This story is by David A. Chase and was part of our 2019 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
Priscila Hadriana looked around the ‘room’ she landed in, the whispers of the subconscious caressing her skin. She knew the room was not real, not in a physical sense, rather it was a representation of someone’s mind. Their inner psyche. She did a quick check of herself, making sure the thick golden thread connecting her back to her physical body, and her world, was intact; pulsing gently with life essence.
Whoever this person was, they had some serious issues. The floor and walls were concrete, painted in a peaceful pale blue. Those walls however, were bleeding, with fresh blood appearing at random and pooling on the floor.
“Are we on target?” Priscila asked quietly, knowing her control mage, Mage Adept Luule Alex would hear every word.
Luule’s girlish voice sounded out of thin air, calm and professional. “Perfectly. Target’s name is Dora, meaning gift of the ONE, family name Dorota. Human. Sex: Female. Age 19.”
“Thank the Dread Lord!” Priscila said heartily. “I always feel a bit odd when it’s a man, or worse, one of the half sexes some species have. It just doesn’t feel right… Like the body isn’t my own.”
“But the body isn’t your own,” Luule said, factually. “You’re a Spirit Walker, you influence and control people who are not you. Not of the same plane of existence.
Priscila sighed inwardly. Only another Spirit Walker would understand what she meant. Luule, for all her abilities, never traveled, and therefore would never understand.
Luule continued the brief. “Dora is a freedom fighter in the Third Legionnaire’s Army of Independence. They are attempting to free the border worlds from the grip of IT. IT is always pronounced ‘it’ but is spelled with two capital letters. Your mission is simple. Assist Dora in her task and continue obtaining information so we can better map and understand this realm. Dora’s lifeline shows termination in three months. You have until then to learn what you can, and to change the course of the war in the favor of the Dread Lord’s goals.”
“Do we know what those are?” Priscila asked.
“He wants IT destroyed, and the people freed. More information will be forthcoming once we have a solid grasp of what is going on.”
“Understood. Well then, let’s get this party started. Initiating integration.”
Priscila walked to the chair which appeared in the center of the room, a steel contraption with heavy straps and a head brace, which was covered in blood, and she wondered what Dora had seen, what she had done to be like this. Well, Priscila was about to find out.
Sitting in the chair, the straps came to life, crossing over her and locking her in. Thoughts flooded through her; the local language, customs, names of people and her relationship with all of them. Like a torrent of water pouring through a broken dam, Priscila was bashed and battered as she strained to get her bearings. Then the pressure equalized, and they were one.
She saw the violence and death which filled this girl’s life, starting at 13.
Ok, Priscila thought, let’s take this thing for a ride. Lift a finger.
Priscila heard grumbling as Dora suddenly kicked out her left foot, into the warm softness of another person.
Not kick, lift a finger.
Dora’s pointer finger on her left hand lifted.
Good, now let’s touch our nose.
Dora’s right hand reached over and rubbed her nose.
Priscila gave a series of commands, checking her control over the young woman whose soul she now shared a body with.
Without warning, the room began to shake, and blood ran down the walls faster. Voices echoed off the 8 walls, getting louder and louder.
“Luule! I have resistance! I need…” Priscila’s voice died as a young girl, maybe 12, appeared in the room, dressed in a torn nightgown, a wild look in her eyes.
“WHO ARE YOU? WHAT DO YOU WANT?” The girl screamed.
“My name is Priscila, I am…” She quickly sorted through Dora’s thoughts, locking onto one, “a servant of the ONE. Your prayers have been heard Dora. I am here to assist you against IT.”
“You are from the ONE?” the girl asked, her voice trembling. “I have prayed and prayed. And people have mocked me, but I never faltered, never failed! I knew you would come!”
“Your faith has been rewarded,”
Priscila said, calmly. It always amazed her when she met people who believed in a supernatural power they could neither see nor feel. A form of delusion. They called these beings gods. But they weren’t. She had met real gods in her journeys. Entities who could see her for what she was, and destroy her if they chose, without harming the host. This ONE was a creature of the imagination, created to give people hope. An elderly man who saw people as individuals, whereas IT was… some kind of computer system maybe, which saw people as resources to be used. Dora’s thoughts on that were vague.
IT assigned you a place, and everyone was part of the collective, with no freedom of choice. Dora received the mark of a breeder and processor, a high caste, whereas her sister had been marked as a consumable; one whose worth to the collective was defined by the parts she provided to the doctors and sausage makers. Dora’s first task had been to process her own sister.
No wonder her psyche was covered in blood.
“How do I know you aren’t a servant of IT?” Dora suddenly asked, suspicious. “Meant to confuse me and lead me back to your dark master?”
Priscila smiled, seeing in the girl the same thing she felt not so long ago. A desire to break free of the role her family and her culture set for her. And so, Priscila spoke from her heart; telling Dora of the Dread Lord, the man who effectively ruled her entire world. How she had sought him out and how he listened to her dreams, personally ordering a battery of high-level tests, tests she would not have qualified for on her own, lacking the family or professional connections. And how, having passed those tests, she was offered a position few ever got. A chance to serve him directly, to go to other realms as an extension of his will. How he had sent her to help Dora in her war against IT. In her telling the Dread Lord became the ONE. But otherwise, the story was 100% true.
“You understand,” Dora said, feeling the truth of Priscila’s words. “You understand what it means to want to be free, to seek your own path in life. Only those who serve the ONE can see the evil of the collective.”
“I understand,” Priscila said, smiling.
Dora smiled and vanished; the room becoming a bit cleaner and brighter than it had been. She was healing.
Priscila focused inward once again and completed her integration, then the windows, which had been covered by heavy blinds opened, and she could see.
Dora opened her eyes, feeling at peace. Marcus, her squad-mate and lover stirred in bed next to her.
“You ok?” He asked. “You usually sleep like a log, but you kicked me last night.”
“Yeah. I think I am,” Dora said. She couldn’t remember her dream, but she felt lighter, something she couldn’t put a finger on had changed.
Kissing the medallion she wore, her proof of dedication to the ONE, Dora got up and began dressing. “I have a feeling that today is going to be a good day.”
Marcus grumbled. “Assaulting the local control center is not what I consider to be a good day. After yesterday’s attack, it’s going to be buttoned up tighter than Lucas’ wallet when you ask for extra operational funds.”
Dora laughed. “Maybe. But I have a feeling we are being watched over.”
“Ugh. Not that stupid religion of yours again!”
As Priscila listened to Marcus grumble, she smiled, reveling in the unique feeling of being both in the room of the person’s mind, yet being the person. She was ready.
“Luule, see what you can find about IT control centers. Maps, weapon systems, playbacks of other Walkers.”
“Will do. Standby for feed.”
“For the glory of the Dread Lord,” Priscila said.
“For the glory of the Dread Lord.”