3-1: In the Dark

Laurie woke up to a strange sequence of sensations. The first thing she felt was cold. Cold, deep in her bones, the kind of cold the penetrates the soul. Then there was the cold pressed up against her cheek, the slab of cold steel which she found herself laying on offering no comfort.

Then she felt pain. First in her head, a headache that started where her left had been and the cybernetic patch should have been, and shot back through her skull. Then the pain in her side, the deep burn of a laser blast.

She attempted to push herself up, at least to her knees. She opened her eyes, and everything spun. She fell back to the deck, retching and nauseous. Her patch had been pulled out, and the signals that should have been going to her brain seemed to be going haywire. She closed her good eye tight and drew ragged breaths, trying to piece her situation together.

She reached into her memory, scraping for some clue as to what was going on, and retrieving nothing. The Venturess had left Maciia easily enough, with the promise to deliver a package on the way to Haluush. No big deal.

But somehow, somewhere, someway, it had all gone very, very wrong.

“Scorch?” she rasped, her throat dry. “Bartender?”

Silence was her only answer in the dark ship.

She attempted to open her eye again, face still pressed against the steel. Chaos flooded her senses again, but she fought through it as best she could. Emergency lighting illuminated the cargo bay, doing just enough to cast long, gloomy shadows throughout. She was in the rear, near the cargo ramp. Crates were strewn about in disarray.

It must have been a hull breach, or an open airlock. She closed her eyes again, still grasping for memories. Nothing came.

She pulled herself forward, her side screaming in agony from the wound there. At least it seemed cauterized, otherwise she probably would have bled out on the floor. Inching along, she could see the first aid kit against the front bulwark, glowing in the soft blue light. At least they left that.

It seemed an eternity before she reached it. Her breath was panting as she pulled herself up the wall and unfastened the clasps. She choked down the first painkiller her hands found. There was a syringe, too, and she jabbed it into her arm, the plunger depressing with a hiss. She sighed and slumped against the wall, sliding down it until she was sitting on the floor.

She leaned there for a long while, gathering herself. Step led up to the main deck, with food and living quarters, and- hopefully- a spare patch for her eye. To the cockpit, where she could hopefully figure out what was actually going on.

“You don’t look so good, Cap.” She wrestled her eye open again to seethe Bartender standing at the top of the stairs.

“Never better,” she croaked. “Where the hell have you been?”

“Out, I guess. I woke up in the middle of the floor up here.” He stood and walked stiffly down the stairs. “Though, I don’t rightly remember going to sleep.”

“Me either. We must have had some party.”

He crouched down next to her. “Must have. A few uninvited guests, to be sure.” He looked at where her patch should have been. “Do you have a spare?”

“I hope so. In my quarters, top drawer.” He stood to retrieve it. “Wait. You don’t know what happened here?”

“Not a clue. Last I remember, we left orbit, to drop that package for Miiram. Everything after that is…. just blank.”

She nodded, squeezing her eye shut and swallowing her nausea. The painkillers were working, at least. Her head swam and she wondered where Scorch was, and if she could really trust the Bartender.

He returned presently, though, with a wooden box containing the patch. She picked it up, and pushed a small button on the back of the black rectangle. The small tail which hung from it wiggled a little, and she tilted her head back and lowered it into the socket. There, it found the proper nerves. She shuddered at the brief shock.

“That,” said the Bartender, “Does not look comfortable.”

She shrugged. “You get used to it. Besides, I just took every painkiller in there.” She nodded to the first aid kit. “By the way, I got shot.”

He looked at her side. “We should get you stitched up.”

“We should see what is going on with my ship. Are we even moving?”

“I don’t think so. Engines are quiet.”

“We need to get going, then.”

“It won’t do any good if you’re dead.”


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