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Traitor… mutineer… deserter… slanderous words fixed to Ensign Jezlynn Chambers’ name. Unable to refute the charges, the six individuals inhabiting her body remember nothing about the battle that ended her career, destroyed her ship… and shattered the Ensign’s mind.
By the time they reached the derelict’s quarterdeck fear shackled Merit, causing her to shiver in uncontrollable, nearly painful, waves. She begged for a reprieve. Between the weakness devastating her body and the deafening echo of her breath she was incapable of standing alone or comprehending the gibberish on her earphones. The derelict’s hatch closed. The sudden and terrifying blackness fell like a blow and only the dread growing inside her remained. Merit cursed in panic and fright.
A light burst through her faceplate.
“Stop sniveling. You’re not dead, yet.” Chambers curt voice entered Merit’s helmet. “You’ll only use your air faster and steam-up your face plate in the bargain.”
She helplessly watched Chambers push Tommy into a seat against the partition and strap him in place with his suit’s tether straps. Merit followed, afraid to let Chambers out of sight, but couldn’t stop her shaking or snuffling. She finally gasped in catchy breath, “This is all your fault. Why did they do this to me? I had nothing to do with you.”
“Of course it’s my fault,” Chambers said, pushing Merit next to Tommy and strapping her down. “You’ll be more comfortable here.” She turned away. “You took care of Tom and that was enough for Tricome. I know you don’t understand, but try to hold on for a while longer. I’m sorry I have to leave you in the dark, but I only have one elume and I need it. Your suit light will help some. I don’t think Tom will be a problem, but stay with him.”
Chambers’ words distracted Merit. “Wait, where are you going? What can you do anyway?” It was already too late. Light gamboled over deck, partitions and overhead as Chambers left them. “Should’ve known you’d leave us. You don’t care about anyone. Besides, even a grub like me knows there’s nothing you can do, except die, like Tommy and me.” The dancing light disappeared while Merit talked. With a snick her helmet light quit and the menacing darkness swallowed her once more.
An exasperated sigh sounded in Merit’s helmet. “I’m going to see what our options are. Things aren’t as bad as they seem, so stop whining, it’s a distraction. Hope on, Merit, you will see I can accomplish a lot.”
“On a stripped-bare derelict ship? I doubt that very much.”
She got no answer. Frantically Merit reached out to thread her arm around the sleeve of Tommy’s suit. “It’s okay Tommy. I’m here with you. You’re not scared of the dark are you?” She got no response, but that was normal, so she continued babbling. Unsure of what she said, Merit only wanted to hear something, anything.
Feeling uncomfortable and damp inside her suit, she realized she’d peed herself. Thinking on it, she decided wet or dry it didn’t matter. When she ran out of talk, she started singing nursery songs to herself and Tommy. Anything not to be alone.
Finally, her limited repertoire ran out and she started to sniff and gasp, tears dampening her only dry skin. Another voice sang soft, clear and lyrical through her audio. More nursery songs, songs Merit had forgotten, some she’d never heard, even more in languages she didn’t understand.
Merit gasped when the voice suddenly stopped and emergency lights shattered the darkness. Merit winced and gasped at the sudden brightness.
“A belated welcome, Merit, to the Emily. Cheer up, now you can see trouble coming.”
Rhobin lives and works in the Northern Michigan where she draws inspiration for her art and her scifi/fantasy stories.
Book Publisher: Wings e Press
No. of Pages: 304
Paper Weight (lb): 14.2
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