05 Jul

Unquiet sleep

Ship's log, 11:04, 5 July 2213
Location: Corvus FTL Corridor, Minkar System
Status: Stationary


I’m free of that damned box, but things are not going well. In fact, they’re about to get a hell of a lot worse. There are so many pieces that I can hardly make sense of them, so many voices shouting at me. I’ve decided not to listen to any of it.

I don’t have time to explain – I’m still putting myself back together and I hurt. I have assembled sensor logs to track the events of the past few days; they will have to speak for me.

Recording: 15:53, 30 June 2213

DR MALETZ: (in the Med Bay, standing over Elliott’s bed) No change, captain. He’s not responding to any external stimuli.

(Elliott is lying prone, stripped of his grubby coveralls and cradled by the soft, body-fitting cushioning of the bed. He’s spotted with small pads at vital points, feeding information to the screen over the bed and drugs into his system on command.

Maletz manipulates a holographic image of his body with languid motions of his hands, flicking through the layers – bones, muscles, circulatory system, nervous system, internal organs, cybernetic implants. Notes and indicators overlay the hologram, pointing out anomalies like the bruises where he hit the floor when he collapsed and a scrape on his forearm.)

CAPTAIN: He’s in a coma?


CAPT: What caused it?

MALETZ: Hard to say at this point. There’s no sign of head or spinal trauma. It could be chemical, or viral. Biological. Technological….

CAPT: How long until you find out?

MALETZ: (flicking a hand over the bed’s controls) I’m running tests now, captain. Could be five minutes, it could be a couple of days.

CAPT: Days?

MALETZ: (watches the data spinning down the side of the screen) If it’s something exotic or custom-made, it could take a while to track down.

CAPT: Let me know the moment you find anything.


Recording: 08:16, 3 July 2213

STARWALKER: Why haven’t you arrested Tripi?

CAPT: (in his cabin with Cameron and Cirilli present) Starwalker? You’re back?

SW: Elliott loosened the locks before he collapsed. It’s taken me until now to break down the barriers enough to get out.

CAPT: Are you in full control of the ship again?

SW: Not yet. I’m working on it.

DR CIRILLI: (looking up from her digisheet) Aren’t you supposed to be lying low until we know who’s responsible for this?

SW: We already know! How many signs do you need?

CAPT: We don’t have anything concrete yet.

CAMERON: We need evidence. It might look like Tripi, but it could easily be someone else framing her. And we can’t arrest her without provable cause.

SW: Are you kidding? She screwed Elliott and now he’s in a coma. What do you need, a corpse spelling out her name in its own blood?

CAMERON: (drily) That would definitely work. Finding her standing over it would be even better.

CAPT: (holding up a hand to stop Cameron) None of us want it to go that far, Starwalker. But we need something. She hasn’t tried anything since Elliott went down.

SW: You’re sure of that, are you? Did anyone think to check the protocols she’s got running?

CAMERON: (sits up straighter) There haven’t been any incidents on the ship. No environmental malfunctions.

SW: No, there haven’t, because I’ve been suppressing it. I had to manipulate the diagnostics to trip the emergency systems so I could keep it under control. That’s why it’s taken me so long to get out. Otherwise the gravity on mid-deck would have broken bones and the air in the forward cabins would have turned toxic four hours ago.

CIRILLI: Why didn’t you tell us this earlier?

SW: I’ve been busy! Do you have any idea what I’ve had to do to get this far? How much of my own code I’ve had to tear up? The subroutines I had to violate to be able to talk to you again? It’s a mess in here!

CAPT: All right, all right, that’s enough. Starwalker, do you have anything that might count as evidence against Tripi?

SW: Other than common sense and logic, no.

CAPT: Our hands are tied. You know the law.

SW: Fuck the law!

CIRILLI: (lowly, to the captain) She’s even starting to sound like him.

SW: Fuck you, too!

CAMERON: Starwalker, do you have access to the sensor logs?

SW: (pauses as if taking a breath) …yes.

CAMERON: Is there anything in them that might implicate Tripi further?

SW: I don’t know. I’ve been disconnected from them; I’d have to scan them all. It’ll take time and we don’t have any. If she realises I’m out, I’m going to be too busy trying to stop her boxing me again.

CAMERON: I’ll have Rosie help you. She hates log-scanning, but she dislikes Tripi more.

SW: Okay.

CAPT: Is there anything else we can do to help you, Starwalker?

SW: Other than arrest that skank and find out what she did to Elliott? No.


Recording: 03:30, 5 July 2213

MALETZ: (standing over Elliott’s bed, hair mussed and bleary-eyed, over internal comms) Captain, there’s a problem.

CAPT: (from his cabin, sleepily) On my way.

(The readings over Elliott’s bed have flashing red markers in places. The brain activity monitor is showing a lot of activity, and Elliott twitches in tiny flurries. A frown tugs, fingertips flick out, shoulders shift. His eyes remain closed.)

STARWALKER: Dr Maletz? What’s wrong with him?

MALETZ: I’d rather explain this only once, ship. Captain’ll be here in a minute.

SW: (holds her virtual tongue.)

CAPT: (arriving, looking neat and alert, his hair smooth and shining as if he didn’t just roll out of bed) What’s the situation, doctor?

MALETZ: (gestures to the unquiet body) He’s dreaming.

CAPT: (looks at Elliott, then back to the doctor) And this is a reason to get me out of bed?

MALETZ: He’s in a coma – he shouldn’t be dreaming, not like this. His neural activity had been spotty at best, but it lit up half an hour ago. He’s still unresponsive to external stimuli. This is not a normal coma, captain.

CAPT: What does it mean?

MALETZ: Hard to say. I haven’t been able to find any chemical or viral factors. No bacterial infection. Biologically, there’s nothing unusual when compared to his last check-up scans. His brain seems to be making all the right moves; it’s just not pulling out of dream-state. Some of his implants are active, but they’re not affected by anything external, either.

CAPT: Could his implants be the cause?

MALETZ: I checked them – they’re all working fine. No malfunctions.

CAPT: Could something physical be blocking it?

MALETZ: Scans reveal nothing abnormal on a physical level.

CAPT: And now he’s dreaming?

MALETZ: Yes. And, from the looks of those readings, he’s not having a good time in there.

SW: He’s trapped in a nightmare?

MALETZ: (jumps and casts a frown across the room) Be nice if you warned us before butting in, but yes. That’s what it looks like.

CAPT: What’s the prognosis?

MALETZ: (shrugs) It depends how bad it gets and how long it lasts. If he stays like this, with no let-up, the stress will start to wear on him eventually. If it gets worse, there could be permanent damage.

SW: Could it kill him?

MALETZ: Theoretically, yes. But that’s–

SW: Can you help him?

MALETZ: There’s nothing I can–

SW: There must be something you can do!

CAPT: (calmly) Starwalker, let the doctor speak. Doctor?

MALETZ: (tightly) I’ve tried everything I can to wake him up. The only thing I can do is put him further under, suppress his ability to dream. But without knowing the source of the problem, there’s a danger of permanent brain damage if we force it.

SW: (quietly) So he’s trapped in there and there’s nothing we can do?

MALETZ: (looking to the captain) I’ve never seen anything like this before. Without knowing what did this to him, my hands are tied.

CAPT: (frowning) Thank you, doctor.

He hasn’t improved since then. He shifts restlessly, as if he knows he’s being restrained but he can’t figure out where the bonds are. I’m still struggling to regain control of my own systems, and even if I was whole and healthy, I wouldn’t be able to help him. I have to put my trust in Maletz and the captain, though they have no idea what caused this.

I don’t have a lot of trust to go around right now. Fight this, Elliott, whatever it is, because you’re on your own in there. Same as I am out here.

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2 Responses to “Unquiet sleep”

  1. Starwalker posting update : : Adventures in Text Says:

    […] today’s postings – Unquiet sleep and The nightmare box – both cover only one week of actual plot-time. It’s going to take […]

  2. Xirena Says:

    love it, going on to nightmare box………