17 Jul

Inexplicable

Chief Medic's log, 21:11, 30 September 2214 
Location: Sarabande Station, near the Cerces black hole
Status: Docked, powered down
Log Location: Station Med Bay

 

This is Dr Valdimir, Chief Medic of the Starwalker, following up on my last report. In that report, I detailed the deaths of five crew members. I am amending the official record to reflect four deaths; apparently I was premature in declaring the fifth crew member clinically dead.

To be clear, Chief of Security Gail Cameron did fail all of the standard tests for independent life and had no brain activity in the regions related to the autonomic systems. The only registered brain activity was sparse and wide-spread, and it could only be classified as random. She was taken off life support three times in the preceding two weeks, and every time her biorhythms flat-lined and she had to be revived. There was no reason to suspect that this might change.

I completed all the standard checks, and performed extra ones on the captain’s request. She was dead according to all of the criteria. I even tried some unorthodox measures. None of it worked.

Somehow, Cameron’s condition changed during transit between the station’s Med Bay and the southern docking ring. I wasn’t monitoring the bodies closely because, well, they were supposed to just be bodies. Inactive, dead bodies. Corpses.

She had flat-lined as soon as she was taken off support and placed on the gurney, as expected. According to the station sensor logs, Chief Cameron’s biorhythms were non-existent for three minutes after she was removed from life support. Then, inexplicably, they came back. Normal sinus rhythm, good breath flow and oxygenation, all stats within acceptable limits. One of the station’s servo-drones was in charge of her gurney and it didn’t alert me to the change. Unlike the Starwalker‘s drones, these machines seem capable of following only the most straightforward of orders; they don’t react well to unexpected circumstances. Sometimes they don’t react at all.

Seventeen minutes later, Cameron regained consciousness. At that point, I was alerted by the movement and the moaning. She was groggy and confused at first, but seemed to become coherent quickly, especially once the shroud was removed and her head uncovered. At this point, I alerted the Starwalker and removed Cameron from the burial detail

She was awake and lucid for four and a half minutes, then she fell into unconsciousness. Monitoring her brain activity, she was showing normal sleep patterns that progressed into REM sleep.

I still can’t completely explain what happened. It’s incredibly frustrating: I’ve been managing death for years and I can’t find any scans or diagnostic equipment to tell me what happened that day. I’ve scoured the station archives as well as all the files in the Starwalker‘s systems, and I still can’t find anything that might tell me why she was able to come back. The crew seem happy to consider it ‘one of those things’, but I’m a doctor and a scientist, and that answer is just not good enough. We might not fully understand death and the line between it and life, but that doesn’t mean that I should just accept it.

I wish I could claim credit for this… I can’t call it a miracle. For this occurrence. But I cannot explain it, so I certainly can’t claim that I was responsible for it.

I intend to keep investigating. I have run every test that I can but even the station’s extensive medical facilities aren’t shedding much of a light. Comparing the results with Cameron’s medical data from before the attack on Feras, I can see no significant changes. The wounds she sustained in the battle have long since healed. Her cybernetic implants are operating normally and haven’t sustained any damage.

It is a mystery and I don’t like mysteries.

She reports no memory of anything since she passed out on the Bridge; just waking up under the shroud with no idea where she was or how she got there. Mentally, she otherwise seems intact. She recalls her training and the names of all the crew. She responded to the news of the funeral being conducted by the Starwalker with appropriate emotion (which for her means she was restraining her reaction, but her biorhythm readings betrayed her true feelings). She also seemed surprised to learn she had been unconscious for so long: almost three months.

She reports feeling fine, if stiff from being bedridden. She is eager to get back to physical activity. This afternoon, I finally allowed her to move around the Med Bay. The exertion didn’t seem to tax her body much and she exhibited signs of relief when she was able to be up and around. Tomorrow, I’ll allow her to return to light duties, but I’m keeping her under close supervision. She’ll be wearing monitoring patches until I’m satisfied that she really has recovered.

It’s hard to say how long that might take. There’s no way this is as simple as it looks: people do not simply recover with no after-effects.

There has been speculation among the crew about possible interference from the black hole. Cerces seems to have been responsible for a lot on this station, but bringing the dead back to life? That seems extreme. Why would he suddenly do this now? Hundreds, possibly thousands of people have died on this station or when trying to get away from it. Millions died when he collapsed into a black hole and swallowed whole planets. If he was able to bring back the dead, why wouldn’t he have done it before? Why Cameron? Why would he bother at all, let alone with someone who has been unconscious since we got to this system?

It seems to me that the crew are too used to looking to that black hole for explanations to everything. This has to be something else. We need to keep our minds and options open. It’s a black hole, not a god.

Of course, I have no clues for where else to look. No clues at all.

Right now, Cameron is asleep here in Med Bay, on an isolated bed with sound shielding. Her biorhythms show that she’s edging into the dreaming portion of her sleep cycle. That was rather fast. Considering Cerces’s connection with dream-states, I wonder… No, I won’t make assumptions. I’ll let this play out and monitor the results. Talk to her in the morning and see what she recalls.

It’s possible that the answer to this is in her psychology, not her physiology. I can only hope that it will be easier to untangle than Haitom’s ramblings.

In the meantime, I’ll run some more cultures on her– Hey, what are you doing in here? You’re supposed to be confined to the ship.

Don’t look at me like that. I know you understand what I’m saying. You can speak; I’ve heard you.

Now look, why don’t you… What are you doing? Don’t interfere with that, she’s sleeping.

 

SARA: (standing beside the privacy curtain around Cameron’s bed, she huddles behind the stuffed whale hugged to her chest) Sad.

DR SOCKS: (hurrying towards the little girl, he slows when she seems to have stopped moving) Who’s sad? Cameron?

SARA: (nods.)

DR SOCKS: Why do you say that? Did she tell you?

SARA: (shakes her head.)

DR SOCKS: Who told you, then?

SARA: (ducks her nose down behind the whale in response to his tone.)

DR SOCKS: (sighing) Oh, don’t do that. I’m not going to bite you. No, stop– oh, don’t cry.

SARA: (eyes wide as she stares up at him, she sniffles.)

DR SOCKS: (rubs his eyes briefly, muttering) Goddamn kids. (Louder,) Look, what did you come down here for? You wanted to make her feel better?

SARA: (nods.)

DR SOCKS: How? No, I didn’t mean–

SARA: (darts through the privacy curtain. The energy curtain barely ripples as the child passes through.)

DR SOCKS: (sighs again and follows her, moving more quietly.)

SARA: (is standing next to the bed, one arm holding her stuffed toy to her, tiptoeing so the other one can reach to pat the back of Cameron’s hand.)

CAMERON: (shifts restlessly in her sleep.)

DR SOCKS: (opens his mouth to speak, a frown disapproving of the child’s interference, but his eyes are tracking the readouts above the bed and he pauses.)

CAMERON: (starts to settle after a moment.)

DR SOCKS: (closes his mouth and eyes the child curiously.)

SARA: (looks up at him, still patting Cameron’s hand) Not sad.

DR SOCKS: (scowls) Shh, you’ll wake her.

SARA: (shuffles closer to the bed, away from the doctor.)

DR SOCKS: (voice lowered) Did your whale tell you to come do this?

SARA: (nods warily.)

DR SOCKS: (pinches his nose) Of course it did.

SARA: Whale make it better.

DR SOCKS: (makes an annoyed sound in his throat.)

(Outside of the privacy curtain, the main doors to Med Bay swish open. With a sigh, the doctor steps out to meet the arriving SecOff.)

ROSIE: Where the fuck is the kid?

DR SOCKS: (gestures towards the curtained bed) Visiting the Chief.

ROSIE: (exhales with relief) She’s a slippery little sucker when she wants to be. I’ll grab her, get her out of your way.

DR SOCKS: (nods) The Chief’s asleep. Try not to wake her.

ROSIE: Like she hasn’t slept enough lately. Yeah, yeah, I’ll be careful. But, if the kid tries to get past you, grab her, will you? (She heads through the curtain without waiting for an answer.)

DR SOCKS: (shakes his head slowly and returns to his desk.)

 

Whale makes it better: so speaks the child in our midst. We already know that the whale is sensitive to grief and sadness; perhaps that’s all it is. A response to a bad dream. Or it might be more than that.

Could Cerces really be responsible for Cameron’s resurrection? Did he make that ‘better’? Given what we know, and that it’s our resident whale-whisperer saying it, I can’t discount it entirely. I suppose she is the first death we’ve had since we got here. Or she would have been, if she’s stayed dead. But why her and not the others? They were all on life support after they were defrosted, at least long enough to determine whether they were recoverable or not. There are still so many questions.

I wonder if this truly is the first time someone has come back like this. I couldn’t find anything in the station’s records, but maybe I wasn’t looking in the right place. I remember some incidents in Sara’s records; everything seemed to be explained easily enough but perhaps they’re worth a second look.

It’s a place to start.

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4 Responses to “Inexplicable”

  1. mjkj Says:

    Wow, quite the going on 😮

    …and Sara makes it better 😀 *hugs her*

    So, Mobi did find some sadness and grief in the chief – and that is why he resurrected her to make it better…

    (gah, now I have daft punk stuck in my head…) 😕

    I believe doc will find more incidences now that he looks at that.

    So, the funeral is over I guess? since last update they still were on the way there…

    mjkj

  2. thomas Says:

    @mjkj – A funeral dirge might go on for a long time but for Sarabande Station, it is over; Rosie has returned to her nanny-bot duties.

    Melanie, Cameron was a great way to respond to us. Thanks you are a real sweetheart. I really like how to painted a different picture of Dr. Nefarious in this chapter. Obviously, I still do not trust him but you might win me over before Sol goes supernova. It is kind of sad that Sara cannot teach Moby how to communicate empathy; using her for surrogate hugs is not as effective as the big guy thinks.

  3. Marcus Says:

    It is sweet to see Sara, I still wait for someone to call her Newt, trying to help. Every little bit helps even when dealing with depressed black holes.

    @Thomas – What does it say about the movies I have been watching over and over again with my nieces that I first read that as “Dr Nefario” and found myself wondering what Starry would do with a Fart gun?

  4. Melanie Says:

    mjkj – yup, the funeral was a day or so before this post. More on that when we return to Starry’s point of view. 🙂

    thomas – you’re welcome! I completely agreed with the feedback – it wasn’t a fitting exit for her, and I wanted to do better by her (and you guys!). It gave me a fun idea, too. Sometimes the inspiration wagon needs a nudge to get going. 🙂

    Marcus – Newt! Hee. She is like Newt cheerful little sister, now you mention it…
    Ahahahaha, I love that movie. Don’t. Even. Tempt. Me.

    Sorry for the delay on the next post, everyone. This week has been something of a rollercoaster, and it seems that every little thing wants to get in the way of me writing at the moment. I’m almost done with it! It’ll go up later today.

    <3