World of Souls – Ch. 9: The Right Corridor

“Slow down!” Janine yelled down the corridor. “You don’t have to run so fast! Actually, you shouldn’t! I don’t know the layout of this station, we could find a maintenance room anywhere!” She was starting to lose her breath, when Allie suddenly stopped. Thankful for the respite Janine leaned her bulbous salawoman hands on her legs. “Do you see something?” She managed to get the question out between gasps.

Allie turned her microphone off. “Mute your mic. I want to talk.” She idly scratched her beak with her taloned hand.

With a sigh Janine muted her microphone, making sure she was still receiving audio and could quickly turn it back on in case of an emergency. “There, it’s off. What’s up?”

“I’m going to preface this with something that should be obvious.” Allie started walking slowly along the corridor, expecting Janine to follow suit. “Relationships on the ISS Dominiot between crew members is allowed. Obviously, the captain and myself are in a relationship, and it seems you and Elinog are as well.”

Janine blushed slightly. “Yeah, it seemed a little quick, but we just hit it off. But I don’t get it. Where is this going?”

“Did you have real feelings for him before the accident?”

“What? Of course I did.” Janine said, confusion in her voice. “What exactly are you insinuating?”

“Look, I’m not insinuating anything. I’m just looking after someone who’s been like a brother to me. Calm down, please.”

AB-775, Blavet, and Elinog’s voices came over the comm as they started to talk about the split in the corridor. Janine and Allie were approaching one as well.

Allie and Janine stopped walking and turned to face each other. “Ok,” said Janine, “I think I know where this is going. Go ahead and ask.”

With a sigh Allie complied. “Are you just seeing him as a project now that he’s lost his legs and lower arms, or do you still have real feelings for Elinog?”

Janine shook her head. “Look, I know where the question is coming from, but I still don’t like that you’re asking it. No, I don’t just see him as a project. I loved him before, and I love him now. It might be a little hard for him to reciprocate that for a while, which is why I’m so focused on making him better.”

“Good. That’s exactly the answer I was looking for.” Allie turned back toward the corridor and motioned to either side. Which way do you want to go?”

“Heroes go left, but that would lead us towards the guys. Let’s continue forward. Sounds like they’re investigating the rooms.” Janine listened to the comm for a moment. “Seems like they’re all crew quarters.”

“Fine, oh, and you can ask me any question, seeing as I just probed into your relationship.” Allie moved forward and the door in front of her slammed shut, blocking the path. “Uhh…what was that?”

A crackling noise emanated from a nearby speaker followed by the monotone voice of a station AI. “I would not recommend going in that direction, organics. Please take the right corridor.”

Janine glanced up at a camera next to the speaker. “Looks like we don’t have much choice in the matter…right it is.”

With a curt nod Allie turned toward the right corridor and began walking down it. “Maybe you should unmute your comm and let the guys know wha-” The sentence was cut short as a group of bipedal creatures spilled out of a side corridor and advanced on Allie.

Unsure what was happening Janine unmuted the comm as she saw Allie get tackled. Reacting on instinct Janine pulled her skravyn companion from the onslaught of mad beings and pulled her into one of the crew quarters. She severed the wires leading to the door and shut it manually.

Allie screamed as the door shut. “What was that?” Blavet’s voice was full of fear. “Allie! Janine! Can you hear me?!”

Allie’s comm had been unmuted and she started cawing into her comm, followed by Janine’s voice on her own comm. “Something’s here, on station! Be careful! I’m getting Allie to safety!”

“I’m going to track your mental traces. Elinog, Abe, and I will be there as soon as we can.”

“Ok, good.” Janine turned to face Allie. “Allie, speak to me, are you okay?”

Allie tried to respond but was only able to caw. She tried to remember how to form speech with her tongue and beak, but nothing was coming out right. She grabbed for her datapad and quickly typed something into it, sending it to Janine’s datapad.

“I can’t talk,” Janine read from the datapad. “I’m scared and confused, but I don’t seem to be injured in any other way. What were those things?” Janine shook her head. “Allie, those looked like they were people once.” Janine pulled a small welding torch from her small pack. “I’m going to weld up this door so they won’t be able to get in. You should warp yourself in the blanket on the bed. You might just be suffering from shock. I’ll be with you in a moment.”

Allie nodded and pulled the blanked from the quarter’s bed. She shook the dust from it and wrapped it around herself. She cawed quietly to herself, trying to whisper encouragement to herself and quickly decided that wasn’t going to help.

– – –

“Why did you tell her you were going to track their mental traces? Do you have the experience to do that?” Elinog was jogging behind Blavet, his metal legs making dull thuds through his synthetic skin grafts.

“Normally, no, but I can feel the fear radiating from Allie. You heard what Janine read from the datapad. She’s scared out of her mind.”

“You realize we’re still on comms?” Janine’s voice crackled through the speaker.

“Yes, and Allie? I love you. Don’t forget that. You may be scared, but I’m on my way.” Blavet doubled his pace.

AB-775 turned to Elinog, who was struggling to keep up. “Hey, I can track comm signals, if you want to slow down a little.”

“Yeah, I do.” Elinog slowed his pace slightly. “Blavet, you go. We’ll be right behind you.”

“Ok!”

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