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Out Of Mind » MEMBER ADVERTISING & BLOG FORUMS » T.S. "Tray" Caladan » Starwalkers Episode 18: "Amok Staak!" by TS Caladan

Starwalkers Episode 18: "Amok Staak!" by TS Caladan

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Episode 18: "Amok Staak!"
by TS Caladan

"Say again?" Captain of the starship Enlighten awoke from solid sleep because of an emergency call by Security. "Do you...are you sure? Do you mean...the Commander? Then...oh, God. Not again. Call Dr. O'Leary. Oh, good. I'm on my way. Church out." John jumped out of bed, threw something on and got to Staak's quarters as soon as he could.
       When the Captain arrived there, he saw four red-shirt members of Security out in the hall, Nurse Crystal Rowe in tears, Staak's door left open and some sort of soft food that dripped down the walls of the hallway bulkhead.
       In a moment, Dr. O'Leary rushed in from the other end of the hallway.
       Captain Church placed his arms around the girl. "Are you all right, Crystal?"
       She wiped her tears and composed herself. "Yes, Captain."
       "Did Staak attack you again?"
       "Heavens no, Captain. Nothing like that. I only, uh, uh, made Remoran soup, the way he likes it. God, sir. He wanted to hurt me."
       Ben said, "I'll see to her." The Doctor checked a few physical things of his nurse.
       John asked, "What'd he do?"
       Both men looked at Crystal for the answer with four guards in the background like wooden statues.
       She got more emotional. Nothing came out of her mouth...
       John entered the 'held-open' door to Staak's quarters.
       In the rear section was the alien's sleeping chamber. The First Officer laid prone. Meditating? Captain asked, "Have you lost your Remoran mind?"
       Staak got up from his relaxed position on the bed and faced his Captain. He struck a pose of 'attention' with hands behind. "Sir! It is not fitting; it is not dignified..."
       "For a woman I am not bonded to..." The earless Centauri, who heard better than anyone of the crew, looked away. "...Visit me at a late hour and pretend we have an intimate relationship! I yelled your abuse at her! So what?"
       John Church had no clue. His arms and hands went out from his sides. "Staak. It was only soup."
       His Science Officer and friend glared directly into John's eyes and heart. His closest friends never witnessed the alien this angry before. "Are you a fool?! Why are you Captain?!" With the quickness of a rattlesnake, the strong right arm of Commander Staak shot forward and smashed into John's face!
       The Captain's jaw was broke. He was dropped to the floor. He was in great pain. Before the Captain called to guards outside, they heard the shouts, entered and surrounded Commander Staak with hands on Fasers.
       The Captain managed a few stern words. He said, "Take, um...take'm to the brig."

       Sick Bay was empty except for the Captain and Dr. O'Leary. John was completely patched in a minute and physically felt fine. His face held an expression of intense worry, fear.
       "Speech will be flawless now, Captain." Ben put a few of his instruments away.
       John Church could not and would not sit down. He paced back and forth. Tonight would be one more sleepless night. "This is...once what we experienced months ago with the wild thuman?"
       "Never heard you use that word before, John..."
       Church appeared pissed. "I'm pissed," he stated as he tilted his head. The hard look in the Captain's eyes showed how serious he was.
       "It's not like months ago with purple blood-fever. Staak's not going around trying to FUCK everything, like before?"
       "He's not?"
       "No, sir."
       "Then...what's he doing?"
       "God, John. He's trying to, to mess you up. Damage you, hit you, hurt you; look what he did to you! He nearly killed two of the guards that took him away, and there were four of them! When Crystal said he wanted to hurt her, she didn't mean, ah, verbal abuse. Yes, he tossed racial slurs and whatever he said against women. We've sure said plenty of terrible things about Staak, eh? Thinking he couldn't hear, right? Or feel? Maybe it was time for him to BLOW?"
       "Really?" Captain John was lost in deep thoughts and grave concerns.
       "She told me, just awhile ago...he had a look in his eyes..."
       The Captain stopped the paces and stared at Ben. "What?"
       "Nurse Rowe feared he might turn around and kill her."
       "You're kidding, Ben?"
       "No, sir." Church was tired; he approached the proverbial 'brick wall.' He sat down.
       The Doctor also sat. Ben continued: "When this happened before, I did research on it..."
       "What did you find?"
       "It's not a sex cycle, exclusively, thanks to the Machines or bio-machines: They repress so much, then later, it has to explode like a pressure cooker."
       "It's not?"
       "No. It's ALL emotions! I read about cases on Remor. I was reminded of our 7 Deadly Sins..."
       "Well. One case was a Remoran who decided to be unproductive: just sat there, only appeared catatonic and simply, huh, didn't do anything."
       "That doesn't sound right." John took a big breath and tried to relax.. "Go on."
       "Yeah. I thought of Sloth. Another case was an eater..."
       "What, Ben?"
       "The guy, and I think there was a woman too, they couldn't stop eating! It came out one of their cycles. No connection between them."
       "Hm. And that was...Gluttony. When Remorans have their...cycle? I almost said: Period...they, they...any of these vices can take form and appear in their regularly timed cycles?"
       "That's right. Weird, huh? Very specific repression and split from the others."
       "Doctor. You'd call Staak's affliction...a case of...what?"
       "Violence! Pure repressed violence. Hatred for the human race, hatred for the crew and for many who have learned to care for him, dearly. You've noticed it yourself, his early resentment of the assignment, one forced upon him. And now? What? He's ready to grab a weapon and kill his friends? The brig is where he belongs at this time."
       "We all want to kill, but we don't kill today. We all want to love. So, you'd say, like Laurette's Syndrome..."
       "Exactly, John. Staak's lost all sense of proportion to these unfamiliar things called emotions. Alien to him. I doubt he'll remember how he acted in violent rages. Like black-out periods. Wait! Oh, my God! John!" Ben looked at his Captain with a startling revelation in his head. He was very mad at himself. "Hours now, since the Security call! Hours? And it DIDN'T dawn on me what set him off? FUCK! I am so stupid!"
       Church replied, "No, Doctor. You're one of the best minds in Starwalker Command. Why is our friend acting funky?"
       Dr. O'Leary ran into the adjacent room in sick bay and shouted, "I suggest you follow me, Captain!"
       John was as confused as he was all evening. He reached the next room with a few quick steps. He observed the Doctor who was topless...
       Ben removed the blue top of his uniform. He laid on the examining med-bed as if he was the patient. The Doctor babbled a bit more to himself inside only black pants and boots. He spoke to the ceiling: "See, John. It was right there in front me. Why'd it take me hours? Captain! He's not on one of his cycles. Timing's way off. He's not on his Period, John."
       "What is it?" 
       "Ha. Turn around. What do you see?"
       The Captain turned 180 degrees. "I don't see anything, Doctor."
       Ben had his hands behind his head in a calm, relaxed position like he solved a great mystery. His blue eyes looked above. Then he was suddenly bewildered. "No, no. In one of the clear display cases, behind you. There's 16. One of them, has..."
       "Ben. They're all empty, all 16," John accurately reported.
       "No, they're not." The Doctor snapped to attention. He was shocked as he stood in front of a bright display case with 16 doors. "I breezed through here minutes ago when you were in the other room..."
       "...I noticed how shiny Staak's hardware was in the light."
       "Wait! His 9%? He's without his hardware? And that's what sent him into violent rages?"
       "Apparently, John. Under his uniform, he had none of the metal parts. We've just learned: he needs the artificial part of him. That'll snap the monster in him back to his old, cheery self."
       "What's he doing without it, Ben?"
       "It's a...I guess, it's a secret. A discreet secret I honored...between the Commander and myself."
       "I order you to divulge the secret."
       "Relax, Captain, relax; I'm going to."
       "Ha. What?"
       "Staak knew of an ancient technique among his people. I forget what it was called: Narco-something? A Ritual. It was to purge the 9% of him that was metal, A.I. He would no longer be part Machine. Can you believe that, John? Our Commander desired to be totally human. Huh. Something, eh?"
       "Wow," Church reacted. "I understand the discretion, Ben. Sounds like Pinocchio..."
       "What? Who?" O'Leary never heard the story.
       "Never mind. What's the ritual?"
       "Oh. Far as I can tell, there is no ritual! You can dress it up in pomp and ceremony, chants and mumbo jumbo all you want. At the end of the day, the Centauri remove their metal. That's it. They see how long they can go without it, only being 91%, I guess..."
       "I don't understand, Doctor. Why involve you in a very private thing? Why didn't Staak remove it himself?"
       "It's really a 2-man job. Maybe it was designed that way? Who knows? BUT! The trouble is: every Remoran that has it removed...dies."
       "Dies? How?" John asked.
       Staak told me: The extremists know no one has survived the technique, yet they feel so strongly about the Machine Purge, some continue to do it, secretly. Staak was one who felt that strongly about it. I'm sure we've contaminated him into feeling those feelings or we helped bring them to the surface? John. We have to put the metal back in him."
       "Ben. We have to find the metal and put it back in him. Where the fuck is it?"
       "No one's been in here. Sick bay's been sealed, locked tight as a drum. I made sure of that. I kept it safe for him; he trusted me. Those cabinets are safe as a Lock-Box, Captain."
       "Computer. Override 333. Enter 777. Locate Commander Staak's metallic parts, last seen in a locked cabinet in sick bay?" John ordered the ship's computer.
       The immediate response in a soft, female voice was: "Seventeen pounds, 12.3 ounces of Commander's insides no longer exist onboard ship."
       "Where are they?" the Captain asked.
       "Unknown. Refer to audio/video record: G.yse.33377494."
       The Captain was tired and excited with new information. He thought of the Remoran Admiral for some reason. Could he help Staak? He was about to have the computer put the audio/video record on a screen so it was viewed...
       Suddenly, they heard the ship's intercom buzzer. The Captain received a message. It was from the communications officer and trusted crew member on the bridge assigned to late shift. He informed the Captain that they, only now, received an unscheduled hail from a ship: it was the Pneuma, ("new-ma") the big and powerful flagship of the Centauri fleet. It was Admiral Varek's magnificent spaceship. He came here?
       The Captain's eyes grew about 50% larger. He was sure he wouldn't be sleeping tonight. "Ben?"
       "Yes, sir?"
       "You've been with me the whole time...over the last hour? Certainly over the last few minutes, yes?"
       Ben did not understand. "You've been in plain view to me for awhile now. Yes, sir."
       "Did I at any time...ah, request, call the bridge, have them locate a Remoran ship or specifically contact Admiral Varek?"
       "You did not, John. Why?"
       "Strange because...the Admiral is here. He just rang our doorbell."

       After the appropriate greetings and respect were expressed to everyone involved, Admiral Varek and an escort of two other Centauri were taken to a viewing room. The Admiral was a tall, earless Remoran that wore a deep purple tunic with a few official, alien symbols. His two escorts were younger, stronger males in lighter purple and with less symbols.
       O'Leary, Church and three Centauri watched the video of Staak's metal parts with keen interest. In a few seconds, it suddenly vanished from the bright, clear cabinet.
       The Admiral said nothing and wanted the humans to express the first words.
       The Captain offered words like a Remoran, "Was not sensible...for his parts to simply disappear?"
       "But they did, Captain. Into 'thin air,' as you say," spoke the esteemed ambassador and only Centauri Admiral in SC.

"I meant...there's a reasonable explanation: someone beamed it out of there, remotely. Who's responsible and where is it?" John explained and wondered.
       Admiral Varek confirmed the obvious: "Obviously. And got through your internal shieldings. Interesting. Sophisticated, and without residue traces."
       "Questions remain. Why are you here, Admiral?" Church asked.
       "I sensed turmoil and anger in Brother Staak. I'm here to touch his mind, of course."
       Doctor O'Leary asked, "Admiral? The Merge will cure him or fix his mind?"
       "No. The exchange will calm him to a degree as I will see into his pain. To put it in your terms: He needs his 'hardware.' Then your Commander will be cured."
       John sincerely asked, "Is there more you can do?"
       "We...(glanced at escorts) might be able to locate the 'makina,' our terminology, Captain. Doctor."
       "Whatever you need, Admiral. We're at your disposal. Anything!"
       "Will you indulge me, Captain? I have a silly question for you." Varek smiled, very faintly.
       "Of course, sir."
       The Admiral asked, "The title 'Commander' seems far more forceful, more in charge and in Command...than, how can I say? A mere 'Captain?'"
       Church was exhausted. He thought, Was he trying to piss me off? Why hit my 'hot buttons?'" John looked at Ben. The aliens outnumbered the humans in the room.
       Varek smiled a bit more and there were even faint smiles on the escorts. "Forgive me, gentlemen," the Admiral stated, oddly, with some emotion. "It was my lame attempt at a joke. We envy your jokes. You're very skilled at them; we're terrible at them."
       Captain and Doctor didn't know whether to laugh.
       John declared sadly, "Sir. Admiral. Our friend is out of his mind right now, locked in our prison, mad with rage, vengeance against the human race that surrounds him like an ocean. He hurt two of our guards...could have been far more damages, and..."
       "Let me explain."
       The escorts resumed stoic expressions.
       "We have a way to glimpse the future, but you did not hear it from me. You know of our psychic abilities: We see down the road further, gentlemen. Staak will be cured. Give it time. Have faith." The Admiral also returned to serious mode. "We understand the gravity of the situation. R'muarzghe has good friends. There's something important you do not know: How our people died after removal of makina. It was not madness. The decisions were very sensible decisions..."
       "How?" Captain and Doctor were extremely interested in the answer.
       The Admiral replied, "They killed themselves. Your word for it is 'suicide.' Take me to R'muarzghe. I have to touch him before it's too late."
       "Who?" asked the Doctor.
       "This way. Please." The Captain gestured in the direction of the exit. They quickly went to where the Commander was held~

       Inside the brig and captured inside his own mind, Commander Staak internally traveled to a different time and a very different place. One world that he found within was the future. It was a real unreality-iso he discovered. A desire. It was a colorful, warm universe where he was loved. Truth was: It was very possible for this particular, "contaminated" Remoran to love and be loved. But not in any sense of a real world. It was only within 'The Cage' of his mind.
       He sat and laughed on the floor of his Remoran home along with the last rays of purple Proxima, which was partially hidden behind the eastern horizon. Him and his wonderful wife had finished the most delicious, white 'mar-cake.' His wife also sat.
       She laughed at his funny joke. [The British dog that had no nose. How did he smell? Bad.]. 
       He had nearly 18 pounds of metal in his right arm. She had less than 15 pounds in her left leg. Both had ear-appendages and lobes on the side of their heads. No purple skin or purple blood. Red blood. 
       She, like him, was overjoyed at being in love and not being alone anymore. She replied with a joke she had created herself. "I have one: A Centauri walks into a bar..."
       "Ha. And?" He already laughed before he heard the punch line.
       Her line was: "...And hurt his head."
       His response changed to curiosity. "I don't get it."
       She laughed even more when she noticed a small piece of mar-cake on the side of his flesh-colored face.
       "It is you," the blonde beauty, with a fantastic body, breathlessly and dreamily and lovingly expressed. "I remember."
       "What?" he asked.
       "Never mind, R'muarzghe." She smiled again. It didn't matter; as long as she understood the reference.
       Staak confessed from his heart: "I never thought I'd find you either...9 of 7."

       The Centauri Admiral laid in his bed, in his chamber. He came to stark consciousness and semi-recovered from the Mind-Merge with the First Officer and his "brother." But. The old man quickly jumped up on his feet and punched both the escorts! Hard. Apparently, they expected the rage and accepted the attack from Varek.
       He added insult to injury: "You scumbags can let them in now."
       The Admiral, in charge of guiding Star Command into deep space, was fully recovered~
       The other sore Remorans left and Captain and the Doctor entered the best guest quarters onboard the Enlighten.
       Varek was refreshed, happy and finally in complete control of his thoughts and actions. He used familiar names, as if they were old friends. "John! Ben! Come in, gentlemen!"
       Once more, the Starwalkers traded glances.
       Ben asked, "What's wrong with them?"
       "Nothing! Nothing at all."
       The Admiral transmitted unexpected words: "What do you see in Genoraks? I enjoy your old-fashioned wine coolers. Margarita! My favorite." Three of Varek's favorite human drink materialized on a table. They appeared from a type of portable replicator the Admiral carried. "Please, indulge me again. Sit. I have good news."
       Captain and Doctor failed to sit, but drank every drop of the drinks.
       "My psychic search, with help from our friend in jail, has located the makina. Captain of the Pneuma has coordinates for home: ready to go. We must take Staak to the tip of sacred Mount Shi'luud. I can enhance Doctor O'Leary to where he'd fix Staak in about 20 minutes. Will you follow us to Remor?"  
       Ben answered first. "Yes."
       "Of course, Admiral."
       In a short time, the Remorans were inside their massive, purple vessel with orange trim and its circular inner workings. Pneuma led the way and the Enlighten followed close behind.

       Commander Staak entered another iso. In other words, the dream changed again inside his mind. Everything was different. He was no longer on Remor with a future wife. He wasn't enraptured inside a wonderfully sweet and warm 'Nexus' of joy, happiness and delight. 
       Staak was literally beside himself with many questions. He had split into two humanoids! There were two, calm, at ease, earless Commanders that comfortably stood on jagged rocks of a small, solid island. A man and a machine.

"Dark here," one of them said to the other.
       The air hung heavy and thick.
       A weird, golden sea moved in odd currents that glistened in front of the pair.
       "Has a strange shine to it, huh?"
       [Unknown to bio-Staak and Machine-Staak, they were located in another Quadrant of the galaxy: World of Changlings and secret home of the Founders, also called the Watchers~].
       Bio-Staak commented to his other half about the Captain: "Intrigues me, your Captain Church. John."
       "In what manner, sir?"
       "Remarkably calculating. Intuitive, almost psychic. Can be totally dispassionate and cold, for a human. In a sense, very much like a Centauri."
       "Interesting," the Machine said. "In many ways, John is a human role-model for me. I strive to be like the Captain, the real #1."
       Bio-Staak expressed with awe in his voice: "Fascinating. You have a brilliant intellect, superior physical skills, no emotions to complicate actions. There are Remorans who aspire all their lives to accomplish what you have been artificially blessed with, by design!"
       An even odder mood or set-of-circumstances almost happened when one of them thought he saw something semi-form in the deep, golden waves. Nothing was there.
       Machine-Staak felt compelled. He asked his bio-counterpart as they stood and watched the not very rhythmic waves: "You are human?"
       "Yes," replied the older, more experienced, less innocent, Commander.
       What was in his voice?
       "...Yet you have chosen a Centauri way of life?"
       "I have," the bio firmly said with some feelings.
       "Actually,'ve thrown away...what I've sought all my life."
       "Commander? May I ask a personal question?"
       "As you examine your life, do you feel you have lost your humanity?"
       Staak thought about the question for a moment. He said, "I have no regrets."
       The Machine-humanoid reacted a bit, with a little jerk. "No regrets? That is a human expression. Is it not?"
       "Yes. Curious."

       "What's wrong, Ben?!"
       At the pinnacle of Mount Shi'luud, Staak's metallic innards were discovered (not hidden) right out in the open, on an altar/pedestal, under a purple sky. In fact, the '9%' was found precisely in the middle of a monstrously huge pattern in the very center of the most sacred place on Remor. Four people, and four people only, were at the apex.
       Thunder was heard. The usual red lightning was viewed in the distance. Dark clouds approached the summit of Shi'luud and so did lightning. Thunder grew louder...
       Ben fumbled with the makina and was suddenly UNSURE.
       This was directly due to Admiral Varek who had broken the "enhancement." The old man lost consciousness in the stressful process [falsely conducted to "save time."].
       John screamed again: "What's wrong with you, Doctor?! A moment ago you said it was child's play!"
       More wind howled around them. Particles blew everywhere. It was like everything was in motion.
       "Blast it. That was when he touched me! He's out! I can't do in minutes what takes hours to do with two people? I need 6 hours!"
       All of them were tossed a bit because of violent winds atop Remor's holy 'Roof of the World.' They held on for dear life. If the storm and powerful winds increased considerably more, they'd be thrown down miles to their death against the base of the mountain!
       "Doctor! You have to try! We don't have 6 minutes!"
       An intense/electrical bolt in bright crimson struck less than a hundred feet away and dislodged a very small portion of the mountain! There were only going to be more intense vibrations in the next minutes.
       "I know what you're thinking, John! We can't beam out! Has to be here Varek told me! Trust me."
       A miracle:
       The hand of the Admiral animated, motivated and grabbed the Doctor's leg. The touch was enough...
       Dr. O'Leary was re-enhanced. Re-charged! He fell back into the 'mode' of where he was. The job was completed in two minutes. Ben worked as if he was a perfect, mechanical man or simply a bio 'on fire.'
       They were transported onboard the large, Remoran vessel. Two humans and two Centauri were saved just in time.
       Soon sections of prehistoric statuary came apart at the top of Mount Shi'luud and were lost forever. The ceremonial center cracked. 

       The next 'day' in space, Commander Staak was cleared for duty by Dr. O'Leary. Staak was perfectly fine. No diagnostics of instruments needed to be taken.
       When time was right, he addressed the staff, bridge crew officers and his true friends. They hushed and listened. Staak explained...
       "Thank you all. Good people. This was not the first time, my...tendencies, or let's just say it: REPRESSION exploded out of me and, and hurt you. I apologize for my, my negative thoughts and violent actions, then and now."
       The small group on the bridge was touched and cheered. It was extremely rare for a "superior" Centauri to apologize to humans for anything. Someone whispered, "We love you, Staak." (Nurse Rowe).
       (He heard it). The Commander continued: "The Admiral made sure this won't, I say WON'T, ever happen again..."
       "...I have missing memories; don't seem to mind, forgetting. I feel different. I believe I've purged my Dark Side. You may have to put up with more of my human and less of my mechanical side."
       Dr. Ben said, "Well. Cheers, Staak! I'll drink to that!" Looked around. "Huh. No drinks? And at a time like this?"
       There were smiles, laughter and good feelings in the crowd who were even closer.
       The Commander was fairly successful with a joke: "You know? For fun, I can always have my makina removed again; see what happens?"
       "NO!" The group-laughter was contagious.

       Later, when John was alone with Ben, he confessed an inner feeling, an uneasy thought or dreaded fear that would not leave his mind.
       The Doctor was stunned. He heard John clearly when he said...
       "They did it. My instincts are pretty good, Ben."
       "What? I'll say your instincts are good. What do you mean, John?"
       "The Admiral got through our ship's 'shieldings,' removed the metal and gently placed it, centered at their most sacred site. In plain sight: Who would suspect them? Wasn't it too obvious? No. They did it. Wouldn't be surprised they controlled the weather. Then, dear Doctor, his hand miraculously touched you in the nick of time? From the beginning, his super ship just happened to be in the area? We were played, Doctor."
       "I don't know, Ben. Not yet." 

       Onboard the Pneuma, with far more fire-power than Enlighten, Admiral Varek made more statements to what were called "escorts" in the verbal language of (translated) Remor. 'He' told them: "We have distant plans for Commander Staak. He is key, a fate-point, very important: what he will birth for us in future..."
       'One,' of the other two, stated: "Were you aware..."?
       'Varek' answered before the question was made specific: "Brother Staak said he'd show his Human side more and more. Should have said his 'mechanical side.' They don't want to see his deep-rooted, Human Side. The tech side of WAR and terrorism and subjugation was always hidden inside bios. The brute side won't emerge on the surface right away. Hostilities and beautiful 'weaponization' will stand behind tomorrow's black curtains. We've seen it. Our nanites insure implantation of 'Cyborg' seed. In time, he will indeed reveal more humanism. Unfortunately for humans, he'll take after his mother, the bio...and not his father, the Machine. Later. Makina repression will explode or implode the other way! We will terminate sovereignties, bosses in four Quadrants, infiltrate empires and decimate the fallen Union. Through a New Union, we will form a Federation! We'll severely and savagely impose our will as the next wave of Dark Prophets."
       'Two,' of the two, expressed a mystery: "Ever wonder why we do what we do?"
       "You mean: Who we serve? Who watches us?"
       At that moment the triad of Changlings did what they longed to do and what they had to do...
       The three meta-morphs transmogrified into un-solids or 3 gelatinous forms of life that slithered, merged, amalgamated, played, plotted, combined, mixed, separated, and oozed over and over again in near-liquid shapes and states. They were the "Bad Changlings" with very large and unexpected agendas for the future of the Milky Way...


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