Black Sun: What you hide finds you 3

June 28, 2012 § Leave a comment

Mrevket moved before Hest could even order him to.

The Cenian weapons on his battlesuit tore apart molecular bonds, creating massive explosions that were more than sufficient to rip a being their size apart from the inside, if not shielded properly. Even with shielding, the concussive force was immense. The black figure in the underbrush was in the very center of an enormous fireball of torn asunder ions igniting even the air for meters.

Mrevket smiled at the blossoming orange and white flames, taking his customary pleasure in destruction. He thought again just how beautiful flames were.

Belan descended, ready to lash out with her thoughts, secure that Liz would already be even more prepared for violence. But what they found was the aftermath of it.

There were two bodies lying on the ground. Both were still alive. Both had no thoughts at all. No memories, nothing. Their brains worked, their bodies continued to function within their complex and now totally ineffectual armories. Belan could see breath fogging slightly against the helmet of the woman’s suit.

“They’re alive.” Liz spoke. “I can see heat patterns through the woven diamond. Blood flow, respiration, it’s all working. And the suits are fully powered. I can’t see any damage spots on them, no leaks.”

“The suits are fine.” Belan forced down everything, taking her consciousness into the blue waters that erode all. The detachment came over her, allowing for precision. “Can you tell what made that explosion?”

“The male’s suit. The weapon on the right arm was recently discharged. It’s still much warmer than the rest of it.” Liz frowned. “I can’t tell what it does, but there’s a lot of energy stored in these things.” She turned to look at the burning trees. “I would expect a lot more damage than that from it.”

Belan stood and walked over to the vehicle, the ramp wide open. That wasn’t like Lokar slavers at all. The only reason they’d have left the ship wide open like this would be if they couldn’t close it. She could hear the sound of the flames going out as Liz commanded them to, smell the constant moisture in the air mixing with the acrid of wet leaves having burst into flames. Inside her blue thoughts she divided herself and allowed only her analytical mind to function, keeping her emotions walled away for now. They would be given rein when she had answers.

“There are no slaves.” She turned to Liz. “Do you sense any in the ship?”

“Not by heat signature.” Her friend frowned, and her wild red hair moved as if caught in the updraft of a bonfire. “I’m not as skilled as you but I can’t feel any thoughts in there either.”

Belan had already scouted the area, and in the trees around them were many of the native people, a people of inquisitive bent and flexible, athletic minds. Four of them hummed with agitation and relief tinged with great fear. She wanted to know more, but the combination of respect for what they had endured and fear of what she would see in their minds held her. Finally, she turned back to the still living bodies on the ground.

“They have no minds.”

“What, like you did to the other ones?”

“No. I broke those. I broke them apart, took the information I wanted, left destroyed minds behind me. These… these have nothing. The brains still work, but there’s nothing stored in them.”

“So what do we do with them?”

“Killing them would be even more of a mercy than those you burned before. These ones may be physically alive, but everything they were is gone.” Belan dismissed the slavers with a gesture. “We have to check inside the ship. It may have logs or recordings, some sort of clues.”

Liz looked at Belan, confused at her friend’s sudden urgency. The slavers were dead, the slaves freed, and she was more invested than she had been when there had been slaves to free. Not being one to enjoy contemplation, the suggestion of a course of action at least presented her with something she could do, though. And so she followed Belan into the ship, pulling her flames tighter around herself, coiling them with thoughts ready to slash out and burn.

Belan was not familiar with the particular kind of vessel, but she was with Lokar ships in general. It took a few minutes to remember how to use the ship’s interface, one based on projecting key images into its yoked brains. After a few more minutes of working out the syntax of images these particular pirates used, she called up the ship brain’s memories of the past few days. Most of it flickered uneventfully past her.

Not all of it.

In the green tinted projection hovering inside her, skewed by the lack of initiative and imagination the ship’s cloned brains had been designed to avoid, Belan saw the male open fire on the forest. She saw both of the pirates topple over at the same time, and then rise into the air. She saw a black figure step from the green surrounding the ship, and another alongside it, and her partitioned emotions shook the walls of their cage. One of the figures held out a hand, and she saw its black skin run and flow like melting ice, exposing a Lokarinoid hand with four fingers and a thumb, pressing it to the surface of the female pirate’s helmet. It remained like that for seventeen seconds, the ship’s brain helpfully informed her.

She watched as the ship watched them drift inside it, floating off of the ground. The ship attempted to keep itself secure, but it could not. Belan could feel the fear the ship could not at having its key systems subverted and strangers enter it. She saw them drift over to the slave containers and the slightly smaller of the two figures (she realized that while they had Lokari body plans, like Liz and herself, they were significantly larger) waved a hand and disassembled them, their component parts floating in the air. Then the larger of the two simply thought so hard at the ship that it stopped being able to think, or remember, and had remained that way until Belan had awoken it.

Belan broke the contact with the ship’s brain and realized that Liz was holding her up. She released the control on her emotions, needing the adrenaline the fear provided her to straight up on her feet.

“Bel?”

“We have to go back. We have to go back now and tell them, the Blue One, perhaps even That Which Is Eldest. We…” Belan heard her voice quavering and resumed some of her control, coaxing her emotions into useful channels. “They need to know what the ship’s memory has shown me.”

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