Chapter 92 – Counter Mission

Once I set my mind on my own mission, I began looking for touching points — means of being in contact with the others while going unnoticed. Toxins have been used by Nosram on many occasions. While it’s important to infect the other scouts, it is not my intent to kill them. They should be able to handle it, except possibly for the new ones and maybe the ones close to being recycled. If one of us rebels against the Nosram, perhaps the others will follow and recognize the value in doing so. What’s important is to infect the Nosram and those running the ship. Making the toxin airborn is the only method I have for accomplishing this, though I still wonder about the air scrubbers.

After secreting the toxin on the walls, hoping to create an airborne version, I moved on to leaving a residue on the nutrient dispenser, the dishes, utensils and arm rests of our chairs. I’ve gone into observation mode with my own kind, witnessing  when we usually congregate together, how we sit and what we do with our hands when not eating.

I can’t allow for failure at this point. Even though time has passed and I haven’t witnessed anything out of the ordinary, I will still persist with my plan. And then, as I watch from my bunk, I see something. One of the scouts has marks on its hand and fingertips. The marks are red as though displaying where they had come into contact with a dish laced with toxic residue. I jump down from my bunk as this scout wipes its hand on its body, spreading the residue even more. Its skin is now nearly glowing red in spots against a grey backdrop. As I walk towards this scout, I can see it’s having trouble breathing. The residue appears to be slow-acting, but if the end result is the same, does it matter? Then again, once the toxin takes hold it accelerates — interesting. The scout, looking down at its body and hand, squeals and begins to shake.

I sit down at the table and notice all of the other scouts have stopped what they’re doing and are looking at the infected one. The scout’s own agitated system exacerbates the spread of the toxin. Red streaks shoot out from the infected areas on the scout’s body as it slowly crumbles to the floor. While all of the other scouts are distracted watching, I elongate my leg, form a piercing claw laced with toxin on one end of a toe and make a sharp jab at another scout’s leg. The victim, a few seats away from me, let’s out a squeal as I snap my leg and foot back to me. The others and I turn as if of one mind to see what’s happening. The seated scout swivels in the chair to examine its leg. Even from my position I can see there is an angry red welt on it which is expanding quickly. The scout stands up and staggers briefly before falling. Injection works more quickly than the residue, I note.

With two scouts infected, those of us remaining look at each other warily. Even with this outbreak, there are still no guards.

Within a moment we all scramble from the table, looking back and forth from one infected scout to the other. Fight it, I mentally urge them while searching for signs of life. As another scout crosses in front of me, I time its approach, exhaling a breath laden with an airborne version of the same virus. The scout walks right by me without realizing what it is inhaling -– its mouth open while making our signature squawking sound.

I move to the cluster of other scouts watching as my latest victim coughs. As a wheezing sound quickly follows, the scout drops to its knees clutching its chest. I may have made the dose too toxic not knowing how much of it would dissipate in the air. More squawking sounds erupts from the others, which I mimic. There are three scouts now infected and still no sign of the guards. Interesting.

A scout closest to most recent victim coughs abruptly, turning to us with what I can only assume is a horrified expression. Our expressions are hard to read when our eyes are overly large to being with. It too starts wheezing before collapsing to the ground. Excellent, the toxin is contagious in its airborne form. I stretch out an arm behind the crowd beside me and puncture another scout. Its shriek sends the rest of us in a panic. A couple more well-placed puffs of breath from me infect a handful more scouts who in turn take out others. I feign being stricken and collapse on the ground a ways off to watch the progress. As I go down, I clutched another scout on its shoulder with a hand secreting toxic residue. A bright red patch quickly appears and this scout crumbles. I watch as the last scout collapses on the floor.

I have effectively decimated my kind while similarly infecting our quarters with an unknown toxic virus. Not knowing if they’ll survive or if they do, how long it will take to fight off, I move to air vent shaft. No guards have entered our room. I’m not going to leave through the door which could alert the Nosram of any movement. There is a part of me that realizes at any time one of us scouts could be summoned to a session. No response from us, could provoke a search. If our quarters are entered, the Nosram will know one of us is missing, on the loose and probably the cause for the illness. Then again, any weight on the bunks could signal occupancy which would prompt a summons, so if none of them are occupied …  I shake my head. No more overthinking this. I need to move.

I elongate my arms to reach up and remove the grate on the air vent and then pull myself up. Once I’m inside the vent, I crawl along, leaving a trail of toxic residue where I made contact with the tubing. I move toward the source of the air, hearing only the sound of distant machinery thumping and humming. Every time I see an open vent leading to a room or corridor, I slather toxic residue along the vent where the air will continue to spread spores into the area. I am rabid with vengeance. The thirst to do harm to the Nosram, and ultimately the Bormeas, quenches any form of guilt I may have about what I’ve done to the other scouts.

I move quickly until I hear voices. When I look out from a vent, I see an area of the ship with which I’m not familiar. The corridors are larger and feature more doors. I locate the source of the voices. A couple of guards are a few paces away. I breathe in deeply and blow in their direction not knowing or caring how potent I’ve made the toxin. Before it can even take effect, I send more puffs their way. I don’t wait long before first one guard and then the other starts coughing. When their disturbance doesn’t raise any alarms, I open the vent and hop down without a sound. As I stand up, I quickly change shape and charge at them. Weakened by the toxin, I knock them both down before they’re even aware of my presence. Whatever their gear is made of it is not enough protection against my strength and claws. The blood from the matching gouges across their chests turns black before I can blink. Curious to know a guard’s true form, I pull back on the helmet of one of them only to rip the entire head off in the process. I stagger back, momentarily shocked at my own strength. Black blood is now oozing out of the bodies and onto the sterile floor where it will continue to infect others. If I ever need to look like a guard, I’ll just have to wear their uniform. Though I realize now I won’t know what a Nosram looks like even if find one.

I climb back into the vent wishing I had schematics of the ship at my disposal. As I continue on, I find comfort in the fact that if any of the other scouts have survived and revived themselves, they now know what a gift I’ve given them. As I move on, I occasionally hear coughing in the distance. Sometimes I look out and just see feet sprawled out on the floor directly beneath the vent. There is an urgency to get to the shuttle and leave this ship. But, I must first make sure this ship is crippled and that none aboard can harm anyone again. What good is uprising against the Bormeas if the Nosram come in and destroy it all? Mayta … if she does exist, will see her people fighting and come back to help. Did she not promise? Oh Mayta, if you’re there, help me now.