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Approx. 3100 words

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Copyright 2015   SJ

Chaos: Infinite Darkness

The Bowels of Darkness


written by  SJ



    Lana didn’t notice her missing helmet, only the back of her head aching as she raised herself up to her hands and knees, staring down at the floor of a familiar metal grating. As she focused her eyes, she recognized the walkway of Yarrick’s command ship just inside the shuttle bay. When her thoughts became more clear, she suddenly realized it was impossible...she couldn’t be here--this was Alpharius’ ship now!
    Then she gasped trying to get up, staggering, then as both of her arms were gripped tightly by two people behind her. Standing in front of her, she saw him--Alpharius, formerly, Boseman, wearing that same grey and green robe with that slimy, dark, pulsing, slug still attached to the side of his head. She gritted her teeth and struggled. This couldn’t be good! As all the thoughts of the different ways he could torture her raced through her mind, it was obvious he hadn’t invited her up to his place for a candlelight dinner.
    However, there was something else she dreaded even worse as she yelled, demanding, “how did you get me here? Did you take me through the WARP? DAMN YOU--You better not have taken me into the WARP!”
    Lana panicked. Being taken though the WARP could irreversibly damage her DNA. She kicked and struggled, almost breaking free. Then Alpharius stepped forward and grabbed her around the neck with one hand, pulling her toward him with what seemed like superhuman strength. He yelled back with an unearthly voice. “You are undeserving to be in such a holy place as the WARP!”
    With her arms suddenly free, she grabbed his arm and struggled in vane as he forced her to her knees. His grip seemed to be squeezing more along the sides of her neck, painful, but not choking her. However, she still found it hard to breath.
    Then he let her go.
    She hadn’t noticed the thin tendril that had been extend out from the slug, pointing at her neck like a needle, poised, ready to strike. By the time she saw it, it was too late, the tendril sticking in the side of her neck like a dart. Lana rarely screamed, but this time it was like all her screams came out at once, pain like she had never felt before, shooting through her neck, face, and head--a veritable explosion of agony.
    Then she passed out.
    When she awoke, her neck still hurt, like a bad crick. She was laying on some sort of nice carpeting. By the time she got to her knees and could look around, she could see she was on the bridge of a spaceship, Alpharius standing above her to the right, at the command console, the captain. The wrist on her left hand felt sore. Then she noticed there was a cord tied around it, a cord that was connected to a thick belt worn by Alpharius, which also held other items, including a holster with a fancy-looking bolt pistol, very possibly the same master-crafted bolt pistol he owned when he was Boseman.
    After a sigh, she pressed the thumb of her right hand against her temple. She definitely had a headache. Noticing something to her left, a thin fiber that seemed attached to her neck, she touched it with her left hand.
    Lana wailed in pain again. She fell on the floor shaking, almost convulsing. Now she remembered, the slug, the tendril--it was still in her neck! All the other pains she had seemed to go away replaced by this one. Then, as the tendril pain subsided, the other pains returned.
    When she got back to her knees, she knew she had to ascertain her position. There were about eight Cultists manning the other stations on the bridge, all armed with laspistols. The place smelled vile, but not in a body-odor kind of way. They had to be human to have body odor, something the WARP had, and still was, stripping away from them.
    The nylon cord tied around her wrist was a simple knot. She could untie that easily. And so far, her movements hadn’t seemed to draw Alpharius’ attention...or had it, and he just didn’t care.
    In her Special Ops training, she had learned about the different types of bridges spaceships had. All of them had escape pods, and they were marked as to where they were located. The nearest one was only eight steps away to the right, underneath the console inside a cabinet. She could untie the knot and be over there in seconds. But, the tendril in her neck--THAT was the problem.
    The tendril didn’t look very thick. In fact, it looked very thin and fragile. Could she just grab it and pull it out in one motion? With her right hand she tried just barely touching it with her index finger.
    The PAIN was unbearable, beyond belief. She sat kneeling, shaking, feeling sick...then recovering, catching her breath. No, grabbing and pulling out the tendril would definitely NOT work. And even if she did successfully yank the tendril out, would it take part of her spinal cord with it? Escape, so far, seemed impossible. But, she knew she had to die trying.
    Then Alpharius turned to go someplace. Lana gasped, wondering what she was supposed to do. She saw him grab the nylon cord attached to her arm and before she knew it, he was dragging her along, the tendril waving around, sending shooters of pain through her neck.
    She struggled to get up, then yelled, “let me get to my feet, at least!”
    He slowed down only slightly.
    Once she was on her feet, her knees wobbled and she fell, where she continued to be dragged effortlessly by Alpharius. He exited the bridge, traveled down a hallway, then entered another room which had a kind of water fountain in the center. There were two Chaos Marines there, standing still, almost like they were in a trance, waiting for him. She had finally gotten to her feet and was walking. He gave a couple orders to the Chaos Marines and they bowed and left the room. He then took a drink from the fountain, then waited.
    She looked at him and wondered if there was any part of Boseman left, then looked at the water, knowing she was thirsty. However, so far, they didn’t know how Chaos Worms got into people’s brains. Was it by consumption? She looked at him, angry, “you’re not getting any of those Chaos Worms in me. Just kill me and get it over with.”
    He leaned forward, frowning. “You do NOT deserve to be any part of the host of Chaos.” He pulled her away from the water fountain and she fell, being dragged. “This was your only chance for water until later today.”
    Lana had managed to get up and walk for only part of way back to the bridge. On the way, he had given some orders to the crew, but she wasn’t listening. At the bridge, his fingers danced across the console, then stopped.
    However, she had noticed very little of what he had done. Once he had stopped moving, she staggered, then collapsed to her knees, tired, exhausted. During the course of the day, she had not rested very much...the bane of being a leader, sometimes.
    She felt exhaustion pulling her down all at once, unable to keep her eyes open. Lana didn’t want to sleep, and for the first time since her capture, she felt frightened and vulnerable. When she woke up, where would she be? If the Legion left the solar system, she’d be lost--worse than dead.
    Lana slept, waking often, almost screaming, dreaming of torture and pain. In each case, she wished she would die, in her dreams, wishing she could find a sharp object to plunge into her she wouldn’t wake up again. Then she felt herself fall into a very deep sleep...
    The world she woke up in was eerie beyond belief, a surreal world of darkness striped with multicolor waves of light. Around her, she saw creatures of different shapes and sizes, most no larger than the slug attached to Alpharius’ head. There were larger creatures, but, they seemed to be made up of the smaller creatures, combined, working together to form a more mobile creature, some with actual arms and legs. The eeriness soon became replaced by interest, intrigued at seeing how the creatures worked together so harmoniously.
    She soon wondered if she was dreaming at all, the place was so real, like it actually existed someplace in reality. In the center, one creature seemed to stick out above the rest, like it belonged there. Then she recognized it: It was the slug that was attached to Alpharius’ head.
    Now it seemed to make since. The Eldar told her she was telepathic. Was it possible that Alpharius was so distracted that the slug could actually sleep? Was she was sharing its dream?
    She reached out to it in her mind, not in words, but in thoughts and feelings...and soon it was no longer an ugly slug, but a living creature that just wanted to go home. She suddenly felt sorry for it; it was a prisoner of Chaos, and the only solace it could take comfort in was its dreams. She wanted to help, and amazingly it seemed to understand; but she soon realized that there was only one solution to its woe: death. However, she seemed to understand, that in that death, it WOULD be home. Without speaking, she promised it, if she could, she would help. She grinned to herself: killing Alpharius would be, of course, a bonus.
    Then she noticed a tendril coming from the creature. It was incomplete, and just hung there, in the way dreams many times do. She felt her neck, and the tendril was there also, but didn’t cause her pain to touch it. Knowing she was in contact with the creature, she tried to communicate, tell it about the tendril in her neck. It was obvious the creature didn’t want to hurt her; it had no choice. Chaos control was making it keep the tendril in her neck. She sighed, not knowing how make it understand.
    Suddenly, around her, the scene changed. It was the same surreal place, but, it was a snowy landscape. She felt cold and saw the creature sitting on a multicolored rock. The tendril remained in her neck, but it was complete now; she could see it connected to the creature. As she watched, she saw the creature move the tendril around until it touched the icy snow, making it retract quickly, popping out of her neck and into the creature. Then the tendril was back in her neck, like a video that had suddenly rewound, then played forward again. It happen twice more, then ended...
    Lana woke up in a sweat, breathing heavily, confused about what had just happened, and what it meant. After a few more seconds, she understood--SHE UNDERSTOOD! The creature was trying to tell her it didn’t like cold. If she was able to apply cold to the tendril--it would have to retract!    
    On the tactical screen in front of Alpharius, she found out why he was so distracted. There, onscreen, were three enemy spaceships: Captain Anderson’s destroyers!
    The first thing she had to do was untie the nylon cord on her wrist, which she did quickly, and without Alpharius noticing. Next, she had to think fast. Under the control panel were some cabinets. She silently slid one of them open, then soon found a fire extinguisher...then, off to the side, even better..a can of Freon. She grabbed it, then held it ready...but delayed.
    The Space Marine had to plan her escape, take deep breaths and prepare. The tendril, the dash to the cabinet where the escape pod was, get inside, then get in the pod, then hit the release.
    It was obvious to her that once she was in and away, Alpharius could fire and destroy the pod...even worse, tractor it back. But, that was the chance she had to take. It was very much better than the alternative.
    She held the can of Freon ready, and took a couple deep breaths, uncertain what would happen--determined NOT to pass out. Then she fired.
    Cold pain shot through her neck and face as the tendril retracted from her neck. She was free! Without hesitation, and still in pain, she shot off like a track runner from the starting line, sliding to her knees once she reached the cabinet door, then opened it.
    Then, she felt a hot beam hit her back, coming out just above her right breast. She wavered, suddenly realizing she’d just been shot with a laspistol.
    Behind her, she heard Alpharius shout, cursing, then ordering his Cultists NOT to fire. That bought her some time as she pulled herself all the way inside the cabinet. Escape pod hatches were made to be removed quickly, which she did, then used her legs to launch herself inside, painful bumping her shoulder. In her mind, she felt Alpharius grab one of her legs, pull her back out and dangle her up like a prize catch. But, nothing happened.
    Inside the pod was zero gravity. She had to reach forward, grab the back of the pod’s one chair, then pull herself down so she could hit the release button.
    At first she reached with her right hand, coming up short because of the impairment of her laspistol wound. With her left hand, she finally hit the button, then heard the pod hatch close behind her. As she felt the pod take off into space, away from the spaceship, the acceleration slammed her back against the pod, then bounced her around. As she finally steadied herself, she noticed globules of liquid floating around, her blood, one of them getting in her eye.
    She quickly cleared her eye and pulled herself toward the next thing she needed to do: Turn on the pod’s communicator and start broadcasting her presence. Captain Anderson’s destroyers might not be looking for, or even expecting, an escape pod, so she needed to do it as soon as possible. Plus, she was wounded. Looking at the hole in her fatigue shirt, where the Tau force shield remained, but was off, she saw bubbles of blood pop upward, then begin floating around inside the pod.
    Once the com was on, she tried to pull herself into the seat, but found herself weakening. She needed to start calling: “This is Officer LaFong. I am in an escape pod I took from Alpharius’ spaceship.”
    As she waited, she pulled herself down into the seat, trying to find the seatbelt. She repeated, adding in a factor she left out of the first message. “This is Officer LaFong. I am in an escape pod I took from Alpharius’ spaceship. I am wounded and bleeding. Please pick me up, soon.”
    Feeling herself weakening more, she fumbled for the seatbelt as she repeated her message. Waiting for a response, and not finding the belt, she hooked her left forearm under arm of the chair to hold herself down as she breathed heavily, noticing more globules of blood floating up from her chest.
    She repeated the message, waited, then sighed. Someone had to be there. They had to have heard her. After another short wait, she repeated again. If she didn’t get a response soon, she’d pass out. After coughing several times, she called again, her voice slurring, garbled.
    As she waited, her partially unconscious mind wandered, thinking back to when she was a kid and watching cartoons with Annie. Some of the cartoons were reprints from Old Earth. She remembered seeing these two cartoon characters standing by a road trying to get picked up by a passing motorist. Then one of them rolled up his pant leg and exposed a female leg, which caused the next car to stop.
    Lana was having trouble talking loud enough to be heard. In her delirium, she rolled up her fatigue pants on one side and began showing off her leg, muttering, “see...stop, come and get me--”
    “This is Lieutenant Garza. We’ve spotted you and are preparing to tractor you inside our ship. Hold on, Officer.”
    When the response came in loud and clear, Lana couldn’t help but laugh.
    “This is Captain Anderson.” She heard another response. “Is that you LaFong?” He sighed, and almost chuckled. “You had a lot of people worried about you. We’ll have you in soon. A medical team will be waiting. Stay strong.”
    Officer LaFong was only partially conscious when she felt herself being removed from the escape pod, then placed on a gurney. She heard Melinda Dion’s voice nearby and smiled.
    Lana Lyu LaFong lay resting in bed in the medical section of Lieutenant Garza’s destroyer. She was joined by many friends, including her team, and Melinda’s team. When she heard the bellow of a couple friendly bozos, she was happy to see them.
    Gannon spoke loudly. “We blasted the crap out of that Predator, LuLu.”
    She smiled back weakly and upped them. “I did a four story cannon ball into someone’s pool.”
    “That’s gotta be a record.” Bull complemented her loudly.
    “Well, if it’s not, I’m not doing another one.” Lana half frowned, joking.
    They laughed.
    Captain Anderson came on the video, said hello, then commented, “when I heard you’d been captured by Alpharius, I have to tell you, I didn’t expect to get you back this soon.” He sighed. “The damaged Pendulum of Doom and the Legion escaped off into a big WARP opening.” He smiled. “I’m very glad you didn’t go with them. Nice job.” The video winked out.
    Just then a doctor came in to follow up on her condition, checking the medical monitors, seeing everything okay. He smiled and spoke to her. “Well, you look a lot better than when I saw you come in.” Still smiling, he frowned and had to ask. “Hey, what was with one of your pant legs rolled up?”
    Lana started laughing.




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