Pyramid Scheme 1 - Separated
Posted on Tue Jul 21st, 2020 @ 8:57am by Baroness 3rd Class Sarika & Commander Rita Paris & Lieutenant Commander Mnhei'sahe Dox & Lieutenant Commander Thex sh'Zoarhi & Lieutenant Commander Sonak & Lieutenant JG Tovanna Mah & Ensign Tanaak Sado
Edited on on Tue Jul 21st, 2020 @ 9:00am
Heart and Soul
Location: Beneath Andoria
Tags: Pyramid Scheme 1
Just before the doorway that had just been opened, the away team from the U.S.S. Hera stood at the ready. Called to the frozen moon of Andoria, they had found themselves in a secret, shielded and hidden facility buried within the forbidden northern pole of the planet.
The team consisted of Commander Rita Paris, Lieutenant Commander's Sonak, Mnhei'sahe Dox, and Thex sh'Zoarhi, Doctor Tovanna Mah, Field Medic Tanaak Sado and Artan Baroness Sarika.
Orbiting high above, the Hera’s Captain, Enalia Telvan was busy verbally dueling with the bureaucracy of the planet to ensure that when they were complete, their unauthorized incursion to the restricted region would be rendered legal. Though, with the evidence they collected, they had more than enough cause to be there. To say nothing of the telepathic calls for help from the ancient Andorian who called herself Talla P’Trell and wore the face of the Hera’s Chief Engineer, Lieutenant Commander Thex sh'Zoarhi.
The mission had already answered many of the questions that the Andorian Engineer had been struggling with the past few months. There, in that frozen facility, the team had discovered row upon row of cloning tubes with duplicates of the Hera’s chief.
Behind them in the main chamber of the control facility, three people that appeared to be the Andorians that appeared to be Thex’s parents were frozen in their seats. Telepathically locked in place by the will of Talla P’Trell, reinforced by the mental power of the clone in the single tube within the room. A deformed, blind clone of Thex that had been the conduit from which the messages for help had been made, but also the means by which the eldritch beings known as “the Masters” had taken over Thex’s parents.
These ‘masters’ had flexed their abilities, in truth the abilities of the deformed psionic in the tube used against her will, to disable and take apart the crew’s phasers, but now they were free to investigate further. P’Trell had used the psionic’s power to telekinetically open a passage in the stone column at the back of the room, that lead down to what she had called the Pyramid of Nyarlathotep. The ancient structure that kept the cosmic, crawling horror from the realm of nightmares known as the Undrheim from entering their reality.
It was a reality that all in the team except Lieutenant Commander Mnhei’sahe Dox had been before, and P’Trell had said that their experience in the Undrheim had inoculated from the influence of the dark and macabre minds that would try and affect them from the beyond. And to protect Dox, she instructed the Romulan pilot to put an ancient rune symbol upon her armor that would offer her a similar measure of mental protection. It was the same symbol that was etched upon each of the tubes of a five-pointed star with wavy lines, surrounding an ominous eyeball wreathed in flame. The cautious Romulan was wary but took the necessary precaution.
Using the mimetic skin of her EVA suit, she scanned the pattern and projected it on the chest of her suit. But Dox had also been extensively trained by Sonak, to develop extremely strong mental defenses. She would be working to keep them up the whole time, just in case the symbol was a trick. Turning to the rest of the team as she programmed the symbol into her armor, Dox looked into the tunnel before them.
They could see a set of stairs going down deep enough to not be able to see the bottom, but could see an eerie reddish-orange glow coming up, which was more than a little disconcerting. Thex had been buffeted by the intense psychic communications from Talla P’Trell calling for help transmitted through her so-called sister in the tube, but with them there, it appeared that the mental pressure might have let up considerably as the azure engineer seemed to be more herself.
Turning to Thex as they all stood at the ready, tasked with entering the pyramid to somehow strengthen the seals that P’Trell described as weakening and allowing the crawling terrors on the other side to leak their influence into our realm, Dox had a look of understandable concern on her face for her friend. “Thex, how are you holding up? Can you still feel those presences in your mind?”
"I've found out I was created to be melted down into a life-extending drug that turns people into a mass of tentacles and drives them mad. Of course, I'm not holding up," The engineer said trying not to throw up in her helmet as she tried to get her breathing under control.
''They are still here,'' Sonak confirmed in his sobering tone. ''You would compare this to a lingering odor; not really smelling it any longer, but still present at the edges of perception. Apparently they are content to passively monitor what is happening from a distance; or else they actually fear to be too... close to us; when we will make contact with whatever we are about to encounter.''
"I think when we get back I'll ask Maica to remove the Bolian hot squid massage from her services," Sarika offered as she surveyed the stairs leading down, her shortsword and backup disruptor out as she led the way down. "All things considered, I think most of us are trying to avoid that sort of thing now."
Glancing at Sarika, Dox sighed slightly. This was a nerve-wracking scenario for the silver-haired pirate not accustomed to these kinds of missions, and the red-headed officer was worried about Thex's mental well being under impossible circumstances.
Not knowing what she could possibly say to help her friend having the grandmother of existential crises, Dox put a hand on the shaken Andorian's shoulder and looked into her eyes. "And you were freed from that and given the chance to do something about it to make sure none of the others have to suffer that fate."
Not knowing if she was helping or making things worse, Dox pursed her lips. "I... can't imagine what you're going through right now, Thex. I don't. But no matter what, you won't be going through it alone. We're all here. And your quadmates are back on the ship waiting, along with those amazing, beautiful children. You know that you are so much more than whatever they had planned for you, and that can't be taken from you. And you can give that hope to those others we passed on the way in."
"That's right, we're all here with you and you've been handed a chance to do something good and right for not only those poor people in those tubes, but everyone on this planet," Sarika added as reassuringly as she could, slipping her disruptor back in its holster and making a fist in the air. "You have your freedom and you have friends and allies that will help you spread that freedom to whomever wants it among the stars! Now let's go kick some tentacle ass, bi... team!"
In her mounting anxiety and stress, the Baroness had almost let her old potty mouth slip out again after she had done so well to curb it after all this time. Thankfully she had caught herself, but she still felt bad about it. With a glance back at the others, she continued leading them down the stairs, into the temple of Nyarlathotep.
Sonak, of all of them closest to what the Andorian actually thought and felt, concurred.
''You are an accomplished individual. This means you have exceeded the mere basic nature of what you are, and even touched positively the lives of others. You have even given new life to this universe. Do not carry the past as a burden. Use it as you have always done; as a step towards achievement and more giving.''
As he finished, he glanced at his wife Rita. If there was a shining example of this idea he shared with Thex, it was her.
Damn, I have there filter to fix tomorrow, Thex remembered as her thoughts drifted back to the small bubble of metal that was her home and the two little creatures that needed their shreya. A weak smile came across her face as she nodded in agreement. "Yeah let's kick these assholes in their... well whatever they have in place of an ass."
"Or let's see about reinforcing whatever ancient seals are down here, that are holding the line between Andoria and monstrous beings from beyond space and time. Time to go save your homeworld, Thex," Rita clasped the slender Andorian woman's shoulder, shaking her a little in her EVA armor. Turning, she addressed the entire landing party. "We won't know exactly what we're looking for, but we've done this before, people, we know the drill."
Flicking her wrists, Paris produced a pair of apparent Type II phasers of her era- in point of fact, clever reproductions using modern materials that were far sturdier, and capable of the greater output of modern phasers, with extra long battery life built into the handles. Tossing one phaser to Dox, Paris lobbed the other throwback phaser high to Sado.
"Just in case, people. Doc, you and Sonak be our sensors- you watch us, Sonak will be scanning and analyzing the environment. Sarika, you're with me- I suspect you have a keenly honed sense of danger that should come in quite handy in this scenario. Let's move in twos, Sado solo in the rear, and let's go shove some worms back in a can, folks"
Dr. Mah was keeping her eyes on both her patients and surroundings as well as contemplating readily available biological solutions if any of the dark and creepy critters got out of hand. So far she was leaning toward a high dose of anti-fungal spray. After all, anything that killed a fungus killed humanoids. Issue was the temperature would render most aerosol compounds into immediate vapor with no staying power. What she wouldn't give for a huge pack of old fashioned powdered lye, bleach or concentrate with a low enough pH balance to send most living things running. She kept scanning for base elements with just such factors, they had to have some way of handling ice and cleaning in a crisis in a place like this. Sometimes simple worked, damn it.
Slowly, the team made its way down the increasingly ancient-looking, black stone stairs as the golden-red glow from below came to meet them. As they descended for what began to feel like forever, their suit sensors gave constant updates on their atmospheric and environmental conditions as the air got thicker and mustier and the temperature steadily rose to much more bearable levels.
With Rita in the lead and Sarika at her back in a defensive position, both the golden commander and Dox, behind Sarika, had phasers set at low ready thanks to Rita's judicious habit of keeping multiple weapons hidden within the extradimensional storage space of the bracers of Hera she always wore. Behind Dox, Thex stepped cautiously, followed by Sonak, Dr. Mah and the mammoth Tanaak Sado guarding their rear.
After approximately five minutes of slowly making their way down the stairs, Sonak scanning the entire time, they reached to bottom of the shining, reflective black stone steps that opened into a larger chamber.
Around them and above them were walls of ancient ice that seemed to contain what could only be described as an obsidian pyramid that, based on the one visible angled wall that faced them, nearly 140 meters. On both the black stone floor and wall, were intended grooves and lines that formed patterns up the sides and below their feet, but there were no obvious entry points visible.
Tapping the side of her helmet, Dox scrunched her brows slightly as she checked the readings of her heads up display. "Commander Paris. I've been in constant link with the Runabout through our comms, but the signal is now choppy at best."
"No surprise there," Paris replied. "We're underground already, and we're dealing with beings that want very much to remain a secret. Send an update to the Hera through the runabout before we go any further. Meanwhile, what do we make of these runes and carvings, people? Is it me or do these look like blood runnels...?"
''A logical assumption, Commander, '' Sonak said as he scanned the artifact. ''The belief in blood being the vehicle for supernatural forces is a most primitive and debunked one, but it is a fact that it is a most rich and malleable organic substance. Any entity with transmutation capabilities can use this as a prime raw material.''
He looked at his scans and added a nod and a word.
''There is a definite residue of hemocyanin; the Andorian equivalent of hemoglobin.''
With a nod, Dox immediately sent the latest in a collection of status updates, filled with scan date and all relevant information, through their link to the Hera. As usual, the red-headed Romulan had been preparing to do what the Commander had ordered before the order was given while they made their way down the steps. Looking down at the floor and the grooved lines upon it, Dox couldn't help but feel a chill beyond just the temperature.
"Message sent, Commander." Dox said, somewhat quietly as she avoided stepping on any of the grooves, her voice a little flat as if with a slightly forced calm. "And... I remember... reading something about what you're describing in the academy. In comparative cultures and religions."
''Data we have gathered of these... eldritch entities have definite similitude to blood cults and death faiths found throughout known space.''
Thex was listening as she climbed the black steps. Something about this rock felt wrong as her feet touched it. " " How could andorian's have built this thing. We're miles from the nearest civilization and this stone doesn't look native to the planet. " She asked out loud as she looks at the stones. They were so friendly pressed together there was apparently no gap between the stones.
"A very good question, actually. Andorians have only had space travel for a few hundred years? Maybe a little longer? my history isn't the best." Sarika mused on this as she focused her eyes on the stonework a bit deeper as the end of their downward journey finally started to come into sight. "My cybernetics tell me they're cut from highly compressed and purified volcanic rock with low sulfur content and high iron content and assembled with great precision."
Sonak answered her.
''Actually, the Andorians knew space travel before any other member species of the Federation. They met the Orions, the Tellarites and the Vulcans centuries before they met Humanity and even had a space war among themselves that lasted a hundred years. But what they lacked was the advanced physics to make possible faster than light travel. And so, for centuries, they colonized only neighboring star systems with sleeper ships that were often lost to the hazards of space, instead of conquering the whole galaxy.''
"Still, the nearest source that I know of that might provide a similar material is the second planet in this system. Otherwise... Ceti Alpha One? I've used almost identical materials there as shielding before. The carbon and cut wear on these stones are reading as well over a thousand years and they're likely much older. I'd need better scanners and samples to tell." It was obvious from the slight waver in her voice that the Baroness was doing her best to stay strong and the science distraction went a long way to soothe her frayed nerves. Geological surveying was something she knew quite well and could rely on.
''That would make these stones extremely recent on the geological scale,'' Sonak mused, going through his own scans. ''However, it would take a thorough chemical analysis to make sure there are no contaminants; not to mention that there could be elements of deception involved. Readings are... inconsistent.''
"Agreed." She then pursed her lips in consternation, studying the seams and carved lines. "These lines... This type if igneous rock is very mildly magnetic and the blood of most races are diamagnetic... I hypothesize that these carved runnels gather to one location - the gate."
''A logical assumption, '' the Vulcan agreed.
As the team continued to study the mysterious materials and search for an entry point to continue further, the began a low rumbling from the surface beneath their feet. Sonak's delicate senses and the team's EVA suit sensors picked it up a split second before it was too late to act on it.
Quickly, and with only the hint of a warning, there was the momentarily deafening sound of stone scraping against stone that screamed in the enclosed space. Cutting into the team's ears, they were unprepared as tall panels of the stone slid quickly up from between them rising rapidly up to the massive sheet of ice that comprised the ceiling of the chamber. As it did, small chunks of that ice were shaken loose and crumbled off, falling to the ground at the team's feet.
A second later, the doorway behind them was closed off by a sheet of cold, black stone and walls had separated the team into smaller groups by chambering the area into three spaces, each space now leading to narrow openings in the side of the pyramid that revealed themselves in the same instant that the walls jutted up.
In the first section, Rita and Sarika stood alone. In the middle section, Thex and Dox shook their heads in confusion, and in the last section, Sonak, Dr. Mah and Sado found themselves isolated.
Looking around, Dox called out on her commbadge. "Commander Paris? Lieutenant Commander Sonak? Is anyone picking me up?"
All she head back was silence. Turning to the ships Chief Engineer and Second Officer, the Romulan Pilot and subordinate calmed herself quickly. "Lieutenant Commander sh'Zoarhi. Suit sensors and comm signals can't seem to penetrate the stone and I've lost contact with the Runabout as well."
Thex was already trying her own suits scanners and coms, but like Dox she was getting nothing. " I've got nothing on any channel the stone appears to be letting out an elector magnetic frequency that scrambling the coms. " The blue engineer replied as she reached for her hdden weapon.
" Protect." She yelled hoping to summon her armor, but the nothingness of the pyramid that seemed to be eating the sound around them was her answer. " And I can't summon my armor." She said feeling very very small. This stone could stop that getting to her. Still with only one-way forward, she panned her head around to look into the newly opened passage. Drips of condensation fell from the ceiling as the black stone seemed to beckon them forward into the dark. " Well looks like we only have one way to go." She said turning back to Dox
Looking down the dark corridor that had opened into the stone face, Dox nodded as she considered their limited options. "Indeed. In theory, I could cut a hole through the ice overhead with the phaser Rita gave me, but more than a few sizable chunks came down when those walls came up. So I'm concerned that any attempt to shoot out will bring that down on all of our heads."
Figuring that Rita and Sonak would come to a similar conclusion, Dox turned back to Thex. "Lieutenant Commander, I would recommend that, since these things have a greater interest in you, I should go in front."
" It is due to that fact why I am going in front." Thex replied. She wasn't going to let a set of children loose one of their mothers due to her dragging Dox down here. " Follow me and keep the phaser at the ready. Hopefully, we won't need it. "
"Aye, Lieutenant Commander." Dox brought her weapon back to low ready and followed behind the azure Engineer as they stepped slowly and carefully into the darkness.
To Be Continued…