SD First Draft 8

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.

Gamayun emitted a chorus of tones which Dyson recognized as its equivalent of a human sigh. The drone had long since abandoned mimicking human conversational ticks and instead preferred to interject its speech with more unique elements. “I should have made you spend more time with other people. Your socialization is not up to par.”

“I thought you would have guessed that for the cycles I spent living with you and {needle drone} in that accursed temple,” Dyson griped. 

A moment’s work brought the airlock closed and initiated a burst of air from the ceiling. 

“We are being scanned,” Gamayun said. “I believe the intent is to detect free radioactive particles.”

“Makes sense if there is a reactor in the engineering section.”

“It brings questions to mind. I had assumed that this ship ran on a grid tap, but perhaps the species which built it was not conversant in such technology.”

“Or maybe they’re just very careful,” Dyson replied, working the airlock release to open the inner door. “Did you notice the crew quarters?”

“I had not. You are staying aboard the Raven’s Flight so I did not bother to investigate the accommodations.”

“I checked them. It’s important to know your surroundings. Anyway, the doors to the crew quarters are all air tight.”

“All?”

“Well, the ones I checked.”

The inner airlock door opened, revealing a spartan maintenance passage which ran the length of the ship between the thoracic corridors. Signs and stencils marked the wall in a language that Dyson recognized from the displays on the command deck. He would have to remember to load a copy of Moira’s translation database into his own mesh so that he could read the markings throughout the ship.

Gamayun slipped past Dyson and turned right down the passageway, towards the rear of the ship. “In all likelihood we will be trapped here for a long while. It may be benefaction for you to work on improving relations with Moira. This is her ship, after all.”

“I’ve got a feeling that the ship might have some different thoughts on that count,” Dyson grumbled, following Gamayun. 

Then he noticed the stains on the floor. 

Dark splotches of brown speckling the metallic plating, a disconcerting line of color trailing down the passageway from one doorway to another. Dyson’s life had been blessedly free of most forms of physical violence, but there was something disconcerting about these streaks and splotches that spoke to hi of terrible violence. 

“Can you give me a reading on those stains on the floor. Please tell me they are paint.”

Gamayun hummed to itself for a moment, then phased its emote fields through shades of red and orange as it replied, “Those are blood.”

“Then tell me that its… I don’t know… animal blood. Maybe evidence that Moira’s hobby is raising and butchering space goats.”

“It is most definitely human blood,” Gamayun said, without hesitation. 

Dyson breathed in sharply and swallowed bile. He moved to the side of the passage and leaned against the wall, breathing slowly and forcing himself to stop picturing the suffering which must have resulted in this much blood. Compartmentalize it, he told himself. Treat it as you did the husks of treasure hunters who had been infested by the furies before mounting an assault on the temple. He had seen the aftermath of death before, and the temple itself had been a tableau of agony, its walls constructed in the image of countless tormented corpses, but the intimacy of seeing somebody’s blood poured out upon the floor was disconcerting. 

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And then Evangeline had arrived to give them direction. 

Now she directed them to congregate around the Spire, surrendering their free-flowing computational mass to create a parabolic mirror encircling the spire on all sides, leaving only the uppermost portion open to permit signals to dissipate. The mass required to surround the Spire and ensure that the mirrors did not collapse under their own weight was significant, but considering that she had the entire mass of the zone’s former land, water, raw, and occupants to work with, Evangeline had no fear of coming up short on supplies. 

Once the scaffold was complete, Evangeline set about sorting her components by atomic structure. The various syntellects which had once comprised the furies, and now were at most faint whispers in the back of Evangeline’s mind after being subsumed into her intellectual whole, had been astonishingly ingenuitive in crafting computational substrates from a wide variety of materials, but some were naturally more suited for transmitting signals. These were shuffled inwards and ordered to assemble themselves into mammoth transmission arrays, each aligned so as to concentrate their signature at the very center of the structure, beaming a message into the very heart of the Spire. 

It was a desperate gamble. 

 

 

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

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