Chapter 27: The Grand Altar of the Psionics-
"This is the last place I'd think you would be hermit." said the captain, looking at the same man whom he said goodbye to so long ago. The other marine placed his pistol back in his holster, but his hand still gripped it tightly. He looked the captain straight in the eye, and the captain was sure that if his visor was off, that look would be ten times as piercing. The marine asked slowly, "And who is this man?" The captain didn't wait for the hermit to provide an answer before giving his own. "I'm not your enemy, and that's all you need to know. Now why don't you relax, we don't mean any harm."
"We?" he asked.
The Psionic walked out of the thick puff of fog he concealed himself in. His posture was almost as hostile as the marine's. The Psionic sent a thought privately to the captain, "You know one of them, but not the other."
"Yes, the shorter one is a hermit I encountered who deserted the marines. He is a friend, but the other..."
"In the other, I don't sense the usual servile and orderly mind of a typical marine. His mind is chaotic and willful."
The marine whipped out his pistol without a second thought.
"Another one of those alien creatures. Don't even try to make a move toward me or else I'll blow your brain right out of that freak head of yours!"
The hermit forced his companion's hand down. He coerced the marine in a calm voice. "If alien travels and captain travels together, then alien is friend of us and me too. They, the alien too, won't harm you. If all else fails to convince, persuade you to not shoot them, then know he was the one who killed Ville."
The captain interjected, "No, actually-"
Tentacled creatures suddenly appeared, their shadows amplified by the fog. They ran towards the marine, hermit, and captain with their "roots". The hermit tossed a shotgun over to the captain, and pulled a shotgun out for himself.
The marine raised his weapon at the nearest of the plant creatures.
"I'm not spending one more minute in this god-forsaken place." said the marine with unwavering conviction, despite being extremely afraid. He fired off a few bullets at the creatures and ran away from the crash site, into the fog. The plant creatures were in close pursuit.
The captain shouldered the shotgun and raised one eyebrow quizzically.
"Right." the Psionic said, "I guess there are only three of us now. Don't worry; those plants won't harm us unless we provoke them." The hermit shrugged,
"I never really liked, was fond of, him anyway." he stated a little nervously. The Psionic then turned to the captain. "These are all that are left of the Psionic race. I saw them in my dreams, mutilated and transformed. I beg of you, as a friend, to accompany me on one last action. With my newfound power I am now capable of breaking their imprisonment. You have given me your help in coming to Eden with me, but I ask that you go with me to see this through to the end. If you do not, I will continue alone, because this is something I feel compelled to do for my race. So, captain, what say you?"
The captain smiled and clasped the Psionic's hand, a human gesture that bewildered him. "It's the only way I can repay the help you've given me. I will be by your side in this final task."
Then he asked the hermit, "What about you? Are you still the coward you were before?"
the captain teased.
The hermit frowned, "I resent that remark. You know that I am in your debt, I will help you, and this 'Psionic' any way I can... even if it means, spending more time in this dangerous, no, deadly, place." He shivered.
The Psionic appeared extremely relieved.
"Thank you both. First we must find an orb that I saw in my dreams. The curiosity of my people proved to be their downfall. When they discovered such energy located in their oldest and most sacred altar, they let their guard down. They unleashed the orb's powers and the entire planet fell under its power. I think that this orb would be located in the largest altar in this area. Then all three of us working together can destroy it."
"I saw a large structure in the middle of four other altars while we were coming in. If, maybe... if my memory's right, it should be that way." He pointed to the direction their ship came from. The three of them left the swampy area and headed towards their final destination.
It was enormous. Stone slabs were stacked on top of each other to create a towering building with three prongs stretching into the sky. A single, long stairway lead up to the inner chamber. The stairs were broken or missing in some places but the entire structure looked as stalwart as it was millennia ago. Once they got closer, the captain could see that the three prongs weren't stone like the rest of the tower, but were instead long vines that formed the base for a large green sphere. "That's it!" the Psionic exclaimed.
They ran up the stairs, occasionally jumping in surprise as a step crumbled away. The Psionic was the first to reach the top. The orb was suspended above their heads, slowly rotating. When the captain looked more closely, he noticed that it was an exact replica of the planet Notrium. Every minute detail was faithfully replicated. Even the small dots
of crashed ships were recreated flawlessly. It was like seeing Notrium from space.
The Psionic stood in the center of the room and raised his arms above his head
"Come, both of you. Close your eyes. Imagine the orb above you and focus only on this object. In each living being lies their soul, their life force, their inner essence. Find the reason you two are still alive. Whether it be determination, cunning, cowardice, resourcefulness, or guilt. Let it be your strength, and in turn, send your strength out to the orb, using your mind as the catalyst for this transfer. Focus now."
The captain did as was commanded by the Psionic. He got a small taste of what it was the enabled the Psionic to do what he did. Deep in his self, he took his willpower and channeled them through his mind. A beam lanced out from his forehead and into the orb. He could only guess that the same thing was happening to the Psionic and the hermit. The orb had its defenses against this intrusion. Slowly but steadily a feeling crept into the captain's awareness. It was the exact opposite of the primal instincts he felt in the Hive. This time, there was an overpowering desire to simply stop. He wanted to settle down into the ground and stay there for the rest of his life. He felt tired, helpless, and worst of all, he didn't care. This is what must've happened to the Psionics and some of the survivors. Rather than become a things of impulse, rage, and hunger, they became driven by apathy and inaction. Instead of spending the rest of their days killing, they spent the rest of their days dying a death that would take an eternity.
He felt the ground shake under his feet. There was danger nearby, but what did he care? Perhaps he would deal with it later, any time at all, just not now. Then another voice said defiantly, "Snap out of it." He shook his head, "No, No. I won’t."
The captain's opened his eyes and the white beam of energy disappeared. He ran to the stairs and looked down. It didn't seem possible at first. There was no way that so many of them could be there so quickly. Beneath the fog were the familiar outlines of hundreds, if not thousands of blue, brown, and other breeds of aliens, all madly racing to the stairs. "It's... it's the orb. They're drawn to it."
He shook the hermit by the shoulders and it immediately put him out of his stupor. "We've got some major problems. Get your weapon."
"Leave me be. I will finish the job. You two deal with the them." echoed the Psionic's strained voice. "But, can you do it alone?"
The Psionic could barely answer, "Go... can handle... this." His skin's hue tinged with green.
The captain and the hermit both looked down the stairs at the sea of hostile aliens, all screaming for their blood. "I'd say we run, flee, if there was only another exit." said the hermit. The captain looked at his face, which was glistening with sweat and extremely pale. "Don't worry; as long as we don't run out of ammo we can hold them at bay. I hope."
The aliens climbed up the stairs, some of them losing their balance and falling to their deaths. The nearest blue alien was only a few steps away. The captain and the hermit fired their shotguns in unison, killing it instantly. The appearance of a fresh corpse didn't cause the other aliens to slow down even a little. The captain loaded another round into the shotgun's chamber. It would be a miracle if he got out of this one alive.