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Lieutenant Foster - Stubborn Ghosts


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((USS Atlantis – Main Sickbay))


As the crisis resolved and the doctors around him finished their tasks, Wyn Foster lay back in a heady haze of painkillers, feeling consciousness drain away from him like a deflating water balloon. He didn’t fight it, closing his eyes and looking oddly peaceful, a bizarre juxtaposition from the messy carnage of his clothing and patchwork hair.


He had ‘The Dream’ again.


The one he used to have all the time as a child. The one that wasn’t really a nightmare, but it kept recurring and it always woke him up without fail. The one he hadn’t dreamt for over a decade, the one he thought he had outgrown. Upon waking he admitted to himself that he was disappointed that he hadn’t left the ghosts of the past behind. He thought he had forgotten them, but instead he found he had just buried them very, very deeply.


It started with snow.


Thick snow, falling slowly, in big fat fluffy flakes. The kind of snow that looks peaceful, even as the temperatures drop and transform the flakes to tiny razors of ice. Not sharp enough to actually cut skin, but between the bitter cold and the [...] of ice, they felt like thousands of tiny needles assaulting any piece of skin that was lay bare to them.


As the wind started to pick up the scene materialized. It was exactly the same as he remember from childhood, though certain details seemed to be hyper-focused, while others seemed blurry. The snow swirled around the skeletons of structures. Permanent timbers were set into the snow and earth to serve as the backbone of the ice block-and-skin dwellings used by the nomadic clans of Thar’Shan. The ice-blocks were still in place, and there was a lingering smell of cooked meat. This place had not been long vacated.


He could hear the crisp crunch of newly fallen snow under his boots as he walked forward, looking around. In the background there was a wash of voices, an impression of talking without hearing actual speech. When he was a kid, he though the voices in his dream were foreign, now he wondered if they were simply blurry, like a record that had insufficient memory to play correctly.


The path he walked was always the same. Start by the timber marking the biggest tent. If he really concentrated he could see the whole structure erected, with shadowy figured standing by the entrance, all bundled up in furs. Walk past the circular enclave of skeletal foundations cut into the ice and towards the center. Stop. There was a curious lump in the snow, as if something was left behind and buried.


Another burst of garbled voices, the crunch of footfalls headed towards the lump. The wind picked up, sending a mournful howl across the land that send a shiver down his spine as he reached a black-gloved hand out to brush the snow away. Something solid was underneath, something frozen. He blinked his eyes and—


The harsh glare of sickbay lights assaulted his senses. Clenching his teeth together, he hissed at the indicators above the biobed and jerked his head to one side.


Bad move.


Screwing his eyes shut, he bit his bottom lip as a wave of pain and nausea passed through him. There were voices. Familiar voices. Angry voices. Voices coming nearer.


BLUEHEART: ::clearing his throat as he approached:: Report.


FOSTER: ::He didn’t want to open his eyes. The lights were too bright, and everything felt like a searing jolt of pain piercing through him. Yes that was Blueheart’s voice, ordering him to report. Was the man serious? Was he dreaming?:: … What?


LIANI: He’s recovering.


::Liani was there. She was talking to him. This couldn’t be a dream. Wyn slowly cracked his eyes open, shocked to see a figure that looked like someone beat Captain Blueheart with boxing gloves filled with teenage angst until his capillaries burst, oozing contemptuous anger all over his expression before dusting it with a thin sheen of entitlement::


BLUEHEART: Dr Foster, how are you?


FOSTER: ::he blinked, his head still feeling like it was six feet underwater:: I could use a drink. ::he offered in a weak version of his usual humor::


BLUEHEART: Oh, just suck it in! You’ll be fine.


FOSTER: ::He jerked his head towards Blueheart, keeping his eyes open as the world spun through the force of sheer stubbornness. His next words were careful, deliberate and colder than the plains of Rura Penthe:: Of course. I will remember that, Captain.


BLUEHEART: ::turning to Liani:: A word?


::They moved off, leaving him alone with his thoughts. What in the bloody hells of the pits of Karkazen was going on? Was he supposed to be on duty? Was this some insane alternative universe cause by the temporal anomalies, or maybe he had been injured far worse than he thought and he was dreaming or in some of insane asylum.


Slowly he tested the limits of his mobility.


Every single move made him nauseous. His hands felt like they were disconnected from his body, especially when he looked at them. If he closed his eyes thing seemed almost normal, but opening them made the world swim around him. His remaining antennae twitched vainly, trying to compensate. He felt like he was drunk and under water, which was a combination he never wanted to experience.


Still, he had to figure out what in the blue blazes was going on. Once he mastered lifting his head without vomiting, he went to pull himself to a sitting position. The world swam giddily and his head throbbed as if it was being pounded by a sledgehammer wielded by an insane Vulcan. He clenched his teeth, willing himself not to groan, though a minor protest slipped out, and his hands scrabbled for purchased.


Bad idea. He hit something, sending a tray of medical equipment scattering across the floor, and his vain attempt to catch it only resulted in a bigger, more impressive crash.


Someone noticed.::


MARK TWO: Doctor! You shouldn’t be up!


FOSTER: ::Gritting his teeth:: I’m fine, Mark.


::Ok, that was clearly a lie, but unlike Mark, Foster said it with convincing conviction.::


MARK TWO: But the treatment has only started. You should lie down!


FOSTER: ::repeating:: I’m fine, Mark.


MARK TWO: ::The hologram knit his brows, fretting. He understood that this was an emotional reaction, prompted by something he couldn’t quite understand. Maybe the conversation that guy in the hoodie was having with Dr. Liani?:: Please lie down… please?


::Wyn Foster fell silent, closing his eyes, and stubbornly refusing to move – either to stand up or lie down. None of this made sense. He wanted it to make sense. Needed it to make sense. But all he had was confusion and pain.::


FOSTER: ::Harsh, and yet desperate:: Somebody, please, tell me what is going on here?



Lieutenant Shar’Wyn Foster

Chief Medical Officer

USS Atlantis

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