Flight of the Oracle

Chapter 5 - Sleep

”Haka. Whats wrong? ” Culminating in her chest the ache made her gasp, it felt as if her heart had stopped beating. The agony forced the air from her lungs making her breath come in short tight gasps.

”Medical emergency in the flight bay. ” The disembodied voice which had admitted them to the Chronos Vault played from its unknown source. ”Medical emergency in the flight bay. ”

”Help! ” The child Marcus screamed at the vacant cavern. ”Whatever you are, help her! ” Tears ran down his face.

”Medical inorganic semi-sentients requested. Medical inorganic semi-sentients dispatched. ” A chime sounded then a hissing whoosh. Marcus focused on the direction it came from and had to squint to make out three roughly humanoid shapes rushing toward him from the hazy distance. Their footsteps were a strange combination of squelching and metallic clanging as they advanced far more quickly than their apparent pace indicated they should.

Even up close the…inorganic semi-sentients…were eye-raisingly indistinct. Semi-amorphous constructs that had two arms, two legs, a torso, and a head in an undulating shade somewhere between light gray and off-white with a satin finish. Their appendages flowed over Hakas prone form as she struggled for breath, gaping like a fish and clawing at her chest.

”Interdimensional cardiac dis-phasing. ” The same atonal voice as before echoed out the diagnosis as if it were nothing more than the daily menu if a bit less interesting than yesterdays rehydrated rations. Theyd moved through time and space and to a whole new universe for her heart to fail?

”Help her. What do we do? ” Fear made his voice break sharply. The sound of it foreign and distantly familiar at the same time. His new youthfulness feeling as if it had undone his years of training. If it had been one of his men hed have been working on autopilot, but this was her.

”Immediate surgery is recommended. ” Surgery? But shed been healthy for three-thousand years. Was there some illness of her childhood that wasn in the history books?

”What? Y…Yes…yes. ” He shouted, grasping at salvation. He was not going through puberty again without his soulmate.

One of the inorganic semi-sentients seamlessly slid an edge of itself under her, flowing swiftly into a protective cradle which then lifted her up to waist height. Protrusions sprouted alongside of Hakas body that were clearly monitors. Their surfaces fluctuated and fluttered in time with her heartbeat and respiration. Others projected information which the boy could only guess at and he followed beside cautiously as the inorganic semi-sentient flowed off, hissing and shushing on its way.

Faster than Marcus expected but not nearly as quickly as he would have liked, they arrived in what he assumed was the medical facility in this enormous base. Though for all he knew there were multiple medical facilities. Hakas semi-sentient gurney attached the end which supported her head to a wall where a transparent dome flowed over her face. It deflated briefly, and Marcus feared she would suffocate before she was healed. Just as he was about to intervene the familiar vibration of air filtration systems whirred to life and her hood inflated.

More semi-sentients surrounded the prone girl and scooched the anxious onlooker out of the way. A privacy curtain looking to be the same substance that covered Hakas head poured from the ceiling and adjacent wall. Hermetic seals formed as the fabric pulled tight, then stiff. Finally, it became opaque.

”Wait. ” His protest was short-lived when the flat of his hand hit a solid surface. The former soldier might be a child now, but he still knew better than to fight a futile battle. Fight smart, not hard, said every trainer ever. Besides, he didn know how the semi-sentients would react to acts of violence or hysteria on his part. This was a dangerous alien planet – was it a planet? – for all he was stuck trusting it.

He resolved to settle in for an interminable wait. Hospitals always felt that way, didn they? Even if this place didn seem much like a hospital with its stark opacity and lack of corners. Light came from everywhere and nowhere at once. Hurry up and wait. Time passed both too slowly and much too fast and information never arrived when one wanted it to.

Moments after making his decision the partition gradually became see-through. The hermetic seal broke with a pop, the sheet undulating in serpentine seduction as it retracted away. It displayed mesmerizing shifting of subtle shades that Marcus could swear was almost color. It probably took all of a minute to complete putting itself away. And his beloved Haka was left lying there unfettered on her bed of inorganic semi-sentient.

His first instinct was to run to her side. Prudence and…if he was to be genuinely honest with himself…gold old-fashioned paranoia, gave him pause. Was this a trick? Was it safe to go to her? Was that even his Haka? Okay…maybe a little too suspicious. That was his prerogative, wasn it?

Patience wasn his forte, and soon Marcus found his young form fidgeting restlessly. His fingers itching to check his soulmates pulse. Reassuring himself that she was well. Of course, she was alive. That much he could tell from the gradual lift and lower of her abdomen, her breath coming from below her ribcage as was common among her kind. It was also a trait of the very young among humans.

It didn last long, that patience he had never mastered, and after a few more moments twitching with temptation, he was running to her side. Burying his face in her hair as he hugged her carefully. ”You
e going to get hairballs. ” Hakas voice was thin, and her words were clearly labored.

”What? ” A laugh escaped his lips and the boy wiped away tears he didn know hed cried.

”Mom was always shedding her hair. ” Leaning back Marcus took the time to look her over. The face hed fallen in love with. His first crush. Solemn and in pain but with laugh lines that showed him that she could see the humor in even her heavy life. ”Dad, when he was still alive, used to say that she could give him hairballs by walking into the room. ” It made Marcus laugh for her since she was obviously trying to but failing.

e going to need to rest for a while, aren you? ” She nodded, and he stood there, holding her hands while she rested. Talking made her tired for the first few hours. Standing made him tired as well. Eventually, a semi-sentient popped up out of the floor to act as a chair for Marcus.

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