Shad was knee deep into doing maintenance on the Black Shadow when the proximity sensor went of. Ships were approaching his location. Wasting not time the Grey Orion sped to the bridge to assess the situation.
Some 20 clicks to the East he could make out a Consortium ship shooting out trees making a landing pad. It was only a matter of time, with the trouble caused back in revelation and the number of ship battles that eventually led to their current location, they made it easy for the local constabulary to find them.
After the Consortium ship landed it didn’t take long for the Black Shadow to be approached by a posse of Consortium soldiers, and Andorian and Terran Donnelly’s all led my thier smallest member Bridget “the Midget” Donnelly.
“open up” she hollared “You are under arrest for the murder of two sheriff’s and absconding with a prisoner!”
“Look here!” Shad responded “Those sheriff’s shot at us first!” Using a version of “He drew on me” that he saw worked so well in Revelation. “Furthermore, we cured Dirty Pete of his madness and he wanted to leave with us!”
The sound of the plasma shotgun blast off the hull of the transport echoed through the ship. Shad was in disbelief. That little bitch shot his ship!
“C’mon out right now!” she demanded, loosening a few more shots at the Shadow.
Shad can take a lot but this was out of line. The Shadow was his ship! Within a few minutes he had her up in the air to the shagrin of the Donnelly Posse. Searching the mountain Shad found a large inconspicuous cave in which to hide the ship.
Where ever they where, the Hellraisers were on their own.
“Bullshit!” the blonde chorus member woman said pointing her finger accusingly at Mootar after he casually remarked that the Garden would have existed during the Iconian age. The fact was true enough but unlikely to be known by a bunch of lost gem prospectors who found themselves in the heart of an Iconian garden.
The blonde member of the chorus recognized the antagonism immediately and moved to dissipate it. “Surely out friends are just being cautious. This is a strange situation for all of us.”
The Vulcan made vocal his agreement.
“Perhaps we can make a compromise”, she continued " we both have an interest in Iconian technology, we are doing out own research, perhaps we can share information. It’s time they met Zain’in."
“Who is Zain’in?” Darev inquired.
“He is out leader, we are his chorus. He sent us here to check you out first.”
The chorus lead the Hellraisers to Zain’in’s lab. The technology was definitely cutting edge. There was even a next generation auto surgeon here, it could basically remove in and install organs remotely. Other items were covered in a tarp. The most unusual thing was the black environment suit that to Hellraisers spacer eyes was extremely modified, for what purpose though was not entirely clear. The face plate was tinted black making it impossible to see what lay beyond it.
The blonde spoke again: “Zain’in welcomes you to his garden.”
The large man of the chorus spoke: "Have you heard of ‘The Long Night’? If all societies are mapped to a mathematical equation they reveal that societies tend to collapse at the same time leading to a period of sterile chaos, the Long Night, these “nights” can last ten thousand years. But if one were able to control the chaos, bring about an orderly end, then this period could be substantially less, perhaps a single century. Zain’in believes the technology of this garden can bring that orderly end. Not to worry, however, this Long Night may not occur for a hundred years or more."
Then the brunette: “You have seen our many accomplishments that we have been able to create in this garden, but the Iconians were telepathic and accessed their computers that way, we are having a tough time accessing their proto-gene sequencer, and we were hoping the four lobed Vulcan brain may have better luck.”
“We will compensate you of course with money or what we have learned in our research. Please help us!”
“Why doesn’t Zain’in speak for himself?” Stahl asked. The blonde replied, “Zain’in does not speak because he does not have a mouth. He is sentient electromagnetic energy suspended in a cloud. He is Medusan.”
“Doesn’t one go insane by looking at a Medusan?” Stahl asked.
The blonde smirked, “Who is to say if they are to horrible to bear, or to beautiful to bear?”
Faced with an exceptional opportunity to learn the Vulcan agreed after Derev negotiated for a few red Fire Gems for payment.
They were led to the hub. The room had a natural pool in it with clockwise current, in the center was a small mound of soil which bore a large cabbage like plant but at its core was a large brain. A strange mix of plant and flesh.
Zhaftan looked closer in the pool and saw the current was propelled by many tiny little fish, he reached out to touch the water but was warned off by the blonde. “Careful Andorian, those fish eat flesh…and are electric.”
Savar crossed a plank that lay across the pool prepared himself and melded with the plant.
The big guy clapped his hands and rubbed them together. “Well he’s going to be there for a while maybe all night. Let’s leave him be and go back to the mess while we wait. We can set up a tent for you.”
“We will not leave him here alone.” The Klingon stated, not changing his position even as the chorus tried to convince them of his safety. They agreed to split up, Zhaftan stayed with the Klingon and Mootar and Stahl left for the mess hall.
They set up the Trill and the Klingon in their tent and wished them a good rest. Cautious Stahl watched them leave. Just before leaving the room the Big Guy bumped into two scientists. He made an insufficient check over his shoulder to see if he was being watched then continued to have a conversation with the men that became animated. Stahl cannot be sure what was said but there was a lot of thumbs drawn across throats and pointing at the tent and the direction of the Hub.
Stahl waited till they left and planed to sneak back to the Hub to warn the others, he left the Klingion because he sucks at stealth and they were going to expect someone in the tent.
Not long after Stahl left the scientists returned. Mootar waited as he watched their shadows grow large against the tent wall. The slight rustle of canvass and the sound of skittering over the floor made their plan clear. The Klingon was not alone in the tent any longer. Two facehuggers, long legged bugs with eight legs and a long tail they use to strangle their prey.
Mootar drew Gre’Leth and cleaved the creatures in two. The victory was not flawless however as the concentrated acid they used for blood severely melted his armour.
The Klingon burst out of the tent and ran down the scientists to interrogate them. Catching them was easily done as the scientists were not experienced runners. Unlike the clean and effecient way the Vulcan interrogates their prisoners, the Klingon still believed his technique could be just as effective.
He raised Gre’Leth over his head, ignited the plasma blade and screamed “WHAT IS GOING ON AROUND HERE? WHERE IS MARTA? WHY DID YOU TRY TO KILL ME?” The scientist spilled his guts, it was good to be a Klingon.
Stahl made it back to the Hub without being seen. Savar had not moved from where they left him. The Trill’s medical assessment was that his body was stressed but that was normal for a mind meld.
A few sharp slaps to the face and the Vulcan snapped out of it.
“There was nothing in there. Nothing,. He lied.” he said as he straitened himself out stretching tight muscles.
At that moment two scientists carrying a stretcher came into the room but turned to leave when they saw the Trill who was supposed to be strangled in his tent talking to the Andorian.
Stahl silently waved them into the room, with his gun.
They learned the truth of things. During the war between the Terrans and the Klingons, a small group of Klingons took refuge in these hills. Years later Zain’in arrived to find the Klingons strangely mutated and savage. He considered this a gift and after learning the secrets of this change began to make more and more “Grievers” from any stray groups of Klingons he could find.
He delved into the secrets of the Garden and started many projects. He grew a body for himself but in order for it to be able to process his telepathic abilities it needed psysinonine a chemical found in the brain of telepaths. When he found Marta he found her brain had implants that increased her psysinonine production.
Zain’in removed her brain so that he could directly extract the chemical and implant it in his new body.
The Hellraisers gathered up and took off their safeties. They decided to head back to the tent and set up an ambush. It was time to take these freaks down and save Marta.
As they entered the room the Andorian and the Klingon were caught flat footed in an ambush. The Chorus opened fire and Stahl and the Vulcan returned it. Zain’in made a grand gesture of holding his arms stretched outward as the tint on his faceplate flicker off showing his true face.
Mootar couldn’t cover his face in time a saw the Medusan for what he was. He was immediately inflicted with madness.
The battle raged on. The Chorus used their enhanced Halanan telepathy to create mirror images of themselves that danced around them until they were indistinguishable from the illusion. Z’Haftan stood his ground eyes tearing and twitching as they strained to turn away from the monstrosity that was Zain’in’s face, but the Andorian forced himself to stare down the barrel of his disruptor at his target. The report from his pistol came out at an even beat, the exact time it took to regain his aim. Even as Zain’in flashed and others struggled to turn away Z’Haftan fought through it to deliver his deadly payload. Madness? He Is Z’ Haftan!
With each shot that penetrated the suit, the Medusan spilled into the room exposing all those enclosed to his great heat before sucking himself back in. Stahl watched as the heat blistered his exposed skin, forcing him to retreat back to the hallway. Even with such an extreme situation he still felt shame as a Hellraiser.
Finally the suit burst and the Medusan was fully exposed. Everyone covered their eyes and suffered their burns and the cloud raced out of the room and down the hallway.
Slowly everyone got back to their feet and looked around. The Klingon stood facing a corner breathing heavily.
“Mootar” Z’Haftan called out. The Klingon responded screaming his Bat’ Leth raised high and burning with a plasma fire.