|Image Source: Monte Cook Games' Into the Ninth World Kickstarter|
Lightning crackled through the clouds, illuminating their irregular shapes from within with blue-white light that diffused through the deadly atmosphere. From my seat behind Harrick I could see three of the domed cities that bobbed and glided through this world's sky. Our little ship was shuddering and bucking like an angry aneen as we sliced through the corrosive clouds, and split the toxic sky. Beyond the stronglass screen I could see the skin of our vessel was already pockmarked and pitted. Lines were scored in its surface from droplets that were certainly not water as they traced paths along the flyer.
I tried and failed to connect to the datasphere, it had gone silent since our little craft had slipped the grasp of our home and sailed into the black void beyond. I understood now why the Convergence referred to numenera like these as Nightcraft now, though truly night did not adequately describe this alien environment. Outside the sky had gone black, but more stars than I had ever seen shone through that dark blanket. The sun had become a blinding orb, one that the craft had darkened its viewing ports for. Such was the intensity of the star that for a moment the ship warmed uncomfortably until Jerrin managed to reconnect a loose coupling.
Control over the craft had been an illusion all along, and I silently cursed Treel for offering us this opportunity. The vile woman must have known that we would be helpless to the aeons old programming of this machine. As we had approached the Handmaiden of Morning I began to wonder what that world, with its milky yellow sky held; now I feared that our knowing would also be our death as the craft deteriorated around us. It bypassed a dozen of those bubble cities, each looking more hospitable than the last compared to the atmosphere without that seemed to be digesting the Nightcraft.
I felt more than a little useless, gawking out the glass at the alien cities that floated by. Harrick was using every last ounce of power to protect the craft as best he could, while Jerrin worked feverishly to repair the ancient machine. I didn't have their skills with machines, my only gift of the sort was the result of an unpleasant encounter with the Iron Wind that had taken parts of my body even as it gifted me with a link to the world of dataspirits.
I hunched inward, trying to take up as little space as possible so that Jerrin could work a little more freely. I wondered where the ship was taking us, and why it seemed so ill suited for its destination.
My electrostatic shielding was damaged long ago, and without it I am unable to repel the acidic atmosphere of this world. Station Q78VX3 is only ninety five point six kilometers further. I estimate an eighty three point four seven percent chance that we will arrive safely.
My eyes shot wide and I looked to my companions. Both were deep in concentration and had apparently not heard the young male voice that spoke in my head. I opened my mind like I would to the datasphere and asked if it were possible to restore the shielding it had mentioned. The reply came in the form of images, diagrams showing the design of the device. I soon understood where to find the control circuit, and lurched into action, tearing at a panel forward and to the right of Harrick's position. More direction followed as I dug through mechanisms looking for the glass cylinder the craft's intelligence repeatedly showed me.
Behind me I heard a metallic ping and a hissing sound. Jerrin cursed even as the craft informed me of a breach to its skin. I continued to root around until at last I found the dead part, blackened and dull the cylinder was partially melted. I grabbed it and pulled without ceremony and it came away in my hand. With no thought I tossed it behind me and began to rummage through my bag of shins. I had one that would fit the socket now vacated.
Behind me Harrick and Jerrin were panicking and coughing as the toxic atmosphere entered the craft. The jack tried to plug the hole, but the corrosives ate away at everything he tried to use. I finally located the shin I was looking for and fumbled it into my left hand, buried deep in the ship's mechanism. The piece fit the socket perfectly, though it was shorter by far compared to what I had removed. With a click it seated followed by a thrum of power and a whine of circuitry.
This repair will not last long, but it should ensure that we reach our destination. The digital spirit told me. With the shield in place the ship was even able to deploy a section of paneling to close the breach and prevent more of the atmosphere from entering. My eyes were watering and it hurt to breathe but we would live; for now at least. I withdrew from the mechanisms and wondered what dangers we would face at Station Q78VX3.