30 Jul


Chief Medic's log, 17:33, 2 October 2214 
Location: Sarabande Station, near the Cerces black hole
Status: Docked, powered down
Log Location: Starwalker Med Bay


This is Dr Valdimir, reporting on the change of status of the Starwalker‘s medical facilities and patients. We are relocated aboard the ship once more, and I’m back to the standard ship equipment. It feels a little like a demotion.

We’re not leaving the station empty-handed, however. Aside from the healing I was able to do for the crew, I have acquired a number of new pieces of equipment to augment the ship-board medical capabilities, including a new cybernetic implant diagnostic scanner and programmer, a better dermal repair weaver, and enough additional supplies to fill a quarter of one of the cargo bays. The captain was surprisingly supportive of my desire to strip the station of everything I could find that was of use. I just wish the big auto-surgeon fit on board somewhere. I managed to acquire a smaller model built for emergency medical situations, but it doesn’t have anything like the extended capabilities of a full-scale auto-surgeon pod. I’m sure that, when we return to this area, I’ll be able to work out some way of getting it on the ship.

As for patients, I don’t have any in Med Bay right now. Chief Cameron has been released to her own quarters and light duties, and Brenn Haitom has been installed in the crew quarters furthest from the Bridge, which has been fitted with enough padding to prevent him from easily injuring himself.

Haitom continues in the same patterns I have observed since we first found him. I have tried some mild cognitive probing, but now that he’s on board, I’ll start on some more intensive diagnostic activities. He is, rather more officially, my patient now. I suspect that he’s suffering a full psychotic break following an intense trauma, and the data will no doubt bear me out, but there’s no harm in investigating using all of the resources available to me, even if they are ship-limited.

Cameron continues to be something of an interesting case. Outwardly, she seems to be suffering no ill effects of her coma, apart from the usual decline in physical fitness for someone as active as she is (the Med Bay auto-conditioning protocols have prevented any severe muscle atrophy, but the fitness threshold it maintains is much lower than the Chief’s preference). She has started to work on building her fitness back up again, despite my admonitions to take things slowly.

As for what is going on with her internally, she maintains a closed demeanour, but that’s nothing new. The key point is: there appears to be no observable difference between pre-coma Cameron and current Cameron. The invisible continues to elude us all.

While some doctors might be tempted to simply be grateful for the recovery of a patient, I can’t be satisfied with that. There was no pressing reason to keep her under direct observation, so I had to release her from the Med Bay, but she’s still wearing monitors so that I can track her biorhythms wherever she is. Just in case. In the meantime, I’ve been searching the archives for any other similar incidents of, well, apparent resurrection.

I was right: this has happened before. The doctors were far less diligent than I, back when there was someone qualified running the station’s Med Bay, but the clues are there if you know what pointers to look for.

Most notably, our youngest member of station personnel seems to have been brought back more than once. I found reports of Sara with catastrophic injuries from falls and accidents, including several weeks spent in a coma while her little body was healed, after which she woke up and was perfectly healthy. Several of the injuries were to her head, but her brain shows little sign of the scarring I would expect. Similarly, Cameron’s neural damage from the blood loss she suffered during the attack on Feras has largely healed. Even with the station’s resources, this level of neural regeneration is unheard-of.

Interestingly, I could find only one other incident that matched the parameters: a suicide attempt by one of the researchers into black hole-powered technologies. He put a laser bolt through his head, literally boring a hole through his brain. While they were able to put him on life support, there was little chance of him ever regaining consciousness; he had damaged or removed too many fundamental parts of his brain for remapping to be a viable option. But when removed from life support, he miraculously came back to life.

He didn’t come back unaffected, though. The reports say he was raving from the moment he woke up, babbling nonsense and behaving erratically. I checked the ID twice but it wasn’t Haitom, though the symptoms are similar. This particular individual slipped his carer’s attention and put himself out of an airlock. There’s no record of a body recovery.

From what I can tell, he was Cerces’s first attempt at resurrecting a human; this incident was months before the first of Sara’s miraculous recoveries. His first successful attempt, at least; I have yet to determine what criteria to use to locate any failed attempts among all the station’s many dead.

This all made me look more deeply into Haitom’s files. He suffered an injury about eighteen months ago, again related to the brain. There’s no record that he died at any particular point, though the station’s records don’t have an over-abundance of care and thoroughness. The medical staff didn’t believe it was likely that he would recover – though it wasn’t outside of the realms of possibility either – and they weren’t surprised when he came back impaired. His mental state worsened steadily after he regained consciousness, hence my theory that his current state was caused by a trauma. It’s still unclear, however, whether that trauma was truly physical, emotional, or mental in nature.

Haitom’s incident occurred shortly after the initial reversed suicide but predates all of the injuries that baby Sara suffered. Neither Sara nor Cameron appear to be mentally impaired by their resurrections, so clearly Cerces figured out how to bring them back more whole than his earlier efforts.

As a note: I identify Cerces as the cause of this phenomena because it is the only likely explanation at this point. There could be another force in this system or station responsible for it but, at this point, I’m content with using Occam’s Razor: the simplest explanation is usually the right one. I see no reason to add a secondary source of weirdness to this system when we have a perfectly good one already.

So we have an interesting pattern. A progression of people apparently brought back from the edge of death by the consciousness of the black hole. He seems to be getting better at it, just like he seems to be getting faster at accessing people’s minds and projecting their ghosts.

That leads me to another question: why these people? There were thousands of people on this station, some of whom fled, most of whom have died. We found plenty of bodies. Why were only these four brought back? Why not anyone else? Is Cerces somehow choosing who he wants to bring back? And if he is choosing, then how? What are his criteria?

It would be easy to assume that our minds are small and insignificant compared to an entity as vast and long-lived as a star or black hole. However, he has seemed to single out individuals. He has targetted his projections of the ghosts in specific ways, though shown that he can be clumsy and heavy-handed at times. But by my assessment, he has brought back young Sara three times in the last year, and, until a few days ago, to the exclusion of anyone else.

I don’t have any data to help me investigate why these particular people were chosen. I can’t believe it’s an accident, though. Why Cameron and not any of the others who lay alongside her? Could the crew have influenced it, if their feelings about the Chief were fresher than those about the crewmembers we took out of cryo-storage? Cerces connects most strongly with emotion, so that seems to make sense. It would be nice to have some data to back it up, though.

It’s not that I particularly care about any of those we buried; I’m curious and more than a little interested. If someone else were horribly injured or even sick, could they count on Cerces to bring them back?

I wonder if Cerces might have done this for the people of this system, back when he was a star: brought them back from the dead if someone living wished hard enough for it. He could have been their god and prayer just might have worked. Now that’s an interesting possibility. Just thinking about the implications that would have for society, if you needed to make sure you had enough people to miss you so you’d never die…. Fascinating.

Perhaps that’s why he chose Sara. Her parents were still alive when she had her first accident and a parent’s pain tends to be pretty loud. Was it their grief that made him bring her back? Was he talking to her before then, or did it start afterwards? Is this what forged their first connection?

I wonder if Cameron hears him now. I’ll make a note to ask her at her next check-up. She has caught up on everything that has been going on here, but it’ll be interesting to see how she reacts to the idea that her brain might be open to the black hole now. Like I said, she’s a very closed kind of person.

We’re leaving the station tomorrow. I’ll start detailed monitoring of the brains of our three resurrectees as soon as we hit open space. Perhaps that will tell us something of use.

No-one has asked what might happen when we leave Cerces’s sphere of influence. We’re not even sure how far it might reach. I suspect we’re going to find the answers to those questions fairly soon, and they’ll be more definitive than anything else I might find. Who knows, Haitom might even start making sense.

The next few days are going to be… interesting.

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6 Responses to “Returned”

  1. Gryffon2 Says:

    Cool, looks like we have some fun chapters upcoming πŸ˜‰

  2. Syphax Says:

    Haitom making sense? That would be boring.

  3. thomas Says:

    Dr. Nefarious makes me wonder about his goals. He admits he does not care about his patients, at least those who died. I wonder if he has an endgame independent of Starry or if his rambling thought about Moby’s resurrection ability is the endgame. His origin and motivation for joining the crew are still unknown, so I really do not trust him. He is obviously hiding something but is it his past, where he is going, or has Melanie fed so my red herrings into the story that I am lost.

    Thanks Melanie for keeping us going

  4. mjkj Says:

    I am glad he revived Sara πŸ™‚

    I think he needed to revive her to learn how human brains work when they are developing so he could reproduce that.

    I wonder when the rest will learn about what he has found out, though.

    …and I wonder what Sara will do when she does not feel his presence anymore because they left his sphere of influence. πŸ˜•

    I worry for her… *hugs Sara*

  5. Melanie Says:

    Gryffon2 – I hope so! πŸ™‚

    Syphax – yeah, why be sane when you can be licking the walls?

    thomas – I love that you don’t trust the doctor. There’s a lot of stuff in his background that simply hasn’t come up. Yet.
    And, you’re welcome! πŸ˜€

    mjkj – awww. Yes, Sara needs your hugs! Poor little thing.

  6. mjkj Says:

    Yes, indeed: poor Sara πŸ™‚