Lilly del Morto comes to aboard a strange vessel after the raid on the FV Riot. She meets a medical droid who tells her a little (but not nearly enough) about the ship’s captain.
Anthology of this series:
Aboard the CPT Starship
When First Mate Lilly del Morto came to, she found herself laid out on an exam table in a paper gown and hooked to an IV in a medical bay. She rubbed her eyes and scanned the room; its construction was hard to identify. The paneling looked Ohian, the tech was a mix of Nierdi, Egii, and even Hawkian. This put her on edge. She was just about to pull the IV from her arm when a diminutive off-white droid, maybe three and a half feet tall with caterpillar tracks and almost comically oversized sensor array for a head, wheeled into the room.
“Welcome back to consciousness!” said the little droid in a synthesized voice. “I am Doctor-Module-RX42000, but you can call me Dr. Mod or just Doc, if you prefer. Records from your ship indicate your identity as First Mate Lilly del Morto, Chief Technical Officer, born on Mars 26.342 Earth years ago today. Gender Marker: Female. Height: 5’9” under Earth gravity. Weight: 152 pounds under same. No logged family or kin.” The little droid moved quickly through the room, interfacing with the tech that Lilly had noticed earlier. It continued, “Preliminary genetic scans indicate a mix of Caucasian, African, and Native North American descent. Physical scans indicate no anomalies except evidence of artificial hormonal modification and surgical scarring around the front of your human torso and in the soft tissue on the front of your human pelvis. Also, you smoke.”
Lilly was uncomfortable with how much the droid knew about her, but, as far as she could tell, it wasn’t malevolent. Just ignorant. “You’re not exactly a protocol droid, are you, Doc?”
“My apologies if my comments violate human etiquette. I am unfamiliar with Earthling society and its customs.”
“That makes two of us.” Lilly swung her feet over the side of her bed. “Where the hell am I anyway?”
“You are aboard the Communications for Public Transmission (CPT) Starship, a frigate designated for use as a transmission hub for public textual, audio, and visual broadcasts by the Central Media Authority of the planet Skeigh.”
Lilly looked around and narrowed her eyes. “Hell of a med bay for civilian comm’s ship you’ve got here.”
The little droid paused, as if surprised that she had noticed this. “The Captain believes in being prepared for anything.”
I’ll be he does, Lilly thought. She started stretching her back, arms, and legs, trying to get her circulation moving. “How long was I out?” she asked.
The droid was mixing a solution of fluids dispensed from one of the machines. “Approximately three of Earth days,” it replied. “I’ve been monitoring your vitals and keeping you hydrated. You went through quite a bit of physical and psychic trauma during the attack on your ship. Here, drink this.”
“What is it?”
“A vitamin and nutrient blend designed to your lifeform’s specifications. My brief survey of organic sustenance indicates that it’s best to ease back into digestion after a fast like yours.”
Lilly eyed the phosphorescent blue mixture in the glass. “You sure this is safe to drink?”
“Positively certain.” The droid was watching her. She knew it was probably just waiting to retrieve the beaker once she drank whatever was in it, but it always made her uncomfortable when anything watched her eat or drink.
“Well, bottoms up, I guess.”
She chugged the mixture, but almost spit it out when the droid said, “I take it as a positive sign that the skepticism mentioned in your psych profile seems to have remained intact.”
Lilly choked down the blue goo. “You have my psych profile, too?”
The droid took the glass back from her. “All the data stored in FV Riot’s bridge computers was recovered, along with you and your escape pod. The Captain has tasked our data managers with interpretation, and a building crew is salvaging any workable materials form the wreckage.”
“What?! You can’t pull that ship apart, you scavengers! It’s a disservice to the memory of the men and women who just died defending it.”
“The Captain anticipated you would feel as much. He is more familiar with the organic conceptions of sentiment and emotion than most of our crew. That’s why he had them save you a piece.” A compartment in the droid’s body hissed open, and from it extended a tiny arm holding a metallic band. She recognized the metal as the matte alloy from the chairs and railings on the Riot’s bridge, but it had been re-smelted into a slender oval. Inlaid in the gray metal was a tiny strip of display screen not unlike the monitors on the Riot’s bridge.
Lilly took it and turned it over in her hand. “Is it…a bracelet?” she asked.
“Bracelet! I knew manacle was an inappropriate term for a decoration of this sort. I will be sure to let the Captain know of the correct vocabulary.”
Lilly eyed the droid suspiciously. What the hell kind of creep makes a bracelet and thinks it’s called a manacle? she wondered. She decided to keep the question to herself, but wasn’t afraid to ask, “So, what is it really? Tracker? Shock collar? Monitoring device? Will it inject me with poison if I try to kill you?”
The droid turned from the terminal where it was plugged in and directed its sensor array at her. It almost looked confused, she thought, or hurt at her implication.
“The Captain had it produced for you as a gift. He’s assured me that only you will have access to any data you store. He’s fragmented a part of one of our onboard servers for your use. There’s an option in the bracelet’s menu to wipe this drive at any time, and you are the only one with access to its contents.” Doc turned back to his terminal. “Please try it on.”
Lilly unclasped the lock on the back and slid her left wrist into it. It was the perfect size; maybe a little roomy, but she’d lost a few pounds this week. As she turned her arm this way and that to study the piece, the display came to life. There, rendered in the orange pixels of the bridge’s monitors, appeared an outline of the destroyed ship recreated in painstaking detail. Next to this, in orange typeface, read the word “RIOT” in all caps. Below that, a small button invited her to “Open Interface.” The text seemed to glimmer and sparkle as she moved her arms.
Doc’s treads carried him back over to her. “Excellent. The Captain will be pleased to hear you say so.”
Lilly smoothed her violet hair with the hand of her non-intravenously hydrated arm. “Speaking of the Captain,” she said with a curious lilt in her voice, “do I get to meet the man who I might as well call ‘my hero’?”
“As far as he’s concerned, you’ve already met, but rest assured there will be ample time for a proper introduction soon enough. First, my protocols on caretaking for organic beings suggest that you might be interested in a chance for routine hygienic activities. Is my programming accurate?”
“Yeah, I could use a freshening up. Is there a shower around here?”
“We did not until quite recently. The Captain is, again, more familiar with biological rituals than I, so he had the engineers fashion one and even stopped by the nearest asteroid field to obtain an ice core for clean water supplication.”
Lilly yanked the IV from her arm without a wince. “Pretty accommodating guy, this Captain. He always this nice to strangers?”
“The Captain’s generosity is practically boundless, especially for those who, like himself, he perceives as victims of Hawkian aggression.”
This gave Lilly pause. The entire assault came rushing back to her–the screams of proximity and boarding alarms, the blasts of energy weapons in the cargo bay, the lines of code whizzing in front of her, her Captain’s blue-streaked voice barking commands over the intercom. It hit her then–square in the gut–that the ship, the Riot, and her entire crew were gone. Then, too, she remembered a promise she’d made.
“Alright, Doc,” she said, standing up on uneasy legs. “Take me to this shower, give me a fresh set of threads, and take me to your Captain. I have a mission I think he’s going to like.”