HOLY BEING - Season 7 Episode 55
To stop the two Professors from bickering, Phloria gave the order to enter the second building at once. Helion and Jerth, her two best soldiers who she had assigned to the second group, yelped in surprise at the vision appearing in front of their eyes.
Gaakhu and Neshal quickly joined them, unable to hold their curiosity. Almost at the same time, Phloria stepped through the door of the first building, happy that she hadn’t let Quylla join them.
She was looking at a huge antechamber, very similar to one of those at the entrance of a military base. On her left, there was a regular-sized desk and a chair, testimony how the Odi couldn’t be much bigger than humans.
On her right, a series of chairs were lined up against the wall. Judging from the size of the room and the number of seats, the base had to receive frequent visits from the Odi’s upper echelons.
There was no other reason she could think of to justify the presence of all the transparent tanks lined up in front of the chairs. Each tank held the remains of a member of a different race.
Phloria identified a human, a Ry, a Dryad, and an orc. The other two were members of races unknown to her. Their bodies had been dismembered and submerged in an unknown transparent liquid that seemed to have preserved them.
Bubbles of some kind of gas were pumped from below and then sucked from the upper part of the tank in a continuous loop. At the base of each tank, there was a pedestal with a holographic display.
Words and images appeared at fixed intervals, reminding Lith of an interactive museum.
“What kind of monster could do such a thing?” Phloria pointed at the body parts. Their flesh had been divided into irregular chunks, but somehow the blood vessels connecting them were intact and the hearts were still beating, giving the creatures a semblance of life.
“Humans, for example.” Yondra replied. “Why do you think the definition of forbidden magic is so lax? Even Healing magic can be considered forbidden if you use it to experiment on others instead of treating them.”
Before allowing anyone to touch anything, the Professors scanned the room for arrays and any kind of magical traps while Lith did the same with Life Vision.
“The place is safe.” Professor Ellkas said. “Let’s see what’s written here.” He stood in front of the tank holding a human male, around twenty years of age.
“It’s mostly technical jargon that I don’t recognize, but from what I can understand it’s an explanation of how the life force of humans works.” Ellkas could browse through the different pages at will thanks to what looked like a touch screen.
After tinkering a bit with the commands, she became pale as a ghost.
“Good gods, these are no explanations. Once you get past the introduction, there are daily reports up to this date. The tanks are constantly monitoring their condition and somehow they keep these poor creatures alive!”
Lith already knew it. Life Vision had shown him that the prisoners’ life forces were tangled and twisted, almost on the verge of collapsing. Yet they had life forces nonetheless.
Most of the heads were split into multiple pieces, making it hard for normal people to notice that their eyes were following the newcomers from the moment they had entered the room.
Lith could read them like an open book. All they were filled with was pain and hope. Each time one of the air bubbles popped up after reaching the surface, Lith could hear faint screams of agony vibrating through the glass-like tanks.
The choir of voices he was able to discern thanks to his enhanced hearing made him want to puke. The fragmented beings had long lost themselves into madness, yet Lith could have sworn to recognize some words among the gurgling sounds they emitted.
“Scan everything with your army amulets and let’s destroy this horror.” Phloria said activating the encrypted mode on her amulet and forcing it onto all the amulets belonging to someone of inferior rank.
The data would be stored but remain inaccessible even to the amulet’s owner, to prevent dangerous knowledge from falling in the wrong hands.
Lith wasn’t new to pain and torture, but such a cruel exhibition was unthinkable of even for him. The Odi had clearly perfectioned their life force manipulation techniques to an extreme level to dismember different races like that and keep them alive for so long.
They had achieved their purpose and yet the Odi had kept their victims on display, like an animal’s head hung on a wall. That wasn’t science anymore, just an empty abuse of power, like a kid plucking a butterfly’s wings.
“Captain Ernas, forgive me, but I think we shouldn’t destroy this place.” Yondra said with a pained voice.
“What do you mean? What good could possibly come out of this?” Phloria was tempted to threaten the old Professor with a charge of insubordination, but Phloria could feel her emotions clouding her own judgment.
“These pods can preserve life. If we had something like them, maybe Calil and the others would still be alive, just in suspended animation.” Those words reminded Phloria of Yurial’s death, cracking her self-righteousness.
“Lith? What do you think?” Asking him to be her moral compass sounded crazy even to Phloria’s ears, but she had no other options.
“Normally I would agree with Professor Yondra. These creatures…” Lith refused to refer to them as people. What was left of them could be barely described as meat puppets.
“-don’t seem to age nor bleed despite their terrible condition, which is good. Yet if it was up to me, I would destroy everything. First, this is not suspended animation. Their eyes still move and if you listen carefully you can hear their screams, which makes the pods just a torturing device.”
Yondra put an ear against the glass-like material, flinching back in horror less than a second later.
“Second, I doubt the Odi’s motives. Whatever they have done to them, is likely to be some kind of weaponization system. This is a military compound, after all. Just like for the arrays on the door, I don’t trust my back to the unknown.”
Lith couldn’t share with them the fact that Solus had seen with mana sense something embedded inside the prisoners’ brains. Something with an energy signature similar to the corrupted spores.
‘No sense in using slave items on meat puppets unless they are meat soldiers.’ Lith thought while placing his hand on a tank and activating Scanner. Somehow the liquid was able to transmit his mana, allowing him to study the condition of the trapped human.
‘Just as I feared. These things had their life force maimed in a way that allows them to live at a terrible cost. This is no immortality. Their life force has simply been compressed to the point of stopping its flow entirely, making them neither dead nor alive.
‘Such condition eternally keeps them on the brink of death, like a twisted version of Schrodinger’s cat.’ Lith thought.
‘It’s worse than that.’ Solus said. ‘All of these people have lost their mana core. The mana flow you perceive comes from their flesh. I think you are right about the weaponization. I believe this is the Odi’s failed attempt to transform the other races into Balors.’