[ISS] Do You See Me? (Mar 3.4, Tabs 3.4)

edited July 2016 in ISS Tsiolkovsky
image

Mark,

After Speedball practice, you shower up quickly, then head to the Med Bay. Doctor Lancome appears on her monitor moments after you enter.

image After she intones the ritual Med Bay greeting, "Please state the nature of the medical emergency." and you explain that you're here to visit Priscilla, her expression softens for a moment. She checks her files, then comes back to answer, "I'm sorry, Corporal Nul. Priscilla has placed herself on unavailable. It seems she wants to rest."

She's lying, she has to be.

What do you do?

Comments

  • Book-keeping: cashing in XP to add 1 to Volatile

  • edited July 2016

    image

    Yeah, that's not right. Something must have happened.

    "But I promised Pris I'd come see her today," I protest. "Can't you... maybe ask her first? Like, knocking on the door before you go in."

    What is that in Doctor Lancome's eyes? Anxiety. Resolve.

    .


    Mark gives the voice a string to activate Uncanny Voices.

  • edited July 2016
    image

    Mark,

    "She's been instructed to harvest your girlfriend, Mark." you hear the voice over your sub-vocal mic. "Little Pris is the cure for your ship's plague, and young Doctor Arissa has been tasked with making the serum to cure everyone else. With Priscilla's drokking heart. With all her bits, actually."

    image Doctor Lancome looks torn, "Corporal... I can." She sighs for a moment, not frustrated with you, just at a bit of a loss. She decides to lie, "Give me a moment and I'll ask her. Alright? I just need a moment to hop into VR." Her monitor winks off, and you're left in the Med Bay with the single occupied tube with Priscilla's body in it, and the other tube with Ourania's unconscious form inside.

    You notice Lucas and Nadja aren't here anymore.

  • image

    I go and stand next to Pris's tube while I wait. But I'm looking at Ourania. She's the reason for all this. I ought to feel something, a snarl of fury or hate in my stomach. I feel nothing.

    I think about what it would feel like to tamper with her tube. Add something toxic to her air feed - I'd have to break it open, since the actual controls are on the adult side of the screens. Watch the blurry outline of her body, choking. I think I would still feel nothing.

    I look down at where Pris lies. The frosted plastic doesn't show much. Only the colour of her hair and a smudge of deathly pale skin.

    "Can you still get her out? Is it too late?" I ask the voice.

    I turn away from the occupied tubes and look again at the empty places where Nadja and Lucas were before. I could wait to ask Doctor Lancome. Curiosity gets the better of me.

    I open up my Navi and search for their locations. I don't have access to pinpoint coordinates. That would be an invasion of privacy. But it will tell me which pod or sector they're in, and list the checkpoints they passed most recently.

  • image

    Mark,

    "I can get her out, Mark," the voice responds in a tone that sounds irritated. "But what do I get for it? You're not holding up your end of the bargain, Mark. I give. And I give. And what have I gotten for all of this generosity? Nothing. Not one single thing from you. Nothing, except more requests for help, for information, for favors..."

    "The well has run dry, Mark Larsen. I'm all out of freebies."

    Your Navi shows a check-in for both Nadja Crassus and Lucas Underwood into Iso. Confined for their own protection. The move was signed off by Corporal Tek.

  • image

    I put my Navi in its pouch and put the heels of my palms over my eyes.

    "You're getting her, aren't you?" I whisper. "what else do you want? I don't know, I don't even know who you are. Isn't it enough to be spying on everything in my life? That seemed to keep you happy enough."

    The pressure of my hands on my closed eyes makes tile vivid brown patterns whirl across my vision. I pull my hands away and swallow and take a deep breath.

    "Just tell me what to do. I'll... I'll do anything."

    Everything is blurry. I blink away the tears.

  • image

    Mark,

    The voice relaxes slightly, "Am I getting Priscilla Pendleton? You didn't actually give her to me, you ran from her. Threw off your headset and ran away like a coward. I will open this tube for you, but you need to bring Priscilla to the iso chambers. To me. Then, she'll be safe, and we'll be square."

    "Promise me that you'll do this. And don't forget the hex that Ourania cast on you to hurt you if you lie. This one will hurt quite a bit."

  • edited July 2016

    image

    I cringe a little at the reminder of that first VR meeting with Pris. IT's been agonising since then. First the days of fretting about what to do. And then, when I'd lost all my resistance to the idea, it seemed like every ridiculous obstacle in the world was popping up between me getting to Pris while no one else was around. Classes, lockdowns, even my corp induction.

    I clear my throat. "I promise."

    It doesn't hurt.

  • image

    Mark,

    The tube opens up. You see an unconscious and pale, but very much alive Priscilla in there. Doctor Lancome hasn't returned, but you know she'll be back any moment.

    What do you do?

  • image

    I bend down and lift Pris into my arms, supporting her head with one shoulder. She smells faintly of disinfectant and ozone.

    I check Pris isn't plugged into anything in the tube, sensors or anything like that. Then I carry her towards the door. If I'm quick, and lucky, I can get to the iso block without meeting anyone on the way.

  • image

    Mark,

    You head for the door, right as it opens. In walks Tabitha and Pax. They're carrying the limp and bleeding form of Zola, wrapped in a towel and soaking wet. It looks bad. Tabitha's head is bleeding, there's blood on the back of her shoulders and neck.

    Tabitha,

    Inside the Med Bay is Mark, in his crisp new uniform. He has an unconscious Priscilla in his arms, he's holding her gently, a hand behind her head. The tube where she was laying in a coma is still wide open. A glance over to Ourania's tube shows her still inside. Doctor Lancome is not on the monitors, and nobody else is here.

    What do you do?

  • image

    This does not look good. I open my mouth to ask what's happened. It occurs to me that their trackers coming in through the door will have alerted Doctor Lancome. She could be back any second.

    "Uh. Tabitha, you're bleeding," I say. "I have to go. Don't tell anyone you saw us. I'll be right back. Sorry."

    I give them space to carry Zola past and shuffle my way over to the door. There's no turning back now. I stick my head out into the corridor and look both ways.

  • image

    I freeze in place and take in the scene as best I can. What is Mark doing? Is Pris..okay? If she were good to release, wouldn't Lancome be supervising? Stomm, where is Lancome?

    "What? I know I'm. What are you. Doing with Pris? Is she okay?"

  • image

    I turn around to talk to Tabitha.

    "I have to get her away from here. She's a test subject, for the plague. And they're going to kill her to make a cure." I think about asking Tabitha to come with me. She is bleeding pretty badly though. "You'd better stay here."
  • image

    My mouth opens, then I nod. "Send me a message. If you need me."

    I lead the way into the Med Bay with Pax and Zola, stealing a last glance as Mark goes, noting the direction he takes as best I can.
  • image

    Mark,

    Let's see you Run Away here to the Iso chambers.

  • Run Away: Volatile 2

    (Rolled: 2d6+2. Rolls: 3, 3. Total: 8)


    +1 xp
  • I cause a big scene. (Chaos, you know.)
  • edited July 2016
    image

    Mark,

    Please go here.
  • image

    Tabitha,

    image
    Pax, who was quiet during your exchange, helps you load Zola's body onto the examination chair. She grunts with the last bit of effort, then steps back. Noticing Doctor Lancome still hasn't returned, she looks to you, "Pris was an experiment? That's how she got sick? I'd heard rumors on back channels, but holy stomm, Tabs."
    She peers at you for a moment like she's trying to get a read off your reaction. "Did you know?"
  • image

    "Yeah, I knew." I find some place to sit and adjust the towel around my neck. "Only since. Last week."

    "The Commandant made it happen. I don't know how Mark will keep. Pris safe. Or himself." The worry makes me restless.
  • image

    Tabitha,

    Doctor Lancome still hasn't shown up. Zola is still bleeding heavily, and your head is throbbing right now.

    image Pax moves you to the secondary chair, urging you to sit down, "Listen, don't tell anyone, but I can operate this stuff. I need to get you into this chair so we can suture you up and meatmesh the wound back together, okay?" She glances over at Zola, who is pale as porcelain. "Then I'll work on dipstomm over there." She eases you down into the chair with sure hands.

    As she plugs in a couple wire to her ports and the chair comes to life, she whispers into your ear, "I've got some friends. We're working on breaking the quarantine. You're a good person, Tabs. You want to help us out?"

    (you heal 1-Harm)

    What do you do?
  • image

    It's pretty easy for Pax to get me in the chair. I give her a curious look when she says she can operate these things, and I'm fascinated when she plugs in. That's what they're for? Amazing.

    It feels drokking weird as the machine pieces me back together. Doesn't hurt though..Pax must be good at this.

    Breaking the quarantine. Hearing Pax say the words makes my skin tingle, it's so exciting. But it's such a big task. It's exciting because it feels impossible. I whisper back, "What's your plan? If I say yes. What happens next?"
  • image

    Tabitha,

    image Pax taps at the keyboard, just slightly out of your view as the devices built in the chair continue working on your wound. "Originally, I was going to ask just because I trusted you, needed someone else in the pod who we could work with. Now..." She taps a few more times. "It looks like you're about to become really important, Tabs. The bridge crew is in trouble. The subcommander is recommending that they pull you out of quarantine to help fly the ship." She moves around to look at you closely. "They're going to suit you up, and pull you through, Tabs. And now that your DNA's keyed in this Med Bay, they know where you are."
  • image

    "You're drokking. Kidding me. They can't expect me to fly." I'm aghast.

    What gets to me the most about this news is that they'll suit me up to pull me from quarantine. Pull me out, drop me back in. I don't know if that says anything about Pris's theory. "How do you know?"

    I get it, though. I can wait for them to pull me, or I can run as soon as my head is back together. If I wait, I get to go to the other side.
  • image

    Tabitha,

    image Pax taps her head, "I've got some mods. I'm in communication with the team, and they check back channels on The Feed. The nebula futzed with their sensor array and now they have to fly by feel. If it were a science, you'd be drokked." She licks her lips, thinking, "You've got skills, Tabs. Stuff that was baked into your genetic mix, but even more, the stomm you do. On an instinctual level, you're definitely your own person, and they don't know that yet. They think you're half Ioanna and nothing else. But that's wrong. Dead wrong. You'll fly this ship. And it'll be a foothold for us all."

    You feel the mending complete and the stitches give the back of your head a tightness. Something in the cocktail mix of drugs the machine pumped into you makes you feel a little euphoric.

    What do you do?
  • edited July 2016
    image

    I stand up, feeling kind of lightheaded and..I think the word is 'swimming'? "Lancome talked about that. The Nebula. Not the sensor array."

    While I'm sure I'm standing up straight, I feel myself wobble. Not sure if I like this or not. I rest my hands on Pax's shoulders to steady myself. "I'll fly the ship. If that's how my instincts. Work. I don't want them to figure me out. Pax."
  • image

    Tabitha,

    image Pax nods, supporting you without making a big deal out of it. "You'll pull it off. I'll keep an eye out for you while you're there. Do everything I can to protect you. Those guys, they only use the tech like they've been trained. Here in quarantine? We've had to learn to adapt. Figure it out on our own. They don't know half of what I can do."

    The monitor display shows Doctor Lancome. She skips the regular greeting and Pax turns to rattle off a fat lie about how you bumped your head a little, then tries to redirect the doctor's attention to Zola. When Doctor Lancome asks about Zola, and also Pris, what do you do?
  • image

    I nod to Pax as she reassures me. Adults on the other side really don't know us. They watch us, but they don't learn.

    "Zola fell in the showers. Caught herself. Badly, I think. I didn't see what happened." It felt like i had plenty of time to rehearse this lie in my head while we were carrying her here. Stomm, this means she'll stay out of Iso and I'll have to probably fight her again.

    "I thought you'd be. Able to tell us where Pris went? She was gone when we got here." I look over at her vacated tube, fix a quizzical look on my face.
  • image
    Tabitha,

    image Frustration flickers over Doctor Lancome's face as she works through things on her screen. She taps and looks quizically, "She's off the grid. What the...?" Pax clears her throat, bringing the doctor back to Zola, "Please place Zola into the tube, since it's unoccupied. I'll handle it from there. Do either of you need assistance?" She looks at Pax, then to you.
  • image

    "No ma'am. I should be fine." I say as I place Zola in the tube with Pax. I do it carefully..I'm done hurting Zola for now, and something this physical takes concentration now that I'm dopey.

    Pris is off the grid. I hope that means she's safe. I hope that means Mark's safe, too.

    I'm ready to leave this place as soon as I'm dismissed.
  • image
    Tabitha,

    image Once you and Pax have placed Zola in the tube, the door slowly closes. It seals. Doctor Lancome checks the settings. "Thank you both for bringing her here. Her injuries are sever, but you brought her here soon enough that I can help. If neither of you need any medical attention, you're free to return to your dorms." She makes eye contact briefly, then her attention is back on the readouts on her side.

    As you're leaving, Pax gives you a quick nod of approval. Where are you going?
  • image

    "Take good care of her."

    Back to my room, really. If Pax wants to follow along, there's no cameras. I might just drokking pass out, though. What a day.

    I check my Navi for messages, still thinking about Mark and Pris.
  • image
    Tabitha,

    Pax wishes you well and leaves you to rest in your room. There are a few messages.
    - One's an all-call looking for Priscilla Pendleton.
    - Another is a message from Coach Simms congratulating you on your efforts today during practice. He was very impressed by your effort.
    - You also receive another poem with instructions to read aloud, record, and send back.

    What do you do?
  • image

    I get my clothes in the autocleaner and change into my pajamas. I scan over the restrictions warning on my poem message before I decide whether or not I want to read it. I'm not willing to write these readings off as easy anymore.

    Glad Coach noticed that I gave it my all in practice. I'm sure he was just making up for lost time. I wonder how Tunde is. I start drafting a message to him, but what happened to Zola weighs on me. Drokk. I can't just message him about practice and not mention it. And I don't want to say anything about it right now.

    With a sigh I delete the draft and bring up the poem again. I might as well give it a quiet read.
  • image
    Tabitha,

    The poem text reads as follows:
    Seraph! thy memory is to me
    Like some enchanted far-off isle
    In some tumultuous sea -
    Some ocean vexed as it may be
    With storms; but where, meanwhile,
    Serenest skies continually
    Just o'er that one bright island smile.
    For 'mid the earnest cares and woes
    That crowd around my earthly path,
    (Sad path, alas, where grows
    Not even one lonely rose!)
    My soul at least a solace hath
    In dreams of thee; and therein knows
    An Eden of bland repose.


    The threats have changed to promises of increased food and curfew privileges as well as access to some restricted parts of The Feed, media access, not ship-level.
  • image

    I'm tempted to just leave it till I wake up tomorrow, but I do a practice read-through and try it right now. Light at 60%, tone pleasant, face visible and voice audible.

    There's so often a mention of water..oceans and seas. Wonder what that means. I look up what a rose is during my dry run. Huh.
  • image
    Tabitha,

    You read the poem as instructed, send it off to A Lee. The recording felt comfortable this time, familiar somehow. After you send it, you get a message back from A Lee.

    Thank you.
    I appreciate your compliance.
    Your rewards have been keyed into your PIN

    A Lee
  • image

    It's a simple message, but I stare at it for a long time, lightheaded and confused. This is Dana. Or maybe it isn't. I have no way of knowing. I don't know if I should respond, or what I should say if I do.

    I can't wring more meaning out of these words, but I wish I could.

    I put my Navi on the charger and lay a towel over my pillow so I don't bleed as much on my linens. I'm exhausted but my mind is trying to sort what happened today. I lie down on my side. They're going to have me fly the ship? I touch the wall next to my bed. Behind it there are conduits, there's data cables, framing..

    I could message Dana back.
  • image
    Tabitha,

    Time passes slowly when your head's buzzing with thoughts of what to do, when there's nothing happening. You could, of course, sleep. If you're about to pilot the ship, then sleep would be smart, of course.

    But Dana might be on the other end of that message.

    Gwen and Ourania are gone, and it's just you here. Yes, sleep would be smart.

    What do you do?
  • image

    I keep my face to the wall. That might be Dana, or the Commandant, or just monitored or..

    A Lee
    You're welcome.

    Tabitha


    There, groddammit, now I can sleep.
  • image
    Tabitha,

    You're almost down for the count when the Navi chirps again, blue, colored for administration. It's a video call.

    What do you do?
  • image

    The chirping blends with an almost-dream I'm having as the weight of sleep presses me gently. I almost fall out of bed and grumble, "Lights on thirty. Percent."

    I blink as they adjust up and answer the call. "Smith."
  • image
    Tabitha,

    The lights above come on, dim enough not to hurt your eyes, but bright enough for you to open your Navi to tablet mode and receive the call.

    tabletcall "Hello, Tabitha." the modulated female voice comes through. The picture is a silhouette, pixelated, too. Could that be Dana's hair? Surely she's had a haircut since she last saw her. How has she aged? The tone is hesitant. "Did I wake you?"
  • image

    I blink a little more at the silhouette..I can't even see what's behind her. Whoever this is. Why the anonymous filters?

    I have to remember that Ioanna was in her thirties at least.

    "Not quite ma'am. What. Ah. Can I do for you?"
  • tabletcall After a long moment where you see the silhouette move, but she says nothing, "I understand that you were injured today, in the showers. How are you feeling? Did you receive appropriate medical attention?"
  • image

    Did I receive appropriate medical attention? Did she hear this from Lancome or somewhere else?

    "I was helped. Right now I'm. Sore but okay."

    I shift around on my bed, propping my Navi up on my pillow and peering into it. "I guess you. Know my history with doctors."
  • edited July 2016
    tabletcall Her tone shifts to one of disgust, "I do. Dr. Haladay is a troll. I'm glad he was pulled. I spoke to several people in admin about his..." She pauses like maybe she's gone off topic. "Doctor Lancome is treating you, ah, appropriately then, I take it? That's good. She tested well. The hope was that she could relate with the children better."
    Another long pause, "I've seen you play speedball. You're very talented. A Lock, too. That's a surprise. I would have expected you to be a Striker. Do you like the sport, Tabitha?"
  • image

    That's the sound of someone taking something personally. It's her. Isn't it?

    "Doctor Lancome is doing well. I think. I keep bringing her injured people. So I'm probably frustrating." I shift a little. Lancome is so young..I hope the choice from above works out.

    She goes quiet again; I worry what's going on for her. I straighten up when she mentions speedball. "I like it a lot. There's nothing else quite. Like it. I didn't do so hot in the striker drills. So maybe next school session." I don't mention that I might not last on the team. "Strikers get. A whole lot of attention. So maybe that's part of it."
  • image
    As you talk, you hear the soft whir of the camera in your tablet focusing, sharpening, zooming in. The silhouette sits back a bit, brings a hand to her chin, rests her head on it for a bit, "That's so interesting. I thought you'd be a natural Striker, Tabitha."
    You hear her lick her lips, a thing Dana always did before she broached a touchy subject, something she was unsure of. It has to be her, Tabitha, you can feel it. "I'm curious... how are your tests coming through? I know your scores, but how do you feel taking them? The sensory acuity and zero-G testing, specifically."
    Her hand moves away from her chin and you see the silhouette lean in, watching your reaction.

    What do you do?
  • image

    "I like the suddenness of. Dropping on someone." I explain as best I can. The pounce of being a Lock is the best. A Striker needs a lot of support to find their target, and some luck. When you play Lock, your target has to come towards you.

    I lean back a little under the scrutiny. My tests? It takes me a moment to remember when I even had one last. They don't bother me, they're even kind of interesting. I'll bet my scores are all over the map, though. "Fine? They're very short." I lean back inward again to study Dana's outline. I wonder why this subject bothers her. I mean, I can tell it's related to piloting, but still. "Sensory I get bored with. And Zero-G is. Fun but it's too structured."
  • image She seems interested in your talk about being a Lock, of getting the drop on people. When you both transition to the tests, she almost sounds apologetic.
    "It is rather structured, true. Works against the concept of instinct and reaction time. Ioanna hated them, too." The sentence comes out naturally, but then she stops short when she realizes she said her name.
    "Ah..." she starts, trying to buy some time, transition. "Did you have any questions, Tabitha? You've been left in the cold for too long. I've decided I want to help you. I'm sorry it has taken so long. "
  • image

    I look aside, take a breath. My jaw is tight and I try to loosen it. She didn't call me Ioanna, which is better than it could have been. I know she can't help but think of her.

    We're alike or we're not alike and I don't feel like I have control over it. If I did then what the drokk would I be doing? Making a choice or what?

    When she just vocalises, I refocus on my Navi and try to settle myself. "Uhm. So many. What could I even ask?" Choosing what to ask is slow and uncomfortable. After a long pause, I try. "Why am I on this side of. The quarantine?"
  • image The silhouette takes a shaky breath, reaches up to brush her hair back off the sides of her face. Another classic Dana-in-stress move, "It's my fault, Tabitha. When the cloning process was incomplete and they.... they tested you. You were found to be... an imperfect copy, the Science Department wanted to exterminate you. Doctor Haladay was an influential member, he argued that you were a waste of limited resources."
    Another shaky breath, she sniffs once, "I-I offered to care for you. Ioanna and I were close, and I wanted any piece of her I could keep. But... and I'm so sorry, Tabitha. You weren't her. You didn't even recognize me, and I just... I couldn't hurt you.... but gods. It tore me apart having you around. So I... so I had you transferred to the quarantine." She sobs, and there seems like maybe she wants to say more, but she's breaking down, unable to put thoughts to words.

    What do you do?
  • image

    When she fusses with it, I feel like I want to touch her hair. I remember seeing her after some tests. I don't..I don't remember Dana caring for me. Most of those times, when I woke up and my early days in quarantine..I do remember things, but they're a mess. Not always in sequence.

    It hurts me to hear her cry. To feel thrown away. But I can guess how it felt to try and handle me when I was at my worst.

    "I..I recognize you now."

    I'm not ready to forgive her yet, but I don't want her to stop talking to me.
  • image After a moment of consideration, the silhouette adjusts hey Navi and the picture becomes clear. It's Dana, as you knew in your heart. She's older, but still beautiful. Tears on her face and her slightly reddend nose mar her look slightly, or perhaps they're just enough to make her seem human again. "Tabitha, I've never been fair to you. I wanted my Ioanna back, but she's gone. You. I've been watching you. You are Tabitha. You have her face, but you're not her. And I'm sorry I didn't give you a chance to become your own person, to care for you and help you. You've come so far on your own."
    She takes a calming breath. Some of these words she's practiced, you can tell. Others bubble up from the emotions inside her. Guilt, sorrow and grief, but also an undercurrent of love, a connection she shared with your "progenitor" that echo in how she reacts to you.
    And how you react to her as well, of course.

  • image

    A jolt passes through me as I study her newly revealed face..she's unmistakable to me.

    Her words flood me with emotion and conflict, jealousy and love and grieving and anger and pride and shame. It's my turn to lose my power of speech and cry, slowly collapsing beside my Navi. I cry hard, breathing heavily, lost.

    I feel like Dana 'sees' me, that maybe she understands. I need to pull myself together; what if she just leaves?

    "I love. You. Please don't go."
  • edited July 2016
    image Without hesitation, Dana answers, "I love you, too, Tabitha. I want to be with you, to touch you." She stares at you for long moments, even reaches up at if to touch you, even though the gesture is futile.
    "Tabitha..." she says slowly, her face showing the seriousness of what she's about to share, "The flight crew is in serious trouble. We're down to one pilot, and he's barely holding on. He's tiring, and soon he's going to need to rest. A few hours at best. We can't deviate from this course or we'll lose the beacon, and we're in the edge of an asteroid field. The Administration is discussing options."
    Dana swallows, licks her lips, searches your eyes, "Do you... think you might have the ability to interface with the AAU? Feel the ship? Ioanna said she could feel it, it responded to her like nothing else. Do you.. have that?"
  • image

    With the heel of my palm, I wipe some of the tears off of my face and slow my breathing down again. She loves me. I lift myself back up and look at Dana's face. I don't say it, but I forgive her.

    One pilot? That..is terrible drokking news. Even without being on a specific beacon-led course. Beacons make it possible to communicate with our home system, yes, and make Beacon Days possible with all the music and books and movies we might want for fun..but they also have survey data and reports between beacons about the course we're on. "Just one?"

    "I.." I watch her watch me. If I tell her the truth, I'll be able to help Pax or maybe build something with Dana again. In the first place. Gods, how was this supposed to work?

    If I do it, there's no going back and no hiding. I used to think that meant no peace for me. They'll know I have something they want. "I can feel the ship. See the strange things. Other people don't see. I think I could do it."
  • image Dana closes her eyes and takes a deep breath, your admission brings her obvious relief.
    "Good. I'm so glad, Tabitha, so happy that you can do it. I know it's scary, but I'll be with you, alright? When they send you through, I'll be there. I'll wait for you."
    She reaches to the screen again, touching it as if she could touch your face, "Once you've gotten us back on track, when we're back on course and through the debris. If you want, maybe you could stay on our side? I would like to make up for before, when I... I'd like it if you'd stay." She takes a ragged breath, this has obviously been something she's thought about many times, alone on her side of the ship.
    What do you do?
  • image

    I hold my fingers to the edge of my Navi, rapt with Dana's expressions of relief. I wonder if Dana is the subcommander. What would that mean?

    I could live on the other side? I think of Gwen and Ourania and Mark and Mi Sun..Ashlee is still missing. Pris. WIll Pax lose contact with me? Won't everyone? "I want to see you. Thank you. But I need to think about. Leaving my Pod. And more than that. What if I'm contaminated?" I look down at the end.
  • image The hesitation doesn't surprise Dana, but it seems to sting. She nods, looking away, "I understand. Your classmates rely on you, and they should. As for being contaminated, I don't think you're at risk. I've reviewed hundreds of tests on your fluids and you show none of the markers. Your cloning process effectively skipped the puberty stage where the plague, for lack of a better term, germinates. And in the end, Tabitha, I'm willing to risk it. Willing to risk myself, at least, to see."
    She takes a soft breath, looking back at you, "They're going to put you in a spacesuit to transport you, then escort you to the bridge. Once you successfully show them.. what you can do, you'll get a rest period. You can choose to return the pod after that. Alright?"
  • image

    I swallow and nod. It's not easy to tell her no, but it's not just that my podmates need me, it's also such a big change. I need to know what it's like on the other side first. I need to feel that it's right.

    Listening to Dana's explanation makes sense to me. It's not immunity, but it's freedom from carrier development. I'm glad she's thought about it, and accepted the risks.

    "Alright, I can do that. When will they be here?"

    Isn't it everything I've wanted, though? For someone on the other side to take responsibility, to try and make it up to me? Can I put it all on her when what she did was protect me imperfectly from the doctors who drokked things up in the first place?
  • image

    She glances off screen at a chronometer, then makes that adorable "tsk" sound she makes when something annoys her slightly, "In four hours. Damn. I'm sorry I took so long to reach out, Tabitha, but I know you need to get some sleep. Just think, in a few hours, I'll see you! I promise I'll be there."
    Dana takes a long breath, sighing it out, then kisses her fingers and holds them to the screen as if it were you. She blinks hard a couple times, then sniffs, "I love you, Tabitha. Sleep well."
    The screen winks out, and you're alone in the 30% lighting again.

    What do you do?
  • image

    Four hours is better than two, I guess. I touch the screen, then my lips with my fingers. She promises she'll be there.

    I slump over my Navi on the bed and groan. Drokk, I need to sleep, but I'm so wound up. The longer I feel sorry for myself, the less sleep I get before having to guide the ship by feel for the first time in my life. I get up and lay out some clothes to wear, set a Navi alarm, then I shower to try and relax and prime myself to sleep.

    My body could hardly be more ready for sleep. As I lay down, I hope it pulls my mind down with it.
  • image
    Tabitha,

    Sleep embraces you as quickly as you seek it.

    End Scene
Sign In or Register to comment.