Chapter 89 – Counter Mission

Despite our subservient role aboard this ship, despite the fact that we’re all held captive here, it has never occurred to any of us scouts to assume the shape of a life form that we adapted to, or even observed, and rebel. What would happen if all of us scouts returned as a band of swift, strong and destructive Nekkos? It never occurred to us to fight for our life or our freedom because the fear of being different is bred into us from our first breath and memory to our last. It never occurred to us to fight for our freedom because we were created with a sense of duty, not realizing that we were captives here.

We have a choice every day how to live. We have the means of escaping in our grasp and we never summoned enough courage or desperation to do anything about it. Hope is not something that we know of. Perhaps our numbers are relatively small to quell any sort of rebellion. Were there more of us at one time? Are there more elsewhere or were we created in a contained and controlled environment?

Handed down through the generations of scouts, like a well-worn garment that’s held together by the smallest of threads, is a topic that has been debated repeatedly — whether we could take on the shape of a beast or even a tiny insect. Doing so was always readily dismissed as beasts were thought too primitive and their behavior too erratic to mimic and anything small was too vulnerable to all kinds of predators. Size, too, played a factor in that we could always get bigger, not smaller. We can’t break off a digit and have that change into a smaller creature and control it with our mind.

I stare at the air vent up on the wall of our quarters. How much easier it would be to send a small part of me in there to scout it and find out where the guards are. They will be my first obstacle once I leave this room. I will have to neutralize them and yet, I know so little about them. I instantly recall everything I know about the guards, from stories to any interaction I’ve witnessed. None of them appear to carry any weapons. It is simply their brute strength and intimidating appearance that enhances our submissive behavior once we know we’re doomed for recycling.

None of us scouts knows what the guards even look like as they’re covered from head to foot in a black uniform. A helmet with a face shield covers their head and neck while connecting to a piece that fits over their shoulders. Bands made from the same dense material as the helmet cover their arm and leg muscles. The guard’s torso is also clad in this body armor material. Connecting all these armor pieces together, while still allowing for movement, appears to be a heavily-woven fabric. Gloves and boots cover the guard’s hands and feet, preventing harm to even the digits.

In our testing as scouts, we have come across many creatures. Whether real or imagined by Nosram, they were very real to us. These creatures were poisonous, strong, cunning and vicious, but none of them have an all-consuming lust for vengeance as I do. I will become a conglomeration of these vile creatures and one of my own design. I will breathe and inject a toxin to kill all with whom I come into contact. Despite all of their protective gear, the guards will be no match for me.

I will alternate using the vents and corridors to hunt them down as I make my way through the ship. I can become a Nekko and run barreling at them, heaving toxic breath, first to weaken them before I rip them apart with toxin-laced claws. I’ll leave their infected limbs and digits in the air vents to spread the toxin throughout the ship. The contaminate may be discovered and countermeasures may be taken, like flash-freezing or locking down a corridor, but the Nosram won’t consider the vents because we’ve never considered using them. I imagine myself as a savage version of a scout – blood dripping from my hands, eyes crazed, perhaps even fangs and glowing skin.

On every door or entrance requiring hand scanning, I’ll leave a toxic residue to infect whomever touches it with a gloveless hand. Once I kill a guard I can also mimic it if a bio-pass is needed to gain access to other corridors.

I want to find the room with the rumored molten sludge pool — our “birth” place. I imagine throwing a toxin-laced arm into it and watching as it bubbles and turns black. Warning lights will undoubtedly flash as an alarm sounds, but no one will come. The pool will overflow and help contaminate the ship all the more.

For a moment I wonder what I will do if an entryway remains locked to me or if I become trapped in an area. I think back to the sard, wishing I had some with me that I could use as an explosive, not only for opening a locked door, but also for blowing up this ship. And then I smile. I’ve touched sard, held it in my hands and even painted with it. All I have to do is reconstruct it and secrete it in liquid form from my hands, like sweat, on any surface. As for a flame, although I’ve never tried — at this point I am so consumed by the seething rage within me — I believe I could breathe fire.