art by Jonathan Westbrook
by Kevin Pickett
The outer flesh of the Diatra vessel was roasting; the stretched sleek surface popping and crackling; blisters bursting with fountains of green photo-cell blood which vaporized as it fell towards the blazing sun.
"I am Diatra."
The strange voice echoed inside the ship and the sole occupant slid a hand along the soft corridor wall as he hurried to the flight deck.
When the genetic neuron spaceflight engineers created the first organic, living space craft, amidst the accolades and awards, the sudden flood of sponsor's finance and academic fame, they did not spare one thought as to this creature's lifespan, nor its eventual inevitable death.
"I am Diatra," the voice said again. "Please may I make your acquaintance?"
The decommission of a spacecraft would have been considered no more relevant to those early geneticists than the disposal of an outdated computer, but now the Diatra craft was dying.
The pilot sat in the operational chair and pressed buttons which were rudimentary nerve endings set into a panel of pale green luminescent skin; each a pressure point linked directly to the space-craft creature's brain.
"I sense you. Please do not be afraid," the disembodied voice of the craft echoed inside the flight-deck chamber.
In front of the pilot was a monitoring screen. A stretched table of skin with blood vessels pumping green fluids through its surface was lit with an iridescent glow. Just beneath the fleshy surface, an image of a vast sun was shown, growing steadily larger as the Diatra vessel fell towards it. The pilot dexterously tapped a sequence into those neatly spaced nerve endings like a typist with an impossible deadline to meet. A whining rumble filled the room.
"Reverse propulsion faltering," Diatra said. "Pleased to make your acquaintance."
"Dammit! Come on, girl."