The Living Vessel—Concept Prose
De Valtos Prime was gone. The entire fucking planet—gone before the universe knew what happened. It didn’t explode; it didn’t get sucked into a black hole. No gravitational distortion. No massive radiation storm. Just pure evaporation into nothingness. Or, something pretty close to nothingness.
It vanished into hyperspace, the barely-quantifiable portion of the universe that didn’t happily accept visitors except by ignoble barbaric force.
The actual equation involved so much energy that the entirety of the Syndicate power stations spread across the galaxy, if combined, couldn’t force an object into hyperspace for more than three-quarters of a second.
How the hell the entire planet had disappeared into that was for the enlistment of the universe’s most qualified scientists and research assets—as well as lots of cocaine-like snuff spice and various other mind-enhancing drugs available to only the elite.
Sandman idled along the De Valtos Prime sun at one hundred twelve thousand kilometers per hour with thrusters cut and full-cloak initiated. Its operator, Jenson, had to be physically shaken alive by a robotic arm initiated by the AI.
“I am detecting the onset of physiological shock,” said the ship’s masculine central European-flavored AI. “Should I be concerned?”
Jenson fidgeted for a pill bottle that had fallen on the floor of the bridge room and took another crammer, her fourth during the last twenty-four earth-time hours. She nearly passed out before the drug exploded her eyes awake. She knew after this one wore off, she wouldn’t be able to do it again. She would probably die from acute heart explosion.
She wondered if a sensor cloak and visual camouflage generator had a baby, could that baby service an entire planet effectively?
Perhaps the technology could supply a planet, she thought. Her own vessel was protected by a combination of both technologies—although her vessel was barely larger than an escape pod cluster. But the technology certainly didn’t exist as far as the general public was concerned. Nevertheless, it was possible.
A stiff rebuttal from the hyperspace sensor ended the case. It resonated with graphs and holographic images that depicted a sea of blue, red and purple where space-time was being doubled. The sphere’s movement was synonymous with that of the missing planet’s orbital speed and rate of rotation.
In that sphere of space, two pieces of matter inhabited the same space at the same time. Only one with the proper formula and code could enter the “exo-dimensional expansion,” the secondary space that shouldn’t have existed according to leading modern astrophysicists.
No worries. Need the laws of physics temporarily revoked? Call the Perunites.
The I-9 fleet, heading to engage the Perunite Living Vessel near De Valtos Prime, was gone–presumably pulled into the same place as the planet, but with Peruntites involved, who knew?
The Pining Blizzard and the Perunite Living Vessel, Ram’s Thorn, had exchanged enough plasma charges to eradicate half the solar system’s worth of matter. Perhaps it was a good thing that the armor plates of both vessels were not of this world.
I-9’s Slaughterhouse had arrived about three seconds before the vanishing of the planet, but its weapons didn’t have enough time to power up to minimum firing wattage. Sandman’s sensors picked up the combustion reaction of asteroid buster nuclear detonations coming from the Pining Blizzard.
Avalanche generators–the kind used to bust apart asteroids and condemned by Shalun Law from any other use.
Eleven Avalanche generator reactions were detected. If they had gone off, even if the entire section of space had been sucked into another dimension, it was probable that everyone and everything in the exo-dimension were now ash and dust particles free-floating the cosmos.
The only exception may have been the nickel core of the world. The core would become a cold, hard rogue planet, extinguished like a torch suffocated by lack of oxygen and sent hurling like a fallen angel into the farthest reaches of the exo-dimension and back into the regular universe, where it would forever be shunned by all cosmological bodies until some lucky star or black hole sucked it into its gravity well.
“Exo-dimenson expansion confirmed,” said the AI. “Event horizon extended to eight hundred thousand kilometers. Besides the planet, two moons and every vessel in or near orbit were sucked into hyperspace as well.”
No, Jenson thought, Ram wouldn’t let that happen. Ram was Perunite. Ram was Living Vessel. Ram wouldn’t let Clemington destroy an entire planet, even if she wasn’t fond of humans.
“That man,” said Jenson. “That fucking man. He doesn’t even know who he is, and he just tried to vaporize up the entire solar system just to kill that—oh, I’ll give him this: she’s a complete bitch— woman. But, for God’s sake, don’t just go blowing up the whole universe because you got mad at one fucking woman. Fuck, Clemington. For once in your life, think.”
The AI waited several moments before responding. “I believe the intention of Ram is to break humanization over Clemington. He has lived among humans so long that he believes he is one. It is likely that his memories were destroyed during his reconstruction. His human and cybernetic implants prevent the reemergence of his Perunite self. Only a re-enlightened state can remove the blockage in his mana drive and give power back to his Perunite blood.”
Captain “Undead” Clemington had been rebuilt as a human cyborg after his first “death.” That was an eon before humans knew what a Perunite was, and even now only a select few were aware of the presence of the alien species and their symbiotic counterparts.
But he wasn’t a human in the first place. He wasn’t a cyborg. He wasn’t machine at all. He was Perunite. He was Living Vessel.
His heart was the pulsing mana drive. His soul was the spiritual link with his Perunite Host. His body was the plant-like regenerating space vessel that fed off cosmic radiation and consumed asteroids for breakfast. His skin was the hardened bark armor surrounding his body and protecting his decks from depressurization. His mind was the open door his host could use to pilot him around the galaxy—if he allowed the Host.
The Perunite Living Vessels were partners of the Perunite Host, bonding with one for life and yielding control of his or her assets to the Host, who was otherwise helplessly stranded planetside with no hope of galaxy-scouring.
And desperately lonely, without hope and psychologically deprived–but those were purely psychological issues latent in the Perunite race as a whole.
“But,” asked Jen, “does it make sense?”
“Does what make sense?” asked the AI.
“Is Ram actually just borrowing Clemington’s Living Vessel powers? Isn’t she just a Host?”
The AI struggled to find an answer, display screens snowing and then asserting the yellow error icon. A moment later, the error flushed off the screen with the triumphant smiling face of the AI. “If such a thing is possible, it would mean that Clemington’s soul no longer has a mana drive—Ram took it. Borrowed it, rather. But something as metaphysical as a mana drive cannot remain borrowed forever. Clemington will not survive much longer without it—for that is the ‘very heart and soul of the Perunite spirit.’ And Ram will not survive much longer in possession of it, for Perunite Hosts are not designed to carry the burden of a manna drive.”
So, the Perunite Queen Ram wanted to give the mana drive back to Clemington.
Then, Clemington, the actual Living Vessel, was Ram’s Living Vessel?
Wait—they were bonded Perunites? Could that be possible?
She considered it. Ram had carried Clemington’s soul because of some long-lost story that might not ever be revealed, and now she sought to give it back to him because without it, he would die, or maybe because she would die. But why had she kept it so long? Why didn’t she just give it back sooner? Why hold on to something so precious? Why keep dotting around the stars like that?
There was a story behind this—a big one, and Jenson wanted to be the first to know about it–preferably before the Xenos blotted out mankind.
Jenson stood up, smacking her head on the top of the command bridge of the tiny vessel. After a curse or two and a brisk rubbing of her head, she called the AI again. “Help me figure out this equation. I want inside of that exo-dimension. We can get in there as long as another power source is holding it open. I have to know what is happening with the Perunite Queen and what kind of threat she poses to the Syndicates.”
The AI smiled. “I am already attempting the equation. Variables must be predicted based on a nearly unlimited number of factors, including—”
“How much time do you think it will take?”
“Forty-three years?! Try forty-three minutes. Or forty-three hours. Not forty-three years.”
“There are many calculations that need to be repeated thousands of times and consider hundreds of thousands of variables. If that is your desired result, then revoke the limiter on my central processing units.”
Revoke the limiter? That would mean…
“You want us to die?”
“Do you want the equation completed in forty-three years or forty-three minutes?”
“Shit.” Thing was, was it worth dying for? The cloak field, all ship systems and life support would go out the airlock, so to speak. If the overclocked AI failed in this state or burnt up, the vessel would never operate again, and Jenson would choke out from carbon dioxide poisoning or lack of oxygen within one day.
But Ram, what was Ram planning? What would reawakened Living Vessel Clemington do? What would they do when the Xenos reached the Syndicate core? Would they organize the Perunite race to side with humanity, or would they side with the alien invaders instead?
Shit, and fuck it all. It couldn’t be anyone else, could it? It had to be Jenson to make this kind of choice.
“Release the limiter. If you end up killing me, I am going to be super pissed at you.”