Unnamed Journal Volume 2, Issue 4 - Page 13

Void – Chapter 7 by Andrew Patrick The door opened, and they stepped out of the plain white glare of the brig into the redder light of the corridor that led from the extreme aft of the Vulture. They walked abreast of each other at a gentle, even pace and did not turn their heads from forward. Neither spoke. Lang felt sleepy and calm inside as the walls rolled past him. He did not think about what was going to happen to him. He accepted it as reality. It would hurt, but then it would not hurt. Nothing would hurt. Nothing would hurt, or suffer for a lack, a need unsatisfied. Nor did he carry the illusion that his awareness would necessarily continue, in the same manner as now, or at all. But something would be aware of him, of his life. Of his whole life. They approached Kronz, or the simulacrum of him, in the corridor. Lang wondered what the Kronz Thing might be doing. Doubtless it was some task to the maintenance of the ship. He wondered if Kronz was chosen particularly because of his specific expertise to a specific task. He wondered if the personalities and memories and knowledge remained discreet when absorbed, or if it became diffuse into the whole. He wondered if Kronz was walking around with Hunstail's memories. He wondered if they could tell the difference. He supposed they could. He did not think about what was going to happen to him. When they passed, Kronz and Alera walked directly through each other. A moderate puff of dust verified that this was indeed a collision, but neither of them seemed to mind. Some of the dust flew around Lang but none landed on him, and very quickly the stray dust followed and rejoined either Alera or Kronz as they passed. No one said a word. As they continued, it oc curred to Lang that the lights were much redder than he remembered. Perhaps lower-frequency radiation was more comfortable for them. If that was true, then it would have been painful for the Alera Thing to speak to him as long as she had. Maybe the lights were getting redder as they got closer to the quarters. Were they living in the quarters? Did they need to? "I want to see the prize," said Lang. "Why?" said the Alera. "I don't know. I just want to see it." "There is no reason to see it." "I know. And there's no reason to stop me. In fact, you can't stop me. So why not just let me?" The Alera looked at him, and Lang again saw the predatory gaze that had first met him when they had devoured Covey. But it was an impotent gaze, and they both knew it. So she turned away after a moment and they walked down an adjoining corridor and up a flight of dirty chrome stairs to the observation deck. The Pricey Vulture had been built by the son of one of the most famous junk captains in the Union, Jack Holder. Holder had made so much cleaning up from various Admiralty slug fights, had owned so many scrap-ships, that he eventually retired from active sailing and took a permanent position on the Union board. Spacers had come to call him "The Commodore", though not within earshot of