Obsidian Command

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Half Way Home

Posted on 23 Mar 2021 @ 10:39pm by Commander Calliope Zahn & Crewman Recruit Zuzal
Edited on on 24 Mar 2021 @ 10:08am

Mission: M2 - Sanctuary
Location: Obsidian Command
Timeline: Backstory following "Closing the Distance"
1441 words - 2.9 OF Standard Post Measure

Calliope would have preferred being beamed site-to-site in order to avoid the glances. The stolen glances from the corners of people’s eyes or over their shoulders after they thought they were safely out of view. The looks of curiosity or sympathy. Calliope knew the glance, because she’d been on the giving end of it so many times. She knew it was well intended, but to be the subject of it? It was discomfiting. She didn’t have the grace to process it for what it was, instead it just fed the blushing fire of her embarrassment under all of her freckles as she was pushed along in the hover chair.

She was wearing her own clothes and that was no small consolation. Calliope would have crawled away to die if they’d tried to wheel her through the station in a hospital gown. Across the back of the chair was slung a small overnight bag, and in her lap, two flowers— two sunflowers from Lance’s gift arrangement, slightly worse for the wear, their petals a few days old and not as perky as they once had been.

As they came to the turbo lift, Calliope watched the young Orion girl move from behind the hover chair in order to operate the lift call button. She seemed more lit up from the inside than usual, almost giddy, looking around side to side as they waited, pausing a moment to stare at a stranger, then glancing around again like a furtive bird. She was like a tourist, and the world was one expansive sight seeing event her big eyes were soaking in. Calliope shielded her own eyes with her hand so that apart from hiding her own embarrassment she wouldn’t have to feel awkward on the girl’s behalf either.

“Going down?” The girl asked brightly. Calliope realized it was the first time she had heard her young attendant's voice. It was bright and gentle at the same time. Sweet and mild. “Oh good, so are we.”

Calliope’s chair was backed up into the center of the turbolift, everyone parting to accommodate her, everyone offering a nod of encouragement or just looking away purposely. Calliope exhaled and fixed her eyes on the deck number as the lift re-started. The numbers were growing larger and they were dropping at a rate with her own delicate hopes. Upstairs, there was her office, and her future home with Lance, and the Command center, and all of her plans. She was on the station again, but headed in the wrong direction. Calliope tried to massage the frustration out of her eyes.

With all of the stops along the way, and a change from one lift system to another, it took quite a while to reach the decks of Medical. She wasn’t wheeled into the main sickbay; instead, she was checked into a secondary recovery ward. There was a receiving nurse who spoke with the girl and took Calliope’s transfer of care information. The leading name on her chart was changed from Turan back to Mazur. Calliope stewed quietly over that, but with the Ardeshir putting in for refit, there was little choice but to be shuffled back to the Station's care. They were led into a kind of patient lobby or living area with some games and tables and a holovid left running and beyond that, into her new accommodations.

The girl switched on the lights and began to set out Calliope’s things for her.

Her sad flowers in hand, Calliope stood from the chair; hanging onto a rail in the wall and took in the features of the room. It was a pale yellow color. There were still monitors and a nurses cart. A full sized bed took up half of the tiny room and while she wanted to be relieved that it wasn’t a narrow little adjustable bio bed, at the same time… it wasn’t where Lance would be at night. It wasn’t home. On the bright side she’d been upgraded from one guest chair before to now having two, anyway. Well there was an opportunity for a party. There was no window, because they were of course deep within the middle of the deck, no where near the actual hull, but as consolation, a window sized screen along one wall played a false visage of a forest in a breeze. Calliope shuffled across the room to switch the settings to a display of the actual outside of the station. The orbital view was dominated by the arc of Obsidian’s horizon cutting through the panel, and she sighed. That was better.

She watched as the girl untucked the covers of the bed, folding down a corner to make it a little easier to manage.

“I’m afraid I… I haven’t caught your name, Crewman.” Calliope found it hard to admit. The crewman had been helping her bathe for days and she hadn’t even asked her name. She told herself it wasn’t for the same reasons as Lance’s mother would have had— ignoring the help. She just had found it somehow less embarrassing for the girl to help her that personally without putting a name to her. She felt ashamed she had failed to ask for so long.

“My name is Zuzal, Commander.”

“Did you enlist recently?”

“I’m just a recruit ma’am. I’m not officially enlisted for eight months. I’m on a remedial track.”

“Remedial?”

“Yes, I… I never had any formal education.”

“I’m sure you’ll catch up quickly, Miss Zuzal.” Calliope bit her lip to avoid a sympathetic emotion welling up in her for Zuzal’s sake. How was she possibly getting along as an Orion teen? She wanted to quiz it out of her. Instead she remembered something she had wanted to ask. “Can you look into something for me, Zuzal? A personal favor?”

“Of course, Commander. Anything.”

“I need you to look into the unclaimed personal items. I had a pocket knife on me when I was first brought to main sickbay, here on the station. It’s about this long, A folding knife with a wooden inlay and an inscription.”

“What’s the inscription?”

“It says, ‘Draw your own constellations.’ it was a gift. From my mother.”

“I’ll look for it.” Zuzal promised.

“Thank you, Crewman,” Calliope said with a nod.

“But… they may not allow it in the ward.”

“What?”

“Knives. I don’t think they’re permitted in the ward, Ma’am.” While Calliope digested that, Zuzal, seeing the Commander’s distaste at the rule, continued gently acclimating the Commander. “The controls for the holovid are over on this stand. You can adjust the temperature on the door panel or by verbals. There’s a comm button here, and here and here. And voice activated comms and—”

“It’s fine. If I need you, I’ll call you. I promise.”

“Oh, not me. I’m… I can’t work during school hours, Commander. You’ll have to call the attendant at the desk.”

Calliope wanted to insist this was an exception that she could order. That Zuzal could simply bring her studies to sickbay. But that seemed irrational and selfish as soon as she thought of it. “No, of course. I understand. Whenever you’re available. You’re free to go.”

As the door shushed closed, Calliope realized it had inset viewing panels. They were darkened, but likely someone with an access code could untint them and look in on her. It made her feel as though she were in a little glass box.

She shuffled over to the replicator. “Computer, glass flower vase. Narrow with a heavy base, about 20 centimeters.” She directed. The computer made a dull noise and the display read an error code: no glass could be replicated. Calliope pinched the bridge of her nose. “Plastic, plastic vase. With water, half-full.”

The vase materialized and she put her two wilted flowers in it, their stems crossing and leaning away from one another. She put it on the night stand and tried to arrange them, but it was no use. The heads were turned a little downward now, the petals floppy. She told herself they might perk up again now that they had a drink.

And she sat herself on the middle of the bed, propping pillows around her and attempting that find-your-breath thing Walker had been trying to teach her. She gave it her all, as if she could just inhale and exhale her way back out of this lukewarm hell.

 

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