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Template:PostIn CatH Post 59 Clear wakes up in darkness. She tries to contact Mother but there is no response. She makes her way to the Engine Room where she turns on the systems. Just as she does so Aellisin Koure and Ciel arrive to stop her but it's too late. Something has found them and Koure and Ciel had shut down the ship to avoid detection. Suddenly all of the ships systems turn themselves back on, being controlled by the outside force. In the Command Centre they see that they have been discovered by a Netherwyrm but it appears to be dead and Ciel says it is more problematic because this biological ship belongs to the High Empire who have turned the great beast into a vessel.

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From the Darkness

Clear jolts awake, feeling a nasty shocking sensation through her limbs. She rubs her eyes but sees nothing. She wriggles around and realises that she's either blind or the entire room's in darkness. She is careful but still manages to bop her head on the dreamviewer's screen as she fumbles with the PIP on her wrist. The screen flashes up and she flips through the available apps until she turns on the torch. A single beam of light cuts through the darkness and she's able to navigate her way to the door. It's wide open. She feels a fearful pressure building up within her, in a way that only darkness can. She shines her light down the corridor outside. Nothing stirs and so she feels safe enough to slip from the Dreamviewing room.

Clear: "Did Mother really shut down the power just to get me out of there?"

But even the backup generators are out; no red lights, no console screens... she panics. No oxygen.

She quickens her pace towards the Command Centre and there she finds... nothing. The screens are empty and no sign of Mother. Clear hammers and bunch of buttons but nothing happens. Clear rubs her face with worry before settling on the next port of call - the A.I. Hub. Unfortunately Mother's core proves to be exactly the same. Dead. Clear then makes her third choice. The Engine Room where she'd find the Power Source that should be powering the ship, but also the reserve capacitors. Nothing. The capacitors are offline and the power source is still as dead as it was when she first arrived in the Deep Void.

She starts checking the capacitors until she locates the power switch. She frowns.

It's been turned off by someone.

She suddenly glances round, fearing an enemy could be lurking in the shadow but there's nobody there. She grits her teeth. She couldn't trust that Koure afterall. She slaps the switch. A capacitor winks to life and its console screen flickers on. She moves to the next one and turns it on too. Then she notices the screen.

Screen: "State of emergency. Keep power off until danger has passed."

Clear: "... that doesn't sound good."

Koure: "NO!"

Clear throws herself against the capacitor in fright but recovers herself quickly enough to point at Koure as he runs into the room.

Clear: "What in the name of a hippo's left tit is going on here!?"

There's a sudden, horrific glare of light and Clear is forced to plaster her eyes with her hands until the light dissipates - though not completely. Ciel stands there glowing brightly enough to light up the room even without Clear's PIP torch.

Ciel: "Too late. They've found us."

Koure: "Damn."

Clear: "What is it? One of those Netherregions?"

Koure: "Netherwyrms, Captain Clear. Netherwyrms."

Clear puts a hand on her hip.

Clear: "If it's on a man, isn't that the same thing?"

Koure: "How droll. But this isn't the time."

Ciel: "I think a good dick joke are fitting last words!"

Clear: "Last words?"

Ciel: "It's not Netherwyrms nor is it Netherdicks. It's worse."

Clear: "Worse than Netherdicks?"

Koure: "This may be a fitting last conversation for you two, but I'd rather not."

He turns, his cloak sweeping dramatically as he does so. Clear watches him leave but listens to Ciel.

Ciel: "Yes. Seriously though, I don't know what's about to happen. Netherwyrms are beasts. There's lots of things I could do to try and distract such a monster. But what I saw out there is not just a Netherwyrm. It's..."

The lights of the room burst on and Clear is made to cover her eyes for a second time.

Ciel: "...someone who can control your lightbulbs, apparently."

Clear wipes tears from her eyes and winces at the consoles. Only two of the capacitors are on, not enough to warrant turning on all of the lights of the ship. And turning them up to maximum brightness at that. Mother would be very annoyed at such waste.

Clear: "I'm supposed to be afraid of a light-switch, Ciel?"

Ciel: "Oh... I think we're lucky... they're curious."

Clear: "And... if they get bored?"

Ciel: "We're dead. Well. You'd be dead. I could probably manage to get out in time. Because I'm that damn good."

Clear: "But not good enough to turn my lights on. Maybe it's this guy I should be get cosy with instead of you."

Ciel mocks heartache.

Ciel: "My fragile feelings, captain."

Clear cocks her head and looks past Ciel towards the Power Source. It remains unpowered and yet the lights are illuminated like never before. She walks in the wake of Koure and looks down the corridor. Everything is powered up and the screens are busily processing datastreams.

Clear: "Seriously, Ciel, what's going on?"

Ciel, quietly walks over to Clear.

Ciel: "Seriously, Captain Clear, you are very fortunate thus far. I expected them to wipe out such a ship in an instant. Anything as big as this would probably teeter on being a threat in the minds of our... friends."

Clear: "Who are they? Who are you talking about? If not Netherwyrms then what? Who?"

Ciel: "No more dick jokes?"

Clear: "I need to know what's happening. Aellisin isn't around to abuse now."

Ciel throws her head back and laughs. She starts walking down the corridor, still snickering.

Ciel: "Great... wonderful... But I think I should show you what's outside. Let's go to the hangar. I expect they'll be busy watching your ship before they decide to come and get you."

Ciel walks surprisingly fast for such an old woman. When Clear asks about how she got into the Engine Room, Ciel tells her it's what she does - she can transplant herself anywhere relatively quickly. The greater distances she has to fly using the light sphere Clear glimpsed when she appeared in the engine room. Clear finds this power fascinating but her heart is pumping with fear of their unknown enemy. When she gets to the hangar she spots something out of the bay doors. She hurries down the stairs to the hangar floor, glancing up in surprise when Ciel appears before her - skipping the stairs and the long walk across the hangar.

As Clear draws near her mouth is agape. She knows it's far away and yet the beast is massive. It may not match The Hopeful for size but it's certainly bigger than most ships in the galaxy, including the massive imperial stardestroyers. And although it's clearly a beast, a creature, a monster - it's also technological.

Clear reaches to one of the consoles near the hangar opening and a screen projects out from it, large enough for her to zoom in and get a better picture of the thing. It's like something from a nightmare. It has ashen scales that seem to emit faint traces of smoke, as though its scales are burnt up and constantly smouldering. It has wraith-like wings of black, shadowy darkness. She couldn't see them against the void, only against its own body. It's long tail splits into two forks with what look like sharp, bone-like prongs. Its head is ghastly and massive. Her Bug would be about the size of a tooth. Its snout hangs open, forever exposing the innards of its mouth to space as well as its threatening teeth.

Clear catches her breath.

Clear: "Wh-wh-what..."

Ciel: "I know you're looking at the dragon. Stop. The Netherwyrm is dead..."

Clear glares at Ciel.

Clear: "Dead? It's dead?"

Ciel: "It's not the dragon you should worry about. It's what killed it. Killed it and now lives inside it..."

Large portions of its body have been replaced with metallic walls, entire bulks protrude from the monster like towers or domes. To Clear it almost looks like a city attached to the beast. Even within the creature's mouth, she thinks she can see unnatural additions supplanting the biological.

Clear feels sick.

Clear: "It--... it's... it's a ship? They turned that monster into... a ship?"

Ciel: "I shut off all power in your ship when I realised they were on their way. Your Mother protested but I shut her down too."

Clear: "You can do that!?"

Ciel shrugs.

Ciel: "And someone over there can turn it all back on. Who's more worrying? Either way... we've been lucky so far. I don't know why they're interested. Maybe it's just their captain. Normally shoot first and salvage later is the option for such a... ravager as this."

Clear: "Ravager?"

Ciel: "You don't go using a Netherwyrm for your ship if you plan to play nice, Clear."

Clear: "I... suppose. But who... who is it? What do they want?"

Ciel: "What they want, I don't know. Who they are... the ship is part of an empire. An empire like nothing you could begin to comprehend. Suffice to say, they are in this universe now... It's from the High Empire. Simple name I know. But there's where the simplicity ends."

Ciel looks at Clear and she gets the impression the woman is trying to decide something.

Clear: "...if you want to leave. You should go."

Ciel takes a moment before she smiles sadly.

Ciel: "Admirable sentiment, captain. They'd be poetic last words, indeed."

The woman turns and points up at the hangar doors.

Ciel: "Maybe we should see if our friends turned on your communication equipment so we can say hello?"

Clear nods and starts to walk.

Clear: "Thank you. For staying."

Ciel vanishes. For a brief second Clear harbours doubt. She lets herself look up at the top of the stairs. Ciel stands there waiting.

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