Transformations

When I wake I am human; small, vulnerable, insignificant.

I rise and attend to mundane details; I wash, put on clothes, eat some food.

I make my way to the landing platform, there to be greeted by the brooding and menacing bulk of a Machariel battleship, suspended in the cavernous hangar; Minmatar and Gallente technology fused together by pirates with rumors of Jovian assistance – its huge size serving to remind me of my puny form.

Descending the ladder, I shed my clothes and enter the capsule; as the pod closes and swallows me, so the unreality begins.

Fluid fills the capsule interior and I fight the primal, desperately screaming urge to stay above the surface; it takes all of my willpower to refrain from clawing at the fluid as it covers my face – I am drowning.

Finally, I can hold my breath no longer and the fluid enters my mouth, my throat, my lungs. I start to breathe it and make the conscious effort to relax; to let myself float, supported, suspended.

Tendrils emerge from the capsule walls and slither towards me, metallic serpents that find my implant sockets and latch on with their hook-like teeth, biting into my body and invading my brain.

A dazzling jolt and I am transformed to a different reality; a reality of menus and displays which fill my mind with a three-dimensional tapestry of information. I start to feel my engines come alive, I feel my massive hull, every inch of it – I am a machine.

Systems come on-line as my mind somehow absorbs the raging torrent of data that now threatens to inundate it.

I begin to sense the station walls around me and I start to feel trapped, enclosed, suddenly I am longing for more room, for space.

Freed of the docking shackles I start to inch forward; the movement feels liberating, empowering me with a sense of the latent energy contained within my engines and it feels right, it feels good.

A ninety degree turn at the end of the hangar lane and I can now see the un-dock, the giant maw of the station giving me my first glimpse of countless stars, of infinite space, of freedom.

As I leave the un-dock the glorious and majestic void surrounds me – I am free.

Destination set, a mere thought turns me to the out gate, a second one activates the warp drive and after a few seconds the stars become a blurred tunnel of rushing veins of  light – I am speed.

The tunnel dissipates and the star-gate leaps into my vision, a gigantic tubular structure which dwarfs my ship. Huge glowing rings of light rotate ponderously, waiting to transform massive star ships into pure energy and fire them across aeons of black expanse in milliseconds.

The jump request is sent and reality tumbles as the gate spins around to aim me at the destination system; the gate fires and space swallows me whole – I am now nothing but light.

My senses re-form and I am sitting twelves kilometers from the destination gate, cloaked and silent but for the receding hum of the wormholes collapse.

I sense my destination, deep in the recesses of this solar system, I drop cloak and turn toward the hidden asteroid belt, bringing shield hardeners and a tracking computer on-line.

As I drop out of warp I see a small field of asteroids resolve itself about me; I immediately become aware of the fact that I am not here alone, flashing yellow brackets turn to red and solidify around several hostile ships. There is no hesitation, no warning; they do not want me here as anything but wreckage, so I prepare for combat.

I target as many as I can and the death dance begins, watching shields, managing capacitor, deploying and recalling sentry drones – I am now a weapon.

The battle rages for a time, the low shield warning has sounded several times and the capacitor has twice dipped below thirty percent, but the targets are slowly disappearing as I gain the upper hand. My mind is in a whirling vortex of commands and alerts, frantically balancing the defensive capabilities of my ship amid the hammer of missiles on my shields and the heavy, metronomic pounding of my auto-cannons.

Eventually, there is naught but silence, aside from the wavering pulse of the hardeners, as I sit in a field of smoldering wreckage and rocks.

Who were they? I don’t really know. They were a job, a mundane task, I guess they were in the way. Their deaths mean money, no more, it’s nothing personal.

I turn for home.

The grip of the docking beams and the accompanying noises of station life bring a welcome calm to my mind.

The capsule opens after draining itself, the serpents have released their grip on me and retracted and I stumble out into a different reality, my eyes and my mind both struggling to readjust themselves yet again.

Washers and dryers restore my body and I dress once more – I am human, small, vulnerable, insignificant.

After climbing the ladder, I pause and turn to contemplate the ship as a swarm of bots clean and repair its scarred hull to burnished glory once again.

It’s just a machine, I know that, of course.

But for a time – it was me.

It’s all in the mind, you know.

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