The air grew cooler, and the wail of the alarms drew distant.
Apolliona's unique sight and perspective gave the deepening darkness of the lab more dimension. It was impossibly deep for what dimensions of the ship she was aware of. Smooth bulkheads blended into rough hewn stone walls covered in... condensation and soft moss? Counters, tables, metal cabinets melded into dark stone. The living shadow was serpentine, slithering, writhing through the deepening cavern system as they chased it. The closer she got to seeing its full length, the further away from the others she felt. There was another tremble accompanied by what seemed like a sigh.
Beyond her field of vision she felt unseen eyes full of hunger watching them, willing them deeper. A pointed tip of a smooth scaled tail, as pitch black as the shadows it hid in, beckoned invitingly before it disappeared into a hole in the wall large enough for her to follow.
A drip echoed against stone walls as the stench of rot wafted up in a breeze towards them.
Edwin's call to his assistants resulted in static, whatever had disrupted Carol's projection was impacting his communications as well. The air felt heavy, acrid, moist as the stench of decay persisted. He couldn't see into the darkness beyond the dim crimson glow. He felt like something resented his presence, and that hatred washed over him in a seething frigid wave that froze the sweat rolling down the curve of his spine.
Kuru and Krankoz felt a thrumming vibration through the deckplate beneath their feet as something changed. It was like gravity had shifted around them and left them somewhere different. They advanced forward into the darkness and their bootfalls were softened into a wet slap against damp stone. They felt the retreat of the creature slithering through the dark.
Sock noticed that the colors of the room were all.. fucked. In a matter of seconds, everything had changed. A thick damp mist had settled over the rear of the lab. More things took shape beyond. A swirling cloud of crimson and violet hung over Edwin. A softer teal luminescence retreated into blackness. It was colder. The din of the alarms echoed like ghosts on the breeze trailing into silence beyond the ragged panicked breathing of the humans in the room.
At the rear of what must have been a terminal, Magister Gloriana typed quickly, her mouth a thin concerned line. "Everything outside of the room is.. gone? That doesn't make sense. They just..." She turned her head towards the door and frowned. It was gone. Only stone bathed in crimson light remained. "What in Saule's name?"
@Jimmy @Jabonicus @Ham @Riko
There was a common superstition on her homeworld, that one who wandered ghastly places in the mists and fogs would find places that did not normally exist. Caves and structures that were never built, never made, and never existed in that realm of reality. She knew that such legends only came about because of the blinding short-sighted fog that crept over the entirety of the planet, disrupting the navigation of people into areas they were not familiar with, or simply skewing their perspective to see something else, like some form of mirage in the flickering darkness of sporesmog. However, many local elders told such horrific stories of beastly things that lurked in those crooked places that it sent shivers down her spine even to think of it. The purpose was simple, really, the kind of story meant to keep children from wandering too confidently in the drifts that hid your steps.
When she was still learning the art of Weaving, she fell into such a trap that nearly sent her into a sense of panic. She had accidentally strayed from the path of the Monastery in the late evening when heavy winds and sootfall sent her off the path and into a strange angle of the civilities walls that seemed far too crooked and tall to stand correctly. Buildings and guardposts she walked daily, but from this new angle, they seemed hostile and foreign, as if she had never seen them before. She stood there for minutes on end, confused and bewildered as her mind absolutely rejected the idea that these buildings could be the ones she so frequently used and abided in. How could such a foreboding place be her home? It was anything but welcoming, the very buildings seem to leer and glare at her as if she was the trespasser.
She eventually did make it back to the entrance, after working up the nerve to approach the bizarre walls. It seemed almost childish looking back, but she was never a child nor was she overly superstitious. Even that night as she laid in her mat, regarding the event, it seemed so immature, even if she couldn't escape the creeping feeling that now lingered those halls.
Such a feeling arose once more, but this time she could not chalk it up to a change of perspective. She had seen the lab, in its entirety, and it did not exist like this. It did not have stone walls, nor moss, nor did it extend so deeply into the ship in crooked and broken angles. Not to mention the bizarre, rotting thing that seemed to lurk this new entry. Was this some form of simulation? Did some ships harbor deeper stone structures within as part of some scarcely spoken of cultural ritual? She knew of none, and strangely she doubted it, even as she stepped forward into the foreboding room that felt more like a trap for insects than any room meant for habitation.
She felt an itch from her Proxigial eye and limb, and a low rumble came from the clamped tendrils that connected her arm to the beastly thing. It too felt the creeping dread of this place, and even from its predatory nature, it felt unease at the sense of something beckoning them onward, an unknown thing that clearly knew something they did not. It wanted them forward, to drive with curiosity towards a solution, but what drove that cold dead dread into her spine was the feeling that it had already trapped them. She turned her gaze to the Magister Gloriana with a concerned expression, the spiraling tendrils of her Proxigial eye clenching tightly against her connected flesh, a strange emotion visible in the segmented eye. "This is... An anomaly. No other term could describe it." She spoke aloud, the term alone pulling fear to her brain, unconsciously stepping forward once more. "Strange things do occur in biological constructs, but those are almost never classed to anomalies, rather circumstances and synapses we did not consider. This... Is beyond such logical consistencies. While meat can spasm with muscle, walls of steel do not simply vanish and rot to stone."
She realized as Edwin asked that she was sent forward with a purpose, the world was much darker to them. "Constructs of your artificial form have turned to primitive stone shapes, scarred by moss." She stared down at the contorting cavern with a fearful expression, steps pushing forward towards it. "An aperture without reason, no architect could have hidden it, yet it sinks into the bowels of the ship." She felt like she was treading into the territory of an ambush predator, and with such things, she knew of a few key details. Such predators were things of opportunity and would strike when it best suited them. This beast, whatever it could be, had not yet found the best angle. More than that, it was clear that it was comfortable in these strange walls, as if they had always been stone, as if it had always hunted and tread them.
"These walls do not exist uninhabited."
"Why do we stop, the creature flees." Krankoz growled, his fingers flexing on the haft of his cleaver.
"We are no longer on the ship, if this creature can bring us to a potential new world we do not want to chase it into its potential trap."
Krankoz did not like Zu'Lor's logic, the Sho clan blood pumping though his body craved the destruction of the beast. Unfortunately for him, Kuru's logic did prevail at this time his blood-lust would have to wait.
"What do you suggest we do then Kuru?" The other Karshvick grumbled his fighting stance relaxing a bit as he waited for an answer.
"We are tasked with being security, and seeing as we are currently the only official security here we should keep our charges alive."
As the pair made their way back towards the rest of the science team, being ever vigilant of the direction the creature went, Kapil was busy taking care of things on her own end. The Kudah was quickly taking in stock of the situation, everyone seemed to be as confused at the situation as her though some seemed to be taking it worse then others. The one called Edwin piqued her interest and the Kudah was tempted to use her abilities to pry into his mind to figure out why but this wasn't the time nor place for that currently. Her first idea was to talk to the Magister, it was her ship or at least operation so maybe she would know something. However, when she heard Apolliona mention something about the walls she immediately turned to her.
"What do you mean the walls are inhabited? Are you acquainted with this place or whatever caused this interruption to happen? "
Placing the cutting board back onto the counter Edwin jolted back into the group, now seemingly afraid of being ahead. "Is this a magical entity or something else?"
Something began eating at him mind, a choice he did not expect to have to make and he was hesitant to do so. "Do we try the door or just... something else?"
His devices may not work, contact was already cut to the rest of the ship as he'd already known, "Are we to live or... something else?"
Was his job and assignment conflicting again? He didn't stammer out anything this time. His mind was working over possibilities. Confusion met fear at the round table of decision making and one part of him forced itself into motion.
"Okay, I need to find a computer access, I'm going to see if I can get anything out of it. Whether the ship's AI is bugging out or a third party setting foot, I want to know."
"Noises and smells do not occur without reason, and that stench of rot is one of meat!" She further structured her argument. "I make no claim that the things within these walls are natural, only that they exist!"