Birthright

And the Rain Cleanses

:Port Footfall:

It is days before I feel well enough to leave my quarters, before I’m ready to weather the inevitable barrage of questions from the rest of the crew. But only Emir approaches me at all. The others are uncomfortable, unsure.

What do you say to someone who has peered through the void at themselves and found nothing?

Emir simply gives me coordinates for our next destination with a reassuring “We leave at your leisure.”

“Now,” I say as I walk past him, toward the command deck and the navigation chamber. The ship slips into the familiar embrace of the warp, and I begin to breathe again.


:Rain:

“They’re in the rain.”

They’re everywhere. Emir is dead. Sigmund is dying. Janoor and Janae are gone, and the others haven’t made it back to the Titansbane at all.

They’re coming through the walls of the ship, clinging to anyone with a pulse and pulling them under, drowning them. Kayp is ahead of me, wrestling one of the things off his arm as the elevator to the command deck opens. We’re the only hope left for this ship.

Kayp flings us both into the elevator and the door slides shut, too slowly, much too slowly. We’re going to die. They’re coming through the walls.

I feel fingers, cold and slick like the dead, clamp down on my arms and pull them against the wall. Kayp shouts, screams, desperately tries to break free of his own bindings, and then everything goes quiet as Death throws his hood over my head.

Suddenly, impossibly, I hear Janae’s voice. A soft, murmuring dirge that sounds as though it’s coming from inside my skull. It rises until she’s shrieking, and there’s a ringing clang of metal severing metal. I find myself on the floor of the stalled elevator, coughing up water. Just water. Janae is dying on the command deck above. I pull my knees up to my chest, breathing in sobbing gasps, and hope that Kayp mistakes the tears running down my face for water.

Instead he presses his lips to my forehead. “Let’s get the fuck out of here.” There’s a painful, desperate affection behind his words.


The crew gathers later in the cargo hold, where Janae Yuratha lays in repose. Emir stands near her head in bitter gratitude as the crewmen file by.

One by one, they leave things—pieces of themselves, proof of their struggle, that they’ve clawed their way through the endless, suffocating void and are still breathing—and I realize I have nothing to give.

My heart is still beating. I hope it’s enough.

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