Into the Silence — Chapter 18

The Leviathan city was a teeming variety of culture. Uniform wasn’t even in the vocabulary when describing this city. There were no two copies of a thing to be found anywhere. Hundreds of different alien species mingled about without a second glance at each other. Dozens of architectural styles were on display among a thousand buildings or more. Even determining what street you were on became a challenge as they grew more and more densely packed the closer we came to the center of the city. If such a distinction could even be determined.

And Guhle drifted through it with ease. Never pausing to gawk in amazement or stare in confusion. Better yet, he led with ease. While I would glance around and be drawn this way or that by some unexpected sight, he would press determinedly onward, forcing me to refocus my attention on movement — a constant in this place, it seemed.

Even when he disappeared into the crowd, seamlessly blending in among the inhabitants, he would soon reappear without warning and in the exact proper place for me to notice him and resume my discipleship to his path.

Through it all, I wondered where we might be going, and how Guhle knew the city so well. Clearly, he had to have visited before. Perhaps even lived here. I often got the sense from Guhle that he had had a long and varied career as a pilot before joining the captain and crew aboard Bessie.

In any case, we continued on, passing a menagerie of sights and sounds until it seemed more like I was at one of the carnivals of my youth, rather than a city of wonders drifting through the depths of space dozens of lightyears away.

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Into the Silence — Chapter 17

The ship was buzzing with activity as everyone prepared to go out into the city housed within the Leviathan. While you wouldn’t think that thirteen people on a ship the size of a small apartment complex would ever be able to make it feel crowded, that day we couldn’t move three feet without running into each other.

Em was flying through her post-landing systems check. And if you’ve never seen a two-meter bear flying through the halls of a realspace freighter, let me just tell you that there was no getting in her way.

The Farseers were gone seemingly before we had even finished landing. What purpose drove them out among the crowds was unknown to us among the crew, but it was an unnecessary mystery in the face of our excitement to get off the ship.

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Into the Silence — Chapter 16

Things didn’t come to a head then, miraculously. But I knew it would only be a matter of time before someone found out about Mearr and me, and before someone else took issue with it.

How could I have been so blind? I spent days down in the lower levels, berating myself for missing the relationship between Sys and Mearr. It was only a matter of time before that one mistake became my undoing, I knew, and I had to figure out a way I might have prevented any of this from happening.

Funny thing was, I couldn’t. Mearr had come to me. I’m not going to pretend that I was an unwilling recipient of her attention, but even if I had been I have a feeling she would have proven persuasive.

Damn it. What was I supposed to do?

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Into the Silence — Chapter 15

Sometime later, I don’t know how long, but it was after I regained control of my limbs, I wormed my way up to where I could look Mearr in the eye. Some of the fur was creeping back onto her face, and her eyes had already regained their catlike shape and sheen. I cupped her head in my hands and just stared at her for the longest moment.

Then I kissed her. Disregarding the fur and the whiskers and the shape of her face, I kissed her.

Her pointed teeth nicked my tongue as it slid inside her mouth. Her own tongue was rough against mine, but I didn’t care about any of it. I just desired to stay close to her.

When we came up for air, I wrapped my arms around her shoulders, and felt her wrap her arms and tail around my waist, and we lay there just feeling each other breathe as we each recovered from what had just happened.

Eventually, I became aware of the cold, wet spot directly beneath us. Mearr had no doubt missed it due to the fur on her body, but it was an immense distraction to me. Rolling over, I stripped the sheets from the bed, which solved most of the problem, leaving us to lie naked on the bare mattress.

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Into the Silence — Chapter 14

I looked up and, sure enough, Mearr stood over me, leaning with one hand on the table, bent over to look me in the eye when I raised my head. His once-broad shoulders were now narrow and in keeping with his thin-yet-agile arms. His breasts hung low — noticeable, but not large — adding additional curves to those created by his now-enlarged hips. Spotted stripes of black and brown lined his golden-white fur, giving the impression of a human woman who wore animal-fur underwear all the time.

For some reason, I wasn’t surprised to see him. I hadn’t recognized his voice at first — that, by far, took the longest for me to get used to — but I wasn’t taken aback by his appearance.

Instead it seemed…fitting. I hadn’t really spoken to Mearr, much like Guhle, since I had learned he was a changeling. So for him to slink down here to my side, after talking to Guhle about him before the end of his shift, was either a sign from God or karmic justice. I didn’t have any strong feelings about which one it was at the time, so I’ll let you take your pick. Whatever lets you make sense of the universe.

Again, Mearr asked, “Are you alright?”

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Into the Silence — Chapter 13

The next few weeks were a nervous drudgery as we all discussed the Farseer Scouts and their visit — what it meant, what they were like, how it must be to patrol the Dominion borders, and so on. But the excitement soon wore off as nothing out of the ordinary happened and we were left to assume that their visit was just as routine as the rest of this trip.

In the same time span, my thoughts of the Farseers had been replaced with thoughts of Mearr’s transformation, which became readily more apparent as the days and weeks wore on. Sure enough, as Sys had said, breasts appeared while the rest of Mearr’s once-chiseled physique melted into soft curves and sultry grace. Even his voice changed, which was the second-most frightening transformation, coming in right behind the change in his face.

It was as if Mearr wasn’t even Mearr anymore. While, granted, I didn’t know him very well at that point, I had been around the crew long enough by necessity to pick up on some of their quirks and mannerisms and to grow accustomed to their presence and appearance.

Gator and the Cap still freaked me out at times, but I chalked that up to them being in command, and needing to maintain an aura of mysticism because of it.

But the rest of the crew…well, they wouldn’t ever be family, but they were close-quarters co-workers, so how could I not know a thing or two about all of them?

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Into the Silence — Chapter 12

“Yes, the package is still secure.” T’Vosh’s voice came in clear over the surveillance headset. He sounded tired. “Are you going to tell me what is happening out there or not?”

“Make sure you file your reports,” said the Farseer scout. “The Prophets want consistent updates to verify their insights.”

“I do not understand. Why would they need verification. Is the Dreaming not enough?”

“Of course the Dreaming is enough. But, as of late, there have been some…irregularities. Minor things. A missing ship here or there. Late arrivals. Unpredictable interstellar conditions.”

“What do you mean unpredictable?” said T’Vosh, voice rising in agitation. “Is our route secure or is it not?”

There was a long pause, during which my heart skipped a beat. Had they realized we were listening? Were they heading our way? I almost dropped the headset and dashed off down the hall, until I realized that if the Farseers knew we were listening in on their conversation, then they’d be able to see where I fled.

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