Day 76. 56 pages, 22,268 words.
“Go … where?” Lelhmak asked, eyes narrowing behind his lenses.
“Out of these cells, for a start,” Odium said. “They’ve ramped down to allow you to enter, which might allow me to break out, but I am under no illusions that the platform will keep them this way for long.”
“No offence, but you seem to be under at least one illusion,” Gyden said, “specifically that the platform will let us out if you’re with us. Of course, we probably can’t stop you from doing whatever you want to do, and ever since we walked in here to find you not knocked out by a quasi-transperse pulse, I’ve given up trying to guess what the platform will do at any given moment.”
“It took you that long to give up?” Lelhmak said. “I admire your stubbornness.”
“Praise indeed,” Predericon murmured. She turned and walked back to the battered section of wall where the doorway had been. “Destarion?” she raised her voice a little. “Can you hear us?”
“Yes,” the Destarion replied.
“What’s the plan?” Predericon asked. “We came in here, like you asked. Odium is not sedated, obviously. Now if we try to leave, Odium will likely accompany us by force.”
“We understand you made some kind of deal,” Lelhmak said, “so you would restore some kind of command functionality and Odium would be involved somehow. We’re not sure what part we’re supposed to play.”
“My systems prohibit me from even opening access ports to hostile non-organics,” the Destarion said, “and Odium, an enhanced undead, is technically non-organic.”
“I’ve been called worse,” Odium said easily.
“So, while it is true that active crew are required to restore full functionality, it is possible to manually activate limited command functions beyond my current level of emergency autonomy.”
“But you need organics to open the doors to wherever this manual override thing is?” Lelhmak guessed.
“Yes. And to perform the manual override itself,” the Destarion confirmed.
“This is ludicrously convoluted,” Gyden said.
“The Four Realms seem to have broken up into a solar system of spherical planets, dropped into an isolated layer of reality, the Destarion has gone into emergency standby and then been boarded by a Demon,” Predericon pointed out. “It’s safe to say this is an unprecedented series of events. It’s unlikely the platform had a simple solution procedure in place.”
“But not impossible,” Gyden said with a ghost of a smile.
“Alright, Destarion,” Predericon raised her voice again, then felt moderately idiotic for persisting in doing so. “Please open-”
“No,” Lelhmak said.
“What?” Predericon blinked.
“Oh dear,” Odium sighed.
Lelhmak pointed at the Demon. “Whatever Demons were, back in the Four Realms,” he said, “they’re clearly aiming to be something else on the … the Four Planets. The Destarion was forced to acquiesce to Odium’s demand that they collaborate in bringing command functionality back online, but we still cannot allow a Category 9 Convoy Defence Platform to fall into the hands of an agent of the Adversary,” he bent, grimaced, and folded himself into a sitting position on the hard floor. “We have to let the impasse continue.”
“He’s right,” Gyden said. “For all we know, this was purely a deal struck by Segment Eleven anyway – along with the whole failure to set off the sedative pulse, for that matter. If we can’t destroy Odium the way Segment Four wanted-”
“You mean the same Segment Four that murdered my crew?” the Destarion asked.
“To prevent the entire platform being compromised,” Predericon said, unwillingly. “I’m sorry, but they’re right,” she sat down next to Lelhmak, facing the Demon. Odium, as far as Predericon could decipher the alien facial configuration, looked amused. Gyden lowered herself to the floor on Lelhmak’s other side. “We can’t cooperate in this.”
“You realise,” the Destarion said, “that unless I power up the security fields again, Odium will just be able to resume digging out?”
“Then you’d better power them up,” Lelhmak said.
“That will kill you,” the Destarion reminded them.
“No it won’t,” Odium said. “If you don’t get your skinny backsides up off the floor in ten seconds, I’ll kill you myself,” the Demon pointed at Gyden. “Starting with the old one’s daughter.”
– Posted from my Huawei mobile phone.