I still don’t know how, but we managed to make our way back down to beneath the Main Reactor in time to avoid running into anyone. No alarms went off, no warning messages sounded in my mind or across whatever strange things Lindsi could see in her apparently augmented vision. She loaded up the plate we’d removed earlier and took it back down the lift beneath the Reactor in nervous silence. There wasn’t much either of us could say to each other; all it felt we could do was wait and see if we were discovered. So as she dropped off the shielding plate in a containment chamber for reprocessing, reported to her supervisor, and started back towards the Habitat Dome, we both waited for the weight to lift.
“Do you think we’re safe?” she asked me eventually, even her whisper tense.
Well, nobody seems to have set off any alarms…
It wasn’t very helpful, but it was the best I had to offer. And nobody did, not when we made our way back to Brandia Dome, not when we retreated to the edge of a small and rusting playground and the place where I’d found Lindsi the first time, sitting with her sister. Lindsi sat on the wall, and I did too, next to her. She could have touched me, if there had been anything to touch.
“You know,” she said quietly, “this is where I was when all this started.”
I nodded. I did know. I’d been here.
“I was sitting here with Kima when I heard… or I thought I heard… something. I don’t know.” She shook her head, frowning a little. “It sounded like someone was in trouble, but I couldn’t make out the words. And I felt like I could follow it, even though I couldn’t see anything. It led me right to the Medical Bay. Crazy, huh?” Lindsi paused. “Maybe it was the Ship. I didn’t even really know it could talk to us normal people.”
You said before that people say it was holding us back, I said quietly. But for as long as I can remember, it’s helped us. Someone must have silenced it for a reason, to keep it from telling us what was wrong.
“Yeah.” Lindsi brought one foot up onto the wall, hooked her arm around that knee. “But what do we do about it? It’s going to be pretty obvious if we change all the permissions again, and I don’t think the code we have is going to let us lock other people out.”
You’re right. I paused. But we know what’s wrong. Is there any way we could tell people?
“Who would we tell?” She blew upwards at her fringe, flipping unruly silver hair out of her eyes. “And what could they do about it? I at least have… this, and you. Most people are working hard enough as it is just to get by.”
I thought for a while, while Lindsi began kicking her other foot back and forth, knocking lightly against the wall. She was right. And we couldn’t count on everyone being like her, on seeing just how much more important than their day to day lives this was. Particularly when they had no proof any of it would happen. Neither did we, really, but the risk wasn’t one we could afford to take. Even so, I knew I had an advantage there. I’d seen things how they were supposed to be. Only people’s grandparents had any hope of remembering those days, and they would have been young then. Depending on how quickly it had happened, of course, but it didn’t seem as if people like Lindsi’s parents would have really known it another way. Wouldn’t have known a better ship…
Lindsi stopped banging her heel on the wall and looked at me. “What?”
We know the water system layout now, right? And I know all four Domes are built the same way underneath. We have to fix the whole Ship, not just our part of it, so — why don’t we send a message to the other three maintenance departments? Or at least to the people who work there, I amended, thinking about the new hierarchy. I had no way of knowing how far down the corruption actually went. We tell them what we did and how we did it. And ours, we should warn them about all the broken filters and things down there. Maybe we can even tell them what parts they need.
“You can remember all that?”
I thought about it. Uh… yeah. I thought about it some more. It wasn’t there, it wasn’t bothering me, the same way any old memory doesn’t bother you, basically nonexistent unless you think about it. But I was thinking about it, and I realised I could play back in my head everything we’d done down in filtration. Every step. Lindsi’s high leaping, my floating. The serial numbers of the tanks we drained and the tanks we filled. I… I remember everything. Like my memory for everything we’ve done is perfect.
That was a long way short of describing how I felt. It was so strange. I mean, sure, my memory had never been terrible. I knew what had happened days, months, years ago, it’s not like I made a habit of forgetting important stuff. But this was something else, perfect crystal clarity. Like when you wake up after some really vivid dream, and just for a moment you remember the whole thing, but afterwards you remember the feeling of remembering and you wish you had the memory back. I was remembering everything, and it wasn’t going away.
I must have been staring blankly at my knees, because Lindsi asked me if I was all right.
“Hey, you okay?”
I’m fine. It’s just… it’s really strange. And I hadn’t even realised. It’s all there. Everything we did, I remember it. Thinking back through it all, the command ‘Stop the destruction of this ship’ echoed again in my mind. That was the last thing the Ship had said to us, to me and Lindsi, before whatever had happened to her had happened. I can tell them everything. I paused. Or you can, anyway.
“Yeah, well, not on my own.” Lindsi smiled a little. “My memory doesn’t feel too different to how it always was.” She got up. “Let’s go back to mine and get started.”
Right! And I got up and followed her.
The Fused by V. L. Bending is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.