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.