Trouble, Pt 2

From the Story Arc: The Essence of Life

Previous Story in the Arc: Trouble by Krasnaya Zvezda (Sunday, March 21, 2010)

Next Story in the Arc: Trouble, Pt3 by Krasnaya Zvezda (Sunday, March 21, 2010)

(posted Sunday, March 21, 2010)

Red Star stood in the middle of the laboratory and glared at the equipment laden work-surfaces almost daring something to stay hidden from her.

How those fools could even contemplate attempting to use Nictus technology with humans was unthinkable. It was intolerable to subject a Kheldian to the perversion that was a Nictus crystal, never mind attempting to convert it and spread its use to other races. It was almost a good thing Pendlebury was dead... and yet, if he had been alive and if he had found a way of using the crystals, there may have been something that could have been used to help find Astra.

Red Star stopped and grimaced; had things had gotten that desperate with the hunt for her sestra that she was actively contemplating using a crystal? No. Not yet anyway.

Focussing her thoughts back to the task at hand; she stalked around the room, absently looking at the indecipherable notes and charts that were positioned near each work bench. This also did nothing to lessen her frustration; she could feel the presence of the Crystal permeate the air around her but as to what they’d been doing with it or how they got it in the first place... nothing. The most logical explanation she could think of was it was stolen, maybe even from the Council but this wouldn’t help with finding Jokers Ace. Red Star fought down the sudden urge to destroy the lab; they were getting nowhere and not even the presence from the crystal was source of comfort. Usually, the energy used to power crystals reminded her of—

Red Star stopped and quickly looked around the laboratory. The crystal that had been held in this laboratory had been removed a week ago; any emanations that had been given off would have faded and should barely be able to be felt. Instead, the crystal filled the air around her, like it had never been moved.

Star looked over at Joanna, who had stopped looking though a series of papers and was also looking around the room with a distracted gaze.

{Another crystal.} Star projected to Joanna and this brought a glint of recognition to Joanna’s eyes. Joanna replied with the equivalent of a telepathic nod and with an unspoken understanding Star and Joanna began to search the room, attempting to divine the source of the energy they could both feel.

As they walked between the worktables, feeling for where the aura of the crystal seemed to be strongest, it seemed to Star that both her and Joanna were converging towards the same workstation. There was seemed to be nothing remarkable about it, it was covered with the same junk that all scientists accumulated and swore was essential to their work, nevermind that they probably couldn't explain how half of it worked...

Joanna reached the desk first, with Star coming to a halt behind her. There was nothing on the desk that could hide a crystal, but under it was a different matter. Looking down, Star could see the outline of a small safe tucked away beneath the worktable. Barely large enough to hold a crystal, the safe nevertheless seemed to have some special quality as it looked faded, almost translucent as it sat before her. It appeared as though the surface of the safe had been treated with something to render it invisible to a human. Star gave a derisive snort; even if she couldn't see it, the energy the crystal was giving off shouted to the safe’s presence.

Just then, Zakat entered the room. “He’s gone looking for some details about where Pendlebury bought the crystal from.” Zakat said, motioning over his shoulder towards where he and the scientist had been talking. “I really don’t think he knows what these things are capable of, although they did have some interesting ideas...” he mused, his voice trailing off as a thoughtful expression appeared on his face.

“Don’t even think about it, comrade.” Star warned him, glancing up from the safe. “You know how dangerous these are and you aren’t stupid enough to try and play with one.” Ignoring the wounded look Zakat displayed, Star returned her attention to the safe.

Joanna had knelt down and was running her hands over the safe. Frowning she sat back and said, “There doesn’t seem to be any attached to it, nor anything to render it visible in the Human spectrum again.”

“You found something?” Curious, Zakat walked up to them.

“They have another crystal, locked away and hidden from view.” Joanna replied.

“Not for long. Excuse me, Sister, do you mind if I... ?”

Nodding her ascent, Sister Joanna moved aside and Zakat knelt down, pulling out his customised PDA as he did so. He studied his device for a second and, with a triumphant exclamation, tapped a few buttons and pointed the PDA at the safe. A second later, the safe shimmered into view and Zakat put his PDA away, grinning in satisfaction.

“Interesting idea they had, but it was pretty easy to reverse the polarity of the—“

“Quite.” Star interrupted. “Can you open this as well?”

“... Of course.” said Zakat, “It’s not locked.” Ignoring Stars glower, he pulled on the safe’s handle and the door swung open, revealing the shining, purple crystal contained within. Laced with black threads, the crystal looked almost hypnotic as it gave off a diffuse, purple glow.

As one, Sister Joanna and Star moved forward. Joanna pushed Zakat backwards and away from the safe while Star slammed the door shut again.

“Hey!” exclaimed Zakat from his now prone position on the floor.

“I am sorry, Professor, but the crystal is highly instable - it could release its contents at any moment.” said Sister Joanna, staring at the safe with some apprehension.

Star was also staring at the safe. Both Warshades had sensed the Crystal’s unstable state the instant the door was opened and reacted quickly. There were an unknown number of Nictus contained within, all craving release and desiring some form, any form, of sustenance and the crystal, the only thing standing between them and freedom, was failing. This did not look good; they needed to get this out of here - now.

“Comrade, find that scientist, quickly. See where the secret escape hatch to this laboratory is.” Star asked Zakat.

“Secret what? What are you talking about?” said Zakat, standing up and dusting himself off.

“All evil scientists have escape routes – Comrade Bear assured me. We need to get this out of here quickly.”

“Evil... Sometimes you listen to Bear too much.” said Zakat with a shake of his head. “Right, if we need to do this quickly, just tell me whereabouts you want it. I can teleport it anywhere, just let me enter a few details...” Zakat said and he pulled out his PDA and began to tap on the screen.

“No. It’s too unstable to be subjected to that amount of energy, teleporting the Crystal could set it off.” Sister Joanna said. “Star may be partially right, there may be another way another way out of here. Go, find that scientist. If the Nictus do break free, they may not attack what they perceive to be another Nictus.”

“Ok.” Said Zakat and he put his PDA away.

{That is highly unlikely.} Star said, focussing her thought on Joanna.

{But with God’s grace, it may give us some time.} Joanna replied as Zakat moved past the workstations and towards the door. {Let’s see if we can’t start moving it out of here.}

Star nodded and stood up as Sister Joanna transformed into her Ruktur form. Star then reached out to the workstation and heaved it out of the way, overturning the desk and sending its contents scattered to the floor but exposing the safe. They needed to get that safe to an unpopulated region, and quickly. If the crystal was to release its contents here, in the heart of Steel Canyon... Star shook her head; the resulting devastation did not bear thinking about.