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Fleet 20

I woke to the sound of beeping. Why is there always beeping? It seems that no matter where you go, even twenty light years out into deep space there’s always something beeping. Can’t we go with chimes or something?

The complaints helped pull me the rest of the way to consciousness. At first I thought I was back in my cell. The bed was about as uncomfortable and the blaring light reflected evilly off the shining silver walls, but no. There hadn’t been any beeping in the brig and nothing had been stuck in my arm.

That last thought was weird. Why was there something stuck in my arm? My eyes refused to focus very well and the world swam, but with a little concentration I managed to locate the plastic tube coming out of my arm and trailing away off the railing of the bed. Well, now I knew the bed had rails. I squeezed my eyes shut and tried to focus. No. The bed having rails wasn’t the part that was important. Something was stuck in my arm. And something else was beeping.

Understanding stumbled out of the mental fog with a flashlight that didn’t work and a map to London in eighteen-eighty-four. A little lost and a little behind the times. I was in med-bay and the thing coming out of my arm was probably an I.V.. I felt like I should throw up, but didn’t know if that would help any. I was going to have to do this the hard way.

I took a deep breath and let my eyelids crack open, forcing myself to focus. Everything was still blurry, but it certainly looked like a medical bay. Cheap curtains, blaring light, sharp instruments. Just about every medical center in the world could double as a torture station with only minor redecorating. Someone was working on the other side of the cheap plastic curtain just outside of grunting range. I forced a cough. It was about as eloquent as I felt I needed to be under the circumstances.

A face I didn’t recognize poked around the side of the curtain. He was young, early twenties at most, and his skin color was a strange shade of yellow. The guy certainly looked like he should be in a medical bay, but I wasn’t so sure he should be wearing the rich green coveralls of someone that actually worked there.

He raised an eyebrow at me and stepped into the room. “Good morning, Lieutenant,” he said, tapping on the control screen at the machine near me. “I’m Doctor Peter Kang, Chief of Medicine here on the ‘Mercy’. We’ve had you sedated while we rehydrate you.”

I grunted in response. He was finally in range.

“You passed out from severe dehydration. It was to be expected given your extreme lack of care since you’ve been defrosted.”

Grunt?

He arched an accusing eyebrow. “How much have you had to drink recently?”

Grunt and half-shrug.

He frowned. “That’s what I thought. This should have already been explained to you, but I suppose since Dr. Martinez was in charge of sleeper care she may not have gotten a chance.” He turned toward the bed in lecture mode. “Your metabolism will be in constant flux for the next several days. You needs regarding food and general nutrition will vary widely from the norm. Eat when you are hungry, as much as it takes to be full and drink nothing but water. You will need plenty of fluids. I recommend you keep a bottle with you at all times. As much shock as your system is in you won’t necessarily notice the dehydration until your body stops functioning. Understood?”

Grunt.

“Now, Dr. Innes brought you in so I will be assigning your personal care to her, if you have any further questions or comments you may contact her any time.” He tapped the control screen a few more times. “I’ve tripled the amount of sedative in your I.V. try not to fight it this time.”

“No!” Adrenaline pumped into my system and his face snapped into sharp focus. I slapped my hand to the rubber hose in my arm, trying to yank the tubing free. The yellow man swore and grabbed my arm with both of us wrenching my hand away. I twisted, trying to shove him off me, but I had no leverage lying on the slick bedding. “Dammit!”

Kang threw his weight on top of me, pinning my arm in place and screaming for a nurse. I bucked and thrashed but my legs couldn’t get purchase on the mattress. The rooms swirled. I could feel the sedative eating away at my alertness, too strong for the adrenaline to burn out. Extra hands wrapped around my legs, pinning me down. I grew weaker, and the world went dark. I bit something hard, more out of spite than anything else. Someone yelped, I tasted blood, I passed out.

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