Children of Heaven: Choir of Silence, Chapter 19

Chapter 19:

October 27th, 4233
Hyperion Hive
Outer Reaches
United Terran Concord

Hyperion Prime Command Base

She could hear it, in her mind.

The Machine. (What machine?)

Its tendrils reached out into her, locking into place and then, oh then she could see everything. (How was this possible?) She could feel the minds of her brothers and sisters (but she had only one brother!) as they Merged with their own craft, becoming the Machine and it becoming them. They were the Angel’s talons, her Fire Knives (a HAVOC?) and they skated the ether, flying upon the very edges of Her creation. She could feel the solar winds on her metal skin, drink in the cold light of a hundred thousand distant stars, dance through rings of gas giants and tease the atmosphere of a hundred worlds and moons. (But she’d never done any of this!)

And there was fire. Breathless exhilaration filled her as she and her brothers and sisters swept down upon their prey, driving through the wrathful torrent that poured from it. The ship was Enemy (No! No, she knew it, it couldn’t be hostile!) and it had to die. She felt a brief stab of pity for the creatures aboard it, her own distant cousins. But the emotion was fleeting and she bared her teeth, loosing an ululating war cry as she launched her missiles, her brothers and sisters joining her in song as they fired, all as one. The Enemy Vessel was lost in the brightness and when it faded, there was nothing left of it larger then a fingernail.

None of this was right

She stood amongst dozens of her peers at graduation…

She stood amongst dozens of her brothers and sisters at ascension

Alarm klaxons rang as Pegasus came under attack…

Alarm klaxons rang as Severed Dream launched its attack…

She watched as Resolute died, taking Tommy with it…

She watched as Talon Five died, taking Aren with it…

Hate, deep and dark and pure, welled up inside her…

Hate, deep and dark and pure, welled up inside her

None of this was right. It couldn’t be. But at the same time, it was. There were two of her and she didn’t know any longer which of them was really her.

~

“How’s she doing?”

The nurse in attendance looked up as LeFay entered the room. It took her a moment to recognize him; half his face was wrapped in bandages, as was his right arm. “She’s doing fine, sir. What… happened?”

Donald grimaced painfully. “Ambush,” he replied tersely, stepping past the younger woman to Natalya’s bedside. She was breathing on her own; that was something. “She’s not in any pain?” he asked, changing the subject.

“Not that we can tell, sir.”

LeFay nodded to himself, taking Archer’s hand in his. She looks so small, so peaceful. “Good. That’s good.”

The nurse called up a status report on the commodore; she knew that LeFay was part of Archer’s command. It wouldn’t hurt to give him a little more information. “There has been some increased neural activity recently; we’re trying to pin down what it could mean, but a lot of her temporal and parietal lobes have undergone drastic structural changes in response to the Lefu’s telepathic attack.” She bit her lip. “Some of our specialists believe that Commodore Archer… is still in there, somewhere.”

Donald’s lips thinned with distaste. “Trapped.” There wasn’t a punishment foul enough for make the Lefu pay for this. To take a vibrant, living person and turn – no, break – them into a prison in their own body… it was an abomination.

The medic nodded. “Doctor Winters and his specialists are working on a treatment program that they believe could help her. If it’s successful, she would come out of her coma almost immediately.”

LeFay nodded, but he wasn’t really listening. He could only see the brutalized officer in front of him, hear the last transmissions from dying ships. Tell Natalya that I’m sor- That had been it. A burst of static, a flare on sensor windows and just like that, fifteen thousand people were gone. He’d thought the first ‘Lefu’ – the Mulkari – had been bad enough, but they had been seventy thousand light years away and generations behind the Concord. The real Lefu were here, now and everything they touched turned to ash. Our own bastard cousins. O, what a piece of work is man.

Donald shook his head. They just keep coming. No matter what, they keep coming, keep killing. No reason, no justification. I don’t care how long it takes, I don’t care what the cost is, but we are going to stop them. Once and for all. No more mother’s sons and daughters will have to live in fear of these bastards. “I promise you,” he said quietly, setting Natalya’s hand back down into the bed.

He liked to think that she heard him.

~

One of her knew that voice. That part screamed as loud as she could. I’m here, I’m here! she shrieked from inside her cage of meat and bone. Don’t go, don’t leave me alone, not like this. Please come back…

Come back…

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