All things ReBoot are property of Mainframe Entertainment. All other things are property of their respective owners.
Oh, yes. I'm using "send" for telepathic messages. See Robotech: The Sentinels by Jack McKinney for more details. A telepathic message is sent, as opposed to said.
Comments, criticisms welcome. MiSTers, even.
Timeline: This takes place in late April 2499, or two days after "Fallen Angel".
Rating: NaCl as usual.
They looked at Susan.
Susan looked at them.
They looked some more at Susan.
Susan felt that some response was appropriate. "What?" she said.
The F'Val looked very worried. "You really have no recollection?" he asked.
"No, I have no damn idea who you people are." She looked around. "And I don't even know where I am. Why am I kept here?"
The other F'Val, the female one, returned from somewhere. She merely shook her head.
Susan felt the tension in the room rise by several notches. "What?" she repeated.
The male sprite sighed, and ran a hand through his hair. "This is not good."
"Where am I?" Susan asked for the twenty-ninth time.
Unsurprisingly, she got an unsatisfactory answer. "You're in the medbay of the Supercomputer," the human female said.
"And how did I get here?"
"We've been through this before," the other human said wearily. Susan noticed that he was wearing some sort of strange high-tech goggles.
"You told me that I was in a coma, and woke up two days ago," Susan said. "That's not a very believable story."
The Khatran began speaking in some language she didn't understand. "I'd appreciate it if you talked in English," she told him snippily.
The Khatran looked surprised. "You didn't know what I said?"
"No. How the hell am I supposed to know what you said?"
"That's strange. You're supposed to be an expert in languages."
Susan felt her temper rising. "I don't care what I'm supposed to be! Who are you to know, anyway?"
"We're your friends," one of the female sprites said.
"Yeah, right. I just met you. How do I know this isn't some trick? Someone playing mind games?"
The goggled guy groaned. "When I find that Zed I'm going to break his neck," he seethed.
"Try to reason things out rationally," the other female sprite said. She had a cold demeanour that Susan didn't like.
"Okay." Susan tried to calm down. "Okay. You told me that this year is 2499."
The others nodded.
"And that I'm a cadet in the Guardian Academy."
"I've apparently been your friends since 2498."
"And I got zapped by a Zed."
"How do I know this isn't some elaborate hoax?"
They shook their heads.
Susan sighed. "Okay. For argument's sake, let's say you're correct, and this isn't a joke. In that case, there's only one possible alternative."
"You lost your memory," the Khatran said.
"I think she's getting it," the goggled guy said to the other human in what he thought was a whisper.
"And I'd appreciate it if you all kept your comments open," Susan said loudly. The goggled guy blushed. "Sorry," he mumbled.
"Can you introduce yourselves again?" Susan requested.
The others sighed. "I'm Nicholas Connelly," the goggled guy said. "Call me Nick."
"I'm Katherine Demarco," the human girl said. "Likewise, Kathy."
"Kavi." This from the Khatran.
"Nar il'Wathi." The male F'Val.
"Ril al'Tana." The female F'Val.
"Peter Xandi." The male sprite.
"Crysta Xandi." The female sprite who looked a lot like the male.
The remaining sprite got up and left.
Susan stared at her departing back. "That wasn't very nice," she said blandly.
"She's Sarah Descan," the male sprite...... Peter said. "She's a bit cold at first, but nice once you get to know her."
"Right." Susan looked at Ril. "Excuse me for saying so, but you look a bit..... well-built for someone allegedly 18 years old."
Ril blushed. Nar blinked. "Are you insulting her?" he said angrily.
"Don't get me wrong, it's just a comment...... and can I ask why you're wearing those weird goggles?"
Nick started. "Oh, these, they're minicomputers of sorts."
"I see. That makes it convenient, then."
"Yeah.... a bit."
Susan sighed. "Great. Now what am I going to do? I seem to have lost my memory, and I have no idea what's happening."
"I suggest you rest here," Ril suggested kindly. "We'll sort things out somehow."
"Okay." Susan looked around. "Can I have something to read, at least? It gets boring in here."
Ril exchanged glances with the others. "Sure," she said carefully. "What would you like?"
Susan thought for a moment. "Fantasy novels will do."
"She remembers," Kathy said quietly.
"She does?" Peter sounded surprised.
"Yes. She asked for Fantasy novels. When she first joined the Academy, she had no reading preferences. Then she read one of my Fantasy novels, and then she's hooked."
"Could be a coincidence," Kavi suggested.
"Yes. But would you give up that thread of hope?"
Kavi thought for a while. "No," he admitted. "Probably not."
"From one brainwipe to another," Crysta said sadly.
"Susan's not brainwiped," Nar protested. "She's merely..... er...."
"Amnesiac?" Crysta suggested.
"Something like that." Nar didn't sound convinced.
"What she said about me.... what was that about?" Ril wondered.
"I wouldn't worry too much if I were you," Nar said quickly.
"Who's telling the Prime?" Peter asked quietly.
"I already know," came a dry voice.
"Prime Jennings!" They all saluted.
"At ease. Sarah told me. So we have a big problem here, don't we?"
"Yes, sir." Nick was depressed. "I don't know how to solve it."
"You don't have to solve it yourself, Nicholas." The Prime was silent for a while. "This is turning into a huge mess."
"Um, sir?" Kavi raised his hand.
"Permission to go to the communications room, sir?"
"Someone has to tell Susan's relatives or protectors," he said.
"Permission denied. You won't have to tell Robert the bad news." Prime Jennings sighed. "I will."
"What's going on?"
Prime Jennings winced. Twelve years, and Robert Galeran still had the ability to invoke immediate obedience from his former aide.
"It's your ward," Jennings said. "She's....."
"She hasn't called for a while, that I know. Now tell me what happened."
"She's...... having some difficulties at the moment."
Robert sighed. "You've been with the Council members for too long, Max. Now cut the legalese and tell me what happened."
"I'm just trying to make it easier."
"For you or for me?"
Jennings was silent. Finally he said simply, "Susan lost her memory."
Robert blinked. "Run that by me again."
"I said, Susan lost her memory."
"Best we could tell, something's preventing her from remembering."
"Let me guess. Telepathy."
"That's our assumption. But we still don't know who's doing it."
"The hell you don't. It's a Zed, isn't it?"
"Zeds are peace-loving. They wouldn't do a thing like this."
"There's always a first time for everything." Robert looked pensive for a moment. "How're the others taking it?"
"You mean her friends? They're shocked, but all of them want to help her regain her memory."
"You don't sound too sure."
"Mainly because we don't have any clue where to begin."
"How about that Nicholas kid? Have him do that computer wizardry thing of his."
Jennings sighed. "Need I remind you of the recent scandal Nicholas nearly got himself in? He's an inveterate hacker. Let him loose on a computer connected to a database, and he'll hack into it."
"We WANT that, don't we?"
"I can keep him out of trouble if he merely hacks into our own databases, but if the media get their hands on it..... There'll be hell to pay."
Robert was silent. "So what can we do now?"
"Wait. It's generally the best solution."
"You haven't changed at all. Always the laid-back one."
"I'm open to suggestions."
"Get another Zed. Have him or her find the link."
"How do we know the Zed we ask isn't the culprit?"
"We don't. But do we have a choice?"
Susan looked as a formless mass of protoplasm went by. "Who's that?" she asked Nick quietly.
"He's Lloyd. One of your friends."
"It, whatever. At least, we think it's Lloyd."
Susan felt light-headed. All these people, all of whom know her, yet she didn't recognize any of them! Where was this place? What was she doing here?
"And there's the cafeteria," Nick pointed out. "The place we usually go to during lunch."
"I know what a cafeteria is," Susan snapped.
"Sorry. Just trying to help."
Susan was momentarily thrown by his meek demeanor. "This isn't like you," she said absently.
Nick's head snapped up. "How did you know that?" he asked surprisedly.
Susan blinked. "I have no idea. It's just..... I can remember a bit of this and that, but I don't know how much of it is my imagination."
"Okay..... the other girl, Kathy, she has an analog alarm clock."
"Nar loves Ril a lot."
"Kavi loves to work out."
"You've lived with Kathy for a long time."
"I used to call you 'Foureyes'."
Nick sighed. "And I thought you were getting your memory back."
"Relax. I was making it all up."
"Then how did you manage to get those four items correct?"
"Well, I've seen the alarm clock, Nar's always with Ril and vice versa, Kavi's very strong so he must work out, and Kathy seems to know you quite well."
"By the way....... are you in love with Kathy?"
Nick stared at her. "Where did you get that idea?"
"Well, you two have been together for a long time...."
"Hey, I treat her like a sister."
"Suits me." Susan looked around. "Who's that?"
"That's my cousin. Archivist John Connelly. He's the head librarian, I think."
"You think? I thought he was your cousin?"
"Very distant. My uncle's sister-in-law's kid."
"Okay.... so how are your parents?"
Nick gulped. "Now where did that come from?"
"Purely a social question. I seem to recall.... having met your father, I think."
"Yes," Nick said carefully. "You did."
"I can't remember what we talked about. I wonder why...."
They turned to see Ril running towards them. "I thought I told you to stay in the medbay," she said reproachfully.
"But it's so boring in there!" Susan complained. "Besides, I ran out of books to read."
Ril exchanged a glance with Nick. "It's for your own good," Ril explained.
"If it's really for my own good, then why are we neglecting my studies?" Susan countered. "If I'm really a student here, then I should be attending classes, right?"
"Well...." Ril looked uncomfortable. "We arranged a tutor."
There was silence as Ril looked at the only other person there.
Nick stared at Ril. "You're not serious."
"I'm afraid I am," Ril said.
"Excuse me," Susan said pointedly. "I'm over here."
"Sorry," Nick said. "Got a bit carried away."
"So now what?" Susan demanded.
"Now," Ril said, gently steering Susan back to the medbay, "you rest. And after that Nick will tutor you in the classes you missed."
Ril looked at Nick. "Ethics, for a start."
"She's a bit bossy," Susan said later.
Nick looked up from the laptop screen. "Excuse me?"
"Ril. She seems to like mothering me a lot."
"Well, she's just that way. It's one of the great mysteries of life."
"Where's that other girl..... damn, I forgot her name..... you know, the sprite...."
"Yes, that's it. Where is she anyway? I never see her around."
"I think she's with the Prime."
"Spends a lot of time there?"
"I think so."
"Another mystery of life?"
"I suppose so."
"You're not as talkative as before," Susan observed.
"I just don't feel like talking. Now if you'll look at line 62...."
The rest of the lesson passed uneventfully.
"What's happening now?" Susan asked Kathy.
As part of Ril's suggestion, Susan was to spend time with the rest of Alpha group, to try and jog some of her memory back. Now she was trying to rediscover what life with her alleged roommate was supposed to be like.
Kathy shrugged. "I dunno. You decide. You always do, anyway."
"Uh-huh. Go watch a holo-flick, hoverblading.... it's your choice."
Susan felt mildly uncomfortable. "I thought we were supposed to be schooling."
Kathy looked at her askance. "Duh. I was talking about the weekends."
Susan kept her temper in check. "Hey, I have no idea who I'm supposed to be. I'm just trying to follow everything you guys tell me."
Kathy shook her head. "You don't get it, do you."
"We're not trying to give you a set of rules to follow. They're just reminders of how you used to be."
"Well, who I used to be and who I am are two totally different things, it seems."
"But we're only trying to help-"
"Don't bother." In a quiet fury Susan got up from where she was sitting on her bed.
"What are you doing?" Kathy asked nervously.
"Packing. I don't care what happens, or if you try to stop me. I'm outta here."
Peter looked up from his essay. He was in the library, and Susan had just slumped into a chair on the opposite side of the room.
Ah, right. His essay could wait.
Peter sat down beside her. "What's the matter?"
Susan sighed. "Nothing, except that I think I just lost my supposed friend."
Peter looked concernedly at her. "Tell me," he said gently.
"Well, I was talking to Kathy, then she said something which made me angry, then I said something back, and it sort of escalated from there."
"Why come here?"
"Well, Kathy left the room in tears, and I felt bad about what I just did. So I went to the first place my heart told me to go."
"You always did come here when you had a problem."
Susan put a hand over her eyes. "Please don't. Don't tell me what I was and what I'm supposed to be."
"It's not my place to say so, I admit," Peter said.
Susan sighed. "I don't think I've ever felt so bad in my life."
"Can I ask how big your argument with Kathy was?"
"We were screaming at each other. Happy?"
This was serious. Susan had never gotten into a major argument with her roommate before. Minor disagreements, yes, but not something like this. "Anything I can do to help?"
"No, not unless you can affect the temporal aspect of the continuum."
"You can't help me unless you can turn back time, and slap me before I said those stupid things."
"So what do you plan to do now?" Peter asked.
"I dunno. Go back to Freymarind, I think."
"What, can't I go back home? My parents must be waiting for me."
Peter stared at her. "Don't you know what happened to your parents?" he asked.
"Never mind." Peter rapidly calculated the possible ramifications of that revelation. None of the outcomes looked good.
This was bad. Very bad.
Kavi was steadily hating the race of Zeds in general.
Kathy had run to him, crying and blubbering something about Susan being an evil witch or something. Kavi guessed that Kathy and Susan had had a big argument, and the only way that could have happened was if Susan was feeling especially frustrated with her lack of memory.
Which led back to the Zed.
Kathy had long since cried herself to sleep, while still holding on to Kavi. Kavi himself was getting various strange looks from the other people in the cafeteria.
He brushed aside a strand of stray hair from her face, then caught himself.
This was wrong. This wasn't how it was supposed to go.
Damn. He wasn't getting soft now, was he?
Susan looked up suddenly. She remembered that Peter had left some time ago, and that she had sat there alone for some time. Now this sprite was holding something out to her.
Susan struggled to remember.... "Sarah, isn't it?"
The sprite nodded. "I think this will help," she said quietly.
Susan took the item. It was a keytool, and looked a bit worn. "Who's is this?" she asked, but the sprite had somehow disappeared.
Susan looked the keytool over. There was a name engraved on the back.
"Flash," Susan read out loud. "Bloody cliched name."
Oh well. She had nothing better to do anyway.
"Flash, name your owner," she ordered.
The keytool gave a beep. "Cadet Susan Gwyndel," came Susan's own voice from the keytool.
For some reason, the answer didn't surprise her. "List functions," she told it.
The keytool displayed a long list. Susan glanced through it.
Hm. Diary? Sounds interesting.
"Activate Diary function." The keytool gave her a further list of options.
"Download into console." She placed the keytool into a slot in a nearby computer. The keytool whirred.
The diary seemed to be big, judging from the amount of time it took to download it. Finally it finished, and gave a blip. Susan took the keytool out, and unconsciously put it onto her arm. Then she settled down to read the file.
The next day, there was an emergency meeting in the library.
"We can't go on like this," Crysta said sadly.
"It's looking hopeless," Ril agreed despondently.
"She seemed a bit shell-shocked when she went back to the medbay last night," Nick commented.
Kathy sighed. "She must still be feeling guilty. I should go apologize to her."
"Where the hell's Sarah?" Kavi asked.
Nar shrugged. "Couldn't find her anywhere."
"Typical," Kavi muttered.
"We aren't here to argue," Peter said firmly. "We're here to discuss our next plan of action."
"We didn't even have one at first," Crysta pointed out. "At least, one that worked."
"Okay, let's do this one problem at a time." Peter looked around. "One, she still doesn't trust us a lot."
Kavi sighed. "Two, she disagrees with what we tell her." He looked at Kathy.
Kathy got up. "I guess now's as good a time as any to apologize."
Peter watched her go. "Was that really necessary?" he asked Kavi.
"Okay," Peter continued, "there's also the fact that Susan seems to have forgotten most of the bad things that happened to her."
"Is that a good thing or a bad thing?" Ril asked quietly.
Peter paused. "Actually, I have no idea."
"She can live her life as normal, without having to worry about anything else anymore," Ril continued. "We can just tell her that her parents are on extended vacation, and that she'll be staying with Mr. Galeran for a while. No more painful memories, or bad experiences."
"Put like that," Nick said, "it does seem to be a good deal."
"So what I want to know is," Ril said, "are we doing the right thing now? Are we correct in assuming that Susan even WANTS her memories back?"
The others were silent.
"I'm also worried about something else," Ril said quietly. "Are we trying to get Susan's memories back for her sake..... or for ours?"
Nar broke the long silence with a sentence that echoed all their thoughts:
"I wish we knew."
Susan looked up, and immediately looked away again. "Hello, Kathy," she mumbled.
Kathy sat down beside her. "I'm sorry about yesterday," she said.
"No, I should be the one apologizing. I was in the wrong." Susan looked at Kathy. "You were trying to help me. Thank you for that."
"Yes, but we expected too much of you. We thought that with a few words, you would be back to your old self."
Susan smiled weakly. "I thought so too. I guess we were both wrong, then." Susan's smile faded. "I feel that I seemed to be a different person then."
Susan held up the keytool. "I found the diary," she said simply.
Kathy gasped. "Then that means..."
"Yes, I know the truth now. I was stupid to think any different. You're all my true friends."
"Susan...." Kathy wasn't sure how to continue.
"Don't worry. I'll try to cooperate from now on." Susan flashed a brief smile. "And I'll try not to be a total bitch."
Kathy smiled as well. "Thank you."
They said nothing for a while. Finally Susan broke the silence. "I keep feeling that the person who wrote the diary is a totally different person."
"In a way, she is. We're all different, then and now. Events and experiences help shape our personalities. And the end result may not what everyone else expects."
"That sounded philosophical."
There was a long pause. Finally Susan asked, "Can I ask you something?"
"What was Nick's relationship with me? Friends or..... something else?"
"Why do you ask?"
"The diary seemed to place an importance on Nick's well-being. I think..... the old me used to love him."
Kathy gave a half-smile. "You're partly right."
"What do you mean?"
"Well, you two were always at each other's throats. But when something serious happened to either of you, the other always came to the rescue."
"Oh. Like the Dark Sentinel business. I never thought I would be as crazy as that."
"Well, you both got through unscathed. Relatively, at least."
"Oh, yes, there's something I have to ask you. About Kavi."
Kathy blinked. "What?"
"I was reading the diary, and it said something about Kavi being involved with the hacker that put Nick in jail. Do you know anything about it?"
Kathy thought for a while. "I don't think so."
Susan shrugged. "Never mind. I don't think it's important, anyway."
The two of them sat there awkwardly, neither knowing what to say. In the end, Kathy stood up. "I think we should rejoin the others. I believe they're expecting us."
Susan shook her head. "No thanks, you go. I don't think I can face them now."
Susan watched Kathy leave, then stared into space for a moment. She stood up, and walked towards the medbay exit as well. When she was halfway there, she stopped, and then keeled over.
No-one saw her.
Alpha group (minus one) all stood at attention when the Prime entered the library.
"At ease," Prime Jennings said. "Since when did you people become so formal?"
"Well," Nick said, "it is how our instructors told us to greet you."
"Remind me to have a word with them," Prime Jennings said dryly. Then his expression grew serious. "This is Jeremy. He'll help us find out what's wrong with Cadet Gwyndel."
All eyes turned to see the new arrival. The reaction was not favourable.
"A Zed," Kavi said flatly.
Prime Jennings shot him a look. "Need I remind you, Cadet Kavi, that racism is not tolerated among the Guardians."
"Sorry," Kavi mumbled.
The Zed looked at them, and they could all hear his mental voice. I understand why you hate our kind. But I assure you, I am here to help.
Crysta sidled over to the Prime. "Are you sure we can trust him?" she whispered.
"We don't have a choice," Prime Jennings said at normal volume. "And don't bother whispering, Cadet Xandi, he can hear your thoughts perfectly well I believe."
I can understand your apprehension, Jeremy sent. You are all concerned over your friend. I cannot give you any more assurance that I am trustworthy. The only assurance I can give is my word that I am not the one to blame for Susan's condition.
Grudgingly, the others accepted his word. "Nick," Ril said, "can you please get Susan to come here? This may be the chance we were waiting for."
Nick nodded, and exited.
"Out of interest," Kavi said conversationally, "who else other than you people can zap a person mentally?"
Almost none, Jeremy sent.
"So that doesn't leave us much choice, does it?"
"Kavi," Ril said placatingly. "I'm sorry, Mr. Jeremy-"
Just Jeremy will do.
"Okay, Jeremy..... we're just not really prepared to risk Susan any more. If, with all due respect-"
I am the culprit? If so, then do you think I would have bothered coming all the way here, in the middle of the Guardian headquarters?
"He does have a point," Peter said.
"You said 'almost none'," Sarah noted. "Care to explain?"
There may be others that have such powers. Viruses come to mind.
"Viruses?" Nar said skeptically.
I believe there are a few recorded cases of viral mind-control over non-sprites. The System 591 case is a good example.
The others nodded. In that, a class 17 virus had somehow managed to turn an attacking force of humans against themselves. It was only after the humans had arranged for a group of Zeds to accompany them that the mind-control stopped.
Nick came running back, out of breath. "Small problem," he informed them.
"What?" Crysta demanded.
"As in, not there."
Can you find her? Jeremy asked.
"I thought you would know," Kathy said.
I can easily extract information from your minds. However, I choose not to. There's a difference there.
Prime Jennings nodded. "We can locate her by using her keytool. I assume she still has it?"
Sarah, who had been in the corner, nodded. "I'm tracing her now," she said.
"Where is she?" Kavi demanded.
"She's in sector G-22. She doesn't seem to be moving much."
"Sector G-22...." the Prime mused. "That's strange. There's nothing of interest there."
"Apart from the power reactors, maybe?" Sarah suggested.
Prime Jennings blinked. "Okay, so there IS something of interest there."
"Permission to move out, sir?" Kavi saluted.
"You don't have to ask me permission, cadet. Now go!"
It wasn't hard to spot Susan. For one thing, she wasn't making any effort to conceal herself; for another, the blue Guardian uniform stood out against the brown backdrop of the reactor housings.
"Susan!" Nick shouted, running towards her. "Susan, what are you doing?"
Susan gave him a blank look.
"Susan!" Nick shook her. "Come on, wake up!"
Susan blinked, then looked around groggily. "Urrrrr..... what happened? A second ago I was in the medbay. How'd I end up here?"
Jeremy arrived on the scene. She seems to be unharmed, he sent.
"Yeah," Nick said distractedly. "C'mon, Susan, let's go back."
"No...." Susan shook her head, as if trying to clear it of cobwebs. "No..... there's something...... I must do......" Without warning, she collapsed.
"Susan!" Nick was frantic. "Damn it! Wake up!"
Allow me, Jeremy offered. He placed his hands on Susan's forehead.
The others arrived. "What happened?" Kathy asked.
Jeremy removed his hands. It is no use. The mind-control is too tight.
"Great, now what?" Kavi said, looking at Susan.
I cannot do anything. This mind-control...... it's like a virus, blocking off parts of her memory and using her body.....
Susan's foot suddenly lashed out, and caught Nick on the chin. Nick staggered back, as Susan got up and made a dash to the nearest reactor housing.
"Damn!" Nick wiped the blood from his split lip. "What the hell was that for?"
"She's being controlled," Ril shouted back at him as she ran towards the reactor housing as well. "At least, I hope that's what's happening."
Nick ran after her. "This's reactor six. There're loose wires all over the place. If she touches one of them...."
"Let's hope not," Ril muttered. She executed a flying tackle, and caught Susan's legs. Susan, however, simply kicked her off, and continued to her target.
"She's heading for the manual overload switch!" Ril shouted.
Nick cursed. The manual overload switch was only used in the event that the other reactors were not operating up to efficiency. It nearly quadrupled the reactor's power output, but also brought it dangerously close to meltdown.
Nick caught up with Susan, who was holding two wires. It was clear that she was only picking them up, as they were in her way.
"Susan!" Susan turned around, and Nick blanched at the expression on her face. Or rather, lack thereof.
"Susan," Nick continued slowly, "come back to us. Please."
Susan looked at him blankly. "I must do this," she droned.
"No. Susan, please, come back to us. This is not you."
Susan looked at him silently.
"Please. Come back to us. We're.... your friends."
Susan took a step towards Nick, who resisted the strong urge to jump back.
"Susan. You are being controlled. Fight it. Please. We need you."
Susan took another step. Then another.
"Please," she said hoarsely and with visible effort, "help me." She held out the wires.
Nick nodded. "I understand." He took the wires carefully, aware that the slightest mistake would give him the shock of a lifetime. Literally.
He held the wires, and hesitated. He couldn't do it, not to Susan of all people....
Susan simply looked at him, and smiled.
Nick steeled himself, and thrust the wires forward.
Susan screamed, and Nick immediately dropped the wires. He picked Susan up, irregardless of the danger to himself, and ran out of the reactor housing.
"What are you doing?!" Ril screamed at him.
"Jeremy said it was like a virus," Nick said grimly, still running towards the medbay. "If a computer has a virus, you cold-boot the computer, and delete the infected files. I really hope Jeremy can help us with this."
The mind-link is gone, Jeremy sent tersely. Now it is up to you.
Nick was beginning to wonder if he had done the right thing. Susan hadn't breathed for..... Nick wasn't sure, but he knew it was over five minutes.
"No pulse," Kavi reported. "No breathing, nothing."
Nick gritted his teeth. Damn it! Why did this have to happen?
"Nick," Ril said softly.
Nick didn't hear her. He was still trying to revive her using the medical technology in the medbay. The most advanced technology available, and it still didn't help.
"Nick," Ril repeated.
Nick looked at her harriedly.
"She's gone," Ril said quietly.
Nick looked at her uncomprehendingly, and continued trying to bring Susan back to life.
"She's gone, Nick," Nar said as quietly. "Face it. No pulse, no breathing, no brain pattern. She's dead."
"NO, DAMN IT, SHE ISN'T DEAD!!"
The others were taken aback by his vehemence. They stepped back, leaving him to try to extract as much use out of the medical computers as he could.
Nick worked feverishly, glancing every now and then at the still body. Nothing seemed to work.
"Wake up, Susan, wake up....." he muttered, still working at the consoles.
There was one last resort.
Admittedly, it was primitive, but still....
Nick bent over Susan, his face close to hers.
Sometimes, it was called artificial respiration. Others, mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Here, it was probably most appropriate to name it the Kiss of Life.
When Nick disengaged, Susan was still unmoving.
He gave in to despair. "Oh no..... please don't....."
Then she coughed.
Nick's head snapped up. He watched in amazement as Susan slowly came back to consciousness, and then sit up and look at him blearily.
She coughed again, and opened her mouth to say:
"What hit me?"
"No discernible brain damage," Ril announced.
"Oh, good. Now can I get off this diagnostic table?"
Ril sighed. "You know, for someone who nearly died, you could take this more seriously."
Susan grinned at her. "If you don't have a sense of humour, you don't have anything."
Nick entered the medbay. "Hi, Susan. Feeling better?"
Susan grinned at him. "Obviously. All the more so, considering the method you used to wake me up."
Nick blushed, a rare occurrence. "That was only a last resort," he mumbled.
Sarah entered. "Here," she said, throwing Susan's keytool at her. Susan caught it easily. "It's a wonder how it managed to escape being seriously damaged," Sarah continued.
Susan shrugged. "I guess we're both lucky."
"Lucky indeed," Nick said. "By the way, do you know who the one controlling you was?"
Susan sighed. "It wasn't a Zed."
Ril blinked. "It wasn't?"
"I thought it was, but now that I really consider it, there were slight differences between the two; the Zed who stopped me and Gan from fighting, and the voice that came to me while I was in a coma."
"And?" Nick prompted.
"I had a talk with Jeremy. He said that the mind-link was definitely not a Zed."
"Is that all?" Sarah asked, raising an eyebrow. "You two were talking for a very long time."
"Well, he did give me some tips on using 'the Gift', or whatever."
Susan shrugged. "Your guess is as good as mine."
"So," Nick said, "it wasn't a Zed. Then....."
"Who knows? But one thing's for sure, I don't think that person's going to leave us alone."
"So this isn't over," Ril said, not bothering to make it a question.
"No," Susan said, her voice far away. "This isn't over."