The Perpetual

By Charles Matthias


Part VI

Lassie looked up as the door to her room was finally opened. Having spent the last few hours in her room by herself, without any company or anybody to talk to after that man had practically dragged her there, she was quite ready to leave. The man who opened her door was obviously not the same guy, this one looked slightly Italian, and also very on edge, since he did not say much of anything except, "You are free to walk the ship again," before moving on to the next room. Lassie had not taken any time in making up her mind; she was getting out of there.

She was also the first person to leave their room, though Lovewolf and HuggyBear were quick to join her in standing out in the hall stretching. She could smell the semen on HuggyBear's pants; it was obvious what had been going on between the two. That they hadn't bothered to change made her slightly sick, she couldn't imagine walking around in pants that were stained with even the slightest bit of cum. She walked over to the other side of the room, not wanting to be near the two offensive creatures at the moment, though both seemed oblivious to the smell.

Darkwolf was the next to come out, and he looked the worse for wear. He was completely disheveled, probably had spent the time trying to get in touch with wolf again, as usual. He never wanted to do it as a group thing, but he always was wolf when he was by himself. Lassie wished he would stop being so obdurate and just join them in the revelry. However, it wasn't just his clothes, hair, and unshaved chin that made him look unrefined, but the expression on his face was certainly not the most pleasing thing to wake up to. He looked between the three of them, his face giving way to a look of worry. "Have any of you seen Ascot recently? Ever since I got locked up I havenít heard anything about him."

Lassie shook her head, "Sorry, I haven't heard anything."

Lovewolf looked to HuggyBear, who just shrugged. Lovewolf looked back at his fellow spirit lupine and pointed at the guard opening Pillow and Lapwolf's door, "Why don't you ask him if he's seen Ascot."

Darkwolf nodded, poking the guard on the shoulder, "Have you seen Ascot, you know the guy who speaks with the Northern accent?"

The Italian man stared at him for a moment, his eyes going from confusion to a look of horror and then back to a look of confusion. Lassie wondered what all this was about. Where was Ascot, why wasn't he locked up with Darkwolf like the others were? Had he committed some crime that caused him to be locked in the brig with BlackTiger? She hoped that was the case, so that BlackTiger would have company. He did like to be alone, but he certainly didn't like being caged up either. If he had company, his hostile tendencies would probably not come to the fore so much. However, if Ascot were elsewhere, then who knew what could have happened. Perhaps he had been in the bathroom at the time they had been locked up, and had just managed to evade the guards? Perhaps he was hanging with one of the scientists; Ascot liked that sort of stuff anyway.

However, the answer the Italian gave was not what she nor anybody else expected. "I'll have to get back to you on that. Give me a minute." He then opened Pillow and Lapwolf's door, told them that they were free to go as they pleased, and then he walked down the hall and disappeared about the corner. Pillow and Lapwolf did not look at each other as they walked out, and it was quite obvious from Lapwolf's sneering at Pillow that he had wanted some, but hadn't gotten any. They walked over to the group, Pillow's face a study in confusion and distance, though they didn't say much.

"Hey, have you guys seen Ascot?" Darkwolf asked looking ill again.

"No, I haven't, sorry," Pillow admitted, then began to stare off into space again, his expression slightly euphoric now.

"How the Hell was I supposed to see him. I've been locked up in that room for the past few hours with Bible-Thumper here." Lapwolf spewed, jerking his thumb at Pillow who was ignoring him.

"Hey, look, he's missing, and I'm worried about it!" Darkwolf shouted at the younger kid. "The least you could do is show some concern."

"I don't have to take that from you!" Lapwolf barked back, pushing Darkwolf slightly on the chest. Darkwolf then lost it, the wolf that had been right beneath his skin coming out completely, his teeth bared, he jumped on Lapwolf, knocking him to the ground, as his paws clawed at his shirt, tearing into it. Lovewolf and HuggyBear grabbed Darkwolf by the arms, and dragged him off the spluttering Lapwolf who was now shouting obscenities at Dark.

Lassie went into the bathroom, filled her hands with water, and then came back out, and splashed Dark's face with it. He shook his head back and forth and then looked up at the others, feeling a bit ridiculous. "Sorry about that all. Lap, sorry I jumped you."

Lap continued making obscene gestures, but finally turned around and stalked off. Lovewolf looked after him, "Hey, where are you going, Lap?"

"To the damn cafeteria, I'm starving." Lapwolf spat over his shoulder, leaving them all behind.

"I'm kind of hungry too." HuggyBear patted his stomach, the large paunch that it was, and then rose to follow him.

"Aren't you going to wait to hear what happened to Ascot?" Darkwolf seemed amazed that he would leave so suddenly without finding out about his friend.

HuggyBear looked a bit sheepish and then sat down in the hallway, "Fine, we'll wait for that Italian guy, but not more than five minutes."

Pillow pulled one of his namesakes out from his shirt, and sat down on it. He was still looking into the distance, his face slightly giddy. Lassie stared at him for a while, wondering just what it was that was going through his head. He had always been the quietest of the bunch, spending most of his time with Lapwolf, who had easily dominated his will over the years. At first they had spent their time together because both liked classical music, but then it became something more, they became lovers of sorts. HuggyBear had told her that Pillow had confessed to him that he didn't really love Lapwolf like Lapwolf thought he did, but only loved him out of a sense of pity. As far as Lassie was concerned, that was definitely the wrong reason to be making love to another guy.

It took only a few moments before the Italian guy had come back; he looked rather distraught and seemed to be walking slowly on soft feet so as not to disturb even the tiniest air molecule. Of course, all eyes turned on him as he approached, not a one missing any of the subtle body movements that told them something that they had not considered, that Ascot was not well at all. Why couldn't he have hurt himself so badly that he would have to go to the infirmary? Darkwolf had already been there, so why not Ascot, Lassie reasoned. However, the news that was brought was much dire than any accident.

"I am sorry that I have to tell you this, but Lars Thordegaard, the one you call Ascot, is dead," the Italian said.

"Dead?" Pillow intoned, his giddy expression replaced by one of shock and sorrow.

"How?" Darkwolf blurted, standing on his feet, looking more ill by the moment.

"He was shot in the back of the head while attempting to hijack the ship," the Italian admitted.

"Is that why we're near Venus?" Pillow asked.

"Yes."

"Why would Ascot hijack the ship?" Lovewolf asked, still skeptical.

"We're working on it. That was the reason you were locked in your rooms. Don't worry, everything is under control, and we will be returning to our moon orbit within the hour."

"Don't worry about it?" Lovewolf bellowed, "One of our friends is now dead, and you tell us not to worry about it?"

The Italian man shrugged not sure how to answer the question. "Look, I'm only telling you what I know. Don't worry about it. We'll get it organized and make sure that this never happens again."

"Ascot can only die once you know," Lassie remarked. Already, she did not like this Italian security guard; he seemed to be very uptight and nonpeople-oriented. He was quite a brute it seemed, probably just as likely to pick her up over his head as that other guard, McGee, had done.

"You know what I mean."

Darkwolf put a hand on the wall, feeling his stomach, "Yeah, we hear ya." His voice was murky, uncertain, and quite slurred as he tripped over his own tongue. He then slipped into the bathroom, one hand over his mouth. A terrible retching sound came from out of the restroom, as Darkwolf began to heave once more. In moments he was dry heaving again, the coughing that sounded sick and empty, more like gagging than anything else. They all winced at each repetition of the sounds, none of them wanting to cover them up with more conversation. Lassie knew exactly how Dark was feeling, the death of Ascot was bringing tears to her eyes. He was such a good man; to have died like that was unthinkable.

Pillow stood up finally, "I don't think you are needed here anymore," he told the security guard as he held his pillow closely to his chest. The Italian grimaced as he looked from Pillow to the other Shapeshifters that were in the hall. He finally turned and walked away, not bothering to look back or say anything else. Pillow knocked on the bathroom door, "Are you all right in there, Dark?"

"I'll be fine, I think I need to lay down for a while though. I'll see you guys at the Greenhouse later." Darkwolf called from the bathroom, his voice sounding strained.

Lovewolf shook his head, "Second time in five hours, we've got to do something about that boy. Oh well, should we go have something to eat?"

Lassie stared at him, how could he think of food at a time like this. She stormed off, "I'm heading to the Greenhouse right now, I'll see you later."

"Adios, Lassie." Pillow called after her. "Be careful." Now why did he say that?


Thibaudet had decided that with Anselm out of the room, he was going to get a bit of sleep. The last time he had slept had been the night before launch, which seemed now like a distant memory. The passage of time was slow and inexorable, and he might as well make use of it by getting some sleep. He had wanted to sleep when they had at first been locked up, but any idea of sleep had been quashed when Anselm had pulled out that book and intermittently read passages out loud. Now that Anselm was out of the room, he was going to be able to manage a few hours of sleep at least. As long as he could fall asleep before the man got back, he would be fine.

Of course, he did not count on the ship suddenly shaking so abruptly. He was tossed from his bed, landing on the hard floor on his elbows and knees. He slumped to the ground, not wanting to move, his elbows and arms sore, and his body tired anyway. He had just been getting to sleep, his mind had been wandering, dreaming of flying over the ocean as an albatross; accepting the Nobel prize for Physics while he still looked like some cross between a man and an albatross; pecking out Fulton Swiley's eyes with his beak. He was not a lucid dreamer, but these images he could vaguely recall as he lay there on the floor with his eyes shut and his arms tucked underneath him. Pierre knew that he would have to get back into bed if he wanted any sleep at all, but he was too tired to move.

The peculiar images that had passed through his mind might have at one point disturbed him, but he was too tuckered out to give it much more thought. If he had dwelled on it, he would probably have passed it off as a passing interest brought on by hearing too many words from the pen of Dr. Swiley. Had he asked Anselm to analyze those images, he might have gotten a response that he was developing an inner need to freedom that he found embodied in the symbol of the albatross; possibly he could have been told that it was brought on by frustration with the world at large and his inability to produce in the normal world; perhaps he was going crazy from all the stress, and the albatross would free him from such labors that he found unimaginable.

However, Pierre was too exhausted to examine his subconscious motives. They were just passing images, like any other part of a dream. That he had them at all would be enough to unsettle his mind later, when he was more coherent, but there he lay on the floor, trying to squeeze in a few more moments of sleep before the developing bruises pained him enough to get back up in his bed. That the ship was once again accelerating through space no longer mattered. That Anselm had not yet returned was of the least concern. That the door to his room was opening up behind him carried no weight in his priorities. He wanted to sleep peacefully where he was, and not move for the next few years.

However, the figure in the door had other ideas, "Hey Pierre," It was Anselm in his typically cheery voice, "they finally decided to let us out of here. What are you doing sleeping on the floor?"

Pierre rolled over, grimacing at the subtle pain, "Je tíachais dormir." He had unconsciously shifted back into Francais, but he didn't care whether Anselm understood him or not.

"I see," Anselm remarked. "Sorry to disturb you, but I thought you'd like to know."

"I hear you." Thibaudet pushed himself to his feet, stretching his muscles. He peered at the waiting Anselm, "Yes?"

Anselm turned from him, pulling something from his pocket, and setting on his bed. He then folded the sheets over it, "Nothing, I guess."

"You guess?"

"Don't worry about it, just got to put some stuff away. Sorry I woke you."

"It's not really that big a deal." Pierre muttered as he picked up some of his stuff. He might as well head over to his station and check to make sure that all his instruments were still properly calibrated; who knew what could have happened in the couple hours that he had been locked in this room with the insufferable Frederick Anselm. "I guess I will go check on my research station." He started out the door, intending to get it done quickly, and then to return to his room to get some sleep.

"I don't think they touched anything." Anselm called after the fleeing Thibaudet.

"Who touched anything?"

"The security guards. They were looking through our labs for something. That's why Dutton pulled me out earlier, he had to ask me something about what was in my room." That Anselm would tell anybody about anything he was doing was news enough to Thibaudet to get his attention. He turned about, and looked the man in the face. He had a medium build, with clean cheeks, slightly tanned, almost completely forgettable.

"What did you tell him?"

"I told him all he needed to know, and it obviously satisfied him." Thibaudet had to hand it to the man; he certainly knew how to avoid the question.

Shaking his head, he began to walk down the hallway, "Adieu, I'll see you later." He walked from the room, noting that a few of the other scientists were also getting up and heading out. He checked to see if his friend Arkady was in, but the man must have already left. Sighing, he continued on down the hallway, taking a few different turns to stretch his legs. He really would much rather be in his room sleeping, or at the cafeteria getting a bite to eat. But he had to check on his research, it was the reason he was in space after all, and it would be his key to winning that Nobel Prize in Physics.

Not really paying attention to where he was going, as he couldn't make up his mind where he wanted to go, he soon wandered into the second section of rooms, where the Shapeshifters were housed. The two hallways were side by side along the lateral section of the second floor, and it was a simple matter of taking two turns to get from one to the other. However, there was never a real need to go from one to the other. On the only other occasion he had been through that part of the ship, it had been because he had taken a wrong turn. This time, he just was wandering aimlessly.

However, he heard a sound coming from the bathroom that made him stop for a moment. It was the sound of somebody retching horribly. He knocked on the bathroom door, his curiosity easily getting the better of him. "Um, are you all right in there?"

"No." the voice was familiar, and Thibaudet had a strange feeling that he had already met this person at some point.

"Do you need some help? I can call the doctor."

"No thank you, I'll just lie down." he heard some footsteps and then the door opened. Thibaudet was shocked to see that it was the selfsame youth that he had bumped to in the hallway; except this time the boy was actually wearing clothes. "Oh, it's you again. Assalam Alaikum." the kid then passed him, and walked over to an open door, and then stood there, his face quite pale. His whole body quivered once, and he gulped for air, his eyes wet. Thibaudet stood mute watching him, obviously something was terribly wrong.

Thibaudet was not very good at giving comfort, so did the next best thing he could for this youth, he kept the conversation going. "Are you a Muslim? That's the third time you've said that to me I believe."

The kid smirked a bit, but it quickly died, "No, I'm not a Muslim, though I have considered converting to Islam on occasion. I just like the phrase, it sums up my whole philosophy."

"I must admit, 'Peace be upon you' is certainly much better than what most salutations amount to these days. Most places I go it's either 'Hello, my name is' or 'Who the Hell are you?'; very repetitive and not quite so interesting as 'Peace be upon you'." Thibaudet rambled on, not sure what he was accomplishing, but this kid certainly needed something to take his mind off whatever was ailing him. All thoughts of recalibrating his instruments or getting food or sleep were gone from his mind, here was an opportunity to do something right that would not come again, and he was not going to miss it.

"Yeah, it does sound better." the kid admitted. Thibaudet stared at the kid, trying to remember if he had mentioned his name, but his brain must have still been asleep, because he could not find anything to call the kid other than rotund and all it's synonyms.

Thibaudet smiled, "Bon jour is nice I guess, but Assalam Alaikum has a certain ring to it that I don't think can be easily matched." Thibaudet inwardly smacked himself, this was so bad. He wasn't getting anywhere with the kid, he needed to do something else, and this salutation crap wasn't going to accomplish anything other than to bore him and the kid. "Hey, you mind if I come in, I've got a few spare minutes, and you look like you need some company." That at least got him somewhere.

The kid nodded, "Sure, I'm not going to be doing anything." He sat down on the far bed, and leaned against the wall, one hand on his stomach, his breath coming slowly but each one was deep to fill his lungs. Thibaudet crossed to the other side of the room, and sat on the bunk opposite him. The room was not completely unadorned as his was. There were several pictures of wolf-like creatures taped on the wall behind the bed, and the bedsheets were obviously not standard issue -- wolves and wolf-hybrids decorated both. The only thing the room lacked was a rug and window shades.

"I'm not sure if you remember me, I'm Pierre Thibaudet. We met in the hall, and you were, well, um..."

"Oh yeah, I had been sleepwalking. Nice to see you again Pierre. Wasn't that only a few hours ago?"

"It seems like years." Thibaudet paused for a moment, feeling at a sudden disadvantage. "I'm terribly sorry, but I've forgotten your name."

"I'm Darkwolf."

"Ah yes, Darkwolf, interesting name. Why did you choose it? I assume that your parents didn't name you that."

"No, my parents gave me a different name."

"Donald? Richard? Frederick?" Thibaudet guessed whimsically.

"No, but something similar. Darkwolf is closer to my true being than that name ever was or could be." Darkwolf was still quite distant, but he did appear to be recovering somewhat from whatever it was that had been bugging him.

"So, just what are you?"

Darkwolf sighed fatalistically, "So it comes to that does it? Always that question. Always, what are you really? Or, what do you think they are? The shrinks always asked that, and I always told them the same thing. I am a werewolf. It is the simplest way to put it, no fussing, no cutting corners, no beating around the bush; just straightforward and in-your-face.

"I'm not the traditional werewolf of course. I don't change only under the light of the full moon, though it does have an effect on me; I feel the wolf more powerfully in its presence. I am also not a murderingly savage beast when I change; in fact I am just the opposite. I am regal, proud, dignified, yet gentle and caring, with a touch of silent strength. I am all things that wolves are, and humans cannot be. I may look like a human, but I have fur beneath this skin; I have claws beneath these fingers; I have a tail hiding in my spine; I have a muzzle locked between my lips; I am a wolf in this shell of human flesh, a wolf dark of fur, noble in stature, fierce in battle, and the capacity to be a caring father.

"I know this all sounds strange to you, but just forget everything that you know, especially about science. There are just some things in this world that science cannot explain, at least not yet. I am one of them. Genetically, I am human, but my soul is something else. I cannot claim that my soul is that of a wolf, but certainly the werewolf that is spoken off. I can talk to them and they talk back to me, I can feel it breaking free from my body. I know that it dwells forever, not within me, but as me. I wish that I could become on the outside what I am in here, but there seems to be no way to change, none whatsoever."

Thibaudet nodded, most of that seeming to be a bunch of quasi-mystical nonsense. However, he did not want to be rude, so decided to go along with him on this one. "How do you know that you really have dark fur?"

Darkwolf shrugged, "It is just one of those things you know. I know I have a soul too, but that is equally as nebulous. I couldn't prove it to you anymore than I can physically change into a wolf."

"Have you always known this?"

Darkwolf shook his head, "No, not really. Looking back on my life, it should have been obvious though. Werewolves always fascinated me; I got my parents to tape every single werewolf movie that came on TV. Those that we couldn't find on TV, we rented from a video store. I always liked wolves, though I never really liked any other animal quite so much."

"So you knew were a werewolf from watching movies?"

"There's more to it than that." Darkwolf pointed out, his voice still melancholy, but his face looked much less pale, and the thick cheeks were now moving quickly over each word as he began to perk up. "It took me a while to notice it, but I've always stood out form the crowd. I don't like to be alone, not for any reason, but there I am in the midst of a great populace and I am by myself. Those few that I called friend I became completely devoted to, loyal to a fault, much like a wolf. Even my dreams were simple and lupine. I just wanted to take care of my family, nothing big, no great plans like everybody else; I just wanted to make sure that my children were cared for. No real ambition for anything great, though I've been told that I am quite intelligent. I just never found any desire to put it to use."

"So that is how you concluded that you were really a werewolf?"

"Well, that contributed, but the real clincher kicked in one night when I was listening to my recording of wolves howling -- you know one of those recording with Haydn symphonies in the background or something? Well, that night I just craned my neck, and joined in the chorus. I woke my parents up when I did it too. My mom was frightened because she thought it was a real wolf howling." he then craned his neck, and let out a mournful wail, his neck throbbing from the exultation. The sound was so melancholy and dejected that it touched Pierre's heart deeply, moving him beyond sympathy to actual concern. It was so realistic too that it gave him goosebumps; he could understand why Darkwolf's mom had been frightened; it did sound just like a wolf.

"So from then on, you recognized your wolf-side?"

"Recognized it and reveled in it. It is very liberating to run about on all fours, once one gets past the psychosomatical block." Darkwolf admitted, looking Thibaudet over once before staring off into space once again. "You probably could do it too if you wanted to."

"Me? I don't want to be a wolf." Thibaudet pointed out, before realizing that he had worded that very badly.

"What do you want to be then?"

Thibaudet decided that he might as well talk about it since it was on his mind at present, and he had nothing better to do. "I guess I'd like to be an albatross."

"Aren't they bad luck?"

"That's just superstition."

"So are werewolves supposedly, yet you are talking to one."

Thibaudet didn't feel like arguing that one, since there was no way he could disprove the kidís assertion. It seemed much like solipsism, a condition that could not be refuted, only cured. "Well, albatross's in my opinion are not bad luck. To me they seem the epitome of grace and freedom. They always just travel over the sea, always alone, just themselves and the air and the sea. I guess that sounds silly doesn't it?"

Darkwolf smiled for the first time since Pierre had joined him, "No, not at all. Believe me, I've heard many things in my time, and this one is tame in comparison."

"Your time? You can't be more than twenty!" Thibaudet objected. He was in his thirties for crying out loud; junior here did not need to be lecturing him on the experiences of life.

"Twenty-two actually. I haven't seen much, but I know what I've seen. Not everybody can say that."

"Well, I guess I'd like to be an albatross."

"You don't seem the werealbatross type to me."

"I didn't know that there were any," Thibaudet admitted a bit lightheartedly.

Darkwolf shrugged, "I guess not." he turned back to the side, with a vacant expression on his face. He did not say anything else; he just sat there staring into the ground. There seemed to be no way to get around the situation anymore. Thibaudet was going to have to confront him.

"What's got you so down, you look awful."

"Nothing you should worry about."

"Tell me, sometimes the only way to get rid of pain is to share it. I'm here, I'm willing to listen." Thibaudet couldn't believe what he was saying. He was normally not so empathic.

"Are you sure you want to here?"

"Absolutely."

Darkwolf sighed, "I thought you might. You seem like a nice fellow, I guess I can trust you. Well, one of my friends just died." He said the last wit such a note of finality that Pierre was sure that he could have said the Earth had just blown up and that they were forever stuck in this ship until they oxygen filters finally gave out and they all died from asphyxiation without generating any greater shock.

"I'm terribly sorry to hear that. When did this happen?"

"I don't know, but apparently he's been dead for a while. I think that is why they locked us up in our rooms, because he died. Incidentally, youíre sitting on his bed right now. It doesn't matter though, he won't be needing it." At the mention of the bed, Thibaudet stood up; the thought of sitting on that bed somehow made him ill. Then, something else that the kid had said clicked in his mind.

"Are you telling me that he was on this ship and was just killed a few hours ago?" Thibaudet could not believe what he was hearing. There was no record of anybody ever having murdered somebody during a space orbit. It was just something that had never happened, and now it happens here on this voyage, on the first day no less. The guards must have been searching the rooms like Anselm had eluded. Perhaps Anselm had incriminating evidence in his room, which was why they had pulled him out to talk? Wouldn't that be ironic, the psychologist loses it on the first day and slaughters a kid.

"The guard said that he had been attempting to hijack the ship. They shot him for it I guess."

"Why was he hijacking the ship? How was he doing it to, I mean, you guys don't seem like the most capable individuals in the world, if you understand what I mean."

"Yeah, I know what you're saying. I have no idea what was going through Ascot's head, but I do know that he could fly this ship. He was at the Academy studying to be a navigator, this ship would be one of the first things studied in those classes."

"You seem to be taking it pretty well."

"I was kneeling at the toilet for five minutes. I was dry heaving the last four of those minutes. I've known Ascot for many years now, and we were good friends. We came here to get closer to our spirits, and with him dead, I don't know if I can."

"Why don't you howl for him?" Thibaudet asked, not sure why he did, but it seemed like the right thing to say.

Darkwolf nodded, "I guess so." He then looked about the room, until his eyes settled once more on Thibaudet. They seemed so sad, but not the despairing kind, the dedicated kind, which had a plan in mind. His eyes were ones not of vengeance, but of perseverance. He stared at Pierre for a few moments, not boring into the man like some would, but just calmly appraising him yet again, searching for something that they would not find. "I guess I'll need to be alone for now."

"Would you like me to shut the door on my way out?"

"If you would."

Thibaudet walked over to the door, looked back and smiled as best he could, "I'm sure Ascot wants the best out of the wolf in you. Don't let his death get in the way of that. He's not dead as long as you remember him."

"Or at least as long as I sing of him in the language of wolves." Darkwolf sighed, his face a little dreamy, almost asleep. "Thank you for taking the time to talk to me, Dr. Thibaudet, it was nice seeing you again."

"You too, Darkwolf." Thibaudet smiled before closing the door. He stood there a moment, until the first wailing howl barely echoed out through the door. Thibaudet waited for it to die away, only to be replaced by a more insistent exultation. He closed his eyes, his mind praying, something that he had not done in a long time. He wished for this kid only the best, and that he did not let Ascot die in vain.

However, that fact alone was enough to spark his imagination and his curiosity. Just why hadn't they been told of the kid's death? It was important news, and frankly, the command crew was getting on his nerves, what with locking them in their rooms for a few hours, and the general air of incompetence that he felt surrounded this whole affair. For some odd reason, he was no longer so skeptical of the Shapeshifters, though he was still dubious as to their claims, which were obviously ridiculous. However, he wanted to find out about this incident, and the best place to do that would be on the bridge, where the captain would be. He knew that it was technically off limits, but this was a question that concerned them all.

Part VI continued!

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