Malik was pretty sure it was his own.
He jerked up, sick, fighting dizziness, opened his eyes…and at once wished he'd managed to forgo that less than dubious pleasure.
He sat on an unyielding floor. The room that enclosed him couldn't be near an outer lev, judging from its shape: an opening carved from solid rock in a weird conglomerate of non-Euclidean angles, angles that hurt his eyes. Something hurt his eyes, anyway…and his head and his chest and, in point of fact, all the multitudes of him.
Somewhere in the Depths, natch, he thought hazily. Where else would I be?
He opened his mouth to complain about the sharp stone that jutted into his back…and watched with varying degrees of calmness as his tongue detached itself and rolled out of his mouth, to pool like a slimy snake in his lap.
Malik snapped his now empty mouth closed as the room shifted around him, the walls changing from grey-green-brown to blinding blue-white. He was no longer in a small unidentifiable corner of Omega Station, but onboard a ship—in the control room, no less, of the old End of Time. Before him stood Executive Officer Vezmir Zad in all his glory: beefy arms, stocky legs, a chest as broad as the buttocks of a Carindo whore, and a face that would make a mother wimmerbat cry.
"Blayne!" roared Zad, his face turning an interesting shade of purple as he motioned towards Malik's feet. "What do you mean, coming to the con like that?"
Malik, interested, looked down—careful not to open his mouth and display his tongueless state. His feet, while bare, looked no different than normal, and he often manned the con partially dressed or even naked. After all, the Time wasn't a military ship; she was a pirate-rig.
Then he looked again. Yes, his feet were bare. Unfortunately, they weren't in their normal position, attached to the bottoms of his legs. Instead they were wandering around loose, as if seeking their missing homes.
Malik could feel another scream building as he watched his feet scrabbling on the deck, which was no longer white but a pale, translucent gray. This new color lingered for a moment before turning black. He wondered what would happen if he opened his mouth to let the scream he was biting back escape, and he wondered too exactly where his tongue had disappeared to—was it lying in wait somewhere, ready to pounce on his defenseless feet?
"Malik?" This voice didn't belong to Zad—and anyway, Malik recalled in sudden clarity, XO Vezmir Zad had died spectacularly and with a great many frozen plumes of blood, just after Maryn Meredi had him spaced out the airlock of the old Time.
So the voice didn't, couldn't, belong to Zad…