NaN did his part. If he didn’t, they wouldn’t be able to get away without notice. And, JOS would be impossible to convince otherwise. He grimaced, putting a polish shine to the last vanity in the sanitation compartment. He too a look at himself, the way his black hair shined purple and green as it passed through light. The four rectangular geometric dark brown marks next to his right eye caught his attention, which made him look into his eyes.
Never having seen them until recently it was still a shock. Silver with hidden stripes of blue, almost pointing to his birthmarks. The way it was set against his almost white skin. When he’d finally seen his reflection he was surprised he didn’t have the same features as JOS, both descendent of apes, he’d assumed they would look the same. He knew they had different markings, and colors.
JOS had too distinct of an appearance even as an ape. Mostly his skin was pale, like NaN’s, however he had fierce dark brown markings, a crescent that touched his top lip, where his skin was a white grey, and ended above his eyes, almost symmetrically. Another formed on his chin and remained unbroken down to his chest, where his heart would be.
He saw the last smudge of grease fade into a perfect shine from all angles. Satisfied, he moved on to the last on the list. NaN had to check all personal compartment filtration systems. A task scheduled specifically when Valevyinellin was docked. Not a whole lot to do if there was any problems with the filters floating in the Void.
While everyone was gone, NaN had to take advantage of this perfect opportunity to know his packmates better. Maybe. He had to be the one to volunteer for it, JOS would never appreciate the situation.
OhkBD’s was first. When the door hissed open NaN nearly leapt in shock. Every microunit* of surface was perfectly cleaned. They knew he’d be coming in. ‘Challenge accepted,’ NaN thought as he stepped into the spotless compartment.
The bed was against the left most wall of the square space, probably four units cubed. Opposite the door was a maze of monitors and what were, NaN could only assume, input devices. Probably all designed by OhkBD himself. ‘That’s the most dangerous thing in this entire compartment. If I do anything he’ll know, probably being recorded right now,’ he thought reaching the circular vent just above the layout.
He pulled the datacard from his coverup pocket, thumbed through its various function icons, selecting the EviroCert one, with the bacteria swimming, another OhkBD creation. Holding it up to the vent, it began reading the particulate count being filtered into this space.
NaN played the game that was also the data processing screen. He was the big black bacteria, eating the smaller bacteria in a three dimensional space. The game ended after you ate the last one in your territory and evolved, then the screen faded to white. A report of showing the contamination analysis faded back into view. Clean, within .001% variation from norm, it gave him a small bit of satisfaction to know he was literally polluting OhkBD’s space.
‘Not this time. OhkBD, your guard’s way too high my mate, we’ll learn about you some other way,’ NaN thought, turning to leave the compartment, confident, not wanting to give away his disappointment.
Next was Vahl, “This’ll be interesting,” he mumbled checking off OhkBD’s compartment. He need to think of a way to get his hands on a usable weapon, and some kind of knowledge about Notan’s Pit and how it worked. Maybe not far, not into the crowds. If they got ahead of themselves they would die. Something came together, “It’s the best alibi if we get caught. Just completing the checklist.” No one would question them, the display of death was convincing enough, even for NaN.
NaN opened Vahl’s door, assailing his olfactory senses with a cacophony of smell, which was somehow dominated by the stink of sulfur. Scanning the dimly lit compartment, NaN regretted taking this task, ‘Funny how wen you seek something, the universe provides.’ He scratched his head in frustration, face plastered in a look of disgust.
One more breath of fresh, as fresh as he’d ever known it, air. Bravely he entered, breath held.
His eyes darted around, searching the piles of scrap on the floor, whilst maneuvering through them. In the corner was biomaterial forming some kind of bed, nest. Heat was emanating from it, probably the source of the smell. NaN thanked him self for having good lung capacity, as his eyes began to water.
‘Somehow,’he thought putting his datacard up to the vent, ‘I have a feeling they’re all like this. Trying to keep us from their things, instead of hiding the real treasure, their full personalities. Like I would steal from them, I have to live with these beings.’
OhkBD is in VirtualSpace rather than reality in his compartment, and is protective, bordering hyper paranoid. Judging by his ridiculous rig with nineteen or more cameras, he was also probably very insecure outside of his intangible world. Every pinhole could’ve been one as far as he was concerned. Vahl seems to have nothing to hide, seeing as he so delicately cares for his personal space. NaN couldn’t say either way, the Ioikheil had a personality much like how his compartment looked.
The EviroCert completed, perfectly normal readings, not that he wanted to remove his other hand from his nose and mouth to bask in it. Using the last of his held breath he examined the walls of the compartment. Still, and in-motion images lined the walls, NaN couldn’t tell if they were supposed to be gory or pornographic. Either way, they were effective at warding him from the space.
There hadn’t been much to expect, but their datacards would only generate the codes for their compartments once per docking. Once a compartment was checked off, it’d be back in restricted access. Giving him one shot at a look, who knows how often.
“Best is last,” he said to himself snaking the thin electronics device between his fingers. ‘Probably not,’ he thought. ‘There’ll be nothing visible, but thousands of tiny hidden digital eyes watching and following me,’ he couldn’t control a giggle as he thought about how true a statement like that might be.
Of all the members of Voiyn’s Horde, Essec was by far the most mysterious. Speaking his mind here and there, but otherwise kept to himself. Inside the compartment, behind the door that JOS and he practically worshiped. The one he was standing front of.
NaN placed his datacard against the same sized compartment lock. He watch, eagerly waiting to see the red “Forbidden” pyramid, switch to “UNLOCKED” in gold on the screen.
“Sa-ka!” he exclaimed reading the word with excitement. His body felt like it was on autopilot, numb and out of control from hyping up his entrance into Essec’s compartment. This time the surprise was pleasant, he didn’t think it’d be possible with Essec’s mysterious behavior, there was no way Nan’d expected this.
There had to be at least one hundred awards and certificates from various institutions and systems. The largest NaN needed to be all the way in the compartment to see. A large canvas banner in some impossible language, a creature’s decapitate head held by what looked like Essec’s arm filled the left side of the image.
NaN imagined a scene where Essec stood as the executioner for his bounty. Holding it’s severed remenants for all to see, the crowd cheering for blood. ‘I’ll ask,’ he said to himself. ‘Maybe I’ll ask.” JOS would want to hear anything about outside the Vale.
Ever since the first rotation they’d met, when JOS punched him back for hitting someone JOS was friends with. They fought like younglings, NaN touched the spot where his nose had been broekn. Even since then, NaN and JOS were bound by friendship to leave this forsaken section of space. Information had always been kept hidden, now he knew they had genuine access to the real thing. He’d always been sure that there had to be more out there, too much of reality argued for that point. Now he was standing amongst the treasures commemorating the exploits of one of his packmates, whom has been outside the Vale.
The compartment wall to his right was lined with weapons, projectile and melee. All the classic Juxl weapons were there, the AP6, the GRØ-Tohrax, a single handed energy projectile weapon. Easy to recognize from the cylindrical power core that hung from the users waist from the thick cable connected to the hand hold of the weapon. Some he recognized, most he couldn’t even imagine how to operate. Or their purposes.
NaN checked the vent before he fed into his fascination with weaponry. Didn’t need to get distracted at the last moment. He hadn’t noticed in Vahl’s room, but his little bacteria had maintained it’s evolution and now needed to pray on other, bigger bacteria. All good. He slipped the card back into his huge pocket.
NaN went over the exotic pieces first, one at a time, inspecting their uniqueness, feeling the strangeness of the materials origin. Careful to keep his limbs he restrained himself from any lingering touches on any of the devices. The very last one he came to was the least attractive on the rack, a matte black sphere. It’s commonness made NaN that much more intrigued by it.
He reached out to feel the material, at his touch the sphere seemed to come to life. The material reached out, grabbing at his hand. NaN panicked, ripping, pulling, biting to escape the things grasp. Nothing worked, this was the worst.
NaN wondered if this was some new crew ritual intended for a laugh, ‘No Essec isn’t that funny,’ he confirmed mentally. Then, what if it was far worse, if this device was anything like the blood feeders he’d heard of. The thought was too much. Cutting off his own hand might be better then the embarrassment of being found like this.
NaN flew from Essec’s compartment as near the speed of light his body could manage. His favorite hiding hatch was on this level, in the engineering compartment. ‘Something, something…’ coming up with ideas felt as futile as swimming in space, “Think of something!” he yelled at no one.
The glassy black liquid-like material began to solidify, fingers first, then all the way down to his elbow. The device had eaten away the material in its path as it had formed to NaN’s arm. NaN spread his fingers apart. Spikes shived instantly into the air from every fingertip. Again. Same thing. Then it came to him, ‘Nanobrains.’ It’d always been something he wanted to see, he’d convinced himself they were made up stories to scare young ones about the future. Maybe they would be able to go a little be further than just outside now. If he was stuck with it, may as well own it.
*microunit – micrometer
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