Stowaway Part 2 (2 of 3)
Posted By: Dispraiser<firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 29 May 2003, 2:54 AM
Lunar 4 Vocab: An Arrel is a Western Racial slur used to insult the Easterners, and Mathean means Westerner though it is not an insult.
The intercom echoed through the ship with the voice of Rob surrendering, and the quiet beeps of the computer display filled my ears, the silence of the ship, even its diesel engine awe inspiring. I pressed the screen to open the cargo checklist and watched as the computer checked to see what cargo was taken. It slid down the list, checks making the crates that were still intact. I watched the checks as they continued down the list, nothing missing, but as it came to the bottom item it froze, placing a red X in the center of the last item on the list. I scanned the rest of the line to see what was in the crate, it could have been a professional job specifically targeting it.
ITEM NO. 1337 CONTENTS:UNKNOWN SHIPTO: 7311 Drive, Oniopsys, Awwek
The crate was being shipped to the ONI headquarters of Lunar 4, clearly whatever was in it was secret. That increased my suspicions regarding the probability that this was a professional and premeditated strike against this ship and the cargo aboard it.
PROMPT>> Run Crate Diagnostic..............................................
Completed. External damage to crate. Weight 250 lbs. Contents 0 lbs.
PROMPT>> Find Cargo Contents CONTAINING="Military"..............
Completed. Listing Results 0-0.
PROMPT>> Find Cargo Contents CONTAINING="Weapons".............
Completed. Listing Results 1-1. Crate 24. Contents: Eight Rifles.........
I let Dobie view the results of my query. We quickly walked to crate 24 and opened it, grabbing the eight rifles and the munitions within. Dobie seemed angered at what we found though, but when I asked him he claimed it to be sufficient, though his actions argued against him. We then ran to the stairwell in the back of the ship, the shadows seeming to move everywhere and the ship tat was once our financial lifeline now the thing that almost gave us heart attacks at every lightning flash. Shuffling around the corners of the ships as fast as the lightning bolted across the sky above we charged to the bunk room. We stepped into the room and dropped the rifles on the table, Dobie beginning to slide a magazine into each. All the others were huddled around one of the bunks. I walked over to ask what was wrong and was greeted by the foul odor of death. I suddenly realized what had happened. "He's dead." Rob said solemnly, looking down at the body of Dizzy, "Another is dead." Dizzy lie, a look of terror on his eternally frozen face. Crimson blood stained the side of his neck and the bed below him, where a pool of his drying blood lie host to little moisture. His eyes surrendered his final moments to be violent ones; should his throat, which was ripped out not betray the secrecy of history. His throat, split in two left him to die silently, but the snapped neck he bore showed his assailant. He was probably dead before his alcohol-retarded senses let him feel the pain of his horrible wounds.
"Damn pirates, killing in cold blood... Or was it pirates..." I turned to Rob, "We do have a Mathean aboard.", I continued, "a Mathean who killed a dozen Arrels in the wars. A Mathean who could want all of us dead."
"I never considered it myself, but come to think of it he did kill a ton of us, and he did lose something in the war. He can never hear again thanks to an Alliance artillery strike hitting his base, I'll bet that would make someone hate Arrels, perhaps enough to want to kill us." Fats muttered.
"Well, before we go on a crusade to kill the Mathean consider this, someone smashed open a crate that was being sent to ONI. The contents wasn't listed, but it could mean that someone wanted to take the crate, so that would rule out Crazy, he would just take the ship."
"What if there was a weapon in there? What if it were some new sonic weapon, that would rip us apart like this? He could be here to hijack this ship and take it to his nation. I mean, this could be a key weapon shipment that ONI needed fast, it would explain why they wanted it shipped on this ship. We were the fastest."
"That actually makes sense. Call everyone to this room, everyone besides Crazy, we don't want him in here with us." I looked around and counted the people in the room, eight. With an original crew of twelve and two dead, one the probable killer of the others and one more that would be missing. "Who's missing?" I continued, scanning the faces of the worried sailors. The person who seemed the most shocked, however, was the ONI monitor.
"Dusty is missing, sir. He left to get some flares for if you couldn't find any other weapons. He figured they would be easy to find regardless and would be of use even if you did find some weapons." Justin said, gesturing towards the small room at the front of the boat, the emergency room. It was a small room containing two pods for any escape should the ship sink and all of the medical supplies the crew could need.
"And you let him go alone?" I asked as the lightning outside cracked sternly. Perhaps it wasn't fond of our intrusion to its rage.
Justin sighed, "Yes, sir. We figured he would be safe so long as he stayed above the decks. Pirates hate rain just like us."
"Idiots!" I shouted hitting Justin in the bicept, "You do realize that though pirates and Matheans don't like rain that they would probably hate us getting away more! One of the first things they would have done was barricaded off that room and killed whoever tried to get off of the ship. Damn fools... I can only hope that Dusty does not pay for your stupidity." I stepped towards the front of the ship and looked out the window seeing nothing. The thick rain constantly bombarding the window created a blinding sheet.
"I'm sorry sir. What can I do to help him?"
"You can pray. Nothing else."
The lightning outside echoed as the feeble old man stumbled across the deck shielding his eyes from the blinding wind, the cadence of the sea beating against the hull seeming synchronized with the pain associated with the wind. A dim light a dozen feet away lit his path and the old man reached for the door before him, stumbling a few feet before his hands touched cold steel. He slid his hand around the door for a second before finding the doorknob but quickly pulled it open, stumbling into the dry interior. He pulled the rubber hood of his raincoat back to reveal his gray hair, soaked in the torrent outside. He walked forward as the light above flickered, its light proving to be as useful as the random and sporadic flashes of lightning from outside. Suddenly, a silhouette appeared, and Dusty jumped, terrified. He looked down again and it was gone. He continued forward and stepped into the stairwell quickly walking down it and into the front area of the main cargo hold. While he paced, the ship eerily silent he managed to convince himself that the shadow was nothing but a figment of his imagination. As he reached the cargo hold and pulled open the crate containing flares he heard a metal can near him drop, bouncing on the floor. He quickly moved to see what it was. Stepping at the intersection of four passages between crates Dusty looked down to see a small can of spray paint. Looking for the cause of the dropped can, and knowing that anything like this that may fall would be tied down he looked around. Left, right, and behind him he looked to no avail. A sudden noise, the noise of parting air above him caught his attention. He looked upwards as he died. The lightning struck again both as sparks outside the ship and a skilled warrior inside...
"Someone hear that?" I asked. I thought I heard a distant scream.
"Probably just the lightning." Rob replied weakly, more hope backing his sentence than belief. His foot tapped frantically on the floor revealing his true panic. Suddenly footsteps appeared in the hallway outside the door and slowly continued. The steady pace brought fear into my heart, and all movement in the bunkroom stopped as we all raised our rifles, ready to shoot whatever stepped around the corner. I saw a human shadow outside getting closer to the door. Crazy stepped around the corner, blood trailing down his arm and his white shirt stained in crimson blood albeit faded from its absorption. His hands flung into the air faster than any of us could react to fire, and he began to shout that he surrendered. Getting on his knees random shouts from our lines began to flood his deaf ears, but he seemed to look to my lips to see what one of us was saying, he must have grown a trusting for me. I told him to get his ass moving and get lost.
"My arm! I need help!" his slurred speech as a result of his hearing impediment seemed odd, though he was actually very adept at speaking considering his inability to hear himself. "The thing got me!" heartlessly Rob fired a warning round at him, the bullet bouncing down the hallway. He screamed running for his life and slowly we began to calm again.
"He's the one," I said, "His arm was coated in the fine blood of an Arrel, any Mathean blood such as his would be rung with impurities brought by his race. He is hardly worthy of having the red blood of a mammal. It is clear that he killed the others, and it is now clear what we must do. We must hunt him down.", I said. Everyone raised their gun into the air and cheered because we had a chance to live, all we had to do was kill a Mathean Ex-SEAL...
Swiftly our ragtag group pushed through the cargo hold after sweeping the rest of the ship for any Mathean presence, and after searching half of the cargo hold we were fairly certain that the Mathean was very adept at hiding, like the coward all Matheans are. I stepped into a crate, leaning my back against it and peering into the next hallway of crates, and seeing it to be all clear leading the rest of the group forward to the next area. The ONI man seemed particularly unnerved as we continued our pursuit of the Mathean garbage. Suddenly the twitchy ONI man fired a volley of gunfire into a corner. There was a moment of silence before I shouted at him, "What the hell was that?"
"I thought I saw something move." He replied quickly before I heard another series of gunshots behind me. The gunfire, originally fired towards the canopy above us, began to ricochet around the cargo hold.
"Stop! Cease fire you morons!"
"Sorry, I saw a shadow move in the rafters." Fats replied.
I turned to Rob and began to speak, "Rob, we have to get out of here, this place is making the men paranoid." Another arc of tracer fire shot over the cargo hold, this time echoing down a distant hallway. Quick sorry followed it.
Rob sighed deeply, "Yeah, if Dusty is down here he would have heard the gunfire. Luckily the Mathean is deaf, he shouldn't have heard us."
Moments before we turned and left Doc pointed along one of the tunnels formed by the crates, "Sir, I see Dusty, he looks hurt." His flashlight dimly lit the frame of an old man lying on the ground, or at least a significant part of him.
"Well, what are you waiting for, come on, if we can save him we need to move!" I shouted. With the discovery of Dusty came a flood of hope, hope that he was alive and a temporal relief from many of my stresses as one of the captains of this star-crossed voyage.
We ran over to the body and there was a moment of silence as we saw the poor mans body. He was dead. His face was frozen in terror like the rest, and his eyes, still wide open, had a glare that could only be described as paralyzing. The pool of blood beneath him was very large, and his gaping wounds were also great in size. A large cut near to severed his head and spilt an ocean of blood, while a gaping wound in his chest exposed most of his internal organs. The jagged cut was different from some of the others we had seen inflicted, but just like the others Doc quickly went to work trying to figure out what we were up against. He began to examine the body and give his report, but again stated that the cause of these wounds was not a knife, but instead something far cruder. I was getting a little nervous, though, standing in the open.
"Alright, if you're all done here I would like to head back to the bunk room, I hate it out here just as much as all the rest."
"No can do, sir, I think I found something in this body. In the neck and chest wounds there appears to be some extra bone tissue protruding. I don't think that this came from a fractured bone within, and whatever it is, it could be a clue." Doc said gesturing to an odd bone protruding from inside the wound within Dusty's neck.
"How long will it take to get out?"
"Well, it's stuck in his neck pretty good, maybe three minutes."
"Well, I'm gonna leave the ONI guy with you, get back to the barracks as soon as you can. All the rest of you, come with me, we need to barricade the bunk room with some added defenses."
"Alright, I'll be quick, go ahead, we'll be right behind you."
"Good luck. Keep low and make sure to keep your flashlights trained on any suspicious areas."
"Yes, sir!" Doc replied.
The doctor sat on the ground as the nervous ONI man stood behind him, rifle in a combat stance. He looked around frantically, searching for anything that might come too near to him. The doctor's hands were soaked in blood, and his thumbs slipped on the bone. After a brief struggle with the bone he pulled it out and began to examine it. It was a triangle and was slightly curved. The bone also appeared to be a tooth. With the doctor heard a noise behind him. The ONI man and the doctor tensed and looked into the corner where they heard the noise. For a half minute they stodd watching the corner before the ONI man began to scream and run away. He watched as the flashlight disappeared into the distance between the crates. The doctor stared at him in disbelief as he ran to the bunks. "Damn coward!"
"At least I'll be alive" he yelled as he ran from the body towards the back of the ship.
"This crew... Seems like Rob and me are the only good ones around here..." Suddenly a footstep sounded behind the Doctor, "Ah, decided to come back I see." The doctor looked at the tooth, still staring at the body, "This thing, it is a tooth, I have no idea how the Mathean stuck this in him." He looked very closely at its edge, "it has perforations that are unnaturally jagged, this didn't come from any shark, and besides that, god knows how a shark got on the ship." Suddenly the lightning crackled outside and the doctor noticed a reflection in the pool of blood, it was not the shape of a human, it was the shape of something far worse. He turned to see 600 pounds of killing machine staring at him and managed to mutter "Crap..." before being ripped apart