Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Dreams of Stars Part 22

Little longer than normal, but it works.

            “Mama!”  Deborah began pounding away at the side of the large cylinder.  Inside was her mother, or the creature that used to be her mother at least.  The face was still very much that of Patricia Igningus, but the body was decidedly not human.  The long tentacle like appendages that had replaced her arms and had been added to her lower torso hung floated slightly in the tank due to the pressure of moving water.  Her legs had been deformed into a pair of backwards bending legs that looked like those of a frog.  Aside from her hair and face, the rest of the body was covered in smooth, green skin that L’lorne immediately identified.

            She grabbed Deborah and held on to her tight as the girl began bawling into her shoulder.  It was so odd the empathy L’lorne was feeling for the girl right now, the sight of her mother's current state was probably the most terrible experience ever, so perhaps it made sense as L’lorne remembered her own mother's death.  Casually, she traced the path of emotions and found the block in her mind as the source.  Whatever was on the other side was related to this, and it was causing cracks to form.  Her eye's panicked for a moment, and she quickly threw up a few extra layers of protection.  

            “What did they do to her?”  Deborah bawled.  “Mama, mama!”

            L’lorne checked the other cylinders, hoping she'd find a better answer than the one she suspected.  Each contained a different person, their faces and heads all that remained of their once human bodies.  This wasn't what she had expected, and now she was faced with the hardest task of all:  Explaining it to Deborah.  “Ritch 'arrd.”

            “Oh no, is he here too?”  Deborah seemed to cry extra tears for L’lorne as she looked up and tried to stare into the other cylinders.

            “No, they all look like him.”  The silence from Deborah was the result of shock, so L’lorne let it sit there for a moment.  “He isn't human, he never was.”

            The shock had worn off just enough for Deborah, through her red, tear filled eyes, to speak.  “Does that mean you're not. . .”

            “No, I'm human, through and through.  He isn't, wasn't when I met him, though he looked it back then.”  How many times had he changed his form?  She couldn't even remember, but he did it nearly all the time.  He liked to blend in to his environment, and after hundreds of worlds, it was a surprise to see the original form so well presented here.  The head was wrong, of course, but they must have wanted to maintain a slightly human look, to prevent insanity probably.

            “Why?  Why would he do this?  Why?”  That was the question, wasn't it?

            “Well let's find out.”  She pushed Deborah away slightly and began working her way toward the terminal on the far wall.

            “Wait!  We need to let her out.”  Deborah pulled on L’lorne's shirt, trying to halt her progress.

            L’lorne shook her head.  “Something must be wrong, otherwise they would be out and about.  Let's see what's going on first, then we'll let her out.”  Deborah released the shirt in silent agreement, rubbed her nose and eyes on her coat sleeve and followed.

            The terminal lit up as L’lorne decided to move toward it.  The password protection was cracked before L’lorne was within two steps, and the desired information was already on the screen before she even touched the terminal's keyboard.

            “Well?”  Deborah sniffled before and after she spoke, trying to hold herself together.

            “It's some kind of super-soldier program,” L’lorne said, paraphrasing the mountain of documents.  “Looks like they got the genetic material from an unnamed source and had been using it along with an accelerated mutation program to make people who were better swimmers and such.  He always was as much at home in the water as on land,” L’lorne mused about his tendency to jump right into rivers and lakes simply because it was in his nature.

            Deborah was less interested in such nonsense.  “What about letting her out?  Or fixing her?”

            L’lorne waved her hand slightly over the keyboard, like flipping the page of a book with the light breeze such an action produced.  The result was more pages of data and documents.  “They messed up the first few attempts, killing the subjects,” L’lorne paused at this and amended her statement for Deborah's sake.  “Killing the people in the process.  They got better, but there are still problems.  Insanity often occurs, and,” she breathed in to create and artificial pause, this line wasn't going to be pretty.  “And often the sub. . . person is unable to process air again as planned.  Once out of the tank, they die of suffocation within minutes.”

            “Oh.”  That was all Deborah said as she slumped down to the floor, her legs no longer holding her up.

            “They're working on fixing the problem, but not much success as of yet.  In the meantime they've got a mental reconditioning program in place.  They've already got all the people in the tanks undergoing it except their most recent addition.”  The screen popped up a picture of Deborah's mother, the last addition.  “She's due to start undergoing the treatment in the morning.”

            “What does that mean?  What are they going to do to her?  What else can they do?”  Fear, that was what sat in Deborah's eyes now, and L’lorne felt sorry for her because the fear was completely justified and terrible.

            “It means that by lunch time, she won't remember her own name, by this afternoon she won't remember your name, and by tonight, she won't even remember being human in the first place.”  The scheduling was oddly coincidental, and L’lorne traced the entire path of the data, looking to compare it with past events.  For a moment she considered it was a set up by Ritch 'arrd, but all the others had been done at a similar stage.  Perhaps it would have been more merciful if they had come the next day.

            “We've got to get her out of here,” was Deborah's reply.  “Now!”

            “She won't survive outside of the tank.  She'll die if we take her out.  And we can't take the tank with us.”

            A reality Deborah hadn't expected was slowly starting to sink in, but it was obviously not going to let it win if she could help it.  “There must be something we can do?  Maybe we could keep her head in water or something.”

            L’lorne looked at the floor and considered their options.  The first one was to simply undo all the modifications, but that would ruin all her plans.  Before, the plan was to leave her mother here, then once Ritch 'arrd was dealt with, let the system let her out, probably within days once his support was removed.  Now, however, that couldn't be done.  There were things she could do, including sabotaging the mental conditioning apparatus, but that could be repaired long before they found Ritch 'arrd, and even then they weren't likely to let her out.  No, there was only one option, and she could feel the pain that it would cause already.  “There are only two options.”

            Deborah's hand came up, stopping L’lorne from continuing.  Her eyes, even behind the glasses as they were, were very red and filled with tears, but she sniffed them back as best she could and spoke.  “There's only one option.”


            As soon as the cylinder opened, alarms went off.  They were loud only for a few moments, then they became muted.  Water began pouring onto the floor, soaking Deborah's shoes down to the skin, but she ignored it.  Right behind the torrent of water, came her mother's body, and she and L’lorne did their best to arrest her descent to the floor.

            She was heavy, silky smooth, but not slimy as Deborah had expected.  They laid her body against the side of the cylinder and Deborah dropped to Patricia's side.  “The entire building is going into lock down,” L’lorne said as she looked towards the door.  “I can stall them for a bit, but we still won't have much time.”

            Deborah ignored L’lorne's warning.  She already knew there wouldn't be a lot of time, and she had no plans to waste any of it.  Her mother's hair was wet and flat against her skull and face, so Deborah brushed it aside, causing a sudden bout of coughing to erupt.  “Mama?”

            More coughing, her limbs, all of them rumbled around as if lost for a moment, then settled down.  Her eyes opened, the same eyes that Deborah remembered, and she looked at her.  “Deborah.”  Her voice was hoarce and she gasped a couple of times before speaking again.  “Run, you have to run.”

            “It's okay mama, I'm here to rescue you.”  Deborah was already starting to tear up again, despite thinking she had finally run dry.  A deep breath with her eyes closed and she pulled her mother toward her.  “We're going to get out of here.”

            “No, you have to go,” she gasped at her.  “They'll hurt you, you have to run.”

            “It's alright, it's alright,” Deborah said, trying to instill that same comfort she could remember being given time and time again over the years.

            “Go now young lady,” Patrica suddenly did a giant gasp, coughed and then wheezed out.  “I can't breathe.”

            “I know.”  It was starting.  L’lorne had tried to prepare her, but Deborah didn't want to believe it, even now she only partially believed.  It wouldn't be long now.  “Just hold me for a bit mama, and everything will be alright.”

            One of the green limbs draped itself around Deborah, and they pulled tighter together.  “Deborah,” her voice was going slowly, her eyes closing as if she were going to sleep.

            “I love you,” Deborah said, the tears now freely flowing, her face scrunching up in pain.

            Patricia traced her daughter's face for a moment, and smiled as best she could between the gasping, ineffective breaths.  “I love you too.”  Her hand grew still, then fell away, her body going completely limp.  Her eyes stared forward, locked in their last position even as the rest of her relaxed away.

            Deborah grabbed her tightly, holding her, swaying slightly in the hopes that this simple movement would undo what had happened, but there was nothing to be done.  Patricia Teresa Igningus was gone.

            Gun fire erupted from just on the other side of the door, pulling Deborah away from her own pain for a moment.  “What's going on,” she asked between light sobs.

            “My diversion,” L’lorne said quietly.  She kneeled down next to Deborah and her mother and gently closed Patricia's eyes.  “May the spirits guide and protect you,” she said quietly.  “We should go now.  They'll be here soon.”

            The gun fire died down, then lit up again, with along roll of a heavy machine gun firing.  Deborah reluctantly leaned her mother's body against the cylinder then got up.  “We can take the vent back.  He said the security seals wouldn't be active.”  L’lorne made no objection as Deborah made her way towards the ventilation duct.  Within a step of it, however, a solid plate of metal dropped down over the top of it with a loud clang.  “He said all the doors would be unlocked!”

            “Looks like this was added after his death,” L’lorne said without any serious concern.  More gunfire sounded from behind the door, then a sudden explosion shook the door.  “Time to go,” L’lorne said as she grabbed Deborah's hand.

            Before Deborah had a moment to question the plan, L’lorne placed her free hand against the wall, and then through the wall without disturbing it in the least.  The rest of her followed quickly, and Deborah did as well, dragged out and through a solid wall as if it wasn't there at all.  She looked back towards the still form of her mother just as the door burst open, flooding the room with light.  And then, all of it was gone.



1. What kind of person is Lcorn Llorne? What does she look like (in your mind)?
2. What kind of person is the Deborah Ignigus? What does she look like (in your mind)?
3. Does the setting seem fitting? Would you like to know more?
4. Again, should I consider swapping the first section of this part with the last section of the previous part?
5. Is it too sappy or just about right? 

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