Time is at the essence part III

Perihelion

What was that Terran saying? Oh yes; friends help you move, good friends help you move bodies. I'm not sure if we're there yet as a group but also hope I'll never have the need to find out either. I focus back to reality and raise my hand to tell the others to stop and give a hard glare behind me to get the point of keeping it quiet across. Peter looks like his bursting from wanting to ask what it is, Groot and Drax stand at the ready and Gamora draws her sword, ready like a predator about to spring. I cautiously peek behind the corner with just one eye.

Suddenly the target of my attention turns around ears perked and guns flying in to his outstretched hands but there's nothing there because I barely manage to duck back behind the corner in time... My trembling body is laying flattened against the wall behind a corner at the same time as I'm shaking my head irritably and holstering the guns and then looking elsewhere in just about this moment. It feels so strange to think myself in third person while being in two places at once and remembering every little detail at the same time and it's frankly trying to tie my eidetic brains into a knot because in a way I'm now having a stereo image of what went on before. I have a sick feeling in my stomach with a migraine of a century brewing up. "What the fuck was that Rock? You look like you just saw a fucking ghost" Quill stage whispers to me. I groan softly. "I saw myself and It flarking hurts my brains..."

"You wot mate? Let me see too." Quill blinks in surprise before poking his head behind the corner too see it with his own eyes and I get another crazy stereo flashback about me turning to whip my guns out ready to shoot and running at our direction after hearing Quill's garbled exclamation and now also the actual words. "Holy shit dude, you ain't pulling my leg here. You're there but you're also... here. Man this is so fuckin' weird!"

"Good damn it, Quill stop that shit! We've got to hustle, I'm coming back this way in seconds. You bald bodies are so frickin' loud." I groan almost pleadingly. Peter looks at me concerned and grabs me without even thinking before pointing at one of the doorways while whisper yelling "This way guys quickly". He dashes through it carrying me at his lap like a child while the others follow at his heels and the door slides shut and then fades away, blocking our path back as we dash through the small room and into another hallway behind the door at the far end.

He sets me down and I slide against the wall to wait for the queasiness to pass. the cold metal feels good against the back of my throbbing head. "So, now what Rocket?" Peter sighs kneeling next to me for eye contact and I can't help but wonder if I should take offence or not that his drawing unwitting attention to the fact that I'm much shorter than him by lowering down to my level. Does he not realize how patronizing that gesture is? I decide to let it slide for now despite the itch to make him pay for it.

"I wish to be free from this irritable abode. Can we not expedite it in any way?" Drax grumbles doing small circles and I can't blame the guy for the sentiment. "For once I'm in agreement with him." Gamora mouths gruffly and gives a pointed glare at my direction. I glare back and fish out the compass from under the jumpsuit to adjust it.

I hear something faint. Metal scraping against... No, boots! -Metal soled boots against hard floor, I decide ears erect and paraboling like radar dishes. The others notice my tension and form a single line behind me at the corridor. "Metal soled boots, not sure how many pairs, maybe twenty possibly less." I convey quietly and we creep forward not really sure if we wish to encounter whoever it was that owned those twenty pairs of magnetized combat boots. The next room we are to cross is much larger than the last but just as empty -too empty. I don't care, I just want to cross it to get some distance between us and the boot sounds. Gamora grabs me before I've taken two steps. "Wait, there's something in the air. Filaments-". She whispers quickly before letting me go. I sop up the sudden touch and squint standing stock still. "I don't see... Wait what filter were you using?" I ask as the matter dawns to me. "Infrared, but they're visible on some other spectrums as well." She replies staring ahead at the large empty looking room.

"Tripwires?" Quill asks with a cute little kink forming on his brows as he squints to see what his physically incapable of seeing. "Nah, just rays and some mono-filament, not sure what they trigger, so don't move until we've figured it out." I shrug as I try figure out how or what they're set to blow without touching anything yet. Ambient temp. difference, refraction or broken connection between light cells and just how sensitive would they be? I'd need to find the mechanism to know for sure... "I think it's a gas trap. I'm smelling traces of some kind of chemical in the air." I conclude sniffing the air carefully. "Ohh, well that's no problem then? I mean if it's just gas, Groot doesn't need to breath and I've got my mask. Groot can carry both you and Drax through with his longer stride while I fly across with Gamora on my lap to that door on the other side. Just hold your breath and it's fine." Peter suggests and accompanies it with a 'see nothing to it'-shoulder swagger. Gamora frowns wordlessly at Peter's suggestion of carrying her and I shake my head to it. "Yeah, and what if it's a chemical that's also skin absorbed? Groot is just as sceptical to those as any of us or nearly anyway, and your stupid mask isn't covering your whole body in hazmat genius."

"Oh, okay but I still think it could work." Star-lord protests mildly. I deign not to even reply as I open my 'survival kit' and get to work. I place UV-goggles over my eyes and use one of my spray cans to see the placing of the possible other types of invisible trigger lines such as lasers. I find none additional but that isn't why I'm doing this play at dismantling the trap. I need the time to think and best way to make them shut up was by making them believe that I needed the quiet for concentration. I strip the goggles from my eyes and brush the non-existent sweat away from my brow. I don't really sweat, it's a 'tick' I've taken upon from bald bodies who do sweat. I rise up from the crouch I've been and start putting my tools away.

"Is it done, Rocket?" Star-lord asks apprehensively. I look up at him and shake my head. "No, I can't do anything without knowing about the mechanism."

"So we're screwed upside and down?" He sighs looking crestfallen. Weird how I'm feeling a sudden pang of regret for letting him down.

"Why would we become attached to another object by an inclined plane, then wrapped helically around an axis for being in great predicament?" Drax inquires carefully. The man hates to look like a fool for asking but at least his learned to ask us if something goes over his head. Though I have to admit that by putting it that way he does make 'being screwed' sound pretty educated. Peter seems to blink for a second before brushing it aside. "Metaphor Drax. You know, for being ... in predicament."

"Oh, I suppose that goes to reason." The tattooed muscle mountain blithely agrees.

"So we go back?" Gamora says looking rather dubious at the thought, though for once our way back hasn't dissipated which makes me doubt its validity even more. "Well, we ain't going through THAT. That's for damn sure." I retort pointing at the door on the far end of the room beyond the traps.

"Guys... I think we may have to trust my hunch and take the risk." Peter whispers his ear against the door we came in. I frown and focus to hear what his hearing from where I'm standing. Those footsteps were back and they were congregating right outside that door. Trust. There's that word again, trust. The last time I put all my trust on someone was when I got a syringe on my neck for the trouble. Luckily I proved to be a bit harder than that to sedate... "Flark my life. Just so that you know Star-dork my trust in you is currently all-time low..." I kvetch and grumble in surrender as Groot grabs me and Drax -who isn't exactly complying at first though he obeys once I quickly lay him the math about the length of Groot's stride versus his own.

Star-lord fires up his boot rockets and speeds to the door with Gamora and punches at the panel with his outstretched arm almost in mid-flight and Groot jumps through the door almost right after them. I let out the breath I was holding in as soon as we've uncoiled from the heap we form against the opposite wall at the hallway behind the door.

"Prey this shit we got sprayed with isn't a skin absorbent nerve agent 'cause we've got that shit in clothes, skin, fur, everywhere, for sure now and Drax & Groot barely even wear clothes between them." I complain and almost shudder at suppressing the powerful itch to start scrubbing myself clean with nothing but my own tongue & saliva.

"Ohh, didn't really thought of that..." Peter admits sheepishly and I suppress another shuddering urge. This time for trying not to explode on the man. How could anyone be so, -so ignorant about ABC-weapons these days. I'm angry at myself too for not bothering to act on the fact before the deed.

"My nipples are very sensitive." Drax pipes in and we all gape at him. Like, what the hell dude? "Why I do not wear any upper body garments." He focuses matter of factly. Oh right, trust Drax to find the sensitive issues in a subject matter. I'm starting to wonder if it's the guy's literal way of joking or something? It's just too deadpan and well-timed more often than not... "Oh, I always thought it was a cultural thing." Peter says. I have to suppress a giggle at the weird long look Drax gives to Quill.

"This is all very cute boys but could we get to flarkin' move on already?" Gamora Snaps at our dithering and she's probably right we shouldn't just stand around and banter all day covered in gods only know what kind of possibly nasty & lethal invisible death gunk. "Yeah, sure. Right... this way." I hope so anyway as I'm taking the lead of our little group and adjust my 'compass' again.

We move forward to yet another white corridor, though something feels subtly different, a tiny bit less immaculate or perhaps more 'lived in and real' would be the right words and my companions also stiffen ever so slightly, indicating that they've noticed it too.

There's yet another sliding door. I glance at my team with a sideways glance. We're ready for anything now. who knows what horrors may lurk beyond. "Oh look, it's a room with a view." I note sarcastically when we realize that we've arrived to a space that's very noticeably different from anything else we've encountered so far.

It's a room -that goes without saying; but what a room it is. The walls of this half-parabole shaped room are of the same white meta-material as everything else seem to be in this place but what makes me gasp is that the arching side of the room has been taken by a huge panorama window opening into a view to space and there's furniture -yes furniture, well it looks kinda weird in style & execution but I know a museum slash trophy room when I see one. We stare at it in surprise at first and then slowly fan around the room. There's another door at the end of the display hall. An almost disturbingly immaculate white sitting divan, a few chairs and couple of empty display cases and lots of pedestals in varying heights.

"Man this window-" Star-lord says tracing his gloved finger on its surface. I look up at him and sigh. "Yeah, Idiotic thing. Who the hell would design such huge weak points on their ships?"

"I think it's kind of awesome." He defends. I shake my head moving away from it as my sight scans and latches onto something else in the room. On an unassuming pedestal there's a transparent rectangular container. The container is further protected by a weak force field. Seeing how my finger can easily cross it, I'm assuming its more for preservation than a barrier against thieving talons in function. Strangely all other pedestals are either empty or displaying different art pieces but none draws me like this one here. It takes me a second to realize that it's because it's in state of constant excitement. My sub-consciousness is hard-wired to detect erratic motions after all and this thing resembling a futuristic lava lamp is anything but still.

Inside there's this iridescent mercurial 'blob' that is in constant slow writhing as if trying to settle for a shape. Peter and the other guardians notice my fascination.

"The hell is that stuff, Rocket?" Peter asks coming to stand next to me to peer at the container.

"I don't know but it's coming with us." I reply reaching out on my toes to pocket the container before Peter can say a word edgewise. "Put it back Rocky! You've no idea what that thing does." He exclaims and I retract my fingers, dropping the container back on the pedestal before having really even moved it, with an itch to snatch it up anyway and run. But I don't and turn to glare at him. "Come on, Rock. You know it's got to have anti-theft devices or something... Nobody leaves his shit open for stealing like this, right?" Star-lord almost pleads. "Ohh fine, I wasn't going to need that particular piece of glarking junk anyway." I grumpily agree and step away from the pedestal, following the team into next room.

This new room is- well, not exactly what I might have assumed but again it's 'furnished'. If you can count the machinery around the room as furniture. There are no windows here but the room is brightly lit with that same hard stark light as most of this 'labyrinth-ship' has been. We split around the large room to look for clues about what all these things are for per Star-lord's suggestion and hopefully there might be controls of some kind around here that we can use. I'm not fully confident on that. Most of the machinery looks high tech even to me and I know when I see something good. Judging from all the stations this place does control something.

What eventually draws all of our conjoint attention is the cryogenic pod at the eastern quarter of the room. Like most things it too has a slight dullness of age patina.

"It's a cryogenic pod!" Peter exclaims.

"And it's been here a long while. Wonder if the person inside is still alive." Gamora comments with much less enthusiasm than Peter. "More importantly, who the heck is in it?" I point out.

"Would it not be most prudent to just ask him?" Drax says drawing our attention to a tall, heavyset black haired man in silvery armouring that was standing there not ten feet from us. I immediately notice that his carrying a sword at his side though it's not yet drawn even though it's out of its sheath. The stranger speaks before I've managed to fully turn and draw my guns and I let my arms drop deciding to hear what he has to say first. I could always kill the sucka' second later. Idiot to bring a sword to gun fight.

"Unusual company Rocket, I had thought a creature of your bearing to not care for such unsavoury comrady."

He says in an usual lilting accent. I take a double take on the guy and I'm pretty damn sure I've not seen this bloke in my life. "You on high or something, dude? I'm pretty flarkin' sure I'd recall if we'd ever met" I retort back. The man cocks his head in a manner which makes me realize that his apparently blind. Trust Peter to say it out loud though. "Dude, you're totally blind!"

The stranger seems to regard all this for a second before answering. "Surely you jest Rocket. I'd find it unusual if you truly had forgotten me and yes, I am blind since birth. Come Rocket Raccoon, let us discus of the matters in private, you can bring your retainers with you if you wish. Our matter won't be that private."

"As long as you can find your way." I grumble trying to scramble for any piece of memory to figure out how this guy knows me. "I always do, I was not named Wayfinder for no reason -ahh but how I've missed your cantankerous humor Rocket." And I blink again in confusion until it dawns me. He thinks me as someone that probably looks and talks exactly like me! Well sure let's humor the Krutaker for now and maybe we'll learn something new.