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A Change of Heart

By David Ronayne

Groggily he rose to the console. His head swam, as all the molecules in his body tried to swim off in several directions at once. The unnerving feeling something was slipping into your mind and trying it on for size, and the horrifying realisation that it was you. His nerve endings screamed, as he steadied himself on the console, and glanced down at his fingernails. Well, at least that was an improvement. Regeneration was always like this, provided you were lucky of course. He screwed up his eyes, trying to focus on the opposite wall. Should soon have the physiology sorted out then, hopefully, the mind would soon follow.

He staggered over to the mirror that stood in the nearby room, limbs slowly, protestingly beginning to respond to the commands from the shattered mind. Now that WAS better. A bit taller than before, but also thin and slight. Slightly haggard features, lending themselves to a gaunt look, perhaps not as stylish as before, but it definitely could be much, much worse. Shame about the nose though. The inspection stopped short at the gaping, bloodied hole in the square through the centre of his dusty, dark, tunic. He turned to the wardrobe room, thankful that they hadn't hit anything vital.

The ship was surprisingly quiet as he changed. Something irked him about the silence, which was strange, as there had been no one else on the ship for... well... a long time. That's one of the problems of regeneration, if you hadn't forgotten about it, your attitude towards it may have completely changed. He checked his attire in the mirror. The black blazer seemed a little tight fitting about the shoulders, but it seemed to go well with the loose T-shirt and the tan and green stove pipe trousers. He paused. Perhaps he should take someone on board. He hadn't really thought about it before. His previous incarnation hadn't really been the hospitable type, but attitudes change with time, and with regenerations this was even more the case. He allowed himself a smile as he plotted in a course, and then went for a lie down, as he could feel a headache coming on.

Mika Shreg was a simple farmer; perhaps a little to simple for his own good, but strong and well meaning, and above all, hospitable, especially to travellers. The tall, thin figure caught in the storm proved no exception. In return the visitor told him tales of distant worlds and times, adventures through the continuum of the universe, contrasting the bleakness on Kemsiz IV, truly a tiresome little world.

‘You could join me,’ the traveller suggested conspiratorially.

Mika thought about this briefly. ‘But sir, I don't even know who you are, and how should I pay for my fare?’

The visitor leaned forward in this chair, the candle light reflecting in his wide staring eyes, which seemed to engulf the young man. ‘I am the Master, and you will obey me.’

This item appeared in TSV 39 (May 1994).

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