The Vessel

Things have gotten pretty strange now. Yes, here we go with another installment of this odd story we have been going through for a little while now.

We still have a ways to go before we will find the end of it so I have decided to change the way the links work for the earlier chapters. The main links will be to each section but in each section you will have the links for the parts within that section it will look pretty much like this…

Section 1

Section 2

Section 3

The Vessel
The Tunnels

Section 4

Section 5

The Vessel

The attack played through his mind over and over again. He had lost control, lost the situation and paid the price. Tortured within a dream he couldn’t escape, until he felt the dark walls close in around him. He thrashed and spun, fought to break free of the coming darkness. But the space narrowed and tightened, his lungs burned with a fire and need for air that he couldn’t quench.

Air, his lungs pumped the water that filled them but could pull in no air. Hammond’s eyes popped open as he felt the walls closing in around him. He swam up, fought against the pull of water in his lungs and climbed to air and life. Dark murky water refracted the light from above, the guiding light to life giving air.

He hung his head over the side of the rejuvenation tank and puked out the healing waters in coughing fits. After three purges he was able to suck in oxygen through gasping, sputtering fits.

“I wondered if you might surface soon.” The tech looked at figures on a datapad and then tapped the interface on the rejuvenation chamber. The liquid inside the tank sucked down into a whirlpool at the bottom.

Hammond released his hold on the side of the tank and floated down to the bottom as the liquid drained away. With no visible mechanisms, the glass at on the side of the tank spread open in a circle, big enough to allow him to step out.

“How long?” he said as he stepped through and into the open air.

“Your vessel had been found within an hour of its distress beacon,” the tech said. “Superficial damage mostly. The attack had separated your command functions and the vessel shut down. We were unable to repair the original vessel.”

Hammond looked down at the new body, similar in many ways to the original. The humans would not be able to tell the difference at least. The man had killed him. He beat the vessel to the point it could not be repaired. But the new vessel was exactly the same as the old. Well mostly the same. He could feel the differences, could feel the places where the body didn’t mesh with his command functions.

The movements felt off, but they would adjust. The body replacement always felt strange at first as the command functions melded with the rest of the new vessel. Even then, it was awkward, uncomfortable. The rejuvenation tank allowed the vessel and command to meld on the main levels but the rest had to happen through use. He didn’t like feeling this vulnerable, alone, and not quite what he once had been.

“I see you are restored.” His crisp khaki uniform and black armband announced his presence though he blended with within the shadows of the room.

“Inquisitor Marks,” the tech said. “I was just about to contact you.” He stumbled and dropped his datapad on his desk as Hammond snapped to attention.

The Inquisitor stepped in front of Hammond and looked him up and down. “This ‘vessel’ do you find it adequate?”

“I have just now been released from the sleep, Inquisitor,” Hammond said. He focused straight ahead, training carried through to the controllers. Even in the new vessel his discipline held true. “I am anxious to return to duty sir.”

The inquisitor turned toward the tech with a hand stretched out. “Charts.” He scanned through the reports before he dropped the datapad on the worktable. “It appears you will be able to return soon.”

“What will be my new orders?” He expected to be shifted to a new sector. The death of his previous vessel could cause questions.

“You will return.”

“I don’t understand,” Hammond said. “There could be complications. The humans could talk.”

“It doesn’t matter, not any more. We are moving forward with the next phase.”

“Won’t there be questions, at least from the ones who saw the attack?”

The Inquisitor smiled, a smile that showed all of his teeth. “Remove the obstacles.”


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