Freya stared at the old book through the glass and tried to follow the scrawl of the late Captain James Hunt. He had entered all his official logs into the computer, even then, but his personal notes he'd written by hand in an old diary of sorts. Freya had seen the book every time she'd been in the captain's office; she'd seen images of it in school as well but she'd never taken the time to truly study it. She was so engrossed with deciphering the script that she didn't hear the door slide open and the current Captain Hunt approach. "Can you read it?" he asked.
Freya jumped and spun around to face him. "Wow, I didn't hear you come in Captain!" she exclaimed.
"My apologies Doctor." Captain Hunt said. He motioned to the book, "My predecessor had horrible hand writing don't you think?"
"I'm not sure any of us would have much better hand writing sir - given that we don't take pen to paper in the same fashion anymore." Freya said.
Captain Hunt nodded and moved toward his desk. "Fair enough. Would you like something to drink?"
"No thank you." Freya said, sparing another glance at the book and then taking a seat across from him.
"You didn't answer me, could you read it?" Hunt asked as he settled into his own chair.
Freya shook her head. "I picked out a few words but most of it was fairly illegible."
"'We are of the stars now; we have no where to call home save the walls of this vessel. It will ferry us through this life as it will ferry our children and our children's children. The fear which brought us together has been replaced by friendship, love and a kindred sense of family. We, all of us, need each other to survive, to thrive, to flourish. We should be returning to Earth now; having grown as scientists, presenting a unitied front to people, giving them hope for the future. But we cannot return, not now, not ever. I pray for those left behind and I pray for those I brought along, my family.'" Captain Hunt stopped and seemed to be studying his coffee cup. "That was written about a year after they fled. The original mission, of course, was only supposed to be for a year - before the Quuvarii came." he smiled. "Unlike you, I've had plenty of time to study it."
"It's both sad and hopeful at the same time." Freya observed. "Leaving behind their home and yet forging newer, stronger bonds between each other the farther they got from home."
Captain Hunt nodded. "That it is Doctor, they became more than a crew then; they were family. They felt every death keenly and celebrated every birth with triumph. Pity that couldn't have lasted." Hunt said, in thought.
"There were only twenty-five people then Captain, hard to look at fifteen hundred people and see them all as brothers and sisters." Freya pointed out.
Hunt merely nodded but didn't seem to necessarily agree with the assessment. "Are you sure about this Doctor?" he asked changing the topic.
"Yes." Freya said, hoping to sound more sure than she felt.
"And do you think you can be impartial and neutral? It won't do any good to send someone in who is holding a grudge - which you'd have fair reason to be holding one." he said.
"I think I can be. To be honest, Captain, I am conflicted. I don't think violence is ever the answer so first and foremost, I want to end that if possibe. But I understand their motives and their desire for change. On the other hand - I wouldn't completely be opposed to see them on the other side of a forcefield..." Freya said with a small chuckle. "As I said, conflicted."
"I can understand that; perhaps that's why they selected you. Naturally they won't give me any real information except to assure me of your safety - which I can't say I entirely trust. This could be a huge risk on your part Doctor." Captain Hunt said.
"I know, believe me I know. I can't honestly explain why I'm agreeing to this because I made the decision without even realizing I was making the decision but it's the right one - that much I know." Freya explained.
"Alright, well, this is what I do know." Captain Hunt started to explain the single message he'd received from the Sons as well as the thin Security file that was mostly filled with conjecture and very little proof or progress.
"What are you thinking?!" the man exploded in Meng's direction. "Inviting one of THEM for talks?! This isn't a time for talking!"
"Dr. Ryan is not one of them" Meng said simply, without response to the man's outburst.
"Well she surely isn't one of us!" he spat. "This is a bad idea!"
Meng watched, with apparent indifference, as the man stormed away from them.
As the door hissed closed behind him, Lana closed the gap between them. She was silent for a moment but Meng knew she was there, waiting to say something. "Out with it." Meng said, not looking at her.
"Maybe...I don't know about this. I'm sure Ryan has a lot of anger for us Meng. She'd just as soon see us floating in space..." Lana said.
"Perhaps." Meng said, still not looking at her. "But my instincts haven't failed me yet."
"Are you willing to bet our lives on instinct?" Lana asked.
"Everything I've done has been based on instinct Lana. I've been betting our lives for months." Meng finally turned to look at her. "It's gotten us this far."
Andy had been talking for a few minutes when she realized her friend hadn't responded with so much as a grunt. She stopped talking and looked at Freya. "Freya? Freya are you listening?"
Freya clicked several times and Andy watched as her eyes darted quickly from the left side of the screen to the right.
"Freeeeeeee-yaaaa" Andy stretched her name out trying to get a reaction.
Before Andy could slam her hand down on the desk to get a response, the doors to the ward hissed open behind her. Andy turned to see Dr. Hapsberg walking in. "Doctor." Andy acknowledged her with a nod.
"Hello Lieutenant." Dr. Hapsberg gave her a friendly smile. She turned her gaze to Freya. "Hello Doctor Ryan."
Andy cringed as Freya immediately looked up at Hapsberg and smiled at her. "Hello Doctor." Freya said standing up and coming around the desk. She didn't so much as look in Andy's direction. "Everything is in place and ready for Mr. Ice's release, I was just finishing up the final discharge."
"Very good." Hapsberg said. "You will ensure he gets to his quarters safely yes?"
Freya nodded. "Of course." For the first time Freya looked in Andy's direction, although briefly. "I think Lt. Kawolski is here to speak with you about the exo-skeleton." she said as she quickly returned her gaze to Hapsberg.
Hapsberg looked between them, momentarily looking confused but nodded. "I'll prep Mr. Ice for discharge." Freya said before leaving Andy standing there feeling confused and hurt.
Less than an hour later, Freya wheeled Julian into his quarters. He'd been silent during the discharge proceedings and the trip from the medical ward to his quarters. In the passing week, his optimism had slowly started to break down.
Freya suspected he'd hoped the exo-skeleton would be done before he'd ever left the ward, so he could walk out on his own two feet - in a matter of speaking.
"Engineering has been here, they added a few support bars, lowered the gravity some to make it easier for you to move from the chair to the couch, bed, whatever..." Freya trailed off.
"Yes, Andy explained it all to me, you explained it all to me before, Dr. Hapsberg explained it all to me. I know." Julian said, his voice verging on angry.
Freya took a steadying breath and followed as he started to wheel himself further into his quarters. "Do you need anything? Are you hungry?"
"I think I can take care of myself Freya!" Julian snapped. For a second, he looked at her, his eyes full of rage and then he turned away from her. "I'll be fine thanks." he said quietly.
Freya nodded. "Okay. Um just use the comm if you need anything. There's always someone in the medical ward..." Freya said.
She knelt in front of him but he stubbornly kept his gaze on the table, away from her pleading and pained eyes. "Or you can call me." she said softly. He didn't look at her, even as she lingered beside him a moment longer. Finally she stood and left the quarters with a heavy sigh, collecting her data pad as she left. She knew that it would take time for Julian to come to terms with things; she knew that he'd go through a range of emotions. Intellectually she knew all that - but it still stung.
Once the door was closed behind her, she stopped in the hall to try to shake off the feeling of rejection. She was about to turn and leave when she heard the clink of heels on the metal deck. She turned to find the source of the sound and briefly wished she hadn't.
"Freya..." Andy said sadly. "Look, I'm sorry okay? I probably shouldn't have told him..."
"Probably?!" Freya practically shouted. She pinched her eyes closed for a moment and quickly lowered her voice. "He was sure he'd be walking out of the ward...walking Andy! Because of you!"
"I'm sorry! I didn't think he'd...." Andy's words were cut off.
"You're right about that, you didn't think! You got him seeing visions of himself running and swimming and fighting with the best of them; and then I had to come in and give him a dose of cold, hard reality! IF! IF the exo-skeleton works - it's still only going to give him the ability to walk, slowly." Freya swallowed back more angry words.
"There's nothing wrong with giving him hope!" Andy retorted, now feeling angry herself.
"Hope for something possible yes...even if there is a chance of failure but at least it's possible. You don't understand Andy....He will never be the same person he was before. Never. We don't have the technology, we don't have the means." Freya's anger fell apart into the same feeling of sadness she'd been coping with since Julian had been hurt.
"I'm sorry Freya." Andy said simply.
"I'm sorry too." Freya said softly. After a few minutes of silence between them, Andy finally just nodded minutely and left.
Freya started in the opposite direction when the lights in the cooridor shut off; she could see lights in the adjoining corridor though. She walked a couple steps more before she was seized on either side by strong arms. "No need to struggle Doctor." one of them said as a blindfold was slipped over her eyes and tied firmly.
Freya dropped her data pad on the ground as she was roughly pushed through the darkness. One of her captors was more rough than need be considering she didn't resist or struggle. The other held her so loose that she probably could have gotten away from him if it weren't for his partner.
Andy was walking quickly from the Freya - she was sorry for what she'd done and she hated being at odds with Freya but still...what was wrong with a little hope? She stopped and vowed she'd go back, catch up with Freya and continue their discussion through - even if it turned into another argument. She didn't turn but did start walking again. "Oh crap!" she said, turning back. She practically ran back to Julian's quarters. The whole reason she'd been there was to see Julian but seeing Freya had made her forget.
She came to an abrupt halt when she saw the discarded data pad on the floor. She looked around curiously, as if the owner would materialize suddenly and then remembered seeing Freya holding a data pad before. She stooped to pick it up, and sure enough it was from the medical department.
"Freya?" she called out. She looked into the adjoining corridor but saw nothing to alarm her. She glanced at the data pad again curiously and then shrugged and resolved to return it to Freya when she saw her again. She returned to Julian's door and rang the chime.