TTC: The Cygnus War, Part 44

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The Tessa Chronicles: The Cygnus War #44 (Within Darkness) By Earl S. Wynn

“Crewman.” Someone urged. The voice sounded distant, as faded as if it had come in on the wings of a dream. “Crewman? Are you alright?”

“Buh?” Tessa managed. Somewhere, something hurt. Memories of running, of amber-eyed men and coffin choked wakes came stuttering back. She’d hurt herself again, that much was clear. Hurt herself chasing after something that wasn’t there.

“You’re bleeding.” The voice came again. “Can you stand? Should I call medical?”

“I–” Came the broken attempt at speech. “I think I’m okay.”

“What happened?” The voice asked carefully. A hand touched her shoulder in a gentle move, then pulled back. “Jesus Christ. Did someone do this to you?”

“Just thought I’d go for a little jog.” She managed, groaned. “Y’know, chase a dream.”

“Right into a bulkhead?” ironic, worried laughter. “You sure you’re okay?”

“Peachy.” She shot back.

“Bullshit,” the voice countered. “You haven’t moved or opened your eyes once since I’ve been talking to you.”

Slowly, brokenly, one eye opened, lid sliding away with reptilian sluggishness. Beyond, everything in the hallway was a blur, light and shadow. Something waved back and forth in front of her.

“I can call medical if you–”

“No.” She stated flatly. Beneath her, hands flexed, moved against aches and protests to push her slowly upright against the wall. One finger refused to move– her index. She winced reflexively.

“Looks broken.” The shadow squatted down before her, looked on through the blurriness. Nodding vaguely, she lifted her hands and spread her fingers out like shaky columns in the air, saw the furthest toward her thumb visibly bent at an uncomfortable angle. Guiding her good hand toward it took a force of will, every inch a mile of shakes to overcome. She winced again as she seized the broken finger, breathing a fragment of a grunt through open mouth, twisting, yanking, and with an audible crack, setting the bone back where it was meant to go. The shadow looked on as she worked, stroked its chin anxiously.

“Shit.” Tessa murmured, hands dropping dead and limp to her sides. Blinking, she tried to clear the blurriness, but it stuck to the inside of her eyes with all the tenacity of a fog that refused to shift or part. The clarity was returning, but it was intent on taking it’s time. Looking up at the shadow as it rose to regard her from on high, she concentrated, resolved the shape of a man in the stiff collars of an on-deck uniform.

“So why are you out of uniform?” He asked. “You know it goes on your record if the brass or someone else who cares catches you in your skivvies outside of Residential, or the gym.”

“Outside of Residential?” She asked. Did I run that far? Jesus. Residential was a collection of clustered together barracks-style and more spacious officer’s quarters that sprawled across a massive section of the ship, a huge labyrinth of corridors and doorways that she’d somehow escaped from while her mind had navigated a different maze– a labyrinth of vision that had broken into her reality with all the self-righteous impunity of the supernatural. She blinked again, pulled in a deep breath, rubbed at her nose. “Where am I?”

“Central Storage, ten meters from the Residential Quartermaster’s office.” He said quickly. “Didn’t you see the signs when you came in?”

Tessa shook her head, struggled to push herself up onto her haunches. The man cast an anxious look back over his shoulder, looked just in time to see Tessa lose her balance and collapse back against the wall for support.

“Here, no need to be modest.” He offered a hand. Tessa rubbed at her eyes, shook her head. “Look, there’s no use trying to impress me,” He continued. “I know it sounds old fashioned, but I’m spoken for, got a girl back home who’s waiting as faithfully as I am.” She scoffed, even as she realized that somewhere, somehow, he was grinning ironically. Slowly, reluctantly, she accepted the hand, showed off her grip in a display of strength and independence as he helped her to her feet.

“Come on.” He grinned again. “Lets get you to Medical.”

“No thanks.” She shot back, giving him her own grin– a baring of teeth that looked more feral than appreciative. “The doc on this boat is a little too stab happy for my tastes.”

“Doctor Kirijev is just a little phobic about bloodborne pathogens. He’s done a boatload of research on the different planetary strains of VHF that haven’t been wiped out on the core worlds and the new ones that are popping up all along the rim. Scary stuff.” Another shadowy grin. “If it was up to him, there’d probably be a mandatory series of blood screenings for Marburg or Kearny Fever at least twice a week for every member of this crew and any passengers we pick up.

“Thank God it’s not up to him.” She managed a grin. “I hate needles. If I never get another blood test again in my life, it’ll be too soon.”

“I hear that.” he nodded, gently steadying her until she found her feet again and forcefully brushed him away. Moving helped– slowly, like mist fading from glass, the corridors came into focus.  “What’s your name?” He finally asked, still hovering close enough to catch her if she stumbled, far enough to jump back if she took a swipe at him.

“Eisenherz.” She managed, then turned to look back at him, to see if she could define features, a specific face to put with his specific voice. The vague creases of a smile greeted her gaze, and then the eyes–

Exactly like the eyes from the vision.

Eyes of dark amber.
Full title: The Tessa Chronicles: The Cygnus War #43 (Within Darkness)

Author Blurb: I’m working on a new book, but it shouldn’t kill TTC because it’s just a side project at the moment. It’s being written entirely in the car, shower and in my classes while my teachers drone on about interpretations and other modern bullcrap, lol, with no deadlines set. Oh, and I’m writing it on the wall of my office. (very modern, I know.) Stay tuned, I might post pictures. :)

Also, been thinking a lot about doing something Hyperfiction. (i.e. utilizing a bunch of different media forms to tell a story.) but the trick is thinking up a story that I can make interesting, that lends itself to Hyperfiction, and that I can still do with my limited artistic skills, low rez digital camera, broken HI-8 Video camera, piddly knowledge of HTML, and no real place to upload it all once its combined (except maybe a blog.) Actually, I think I know just the story. Something I’ve had on the back burner for a while... I knew there was a reason I was saving it. Hmmm. Ideas of any kind are always appreciated. Of course, I’ll stick a link up once my creation is done.

Progress report: #46 is done, #47 is about half done, and I’ve got a few lines and plans as far as 50, so the series is holding its own against the steady march of time and homework. If I can just make it to summer, (end of may) All the homework will fall away and I should be fine. Still trying to stock up episodes to coast through things like Midterms, mass essay due dates, finals, Sword Booth weekends, and mandatory family vacations, lol. It’s a wild ride.

Anyway, this is the forty-fourth installment of TTC: The Cygnus War. You can find the previous episode here: [link] The next episode will appear on Wednesday, March 11th, 2009 (PST)

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