Encrypted Security


Z://GK Delta / El Ray / Documents /

El Ray Personal Log Pt. 3 GK04-491112.txt

We approach the door. I keep Daart and Squirt close to avoid detection. The door is a simple handled security door with an electronic keypad lock—standard for around the base

Daart is quick to try it and quit. “Oh well, we don’t know the code. We should probably go.”

I wrap my hand over the keypad and gave it a good jolt of my bioelectricity. We get a faint metallic scent from the shorted-out circuit before it pops. The handle gives. Success. I turn and look Daart in the eyes. We knew that this moment was the real point of no return.

I ask Daart to record everything with his PalmCam. His video may end up being the only bargaining chip we have if we’re caught.

As the motion-sensitive office lights turn on, we find the inside drastically different from the dirty exterior. The scent of disinfectant lingers in the air. This place was sterile enough for a person to eat off the floor.

Shiny, black countertops mounted to the walls of the large, open room serve as workstations. I skim lab notes left behind next to one station’s gas burner. The notes look like chemical formulas, but for what, I have no idea.

Daart wasn’t getting any of that. Instead, he recorded Squirt playing with some empty beakers and vials near one of the large sink stations.

“Cadet Daart!” my firm voice gets his attention. “Quit goofing around.”

“Sorry!” he blurts out.

“Get video of all of this, especially the white board.”

“You got it, El Ray! I just need to change the storage card.”

I leave him to that while I make my way to the white board in hopes something, anything, might look familiar. As I approach, I notice the intake where the pipe we followed connects to the building.

“Daart, over here! I found the other side of that pipe.”

“Coming!” he says, nervously looking around. Squirt sniffs the ground as he loyally follows Daart’s tracks.

The pipe leads to a high-tech, seven-foot-tall metal cylinder. It looked like a giant soda can with a window in the middle and a bunch of computers and cables connected to it. The wires led to a set of gauges seemingly monitoring the contents. The readouts are fogged over. Perhaps moisture got into them.

I look through the cylinder’s window, but thick condensation prevents me from seeing anything inside. I notice a small tag below the window with a single word written in black marker: Garbage.

“Daart, get footage of this.” As Daart makes his way over, Octopup starts barking again. He wouldn’t come near the cylinder, even as Daart looked in its window.

“What is it?” he asks.

I shrug. “The only writing I’ve been able to understand in this whole lab is that,” I say pointing out the label.

“Garbage? We come here to look at trash?!”

“Does it look like a dumpster to you, Daart? It’s clearly some kind of experiment. Are you getting this?”

“Uh, not yet, just a sec.” He finally pulls up the camera.

“Kinda makes me wish Sham were here. He’s a science-nerd. Maybe he’d know what this thing is,” he says, recording the cylinder.

“What are you two doing?!” Speak of the devil. Sham surprises us both. He stands in the doorway with a frown on his face and an umbrella over his shoulder.

Daart and I jump, but Octopup flips out. Daart tries to restrain him, but those tentacles of his are too much to handle. Octopup breaks free of his grip and bolts at Sham crashing into the cylinder and knocking it free of its housing.

The cylinder sounds like the crash of a gong as it strikes the hard concrete. With a hiss of air and a sickly slurp, its contents start to seep out. Octopup redirects his attention with a frenzied, panicked bark and jumps up on the counter.

Daart drops his PalmCam. It shatters on the floor next to the cylinder. He barely lets out a croak before a fleshy tentacle lashes out and absorbs the camera pieces into its body.

Daart screams and leaps away. Two more tentacles reach out from the cylinder. One follows him, and the other is on a collision course with me! I back up as far as I can, but the tentacle just keeps extending with no apparent limit. My back is against the wall.

I give the tentacle a blast of bioelectricity, but it pauses for only a second before continuing toward me. There is only one way out. I leap over the tentacle. It twists and slaps at my leg, trying to wrap itself around me. I only escape because of the slickness of my skin.

I feel a burning sensation where the tentacle had brushed against me. It stings and blisters.

I take in my surroundings and realize I have a little more room to maneuver. Octopup is still barking from the countertop and slowly backing his way up the wall as he tries to get as far away from the cylinder as possible.

Daart must’ve leaped clear across the room from where I’d last seen him. He’s in a panic. His camera was destroyed, and Squirt is in danger of attack by several stretching tendrils.

Sham had gone camo. At first I can’t find him, but then I realize a set of tentacles are tracking something. A hard look in their direction lead me to Sham’s nearly invisible outline.

“Form up!” I shout. “Sham, your camo isn’t working. Get visible so we see you.”

Sham returns to his natural coloring and draws his umbrella.

“I have an idea,” he calls out. With the flip of a switch, a hidden blade flicks from the umbrella’s tip. With three deft strikes, Sham cuts at the tentacles nearest him. The blade slices right through them!

The severed tentacles drop to the floor, but there is no time to celebrate. New tentacles grow back! The pieces that had fallen were absorbed back into this “Garbage” creature. Sham’s face is a mask of shock.

“My hypothesis was incorrect. I, um . . . Well, I . . . I don’t know what to do.” he stammers.

The situation is getting worse. I’m separated from them, trapped in the rear corner of the Lab. Sham is boxed in near the door, but not close enough to escape. Daart’s trapped in the corner opposite me. Octopup barks franticly. His bulbous body deforms like a sack of water as he repeatly starts and hesitates to make his way across the counter to Daart. It was chaos.

The cylinder lies open and faces the center of the lab. There are more than a dozen thick, slimy tentacles lashing out of it. All of them try to get us. There is nowhere to go. The ceiling keeps Daart from jumping high enough to avoid the tentacles. We are out of options and out of space. It looks like we’re going down with the ship after all.

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