It was a quiet day aboard the Koun, as ship functions were nominal. Then a transmission came in, from a ship of unknown design, and unknown origin. It looked to be some form of shuttle, and they were sending a signal to Koun. Upon decryption, and signal translation, the ship seemed to be sending a message of sorts, in, of all languages, Shuristan:
“Aliset Koun, I am here to meet you, as a friend of yours has requested of me. But always remember: when the last star has faded into night; and when the last mind has reached new light: There will be order within chaos; reason within doubt.”
The signal was on repeat, and the vessel was staying where it was, completely unmoving. It was completely unarmed. It almost sounded song-like, too good to be true. How peculiar.
As soon as the Comms operator had mentioned that the message’s translation mentioned Aliset by name, she took the opportunity to borrow Tactical’s screen, overlaying it over her starmap and helm controls, carefully observing it. “Hey, Comms, you mind if I do some Senti bullshit, here? This ship isn’t Senti. And it’s not Random Alien. Too unarmed to be Nep or Kuvvie… Is it small enough to dock? … Sorry… Captain, what’s the plan?”
She itched at a small bit of medical experimentation from Tutala, just a simple small incision and microsutures, with one of her strange gels to help it heal faster and prevent that annoying rejection. She knew she shouldn’t, but healing always itched. “Say, you getting as wigged about this as I am?”
“Aliset Koun, I can feel you watching me… Tell me, what were you expecting?”
The song changed as the mysterious ship called out to Aliset once more. If that didn’t ring alarm bells, nothing else would. Sensors revealed a large dead-zone on the ship, as if no sensors could penetrate its hull. This was beginning to get more and more unsettling by the moment for the bridge crew.
“To be honest, lady, I was expecting an instructor. Crazy powerful psion, check. Friend of Tutala… Sorta, given the facial expression she gave me right before I left the medical bay. I’ll base my expectations on your admissions.”
Aliset focused, speaking aloud as she thought in time with her words, attempting to grab onto the feeling from the ship and feel it out.
The ship did not respond, but the voice did. Now more clear in Aliset’s mind. Only in her mind. It had taken a moment, but she had just spoken aloud to something that never came over comms. The voice spoke to her again, and said, "I was looking forward to meeting you. My colleague informed me of your… bravado. If you believe I am your instructor, I will not stop you. Now tell me, why would you want to go up against someone like M?”
Closing her eyes, Aliset took a deep breath, focusing on the alien voice in her mind before pressing back to it, mouthing silently. “Is that the word she used? M scared me. Made the steel I wore on me scream. Made my medical officer show terror I cannot describe. I need the tools to defend my crew, my ship, my home, and my community. She mentioned a name of a single letter.”
“Hey heavy metal lady, Stop talking crazy and get the hell out of my tactical display.” Nix said with a raised voice. His ocular lenses narrowed as he looked over to her. He thought Yamitai was going to be an interesting venture. He had no Idea it would seem like Militant babysitting.
Faster middle fingers were never flung as she shot a glare. “Helm needs to know the fastest escape route. Your display shows it. Bite me, feather.”
“Focus on me. Don’t worry about the others.”
The voice said, as Aliset felt the world around her drop out, and the rest of the world around them, as the bridge crew saw her fall flat on the floor. Aliset, now stuck in a void, completely white, almost blindingly so, seemed to be in a prison of her own mind.
Rubbing her nose in her mind, she took a quick look at her hand, how it phased and shifted in this mindspace. Focus on your physical form, Ali. Don’t lose track of that. “Alright. Wasn’t expecting that…”
A Random Alien, wearing the same uniform as the aforementioned ‘M’ seemingly floated along, not needing to step. Smiling, they looked at Aliset and said, “It’s good to finally meet. I have heard many great things about you…”
“Oh, what did…? I suppose it doesn’t matter. I mean, welcome to my mind, I guess. I’ve got terrible self image, so I might not look like what you’ll actually meet face to face. Judging by how much you freak people out, you must be C.” She offered a hand, stepping and walking across the void to meet the Random Alien with the soft, fearless smile distinct to her confident bravado. “I take it I’m about to be corrected on a lot of misconceptions?”
“Yes, you do. And I am the person you speak of. And yes, you are about to be corrected. If you want to defeat someone like me, you’ll have to learn to cope with your own thoughts first. Have you ever heard of the lazarus trap?”
“Hypothetical thought experiment on Escher geometry and infinite space. First conceptualized by Rustybe to imprison the Scourge entity holding Shurista… I always thought it was mythical and impractical.” Her form gave a shrug as she considered the notion. “I think you might have a very different definition.”
“No, but you’re in one right now. That is until someone wakes you up. For clarity, a Lazarus trap is an infinite non-euclidean geometric space, where anything you can imagine becomes real. Anything. And just by saying that, I have sealed the trap. Enjoy your first lesson.” C said, smiling a menacing grin as they disappeared, a massive cavern of non-geometrically possible stairs appeared all around her. There was a door on the ceiling, approximately 500 metres up. And she was at the bottom.
She took a quick look at herself to confirm that she was, in fact, naked before shaking her head. Taking a deep breath, she focused on her surroundings. The feeling of the deck plating of the bridge on her face, the cold of Koun’s climate controlled atmosphere, and the itch of her new uniform’s patches. “Alright. I know where and what I am doing.”
And just like that, she found herself fully unformed on the bridge, face flat on the cold metal. But no-one was there. Not having thought of the people onboard, she hadn’t considered that the trap could emulate the Koun from her memory. Looking around as she stood, she gave a laugh. “Still in the maze. Alright… External stimulus can’t pull me back..”
She picked up her pen off the station, hanging it off her hip as she started going through possibilities on some unconscious level, letting her instincts rather than her imagination handle the problem. For now, she just had to figure out the best way to make this space her own. She gave herself a quick rub at the dent below her breast, her own way of pinching herself to check her dream.
And it hurt. It hurt like hell, because she was expecting it to. The dent seemed to get larger too, as she focused on it
And then it hit her, a thought from outside: she didn’t have to focus on any one thing, she had to focus on nothing. On the fact that none of this was real. As it all faded away, and she came to on the bridge.
C said in her mind.
“Clever. I like that! Mine, now. I’ll use that in my meditations,”
she responded off the cuff, blinking against the deck.
Nix Sighed Looking down At Ali when she fell. “Damn organics.” He responded as he began pulling double
duty helping her job and his own. On the bridge. “Bridge to medical Aliset has passed out in the bridge please advise.” he stated after looking down at her looking down at her.
"I'm okay. I'm up." Aliset pushed herself to her knees, shaking off any grogginess as she got used to being back into her body again. "That ship contains a psion powerful enough to bypass out psionic field controllers. More, they're here for my sake. They're K'ai. I can't tell you more than that right now. But I kinda want to meet them. Maybe figure out how they tick. But I don’t think this one’s hostile."
Standing, Aliset returned to her station, casually sweeping the tactical display away as her volumetrics came online, forming the controls in her hands as she started navigating the starmap until she found their immediate area, pulling it apart to the nearest light minute, then light second, until she had her own image of the tiny ship, and where it stat in the quantum foam. She began a browning motion scan, watching the vessel for any form of drive or psionic signature. “Alright, C, show me what you got. I know you can hear me. You give me one opportunity and fail me offhand instead of letting me learn? Don’t fucking insult me. Now stop being an edgy little shit and request docking codes so I can park your little ship in my shuttle bay, and we can all sit down to a nice cup of tea. I think Tutala has that blue stuff we both like.”
She sent off the feeling of a deep breath, collecting herself after her outburst. “I apologize. The steel didn’t scream when you connected to me. So I know you’re not the threat your colleague is. I know that your employers aren’t the bad guys. But just like Shurista is rotten, so too is everyone else. There are good and bad people. My concern is the bad people.”
“I gave you one chance because generally, that’s all you’ll get before you realise you’re trapped forever. And the moment you start to panic in a situation, your guard gets let down. Now, I shall request docking codes.”
In that moment, a transmission came through, as the same voice spoke over the ship’s comms.
“This is C of the Lundin Foundation Medical Ship 1-002932, I am here to speak with Aliset Koun by request of the chief medical officer aboard your ship. I am requesting docking codes to enter your shuttle-bay.”
Alastair was sitting in his chair watched everything play out. Slowly he was starting to think this ship was cursed or haunted. Maybe a little bit of both. “I am not sure what to make of all this but feel even if denied they’d find a way into this ship anyways.” He said looking over to coms. “So go on and let the medical ship dock. Though do keep a watchful eye on it.” Alastair then stood to his feet. “I shall go greet our guests and see if this is the ghost of holiday past.” He then looked towards Aliset to see if she would be joining him. She gave him a shrug, awaiting orders.
“Sir, if you’re worried about hoogedy boogedy sci fi space magic bullshit, I got a hundred pounds of burial steel sitting in a crate in my room. Yeah, your ship’s haunted, sir. Best we use that voodoo shit.”
As the ship docked, a single person stepped out, C. Dressed in the same uniform as Aliset saw in the dream,two holsters on their hip. One containing a rather harmless looking gun, and another containing a pen-like object. They carried the same briefcase along with them as the other agent had, and they smiled with a disconcerting grin, before looking at Alastair, Nix, as and Aliset and saying, “It would seem I’ve been expected. Greetings to you all, Aliset Koun, and Alastair Belmont. I am C. I represent the Lundin Foundation.”
Personally, Alastair didn’t care one way or another if the ship was truly haunted. Given the amount of sins Star Army had committed over the years something was bond to come back and haunt them. Granted why they kept picking on Alastair was something he’d have to learn. Alastair reached for the bottom of his coat jacket and gave it a pull. “Nice to meet you C, it would seem my reputation is reaching new heights since this is the first time of us meeting.” He extended a hand in offer of a handshake.
“Remember how I said this psion’s powerful enough to bypass our protections? Besides, They don’t get that good by using it all the time.” Aliset stood at an easy and respectful Parade rest next to Alastair… Before he started moving. She knew better than to follow. She smirked, having a few ideas about what was about to happen. “A pleasure to meet you face to face, C. Hopefully you’ll be able to teach me things lost before my culture’s birth.”
Alastair had made the mistake of a handshake, but funnily enough, C took the offer. And… nothing happened. Alastair was not probed, not even bothered by the lundin agent, before the agent said to him, “Shall we? I have much to discuss… with you and your… astronavigator. And some tea… to… enjoy. Yes. That’s the word.” Then turning to Aliset, and saying, “It is a pleasure to finally… see you in person… as well. We have a long…. path… ahead of us.” C nodded, before taking a small moment to collect their thoughts and then turning and walking along the ship’s plating - slowly. Almost as if they already knew where they were. Because they did. “Thank you for the deck plan… Aliset… Now I know where to… go…”
“Yeah, that was my fault. They tossed me in a mental prison as a little exercise. I formed it to the Koun to gain some familiarity and advantageous ground… Didn’t know she was still watching.” She followed C, speaking quietly to Alastair as she moved. “Not my brightest move, I’ll admit, but I kinda slipped into my training. Next time, you want me to use Soren?”
“Yes, we do have much to talk about. Like a way to give us a heads up before dropping in on us without a warning for a start.” He said as he ran his hand through his hair. “I have an amazing tea we can try, come let us get more comfortable.” He took a step to the side and gestured with his hand to lead on.
“Actually one of the things I wanted to be taught. Tutala told me Tsulrati like myself are mildly psionic. If I can develop those abilities, I should be able to detect and provide early warning. Moreover, if I have some psionic defense training, I might… I read about Mishhu and Umbra, sir. These Lundin people are actually relatively tame, from what I gathered. It would be a failing of my duties to not develop every skill and tool to be the greatest asset possible.”
“Ah… the Mishhu, We’re well acquainted with them. Some work for us. We’re an equal opportunity employer, after all. Moving on however, I must say, this ship is wonderful to see in person.” C said as they approached the meeting room, before stepping inside. As the door opened, C set down the briefcase, and gestured to Aliset to sit next to them. Opening the briefcase with a click, and setting it down on the table, a plethora of items could be seen. Some coin-shaped objects made of pink glass, a set of burial steel coins, some manilla envelopes and various types of data disks, a medical scanner, an injection device, some implants and a control pad, and most importantly, a set of vials containing a glowing yellow liquid. Additionally, a datapad rested on top, with all the normal pens and doodads that came in any briefcase. There was also a magazine for a gun in the mix as well. C pulled out the medical-scanner-like device, and said to Aliset, before placing it on her forehead, “I’m going to scan you now, to ascertain if you will respond well to psionic enlightenment. If you don’t, I’m going to have to chip you. I need to know if you consent to such a procedure, because if you do, and respond badly, I will microchip you. It's a policy I can’t ignore.”
Standing nearby and to the side of her commander, silently, Sayako stared intently at the array of apparatus carried and and produced by the agent. She didn’t actively respond to any of the conversation, but the band of light encircling her neck just below her skin flashed an array of chasing colors that may have been a subconscious response to the goings on. Her attention was raptly fixed on the tools that were to be used for the procedure, and the hands that would be using them. Still yet to be able to dial in her sensors to receive the kinds of communication this new species used with organically-brained creatures, synthetic or otherwise, Sayako’s desire to solve that problem had become as close to an obsession as a massively-parallel multitasking mind could be. And, it had been ever since that first contact. Perhaps something involving portable PSC circuits and her emotive lightband controller? She’d been working on that one for a while, but now she was ready to seize on a potential opportunity for a shortcut.
Approaching the Random Alien, Aliset stood tall and proud as the scanning device was placed on her forehead. “I consent to any procedures you feel necessary in this process. If microchipping me anyway will help you to keep others safe, then just do it.”
Alastair's eyes narrowed slightly at the mention of Mishhu. More importantly that they had some under their employ which was even more shocking. One thing he knew was that one does not control a Mishhu and have a good time about it. Interesting they would be able to keep under control a beast like that. For the first time in a while, Alastair considered that he may have just come across a monster bigger than Yamatai. “Interesting spread of tools you have here C. Can for sure tell this is not the first time you have done something like this before.” Alastair took note of the carefully worded what if cases. “So have you ever performed this without consent before.” His eyes were purely fixed on C now.
“Indeed, this is not the first time I have done it. And it will likely… not be the last… But in response to your question, Captain Belmont: Yes. I have. And I will gladly do it again. Some people are more dangerous when left to their own devices.” C took a moment to let that set in, before herself shrugging the statement off as if was nothing. She had just admitted to forcibly implanting people, and she didn’t seem to care. She was either a complete psychopath, or had a very, very good reason.
The tsulrati woman glanced to her Captain and science officer, letting a nervous smile cross her lips momentarily. Just a flash to show that she was still the girl they knew, with all her insecurities and strengths intact. That’s a part of the job you hate. There’s a lot about your career you find distasteful. But you wouldn’t do it if it weren’t necessary. I know I am not aware of many things,
she thought before speaking again. “I trust you on this. Do you trust you?”
Alastair was curious, interested if you would into what C was all about. He expected them to flat out say they do as they see fit, so far that fits the motive of them perfectly. His attention had now shifted towards Ali, who was the one that contacted them. Though from what he knew no direct contact ever happened. It was as if someone had a thought then they just showed up to the party. A very concerning ability if it was true given that one's own thoughts should be considered off limits. Granted this would make things more simple since he’d need not explain anything and just thought bomb them into depression. He’d have to see how this all played out. “Trust is a funny thing. I am sure everything will work out perfectly fine. I am sure C knows what is on the line.” A grin crossed his face. A thoughtless grin which was all telling.
“Trust is indeed a funny thing, people use trust to get what they want most of the time. I use it to do what is needed.” C said, loading a syringe with a glowing yellow liquid, as they looked towards Aliset, and walked around behind her. Feeling around the back of the Tuslrati’s neck, they plunged one of the two needles they held just under the brainstem as their needle injected into her the bright yellow liquid.
And then it happened, Aliset found herself seeing things, the world around her began to change, with a bright flash of light, and a deafening shriek in her mind as she could slowly begin to see colours. Colours around those around her, and C… C was almost hazy. Aliset’s memory of the person fading in and out whenever she looked at them. Then it changed, C was blindingly bright, and as she looked at herself, so was she.
She felt powerful. On top of the world. Unsure what to do with these abilities just yet, but the thought crossed her mind: She could easily take on anyone she’d like now. She could dominate the minds of anyone she wanted. And it felt amazing. It wasn’t euphoria, it was power. Unadulterated, pure: power. To everyone else in the room however, Aliset’s eyes seemed to only widen, and she began to shake slightly.
C then closed the briefcase after putting their tools back inside, a brief beep going off as it locked shut.
Ali looked around, feeling herself absently acknowledge and tamp down the fires of that too powerful feeling in her soul. “Yah, Ali. Big and mighty. But also young and dumb. You have a lot of learning to do, so take it easy with this new ability, yeah? Sit down and do nothing, dumb or otherwise” Unbeknownst to Aliset, everyone in the room had heard her voice in their minds, if only very faintly.
Was that a part of herself? Yeah, that was her thoughts. Not a problem. Actually quite reasonable, and she took a deep breath. She wasn’t one to lie, so she couldn’t just tell the others that she didn’t feel any different. That would be obvious, anyway. Gently, she sat down in one of the chairs, rubbing at the back of her neck as she focused on her breathing. “So… What, now?”
“Big and mighty or just young and dumb and wanting snake lady…..well lets not get into that.” He states with a slight chuckle making a passing glance at Ali. but keeping his voice down so only the two of them can hear. “Its okay Ali, I wont tell a soul that I can hear your thoughts.” he says with a grin.
There was a sharp eeping sound as he mentioned the Taisa, whose face immediately popped into her mind. “Thanks, but I think that’s more you, than anybody else,” Aliset whispered back, deciding better than to pursue the thought. Alright, let’s see, I wonder if I can do the funny Nekovalkyrja telepathy thing, now… I know they have ranged telepathy, so let’s figure out how they do that…
Nix looks at her before whispering, “Is there any way you can encrypt that telepathy communication because its getting real annoying listening to you constantly wonder about these things.” Leaning back in his seat as he watched the tactical map he adds. “Also no I dont view you as a synthetic your living as far as I know your people are quite fun to hang out with if you dont mind me saying….even bred one if i remember correctly.”
“Thanks. Sorry… If I’m not constantly thinking, then my brain starts to fall into instinct. I’m working on it.” She offered a small smile from her seat. Okay… Make my thoughts quiet… How do I do that? I’m not computer minded, so encrypting’s gonna be an issue… At least in the classical sense…
She started walling off her thoughts, visualizing a barrier just below her skin where nothing could leak through, gently applying layers as she visualized an intercom, with a button she would have to push to project, and another would have to push from the other side to send to her. “Can you still hear me?”
“Yes I can Good, now if you keep practicing these ideas invisualing yourself in your mind, it should help you get better and better with communicating.” Sighing to himself he sends a message to Aliset via the datapad notepad. <Look if after our shift you want to practice these abilities I may be able to help somewhat all I ask is you keep treating me like a android got it?>
Aliset’s eyes closed, focusing, forming a version of Nix in her mind as she felt for the others, walling them off from their little chat. “I don’t like doing that. But I can. Thank you. You’re good people, Nix. Could you maybe not call me heavy metal again? I already know most of the Nekos on board think I’m just a weird xeno.”
The soft words had entered into Alastair’s mind. Like a soft whisper of a lover. Though this feeling came with mixed feelings. He was used to hearing the chatter of his fellow Minkan and Neko on the ship. However he knew Aliset’s voice all too well and knew this was coming from her. His sweet innocent Senti had gained a blessing or curse depending on who you ask. This to him was unexpected but now curious more than ever.
And then the effects began to wear off. As Aliset began to feel her abilities fading, she began to realise that this effect was not entirely permanent. The sense of power began to fade, and the telepathy just… stopped. C looked to aliset, as the Tsulrati woman saw her own light fading, but C stood there smiling. Aliset could feel the people around her, if only slightly, and C was grinning a grin that all her senses told her was disingenuous. A contract set in front of her on the table, stating that she can opt to be registered voluntarily as a psion with the lundin foundation, or be implanted and have the powers nullified. A pen in her hand.
Ali gave a deep sigh. Of course there’s a cost. Always is.
Rolling her eyes as she reached for the pen, she spoke. “Implanting me with a psionic nullification device is not in either of our best interest, C. Why would you have given me the injection if you did not know, for a fact, that I would not need to be offered the ‘choice’ of this contract?”
Taking the clipboard and contract, she started skimming, noting how the language shifted to match that of her thoughts, with translations equally airtight. It was obvious from her inflection and tone that she was fully aware that there was very little, if any choice in this matter. Still, she signed as Aliset of Yamatai and slid the pad back. “I submit to psionic training under Yamataian and Lundin Foundation protocol. You may work with my captain as needed to determine that.”
Finally the hammer had dropped and Alastair was none too pleased. “I have to admit, bold to back a person into a corner. Though I can not say I am shocked. Though it did seem the outcome was clear from the start.” He took a step closer towards C. “Which is fortunate for you since I’d hate to have to use the 3rd option. Seems tonight everyone's a winner.” He reach down and once more pulled at his coat to straighten it.
"Backing someone into a corner requires an element of choice. You suggest that there ever was one. There wasn't. Aliset knows that all too well. Doesn't she?" C laughed a maniacal laugh, before quelling her laughter and saying, "Well, does anyone have any questions?"
“That laugh reminded me of this one demon gal I knew. Was fun times and hope that we too can have fun times in the future.” He reached into his coat and pulled out a collar. “A gift, something I felt might suit your tastes.” The smile on his face showed he was completely serious.
“Captain, you’re not… Never mind.” She leaned back in her chair, regarding the people in the room with a look of concerned confusion. Eventually, she took a deep breath, thinking. “Koun-chan, could you turn off the psionic signal controller in here? I’d like to try something.”
“I’m well aware about your harem, Alastair, and I’ll have no part of it. Thank you for the offer, however. I’ll keep it in mind.” C said, before taking a small seat in the chair in front of her, adjusting her uniform before quickly smiling, and turning to Aliset. “How do you feel? I trust you are doing much better than earlier. There’s much for you to learn, and even more for you to discover, both about yourself and the world around you. I’d like to send you to training at Lundin headquarters, located in deep-space. Seconded, as you will, from the SAOY. It would be a 5 day training camp, if you’re willing. You would then continue ongoing training here. First… however… I will require some assurances…”
C quickly gave a nod, as the briefcase unlocked once more, without them touching it. They pulled out a manilla envelope, and pushed it over the table to Aliset. “We rarely forget to do our research, and it would seem you’ve made both enemies, friends, and lovers in your journey here. It would be a shame if a particular one of those were to say… be in our custody…”
“You see, we need to make sure that you’re not going to go rogue, and the best way to do that is to keep you in line with something that deeply matters to you. If you open the envelope you will find some images of someone I’d like you to meet at the camp when you arrive.”
As Aliset opened the envelope, a set of shiny black sheets of paper spilled out. To anyone but Aliset, they looked like nothing, blank polaroids. To Aliset however, she saw one of her husbands. One of her lovers, lost to the scourge of war. C was grinning now. It was clear Aliset was in danger, and she knew it. The husband, in the photo, looked happy. As if he was going about his normal life on an alien world, that no-one knew about. It appeared to be a colony of sorts, but the background was blurry. He was completely unaware he was being watched.
“Rest assured, he is safe Aliset, and I promise you will get the chance to meet him at the camp.” C said with a melancholy tone, in aliset’s mind. “I trust you will make the right decision, Aliset? After all, lives depend on it.”
Turning to Alastair, Nix, and Sayako, they said, bluntly… “Choice is an illusion, something fabricated by the minds themselves. That isn’t to say it isn’t any less real, but it is still something that we tell ourselves we have to make us feel better.”
“It’s moments like these that people like Aliset realise they have none. None at all. Accepting that makes life a whole lot easier. Doesn’t it Aliset?” C said without turning her head towards the now trembling mess of a Tsulrati, who now glared at her with a rage and horror that radiated off of her in waves.
An alarm went off somewhere, a psionic signal controller arcing and exploding in a plume of black smoke as she struggled to reign herself in. “Where… Where did you find him?”
Her voice shook as the pressure of her shock and rage subsided, and she took a deep breath, visibly bottling her emotions away to avoid further damage to the ship or anyone near her. But giving a defeated slump of her shoulders, she threw the polaroids back across the table to C. “And why him? You can’t have been watching me for that long. I’ll go, but this might have been your plan for years, far as I know. Far as I know, those photos could be fakes. But you’re not the type to do that.”
Turning to her crew, she weighed her options. Considering her luck. “Captain. I am not in an emotionally fit state to make the choice. C has presented an image of one of my husbands, and the claim he is still alive. It is a very real possibility I could lose him forever if I refuse this… opportunity. The call is yours, sir.”
Alastair looked at Sayako, then to Nix and finally back to Aliset. Did this person just threaten one of his crew? He paused for a moment to take it all in before he said or did anything. He reached up and rubbed the bridge of his nose. It would seem that he had ended up in a much deeper mess than he had originally thought. “It would seem that C enjoys to gamble. Should make a stop by the casinos at the Belmont Compound. Be a far better pass time than trying to blackmail one of my crew.” He commented as he moved his hand to his hip. “You make a good point, there is no choice in this matter. Both options will lead to sadness. Should she go she will have a few moments of joy as you dangle her lover in front of her like a carrot on a stick. Should she not go, well we both know how that will play out.”
He paced a few steps before he continued. “Aliset, you are free to pick whatever you desire. I am confident the outcome will be good.” Alastair reached up and rubbed his thumb across the tip of his nose. “So what will it be?”
“I just have the one question,” Aliset returned her glare to the psion. “Why do you feel it necessary to threaten and blackmail someone who is already cooperating? Unnecessary. A clear violation of the First Law, which, were you under Senti law, would see you struck down where you sit. I’m still willing to do that, if you continue misestimating the necessity of the matter. I wanted to learn. And to ensure that I do, you dangle my husband in front of my nose like it will change anything. You could have kept him secret. And let him come to me while in training. You chose to do something else in this sick power play.”
She reached into her belt, slamming her service knife into the table as she stood, ready to leap across and strike a fountain of blue blood across the deck. But in stead of through the brain pan of a K’Ai, the blade bit deep into the metal and wood of the table, leaving a deep scar from an impossibly sharp edge. Alastair, no, everyone present could hear the rage fuelled battle cry, feel the squelch of tissue and the hot bloodlust in some corner of their mind as Aliset’s anger returned. This was not bravado. This was not fear. Her voice was laced with the cold venom of hate and anger. “Do not violate people in my presence again.”
“Everything I do has a reason, Aliset. This was to see how unstable you were. A psion cannot let rage fly like that, even if it may seem a good idea. This was your second lesson. Learn to control yourself, as you are now, and hold that tight. In your path you will face many, many evils. You cannot let them anger you, especially when your emotions now affect you in a much greater capacity. The important thing Is that we do not use our powers to harm, we use them to help. This is just me gauging your capacity to hurt others, rather than help. No matter how right or justified it may seem.”
“I still kinda want to stab you. Not gonna lie.” Aliset’s lips pursed as she stood there, one hand planted on the table and the other in a white knuckled grip on the knife hilted through the table as the chair lay kicked behind her. She hadn’t even considered the use of her psionic abilities, having completely forgotten about them. Now that the knowledge of her abilities was coming back, she pointedly ignored them as a possibility in this situation, tamping them down and separating them from her anger. “Unlike the Senti, I am not harmless. Just peaceful. Is Levente Barna alive?”
Before she had been a member of the Star Army, she had been Civil Service, trained and carefully conditioned to instinctively respond with swift violence and death to any violator of the mind, body, or soul of another being. Now she fought that training, made easier by the fact that she had never used it, but she still watched like an attack dog waiting for the order
Alastair let out a chuckle. He was impressed with how sharply Aliset reacted to the situation. This continued to unfold in ways that made him most curious. “You lost me there C. I get wanting to test someone but your method does beg the question of how good you truly are. I can not help but figure there is no worth behind what you say. Giving out moral guidance as if you are in a position to do so is fun to see.” He reached up and ran his hand through his hair. Clearly making it clear if anyone was to be the judge, it would be Alastair.
“I understand our methods may be unconventional and difficult to understand, but nonetheless, everything I say and do has a reason. I know you have your doubts about the Star Army as well. No one group of people is any better than another, they just have different goals.” C laughed, seemingly unfazed by Alastair's remark. She then turned to Aliset. “I had to go through the same thing when I was in training, and I had about the same reaction you did. You have a long way to come, I hope you’ll be able to adjust nicely to your new… position. Trust me, there’s a lot coming you won’t like. It’s about how we control ourselves that makes the difference.”
Standing up, C said to Aliset, “I’ll give you the time to prepare your things, we’ll be leaving together. And I’m afraid for the week we’ll be gone, you won’t be seeing your crewmates. I'd suggest you say your goodbyes now, before we leave.” A rather ominous statement from C, one that should set off alarm bells in anyone who’d heard it. This was beginning to seem more and more suspicious with each word. As C took her briefcase and began to walk to the door, she gestured for Aliset to follow.