|DISCLAIMER: Paramount Pictures own all the characters in Star Trek Voyager. I‘m just borrowing them to tell a tale or two. This story is used only for entertainment - I didn‘t get a cent.
NOTES: Here we are folks! Another tale to the saga. Please email me comments on how the story is getting along as a writer loves to hear from you guys once in a whle. ;)
LOG 4: TANTAMOUNT OF MEMORIES
By Lanna (firstname.lastname@example.org)
It was easy. Too easy.
"Well done, Rowena," her Killarite employer praised. He watched as Druxza and two guards carried Paris into the holding cell.
"Not that I want any of your professional secrets, but how did you get Paris out from under their noses?" He gave her an innocent look.
Rowena glared at the Killarite, annoyed at his probing questions. He had interrogated her about Voyager only moments ago - ship schematics, firepower, crew manifesto - unfortunately, Rowena had too steep a price for him to meet. Information had a price tag after all.
"Enough. The siskas. Now," she snapped, her eyes flashing. She was still in Elaine‘s shape.
The Killarite held out his hands. "Alright, alright. I understand how you work. Druxza! The siskas, now!"
As Rowena pocketed the money, she frowned at the memory of Paris‘ probing eyes as she entered the Holodeck in the form of Elaine Dibbs. She had smiled brightly and was about to recite her made-up story about a Holodeck malfunction when he looked up and stared at her coldly with his pale blue eyes.
She knew instantly that he knew what she was. But there was puzzlement in his face, even fear.
"What are you waiting for?" he said, standing up.
"Waiting for what?" she asked innocently, her turquoise eyes large with innocence.
Paris just stood there, still as a statue. In an unexpected move, he reached to tap his commbadge.
Rowena knew it had gone too far. She attacked. Changing into her liquid form, she sank into the holographic grass. A chameleon, she changed her form to a matching green, becoming invisible. She sensed Paris backing away, perhaps getting ready to alert security-
She had lashed a tentacle around his legs, pulling him down. She heard a startled gasp, then a groan when he landed awkwardly on his arm. The tentacles quickly wrapped around his neck, then hands, efficiently immobilizing him. She reminded herself not to damage him and loosened her hold on him. She felt him struggling violently.
"Don‘t worry," she had said through the mouth she formed on one of her tentacles. "You won‘t feel a thing." A hypospray that had lay hidden in her form replaced the mouth. Without wasting time, she had injected Paris with the sedative.
It hadn‘t taken him long to lose consciousness. When he became still, Rowena had transformed into Elaine. She smiled in satisfaction, tossing her hair. "Now, we have to take you out."
Ten minutes later, Elaine Dibbs had exited the holodeck, looking agitated and distressed. A short moment later, Commander Chakotay entered the holodeck. When he came out without Lieutenant Paris, the crew knew instantly it was yet one of the troubled pilot‘s unsuccessful ‚sessions‘ with Chakotay. They decided to leave Holodeck 2 for a while. No one had noticed anything amiss.
"Hiding Lieutenant Paris in your body and leaving the ship as Commander Chakotay! Ingenious. However, I don‘t think Paris appreciated the gesture," the Killarite bantered like a fond uncle.
Rowena scowled. "He was unconcious. He was not damaged," she emphasized.
"Of course he isn‘t! Of course, if he was, you would pay." Although he grinned, the room had gone several degrees colder at his words.
"Of course," she answered levelly, familiar with such games. "Now, I will leave."
The shapeshifter did not waste any time. As Elaine Dibbs, she returned to Voyager to become part of her crew. Of course Voyager would be alerted of their missing crewman, but by the time they found out he was missing, the ship carrying Tom Paris would have disappeared.
* * *
"I know what you‘re thinking. You are thinking: Not again."
Tom groaned, trying to raise his head from the crude pillow. He managed to sit up and blink away stars. "Who...?" It came out as a rasp. He licked his dry lips and rubbed his aching temples. He heard fluttering. It reminded him of a bird. A big bird.
<It can‘t be! he thought as recognition dawned on him.
"Of course you know what I am," came the familiar voice. Too familiar.
The wings fluttered again.
Tom forced himself to stand.
"What are you doing out of your space?" he hissed.
"Don‘t be alarmed, Paris. I mean you no harm." Those same words, uttered over six months ago. How wrong were they then!
"And stop doing that," he snapped. "I told your kind again and again, to never read my mind!"
"What is it that your Commander Chakotay once told your captain? ‚I can‘t help it. It‘s my nature.‘ Interesting story - the scorpion and the fox." Silver eyes regarded Tom from a darkened corner of the room. They blinked once, twice.
Then a third eye opened from its forehead. Tom shivered, backing away.
They called him ‚He with the Third Eye‘, an oddity even among his people; some even called him a mutant. He preferred isolation to life among his kind and possessed a cold logic that made Tuvok look warm.
"Vahne," Tom breathed its name.
The Binom smiled, the familiar silver eyes almost twinkling. If not for the eerie third eye on his forehead, Vahne could have been his twin. Six months ago, after ‚rescuing‘ him from his wrecked ship, the reclusive aliens used his DNA to clone new bodies for themselves. They had repaid him by exiling him on Rya.
"Surely you don‘t believe that?"
Tom bristled, and put up his mental shields. "Where are we?" he ignored the question.
"WE are in a zoo," Vahne replied cryptically.
Tom turned to face the Binom, his face livid. "What are you talking about?"
"A Killarite by the name of Gusan. He thinks that I could make him immortal. I tried to tell him only a myurin and a healer could do that, but he wouldn‘t listen. Then again, he was too scared of me. I do not blame him. I killed two of his guards before," Vahne paused. "He thinks of us as ‚priceless exhibits‘"
"But what do they want from me?!" Tom fumed, looking around his cell.
There were white walls, but no door in sight.
"They have heard enough legends to realise that they need two Binoms to make him a ‚k‘shani‘. Naturally, since you looked like me-"
"They thought I was a Binom," Tom finished, disgusted. "We better remedy that tale then."
"If you can convince them," the Binom shrugged.
Tom wanted to punch the walls in frustration. How could this happen again? Again, he was separated from Voyager! But this time it would be different! His face flushed with rage - he wouldn‘t let them take him away again! Not again!
"Wait..." Tom remembered what Vahne had said a moment ago. He took deep breaths to calm himself. "You said something about a k‘shani?"
Vahne met his eyes, his expression unreadable. "Before the Xyrons came, my people were greatly respected and revered throughout the sector." His expression softened at that remark, imagining the great empire his ancestors had built. "But we do not have the thirst to explore nor to communicate with other civilizations like most humanoids. We solved that matter by creating the k‘shani," Vahne gave him a cryptic smile then. "Or, ‚the Immortal Ones‘."
"You‘re telling me that the Binoms could make a person immortal?" Tom asked skeptically. He had given up searching for a panel, or even a way out. Now he merely sat on the floor, dejected.
"No, they are not immortals. They die, perhaps faster than their fellow brethren. After all, the k‘shani are humanoids. We merely transformed them to suit our purposes. Once a k‘shani dies, his memories are transplanted into the next one. Thus, their names."
Like Trills, Tom thought absently.
"But surely you don‘t believe that?" Vahne asked suddenly, watching him intently. Tom looked up sharply, his brows furrowing. He knew what Vahne meant with his question.
"You dare deny it?" Tom questioned harshly. "You were there, watching as the Mylar nearly ripped me apart inside!" it took everything to control his voice. He was burning with rage.
"I do not deny it. But Iolo and Bahne tried to rescue you, not kill you."
"Liar," Tom hissed. "I heard the Mylar say, ‚Let him die slowly‘. And Bahne agreed! He obeyed the Mylar - they wanted me to starve to death on Rya!"
"He might have obeyed, but he gave you new skills to survive," the Binom answered calmly as he sat cross-legged on the floor.
"My new skills nearly drove me insane! I do not thank them for it!"
Vahne‘s silver eyes turned cold. "Ungrateful human. But you are young and impetuous. I will not kill you for your impertinence. You‘d be pleased to know that I opposed Bahne‘s decision. He bestowed upon you an honour that has not been given to a mortal for almost a thousand years. I didn‘t think you were ‚qualified‘ for it. But Bahne is a sentimental creature - perhaps because he was expecting his first child then. The myurins always get soft then."
<Honour? He never thought about his condition as an honour. Binoms - their whole sense of honour and duty sickened him most of the time.
"Ah, I see you‘re awake!" a cheerful voice greeted them. Tom recongised his race - a Killarite. Tom scowled. "You are responsible for this?" he snapped.
"Easy, no, you are my guests." The Killarite made a placating sign with his hands.
Tom tried to read the Gusan‘s mind, but it was as if he was met with interference - he couldn‘t get past it.
<His kind cannot be read came a voice in his head. <And he uses it to full advantage - if only he knew that I could easily kill him even with his ablilty. Tom felt contempt in Vahne‘s tone.
<Then why don‘t you do it? You could do the deed easily enough
He felt amusement from the Binom. <I kill only when it suits me, and the Killarite has something I need.
<Need? Tom turned to look at Vahne. A mistake, because Gusan caught onto that.
"You‘re doing that aren‘t you?" Gusan asked, his face lighting up with almost childish excitement. "Communicating with your mind!" Gusan gestured and clasped his hands together, as if incredibly glad for some reason.
Tom sent him a glare. "Release us. Captain Janeway will never let you go for this!"
Gusan shrugged. "I know. That‘s why we‘re now travelling at Warp 8 to the Golaron sector."
Tom paled. "We‘re moving?"
"Yes," Gusan smiled. "We‘re almost a day‘s travel away from Space Port Merana."
Tom growled and charged at Gusan. He was thrown back almost immediately. The forcefield sizzled, then paled to invisibility again. Tom groaned as his body convulsed in shock. He looked up defiantly at the Killarite, giving him a furious glare.
Gusan backed away, his features trying hard to look unconcerned. "Remind me to thank Druxza for installing this force field," he said a little breathlessly. "Now, if you might excuse me, I have matters to attend to."
Tom watch the Killarite go. When he disappeared, he let out a cry of rage.
* * *
"Well, the Warp Core is in tip-top condition," Ebran replied.
Delaine looked up from her console. "Whoopee," she said without enthusiasm. Closing her tricorder she stretched her aching back. "This is the last time I do Delaney a favour and take her shift!"
"Which Delaney?" Ebran said as he entered his calculations into his console.
Ebran let out a startled cry and dropped to his knees.
"Tonay?" Delaine dropped her tricorder and rushed to his side. "What‘s wrong? Delaine to-"
"No, stop!" Ebran protested, stopping her hand as it went to her commbadge.
"It‘s not what you think! It‘s Paris!"
"Paris?" Delaine snatched her hand away. "What are you talking about?"
Ebran looked up. He looked annoyed. "I see a cell," he snapped. "He’s moving. I suppose I should tell the Captain."
"Tell? Tonay, you’re not making any sense!" she got up, watching him march off.
"B’Elanna won’t forgive me if I didn’t tell her that her Tom is kidnapped!"
Delaine could only watch in amazement.
* * *
<But surely you don‘t believe that?
"What?" Tom turned, startled, but was met only with his reflection in the mirror of his room. He stared sheepishly into it for a while and then continued to study the holoprojector. <This place is getting to me, he thought. Who would have thought that the shiny, round object would be such a pain? It was a compact and complicated piece of technology. Deceptively simple in design, yet complicated - it reminded Tom about the nature of the Binom society. Iolo said that it was managed entirely by the mind, and had to be modified for his use. So far, Tom was not fully convinced that it was modified enough.
Tom yelped and dropped the projector in his haste to hide it. For a few heart-stopping moments he could only stare at the motionless figure at the doorway.
"Bahne!" he managed to snap after a moment. "You scared the hell out of me! Didn‘t I tell you never to do that?"
Bahne studied the holoprojector on the floor, then Tom.
"Are you nearly finished with it?" Bahne asked. Of course Bahne knew that he was not - he could simply fish it out of Tom‘s mind, but Bahne was what Tom termed ‚the diplomat of Surelis‘. In more ways than one, Bahne was almost regarded as a prince of his people. He had made sure that Tom recieved the right treatment from day one from every Binom, and that included not reading his mind. It was because of his inherent kindness and gentleness (something quite foreign to most Binoms) that made Tom feel more secure around the myurin.
Tom pursed his lips and then after a while let out an agitated groan. "I don‘t know how to use it! Are you sure Iolo said it was modified?"
Bahne raised an eyebrow, his favourite form of expression. Bahne reminded Tom too much of Tuvok at times.
"Here," Bahne reached out for the projector. "Let me try it."
Tom watched as Bahne enclosed in the shiny, round black holoprojector in his slim hands - hands that mirror his own - and with a few deft movements, activated the projector. It led out a pleasant hum.
"There," Bahne handed back the object to him. "You may begin to record your message.
Tom was about to say thank you when he was distracted by a noise from the doorway. Another Binom stood there, studying him with pale, unblinking silver eyes. His silver hair cascaded to his shoulders. All clad in black, and with a shawl covering half of his face, the Binom was a sinister, cold presence. Tom took an involuntary step back.
Bahne and the newcomer exchanged silent gazes. Tom knew that they were telepathically communicating again. Binoms never talked to each other, but they humoured him when he was in their presence. This time however, they didn‘t.
The two suddenly stared at him. Chilled to the bone, he could only stare back. It was unnerving when the Binoms got that way. Sometimes the stares could last for a full minute, and Tom ached to know what they were thinking about when they looked at him that way.
"What‘s wrong?" he asked. Then putting more force into his words when they did not answer, he snapped. "It‘s about time you tell me what‘s going on with the Mylar! That‘s it, isn‘t it? It‘s the Mylar? Well, I don‘t have much time anyway, so you might as well tell me. Iolo said-"
Suddenly a coughing spasm clenched his lungs and he doubled over in pain. A gentle hand touched his shoulder after a while, and in a cloud of pain, Tom saw another face. He recognised Iolo, Healer of the Binoms, from the yellow markings on the side of his face. Gently, Iolo dabbed the corner of his mouth with a soft cloth. It came back red with blood.
Again Tom felt that familiar despair at the sight of the blood. He was
growing weaker. He was dying. The word rang hallow in his head. Dying. Never to see Voyager again. Never to see another human face. <B‘Elanna...will you ever wonder what happened to me?
"Is it getting worse?" he rasped. Iolo helped him to his feet.
Iolo nodded. Iolo. Wise Iolo. He had always been there to offer him help.
And when Kesira was killed, Iolo had been there to help him through it. Tom managed a smile.
"I‘m sorry. Sometimes...human emotions can get really-" he took a deep breath to ease the pain in his chest. "-strong," he finished, wincing as the word made his throat hurt.
"Leave him," Iolo turned to Bahne and the newcomer. "He has to recover."
Bahne nodded, but the newcomer did not move. He suddenly removed the shawl that covered his face. Tom looked at his face - an identical of his, but yet hardened with a cynical smile and cold, piercing silver eyes. The Binom reached out and touched his cheek. Tom flinched, preparing himself to punch the Binom if needed.
"Vahne!" Iolo scolded. Vahne, obviously the newcomer‘s name, raised an eyebrow.
"He amuses me," Vahne replied.
"So he does," Iolo muttered. "Although you are my twin, Vahne, I will never understand your ways. You taunt humanoids instead of guiding them. Kill them instead of helping them survive. And I see in your mind now - you have hunted down the Mylkrie again." Iolo made a disapproving noise. Tom stiffened at the mention of the pirate race.
Bahne gave Vahne an equally disapproving glare.
"They are pests. You said so yourself, Bahne, so do not be priestly with me." Vahne gave Bahne a cynical smile. It looked almost cruel.Tom decided he didn‘t quite like the Binom.
Vahne gave him an amused look at that, and Tom shivered, knowing full well that he had sensed that thought.
"The Mylar awaits," Vahne announced. Suddenly, a third eye opened on his forehead, staring at Tom with a piercing intensity.
Tom had seen many things in his travels around Voyager, so not many things surprised him. But this one more than surprised him - it terrified him. The third eye gazed down at him, wide-eyed; anger and rage seething in its depths.
"Enough, Vahne." Iolo scolded. "Go. I will stay with Tom Paris."
Vahne gave Iolo a last look and exited. Tom shivered when they left.
"The Sentinel," Iolo said, answering his thoughts. "He is the Eyes and the Ears of the Mylar. Everything he sees, the Mylar sees. Everything he hears, the Mylar hears."
Tom wondered for a moment. "I thought Bahne was the Sentinel?"
Iolo paused. Then shook his head. "Our brother, Kishara, died two human years ago. Bahne has stepped into his place." Pain etched on his features. "Now, be still. I shall ease your pain." He placed his hands on his chest.
Tom tried not to think that Iolo would enter his mind again - much like a Vulcan mind meld, only more sophisticated. He occupied his mind with thoughts of Voyager and the chance of returning to it...
He had heard about Vahne. Misfits usually stand out in homogenous societies like the Binom. He was rarely around Surelis, and when he was, he spent most of his time in the throne room of the Mylar - or so he had heard.
Tom‘s eyes snapped open. He was lying down on his bed. He must have fallen asleep after Iolo healed him. Puzzled, he gazed at the three standing before him. Bahne, Iolo and Vahne. Their expressions were unreadable.
"Time for what?" he whispered. He felt cold and terrified suddenly.
Vahne‘s third eye gazed at him maliciously.
No answer. Bahne only offered his hand.
Tom liked Bahne. Trusted him. So he took his hand and went with him.
<No please don‘t go!
Tom looked around, startled. The Binoms didn‘t seem to have heard the voice.
"Come," Bahne said. His eyes were still unreadable. Tom nodded. Perhaps the Mylar would finally see reason and release him.
Somehow the door appeared, and he found himself standing still as Bahne and Iolo pushed the doors open.
The throne stood, lonely in a sea of emptiness.
Tom approached it reluctantly, curious yet terrified at the same time, knowing something pivotal was about to happen.
<Tom Paris. Come here, Paris.
The Mylar. He stood in the middle of the room, his back to him. Still and umoving.
<Iolo said you were not well?
"I‘m better now." Don‘t let the Mylar see your terror. Keep your voice from trembling. Remember what Dad thought you. What did he teach you anyway?
<I will make you better.
"What do you mean?"
The Mylar turned, fixing his silver eyes on his blue ones. Then a slow smile crept up on his lips. The silver markings that ran down the side of his face seem to glow. "Oh. I am an ancient and knowledgeable being. Surely you trust me?"
"But Iolo said-"
"Iolo is young. I am old. Or do you not trust me?" there was something in his tone that Tom didn‘t like. He didn‘t reply.
"You don‘t trust me," the Mylar whispered, his eyes narrowed to slits. "Neither did I ever trust you, Tom Paris. You are the biggest mistake I have made."
From the corner of his eye, Tom could see Iolo fidget. Bahne, always a pillar of strength and calm, merely stared ahead.
"Oh?" he challenged. "You took my DNA without my consent. Cloned thousands of bodies for your ‚children‘ so that they could live - and you call me a mistake?" Tom wanted to spit the word out. "My mistake was flying into your space in the first place!"
The burst of pain behind his eyes paralysed him for a moment. When it disappeared, he was on the floor groaning.
"I could kill you with a thought," the Mylar‘s voice came from somewhere.
He couldn‘t focus on anything. Red covered his vision...until he realised that he was bleeding. Bleeding from his eyes. He tried to rub the blood away from his eyes, but his hands wouldn‘t obey.
Bahne merely stared at him when the next wave of pain came. This time blood poured from his lips to spill on the white floor, a stark reminder of his mortality. He screamed. Blood flowed from his ears...
<Please stop it! Please...I‘ll do anything-
<Begging, Tom Paris, won‘t bring back my children!
Tom‘s eyes flew open as rage clouded his already blood-dimmed vision. "You killed your chidlren," he hissed. "*You* are the monster you should kill."
The Mylar‘s eyes boiled with sudden rage, his mouth twisted into a hideous grimace of hatred and wrath. And as he spit out the next words, Tom knew that this was the end.
"You will die slowly, Tom Paris. And you will never be able to utter a single scream."
"NO!" Tom jerked awake, his breathing harsh in his ears.
<The Killarite. Gusan. Vahne. His gaze shifted to the Binom, seated in a darkened area of the room. His eyes were closed, but his third eye was open, staring balefully at him.
Slowly, the nightmare world that was Surelis faded, but not the feelings of terror and betrayal. Bahne and Iolo had watched while he lay on the floor dying as the Mylar tore him apart from the inside. It was a miracle he survived at all.
Tom looked up in shock. Vahne was right next to him, his face alert and wary. How in the world do they do that? Vahne had appeared beside him as if by magic.
<There are people behind that door.
<You‘re right, Tom thought, going into a defensive crouch. <That sounds like-
The wall to their left exploded in a shower of sparks and smoke. Tom coughed and squinted through the smoke. Dark figures emerged from the mist, holding weapons - he tensed.
"Miss me, Paris?" said a voice he knew so well.
Involuntarily, he grinned. "What took you so long, B‘Elanna?"
B‘Elanna grinned, beautiful despite the grime and dust that coated her skin. Her left sleeve was charred from a phaser hit, but she didn‘t seem injured. "Glad you have your humour back." More members of the security team piled up behind her. Gradually, her gaze shifted to Vahne, and she went rigid.
"What are-" she began.
"We do not have time to explain, B‘Elanna Torres. After all, Gusan has set the self-destruct mechanism." Vahne calmly replied.
B‘Elanna frowned in confusion until a security officer yelled, "He‘s right! This ship is set to go off in 2 minutes!"
"Voyager!" B‘Elanna yelled. "Six to beam up, now!"
For once, the transport went off without a hitch, and as his prison cell faded from view, Tom could see Vahne‘s third eye looking at him suspiciously.
He was back on Voyager. The familiar clean smells returned to his senses. The rest of the away team stood on the platform beside him stripping off their gear.
"This is the last time I‘m going to let anyone abduct me," he said out loud, his voice tired.
"You got that damn right, Paris."
Before he could respond, B‘Elanna enveloped him in a hug that gradually turned into one of the most passionate kisses they‘d ever shared. Gladly, he returned her kiss. He had missed her more than he thought he would.
<I still love you, he thought with surprise. <I don‘t think I ever did stop loving you. He pulled away and smiled gladly at the half-klingon. Faintly he noticed Tuvok and Harry wiping dust off their uniforms and Captain Janeway grinning from a corner.
Home never felt so good.
"Druxza. You have disappointed our people!"
Tara‘s voice interrupted Tom‘s passion filled haze and he forced his eyes to settle on the Tremalian officer. The SubJuvanal faced one of Gusan‘s men - the one he recognised near the Bar on Merana a few days ago.
"No," spat Druxza. "I am fighting for our liberation - while you, and a host of other m‘tak traitors serve as the Collaborate‘s slaves! I am fighting for a day where the Tremalians are not reviled as slaves of the Collaborate, but feared for being the fierce warriors we once were!"
The Subjuvanal barred her teeth at that. "The Edicts of Ku-Nasra said-"
"The Edicts were wrong, and I‘m right. Now, arrest me and hand me over to the Collaborate, you metag dog. I have no words for you."
Tara‘s pale complexion flushed, then she nodded brusquely to her security team.
The momentary drama ended. Captain Janeway approached Tom. She gave him a warm smile. "Sorry we took so long, Lieutenant. If it were not for Ensign Ebran, we would have taken much longer."
Tom frowned. Ebran Tonay? The one that picked a fight with him in the messhall? "How?"
"Now that is a matter he will have to explain to you. He refused to do so with us. But whatever it is, we‘re glad you‘re home, Tom." It was at this moment that she noticed Vahne. Janeway was skillful enough not to let her shock register, though she gave the Binom a guarded smile. "And you are?"
"Vahne," the Binom answered, stepping down from the transporter pad. "I thank you for rescuing me, Captain Janeway. Bahne speaks highly of you."
"Tell him I say thanks," Janeway said, warmer this time - though finding it still difficult to completely trust this Binom. "You have some cuts - we‘ll let our doctor look at you."
"Thank you," Vahne answered. The Captain nodded and, together with the Collaborate Security team, led Paris out of the transporter room, leaving Vahne with two security officers who stared suspiciously at him.
The Sentinel of Surelis ignored the two officers easily, thinking them far below his measure to consider.
<You have found him?
<Yes Mylar, he answered, feeling the thoughts of his leader from afar. He
could picture Bahne, standing in the throne room, looking upwards in concentration. <My mission will be completed.
<There is no other way?
<I am determined to rectify the mistake that was done, he replied, careful not to offend, for he felt only loyalty to the Mylar - but what had been done was a mistake. A terrible one. <And not even you can stop me, Bahne
<You have always followed the rules too rigidly <And you, he threw back <have always bent them too much He felt a sudden coldness in the link, and he knew Bahne was disappointed.
<Sometimes it is called compassion Bahne replied.
Vahne smiled, and the security officers shifted uncomfortably. After all, the Binom had been staring into space for a full minute now, the third eye relentlessly fixing its baleful gaze on them.
<Compassion has no place in my heart. My loyalty is to the Hive and that is why my mission will be fulfilled.
Silence. Then a reply.
<Then so be it.