As the elevator doors opened Whisper looked up and stepped out onto the cloning level of the station. There were few people here, most of them technicians, the occasional guard. Behind her six geisha followed her in two files, the last two were pulling a small grav platform with a crate on board. Already however she could see there was something wrong here. To the area she was heading, the Militia wing of the cloning level there were no guards. But there were hastily cleaned up stains on the floor.
She pulled out a small datatablet and looked at the console by the side of the door. The cameras she noticed were not tracking, their lights were out. Popping the casing she linked her tablet up to the inside reading a diagram one of the girls was holding up. The rest were keeping watch, their hands in their sleeves. With a silent click the lock disengaged and she pulled the door open.
"Who are you? This level is restricted to Militia personnel!"
She looked up at the person who spoke. Militia maybe, Matari no. Even though he had the look of a classic brutor guard he smelt Khanid, literally. Looking beyond she could see several others who were noticing and walking towards them, beyond them she could see three men overseeing what looked like the attack on a tube with sledge hammers.
"I'm sorry. I seem to be lost. I was looking for the morgue...."
"The what? Listen lady, get..."
She walked towards him, as if moving around him. He lowered his weapon and watched open mouthed as she slammed her fist into his throat. Almost immediately he started choking and clawed at his throat as he dropped to his knees, one of the geisha picking up his rifle, the sound of her firing it loud in his ear before he blacked out.
Whisper ran towards those who were approaching, her hands disapeearing into her sleeves and came out throwing. Razor sharp stars of metal impacted those coming to them, their weapons raised and they fell. The ones by the clonetube were scattering, several of their number down, shot by the geisha. She stopped at the tube. It was the one she was after. It was Kikia Truzhari's clone.
"Check the other tubes, look specifially for militia markings. I dont think they had time for sabotage, but look anyway. Explosive devices, access panels that open too easily."
The two pulling the platform pulled the crate off and opened it, handing out the weaponry inside. High powered rifles, the most up to date from the Angel Cartel that Carmilla had been able to obtain. One of the girls was already in the control room and accessing the protocols while others brought around a proper platform for moving the tubes. Checking that all the integral systems were working she began deactivating the external sources and cleared the clamps. In the control room the switches were pressed, sirens sounded and the claw moved and slowly picked up the tube.
"We have three minutes girls before reinforcements come and look to see what is going on. Assuming they are not already on their way!"
She felt a chill run down her spine and her vision blurred slightly, but she shook her head and it went. Accepting a rifle from the girl she checked it's load and watched as the tube was loaded safely, one of the others sitting in the driving seat and started moving it towards the double doors at the rear.
"I need a volunteer to stay here with me. Two more get to the doors and open them, the rest guard the tube. Carmilla is relying on us..."
"I thought she would have been here for this."
"You know that if she could have, she would have. If she's not here then there is a big reason why she isn't."
The alarms on the bridge only made the problem worse and the console that would have turned them off was crushed under one of the roof supports. Looking through the main viewscreen they saw the gate, it was close. Armour screamed and the ship shook at the next barrage slammed into the already crippled frame.
"This ones going to be close!"
Activating gate controls. Hold on to something!
Forty klicks away the armageddon and it's flanking ships watched as the prowler aligned and jumped. Behind it three executioners aligned moments later and followed her through. The golden battleship accelerated towards the gate, it's flanking omens keeping pace with it.
Carmilla closed the eyes on the crew member she was kneeling beside and rubbed her face with hand. As soon as the ship landed she ordered it to jump to a moon and cloak while they assessed the situation. Snake looked over at her and turned and left the bridge. Turning around she realised she was the last one alive on the bridge and sat down on the command chair.. and wept.
Snake made her way into the medical bay and over to Aliza's bed. The little medtech was no where to be seen, but then she was probably seeing to the other patients on the ship. Assuming there were any alive, assuming there was anyone else left alive other than her and Carm and the pilot. Fishing around in a pocket she pulled out a small vial of quicksilver liquid and selected a syringe.
"Damn silly woman for putting Carm through this. Tea Ceremony...."
She muttered and injected the woman and checked her eyes and pulse. Still the same. Good, she mused. Any reaction this soon would be bad. Very bad. She patted Aliza on the cheek and then ran her hand over her body, exploring, feeling, squeezing and then probing.
"I can see why she likes you. But if you hurt her, I'll carve your heart out and feed it to your wife."
As she left the room she detoured, checking the other compartments and the cargo bays. Two she couldn't enter as the emergency seals on the doors were showing the room beyond had been opened to space. The engine room was nearly empty, two frantic engineers were busy, far to busy to notice her. For a while she watched, then accessed the diagnostics to see what else needed to be done, then picking up a tool box went over to help them. On the bridge, Carmilla slept.
Carmilla walked across the ash plain to the small outcrop of rock that was the only landmark she could see. When she got there, she started to climb. It was tricky going, but eventually she reached the top and saw there was a table and chairs there. She blinked as she looked. Kikia was there, as was Maeve. She sat down and smiled.
"You saved us again Carmilla."
"I'm only sorry I couldn't be there to do it myself."
"We know. Even though you give yourself to Aliza, you still love us. Even though you leave us, you still love us."
"I only left the corp. What is the corp, but a name, a title, a collection of souls. What we have cannot be broken, cannot be taken. I won't allow it. I will fight for it."
"People are dying again because of me. I held her in my arms as she breathed her last breath. What is it all for... "
"You do it because it's what you are Carmilla. You are there for people. Some for just a few moments while they are dying, others while they are living. Others you are there for just because. Take Aliza...."
"What do you mean?"
"Why are you with Aliza?"
"I dont understand...."
"You are with Aliza... why? Why when you gave your word once that you'd never be a slave again."
"I need.... "
"You whored yourself out.... betrayed her... as you betrayed your people.... again and again and again..."
The voice of Maeve was changing slowly. All around the sky was swirling, as if before a tornado. In the distance great walls of ash laden stormfront were approaching on all fronts. She got up and looked around.
"Stop it Maeve... this is not right...."
"Maeve? There is no Maeve here... there is only what you bring...."
THe voice had changed again and she turned around to face the woman she had held before she died, one of the crew. Her face was partially missing from the explosion that had tore her jaw away. Memories of her choking gasping breath as she died was loud.
"Why... why show me this...."
"Why did you kill me? Why did you kill us? You were supposed to protect us... we were your crew... your family...."
"Why did you kill me? Why did you kill us? You were supposed to protect us... we were your crew... your family...."
Behind the woman other forms were shaping. Some she recognised, her girls, her geisha. Others, crew she recognised, troops she'd fought with, friends, associates... lovers... all dead. Ten, twenty, fifty.... all of them pointing at her, accusing her.
YOU KILLED US ALL! YOU BETRAYED US ALL! HOW CAN ANYONE LOVE YOU WHEN THEY KNOW YOU WILL JUST KILL THEM TOO? BETRAY THEM TOO?
She put her hands to her ears and closed her eyes.
"This is just a dream! None of you are here!"
A hand slapped her across the face and she looked up into the bloodied face of a woman. She screamed as the wounds on her bled and her eyes melted, her features running like wax under a blowtorch.
THIS IS NO DREAM!!!
The hand slapped her again and teeth shot out from the melting face and bit her on the arm. Her scream was horrific.
Snake stood over the twisting form of Carmilla and slapped her hard again.
"Carmilla! This is no dream! Wake up for the love of....."
She leaned down and grabbed her arm, biting it. Carmilla scream was deafening and she fell from teh chair and scampered into the corner, pushing herself back with her feet until she was cowering in the corner.
"Carmilla! Wake the fuck up! We're in trouble!"
Snake pulled the terrified woman to her feet and looked at her, she was shaking and pale. She slapped her again, bringing blood to her lip. It seemed to work as she looked around, shocked.
"What happened... where am..."
"We got probes dropped all over the system. Interceptors are buzzing around like mad checking all the planets and moons. We got about five miunutes..."
"What about the cloak? We should be cloaked?"
Cloak died three minutes ago we dont have the parts to repair it.
"How is Aliza?"
"Alive, for the moment. But we need you to help us now. We need you to turn off the cloaking device. We dont have the access codes."
She frowned and looked at Snake, it was like looking into a mirror.
"Why dont you do it? It's your ship...."
"Because I have too much to do. Now get up and turn off the cloaking device."
A whining ringing sound in her ears, an incessant alarm sound. Looking down at her arms she saw there was blood on them in regular points. She shook her head and it felt insubstantial. Slowly, painfully she got to her feet.
"Turn off the cloaking device. Do it now! Before all is lost!"
The whinning turned into a rhythmic slamming sound. Each movement was heavy, each breath was now laboured. All the time Snake was there, looking like a mirror image.
"Turn it off, bitch! Do it now, you are worthless.. you cant' even turn off a cloaking device...."
From somewhere far away there was a screaming, a voice but too high pitched, keening as if in utter pain. It took a while to realise, it was her voice. She slumped against the control panel that held the controls to the cloaking device.
"Hurry slave. They are coming! Do as your Mistress commands!"
The voice had changed, Khanid, with a hint of old gallente. So familiar, yet so strange. There was a strong metallic taste in her mouth and she could feel her pulse racing fast. Why turn off the cloaking device? Then they would see them. They would find them and kill them. Aliza would be lost... so would Snake... but Snake was here.. with her golden hair....
She looked up, dragging her head and looked at the woman before her. Snake, as she's never seen her before, with golden hair. That, wasnt' right.... She laughed. It was painful and she had to gasp, the air thinning.
"You look... so funny like that...."
Her hand lashed out, slamming into Carmillas face again and again, grabbing her hair and slamming her face into the control panel.
"Turn... off... the cloaking... dev...."
There was a sound, a long drawn out explosion, like a gunshot in slow motion. Then a hot, bitty rain, then screams, her body shaking, her face looking down at her as everything started going black.
Little Snake wedged the door open with the heavy pry bar and slipped her head and torso in, scraping off large sections of skin but she was able to see Carmilla and the intruder, just. The air was rushing past her into the bridge from where the pilot had been pumping it out. She raised her pistol and fired, taking the intruder who was hurting Carmilla in the back of the head, spraying blood, bone and brain all over her. WIth the help of the engineers she opened the door fully and ran in, picking up Carm and wiping the blood from her face. Her eyes were wide and drugged, the acrid metallic taste of mindflood could be smelt on her, and she coughed and a small blue pill stuck to snakes face. She picked her up and carried her to the medical bay and slammed her down onto the table next to Aliza.
"Go through the ship with a scanner. Room by room, every place you can hide a body and check there are no other assassins on this ship."
They both nodded and departed. She turned to Carm and pulled out some wipes and some water and started to clean her up.
"They got you good this time. Got us both good. I hope they are worth it Carm. I really do."
Several hours later the Prowler landed on the dusty plain outside of an ongoing archaeological dig. The serene face of the statue carved into the side of the mountain looked down on the ships before it. Whisper and the girls stood in the shade of a large tent and took in the damage with shock and awe. The ramp into the transport was lowered and two people were wheeled out on stretchers and into the shade. Kikia walked out of one of the smaller tents and over to her and looked up at Snake.
"She got outplayed. We both did. Almost got us too. But she got her out safely. And you."
"Yes. She did."
Kikia, one hand resting on her more prominant bump looked down at her with a smile and caressed her cheek.
"She never gets a break, does she?"
"Some how I dont think she'd be able to cope if she did. Whisper, I need you to get hold of Aliza's wife, this Zsaryna Adrelana. Fill her in on all the details about her stupid tea ceremony and Ithiria and ..... just make sure she's at Aliza's apartment on that.. tower place. I'm sure you know where it is better than I do."
"It will be done. Now go get some rest. We'll take care of the ship and everyone here.... Snake?"
"We are going to fight back, right?"
Snake looked down at herself lying on the stretcher, hurt and drugged. And at the woman opposite her, in a coma.
"Oh you can count on that. I think we've all had enough. This shit just got real."