Cassette Side B Here and Nowhere - Lor System - Aboard Anamnesis As Aiesu's body sank, the light shining into the cabin became brilliant - passing through them and then into pitch darkness. The light within was seemingly inverted: black to white, red to blue and so on. Time itself was slow, passages of moments and their potential permutations echoes, onion-skinned-after-images of potential forks and positions of self before the universe inverted outside became very large and the universe inside, very still. It was like lightning through the soul, stripping the concept of self from one page and pasting into another. The arrival had the ship's hull buckling as its exterior turned to materials unable to deal with the stress of its own construction: the re-enforcement along the inner linings and the layered hull holding its crippled shape together. Klaxons screamed through the decks as the ship vented O2 through micro-fractures - which self-sealed moments later. Her engine was dead in the water as she drifted. Backup power remained as lights flickered. Smashed fragments of material floated as artificial gravity was nearly completely gone, wiring strung out by the intense stresses of their arrival. Yet curiously, those within were... Mostly unharmed. Aiesu's gaze shifted - looking for Miles. She struggled with the light, black to white -- taking a few minutes to adjust until it began to filter back - black into white and everything once more as it was meant to be. Miles, fortunately, was distinctively unharmed by the transition; if anything, it was practically as if nothing happened. It was a virtue of being a man of mostly ordinary composition. All that was 'off' was within him, a few strings of code within his cybernetics were unhappy with the new operating environment, but outside of that, he found himself in a position of being distinctively unimpressed by what was built up to be something so impressive. When Aiesu spotted him however, he was not just standing around, he instead was turning to make his entry into the cockpit; his first thought was of Sana. "I seem to be... able to finally be on my own." Came a voice, a voice from right before Aiesu; a gurgle of decaying vocal chords was the source, as a block of rapidly decaying material hit the deck, once a formidable pistol, now a hunk of useless waste. While a human was untouched, the synthetic body of the person who threatened Aiesu was nowhere near as fortunate, as what was artificial flesh and blood rapidly became very real dust and ash, which quickly split, like the dry surface of a desert, before an unknown light shined from the breaks, briefly, before disappearing as the figure crumbled into dust. Aiesu stared at the pile in solemn silence for nearly a whole minute, not even having seen Miles get up to search for his wife - a hand carefully reaching for it, rubbing it into her fingers. She'd been running from this person for four years now, her life never allowed to stay in one place, constantly hounded and hunted and now all that remained was dust - even the memory of her, what her name was or where she came from hazy and vague. She held the finger to her tongue, then scented it... Ammonia. One of Sana's legs had fused to her chair, then seemingly shattered like a porcelain figure -- some of her fingers on the same side constructed of advanced alloys having sloughed off her artificial construction... Otherwise, beyond an intense headache and a nose-bleed, Sana was mostly intact. Her gaze though was barely with it - eyes rolling as if drugged, struggling to focus. "Miles?" "I'm right here." Miles spoke in reply, immediately, at her side, where he belonged, just as she was. "Looks like you made it." He assured her, as he looked her over, assessing the damage, and as he touched her shoulder his finger tips slid to an artery, feeling for her pulse. Tangible things, real things, things to put him at ease. "How do you feel?" "Great..." she struggled before covering her mouth: dry-retching. "My insides feel like they've been reorganized." "Well, uhm... I'm pretty sure they were. I'm going to have to get you over to my workspace. Put the ship in park, hun, so I can get you taken care of." Miles kept calm, even as he felt concern in his guts; there was a lot that was left unknown, a far too much information which was just not available to him about what he was just pulled through, and just what the consequences would be. "...We...We haven't moved in forty minutes. The feeling of acceleration we got was the runt fucking with whatever it is on the floor with the grav." "Well, at least you can remember the runt, mixed blessings, I guess." Miles joked, before he carefully slipped his arm beneath what was left of Sana's own, providing a degree of lift to her to help her out of the cockpit seat. "Feels like you lost some weight, hopefully nothing you gave up an arm and a leg for." "Wheee... I feel like a princess. How much blood have I even lost?" "Technically?" Miles asked rhetorically; "All of it, I would imagine. At least the primary. I put a Lorath built synthetic reserve in you for life support, I imagine that's handling things." "Mic-Check one two three... Did we lose anyone?" "Here!" Lalah shouted. "...H-Here" the gruff voice of the Librarian called. "Here, here!" a pair of what sounded like children squeaked. "Here!" Spoke a woman's voice over the communication line, casually, after all she belonged there, right? "Here..." Aiesu muttered, still staring at the stuff in her fingers - unable to reconcile what she was looking at or what had happened. She was kind of lost in her own moment. Grabbing a headset from a rack near the cockpit, Miles put the communication device in place before he spoke; "Anyone who is experiencing unusual symptoms, please document these symptoms, and wait your turn." Closing the line, he lugged his fiance in the direction of the combination medical bay and workshop. Lalah hoisted herself up through the hatch, staring at Aiesu - even clicking her own fingers. She didn't really get any kind of response at first until she nudged the other L'manel. "Anybody home?" "Wh..What?" "Simple question. You alright?" "Uh... Yeah. What's going on?" "Whatever was meant to happen happ..." Lalah stared at the pile, struggling to make sense of what it was she was seeing. "This used to be a person, Lalah." "Y...Yeah, I know. something something. Kind of... a waste..." Lalah replied, a soreness in her throat - dealing with a lot of very complex feelings. "She was going to kill us." "Really? That does not sound too nice." From the cargo hold came a person who could perhaps be placed as someone who was frequently in Lalah's company, that aside, there was little else to place her as unique, even her clothing was rather unremarkable; slacks and a blouse, which was rather dull in contrast to the woman who wore the attire, the woman who reached her hand to Lalah's shoulder, giving a reassuring squeeze, speaking something which best remained unspoken and shared only between them. "I... I seem to be having a little bit of fuzziness after all that. I can't quite recall much." She spoke, eying Aiesu; "Feel like I'm meeting you for the first time, my name is Helen, but I can't remember you." Something about the name rubbed Aiesu the wrong way, but she couldn't put her finger on why - her stare proof she didn't trust this person. She took a moment to ponder the situation, eyes down in deep thought to one side pondering just what they'd been through before remembering that any chance of whatever it was that was chasing them making it through really didn't exist. Still, something didn't feel right. Aiesu extended her hand slowly... "...Kalopsia. Aiesu Kalopsia, chief-architect of the shit-storm we just went through..." "Hey, I remember!" Helen spoke, rather excitably, as if to wedge herself inside of Aiesu's train of thought. "You're a scientist, not an architect, silly. Or were you a teacher? Or was it a doctor?" Helen's features softened into a look of confusion, as she took Aiesu's hand, but in the delicate way meant between a pair of human women. "Chief-Architect was my position on the project... I'm old enough to not really have a single discipline." "You're so tiny though, AK." Playing at something, Helen already shortened Aiesu's name down to a moniker. "...I'm fifty two, going on fifteen but thanks for noticing." "And you're so sickly sounding too." "...I had the snot beaten out of me before I got back to the ship. Details are a bit fuzzy." "I don't know, does not look like you got hit in the throat, you just sound so phlegmy... Maybe that's normal from you, I can't seem to recall. Lalah, is that normal?" "Aiesu's always been sick." "Tough break, bringing things from place to place." Helen spoke in sentiment. Aiesu sneezed some sort of blue liquid into her palms, her gaze half-lidded as she struggled for breath. She stared at her palm before peeking down at herself - expecting to have ruined another shirt, but didn't find the usual leak from her gills - unbuttoning her shirt to verify. "...I should be having a seizure or suffocating for this to happen. I don't really get why..." Aiesu felt her eyes double again, coughing more of the liquid up onto the deck. "Think you should do what the man said, and wait your turn to be seen by the doctor." Helen advised, as she gave an expression of worry toward the situation. "Damnit, I'm not a patient! I AM a doctor!" Aiesu struggled as she wretched. "Doctor, heal thine self?" "Was I drowned before I got here? Augh..." Aiesu took in a sharp breath, whites of her eyes showing - more awake than her usual dreary self as she panted. Lalah stared at the conversation between the two, trying to make sense of what was happening. Something told her it wasn't normal but she couldn't fathom why. "Miss Helen... What's the last thing you remember?" "I was down in the cargo hold, helping Lalah organize some of our cargo in preparation for what was happening out there. The doctor told her to do it, and... I think we usually work together, so, we were working on getting things all set and next thing I knew I was getting up from the deck and feeling kind of woozy, like I slept for a few decades." It was the truth, her truth. Aiesu thought for a moment. "I'm the chief architect. Miles was my practicing doctor. Sana was ...His wife, I think? You're ...A nuisance passenger." she pointed to Lalah, then turned. "Helen, what were you doing here? Your role, I mean." "I came aboard with Lalah, I'm... I think I came to mind her? I remember her being someone important." "Right. She's like some kind of trade princess or something. The male daughter of some big financial family. If we did just come from somewhere else... Doesn't this then mean that some of their trade has been lost?" Lalah was visibly worried by this prospect. "Uh oh, Lalah, does this mean I still get paid?" Aiesu rolled her shoulders. "Given they also have their fingers in Lor's banking structure, yes but this is really going to impact things." Miles shouted down the corridor; "What banking structure? You trade rocks. Fucking rocks." "Yes! And who do you think MINES those rocks?!" Lalah shouted. "Slaves?" Helen interjected. "Slaves!" Miles shouted down the corridor, almost in unison. "S...Slaves?" Lalah pondered. 'since when?' she wanted to say. This was not how things were done before they left but apparently it was now and she was struggling to reconcile this fact. "I'd better still be a doctor..." Aiesu grumbled, dragging herself to her feet, clutching the carry-handles in the door-way, normally meant for low gravity. "Well, if you're not, then maybe you can start designing houses? That's what architects do, right?" Helen suggested, smiling cheerfully. Aiesu paused, spotting something on her shirt she didn't recognize - a metal badge of a curious diamond shape with three dots in it and wings either side on her left breast of a black armless shirt. "Dragon, what's this?" "...A pin?" "I know that, you idiot, what does it mean?" "Lorath Self Defense Force?" "What rank?" "I don't know." Aiesu grimaced, baring those triangular teeth. She was a lot more impulsive than she remembered, dragging her half-broken synthetic legs with her through the halls in search of Miles. "Human! We need to talk!" Miles looked up, a pair of magnifying lenses swung over his gaze, held in place by a headset rig of some sort, making his eyes several dozen times their size in appearance before he looked back down to Sana, who both his hands were inside of, deep in her abdominal cavity. "Yes?" Miles replied simply. Aiesu was surprised to find she wasn't panting for breath, or that her body wasn't letting her down - the synthetics the weakest part of her. "Is the patient stable?" "I don't know, are you?" Miles asked Aiesu, seeing the way she stood upon her damaged artificial limbs. "I'm fine, I can fix me, I'm asking about her. Your wife, doctor, how is she?" One of Sana's hands gradually rose -- a hand rotating about, synthetic fingers twisting as she rendered a slow thumbs up in Aiesu's direction. "And you, doctor. How are you?" "I'm feeling fine, my cybernetics are a little off, mostly in the software. I feel a bit 'fuzzy' in my memory though. I feel like some things are missing, a few important, a few unimportant, but I don't think I'm going to lose my mind and shoot some people over it." There was a scratching feeling deep in his mind at those words, he chose to pay no mind to it, as he continued to work. "Software conflicts... We can probably solve those in the coming days. You're able to perform your duties, yes?" "Duties? You make it sound like I've got an assigned set of duties, nonsense." Miles countered, "If I did have duties however, I would be able to, I suspect." "You're a husband, aren't you? I don't want you under any undue stress at a time like this. She needs you." "Hey, hey hun, how about you test out your ability to extend your third phalanx? Show the good little doctor how well you can do." Miles encouraged, since his hands were far too busy to make a display of his social finger. Sana's hand twisted again, giving the bird the bird. "Nicely done." Miles complimented, as he sealed up the last of the breaks in the abdominal cavity, where an organ had suddenly gone missing, and there he began to clamp in an infusion system to resupply Sana's body with blood. "Alright, fine" Aiesu grumbled -- "I know we keep other sets of these around" she said, detaching her left arm. "I want to get to work repairing the ship and I have no idea where anything is in the med-bay." "Labels, read labels." "I can't read Humie. Most of the ship is in Basic but your chicken scratch is too powerful for my poor Lorath brain." Miles could not help but to chortle; "Bird brain," he quipped before he secured a clamp in place, then gestured to a cluster of steel lockers. "Body parts are in there." "Thanks. The sooner I've got them on, the sooner I can be out of your way. I want to secure the ship and make sure we don't surprise implode because we strike a rock or stray piece of metal. It'd be a shame to travel all this way only to die because we stubbed our toes" Aiesu said, opening one of the grated lockers, clumsily thumbing through it with her crippled arm. Before long she was tossing the broken ones to the floor before settling on an older model set, fitting it herself. "What do you know of each other, you and her. I know our memories have been altered. Or rather, they were always like this, except they weren't before." "You mean we got holes." Miles added before he went on; "I know this is Sana... N-something. We're together, engaged I think, married maybe. However, I know I love her, and I'm also her physician... oh, and we get off on this kind of thing, so you're basically watching us totally make out." "Miles Gunn" Sana said confidently. "We met on some tugboat after a big argument with his employer, some mouth-breathing nymphomaniac. I got sick, he looked after me, his bosses were in collusion with some nasty people so we left. Of the two of us, he's the forgetful one, you'll have to forgive my husband. Best damn surgeon I ever met though." "You just forgot you're the forgetful one." Miles corrected, and with those words, he also reminded himself of a little bit of why he was there. "Says the one who doesn't know my last name" Sana chuckled softly, poking fun. "Who cares? Mine is going to replace it." Miles poked his own fun in return, beaming a smile. "Oh... yeah, also, she's partially a robot of some sort, kind of why I can have my hands in her guts without her being out of it. That's kind of important to note, I think." "Good, that means I won't have to worry about her when the hull implodes" Aiesu fitted her last-leg with a stiff click - alarmed that she was the only one concerned. The small woman hopped off the counter and stretched, synthetic legs growing in length as she got comfortable with them. She was soon picking out parts, stuffing them from drawers into a work-case and then she began stuffing herself into a skin-tight pilot-suit, patched up with tape about the shoulder and neck. "From the damage reports coming in, our hull has gone from some super-material to basically being glass. For your own safety, I'm going to seal you in for the next 7 hours while the sealant in the fractures sets. The room's own atmospheric processor should last you a while, there's rations if you need them and beyond the fact you'll be shitting in buckets, I'm sure you can amuse yourselves with the beds and the contents of the medication lockers..." Finally, Aiesu secured a helmet over her own head - moving in the suit, rolling her shoulders and trying to get comfortable before pulling an armored layer on top of the suit, fastening straps. "... Miles, your in charge of the interior. Keep everyone sane and calm, because functionally speaking we're stranded and I don't expect a rescue given how panicked everyone will be. Lalah will mediate telecoms. Sana, you keep your eye on Helen. I'm taking the frame you brought back to remove the failed plating and replace it with the backup materials in the compression deck. If either of you leave this room, put on a vacuum suit first or at least a rebreather. If rations no longer work in this universe for whatever fucking reason, you can skin the twins and roast them open fire provided you don't dismantle their skeletons for parts. If anything happens to Seiren, I'll dismantle your skeletons for parts. If you do anything to Albert, I'll scuttle the ship myself. Clear? Good. I'll see you in 48 hours." The door sealed behind Aiesu, a hiss as heavy bolts locked into place. Slowly, Sana glanced from the door to Miles. "...Has she always been this bossy?"