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The harsh buzz of a sawtooth wave jolted Ekris from slumber. He groaned, slid off his cot, and slumped into the pilot's chair. Large amounts of data streamed across an array of thick glass screens while the alarm blared. He connected all the various details: heavy interference on scanners, propulsion malfunction in the main drive, erroneous flags on the proximity detectors. He looked through the porthole, a glass circle no more than five inches wide, and saw wisps of blue particulates wash past.
"Collision?" he pondered.
A voice called out behind him. "Still days out from the belt, nothing here to hit."
Ekris pivoted around and saw his copilot. He squinted, trying to remember the other Eliksni's name, but nothing came to him. He felt bad about that. They'd been in transit awhile and he still couldn't remember this one's name.
"It's Raksil," the copilot said as he focused on the instrument displays. "You make that face every time you forget my name."
Ekris looked away in shame. "Strange coincidence. Had a brother Raksil."
"There are many Raksil-brothers and Ekris-pilots, if you look far enough," the copilot said.
Ekris wasn't convinced that was true, but it wasn't important.
"Drive is down," Ekris said. "Stuck in a field of something."
"Not stuck," Raksil said as he punched in some commands through the dash controls, stopping the alarm. "Just slow. Velocity steady."
"No control…" Ekris chittered nervously. "If we're lucky, we'll drift out eventually."
Ekris' mind buzzed with an odd sensation. He didn't remember sharing that with his copilot.
"Best chance I've seen," he said. "He is different, brings us together in new ways."
Raksil made a click with his mandible. "Heard that before."
Ekris waved his claw dismissively. "You always dissent, just to be a dissenter."
"I want to free you from this obsession," Raksil replied.
Ekris scoffed. "Kell of Kells is a symbol of hope for all Eliksni. You would rather we live without that?"
"This myth divides us, brother," Raksil said. "We rend and tear, trying to claw our way to the top of the mountain. Then we look down and see the mountain is made of our torn banners."
Something itched in Ekris's mind. Did Raksil just call him "brother"?
Raksil continued his thought. "The only unity down this path is collective death. The Kell of Kells is destined to rule only the House of Silence."
Ekris clicked his jaw angrily. "Why would Eliksni dream of this Kell, if the dream only harms us?"
"Maybe we didn't," Raksil said with a devilish grin. "Maybe something else dreamt it for us. To keep us apart."
Ekris waved his claws and stood, pacing around the cabin. "Enough. You are stretched thin by this journey; you need more sleep—go to your bunk." His mind itched again. There was only one cot in the ship. He stumbled as the dizziness overcame his senses. When he looked up, he was alone.
"You've chased this dream so long you've forgotten you're asleep," Raksil said, a hint of mourning in his voice—the sound came from nowhere in particular. The pilot's console was dim and quiet. The instrument readouts had slowed and showed no warnings. Ekris looked toward the porthole and saw nothing but black, peppered with the sparse glimmer of distant stars.
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