Level X – Chattering was the sound that the container with the Deew fragment made while it danced and trembled to the roaring response of the resurgent biological weapon parent entity.
Janette’s eyes followed the path of the dormant sample across the table, but her right arm wound up following the insistence caused by her trembling heart to reach out and grab Galaxy Bloc’s salvation before the canister rumbled off and smashed itself into the ground. She uncrossed her legs and stood up to the sight of nurses scurrying around frantically.
“What’s going on?” One asked for some sort of guidance or direction. “It can’t be the Deew.”
“Make sure that Mister Uchbinder gets to topside safely!” Janette ordered with a pointing finger of urgency.
Nothing else was required other than, “Yes, Ma’am,” and hurried yet proper execution of those commands, so the nurse rushed beyond the curtained area of Walten’s recovery room to see to that.
Janette happened to be a very important person in her own rite and rushed from the waiting area into the outside corridor with her equilibrium being tested by both the walls and ceiling which either no longer felt the need to remain stabilized or could not help themselves in bending to the Deew’s furor. She found herself wondering or perhaps worrying if the Power Authority could stand against this type of shock but chose to concentrate on how to stay upright while running to reach the nearest transport.
The biological weapon’s bark was powerful enough to kill, so nobody wanted to wait around in order to witness its beta phase bite. Having survived the chaos of the alpha phase was enough of an accomplishment that it made the people still trapped within the lowest recesses of Dio Qze at least curious about what happened to be next in store. But sticking around to find out did not appear to be in their collective deck of cards as the boots from Burdlit’s contingent navigated this fluctuating obstacle course with a locomotive efficiency. Laser rifles served in place of hatchets when using pulses to chop down the swaying floral growth in front of them. Heavy and previously jumpy, the Deew’s appendages had caused it to garner a reputation which preceded itself because of the violent nature of those lash- and thrust-based attacks, so nobody threw caution to the wind when adhering strictly to a five-point partner rotation.
Two soldiers had the responsibility of driving forward. Trailing the wedge-inspired laser fire were four soldiers – two on either side of the contingent who needed to deal with any threats that might pop into the peripheral vision. A couple more troops watched everybody’s backs by bringing up the rear, and the soldier with the slate computer was tasked with navigating them through the chaos from the nucleus of their formation while the final troop kept tabs on her safety since her eyes were currently being occupied.
“Keep moving,” Burdlit urged while dropping slightly back into a visual phase in order to alert the contingent of his accompanying presence before dropping back out of visibility in order to prevent the biological weapon from possibly zoning in on his ever changing positions. Perhaps, the Deew could feel the additional presence traipsing across the floor, but there was no sense in him making it any easier on the dangerous parasitical host by doing so all out in the open.
“Thirty more meters and then dive to the left on my mark!” The soldier with the slate computer called out. Much of the furniture was either still intact or at least present in some form if not just crushed or displaced outright by the spread of the biological weapon’s greening efforts, so they needed to maneuver as much around those objects as through the Deew’s lush walls of verdure.
In keeping with the locomotion analogy, the contingent stayed tight in their formation by traveling along what could be considered a virtual string. When the front reacted, the middle and the rear responded with similar timing to their steps.
The soldier with the slate computer would shout, “Now,” the front would set the pace while dodging to the left – weaving between some tight yet clumpy spaces of tree trunks and vinery which could crush them all easily, and then the rest of the contingent would follow from their flow – both mechanically and accordingly. This was preparation and trust at work, but desperation also played a large part in causing everybody to fall in line.
Like the densest forest had managed to propagate within Inner Corridor, the terrain became unsettled and somewhat treacherous to traverse. Humidity was not an issue, but the heat was on, and if any of the soldiers mentioned that they were not sweating, they were lying. All in all – outside of the Deew’s roar which had jarred an entire planet into nervousness and action, nothing else really came about from it. What might have seemed like a strong possibility of the entire Power Authority structure being wrecked under the strain did not come to pass, but time was passing in a flurry, so nobody had a chance to stop and consider any implications other than the ones provided by the franticness of their desire to survive.
Nobody except for Burdlit – that was. He knew far better than to take the biological weapon’s raring and perceived rage as anything other than strategic posturing. It wanted them to behave in this knee-jerk and scattered manner, plus the Deew’s vibrations were becoming that much more pronounced the closer that they got to the duct system. The intelligence which was being shown through its creating a leveraged sense of urgency was not at all surprising to him. What might have seemed like incredible instinct was merely the normal behavior of a Carriveaua invention performing to technical specification.
Why take out ten people and remain trapped when an entire planet worth of nourishment existed topside and it would have been because of this contingent that the biological weapon could even escape on the heels of their retreat in the first place? The logic appeared simple, and its calculated behavior might have only seemed like cunning to a person who did not appear to be as familiar with the Deew’s behavioral patterns as Burdlit was, but those regular habits were tied to capability. Something was different here. He could catch back up with the rest without much effort and in due time once they stopped off after having reached the destination of the nearest overhead opening to the duct system conduit, so the operational general chose to hang back a bit for the sake of observation.
The contingent was understandably rattled because of their expected lack of experience on the matter, but Burdlit, himself, stood dumbfounded – unable to figure out how the biological weapon’s original escape could have occurred in the first place. It would not have been powerful enough to bust out of its containment until the later gamma phase, but the Deew managed this feat during the early alpha phase and with such finesse as to not have even caused a stir when having done so. With all the commotion from the chaos of a shaking periphery, he still was able to keep to his train of thought when wondering if the Humans had maybe instituted some sort of augmentation unbeknownst to him. They had deferred to the operational general so much during his stint as their adviser that he never would have imagined them capable of trying anything independently of his mentoring gaze. But something had been done, and deciphering what that something was now became of the utmost importance to him.
Uncanny behavior (even for the biological weapon) and Janette’s reluctance to use the dispersant – these instances screamed out for further investigation. Burdlit had been assigned to Dio Qze for the purposes of overseeing the Humans’ dependence on the Carriveaua, so their deviation from being led down the needy path of the self-insufficient was worrisome but not unexpected. These were the very same unincorporated planets that had seceded away from their Space Force brethren whom they had known for generations without so much as even any waver in their conviction, so he could not have seriously expected undying loyalty at any time during this present relationship.
A growing concern for Burdlit’s own safety made him question the integrity of this assignment moving forward. The answer lied in gathering information on the extent and type of modifications which had been performed on the Deew. But to do so, he would have to allow the contingent to set the biological weapon free and risk the destruction of the planet and perhaps himself in the process. To do nothing meant preventing his team from escaping, remaining trapped down there in Inner Corridor, and failing to alert his beloved Carriveaua about Galaxy Bloc’s impending malice.
By Janette’s silent manipulations, Burdlit’s hand had been forced. However, a forced hand was a hand to play nonetheless. They would meet again, and he would be sure to ask her what an endgame which could see all of Dio Qze consumed intendedly entailed.
The operational general doubled back toward the contingent’s position.
“So, how do we get up there?” One of the soldiers asked from the stump of a towering tree which represented a means of reaching the sizable grate which covered a duct vent opening. Once removed, it would be large enough to fit a body through there with ease and room to spare. The challenge was getting up there without having to interact with the Deew.
They had come prepared with a grappling gun but not an idea of how to latch it onto anything that would be stable through the leafy encumbrance which also happened to be blocking off any clear view of the duct system. The idea of being strangled and/or stabbed by twitching vines that happened to be full of potent life also added a high level of difficulty to the hardly attemptable feat.
With a soft hand on the curious soldier’s shoulder, Burdlit said, “Stand aside,” while allowing his coloration to return. Then with the prowess of a much more nimble tree-dweller, he stunned the rest of the contingent by leaping almost twice his bipedal size onto a trunk before bouncing off of that in order to scale some of the neighboring woods. The operational general utilized powerful hand and toe claw grips like climbing spikes in crawling vertically up his destiny.
Yes, his and everybody else’s. Burdlit pushed off backward from his perch into an astounding, aerial somersault with his banded laser rifle flailing along for the ride which placed him squarely into a miraculously adept and acrobatic crouch atop a jutted out branch – directly beneath the grate. The biological weapon offered no resistance other than the occasional aftershock the entire time.
Why would it?
“Look out,” Burdlit reached up and yanked the heavy, metal covering out of its snug place with emphasis on the grate’s being dropped, “below!”
The impact was muffled by what seemed like the low rumbling of the Deew’s wanton anticipation for release. Or maybe that was just its famished stomach.
The soldier reared back and fired the grapple upward. Gauging the trajectory, Burdlit leaned away from its ascent and snatched the harpooned projectile out of the air, expertly catching the long part of the iron beneath the spikes. Having made his decision, he reached it into the newly opened area of the duct system, snagged it against the lip of the vent, and tugged on it to make sure that the connection was sturdy enough for the contingent to ascend.