Prologue: Edge of Chaos [Day 01|0900 hrs.]
PROLOGUE: EDGE OF CHAOS
"In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder a secret order."
― Carl Jung
[ Unknown ]
Opening her eyes, she was met by the sight of white walls cast in shadow - the dim light of her cell unchanging no matter how many weeks passed. Once more, it struck her how she had preferred her last prison cell, since there was no adjacent lab to which she might be taken. No invasive studies to suffer. Not treated like an animal in a pen. No fear for the fate of her crew. Before, she had known they were just beyond the bulkheads, in cells akin to her own, but now? She had been shown how some of them were... liquified.
Recycled, they had called it, and she had no idea how many of her remaining crew had met that gruesome end.
Unable to retreat into the privacy of her lamentations, a sudden teal shimmer of light revealed a figure standing in the middle of her cell, and in equal parts surprise and flight instinct, she found herself pulling away - wrapping her arms around her bare form and scooting closer to the wall. Shivering, she bit her teeth together to keep them from chattering - the cool air having gone bone-deep. She realised that they must have been watching her, and transported someone inside once she woke up.
"Captain," the figure said, his voice thrumming against the walls in its eldritch echo, and his eyes shining white. "By the winds, I regret seeing your promotion didn't work out so well for you."
"Stay a-away from me," she spat, baring her teeth at the long-haired humanoid, not recognising him at first. Yet the white lab coat he wore... it stirred memories that helped her realise to whom she was speaking with. It was someone that had served under her command for two years. His name came out as a whisper, as she remembered clearly what Wenn Cinn and Ranaan Ducote had told her about him aboard the Cayuga. "Nicander?"
"Indeed," the Câroon said, the white light spilling from his smiling lips while he spoke. He slowly approached her. "A pleasure making your reacquaintance, Anya Ziegler."
"I know what you are..." Anya hissed, seeing how the Doctor's bare torso was horribly scarred below that lab coat he wore - the white fabric splattered with blood that couldn't just be his own. There was... a sweet smell in the air, which made her think thoughts she couldn't give any credence to. She pushed up further against the wall, yet her glare remained. "What you always were, hiding in our midst. What do you want?"
"I have merely come to tell you that your days as a flesh-puppet has come to an end." The Infested came to a stop at arm's length from her, and the sweet scent of him was making it hard to think. His feet were bare, and in spite of her situation, she found herself looking at the outline of his black trousers. Nicander crouched down, his face level with hers, and it was as if his voice reverberated through her whole body. "As soon as we arrive, you will have true purpose. No more a mere cretin serving the primal whims of your basic existence."
"No..." she whispered, shaking her head defiantly when she realised what he implied, "I will rather die than become like you."
"You say that now..." he said with his head tilted, and reached out with a tattooed hand, running his thumb across her lips. Why did she not bite him? "Yet you have no idea what exists beyond this realm of existence."
She didn't understand what he meant. It was hard to think. "How c-can you condone your own actions?" she said in a thick voice, ignoring how his presence made her feel. "You are trying to... You aim to end... everything. Why?"
The smile he gave her almost made Anya forget what he was, leaning into his touch instead of away from him. "Your hosts aboard this ship, they sought to harness the energy of a distant anomaly, more vast than anything inside this Galaxy. The sheer gravitational pull is of it will absorb all of what you can see eventually." She tried to concentrate on what he was saying, rather than how his fingers ran down the side of her throat. "Oh, they were thrifty, the Savi, reaching it's power through a temporal breach rather than travelling there. Yet what they found... beyond the event horizon... was another reality, superior to ours. A means to become something more than they were."
"That d-doesn't explain..." she whispered, and then swallowed. Her studies in complexity sciences came to her, and she tried to focus on her old research in the Academy rather than the way the Doctor made her feel. "I know you have something inside you. Something that changed you. You don't know the n-nature of what they found. You are describing a black hole, and there could be anything beyond it. What if the parasite inside you was an intentional emission? Don't you see?"
"What lies beyond is incomprehensible to you," the Doctor said, shaking his head slowly, and Anya had to close her eyes since the light from his eyes was too bright. Still, she could feel his warm fingertips travel her cool skin. "Chaos has no will of its own."
"It c-could be deception. You may... see it as chaos, but what if... it's... some kind of conscious intent? An adaptive system so old, so vast, that it needs free energy in order to continue adapting," she whispered drowsily, opening her eyes just so that she might look at his lips. The sweet scent he emanated was fogging up her thoughts, but she found refuge in what she'd written in one of her dissertations. "If... If that thing inside you came from that anomaly... Then it m-might have acted in self-defence."
While Anaya's mind was swimming with need for him, for his continued touch, she felt his fingers leave her skin.
"Like... an evolved biosphere, producing toxic o-or repellent metabolites... such that would incite defensive behavioural changes... to kill competition," Anya suggested, and she realised that she had her back against the wall. That smell was deteriorating her instinct of self-perseverance... but she fought it, tried to focus on her train of thought. "Parasites... that change the behaviour of their hosts, making it able to feed more efficiently. Devouring all energy bound in matter. Lucan... listen to me, if I am right, you have become a disposable agent of its defence or its feeding habits... or both... protecting it in spite of your better knowledge."
"You are wrong," he said quietly, and Anya felt his hand seize her throat - leaving her bereft of air. The pain made her panic, and whatever else she had wanted moments ago, she now tried to get free - flailing against his grip. "I am not inferior. I am one with my likeminded. We are a part of it, in shared cognisance. We grant control and direction to the maelstrom. You... perpetuate a lie, live in a charade of arbitrary laws, in the pretence of control, yet you're naught more than the mere animals you are."
Anya clawed, struck and tried to scream, but the pressure just increased.
"We have other candidates. Other opportunities. You could have had it all, Anya."
Something gave away in her neck, and there was a loud sound.
Then, there was nothing.
TO BE CONTINUED...
OOC: This was Part 1 of 2, depicting events "behind enemy lines" so to speak.