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Ens. Safine Tan, The Room Where I Died


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(( Airlock, USS Garuda, Starbase 118 Drydock, 239210.03 ))

:: A decommissioned Galaxy-class starship at rest. ::
:: This wasn't as she remembered it. The last time Safine had seen the Garuda, it had been a living beast; a floating city, soaring through the Menthar Corridor, a beacon of peace, scientific inquiry, and justice. Warm. Alive. Full of life. ::
:: Now it was dead and cold. The lighting was minimal; the air cold and stale. The body of a friend, lying in state, its fate uncertain. ::
:: Retrofit and redeployed? The Galaxy-class were getting on. Maybe it would be retired to the rear, or even turned into a semi-stationary city. Maybe a training vessel. Maybe something else. ::
:: Or reclaimed for energy. Recycled like garbage. ::
:: With her wrist-mounted torch lighting the way, Safine crept through the ship's empty corridors. Sneaking like an intruder, quiet footsteps impossibly loud in too much space. ::
:: She walked with the ghosts of her past selves. They manifested as surges of emotions, flashes of memory, and telepathic urges. ::
Marlee: ~~ You shouldn't be here. ~~
Alleran: ~~ Oh, let it up. I need this. ~~
:: I need this. Selfish [...]. What did he think he was trying to do, bringing her back to this place? The Garuda was nothing to her; just a ship she had briefly visited and nothing more. ::
:: And yet, to that part of her that was Alleran Tan, the ship was something else entirely. ::
:: Safine walked through corridor after corridor. Past the holodeck -- empty and covered in dust -- and past various rooms. A school. Someone's quarters. Always further in, until she reached the main turbolift. ::
:: She hesitated. This was the goal of being here; a simple elevator like so many others. ::
:: No sense waiting. It was time to see. Safine set her feet and hooked her fingers into the turbolift door. Under power there was no way she could ever open it -- but unpowered, the metal groaning faintly in protest as she pried it open. ::
:: An empty turbolift shaft. Such was expected. Tan unhooked a thin steel cable from her belt, attached the magnetic grapple to the floor, and swung into the void. ::
:: Gravity was a strong breeze buffeting her around as she descended. The force pulled her toward the walls, toward each deck as she drew close, and every time she repelled away; bouncing off the wall, down, down, down, toward the lift itself, nestled snug in the shaft. ::
:: She landed on top of the lift carriage. Tan removed a device from her belt--a low powered laser cutter--and began slicing into the metal, carving out a portal. A rough disk of metal clanged to the floor, almost impossibly loud, the noise reverberating around the ship, the moaning of the dead. ::
:: Carefully, Safine lowered herself down, and then she stood in the main turbolift. Her boots kicked up puffs of dust. ::
:: The place where she'd died. ::
:: Safine expected a surge of emotion. Wave after wave of feelings, assaulting her in an impossible wave. She had been Alleran, at Marlee's funeral. He had cried uncontrollably. ::
:: But Safine, surrounded by a turbolift that felt like the walls of a coffin, felt nothing. This was just a room. A place. No sign remained of Alleran's demise; not a whisper of his presence. If that place had been a turbolift repair training hologram, Safine would never have known the difference. Everything was covered in a thin layer of dust. ::
Alleran: ~~ Look deeper. ~~
:: She slid down to her knees, crouching over the metal deck. The faint grooves that gave feet grip. Metal scuffed by thousands of feet applied over the years, scraped and worn and old. It smelt of chemicals and metal; of rubber and dust. ::
Alleran: ~~ Deeper. ~~
:: Safine took her laser cutter to the floor, the turbolift lighting up red with the light. Sparks flew as she sliced out the floor, hooking her fingers under the inside and lifting it up with a groan, exposing the skeleton below, the criss-cross metal framework of the elevator. ::
:: There. A rust-coloured spot on one of the beams. No larger than a centimetre, oval, joined by two smaller ones to one side. ::
:: The metal was a stainless alloy. This wasn't rust. She stared at the exact spot. ::
:: Blood. A tiny drop of Alleran Tan's blood. ::
:: He'd bled from his pouch, staining the cracks in the floor like a road map. Since, someone had cleaned this place. Scrubbed the death away. Erased it. ::
:: But they had not gone deep enough. The blood had soaked through to the bones of the ship. Alleran was a part of it now. ::
:: And then, only then, presented with a flood of memories, did Safine truly realise what had happened. ::
:: Alleran Tan was dead and he was not coming back. ::
Tan: What the hell am I doing here?
:: She spoke to the room, not the blood, but of course nobody answered her. Her voice echoed up the turbolift shaft and disappeared. ::
:: An unexplained fear rose in her. Fear of something unseen and distant, but at the same time, inexplicably close. She jammed the metal plate back where it belonged and scrambled up the cable like a spider. ::
:: Her belt whined as it wound up the cable, pulling her up the turbolift shaft, back up to the open door, a rectangle of dim light. Safine scrambled up the top, unclipping the cable when it was safe, and then burst into a run, out of the ship and back to Starbase 118, the computer chirping as she left, acknowledging that her safety inspection was complete. ::
:: Back into the light, and life. Safine stopped, getting her breath back, fighting to keep her composure in the hope nobody could see how much she was sweating. ::
:: As fast and as far as she ran, the memory of the blood stain remained. ::
Ens. Safine Tan
Starbase 118
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