[sb118-astraeus] Ensign Charles Matthews - Well, Hello, Evil Spirit!

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Shakeel Hussein

Feb 21, 2024, 9:49:52 PMFeb 21
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((Holodeck 1, Deck 11, USS Astraeus))


Charlie smiled as he firmly shook his colleague’s hand. Whilst meeting new people made him nervous at the best of times, he was still glad to be given the chance to meet people in a more relaxed environment. There was hardly a chance to strike up a casual conversation when they first met on the Main Bridge but the forthcoming attitude that the Ensign seemed to exhibit made Charlie feel more relaxed. At least, a little.


Matthews: We didn’t get a chance to meet properly on the Bridge, I’m Charles Matthews. Sorry, I remember your name but I want to make sure I’ve got the pronunciation right… Showitch? Shawyche? Can you break it down for me?


Shewytch: Shewytch, SHEwtch. ::He spoke his name very clearly:: I know, it's a little hard to pronounce.


Matthews: Right. Sorry, that was rude. Ensign Shewytch.


Shewytch: It's okay, I'm used to it. You should know what they called me at the Academy.


Ensign Matthews tilted his head towards the younger Ensign, slightly starting to reminisce; thinking back to some of the nicknames he had been given over the years. The fellow pupils on Luna could be fairly nasty at times but he managed to give as good as he got and then, thankfully, his time at the Academy was fairly straightforward in those respects. Nowadays, the worst he got was a Chuck from time to time, which he hated, but most would go straight to Charlie.


Feeling he didn’t know Shewytch well enough, Matthews decided against probing him on what his old nicknames were. Instead, deciding to ask about the Holodeck programme, which had piqued his interest.


Matthews: What did you say the programme was, an Eastern European myth? It won’t be a battle against Dracula and his minions, will it? I left my sword in my quarters. ::chuckles::


Shewytch: ::He smiled:: No, it will be something else. There's an old myth that a fern can bloom, of course it's not possible, that's why it's a myth. So, this flower has MAGICAL powers, it gives wealth and health, and people used to go to the forests trying to find it.


Charlie raised his eyebrows in surprise. He hadn’t expected he’d spend some of his Holodeck allocation wandering around the forests for a magical flower. However, he had read plenty of fantasy stories as a young child in Tycho City, one of his favourites being The Lord of the Rings, so he had no problem in playing a part in this scenario.


oO If they fought over magical jewellery, I can spend some time looking for a magical plant! Oo



Matthews: So, I’m guessing there’ll be more to this than spotting a fern with a flower blooming from it?


The Ensign nodded before beginning to reply.


Shewytch: Yes, you're right, it's not that simple. Of course, if there is a magical object that does good, there is also a magical evil. This includes spirits and Leshy.


oO Evil spirits? A Leshy? Whatever that is. I really should have my sword. Oo


Matthews: A classic good versus evil story, with a bit of enchanted flora thrown in. ::chuckles:: How do we fight off said nefarious spirits?


Shewytch: I think that people of that time carried garlic with them to ward off evil spirits, and that would have been the end of their protection. ::He laughed:: Sorry ::he calmed down:: But I don't know, maybe the programme will offer us some weapons. So, shall we try it?


Matthews: ::laughing, nodding:: By all means, Ensign.


Charlie turned back towards the centre of the Holodeck, and took a few steps forward, as Shewytch quickly tapped at the control panel near the door. The grid-like pattern faded away as the setting came into being around them; a dark, dusty wooden shack. A classic fairytale trope. He almost expected to see Sleeping Beauty in a glass casket or Hansel trapped in an iron cage.


Shewytch: What a smell of pine... My mother loves this smell.


Matthews sniffed slightly. It always amazed him at how realistic a Holodeck programme could be. He could smell the pine, the smell of the forest outside the shack, he could smell the musty scent from their new surroundings. It almost made him feel like he could sneeze.


The pair looked around, walking slowly about the house, guided by blinking candlelight. The hovel was in a bad state; wooden beams had been broken or had started to rot, the small window was missing a pane of glass and letting in a draught, and Matthews was sure he could see a star or two through the several holes in the roof.


Dodging some clutter on the floor, and some cobwebs swaying in the slight breeze, Charles had to duck to make his way through a small doorway. Lifting his head, his eyes widened in surprise as he noticed an old woman laying in a wooden bed; several candles flickering near her and casting eery shadows across her wrinkled face.


Matthews: ::whispering to Slav:: Should we talk to her?


Shewytch: I think she is an important character.


The two of them stepped slowly towards the bed. Matthews knew it was a projection, but he was wary, the whole setting seemed sinister. For all he knew, she could be something in disguise.


Letting out a slight gasp, the old woman shot a look towards the young Ensigns.


Old Woman NPC: I couldn't… ::inhale:: But you can find… ::sigh:: Follow the brightest star.


oO The brightest star? Oo


Charles listened intently, hoping for more advice as the woman managed to force out her words but all that followed was a rasping breath. As the breath faded, her eyes closed.


Ensign Shewytch carefully covered the woman with her blanket and turned to face Charlie.


Shewytch: Well... Well, the story has begun. You're the tactical officer, so you'll take the first blow. ::He winked.::


Ensign Matthews sidestepped some more rubbish and slowly made his way back towards the doorway, followed by Slav.


Matthews: ::sigh:: Come on then, I’ll take the lead against the make believe monsters. ::laughs:: What about your scientific curiosity?


Shewytch: Response


Matthews: ::chuckles:: I’m joking. Shall we have a quick look arou---


Charles paused and stopped just short of leaving the room. Something suddenly gnawed at him, something that didn’t feel right. Maybe he was starting to think more and more like a Tactical Officer. Maybe he was being paranoid.


He turned back towards the old woman and her final resting place; looking at the shelf on the wall next to her, the bedside table with several half-melted candles and at the floor just next to the bed.


Shewytch: Response


Matthews: ::pause:: Look. Look around the bed.


Shewytch: Response


Matthews: It’s not what you can see, it’s what you can’t.


Charlie leant his head slightly closer towards Shewytch, lowering the tone of his voice to another whisper.


Matthews: So, you’re looking for a magical flower in the forest, a flower that does good but that also attracts an equal amount of evil in that forest. You said the evil could be repelled by garlic, at least a little. You would think some religious symbols would help too, a crucifix for example. If not, you’d try some sort of weapon, wouldn’t you? ::pause:: There isn’t any of that around her bed. Would you relax in this forest without something to hand? Even if you knew you were dying, you’d have something.


Shewytch: Response


Matthews: I don’t think that’s an old lady at all.


Just at that second, a deep rumble echoed around the small bedroom, followed by a whooshing snarl. The candles started flickering rapidly, almost as if they had a mind of their own, casting large shadows and taking them away in an instant.


Matthews stared towards the bed and the body of the old woman suddenly sat up, still covered by the blanket that Slav had kindly placed over her.


Matthews: Back away.


Shewytch: Response


Charlie backed himself through the doorway, making sure not to trip on any of the garbage that was scattered across the floor. He could only assume Shewytch was doing the same or he would have knocked into him.


As Ensign Matthews was almost through the doorway, he took one last glance up towards the old lady, not sure what to expect. She was still sat perfectly upright in the bed. Another bizarre whooshing sound made its way throughout the room, Charlie could feel a breeze that chilled him to the bone, then her left arm abruptly shot up. Her left hand inched out from under the blanket, her pointer finger aimed directly at Charlie.


Old Hag/Evil Spirit NPC: ::raspy breath:: Yooooouuuuuu!


Matthews froze. The blanket fell from over her head, revealing a hideous face where the visage of a sweet old lady had been. Her skin was deathly pale but jet black around her eyes, which had now turned blood red with a black pinprick for pupils.


oO Well, hello, evil spirit! Oo


Her cracked lips curled, exposing sharp, rotting looking teeth dripping with blood as she began to speak.


Old Hag/Evil Spirit NPC: Yoouuu! ::raspy breath:: You will never have the flower!


Matthews: I don’t want it, you old hag!


With a blur, the old woman seemed to vanish, and the blanket collapsed onto the bed.


oO I only called you an old hag. Is that all it took?? Oo


Charlie turned towards Ensign Shewytch, about to speak towards the younger man, when all of a sudden there was a deafening, demonic roar as all of the candles went out one by one.


Shewytch: Response


Turning back to the room; Charles squinted in the darkness, hoping they would adjust and allow him to see something. Anything. After a second, he could make out a figure on the bed, squatting or almost on all fours, with two hoofed feet, long claws at the end of gangly arms and a tail flicking behind it. He could then see the pair of glowing red eyes.


Matthews: Shit! I don’t what it is, man. Just run. Run, run, run, run!


He turned back towards Slav, almost pushing him forward down the corridor. There was a vile screech behind them and loud, rapid thuds.


Shewytch: Response






Ensign Charles Matthews

Tactical & Security Officer

USS Astraeus NCC-70652


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