I couldn’t hear anyone following us. No one tried to catch up, to talk sense into me, to do anything to save me or the ship. They all just stood there dumbfounded, staring at the body of the Farseer fool who had tried to apprehend me.
Part of me wanted to cry. The rest was unable, held in the grip of the shadow.
We raced swiftly down the hall toward the cockpit. After climbing the ladder into the cockpit, we sat down in Mearr’s chair and took hold of the controls.
How is this device operated? A whisper filled my mind. Clear, distinct, and subtle.
I realized after a long pause that this shadow that held me was trying to communicate with me.
I don’t know. At least, that’s what I tried to reply with. Who knows what the shadow really heard. I’m not the pilot. I’m just a deckhand.
I heard a growl escape my throat that sounded like a hiss and a rattle both in one. I saw my hands tighten on the steering controls until my knuckles turned white.
Even deckhands have eyes, whispered the voice in my head. Tell me what you saw. When you stood her, pining for the furred-one, cleaning the bulkhead until it gleamed, what did you see?
Images floated up in my mind. My eyes went dim as they yielded to the messages of the brain, overridden in their assigned duty. Memories of my weeks and months spent aboard the ship. The laughter in the common room. The loneliness on the lower levels. The long days and nights in the medical ward.
But in all that, I don’t think the shadow saw any glimpse of how to pilot the ship.
Then came the images from the ion storm. The memories of our perilous and doomed attempt to navigate its tumultuous eddies. Mearr screaming orders. Sys scrambling to comply. Even Guhle’s final takeover.
I felt my mouth spread wide in a grin. Then my hands flew across the control panels and the ship lurched to obey.
With a new course plotted in, we stood up from the pilot’s chair and approached Sys’s station. A few tweaks here and there were enough to accomplish the shadow’s goal. With these two things complete, it let me go. I suddenly felt control of my body return.
That’s when Guhle leaned away from the wall, where he had been hidden in the gloom. “Glad to have you back with us,” he said. He did not offer me a hand.
“Yeah,” I choked out. I still expected my words to be cut off by the power of the shadow creature. “Thanks for the help,” I added bitterly.
“There was nothing to do,” he said. “But now maybe you can tell me how to stop it.”
I shook my head. “No idea. But I think it doesn’t care anymore. It already got what it wanted.”
“And that would be?” said Guhle, before adding. “A dead chef. A broken toy. And useless tranisium ore?”
“No,” I said. “A message. I think he sent a message.”
Guhle swept me aside with a touch and I stumbled over to the side of the cockpit while he examined the comm station. After a brief moment, he sighed and turned away.
“Outgoing message,” he said. “But it’s blank. Assigned to an unused frequency. I’m surprised we even have the capabilities to transmit it.”
“What do you think it was about?” I said.
But at that moment, before Guhle ever had a chance to even think of a reply, we got our answer. Space broke open, and the Dark emerged.