Burning in the Void – Chapter 13

posthuman culture _Dominic

Dominic stalked down the bare corridors of shaft four, ignoring the occasional scuttling brain case and shouldering past the few bodies he encountered. His face was set to a neutral expression that would have looked polite in virtually any social situation, but he knew that if he had still inhabited a biological body it would have been flushed bright red. Despite his calm expression, his fingers were curled into tight fists and the coils of semi-synthetic muscle that ran up his arms visibly bulged with tension. He looked angry, and he knew it better than any baseline human ever could. He blanked the stress level readouts, cleared away prompts from the network to display the social layer, and strode down the passage, stewing in his rage.

He had waited in the medical bay until the woman was settled into bed and surrounded by doctors. A swarm of Council-approved technicians had attempted to descend upon the woman, but Kamon had shooed them away, shouting loudly that the refugee had no implants and their services were not necessary. As much as Dominic hated to admit it, Kamon’s approach of alerting the Council to the woman’s sudden appearance and arranging for official treatment would probably give her a better chance of survival than the covert treatments he had arranged with Miles, but the frustration at being undercut without so much as a discussion grated on his nerves.

She had to go to the Council, he thought. Not that Dominic was thoroughly opposed to the Council, he had even worked in their security force for several years, but this woman was special. As the first person to escape from the Kingdom of Humanity alive in over two hundred years, it wouldn’t do to just keep her brain alive in a case long enough for a detailed interrogation. They needed to keep her body alive as well. She was a symbol, living proof of the atrocities committed in shaft three and, Dominic was certain, soon to become a pawn in the power struggle between the four active human factions aboard the Drake.

He pulled a heavy airlock door open, his synthetic muscles not even straining at the mass, and stepped over the thick metal threshold into a cavernous space. Long ago, before Dominic had been conceived in the shaft four embryonic lab, before the blast had crippled the Drake, this chamber had been intended to serve as storage bay for large manufacturing equipment. In the last hundred years the citizens of the Melder Consensus had transformed the bay into a large common area surrounded by small shops and private chambers. Miles’s apartment was one of these chambers, and that was where Dominic was heading.

At the moment, the common was filled with Melders of every sort, from the baseline humans who, like Kamon, had elected to remain mostly biological except for a few discrete implants to the radicals who had given up any vestige of their biological form to adopt cases with multiple skittering legs and flailing arms. Dominic liked to imagine that he was somewhere along the midline of that spectrum, having lost all of his original body except his brain, but elected to retain a human-form synthetic case. The crowd before him had gathered around a large open area and were all shouting, both aloud and on the public chat channels, at the five combatants in the center of the common.