Ship's log, 07:30, 14 July 2214 Location: Sarabande Station, near the Cerces black hole Status: Docked and powered down
Lang Lang is awake! I couldn’t believe it when I heard the doctor’s message to the captain (yes, I was peeking, but that’s not important right now).
Of course, the first thing I did was break into the Med Bay’s sensor feeds. There she was, sitting up and looking around, pale but smiling. My navigator. My crewmember who has been silent and sleeping for far too long. I can’t believe how much I’ve missed seeing her.
Elliott is repairing my systems, getting my pieces back online. Lang Lang feels like another one of those pieces. There’s light and movement and sound where there was nothing before. There’s a part of me that’s alive again.
Do all of my crew affect me this way? Is that why it hurts so much when I lose one of them?
Will I feel this way if Cameron wakes up too? She’s still sleeping under a blanket of sensors and medications. Is she a part of me, too?
Oh, speaking of Elliott…
ELLIOTT: Hey, Starry?
(The engineer is standing over the immersion couch in the middle of the main floor of Engineering. A series of lights on the edge of the couch are blinking, most of them green but one of them red.)
STARRY: (voice only) Yup?
ELLIOTT: (frowning) You sound cheerful.
STARRY: Lang Lang just woke up!
ELLIOTT: (brightening) Really?
ELLIOTT: Well, that’s, yeah, great. She’s gonna be okay?
STARRY: Looks like it. She’s not fully functional yet but she’s out of the woods now. (She pauses.) What does that mean, out of the woods?
ELLIOTT: (shrugs) No idea. Just one of those weird phrases, I guess.
STARRY: Yeah. So, what can I do for you?
ELLIOTT: There’s something weird going on with this couch. It disabled itself.
STARRY: Oh. That was me.
ELLIOTT: (frowns again) Why?
STARRY: I’m only at 78% capacity. My internal systems aren’t stable enough–
ELLIOTT: They’re fine.
STARRY: For me to handle, sure. But not for–
ELLIOTT: It’s fine!
STARRY: I barely have room for my own processing, never mind additional–
ELLIOTT: (scowls) Fuck it, then. Never mind. (Turns and stomps off.)
He’s gone. I’m not sure what just happened. I’m not stable enough to handle visitors right now! It’s too dangerous for him to be in there.
I don’t even know what he was going to try to fix in there; I need to get all of my hardware up and running again before we start getting my internals in order. I’d ask him in case it’s something he’s worried about and I can start work on it, but he has gone to slam around in the Mess Hall. He doesn’t eat nearly often enough, so I won’t disturb him. Maybe I’ll ask him when he has calmed down.
In the meantime, Casper is heading his way to give him a helping hand or four. Probably when he least expects it.
He has been so focussed on his work lately. Of all of my people, he has been the least affected by the ghosts, and I wonder if that’s because of all the repairs. He knows that my holographic projectors aren’t online yet, so he knows that if he sees me, it’s just a ghost. So maybe that makes it easier?
I wonder if he sees anyone else. He hasn’t mentioned anything and I haven’t seen him have conversations when he was alone. Not like my other crew; I see them talking to empty air sometimes. I have to remind them gently that there’s no-one there and most of the time I think they already know. It’s like they can’t help themselves. Even the doctor trips over his ghosts, though he talks to them the least of everyone. But not Elliott.
Should I be worried about him? He spends the most time alone. He’s the only one who sleeps on board me at the moment, and I have to watch over him carefully. There are still some instabilities in my systems that I have to iron out, but I can keep things steady enough to support him. It’s only one section that I need to maintain, after all.
Maybe I should ask the captain to look in on him. Check on the Elliott-ghost situation, just in case there’s something he hasn’t been telling me. In case he has been pretending that everything is all right, like he always does.
Anyway. This morning is about good news. It’s about getting my navigator back. So I’m going to focus on that.
Station sensors: live feed Station location: Med Bay
(The room is quiet, the lighting bright over all but one bed. On the darkened bed, Chief Cameron lies prone, her body covered by a blanket. On the opposite side of the room, Lang Lang is sitting up, propped up by the angle of the bed and a couple of pillows. A blanket covers her lower half and she has both hands wrapped around a cup. The holographic display on the wall above her bed is showing green and orange outputs, but no warnings.
The doctor is sitting at his desk, flipping through a report, but he rises when the doors swish open.)
CAPTAIN: (strides into the Med Bay, hesitates to look for the doctor, then heads to the foot of Lang Lang’s bed. He has a smile ready for her.) Good morning, Navigator Cartier.
DR SOCKS: (joins the captain at the foot of the bed.)
LANG LANG CARTIER: (lifts her head with a weary smile. Her hands drift down to rest the cup on her lap.) Captain! It’s good to see you.
CAPT: And you. How are you feeling?
LANG LANG: A little strange. Dr Valdimir says I’m doing good, though.
CAPT: (glances queryingly at the doctor.)
DR SOCKS: (nods) Her dermal repairs are complete and most of her injuries has been fixed up now. Her left leg is still being reconstructed; the exposure damage was extensive.
LANG LANG: When you described how badly it was hurt, I thought you were going to tell me that I’d lost it.
DR SOCKS: It was close, but I managed to save it. You’ve come through the trauma better than expected.
CAPT: (smiles approvingly) Good work, doctor. (To the patient,) Has he explained our current situation?
LANG LANG: (nods slowly) Dr Valdimir explained that we’re on a space station. Starry is getting repaired?
CAPT: Yes, Monaghan is working all hours to get her fixed, much like the doctor has been doing here with you and the Chief.
STARRY: (voice only) I’m here, Lang Lang.
LANG LANG: (expression brightening) You’re in the station now?
STARRY: Not really; I hacked it a little bit. Have to keep an eye on my people. It’s good to see you awake.
LANG LANG: It’s good to be awake. Especially after the dreams I’ve been having.
DR SOCKS: (frowning) You were dreaming?
LANG LANG: (shrugs carefully) I think so.
CAPT: (glances sharply at the doctor.)
DR SOCKS: (exchanges an unsettled look with the captain.)
Why is he making that face about Lang Lang dreaming? Is she not supposed to have been doing that while she was asleep? I guess that if she was in a coma, she should have been down too deep for a regular sleep cycle. What about when she was coming out of it? Surely she had to pass through that state to get to consciousness?
I should look over my files on this stuff. It seems like something a ship should probably know.
But judging by the doctor’s expression, the idea of dreams is a concerning one. Why would he–
Oh. That’s right; they think that the phenomenon here is caused by some kind of psionic influence. Something is pulling the memories of people out of human brains and projecting them back as if they’re real. So what would that kind of psionic effect do to a sleeping brain? No-one has reported weird or unusual dreams, and I haven’t seen any reports of that from the station’s archives yet. I’ll run a search to be sure.
But what about Lang Lang? Did she talk to ghosts in her sleep? Did she see behind the curtain?
DR SOCKS: (coming up alongside the bed towards Lang Lang) Can you tell us what the dreams were about?
LANG LANG: (tilts her head thoughtfully) It’s a bit hazy, but… in the one I had the most, there was a presence. I couldn’t really see it, but it was big. It was like… I could hear it but it was talking from very far away, so I couldn’t make out the words. It reminded me of…
DR SOCKS: (when she trails off) Reminded you of what?
LANG LANG: You may think this is silly. It reminded me of when I was small and my parents would take me on shuttle runs. I’d doze off, asleep but hearing their voices. I couldn’t hear what they were saying, but the sound of their voices was… soothing.
DR SOCKS: Can you tell us anything about this presence? What was its tone of voice? Was it soothing too?
LANG LANG: No, not really. It sounded like it was calling out. I tried to hear it, but I just couldn’t, like every time I tried to get closer it would slip further away. Like the opposite of those dreams where something is chasing you, but no matter how fast you run, you can’t get away. And sometimes…
DR SOCKS: (quietly) Sometimes?
LANG LANG: I thought it sounded like it was in pain, or sad, or very, very tired.
DR SOCKS: Do you know why?
LANG LANG: (shakes her head) No. All I got was the feeling from it. And that it was trying to talk to me. (Her gaze drifts past the doctor, towards the back of the Med Bay, and she blinks curiously.)
DR SOCKS: (doesn’t turn to see what she’s looking at.)
CAPT: (glances over) Oh, that’s… (He looks at the doctor.) Have you explained the situation here?
DR SOCKS: Not yet. Don’t panic, Ms Cartier, but you’ll see a lot of people around here who are not actually here.
LANG LANG: (looks confused) What do you mean?
Now they have to explain about the ghosts. Poor Lang Lang, to wake from strange dreams into a stranger reality.
But she’s awake and that’s the important thing. And maybe her dreams will give us a clue about what’s behind the ghosts. Maybe the captain has a point and we need to be looking for the purpose of the ghostly visitations.
I wish I could talk to the ghosts. There’s so much data that I can’t even perceive. It’s so unfair.
Lang Lang seems to be taking the ghost situation well. She takes all manner of strange things in her stride, or maybe she’s just too tired to know how to react. She’s resting now, leaning back and dozing, and the captain has drawn Dr Valdimir aside to talk about her condition. I guess she has a way to go before she’s back on her feet and running around.
CAPT: (quietly, standing near the doctor’s desk at the rear of the Med Bay) …long do you think it’ll take?
DR SOCKS: (quietly) She needs to rest and get her strength back. She should be on her feet by tomorrow and able to move around. I’d like to keep an eye on her for at least that long.
CAPT: (nods) All right. And what’s the news on Chief Cameron?
DR SOCKS: (shakes his head slowly) The same. I’ve tried everything I know of but there’s still no brain activity. Her brain was just too damaged by the blood loss and oxygen starvation.
CAPT: Are you saying there’s no more you can do?
DR SOCKS: I can keep her body alive as long as you like, but I can’t bring her back, captain. I think it’s time to call it.
CAPT: (looks over at the resting Lang Lang) Not yet. Keep trying, even unlikely solutions. And if anyone asks, you tell them you’re still trying. Lang Lang deserves a celebration. I think we all need it. We can deal with the Chief later. (He sighs, looking at Cameron’s darkened bed.) She would understand.
DR SOCKS: (nods and frowns, but he looks more thoughtful than unhappy with the decision) She’ll stay on life support until I get your order. I’ll… keep trying.
CAPT: (claps the doctor on the shoulder) Thank you, Dr Valdimir. You’ve done good work here.
DR SOCKS: (looks surprised) Uh, my pleasure, captain.
CAPT: (nods and strides off.)
So I gain one only to lose the other. My Chief of Security probably won’t be coming back. Maybe. Most likely. Solid, reliable Cameron, who gave her life to save me, save the rest of my crew. What am I going to do without her?
The captain is right; we can’t dwell on that right now. We can’t give up. Lang Lang is alive and awake and will get better. That’s what we need to focus on right now. That’s what we need to celebrate. So I’ll keep that little secret, too.
I have let Rosie and the Lieutenant know she’s awake, and they’re heading down to see her now. They’re walking with more energy than they’ve had for a while, lifted by the news. That’s how it should be. We should all be brighter today.
They’ve left little Sara in the Visitor’s Lounge, watched over by her nanny-bot. I wish they’d taken her with them now; I think they should all be together. I’d send Elliott along to visit too, but he has his grumpy face on. Maybe later. Maybe soon.
While they do that, I wonder if I can sort out some kind of welcome home for my navigator. How often do my people get to have a celebration?