SD First Draft – 3

Continuing the first drafts of Splintered Demons. To learn more about this book or view the table of contents for these first drafts posts, visit the novel page here.

“Are you getting a sense that this place might not be entirely mechanical?” Moira asked. She moved to hover below a series of nodules on the outside of the door, each of which aligned with the locking arms on the inside. Bulging tubules lead away from each nodule, worming across the face of the door like veins beneath skin. In comparison with the rest of the door, these were small, but the scale of the entire construct was such that each tubule was as thick as Moira’s forearm. “These look like they could be conduits of some sort, but they don’t run straight like you’d expect with construction. They’re more like veins.”

“I think it’s dangerous to apply an anthropocentric model to anything that we are finding here. Just calling this a door is potentially misleading,” Dyson said.

“What else could it be? People have got to have openings to pass though, don’t they? Most of the assumptions I made about the Heraxo turned out to be correct.”

“Yes, but think about the needle drones. Have you ever met one before your ship tried to murder my companion?”

“Hey, that sparkly piece of 💩 was trying to kill me,” Moira snapped. Within minutes of meeting Dyson, one of his syntellect companions had used a visual programing weapon to trigger a seizure in Moira, then had tried to spear her on its sharp ends. “But, yes, I have seen needle drones before.”

“Do you know where they come from?”

“They’re syntellects. I always figured they they were built by a drone designer with a crystal fetish during one of the intrazonal wars. That’s where most of the syntellects I’ve met come from.”

“Not exactly. They’re exo. Well, more accurately they are alien, trapped in the shell at the time of the enclosure.”

“As fascinating as this history lesson is, what in nine hells does it have to do with doors?”

Dyson did not immediately reply. When Moira looked over at him a moment later she found him blinking dumbly at her. 

“Something wrong?”

“You’re a Jesuit.”

“And you’re an ass.”

“I apologize. I’ve just never met an Jesuit before.”

Moira turned her back on Dyson and continued to study the doors, being careful to not enter the open space between them. The irregularly pulsing lights from within the chamber did little to illuminate the space beyond the doors, giving only the vague impassion of a second cavernous space beyond. The doors had opened with no apparent motivation and the last thing that Moira wanted was to grav to the far side of the door right before they decided to close again. 

“I really am sorry, Moira. Gamayun has done his best to correct the deficiencies in my upbringing, but I still spend much of my time in isolation. I can be a little brusque.”

“That’s a word for it.”

“But you are, aren’t you?”

“Where I come from, asking about somebody’s religion is extremely impolite.”

“And where I come from nobody bothers because we all assume each other to be atheists. Hard not to after the last thousand years, you must admit.”

“I understand that.”

“So do you actually believe in all of it? The nine hells, transubstantiation, the divinity of man?”

“I’ve got an idea,” Moira said, pivoting her gravness so she looked straight at Dyson. From their position merely a meter from the doors it would be easy to suffer an attack of vertigo as the apparent gravity of the chamber placed them both at the top of a kilometer long fall to the wreckage below. “How about we focus on figuring out where the 🖕🏽 we are, and then we can have a philosophical debate some off over a bottle of rice wine?”

“Make it vodka and you have a deal.”

That brought a smile to Moira’s lips. It was humanizing to know that Dyson at least shared in the common human failing of alcohol indulgence.

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