Sera and Tso hurried through the corridors of shaft two, past vibrant paintings and occasional groups of people lounging against the walls talking, kissing, or playing instruments. Sera quickly learned to push her exterior vision ahead of them by several meters so that she could anticipate any obstacles that might trip her numb feet. They passed through two more heavy doors, then entered a short room in which long strips of elastic cord sprouted from two of the curved walls.
“Just hang on to one of those straps, and try not to throw up,” Tso advised. “We are about to lose spin gravity.”
Sera did as she was told, gripping the strap as tightly as she could, then easing up slightly when she heard her knuckles crackle. She still had no feeling in her hands, or anywhere else in her body. All sense of the physicality of her body was beginning to fade as she grew more aware everything that surrounded her.
Tso tapped a button on the wall and grimaced. “This part is always the worst.”
The room shuddered and Sera saw, but didn’t feel, her feet begin to drift up off the floor. She clung to the strap as her feet drifted upward.
“What is this?” she asked.
“We are transitioning from the spin gravity of shaft two to the free fall environment of the core,” Tso said.
Even as Tso spoke, a vision of the ship poured into her mind, assembling into a neon wireframe, with her location marked by a glittering point of golden light. Tso appeared beside her as an emerald star. As the tube in which they rode came to a halt and docked with the airlock that would allow them to enter the core of the ship, Sera’s vision expanded to show the traceries of corridors and maintenance passages snaking through the core. A string of ruby lights sparkled in the hallways leading away from the airlock.
There may be some trouble ahead. Just trust me and stay out of their reach until I can get some help to you, the Captain whispered.
“We need to be careful,” Sera said.
Tso released her grip on the strap and drifted towards Sera, cocking her head to one side as she said, “What are you talking about?”
Sera was about to explain what the Captain had told her when her vision shifted, sweeping down the hall and through four ruined hatches until it reached a group of four Core Security officers in white combat armor. Each gripped a menacing black gun with a long barrel and a thick stock studded with status readouts. Even as she recognized the suited figures, Sera recalled the tactical capability and effect of each officer’s armor and weaponry, as if she had known them her entire life.
“Four Core Security officers armed with low energy fleshcutter beams. They’re coming up the third tube. Will probably get here within the minute. I think…” Sera felt a tug of disorientation as in her mind the suited figures froze, then began moving backwards through the corridors in stuttering leaps until they backed into a group with a man she recognized. Before Sera could even fully compose the question of where she knew the man from, she recalled his full life history, including the moment when he had injected her with the neural interface. “They’re acting on orders from Bennet. He wants them to bring me back to him. Anyone with me is expendable.”