Crashlanding - YES I HAD THIS BACKED UP

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Serithi
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Mon May 22, 2017 2:26 am

Entry 10.
February 25, 2558
SpoilerShow
...

Bright, fiery light. Sounds like a million hammers banging on the hull.

...

Trying to stay conscious. I don't have the physical training for this kind of thing.

Probably only staying awake through sheer terror.

...

It's getting hot in here.



Image



Her: Why is it beeping? What's wrrrong?

Him: Uhh... structural damage, entry's burning the thrusters. I don't think they're rated for this after all.

... Shit, we just lost power to the left one.

Her: Oh no...

Him: Looks like we've still got another minute or two before we're through with entry... Alright, RCS is still holding on, right thruster still has power. When we flip, it'll be throttled down to compensate.

...

...

Left one's back up - nope. Yep. Alright no, it's flickering in and out, I'm turning it off for good. Don't want the autopilot trying to rely on it.

...

Gentle deceleration. The red light slowly fades. She spies vast deserts on the planet below. Brown and red and grey. Occasional patches of blue. Water. Oceans. She sees the unmistakable pattern of city lights. Civilization.
We might actually make it?

Him: And... we're through. Autopilot's about to spin us around, hang on.

Her insides lurch about as the pod's spun up and and twisted around, now facing retrograde. G-forces almost make her pass out for a moment.

Him: Retrograde burn engaging. Right thruster's at partial power, RCS is firing full force on the left side. I'm... hoping we don't burn through the RCS fuel too early, I don't think they had EDL in mind when they fueled this up.

Oof. More deceleration.

Her: We we have enough thrrrust to slow down?

Him: I don't know. If we don't, we might have to go horizontal and find some flat ground to hit.

Her: Lithobrrraking? Grrreat...

Him: Any landing you walk away from...

Autopilot will handle it, it'll -

An explosion rocks the pod.



She's startled awake, heart pounding like a jackhammer.



Image



Gah. That part keeps waking me up.

Still, it's another piece of the puzzle. Starting to see why our landfall was... less than graceful.

At least it's a change from the firefight a few days ago. But it's still just one nightmare to another.

...

I still haven't told Mason about all that. But this, I will. This I can talk about.

...

...

I wish I knew why they're recurring. These ones, I mean. I'd assume I'm having recurring dreams at all due to the crash messing my head up, but I'm not sure why these particular ones are the ones recurring. They're... important, think? Certainly I know how important this one is, but...

... At least it's upfront. Not just the tiny little vague memories trickling in every now and then, entire chunks are coming back to me now, clear as can be. I'm not left entirely in the dark about what I was doing before this, I can infer from what I've already remembered. I still don't quite know what to make of it, but at least I know of it.

Don't know if I like knowing it, though.

I know I don't like having to keep it from Mason.

...

Ah, Mason, I - ...

...

... I also don't like that I can barely stay on one line of thought. That's definitely getting worse. My head's just... it feels like it's fragmenting sometimes.

I thought I was supposed to get better over time.

...

...

She sighs.

Head's a mess. Dreams are weird, can't sleep right, can't think right. It's all getting to me. Been hearing noises lately. Just quiet little things, can't really describe them, and I already know they're just in my head. But I still notice them. I hear them just... just often enough to bug me.

Hard to focus. Head's starting to spin. Need to stabilize, need to try to focus on something.

Mason. Alright, focus on Mason. He's something good to focus on, something nice, something familiar.

Mason. Been talking to him much more these last few days. Helped me open up a little. And he's certainly a lot calmer around me now. I've noticed a certain spring to his step. Even when he was laid-back, he still had a sort of... edge, like... ... I don't know. I was still kind of a stranger, I guess.

Now, we're both comfortable. I like him. He's very... down to earth, as they say. Middle-aged for a Human, far as I can tell, yet kind of... bit of a child at heart sometimes. Guess he's not one for letting time and life get to him. Can certainly respect him for that.

Talked a little more about his life back on Mars, and his time here. Parents live in the city, he'd just moved out here a few weeks before my, uh... arrival. Hence why he's still getting things set up. By the Light, I'm lucky he was here when we landed. Wonder if the pod's autopilot took us here...

... "By the Light". What does that even mean? I don't even remember why I say that.

FOCUS. Mason.

He's been busy in his lab, making some modifications to Herb's chassis so he can work the farm and watch the farming drones, freeing us up a little to get other stuff done. Certainly frees me up to work on that APLU.

Mason thinks there's not really much to salvage, but... I don't know. Even if I can't fix it, I can at least learn something while trying. I already recall some experience with machinery and electronics, maybe this can shake some memories loose. And it's something to occupy my mind if nothing else is working.

Maybe he'll come and work on it too if he has the chance. Then we can talk while we work. That'll be good... I do have something I need to ask -

David.

...

?

...

...

...

... That's...

...

She frowns, thinking, and then closes her eyes.

She sighs.

That's him.

...

I haven't forgotten you after all.

David...

...

... And now I'm remembering more of what we did.

Oh... oh, by the Light, I hope I don't dream of any of this...

Think of something else, what... what was I thinking just before?

...

...

... I can't even remember, what was I just thinking of? Don't do this to me, I thought at least the anterograde amnesia was almost gone, don't do this to me. I don't want to think about all... all this right now.

I don't want to see it.

By the Light, headache's back. It hurts more when I think about... before.

...

... Mason. I was going to ask Mason something. I remember. Something that'll have to wait for the right moment, though.

Focus on Mason. Don't think about before.

Go back to sleep. Dream a nice dream of Mason... dream a nice dream...
Hold it together.
Last edited by Serithi on Mon Jul 24, 2017 8:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Serithi
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Mon May 22, 2017 2:26 am

Entry 11.
February 25, 2558
SpoilerShow
I'm not dreaming a nice dream.

...

An explosion rocks the pod.

Arja: Fuck!

David: There goes our right thruster, too.

Her heart's pounding. She's doing everything she can just to keep calm. His voice is level as always. How is he always so calm?

Everything we've done. Everything we've been through. We always made it out. I've been afraid for my life before, but nothing like this. We've never done this.
I'M GOING TO DIE IN THIS FUCKING GLORIFIED METAL BOX GET ME OUT OF HERE

David: Alright, we do not have the RCS for this. Hang on, autopilot's setting a course.

Lurching all around, the pod goes horizontal to aerobrake and... try to go more forward than straight down.

David: Scanner's found a spot... ... Alright, I guess that route works. See that canyon just down there? We'll be going between that. Looks a little over two klicks deep there, that'll give us a little more distance for deceleration. It flattens out just past it, we'll touch down there.

He looks back at me. He's not as calm as I'd thought. I can see him sweating. Shaking.

David: ... We'll make it, alright? We'll make it.

Not sure if he's just talking to me, or to himself as well. His shakiness does not assure me.

The ground's coming up fast. Our angle is shallow, but... something doesn't look right. The angle doesn't look right.

Something's wrong. I can feel it now. We're rolling. And our angle's dropping.

David: ... We just lost RCS.

The pod loses all power seconds later.

David: Oh, Christ... brace!

Things are a little blurry from here, but I think I recall enough of it.

We were over a rough little area at the time. It was the last bit of rockiness until the flat ground ahead.

With the RCS cutting out, I guess we didn't quite clear it.

I remember pain. We hit the ground, hard. Right along a cliffside. I remember hearing it shredding the side of the pod as we went.

We got power back at some point, and the RCS started trying to stabilize our... early lithobraking manueuver. But it was too late.

My vision finally cleared in time to see the outcropping we were hurtling towards.

I can remember the sound it made - brief though it was - when it tore into the already-weakened side of the pod. The screaming of overstressed metal being smashed apart. You don't usually hear those kinds of sounds too often. You don't easily forget them.

I didn't really see anything, it all happened in a split second, and... I think I closed my eyes at the last moment. But I felt it. Not at first, what with the heat of the moment and my concussion, but the sensation managed to creep its way into my awareness. A sort of... not quite pain. More of a strange warmth. My right arm and foot felt warm. I was still reeling from the impact and the pod now spinning out of control when I started to feel it.

We sort of ramped back into the air, RCS finally stabilized us and was blasting at full reverse thrust as we got ready to hit the ground again. I half-consciously looked down, and realized what'd happened. It shocked me awake. That's when the pain started.

And it hurt.

It was probably the worst pain I've ever experienced in my life.

...

... It's still hurting.

Why is it still hurting?

I'm awake now, I'm awake.

I'M AWAKE, WHY IS IT STILL HURTING



Image



She sits up quickly, clutching her right arm.
Her prosthetic.
Her arm.

The pain fades, slowly. Foot hurts to move. Arm won't even respond. Just hangs there limply.

...

Slept in. Mason'll well and truly be awake by now.

He'll know what to do.

Hopefully.

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Serithi
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Mon May 22, 2017 2:26 am

Entry 12.
February 25, 2558
SpoilerShow
I'm dreaming a nice dream.

Well, a daydream.

I'm back in that little snowy region I keep dreaming of.

Nothing really going on, I'm just... there. It's nighttime. Gently snowing. Peaceful. I'm looking around for any kind of landmarks. It feels like this is also a memory, something I've held onto for some reason. As a... as a reminder? Did I need this to remind me of something? Is that why I keep coming back here?

I'm not seeing anything. Or at least, I don't remember anything. I hope I'm not misremembering this place. This is one of the few halfway coherent, vivid memories I have right now.

... Ow. Arm aches. Almost forgot I'm in Mason's lab. He's trying to fix my prosthetics.

Arja: Felt that.

Back to the gentle sleep. Mason gave me some reshaped headphones and music to listen to, instead of anesthetic. Need to be able to feel everything. I think he's rebooting my arm right now.

Ahh... music. I haven't heard music in quite some time. Apparently this is centuries-old Terran music. Late 1900's, some early 2000's emulating those older styles as well. "The classics", as he says.

It's actually kind of growing on me.

... And now I'm back to the snow.

...

I'm not here alone.



Image


...

... I... know... them. I know them. I know those eyes, but I can't... remember their faces.

I know them.

-- Mason takes off one of the headphones.

Mason: Hey uh... remember when I brought these online last time? I gotta do that again.

She sighs and nods.

Haven't forgotten the pain from last time. Knew what to expect.

Didn't make it easier, though.

Arja: OW. BY THE LIGHT. OW.

She clenches her right fist. Arm's working again.

Mason: Sorry... should be good to go now. Foot's still working fine?

She nods, wincing. She slowly relaxes.

Arja: Do... do you know what happened?

Mason: Not for sure, but I can make an educated guess. Some sort of paralysis, I know that much. I guess I was able to shock it away with the prosthetic's activation process. You said you were dreaming of, uh... of when you lost them in the crash?

Arja: Mm. Verrry vividly. Could feel the pain.

Mason: Hm.

... If I had to take a guess, and... I mean, granted I'm not exactly a psychiatrist, but I obviously still deal with neurobiology in this line of work. If I had to take a rough guess, I don't think it was just one thing. I think it could be from the nerve damage, along with the vivid traumatic memory, and along with your current mental state on top of it all. I know you're still not all there, and stuff like this can really mess with you at the best of times. But all that piling on top of each other?

I don't even know enough about Human minds to say anything for sure, let alone... you know, alien minds. Even if you do kind of work the same way we do. But in any case, I do consider myself at least a little educated on the matter.

...

I mean, if you want, we could get you checked out at the hospital again. They might know more, but... I don't know if they'd really find anything more than they did last time, you know?

Arja: She agrrrees. She, uh... ...

She sighs.

Arja: She doesn't carrre to trrrip into town just forrr this. Whateverrr it is, it seems to be fixed now. She'll just have to rrrecoverrr in time, she thinks.

Mason: Alrighty. If you ever want to head out there, just let me know, I'll drive you out.

Arja: Mmm...

...

Now's a good a time as any to ask this.

Arja: Hey, Mason, uh...

She has something to ask you. It's... a bit of a dirrrect question, she thinks.

Mason: I'm always happy when folks are upfront with me. Ask away, Arja.

Arja: She... ... words failing me. Ah-

She, uh... ... she fully apprrreciates everrrything you've done forrr herrr. She darrres not imagine the state she'd be in if you hadn't taken herrr in.

Just, she's... confused. She's not surrre why you help herrr like you do.

She hasn't forrrgotten what you said, about this being "what decent folk do forrr each otherrr". And maybe she's not the best one to talk about this, because you'rrre the only perrrson she rrreally knows rrright now. But she hasn't totally forrrgotten how people behave, rrregarrrdless of species. And...

... She just... she can't figurrre out this level of altrrruism. Yes, she helps out with everrrything she can, but she knows these prrrosthetics arrre worrrth a lot of money, and you gave them to herrr essentially forrr frrree. You attached them forrr frrree. You'rrre prrroviding all this, rrroom and boarrrd, letting herrr use yourrr gearrr forrr herrr searrrch in the deserrrt. You've done everrrything you can to... to make herrr comforrrtable.

And she doesn't mean to... ... look a... ... what's the phrase, look a gift... harrrse? Gift horrrse? Look a gift horrrse in the mouth? She doesn't mean to do that at all. She just, uh... she doesn't underrrstand... what she did to deserrrve all this, you know what she means? You didn't need to do even half of what you've done forrr herrr.

She shrugs and flicks her tail.

...

He sighs.

Mason: Yeah... ...

...

Heh, I uh... I guess I'm one to talk about being upfront myself...

He scratches the back of his head, sitting down on the table by the window. He looks down, deep in thought.

Hm. Early morning light's catching him at a good angle. Almost wish I had a camera...

... Or a paintbrush. For some reason I've been thinking about painting stuff lately. Wonder if I used to have an interest in that or something.

At any rate, this would make a good scene. The stark lighting on his weathered skin, somewhat angular features. I must admit, he is actually somewhat striking for a strange, fur-less alien.

He looks back up, smiling gently.

Mason: You're right, I've, uh... kind of gone above and beyond. And it's only right that I explain myself.

Look, Arja, I... as I've said before, I don't... exactly have a lot of social contact out here. And it really gets to me sometimes, being out here by myself. Chatting online and keeping busy with work only goes so far, you know?

So... I'll be upfront, yeah? I have done a lot to... to make you feel comfortable. I wanted you to... to... you know, to feel at home, you know? To feel good here.

And I did all that, because... honestly, I... ... I want you to stay. I mean, I'm not trying to keep you here, you know, you-you can walk out at any time, I just... ...

He sighs, composing himself.

Mason: ... I... didn't want to... accidentally push you out or something, you know? I wanted you to want to stay. I didn't want you to think you had to leave.

I can eat the cost of the prosthetics, I'll make it up elswhere. Especially with you working here, the whole thing's paying for itself anyway. I'm glad to have you here in that sense.

But more than that, I'm glad to... just to have someone here, you know? Dios mio, I'm so happy to have someone to just talk to. Not even about anything important, I love being able to just shoot the breeze with someone for once. Our little talks on the front porch as the sun's going down. You don't realize how these simple little things matter so much, until you don't have them anymore.

So... yes. You are right, I am intentionally trying to make you as comfortable as I can. I apologize for the... well it was kind of a deception, yeah. I apologize.

You're a good person, Arja. Doesn't matter if you can't remember yourself, this is something fundamental. Not just who you are, but what you are, if that makes sense. I can tell you're a good person, the kind of person that I am very glad to know. Glad to... glad to call my friend, you know?

And if you- ... egh, no, that would sound like I'm-... ... Look, I'm not trying to guilt trip you or anything. I'm just saying I'd...

...

I don't know. I don't know what I'm trying to say.

... I... again, I'm not trying to keep you here, I just... would... It would nice if you stayed, is all, you know?

He looks at Arja, waiting for an answer. Still smiling, though it had faded somewhat.

...

She sighs, rolling her right shoulder. Despite the prosthetics being hooked up for a good while now, weird phantom limb-like symptoms have been popping up from time to time. Need to take a look at those...
Focus.

Arja: Mason, you don't have to worrry about that. She's quite happy to stay herrre with you forrr as long as you'll have herrr. Not because you do so much forrr herrr, but because you'rrre good to herrr in the firrrst place. You've been a good frrriend to herrr, and you... you saved herrr life and gave it back rrrenewed.

She holds up her right hand, clenching and unclenching, twisting and turning all about.

Arja: She wouldn't ask you to comprrromise yourrr livelihood. You have yourrr own job, yourrr own life to deal with.

She's happy to use this gift you gave herrr to pay you back forrr it, because she knows you'rrre someone who deserrrves it. You'rrre a good perrrson yourrrself. And she apprrreciates you being honest with herrr. Know that she is being honest herrrself when she says: She underrrstands, and she's not going anywherrre rrright now.

She smiles. His smile returns.

Arja: So tell you what. She knows we have a few things to do today. How about we quickly get them all done, and we'll just rrrelax at home the rrrest of the day, shooting the brrreeze as you say?

Mason: Sounds good to me.



---------------------------------------



Today was a good day after all.

...

I wasn't lying when I said I understood, though. I know what he's talking about.

Because after all, I myself am alone out here.

Lost on an alien world. Stranger to everyone, including myself.

Mason's literally the only person I really know here. And the only ones I really remember away from here are... dead, or... ...



Image



...

... Half-remembered.

...



Image
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I know those eyes. Yet I can't remember the faces to go with them.

Damnit, I know them. Why must it so difficult to remember?

Just once. Just for once, let me remember something voluntarily.
DON'T DO THIS TO ME. DON'T TEASE ME LIKE THIS. REMEMBER ALREADY. PLEASE.
Please...

...

No, I am alone out here.

Undeniably.

Fundamentally.

Alone.

And I don't... know what to do about that. It's not just a matter of spending time with Mason, much as I enjoy it. I goes beyond what I have with him. I'm stuck out here with no clue where my home is. Stuck away from... family? For all I know, I have family looking for me, out somewhere in the mind-bogglingly vast expanse that is just colonized space, and the space stations and massive planets therein, let alone the galaxy itself.

And whatever my life was, before I... egh, I still don't know why I was with that mercenary group. Still trying to remember more. But I had to've had a life before that. If I am the person Mason thinks I am, then I had a life before all that... mess. That mess wasn't who I am inside. I have a life to get back to. I have everything to get back to, none of which is here.

I'm not by myself.

I have Mason.

But I am alone.
I have Mason.
But I am alone.
I have Mason.
But I am alone.
I am a good person.
But I've killed innocent people.
I am alive.
But David is not.
I can remember the faces of people we killed.
But not how to get home.

My whole existence is just one fucking juxtaposition after another.

I hate this. I hate feeling like this.

Hold it together...

...

User avatar
Serithi
Posts: 157
Joined: Mon May 22, 2017 1:54 am
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Mon May 22, 2017 2:27 am

Entry 13.
March 2, 2558
SpoilerShow
Image



Bishop: Clamp secure, seal's airtight.

Alpha-1 to Sunray, we're docked. Moving in. Over.

Voice: Solid copy Alpha-1. Out.

Bishop: Let's go.



Image



Winter: Bolt wirrres arrre grrrey.

Bishop: Got it. Looks like... ID lock's blue.

Alright. This section looks clear, but check your corners. Breach on my mark.



Image



3.

2.

1.

Mark.

...

Clear, going fore.

Winter: Going aft.



Image

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Winter: Down on the grrround! Down on the grrround!



Image



Him: Okay, okay, okay...

Winter: Do not move.

Alpha-2 to Alpha-1, she has the pilot, overrr.

Bishop: Copy. Alpha-1 to Sunray, how copy?

Voice: I copy, do you have control of the autopilot Alpha-1?

Bishop: Affirmative, I'm setting its nav point right now, over.

Voice: Then we don't need the pilot. Alpha-2, excercise your judgement, over.

Winter: Rrrogerrr, out.

She sighs.

Him: Please... please, don't kill me, just-... just take the cargo, I-I-I just pilot this thing man, I just...

Winter: She knows.

Stand up, slowly. Back against the wall. Hands up.



Image



Winter: She's going to ask you some things. She expects trrruth, mm?

He nods shakily, his breathing slightly ragged.

Winter: What is yourrr name?

Him: W-Will. Uh, William.

Winter: Good. Alrrright William, wherrre is this frrreighterrr headed?

William: Uh... fuck, uh, Nyx. Talon's Bull station, near Erebus.

Winter: Alpha-2 to Alpha-1, interrrogative, what was this frrreighterrr's old destination, overrr?

Bishop: Nyx system, Talon's Bull, where we picked up the new nav systems for the Huntress a couple months back, over.

Winter: Copy that, out.

Good. You'rrre not lying, and that's a good thing. You might just make it out of herrre.

Final question: Can this rrroom be locked?

William: N-no, there's no bolts on the door, it just-

... Wait, no no don't-

I'm sorry.
She fires, burning a hole clean through his forehead. He drops like a ragdoll. She fires again into the back of this neck. No space for liabilities on this mission.
I'm so, so sorry.



Image



Bishop: Everything alright back there, Alpha-2?

She sighs, staring at the body.

Only the latest in dozens over the last couple years, but they're always strange to see. Unmoving, like a mannequin. People are supposed to be moving, breathing, doing something that implies life. This just looks... wrong.

Winter: Affirrrmative.

Bishop: Copy. Everything's set up front here, I'm going to take a few crates back to the Huntress since we're here. Are you staying behind to watch the shuttle?

Winter: Affirrrmative.

Bishop: Roger. I'll see you when you reach the nav point, out.

...

...

...



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She sits down on the bedside, looking at the picture on the table.

She sighs and picks it up.



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...

...

...

She goes back, and places the photo next to William's body.

For whatever it's worth.
It's worth it to me. I'm still in here. I'm not entirely powerless anymore.



Image



...

She walks back to the cockpit. Aside from occasional sitreps, she sits out the rest of the ride in silence.

As far as I can remember, anyway.

...

"I'm still in here". I remember thinking that back then. Why did I think that? What was going on?



---------------------------------------



Arja: Need to... need to stop forrr a moment. Just in herrre, need to get out of the sun.

...



Image



Mason: You alright?

Arja: Just... overrrheating. Just need a moment.

Egh.

Don't know about you, but we arrre not made forrr sand.

...

Mason: Just take it easy, have some water...

... You know, I don't think I've ever asked. You remember stuff about your kind, do you know anything about Meralar? I know that's their homeworld, but whether it's yours too or not...

Arja: Some things. Stuff comes to herrr everrry now and then, if she sees something that rrreminds herrr of it. She knows it's quite the polarrr opposite to this worrrld, morrre cold than warrrm... well, forrr you, rrratherrr. She thinks it is herrr homeworrrld, but that barrrely narrrows things down...

Mason: Planet's a big place to search, yeah.

Arja: That too, but also she doesn't even know if herrr home's actually therrre. She might've been borrrn therrre, but live elsewherrre.

Even if Merrralarrr is herrr homeworrrld, it's not, uh... not rrreally much of a starrrt forrr the searrrch.

Not like she has any money to head out therrre anyway.

...

She sighs.

Arja: She's alrrright now. Let's get back to it...

She stands up and starts to walk out.

Mason: Are you sure?

She stops and looks back.

Mason: You've been pushing pretty hard with the search the last few days, staying out for ages. And you've been a little quieter than usual.

I know you'd tell me if it was something I could help with, just... it's still worth asking, are you doing alright?

She pauses for a moment, then sits back down, idly rolling her right shoulder.

Arja: ... No, she's not.

...

She's, uh... she has herrr ups and downs, but... she's been steadily having morrre and morrre downs forrr a while now.

She's still not sleeping rrright. She finally caved in yesterrrday and trrried those sleeping pills you werre talking about. She slept deeperrr, forrr surrre. It made it harrrderrr to wake herrrself when the nightmarrres came. She was kind of... stuck, forrr a bit therrre. Was unpleasant to say the least...

Mason: Eegh. Sorry, I didn't think it would, you know...

Arja: It's fine. We didn't know how it would affect herrr. Now we know that option's off the table.

Unforrrtunately sends herrr... back... uh, back to the drrrawing boarrrd.

And she's been... ...

Mason: What?

She's looking outside, seemingly staring at nothing.

Arja: ... Seeing things.



Image



Arja: David. The man who was with herrr in the crrrash.

Go away. I know you're not real, you're not him. Go away.

Mason looks out where Arja's looking, seeing nothing. He looks back at her.

Mason: You... ... Alright. Well, at least you're remembering him a bit.

Arja: Mm. She doesn't rrrecall much else rrright now, but... enough. Enough that she sees him sometimes. Just sorrrt of... sorrrt of therrre, usually just barrrely out of view. But rrright now he's just standing therrre in frrront of herrr. She would swearrr upon anything that he's therrre, if she didn't alrrready know betterrr.

Notice herrr... heh, herrr lack of surrrprrrise at all this? This isn't the firrrst time. That she's so familiarrr with this is prrrobably not a good sign...

... And she hearrrs little noises. Little mechanical noises, she'd almost say. She's familiarrr with them, but knows they'rrre not supposed to be herrre.

... She...

... Thinking on it, she feels like they'rrre possibly frrrom herrr ship, perrrhaps life supporrrt and doorrr mechanisms in the backgrrround. Things she'd be used to hearrring all the time.

She sighs, looking back at Mason, gently rubbing her right shoulder.

Arja: She's been having these... these hallucinations forrr a few weeks now. They've been getting worrrse. She has noticed herrr mood getting worrrse frrrom everrrything.

...

Egh. Heh. Oh, it's just delightful that she's self-awarrre of herrr own decline, and that therrre's little she can do about it. Fucking brilliant, is what it is...

...

... She... ...

... Sorrry. She's not snapping at you, just... at everrrything.

Hold it together.

Mason It's alright. I don't even know what you said at the end there, so...

She chuckles, then shrugs and flicks her tail. She briefly yawns.

Arja: Therrre's otherrr things she sees. Eyes. These two people she sorrrt of rrrememberrrs, Tajaran. She rrrememberrrs theirrr eyes.

Everrr since she rrrememberrred them, they've constantly been on herrr mind. Just... starrring at herrr frrrom the back of herrr awarrreness.

Watching.

Judging.

Arja: She can't make them go away...

...



Image



...

By the Light, she's tirrred...

She rubs her eyes, her voice low. Mason sighs, a look of concern and unsurety on his face.

Arja: She's just... so... tirrred, Mason. She's tirrred of being tirrred. She's tirrred of not knowing. She knows she's said all this beforrre, but it's all she has to say, all she can say. She's tirrred of not knowing herrrself. Tirrred of the noises, the nightmarrres, the-... the fucking eyes in the back therrre, always starrring at herrr. As if she can just pluck the memorrry she's missing out of thin airrr. She feels them looking at herrr. She feels David looking at herrr. She feels everrryone she k-...

...

Mason: ... What?

She looks down, shaking her head. Tears are slowly welling up in her eyes.

Arja: ... Mason, she's rrrememberrred morrre things about beforrre, things that she hasn't told you about. Things that, to be honest, she intends to take to herrr grrrave, because she darrres not sharrre them with anotherrr living soul. She's done-... ... put it this way: Rememberrr when she was talking about whetherrr orrr not she wanted to be found by the otherrrs she was with?

Suffice it to say, she knows now, she does not. She prrrays they don't find herrr, orrr you. They'rrre bad people. She's not going back to that life.

What we did... it weighs on herrr. Just- just the little she rrrememberrrs is alrrready weighing herrr down.

She begins to wipe her eyes with the back of her right hand. She then stops, remembering the lack of fur, and uses her left hand.

Arja: It's yet anotherrr thing on the pile.

So... no, she's not doing alrrright. She's doing worrrse by the day.

But you know, that's why she's been pushing herrrself morrre out herrre. Because she's tirrred. Because the soonerrr she finds what she's looking forrr, and if it rrreally is something that can help herrr, then the soonerrr she can pull herrrself back togetherrr. Because rrright now, Mason, she's an absolute mess. Even if she doesn't always look it on the outside, even if she seems calm and collected with herrr worrrds, herrr mind is anything but. Therrre is a storrrm rrraging up herrre, trrrying to piece togetherrr this memorrry and that memorrry, trrrying to think thrrrough the thick fog in herrr head, trrrying to not just completely brrreak down crrrying in a fetal position because why botherrr trrrying any morrre? She-...

...

... That's why she keeps looking. She doesn't rrreally have any alterrrnative. If she doesn't find what she's looking forrr... ... she... doesn't know what else she can do frrrom herrre. She has nothing else, and she feels like she's going to be stuck in this... this... this perrrpetual rrrut of deprrression, loneliness and angerrr, until she has something to worrrk with, something morrre than just drrreams and half-memorrries. She doesn't feel like she's going to get betterrr otherrrwise.

And the prrrospect of getting worrrse than even this... it scarrres herrr.


...

...

... She... ... she wants to get back to it. Otherrrwise she rrreally is liable to just... brrreak down in herrre, if she keeps talking.

Mason: Alright... alright.

Let's go.

...

Keep it together.

Just keep it together...

...
Last edited by Serithi on Mon Jul 24, 2017 9:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Serithi
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Mon May 22, 2017 2:27 am

Entry 14.
March 6, 2558
SpoilerShow
...

"Why did David have to die"?



Image



Along with the usual "Who am I?" and "How do I get home?", it's a thought that's been stuck in my mind for a while.

"Why am I alive, but not him?"

"Where's the reasoning?"

Everything that happened to me in that crash, yet he's the one who got the fatal wounds. He's the one that couldn't be saved.

He would've been something for me now, something to help me remember. He wouldn't be this ephemeral, barely-perceptible figure in the distance, or just there in the corner of my eyes, or taking up residence in the back WITH THOSE FUCKING EYES I FEEL STARING AT ME BACK THERE-

...

... Or even up front and visible, like he was a few days ago. He wouldn't be some relegated to some twisted figment of my imagination, he'd be here. Flesh and blood and real. The one thing I would have right now that was solid, the one person I could talk to about the things I don't tell Mason.
By the Light, I wish I could tell Mason what I've done. Just get it off my chest, ease my burden just a little.
But I can't risk it.

Why did he have to die?

...



Image



...

Is this some sick cosmic joke? After what we did - just what I can remember, let alone what I haven't yet -, is this some kind of punishment? He's dead, sleeping peacefully or on his way to whatever comes next. I'm the one stuck back here dealing with all this. That's what's in store for me. In its own way, what I've got is worse, I think.
It's not worse. Is it?



Image



"That's what you get", is that it? I'm supposed to be down here stuck on whys and what-ifs, because it's more than I gave those people we hurt? I don't even know why I did those things. If this is a punishment, at least give me back my memory so I can understand why I did what I did, why any of us did what we did. I'll take this a hundred-fold if I could at least know what was going on.

Or, is the joke just that I really am the one who was supposed to die in that crash? But for whatever reason, I didn't. The wrong person died, the wrong person survived.

I should've died in that crash.
Don't think that. What am I doing, don't ever think that...

THEN WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO FUCKING THINK?

...



Image



...

HE IS DEAD. DAVID IS DEAD. THE ONE MODICUM OF STABILITY I COULD'VE HAD IN THIS MESS IS DEAD.

STILL NO... WHATEVER IT IS. NECKLACE, LOCKET, WHATEVER. FOUND NOTHING BUT METAL ORES AND DEBRIS FROM THE POD. IMPACT MARKS FROM THE CRASH STRETCH ALMOST TWO KILOMETERS BACK, ALL THAT DESERT AND ROCKS TO LOOK IN. TWO MONTHS OF LOOKING AND WE'RE ONLY THROUGH THE TINIEST FRACTION OF THE FIRST KILOMETER.

I DON'T PUSH MASON. HE HAS HIS OWN LIFE AND LIVELIHOOD TO TAKE CARE OF, AND I AGREED TO BE A PART OF THAT. BUT SOMETIMES I GET SO FRUSTRATED THE DAYS I'M NOT OUT ON THE SEARCH, BECAUSE OF HOW MUCH WE STILL HAVE TO GO. EVEN DAYS LIKE THIS, WHEN I KNOW I NEEDED TO VISIT YOU, DAVID.

YOU'RE DEAD. YOU'RE ON THE OTHER SIDE NOW. IF YOU'RE HERE AT ALL, IF YOU CAN SEE ANYTHING HERE, THEN PLEASE, TELL ME. TELL ME WHERE IT IS.

HOW LONG IS IT GOING TO TAKE TO FIND IT? IS IT EVEN OUT THERE?

AM I GOING TO BE OKAY?

AM I GOING TO BE OKAY?

...

...

...

... Am I going to be okay?

...

Mason: ... Yes, you will.

...



Image

Image



...

... I didn't even realize I'd said that out loud.

Mason's back already? He had some business in the city, he'd dropped me off here to leave me to my thoughts. How long have I been laying here?

... A long time. Hurts as I sit up, blood circulating back to the limbs I was laying on. Can feel the dried tears on my fur. I was crying this whole time.

Sun's setting. I must've been laying here for hours.

Mason: I don't know if you were asking me or yourself, but... I meant it.

Just trying to give you some positivity, if I can.

...

I, uh... I got a little worried when you hadn't called after a while. Wanted to check in on you.

Are you alright? I mean, aside from... ...

...

Arja: No... no she's not.

...

She...

...

...

She knows it's... she knows it's getting darrrk, just...

... Can we stay, just a little bit longerrr? Just until it's too darrrk to stay?

He smiles gently and nods, and sits down beside her. She rests her head in his lap.

Warm.

Comfortable.

Mason.

It's strange, finding companionship with an alien-... no, not just an alien. No matter what he is or I am, he's a man, a person. A person who continues to stand by me even as I fall to pieces. David notwithstanding, this something... else. Something more. I don't even know what it is or if it's something that Mason also feels, but I feel it. It feels good. Feels right.

I wonder if this is how it works, with people. It's pretty bad that I'm having to rediscover something as basic and fundamental as connecting with another person. But that's alright, because I think I'm having an epiphany right now.

I'm alone out here. And I thought that Mason could never alleviate that. But maybe... ... I don't know, maybe I'm wrong. Maybe I just haven't given him the kind of thought I should giving him. I've felt... detached from everything, from the moment I woke up in his lab. Trying to find meaning in something distant and unknown, forgetting myself in the here and now. I already know my mind is fractured into a billion pieces, or so it feels like sometimes. I already know it's probably going to be a long, grueling search for my locket, for everything. I already know all this. It doesn't make the problems go away, but I'm aware of them.

So why am I focusing on them to my own detriment? Why am I ignoring what's right in front of me, thinking I have nothing and letting myself sink deeper and deeper into this depression? If I could return to my family right this moment - assuming I even have any family -, what kind of state am I in for them to see? I keep up like this, there won't even be anything but a joyless husk left to greet them.

Joy. Happiness. Mason makes me happy, I've always known that, but I think I thought about it the wrong way. I was too distant from everything, distant from him. I thought of that happiness along the same lines of one enjoying an occasional good meal when all you've had is survival rations. Now I think it's more than that. Or I remember it's more than that. Either way...

I don't think one can ever truly know someone; I don't know what Mason thinks, what he feels... what personal, private demons of his own that he might be dealing with on his own terms, as I do with mine. I don't know anything other than what he says and does, what I actually see of him. He's a separate entity from me, a separate mind. Fundamentally detached. But I trust what I see, what I feel. I trust him, and he trusts me, and he's here for me. Right now, in one of my darkest, lowest points, he's here.

He's a simple man... in the sense that there's no complication. No baggage, other than my own. He's down to earth, simply a good man who - for whatever reason - seems to genuinely care about me. Maybe he really does see something in me that I don't. Maybe it's the same thing I see in him, only he'd reached his conclusion first.

What I know is that he's here. I have some lucidity for once, however brief a breath of fresh air above the fog I've been stuck in, and I finally realize that if I'm going to have to slog through this mess, I should be making the most of whatever happiness comes my way to make up for it. I'm sick of feeling down all the time.

Family or no, home or no, whatever's waiting for me, there's nothing I can do about it other than what I'm doing now. I can't do anything more for the future, but what I can do is improve my present.

...

I guess I did need to come here, but not for you, David. There's nothing I can do for you either. You're gone, and I accept that. I can try to remember you, remember what we did. The good and the bad, whatever we had back then, I'm going to try and remember it all, answer these questions I have. Through some... some subconscious inkling in the back of my mind, somehow I feel as if you were like me. A good person, despite what we did, whatever our reasons were for doing what we did. And good people shouldn't be forgotten.

I'm going to make use of this second chance I was given. Because if it is some cosmic joke that you died and I lived, then the punchline would be me giving in to all this and we both end up gone.

And I'm not one for giving up. I've made it this far, haven't I?

...

...

We sat in silence for a while, before it got dark and we left for the hotel.

Drove us back home in the morning. Finally got home late in the evening, we'd actually made good time. It was a quiet ride. He knew I needed to think to myself. I took the opportunity for some much-needed self-reflection. Thought about my situation... and about Mason.

...

I guess I needed to finally break, hit rock bottom, let it all come tumbling down... so now I can try to rebuild. It seems like such a simple thing, but something had to give, and for once it gave the right way. There's still several things I don't know about Mason, but... I'd like to get to know about them. And whether he ever realizes it or not, he'll be my anchor now.

I barely remember what it's like to connect with someone, to be with someone, but... I'd like to try, with him. If the feeling's mutual, if he's open to it, I'd like to at least try. Try to carve out a little happy space for myself; I can already feel the darkness and depression starting to set back in, the high from my epiphany's worn off, those eyes staring at me ceaselessly. But I have something to fight back with now. I'm going to try.

...

...

And as for you, David...

...

... Goodnight. And... I wish we could've both made it.

...

At least we tried. I still remember what you said. "At least we tried".

Guess I'm trying for the both of us now.

...

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Mon May 22, 2017 2:27 am

Entry 15.
March 9, 2558
SpoilerShow
Cold. I actually feel cold right now.



Image



I can remember it vividly right now. I can feel it. I haven't felt cold in quite some time. Mason's shower only cools me down a little bit, I'm always running hot. But this... ... no alien deserts and sandstorms here, this is proper cold.

Snow caking up on me, gently melting into my fur. Not quite cold enough for me to really feel... but the wind chill, that I feel. Sharp, biting.

Familiar.
Like home.

It does feel like home. I still don't know where this little snowy spot of mine actually is, or was, but I think it's somewhere on Meralar. It feels like it. Maybe Meralar really is my home?

... It's almost always dark in my dreams, especially when I dream of the snow, but this darkness is unusual. I can "see", but not in a way I'd expect. Dream logic is fun. I try to move to see if I remember anything further ahead, but... I can't move. I can't will myself to explore my own memory. I feel my head locking up again, like it does when I remember the... ... the bad things... but there's nothing there right now. Odd. I can sort of "look" around in some weird abstract dream way, I know what's all around me, I'm aware of the eyes, but I can't actually move.
... The eyes aren't there right now.
No, they're there. Hiding in the darkness. They see me. I SEE THEM TOO.

This is my own mind, my own lucid dream. Yet there's something in here, under the surface, subconscious. Something I can't remember. It takes control away from me.

I don't think this is just some complication from the crash. It feels too familiar, and... old. Something... something was done to me, something was rooted into my mind.
Something wrong.

Those... pirates, mercenaries, whatever they were. Why was I with them? What did they do to me?

Every fiber of my being is absolutely repulsed at the notion of... ... of being one of them. Of doing what we did. Yet we did it.

I did it.

I did what I did. It was me. Yet it doesn't feel like me.

... Me, but... not me.

"Me, but not me."

...

I remember thinking that... what, a month ago. When I started finally remembering things in my dreams. I... think I remember the dream, it's hard to think right now.
Has it really only been a little over a month since I got here? It feels so much longer...

But I know what I thought. "Me, but not me". I was practically screaming it to myself, trying to wrest control from... myself? Not-myself? But it wasn't... I don't think it was a lucid dream. It was dream-me thinking that, not necessarily me-me. I remember now. My memory of me, of who I was back then, was screaming "ME BUT NOT ME" to not-myself. And if that entire sentence isn't a linguistic war crime...

...

I didn't think much of it at the time. My mental state at the time was... a different kind of bad back then. But now that I've remembered more, and especially now that I'm starting to re-evaluate myself, I can look back and think.

"Me but not me". I feel a thought forming in the back of my mind. Half-forming, working with things half-forgotten. I don't know what it is, it's just... there, right out of reach. Tip of my tongue, as they say. But something about it is very, very wrong. I feel colder now, and not because of the snow. I've already forgotten that cold. This is something else.
WHAT IS IT? I KNOW SOMETHING. I KNOW I KNOW SOMETHING. IT'S STUCK IN SOME LITTLE CORNER IN THE BACK. BRING IT FORWARD.
AND FUCK OFF WITH THOSE EYES, BY THE LIGHT.

...

... Too late. Lost the train of thought. I need to calm down, I keep... snapping, and I don't even mean to, but it's distracting.

I hate feeling like this. As I so often say.

...

...

...

I'm awake... actually, fairly awake now, I feel rested. I must've been out for a while. It's been a couple of days, but that... episode at the graveyard took a lot out of me. But the nightmares were mercifully absent the last few nights, so I've gotten some rest for once.

I'll have to think on all this another time. I know something's there, I know somewhere in there I remember what happened. But now's probably not a good time to pry.

At least I'm aware of it. I'll have to sit down and think back sometime, see if there was anything else.

I noticed I've changed a bit in the last month or so since I arrived. I talk a little differently, I think differently. Richer vocabulary. I didn't even realize I knew some of these words, much less in Galcom. I've noticed my manner of speech these days has a certain... creative flourish to it, I think? I don't talk like Mason does, or anyone I've met in the city. Did I used to be a writer or something? I still think about painting, I wonder if I had an interest in other things too.

... While I'm on that train of thought, what am I interested in? I've certainly taken a liking to Mason's work. I've been helping in his lab, even made a... modicum of progress on the junked APLU. Muscle memory's coming back, I know how to use his tools. He showed me how to open up the casings for my prosthetics for maintenance.

Now that was a weird feeling. Poking around inside my own arm and foot. Weird enough as it was when Mason was doing it, but when I'm the one doing it... eegh. I'm still not quite used to these prosthetics. Still feels...

...

...

I recall a term some Humans have. "The uncanny valley". Something made to look Human, but unfortunately stops just short of perfect realism, resulting in a bad middle ground of it looking too Human to easily accept as a stylized or imperfect attempt, but not Human enough to accept as the real thing. That's what my prosthetics feel like right now. Too real, and yet not real enough.
That's how my entire existence feels right now.

I wonder if any Tajaran have an equivalent for that phrase. I don't even know...

I wonder why I know so many Human phrases, yet so few Tajaran. Even the words I curse in are just translated back from Galcom. I'm obviously familiar with Humanity, but...

...

Here I go again with "I wonder". I wonder a lot of things, no answers come of it. And here I go again with hopping trains of thought. I still can't focus properly.

Restart. Recenter. Focus on Mason.

Mason.

It's... late in the evening, actually. Is he even still awake?

Might as well go check. I'm decently rested up and there's nothing to work on outside at night, and nighttime can be pretty long when you're awake with little to do but think. It's odd being awake all night; I know Meralar days are longer than these, so we're used to that. Alfeyr's shorter day-night cycle is... weird. The Human sleep schedule is weird.

But, I guess technically I am the alien here, so it's my own sleep schedule that's weird here. Poor Mason has to work around it half the time.

...

Porch light's on. He's out there.

Good. Maybe we can talk for a bit. Even a little time spent is still time to let my head clear up, unwind. Maybe I can think later on.

Not like I have much else to do tonight.

...

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Mon May 22, 2017 2:31 am

Entry 16.
March 9, 2558
SpoilerShow
A little warm for this time of night. Looks like it's going to be another hot, sleepless night for me. Woo.

Lost track of the time. We've been talking a while now. Mason pulled out some red wine, now we're both a little tipsy. First time I've tried it, I think. It's... interesting. It's actually not bad.

First time Mason's really opened up about his former marriage. And his children, I'm now hearing about.

Arja: Yourrr wife got custody, then?



Image



Mason: Yeah, Julie got both of them. I got the weekends with them, but that was it. And I had to fight just for that.

I mean... looking back, I can understand. I wasn't... ... you know, I wasn't the best father I could've been. Our boys needed a father, not a drunkard. I was in and out of jail a few times for getting into fights at the bar. Lost a good job because I was caught drinking on the job. Was able to still find work, thank God, but... yeah.

Nowadays, you know, I'm fine. I'll have a couple beers or some wine every now and then, but I don't forget how I was back in the day. Took basically losing my kids, all that, for me to... finally get my shit together.

Arja: What happened then?

Mason: Well... that went on for... ... around 10 months, I think. And, you know, it... it hurt, only having a couple of days with my boys out of the week, but it was still something. I was sort of adjusting, getting my act straightened out, and I could still spend time with them.

... Aaand then one day, my youngest brings home a can of beer. Julie caught him with it in his room.

Hell if I know where he got it from, I never found out. But she accused me with it, saying I was obviously still drinking around the kids and was being a bad influence. I'd been sober for months at that point, but I've never been... the most persuasive, I guess? I don't do good in confrontations. The judge sided with her.

I... lost visitation. I lost my boys.

And it... ... I don't know, you know. I don't know. He probably got the beer from kids at school, kids do stupid stuff at that age. We all did stupid stuff. And Julie, I loved her to death, but she could be damn petty sometimes. I was in the bad books, so I got the brunt of it. It didn't help my case that I was still considered the "recovering alcholic" in the room.

Arja: That's prrretty unfairrr forrr them to do that.

Mason: Absolutely. Unfortunately, "fair" is relative. From their perspective, I was the resident alchoholic putting bad ideas in my kid's heads. I didn't stand a chance.

Now, I never once thought she was doing it on purpose. We had our issues, but I knew she wouldn't do something like that. No matter what, we both love our boys, and I can...

He sighs.

Arja: ... Underrrstand why she thought that way?

Mason: Yeah. I can see where she was coming from. I just wish... I could've been able to convince her better, you know? Made her see that I was actually finally better.

But, whatever. It was done. I couldn't see my kids, couldn't contact them or her. I was told in no uncertain terms to stay away. Off the books, she said she didn't want anyone on my side of the family near them either, which... was kind of excessive, she got on well with my parents, they love their grandkids, but whatever. Julie was Julie, she wanted all this out of her life.

Arja: That's when you left?

Mason: Not right away, but just about. I had to take some time to sort of... self-reflect. My whole world'd been torn down, I had to figure out how I wanted it put back together.

I heard from a friend of a friend about Alfeyr advertising for new colonists. Back then, I was more... sort of spiritual, than I am now, I guess. I came to the conclusion - based on how badly things had gone with my marriage and children, and based on this new opportunity being presented - that it was the universe bluntly telling me I should not be on Mars anymore. Not just move to somewhere else on Mars, actually go off-world, go to Alfeyr. That I would find myself again here, my world would be rebuilt here.

So, I made the arrangements, and I left. My parents and some friends came along, and now we're all settled here.

Arja: You don't have contact with your childrrren?

Mason: Oh, I do. They're both adults now, they're legally allowed to establish contact. We still don't have Exonet access out here, so... one of my buddies works out-system cargo delivery for the Refuge, I send any messages to him, then when he jumps out he sends them along once he gets on the Exonet. Vice versa for them sending messages here.

Arja: That worrrks.

Mason: Yeah. Was actually my eldest's idea to use the system that way. He and my buddy have been friends for ages, sort of the unofficial "uncle" figure. He checked in on my kids, was able to get in contact and let me know, things went from there. I don't even know if Julie knows about it, not that it's her business... I haven't talked to her since I left. I've thought about it, but, you know... ...

... At least my boys had good lives after I left. Better than what I could've given them, which is all I could've hoped for. Julie found someone new, he's been good to them. I'm just glad I can talk to them every now and then. Things've actually halfway worked out alright.

Arja: That's good to hearrr.

...

... What about yourrrself? You said you came herrre to find yourrrself, do you think you've done that?

He looks down at his nearly-empty glass, then sighs and downs the last bit.

Mason: Honestly... no. I don't think I have.

He goes to refill the glass, then hesitates, thinking, then only half-fills the glass.

Mason: Another?

She shakes her head. Already two glasses in, and it's definitely hitting. Nope.
Feels kinda weird. But also kinda nice.

Mason: Alright... I've been here a long time now, and I'm still figuring things out. Still trying to make something work.

Things've gone a little differently than I expected. Which... I mean, I realize now that that's just life, but like I said, I thought a little differently back then. I thought there was a greater rhyme and reason to things, even if we couldn't comprehend it. There was a reason my marriage broke down, there was a reason I was cut off from my kids, it was all to push me off-world because my place was here instead.

I did everything that's been put in front of me. I thought things would be made clear afterwards, you know?

But... It seems I was mistaken.

I've settled in, obviously, but I'm not settled. The "next step" I've been waiting and looking for just... it never came, you know? I got here, I got into Robotic Engineering, I was offered the gig to help set up out here, and yet I still don't feel like things are how they should be. I'm still waiting for that next sign, that next step, but it's nowhere to be found. It doesn't even feel like I'm meant to wait or something, I just... ... I don't know.

... I'd almost say I feel abandoned out here, you know? Like I was led astray. And it made me stop and wonder if I was ever really meant to be here. If there was even anything guiding me here in the first place. Over time, I kind of lost my faith in all that. Looking at it, really looking at it, it's kind of a silly notion in the first place. I wasn't the only one who heard about Alfeyr, I just happened to be in the situation I was when I heard about it, anyone else could've been going through something when they heard about it.

And that's the key thing. It could've happened to anyone. Billions - even trillions or more - of people of all species in the galaxy and beyond, both the ones we know of and whatever ones we don't. A functional infinity of different variables in play at any given moment, in any given point in space... ... Heh, now I'm starting to talk like you. Ahh... especially finally leaving Mars, experiencing a life under an open sky on an alien world, two things I'd never done before, I started to realize that there's more to the universe than our little... bubble of influence, you know? And I started to think about the scale of everything. What happened to me has happened to an uncountable number of people in an uncountable number of other places, just as there are uncountable opportunities such as this popping up. Just as there are uncountable folks going through hard times that don't get opportunities for something better.

Nothing was guiding me here. The opportunity just happened to come along when I was in a situation where I'd actually consider it. Could've happened anywhere to anyone.

So, I had to stop and re-think things all over again.

Arja: What'd you come up with?

Mason: Settled on Existentialism. Or something along those lines.

Arja: Existentialism? She... rrrecognizes the worrrd, she thinks. It's a philosophy?

Mason: Mm. It basically boils down to "There's no higher power or purpose to life, other than what we make of it. So enjoy it for what it is".

I sort of made more of a compromise between that view and my old one. The way I see it, if I'm "meant" to be somewhere, if I really do have a "place", there isn't going to be anything guiding me to it. I have to find it myself, find what feels right for me. I have to find myself... myself.

...

And yeah. So far, I haven't been able to do that. And I don't know what my "place" would really be. I just know it's not... this. It might be right here, with my lab and getting the farm going while the town builds up all around, but it's...

... It's incomplete. There's something missing, you know? I don't know what, or if I ever did then I'd forgotten it a long time ago. I just know that I don't feel right, that I'm missing something.

...

Arja: ... Orrr someone.

He pauses and raises an eyebrow. He goes to speak, then stops, thinking, letting her continue.

Arja: Apologies forrr prrrying, but she feels it's a rrrelevant question rrright now. Has therrre been anyone in yourrr life since you left Marrrs?

Mason: ... No. I mean, not like that. A few one-night stands before I came out here, but... that's it.

... Dios mio, time's flown. I've been on my own for quite a while now, yeah.

Arja: And the loneliness has been getting to you. Not... just being isolated out herrre, she thinks therrre's morrre to it. You werrre marrried forrr overrr a decade, you said? She wonderrrs if perrrhaps you'rrre still used to that. Maybe not the marrriage, but... just having someone therrre in yourrr life in some meaningful capacity. Maybe that's what you'rrre looking forrr.

Mason: ... Interesting idea. I hadn't really thought about that, to be honest. I wasn't exactly in a rush to go into another relationship for the longest time, but now...

... ... That's actually a rather... profound statement, Arja, I never really thought about it that way.

Arja: She's deprrressed and amnesiac, but she does notice things frrrom time to time. Especially because she does underrrstand yourrr situation in herrr own way. She herrrself is out of place, with no rrreal clue what to do. And she's out herrre alone.

... Orrr, perrrhaps not entirrrely.

Mason: What do you mean?

Arja: She actually has you in herrr life in a meaningful capacity. You mean a lot to herrr, Mason. Morrre than you'll prrrobably everrr know. And as much as therrre's still things she's yet to learrrn about you, and she hasn't been herrre forrr verrry long all things considerrred, she's seen enough to know she can trrrust you. She feels verrry... disconnected frrrom everrrything rrright now, but she feels good being herrre with you. With everrrything that's happened, any kind of happiness she can find is good.

Especially out herrre, isolated as we arrre. So... ... if we'rrre both on the same page with that, she wonderrrs if we might perrrhaps enterrrtain an idea.

He squints his eyes slightly, one eyebrow raised.

Mason: What do you have in mind?

She smiles, combing her hands through her hair.
Do it. It's a good time as any.

Arja: Well... she'll be upfrrront, as she knows you apprrreciate it. A simple prrroposition to considerrr.

Is she sleeping in herrr bed tonight... ... orrr yourrrs?

His eyes squint further, though a faint smile appears. Whether it's more out of happiness or incredulity isn't clear yet. He stops to think for a moment.

Mason: I... ... ...

... You, uh... ... I almost hate to ask, but this isn't just the booze talking, right?

Arja: It's not. It makes things easierrr, perrrhaps, but it's not speaking forrr herrr. She meant what she asked.

He looks her in the eyes, sighing. He briefly looks her up and down, then turns to look out up at the night sky.

Mason: Una extraterrestre, huh.

He looks back at her again, then shrugs and downs his glass.

Mason: Bien.

He nods. They both grin.



---------------------------------------



And so, despite the initial awkwardness of the whole thing, and the slight hangover, it ended up being one of the most restful sleeps I've had since I got here.

Hearing his breathing, feeling his heat, all these little things that helped ground me a little more. I didn't feel as alone anymore. And he felt the same.

And so we continued, night after night. It felt good, it felt right. I'd refrain from napping during the day so I could spend a little more time in bed at night, trying to work with our mutually dysfunctional sleep schedules.

We didn't actually do anything more than just share the bed. Not at first.

But we got more comfortable, and a little after the first week, things... progressed.

~~~

...
Last edited by Serithi on Mon Jul 24, 2017 9:30 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Serithi
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Mon May 22, 2017 2:31 am

Entry 17.
March 28, 2558
SpoilerShow
"Remember, you're doing the right thing."

...



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...

I'm doing the right thing?

...

I'm doing the right thing. Yes.



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Our commander has bigger plans. She doesn't tell us everything. We don't need to know everything. We just need to know our mission. We know it's for the greater good.

These people are the enemy. Wolves in sheep's clothing, as Humans say. Sheep that will be led to the slaughter. They are all the enemy.



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Their deaths are of no concern. We need to stay alive. They can't be taught the truth. They can't be helped.

All they are is a series of obstacles. We will be shown the truth when it's time. This all has a purpose.

Remember, we're doing the right thing.



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I finally stopped doing the wrong thing. It doesn't hurt when I do the right thing. I do the right thing now.

It's good to do the right thing. All that time in the chair finally worked. Everything they taught me, everything they made me see, commit to memory... it all had a purpose.

For the greater good.



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...

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By the Light, What did they do to me?

...

... Calm down... calm down...

...

...



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She looks over at Mason, snoozing peacefully. She sighs and gently smiles, and slowly makes her way out of the bed.


---------------------------------------


She looks in the mirror. A little routine she does from time to time, and only while still groggy from waking up.



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Arja: Arja... Arja. Arja.

Arja.

Arja.

Chanting it like a mantra, for all the good it does. Nothing shakes loose. No little thread to unravel the mystery.

Don't know why I bother. Probably doing more harm than good at this point.

Arja: Who are you?

...

She looks herself over, also the same as she always does. If her name won't bring anything, maybe the scars will. She certainly has plenty to look over.

They're all faded now, albeit still visible; seems my fur's naturally short anyway, so nothing's going to cover most of these. Even the ones from my recent lithobraking incident look a little more faded than one might expect, courtesy of the healing stims Mason gave me. But I still recognize the ones from before.

I try to imagine how I could've gotten them. Sometimes helps me actually remember something every now and then. Through-and-through gunshot wound in my waist when an AP round got through my suit. Couple of claw marks on my face that could've taken out my eye if I didn't move back, not sure what I was fighting... Something humanoid. A Unathi, or another Tajaran. I think.

Some of the others don't really come to me. Maybe they just weren't that noteworthy.

Still. Lot of history right here on my own body. At least it's something, another avenue to remember through.

...

What day is it? Days have been becoming a blur. Suppose that's a good thing, I'm actually halfway settled.

Alfeyr's not home, don't think it ever will be. But I guess i'm getting used to it a little more than I thought I would. It's a home away from home. Can't believe I'm saying that.

Could be worse.

... Really, what day is it?

...

... Oh. Of course. A special day indeed.



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Mason stumbles in half-awake.

Arja: Happy birrrthday, sleepyhead.

... I didn't wake you, did I?

He smiles and shakes his head groggily.

Mason: Not really, was just sorta, uh... sorta dozing for a bit. Warm night. Just, uh... need to go to the toilet when you're done.

Arja: Oh, go forrr it. And uh... ... what time is it? Sun's barrrely come up. Do trrry to get some sleep. Sleep in, it's yourrr day today. I'll go help Herrrb.

Bet you thought I was going to forrrget yourrr day, huh? I do pay attention. And I... sometimes rrrememberrr things.

She grins and pats him on the shoulder as she walks out.

...

We're getting pretty used to each other. Just a couple weeks ago we were still getting through that initial... awkwardness, of sleeping together, not to mention our decidedly awkward defilement of the bed when we finally moved forwards a few days after. But we figured stuff out. We remembered how to do things. Went from nervous fumbling to lewdity and laughs. Now, I'm pretty sure he's looking at my butt as I go.

She briefly looks back.

Yup. And so he should, it's a fine butt indeed.

...

Wow. Either I'm going loopy again, or this is me when I'm actually kind of happy, thinking things like that.

I guess I am kind of happy now. Not ecstatic, I'm still in the same depressing amnesiac mess, but... you know, hey, I can have some nights of carefree fun now. I can loosen up a little. Mason's certainly enjoying himself. Guess we each really needed someone after all.

I'm still trying to deal with this... detachment I'm still feeling. I can empirically confirm that crashlanding on an alien world and losing one's memory is a great way to become closed off from everything, if anyone ever asks. But I'm opening up now, I think.

I feel like I think that a lot and then things get worse instead, but I think this is one of those times where I'm actually hanging on for now.

...

... But, once again, detached self-reflection is nice and all, but it's not really making this easier. I know how I feel, I know what I'm dealing with already. Give me a damned break from the eyes for once or something, that's something that'd cheer me up. I don't even always see them, and I still feel them. Wonder if I'm just used to it and I'm making myself feel them because of it.

... I'm telling my brain to unfuck itself, which is literally me talking to myself and telling myself to unfuck myself. I'm going with happy and loopy.

By the Light. Whatever. I'm having a good time right now, the eyes can just stay right there in the back, I'm going to go see if Herb needs help on the farm and then go work on that broken APLU. I'm actually making it less broken bit by bit. Maybe I'll actually have it done before one of us dies of old age.

...

...

... Now there's a random thought, though rather thematic for today: Age. Mason's... 48 now on the Terran calendar, I believe. I'm not sure how old that really is for him. I know medical care can vary from place to place, but Weissjar seems to have pretty decent technology for being out on a frontier system. He might not even be halfway through his life yet.

I wonder how old I am. I look young, younger than when I first got here now that I'm a little more rested and happy, not quite so worse for wear. But I could be middle-aged myself and not even realize it. I certainly don't feel that young. Feel worn out, "done too much already". Probably to do with them. I don't know how long I was with them. If what I've remembered so far is any indication, I can see why I'd feel this way. Probably really have done too much already.

That's a funny thought. I could be halfway through my life right now myself, if I'm as old as I feel and not as I look. Humans usually live longer than us, at least with our level of medical tech where it is now. I don't know how long I've been gone, maybe things have improved in my absence.

But that's a line of thought filled with hypotheticals, and there's work to do today.

...

Why can I remember this junk, and not what I really need?

...

...

She sighs.

Get to work.

...

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Mon May 22, 2017 2:31 am

Should change my name to Kentaro Miura considering how infrequently i update.

Entry 18.
March 28, 2558
SpoilerShow
Eegh. Need to take a breather.



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'Tis a small farm for now. Can feed Mason and myself well enough, bit of surplus to sell to Weissjar, but that's about it. But it'll slowly grow. This grass spreads best where the soil is highly fertile, marking out future farm plots. And one day, Mason's farm will be one of many, and a new little town will be established here, feeding families, cities, nations...

Wonder if I'll still be here to see it.

Bit of a conundrum, that. I want to get home, wherever that may be, however long it takes. But I must admit it's... curious, just being here, at the start of something new... witnessing the birth of an alien culture. These Humans... people, come from all over, many walks of life, many cultures, coming to form a new one here. A long ways from the rest of civilization... in a manner of speaking. Indeed, a planet is massive, one sometimes forgets the scale of the universe when you're hopping about in FTL. One can comfortably live their entire life in this colony as it is now. But it's still far from the aid of SolGov or anyone else. The Alfeyrians are making it work on their own for the most part.

And just by helping Mason here, I'm actually directly contributing to the growth of this new culture, even if my contribution is only minor. But it's one small contribution of many over time, and by many other people.

Of course, it's... ... this culture, it's not mine, and unfortunately I don't care to stick around longer than I have to. I'd still very much like to get back to my own home. But it's at least an interesting experience, being here at this beginning, where other peoples' homes will be made one day.

...

And there's Herb, dutiful as always.

Arja: Good morrrning, Herrrb.



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Herb beeps.

Arja: Hmm. Do you have a moment?

He beeps.

Arja: She's, uh... she's been herrre forrr a little while now, but it keeps slipping herrr mind to ask. She's noticed you'rrre not... well, talkative, other than the beeps. Arrre you able to talk?

He beeps.

Herb: Yes. I don't do it very often.

Arja: Oh... why not?

He tilts his head for a moment, then straightens up and clasps his manipulators behind his back.

Herb: A condition of my original assignment. I was requested to be laconic in my duties. I still partially retain that behaviour.

Arja: Hm... "Laconic"? She doesn't rrrecognize that worrrd.

He looks slightly down and to the side for a moment, then returns his gaze.

Herb: I am a man of few words, as Mason might say.

Arja: Ahh...

...

What was yourrr orrriginal assignment?

Herb: Medical instructor. A facility in Weissjar, I presume. Most of my memory storage is damaged.

Arja: What happened?

Herb: Unknown. Earliest stable memory is my reactivation in Mason's lab. He states I was found in a scrap heap. He could not determine a definitive cause for my damage or disposal, and has been unable to recover much more than my rudimentary chassis information.

Arja: Huh.

...

Little memorrry. By the Light, you'rrre sorrrt of in the same position as herrr, huh?

Herb: Not entirrrely dissimilar, yes.

...

Arja: Hm.

...

Do you like it herrre? This worrrk?

Herb: Like it?

Arja: She means, she sees you out worrrking all the time, only stopping to rrrecharrrge orrr... rrrepairrr yourrrself, orrr what have you. You don't take a brrreak orrr anything?

Herb: This is my assignment.

Arja: ... Hm. And that's it? You don't... you know, want to do anything else? Wrrrite a book, worrrk with prrrosthetics like you helped install herrrs, anything?

Herb: Whatever task Mason assigns me to, I carry out to the best of my ability.

... I suspect you are searching for a deeper answer that lies outside of my programming. I do not like or dislike my task. I simply carry it out. That is my purpose.

Every job requires a sufficient tool.

...

He looks off to the side and readies his arms.



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Herb: Apologies. Sensory malfunction detected in Farmbot #2.

She sighs.

Arja: Again?

Herb: Again.

He begins walking off.

Arja: She'll let Mason know when he wakes up...

He beeps.

...



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...

She sighs, watching Herb disappear around the corner.

Arja: A tool, mm?

Is that what I was to them? A tool?

...

A weapon?

...

...

...
Last edited by Serithi on Sun Feb 17, 2019 12:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Sun Sep 17, 2017 6:03 am

Entry 19.
April 7, 2558
SpoilerShow



Mason: Look at that. Nice clear sky tonight, for once.


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Mason: Don't get too many of these out here. Not that I'm complaining about cloud cover, keeps some of the heat off during the day. Just, uh... nice if it then breaks at night for a bit.

Arja: One good thing about being this farrr frrrom the city: Low light pollution.

Mason: Very true.

Arja: It has been a while since I've seen the starrrs this clearrrly though, hasn't it.

...

Arja: I wonder how many of them I've been to...

Mason: Mm?

Arja: Just mumbling.

Mason: Alright... ... anything on your mind?

She sighs.

Arja: Hmm...

Arja: "Sonderrr".

Mason: Huh. That's an old word. You're probably the only person I know who's ever said it out loud, heh.

Arja: Well, someone else used it, and I decided to look its meaning up. Turrrns out it descrrribes rrratherrr well what I've been... strrruggling with, forrr a bit. Rrrecognizing everrryone else as individuals, frrree-thinking, living theirrr own lives with theirrr own complexities. Theirrr own, uh... ... own idiosyncrrrasies.

Arja: When I firrrst got herrre, I didn't... quite prrrocess you as a perrrson, at firrrst, in that rrregarrrd. I'm not entirrrely surrre why - I mean, I have my guesses, you know, based on what I've rrrememberrred - but... I know I didn't perrrceive you as I do now. You werrre a... a... collection of aspects. Yourrr shape, yourrr species, any weapons, whetherrr you looked like you werrre about to charrrge at me orrr something...

Mason: Like a threat assessment.

Arja: Yes! You werrren't a perrrson to me in that moment. Not to the degrrree of acknowledging yourrr life. To the degrrree of sonderrr. You werrre just a thrrreat orrr not-thrrreat. A thing, not a who. I was sizing what you might to me beforrre I began to prrrocess who you might be. I didn't do much of the latterrr forrr a little bit, comparrred to what I should've done, I think. Orrr at least to what I'm able to prrrocess now. It's sometimes harrrd to... do all that.

Arja: Whateverrr I was doing beforrre I got herrre, whateverrr happened to me, I lost a lot of, I think, ability to connect with anotherrr perrrson. Stuff I've had to rrrememberrr orrr rrre-learrrn since I've gotten herrre. I don't actually know a worrrd off the top of my head to prrroperrrly descrrribe what I mean, so I, uh... I trrrust you'll underrrstand what I mean if I werrre to say that I forrrgot how to be "Human".

Mason: I know what you mean to say, yeah. We... yeah, we probably need a proper word for that, huh.

Mason: I mean, I'm sure Galcom does have one, but... it's not like it'd be coming up much in a place like this. I, uh... I know there's a trading vessel that sometimes comes to the city, has a couple of Unathi bodyguards. Apart from them, you're the only alien I know of around here, unfortunately.

Arja: Mmm. I suppose "Human" will have to do forrr the time being.

Arja: Afterrr all, that is the point of language. If saying "Human" conveys the concepts I want to convey, the worrrd's done its job~.

Mason: You get philisophical when you're drunk, huh?

Arja: Haa. I'll have you know, I'm always philisophical, and I am not drrrunk. A little, uh... buzzed, but that's about it. I know what just the one glass does to me.

Arja: ... Which rrreminds me, this isn't... causing any issues forrr you, is it? The drrrinking?

Mason: This? Nah. Nah, I uh... ... I mean, I still take it easy and all, but that's just, you know, usual moderation that anyone should be doing. Actually living on this stuff, that's all... all behind me, you know?

Mason: I'm not taking the mindset of "former alcoholic". That's all a long time ago, and I know i'm past that. It's just, uh... "have a good time", basically. And hangovers are not a good time, so it works out.

Mason: I mean, of course, unless you're there. Any time with you is a good time.

Arja: Ohhhhhh. Ohhhh. Alrrright, you got that one in therrre, that was good.

They both grin.

Mason: Liked that, huh?

Arja: Mm, that was good.

...

...

Mason: How about you? All's well, aside from all that? Or, well as can be?

Arja: Well as can be. The usual.

Arja: Still just... ... trrrying. All I can rrreally do. I'm well enough that I can rrramble about language while buzzed on some booze, so I suppose that has to count forrr something. I'm having a good time tonight.

Arja: Afterrr all... any time with you is a good time~.

Mason: PFFFF. That one doesn't count, I already used it.

Arja: Oh please, I slid that one in therrre just the same you did, it still counts.

Mason: Hmm... ah! My house, my rules.

...

She grins.

Arja: My booty, my rrrules~.

Mason: ... ... damnit.

Mason: Fine, you got me there.

Arja: Indeed I do~.

She rolls on her side and scoots closer to snuggle up to him.



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...

...

...

...

Arja: Arrre you tirrred?

Mason: Ah... not really. Why, did you want to go inside?

Arja: No no, it's, uh... ... I just feel like laying herrre forrr a bit with you, rrrest my eyes. I'm still behind on sleep. Just wake me up when you want to go inside, mm?

Mason: Alright.

...



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