Burning in the Void – Chapter 38

finding a purpose _Dominic

If Dominic had spent an unhealthy amount of time ensuring that his Incarna was as close to his physical appearance before the accident that claimed his body, Max had devoted as much attention to making her digital form the polar opposite of her physical appearance. When Dominic stepped into the small room that he and Kamon had shared he was momentarily startled to see the lithe form of a woman in a tight black combat jumpsuit lounging on the bed. His rational mind told him she was not Kamon at the same instant that his recognition software tagged her face with Max’s name, but the flicker of uncertainty tore at him like a sharp claw digging into his flesh.

“You made it here quickly,” he said, shaking off the discomfort.

Max smiled at him and sat upright. “I’ve been here a while. Natalia’s here also.” She gestured to the corner of the room.

A section of the wall appeared to shift away from itself and bend to an impossible angle as Natalia stepped out of the corner, the chameleoskin of her body stuttering at it attempted to adapt to her new position. “You didn’t have to ruin the surprise.”

“Nice try, Natalia, but I’ve been at full combat senses since I encountered the Council guards at the bridge,” Dominic replied.

While Natalia’s skin was capable of hiding her from normal vision, which would be more than sufficient in the Kingdom, it did nothing to hide the heat signature of her biosupport units and embedded weapons. In Dominic’s enhanced vision she appeared as the hazy outline of an androgynous human body, with a bright red spike of heat at the center and smaller streaks of hot color distributed throughout her body, where a wide variety of deadly weapons were concealed just below her polychromatic skin.

“Did the guards give either of you trouble?”

Natalia’s outline pulsed a little on the visible spectrum, an effect that gave Dominic the vague impression of a cat purring in amusement. “You really think I would have let them see me?”

“Just asking.”

“You insult my abilities, Dominic. I suppose you had to beat them into submission?”

Max stood and stepped between the two of them. She moved casually, but something in the timing of it led Dominic to believe that she was interposing herself into their argument.

“I came through before the bridge was closed,” she said. “The Council only ordered the closure after the girl was abducted by the Stewards. I came though a couple days ago to replace Kamon while she dealt with presenting the refugee to the Council.”

Dominic nodded stiffly and, after a moment’s discomforting silence said, “Alright. We’re all here now, so let’s get down to business.”

He pulled the small contact lens interface that Sera had worn from a pocket of his bodysuit. “This is the guidance interface that Sera, the refugee, wore as she traversed the hot zone. Miles analyzed it for me. He says that it is an extremely basic unit of the sort brought from our home world. The man Sera refers to as the Fool, the augmented Drake Security officer named Connor Norton who has been held as a prisoner in the Kingdom of Humanity all this time, must have found a stash of them that eluded the purges. It is programmed by an external device, such as the wireless transceivers built into each of our cases, after which it can make extremely basic communications with the ship’s network.”