Indecisive Tactics
A System Shock Story By Ghoul.One.Eight.Seven

The voice of the many was subdued now. It had reached a terrifying screech before being silenced by the machine Mother's advocate. Thoughts started to form in the few survivors, independent thoughts, rising forcefully and screaming for redemption. Pain, nothing but pain, someone had re-activated the surgical units on Med-Sci.. Bitch. Shadows moved ominously behind her and gave chase through the corridors of Med-Sci.

Panting and sweating Claudette grasped at a railing and dragged herself onto a surgical unit and hit at the control panel bringing the system into life.

Bio scan commencing...
Scan has verified anomalous material present in subject, DNA and retroactive RNA.

Why do you resist the call of the many?

The surgical unit inserted numerous intravenous tubes into Claudette's body, infusing her with anti-toxin chemicals and auto-immune nanite anti-bodies. She convulsed violently and the surgical unit applied more anesthesia, soothing the pain and calming the seizures.

She awoke groggily with a dull headache, rubbing her eyes she stumbled to a nearby computer console and brought up an internal scan of the Von-Braun. She focused on the screen instantly, frowning at the readout. This can't be right she thought dizzily. She scanned again but for activity but the scan was interrupted with an access denied demand priority.
There was a clank behind her in the corridor and she inhaled sharply, stifling a scream.

Why do you leave us? We die, we die but we will find you infidel.

The monologue echoed through the bulkhead and in her mind, Claudette grabbed her head and backed quietly into the corner, sobbing.

The creature in the corridor roared and there was a fast consecutive noise as if it had started to run away, Claudette covered her head with her hands and closed her eyes too terrified to move. A moment later she felt the tail end of some kind of explosion, a whirring kicked in above her and she pulled her arms down and glanced up at the ceiling. She sighed in relief as she realized that the environmental regulator had kicked in, laughing at her own fear she got up shakily and proceeded to the entrance to the bulkhead and listened for any activity.

A sharp pain brought her attention to her arm, there was some kind of legion under her skin. She turned to return to the surgical unit but in horror realized that it was moving slowly, in panic she grabbed her arm which in turn brought acute pain. She had to let go and when she did the pain stopped, not only did the pain stop but she felt pleasure. Why does it feel so good now? She scanned the room and noticed a PDA near the surgical unit, she picked it up taking note of the low power signature, either it was faulty, or she had been unconscious for a long time. Maybe the doc had me in stasis... She browsed to a recording and hit play.

"This does make sense! Two months out of med-school and already I am responsible for the welfare of every crew member on this deck. The senior science personnel get to research and explore, I get to administer beta-blockers to every member of the away-team. Hmm… That is worth mentioning, every crew member who has been down to the planet surface has needed treatment for the symptoms of stress … even a few for paranoia. Their psycho-results turned a green leaf, but maybe it's worth mentioning to the brass. Who knows? Sweating and Panting might buy me a ticket to promotion."

She scrolled down and hit play.

"It seems, uhuhhh.. it seems I was on to something about a correlation between crew members needing beta-blockers and the away-team. The ship has turned into a war-zone and the infection is spreading… I was infected yesterday, in my sleep I am certain. Bronson has clamped down hard with curfews and such but… but does she know the extent of the glory with what is happening to us? Ahhhhh… Torez came in looking for some benzodiazepines, he had some dream of an animal inside him, making him crazy… violent. He presumed that I would let him create discord, but he doesn't know of the glory, it will all be well."

Claudette clutched at her stomach and whimpered falling to her knees. Why do I care about what happened? It isn't my fault, it's the rest of the crew and I bet they are out there still… planning to hurt me. She growled and grasped the medical unit with an iron fist, with a scream she over-turned the unit and punched the nearest computer console, smashing the glass screen and cutting her fist. Will I make them pay? Will they suffer? As she stepped shaking into the corridor she knew with her whole being that yes they would pay, and she would be God's advocate, bringing the knife of justice down again and again and again… and again. Smiling at the thought, not feeling any pain from her fist, just a growing elation at the glory of her mission she made her way towards the turbo-lift.

Something was not right, her senses screamed at her to move but she acted too late. The welding arm of a robot crushed her side into the wall of the corridor. Claudette screamed in rage and kicked at the machine futilely.

Xerxes spoke throughout the deck: "I am sorry for this intrusion crew member XB-038 but you forgot to log in to SecOps. Please remember in future."

The robot increased the pressure of the welder, ripping through her shoulder blade and heating the wall behind her. Claudette went numb, then suddenly lashed out and ripped a group of wires from the robots open torso. With a jerk the machine went still and all its lights dimmed Claudette noticed just before she lost consciousness.

Claudette dreamed, a nightmarish scene of rotting corpses being piled onto transports. Her friends, associates and crewmen, all dead and being carried off by robots and people in white suites. The scene was so horrific that she screamed over and over until it disappeared and she was left in a void. Two men were speaking now:

"So, any idea of what happened here?"
"None, we have one survivor accounted for and he is being.. Questioned."
"What could do this?" The questioned sounded rhetorical, but the second man answered:
"If I knew that I wouldn't be directing an investigation now would I? Take those down to the lab and report back to officer Presley."

Claudette drifted between the void and the nightmare, eventually she opened her eyes and looked around. She was in a small cramped metal space, it was cold and dark and she kicked her feet out in panic, trying to find an opening. Something gave way at her feet and she pushed herself out of her dank confinement, falling on the floor of a brightly lit room.
Her muscles hurt to use and she got up slowly wrapping her arms around herself. She forced her mind to operate, she was obviously in a medical center and not on the Von-Braun anymore. The lights hurt her eyes so she found the switch to turn them off and pressed it. The room flooded into darkness and somebody called out in frustration from an adjoining operating theatre, there were sounds of fumbling about and an individual carrying a flash-lamp walked in and towards Claudette.

Claudette growled deeply and the figure, a woman, stopped uncertain of herself and asked in a quavering voice, "Is there someone in here?"

The woman turned around, scanning the mortuary with her flash-lamp and Claudette walked up behind her. The woman whirled about shining the lamp directly into Claudette's face and screamed, but Claudette was already moving and knocked the flash-lamp out of the woman's hand and back-handed her across the face. The woman crumpled to the floor unconscious.
Panting, Claudette dragged the woman onto a nearby operating table and turned the illumination of the room up slightly. She gently stroked the woman's face and neck and then picked up a scalpel and poised it over the woman's right eye.

It was only then that the full realization of what she was doing sunk in. Claudette dropped the scalpel and backed away wide eyed. She was being controlled by impulses which weren't rational, she could kill the bitch any time she pleased. Whimpering at the thought Claudette ran to a nearby medical storage area. The doc had mentioned something about benzodiazepines.. She finally found what she was looking for; a large tub with [Diazepam 5mg] printed on the outside. She ripped the cap off and swallowed three of the pills, then she stuffed the tub into one of the long pockets of her ragged jump-suit.
Claudette would have been happy to wait there and see if the pills had any effect, if she remembered her tutorial on administering combat aid from the UNN flight academy, benzodiazepines increased the effect of GABAs (Gamma Aminobutyric Acid) in the brain which where a natural neurological depressant, specifically the area which was responsible for emotion and the RAS (Reticular Activation System) which was responsible for activating autonomic and hormonal responses. They were useful for calming people down who were in a hyperactive state, and could even induce apathy in combat hardened veterans.

She felt something move inside her, she sighed in terror breathing quickly. Maybe the pills would have no effect at all but she needed to get out of here fast, it was possible that she could have the creature inside her surgically removed… if it ever came to that. Glancing at the woman on the operating table she felt a pang of guilt and then quietly made her way to the only visible exit.

The exit of the mortuary led to a bio decontamination and detoxication system (BDD), she searched her pockets and found her PDA which she hooked into the security terminal adjacent the BDD. The computer LCD readout surprised her, there weren't any military controlled systems allocated to the running and monitoring of the BDD, she entered her personal information and the BDD powered down with an audible hum, both of its security doors hissed open giving Claudette an open view of the next area. They obviously haven't processed all the dead yet, she thought wryly.

She walked stiffly into the next corridor holding her semi-healed torso, squinting against the bright illumination. There was a carpet on the floor which made movement easier, the corridor turned to the left and there were three doors, two on the right and one on the left. Claudette made her way to the first door on the right and hid in the bulkhead listening for any activity. Nothing but the sounds of computer systems answered her silent scrutiny, but she could feel the jolly emotions of a low level technician… she could almost make out his thoughts: One more hour and I am a free man, home free. What was that Harraldo looking at me like that for? I know that I may be a little bit slow but...
She cut off the dribbling monologue just as he rounded the corner proceeding towards the Mortuary. With a growl from deep in her throat she brought both her fists above her head and smashed them into the side of the man's skull. With a quick yell the man's forehead hit the metal plating on the far wall and he fell to the ground silently. Claudette sighed in pleasure, it had felt so good but she was starting to notice the effects of the diazepam, already her pleasure seemed more grey, meaningless.
Picking up the man, she dragged him back through the bulkhead into the room. She stuffed him under a desk, then walked quickly back to the corridor and glanced around the corner in the direction the man had come from. It diverged at the end going left and right, she could pick up a huge amount of emotions coming from the right so she ran to the left and realized that she had nowhere to hide. In panic, she hid in a well-lit bulkhead just as two science personnel exited a room further down the hall. They were having a conversation...

"So Dr. Bradley, I've been doing vivisections like you asked me, but how about an explanation for your decision to use TriOpt resources in the recovery of deceased personnel?"
Claudette picked up on Bradley's mind easily, maybe it was a combined effect of the creature inside her and the benzodiazepines but the psionic feedback was becoming disorientating. First came Bradley's inconclusive deductions about his friend… Ed Morrisey, So that's the reason you ... Claudette held her head trying to block Bradley from her mind, his discord was hurting her. She growled quietly. Then came to her the underlying reasons in Bradley's mind for coming to his analytical perspective of his friend... He was alone, so very alone, he needed to feel the glory of the many to understand, nothing could compare to the glory...
Bradley replied, "My motivations are not your concern Ed."
Claudette shook her head panting. Ed Morrisey stopped in the corridor a couple of steps down from Claudette and turned to his associate. "Of course. Doctor, what is that smell? "
Bradley looked condescendingly at his friend, "There have been nearly two hundred bodies traveling through here, many of which have been dead for weeks, I think that has something to do with it." Bradley guffawed and continued to walk down the corridor. Ed Morrisey looked after the doctor quietly then shrugged and followed.

Claudette leaned against the door behind her in alarm, she didn't realize it earlier but yes, she smelled like a corpse! She tentatively sniffed her arm and nearly choked, bile rising in her throat. She leaned out of the bulkhead and noticed a sign pointing to personal quarters, maybe she could get washed up there, and if she was lucky find an ID card and some money. She needed to get to Earth, it was the only solace she had, that she might make it back home even if she was carrying an infectious organism. The people of Earth would rejoice at her coming, rejoice and claim the glory as absolutely as she had.

Expect updates to this story soon! :c)

- Ghoul.One.Eight.Seven -

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