23 Oct

Scar

Captain's log, 20:14, 11 July 2214
Location: Sarabande Station, near the Cerces black hole
Status: Docked and powered down
Log location: Captain's cabin

 

Captain Warwick reporting after… far too long. It has been a week since my last log.

The investigation into the situation on board the station is continuing. We don’t seem much closer to understanding the cause behind everything that’s happening, even though we are becoming intimately familiar with the symptoms. I hope we don’t have to stay here too much longer because of our exposure to the condition; there’s no telling how long it might take for the toll to start to tell on the crew. We are currently stranded by the damage to our ship, so I have to hope that the measures we’re taking will be enough to see us through.

It has taken nearly two weeks for Monaghan to complete the repairs to the Starwalker‘s structure, but it’s finally done. She’s repressurised now and holding steady. I’m able to be on board without a suit; the feeds from the station are picking up where Starry’s damaged systems can’t cope, so we have atmosphere and gravity in here. Starry ran a slew of diagnostics before she’d let anyone on board without emergency protection but even she seems confident that she’s holding steady now.

There’s still a lot of work to do: repairs to make on systems that were blown or just plain blown up by the battles. It’s a wonder that Starry was able to get us here to Sarabande Station at all. Monaghan is working all hours to fix what’s broken. I can’t fault his dedication or the thoroughness of his work. It’s rare to have an engineer that doesn’t cut corners when there’s so much to do.

Still, I think there was another motive to his hurry lately. Particularly, his eagerness to move back onto the ship and out of the station’s visitor quarters. Little Sara Ripley has taken quite a shine to him and he’s not handling it well. She’s not allowed on board the ship, so this is his escape.

Monaghan isn’t the only one she has attached herself to. She seems quite eager to spend time with any of the crew, though she has yet to have much luck with Brasco. Our senior SecOff doesn’t seem to have much time for children.

Dr Valdimir is the only person that Sara has shown reluctance to be near. He was cool and clinical when he checked her over, and he completely ignored her attempts to connect with him. She offered him her toy and almost started crying when he refused it. When he was finished, she ran to Monaghan for a cuddle, but he was too confused to know what to do with her and she got upset. I scooped her up and hugged her until she was calm again. Poor child, I wonder how long it has been since she has been embraced, with only a drone for a carer.

It’s hard for me to hold her. She reminds me of my Rebecca at that age, though Rebecca was a quieter child. Sara is constantly on the move, getting into anything she can get her hands on, always investigating; she’s only still when she’s eating or sleeping. She’s only quiet when she’s sleeping. Rebecca was more thoughtful. She could spend hours drawing or reading, or playing educational games. She never ran off. She listened when we called to her and she always smelled of her mother’s favourite soap.

It has been nearly five years since I lost her. But the grip of little hands, the feel of a warm, trusting weight in my arms, the weight of a sleepy head on my shoulder… all I remember is Rebecca. How precious she was and how it never quite made sense that I could have something so perfect in my charge. How blessed she made me feel every time she smiled at me. How empty I was when she was gone.

Standing here in the ruins of my cabin, looking at what little remains of my life, I remember the pain most of all. All those little knick-knacks that I had kept are gone now, sucked out of the hull breach that split the ceiling here. The picture she drew of our family for my birthday, with its wiggly lines and weird colours. Her first pair of baby shoes. The toy horse she carried around by its tail when she was Sara’s age. The blanket that my Mariska wove to wrap our new daughter in. All gone now.

Almost everything else is gone, too. Commendations, clothing, shoes. Emergency equipment. I can replace most of that from the station’s supplies. None of it mattered. But those things of Rebecca’s – and the bits of Mariska’s that I’d kept, too – can’t be replaced. The only things I have left of them are pictures in a datastore: holos and vids recorded in the few years we had together. Frozen moments of a family I lost. Failed.

I still miss them so much.

That must be why I’ve been seeing them so much. They are my ghosts. Exactly as I remember them, my beautiful girls. I can see why the station commander was so happy in her last months, reunited with her dead love.

But even though my ghosts say they forgive me, even though they smile at me, I can’t quite forgive myself for what happened. I can’t forget. They’re not real; they’re not really here. As much as I want to lose myself in the warmth of their presence, I can’t. I would have died for them once, I would have given anything to see and hold them again. But this isn’t real. I won’t lie down and die with them; they wouldn’t want that.

Standing here looking at the scar across my ceiling, I can’t help but think that the spirits have sent me a message. My slate has been scrubbed clean and patched over. It hasn’t been healed completely, but maybe that’s up to me. Maybe this is my chance to put my beloved girls to rest. It’s a sign that I need to move on.

This child of the station needs us – needs me – far more than the ghosts of my family do. Whatever happens, we can’t leave Sara to be raised by a nanny-drone. We may be a strange family on this ship, but at least we care for each other, in our own way. And I know Starry will burst herself to keep the little one safe, just as she would for any of us.

And maybe we need Sara, too. Maybe we all need to be reminded of the simplicity and wealth of a child’s love.

It’s hard to believe that Sara is older than Starry. Starry has come such a long way since she was ‘born’, but in many ways, she’s just as lost and in need of love as a child.

I can take a hint. Thank you, spirits, for guiding me. I’ll do my best to let go of the past. Ignore the ghosts that stand in the corner, watching me, and build myself a new family. I won’t forget them, never forget, but I can try not to dwell on the pain any more.

First, though, I should make sure that Laurence is keeping an eye on Sara. He’s the only one of my crew that’s actually good with her, and despite Monaghan’s claims, his face doesn’t frighten her. I don’t think there’s much that scares this little girl.

Once I’m sure she’s looked after, I’m going to find some new internal panels and work on healing that scar in the ceiling. It has been a while since I did anything like that but I’m sure I remember how.

Some things, you never forget, even if you might need to be reminded of them from time to time.

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8 Responses to “Scar”

  1. medic Says:

    umm..

    AAAAAAAWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!

    Now I wanna hug Sara. Yes, I love kids. Only cause I can give them back at the end of the day.

  2. MarSig Says:

    Thanks Melanie
    Yeah Medic its also one of the joys of being a grandparent.

    Why am I thinking avatar?

  3. thomas Says:

    This is a beautiful Chapter Melanie. The Captain has faced his ghosts and won. I am glad he is getting his act together; Starry and her crew needs his leadership.

  4. eduardo Says:

    Yes, hugging your child is one of the best experiences ever.Loosing a child … is unthinkable.

    Thank you for the amazing tale of superation and love.

  5. mjkj Says:

    Awwwwwwwwwwww…

    *hugs Starry and Sara*

    I hope they keep Sara

    Well, the Captain has had it rough.

    I am wondering why Elliott is so reluctant to her.

  6. Venix Says:

    So I started reading this a little less than a month ago and now I’ve finally caught up… all I can really say is WOW.

  7. Kunama Says:

    *cat hiss* plague-bearer!

  8. Melanie Says:

    medic – I’m the exact same way with kids. So happy to give them back. πŸ˜‰

    MarSig – ooo, interesting idea!

    thomas – thanks! I’ve been wanting to do this one for a while. I think the captain deserves it. πŸ™‚

    eduardo – you’re welcome. This one was such a joy to write. πŸ™‚

    mjkj – Elliott’s mostly awkward around kids. They’re weird and sticky. He likes machines. πŸ˜‰

    Venix – aw, thank you! Hope you keep reading and enjoying. πŸ™‚

    Kunama – hee!