Chapter 17 - United

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Marcus lifted his head. The golden light around the door frame was gone. A restraining field hadn't been necessary, but he didn't blame his gaurds. He was an unknown quantity. He crawled over and peaked into the observation chamber. The white - armored men lay strewn about the deck. Across from his holding cell, he could see his sheep milling about. The one he called 'Socks' looked up at him and bleated an accusation.

"Tell your friends I'm sorry, Socks. I'll see to them in a few minutes." The sheep turned and cast glances at the others. Marcus fully believed Socks passed his message along mentally. He stood and checked on the guards. No pulses. No breathing. He shrugged. They weren't human, anyway. They didn't appear to have suffered any trauma, so he left them and wandered into the corridor.

To his left he could see the hangar bay of the magnificent ship he had been transferred to. There were white armored beings littered around randomly. At the hangar bay he caught motion from the entryway to a large chamber. He followed it and saw four bodies collapsed on the floor. One, he recognized as Captain Valeri. He knew she was human, so he immediately went to check on her. As soon as his foot crossed the threshold to the chamber, a tall, stern looking man materialized.

"Who are you?" He demanded, his voice was hard and left no option beyond a straightforward answer.

"Marcus." The priest responded timidly. He gestured to the humans around him. "Are they unconscious? Can I help them?"

Movement caught his eye and he looked to the side to see the most glorious view of space he had ever witnessed. His heart skipped a beat at the vastness of it. He felt humbled and resisted the urge to fall to his knees at the glory of the vision. From all around, shapes moved and lights were discharged. Vessels firing?"

"Very astute. They're unconscious but will recover."

Marcus pulled Captain Valeri away from the massive holomatrix, turned her onto her side and moved her leg out to angle her hips. Afterwards, he created a cradle with her arms so her head was tilted toward the decking. Whatever else happened, she wouldn't choke to death on her own vomit should she be sick. He repeated the process with the other woman and then the man. The nonhuman, he deposited beside them on his back. During the process, he watched the holosphere. Unusual ships darted in and lanced bluish white light at them, then retreated. The design of the vessels were foreign to him. With each bolt of light, the decking under his feet vibrated. When his work was done, he turned to the person made of light.

"We appear to be drifting through combat."

The stern man cut a glancing glare at Marcus. "Once again, very astute."

"As the AI of this ship, are you unable to pilot yourself?"

Haden drew up short. The odd young man had been taken into Gaurdian custody before that information was revealed to Valeri. She hadn't been in contact with him since their flight from Pandora's conference room.

"How do you know that?" Haden's concentration was nearly completely put to the task of analysis and repairs throughout the ship. He was rewriting code to bypass damaged components so that when Dawn or Terris regained consciousness, propulsion and weapons would be online.

Marcus pointed at the android body lying on the floor. "Because that fellow looks just like your light matrix. Body composition is too dense for a human. Like the gaurds that brought me here. Their eyes didn't have the random colorization in the irises. Completely linear. I can only assume that you are a projection of the ship. Your tech is advanced enough for it. Perhaps an interface for your crew to comfortably interact with the many complicated systems aboard?"

Haden's attention became very undivided very quickly.. He turned full on to the young man.

"When this is over, Marcus, I'd like to sit down and have coffee with you." Haden stated earnestly. That was quite a piece of deduction for a man with absolutely nothing but personal observation and analysis to go on.

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