Dexter Liu continues

(Part 1; Part 2; Part 3)

Dexter felt his legs move. They carried him, almost against his will, toward the dojo door. With his heart thudding wildly in his ears, he strained to make sense of the murmuring voices coming from within the room.

Dexter managed to filter out one or two words, but they held no meaning for him. He could tell there were two voices, but they were so similar in tone that it took him several minutes to decide on that number.

The bare-footed man tiptoed closer to the keypad. He saw the steady green light indicating the door was unlocked. He let his eyes roam to the other doors nearby. All showed steady red lights.

Dexter Liu’s uneasiness grew. He felt his chest tighten in anticipation. Without second guessing himself, he stabbed the keypad, firmly hitting the ‘open’ command key. In response, the dojo door swooshed open and the light inside flickered on.

Before he could lose his nerve, Dexter rushed through the opening. As he crossed the threshold, he realized the voices had stopped. His eyes darted around the room, searching for the source of the conversation. All he saw were shadows cast by the equipment stands and the pair of decorative armor sets near the back wall.

Dexter moved further into the room. His bare feet sank into the protective mats that covered the dojo floor. The door closed behind him with a whoosh and the air pressure inside the room increased. Dexter felt the small hairs on the back of his neck stand to attention.

He continued his search, though now he considered that he might have been imagining the voices. The pressure to quickly finish his mission was making his mind whirl in confusion.

The man moved quietly to the middle of the floor, his eyes still roving. From the far wall came movement. His eyes darted back to stare at the decorative armor. It took several long moments for his mind to register the absence of one of the shadows.

A sound from behind caused him to turn, but too slowly. Something barrelled into him, knocking him onto the cushion of the dojo mat. His breath rushed from his body as he landed. A heavy weight on his back kept him down, unable to turn to see what had attacked him.

“D e x t e r,” a voice whisper-slurred in his ear. It was the same voice from earlier, in the dojo, and, he suddenly realized, from near the bridge.

“What do you want? Who are you?” Dexter’s voice was frantic with fear. Tears filled his eyes and overflowed, spilling out onto his cheeks.

The voice laughed, but Dexter found nothing funny in the sound.

A shadow disconnected itself from the wall behind the armor and slithered across the floor toward the prone man. Dexter shivered in terror. He couldn’t make out any details in the dark shape. The only thing that registered in his mind was the shape; it was not quite the shape of a man with its elongated arms, shortened legs, and triangular head. It was certainly not a member of the crew.

The approaching shadow hissed, but not at Dexter. Its arms moved and it continued to speak to the weight on Dexter’s back. After a few bursts of indignant sounding replies from Dexter’s attacker, the weight lifted and the pair of dark forms scurried through the wall of the dojo.

Dexter Liu stared, unbelieving, at the solid wall where the shadows departed. He was too frightened to move, but the urgent tug of his mission pulled on his mind. The man rolled onto his back, then sat up. He pushed himself from the floor and ran for the door, his bare feet slapping solidly against the safety mats.

The mechanical whooshing of the door opening was musical to Dexter’s ears. He paused at the door, looking back toward the interior, wondering what exactly it was he had just encountered. Shaking the puzzle from his thoughts, he turned once again to the med lab and its mysterious light.

He feared for his mission’s success, but he was also beginning to fear for his life.

Should Dexter Liu continue his quest to take control of the ship, or should he awaken the crew for their assistance in handling the alien invaders? You decide.

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Dexter Liu’s decision

(Part 1 is here. Part 2 is here.)

His instincts won over his desire to finish his mission quickly and Dexter Liu hurried down the corridor toward the medical lab. The lights in this corridor worked properly, lighting his way then dimming behind. His bare feet carried him at a trot down the long hallway, passing junction after junction.

The med lab was near the rear of the ship, close to the hangar bays. When Dexter reached the final branching of hallways, he paused to listen. He heard nothing but the throbbing hum of the life support. He smiled to himself.

He turned right, away from the elevator that led to the massive hangars. His confidence returned and he checked the watch on his left wrist. He chuckled to himself when he realized he still clung tightly to a suede slipper. Dexter dropped the shoe, then thought better of it; he might find a use for it before he reached the bridge.

He bent over to retrieve the slipper. Just as his fingers closed on the hard sole of the shoe, he felt a rush of air across his back. Dexter dropped to his knees. He twisted his head to look down the corridor toward the med lab, but he saw nothing out of place.

He whipped his head toward the elevator. His eyes widened as the doors to the lift closed silently. He watched the numbers flip on the display next to the door. The numbers stopped at the bottom, the entrance to the hangar bays.

Dexter Liu’s heart rate increased. He could feel the thudding of his pulse in his temples. In horror, he saw the green lighted numbers begin climbing. Fear screamed in his ears, urging him to run. He turned away from the elevator and scrambled to his feet, letting the terror fuel his flight.

Just past the corridor junction, the short hallway widened into a dining room. Dexter recalled the wall map and decided this must be the crew dining hall. He tore past the metal chairs and tables with their super-weighted legs and into the adjoining kitchen. He ignored the sparklingly sterile area as unimportant and continued his dash toward the medical lab.

Another corridor, lined with doors leading to larger rooms, loomed just past the kitchen. The locked doors all lead to various fitness and leisure rooms. A crew in space needed regular exercise to maintain muscle mass and flexibility.

A shadow flitted by the windowed door of the main gym as Dexter sped past. His steps slowed, then stopped. He backtracked to the gym’s door and gazed at the window high in the metal door. Nothing moved inside the room.

Dexter Liu waited, willing his breathing to equalize and his nerves to calm. He listened intently and was rewarded with the sound of the digitized keypad being depressed on one of the nearby locked doors. He spun in a circle, searching for the origin of the noise. His eyes were drawn to a room several doors back toward the kitchen.

The dojo, where most of the crew gathered to learn hand-to-hand combat in the forms of ancient martial arts. Curiosity drew Dexter toward the door.

He took several steps then paused. He heard voices, low and urgent, coming from the direction of the dojo.

Dexter’s feet, with a mind of their own, slid backward, carrying him away from the beckoning voices in the room down the hall.

But his feet stuttered to a stop only seconds later, when a light flickered on in the distant med bay.

Dexter Liu stared at first one anomaly then another. He needed to get through the medical bay to reach the bridge to complete his mission, but the flickering light suggested he might have to contend with an awakened crewman. On the other hand, the furtive voices in the dojo might mean he was already in the middle of a flanking maneuver.

Which way should Dexter go? Continue toward the medical lab with its many sleeping crewmen and mysterious light? Or should he investigate the voices in the dojo, hoping to outmaneuver any enemies? You decide.