Another week, another chapter!

Hopefully this one begins to fit the pieces together of the mystery that is Lorcan

Chapter Eight: A Mysterious Mystery

I sleep a deep, dreamless sleep. When I wake up, it almost feels like I'm waking from Dark Orbit again, but only for a moment. That moment when you wake up in an unfamiliar place and can't quite remember how you got there; right before the memories of all the past days events come rushing back.

My neck feels a bit stiff, but I kind of expected it to have been worse. The patient beds are a lot thinner than our own beds, especially the ones in the crews Med Bay. Moose says it's because the civilians need the extra support, but I know that putting the most uncomfortable beds here was the Commanders idea. It's to keep any crew from staying bedridden longer than absolutely necessary. She's clever that way.

As I get up I look over at the clock on the far wall. It reads 7:52. I'm cutting it a bit close, but the Commander did say be awake for 8:00, and technically I am awake. I look down at what I'm wearing. My grey sweater's a bit wrinkled so I run my hands over it a couple times to flatten it out. This should be fine for another day, I doubt anyone will notice. And if they do, I doubt they'll really care. We have more important things going on right now.

All that's left is to get Lorcan up. When I turn to his bed however, I find that it's empty. I look around the room, but there really isn't anywhere he could be hiding. Great. I get up and lace on my black work boots as fast as I can before rushing towards the door. I have to find him before the Commander learns that I let him wander around on his own. I hope he didn't get himself into any sort of trouble. Where would he even have gone? I decide to go check the mess hall first. Maybe he was hungry and went there to grab something to eat.

I never make it to the mess hall though. As I turn the nearest corner, I see him standing halfway down the next hall, staring out the ceiling high windows at what is left of the sunrise. For a split second, I feel panicked as I picture him the way he was when I first found him. It feels like such a long time ago, but it was only yesterday. I wonder if he really is feeling better now, or is he just putting on a brave face. I guess I don't know enough about him to know if he is or not.

He notices me standing there.

"Hey Danda."

"Lorcan, there you are." I say as I make my way down the hall. "Are you trying to make a habit of almost giving me a heart attack?"

"Sorry, I didn't mean to trouble you." He's fiddling with the sleeves of my burgundy sweater again. Like me, he's still wearing the same stuff as yesterday. "I made sure not to go so far that I'd get lost. I remembered passing this hall yesterday. I couldn't sleep but I didn't want to wake you, so I decided to come watch the sunrise."

"You seemed to be sleeping just fine yesterday. You were out the moment you got in that bed."

"I had a nightmare." He says quietly, almost as if he's ashamed.

"Really?" I try to remember the last time I had a nightmare, but nothing comes to mind. "What was it about?"

"I don't know. I forgot it as soon as I woke up."

"Well, sometimes not remembering something can be a good thing." I swing my arm around his shoulder and guide him back the way I came. "Let's grab something quickly from the mess hall and go find the Commander. She's probably back in the pod bay with Blizz by now."

We grab some of the leftover bread from last night and head towards pod bay 7. Sure enough, everyone else is already there, including Moose, which I find a bit odd. I thought he'd be off preparing the hospital, but I guess he was curious. They're all standing at the back of the bay. Blizz has brought the pod down from its station and it's now laying on the ground. We all crowd around it.

"For the first person to wake up every year, you're always the last one to arrive for everything else." Says the Commander as we join them. "Can you at least make more of an effort to be on time."

"We were up by 8:00."

"C'mon Ebony, give the kid a break." Says Moose. "You were a bit vague in you instructions last night and me and you only just got here not even ten minutes ago."

"Please Moose, when it comes to matters of managing my crew I can do just fine myself. When I require a doctor's opinion I will let you know."

I catch Blizzs eye as he stands behind her and gives his head a little shake, signalling me to just keep quiet and do as she says. I guess she's still in a pretty foul mood today.

"Right, well let's get down to business." Says Blizz with a smile. He's trying to break the tension, as usual. "Aren't we all curious to solve the mysterious mystery of this pod and how it ended up here so... mysteriously?"

"What else have you found?" Asks the Commander, unimpressed by his attempt at lightening the mood.

"Well, I haven't been down here very long so I haven't had time to do much digging, but I did find one more thing that I missed yesterday." He directs our attention to the small display screen near the bottom of the pod. I notice that it's cracked and seems to be turned off. "The screen's shot. I tried to boot it back up, but I got nothing."

"What does the screen do?" Asks Lorcan.

"It displays the pods vital information," He explains. "When it was activated, the occupants vitals, how it's operating and when it's scheduled to open. Stuff like that."

"So, without the screen you can't access any of that information?"

"No, not technically. Everything is supposed to be backed up to the pods mainframe, which is what I'm getting at. This things mainframes is in pretty rough shape. I haven't been able to pull any info from it at all."

"So it's unregistered and we can't figure anything out about it." The Commander says with a sigh. "That's perfect."

"I can probably get something out of it, but it might take me a while. And I'm gonna have to bring it into the shop. You know, take it apart completely and replace the parts that are fried."

"Do what you have to, but try to do it quickly. We're still behind schedule."

"Does this mean we've hit a dead end?" Asks Moose.

"For now."

Lorcan turns to me as the others continue discussing what to do next.

"Danda," He's speaking very quietly, like he doesn't want the others to hear him. "Do you think this could be my pod? You guys said it must have been pretty damaged for me to have been woken up so early."

I can't believe that I never thought of it sooner. It makes perfect sense.

"I think you might be onto something." I step closer to the pod and crouch down beside it to get a better look. Everyone else stops talking.

"Do you seen something Danda?" Asks Blizz as he crouches down next to me.

I look over my shoulder at Lorcan who gives me a small nod.

"Lorcan was just saying that this could be his pod." I explain. "It's definitely damaged enough to have caused him to wake up so early."

"Hum," The Commander steps closer. "You might be right. We haven't found anything else in our search so far. This seems to be the only defective pod we've come across."

"One thing doesn't make sense to me though. If it's a newer model than all our other pods, then why is it in such poor condition?" I run my hands along the metal surface and am surprised to find that it's not smooth like the other pods. It's rough, like if the finish has been scratched off. There's a dent in the doors near the top as well. I get up and move to the front of the pod so I can look at it straight on. From here I can see faint streaks running the length of it. They almost look like…

"Atmospheric reentry streaks." I say under my breath without realising.

I look up at the others. They all heard what I just whispered to myself. They all know what this means. No one says a word.

"Do you really think so?" Aks Blizz finally.

"They look just like the ones I find on the pieces of jump gate that fall from orbit." One of my jobs is to scavenge those pieces when they fall back to the planet. I've retrieved enough of them to know what atmospheric reentry streaks look like.

"This could be huge." Says the Commander with a very serious tone that sets me on edge. This could definitely be huge. "It could mean that someone knows we're here."

We all fall silent as the weight of what the Commander just said sinks in. Her and Moose must remember a time when we had contact with the outside, but people like me, people like Blizz, we've always lived here in isolation. I can't even begin to understand what it would mean if we could re-establish contact with the outside.

"What are atmospheric reentry streaks?" Lorcans voice brings us all back to the present. Once again, I realise that he must have no idea what we're talking about.

"There specific scratch patterns left on objects that fall through the atmosphere." I explain. "You only see them on things that were previously in space. This isn't one of our cryochambers. It's an escape pod."

He doesn't seem to react immediately. Instead, it looks as if he's mulling over the information in his head, trying to grasp what this means. I don't know if he really understands what the implications of such a find could mean for our colony.

"Do you think it could still be my pod though?"

His question catches the rest of us off guard. The moment we figured out it was an escape pod, we all assumed it was no longer his pod. We've all been going around like if we were sure he came from Delta B. We were all so certain that he's always been here, we just never met him before. Why would we have thought otherwise? The thought that he could have come from outer space seems so… impossible. But now it seems like the only thing that makes sense. It's been staring at us in the face the whole time. How could I have been so blind?

"It makes sense," He continues when no one responds. "It would explain why I suffered memory loss unlike anything you've seen before, and why when I do remember something it isn't entirely accurate. I'm not from Delta B, am I?"

Up next, Chapter Nine: Star Boy

Time for the rest of the crew to wake up and meet Danda's strange new friend.