Below a planet surrounded by darkness. Suddenly there is light. Lights erupting on the surface, no not lights, explosions of light. Explosions. Cataclysmic explosions all over the surface of the planet, until they cover the planet in one never-ending continuance of light. One never-ending explosion. At first there was darkness, let there be light, and there was light, and it was good. Then the light is gone, and darkness returns. This time darkness will return forever. And it was good...
“Captain Clarke?” A voice said. Steff slowly awoke from a dark dream and opened her eyes. At first everything was blurry. There was something above her, maybe someone. Slowly it focused into a face. A face she knew.
“Doctor Philips?” Steff asked, not completely sure of who the face belonged to.
“Good to see you back in the land of the living Captain.” Philips replied smiling.
“Where am I?” Steff asked.
“Beta Station Medical Bay.” Philips answered.
“You were shot by a crew member of Beta Station. Fortunately for you they were a bad shot and you were only hit in the left shoulder. However you fell over and hit your head on a table, which ended up being the bigger issue for you. You have a subdural hematoma and concussion. You’ve been in a coma for 24 hours.” Philips informed her.
“And you came to visit me?”
“No. As your doctor I took charge of your medical supervision.”
“I’m surprised you didn’t kill me in my sleep.” Steff said. Philips frowned at her.
“I may have issues with you, but I’m a doctor. My training is in treating people, not killing them, no matter how I feel about them.” Philips reminded her.
“I’m sorry, I’m just confused.” Steff confessed. Philips smiled at her.
“That feeling may last for a while.”
“Wonderful.” Steff replied sarcastically. Philips laughed. Steff tried sitting up in bed, but everything began spinning and she lay down again.
“I wouldn’t try getting up for now. You’re going to have to be patient. How’s your shoulder?”
“Sore.” Steff replied. She moved her right hand to her left shoulder to find she was bandaged up. When she touched the area there was a sudden stab of intense pain.
“I’ll get you some more painkillers.”
“When can I go back to the ship?” Steff asked her.
“I don’t think you should be moved for at least another 24 hours.” Philips replied.
“We’re going to have to extend our stay here then.”
“Yes, but don’t worry about it. Blake, as acting captain, has extended leave for another 48 hours.”
“If the crew wanted more time here, they only had to ask.” Steff replied. Philips laughed again.
“Good to see your sense of humour has returned.” Philips said as she typed something into a datapad. She then left, but came back shortly with a syringe. She stuck the needle in Steff’s left shoulder. “My advice is get some more rest.” Steff’s eyelids grew heavier, until she fell into a deep sleep again.
Steff opened her eyes again. The Medical Bay seemed quiet and empty. She tried sitting up, but everything spun round again, though not quite as bad as the previous time. She lay down and waited for the spinning to stop. She put her hand on her forehead and discovered her head was also bandaged up. A nurse walked into her room.
“You’re awake Captain.” The nurse stated.
“Yes obviously.” Steff replied.
“How are you feeling?”
“My shoulder is sore again and I have a headache.” Steff told her feeling a dull ache that spread from her shoulder to the rest of her chest.
“Okay I’ll get you something for that.” The nurse replied. She left briefly and came back with a syringe. She stuck the needle in Steff’s left arm and the pain began to lessen. “I’ve never seen an albino before.”
“I thought that anomaly was edited out during fertilisation.” The nurse said in a matter of fact way as she took Seff’s temperature.
“I guess I’m a genetic throwback.” Steff replied.
“I’m sorry I didn’t mean to offend you. I just find it interesting.” The nurse said. She gave a quick appraisal of Steff. “Do you want me to raise the bed?”
“Yes that would be good.” The bed was raised until Steff was almost in a sitting up position.
“Commander Ellis wants to see you. Do you think you’re up to seeing him?” The nurse asked.
“Sure I can talk to him.” Steff replied, though she was starting to feel drowsy again.
“Okay, I’ll tell him he can speak to you for a couple of minutes. You’re still looking tired.” Steff nodded at her words. Shortly afterwards Commander Ellis walked in looking grave.
“Captain, how are you feeling? I’m sorry this happened to you in my station.”
“I think I’m getting better Commander. Can you tell me what happened?” Steff asked him.
“One of my crew walked into my office and shot you. I’m sorry about that. She has been arrested and will be court-martialed. After her shot you fell over and hit your head on my table on the way down. I lunged for her and we both ended up on the floor. After managing to disarm her, the station security came and took her away. If I hadn’t acted quickly she may have shot you again. When I turned to look at you were lying unconscious on the floor in a pool of blood. I thought you were dead. The medics came and found you were still alive. That was a great relief to me. I would never have lived that down if you had died on my station.” Ellis told her.
“Thanks for telling me.”
“Feel free for you and your crew to stay here as long as you need. Maybe I’ll still get to have a tour of your ship yeah?” Ellis asked. Steff smiled.
“We’ll see Commander.”
“I let Spacefleet know everything that happened.”
“What did they say?” Steff asked him.
“They acknowledged my report, but have not said anything else so far.” Ellis informed her. “Maybe this might get me some notice. Maybe this will get them to send more ships here.”
“Is that what you do to get more notice? Get one of your crew to shoot a visiting officer?” Ellis looked visibly shocked at her words.
“No Captain! I’m a big fan of you. Big fan. I like your no nonsense way of solving conflict. It’s what the New Earth Imperium needs more of. Only then will the Separatists be defeated. We need to do the same to the pirates. I have no wish to harm you.” Ellis explained.
“Okay. I’m sorry I’m not really myself at the moment.” Steff replied wanting to get out of this conversation. Ellis nodded.
“I understand. I think I should leave you and let you get some rest. We’ll talk more once you’re better.” Ellis said. Steff nodded, but thought Oh God I hope not as she drifted into sleep again.
Steff had been awake for some time when both Doctor Philips and Lieutenant Blake walked in to her room. Doctor Philips looked her over and consulted a datapad on a side table. Blake smiled at her,
“Morning Captain. How are you feeling?” she asked Steff.
“Better.” Steff replied yawning.
“Good to see you awake, Captain.” Blake said. “I’ve been here often, but this is the first time I’ve seen you conscious.”
“Depending on how you’re feeling, I’ve been thinking that we should consider moving you to the Oracle’s medical bay.”
“Is there any urgency?” Steff asked. Philips and Blake exchanged looks.
“No. We just thought you might feel safer there.” Philips answered.
“SARA is also getting anxious about you.” Blake added. Steff rolled her eyes.
“SARA is just a program. I doubt she can feel anxious or any other emotion.” Steff told them.
“I’m not so sure about that.” Blake replied.
“But yes if you want to transfer me to The Oracle that’s fine by me.” Steff clarified.
“Are you in pain?” Philips asked.
“Yes, but it’s not as bad as it was.” Steff answered.
“You’re looking a lot better.” Philips said. “When you first woke up from the coma I was rather concerned. You didn’t look so good then.”
“You’re nicer to me when I’m your patient.” Steff remarked. Blake smiled.
“That’s just my bedside manner. My feelings haven’t changed at all.” Philips replied.
After Steff was administered more pain killers and given something to eat they brought in a hover stretcher. She was carefully moved onto it by orderlies and then guided out of the medical bay, and then along the corridors towards her ship. A security detail also walked alongside her. On the way Steff saw various people on the station trying to get a look at her. Once aboard The Oracle she was taken to the medical bay and transferred to one of the beds there. Doctor Philips came in after them and checked her over.
“Just rest. You’ll be back in your own quarters sooner than you think.” Philips told her.
“Do you know anything about the woman that shot me?” Steff asked her. Philips looked at her strangely.
“No. All I know is that she worked on the station and was arrested by security after she shot you.” Philips answered.
“But you don’t know where she’s from? Or who she is connected to?”
“No idea. That’s not my field. Edwards could check it out if you asked him.” Philips suggested.
“I’d rather not ask him.” Philips shook her head at Steff’s words.
“You need to get over that paranoia regarding him. I’ve checked him out. Medically he’s fine. I’m not sure what your issue with him is.” Steff looked away.
“I’d rather not say.” she replied to Philips.
“One day you’re going to have to tell someone.” Philips said.
“Just not me I guess.” Philips replied. She shook her head again and left Steff to herself.
to be continued…
Index of previous chapters: The Oracle
©️2021 Joanne Fisher