All sections of the ICV Wight had been cleared by the boarding parties. Party One and Two had gotten to work starting repairs across the vessel, while Party Three were split across the engine room, the bridge, and one small team that was heading to the medical facility on board. It was this small team that General Watton accompanied, a dataslate in one hand that he had been reading over since getting in his shuttle.
“General, members of Boarding Party Three have stabilized the Commander and are bringing him down now.” One of the crew with him stated.
“All right. I will go in first, I want the rest of you to stay back for the moment.” Watton replied, drawing himself up before stepping through into the facility. The breath he took to begin his spiel died on his lips as he saw the sight in front of him.
Laid out on one of the infirmary beds was the spacesuit-clad form of Lieutenant Joan Adnams. Her suit bore heavy damage from energy weapons, his cybernetic implants bringing up the lack of vitals being reported by hers. One of her arms draped off the bed. The other was on the lap of the Ensign he was tasked with visiting.
Sapphire’s face was streaked by artificial blood, nasty jagged wounds on her forehead with shards of a low-grade commercial visor buried into the bioskin. Pale streaks had formed through the blood under her eyes where tears had ran, but her sobbing had ceased. She just sat silently, staring with wide eyes at the body in front of her.
General Watton glanced back towards his entourage, before picking up a stool and bringing it over to the other side of the bed. Sitting opposite, he lifted the Lieutenant’s arm and placed it by her side. The dataslate he had been carrying was lowered to the floor. There would be time for that later.
“Ninety years later and I still remember losing my first comrade in battle, Ensign.” He spoke softly. “I was fortunate that I had good people by my side to talk to after the fact. To know that what I was feeling was shared by others. It helped with the guilt of surviving, the constant second-guessing and wish of hindsight.”
No response came from the gynoid. The General sat quietly for a moment, planning through his next attempt. Reaching for the supplies under the bed, he pulled out one of the single-use trauma kits. “Ensign, you’ve been injured. Let’s get you fixed up before your Commander arrives. He’s been injured as well.” Moving around to her side of the bed, he started to pull some gloves on. “It’s been many years since I’ve had to give medical aid.”
Sapphire didn’t react as he started removing shards of visor from her forehead, placing each one in a small dish. “It all comes back to you when you start, though. My teacher always told me to talk to people as you worked, usually about something other than the aid you were administering. I’m from the Britannia Colonies on Odin Four, so weather was always my first choice.” He chuckled warmly. “That doesn’t work so well on space ships though, unless you count faulty climate control systems.”
“I was negligent.” The gynoid spoke suddenly, not moving as Watton pulled a sliver of material from her brow. “I did not account for the presence of hostiles with no communication links, and my failure to do so lead to injury due to situational overconfidence.” Her tone was level now, no different from any of the autocrew on the Star Carr.
Watton considered his response carefully as he took up one bioskin repair sprays to apply to her wounds. “Do you honestly believe that?”
“It is not a matter of belief, it is a matter of fact. I do not require any repairs. I am no longer fit for purpose and should be decommissioned.” She still had the same level, unemotional voice.
“Lieutenant Adnams might disagree with that.” The General commented.
Sapphire’s head shot up to stare at him.
“We picked up a comms message from you before we boarded, saying that she saved you. Do you think she would want you to be decommissioned after that? The pirates who attacked the ship are all dead. The colonists are safe. There are injured crew, damage to the ship. Do you think she’d want to see you add to those listings?”
Her brow furrowed, her eyes flicking from Joan’s body to the General and back again.
“How do you feel, Sapphire?”
“I…” She stopped as the doors opened and a team of autocrew carried the Commander on a stretcher in and took him to one of the unoccupied beds. She started to rise, only for the General to place his hand on her shoulder.
“In a moment, Ensign. How do you feel?”
“I do not- I’m not supposed to…” She blinked rapidly, confusion setting in on her face.
“You’re not supposed to, but you clearly feel something. You were upset about the Lieutenant earlier.”
“I do not know what I am feeling, just that there is something here which was not there before.” Sapphire’s eyes were downcast, the General switching the spray for some wipes to clean up her face.
“Can you describe it?” He asked, wiping gently to remove the now-sticky residue.
“The Lieut- Joan was shot in the back when I was connected to her, to try and regulate her implants to prevent shock. Then I started to experience system errors and crashed. When I restarted…. there was an error message about unknown data that could not be deleted. Then… he was staring at me, one of the pirates.” She closed her eyes automatically as Watton took up a fresh wipe to clear around them.
“I hit him with my head, then I was up and fighting the others. I felt… something. And it did not pass until they were dead. Then I tried to help Joan and… I still feel things when I try not to. I apologize, I am finding this hard to explain.”
Watton smiled. “You have nothing to apologize for, Ensign. This is quite natural in your situation, and we have people who can help you come to terms with things. I will need to speak to your commander on some matters now he is stabilized. Do you want to come over and speak to him?”
She nodded a little, carefully lifting Joan’s arm up and placing it on the bed. Her damaged arms trembled from the strain of shifting dead weight, and she was unsteady as she rose to her feet, her right foot dragging along as she shuffled around the bed to cross the floor.
General Watton offered his arm for support. “You over-stressed your body, I am guessing?”
“Warnings cropped up when I was fighting the pirates in close quarters combat.” She replied, windows detailing the amount of torn synthetic muscle appearing in-vision as she thought on it. “Can they fix me?”
“The limb damage? Easily.”
She shook her head. “I mean, the errors experienced during start-up. Can they restore me to how I was? My unit data from downtime should still be on the ship’s command unit.”
She noticed the eyes of both the General and the Commander on her. One set grave, one set confused.
“No, Ensign. Under Galactic Law, that would be murder.”