“These two should really get some rest,” I said. In nearly any other situation, it would have been much easier for me to push back. It wasn’t a lie or an exaggeration. The Raven crew were still not back to their old selves, and the stress of questioning wasn’t going to get them to heal any faster.
Emeric glared at Willow. “I’m going back to the bridge until our new crew members can provide me with more answers. Let me know as soon as they are ready to talk more.” Without waiting for even a nod from me, he spun on his heels and I could tell that something had changed. His uptight, militaristic nature was back in full swing, and I didn’t really know what to expect from him next.
As the door to the bridge shut behind him, I felt an odd sense of relief. The feeling took me by surprise. I thought about how stiff and stern Captain Emeric was during our training and assessment process. I remembered how displeased he was to be going with civilians on the trip, despite Interstellar Humanity being a public company and not a government or military organization.
“The captain,” I took a deep breath, paused for a moment and tried to decide what to say. “He’s military, you know? They have that way about them. He’s actually fairly nice underneath it all. You just have to give him time to warm up to you.”
Willow nodded, and proceeded to awkwardly shift and roll to her side. “Gravity,” she said.
“Oh?” I delicately probed, turning toward Skyler’s pod to check his vitals again. I tapped on the display and waited for it to bring up the information that I would need to make a detailed assessment.
“I never thought I’d feel the weight of my own body again. It’s so strange to have the resistance. Of course that also means that the thin padding of a cryo pod, even one as nice as this can quickly feel uncomfortable.”
“I guess it would be strange after so long.”
“How is he?” She asked, and I knew she meant Skyler.
I looked at the diagnostic display. The information was showing that his vitals were still heavily depressed compared to what they should be. He was simply not recovering as quickly as expected. “He’s stable, for now.” I tried to make my voice sound optimistic.
“It doesn’t seem like he is doing so well. Are you sure he’s okay?”
“Well, long term cryo sleep has been proven to be very risky. Human bodies just aren’t built to handle long term stasis. A lot of tests and experiments, that were probably going on when you two were sent out into space, had tragic results. Not long after the two of you were sent out, the laws were changed to prohibit cryo sleep of longer than twelve consecutive months.” I turned to face Willow.
There was a look of confusion on her face. I could tell that she had many questions for me, but as she audibly inhaled, I felt that she was waiting for me to continue.
“Honestly, all of that changed when I was just a kid, I don’t remember much of it. I read what I could about the potential effects, so that I would be able to help the two of you, but there wasn’t much useful literature on the subject. The information that I did find seemed to be polarized to the point where I was expecting you to either wake up fine or…”
“Or not wake up at all?”
“Yeah, pretty much.”
“Did we make it?” I jumped as Skyler shouted behind me. “Why is nobody answering me?” He shifted in the cryo pod again, his muscles tensing and releasing as his limbs flailed about. “Willow!” He shouted. After a ten second pause, he shouted again, “Willow?”
“Can he hear us?” She asked.
“I’m not sure”, I said honestly. “Maybe if you yell.”
“I’m here!” Willow hollered.
“Beer? Did we bring some? Are we celebrating?”
Willow rolled her eyes. “Here!” She tried again, “like present.”
“What? I don’t get it!”
She looked to me as if seeking my guidance. I shrugged. I took a penlight from the small storage compartment on Skyler’s pod. I waved it in front of his eyes, and his pupils didn’t respond.
“Yes!” Willow yelled.
“Did we make it?” Skylar loudly asked again.
“No!” Willow’s voice cracked with the strain.
“You are on a new ship!” I tried to enunciate my words clearly and slowly.
“Who is that? Why do I hear a different voice?” Skyler’s face contorted. I could almost see the gears turning in his mind.
“My name is Anaya. I am the medic on a ship called Lalonde’s Dream.”
“Why?” He yelled after a moment.
“Why what?” I quickly responded.
“Why the new ship?”
I wracked my brain for how to respond concisely so he would be able to understand. “The Raven broke!”
“Yes!” My throat hurt from the strain of yelling.
I didn’t know how to respond in a way he would understand. After opening and closing my mouth a few times, I settled on: “Too complicated.”
“We have to go back!” He began flailing again. “Get me back on the Raven! Willow?”
“You can’t.” I placed my hands firmly on his shoulders, and tried to keep him contained in the cryo pod. I contemplated giving him a sedative, but decided that was far more risky than giving him a stim. I had to try reasoning with him.
“Skyler!” Willow said, her voice suddenly quite strong. “Not now! It’s broken! Use your brain!”
Skyler stopped fighting me. “We need to fix it.”
“Later.” Willow’s voice was still loud and commanded authority. “You need rest. Sleep.”
Skyler nodded, and fell quiet.
I turned my attention back to Willow. “Are the two of you close?”
She laughed. A good hearty belly laugh. It took her a moment to catch her breath. “No,” she replied.
I started a full medical scan on both cryo pods. It was an interesting opportunity to continue to explore the effects of long term cryo sleep, and even better, I had two test subjects that used the same cryo technology in different ways over an extended period of time. The opportunity set my medical mind afire. With the legal limitations of long term cryo sleep, this was a rare opportunity to review what had happened to Skyler and document his recovery. It certainly seemed to fit the reason for the legal restrictions, as his recovery was much slower than Willow’s.
“I need to check on some data. Will the two of you be alright here for about an hour?”
Willow smiled. “Sure, but when you get back, bring food, okay?”
“After I’m done here, I’ll make sure you both get fed.”
“Can’t we just put him back in cryo?” Willow scoffed.
I had the medical data transferred to the displays in my personal quarters. I knew I probably shouldn’t have left the Raven crew alone, but I felt awkward reviewing the information in front of them. I was glad that I did. The results were unmistakeable, staring me right in the face. I ran the tests again to be sure, but the results did not change. The worst part of all was that, if we were on Earth there would be no issue, she never would have gotten this far gone, and even if she did, she would be given treatments and it wouldn’t be an issue. But out here in space, with what limited medical equipment I had, there wasn’t a chance.