Freya took a deep breath as she stood outside the forbidding door. She looked over at the trigger pad and lifted her hand to push the button but hesitated.
"He's expecting you." a female voice said from behind her. Freya turned and looked at a young, unfamiliar bridge officer. She seemed nice enough, her eyes seemed to be filled with compassion. Freya wondered who she was, distracting herself from the door and the trigger pad. "Doctor?" the girl looked confused as Freya continued to survey her. "Doctor? The Captain is waiting." she said again to Freya.
Freya blinked and nodded, turning her attention back to the door. She raised her hand and pressed the trigger which would alert those inside to her presence. Would there be more than just the captain in there? Were they waiting to question her? Fire her? "Come" came a muffled, but firm, voice from behind the door. It slid open and Freya was surprised to see only the Captain sitting casually behind his desk. "Come in Doctor Ryan."
"I'm not a doctor Captain." Freya said automatically as she walked in and stood before his desk.
"As far as I'm concerned, you are. You certainly proved yourself in the last few days as a promising doctor." Captain Hunt said leaving no room for argument.
Freya said nothing. She wasn't a doctor, she couldn't be a doctor; but she couldn't argue with the Captain. "You wanted to see me sir?" she said to change the topic.
"Yes." Captain Hunt said standing up. He paced behind his desk for a moment, saying nothing and then turned his attention back to Freya. "It wasn't your fault." he said finally.
Freya looked at him startled. Of all the things that had cascaded through her mind during the walk to his office - that was not what she had expected. "Sir?"
"Dr. Finn's death - it wasn't your fault." he repeated. Somehow he managed to say at with absolute certainty and truth even though Freya knew otherwise.
"Yes sir." she said simply.
"But you don't believe me." Captain Hunt said - a statement, not a question.
"No sir." she said looking down at her feet. She'd spent days looking over the scans that had registered in the final moments of Dr. Finn's life. She spent her nights tossing and turning trying to figure out what had happened, what she should have done differently - she still didn't have an answer and was unwilling to accept that he'd died of natural causes.
"You did everything you could - more than another doctor with your experience could have actually." He persisted, trying to convince her. When she made no reply he sat back down behind his desk. "Doctor Hasberg will return to duty in four weeks as the new Chief Medical Officer; until then you are the acting chief medical officer. Dismissed."
"Aye Captain." Freya said. She left his office quickly, not sparing a glance for anyone on the bridge. That hadn't been what she was expecting at all. Deep in her scattered thoughts, she barely registered where she was going until the laughter of children brought her attention back to the present. She had just passed the school and children were running around on the deck playing. She gave them a smile and as she looked around her eyes fell on the religious temple that sat next to the school.
She'd never been a particularly religious person; the scriptures passed through the generations made no room for embryotics like herself. She'd wondered how much of the religion had come from Earth of old and how much had developed on Unity. She stood, staring into the temple for several moments, before walking inside. No one was around to disturb her - even Master Pena was gone. 'All the better' Freya thought as she looked around the temple.
The room was decorated in rich reds and browns. They had dedicated some of the ship's minimal wood supplies to build the alter and adorn the temple. Master Pena preached mostly about the ancestors as if they were gods but Freya couldn't remember him actually mentioning a superior being. Maybe that's why Freya had a hard time accepting his religion. The ancestors were real people, long dead - with no power over current events. They weren't gods at all! Although sometimes they seemed more like myth and than real history.
Freya looked around the temple room as if seeing it for the first time. She ran her finger along the dark wood railing and gazed into the illuminated globes that lined either side of the temple. Some said they represented the master blood lines of the ancestors. Others said they represented the planets that had been visited by the original ancestors. Freya wondered if they were simply decoration.
"Freya?" Julian said softly, startling her from her reflection.
"Hmm?" Freya murmured still looking into one of the globes. Julian came to services almost every week. He wasn't particularly religious but he was ancestral - his blood was as pure as they came and he'd been raised to attend services, a practice he'd continued into his adulthood. His aunt was on the Council and she expected him at services - she knew when he didn't go.
"Are you alright?" he asked putting his hand on her shoulder.
"Not particularly." Freya said, not turning to look at him. He turned Freya around to face him. His face was full of concern, of love and longing. "Just thinking Julian." Freya said trying to give him a weak smile.
Julian pulled Freya into a tight embrace and started to walk her out of the temple.
Freya stopped walking and turned to him. "Julian." she looked down at her feet, pausing to gather her thoughts. "Julian...do you believe..." she looked around the temple once more as if the clarity would come to her this time. "In all this?"
Julian ran his hand through his hair. "I don't know Freya. I mean I don't think the ancestors were gods or anything but I like to think there is something greater."
Freya nodded but said nothing. "I have to go." When Julian looked like he was about to object, she continued. "To the medical ward. I have to go to the medical ward." she said. She gave him a quick kiss on the cheek and left before he could say anything.
"Freya wait!" Julian called after her but she was obviously in a hurry or had no intention of turning back to him. Julian sighed and ran his hand through his hair again. He left the temple and walked in the opposite direction as Freya had gone.
Freya pushed her confusing thoughts out of her mind as she approached the medical doors, determined to focus on her job for the next several hours at least. She closed her eyes to find focus and walked through the doors. When she opened them, Dr. Hapsberg was sitting at the computer. "Doctor Hapsberg!" Freya said startled.
"Ah Doctor Ryan." Dr. Hapsberg said with a warm smile. "Don't worry I'm not back officially. Captain Hunt asked me to look over Dr. Finn's case."
Freya's face fell. Maybe the Captain didn't believe in her as much as he seemed to after all. "Oh." she said simply.
Dr. Hapsberg smiled again. "He just wanted another medical opinion, to confirm what he already knew. It wasn't your fault Dr. Ryan."
"I'm not a doctor." Freya said again. It was the only point she could argue.
"Yes you are, just because you're not allowed to be tested doesn't mean you don't have the training and skills." Dr. Hapsberg said. Clearly she was not a traditionalist like Dr. Finn had been.
Freya didn't say anything in response. She appreciated the faith both Hapsberg and Captain Hunt seemed to have in her but she couldn't find the confidence to believe them.
"You don't believe me." Dr. Hapsberg said. "I understand, the first loss is usually the hardest one. The fact that you feel his death so intently; in spite of the fact that he was - well the way he was - makes me feel even more sure that you will be a wonderful doctor full of compassion and good will." She paused, allowing Freya to reply but when she didn't, Hapsberg collected her data. "Well, you're in charge here for awhile yet; I'm going home to my baby. Good luck Doctor." she said warmly and then left.
Freya waited for the hiss of the door closing before she turned to verify that Hapsberg was, in fact, gone. The ward was empty; which Freya thought should be pleasing but the utter lack of patients left her mind time to wander. Several hours later, without a single patient, Freya dragged herself out of the ward. She's worked halfway into the next shift hoping to be exhausted when she crawled into bed so she was sleep for once. Without realizing it, she walked to Julian's door instead of her own quarters. She was about to turn when the door slid open. Julian put his arm around her and walked her to the couch. With little energy left, she opted not to fight him.
"You look exhausted." Julian said brushing a strand of her hair behind the ear.
"I am. I hope I am." Freya said with a large yawn. "I want to sleep so I really hope I am."
"You haven't been sleeping?" he asked.
Freya's eyes drooped closed for a second as she slowly shook her head. She raised her hand and swirled it slowly in a circle near her forehead as if to convey that her mind was swirling but Julian only looked on confused by the gesture.
"Lay down Freya." Julian instructed. She attempted to argue but she was already half asleep. He gently laid her on the couch. Her eyes were already closed and her breathing slowed. He sat beside her for awhile stroking her hair softly until she seemed to shiver. "Lights dim" he said softly. The lights immediately dimmed, emitting a soft glow. Julian quietly stood to get Freya a blanket.
He tucked the edges of the blanket around her and kissed her forehead gently. "Sleep well." he whispered.
The service for Dr. Harold Finn was held in the religious temple. The interior of the temple was two small to hold all of the crew that had attended out of respect to a fellow crew member so the deck outside was lined with people. As the civilians and Council members departed the temple, the crew came to attention. Master Pena, as the religious figure of the ship, remained by Captain Hunt's side as he spoke.
"Today we have bid farewell to a member of our crew. Doctor Harold Finn was an excellent doctor and scientist. His medical knowledge was unparalleled on this ship." Captain Hunt paused a moment to consider his words. Master Pena looked on expectantly. "His son and granddaughter survive him. Please give your thoughts to them as they mourn this loss."
Freya could see that Master Pena was about to speak, to lend religious or ancestral meaning to the captains' remarks but Captain Hunt spoke first. "I thank you all for attending today, dismissed." he said. He turned toward Master Pena and nodded solemnly but as he walked away, the corners of his mouth twitched into a faint smile.
Captain Hunt hadn't made it out of sight and the assembled crowd had barely started to disperse when a large explosive sound snapped everyone's attention to the labs across the hall where fire began pouring from the science labs' doors. A second explosion rocked the deck and several people stumbled and lost their footing. Freya saw Captain Hunt already running for the lab, followed by several security officers, Andy and even Julian. Hoping no one was injured, Freya followed them only to be thrown back by a third explosion!
Several engineers closed in to try and get the fire under control while the security personnel kept back onlookers and especially the children who attended school just across the deck. Freya waited anxiously to the side - if anyone was hurt, she couldn't get to them until the fire was out!