DATE: Sun 25 Jul 2021 10:56 By: HexDSL@Posteo.net

Denouement // Part 4.

Part 1. (web)
Part 2. (web)
Part 3. (web)

Mission.

I awoke to the disappointing lack of bacon smells. Once again Libby had ‘things to do’ and I had been given the bedroom. I was very aware that it was an awkward situation we were in. While thankful that I had somewhere to sleep I was also aware than Libby was manufacturing reasons to not discuss it.

I put on my clothes and wondered into the ‘shower’ it would make me and whatever I was wearing completely clean in moments. Because of this I was still wearing jeans and my pirate looking shirt that Libby had supplied me when I fist awoke, the moment I was coming to consider as my birth, of sorts. The jacket was also still accompanying me too, though I had yet to be chilly. I also hadn’t been too hot, so I wore it.

I looked in the mirror and realised that my stubble hadn’t grown much either. “Bio-static” I muttered to myself in the mirror and wondered into the Living space. Libby was typing something out on a screen that was floating above the table. It was being projected from her Circlet that had been placed on the table. “I didn’t know it could do that.” I said as I saw it. “Oh, Good morning.” Libby said with an upbeat tone. “Morning!” I replied and wondered to the food delivery hatch. I pressed the buttons for coffee and toast, It hummed and opened with a tray. I must have pressed something wrong because I had a whole pot of coffee and more toast than any single person could ever eat. I shrugged and carried the tray over to the table. “Hungry?” Libby asked with an amused smirk. “Food hatch thinks I need feeding up, apparently” I replied and made a start on my pre-buttered toast. I had asked where the food came from when I was learning things with Dex the day before. Apparently there was an automated kitchen near-by that keeps the whole menu frozen in time and then expresses it to the hatch via a thing called a ‘Fold’ it was the same white transport light that was in the apartment where we were attacked. I shuddered as I thought of the apartment. It was impressive how fast it worked and seemed a little wasteful when I could have made my own Toast.

“As much as I don’t like it, we can’t just hide out on Mercia forever. We should go and visit Kay today.” Libby said as she turned off her screen and put her Circlet back on her wrist. I wanted to ask why she even needed one. Surly she had some kind of internal computer interface. It seemed like an insensitive question so I ignored it. “Sure. But What about the Attack? Is it safe?” I asked as I did battle with my mountain of bread. “Were pretty certain it was a Correctionist attack judging by the equipment and Kay’s medical practice is in the Embassy building. We can park the shuttle behind it. Should be safe.” she said thoughtfully. “Besides, I am far better equipped to deal with them now” she added pointing her silver badge. I swallowed my toast as looked at her. She was dressed differently today. In a flatteringly snug red tank top and Jeans. She looked like someone reminiscent of the few memories I had of my nineteen nineties.

I wanted to complement her outfit or ask her if she was okay. Me having no memories of her was beginning to make me feel like I was an imposter in her life. I wanted to know that she was okay. But I felt like it just wasn’t my place. Then I thought about Lea and how easy it had been for me to talk to her. It was harder to talk to Libby. She was wonderful but there was so much implied pressure on me, on us.

“It is safe to leave the ship right?” I confirmed again. “Correctionists are essentially a religious cult. It doesn’t matter if we wait a month or a decade. If they are going to attack us again, they will do it next time the opportunity presents its self. A Sol embassy in the middle of Central Prime is far safer than pretty much any other place I can think of. May as-well stick a toe in the water here and see what happens.” Libby said, transfixed on my toast mountain. I was making a far greater dent in it than I had expected I would. “Okay, but I think it maybe a terrible idea” I head through the bottom of a coffee cup.

As we made our way to the shuttle bay I tried to make conversation without asking her to explain things to me. I wanted to just have a conversation like a normal person. I had Dex on my wrist now if I needed things explained. “So the lecture? Do you lecture a lot?” I asked, thinking her profession may be a topic she would open up about. “We travel around a lot with Mercia, so I guest speak at different venues, usually a few times a month.” she said, “If it looks like we will be at a single location for a few weeks I’ll sometimes run classes.” she added. “oh…” I trailed off. Until last night I hadn’t really noticed how little we had to talk about. I just kept reminding myself that it was just as hard for her. Probably harder because she knew what she had lost.

We got as far as the shuttle dock before we spoke again. The elevator doors opened and we walked to the shuttle that I had arrived on. It looked prepared for launch with the engines glowing a little and all the lights on. The ramp was down and a figure lay on its back in the rear of the walkway. The whole shuttle dock was filled with noises and lights. There was the occasional roar of ships leaving and smoke in the air. We got close enough to get a better look at the figure, it was our sleeping pilot. Libby muttered something and then shouted “There is no way you are in a state to fly a shuttle Lea!” the sleeping figure stirred and sat up. It was Lea. She was dressed like she was the first time we had met. She turned to us and gave a lazy wave, she had dark classes on and was pale, no doubt hungover from the night before. “Brick metabolism. I’m Good to fly.” She said in a horse voice “Just keep it down, okay?” she grumbled. We wandered into the shuttle and Lea smacked the button to close the door. The sounds from outside of the shuttle were kept firmly outside. Now there was just the background hum of the engines filling my ears. Libby went straight to the pilot seat and sat down. “Hey! I’m fine to fly Libby” Lea argued “Relax, I got this one.” Libby argued back. Lea sat in the second seat, too hungover to argue. I took a seat on the bench behind Libby. “You sure its wise not to bring a guard?” Lea asked. “A Brick and a combat ready NOLF do not require a additional support” she replied sternly as she started flipping switches that made the shuttle start to cycle its powerful engines. “How you feeling?” I asked more because I wanted to poke fun at her than because I was concerned. She had drunk herself into this state and I had little sympathy, it was entertaining though. She shot me a thin smile and raised her tired eyebrows “Better than last time we went drinking” she said. “Yes Lea but last time you two went drinking without me you got shot, he got stabbed and you were both arrested.” Libby couldn’t keep up her stern act and she let out a little giggle thinking about it “That’s why you shouldn’t go without me!” she added. I wondered how all this happened, given that I couldn’t actually get drunk. It was was a story I would have to get filled in on at some point.

“You always require adult supervision” Libby mocked in a faux-superior tone. “Unless you’re the one who needs supervision” Lea returned. “She can get drunk you know!” Lea yelled to me as the engines ignited and the shuttle suddenly jolted as it lifted from the ground.

“How does that work?” I asked. “She loads it up, a program she wrote. What did you call it Libby? Stupid-idea-zero-zero-one or something?” Lea asked a little too loud as the engine test stopped half way through her sentence.

“Jon. Hold on.” Libby said as the shuttle launched through the iris at a rapid speed. I held on to the rail at the side of the bench I was sat on. The force quickly stabilised as we launched out of the tunnel.

“Its called ‘Bad-Judgement’ and you know it.” Libby said as we shot into space. I Looked out of the window in awe. My second time actually ‘in’ space, in a real way. It was no less exciting to me.

We were only travelling for a few seconds before the shuttles nose dipped and the planet came into view. It was massive. We were far closer than I had realised. I remembered how Joanne had said that they were moving closer to the planet but I still had some problems thinking of Mercia as a moving object. “Should I strap in?” I asked. “Na’ no one bothers. We have to do things by-the-book when Jo’s on-board. If she so much as bumps her head the President would do a full investigation.” Lea said with a stretch of her fatigued arms.

The last time I had seen the planet form this distance it was night-time across the side I was looking at. Now it was morning and it was brightly lit with lush clusters of colours. Grey cities covered in smoke and a wash of purple light. The clouds were a far paler blue in the daylight. I could see a purple ocean creeping over the horizon and one of the moons delicately peaking out behind the planet. I looked at it and thought of Earth and how I hoped to see it from this angle one day. I felt a wave of emotion and caught it before I let it creep to the surface.

The shuttle rotated to make the city we were heading for appear to be ‘down’ and Lea pressed some buttons on her screen that seemed to transmit codes. Landing authorization I assumed. “I love this city” Libby said with a warm whisper. As the ground rapidly approached. “You and me both princess.” Lea replied, I saw a gesture and realised they had fist bumped. I smiled to myself. It was cute.

We came to a soft and expertly smooth landing in a large area that seemed to be essentially a car park. We were at the edge closest to the buildings. “Nicely done NOLF” Lea said “Thank you Brick” Libby replied. This seemed like a rude back and fourth at first but they exchanged it with such good natured tones that it oozed warmth.

They unbuckled in unison. Libby checked her screen “I’m letting Kay know were on the ground” she said, for my benefit. Lea took a large handgun from the cradle on the well and put it in a holster on her hip. She also Took a Large metal disk from the wall and slapped it into her upper arm. It had lit up and a circle of lights spun around its edge for a moment. “What’s that?” I asked. “Personal shield. You want one?” she asked. “I don’t know.” I replied “Will I need one?” Libby dismissed her screen. “No!” she said and pointed at her little silver badge. “I’m your shield.”

We left the shuttle. The shuttle-park or whatever it was called had a lot of very different little ships at rest and a couple the same as ours. I wondered if they were also from Mercia. Lea pressed some button on her Circlet-screen and the shuttle door closed.

I looked around and realised we were outside the building I had first woken up in. It looked different in the daylight and I was told we were around the back. It looked the same as the front. There were buildings in all directions. Most were taller than the cloud level and the sky was full of shuttles and large flying bug like things. The air was dry and a little thin. I stood and basked in it for a few seconds “Come on!” Libby said and we headed towards the building across a little service road.

The building had some large glass doors and elevator entrances every few meters. There were lots of people coming and going, most dressed like it was either Victorian England or medieval Europe. I had also realised that I had become very accustomed to seeing members of the Vampire race, I was hardly even noticing them now. As we approached the doors I realised that people were stepping right through the glass like it wasn’t there. Libby and Lea strolled right through it too. I stopped and put up a hand, the glass had no resistance at all. It seemed to be some kind of projection. I stepped through it, and as I did the ambient sounds from the city were silenced. It was like I was behind a glass door. Stepped in and out a few times to test it. Lea was watching and waving for me to keep up. Libby was at a desk a little further into the lobby talking to an Elf woman sitting behind a large desk. I realised I hadn’t spoken with anyone of the Elf race yet and scurried over.

“.. Okay, thank you.” I heard Libby finish as I got there. The woman behind the counter was looking at me. She had very delicate features and little pointy ears. Her eyes had sharp crosses in them instead of circular pupils. I grinned at her. Libby took my arm and spun me around as I stepped close. “Wanted to talk to an Elf did you?” she asked with a coy smile. “How did you know?” I asked quietly. She smiled at me and we headed for an elevator “I had to report to the desk to declare mine and Lea’s weapons. Our clearance checked out we are good to go” Libby said as the three of us got into an elevator and Lea pressed some buttons on the panel, it began to move down.

The doors opened to a familiarly large room with many other elevators, it was the floor that I had exited via when I first woke up. We followed the route to Kay’s medical practice. When we got to the door I realised that I hadn’t looked at it from this side before. It said “Ka’ona Michaels” in big writing on a plaque next to it. In smaller writing it said “Medical Doctor, Bio-stasis physician.” I took a brief moment of pride for her. Lea stepped in front of me. She stood next to the doorway covering the sign with her head as she did, breaking my line of sight and train of thought. She flicked a button the back of her hand gun without taking it out the holster and lent against the wall.

Libby and I stepped through the door. As it closed behind us Kay came wondering in from her office. She was dressed in black skirt and a tied off T-shirt. He was wearing boots with heals and her hair was braided. She was holding a cup. The rich smell off coffee was filling the air. “Long night kay?” Libby asked. “Your message both woke me up and got me into work on my day off… AND before noon. So you can call me Doctor Michaels today.” She replied with a mock salty tone and a proud yawn. “Jon, take off your jacket and get on the bed please.” She ordered as she picked up some medical equipment and her glasses from one of the benches.

I lay on the bed, Libby sat in the chair next to it. She held my jacket, hugging it like it was an old friend. Kay came over as she put a large Circlet on her wrist. She raised her hand as she did and the familiar little green ball appeared in her palm. The threads of light streamed out and streaked down my body, with some focusing on my head. She tapped the frame of her glasses and the green ball flickered blue and red for a moment. She lent close to my head and let out a little “hummmmm.” The threads of light flicked off and she took a metallic stick from the counter next to the bed. It was about the thickness of a pencil but twice as long. She waved to across my head and as she did a blanket of light streamed out from it and combed my face. I could feel the light heating me up a little. “Is it supposed to tingle?” I asked “Usually no, this is a very deep scan. It’ll be over in a second.” Kay said softly and she was distracted by whatever her glasses were showing her. True to her word the light blinked off a few moments later. “Okay, All done. I need to double check the results. Give me five minutes” she said as she wondered into her office, then quickly scurrying back because she had forgotten her coffee. As soon as she vanished from sight again Libby passed me my jacket back.

“She’s dressed quite differently today” I said as I slipped my jacket back on. “Oh! Yes. I didn’t think about it at the time but she must have looked pretty nuts to you when you first saw her” Libby replied. “The rubber suit he had on, its a medical thing then?” I asked. “Its not rubber. Its a self sterilizing material. It has medical devices embedded.”

Libby thought for a moment and added. “To be honest though, hers is more obvious than most. Doctors usually cover up more of it with their outer coats. She likes it though.”

I laughed at little. I had assumed that Kay was aware that it was a flattering look for her.

Soon enough my doctor returned and she looked a lot more awake, the coffee had done its job. She did however look a very serious. I was sitting on the end of the bed, Libby standing next to me. Kay pulled over a small desk on wheels and pressed some button to make a screen appear. “Jon, Libby. I have one of those awful good-news, bad-news situations.” She said in a sincere and grave tone.

“The good news is…” she began “You have no long term brain damage. Your brain is actually in better condition know than it was before the Event-Storm got you. Which is nice.”

The screen showed a brain with assorted information panels. I assumed it was my brain. It meant less than nothing to me but Libby was looking at it intently, no doubt gleaming more from it than I.

“Now for the bad news” Kay said with a deep and somewhat dramatic breath. “The parts of the brain that deal with memory, are only partially damaged. You DO have amnesia, and your memories WILL return but I only really old ones.” Libby made a little grunt as she looked at the data on the screen.

“What do you mean? Like exactly?” I asked. Kay zoomed in on an area of the screen. “The brain is a very cryptic organ and there’s always a slim chance I’m wrong here but I doubt that you will be regaining any memories from after The first time you had an episode like this. The memories just are… Not in there” She finished, apologetically.

“I’m not sure I actually understand.” I said.

Libby nodded and made another little sound. “She means ‘The Event’. This is the second time that this sort of energy wave has hit your brain. There are no memories to regain between the original ‘Event’ and the more recent accident you had.” Libby sounded deeply serious and more than a little upset. “Not one memory since nineteen hundred.” She said in a simply defeated tone. Her face wasn’t giving much away but I could sense the sadness.

“If its okay with you, I’ll send all my data to Libby in-case she wants to go over it in more detail” Kay said. Like Libby she was sad. Unlike Libby she had tiers forming at the edges of her eyes.

It was the strangest feeling for me. I did want my memories back but being told they weren’t coming didn’t feel like much of a loss to me. From my point of view I had lost nothing. I was no worse off now than I was when I had first woken up in this very room.

Libby had in many ways just been told her husband was never coming back and Kay had just lost the version of her grandfather that she had known her whole life.

I understood it all and wanted to say something to make them feel better but at the same time a darker part of my mind was responding selfishly. I was still there, I was still the same person and I deserved to be loved by them. I pushed these thoughts to the back of my mind. They weren’t useful or constructive right now. But I felt them. I was scared that I they would leave me and something inside of me was terrified that I would end up alone.

“There is; medically speaking, nothing that can be done” Kay added. As a final note of clarity.

There was more discussion to be had and a myriad of thoughts swirled around my mind. Before I was able to settle on a question or comment an alarm sounded and a red glow filled the room.

Questions of my health were all pushed back behind the more pressing query I had “What is that?” I asked.

“I think that’s the lock down alarm.” Kay said as she pulled out her Circlet screen to check. The Door opened and Lea stepped in, gun drawn. “There was some noise from above us and then the alarm sounded” she briefed as she walked in. She pressed a few buttons on the door panel to lock it. “Noise?” Libby queried. “The explody kind.” Lea replied.

Kay looked over at Libby and with a nervous expression she said “Libby, I think the building is in an jamming field.”

“I’m aware of that” Libby replied sharply. “How do you know?” I asked quickly. Libby pointed to her eyes what were now a flickering orange. “Because this body just lost synchronisation with my core. I’m in simulation mode”

“What?” I asked. Lea was checking the door panel again weapon still in hand. Kay ran into her office and Libby began frantically pressing button on her Circlet screen. As she did she answered me “There is a special kind of signal that is transmitted from my core to this body. It, well it is me. The signal is almost impossible to block at this range. If it does glitch out for a moment the body goes into simulation mode. It simulates my..” she paused to choose the right word " myself. It simulates me until the signal returns."

“You’re simulating yourself?” I asked to make sure I had heard her correctly. “No! This body is simulating Libby. Look its not important. What is important is that something powerful enough to block a quad locked grav-data stream data stream has just arrived.”

Kay came out of her office with her medical bag. “The emergency channels are off too” she barked as she flicked her Circlet.

With an echoing sound of something exploding the lights went out for a second, then came back on dimly. The alarm was still ringing but only about half the volume. “Emergency power?” Kay asked. Lea nodded. “Okay Princess, Sim-mode or no Sim-mode your the smartest brain on the room. Do we hunker down or do we go for the exit like were supposed to?” Lea asked to Libby. “Jon?” Libby shot to me. I shrugged, confused why my opinion mattered. “As soon as my core was cut off, my conciousness would have defaulted back to Mercia so I’ll be raising the alarm.” Libby said thoughtfully. “Never ignore the procedure” Lea mused.

“Lets head for the surface. Without more information we can’t just assume its personal” Libby ordered with a nod.

“This could just be a power cut!” Kay reasoned. “Power outages don’t explode.” Lea fired back in response. Kay made a muttering or two in agreement.

We walked into the now noisy corridor it was also lit with emergency power. Lea stopped some people rushing around and asked what was happening. They didn’t know and was heading for the Elevator room. It was where the emergency exit was (or so I was told.) We followed.

“Won’t the elevators be switched off because of the power cut?” I asked as we jogged down the corridor. “Emergency Fold should have powered up” Libby replied.

We made it to the elevator room and sure enough there was an orderly queue forming in front of the rear wall. There was a white glow as people walked into the light that promised to move them to the surface. “Why do we even use elevators if we have this sort of technology?” I asked as we slowed. “Power” Libby said. “This Fold will take as much power to run for half an hour as these lifts would for a month.”

“I thought there was a power cut?” I asked.

“The emergency battery puts the lights on and powers up a fold. No government agency is paying the power bill to keep this on twenty four hours a day.”

“Seems, the wrong way around” I sighed.

“If the building had have fallen down above us, the fold will still take us out. Its a safe exit no matter what happened above” Kay replied as she tried her Circlet screen again.

As an emergency exit these ‘Folds’ made a lot of sense suddenly. I wondered who was paying for the one in our apartment down the street.

The Fold was a fast way out, it was essentially a bunch of people walking through a door. It wasn’t long before it was our turn, Lea went first, gun in hand, then me, Kay and finally Libby.

We didn’t appear outside as we expected but instead in a large hanger. “We’re in space” Libby said the moment she came through the Fold. It closed behind her. There were about fifty people in the hanger, all the people who had entered the light before us.

“How do you know were in space?” Lea asked Libby in a professional and official voice. “I can hear the engines. Also I can taste recycled air.” she replied. Her eyes were still orange. She stepped closer to me.

The hanger we were in was large and square and almost intentionally nondescript. There were very few markings or signs to indicate where we were.

There was walkway on an observation floor above us. Along with some mirrored windows.

The other people in room were confused as to why they weren’t outside in the city as expected but all very calm. They were all very highly trained embassy staff and military people. A few were even armed.

A man in a Sol uniform came into view on the walk way “Excuse me!” He said loudly. “There were some difficulties with the emergency exit, we had to move you to a more secure location. Some people will arrive shortly to arrange your exit back to the embassy grounds. Please be patient” The man seemed calm and spoke with authority. The room relaxed and the atmosphere suddenly got a lot less tense.

After a few minutes the large door opened at the end of the room and some Sol officers entered. The doors closed behind them. “Okay people, we are good to go” said a relaxed man in a Jumpsuit. He was the one that had addressed us a few minutes ago. His shoulder insignia implied he was of Commander rank.

“Before we fire it up, do we have a Doctor Michaels here?” He asked the crowed. Kay stepped forward “You got three” she called. The crowed laughed. “Can you please hang back we need to check something with you.” The Fold lit up and people were instructed to leave. This one was larger than the exit form the embassy so people just piled in casually wondering what the detour was about. Libby cast me a suspicious look, I nodded subtly in reply.

As the room emptied The Commander and two of his staff strolled casually towards us. “So, Doctors Michaels I assume?” he said with a good natured smile. “How can we help you?” Kay asked. “You would be Doctor Ka’ona Michaels?” He asked. “Its actually Jonathan Michaels that we needed to speak with, the rest of you are free to go.” He said as he gestured to the exit.

“I stay with Jon.” Libby said with a stern tone.

“Yeah, I’ll be staying too” Kay added distractedly as she was looking around the hanger.

“You may not be aware of this sir but Doctor Michaels has had some memory issues recently. I’m not sure he can be much help to you right now.” Lea said with a salute. “Were aware of that pilot. You’re dismissed, get your self through that Fold.” the Commander replied in an annoyed tone.

Lea looked at him puzzled for a moment, then with an air of suspicion.

“I’m unable to do that sir. I These people are under my protection until we return to Mercia” She said. She was being very official and phrasing things carefully.

“You are dismissed.” The commander said again “We’ll take it from here pilot.”

“No sir. I am under orders from the Vice President herself. Unless she, or the president relieves me, I go where they go.” Lea replied with a stern and yet apologetic tone. I had a feeling the apologetic part was an act.

“Fine.” Said the commander as he waved for the Fold to be closed. The last person had left a few moments ago. The moment the white light faded all of the security officers in the room raised their guns at us. Kay put her hands up instantly, Lea pulled out her handgun so fast that it looked like it had teleported. Libby and I stood calmly. I wasn’t so much as calm as I was confused but I think I appeared unperturbed by it.

Libby’s eyes swept across the room, there were three guns pointed at us from in the room and two from the walkway above.

“Pilot, hand over that gun. Right now” the Commander tried. “No sir” Lea replied as she flicked on the red dot sight. Libby nodded for me to say something. “What do you want?” I asked. “We Only want you Jon. You have something we need.” He replied. “The others are welcome to leave.”

“You’re not Sol are you” Lea asked with a genuinely pissed off tone. “We are. We are patriots.” The Commander said with gritted teeth. “No one needs to get hurt here” he added.

After a stand-off that lasted a few seconds but felt like a few hours the Commander broke the silence “One Brick with a hand gun isn’t going to get very far. Even if you do, your in space. There’s nowhere to go.”

“One Brick with a Hand gun? Well Then sir perhaps you haven’t me my good friend Libby.” Lea replied with a smile creeping across her face.

“Doesn’t matter what armaments it has. Its signal is being jammed.” He added thinking he was smashing Lea’s confident point into dust.

“Why would that matter?” Libby said, her eyes bursting into red balls of fire. She raised an arm. Every gun in the room shot at her. As they did for a domed blue shield flared into existence around us. It seemed to be emanating from Libby as a constantly rippling wave of blue light. The weapons were all shooting black balls of energy that splatted harmlessly against edges of Libby’s shield.

As the firing continued smoke filled the air. “You counting?” Lea called through the sounds of gunfire. “Obviously” Libby barked back, one hand still raised. Kay was crouching on the floor covering my ears wondering what the hell was happening.

“You go high, I’ll go low” Libby said. A moment later the gunfire stopped. Without waiting even a moment for the smoke to clear Libby stepped forward and fired energy bolts from her palms so fast that it looked like almost as if they had all been fired at the same time.

Lea squinted and shot twice up at the walkway. She kept her firing stance. She didn’t so much as blink. She waited for the smoke to clear.

The air cycling system began to kick in and the smoke was sucked out of the air and into vets at he base of the walls. Two people on the floor, unconscious or worse. Two hanging over rail on the walkway. “Plan?” Lea asked. “Bridge.” Libby Responded. Kay had ran over to the people on the floor. “You killed them!” she shouted with rage in her voice. She was visibly upset, she dashed to the next person green scanning light in the palm of her hand. “Yes. But the Commander isn’t here so I didn’t kill all of them.” Libby replied. “That wasn’t my point Libby!” Kay screamed. Lea was ignoring Kay’s outburst and checking the door controls.

I walked over to Kay and offered her a hand up. She took it. I hugged her as she stood up. “I’m sorry Kay. They are just trying to protect us.” I whispered. It wasn’t much but I felt like something needed to be said. The truth was, I didn’t like it any more than Kay did bit I they did shoot at us first. Something in me was steely at this though. I wasn’t scared so much as I was focused. I was starting to wonder how much about my self I didn’t yet know.

Kay nodded. She understood but her professional instincts were taking control of her right now.

“Doors locked” Lea said as she gave it a defeated kick.

Libby walked up to it and placed her palm in the centre. A hot blast of air rippled from her had and the door buckled but failed to open. “Blast door” She said. Lea looked up at the walkway. “Gotta be a control in there” she said.

Libby looked up at it and then crouched down. She launched herself into the air and stretched out her arms as she flipped backwards like a gymnast who gravity had forgotten about. She landed on the top level in one smooth motion. Time seemed to slow for me as I watched her. She ran into the control room ripping its door out of the wall like it was paper “Not a blast door” she called as she threw it over the ledge. It landed with a metal on metal crack. “Is she actually having a good time?” I asked. “Not yet. Give it one of two more life threatening moments, then she’ll be enjoying her self.” Lea replied with a dry adoring smile. The door opened, at least it opened half way and then the seizable dent that Libby had put into it prevented it from sliding any more. It was enough for us to get out though. Libby dropped down from the walkway behind us, almost silently. Lea took cover behind the door and peaked around. She made a hand gesture and Libby walked out with an arm raised. “Clear” she called from around the doorway.

We walked out from the door to find that we were on a much smaller ship than we expected. It was little more than a hanger and an engine. The hanger was connected directly to the bridge aside from a small corridor with a ladder that only went up. The bridge was so small to call it a bridge at all seemed like a stretch. There was a pilots seat and two stations off to the side, the window at the front showed us one of Central’s moons. “Lea can you fly this?” Libby asked. “I can fly everything” She replied with a little bit of professional pride. “Kay, see if you can turn off this jamming field. Jon, lets go find the commander” Libby ordered. She noticed a hand gun on one of the console desks and passed it to me. I took it but told her I had no idea how to use it. She smiled at me and walked into the corridor.

We left the ‘bridge’ and I flicked the safety off on the gun, like I had seen Lea do earlier. It was a lot lighter than I expected. Felt like a toy or a prop. I had no doubt about its power though. “up?” Libby asked. “sure” I replied. She shrugged and shot up the ladders shaft like she was spring loaded. I climbed behind her as fast as I could.

The upper deck wasn’t as tall as the deck below and it was a lot more noisy. There were pipes and dials everywhere. “Is this the engine?” I asked. “yes my love” Libby replied. I wasn’t expecting that level of familiarity in her response, she had been quite reserved when talking to me up until then. I was also not expecting a ships engine to be all pipes and dials. I expected a glowing ball or something. It just seemed so low tech. “I can hear him” Libby whispered to me. She was actually grinning. She was enjoying her self.

She slid under some pipes and hopped over some others without making a sound. She pointed at the end of the pipe implied corridor I was standing in and made a gun shape with her fingers. I raised mine and slowly stepped around the corridor. Libby vanished in a blur. I stuck my head out and there was the Commander who was desperately messing with a panel on a large glowing cluster of engine components. “Hold it” I said. Instantly wondering why I thought “hold it” was the ideal thing to say. “You!” He replied grabbing his own gun. “Where’s the robot?”

“Waiting for the right time to leap out and beat the shit out of you I would think” I replied. A little happier with that line than my last. The commander grunted “funny” I couldn’t help but smile. “If I could Kill you I would do it in a heartbeat you know” He spat his words at me. “Why? What did I do to you?” I asked, genuinely confused. “You’re the key. I need you to fix the time-line.” He said as the pulled a leaver. I was about to ask what that even meant when Libby dropped down behind him and put the palm of her hand next to his head. “If you move I’ll melt you” She said with flickering red eyes that could not be ignored. “Doesn’t matter” He replied. He pointed his gun at his chin and pulled the trigger without hesitation. The bolt of black energy split his head open and he dropped to the floor. Instead of the curer of blood and the stench of brain there were metals and circuits. “He was a robot?” I squeaked.

“Ugh” Libby said in response. She ignored the body and turned to the panel he had been messing with. “Well that’s not good” she said. I stepped closer. It was a strange sight. He had seemed to be a man in every way. Now dead I could see that he was nothing more than wires and circuits. His parts were across the floor. Libby pointed at a gauge, “He’s set the ships TD drive to full accelerate and locked the controls.”

We ran back to the ladder. Libby launched her self down the shaft. By the time I had climbed down she was already at the third seat on the bridge. As I entered I heard Lea finishing a sentence. “.. About three minutes.”

“Three minutes?” I asked as I entered. “The TD drive is set to take a direct path to the sun. And it fires in three minutes.” Lea said calmly. “That sounds bad. Is it bad?” I asked.

Kay stood up from her chair and simply lay on the floor. She grumbled “Either there’s a ship in the corona waiting for us or we are going to start to melt in about six minutes”

“The Commander said he couldn’t kill Jon, I assume were pointed at something lockable” Libby said. “Makes sense” Lea added.

Lea was trying every control and system she had access to from the flight chair. “I’m trying to vent some oxygen to push us off cause.” she said sharply. “No point its a TD drive its going to go in a straight line no matter what you do” Libby said. “You know this Lea, you know this better than any of us” She added. “fine. I’m going to check the top deck maybe there’s an escape pod or something.” Lea said and stormed off gun in had. “Commanders dead by the way” Libby called. Lea stopped at the door, “Good!” she said. “Not really, he was a robot” Libby added. Lea shrugged and left.

I sat on one of the consoles and lent back. Libby stood up.

“Okay Jon. What you got for us?” Libby asked as she walked over and sat next to me. She lent into me playfully “What’s the rabbit in your hat this time?”

“What?” I replied rubbing my eyes.

Kay groaned form the floor “Ugh! She’s in sim mode. She may know you have lost your memory but the bodies AI cant reconcile the facts with the personality its been preloaded with.”

This was it. This automaton version of Libby was talking to me with the warmth and confidence that the real her had in the real me. Was this what it was like for them? She had absolute confidence in him, in me. She sat so close and playfully joked when we could be about to fly into a sun together. Her love was misplaced and that hurt me more than I realised it could. I felt a tear run down my cheek. “Can’t we use that Fold thing to get out?” I asked. “No. It was shot to shit” she said, eager for my next option.

Lea came back to the door with a massive rifle like the one I had seen Joanne with the other night. “Guys! They have Sol weapons. The top floor in the wall lockers. They have have a full compliment of arms.”

“What does that mean?” Kay asked, still on the floor.

“It means that this ship really is a Sol ship. Stolen… Or they really were Sol military.” Lea said as the ship jolted to correct its cause. The engines fired. I looked out of the window in front of us. The stars went from a dead still to a smooth sliding motion instantly.

“What is a TD drive?” I asked absently.

“Teodar of Deval Propulsion Drive. It’s the fastest way to travel without using a Warp point.” Libby answered. I wondered who “Teodar of Deval” was. I made a note to get more information if I didn’t get burned to death.

Lea sat in back the pilot seat and checked some settings. After a few minutes she slapped the console and excitedly shouted “There is something hidden in the sun.” She pressed some more dials. “But its going to get hot in here before we hit it. Whatever it is.”

I noticed that Lea was sweating. I was becoming warmer too but wasn’t bothered by it. “Kay.” I called. She looked at me from the floor. “I think Lea may need some doctoring.” I said as I pointed over to our pilot.

Kay’s whole demeanour changed from defeated teenager to doctor. She got off the floor and went over to lea. She scanned her with her palm. “I’m fine!” Lea barked. Now she had turned her head I could see how much she was sweating. “Libby, can we control the temperature in here a little better?” I asked.

Libby tapped some buttons and the bridge door closed. “I’ll pump all the heat out into the hanger and put a punch more energy into the ships shield.”

“I’m fine. Go way!” Lea snapped at Kay. “You are already dehydrated for some reason and now your overheating. I need to give you something.” Kay replied as she pulled bottle from her bag. She took a small measure from it in a small cup. “Drink it” she ordered. Lea grumbled and took the small shot of medicine. “What is that?” I asked. “Its a mix of cure-all shot term medication and some nanites that get it to the right places.” Kay said as she scanned Lea again. Lea was still sweating but looked a little less uncomfortable.

“Is she going to be okay?” I asked. “Yeah. Bricks are hardy” Kay said with a nod.

I was starting to realise the power of my biology. Kay and I weren’t even warm enough to notice while Lea was starting to feel like she on fire. Kay was a doctor and he didn’t know it was hot enough to be dangerous until I had pointed out how unwell Lea was looking. I glanced over to Libby. She was checking some information on the screen and like Kay and I was untouched by the heat, but for very different reasons.

The window In font of us suddenly flicked black as our nose lined up with the sun. It shielded us from the light that would have otherwise blinded us.

Another few minutes passed in silence as we looked at the dark speck that was in the massive bright light that filled our vision. The speck grew and as we got closer we could see the shape of a large ship forming. It was rounded like a flying saucer from a fifties science fiction move. It was pure black against the white of the sun and occasionally was licked by the embrace of the corona. Whatever it was it wasn’t concerned with the heat or gravity of the godlike fire that was orbiting. Lea was sweating a lot less now. “You fix the temperature?” I asked Libby. “Yeah, the engines shut off once the suns gravity had more force. Lots more power for shields now.”

The black saucer was how filling our whole vision. It was larger than we had realised as we approached. We were now inside its shadow. A patch of white appeared as some massive doors opened. “Oh shit!” Lea said as she scrambled for her seats harness. “Were not slowing down!”

Kay and I strapped into the two remaining chairs. Libby took hold of a pipe that was running across the ceiling. “you good?” I asked her “I think so” she replied. I took one last look at those beautiful orange eyes and spun my hair to face forward. The whiteness killed the screen now. Lea smacked a button and a blast door closed around the window. We transitioned from perfectly smooth to tumbling mayhem and violent pressure the moment we went from the embrace of the sons gravity in front of us to the gravity of the ship we had just entered that pulled us down. The downward gravity and the incredible inertia we had made for an interesting physics problem. The screeching of metal on metal being transmitted through the hull of the ship was only slightly less jarring than the sudden realisation that this entire ship was rolling.

The sensation of movement slowed and the sounds quieted. The sudden push back form being stationary rocked us a little. Some sounds of creaking filled our ears as the ship we were inside screamed its last breathe and fell into silence with a few final sparks and pops.

We were tilted and terrified. But we were the right way up at least.

Libby was first to move. “Everyone good?” She asked as she came to check on me. I unbuckled myself. “Yeah” I replied as took a moment to try and calm down.

Lea stood up out of her seat, soaked in sweat and looking exhausted. “Lets go meet our hosts”

Kay way still in her seat. “You okay?” I asked. “Yeah. I just need a minute” She replied. Still holding the sides of her seat with white knuckles and her eyes tightly closed. Libby stepped over to her seat and knelt down in front of her. “Kay. Were landed. All we have to do is get a clear signal out and Mercia will come get us. I need you do be okay right now. Okay?” Libby’s voice was soft and warm. She put her hands on Kay’s and lifted them away from the edge of the seat. Then she pressed the buckle to release it. Kay opened her eyes. “I’m not like you all. This isn’t for me. I’m just a doctor” she said holding back a flood of emotion. “No matter what happens, were getting out of here safe. I promise.” Libby added. Kay stood up and all I a wash of feelings hit me. I wanted nothing more than to make he feel better. Maybe it was the grandfatherly duty that was still rattling around somewhere inside me or perhaps it was as simple as the recognition of someone who was totally out of their depths but getting her home safely was all I really wanted in that moment.

The four of us headed for he hanger where we assumed the exit would be. The hanger was messed up, parts of it were dented and pushed but the back corner of it was literally missing. We walked over there and looked out. There were people in Sol uniforms all. Lea pulled some emergency controls and a hatch on the other side of the hanger opened. A long walkway extended out of it.

Lea checked her rifle. I my gun and Libby shook her arms like a boxer before a fight. Kay stood behind us clutching her medical bag.

“After you” Lea said. Libby walked out of the hatch very casually. Lea followed Kay and I hung back a moment then followed.

We hadn’t seen out ship from the outside but it was a large black rectangle with stubby wings each side for stabilisation. I was just getting a good look at it when my attention was diverted by the place we were in.

It was at least as large as the one on Mercia but it was empty aside from our smashed up vessel. We had left long burn marks in and dents in the floor as we had ‘landed’ some of of the floor panels were beat up and melted. It looked like no-one was hurt. I glanced the other way and saw that in front of the ship was a large net made of metal ropes. We seem to have ripped halfway through it.

Then I saw the people coming around to the side to meet us. All in full armour and carrying rifles. The Commander who we had met earlier was leading them. “I don’t know what you did to my Avatar but I assure you, we are better prepared to deal with you than it was.” the moment he finished his last word the twenty or so soldiers around us all raised their guns.

Kay put her hands up. Dropping her medical bag. I did the same. Libby swept the room with her gaze, I could almost feel her doing the calculations. Lea put he gun down and raised her hands in submission. Libby had another sweep of the room. She must have decided it wasn’t a fight she could win. She raised her hands too.

I was cuffed with little magnetic rings and put into the back seat of a small wheeled vehicle. It looked like an old military buggy. Lea and Kay were cuffed too and put into their own vehicle. Then I some large gauntlets where produced that went around Libby’s wrists. Her arms snapped together forcefully. The also put a collar on her and made sure she knew it was capable of delivering a huge energy shock to her. She was sat in a vehicle of her own with a driver in heavy armour.

The three buggies drove out of the dock and down some large corridors. This ship was massive and clinically clean. The buggies behind me turned in a different direction and I was suddenly alone. My buggy stopped and I was taken into a plush office. The armoured guard left me alone in the room.

The room was nice. It was decorated in a way that I understood. There was a metal desk and leather arm chairs. A table, an ashtray. There was a filing cabinet in the corder

There was a flag on the wall that said “Sol” but didn’t look like any insignia I had seen. It was a stylized map of the solar system all black with the planets in blue. The word Sol in gold was where the sun should be.

I was simply left there. I assumed I was being watched and decided that I didn’t to give them a damned thing. I simply waited in the middle of the room. I think perhaps an hour, maybe more passed while I as simply waited there.

Eventually the door at the back of the room opened. The Commander walked in and sat down behind his desk. “Sorry I kept you Doctor. Have a seat.” He said gesturing to his desk.

I sat down and was grateful for the rest, not that I would show it. The commander pressed a button under his desk and the magnetic lock on my cuffs disengaged. I rubbed my wrists.

“Who are you and what do you want?” I barked.

“I know from your point of view I’m a villain. I’m really not.” He said as he lit a cigarette. I looked around. I smelled the smoke. I could almost be inside one of the few memories I had. It was oddly comforting. I sat in one of the chairs at the desk. “So what are you?” I asked.

The commander laughed. “Its not supposed to be like this you know” he said through a plume of smoke. “Reality, the universe. It’s all wrong.”

I lent back, realising that my whole body hurt from the landing, or crash as it was. “Don’t waste my time with riddles. I’m not planning on staying long.” I said with a confident bluff.

“Oh your staying a long while Doctor. Your two friends will be my insurance that you cooperate.” The commander flicked the ash from the end of his cigarette with a confident swagger.

“And my wife.” I added, I eye-balled him for a moment “What do you want.” I asked trying to keep a solid poker face.

He laughed right at me. Not a fake evil laugh but a genuine reaction. “Wife! Sure.” he said. “I want you to help me fix the time-line Jon” He continued suddenly less amused “You know where and when the Event happened and only someone who has your frozen biology can survive the time storms.”

I had no idea what he was talking about. But I did notice something he may have missed. I decided to see what I could learn from him while I waited for things to play out. “Okay then Commander.Why does the time-line needs fixing, what’s broken?” I asked.

“All of it.” He said with a performative grimness. “The version of reality me and my people come from is far different to this bastardisation. Humans are in charge of our own world. No aliens. No social pollution from their technology and values, and I’ll tell you this for sure, no one would have married a damned robot where I come from!”

“Sounds like bliss.” I replied sarcastically.

“Look, I don’t give a fuck what you think. You’re the prick who screwed it all up and your the prick who’s going to fix it.” He snapped at me while slapping his desk.

“My memory was wiped. I have no idea what you are talking about” I said mirroring his rage back at him.

There was a sudden explosion sound and the room shook for a moment. “Ah.” I said with a smile “That brings me to the part where I tell you what I do know.”

The commander’s brow ruffled at me. I smiled widely. “You used what you call an Avatar to meet us on the ship that brought us here. I assume because you are a coward.” He stood up and pushed his chair away as I spoke. “But you had to block Libby’s signal. Because for some strange reason you think Avatars can’t use weapons if they aren’t being controlled. But if you wasn’t a coward you would have been on the ship and by now would know that Libby isn’t an Avatar. She is a Non-Organic Life Form in simulation mode. Were not in your time-line any more commander. Your rules don’t apply here.”

He pressed a button on his desk and my wrists slammed together. He walked around the desk and punched me in the face. It wasn’t any amateur punch either. He was strong. It knocked me off my feet. “Needed to cuff me first did you coward?” I said as I struggled to me feet, My jaw felt broken but I wasn’t going to tell him that. He snarled at me and put his fists up again. Explosions rattled the room, this time closer. He punched me in the gut and pushed me over. He literally ran as he left the room.

I lay there for a moment before the sounds of carnage got closer again. The door to the office exploded. I struggled to my feet again. As I expected Libby was at the door. “Not that I mind but why do they keep thinking I can’t fire my weapons?” she asked me. “That the Correctionist flag?” I asked her. “Yeah” She replied as she tore my cuffs apart and crushed the magnetic generators on them. “Then I learned some things today.” I smiled. “Where are the others?” I asked. “Deck above getting a signal out.”

We ran out of the room and I was astounded at the destruction that Libby had created. There were holes in walls, things were on fire and there were more than a few bodies scattered around. We ran up the corridor to a maintenance hatch on the wall “Up one floor. I’ll cover you” She said as energy bolts began to fly behind us. I climbed the ladder as fast as I could. It felt like it was endless. A hand came through an open wall panel and pulled me out. It was Kay. “Is Libby behind you?” she asked. “Yeah I think so.” I heard some more shots fire and then a moment later Libby appeared out of the hatch with a burned chest and neck. Her metallic skeleton was showing through the blast marks on her back and arm. The sight of her would have looked terrifying if I wasn’t so grateful to see her. She closed the hatch and released some blasts from her hands to seal it shut.

I looked around the room It as a mess. There were burn marks across the walls and energy blast damage across a lot of it. The door was welded shut the same as the hatch now was. There were computer terminals all around set into desks. There was a table in the middle of the room that had a map of the ship being projected up from it. Lea was frantically pulling wires out of one of the terminals. She took two large trunks of cables and turned to us. “Shit Libby! You got shot” She exclaimed as she saw her. “Yes. Ran out of power for shields. Basically out of juice for energy blasts. Body is close to shut down” Libby fired in hot sharp sentences. “We need to do it now.” She said. Lea sat her down in a chair near the terminal she was working on.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

“Patching her into this ships communication system.” Lea replied as she took out a knife and cut away part of Libby’s upper back. “No way they are jamming their own communication frequencies.”

“Is that okay?” I asked Libby as I saw chunks of her synthetic flesh get pealed away. “Needs to be done” Libby replied without so much as twitching at the butchery that were taking place behind her.

Kay was sitting on the floor next to the door looking destroyed by the events she had been a part of. I felt bad for her but now wasn’t the time to talk to her about it. She looked uninjured at least.

A small panel was removed from Libby’s back and Lea started pushing wires in and fixing them to part Libby’s exposed circuity with a welding light that seemed to be made from Kay’s medical scanner. The light threads it emitted were all blue now. “How do you know how to do that?” I asked her. “I have seen Libby’s insides before. A lot of her bodies data systems aren’t dissimilar to the shuttles. Just smaller” She answered. “Now go press the big blue button for me Jon.”

I went over to the open terminal and there was a bright flashing blue button on the screen, nothing else. I pressed it and the screen filled with symbols and numbers. “Is it working?” I asked. “No idea” Lea said moving around to the front of Libby. “What are we waiting for?” I asked.

“What the hell!” Libby suddenly yelled. “Yes!” Lea yelled back with a victorious fist. Libby stood up with one hand around her back holding the wires in place. “Hi” she said calmly. She seemed to freeze in place for a few seconds. “Right I’m up to speed” she said as she walked over to the terminal. Her eyes now their usual emerald green. “Hold this” she barked at me. I held the wires in place for her while she typed some information into the terminal.

I only then realised what Lea had done. Libby’s conciousness was always on Mercia. She could use a simulated environment to communicate via screens, I knew that for certain. As soon as Lea got a signal out form Libby’s body to Mercia then she would know everything that her body knew as well as being able to communicate that information to Mercia without us having to take the time to tell them where we were. It was an efficient plan.

Lea was watching what was happening on the terminal. Libby typed faster than a human could keep up with. “Libby are you taking the shields off-line? It looks like your taking the shields off-line.” Lea sounded deeply worried. “Libby this ship is basically inside the damned sun. We can’t have the shields do down. We will all be burned to death instantly.” Lea pleaded. Libby didn’t answer until she had finished typing. A series of lines appeared on the screen. They were vanishing by the second. It looked like a countdown.

Libby Turned to us and started talking fast “Here’s the situation. Mercia isn’t equipped for sun-diving and the closest science vessel that can get to you is about three hours away. This body is out of juice and running on luck. I can not protect you so you can’t wait for that long. There is only one way off of this ship and to do it I need to take the shields off-line.” Libby sounded stressed to say the least.

“I’m a brick not a bio-static Libby. That plan doesn’t work for me.” Lea said. “What plan?” I asked “She didn’t tell us the plan yet.”

Kay stood up and brushed dust from her legs. “Is Mercia as close as it can get?” She asked. “Yes.” Libby said. “Make sure a team and a medical stasis generator are in the landing bay. They have to be ready the moment we land” Kay said calmly.

“What IS the plan?” I asked again, this time annoyed that I was being kept in the dark.

“Were gong to Blue-tube you out of here” Libby said. “The cargo beam thing?” I asked.

“Its the only way to get you off this ship before they find out where you are and break down that door.” Libby said. She sighed and realised we needed a little more “You reconnected me to my Core so I could get you out of here as fast as possible. It took me just under a second to sync the last few hours of data. Half a second to establish our resources and I spent the next three seconds trying to formulate exit options. This is literally the only one. Right now I’m also talking to Joanne and the order has already been made. All you have to do it wait for about a minute for Mercia to get into position.”

“Are you downloading this ships database?” Lea asked. “Yes.” Libby replied. “Good, at least we may find out who these people are” Lea was pacing. She was trying to think through her options. She had none.

What are my odds?" She asked.

Libby looked at Lea for a moment trying to muster the courage to answer the question. “Better than you think. I promise” she eventually said.

“Kay?” Lea asked.

“If you were a human, it would be suicide. But you’re a Brick. You have a personal shield, Mercia has the best medical staff and equipment there is. Its not going to be fun for you but, yeah. It can be done.”

Lea paced around the room for a few more seconds. “Has it ever been done?” She asked. “No” Libby replied. “Okay then, at least I’ll be the first I guess.”

Libby turned to me. “You were right. This trip was a terrible idea.” she said as she pulled the wires from her back. Her eyes went orange again. “Huddle up on me.”

We all stood together in the middle of the room. The terminal made a beeping sound as the last line vanished and the ships shields went down. Lea activated her personal shield and a blue haze tinted the air around her. I saw some tears fall from her. They were burned away passing the edge of her shields influence. It had only been a moment since the shields went off and already it was hot enough to evaporate her tears. Explosions and a burning white light bathed us all. The time between me realising that I was hot and the sudden realisation that I was in space almost seemed to be a single moment. The tube of blue energy had embraced us and started pulling us down it at the exact same time. I was literally in free fall out of the station and going way faster than I thought was possible without a ship. The edges of the beam were an arms length away and looked like a streaming waterfall. I looked down or forward my perspective was all messed up. Kay was in front on me I could see her stretched out like she was flying. I was under too much pressure to look behind me but I had to believe that Lea and Libby were right there.

The inside of the tube was totally silent, there was only the sense of falling head first downward. The blue glow of the tube’s sparking waterfall sides gave me a sense of motion. I wasn’t able to breathe but thanks by my complicated biology it also didn’t matter to me. I was suddenly freezing cold. I could feel frost forming across my exposed skin.

As soon as I had taken stock of what was happening I expected it to be over. It wasn’t. It didn’t end. I just kept moving. I was now so cold that I felt like I way dying. I wasn’t used to not breathing either. It was a torturous sensation. Then I realised that Lea was somewhere in this pipe actually suffocating and freezing to death. I felt a wave of panic for her as the realisation of what she was going through set in. She knew what was going to happen. She understood it before she agreed to it. As a few more second passed I briefly realised that I had flown out of a sun like a phoenix being reborn. If I made it back to safety I wasn’t going to be the same again, I was sure of that much.

The trip end as abruptly as it had began. I suddenly went from feeling like I was falling to feeling like I was spinning. A sudden wave of weight it me and I was forcefully yet delicately dropped to the ground. I took a breathe like I had never taken before. My eyes were a blur. I tried to stand but simply flailed on the floor. I heard some sounds of movement and people for a brief moment. I heard Libby’s voice and a sound of panic I was grateful when unconsciousness took me.

..