill all of you.”
Mox rode forward, his giant polar bear snarling at the robot.
“Our ships will stay here, if you shoot us now you will destroy the simulation unit.”
He gestured to the device atop the portable whale tank. I eyed the hallway. I could take out both cannons and fly down the hall, but probably not without serious risk to the team.
I looked to Styx. “I’m going out. Stay here and don’t let anyone near this ship.”
I looked at my rust rifle for a moment on the way out. It wasn’t going to help. I didn’t need it. These type of thoughts filled my head. I walked past it, opened the hatch and jumped out, unarmed. The hatch closed behind me and Styx backed the ship away from the entrance door. I hit the floor and landed like a cat. I walked over to where Veronica was standing near the control panel. The two cannon lifted their aim and fixed on the Sunshine scout.
“Well, are we going in or what?”
Veronica smiled at me. We were going in.
X engaged her engines and rode off down the hall at full speed. Mox followed on his polar mount at a casual pace. Werner and Forklift maneuvered the whale tank between the cannons. Followed by myself, Veronica, and the Rust Sentinel. Death stepped through the doorway and the door slammed shut behind him.
I didn’t see coming, what happened next. Dr. Death went to the robot manning the cannon on the left and picking him up, ripped him apart with his hands. He then ran over to the other and had him broken into two pieces before he even had time to react to the situation. He shut down both the cannons and smashed their controls with the nose of his gun. We all paused for a moment. The smaller inner door activated and the skinny droid came through the opening. Death leveled his cannon on him. The robot twitched twice.
“Please proceed down the hall to the cathedral.”
Death blasted him back into the hangar. He was in the doorway one moment, gone the next.
Dr. Death turned and faced us. “We don’t want him locking the door on us. Right?”
We all proceeded down the hallway. The passage was tunnel-ish, a perfect circular cavern clearly made for vehicles. It went on for what felt like ten city blocks. The walls were steel and bare. I could see X off in the distance ahead of us. Probably about two blocks away was a junction. X was stopped there. There was something going on. There were large creatures all around her. She zipped out of sight heading down the right side corridor.
I saw them clearly. They ran across the hallway, silhouetted under the passage lights, three or four of them. They ran on all fours like dogs. They were huge. As big as the monster polar bear. Vicious looking wolves. Huge terrifying jaws. Wolfmen who would shame Hollywood horror films. I immediately wanted to go back for my gun.
The speed and strength of the wolves was apparent from a distance. Their head and ears, gigantic, they could literally eat you. They ran off down the hallway after X. The space was empty then. We kept moving on, picking up the pace a bit. Our bodies were strong and could easily run fast for a considerable distance. We were keeping up with a giant bear and Robo suits. As we approached the crossroad we heard a howl. A blood-curdling cry at the moon, it was echoed and returned from further off in the tunnel system. X’s Rust-a-gogo flew by again at a blinding speed, a flash of rusty metal and light. We were approaching the corner when the wolves, five of them, went running by chasing her like a pack of dogs after a kid on a bike. They were even bigger up close.
Dr. Death took point as we all stopped dead in our tracks. The last wolf slowed and looked at us. Death leveled his cannon at it. It understood what it was. It flashed its huge eyes at us and turned and ran off following the others after X. Death walked a few steps into the left hallway. Both the intersecting tunnels seemed to go on for equally long distances, with additional side tunnels splitting off them. X had led them down a side tunnel. We continued across the intersection and down the passageway. There was one more intersection ahead and past that a set of giant doors. They were closed. We kept moving.
I communicated to Veronica via the transmitter. “Hey, let’s ride on top of the whale tank. Less chance of dying I think.”
She obviously thought this was a good idea and immediately ran up the side of Werner’s suit and jumped onto the top of the tank. I followed suit. She, like myself, was also unarmed. Mox led the way with the Sentinel droid on his tail. The whale tank hovered along after them and Death constantly looking back brought up the rear. It wasn’t much time until we came to the next intersection.
“I’m not doing this on purpose… or am I?”
X came flying out of the left passage and rocketed down the right. This time with a full pack of wolves following her. The last three stopped in the center of the intersection and stood upright. They were not wearing any clothing and the fur on their back stood up straight. They did not like us, that was for sure. The Sentinel droid stepped in front of Mox. The wolves were taller than it. They growled and charged the robot.
The next moment I remember in slow motion, but the droid held out his two clawed arms to its sides displaying the two giant rusty battle axes which suddenly took on the same red lightning of its single giant eye. It wasn’t enough to scare the wolves though, they didn’t even slow down. The Sentinal swung forward with its right arm and cleaved the first wolf in the back of the neck, splitting the back of its skull and its entire spine and rib cage in two. Blood flew everywhere. It let out a hideous cry.
The other two tried to get past him at the same time. He swung his left arm and swatted one out of the air as it jumped with the blade of his ax. More blood and this time legs went flying through the air. I smelled burnt hair and flesh. Not having enough time to swing at the other wolf that was jumping past his right side, the Sentinel simply body checked it against the wall. It howled and scratched at him. The impact crushed its bones and broke its body. The Sentinel righted itself. The wolf lie on the floor whimpering like a hurt dog. The Sentinel raised his axe and landed it square in the center of the animal’s head, completely destroying it. The axe lifted out of the dead creature’s head, sizzling bits of brains, fur, and flesh dripped off the blade. The tunnel was silent again.
“Holy fucking shit!”
I had never seen anything so horrifying in my entire life. The brutality of it. The sheer unfeeling murderousness of that robot. The terror the wolves first put into me was washed away by their horrific death. I seriously questioned if I should be here at all. My nerves were completely shot. I was totally freaked out. I turned to Veronica with the look of a frightened child.
“Yes, Hands, that was horrible, but we’re on a mission and you must stay focused. Don’t fall apart on me.” She reached forward and put her hand on my shoulder.
How was it a whale using a marionette avatar could understand the human need for touch and support. Maybe it wasn’t so much a human need as it was a need of all beings. Certainly mammals and in my case former mammals. A moment of compassion at a time of senseless killing. Mox steadied his mount and moved it forward. It tore a chunk of wolf away from one of the corpses and kept walking, chewing and then swallowing the fresh meat. Mox tuned back to us after looking both ways down the intersection.
“Come on, let’s keep moving. They’re just testing us. There are thousands of them on board.” Mox waved us on.
I was glad to be riding on top of the whale tank as we passed over the bloodbath on the floor. We continued down the hall. The giant doors came more clearly into view. They were brass colored and had a large image of the comet carved on them with what appeared to be masses of humans walking toward it. The doors arched all the way up to the ceiling of the tunnel. It would be possible for Styx to fly the ship all the way inside if the doors were open. But they were closed. We stopped about ten meters in front of them. Nothing happened.
Veronica tapped me on the shoulder. “She’s coming.”
Looking back we saw X turn the corner of the last intersection and head right toward us. Death stood like a human, well human-ish, barricade between us and the ten of fifteen rampaging wolves on X’s tail. They came running around the corner their claws scratching at the floor as they slid and drifted trying to make the turn at a full out sprint. X slowed to a turning stop, facing the oncoming pack just in front of Dr. Death, who stepped to her side and open fired on them. He held that rusty tube of a cannon with both hands, leaning back using his body to counterbalance the constant repetitive laser blasts. He tore the wolves to shreds.
X floored her bike, smashing through the center of the pack, sending wolves flying. The growls and howls drowned out by the blasts of Death’s rust cannon. It fired thick laser bolts that killed the wolves dead in their tracks. He continued firing as the first few attempted to charge him. X had turned around again was heading back toward us firing from the embedded weapon on her gogo. The wolves were caught in the crossfire with nowhere to go. Panic set in the last few and they tried to flee only to be shot down. X crashed through the pile of broken bodies on the floor. She came to a slow stop at the back of the whale tank. When Death stopped firing there were none left alive. Again the tunnel fell silent, the smell of death thick in the air.
The sound of the great brass doors unlocking turned our heads around. The doors clanged with a heave and opened toward us. The scent of fresh flowers and candles came with the air that rushed out. It was a cathedral indeed. The inside space opened up to a height of about five decks. It was a giant hall with vaulted ceilings. Pillars of polished brass ran up the walls and met at the top forming spectacular arches. Mox moved past the doors and into the cathedral, the rest of us followed in procession. Veronica and myself riding on top of the whale tank.
As we passed through the doors I took everything in. Between the pillars was a deep red ruby colored glass and as we entered the great hall it became illuminated from behind. The ceiling was a lighter clear crystal which was lit from above as if the sun were shining in. There were two large arching doorways, one on each of the side walls. Opposite the main entrance, we had passed through was a raised platform with an ornate red velvet chaise lounge in the center of it. Reclining on the oversized couch were the three most beautiful women I had ever seen in my entire life.
They were human. All three had thick long curls of hair. Two had fair complexions, one with blonde hair, the other a more strawberry blond. The third had deep brown skin and jet black curls. They all wore sheer flowing gowns that revealed everything. There bodies perfect specimens of humanity. Flawless. Their eyes shined above their jetting cheekbones, soft yet radiant blues and greens. I was aware of the slow and purposeful movement of their slender fingers and jeweled toes. Their perfect chests raised and lowered as they took in air. They all seemed to be smiling slightly in a Mona Lisa kind of way.
They watched us as we approached the center of the room. The floor around them was covered in flowers. A soft sweet smelling perfume floated on a gentle breeze coming from their direction. They were mesmerizing. I felt hypnotized.
X communicating from her bike: “What’s with the three foxy human chicks? Are they from Earth?”
Mox over the transmitter: “These three lovelies are clearly Varan with scales like I have never seen. Far more beautiful than before. One is bright orange, the other two green, and yellow, respectively.”
X: “They’re human, I’m telling you. They look like supermodels.”
Veronica via transmitter: “They appear to be synthetic Zero-G humanoids from my perspective. They look like us. Same make, maybe more advanced, olive skin, black hair, triangle formation retinas. Perfectly manufactured beings.”
Werner: “They look human to me too. Three gorgeous blondes. I’d place them in their early thirties.”
Forklift had a helpless tone in his voice, he seemed more under their spell than I. It was almost refreshing. He helped me snap out of it, seeing him so subdued. He walked forward and opened his rust suit. He started to climb out. Death ran around the side of the whale tank.
“Get back in your suit, right now, mister!”
Forklift gave him a defying look and climbed down onto the floor. He walked up to the edge of the raised flower covered platform and kneeled down. He lowered his head to the floor and remained there.
“What the fuck is the matter with you Forklift? Get back in your suit, you have a job to do here.”
The two fair skinned women sat up, slung their legs over the edge of the couch and swung their feet back and forth in a synchronized manner, like little girls. Leaning forward and smiling at Death and Forklift.
“Ah, human sacrifice, our favorite, he know’s his place in the universe.” Said the blonde one.
The other twirling her hair in her fingers addressed Dr. Death. “You should kill him for disobedience. We must have order among our ranks.”
Death started to aim his cannon at Forklift’s huddled body on the floor.
“What a fine, fine soldier.” The two seemed to get excited about the idea of Forklifts imminent death.
Veronica jumped off the tank, landed on her feet and placed herself between Death and Forklift.
“Stand down sergeant.” Her avatar’s eyes glared at him. He lowered his weapon.
There was motion in the two side halls. Three wolves walked out of the right corridor. The first had silvery white fur, the other two were brindle browns. The two following the silver one were holding rust blade assault rifles in one hand and dragging what was left of Lee and Harvey in their other. They walked to the side of the flowered altar and threw down the metallic chewed skeletal remains of the two former synthetic life forms.
The wolves wore the black leather battle armor I had seen before on the wounded Therion from the video we watched on Varanidi.
The silver one addressed the three women in what sounded like dog growls. They answered back in the same growling language. Which was bizarre to see coming from slender dainty human girls with pouty lips and perfect teeth. They growled with the same ferociousness as the Therion. I had to remind myself that they were shapeshifters, or maybe they projected this image to all of us individually.
To the Mega Therions they were she-wolves, to me they were a sampling of young beautiful human women in their early 20’s, Werner saw them as 30 something blondes, and Mox saw them as exotic colored Varan lizard women. I wondered if the polar bear saw them as monstrous female white-furred bears?
The silver wolf stood for a moment and looked us all over. He was a magnificent beast. Fine silver fur flowed over his muscular body. His shoulders were masses of strength and power. He stood upright, towering with height on his back legs, which had the inverted knees of a canine. He walked over to Forklift and stomped his huge clawed back paw down on him, pinning him to the floor.
Veronica whipped around. “Get off him!”
She lunged forward shoving the great wolf in the midsection. Her arms pressing into his lower stomach. He shot his arm out and gripped her around her waist. His claw piercing into the flesh of her sides. Thick dark forest green blood started to stain the wolves hand. Veronica struggled to get free.
I realized I was standing there frozen in the moment when I noticed that Dr. Death was doing the same.
The silver wolf raised Veronica’s body up to his face and bit into her with such power it chilled me to the bone. Half her form disappeared into his mouth. Green blood squirted out and he ripped her upper body flesh away like she was a turkey drumstick. His teeth shredded her shoulders, neck, and head. Her skull was a dark green mess when her head came out of his mouth. She was missing one eye. She was still functioning. She was a well-built android avatar after all.
She clawed at the wolf’s face, going for his eyes. He easily dodged her grasp and shoved her head and upper body back in his mouth this time taking her head clear off. He spat out half her skull on the floor and swallowed the rest. Her arms went limp and he lifted her lifeless body and threw her down the hall to the right. Sounds of growling wolves erupted out of the hallway. I could see the mass of fur and fangs that ripped her body to pieces and dragged it off into the darkness.
A moment ago she was saving Forklift’s life, then there was nothing left of her but half a bloody skull on the floor and some green goo being licked off the jaws of a giant silver wolf.All I could think was that we were all going to die. We’d never get off this ship alive.
The wolf pressed his foot on Forklifts body still pinned below, crushing him down and flattening him out on the floor. He whimpered a bit as all the air was squeezed out of him. X’s Rust-a-gogo went into motion she was going to run down the silver wolf. The two brindle wolves took aim and started blasting her with the rust blade rifles. It knocked her off course. She executed a tight turn and rocketed off down the right hall, taking blaster hits until she was out of sight. The hall erupted again with sounds of wolf howls, barks, cries, and growls. She had clearly just run down several of them.
X: “I’ll be back, don’t die!”
With only half of Veronica’s avatar skull laying on the floor and X racing off down hallways again, the males of our expedition were left to the clutches of the three sirens and their dogs. We all stood there like fucking idiots.
Mox’s bear was starting to freak out and was growling and showing its teeth. Slobbery drool dripped out of its mouth onto the floor in long gooey strands. The whole eating of people in front of it must have set something off in the creature’s mind. It had tasted Mega Therion flesh and it wanted more. Mox was whispering to the bear, leaning forward toward its ears, trying to calm it. The bear advanced on the silver wolf. The two brindle wolves shifted their aim to it and fired, blasting two large holes in its side. This time the far more familiar and horrific red blood of a mammal flowed out of the animal staining its white fur. It reared up on its hind legs, suddenly taller than the Mega Therions. The silver wolf stepped away, freeing Forklift from under his foot. He scrambled away getting out from being between them. The polar bear was enraged. Its roar silenced the hall.
The two fair skinned girls jumped to their feet, standing on the couch, clasping their hands together with joyous looks of excitement on their faces.
“What fun! What fun!”
They clapped their hands and bounced up and down. I didn’t know what to look at, the insane killer bear or the two sets of perfect bouncing breasts. The room was all sex and death. Carnal appetites one fire.
Mox clung to the back of the bear as it charged forward sending the silver wolf in retreat behind the two brindle ones. They aimed again and fired, blasting two more bloody holes in the white furry shoulders of the bear. It was hurt and it was getting angrier. It roared again. Sending waves of fear through the two wolves attempting to stand their ground. I could see the terror in them. Their eyes dilated, their fur stood on end, they tucked their tails between their legs. One got off another shot into the center of the bear, nearly missing Mox still clinging to its back.
It was too late, the polar bear was on top of them. It jerked the front half of its body into the air and came down on the first brindle wolf smashing him under its weight. It lurched forward, further crushing the wolf beneath its feet and bit into the second one taking its entire torso into its fangs. The bear bit down with its foaming jaws and ripped the wolf in two. More red blood splashed on the floor. Then it arched back up in the air again and came crashing down a second time on the wolf below it, crushing the life out of it with a thunderous roar. It bit into the halved wolf’s body and savagely ate its intestines. It dug its head inside the rib cage of the dead wolf and pulled out all its organs and in one gulp swallowed them. The bear’s triangular shaped head was stained red with blood. The stark contrast with its fur made it that much more gruesome.
The polar bear looked up from the corpses on the ground and locked its attention on the silver wolf, who was now on all fours, back arched. The wolf was slimmer than the bear, probably half its weight, but the bear was wounded. They were sizing each other up. They paced around in circles like boxers dancing in a ring. They charged each other at the same time, both rising up on their hind legs and crashing into each other with incredible force. The impact sent Mox flying off the back of the polar bear. He landed and scurried to his feet. The silver wolf was also thrown back across the room. Its black armor slashed by the bear’s claws.
It retreated a bit and then eyeing Mox made as if to advance. In a flash the Sentinel droid was between them, red electric axes a glow. The silver wolf was smart enough not to try and hold its ground this time. It backed away quickly and the Sentinel stood perfectly still. The sound of the heavy disconcerted breathing of the polar bear and buzz of the red lightning axes were the only sounds remaining in the room.
Mox adjusted himself, dusted off his trousers, and turned his attention to the women on the chaise lounge.
“Baba and Yaba, are we here to trade or just to amuse you? Shall we get down to business or do we waste the lives of my steed and your captain?”
They stopped jumping and stepped down off the bed. “Abednego, stop.”
The silver wolf backed up even further still and stood upright, taking a non-aggressive posture. The polar bear roared at him and turned its attention to eating more of his former companions. The Sentinel droid stepped back behind Mox again and powered down its lightning axes. The robot seemed to anticipate Mox’s actions.
Oddly, Dr. Death had not blasted everyone. I feared he was under the same spell as Forklift. Werner also just stood there in his rusty combat suit, it was as if he was hardly alive. Was I under the same enchantment. I was standing on top of the whale tank doing nothing, watching the events unfold. It was surreal and completely out of my control.
Mox stepped closer ignoring the carnage on the floor.
“Are you going to introduce me to your lovely sister? I’m sure we can reach a mutually beneficial understanding.” He suggested.
Somehow, to my amazement, Mox’s car salesman charm worked. Though the room was covered in blood and there was a giant polar bear ripping apart and eating the two dead wolves, no one seemed to mind.
“There above the tank is my right-hand man, please excuse his quietness. These two will be handling my heavy lifting.” He walked over to Forklift who was frozen on his hands and knees on the floor. He helped him up. “Why don’t you get back inside your suit for now.”
Forklift, unsteady on his feet, climbed back into his Rust-robo-combat suit and closed himself inside.
“Your Mega Therion troopers, fine as they are, have made the acquaintance of my robot and my muscle.” He gestured to Death and the Sentinel respectively.
They were both standing there motionless, though red lightning continually flashed from the great eye of the Sentinel droid. Mox walked over to Death and patted him on the arm.
“You ladies have really made an impression on my crew.”
Baba and Yaba glided forward. I wasn’t really sure which was which. They tended to speak together finishing each other’s thoughts. “Mr. Mox.” “This is our sister…” Sometimes talking together. “…Faye.”
Faye adjusted herself and leaned against the back of the chaise lounge.
“Hello, Mr. Mox. Don’t mind me, if I don’t get up. I see you brought the simulation unit.”
She pulled a small device out from beneath a pillow on the couch and flashed a light ray at the tank. I was caught in it. It made me feel very strange. The virtual environment generator came to life. I could see by its readout screen, that it had been infected with the Vedma virus. She turned the light off. The virus had taken over the device, I wondered if it had any effect on my computer components. My organic skin had somehow protected me, but it still gave me the creeps and all my hair was standing up.
“Please have your boys lift it down for us. We’d like to run a small test. I’ll have the whale brought out presently.” Spoke Faye.
Her voice was soft, yet firm. It was music to my ears or lack thereof. I could listen to her talk forever. I only wished that she would’ve said more. I was completely seduced. I literally felt like I was in love. I knew we were in trouble. Mox could hardly control himself with X. How could he possibly handle the Vedma succubi.
Werner and Forklift walked over to the tank, reached up, took hold of the simulation unit, and placed it on the floor.