Paul crawled through the tunnels. He was keeping track of the layout as he explored more and more of them, knowing it would be disastrous if he got lost.
He knew the way out, he remembered it very well. But he couldn’t go that way. Going that way meant passing back through the room with the entity. He needed another way out, or a really good plan.
He paused. Footsteps, coming up behind him. He crouched in the shadowiest area he could find, holding his arms over his head, counting on the darkness, the dirt covering him, and the akumillians’ impaired senses to hide him.
“So, what’s the plan?” Allison asked. “Show our legs and hope it gets the akumillians in here?”
“You will keep your legs covered, please,” Yuri stated.
“Jealous?” Allison asked, smirking. “Don’t like the thought of anyone else seeing my legs? Does my beautiful android want all of this to herself?”
“She’s kidding, Yuri,” Ophelia said. “She knows that it wouldn’t work.” She examined the chamber. It was cramped with all of them inside, with a heavier, harder covering than the one surrounding the entity seemed to be. “For now we check every centimetre of this cell. Try to find a way to open it.”
“I will begin scanning,” Yuri stated.
“Where the hell is Paul?” Leon demanded.
“A different cell, perhaps,” Ophelia offered.
“Maybe he’s being questioned,” Allison suggested “Or…” she noticed the look on Leon’s face. “Or diplomatically engaging with that thing to negotiate our safe return?”
“It did not seem interested in diplomacy,” Yuri stated.
“Shh,” Allison put a finger to her lips. She tilted her head towards Leon.
“Don’t patronise me,” Leon said. He shuffled past them and punched the plating keeping them trapped inside. His knuckles visibly reddened. “Let’s get out of here and vaporise that thing.”
Paul found himself in a chamber filled with various items, probably things the colonists had on them when they were brought over.
He examined them. there were a lot of personal effects and other things the entity wouldn’t have seen a use for but there was always a chance that there was something… anything that could prove useful. Possibly even a weapon that the entity hadn’t recognised. So, he kept looking.
The problem was him. The very thought of killing something sapient, even this entity, caused him to shake. Rationally, he knew that it might be his only option. That didn’t make it more palatable. still, he knew that he needed some kind of weapon.
“Anything?” Ophelia asked.
“I have detected no structural weaknesses,” Yuri reported. “However, there may still be a way to escape.”
“Showing our bums?” Allison asked.
“Not the time for joking around,” Ophelia chided. She turned to Yuri. “What is it?”
“I believe that this structure is weaker than my body,” Yuri stated. “If I apply enough force for a long enough period of time I may be able to break the seal on this room. However, doing so may cause significant damage to my own body. I can not guarantee that I will be able to assist you any further.”
“So, do it,” Leon said. “We can take it from there.”
“Hold on,” Ophelia said. “If that thing can find a way to control humans, then Yuri may be our only hope. If she’s damaged, it could be disastrous.”
“Do you really want us to just lay back and let ourselves be taken?” Leon asked. “That’s rubbish! If we can get out of here, we can beat that thing. It won’t take us by surprise again.”
“I hate to agree with Leon when it means damaging Yuri,” Allison said. “But I think we probably stand a better chance with three of us moving as a unit than Yuri will stand being surrounded by us and controlled akumillians.” She looked at Yuri. “The damage would be fixable, right?”
“Correct,” Yuri stated. “Grace would be able to repair the damage, given sufficient time.”
“Captain,” Leon pressed.
Ophelia sighed. “I think you and Allison are right. Yuri, I know your repairs just got finished, and I won’t force you, but I’m going to request that you break this door.”
“I will comply,” Yuri stated. “It is advisable that all of you stand back.”
“As much as the space allows, anyway,” Allison muttered.
Paul made his way to the central chamber. “Entity!” he cried.
The creature floated in its mass to face him. A nearby akumillian spoke for it.
“Doc tor. You will go for joining.”
“I rather like my individuality, thank you,”Paul stated. He held up two small blasters that he’d found concealed in a parasol. “Release your hold o the akumillians and promise not too force any more joinings or I’ll be forced to fire.” His hands shook as he spoke.
“Doc tor will submit. Doc tor is healer. Does not take lives. Can’t even aim. Doc tor will drop weapons or companions will suffer.”
“You have my companions?” Paul asked.
“Have all. Submit!”
Paul lowered the weapons, surreptitiously throwing some switches. “I can’t convince you to let them go peaceably?”
“All will join.”
“Very well,” Paul said. He tossed the blasters beneath the gelatinous mass holding the creature and allowed the nearby akumillians to grab him.
He turned towards the entity as they were leading him away. “For what it’s worth, I’m sorry it came to this.”
Nine seconds later, the blasters explosively overloaded.