Welcome to the third installment of Captain’s Journey. I hope you are enjoying the story. Let me know what you think in the comments or on Twitter.
I take a deep breath and hold it. I wait until I feel my body rebelling at the torture that I am putting it through. I let it out and the tension in my back, shoulders, and neck slowly goes out with it. The release of the residual anxiety that was hiding in my muscles is a gentle relief on my body after the brutal episode just moments ago. I look about the room, which I now know is a somewhat sentient machine. I realize that I have given it a name without ever really asking it if it had one before it became my caretaker.
Caretaker. One simple word yet so sobering to me. I’ve not needed taken care of in over a decade. The memories that are obscured are tantalizingly close to the surface now. I know I’ve been independent for at least a decade and this knowledge fills me with a sense of satisfaction. This knowledge is a warm feeling in the center of my being. Maybe I can just wait for things to take their natural course and I will regain all that I was, given time. My shoulders slump at the thought and I know that I can not allow this. I am not whole and I can’t stand not knowing. What hides in this shadow not only obfuscates the past but keeps me from moving forward. I am in limbo and this can not stand. I’ld rather break apart under my own steerage than molder and persist on for an eternity.
With a heavy sigh I pull my self up from the bed. I use my simple waking routine to still my mind and find my center for the frightening process I am about to undertake. I give myself over to the simple movements of putting my things back in order. My room is expansive, yet the decorations are sparse. My small desk sits next to the large window that shows an alien landscape both fearsome in wildness and beautiful in it’s array of colors. The white of my hospital is a fine counterpoint to the riotous explosion of color just inches away from me.
It takes only a few moments to put my living space in order. The simple ritual calms me and makes me feel more in control. I stall a little longer as I drag a large cushion to the center of the room and slowly lower myself into a lotus position. I feel my pulse slow as I begin marshaling my reserves to dive into my memories. Each breath seems to slow time until, with just a breath, time stops.
I open my eyes and my memories are just an infinite sea of darkness. I see them bobbing just the beneath the surface. The atmosphere is pregnant with possibility, as if they are waiting to see what I do. I reach out and touch the darkness to see what I am up against. It feels both natural and alien all at once. It is both a part of me and something that was forced upon me as well. Understanding floods me as I can see that this is just a form of scar tissue, my mind’s attempt to protect me from damage after the fact. The darkness is a byproduct of something that was roused in the memory, but is part of me now. What is to be remembered is going to be painful and have far reaching repercussions.
Like a child with a bandage, I gingerly grasp the dark film covering my mind. A quick intake of breath, and I pull quickly with all my might. I rip a scream from my lungs that echoes across the firmament of my mind and sends forth my memories in a coruscating fractal out to the horizon. I see them all in a burst, a flash of darkness in the dizzying array of of colors. It weaves in and out of sight, only to careen into me, forcing another scream from my lips and plunging me into terror.
The screams of me and my crew reach a crescendo, but the inevitable explosion never comes. The ship is still rocking, but it appears that we are not the target. I catch my breath and steady myself on the pilot console. “Farns, I hate to do this but I need you. Are you there?” I wait, enveloped by discordant sounds of the chaos around me. I hold my breath, hoping both that I get an answer and sad that I have to push my injured crewman further.
The com crackles to life. “I’m here captain. The med drones have helped but the pain is pretty bad. What do you want and I’ll try to do it.” Farns’ voice is weaker than before but steadier now.
“Something is going on out there. I need a visual and I need you to see about getting the drive back online. you think you’re up for it?”
“Aye Captain. I don’t want to die out here. I’ll get it done.”
“Neither do I, Farns. Neither do I.”
Time dilates as I wait for some response from the ship. She is unresponsive to every mental command I have tried. Whatever field that Farns mentioned, seems to inhibit Talent to a certain extent as well. It is frustrating to have to wait on the actual hardware to do its job when there is so much going on around the ship. The screens around the bridge flicker on and off several times giving a tantalizing view of what is going on around the ship. When the picture finally stabilizes, I am left speechless.
Out in the darkness around us are two ships. A terran battle cruiser with weapons blazing across the starry expanse. All her weapons are being brought to bear on a ship that makes my mind scream at the sight. It is all angles and curves that make my stomach churn from the sight. Despite the revulsion that threatens to overwhelm me, I still find the energy to speak.
“They found me.”