Chapter V – Ritualistic Behaviour
“I’m not paid to ask questions about shipments, I just deliver the cargo” states the shady freighter Captain in the large, bright hangar bay. A sharp winged shuttle with a reinforced rear section filled the area, two levels of scaffolding rimmed the hangar’s walls. Corporal Revok stared silently at the Captain, then returned to examining the shipment order on his data sheet.
“I can’t imagine what use a crate of chainsaws would be on this station…” Revok says squarely. “I’ll have to look into this. Wait here please” he says, folding up the data sheet, he then turned and walked toward a nearby control station.
He brought up the communications system and called the Administrative division. The holo-monitor soon filled with the image of a secretary, framed in a office setting.
“Hello Corporal, how can I help you?” asks the bubbly secretary.
“Something’s off with the shipment that just arrived, I’d like to have the chief confirm the item” he says.
“The Administrator is monitoring a procedure at the moment, but I’ll have him contact you right away” she says.
“All right, I’ll be in my office catching up on some reports” he says. The Corporal and the secretary exchange some flirtatious comments before they ended the call. Revok walked over to the freighter Captain.
“Looks like it might be a while before the Chief Administrator gets back to me, you might as well relax for now” Revok states.
The Captain shrugs, “No problem there, Boy Scout” he says with a twisted smirk.
The doors connecting to the containment area swished open, a marine enters and approaches the Corporal.
“Corporal” calls the marine, saluting.
“Yes, Sergeant?” Revok asks.
“Major Mills asked me to deliver this to you” he says, extending a command packet. “He just said to keep it quiet, must be pretty important, sir” he says.
“Did he, now? Thank you, Sergeant. You’re dismissed” he says.
“My pleasure, sir” he salutes, then heads for the doors.
The packet’s surface was black and leathery, with a golden symbol on one side. An eagle gripping the top of a large shield, adorned with a shining star. The emblem of the Space Marine Corps. He opened the flap and looked inside, six data sheets sat neatly filed at the bottom of the packet. He pulls them out and starts reading, footnotes among the documents indicate that the UAC is using Space Marines as test subjects in one of their experiments. He drops the other sheets back into the packet and reads through a research report.
Location: Phobos colony, Alpha labs bio-research division.
Station Time: 1523 hrs, second day of seventh lunar cycle of Martian year.
Earth date: March 7th 2146.
Attending: Senior researcher Dr. Stuart Johnson and Dr. Nathan Young overseeing experiment with Chief Administrator Alex Burvochov and Assistant Administrator Pauline Wolfe monitoring.
Purpose: Human testing of foreign genetic sequence for reasons of strategic inquiry.
Outline: Study agent is classified as BSK-01 GS.
Test subject details
Subject name: Classified
Weight: 216 lbs
Height: 6’4 ft
-Physical examination of subject is positive; subject authorized for treatment at 006.
-Test subject is released from stasis and placed into protected observation at 017.
-Test subject receives injection of study agent at 022.
-Monitoring of test subject; vitals deemed normal at 035
-Subject’s heart rate begins to elevate; vitals remain stable with minor fluctuating discrepancies; subject exhibits signs of moderate physical discomfiture and hyperventilation at 051.
-Subject’s breathing returns to normal levels; subject’s discomfiture has dissipated at 104.
-Cellular examination of subject reveals a successful fusion of genetic materials from the study agent at 116.
-Subject’s condition is stable; subject is placed in quarantined living area for observation at 122.
-End of log at 127.
Rage builds in the Corporal’s mind, the data sheet crumples in his enraged grip.
Dr. Nexson was in his office, station information scrolled along the holo-monitors fitted to the walls, from a wide window could be seen the planet Mars framed by starlight, the rocky craters of Demios and the adjoining buildings of the UAC colony. He busily typed the keyboard, writing reports for the assignments under his responsibility. The brightness of the screen begins to sting his eyes, he dims the monitor a few degrees and rubs his eyes. He rolls his chair to the far end of his desk and grabs his cooling mug of tea and sips it slowly. He had just returned to typing when a loud clatter broke him from his concentration. Nexson looks up and sees a small mound of data sheets, messily piled on his desk. Corporal Revok stood hunched over the desk, glaring at Rupert from behind the transparent screen of the holo-monitor.
“What the **** is this?” he demands.
Nexson calmly turns off the holo-keyboard and monitor, they disappear with a buzzing tone. He then reaches for a data sheet, giving Revok a disinterested stare.
“They appear to be laboratory reports with a level ten clearance classification” he says with a dry tone.
“I don’t care if they’re bloody classified! Here…” Revok picks up one of the data sheets, “…section D, paragraph two. Read it” he growls.
Rupert takes the data sheet and reads it.
“I see” he says, laying down the sheet. “I suspect you are distraught about our choice of test subjects” Rupert suggests.
“I’m the station’s highest ranking military officer, why wasn’t I informed?” he snaps.
“Need to know basis, Corporal. Surely you must understand that” he says casually, with a shrug.
“That’s not going to fly with me, Rupert” Revok says angrily, “What kind of tests are occurring?” he asks with large bulging eyes.
Rupert releases a long breath, “Okay, Revok” he reaches under his desk and presses a switch, the office door closes and the hardware switches off.
“First off, your concerns about the teleporter systems were proven correct. It is more dangerous than we thought” Rupert begins.
“I knew that damned contraption was trouble” says Revok.
“BSK-01 GS is a genetic serum that was extracted from a test subject that suffered severe mutations after traversing the portal – please, let me finish” he says with a wave of his hand as the Corporal tried to interject.
“Upper management is impressed by your meticulous devotion to duty” he explains.
“Your proven convictions regarding the teleporter system has granted you a great deal of credibility. It’s for these reasons that we want you to hang around” he continues.
“We’re stationed out here to pursue dangerous research studies, outside legal and moral boundaries. So the time has come for you to decide if this position as station chief is truly a suitable fit for you, high command has already agreed to play by our rules. Now tell me Revok, do you fly with us, or do you say good-bye to us?” Rupert asks, flatly.
“If you stick around, continue what you’ve always been doing here with our priorities in mind you’ll be promoted and given top security clearance throughout the station. If you leave, you’ll likely never find work in the aerospace industry again. This way, when it comes to our questionable test subjects, you’ll be able to directly oversee operations” he says, exclaiming with arms raised.
“High command will be pleased and you’ll never have a more luxurious position. How does the rank ‘Master Corporal’ sound to you?” Rupert asks.
“What does this entail, exactly?” Revok asks.
“This project you’re so concerned with is a prime example of the questionable waters that our research has led us…” he says, reaching into a desk drawer. He pulls out a data sheet and starts flicking through it.
“…I like you Revok, but I’m going to be blunt. You can either sign this contract or you can be on your merry way back to Earth. I’m not bluffing” Rupert states.
Revok takes the data sheet from the executive’s hand and reads it silently.
“This is quite the ultimatum, Rupert. Can I have until morning to decide?” he asks.
“Protocols dictate that this contract must expire in twenty minutes” Rupert explains.
Revok examines the data sheet for another moment before deciding.
“I guess I don’t have much of a choice…” Revok says as he reaches into an inner pocket for his stylus.
“Consider it as a… understanding between two mutual parties, your duties will change very little” Rupert explains.
“All right, Rupert…” Revok says as he signs the data sheet “I’ll play ball”
“I’m very pleased, you’re a good station chief. I would have been unhappy to see you go” Rupert says, raising from his seat and grasping the Corporal’s hand in a friendly gesture.
“You’ll receive a change of procedure over sub-space from high command within the next hour” he explains, smiling. The Corporal returns a smirk, masking his apprehension.
The stars just outside the UAC base shine brilliantly. The halls of Echo labs, however, were pitch black. Due to an evacuation order, the halls were as silent as space. Space Marines stood outside the large doors that lead to the research complex. In the heart of Echo was the Level Ten-A experimentation chamber that currently housed the Gate-B prototype teleporter. The lab was bathed in flickering candle light, a intricate circle was drawn in front of the large device. The circle was lined with hieroglyphs from the dead Martian language, a single pillared alter sat before the gate, it had a bowl at the top that was filled with red wine. A small gong was placed to the front-left side of the teleporter.
Susan Carmichael was in the circle, wearing a black hooded ceremonial robe. She crouched low and lit candles surrounding the circle with a long match. The silence was broken by the whooshing sound of the sealed doors opening, Susan continued undisturbed. Three hooded figures entered the lab, Dr. Nexson, Dr. Kronos and Director Banks walked slowly in measured steps and stood in a triangular formation outside the circle. Dr. Mason and Dr. Phillips were in the adjoining control room. Susan gently blew out the match and placed it aside, she took her place in the centre of the circle, a moment of meditational silence filled the area. Nexson picks up a small mallet and strikes the gong, the small group begin to slowly walk around the circle and chant words from the Martian language.
They walked around the circle more and more quickly, as their chanting grew louder and louder. Susan eventually lifted her arms and they came to a halt, facing the gate. Dr. Mason activates the portal, a small flame of portal energy began burning within the gate. The Director approaches the altar and briefly kneels before it, he then draws a ceremonial dagger and dips it into the spilled wine, he then draws the dagger through the air and completes several Martian characters as Susan chants in long tones.
“Dee-foos-mal-nam” she eerily chants, her words were repeated by the practitioners assembled around her.
Susan repeated the chant until she could feel an ancient energy from deep within the gate touching her mind.
She began her psychic scan of the portal. She could see hundreds of worlds, hundreds of civilizations. Their cultures, art, architecture, dialects and so many other intimate details. She could see entire galaxies of life, each foreign detail was more fascinating than the next. The portal’s tendrils of energy gently reached out to Susan and mingled with her psychic waves.
“Entire worlds, emotions, life, I can feel them, I can see them all” declares Susan, cosmic energy filling her mind. She stood, gratefully drinking in the intoxicating, ancient energy. She allowed her mind to explore deeper into infinity, she transcends realm after realm of progressively advanced worlds in mental ecstasy.
She suddenly touched a intensely desolate realm, a brooding darkness seemed to sweep across the lab. It was evident from the look on her face, she was straining her focus. She opened her eyes. They were filled with intensity, they shone like a pair of small mirrors. A sinister presence moved over the assembled practitioners. Susan tries to tell Mason to close the portal, but the breath seemed to have been swept from her lungs. Will surfaces from him meditation and notices Susan’s struggle.
“Susan, you’ve got to close the circle” he says.
She begins gesturing her ceremonial dagger, the other practitioners begin to chant.
“Attempting shut down” sounded the intercom that echoed through the chamber. Mason flips through the emergency shut down procedures. The gate shone even more brightly, a deep red growth crawls from the portal and covers the teleporter in a grotesque layer of flesh.
The practitioners watched as the gate glowed brighter than they had ever seen it burn before.
“You need to evacuate, the controls are locked out!” bellowed the intercom.
Susan hastily finished the closing of the ceremonial circle and the group then escapes through the door to the connecting control room. They stood around the control station, Mason was running through auxiliary commands. The hardware maintenance monitor was on the display, section after section of hardware modules fell into a malfunctioned state.
“The data core is corrupted” Mason states.
The gate burned brighter and brighter, rings of energy began radiating away from the gate. The surface of Gate B was covered in moving flesh that was beginning to cover the floor and walls of the test chamber. The Director reaches for his mobile and activates the station alarm.
“The system is running the communication program! The portal is connecting with Phobos!” shouts Mason.
“This is a nightmare!” shrieks Susan over the sound of the station alarm.
Inside the test chamber, the portal’s energy was three times the intensity of it’s normal operation, it was flanked by red spinning warning lights. Two large aliens then stepped from the glowing gate.