Merry Christmas! Fiction Friday. Escape pod here.
Its a gory, horror based one today just for Christmas Day! Be warned!
Finally Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you!
She's the One
It was black. A blackness she had never encountered before. There was no sound either. She could hear nothing, feel nothing, see nothing. So she waited. She thought back to the previous day. The judge bringing the gavel down with a bang after passing sentence. Five years in a mind-prison for something she didn't do. Her good for nothing boyfriend had tricked her. He had asked to to help with his business and sign some things. She had no idea he was defrauding people. Now he'd cost her the next five years. Her body in stasis but her mind in a virtual world where priests and nuns would teach her the error of her ways and she would be released, reborn, reclaimed, back into the Amarr a new person.
"Crap." is all she could think. Five years of being lectured to by nuns in a virtual world.
The blackness started to fade. It was becoming light. She could hear things. There was a flash. Suddenly she was standing in a meadow. It was amazing. She could smell the damp grass, it had rained recently. She was barefoot and could feel the vegetation between her toes. This was the construct? It was paradise. She looked down. It was her body, she could feel the light white summer dress. Her senses were alive. Maybe this wouldn't be so bad she thought! Beats living on a station for minimum wage. She followed a babbling brook through the meadow and in the distance she could see a small village. It looked like something from ancient times. Stone huts with thatched roofs. Smoke gently climbing from several of the chimneys.
As she reached the edge of the settlement she saw several women walking about. They were dressed like her in the white dresses. Near to a pond one woman sat staring over the water. She made her way across.
"Hello?" Fassara asked. The woman didn't move.
"Hi, I'm Fassara." she said a bit louder. The other woman didn't respond. Just gazed straight ahead.
"Don't waste your time. She's gone." a voice behind Fassara said. She span around to find a stunningly attractive brunette stood there. Again dressed in the light flowing white dress.
"Sorry? What do you mean gone? I'm new here!" Fassara explained.
"Yes we know. There are only a dozen of us here. We knew another was coming when a new hut appeared over night. That's your one there." the woman said pointing to a stone house at the end of the row.
"Oh. Right. But what is wrong with her?" Fassara pressed.
"Come with me, I'll explain." smiled the brunette with a tinge of sadness "I'm Kansine by the way."
Kansine led Fassara to a larger hut. Inside several women were sat chatting or making crafts. Fassara looked again. Every single woman was attractive. She didn't expect to find men and women mixed, but she was surprised to find so many beautiful women.
"What is this place?" she asked.
Kansine nodded and indicated for her to sit on some animal skins by a fire pit.
"You know something is wrong don't you?" Kansine asked. Fassara simply nodded. She was right, something about the inmates here indicated something was very wrong.
Well the truth is we're not in general population. As far as we can tell this is a separate construct hidden away from the main mind-prisons. The entry requirements here are you are True-Amarr, young and beautiful. I'm assuming your lawyer was surprised at the sentence compared to your crime?"
Fassara looked surprised she knew this "Well, yes. He couldn't believe I got sent here."
"Its Holder Apunar and his son. They had this place created for their own pleasure. The judges are in on it. They send the best looking women her and we get lost in they system."
Fassara started to zone out as Kansine explained more. The Holder and his son would regularly visit. They'd 'jack in' to the virtual world the same as the visiting priests and nuns were supposed to do. However they didn't come to rehabilitate. They did whatever they wanted. Sometimes they'd be themselves. Other times they'd spawn as monsters or powerful fantasy beings. They were in a computer generated world and they could do whatever they wanted. The woman by the lake was Gorreedle. The holder's son had appeared as a wolf-man one night. Half man, half wolf. He had ripped her flesh as he took her. Once he left and the technicians are allowed access again and were able to reset her physical body so she didn't die. However the horror of that night broke the poor woman's mind. Kansine went on to explain whilst it was a virtual world and their bodies were in stasis-tubes on the outpost, if they died in the construct they died in the outside world. The mind could not reconcile the difference. However it was rare. As soon as the Holder or his son left the techs that managed the world could save them by putting them into an instant coma and resetting their physical forms in the construct.
"So we are simply her for a perverted Holder and his sick kid's sport?"
"Afraid so. My advice is play along and do whatever they want no matter how sick or disgusting. You cannot fight them. Whilst the construct has the same rules as the real world they are able to bend the rules. They have powers we cannot fight. Whatever it is, it'll be better than what will happen to you if you resist or upset them. There are worse things than dying here." Kansine warned.
The next few weeks were a living hell for Fassara. As Kansine had warned her, the new girls were always popular. At first she had resisted but Kansine had been right. They were in control and had ultimate power. The first time she'd resisted and fought back. The Holder had simply laughed and broken her arms and legs with his bare hands, snapping them like twigs. He'd continued after, sating his lust as she screamed in agony. She'd never known such pain. After he was satisfied he had climbed off her, smiled and vanished into thin air. Next thing she knew it was next morning and her body was fine. However she felt a dull ache in all of her limbs. The girls explained that the mind remembers and injuries that were fixed could still be painful for days after. From that point she'd co-operated not wanting a repeat.
She was laying in bed one night when she heard the noise. The visitor had chosen someone else for that night. The sharp crack and scream let her know it was the Holders son, Shushayahlou. He was sick. Got of on causing pain and suffering. However she'd been told he prefered brunettes and didn't like blondes. She'd been safe for now. Not that his father was a nice experience, but he only caused her pain if she resisted. She pulled up the covers tight and looked across the room at the big candle. She'd left it lit so if she did get a visitor she'd be able to see who it was. Now she wanted the light gone but she didn't want to leave her warm bed. It was annoying. She stared at the candle like it was its fault. Suddenly the flame spluttered and died. She gasped. That was a un-nerving coincidence. A freak breeze blowing out the candle she desperately wanted extinguished.
Next morning she took breakfast with the other girls. There were fourteen of them now. Two more had arrived since Fassara but they'd also lost one of the others. The holders son going too far and killing her before he left. It was generally accepted that the Holder and his son didn't want the techs watching them so their access was disconnected whenever one of them was inside the construct. The woman had died before the son disconnected and hence her body in the real world had too. They had undertaken a small ceremony the next day. However there was no body to bury. The techs simply deleted it when they came back online.
One of the woman was quiet, obviously the one from the previous night. She was left alone. As Fassara finished her breakfast she left the meal hall and wandered into the wood. She was angry. Peladi had obviously been lashed within an inch of her life and nobody could do anything about it. So far Fassara had been spared anything too bad. The Holder liked it rough but compared with the kinks of his son, she'd got off lightly. However it wasn't fair. It was wrong. And there was nothing any of them could do. She worked herself up more and more. Finally she screamed and punched the closest tree. There was a massive crack as the tree broke in two. Fassara stood their open mouthed looking at the half metre wide trunk snapped in half. She looked at her knuckles. Slightly red but not a scratch on them.
It was a few days later when Fassara finally accepted something was very wrong. She was sat by the lake watching a falcon soar overhead. She knew it wasn't a real falcon, just another part of the construct. A small baby rabbit hoped from the undergrowth to the far edge of the lake. Fassara watched the falcon twist and line up. It folded its wings in and started a steep dive towards its prey. Fassara knew they were both constructs. The AI was simply imitating nature, but it was wrong. She knew what it was like to be the rabbit. She personally knew the feel of talons.
"No!" she muttered under her breath. The falcon froze a metre from the rabbit. Its wings outstretched and talons open. There it hovered as if someone had paused a movie. The rabbit looked up, saw the falcon hanging there in the air and scampered back to the undergrowth. Suddenly the falcon moved again, slamming into the sandy strip at the edge of the lake.
"An Imperial Inquisitor?" Holder Apunar asked nervously wringing his hands together. "Here?"
"Yes my Lord. He will arrive in three days." the governor of the mind-prison replied over the holo-link.
"We will arrive later to deal with this." The Holder said trying to hide his panic under a commanding tone.
Too many people had been "lost" in the mind-prison for this system. Too many relatives had made representations. Now the Empire was sending an Inquisitor to review the facility. It wouldn't take long for them to identify the pods not connected to the main male and female worlds. Not take long to realise there was a third world. Not take long to throw him and his son into their own jail. He tapped away at the holo-comm. After a few moments his son's image appeared.
They could transfer the girls to the women's construct. However what if the Inquisitors staff entered the construct and spoke to one. No, that world and its inhabitants needed to be erased. What a waste!
"My son. We had a problem. We need to shut down our special place for a few months and we need to do it tonight. Would you care to join me for one last party?"
The girls were in the main village hall when the storm hit. Lightning flashed in the sky, thunder claps shook the building and the wind outside howled.
"We've never had anything like this before!" Kansine said nervously as the women gathered. "Weather is always fair. Why are they giving us a storm?"
"They are both coming." Fassara said. "They are taking their worst forms. Something is wrong."
The women all looked at her.
"How do you know?" one asked. "They never come together!"
"I just do. I can feel them. Don't ask me how, but I can."
Suddenly the main door crashed open and there stood a horrific withered being. Stick thin arms and legs on an emaciated torso standing eight foot high. Its skin was a deathly grey and its eyes orange. The fingers ended in vicious silver claws a foot long that glinted in the fire light. The girls started to back away as there was a crash behind them, the rear door had been ripped from its hinges. The wolf-man stood there. Six foot of fur and muscle growling at them. Whichever way they looked, teeth and claws blocked the exits.
"This way!" Fassara cried running towards the side of the hall. Kansine followed as did a few of the women. Several stood their ground wondering why Fassara would lead them to a solid wall. They looked in shock as the stone wall parted and they ran through. For two of them their hesitation was the end of them. The withered creature moved at lightening speed jumping between the columns supporting the roof. It pounced onto one of the women as the wolfman pounced. Screams rang out as claws and teeth ripped into soft flesh. Its mouth opened impossibly wide and closed over her face. A forked tongue forced its way into her mouth as the razor sharp teeth closed around her head. Fassara glanced back and saw as the creature pulled its head back, ripping the flesh from her face and leaving a bloodied skull staring at the ceiling. The Wolfman also had a victim, the inside of the hall now looked like a butchers shop.
Outside the five women ran to the edge of the village. The screams of terror and agony could barely be heard through the storm.
"How did you do that?" Kansine asked. The other girls turned to Fassara.
"I... I don't know. For a few weeks I've been finding strange things happening. I don't know why but I have been able to affect the construct. Just small things. I never opened a wall!" she explained. They saw Bridi at one of the windows screaming for help. She was suddenly dragged down out of sight. A second later a fountain of blood splattered across the rough glass drawing gasps and screams from the women.
"What are we going to do! They are unstoppable! We're dead aren't we?" Danera cried falling to the floor, she was comforted by Mararq.
"No use running. Nowhere to go." Lalaveec said in resignation. "Its over."
Kansine looked at Fassara expectantly. She just slowly shook her head. For whatever reason she could make minor changes to the construct but no way should could fight the Holder and his son. They had taken characters from popular horror movies and their powers in the construct meant they could do anything they wanted.
The withered creature stepped from the hall's main door. He held his right arm high. Impaled on the claws was a torso. The legs, arms and head had been removed. The talons erupted from the stomach as he waved it in the air at the remaining five. On the roof the thatch burst open and the wolfman jumped out. His muzzle dripped blood. The two looked at the group of women for a second before bounding towards them.
They ran but it was no use. Danera and Mararq were caught moments later. Having slumped to the ground they were last to be on their feet and running. Fassara glanced back to see the Holder and his son pounce on one each. There was no rush and they took their time. She saw the withered creature straddle Danera and use one talon to slice her slowly. The wolfman took Mararq ferociously. The screams of the women faded as they sprinted into the woods.
"Wait! Stop!" gasped Kansine as they reached a small clearing. "Its no use. We cannot out run them. They are playing with us."
Fassara stopped and nodded. She was right. This was a hunt that they would never win.
"Where is Lalaveec?"
The two woman looked around. In the distance there was a shrill scream.
"It appears my father is taking care of her." a voice sounded from the bushes. The wolfman stepped out a moment later. "I'm sure he'll take his time with her. The question is, which one of you do I do first."
The wolfman approached slowly. Fassara stepped in front of Kansine.
"You'll have to come through me first" she snarled. The wolfman laughed.
"Oh I am going to enjoy making you scream bitch!" he snarled and charged.
Fassara didn't know what would happen but she channeled all her rage, all the pain, all the horror. As the wolfman pounced she threw her first forward. It connected with its snout. The flying, snarling ball of teeth and claws suddenly flew off in the opposite direction. Smashing into a large tree a hundred metres away, snapping the mighty trunk like a twig. Kansine looked at Fassara opened mouthed. Fassara herself looked in shock.
"How did you....?"
"I have no idea!" she finished.
The wolfman staggered into the clearing. His left arm hung loosely by his side. He was covered in cuts and gashes.
"You slut! How did you do that? You'll pay for your insolence!" it said charging again.
"No!" Fassara said calmly holding up a hand. The wolfman froze dead still. Anger flashed in her eyes. In the wolfman's there was only fear as he hung there paralysed. Fassara quickly twisted her hand. The wolfman's head twisted at speed and there was a sickening crack. Its lifeless body dropped to the floor. The two women stared at the corpse for the longest time.
"Ah. The last two!" a voice from behind said. "I'll be taking the blonde and I'll save you darkie for my boy."
The two girls turned to see the tall withered creature enter the clearing. It carried Lalaveec's head by her hair. It stopped abruptly as it saw the heap of fur behind them.
"Shushayahlou?" it called out pathetically.
Realisation dawned on its face. Its head slowly turned to the girls. Anger and hatred flashing in its yellow eyes.
"I don't know what you did or how you did it but you are going to suffer for this. I will do things to you so that you'll beg me to end your suffering!" the creature growled running at them.
Fassara held up out hand and it stopped its advance. Confusion all over its face. Slowly it started to advance as if walking into a strong wind. Progress was slow but it was advancing.
"I can't hold him. He's stronger. Run!" Fassara said, the strain apparent in her voice.
"I'm not leaving you!" Kansine replied.
The withered creature continued it slow advance, silver claws specked with blood glinting every time lightening flashed. A large branch flew from the edge of the clearing and slammed into the creature. It snarled and brushed it away. Fassara tried more objects but the creature was too strong. It soon was within five metres of the two women. With a mighty shove Fassara knocked it back a few feet but it soon restarted its advance. Finally it lashed out and caught her hand with its claws. She screamed and fell back, two severed fingers falling to the grass.
"I don't know how you are going this?" the Holder said menacingly as it towered over her "But I'm going to enjoy this next bit!"
The was crack as Kansine broke a branch over its head from behind. The creature turned to her unhurt. Its right arm shot out gripping her by the neck and lifting her a clear foot off the ground.
"I'm really not into brunettes as you know." it said casually. It looked down at Fassara who was on the floor sobbing, holding her hand with the missing fingers. Kansine made choking noises as it hauled her higher into the air. It continued to stare at Fassara as its left arm swung impossibly fast. It appeared as no more than a blur.
"NO!" Fassara screamed as Kansine's belly erupted in a spay of blood. Her intestines and internal organs falling through the three deep slashes. The creature dropped her to the floor.
"Don't feel sorry for her. When I'm done with you, you'll be praying for a death like that!"
Slowly Fassara rose to her feet!
"No. No I won't." she growled. Her face twisted in anger.
The holder gave a bemused look at her. Suddenly she screamed in rage and the creature was blown back twenty feet. It rose to its feet. Thunder crashed overhead and a fork of lightening flashed into the clearing striking the Holder. The creature screamed in agony. A second and third strike followed. Within moments it was impossible to count. Dozens of lightening strikes forked down from the sky. The creature glowed with heat its grey skin turning orange. A final clap of thunder and the sky appeared to fill with lightening. A blood curling scream was heard, then there was silence.
"Look. Its way overdue. We are going to have to turn our systems back on!" Atlairbot grumbled.
"Man. If the Holder finds out he'll be roasting your nuts over an open fire." Hatenkhi replied.
"They'll not know. Probably having too much fun with the girls." Atlairbot said flicking the switch. "Oh shit!"
The two men quickly swung their seats against the console and started to confirm the read-outs. All but one of the girls was dead, but more importantly the Holder and his son were dead.
"Oh frack, oh frack, oh frack!" Atlairbot panicked. "What do we do?"
Hatenkhi thought for a second. "Terminate the last girl. She's a witness to all this. The Inquisitor is going to find all of this. We can say the Holder ordered, no threatened us and our family. If we didn't do what he said he'd imprison our families!"
"Good idea!" Atlairbot replied opening a clear plastic window in the desk that contained the kill switches. He flicked the switch and glanced at the other screen. Frowning he flicked the switch a few more times. Still nothing. He rose from his chair.
"Kill switch isn't working. I'll go unplug her manually."
He walked to the door and straight into it.
"What the frack?"
He pressed the manual open button. Nothing.
"Entire system is fracked!" he grumbled.
"Wait a sec." Hatenkhi said reaching over to the comms console.
"Central. This is Hatenkhi in Control Room W-3 we're experiencing some technical issues. Console isn't responding to all commands and even the door is dead."
"Of course it is Hatenkhi." a female voice spoke.
"Well..... are you going to do anything *cough* about it?"
"What? *cough* What's going on?"
"If I let your colleague out of that room he's going to kill me and I cannot let that happen can I Hatenkhi."
Hatenkhi and Atlairbot looked at each other, brows furrowed in confusion. At almost the same moment their eyes went wide in fear when they realised who they were talking to. By the time they composed themselves from the shock they couldn't talk through the coughing.
The Inquisitor looked down the length of the canteen. Dead bodies were slumped all around. Half eaten meals lined the long tables.
"And it is like this all over the outpost?" he asked walking down the room.
"Yes Lord Inquisitor. From what we can tell it started in the control rooms and soon spread throughout the outpost. Life support malfunctioned in various ways. Some rooms froze, others overheated. Some, like this one, simply turned off the air and our people suffocated."
They passed down a corridor. Every so often a body lay there.
"The AI reports everything is OK?"
"Yes my Lord. We've had our best technicians look at they AI and all systems. They cannot explain it. Currently all systems control is currently bypassing the AI and is under the control of your Apocalypse class battleship so we are quite safe."
They passed through a large double blast-door that was wide open. The room was full of what appeared to be coffins. They were stacked as far as the eye could see. Lights slowly blinking on each one.
"Yet most of the prisoners are alive? Only about a dozen of them died during this time?"
"Yes my Lord. We are trying to piece the situation together. They appeared to have died in the construct just before the disaster here. Also we have this casket here."
The man led the inquisitor to an open casket. It was half full of a viscous liquid. Tubes and wires hung over the sides.
"This one escaped?"
"Sir, we are not sure what happened as escape is impossible. We cannot explain it. The only visitors were the Holder and his Son who were found dead in the priests section. We think they were here helping to rehabilitate our prisoners. However they appear to have died in the construct with the other dozen prisoners, they were not killed by the AI sabotaging the life support like the rest. All staff are accounted for. It is impossible one of the prisoners simply exited their casket without help. But there was nobody to help."
The Inquisitor stared at the open casket before glancing around. He pointed to near the door.
"Is that a drone?" he asked. The man twisted.
"Yes my Lord. A caretaker drone. Provides support at night or in an emergency. If you are wondering if they can remove a prisoner from their pod, yes it can. However it has hardwired security protocols to stop that and needs a command code physically entering onto a keypad on the drone to allow it to perform that task. It was designed to be unhackable."
"But it was still under the control of the AI wasn't it?"
"Of course my Lord, thats why it is not active now. However the AI was not allowed to command the drone to release a prisoner. It would be impossible for someone to hack a military-grade AI and then hack that drone as well."
The Inquisitor nodded unconvinced. The AI had gone crazy for whatever reason and killed everyone on the ship. Bypassing even hard-wired security protocols on a caretaker drone must be easy compared with bypassing the safeties on the life-support system.
"One final thing. You said Holder Apunar was visiting with his son. Is the Holders ship in the hanger?" he asked.
The man paused. "His ship sir? No sir the guest hanger is empty. Oh....."