<FWG> <Section 31> "Washing of the Water" (Vector/Mosaic)

  • From: Jason Ziredac <ziredac@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: fwgalaxy@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Thu, 26 Feb 2009 10:23:15 -0800 (PST)

 Washing of the

by Vector




The sky bent into color, standing atop the placid, gentle
curvature of the sea, looking out from Kamaole Beach. Two boots crowded the
damp sand at the death of the waves. They hadn’t twitched for thirty minutes. 


Mosaic stood in those boots, watching the sun sink into the
ocean, letting every tiny acre of muscle relax. She breathed as easily as she
could in the salty, heady atmosphere, attempting to assuage another coughing
fit before it could begin. Every breath she drew fledged into a masterpiece,
distending her belly, filling her to the minutest extremity, then expelling
every molecule, evacuating her entirely. Her hands were ungloved, dead at her
sides; her right one performed its system-check, contracting her fingers once
quickly, then leaving her be.


Moving for the first time in a half hour, her left hand
reached inside Dirk Stell’s old red trenchcoat and came back out holding a pack
of Winstons (replicated with her own special program) and a book of matches.
There hadn’t been a cancer stick in her mouth since just before her Section
training began. Despite the strange coughing fits, which could doubtlessly be
mended with the tweak of a screw or bolt somewhere in her stupid lungs or
throat, she put the filter to her lips, struck the match, and began the fire.


No cough at the first inhale, nor the second. She still had
time to get fixed whatever had broken inside her. Ere the measure of minutes
could apply to her consciousness, the cigarette was down to an inch; she tossed
it into the edge of the waves and lit another.


The orb of Sol at last absconded Mosaic’s direct view,
leaving its residual colors amidst the cloudless sky. Torches a half-mile down
the beach were lit, most likely for a luau in a backyard of one of the large
homes marching out to her right. Kihei’s strip of hotels curved out to her
left, alighting their mathematical matrices of windows and their firefly
lamplights around their seaside pools. Mosaic allowed herself to move, find a
rock, and sit upon it; she still had the bad habit of locking her knees, so the
flow of blood was limiting her meditative endurance.


Laughter. Party laughter. It reached her mutedly across the
sand between her and the luau. Without words to pin to the emotion, Mosaic
scoffed, but mainly in her mind. 


When the second cigarette burned away, she lit a third and
promised herself that it would be her last. For this evening, anyway.




Thirteen hours earlier…


“Ladies first?”


Whatever, she eyed. Approaching the door without
intention to stop, she thumbed back the hammers on both pistols. And the light
of the hall spilled in.


The first wing of the prison deck was tall, stacked with
walkways outside rows and floors of cells. There were steel walls in the place
of forcefields to keep the prisoners in, with no way of looking in. Vector
cursed and pointed this out, having the time, as there weren’t any guards. Yet.


“Guess we’ll have to snag us a guard make him tell us where
they are.”


Mosaic scoffed, “Please. You think we’re the only people in
this prison who could give the guards something to worry about?”


Vector pondered her roundabout meaning for a second, then
was suddenly stricken with immediate agreement. Though, “That’s a lot of people
who’ll see us.”


“Who said they’ll see us?” Mosaic pointed to a control room
mounted high on the far canyon wall of the prison deck, plated with glass.
Three bodies moved inside who obviously hadn’t noticed them yet. “If the door
controls aren’t in that room, I’ll spend one hour with you off duty. There
could be coffee, and maybe some friendly conversation.”


“Let’s get up there and see before someone,” sees us,
because we’re out in the open here. But he didn’t get that out all the way. A
blast splashed above their heads; Mosaic spun backwards into Vector; Vector
caught her; they both raised their weapons without a second’s scan of the area,
trained on the target, and fired. The Gusmati guard fell from the bridging
walkway two levels above them, silently spearing himself into the bottom floor
six levels down. The crack of Mosaic’s gun cued the crescendo of the alarm, the
music of panic, the music of action, the music of deft and wordless operation.


Vector and Mosaic bolted over the walkway in the perceivable
direction for a way up to the control room. Gusmati voices rang through the
complex over the intercom, and others growled from the distant corners of the
prison canyon, rushing on the location of the intruders, making their weapons
dangerous, coordinating just like their drills had taught them. There wasn’t a
drill in Gusmati tactics history that could have prepared them for these two.
The phaser rifle flared, the six-shooter belched, the bodies carrying them
darted and dodged, making nothing less than astounding progress in their
objective. They found stairs leading to the next level, connecting then with
the next, the next, all ascended while firing over their shoulders. More cries
saturated the swell of sound, that of the prisoners cheering, begging to be let
free, pounding on their steel doors. 


Mosaic was in the lead as they approached the control room
door. From his bag, Vector retrieved a small silver rectangle, fitted to cling
to a door and explode, no less. He tossed it over Mosaic’s shoulder; she caught
it without averting her gaze from the control room. She slapped it on the
door’s surface, keyed in the sequence, and stepped away to help Vector fend off
more oncoming guards. After ten seconds, the door blew open, and through the
smoke, Vector and Mosaic stormed the control room, throwing up a temporary
forcefield in place of the departed door. The guards fired twice or thrice
before realizing they couldn’t penetrate it.


Those inside the control room were not armed. They threw up
their hands, pleading things in their tongue, desperately, wailing almost like
children. Vector snagged one by the collar, twisted him around, and slammed
him, bent forward onto the panels. “Open all the doors,” he commanded, growling
in his urgency. “Now! Do it!” 


He released the pressure on his arm, allowing for the
Gusmati to find the control. 


“Do you understand me?” Vector growled again.


“Y-y-yes, please, don’t—”


“Open all the god damn doors! Now!”


The Gusmati stammered, making no move to acquiesce. So,
Vector pulled him erect and twisted him around to see what he was going to do.
With one hand on his phaser rifle, Vector executed the other two control room
operators. Mosaic, he noticed, jumped when he did so; the Gusmati left alive


“Open all the doors,” Vector growled for what he hoped to be
the last time. He was finally obeyed; a great mechanical hum spoke through the
prison deck, followed by the riotous clamor of every prisoner in the complex
celebrating their early release. 


Reaching into his bag again, Vector produced another silver
gadget and shoved it into the back of the Gusmati’s waistband, ordering Mosaic
to bind his hands in the front. “This thing in your pants, that’s a remote
mine, for which I have the detonator. When we leave this room, if I see those
cell doors even start to close again, you disappear. You got that?”


“Y-y-yes, I-I-I underst-st-st-stand. Just please, don’t—”


“The intercom,” he said to Mosaic. “Tell the boys to pack


Mosaic deduced which of the controls was the intercom and
spoke into it: “This is Captain Dayna Shemesh of the USS Baltimore. We
have taken hold of this prison to liberate the Federation prisoners being held
here. All Federation prisoners are to exit their cells and prepare for


“Let’s clear the way for them,” said Vector.


They blasted their way past the gathering guards outside the
control room door, leaving the forcefield in place and engaging its locking
mechanism. Coming to the railing, they began looking for gathering people
amidst the hordes of revolting prisoners. It wasn’t hard to find; some of the
people were in Starfleet uniforms, and were rallying the others into their
groups; the Gusmati were convenient enough to put all of their cells on one
level, right next to each other. 


Vector assembled his sniper’s scope and placed it on top of
his phaser rifle, tuning the frequency to a finer beam. Without needing him to
tell her to, Mosaic committed her pistols to covering him while he picked off
the guards and any other threat to the Federation prisoners. The concentration
of gunfire directed at the agents was lessened with their inundation of
released and angry inmates, who took as much care of the little squad of armed
men almost better than Vector’s sniping. 


When the field was clear enough, Vector tapped his
communication and said, “Buoy transporter amplification engage. Clustered
targets painted. Mosaic, confirm reception position.”


Mosaic holstered one pistol and pulled her tricorder from
her pocket, hacking into the satellites of the Gusmati homeworld, monitoring
for the casino ship. It blinked there like a tiny neon green flag of victory.
“Casino ship in position,” she said. “Coordinating drop point. Let’s put ‘em
right in the middle of the poker tables.”


“Vault would be funnier.”


They looked at each other. Mosaic said, “That it would,” and
set to work. Vector’s genius in this choice was that it would not only be
funnier, it would be advantageous for covering their asses. How else to chaff
the authorities from the non-existence of a Captain Dayna Shemesh or a USS
Baltimore sighted in this area than to put two hundred panicked and
confused individuals—those who the casino ship would be obliged to return to
Federation space anyway—directly into the vault without a single alarm being
tripped? By the time they returned to the Federation with the confirmed
prisoners of Gusmati terrorists, their security logs would have almost nothing
regarding the peripheral nodes of circumstance.


And again, it would be a good laugh.


Vector cranked his head over his shoulder to check on their
friend with the grenade in his pants (who, in turn, was not at all happy
to see them). He was still crouched, crying by a chair. Into his communicator,
he ordered the buoy to begin the transport sequence, then turned to watch small
helpings of the Federation prisoners twinkling out of this existence. The prison
guards were at the mercy of the turbid mob of anarchic prisoners. Mosaic hadn’t
the need to shoot a guard for the last forty-six seconds. He hadn’t the need to
snipe for the last seventy-two.


Everything was going fluidly. 


Until Mosaic whacked his shoulder with the back of her left
hand, hissing, “Vector, we have company. Incoming submersible, a hundred…
Jesus, a hundred and sixteen knots, approaching starboard aft support pylon.
It’s… I can’t get ID on it, it’s using some high frequency disruption patterns.
This isn’t Gusmati.”


“Who the hell is it?” Vector stood, facing the starboard aft
portion of the prison, constantly twitching his head down to check on the
departing Federation prisoners; almost all gone now. “Come on, I think our
people are home free. Head to the support pylon, I’ll follow you. Move!”


Mosaic flew toward the stairs, her long red coat flapping
behind her like a demon’s tongue. Vector leapt after her, bounding four steps
at a time to keep up with her rapid, unrelenting legs. An insurmountable corner
of his brain, which couldn’t get through to his conscious thought, maintained
the entertainment that he would very much like to test the endurance of said
rapid, unrelenting legs, but since this part of the brain was furthest from
conscious duty, it kept the thought pleasingly to itself. 


Once they reached the third level below the control room,
Vector detonated the grenade in the control room operator’s pants; much as he
would like to have given the poor dolt some mercy, the poor dolt had seen
them. In this business, that’s a death sentence. The glass of the control room
rained on the walkways below it, the fire belched from the gaps it left, the
lights and mechanisms under the panel’s control shuddered and fell into its
equivalent to the prisoners’ unrest. This place was falling apart.


Mosaic led him through the narrow service hatches that were
glazed with vibrant red lights, her tricorder clutched in her hand, telling
them where to go. Whatever crew ran these parts of the facility had since
departed, leaving them with no one to unfortunately silence forever.


The service hatches led to an observation hall: still
hatefully narrow, but fitted on one side with windows looking out into the
murky blue-green sea, lit with powerful white lights on the sides of the hull.
Beyond the aft side of the prison was a black trench, a maw in the sea’s bed
just meters away from the edge of the compound. From here, they could see the
both of the aft support pylons, but nothing else. “Where…” began Vector, before
a lightless shape speared from the haze.


It was a black ship, maximum crew: five. Vector immediately
recognized certain components pointing to the evidence that it was primarily a
spaceship, but for a vessel not used below water, it moved incredibly fast.
Sidling up to the starboard aft support pylon, it stalled for only a second,
then speared over to the port aft, then circled around out of view. 


“Whatever it’s doing to those supports,” said Mosaic, her
voice without a trace of a tremble, “I don’t want to be here to find out.”


“Me neither,” said Vector. “We need to get to a hatch near
the top, in case the supports are going to do what I think they’re going to


Mosaic said, “Go,” and they darted away, just as the support
pylons erupted like cracked eggs, the yolk of the fire ensconced in the white
of the bubbled sea. The prison quaked, and the floor began to tilt.




The prison leaned south, its topmost rim bowing in the
direction of the trench. Its walls were thick and sturdy, so the structure
itself did not buckle as its underside crashed with the ocean floor, but power
was lost at every corner, leaving only the stuttering emergency lights to guide
the inhabitants to their futile means of escape. Futile, because the black ship
had been at work long before it allowed the Section 31 agents within to be
alerted to its presence. 


Surrounding the area of the prison was a domed matrix of
mines, a preventative shield for anyone seeking refuge. The black ship would
make its escape by emitting a signature sine of frequency, temporarily
disarming a section long enough for it to pass through. Then, anything or
anyone of any size that came near them would either trigger an explosion, or
notice them and wait to die at the bottom of the sea. Either way, no one was


To ensure this, the black ship located the Gusmati
submersibles and destroyed them with torpedoes; there weren’t many, and they
were mainly external service and surface transport vehicles. Heading to the
forward corners of the prison, the black ship attached explosives to the upper
portions for two reasons: 1) to further propel the building toward the trench
and 2) to let a little sunshine into the place. The explosions at the other
side would not be enough to send the prison into the abyss, but the person
aboard the black ship had figured that into the calculations for this mission. 


Under the lip of the trench were the most powerful
underwater explosives that anyone in the universe could ever have found. Three
of them were planted on the rocks, programmed to emit destructive shockwaves
through the rock underneath the prison to create a landslide into the trench as
well as eliminate the ground between it and the compound. 


This would not happen for another minute, not until the
black ship escaped the dome of mines. And then, from above, he would sit and
watch. Smiling.




Vector and Mosaic were out of the service hatches, back onto
the prison deck, where the sounds of rioting were quelled by the sounds of
general panic. All of the guards had been killed or bound helpless, and the
remaining inmates—minus two hundred Federation prisoners, who were, by now,
under arrest by a severely bewildered crew of a casino ship—were trying to
organize themselves for means of escaping the prison deck. Our agents left them
and entered the above portion: the offices and guard chambers, et cetera.


These huddled men were, perhaps, more panicked than the
guards in the lower deck were: they had seen the black ship destroy their
escape vehicles, and because two certain folks that we know disabled outgoing
communications, their hope of escaping death by drowning was now, utterly,


Until Mosaic threw a flash in the middle of their group,
disabling their eyes while she and Vector stunned them.


“Their vessels are gone, huh?” Mosaic confirmed.


“Someone doesn’t want people to leave alive. We better
become exceptions.”


They came to the airlock from which they entered as
structural integrity inspectors (for which they would give a harsh review and a
low rating). With the power gone, and the safety programs kicked in, the door
wouldn’t open. Using as many gadgets as they could, they finally resorted to a
directional, low-level field EMP (from which Mosaic had to stand far away from
during its deployment) for the emergency safety programs, to render the door
completely manual, which they could deal with. 


Vector held out the EMP emitter, aimed it at the lock,
ensured Mosaic’s safe distance behind him, and bent his thumb to trigger it,
when suddenly, the prison quaked again. Mosaic ran down the hall to the
entrance to the prison deck to look through the tiny window, and came back
shouting, “Hull’s breached! Top of the other side of the building! Water’s
pouring into the prison deck and the other side of ours!”


Through the windows of the airlocks, now tilted downward,
Vector could see the trench just a little closer. He warned Mosaic and aimed
the EMP emitter again, firing it into the door lock. Scanning it, he found no
trace of security override. “Okay,” he said. “Let’s open her up.”


Four hands clamped to the handle of the airlock door,
pulling at back-cramping force. Two sets of teeth grimaced, two faces turned as
red as Mosaic’s coat, four shoulder blades strained like jerky, four legs
braced for leverage, and then four feet felt suddenly cooler. 


They looked down to find an inch of churning water washed
over the floor, growing, rushing in from beyond the angles of the hallways. The
sound of the water roaring in was like eight million detuned radios turned as 
in volume as they could go. But the door wouldn’t budge. 


“We blow it,” said Mosaic.


“No, we’re gonna be okay, don’t get—”


“Vector, we blow it. As in, we blow the door down.”


“The other door won’t open if this one’s not closed.”


“Then we blow that one too.”


The water washed at their shins.


“When that water pours in, we won’t be able to swim against
it. It’s too dangerous, Mose, I won’t risk getting my head slammed on the back
wall without—”


Mosaic stopped pulling on the door and stepped back into the
knee-high water. “Vector,” she said, squinting, visibly berating herself…and
him. “Unlock it.”


It was Vector’s turn to squint. He turned and inspected the
door, where he found a single metal latch, flush with the surface of the rest
of the door, reaching into the jamb. “Fuck me,” he said, sliding it back. The
airlock opened easily, but still sluggishly, allowing the water to wash into
it. They rushed in, shut the door behind them, and worked on opening the outer


“We need to let water in here,” said Vector. “Regulators


Placing the metal tubes in their mouths and covering their
noses with the plugs, Vector opened the vents, spilling more seawater onto
their legs, rising almost to their thighs. Death-march minutes ambled by,
arriving late by the time the airlock was full. With a little more ease, they
wrenched the outer door open, and the sea was before them.


Then, everything hit them at once.


Mosaic went first, clearing the hatch by the top. Vector
moved to follow. The black ship’s shockwave bombs blew, rattling their world
into invisibility. Outside, Mosaic’s body was slammed into the hull while
Vector was hurled back into the airlock. Though Mosaic’s teeth clenched with
her impact, securing her regulator between her lips, Vector’s mouth loosened as
he hit, and his regulator escaped him. And, as Time would have it, the jolt to
the prison compound brought its power back for one single second, during which
the airlock latched shut. 


The sea pressed against Mosaic’s body, crushing her mind in
her skull, holding her to the shell of the compound unable to move for a good
ten seconds. When the wave of the bomb dissipated, she quickly realized what
was happening. Amidst the stirred rocks and sand, she could discern that the
prison was now sliding toward the trench with speedy certainty, and then
realized that Vector was not with her. 


She peered down to the airlock. Closed. No! Crawling
along the hull, she peered through the airlock window to find Vector floating
inside, his regulator not in his mouth, his eyes wide and searching. Pounding
on the window, she failed to get his attention, but it was good, since it
allowed him his final second to find his regulator, expel his breath, and put
it into his mouth. He gathered himself, saw that he was trapped, and looked
once out the window to see her.


Mosaic pointed behind her, to the approaching trench,
beckoning him to do something. He came to the window, peered out, and looked
wildly into Mosaic’s eyes. With one finger he pointed at her face, and then
pointed up to the world above, shaking his hand, repeating the gesture: he was
telling her to go.


The prison came to the lip of the trench.


Mosaic let go of the hull, and swam upwards, feeling a stern
tightness in her chest as she did. Not for one of her coughing fits. It was her




She disappeared from view. Christian Deveroe knew she’d make
it out. Ahead of him, the black mouth of the abyss opened and took the prison
in. With his hands pressed against the door, he watched as the building tipped
onto its side to tumble in, and ahead, he only saw darkness. 


So, he thought. Implosion. That answers that.


He didn’t remember blinking for those last few moments, even
though the seawater enveloped his eyes. Every light, even the emergency ones,
went out in the prison as the building tipped on end, leaving Christian in the
hell of mystery, not knowing which way was up, how far he was falling, or for
how long. One terrifying shake took the building as it hit the other side of
the trench, but after that, only the wrenching tightness behind and between his
eyes, and the surety that every inch of his skin was tightening around his


There was a shake in his body. Another. And then it didn’t
stop until he did.


His mind switched off, abandoning his sinking vessel, and he
saw a shoreline, bright, empty, and flat. Stars shone on the beach. A hundred
tiny moons lit the land beyond, where mountains as big as worlds awaited in the




Thirty-eight seconds later, the prison ship reached the
critical point in the trench where all things may not survive. It crushed
itself, and eventually became nothing.




Mosaic scrambled upward, thrusting her arms, kicking
rapidly, staring upward at the faintly lit surface of the water. She couldn’t
feel anything save for the need to get to the air. The broken record of Vector
is gone, Vector is gone, Vector is gone was muted. Her shaken senses were
kept on hold with a voiceless operator. Surviving alone was the recurring worry
that whomever destroyed the Gusmati prison would be hunting for escapees in
that black ship. Surely they knew that people would swim for the


Stationary, denoting nothing, Mosaic spotted a black orb two
fathoms above her. It swayed not in the movement of the ocean; neither did its 
counterparts, which she could see spanning around the top of her. Careful not
to move higher, she retrieved her tricorder (waterproof, thank Whomever) and
performed a scan, discovering an enormous grid of proximity-sensitive mines
arranged in a dome around the former area of the prison, with their sensor
ranges barring even the smallest fish from entering or exiting. The placer of
these explosives went to great lengths to ensure that the marine wildlife would
not interfere, emitting piercing frequencies to ward them away. 


They operate on frequency, Mosaic thought. Frequency
might be the way out. 


She stormed her brain, thinking of a way to emit frequencies
with just her tricorder. Doing this, she lost hold of her tricorder, and it
floated three inches upward until she caught it.


On second thought, she thought suddenly, flipping
upside down and diving several feet again, mine’s all scratched up. I could
use a replacement. Mosaic let go of her tricorder and watched it float
away. She shielded her face and head as it disappeared into the mines’ range.
The mine above her exploded, pushing her downward another couple fathoms, so
she righted herself, and speared for the top, kicking harder, waving faster,
more and more eager to shed these metallic gills and see the sun.


That very star of the Gusmati system spiked its rays at her
as she conquered the depths, curling its fingers toward itself, praying for her
to enter the light. Closer to the undulating surface, closer, kicking, waving,
closer, expelling her breath, closer, losing air, closer, spitting out her
regulator, closer; her head met the air and her lungs pulled it in, embracing
it, never wanting to let it go.




The promise was broken.


The pack of Winstons was now a pack of nothing.


Mosaic watched the Hawaiian sky close up shop to let the
urchin stars roam its endless city. Whispering their eternal wisdom, the waves
drummed upon the sands. It was music Mosaic never thought she would hear until
now, when her ears perked to every displaced piece of driftwood, every tweet of
the tropical birds as they went to sleep.


Down the beach, the luau was in its throngs, ignorant of her


I should have replicated another pack, she thought,
patting her pocket to ensure the infallibly obvious absence of more cigarettes.


She knew that at some point she would have to return to
Dirget Station, face the living dead of her contemporaries, mace and mask the
troubles of her past few days. Reminded again of the things that the things
that don’t kill you do, she pushed herself from the rock, brushed the
hitchhiking sand from her buttocks and legs, and made for the pavement walkway
to lead back to her docked ship somewhere hidden in Kihei, to get on making
herself stronger every day she didn’t die. 


Vector came to her then…Christian… in her mind, in sudden
daylight, in the sudden past. He was telling her that her mind didn’t always
have to be on her mission, that she needed to let go every once in a while.
Editing out the part where the lecherous fuck, Whomever rest his soul, kissed
her, Mosaic repeated the moment twice more, watching the sincerity in
Christian’s face, watching how much he seemed to care for the liberties of the


Half machine?  That
still leaves you to be half human. 
Express… it.  Revel… in it.  Be… human.


Mosaic turned around to the ocean once more, stared at it
for a running second, and took off her red coat. She bent in half, unbuckled
her boots, slipped out of them. Unfastening her underarmor, her skin breathed
the viscous island air. Out of her socks, her feet were invaded by the fine,
copious sands, poked by the dried weeds and ancient relics of driftwood.
Without a soul to judge her, she walked to the edge of the beach in her black
undergarments only, marched into the still-warm waves until her belly was
submerged, then dove in, just as a small wave curled over her.


Without the mind to wonder where she was, how far out she
swam, how far away from her clothes she wandered, Mosaic, who wouldn’t have
been so entirely pissed if someone called her Olivia, swam in the ocean under
the night sky. 


The washing of the water gave her the strength to let go. 




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