Read me the story
Something was beeping somewhere. Too loud to ignore, but not loud enough to give a clear sense of pitch or rhythm. It came and went. It was… annoying.
Eventually it was annoying enough for Deran Chagarth to notice.
There wasn’t anything else to notice, in the formless iteration of consciousness provided by a convapod. But the sensation of noticing the annoying noise added enough stimulus to simple awareness to begin coalescing into a more complex awareness. Chagarth became aware of existence, first.
Some time later it occurred to him that existence implied identity. He rummaged around the available concepts to see if any of them would attach to “self.” But they hovered tantalizingly out of reach. And it was too much effort to go after them. Much easier not to try.
Time floated past him, spiraling slowly. It seemed to have qualities, but again nothing to which he could attach concepts. It occurred to him that it would be useful to have a way to differentiate and define… things. Ideas. Thoughts. Awareness. Thoughts…
That produced something definite. Defined. Thoughts. There. “Thoughts.” It was a… word.
The time that had been spiraling leisurely past him seemed to rush into a tightening vortex, and then he lost awareness of it in that form. But another word appeared. “Time.” “Time” was… “passing,” yes. A linear process. The spiral was gone, replaced by this unsatisfying linear progression.
Words. He had four, so far. “Thoughts.” “Word.” “Time.” “Passing.” It was a lot. It felt heavy. Consciousness receded.
In the control module of Medbay 2 aboard the Taskmaster, Ord-Colonel Helset Morvaine reviewed the neuroscans from convapod 9c and frowned. Very slow comeback from Trooper… she glanced at the chart readout, Trooper Chagarth. A further review of the chart enlightened. Chagarth had been on the very limits of the triage criteria for cryostasis and revival. If the surrender hadn’t come through just as they were dispatching Medcorps for pickup, he’d probably have been downchecked and left dead.
She glanced at Major Qualar, their cryo expert. “Options?”
He pursed his lips, eyes narrowing. “We can try neurostim, or give it more time. The neurostim… we’ve had good results with the cad-GABA nanites, but we’re almost out of those. We’d probably have to use the Adran-4 sequence, and that…” he trailed off.
Her grimace matched his. The Adran-4 nanite suite was a specific for neurological trauma repair, and Chagarth’s brain hadn’t sustained any. Oxygen deprivation and toxic saturation from the aspiration of chemical byproducts of suit environmental systems failure were a different type of problem altogether. In some similar cases the Adran nanites had been known to actually cause injury. “Well, we’re not in a hurry, for a change. Let’s leave it for now.”
Qualar scanned the chart and agreed.
They turned their attention to the next convapod just as the shipwide alert tone sounded.
“All personnel, prepare for loading and transit. All personnel, prepare for loading and transit. Transit will commence at 2300.”
“What in Kronnos…?”
Colonel Morvaine shook her head. “No idea. I thought we were on station.”
The Major sighed. “No one ever tells the Medcorps.”
The Colonel’s handunit signaled. “Hey, look! Someone’s going to tell the Medcorps something, apparently.” She scanned the instructions. All Divisional Staff chiefs and seconds required at a… “security briefing?” she murmured.
She exchanged eye-rolls with the Major, just as the Medcorps Division Chief, General Kenterum Orlot, pinged her unit.
“And it seems that I’ll need to take over for Scharnav, on the Steelflame, while he accompanies the boss to HQ. Great. Do the best you can, Javak. I think we had all the evac personnel accounted for, but there’s still that skiff on the supply run. Make sure the Loading Officer knows we’ll be using extra supply cubage.” The Major nodded and threw her a salute as she left the bay control module.
Back in convapod 9c, a random series of stimulations—sound, light, tactile—continued slowly, timed by the unit’s analytical processor based on its assessment of Chagarth’s brain activity. Now and again, consciousness surfaced. The battle between a subconscious that believed in his death, regarding the concept of consciousness too painful and demanding to endure, and the ongoing currents of life flowing through the brain’s physical architecture, continued.
(Special thanks to TWYRAH for sound assistance. You know who you are.)