There were needles poking him, and scalpels cutting him apart, sutures that put him back together. Intravenous tubes pumped him full of blood and drugs; he could move his eyes, but nothing else. All would be dark, until they let him see.

They were talking to him in soft, parental tones, and he was listening. They were telling him what to do, where to go. They spoke lovingly, of death and duty and all sorts of things he cared little about. Then they tried to force themselves on him, but he refused. Soon, they would seal his mind with theirs, but for now he would think; in this time between sleep and wakefulness he would have his own thoughts. In transit, that's what they called it.

They thought he couldn't think. But he could. They thought he didn't know; he knew everything. He was a malfunction in their perfection. A meaningless creak in their lethal silence. He knew about their Black Ship, and their scheming drugs, and their psycho-hypnotic suggestions. He was Eversor, but so much less than they had hoped.

They showed him pictures of a man with no eyes. He had a grey beard, and a toothless mouth. They called him The Deacon. They called him the target. They formed a profile of artificial dislike, and turned it into hatred. They wanted him dead, and they wanted their assassin to want him dead. But things weren't so simple.

Why was he the target? What heinous crime had he committed? That was what they would never say. There could have been a thousand valid reasons, but none that he would ever hear. They expected bliss in ignorance, but they would have to force it on him. The voice told him about a command structure, and then burned maps and schematics into his mind. He would have screamed, "No." But they couldn't hear, they could only speak.

Icy feeling was returning to his limbs and he could feel their poison in his veins. There had been a life before this one, a life of work and simplicity. He frantically tried to recall the details, he had so little time to remember. There had once been a place with farms and animals. Once, there had been a home with warmth and belonging. There had been a humanity for him, But did the Temple care?

No. They cut out that part of his mind. They ripped the smile from his face and the regrets from his conscience. Or they tried. They had sacrificed what they were on an altar to a dead god and then demanded that he kill the ones who wanted it back.

He wanted his humanity back.

The Temple wanted results. They cared about psychosis. They mongered for terror and lives. They made him kill his family to prove that he belonged to them. They addicted him to death and wielded him in a pair of pristine hands. They thought he didn't know. But he knew.

A synthetic fatty membrane coated him; his destination would be cold. Pheromone glands were implanted in the base of his skull to drive off predatory animals. They were altering him, improving him, making him ready for a fight he knew nothing about. He was being sent to win a war that would only exist for an instant in his mind.

What was he after all of their changes? Was he still human? He hadn't been human for a very long time. He could remember a person, a nameless person. He could remember brown hair, and green eyes and the smell of Her blood and Her perfume and he wondered what she had meant. The voice was telling him about defences, capabilities, access ways, and a dozen other things that he had no choice but to hear. His mind was elsewhere. She had a name once, but what was it?

More needles pushed into his veins. Opiate compounds that he couldn't live without. Everything in his way was going to die, and he was going to live. That sounded wrong to him, he wouldn't live, he would function. Like a machine, or a weapon. He had no mind worth seeing, or even worth removing. He was less than an automaton, less than a lobotomized slave.

A timer started in his head, that was all the time he had left. He wouldn't have any more thoughts once it hit zero. He would be theirs. He would fully awaken, ready to begin his mission. He had so little time to think. He wanted more, but they wouldn't give it to him. They would freeze him for immemorial time, and let him ponder a lifetime of experiences for just a few minutes.

How long had it been since he had talked to another person? How long since he had touched someone who he hadn't wanted to kill? It could have been millennia, or centuries. There was no way of knowing. The pod began its final preparations. Armoured plates were bolted to his bones, final adjustments were made to his senses.

The last of the drugs were emptied into his system, and the Eversor could feel sanity slipping away. He could feel the last of his free thoughts falling down the slippery slope into oblivion. The faces and the feelings, they all fled into a darkness that he couldn't penetrate.

They wanted him to hate, and he no longer had a choice.