Taking The Open Door – an excerpt from ASHES: Infinite Redress

Taking The Open Door

PR-12 unhooks itself from the terminal table, the contents of the work tablet loaded into its data storage blocks. Djoran has no idea if she will be able to recover the data if anything happens to the probe, but she seriously doubts she’ll get another chance to recover the data otherwise. She has put a great deal of work into the journal in the last few arcs, and is only beginning to get a sense of cohesion from studying the entries. If she is ever to make sense of her predicament, she can’t afford to start throwing away what few records she has of her mental states since the accident.

Leading the probe back across the room, she heads to the far corner and calls out to her companions. “Lukas… Wardyn?”

“Things are heating up in here, Djoran. I think we’ll soon have an idea of who our dinner guests are, wouldn’t you say, Wardyn,” Lukas offers darkly.

The mirth in his voice sounds slightly flat, barely covering an edge of hysteria creeping in at the edges. Djoran wonders why he would chose now to start panicking, especially if it is in fact the Hau’pliad warriors she had seen earlier.

“I don’t know what you’re so excited about. Anyone breaking into this dismal place clearly isn’t right in the head,” the Nutanian grouses. “There can’t possibly be any good in this. I for one just hope my death is swift and painless. I’m too old for rebellion and rioting. It spoils the digestion,” he hrumphs with finality.

“Listen, I think I’ve found a way out of here. If I release you, are you ready to help me escape?” she asks, sounding far more sure of herself than she feels.

“Anywhere you care to go, bright lady, I am willing to follow,” Lukas sings cheerfully. “What do you need me to do?”

“We’re going to need to find an alternate exit onto some transportation going in the opposite direction of whatever is going on out back. I’ll have the doors open in a tick. Wardyn? Are you coming?”

“I have no interest in running around these dark hallways while lunatics in armour fill one another with holes. Nutanians are aquatic. We don’t run anywhere.”

“Listen, Wardyn, I think I might have a short term solution for that. But I need to know if you’re with us.”
“I’ll carry His Highness if you tell me to, Djoran, but I hope that’s not the only reason you’re bringing me along. I’m no one’s pack animal,” intones Lukas.

“Hopefully it won’t come to that. Just trust me,” she states, and heads to the back of the cell.

She reaches out and taps the probe unit as she passes, and it follows her closely. She steps into the small chamber and walks toward the back door. Reaching out to activate the door release, she pushes impatiently toward the door before it opens, but feels something tug at her shoulder. Looking over her shoulder, she finds that the probe has extended one of its mechanical appendages. It tugs her gently backwards with its propulsors lightly firing in reverse.

Not sure what to think, she turns and pokes her head out of the doorway, and hears a horrible crashing noise. A Quotidian soldier in full body armour sails backward across the floor through the intersection between her cell and Wardyn’s. He careens low off the corner of her cell and comes to rest with his back to her. She watches briefly to see if he stirs. Tense tycks pass. Inching forward, she steps one foot out of the cell, only to freeze at the sight of the Quotidian lunging for his infracannon.

Suddenly, a shimmering burst of force smashes into him, creating a sickening popping noise as he is shoved back hard against the corner of the wall. The angle of the soldier’s back is twisted horribly askew, and after a few feeble twitches, his body comes to rest again.

Waiting to hear footsteps leading away, Djoran becomes alarmed when instead she hears booted footsteps coming closer. She steps back and palms at the door release to close, but is too late to prevent PR-12 from shooting forward out of the room as the door closes. Panicking, she reaches for the panel again, but pulls back when a solid thud reverberates off the doorway, sending her several steps backward. Another loud explosion rings against the door, and she turns to run back into her cell, unsure what to do next.

Spinning around to face inward as she passes through the cell door, she agonizes over whether to risk resealing her cell, knowing it might be her last chance at escape. Hand poised over the sensor plate, she waits tense tycks to see if the outer door gives way.

Between bursts at the door, she hears a familiar droning noise, and turns to see PR-12 outside her cell’s shield barrier. Its mechanical arms are extended, and it is doing something very worrisome to one of the aperture fittings. As the probe withdraws a few tycks later, she sees that it has used one of its sampling tools as an injector. She moves closer to the barrier to figure out what it has done, when the aperture starts to fizzle and hiss. A greenish liquid bursts through the seals, eating its way through until the whole of the aperture apparatus drops free of the barrier. PR-12 moves to inject another aperture as a nagging thought finally makes its way forward in Djoran’s mind; the bursting at the door has stopped.

Before she can clearly see the arm move around the corner, she screams to the probe, “PR-12, disengage! Evasive maneuvers! Go!”

ASHES: Infinite Redress

© 2011 Lee Edward Mcilmoyle

Don't be shy. Tell me what you really think, now.

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