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Author Topic: Nightmare Enigma  (Read 1397 times)

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Offline Lord BaneTopic starter

Nightmare Enigma
« on: May 09, 2017, 05:26:03 PM »
Tom couldn't help letting out a sigh as he went up to the cafeteria to pick up his dinner. The mess hall was one of his least favourite locations to spend time in the prison, as it was the one time he couldn't avoid spending time with the worst of the prisoners in the jail. He could feel their eyes on him as he took the food and headed for the most distant table he could find. There were guards dotted all around the room, dressed in armour which covered their appearances so well you could almost wonder whether the occupants were human or not, powerful rifles slung across their front. He sat down and started eating, hoping the other prisoners would pay as little attention to him as he was to them.

Offline Dys Astyr

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Re: Nightmare Enigma
« Reply #1 on: May 09, 2017, 07:15:51 PM »
The line of prisoners moved sluggishly around the edge of the cafeteria, like a snake too long exposed to the cold. Ix moved with it, just another segment of serpentine body, nose slits narrowed as much as possible to block out the smell. It wasn't the food, she had eaten far worse. It was the overwhelming cacophony of scents, sweat and pheromones, fear and chemicals. The body musk of dozens of species mixed with stomach turning results, undercut by the ozone tang of the security fields. Together it was an overwhelming stink. So she moved, breathing as shallowly as possible.

Eventually she reached the front of the line. In front of her a large thing, covered in scales and fur picked up a tray, untucking a set of her arms she followed suit. Ix projected a cursory word of gratitude to the cafeteria staff and began to move out of line, when the thing shook itself, like some sort of animal. Dander and oil particles filled the air in front of her, lancing into her sensitive nasal passages and making her sneeze. The very ends of her mouth slits quivered, inky black eyes flashing irritated shades of sickly yellow and faint purple.

It was in her food.

That thing's disgusting flotsam was in her food.

She projected a loud growl, followed by a sharp vocalization. "I think you owe me some food."

The hulking inmate turned around, half the contents of it's tray already shoveled into a gaping snout. Beady eyes regarded her coldly, assessing her potential as a threat. "Is that a fact?" The voice that came out of the snout was thick and garbled wetly by the food it hadn't even bothered to swallow before speaking.

"Yes. A fact." The words were quiet, but sharp, punctuated with several loud clicks and another growl. Around them people had stopped to watch, instinctively sensing the impending clash.

Inmates weren't the only one who had developed the ability to see a fight before it happened. Ix's tray clattered to the ground as all four of her arms were yanked down to her side, pain spiking up from heavy rings around her wrists, affectionately referred to as mittens within the establishment. The offending brute had likewise been restrained. She vocalized a sound of disgust, not bothering to test the effectiveness of the restraints, she had already learned it well.

"Come on now, you guys know I hate having to do my job." Officer Haldren was a human, hair gone grey and faced creased with the miles of a hard life. Never a handsome man, his looks had only soured further in the less than nurturing environment his job provided. "You also know that having to do it makes me grumpy."

Another shot of pain stabbed up her arms, but her eyes gleamed cool blue because she knew that the thing was having a much worse time. Haldren smelled of contraband whisky and boot polish, and he was her friend. When the mittens returned to their normal dormant state the other inmate and his stench stormed away after a glare that promised things had been left unfinished. The watchers went back to what they were doing, the snake having never ceased its slow crawl.

Haldren sighed, leaning against the counter and shook his head. "Do you cause problems because you know I'm on duty?"

"Of course not, I behave when I know you're on duty. If you had not been on duty I would have removed that thing's filthy limbs and made it eat them," Ix replied in a quiet way, ringing with an implication of obviousness. Haldren chuckled, shaking his head once again.

"You're giving me grey hairs Ix."

"All your hairs are already grey my friend." The man sobered slightly at being referred to as friend, but only for a fleeting moment.

"Just go sit somewhere in back and stay out of trouble for the rest of my shift, alright?" Ix nodded, not terribly happy to have lost her food but not terribly upset about it either. Her body did not require nutrients at intervals quite as frequent as the prison provided, but being prepared was always good. One never knew when one would be forced to skip a meal.
« Last Edit: May 09, 2017, 09:39:17 PM by Dys Astyr »

Offline Lord BaneTopic starter

Re: Nightmare Enigma
« Reply #2 on: May 10, 2017, 03:08:09 AM »
Tom had to stifle a laugh watching what was happening, especially watching the armed guards fingering the triggers of their guns as they watched carefully. He'd never seen their guns used but one of the few staff he trusted had told him half the guards were ex-military kicked out of their units for being a little too trigger-happy on the front lines. Once the guards, and the attention of the other prisoners, had lost interest in Ix he picked up his tray and walked over, making sure to avoid getting too close as he wasn't sure how the alien would react to his presence.

"You do know you nearly picked a fight with one of the worst prisoners here right?" he asked, not sounding as friendly as he had intended. "The guy runs half the lower level of this prison, there's a reason they don't send unarmed guards down there." He took a sip of his drink, wincing slightly at the sharp taste. "I don't think we've met before, my name's Tim, what's yours?" At that moment he heard a loud cough, turning to find a young woman in a lab coat stood directly behind him, her glasses placed haphazardly on her nose. "Can I help you?" he asked curtly. The woman's only response was to hand him a piece of paper, before vanishing back into the crowd. Tom opened the note, letting out a laugh as he read it. "Can you believe this?" he said, laying the note out flat in front of Ix. It read:

"Tom, Ix, my name is Professor Mertens," the note started. "I have been looking into your cases and I believe you two may be innocent of your crimes. While I cannot make you do anything, if you wish to know more come to my lab once the meal is over."

Offline Dys Astyr

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Re: Nightmare Enigma
« Reply #3 on: May 10, 2017, 01:37:51 PM »
Prison was a tiresomely predictable place. Most every event of every day played out by route and routine, even the fights were basically part of the schedule. Small scuffles helped keep everyone pacified, inmates and guards alike. Venting the pressure that could otherwise erupt into real chaos.

So it was pleasant surprise for a stranger to walk up to her, pleasant in being surprising. It was not an environment that fostered the idea of sticking your neck out to make a new acquaintance. Ix cocked her head to the side, pinpricks of amber floating through her eyes, displaying the mild amusement she felt. A rolling ticking sort of noise resonated in her chest, laughter, at the idea of the thing being one of the worst in the prison. Perhaps, if by worst one meant most egregious waste of sentience. Ix chuckled a little louder at the thought before turning her attention back to what the human was saying.

"We have not, I should think it would not have been a forgettable moment." Warily Ix smelled the human when he turned his back on her, straightening back up before her turned to face her again. "The smell of you is not unpleasant." She projected the announcement warmly, as if it was something the man had been waiting to hear. She continued, with a somewhat theatrical gesticulation, to introduce herself. "I am Ix, as it says, waylaid here in my search for friends."

Ix picked up the note between chitin tipped fingers, delicately as if it were alive, curiosity piqued. "I was under the impression that it was the general policy of the staff to disregard such trivialities as innocence and guilt." The vocalization was completely free of sarcasm, the statement a simple fact of life in the facility. Her black eyes left the note to regard the human, Tom, once again.

"What is this Mertens seeking to gain from side stepping protocol and authority?" The words were barely loud enough to be heard. "What strangeness made him think to send one note on the assumption that we would be together..."

Offline Lord BaneTopic starter

Re: Nightmare Enigma
« Reply #4 on: May 10, 2017, 02:58:23 PM »
"That's a good question," Tom replied, rubbing his chin thoughtfully, the oddness of the note's delivery only just dawning on him. "I've not had all that much interaction with him, I might've met him once while he made a rare foray into the cafeteria but I think he pretty much keeps to himself."

He looked around the room, seeing no sign the woman who had handed them the note had even been in the room, quickly returning his gaze to Ix before he spent too long looking at the wrong people. He played with his food for a moment, wondering if it'd taste any better than the drink in front of him.

"Maybe he genuinely wants to help us?" he asked, looking at Ix and trying to smile. "Either that or he wants to use us to test something. Sad thing is I'm not sure either of us have anything better to do, certainly I know I don't have anything better to do."

Offline Dys Astyr

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Re: Nightmare Enigma
« Reply #5 on: May 10, 2017, 03:44:18 PM »
With one of her free hands Ix mimicked the human's chin scratching, but found it not to her liking. Placing the note back on the table she pondered the merit of Tom's statement that they didn't have anything better to do. She closed her eyes for a moment as she pondered, rendering her face blank. The note hadn't smelled terribly suspicious, and neither did Tom. But the woman who had delivered it, now she was suspicious. Perhaps it was just the crowded nature of cafeteria, with its myriad of powerful smells providing a convenient mask but Ix hadn't gotten any sort of scent off the mysterious delivery person...

While she couldn't necessarily agree she didn't have anything better to do, this was certainly the most interesting turn of events that had befallen her in a while.

She opened her eyes and nodded. "Pursuing the matter further should prove to be a welcome distraction." Then a thoughtful pause.

"Besides it would be rude not to answer such a friendly invitation." The alien's eyes gleamed as she spoke.

Offline Lord BaneTopic starter

Re: Nightmare Enigma
« Reply #6 on: May 10, 2017, 04:32:32 PM »
"I don't know what advantage he thinks he has though," Tim said, beginning to eat and being pleased to discover it tasted better than he had anticipated. "I had the best legal team I could afford this side of the Atraxi Nebula, that evidence was rock solid, almost made ME think I was guilty. Not that I'd..."

He'd trailed off for a moment, wincing as the pain of the old scar on his arm flared up suddenly. Part of him suspected he should get pills to deal with it but he didn't even trust the medical staff here if he could avoid it.

"You don't have to answer this if you don't want to," he said as he continued eating. "But why are you here? They don't keep all that many aliens here. Not that I'm complaining," he said, feeling suddenly awkward. "I used to do supply runs to non-human worlds, some of my best friends would've been just as happy shooting my head off if I wasn't bringing them food or medicine."

Offline Dys Astyr

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Re: Nightmare Enigma
« Reply #7 on: May 10, 2017, 06:36:46 PM »
Eyes swirled with emerald as she contemplated the idea that Tom the human might be innocent. It seemed plausible enough, he certainly didn't have the same attitude as the average prisoner. Perhaps...

"Friends do not shoot friends in the head," Ix projected in a slightly chastising tone, and after an unnecessarily long pause added, "it is cold and impersonal, not fitting for a friend at all."

Another moment of silence as the alien reflected on the events that had brought her to the facility that the powers that be were hoping she would die in. Why was she here? Because she was an alien? An easy scapegoat in human dominated colonies, sure, but even that seemed a feeble explanation. She was here because someone had put her here. Stating it so simply had buried her under even more accusations of lunacy than usual. Ix scrutinized the human's face for a moment, the mention of his past made it seem that perhaps he would not be so quick condemn her.

"We are here, human Tom, because someone put us here." Ix leaned closer, lowering her face so they were eye to eye, black orbs to green. "We are here because someone has tangled the threads of our life-weave, averting the natural pattern and casting one of their own in its place." Human facial expressions were puzzling at times, but she was confident she hadn't missed the mark entirely. Would he reject her words? Maybe. Perhaps at first it would seem too grandiose, too ridiculous. Especially from a stranger, an alien, but eventually he would follow the strings back and see the truth in the pattern of his own life-weave. 

Offline Lord BaneTopic starter

Re: Nightmare Enigma
« Reply #8 on: May 11, 2017, 06:01:06 AM »
"I agree," Tom said after looking into her eyes for a moment. "I suppose the advantage Mertens has is he knows as long as we're stuck here he's the best option we have, assuming this isn't some massive prank anyway." He found himself finishing his food quicker than he had intended. "I'll go ahead, I'll meet you there." He stood up, then handed a piece of paper to Ix. "If anyone starts causing you trouble, ask for a guard called Marden, don't know how or why but he seems to have a knack for making difficult people go away quite suddenly."

He got out of the cafeteria as quickly as he could, finding his way to the lab, which was hidden on one of the higher levels of the station, away from any of the cells and in a corridor which was otherwise unremarkable. He knocked on the door, the lack of response causing him to knock louder.

"Come in," came a voice from inside the room. "I'm just finishing something and then I'll be with you." When Tom entered the room he discovered it was a larger room than he expected, the floor covered in graphs and pieces of paper, with the far wall dominated by a large computer, from beneath which a lab coat clad pair of legs emerged. "Sorry, this computer breaks down far too often for my own liking."

Offline Dys Astyr

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Re: Nightmare Enigma
« Reply #9 on: May 13, 2017, 04:11:34 PM »
Ix watched as the human retreated from the cafeteria, unblinking. It was shaping up to be a strange day.

After spending several minutes in stillness, reflecting on the peculiar events and their possible connotations the alien finally left the cafeteria. She hadn't gotten far when a sibilant murmur intruded upon her thoughts. Bringing her focus to the source of the sounds revealed another inmate. Also an alien, though of an altogether different sort, it's small body was plump and nearly shapeless. Its small, insect like appendages seemed to have no rhyme or reason to their placement. It chittered at her again, antennas whirling furiously. Ix looked around to make sure there were no unwanted spectators lurking around before crouching beside the creature.

"Where is it?" She vocalized softly, pitching the sound so it wouldn't care. The plump creature gave a small chirp, flailing a couple legs. Ix nodded, placing one of her hands on the spot it had indicated, gently probing with her fingers until she felt the lump that indicated something beneath the surface. It was larger than normal. "You shouldn't have waited so long." The creature made a plaintive noise and opened its maw. Rows of bony plates and ropes of toxic saliva made the sight less than pleasant, but Ix was unfazed. Keeping one hand on the unwanted object she carefully reached another into the creature's mouth.

It was a strange arrangement and it never ceased to amuse her. Two beings more than capable of and comfortable with killing, momentarily locked in a precarious dance. Soft whines of pain ran through the other aliens quivering form as her chisel like claws found the intrusive object. A few moments later it was over, she extracted her arm with painstaking care. Free of its unpleasant burden the the creature chirped softly, many legs moving in a strange sort of choreography. Ix stood, keeping the slightly moist arm away from the rest of her body and watched as the amorphous alien scuttled away.

It was a curious symbiosis to have blossomed within the confines of the prison. She could have much more easily have extracted the bezoar-like crystal from the outside, but it would have drawn a lot of attention and done a lot of damage. Better for her and for the soft bodied alien if none of the others found out about the crystals.

Ix walked quickly to the nearest lavatory, a mostly open room with a myriad of facilities to suit the different species the institution housed. Quickly she washed down her arm and the crystal, which was as big as one of her smaller fingers. Once it was clean she ever so delicately scraped a claw over the surface before quickly wrapping it in the paper the human had given her. Her mouth split open, one tendril taking the small parcel and rolling back up while she quickly ran her claw down the back of her tongue, depositing the the residue she had scraped off the crystal. The process was quick, and soon her face was back to its normal, mask-like state.

By the time she reached the lab the soft rush had worked through her system. The room was cool, but smelled of warm machinery and the bitter dark drink humans seemed to enjoy so much. Tom was already there, talking to what she could only assume was the one that had sent the note.

Offline Lord BaneTopic starter

Re: Nightmare Enigma
« Reply #10 on: May 13, 2017, 04:31:16 PM »
"You mentioned you could prove we were innocent," Tom said after a few minutes of the professor not emerging from his workplace. "I don't mean to question your integrity but I'm not sure I see how you can do anything a defence lawyer couldn't."

"Ah, you're referring to the machine," the man said, finally emerging from his hiding place. He had unkempt brown hair, a pair of thin reading glasses perched on the end of his nose, a pair of grey eyes squinting from behind them. "That's what I was trying to make operational when you walked in."

"A computer?" Tom asked, scoffing. "I should've known this was a waste of time, you said it yourself, this computer barely works, why would it solve anything?"

"Comp..." Mertens started saying, before laughing loudly. "This old thing? That's not the machine I mean. I mean THIS machine." He flicked a light switch on the wall, which revealed that the far wall featured a window which opened into a large circular room. At it's centre was a pair of chairs sat back to back, a pair of helmets trailing masses of wires hanging above them. The floor around it glowed with an eerie blue light. "Meet Enigma, and no, I didn't name it. This is the most advanced tech in Alliance space as far as I'm aware."

"I've not heard of it," Tom said, studying it with interest.

"You wouldn't have," Mertens replied. "This is alien tech, although we've never discovered who created it. It's...it's hard to explain, but it can read people's minds, extract information and show it to whoever is linked with it. It's advanced enough it can break through the psychic defences of the most well-trained soldiers."

"And you think it can prove who committed the crimes we were jailed for?"

"I don't know if it can prove who DID do it," Mertens answered. "But at the very least it may prove that you didn't."

"Well I'm interested," Tom said. "What about you Ix?"

Offline Dys Astyr

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Re: Nightmare Enigma
« Reply #11 on: May 13, 2017, 04:47:40 PM »
The alien stared hard at the room revealed by the lights. Eyes flashing silver and gold in turns. There was a prickle on her skin, but it was impossible to say if it was the device or the spurious decision to walk into this room so soon after tasting the crystal. Ix clicked loudly several times, not having expected to be confronted with anything so bizarre. Eventually her eyes moved to the humans, first Tom, then the doctor, then back again before moving to the machine once more.

"Turning back now... Would be just as foolish as going through with it. Only I know what waits in the prison, I've walked that path long enough." Ix's vocalization was uncharacteristically somber, if only for the moment. "If this is our chance to change our weave, we must not miss it."

Offline Lord BaneTopic starter

Re: Nightmare Enigma
« Reply #12 on: May 13, 2017, 05:33:42 PM »
"I should give you one warning," Mertens said, as he opened the door to the room. "What you'll see in the machine...it is going to feel like you're really there, you need to remember that nothing you do within the machine will change what happens."

"I could've guessed that myself," Tom said with a chuckle as he stepped through. The air seemed to hum with electricity, to the point that Tom could feel the hairs on the back of his neck stand up. He sat down in the chair, finding Mertens had placed the helmet on his head before he could ask anything else. For a few seconds nothing seemed to happen, and then suddenly Tom became aware he was stood in a room which seemed to be in darkness, although he could see his body. "Mertens, are you there?" he called out. No response was forthcoming. "Great, I have no idea if this thing is working or not. I don't suppose you're here Ix?" he asked, more in hope than expectation.

Offline Dys Astyr

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Re: Nightmare Enigma
« Reply #13 on: May 15, 2017, 12:30:48 PM »
"I am here, human Tom."

Indeed she was, though she had found the process to be unpleasant. It hadn't been painful in the strictest sense of the word, but unpleasant. More so than the simple motions of sitting in a chair and having something placed on your head should have been. The alien rolled her shoulders, a much more expansive movement than it's human counterpart. Her eyes peered into the darkness, nose slits flaring to take in her bearings. It was not a naturally darkness, not a deepened shadow that could be coaxed to reveal its secrets. This was true blackness, nothingness. The very idea made her skin crawl.

She tried to hold the idea that it was simply a simulation in her mind like a torch, but the truth of it proved feeble against the reality her senses were painting for her. As if sensing her thoughts, perhaps it was, the darkness slowly resolved into matter. Ix turned slowly, surprised to find Tom a great deal further away than his voice had suggested he should be. Her skin prickled again, the notion of not being able to rely on her own senses coldly worming its way deep into her stomach.

Offline Lord BaneTopic starter

Re: Nightmare Enigma
« Reply #14 on: May 15, 2017, 01:10:18 PM »
"My apologies," came a voice from the air around them. "I have to use this empty space to allow your minds to...adjust to the machine." Suddenly a woman appeared in front of them, a few inches shorter than Tom, a red dress reaching down to her feet and shoulder-length raven coloured hair. "Mertens was unaware of this, or else he would have warned you before."

"Who are..." Tom started wondering aloud, before he put two and two together. "You're Enigma, the machine we're plugged into, aren't you?"

"Correct," the woman replied. "I have found having an image to communicate with is less...disorientating than a disembodied voice. I know what you seek, and I can give you the answer, if you want."

"I wouldn't be here if I didn't want it," Tom said more forcefully than he intended.

"Just be warned," Enigma said as the image around them began to change. "I am not sure either of you are prepared for what I have found out." As their eyes adjusted to the sudden bright light Tom realised they were in a hotel room. A large window, facing out onto a rain-lashed city, dominated one wall, and in the centre was a king-sized bed with two occupants. One was a young woman with hair even greener than her eyes, the other was a man who, in spite of the passage of time, was clearly Tom. "You remember this place?" Enigma asked Tom,

"Of course I do," Tom replied, feeling his emotions welling up. "I see this in my nightmares, this is the last night me and Rachel were together before..." he trailled off, a thought suddenly crossing his mind. "If this is my memory, why am I seeing myself? I shouldn't be able to see this unless..."

"The killer accessed the machine before you," Enigma said. "I believe he was unaware I could store what I had seen in my memories. This is one of many crimes of his I have stored within my systems."

"Show me him," Tom said, feeling angry. "Show me the bastard who did this." Suddenly they moved slightly, the spot they had been stood in now occupied by a tall figure in a leather jacket, a helmet covered in a skull image covering his face. Enigma waved a hand and the figure suddenly moved, walking over to Rachel's side of the bed, pulling a gun from his holster and firing two bullets into her chest, to a loud whimper from Tom. The figure then moved around to Tom's side, bending down and removing his helmet, to reveal a man about Tom's age but balding, his face covered in scars.

"Consider this revenge for my father Tom," the man said to the sleeping figure. "You ruined my life, now I've ruined yours, but don't worry, you'll see me again soon enough." With that the man stood back up and turned to face them.

"Stop this," Tom said, Enigma waving her hand again as the scene fell still. "No, that can't be him, he died six years ago, he CAN'T have been here."

"I cannot fabricate images out of thin air Tom," Enigma replied. "He was there, this is his memory. Who is he?"

"Someone whose father nearly destroyed me," Tom said, barely controlling the tears welling in his eyes. "His name is Leon Weskia."

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Re: Nightmare Enigma
« Reply #15 on: May 16, 2017, 01:52:16 PM »
Ix tilted her head to the side, perplexed. The alien found the simulation to be disconcerting. The confusion only deepened as the machine revealed that it had memories of the killed stored inside it. A fact so bizarre that it took long minutes of thought before she gave up trying to process it completely. But... If the machine was here... Then the killer...?

Her attention snapped to Tom as he made a strange noise. She had been neglecting her surroundings, the scene had changed. The exchange puzzled her slightly, not quite able to empathize with the human's emotions. Ix had heard that humans developed extremely strong attachments to their mates, given what she was seeing it must be true.

"How does a dead man return to hunt the living?" The vocalization was soft, not directed at anyone. Ix moved, studying the scarred man who seemed to bear no love for Tom. Perhaps the human was not as innocent as he maintained. She turned to face Tom and the computer. "If you desire to exonerate Tom, why not send this to the Judicars?"
« Last Edit: May 17, 2017, 07:48:57 PM by Dys Astyr »

Offline Lord BaneTopic starter

Re: Nightmare Enigma
« Reply #16 on: May 16, 2017, 02:39:17 PM »
"That may not be possible," Enigma said. "I believe whoever told you Leon Weskia was dead was either misinformed or outright deceived you, but finding information on him is proving...difficult."

"What do you mean difficult?" Tom asked.

"My technology is advanced enough most human systems are like a calculator compared to my supercomputer," Enigma replied. "But when I attempt to access his files it is surrounded by a firewall vastly more advanced than anything humans should possess."

"Are you saying you can't find this information?" Tom asked angrily.

"I didn't say I can't," Enigma answered, shaking her head. "But to access it will require my full computing power, and I cannot guarantee either of your safety if you are linked with me during the process. I can ensure Mertens informs you once I have the information."

"But what about Ix?" Tom asked. "Ix wanted to know who framed her as well."

"It was the same man," Enigma replied. "I can promise you that, but if you wish to see confirmation for yourself Ix I will show it to you."

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Re: Nightmare Enigma
« Reply #17 on: May 18, 2017, 03:31:18 PM »
Her eyes snapped to the image of the machine, soft growl building in her chest. "I would see the last moments of the friend I lost."

Ix hadn't even finished her vocalization before the scene had shifted, leaving a dizzy, sickly sensation in her stomachs. The hotel room, with all it's comforts had been replaced by a crude shanty cobbled together from decaying habitation module pieces. Cold wind flowed in through the chinks, carrying the stink of the megafactories that loomed over the small xeno-ghetto. Huddled in one corner was a quadrupedal alien, the dark interior making it hard to distinguish from the detritus that littered the floor. Ix moved closer to it, squatting down to the same level. "nok' Tul," the name was barely a sound.

As if responding to Ix eye stalks popped up, but they stared out toward the crude doorway. A soft, undulating low pitched sound reached timidly out into the gloom.

"Are you there friend?" Her eyes flashed violent rainbows as Enigma's avatar translated the words.

"No, no... nok'Tul is a Tehgri, they have very strong psychic perception. It's not possible for him to believe it's me out there." Ix snapped off each word, practically hissing, eyes moving from her fellow alien to the door. A figure resolved out of the darkness, there was no mistaking it for the four-armed alien. nok'Tul was not even able to get to his feet before the killer moved forward, yanking the alien to his feet by an eye stalk. The movement was deliberate, meticulous. Mistaking this as something unplanned was not possible. Ix didn't move, simply watched the memory unfold, eyes turned to black pits devoid of all color.

The killer pulled out a knife, the unusual blade had a wide flat tip, a shape all too familiar. With brutal efficiency nok'Tul was hacked a part, the movement of the blade flinging strings of dark ichor across the walls of the hovel. The frantic struggles of the victim ceased after the first few strikes and the ordeal was over in a few moments, though those moments were painfully long for the onlookers. When it was over the dark form of Weskia looked down, as if suddenly realizing he still held the now detached eye stalk. He tossed it away, leaving it to fall among the gore and debris on the floor.

"Enough." The word was a like a stone shattering the uncomfortable silence that had fallen. Again the scene froze, a stillness that seemed so unnatural for its eerie life-likeness. Ix stood, facing the machine once more. "I was in Caldur Hub lockup. I was there because someone reported that I was acting suspicious, and being a human colony that took me in without a second thought." She paused, a tremor crawling up one side of her face. "It was him wasn't it? He reported me, made sure I was out of the way."

Offline Lord BaneTopic starter

Re: Nightmare Enigma
« Reply #18 on: May 18, 2017, 05:25:56 PM »
"It wouldn't have to be him directly," Tom said, grimacing at the scene in front of him. "He could've passed information on to someone entirely unconnected to this crime, so it would be harder to link it back to him. We need to find him, if he's capable of this, god only knows what else the man is capable of."

"If you are both ready to go I will signal Mertens," Enigma replied. "As I said, the moment I have something you can act upon you will know about it."

"Guess we'd better go back to the real world then," Tom said. "You ready Ix?"

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Re: Nightmare Enigma
« Reply #19 on: May 19, 2017, 03:09:47 PM »
Ix nodded, closing her eyes as the scene around them dissolved. Unplugging from the strange computer was just as disconcerting as plugging in had been, but the alien was possessed of a somber humor after what she had been shown and spared no thoughts for simple discomfort. Very few things in her life had ever motivated her to such a sharp sense of purpose as what had transpired inside the machine.

"We shall kill this Weskia Tom. You and I. Properly. He will not come back from the death we send him to."

Offline Lord BaneTopic starter

Re: Nightmare Enigma
« Reply #20 on: May 19, 2017, 04:12:29 PM »
"We need to be careful though," Tom said. "His 'death', the effort put in to keep his information confidential...I don't like this, I've got a very bad feeling we're missing a vital piece of information."

(excuse a momentary time jump XD )

Hours after Tom and Ix had returned to their cells two crew members were sat in the operations room of the prison, one looking relatively laidback, the other shifting uneasily in his seat.

"You sure this was a good idea?" the lazy officer, who operated communications, asked. "You know what the captain always says, when he goes to bed we don't wake him unless we've got a good reason to do so."

"I'd say this is a damn good reason to do so," the other, the science officer replied.

"It's probably nothing at all," the first man said, scoffing. "I can tell you now the captain will deem this a waste of his time and bump you down to janitor duties for the next year."

"I'm fairly sure I can think for myself Merrick," came a stern voice from behind them. The captain had entered the room, in a deep red uniform, a cap balanced on his head rather haphazardly the only hint he had been woken from his sleep. "You better have a damn good reason for this though Hawke."

"Sir, 40 minutes ago we detected an unusual energy spike-"

"Goddamnit Hawke," the captain said with a sigh. "We're based near one of the biggest space lanes this side of the Farine Cluster, if we went on red alert for every passing energy spike we'd be jumping at our own shadows."

"Sir, you didn't allow me to finish," Hawke said firmly. "The energy isn't coming from the space lane, it's coming from the surface of the planet. I've tried locating the source but we're suffering severe interference, I can't get anymore specific than an island chain off the main northern continent."

"What the hell?" the captain asked as he looked at the image on Hawke's screen. "That planet is lifeless, the whole damn reason it was chosen to host this station was prisoners couldn't just hide planetside if they escaped." Suddenly a beep came from the direction of Merrick's computer. "Merrick, report."

"There's a signal broadcasting from the planet's surface," Merrick said. "I ignored it at first because it was broadcasting in a language the computer couldn't identify, but it just started broadcasting in English."

"Patch it through," the commander said.

"We are waking...we are waking...we are... here!"

"That almost sounded like it came from in the room," Hawke said. "What do you suppose..." he started saying as he turned to speak to the captain, only to let out a gasp at what he was confronted with. The captain had a strange metal spike protruding through his stomach, his dead body hitting the floor with a thunk. As Merrick reached for the gun at his belt a similar device knocked him off his chair. Hawke felt panic rising within him, so he did the only thing he could: he reached for the red alert button, hitting it just before one last spike left him slumped over the computer screen. The room was silent, with no sign of the attacker anywhere.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

As the sound of the alarm rang through the prison and guards and prisoners ran around, desperate for a way to escape, a young woman in a brown khaki uniform was heading in the opposite direction, deeper into the cells. She ignored the dead and dying around her, only stopping when she reached Ix's cell door.

"Ix, you need to wake up," she said, banging on the door. No response was forthcoming. "I don't have time to explain this, but it's Enigma. The prison is under attack, we need to find Tom and get both of you off here while we still can."

Offline Dys Astyr

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Re: Nightmare Enigma
« Reply #21 on: May 19, 2017, 04:57:28 PM »
Ix was hovering between meditation and sleep when the blare of alarms lanced into her skull. Not long after the sound was joined by shouts and the sounds of struggle. She stood, moving so she could see out of the small window without being seen. In the hall panic reigned, everyone momentarily united in their desire to flee. Every individual seemed to be completely isolated by their own fear, shoving and trampling each other with out any regard. What seemed to be a staff member came and banged on the door to her cell. Upon finding out it was Enigma curiosity and wariness filled the alien, the situation seemed entirely too bizarre and strangely convenient. For the moment though, like those who were fleeing mindlessly, she and the machine were united in purpose - however tenuous. Ix stepped suddenly into the doorway, staring down at the machine-turned-woman before brushing past her and into the chaotic current of the hall.

"Where is his cell?" The alien was already starting down the hall, keeping close to the wall to avoid as much of the fleeing mob as possible. "What is going on? Why are we not on lock-down?"

Offline Lord BaneTopic starter

Re: Nightmare Enigma
« Reply #22 on: May 19, 2017, 05:06:58 PM »
"I am unsure," Enigma replied. "The only guess I can make is our attackers struck with such speed security had no time to operate the usual procedures. Tom's cell isn't far from here, follow me." She lead Ix down the corridor, past more bodies. "The alarm was only activated 30 minutes ago, whatever did this moved with incredible speed. " She finally found Tom's cell, and was about to bang on the door when Tom appeared in the doorway.

"Ix? I don't suppose you know why the alarms are sounding?" he asked, before turning to the woman. "Who are..." he paused, the eyes were so distinctive he realised who he was looking at, before spotting a mangled body behind the two. "Tell me this is a simulation Enigma."

"It isn't," Enigma replied. "This is very real, we need to get out of here."

"But...how are you here?" he asked. "How are you standing in front of me if this is real?"

"If we make it out of here I will explain I promise," she replied. "We need a ship."

"There's only one ship I know of which isn't a prisoner transport," Tom replied. "The governor has a personal cruiser, but...it's on the other side of the prison from here, we'd have to pick up weapons on the way."

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Re: Nightmare Enigma
« Reply #23 on: May 19, 2017, 05:19:39 PM »
"What are the chances of this transport actually still being there when we arrive?" Ix inquired with a snort of disbelief. "High ranking people keep personal ships so they can leave when things look risky." They moved quickly down the halls, which were growing more and more empty the further away from the general use hangars they got. "As for weapons... The armory is too far, assuming it hasn't already been emptied. Hopefully the security locks on the guard posts don't prove to much of a hurdle."

The smell of fear, always prevalent in the prison had grown overwhelming. The fact that the entire facility had gone belly up in such a short period of time did not bode well for the strange trio as they made their way toward an uncertain escape.

Offline Lord BaneTopic starter

Re: Nightmare Enigma
« Reply #24 on: May 19, 2017, 05:35:37 PM »
As they stumbled through the corridors they came across two guards slumped against the wall, metallic spikes protruding from both, their guns left by their sides.

"The hell kind of weapons are those?" Tom asked as Enigma passed them a gun each. "I've seen a lot of alien weaponry, that...THAT is something entirely new to me." Suddenly, somewhere around the corner ahead of them, came a strange whirring noise. "What-" Tom started asking before Enigma silenced him, signalling for them to follow her, they got a matter of metres before they flattened themselves against the wall, seeing the source of the sound: a guard had a prisoner pinned against the wall, his vice-like grip on the man's throat ensuring escape was impossible.

"The machine," the guard said. "Where is it?"

"I don't know what you mean," the prisoner snarled in reply.

"I do not have much patience," the guard said, punching the man's face hard enough to break his nose. "Tell me where the machine is."

"Ask Mertens," the man spat in response. "It's his machine, I don't know anything else about it."

"We already did," the guard replied, coldly. "Unfortunately he didn't know enough to spare his life." Tom had to stifle an outburst at the news of Mertens' fate, hoping the other two hadn't noticed.

"The man is telling the truth," came a deep voice from somewhere out of their line of sight. "He has served his purpose." With a sickeningly loud noise the guard snapped the prisoners neck, allowing the body to slump to the floor, the guard turning around a moment, but he had changed. The whole of the right side of his face was covered in a metal similar to the spikes they had seen in the guard's body. After a moment the guard vanished out of sight round another corner.

"Curtice..." Tom said, staring at the dead prisoner. "He didn't even deserve to be here, he was being released in two days. This...this...what the hell is happening here?"

"They're called Aphra," Enigma replied. "Not that guard, he was only a drone."

"How could you possibly know that?" Tom asked, turning to look at her.

"Because I'm one of them," Enigma answered. "I am also an Aphra."

"What the hell is going on?" Tom said, pointing his gun at her head. "I'm not going anywhere with you until you start explaining yourself."