Part 8

17 2 3

Part 7 Vote Tally

Option A - 2
Option B - 0
Option C - 1

Really? No love for the psionic? Oh well! Onwards!

You stare down at your hands.  So there is something that you must do.  There is a reason for your being here.  And it is urgent.  But what could that thing possibly be?  You fall into silence, absorbed by your thoughts.

The psionic remains seated before you, watching you, wearing his frown.  At length, he turns to the interrogator.  "We will get nothing more from them.  For God's sake, get them clothed, fed, and let them find some rest.

"There are too many unanswered questions, psionic.  Try again," the interrogator demands.

The psionic shakes his head.  "No.  Going further is dangerous.  I could destroy the mind."

"We need answers, so you'll -"

"No!" the psionic barks.  "I will not.  When I graduated from training I swore an oath, Jag.  Do no harm.  I intend to keep that oath."

"This isn't the time for your bleeding-heart morality, psionic.  Have you missed the fact that the world has ended and we're surrounded by walking dead?  So what needs to be done."

"No," the psionic whispers.  He stands slowly.  "I will not.  We cannot lose our humanity in the effort to save it.  Or we are not worth saving."

"Psionic - "

"You have your answer, Jag.  We're done here."

"We're not done until I say we are."

"Then by all means, ask whatever you wish.  You will be here until we all die of boredom.  They know no more than they told you."

Silence falls as the interrogator and the psionic stare at each other.  "Fine," the interrogator grates.  He marches to the door and pounds on it.

"Yes?" a light, feminine voice asks as the door creaks open.  "Food and drink from the prisoner..."

Your head snaps up. Prisoner?

"And some clothes, please."

You look at the psionic.  "Prisoner?" you ask him.

He offers you a small, apologetic smile and a shrug.  You turn back to staring at your hands, pondering the strange situation you find yourself in.  How did you end up buried, for all intents and purposes, in Maeshowe?  More importantly, why?  There is something you must do, and it is important, and it is frightening... and unknown.  What could it be?

Lost in thought, you sit still, the interrogator and the psionic standing in tense silence, until the food arrives.  You are completely unaware of it until the interrogator slaps the tray of food on the table in front of you, making you jump.  You blink down at the tray.

It's a strange, thin metal tray with small pockets beaten into each of the corners.  Something white and cloud-like fills one pocket, with a brown sauce filling the other.  The third pocket is large and takes up most of the tray.  In it lies what you think might be meat, though it's hard to tell, and something green and soggy-looking.

"The food isn't the best," the psionic notes.  "But at least we still have it.  Even if most of it is canned."

Too hungry now to care, you start with the meat.  Or what should be meat.  It's mealy and tasteless, but your stomach seems to approve, so you eat quickly.  The green soggy things are equally as tasteless, though there's something metallic about them that makes you wonder.  As for the fluffy white stuff and brown sauce, it is salty, a little sandy and just as tasteless as everything else.  Still, you are too hungry to complain, and you eat it all quickly.

The interrogator hands you a glass of water, which you gratefully accept.  The water disappears as fast as the food did.

"You were hungry, weren't you?" the interrogator notes, his eyebrows raised.

Smiling sheepishly at him, you nod.  "I was," you say.  "Though I didn't seem to notice until I started eating."

"We have clothes for you."  The interrogator points at orange fabric folded onto a spare chair someone must have brought int when you were eating.

"How do you get the fabric such a bright colour?" you ask, rising and going to the pile of clothes.  "It's so..."

"Horrific?" the psionic offers.

"Bright," you correct, though you're smiling.

"We don't," the interrogator says with a grunt.  "Not anymore.  Fabric dyes are a luxury we just don't have the time or the resources for."

"Thank heavens for the weavers," the psionic notes.  "Or we'd have run out of clothes long ago."

"The weavers?" you ask.

"There were experimental archaeologists working out of the university here; UHI - the University of the Highlands and Islands.  They were studying prehistoric techniques for creating fabrics and clothing and had set up a warp weight loom.  They've been working hard to keep us clothed since this plague started."  The interrogator sighs and rubs the side of his face.

"Plague?"  Your mind leaps back to the bodies laying strewn across the fields.  They had died of an illness?

"We think it's a kind of plague that wiped almost everyone out," the psionic says.  "But we haven't yet been able to identify any pathogens yet.  That's why the people you were following were wearing the masks.  It's a precaution in case whatever is killing people and making them walk after the fact is some sort of airborne disease."  They grey-eyed man looks sad a moment, his eyes growing misty and distant.

"Oh."

"Come one, then," the interrogator interrupts.  "Get dressed and we'll take you to a bed."

"A prison cell, you mean."

The interrogator offers you a mirthless smile.  "We must be cautious."

You don't really have an argument for this so you pull on the clothes - a bright orange pair of trousers and a matching short-sleeved shirt.

"We don't have any working cobblers," the psionic says apologetically, noting your lack of footwear with a flick of his eyes.

"I didn't seem to need shoes before now," you reply.

The psionic smiles.  "Come on then.  I will show you to your accommodations."

You nod and follow the silver-eyed man from the room, through a corridor and out into the complex.  Once outside, you note that the guards at the gate are no longer there.  In fact, the compound seems empty at present.

Do you:

a) Make a break for it. Run! There is something you must do and you can't locked up.
b) Continue following the psionic. They may prove to be helpful if you're cooperative.
c) Knock out the psionic before making good your escape. Friendly or no, he's dangerous.

I am genuinely interested in what you'll do here. Voting ends 4 August, 2016 at midnight Ottawa time.  Good luck, Adventurers!

Skara BraensRead this story for FREE!