Their transport was what appeared to be a retrofitted jump ship.
"What the fuck is this?" Allan asked, stopping in the doorway that led to the hangar.
"Our ride," Poet replied. "Now, hurry up. We don't have any time to spare."
Allan sighed and kept moving. The jump ship was painted a flat black, seeming to adsorb the sparse light in the hangar. While the front of it had the normal, slightly boxy look of a jump ship, onto the back someone had affixed a huge engine. It almost looked like a cancerous growth.
"That's an FTL drive?" Allan asked as he and the others walked beneath it, towards the cargo ramp at the back that would admit them.
"Yeah. Come on," Poet replied impatiently.
Allan sighed and walked up the ramp. He'd never seen something like that before. Though, now that he thought about it, it was a thing he'd thought about before, when he was younger, just grasping the concept of FTL flight.
But it would never work because-
"Don't," Greg said suddenly.
"What?" Allan asked. They were settling down into their seats in the back of the jump ship. Poet had gone forward to the cockpit.
"Stop thinking about the engine, you'll screw it all up," Greg said, sitting across from him, fixing him with an intense gaze.
"Seriously? You mean, if I think about how imposs-"
"Stop it!" Poet called from the cockpit. "We don't have time to rig up another flight!"
"Okay, okay..." Allan relented, sitting back, his head spinning.
Banks, Duncan, and Wilson took seats around him, strapping in. They all wore some manner of armor, all geared up for war. The back ramp began to close as the engines cycled up. Allan closed his eyes for a moment.
"Okay, I need to...talk this out a little," he said.
"Better if you don't," Banks replied.
"I'm not really here, none of us are," he said. "I'm...lying on an examination table on the Atonement, and Hawkins and two med-techs are looking over me."
"Yes," Greg replied. "That's right. And that's where we should leave it. Being inside your head requires a certain...suspension of disbelief, I guess you could call it. Everything in here follows rules, but those rules can be bent, to a certain degree. Everything must follow your own internal logic. That's why we have guns and armor, because that's how you deal with your problems. That's why this seems like a mission, with a briefing and an objective and a team, because that's how you've handled problems for most of your life."
"And this thing?" Allan asked, motioning to the modified jump ship. The engines were fully cycled up now, so powerful they were rattling the frame of the ship, but it was strangely muted within the confines of the actual structure. Beyond the windows, Allan could see the hangar give way to distant stars and space.
"We had to reach back quite a ways for this one. It was risky, because it made sense to you when you were a child. Children's logic makes sense to them...but obviously not as an adult. That's why this is all so unstable. So stop thinking about," Duncan explained.
"This is crazy," Allan muttered.
"Tell me about it," Banks replied. "Like I don't have anything better to do than help you hunt down your own insanity."
"You don't! You're dead," Allan replied. "And even when you were alive all you'd do is skulk around the base and keep to yourself. Now, hold on-" Allan said.
YOU ARE READING
The eighth novel in The Shadow Wars. After the events of Ceaseless and Snowblind, Allan Gray, formerly a member of Security-Investigations, now a Specialist in Special Operations, is having some trouble keeping sane. He experiences sudden tremors, i...