Shell Shocked – Part I

Breanna looked out through the window as nearby stars streaked by. Those farther away moved at varying speeds, while others appeared to be fixed points in space. The harsh lighting of the overhead fixtures created a superimposed reflection on the surface of the window. She reached out to her mirror image with long and slender fingers. This was a rare occurrence, since their grey flesh absorbed most of the light. It was a defense mechanism for their kind, one that guaranteed unwavering uniformity.

The Van Helsing Resurgence by Evelyn Chartres

Her gaze shifted to that mouthless face, dull grey skin, oversized cranium, and reflective eyes. This image was mirrored in her eyes, the light bouncing back and forth to create an infinite number of copies. The only aspect not duplicated was her information overlay, courtesy of her cybernetic implants.

Breanna dropped her head to get that image out of her thoughts and turned to her right. From this vantage point, she gazed down the length of the ship, a massive vessel that stretched out farther than her eyes perceived. The overlay included a map of the ship in the top corner of her vision, along with an indication of what she could see. She could see about a third of the ship with her enhancements and would soon see only a fraction of that.

The ship appeared to be silent, although she knew that was nothing more than an illusion. The fusion generators were always operational, autonomous, and powerful enough to propel this vessel through the vast distances between stars. The sounds they generated had long ago been relegated to background noise.

She again turned to the right and faced a series of glass panels that shielded the stasis chambers. There were rows upon rows of workers in a hibernation state. They would remain as such until they were needed for missions or upon arrival at the next star system. Normally, she was tapped into their thoughts, a feature of cybernetic implants. Alas, in preparation for her mission, the link had been severed. For the first time in her life, Breanna was alone with her thoughts. The sheer magnitude of that solitude weighed heavily on her.

Soon, the visual overlays would be gone followed by the implants themselves. All of these steps were required before they genetically modified her cellular structure, all because her new configuration would reject the implants.

“Breanna,” the ship’s public address system blared out.

She turned around to face the control console. When travelling within a solar system, this place was a hive of activity, swarming with workers. This far out, the ship required nothing more than a few to maintain a vigil. Truthfully, the computer handled all day-to-day operations while travelling through deep space, so her presence was largely superfluous.

She had been scheduled to return to stasis in a couple of cycles, but a new mission objective altered those plans. The ship was about to move beyond the range of a passing system, so they would no longer be able to send in quick insertion teams. They needed a long term presence to deal with the locals. To prepare for her mission, she was relieved of her duties to undergo a series of invasive treatments to alter her genetic structure.

By the end of it, she would be indistinguishable from the native inhabitants of the third planet of that yellow star they bypassed. For now, it was not worth their collective attention, but after a bit of manipulation…

“Breanna,” the public address system repeated.

Breanna glided over to the nearest console and ran some diagnostics. The logs confirmed that the loud speakers had not been engaged since they left their home system.

“Wake up,” came a voice from behind.

She turned around, but saw nothing. This part of the ship was empty, or at least there was no one within earshot. To say she was confused would have been an understatement, but that quickly morphed into panic when a warm hand grabbed her shoulder…

Disclaimer: This chapter is currently in development. There are likely typos, errors, omissions, inconsistencies and so forth. Please do not treat this as a polished and completed work!



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