Welcome back to the ship! If this is your first time visiting, I recommend starting with part 1. You can find all of these posts on the Dream Journal page.
The story continues…
I floated in cotton. My mouth was dry, and my head stuffy.
Muffled voices drifted toward me. “Do… any leads… shift?”
“No, sir.” That was Flash, so the muffled person must have been Tryss.
My hearing cleared up at the same time the pain returned. It was only an echo of what put me out, but I groaned as my eyelids fluttered in wakefulness.
A hand rested gently against my forehead. “Easy, Bitsa. How are you feeling?”
I blinked my eyes open to see one of the most cherubic baby faces on or off the planet. With big, blue eyes and a cap of golden-blonde hair, Magic Hands appeared like a grown-up version of a Rennaisance painting angels.
He was the unit’s medic, and I had the biggest crush on him. It was no secret among the unit. I’m pretty sure even Magic was aware, but we kept things professional, and both ignored my uncontrollable blushing.
“Arm hurts,” I said, smacking my parched lips.
He held a cup and straw to my mouth. “I can give you a stronger pain killer, but it will put you off duty for 24 hours. That’s my recommendation, but it’s up to you.”
Pain and help the team, or get loopy and bored for a day? I thought.
This latest glitch increased the threat level. Too much more risk and we would need to abort the mission. If I went off duty, we would be stuck until my status changed. In the end, it wasn’t a tough choice.
“No.” I shook my head slowly. “I’ll stick.”
Magic sighed and pursed his lips. “I can’t say I’m surprised. Let’s get you up and put the sling on.”
My head spun only once before settling, and I looked over to where Tryss and Flash stood watching.
‘Did you find Juicy? What happened to him?”
“Juicy is fine,” Tryss answered with a smile. “He was clinging to you when help arrived, but Party and Block secured you both with anchors, giving us time to correct the gravity shift.”
I let out a gusty breath and felt tears well in my eyes. In my head, I failed him. He fell to his death when I couldn’t lift him high enough or stay conscious long enough to save him.
My breathing was shaky as the relief flooded through me.
Tryss squeezed my free hand, “You did good, Bitsa. You saved his life.”
I closed my eyes against the tears and nodded sharply. Letting out a deep breath, I was relatively calm again when I opened them to look back at Tryss.
“Do we know what caused any of the malfunctions yet?” I asked.
She turned to Flash, who had already shaken his head in response.
“No.” He released a frustrated breath. “All preliminary tests are returning ‘systems normal’ responses.”
“But the gravity shift was recorded and responded to commands to revert to the prior settings,” Tryss added. “which indicates the errors are not related to reporting or interface assets and programming.”
Flash shook his hand in a “maybe”‘ gesture. His twitching eyes meant he interacted with his HUD as he spoke to us. “Likely, but it does not eliminate the possibility of problems with those systems. I’m pushing them down the priority list for now though.”
Magic finished hooking up my sling as Triss acknowledged Flash’s point. Her focus then returned to me with enough intensity to have me leaning back slightly.
“I reported our situation and initial encounters to Command. Our mission stands, but they’ve authorized a medical drop if necessary. It’s up to you.”
“My recommendation as your doctor,” Magic offered, “is to take the drop.”
“Can they do anything for my injury you haven’t already done?” I asked him.
He pursed his lips and snorted in frustration. “No, but with your injury, you are most at risk of further harm up here.”
Regulations required at least five people in a medical drop to ensure optimal assistance for the injured person on the descent. It would mean Tryss would lose more than me, and we would not even be on the ground to assist for twenty-four hours. It was not an option.
“Noted, but I’m staying.” I stood before my unit leader, pretty sure I hid the wince of pain as I rose. “Where do you want me?”
She pointed to a terminal across from where Magic worked. “Right over there,” she said with a jaunty wag of her eyebrows. “You get to keep Magic company in the infirmary. The data from your prelim runs is on the terminal. I want your assessment on those glitches.”
Lovely, I thought. I’m benched and given homework. Well, at least I would get to spend the day with Magic. Maybe I could finally convince him to fall in love with me.
“Yes, sir, “I said, and got to work on both missions.