The Phantom of Choice

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Several days had passed since we started to get to know the ship. It was very interesting experience for me. Yes, I was on the ship under colonel Jemovitch, but just for few days, I didn’t exactly know how the ship works. Now – as the colonel, leading officer of the ship – I had to know every single thing. Literally. I had to know how to pilot the ship, how to read the navigation maps, how to work with the communication systems, how to make sure life support is fully operational and working. We were not going to have officers specially trained for all this on the ship, so we have to handle this alone. When I asked, the general simply said there is no space for all those people on board. That the Explorer type of ships will require only the most basic personnel not to waste forces.

And so, I was learning about every inch of the ship. Also the pilot – Minrod Duncke – was learning with me. We both had a task to understand the ship. For him, it was clearly easy, he served on several ships before and they all had a very similar control systems. He was a quiet man, very observing to even smallest details, he never hesitated to help me. After few days, we had to perform few simulations and his skills as a pilot were also impressive. I am sure I will not waver to put my life into his hands.

The doctor, chief scientist Micklinar Lamreak, was his name, on the other hand was a pain in the butt. Brilliant, there is no doubt about it, but with lacking manners, feelings and empathy. He only saw himself and the ship. If any one of us moved just a bit differently than we were supposed to, he became furious. Not to mention when I once failed to push the buttons in a correct order and fast enough. If only he wasn’t the only person qualified for this, I would have kicked him out off the ship long ago.

Serf Ancelmus was responsible for robots. He was joking a lot. Every single thing he saw, he considered funny. However, during one of the simulations side of the ship got damaged by asteroids, his performance was on the top. The grace, he was using to control the robots and repairing the damage was one of its kind. I knew, in key moments I can put my trust into him handling the situation. Also the robots, when they joined the construction of the ship, the whole process became much faster. They were able to do the tasks much faster than ordinary workers and with much greater precision.

During the days, I was able to talk to Knave for a moment. Seems like most of his memory got deleted, but he was able to restore missing information. I smiled on his rebellion. Seems like, I will have to watch over his petit crimes. Not that I will do something that might cause any harm to him. I like to have comrade in crime on my ship.

The last member was the medic I knew from training camps. Srura Neydarb. Kind woman in nature, wild in heart. Once, I was injured by shrapnel of a training bomb and she was on duty when it happened. She took care of me perfectly; her sewing didn’t even a leave scar on my leg. But the potion she gave me was... One could call it miraculous; it healed the wound in less than a day. On the other hand, first day I spent in some sort of hype state – I broke every single record ever done – and the next few days I thought I caught a new form of plague. The fever, the vomiting, the exhaustion... Worst sickness of my life. Trusting her with lives of all members on the board, sure why not. Trusting the weird potions she uses, hell no!

And the worst on it was, that now she was testing the medical equipment on the ship. And what is even worse, she was testing it on us. She kept saying, it was harmless and at least we won’t need medical testing before leaving the planet.

“No really, you don’t have to worry about a slightest thing. I will take good care of you. After all, it is just some blood testing and scans. Nothing harmful, nothing that you don’t know,” she said to everyone who entered her horror room also known as infirmary.

“Just, please, no more odd potions on the board of the ship,” I warned her as I laid down under scanners.

“But, colonel, it was not a weird potion, it cured your injury perfectly.”

“Yes and caused serve digesting problems.”

“But I did not know your kind reacts so badly with the herbs! You are so rare, I had never had chance to work with you before so I could not know,” she protested again.

I thought about something: “what would you say on an agreement. You can develop and try new potions and new medicines here, but before you give it to any crew member you will start a simulation showing every single side effect it may have. As I am sure, today you will get all the data needed from us, so there shouldn’t be any problem on doing such simulations.”

“That’s a splendid idea! I love it!”

And! Do not forget to ask for permission from crew members before you use it.”

“Yes, yes, yes, I will. Good grief, I am so happy! It was fate that brought us together.”

“No, it was a bad rope that could not handle my weight,” I corrected her, remembering our first meeting.” She laughed. She was the only Wanderer I knew, who was able to work with emotions so well. That is why I was always secretly suspecting her of not being a pure Wanderer. But I never had chance to ask. But on the journey I will have access to files of every member.

No, I will not spy on them. I am not such person. They deserve to have privacy even in this small space.

“Oh right, that is true. Now let us start with the scanning, shall we? You don’t have to worry, it will take just few seconds. The computer will calculate the results immediately.”

She took few steps to a wall opposite of the scanner and pushed few buttons. The table under me lighted in a dime light firstly green, then blue, then red and after again green. This went on for few more times until the table under me beeped.

“The process is done now, you may stand up. You are well beside a small lack of vitamins in blood. The ship will automatically add them into your food.”

“Wait, what?”

“The ship, it will be preparing our meals, it is the best way how to make sure we have all we need. It will prepare portions that are perfect for us. So if we lack something it will add more of the food that has it. Like, in your case, you lack some minerals so it will give you more vegetable containing it. But all that was said during the first moments here on board, you were not listening?”

“Of course, I was, it was just too much information for me to remember all.”

“Right,” she smiled knowing my lie. “Next, please. Oh, hello, Micklinar. It has been some time since I worked with someone of our kind.”

“Can you hurry up? I have a lot of work to do.”

“Oh, always in hurry. Okay lay down here I start with scans and blood test can wait till you have more time.”

“I will not have more time.”

“Oh, you. Thank you, colonel, you may go now.”

“See you later,” I smiled and walked away. I was hearing sounds from the infirmary long after I left it. There was some kind of strange beeping, but I did not pay attention to it.

The tests were over for me and also learning all the systems. General promised I can have few days off, visiting my family, if I finish everything before the ship departure date. Although it was only four days from today, but at least I can go to my brother. Who knows when I will be able to see them next.

Doll! I have to get a toy for the little girl. If I forget again, she will be scared of me again. On my way to the military headquarters I saw a toy store. I went in and chose the best looking doll I could find. I really hope she will like it.

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