Laila sets out across the galaxies alone, in search of the ultimate trump card to help her to wrest control of the leviathan ship, Hegira from those who would seek to steal her ancient birthright. Laila’s pride and passion war with love, fear and her inferiority complex caused by her luminous rival and soul twin, Sumida.
"You see? That thing got scared and crawled out of your head."
Laila's eyes sought out the source of those cryptic words. She was in a cold, cavernous place far removed from the warmth of the room in which she'd been about to bed down to sleep. A strange metallic scent clung to the air. She tasted salt on the tip of her tongue. Glowing blue and red moss crept along the ground. Pointy stalagmites poked their heads up around her.
She heard the sound of trickling water, nearby but it wasn't close enough that she could see. In the distance was the rumble that she'd come to recognize as massive waves crashing against jagged cliffs.
"Are you listening?"
It came from above. That voice. That voice!? A sick feeling rolled into Laila's gut. That voice was her own. Unmistakably. However inconceivably.
Her eyes zeroed in on the source. A dark body stood rooted to the slick stone ceiling, defying the gravity of planet Bentokal. For the first few moments, Laila could only stare dumbly at the figure. Her eyes traced the sharp contours of the indigo face, the tiny jewels embedded below the right eye, the scar below the cleft of her chin. Inky dots nestled in the silver sclera of red-rimmed eyes. Even her boots were still muddy from Laila's foray to the boundaries of the habited zone.
Everything was the same. Everything!
Laila became unhinged, somehow staring up at her own body but the thing inside that body wasn't her. The person frowning down at her, arms akimbo wasn't her. That thing, whatever it was. It wasn’t her. It wasn’t her!
Panic set in.
The sound that came out of her wasn't words. She couldn't make her mouth move the way it should. The breath hissed out of her. Her heart was beating so fast it fluttered and made a humming, almost musical sound.
The thing that was but was not Laila spoke again. "Use your head, stupid. Your head!"
She tried to move but her arms and legs wouldn't obey. It was as if they weren't even there. Then, she saw reflected in those angry black irises, dorsal wings and the sleek body of a birdlike creature with a blunt, lizard-like head. This body was blue, sleek and wet. A creature that was not Laila. This creature was teruun, a prized denizen of the planet Bentokal. Coveted possessions across the universe. Here was Laila, trapped inside its body, not knowing how she’d gotten that way.