Hope and loss. In the span of the last duty shift, that was all Solari could manage to think of. He sat, dejected at Atlantis Command’s medical bay, waiting to tend to his minor wounds, still fresh after hours.
One of those two words outweighed the other. Exhausted, he attempted to recall the events.
The day had begun wonderfully. Bridge crews managed to fill up, including some new and older faces, the half-human hadn’t recognised.
Someone had finally noticed his XO had been taking command of the Hydra, and promoted Verok to Lieutenant Commander, a senior officer. The division needed a few more like him up there. But as Humans say, the sewage runs downward; somehow he had gotten promoted as well. No, that didn’t count so much as hope; it as more akin to shock. Good, but not wanted. It was his non-human half that had the proverb: ‘Don’t rise too high with the tide, or the undertow will take something away.’ Humans needed to swim more.
Back to hope though. The news of the day was that negotiations were to begin with the Arvonians. Rumour had turned to fact, and the fourth light division was to make it happen, despite the Raven being dry-docked for repairs.
A brief simulation later, and the Hydra was underway. The currents had favoured them, as they dropped of the negotiation team, and were holding off a surprise Kralien attack. It didn’t help that the Arvonian’s carrier group launched fighters that still read the TSN a hostile.
Then it happened. Loss. The newly minted Lieutenant junior had happily taken the science station once again, and was scanning what seemed to be and endless wave of drones and ships, when the Hydra began to buckle and groan. It was worse than the live-fire training incident.
The moments afterward were still a blur. Smoke, screaming to be heard, getting into a life-pod, being picked up by another ship and placed on yet another.
The Hydra had been wrecked apart. The captain was not going to be pleased when she returned, assuming she had one to command then.
Complicating things more, the negotiation team taken aboard one of the Arvonian carriers had also lost their ship. The survivors were now somewhere on the station. Yet despite the setbacks, it was considered a mild success by command.
The Arvonians would determine that for real.
Yet, to add insult to further injury, the pirates came back in full force to the Cerberus system. Fielding little more than two scouts and two light cruisers, the now-aptly-named ‘light’ division waded into the incursion with other elements of the TSN.
The first explosion heard over the ships speakers was the start of the downward spiral. One of the major jump-gates in the area had been blown apart. No warning at all. Only later, in the debrief did the past come back to haunt them. One of the stolen mining ships had done the job. One of the ships Solari knew might have been caught with better information, had he not destroyed the first one he encountered.
It didn’t end there though. Even firing everything they could, at the advancing waves the TSN evacuated the system. Pirate or not, they had shown their cleverness. Holo-disguised ships, stolen ships, capturing stations left behind. They were organised. And they were not done.
Loss it was then. At least for today.
“I said no synth-cast!” Solari’s exclamation came out more as a lyric then a yell at the Atlantis’s Chief Medical Officer.
That happened when you were part of an amphibious species. Sound travelled differently underwater, so they learned to chant their acoustic language.
It’s why the Lieutenant junior always sounded like he was humming his Terran speech. It’s also why the Humans had named them the Gregorians, much to their initial chagrin. Until they heard the Human chants and loved it, taking the word as an honour.
The present came back to him.
He put a webbed hand up to his face and let a sigh out. “I’m sorry sir. Xeno-biology, basics. You mostly treat Humans, aye? Remind me what a cast does to fully Human skin?”
The doctor, with the Commander insignia barely noticeable on his medical uniform, was standing in front of Solari, and very much soaked in his own perspiration.
He was putting away his diagnostic scanner, when he replied. “Well synth castes immobilise and dry up the epidermal…”, he didn’t need to finish, looking at the purple-skinned officer, and his ‘modified’ uniform, still in slight tatters.
“Ah, I got you. We’ll have to consult the inter-species database then. You’re my first half-Gregorian patient, let alone that I’ve never treated a full one.”
The doctor, picked up his data screen, and stared for a moment.
Solari was curious. “Something ahit sir?”
A strange glance followed the doctor’s reply, “A what Lieutenant?”
The half-Human gave a blink, with his four eyelids. They reminded Humans of a Terran frog supposedly. “Ah, I mean amiss? That is the correct word, aye?”
“No and yes”, replied the Human. “Actually, strange coincidence. We seem to have a small group of Gregorians on a liner, from the system evacuation. One of them, is, by the documents, a xenobiologist.” The doctor seemed to stop sweating for the moment, and looked back up. “We’ll see if we can get them over the comms at least. Until then, you’re confined to bed for recovery while the time allows.”
Solari cocked his head to the side. “I no longer have one presently sir.”
The doctor, so busy treating people, had barely ay time to recognise any other kind of damage. “Damn. Well, we’re full up here, and the station is processing evacuees in every space we…”
A webbed hand from Solari stopped the doctor. “I believe Atlantis command’s main foyer has a wall aquarium?”
“Well this is named after that mythical island..” Again, the doctor realised where this was going. “You’re telling me you want to go in it, aren’t you?”
Solari nodded. “Aye sir.”
“Well, I think I just my appetite for today’s meal. I’ll get an attendant to help, Lieutenant.” The Doctor chuckled, probably for the first time in the last few hours, as he went to his next patient and muttered “Catch of the day indeed.”
But Solari didn’t get the joke.
Sleep had overcome Solari quickly, almost the instant he’d entered the aquarium.
He hadn’t the fondest idea that he’d been almost a display for some of the evacuees, whose own data tablets had been overwhelmed by the TSN’s priority and needs. Human relied on their mobile devices a tad too much for his liking, anyways.
But he wasn’t dreaming about that. For some reason, he was dancing around a fire, and primitive drums. Was the drumming getting louder?
The aquarium vibrated everything inside the water as if someone had rang a quiet bell over one’s head in atmosphere. Jolted, Solari woke up, scaring the small fish away from resting in his head tendrils.
Again the aquarium vibrated with another thud. He used his hands to shift 180 and face the plasti-glass. The doctor from the medbay was looking to pounce on the window again, when Solari gave a deep whale-sounding, “Stop!”
It took the doctor and some of the surrounding evacuees aback. Solari blinked and looked around embarrassingly, whilst thinking ~Well, now know how I feel?~ He simply gave a Human-like shrug.
Pointing upwards, the doctor climbed the maintenance hatch ladder, and was joined head to head by Solari, still in the water, careful to not tread too much with his still injured leg.
Sleep seemed to be something the Doctor sorely needed, but he sighed saying. “Sorry about the knocking Lieutenant. Only way to get your attention. How’s the leg?”
Solari nodded. “Feels better in the water sir.”
A small chuckle came from the doctor. “Doesn’t it.” He seemed to look past the half-human for a moment. “Well, looks like it was a good call. We got in touch with the Xeno-biologist, and basically recommended the same thing. Keeping your leg immobile in water pressure.” He looked back at his data tablet. “Actually we should be using something similar with pure Humans as well, just um, with a breathing apparatus.” He flipped open a new window. “Right. Treatment…Ah, looks like all we need is to let you do this on and off for a week or so, and your body should regenerate cartilage on it’s own. Gregorians. Tough species.”
Solari looked down into the water, then back up. “Perhaps. But we’re nothing without access to this liquid. What is the saying, it’s our Hercules Abdomen?”
Another chuckle from the doctor. “Achilles Heel, Mister Solari. Speaking of which,” he put away his tablet, and brought up a short cane, “you’re going to need this for a while as well. And your first test will be to report back into your division. Wounded or not, we’re still on alert.” He left the cane crosswise along the aquariums circular top, and started to climb back down.
Being reminded of the Hydra gave Solari a chill for a moment. He looked over to the cane and hum-sighed. Time to face reality, with a limp.