Viewing a single comment thread. View all comments

prejackpot t1_j6f3nzz wrote

Little mortal

The voice echoed in my skull as I floated through the long central shaft of the derelict. The etheric sails had been torn to shreds, first by kinetic blasts, then by micro-meteors, and finally by the ravages of time, leaving the ship becalmed in a distant orbit. The saltwater reactor had drained long ago; there was no power for the lighting strips, leaving the interior dark.

Creature of a diminished age, you diminish it more. You break what you cannot build.

The voice grew louder as I went up, away from the engine. Most modern ships house their daemon toward the center, where they can be protected and wired to every ship subsystem with the minimal length of copper wire. But old warships put their daemon at the prow.

Do you know what I was?

The lights snapped on with a flash. I blinked hard and whispered a ward. It was an illusion, but a strong one. I saw ghostly sailors filling the shaft carrying harpoons and wounded comrades; marines with spectral vibroblades. I couldn’t see out, but somehow I knew without a doubt that in the illusion, in the daemon’s memory, we were above Port Coriolis, on the eve of the fall of the Long Diet.

This had been a great ship once.

I could make you great.

The illusion shifted. Now the sailors were wearing modern uniforms; on their sleeve was the family crest, the one my grandsire had insisted we were entitled to. They cheered my name.

I double-checked the seals and wards on my suit, and then I pushed my way through the maintenance hatch at the prow. Towering beside me, bare-chested, spear in hand, was the ship’s figurehead — the ship’s daemon. Her eyes glowed red.

I could give you worlds.

There was no illusion this time; just a certainty that the ship’s daemon was right. I could fix this ship. My crew would follow me.

I felt a hunger for conquest, for revenge, and I couldn’t tell if it was mine or the ship’s.

“Boss, fuel tanks are detached, Dyan wants to know if you want to do the honors or if she can make the superstructure go boom this time."

This voice in my ear was concrete and familiar. I didn’t want to rule anything, it reminded me. All I wanted was a steady paycheck for my crew.

“Go ahead,” I radioed back. “Boom authorized.” And then I fired up my own torch, and started to cut.