“Caught in a Web”
Rita loitered close to Archibald as they walked guardedly, but with a sped up purpose to each step. They did not know where, if any, the Kaseer’s cameras or listening devices were located. On top of them avoiding detection, Archibald had to hold onto the wall and Rita at the same time so that he did not slip and fall into the slime. Each step felt equal to walking upon “PolyTetraFluoroEthylene” Dr. Zeal thought. (What the DuPont Company branded ‘Teflon’ in 1945 back on Earth in the United States.)
The door to the lab was not only close, but was open. ‘Why was it open though?’ Archibald contemplated. Dr. Zeal realized that that must have meant it was occupied! Accordingly, they slowly approached the threshold of the entry point into the lab. To no surprise to either of them, two Kaseer scientists were inside. As Archibald peeked around the corner into the room, he saw the bacterium he needed packaged nicely behind a glass cover with a black handle.
“We have to kill those guards or somehow get them to leave the room without seeing us.” Archibald whispered to Rita. Rita slowed her internal mechanics slower than before and lowered her volume into a low resonance that only Archibald could hear.
“Sir, after we retrieve the bacterium we must disperse it safely. Although you and I are safe from the virus’s infection, I cannot say the same for the innocent families in the civilian bay harbored on this ship. When I was picked up from the last planet we were on, I turned off in order to appear as scrap metal. Once I was left alone, that is when I began exploring the ship and searching for you. My first objective was to obtain a map to the ship in order to better navigate the ship’s vents. I obtained one from their security room two floors above where we are currently. Our best course of action would be to close the vents off in the civilian bay and release the Bacillus Anthracis through the vents.”
“Then that is what we will do. My only fear is that it will not work quickly enough. We must try our best to find other means of biological warfare in this lab to add to it. Right now though, we need to focus on getting into this lab.” Archibald said in a low tone.
The Octoghost in the lab seemed to be working diligently, which meant that they were not going to be leaving any time soon. Something had to be done promptly before the Doctor and his companion were seen in the hallway. Archibald began to think. His mind was hurried with adrenaline as he looked around and then it struck him – B. Stratospheric and B. Altitudinal!
These two ultra-efficient bacteria’s were found in the first century of the second millennia, around the same time Archibald was born. They found that it was an extremely efficient microbial fuel cell that could produce two hundred watts per cubic meter. Two hundred watts does not seem like a high voltage, but that is because they relied on bio-catalytic oxidation to produce their electricity by converting organic compounds. The importance of this remembrance was that if this slime was organically the same, Archibald knew he could take advantage of the carbon electrodes that it was coated in.
“Rita, how many joules of direct electricity can you exude without a power failure?” Archibald asked with an excitement emulating how he acted at his school science fairs at a young age.
“Three hundred joules, sir.” Rita responded.
“Hopefully that will be enough. I will run in and jump onto the counter. As soon as I reach it and am clear of the slime, send the shock.” Archibald said.
Rita computed and understood the plan. Archibald counted down.
“1…2…3!” Archibald dashed into the room sliding as he maneuvered around the door frame and around the wall holding on. The Octoghost saw him instantly. They both simultaneously rushed toward him. Archibald slipped about and in a last second attempt, jumped and kicked off of the creature’s chest angling him towards the top of the counter.
“NOW!” Archibald yelled. What happened next astonished even the Doctor. Never had his calculations been off by so much. The slime turned out to be a super-conductor of electricity. The three hundred joules multiplied through their current, doubling their strength every few meters. This caused the Octoghosts to increase in volume, expand, and explode like a large animal left in an industrial sized microwave for an extended length of time, though their explosion from within was instant.
Debris from the creatures splattered on the wall and onto Rita and the Doctor. Though they were unaware at the time, the current had traveled throughout the entire level of the ship, damaging electronics and killing all members of the Kaseer and their prisoners on that floor. Needless to say, a mess of high proportions ensued throughout the level.
Dr. Zeal looked over at Rita wide-eyed. “Well…I didn’t expect or calculate that would happen…”
Rita was unharmed due to a mixture of absorption and rubber on the bottom half of her robotic body, or so Archibald figured. The two had no time to spare. This surely was going to draw some attention. Archibald thought about using the chemical-based plan, but then realized that if they contaminated the ship, it may harm other aspects of the ship; needed aspects.
“Rita, do you have enough power to do that on each floor?” Dr. Zeal could have probably done the math himself, but it would have taken more time than he had at that moment.
“Yes, sir. I require a ten minute interval in between joule deliverance to recharge.” Rita responded.
“That should be just enough time. You can recharge during the journey it takes to reach each floor.” After Archibald’s last word, they made haste. Each floor had only one way to travel upwards to the next level and on each level, they were on opposite ends. This meant that to proceed to the next floor, they would have to walk/hover the extent of the floor itself.
Traveling down the hallways after each controlled joule explosion was on par with walking through a large tube with ravioli sauce strewn about. The Octoghost’s blood was a lighter red then ours, but red all the same. It was stringy as well, which made the mess the shocks caused even more profound to view and walk through.
The ramps that connected the floors were difficult to walk up for Archibald; most of the time he had to hold onto Rita. Giant doors in front of the ramps made it so that the electricity would not just simply travel to each floor in one shock, but would retain the shock through metal rods and send it up and out of the ship. This may have been a system purposely put in place by the Kaseer in the event that the slime bonded with electricity as it did in this moment so that it would not move through the entire ship.
The ship contained 6 primary levels, the top level being the giant Laboratory the size of a high school gym - above that existed a small seventh floor that was Albatrez’s private room. A level that existed below all of the others was a level 0 (or so it was translated). This floor was the civilian bay.
When Rita and Archibald reached the sixth floor, they had passed rooms that could have individually been explored and analyzed for (Earth) days on end. They saw machines and technology unlike anything that they had ever dreamed (or computed) of. One room they passed housed a greenhouse with an artificial light that the Doctor guessed emitted sun-like rays. The biology in that room alone would take a momentous amount of time to fully-comprehend. Upon progressing past it, Dr. Zeal hoped that at some point he could examine it all.
Finally, Rita and the Doctor had reached the large lab on the sixth floor. Rita had three minutes left to recharge, so the Doctor went a bit ahead and scouted what they would be dealing with. The lab was full, but not with Octoghosts that looked like guards or scientists; these creatures were of the same race, but moved slower and appeared weaker. Lab equipment was everywhere, but no distinguished scientists or workers in sight.
Rita hovered behind Dr. Zeal and let him know the Joules were ready for deployment. Dr. Zeal stopped Rita for a moment. “Hold on…something isn’t right.”
A platform lowered from the ceiling revealing Albatrez. The Kaseer scattered about slowly as he lowered to a stop half way to the ground from his private layer. He looked down upon them all in both senses.
“You see them scatter about? It is because they are as weak of a race as the humans were. They have just had the upper hand for so long. They are better workers than your kind though. You have destroyed most of my workers with your body’s power.” Albatrez said as his ghastly face tightened.
“My body?” Archibald questioned. “I would think someone as almighty as you proclaim to be would have detected my robot companion, Rita, was at the source of the power.” Archibald laughed.
Albatrez’s face unwrinkled as he let out a hardy laugh. “Haha! What robot do you speak of? Has so much killing gone to your head that you are now mad?”
Confused, Archibald yelled out, “Rita! My robot to my side…” When he peered downward there was no robot to be seen. “She was just here…”
An enormous projection of a screen floated in the air harmoniously in line next to Albatrez. Upon the screen displayed a video of Archibald moving up the levels, but no robot was with him. It was in fact, his hands producing the joules that had devastated floor after floor. He was beside himself in thought. He began speaking aloud, but to himself.
“This whole time…since I saw her in the ship when I arrived on the planet…The transfer of my mind into the synthetic organism I live in today…” He was lost in his own madness. “That’s why she didn’t know how long we had been gone from Earth. Her internal memory was not damaged; it was because I did not know the answer to my own question. All the information she told me…I knew and figured out myself. Rita must have imprinted on my brain when I left the ship. She is a part of me, but was never with me physically…”
He thought back to the cell where Albatrez had sent his minion to end his life. He saw it clearly at that moment. When the old man drove the nails into him repeatedly, the Doctor fainted from the pain. When he was unconscious, the energy inside him that produced the electric death blows to the many members of the Kaseer, was the same energy that healed his wounds. His mind tried to make sense of it and fabricated a story of an organic substance that healed. Furthermore, the wires keeping the old man sustained were just that – Wires. No coating was needed.
Archibald snapped out of it. “How did I have a premonition of the man you sent to kill me?! Was that you?”
Albatrez laughed once more. “No, I wanted you dead. The human species makes me sick. When you travel as much as I have, you’ll find that the cosmos can be phenomenally strange on one’s perception and thoughts, though you can see that in full detail now can’t you?” He continued his laughter. “At times, premonitions are possible, but it matters not. I knew if my menial servant failed me that I could carry out my own will. It is inevitable. I mean, look at the civilians. They are drones with empty minds; even with their minds they were drones of a different kind. They were so obedient that I told my workers to wipe the minds of their family members, and they did so, without question.”
Archibald was distraught and disgusted. “How could you do this to your own kind?”
“Many before you, of your kind, did the same. It is not just Kaseer or human nature, it is a universal nature. If there can be no peace, then I will at the very least stand on top of the destruction.”
Archibald’s abhorrence grew until he could no longer handle the implications put forth by the monster standing in front of him. The Doctor exploded in anger, but as his first breathe towards words of outrage met the surrounding air, Albatrez smashed his tentacle into a nearby digital screen causing a static to fill the air in the vicinity to which Archibald stood. The static halted Dr. Zeal’s every word and movement. Albatrez lowered to the floor and through his frightening face, one could see a devilish smirk come upon him.
“I’d like to tell the last original human mind a story before your race comes to a complete and utter end. This story deals with the indubitableness of death caused by greed. Curiosity often times leads to the idea that one should assert himself fully into the pursuit of new findings, even if the one searching feels something is wrong beforehand. Greed will sometimes step into these situations and give the last push to make the action happen. This is where things become fun.”
Archibald tried his best to free himself, but nothing with the exception of his eyes could be moved. Albatrez continued with his narrative, wearing a grin the entire time.
“There once lived a Xaphnu leader named Raseac. It led the Xaphnu race through many battles and conquered many worlds. It was a hero to the Xaphnu civilians and soldiers and was thought of by most as the greatest leader the Xaphnu race had ever known. Unbeknown to the rest however, on a certain planet that they had pillaged, Raseac had secretly taken a power that made its life eternal. (Raseac had often taken the rarest of items from planets and kept them for itself.) Raseac was immune from growing old and contracting sicknesses, but not from physical harm.
As it outlived generations of its kind, Raseac’s main advisers began to take notice. Realizing they would never get the opportunity to take its place at the throne, they devised a devious plan. During one of their private council meetings, Raseac’s advisers and closest friends attacked and murdered it. Not only did they want its position, but they wanted the power it possessed: living eternally.
They assumed their leader had the power or formula in its private quarters. After they had murdered it, they hid Raseac’s body in its own closet. Searching for the power turned out to be a fruitless endeavor, as they did not know what the power looked like or where the power would be.
After a while, they discovered a glass case with a shaking image of a human inside of it. In foggy letters, the glass read:
“The Eternal – Earth’s last supernatural gift.”
Believing that this may be the power they searched for, their greed superseded their intuition and they opened the glass container. In reality, Raseac’s power was a rare plant that he had no duplicate of on the ship, which meant the content inside of the glass casing was something of a different nature; a menacing one: It was me.”
Albatrez’s face indented creating an even greater smile. He continued further into the story.
“You see, long ago my mother was created by the Xaphnu race to regulate the afterlife for the disgusting and vile humans. My father was a mere human before he died and rose to an unimaginable height in the afterlife. He seduced my mother which in turn, created the unborn greatness that stands before you now - me. I find it hard to believe it was consensual when considering he was simply a mortal, while she was such an advanced being; unheard of by the universe that proceed her. Though it could not have been by force, for she was too powerful; it must have been trickery. It had to have been…” Albatrez was lost in his own thoughts as Archibald was before, but he recomposed himself quickly.
“Either way, the humans have sickened me since this realization and the Xaphnu sicken me because they murdered my mother. Since the day the Xaphnu took me, or rather, since the day they stole me from my mother and stuck me in a cage, I had awareness of myself, but not the power to move. The moment Raseac’s advisers opened that glass lid I felt a self-presence like never before; I felt strength like never before. My movements were swift and deadly until all of the advisers had fallen to the floor. I considered their dead bodies involuntarily praising me from the ground. I could feel the power within me to shape shift and so I changed my outer form to mirror Raseac’s, for the Xaphnu race did not know of his death yet. I found myself withholding an opportunity; my enemies were now my slaves to each and every word. Even to this day, I hold all of the power.”
Archibald was astounded and in disbelief, but could not show it. Dr. Zeal was helpless.