Burning in the Void – Chapter 29

layers of perception _Sera / Captain

Sera opened her eyes and saw Doctor Angelique Meeks of the Steward Mind/Machine Interfacing Group staring back at her from less than half a meter away. The woman’s pudgy fingers gripped Sera’s wrists as she looked into her eyes. Her feet had drifted up from the deck and hung in the air behind her head as she drifted in front of Sera. “Welcome back, Sera. I’m glad to see the neural graft didn’t kill you. After all, we still need you alive to extract information from your brain.”

The woman’s voice sounded strange, and not just because Sera was surprised at being able to hear again. It was a subtle difference, but she thought that the voice sounded at once distant and clearer than she had ever heard someone speak before.

“I’m already picking up an active link to the network,” Bennet said. Doctor Hector Bennet, chief of nanotech surgery here in the core of the Drake. “I don’t understand though. She’s already showing heavy traffic across the uplink, as if the scan were active. We should only be getting a diagnostic ping. Did you…”

“Of course I didn’t start the scan,” Meeks snapped back at him, pushing herself upwards from Sera’s chair and pivoting in the air to glide over her head and get a better view of Bennet’s screen. “Are you able to direct the search to extract her memories of the path through the hot zone?”

“No. It’s not even…” Sera heard him tapping rapidly on a keyboard behind her head. “No, I was looking at the wrong field. There’s very little data being pulled from her brain, in fact from this I’d say the upload is only checksums or error correction requests, most of the traffic appears to be… an upload of some sort.”

“Impossible.”

“I’m telling you that’s what I’m seeing.”

Sera thought that she could hear a voice laughing. Or rather, she knew that she didn’t hear anything, but the memory of a hearty laugh filled her mind like the reverberating echo of a bell sounded in a large chamber. Then a thought appeared in her mind, as if she were remembering someone speaking to her a second before.

The thought said, Just watch them spin, child. They all thought that they were in charge, but I had them playing on a string the whole time. 

A brief flash of terror flooded through Sera, but she calmed herself. So many inexplicable things had happened to her in the last few days that the only way to not go mad was to accept things as they came, do her best to understand them, and stamp down any fear.

Who are you? Sera thought.

A new vision flooded into her mind. A long spindle of metal, glittering with lights along its length, with four cylindrical shafts set into groves around its sides. The nose of the ship, for she suddenly knew it to be a ship, was tipped with a dome of glittering ice, pitted and scored in places from a thousand microscopic impacts over the last three centuries. The rear of the ship was a twisted wreck of half-melted metal. Along with this false memory of the ship’s appearance came the knowledge of its name: The Drake.