Clarity

”So Doctor Omac how are we doing today”, said Doctor Avery, the court appointed Psychiatrist. He was sitting in a plush leather chair at a large finely crafted desk looking at Doctor Omac over his glasses.

“How do you think I feel Doctor, I’ve been imprisoned for attempting to evolve our race. Perfect it, PURIFY IT!”, Doctor Omac squirmed in his full body restraints but was unable to move. The courts considered him extremely dangerous and could not be left unattended or unrestrained. Next to him were two guards both ready to put a pulse bolt through his skull.

Doctor Amil Omac was considered, at one point in his life, to be one of the most renowned and respected geneticists in the field. He was made famous by curing a debilitating disease known as “Scorn”. It was a genetic disease that was handed down from generation to generation that lead to mutations, deformations and in some extreme cases, agonizing death. Those with the disease were seen as impure or unclean and would be chastised in public. Some in our society even went as far as to beat or even kill those afflicted. Doctor Omac managed to trace the evolution of this disease back to a Borite Mining town. He found that the Borite, in combination with the poor living environments and a variety of other bacteria found only in that area created the perfect conditions for this disease to form. It took many generations before the disease took hold, being passed harmlessly from offspring to offspring.

It wasn’t until after the second imperial uprising that the symptoms started to be seen. Many thought it was a form of chemical warfare by one of the houses, others thought it was the wrath of the gods.

Doctor Omac found that it was actually the detonation of the Hydrogen Thermatite bomb that was launched by the House of Ran that triggered the disease. The radiation that spread across the planet mutated everyone’s genetics just enough that the once harmless and dormant disease now had traction to rise up and take a foothold in our history.  Once Doctor Omac had isolated the genetic marker that contained the disease, he was able to formulate a vaccination for it, essentially eradicating it. He won the Empire Award for his efforts and it catapulted his career right to the upper echelons of the Scientific community.

“Now Doctor Omac, what have I told you about your temper.” Doctor Amil reached over and pressed a little silver button on the corner of his desk. This caused Doctor Omac to shake violently as the restraints that restricted his movements tightened and electrocuted him. After a few seconds the torture stopped, leaving Doctor Omac Breathless and drooling. “Let’s go over this again Doctor Omac, how many people have you experimented on, where are their bodies located”? said Doctor Amil.

Doctor Omac looked up slowly, trying to gain control of his faculties, still twitching from the shock. “I lost count 10 years ago” he managed to get the words out between breaths. “Last I recollect I was over 3000 subjects.”  he said. This memory caused Doctor Omac to laugh uncontrollably. Before Doctor Omac could say anything else  Doctor Amil pressed the little button again, sending Doctor Omac into his violent dance. Luckily for Doctor Omac the button is timed. It shocks the patient for 30 seconds then cannot be pressed again for 2 minutes. This kept the attending Doctors from inadvertently killing their patients.

Once the electrocution stopped Doctor Amil walked over to look at the now unconscious body of Doctor Omac. “It’s a shame really, he was so brilliant” Doctor Amil said, he then turned and typed into his Medical Pad the notes from the session.

Doctor Omac started to move again, slowly pulling himself out of the fog of unconsciousness. Doctor Amil turned when he heard Doctor Omac groaning. “Oh good!, you’re awake to hear my verdict of you” Doctor Amil finished the last of his notes, set the med-pad down then walked over to Doctor Omac. He looked Doctor Omac in the face, like he was studying him, to see if he would react to his proximity. Doctor Omac was still trying to get the fog out of his head, groaning and squirming in his restraints.

“Doctor Omac, by the power vested in me by the Imperial Courts and the Council of 13. I do hereby declare you Mentally Unfit for Service in this society. However, because of your knowledge of Genetics you may still yet be of use to this Empire. Therefore you will be implanted with a Psychological Alpha Controller and continually monitored for the rest of your life”, the last few words were slowly doled out by Dr. Amil, He liked to add a little drama to see if it sparked a reaction. “Do you have anything to say in your defence Doctor Omac” Doctor Amil was standing with his hands clasped behind his back, waiting. “I thought not!” Dr. Amil finally said after a few moments.

For several seconds nothing happened. He watched Doctor Omac just roll his head around. Then, like someone had electrocuted him again he started screaming “NOOOOOOO!!!!, you bastards won’t destroy me, I’ll die before I let you implant me with one of those things. I’ll kill you all, just wait, I’ll kill you all”, spit was flying out of Doctor Omacs mouth as he was screaming to Doctor Amil. Doctor Amil waived to the two orderlies that were standing outside the door. As they walked in he reached around and handed the medi-pad to the first orderly. “Prep him for surgery, make sure he is well sedated, we will put one of the new experimental units in this one” said Doctor Amil as he watched Doctor Omac continue to scream.

Doctor Amil turned back to his desk and grabbed another file from the well varnished wood tray sitting on the corner. He opened the file and started flipping through the pages looking at the medical charts. “Please send the next one in would you” Doctor Amil said to the guards now standing by the door. A small little man walked in with limited restraints around his hands and feet, his head was down and he looked like he was in need of a bath. Doctor Amil turned to face the patient “Now Mr. York, how are we doing today!”.

********

Doctor Omac was standing at the medical terminal pouring over the data that he had collected from Captain Vargas. “This is amazing” he kept saying. He was looking at a DNA helix and was able to manipulate its view by using two joysticks on the console. He kept turning it and pulling little pieces off. Then he stopped and stared with his mouth open. “Thats it, thats the key. That’s what I was missing all along!” Doctor Omac said. “What was Missing Doctor” said a voice from behind him. Doctor Omac was so engrossed in the data that he was completely startled and almost jumped when the person spoke. Doctor Omac quickly composed himself and turned to see Captain Vargas and First Officer Shrika standing just behind him. “What was missing Doctor” said Captain Vargas. “It’s nothing Captain, I was just looking over some old Data on another patient that was complaining of a cough. Seems they are actually allergic to a plant that is close to their tent. A simple relocation should fix the issue for now” Doctor Omac was hoping that the answer he gave would appease the Captain and not cause him to ask any more questions.

“Fine Doc but we have a bigger issue at the moment, Katchtuka has run away, it seems your sedative wore off. I’m worried he may be a risk to the people or himself”. The Captain said.

“I was afraid this would happen” said the Doctor as he reached behind him and discreetly flipped a switch on the front of the Medical Unit causing the screen to turn off. He then walked over to a cabinet and pulled a bag out pouring the contents into a glass beaker. Captain Vargas and Shrika watched as Doctor Omac continued to walk between the cabinet and other shelves, mixing different compounds and chemicals into the beaker, finally placing the mixture into a glass vial and plugging the top with a cork. Doctor Omac stirred the mixture in the vile as he walked over to another desk and pulled out a stick of wax. He then used the amputation laser to heat up the stick and melt the wax over the top of the cork.  Once Doctor Omac was satisfied he handed the container to Captain Vargas.

“Here this should work” said Doctor Omac in a satisfying tone.

“What is it” said Captain Vargas, he held the solution up and swirled it in the vial.

“It’s what you asked for Captain, a solution to your problem. Simply throw that in Katchtuka’s face and your problem is solved. Permanently” said Doctor Omac. His face was stoic, emotionless.

At the same time both Captain Vargas and Shrika shouted “WHAT, we don’t want to kill him”.

Doctor Omac seemed to be surprised by their outburst.

“Look, you wanted a solution. Kutchtuka is far too powerful to be left alone and far too dangerous to be left alive. The solution I had been using was a temporary one at best. I knew he was going to eventually become immune to the compound. I have studied his bio-scans thoroughly and I see no way to reverse the process, not with the equipment we have. The only solution is to kill the beast.” Doctor Omac stood in front of the two of them with his hands clasped behind his back. You could tell by looking at him that he would not provide an alternative solution.

“Good Luck to you both, Happy Hunting. And I would advise against breathing the solution yourself. I am unsure what affects it will have on us… normal people” Doctor Omac looked down his nose at them, he was expressionless, remorseless and in his mind, they were all so beneath him.   He turned back to the Medical Unit that stored the captain’s bio-scans and started mulling over the data once more.

Captain Vargas nodded to his first officer and they both left the tent. The Captain took a final look at the Doctor as he walked out. Once they got to the end of the walkway he held his arm out stopping Shrika, then took a look around to make sure there was no one in earshot.

“Keep an eye on the good Doc, I am worried that his PAC unit is malfunctioning. If it is defective or damaged and does not kill him, we may have to kill him. Otherwise we may have a repeat of his” Shrika put her hand up stopping him before he finished.

“I know you are not fond of PAC’s but we need him. Without the Doc we are all screwed.” Shrika said. Now she was looking around to see if anyone was listening in.

“I’ll have Lt. Dodge watch him and bring you regular reports. He’s been trained in covert ops so it will give him something to do” Shrika took one more look around then stepped into the street. “We have more important things right now. We need to find Katchtuka.” as she stepped into the street she grabbed the container out of Captain Vargas’s hand and headed to the command center. “The vial makes a good warhead but we need a better delivery system. I have a Scorpion launcher and a few of the messenger payload rockets in the command center. We can modify the payload container to spill the liquid on Katchtuka once it hits him”. Shrika was walking at a fairly quick pace while she was talking. Captain Vargas was trying to be inconspicuous and not bring attention to either of them while still trying to keep up with her. It wasn’t working very well. He looked around and could see much of the camps eyes were on them, closely watching their every move, discussing what they were doing. When the Captain reached the command center he took a moment and looked back at the Med tent. He could just make out the silhouette of Dr. Omac standing in the tent. If he didn’t know any better it looked like the good doctor was looking right back at him. Shrika was wrong. I don’t have a problem with PAC’s, I just have a problem with this PAC.

Doctor Omac stood at his terminal watching the Captain and Lieutenant head to the command center. He couldn’t help but think that if he could replicate the Captain’s blood it would be the answer to the genetic puzzle that he was trying to solve back on his home world.

“I see you were able to set our monster free” Doctor Omac said, still looking out over his terminal watching the Captain’s actions unfold.

“Yes sir, just as you commanded” said a little mousy voice from behind the Doctor.

Doctor Omac turned to see Ensign Yavapi York, standing in front of him. He was dirty and his clothes were torn and scorched. “Did anyone see you?” the Doctor Asked.

“No Sir, ever since the core explosion the dispersion field has become a part of me. I think it’s actually powered by my body now. I have to be selective when I use it because if I have it active for too long I start to get tired”, the Ensign said as he looked at himself briefly. “You will be able to fix me, right Doc?” the ensign asked.

“Why yes my boy, I will. As soon as we are done with our mission I will set things right” The Doctor was trying to sound pleasant in his response. His attempt just made him sound creepy.

There was a machine in the far corner that made a soft Ding sound and the Doctor perked up “Coffee’s Done” he said and walked over to the device. He opened the lid and pulled out a small vile and looked it over for a minute. He then picked up a small dart and slid the tiny vial into the side compartment. “I have a task for you” the Doctor handed the dart to the Ensign. Ensign York held the dart like he was handling radioactive material then studied it for a moment before looking up at the Doctor in bewilderment. The Doctor went on “I want you to take that dart and shoot Lieutenant Shrika with it!” Ensign York looked at the Doctor a little shocked. “You do want me to fix you right?” the Doctor said looking down at the Ensign.

Ensign York nodded his head vigorously then slipped the dart into his pistol. He started to walk out of the tent then stopped and looked back at the Doctor “You’ll fix me, right?” he said. “Right as rain my good boy” the doctor responded with a sinister smile. Ensign York then pressed a spot on his left arm and vanished, the only visible trace of the Ensign was a series of foot prints that lead into a grassy clearing and then disappeared.

The doctor turned back to his little monitor and started to talk to himself. “It amazes me how that little urchin survived that core breach. I send him to assassinate our illustrious leader and he mucks it up by radiating the planet”.  

The doctor stopped at the end of his thought. He stood there for a moment thinking about what he had just said and then walked over to a table that was full of medical devices. He took two devices and stuck them together, he then pressed a red button on the handle of each device. The two devices made a whirring sound then seemed to melt into one larger more complex instrument. Once the transformation was finished the Doctor picked up the new device and walked outside of his medical tent. The instrument was long and slender and had a screen on the handle that presented a variety of sensor data. At the front of the device was a long metal spike. He walked into the middle of the field and jabbed the instrument into the ground and then waited for a beep. “Interesting” he said as he pushed a series of buttons on the device’s keypad. He then walked out a little further and held the device in the air until it beeped again. “Very Interesting indeed” the doctor said.

He looked at the device’s readouts for a moment pondering the data that he just collected. The Doctor looked around to see if anyone was close by. Once he was satisfied that he was alone in the field he took the metal spike and slowly plunged it into his stomach. The Doctor made a series of grunting sounds as he slowly pushed the spike deeper and deeper. Once he had reached a point that he felt he could get an accurate read he pushed the scan button until the device beeped then pulled it out quickly spraying blood all over the ground. The doctor let out loud noise and then double over and fell to the ground. Blood was running down the front of his clothes and started to pool at his knees but the doctor seemed oblivious to the fact that he was bleeding out, he was intently focused on the devices display, mumbling incoherently to himself and occasionally giggling.

When he was done typing the doctor looked down and noticed the blood that was covering the front of him. “This just will not do” he said to himself. He took his lab coat off and started to clean up the blood that was all over his stomach. Once the blood was gone and he was satisfied with the clean up he stood up and brushed himself off. He looked down to see that the hole from the probe had completely sealed itself up. There was only a faint pink spot that would disappear in the next few moments. “It seems that the little Urchin did something miraculous after all. I must remember to reward him later”. The Doctor smiled a little, like he had just processed a sinister thought and filed it away.

“Now how to explain all of this blood”. The Doctor said as he looked down at his clothes. As he was standing there thinking when he heard a little voice behind him. “Doctor…doctor”, the little voice said. Doctor Omac turned to see a sweet little girl standing there holding what looked like a ratted and burned pink stuffed animal. “What is it that you require young one” the Doctor said in his curt tone. “My tummy hurts” the little girl said with a whimper.

The doctor looked around and saw that there were no other adults in sight. “Where are your parents my child…oh, it’s no matter. I have something that will fix your tummy” the doctor said as he walked with the girl further and further away from camp.

********   

“The stars here are beautiful” Shrika said as she took a moment and looked up towards the sky. “I have not been this far from camp, the lights there tend to wash out all of this beauty”. The Captain was looking through the scope of his rifle while she gazed. “It was the first thing I noticed when I woke up” He said back to her.

She looked down at him for a moment then picked up the digital scope that was laying next to her. She held the device up towards the horizon and started to press the power button when the captain slowly placed his hand on the top of the screen and started to press it back down to her lap. “Don’t turn that on. The glare from the screen will give our position away” the Captain said in a soft whisper.

“Take a look, about 4 clicks out”. The Captain was still looking down the scope. He took his hand off of the devices monitor that was now in Shrika’s lap and slowly pointed across the field.

“He’s just on the edge of that tree line, He’s walking this way but I don’t think he’s seen us” the captain said softly.

“Why are you whispering if he hasn’t seen us yet” Shrika said back.

He briefly looked up at her and sighed deeply. “Sound carries out here, the quieter we are the safer we will be” the captain told her.

Shrika repositioned herself lower and grabbed one of the sniper scopes that the Captain had next to him. She held the scope up and found their target. The Scope that Shrika was holding was considered a beginners scope with a sway compensator, Range finder and Threat level assessment computer built into it. “According to this, we are out of range for that rifle.” Shrika said.

Again, the Captain sighed deeply. “I’m aware of that, we need to be patient. He is moving this way, he seems to be tracking something so as long as he keeps his current direction he will come into range. As soon as he is I can pop the shot and take our big friend down”.

Shrika sighed deeply this time. “It just doesn’t seem right” she said. Shrika then rolled over on her back and looked at the stars again. “Do you miss it? Home I mean. Do you miss our planet, everything that was familiar to us?” Shrika said. There was a long silence. Shrika looked over at the Captain and he finally pulled his face away from the rifle scope. “No, I don’t miss it. There was nothing more for me there. Everything that I thought I wanted dissolved when I got assigned to this mission and honestly, I have a feeling that if it wasn’t this mission, it would have been something else that would have kept me from the Council of 13”. said the captain in a tone that would suggest that he was still a little angry and hurt over his assignment.

The Captain turned again to his scope. He looked at where the beast should have been but saw nothing, then started frantically scanning the field. Shrika saw his rapid movements out of the corner of her eye and looked up just in time to see the massive shadow of Katchtuka loom over the Captain from his left flank. “Nathanial”, she screamed out loud. The Captain pivoted to his right and was tossed across the hill by the massive creature that was once their friend and crewmate. As the Captain came out of his roll he saw Katchtuka put the rifle stock under his foot and bend the weapon in half as easily as you or I would bend a wet tree branch. Katchtuka tossed the gun out into the field and let out a roar that he was sure could be heard all the way back at camp. The sound froze them both in their place. Katchtuka was now standing between the Captain and Shrika, his massive body looming over them, he was breathing heavy and his stance indicated he was ready to take on the Captain in a one on one wrestling match.

 “Run” the Captain shouted, looking past the giant that was looming over him at Shrika who was frozen with fear. “Run to the field, grab the shell, we may still be able to stop hi…”. His words were cut off by a blow from the monster. The Captain was again knocked a good distance from them. When he hit the ground he rolled and came to his feet. His new found ability to heal and his strength and agility were starting to come through. He would never be as strong as his gigantic friend, but these new powers would keep him in the game a little longer than your average man.

As the Captain slid to a stop he drew his pistol that was strapped to his hip. He began firing at the Mammoth Man, each shot striking its target with a loud thud, but doing no damage to the creature.

He looked again and saw Shrika running out in the field towards the rifle. Katchtuka glanced in the same direction and growled, the Captain put a shot right in his left ear causing the creature to scream in pain. “So you do have a weak spot” he said. Quickly the Captain swapped energy pods so that he would have the maximum capacity in his pistol.

He took the almost discharged pod and tossed it next to his now exposed right ear, as soon as it was in distance he shot the pod, causing it to explode right next to Katchtuka head. The concussion was enough that it stunned the creature and brought him to his knees. He let out a deep moan holding both sides of his head before collapsing to the ground.

As Shrika ran up she stopped and looked at their friend lying on the ground breathing heavily. The Captain was standing next to him with a triumphant smile on his face. “His outer body may be indestructible but his inner organs aren’t. I overloaded his synapsis by detonating a power pod next to his head. The concussion was enough to knock him out. But I don’t know for how long”.

Shrika was still standing there, speechless, holding the cartridge with the potion in it that would end the life of this giant of a man. A man they once called friend. “Shrika!” the captain shouted. She snapped herself back to the real world and out of the wandering thoughts she was starting to form. Thoughts about how dangerous Katchtuka really was. Thoughts about the Captain and his new found abilities and a worry that was forming that more may have been exposed and they may soon have to do this to more and more of their crew. “Sorry Captain, I was just thinking about something” she said. She raised the cartridge up and was ready to smash it on the ground and release the toxins that were within. “STOP”, the Captain shouted again, holding his hand out and throwing himself over Katchtuka’s body. “We need to study him more. He’s out for now and I know how to bring him down again if he wakes up and is still angry. I am still not convinced that he is dangerous”. Shrika was relieved that the Captain felt the same as her. “Lets call for a Kuma and see if we can find a place to lock him up. Someplace where he can roam and we can study him”.

Shrika ordered a Kuma to their coordinates then sat on a rock formation that was next to them. Captain Vargas sat next to her and asked “What’s on your mind”. “What…oh nothing” Shrika replied. The Captain could tell by the tone in her voice that she was lying but given the current situation and state of emotions they were in, he didn’t want to push the issue.

“Are we going to have to do this with all of our crew, all of our friends. Are we going to eventually hunt them all down and put them to death because they have turned into monsters.” Shrika said with a quiver in her voice. Captain Vargas leaned over and put his arms around her and pulled her in tight to him. “I hope not, I really hope not”.