Pandora's Box

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by DotCom, Feb 2, 2015.

  1. [​IMG]
    By Kaisaan & DotCom
    “Every dreamer knows that it is entirely possible to be homesick for a place you've never been to,
    perhaps more homesick than for familiar ground."
    Judith Thurman
    "We all carry within us places of exile, our crimes, our ravages.
    Our task is not to unleash them on the world;
    it is to transform them in ourselves and others."

    Albert Camus

    Tai tried hard not to think about how strange and yet completely natural it all was.

    Later tonight, maybe, after introductions and briefings, before they made their first foray out into the verdant greens and impossible blues that Eden offered. Later tonight, when she was allowed a whatever few moments of peace and quiet she could snatch before the day's exhaustion pulled her into her first natural sleep in three years. Maybe then she could let herself linger on the strangeness of it all. How completely natural it was to be waking up next to her twin again...and how completely bizarre it was to have done so hovering aboard Earth's last hope, half a mile over the dense blue and green marble that was supposed to save them all.

    A small smile played over her lips as Tai reached up to push her hair out of her eyes for the umpteenth time in fifteen minutes, glancing across the pod bay to where her sister Kohe was knelt over the control console, presumably running the last systems check before she woke the others. Kohe herself, like Tai, had only been awake a few hours themselves, just long enough to wade through the layers of groggy stiffness and confusion that naturally followed three years of cryostasis. It had been part of their terms of agreement back before they'd left Earth. Their late arrival to the team meant they'd been the last asleep and would be the first awake. It also meant those they were waking would know next to nothing about them. From what she'd read, that wasn't going to go over too well with some of them, but they'd cross that bridge when it came.

    For now, Tai was circling the small cold room at the bottommost level of the state-of-the-line space cruiser, the Artemis. The ship's autopilot and VI system, nicked-named Apollo, was currently working on getting the rest of the ship in working order, which for the moment, mainly meant repressurizing and warming the cockpit, bridge, med bay, mess hall, and each of the twelve small cabins Eden's Disciples would be inhabiting.

    Tai snorted a little at that last thought. Eden's Disciples. That, she half jokingly suspected, had been the only reason both she and Kohe had been recruited to join the mission to the new planet, officially labeled Terra Prime. Neither of them knew why they'd been contacted, or what had happened to the person they'd replaced. Her notes said the team already had a medic and a tech expert - why, or even how they were willing to take both twins was a mystery to her. All Tai knew was that she'd been serving in Venezuela one minute, and the next, being flown to Washington, D.C., while she listened, dumb-founded and wide-eyed to a science fiction tale she still couldn't really believe.

    Of course, back then, no one, or nearly no one, had known they were in trouble. Tai wondered if that had changed now. After all, it had been three years back on Earth.

    "You're -- " Tai started, then coughed and cleared her throat. The cyrostasis halted the aging process for as long as healthy body was kept under, and while memories of leaving Earth behind were as fresh as though she'd just gone yesterday, it had still been three years. Apollo had kept them alive. The cryobeds, coupled with regular electrostimuli had kept their muscles from atrophying. But this was where Earth's programming and foresight failed them. In a few minutes, Eden's Disciples would be on their own. Just like the UN had planned from the beginning.

    "You're good," Tai said again. "Vitals are all good. Watch number one, the old guy. Tanner Cole. He's epileptic. I already gave him 60 mg of Daxoprene, so he should be fine, but...y'know, lemme know if he starts seizing or something." She gave Kohe a grin that felt just a little bit too stiff.

    "Oh, and wake number ten last. The little girl. Says she's a...'precognitive empath', whatever that means."

    Tai shrugged then pushed her hair out of her eyes one last time before grabbing a pail and a few bottles of water. She and Kohe had woken more or less alright. She couldn't expect the same to be true for the other ten. Especially since they were all waking up to strangers.
    #1 DotCom, Feb 2, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2015
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  2. Koheera Sterling still, for the life of her, didn't understand why they'd wanted her. As Tai had pointed out; the ship already had a tech and a doctor. What need did they have for a second doctor and an engineer? Well, perhaps she could see the sense in another doctor - often times injures needed two medical experts to handle, but then, that still made Tai more suitable to this mission than she was. They'd pulled her from therapy, before she'd even gotten a chance to stabilize, to tell her twin she was back in the states. They'd told her she was needed, that her country depended on her and Kohe, simply wanting an out, had agreed. Change had sounded like a good decision to make, but now she wasn't so sure.

    They'd had four months of training for this mission. Four months when the other ten members had been given at least two years and most longer than that. She and Tai were the odd ones out, the ones the original team had barely been informed about before they been put in cyro, like the higher ups had purposely made it as mysterious as possible and incredibly difficult for she and Tai to fit in with the others. Like a teacher favoring a new student and immediately dooming said student to torment by the rest of the class.

    What the other ten were going to think of them, Kohe could not have said, but she did know one thing for certain; no one was going to be happy to see them.

    Kohe didn't mind confrontation, she really didn't, but from what she knew of Tai, what she remembered of her sister from before the three years - six? - they'd been separated was that Tai really did not like fights or distressed people. It was for her twin's sake that she delayed the process of waking the others as long as she could. It was habit, really, to protect her younger sister and the elder did it without any real thought. It was Kohe's nature to be protective as it was Tai's to be nurturing. It wasn't the only difference between them. To look at both side by side, no one would guess them to be related, much less twin sisters. Where Tai was pale hair streaked with blue and purple, Kohe's own long mane was white with streaks of black. She wore it partly braided, messily half-pinned and the rest flowing down her back while Tai's constantly looked a bit wild, but far more organized. The younger twin was short and of a stockier build while the elder was taller and built more like a willow; slender. Kohe's eyes were a mismatched pair of blue and red, and Tai's were a lovely shade of violet. No, they looked nothing alike and their personalities took the same route, almost completely opposite. Despite all this, however, they had been as close as sisters could be. Perhaps that wasn't as true now after so much time, but the loyalty hadn't died, not in Kohe anyway and it was only when she absolutely had nothing else to do, no way to stall, that she finally moved toward the cyro tanks that housed the sleeping crew.

    They hadn't been given too many details on what order to wake the team in, only that the youngest, an Evangeline Garcia, should go last. The rest was up to them and Kohe had already deducted that the first two she and Tai should wake were Iosefa Aiono and Natalia Vodianova, the Tech and Pilot respectively. The two could handle the ship and get started on the processes needed to take them down to the planet while she and Tai woke the rest of the crew. The next batch was a bit trickier, but Kohe was of the opinion that Tanner Cole, the Head of the team, and Elia Tavorn, the second Doctor, would be the best to come next. Another doctor could help them wake other people and with Tanner joining Natalia, they wouldn't have to worry about anything but waking more people. The order from there was rather random, perhaps Kenya Zuwena being in the next batch as a Meteorologist would be useful for a safe landing of Artemis and Hitachi - no last name curiously enough - the Geologist for the same purpose.

    From there, the rest to be woken included Jack Akiyama, a Wildlife Specialist, Kyle Thomson, an Archaeologist, Amber Colson, a Biologist and Evangeline Garcia.

    Kohe could only pray none of them would try anything straight away, too groggy to move properly. A few, judging by their files, were rather capable of being dangerous if they wished. Trying to push the thought back, finding that her hands were slightly shaky already, she took a breath and punched in the code for Natalia's tank, starting the process of awakening her. Glancing out of the corner of her eye, she caught Tai doing the same with Iosefa.
    #2 Kaisaan, Feb 3, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2015
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  3. The heavy glass pane on Iosefa's cryobed slid away with the same mechanic whir Tai even now only vaguely remembered. There was the quiet hiss of hyper-oxygenated air being released, and nothing else...for which Tai was immediately grateful. A body in cryostasis didn't sweat or produce any odors at all, really, but still. Three years was a long time.

    As if she needed any reminders of that. She bucked away as Iosefa sat up abruptly, first coughing, then gagging, before releasing a few mouthfuls of thin bile into the bucket Tai shoved under his head just in time. But the younger Sterling twin was watching her sister. Her elder sister whom she could tell, even from here, was nervous. Nervous, Tai knew (or suspected...three years was a long time to know something, and that time apart had changed them both; of that she was certain), because of Tai. Her sister had always been overprotective, and prone to excitement, which Tai appreciated, but also knew it caused her sister more stress than was necessary, especially considering the task they were supposed to be undertaking on four months of training. Tai had hardly even gotten to talk to her sister, and certainly nothing of their time apart, before they were whisked away into a world of neoprene suits and theoretical textbooks.

    "Aue?" slurred a voice near her ear, and Tai remembered she had a patient. "Who the hell are you?"

    Tai reached up with her free hand to push her hair from her eyes and gave the baffled man before her an easy smile. That part had always come easy to her, that patient and nurturing part that had led her so far from Kohe. She could be deep in a jungle, tending to an orphan with malaria, or floating in the hostile, frigid atmosphere of a new world, but that wouldn't, couldn't change.

    She wouldn't let it.

    "My name is Tai," Tai said, still holding out the bucket. The dark-skinned man wrapped a shaky arm around it, and together, they leaned him back against the rear wall of his bed. Tai uncapped a water bottle and held it out. "Do you know where you are, Iosef - "

    "Sefa," he cut her off, sounding bored, though he took the water bottle and began to drink greedily after rinsing his mouth and spitting into the bucket. "And we're here, right? This is eat? Terra Prime?" He smirked at her, an eyebrow raised over one piercing green eye. "Eden?"

    Tai nodded once, still smiling, though now she was also running down a pair of lists on the tablet she'd held tucked under her chin. One half of the screen displayed Sefa's vitals -- green across the board, though his heart-rate was a little elevated -- the other held Tanner Cole's, who was the next person on her list to wake.

    She glanced back up to Sefa, watching him carefully, though her smile gave none of that away. "This is Eden," she confirmed. "But we're still aboard the Artemis, and -- you should slow down drinking that, or you're gonna make yourself sick again."

    "I know how to drink water," Sefa said, still sounding bored...and still with an elevated heart Tai knew meant otherwise. He was squinting now, looking around the ship, nodding to himself. "How's Apollo, then? Booted up alright?" He looked at her, expectant, apparently waiting for an answer, then frowned.

    "Wait, you still haven't told me who you are."

    "It's...kind of a long story," Tai said, now standing to lean over Tanner Cole's cryobed. "We can explain once everyone -- "


    "Kohe -- Koheera. My sister and I." Tai nodded at her twin, momentarily distracted as she keyed in the cryobed release code. "She's the one'll who'll be able to tell you more about Artemis and Apollo, too." The younger of the Sterling twins turned briefly back to her first patient and offered an apologetic grin. "I'm just a medic."

    "Thought we already had one of those," Sefa muttered under his breath, but he was still watching Kohe, his expression unreadable.

    "So did I."

    The new voice made Tai jump, but somehow, she was only a little surprised to see Tanner Cole now awake, alert, and staring at her with hard gray eyes.

    "So, who the hell are you?" He spoke with a slight Texan slur Tai would have found charming if his gaze weren't quite so hard and heavy on her.

    "I -- " she started, then backed up as Cole hauled himself to his full impressive height, more than a foot taller than Tai.

    "You what?" Cole said. He didn't sound angry, or even threatening. But he was...ready. Waiting. The way he saw it, he'd been given an order, and a team. His job was to protect his team, even if the threat presented looked pretty unsettled herself.

    "Girlie, you got maybe thirty seconds to explain to me who you are and what you're doin' out here when ain't no one even s'posed to know about Eden."

    "Tai," Tai said quickly, recognizing the tension that was building quickly. Even Sefa had stopped guzzling water (one hand now pressed to a slightly distended belly) to watch.

    "My name is Tairisa Sterling, and that's my sister, Kohe. We were added to your contingent last minute. We don't know why, and we don't know much more than you, but we are on your side, Tanner."

    Cole was sure the kid hadn't said or done anything to him, and he was almost certain she didn't have time to drug him. But somehow, he was all at once feeling a hell of a lot more calm than he had just a few moments ago. If he tried to think past that big, fuzzy section in his head now -- and he was still pretty groggy, the adrenaline of a maybe-threat now tapering off -- he thought he could remember his CO back on Earth mentioning some new recruits. The tension went out of his shoulders, and though he still eyed the strange, violet-eyed woman in front of him, when he spoke, it was with a measured caution.

    "Those water bottles all for you?"

    Tai gave a shaky smile. "No," she said. Then, "No, sir." She uncapped a bottle and handed it to him, and Cole, wisely, took small sips as he eased himself down to lean against the edge of his cryobed.

    And damn it if he didn't smile a little at her correction.

    Tai for her part waited a moment, then glanced down at her list and across to Kohe again. Two down, eight to go.
  4. Natalia's waking was just as calm as Koheera had expected. But then, the older woman was a pilot. She'd been trained on fighter jets, zero gravity machines and from her file, had been involved with this particular project for five years. She'd gone through cyro testing before and her body knew what to expect. No, Kohe hadn't expected any problems with Vodianova and unlike her twin who had no military training, the elder Sterling knew very well what the Second aboard the Artemis would be concerned about when waking and she was fully prepared to answer, hardly looking up from her screen as she checked the woman's vitals.

    "You're not Sefa or Elia. Who are you?" The voice was thickly accented, the Russian having made little effort to learn to mask it and while her tone was raspy from disuse, the sharpness of a leader was not. Kohe's answer was no less crisp in return, though, she still did not look up, seeing no need to waste time when she could be getting her checklist done so as to move on with the next person in need of waking. Needless to say, her approach was far different than Tai's.

    "Koheera Sterling. My twin and I were added to your team last minute. You should have gotten a briefing before boarding the Artemis. We were already in cyro."

    There was silence, almost a half-minute of it before the next question came. Kohe could feel those no doubt powerful eyes studying her. "You are the Engineer?"


    Another pause, significant. "How is Artemis?" And just like that, there was acceptance of the situation if not trust and Koheera finally looked up, meeting the violet eyes of the pale blond that were indeed piercing in their sharpness and command. The younger woman's spine straightened on reflex alone, something that seemed to register with the Russian as her brow twitched just slightly. "The ship is functioning at a 98% capacity. There appears to be some minor damage from a debris storm, but nothing that can't be fixed once we land on Eden. It should have no affect on our descent." The answer was quick and prompt and Natalia seemed to accept it, finally taking the water bottle and taking a careful, slow drink. Swallowing, she spoke again.

    "Good. I will have Sefa confirm your diagnostics. Carry on with your work."

    Nothing but a nod from the younger female ended the conversation before Kohe moved on. She could only hope that each briefing might be that quick and painless, but knew it was wishful thinking. A glance at Tai confirmed that her sister was doing well with her two patients and Kohe didn't hesitate to call out, even knowing the other two with her twin would have their attention drawn to her. It was inevitable that such would happen, though. She and Tai were the only ones on this ship that fell into the 'unknown' category. They were going to have the other ten people watching them no matter what they did.

    "Tai, wake Tavorn for me, will you? You're both Doctors. You'll be able to explain to him better what's going on." In truth, it might have been better for her to wake Iosefa, but what was done was done and Kohe, knowing her sister wasn't going to object, moved toward Kenya's tank. Taking a breath, she once again braced herself for an unpredictable reaction. She hated them. Kohe knew just as surely that she'd had to get used to them and quickly - there was no therapist to help her here. Only herself.

    She punched in the code to open the cyro tank.
    #4 Kaisaan, Feb 4, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2015
  5. "Sure, Ko'," Tai said quietly, moving away from where she'd been about to wake their guide and wildlife specialist, a kid a few years older than herself someone back on Earth had warned had an attitude problem. She'd smiled then and glanced at Kohe...only Kohe hadn't noticed, hadn't looked back. It'd been three years since she'd gotten to talk to Kohe using anything more than a shaky videocam system or a few scarce TeleCloud messages -- they were, or had been, the closest anyone got to regular correspondence anymore. It was a strange thought. Prior to those three years, the longest the twins had spent apart had been a few days at a time, and even that had left Tai with a shameful and yet nonetheless prominent sort of longing for her twin. But then she had always been the more dependent of the two of them. Not many people would know it, and Tai knew Kohe would argue if she could, if only just to make Tai feel better. But they both knew the truth. Tai was smart and capable and friendly. She could meet other people, wrap them around her finger in minutes if she wanted to. But she'd never depended on anyone like Kohe.

    Still. That was neither here nor there. Now, Kohe had given her an order - though of course she wouldn't see it that way - and Tai was going to follow it.

    She was just leaning over Elia Tavorn's cryobed when she remembered something else and straightened, looking over her shoulder.

    "Tanner? How are you -- "

    But Cole was already up and out of his tank, taking long, deliberate strides to where Kohe's first patient, Natalia stood.

    "Nat," he said briefly, his voice low, meant only for her to hear. "You alright?" Cole glanced briefly at Kohe, but either he considered her not a threat if she'd already been cleared by Natalia, or else he'd dismissed her completely. "You seen the kids yet?"

    Tai couldn't read concern in his gaze, but she could tell he was looking over the other woman carefully, the same way she'd seen him study Sefa as soon as he got his bearings. He hadn't looked at her or Kohe that way, but it still made her smile. He would be a good leader, she thought, this man who had already taken his team under his responsibility. Then again, most of them had been together for several years. Tai wondered, not for the first time, whether it was too late to build new trust.

    Glancing down again, she saw Sefa, too, was watching Natalia, his expression hard, yet unreadable...until he noticed Tai watching and looked away, blushing.

    "What?" he demanded. "She asked about the ship. It's my job." Then he turned his head and those bright green eyes on Kohe and scoffed. "Or it was."

    "It still is," Tai said gently, doing her best not to sound patronizing. "Kohe and I are just here to help."

    "Yeah, well," Sefa muttered, easing himself to his feet with a wince. "Help yourself. We were fine before they added you two."

    Tai chose to ignore this last remark as she finished keying in the release code to Elia Tavorn's cryobed.

    On the other side of the room, that quiet, now almost-familiar whir came again as the glass pane slid aside to allow Kenya Zuwena her first real breath of air in three years. Her face twitched, her breath hitched, and she promptly started coughing, soon sitting up to rest her weight on her knees until she caught her breath. But when she straightened again, she was smiling.

    "Phew," she said brightly. "Talk about an early morning. I guess that's what you get, going from three years of 98% O2 and then back to regular old Earth air, huh?" She cleared her throat again, and only then seemed to notice Kohe standing over her.

    "Oh, hi," she said, and her tone was still light, though now she was frowning a little, as if deep in thought. "You're new here, right? You must be one of the new guys. Twins, yes?" She had a slight accent and spoke quickly, making her words run together, especially when she was she was now.

    Convinced she was right, Kenya beamed, stretched, yawned, coughed again, then offered a hand up to Kohe. A lock of bone-white hair fell over one ice-blue eye. The weather witch didn't seem to notice.

    "Hi," she said again. "I'm Kenya. Are, right? T...t...tent? Toe? Tai! Tai. Koshe or Tai?"

    "Hey, genius, any idea how much of this boring Earth air you just used up with that rant?" Sefa said irritably. Tai was only a little surprised to found he'd moved to the far wall where one of Artemis's several satellite control consoles now glowed warmly under his fingers.

    "Two-point-six-eight liters," Kenya answered promptly, still grinning. "Give or take point-oh-one liters."

    Sefa rolled his eyes, though he didn't turn from the console. "That was rhetorical, Sunshine."

    Kenya's grin widened. "I know!" She quipped, before turning back to Kohe with a stage whisper: "That's Sefa. Me and him got recruited at the same time. Don't worry, he's not always this grumpy. That's Jack's job."
    #5 DotCom, Feb 5, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2015
  6. "I'm fine, Cole. Bit groggy, it'll wear off." was the brisk reply before the woman hauled herself out of her own tank. It wasn't that she was unappreciative of the check-in by the male, rather it was just her nature to be more abrupt and to the point. Cole, after five years, knew that well enough and would not take offense. Straightening fully, she was a tall woman, but still almost a foot smaller than Cole was. She carried herself proudly and her eyes spoke of command, a piercing quality that had often judged people far more quickly and accurately than most, sometimes even faster and better than Cole himself. If he was asking her what her impressions were about the twins, he surely had faith that she had gathered information on them already.

    Cole was rarely wrong....unless Nat was the one that was right, of course.

    "I see them now." She corrected, already moving for the control room, the place where actually piloting the ship took place. "Sefa! Check the ships diagnostics!" Was shouted before she left the room. That she'd leave while the others were still in cyro was answer enough about whether she thought the twins could be trusted or not. Nat continued to speak, knowing without looking that Tanner would be right behind her. "The elder twin is Koheera. She has more confidence, though, something has her shaken. She's military. The younger is more eager to please, dependent on her sister's approval, but she's more adaptable than her sister. They're not a threat, though, they are both mutants." She didn't explain her reasoning to Cole. He wouldn't expect her to, not after nearly four years together.

    Settling into the pilot seat, she let a smile cross her face, feeling far more at home here than she did anywhere else. Her violet eyes finally moved to the green eyes of the man who might have been the leader of this ragtag, but who Natalia knew would bend down so she could whisper something silly into his ear if she so much as beckoned a finger. A brow rose in question, the blond Russian's version of concern.

    "How do you feel, Cole?"


    Well. THAT she'd not been expecting.

    Kohe was not against optimistic, bubbly people. She really wasn't. Tai was like that often enough when they were together and her sister was relaxed. The behavior didn't bother her....or it hadn't used to. Now she found it a bit grating, something to tolerate rather than be amused by, but she could admit that she'd changed a good deal in three years. Still, even with that change, Kohe didn't hate the kinds of personalities that Kenya seemed to possess.

    She simply no longer knew how to match it.

    Mismatched eyes continued to study Kenya's chart, not quite understanding all the vital signs, but knowing the percentages she was looking for thanks to a quick run-down from Tai. Her ears took in the conversation around her, but it wasn't until Kenya addressed her again specifically that the elder twin spoke, looking up from the screen to regard the quick-tongued Moroccan. Those crystal blue eyes were looking at her eagerly, awaiting a response and Kohe was reminded keenly of her sister. Tai would like this one. She could see the two becoming fast friends fairly quickly. It brought just a slight smile to the corner of her mouth to know her sister would find friends - but then, Tai always did.

    "I am hardly concerned with Aiono's grumpiness. Thank you for the warning on Akiyama, however. I will keep my sister away from that tank." Handing Kenya a bottle of water, she started to move away, sure the other woman was stable enough to be on her own for a time. She'd likely be moving soon anyway. "My name is Koheera. Drink that slowly."

    Saying nothing more, she moved on to the next tank, the one Tai had abandoned in favor of Elia's instead. Jack Atiyama. Hmm. Well, here went nothing. Slender fingers punched in the digits before Kohe took a step back for the tank to open with it's characteristic whirring sound. Once again her body grew taunt - and she tried to not notice that there was a tremble present as well - ready for an unpleasant reaction from the person within - this time she might very well get one.

    Kohe pushed down rather forcefully the sliver of fear that tried to work its way through her chest.


    Elia could imagine that coming out of cyro was rather like being reborn again. The lungs took in new air, resulting in an instant coughing fit that made his chest ache, but nothing too horrible. The eyes blinked, getting used to seeing again after so long in the dark, even if it didn't feel that way. The nose worked, eliciting a sneeze from him if not other people, and lastly, the throat tried to clear, dry and disused for three years. The water bottle presented was taken with a grateful nod and he drank before seeming to realize just who had handed it to him. Taking yet another careful sip of the heavenly liquid, brown eyes studied the unfamiliar female.

    She was in good shape. Nice bloodflow if the color in her cheeks was anything to go by. Unusual hair. Did she get that from her parents or was it a mutant gene? Hmm, testing could confirm either way. Maybe she'd let him if he....oh, wait, yes! The twins! Ah, this must be one of them....but which one? A frown overtook the male's face and his silence up until now broke. "A doctor...Oh! You must be Tairisa Sterling then, yes?"

    A smile, wide as the sun, replaced the frown and Elia reached a hand out to shake the female's own even as his free one brushed his long, black-blue hair from his eyes. He really should have put it up before going into cyro. Speaking of that.....why hadn't Apollo woken him? Concern replaced the smile just as quickly as it had come and Elia slipped rather quickly, but smoothly into a more professional standpoint.

    "Is something wrong with the ship? I was mean to be woken. Are the crew all right?" He took a look for himself on that last question, taking note that Sefa and Kenya were awake - and oh, that must have been the other twin - but Natalia and Cole's tanks were empty. The doctor attempted to stand then, his body swaying slightly in protest that he ignored. Doctors WERE their own worst patients after all. "Cole, Nat, where are there? They shouldn't be moving around if they've just woken...."

    It didn't quite register to the young doctor who was rather used to every member of the team and their ways that a new person might not have the courage to tell Nat and Cole to do anything.
  7. "M'fine," Cole answered simply, rolling his shoulders, as he once again briefly surveyed his crew and Nat's ship. He trusted Nat -- no small feat for a man like Cole -- but the both of them tended toward stoicism. If there was something wrong with her, he had a better chance of sussing it out himself, especially if the truth would mean keeping her from the helm any longer than necessary. He suspected they both ought to have been back down in cryo storage for a check up, and further suspected the Tavorn kid would track them down sooner or later if they didn't head back. But Nat had always preferred the quiet company of a ship to a crowd, and Cole...well, Cole went where he was needed.

    The former SEAL craned his neck one way and then the other feelings his vertebrae pop and twist under his skin. He figured he'd be stiff for a few days, but that was better than frozen or paralyzed. He had to check his schedule, but Nat wasn't due to land for another two days, and they wouldn't be in the field for almost a week after that. There was a lot of briefing, training, and physical therapy to go through first. And - aside from the newcomers - Cole knew his crew. Sefa and Kyle could probably last another decade on ice and wake no worse for wear. But some of his team, the younger ones especially, tended to get a little antsy on their own. A little venting wouldn't hurt anyone. Or he hoped it wouldn't.

    Nat's own briefing on the twins drew his attention back to the present, and he nodded quietly, storing away her notes in his own growing file on the Sterling girls. He hadn't gotten to speak to the elder, Koheera, by Nat's reckoning at all, but the younger seemed alright enough so far. If she was in fact a mutant, he'd be curious to know the range of her abilities, if she had any, and more than that, the control she had over them. It'd be good to know how well the two got along with others, too, more in terms of powers than personalities, though from what he'd seen, one was difficult to separate from the other.

    "Good to know," he said finally. "But I meant our kids." He smirked a little at the way it sounded -- he couldn't imagine Nat doting over a pair of squaling toddlers, let alone another pair like Hitachi and Evvy -- but he watched her face for a reaction. He hadn't seen them around in his few moments awake in the cryo chamber, so he could only assume someone had done their job and told the newcomers to wake the youngest members of their team last. Good. That said...

    "I should be their for the waking of my crew, Nat. In case anything goes wrong." It was as much an explanation as it was an excuse. Cole was not a kind man, nor was he impatient. He valued tradition, honesty, loyalty, and hard work, and while he'd be the first to say Evvy and Hitachi -- and one or two others -- brought attitude problems to the team that were far from beneficial, he'd also be the first to defend them. They were his team, his responsibility. And anyone who knew Cole knew he took his work very, very seriously.

    "I'll send Sefa up with your diagnostics," Cole said as he turned to head back down the bridge. Then, over his shoulder, "Y'look good, Nat." He snorted to himself. "All things considered." Then he ducked out of the cockpit before she could retaliate.


    Tai, like her sister, was surprised by the sudden torrent of questions from her most recent patient. But unlike Kohe, Tai was more able to deal with them. She had always been quieter, more reserved than her more outspoken sister, but it was her patience, her unwavering love and acceptance, her indomitable and almost stubborn ability to see the good in everyone that had made her friends growing up. It was that same nature that had first separated her from her twin, and then nearly rejoined the two, though on opposite sides of the battle. Kohe saw everything and everyone going in. Tai waited, as she always had, on the other side to put pieces together again.

    Of course, that was neither here nor there, and Tai easily -- almost easily -- put aside her sister's somewhat uncharacteristic response to Kenya's greetings and questions. If Kenya noticed, she didn't appear particularly upset by it, instead standing to go follow Sefa as she alternately took small sips from her water bottle and gnawed on the top of it.

    Tai, for her part, was more immediately distracted by her own set of questions, all posed by the team's second, or rather first medic. A doctor by trade, she thought, instead of a mutant healer like she was. Good. Most of Tai's actual medical knowledge had been gleaned from PeaceCorps hospitals and triage units on battlegrounds. None of that would apply here. She hoped.

    Still, she couldn't help but quirk a smile -- a real smile, not just the polite kind she put on when she wanted to reassure Kohe -- at the way the doctor, Elia, Elia Tavorn her sister had called him, jumped so quickly from politely interested to genuinely invested.

    "Everything is fine," Tai said, slipping back into a bedside manner herself. She steadied the other medic's sway with a hand at his elbow without a second thought, her free hand sweeping up to pass along a cool water bottle when he'd found his balance again. "When they added my sister and I -- and yes, I'm Tai. Just Tai is fine; Koheera's over there -- they reissued Apollo's orders. I...wish I could tell you why, but that's all the information I have. Everyone is fine so far, though I want to get Tanner Cole into a CAT scan as soon as I have a moment."

    She studied him critically for a moment then said, "How are you feeling? You should take a few minutes yourself. Kohe and I have already been up for a few hours. We're just waking the rest of the crew. We haven't run into any real problems yet, but -- "

    Tai didn't hear the soft mechanical whir of glass pulling aside this time. Instead, there was a small, strangled gasp -- Kenya? Kohe? Could she really not distinguish her twin's voice anymore? -- and a small space of silence followed by an unfamiliar voice dripping with a sardonic malice.

    "I'll take that, sweetheart, thanks."

    Quick as a flash, almost impossibly quick, considering, Jack Akiyama sat up and wrapped thick, calloused fingers around Kohe's wrist, drawing her -- and the water bottle she held -- close. His blue eyes flashed. There was no real anger there, and certainly not intent to wound, only a scorn bordering on disdain.

    "I have to -- " Tai started dropping Elia's water bottle. She'd made it three steps away from the medic and toward her sister when Cole's voice broke the pregnant silence.

    "Enough, Jack," Cole said, his voice in a measured, even tone that brooked no argument. Jack didn't so much as look up, or away from Kohe's face -- never away from her face, Tai noticed, even tense as she was -- but he dropped Kohe's arm and took the 'proffered water bottle', uncapping it and taking a long drink.

    "Jack, I've told you before, I'm not putting up with the attitude here," Cole's voice was still even, and the careful tension he'd held in his shoulders just a few minutes ago was gone. But there was a fierce spark in his eyes that hadn't been there a moment before. He was angry. "We have a job to do. You have a job to do. Do it."

    Jack Akiyama -- whose vision was swimming, not that he was about to share that with anyone -- only shrugged. "I never agreed to anything," he said simply. He was still watching Kohe, his expression deliberate but unreadable. "Besides, she's fine." He nodded at Kohe. "Who the hell are you, anyway?"

    "She's my sister," Tai interjected quietly, abandoning her other patients in favor of her sister. Kohe didn't appear hurt so much as shaken...but even in their short time together, she knew Kohe had changed. Tai wasn't sure she trusted herself to diagnose her twin with a cold, so much as an actual injury. "Koheera. I'm Tai. Sterling. We're new on the crew, and -- "

    Now Jack did look away, frowning slightly as his eyes flicked from Kohe to Tai to an expctant Cole and back again. They settled on the Texan, and the affected disinterest was gone now in place of something only a few would recognize as concern.

    "'New on the crew'? Since when? What the hell, Cole, did you know about this? We don't know sh*t about these guys, and they're, what, just walking around the ship while we sleep? You're cool with that? What about us? Where's Evvy, where's -- "

    "You got two seconds to cool it Akiyama, or you're on sprint for the next week," Cole said coolly. Kenya, still sat on the edge of her cryobed, had gone quiet, the crooked smile gone from her face. She watched, wide-eyed, the verbal game of ping-pong being played.

    Jack, though, wasn't quite ready to be soothed. "You can threaten all you want, Cole. Out here, you can only ground me for so long, and then -- "

    "Evangeline Garcia. Evvy." All eyes turned to where Tai stood over the last unopened cryobed on her side of the room. She held her clipboard still in one hand, her eyes on Jack, though she kept looking back to Kohe in concern or need for approval or both.

    "This is Evvy, right, Jack? Look. She's right here. She's fine. We -- I -- got orders to wake her last. But you can come see her vitals. She's okay. She's a little light, maybe, we had to start bringing down her temperature before we wake her fully. But she's here. She's alright."

    Once again, Cole felt the tension he'd been so sure had been there just a few minutes prior seep away through no volition of his own and watched the younger of the Sterling twins with equal parts suspicion and gratitude. Mutant indeed. He and Nat - and Kyle and Sefa - were sore outnumbered here.

    Then again, maybe that was for the best. Last thing he needed was three more super-powered personalities all vying for the same space about Artemis...or out in Eden.

    Cole sighed an ran a hand through his hair, extending a vaguely apologetic grin to Koheera.

    "You want a break, you should wake Coulson or Thomson next."
  8. Their kids.

    Natalia knew she was never going to break him of that habit, and in all truth, she didn't really want to. Cole was fierce, dependent, a firm and fair leader, but there were soft parts of him that he showed more openly than Nat herself did. Perhaps that was why they were such a good team. Where the Russian was coarse and aloof, the ex-Seal was far more personable and warm for lack of a better word. They balanced each other out well without being so opposite that they had nothing in common. They'd known each other long enough that they knew exactly what those similarities and differences were, too. So it was that when Nat's violet eyes narrowed slightly at his question, she knew he would understand it wasn't displeasure that made her expression so, but rather her way of rolling her eyes at him.

    "Still in cyro." was the simple response. Her answer showed her lack of concern, but it wasn't because she felt them unworthy of the crew or the leaders' loyalty. Natalia might harbor an opinion that children shouldn't be on this mission, but now that they were she would treat them just like all the others. And like all the others, she had no doubt that waking from three years of frozen sleep wouldn't affect them any more negatively than anyone else. Hearing Cole's plans, she waved him off, already absorbed in her screens, but a snort was heard when he commented on her looks and she flipped him off when his back was turned, not even looking in his direction as she did.

    A smile curved her lips.


    Ah, yes. A CAT scan. Cole wouldn't want to, of course, would assure he was fine and that the team was what mattered, but Elia knew very well how to get the large man to comply with a medic's orders. He'd had a few years of getting to know all the habits of the crew members here - some for longer than others, but still the time had been well-spent. He opened his mouth to reassuring Tai - and really, it would be wonderful to have another doctor, no matter how skilled, on the ship! - and speak as to his own condition when distraction came in the form of trouble.

    Elia had a feeling it typically would on this mission with the cast of characters they had aboard the ship. Their differences had been well-monitored and controlled at the facility, eyes on them at all times, but here, left to themselves....some things long overdue would need to be settled and worked out. The doctor had known this from day one and he would be watching and waiting in the days to come to see things boil to a head.

    The black-blue haired male only hoped it didn't end in something he couldn't patch up. Like now...


    The movement was swift, far swifter than she could have anticipated. She'd not been prepared to be attacked or even grabbed. Hostility, yes, she'd been prepared for that, but not by actions so much as words. The gasp had come from her as the black-haired male opened his eyes and immediately lunged. It was the only sound that escaped Kohe, however, as she was drawn close to him, her entire body rigid with tension, but completely, eerily still.

    The world slowed, her breathing barely there but somehow ragged and loud in her own ears as her mismatched eyes, dilated, refused to leave the piecing blue that seared into her. It was undulated fear that heightened her senses and a quick, instant and instinctive rise of a fight or flight response that caused a subtle humming beneath her skin, power prepared to unleash. She didn't move, though. Not one muscle, not to twitch or jerk or even utter a word in her own defense. Not even when the male released her did she move. Jack speaking of her condition - certainly not fine as he claimed - changed neither her expression nor her stance, not until he turned his gaze back to her, demanding to know who she was and her sister answered did the halfbreed move.

    She stepped back then as if coming out of a trance and it was with supreme effort that she quelled the shaking that overtook her, hopefully before it was noted. Her heart hammered in her chest, the roaring in her ears finally giving way so she might hear truly what was going on around her, unable to fully comprehend it until now. Jack's anger kept her feet moving until she'd taken at least two or three steps from him and her eyes didn't leave him, not even to acknowledge Tai's questioning, worrying gaze, though, like a physical touch, she felt it across her skin.

    It wasn't until Cole spoke to her directly that she responded, letting her eyes move from Jack for the first time since he'd grabbed her. They jerked toward the large man, an edge in her gaze, something dangerous, but her voice was calm, very much so. Controlled - a semi-tamed tiger just as liable to snap at the hand that fed it as purr against it. "I think Tavorn and my sister can handle the rest." She moved to a table then and set her clipboard down before looking once again to Jack, a warning in her eyes this time. The next time the dog thought to touch her, he might find she had claws.

    Letting her eyes leave him one again, she left the room, unaware that a keen pair of brown eyes watched her go. Elia knew that Jack had probably sensed far more with his animal-like instincts than he with his medical eyes, but even so, the doctor had viewed symptoms in the elder twin that had worried him. It would take more information for him to diagnose the problem, but if he were to wager a guess at the moment....Elia might say she was suffering from some kind of prolonged stress, perhaps from some kind of trauma or violence. He wondered if her sister might be aware. Hmm, perhaps something to speak about and find common ground over with the lovely Tai.

    Standing, now better able to steady his own weight, Elia smiled to Tai, understanding she might be a bit distraught by what had just transpired. "Well, I am ready and willing to help if you are agreeable to my company?"
    #8 Kaisaan, Feb 8, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2015
  9. Something was wrong with Kohe.

    That much was clear, however her sister tried to hide it -- and that last had been clear, too: that Kohe was hiding. For the most part, Tai was used to that. Her sister had always been...if not stoic, then sensible. She would waste time on nothing she thought wasted time. She was efficiency, even perfection incarnate, and everything she did had a purpose, a reason, firmly rooted in practicality. It was something Tai, once a chronic daydreamer, had never understood, though she'd admired it. Tai had admired everything Kohe did.

    But this, this complete loss of personhood, the clear abandonment of who and what she was -- almost of her physical self, even, it scared Tai. Kohe had dropped away from being, from feeling, when that boy had touched her, and while Tai had no doubt it was some mode of self-preservation, it cut her to the bone that she did not know what it was Kohe feared. She didn't know from what Kohe needed to be protected, and that...that hurt. Because Tai had always known. She had not been, never been the same as her fiercely protective older sister. No one could ever deny Tai loved her older twin, but she could not go to bat in the same way. And yet she had come up with her own quiet, careful methods for protecting Kohe. Healing and helping instead of hitting and hurting. Understanding her older sister's fears and agonies before Kohe herself did. Soothing, protecting against them, both physical and otherwise. Tai served Kohe a patience and love Kohe often seemed to miss herself, a quiet reminder that the mix-eyed perfectionist was enough on her own. A literal light in the darkness.

    But Tai was missing that part now. They both were. And the blow struck the younger twin far harder, far deeper, and far sharper than it would have three years ago.


    The word rolled off her tongue like an unattended ball left too close to the edge of a staircase. Even Tai, when at last it reached her eyes, was surprised by its simultaneously slow and sudden appearance. She shook herself and finally pulled violet eyes away from the door Kohe had exited through. The other dark-haired boy...young man, Tavorn her sister had called him. Elia, her tablet said. He was staring at her expectantly, waiting for an answer to a question she could only infer.

    "Yes," she said quietly, then again, once more sliding back into the gentle-spoken bedside nurse she'd become when things had gotten bad. "Yes. Next up, Amber Coulson and Kyle Thomson. 25 and 27 respectively. Should be in regular health, wakings...uneventful."

    From the other side of the room, Kenya, eager to break the tension, jumped to her feet. "You're waking Kyle and Amber? Finally, we've been sitting here doing nothing forev -- "

    "If you're doing nothing," Cole said, sounding somewhere between weary and resigned -- "then you're doing something wrong. Get up to the bridge with Nat and...uh...the other...Sterling. The older one. Kohe. Draft up a landing plan. Tell 'em first brief's in an hour. That goes for all of you. If you're on you're feet, and you're not needed here, get to stations."

    Kenya seemed unfazed by the would-be scolding, happier for something to do. "Sure thing, Cole. Sefa, you coming?"

    The dark-skinned man snorted and ran a hand through silky curls. "Kidding? I'm heading down to the VI core. I've had enough drama today. If you need me, I'll be with Apollo. Peace."

    Tai watched Sefa and Kenya leave in opposite directions, watched Cole rake a hand through his hair and scrub his eyes. Then she looked back at Elia and offered a near perfect smile.

    "So, do you want to wake Amber? Or Kyle? Or do you want to start prepping the...the younger ones," she added, with a cautious glance at Jack.

    The shifter hadn't said anything since staggering over to the little girl's cryobed where he sat with two water bottles between his knees - one empty, one full - and a third in his hand.

    "You should slow down," Tai said, and again her voice betrayed none of what she was feeling.

    Jack drained the bottle, dragged his hand across his mouth, and cracked open a third.

    "And you should stay out of my business, sweetheart. I know you're new here, but trust me: it's easier if you don't piss me off." At the warning glance from Cole, Jack only sneered and shrugged. "Just trying to be helpful," he added. "Tell your sister, too. Tell her I know she's scared."
  10. "And no wonder, Jack, grabbing her as you did. Crazy-eyed as you are, I'd likely be freaked at first look at you, too." Elia shot back, moving across the floor with far steadier steps now to approach the male in question and in turn the cryobed where Evvy still lay in quiet, drugged sleep. He knew very well that wasn't the reason for Kohe's reaction - as a doctor he could see the symptoms she was trying to hide and Elia was very good at his job, but he wasn't going to mention that. Better to make light of the situation now and report to Cole and Nat later if he couldn't get either sister to crack under reasonable questions. For now, rather than having answered Tai who seemed just a bit distracted even if she knew how to hide it behind that beautiful smile, the doctor had decided to take on the task of waking Evvy and Hitachi. He'd leave those less likely to give trouble to the rattled newcomer.

    Besides, Kyle would certainly give her entertainment if nothing else and Amber would not cause any trouble at all, meek thing that she was in mannerism. Better that Tai deal with them and regain herself then be near Jack and his feral, unpleasant ways. No, that privilege was reserved for Elia himself, much more experienced with it as he nudged said male's leg with his shoe. "Move over. You want her woken then let me do my job."

    Elia didn't much wait for compliance, all but forcing Jack to move or be stepped on. He'd had more than enough time with the testy hunter to not be intimidated by him and any glares or words were ignored entirely as he started the more lengthy process of getting Evvy ready for cryo removal.


    She shouldn't have left.

    Kohe knew that fact even before she got to the control room. Why she'd come here when she knew she wouldn't be alone was beyond her, but perhaps old habits died hard. Machinery and technology had always made more sense to her than living, breathing things and the control room would provide distraction from the chaos her thoughts had fallen into. That Natalia would be present had not crossed her mind until she saw the blond, but other than a brief acknowledgement of her presence by violet eyes, the woman didn't offer any other greeting and the young woman found herself relaxing into that silence. She moved to a chair then and slowly started to engage in less stressful activities that didn't involve other people. The Russian did the same, neither female speaking to the other and Kohe knew in that time that Cole and Vodianova would be two such people that she'd migrate toward.

    They were military - professional, quick-minded and above all else, mission-oriented. They would not coddle her, nor would them get personal, but they could be reliable. All things that Kohe was familiar with, all things that helped her keep her sanity now. Perhaps it wasn't the healthiest way to deal with her problems, but that was no one's business but hers. No one knew anything was wrong anyway....except for Tai.

    The thought of her sister lent a wince to Kohe's face and her fingers stilled, clenching into her palms for a moment as she stared, uncomprehending at her touch-screen and the complex equations and systems she'd been checking on - even as she knew Sefa was doing the same by the slight game of tug-a-war they were playing with the systems and each other, sort of like a race to see who could check what function first. What was she to do about Tai? Her little sister....if Taibug knew what had happened, it would tear her apart. She'd want to help, to fix it and she'd drive herself into the ground with Kohe's problems. It was not what the elder twin wanted and yet.....she ached to be close to her sister again, to have that connection, that bond that had made them so close before they'd gone their separate ways.

    But how could they go back to what had been before....when neither of them were who they'd been?


    She'd thought waking would be more like emerging from a long nap. Amber Colson realized just how wrong she was when she was sent into a coughing fit upon emerging from cryo. She'd trained plenty of times, but never for this kind of length of time and now her body rebelled quite well to the unnatural state it had been locked in. She was grateful to the bucket presented as she vomited bile and it was only when she'd stopped and water was offered that brown eyes rose to greet rather beautiful violet ones. Blinking, the black-skinned woman thought for a moment she was looking at Natalia for she knew no other hue of gaze that color, but that didn't seem right. These eyes were too young and too gentle for Nat.

    A stranger then, but a helpful one.

    Amber smiled, the expression somewhat shy and her voice very quiet, typical of the young black woman. With curly hair and a gentle demeanor, she appeared more suited for working with animals or perhaps running a quaint little bakery or flower shop than working on a ship in space, but there was sharp intelligence behind the meekness. Taking the water bottle, she smiled softly. "Thank you."

    Her body felt weak, normal though, and she took a careful sip of the liquid before taking a closer look at the one who'd woken her. White-violet hair, violet eyes and a gentle hand - this must be one of the twins then. The doctor. Tairisa Sterling, if Amber remembered correctly.

    "You are Tairisa, yes?" The question was soft, just as quiet as anything else she'd said and then Amber looked uncertain, biting her lip. "Or do I mistake your for your sister, Koheera?"
  11. “Enough.” The ex-SEAL’s voice still held a heavy thrum of weariness, but now with a sharpening edge of caution, warning, perhaps, and something that might have been frustration in a different man.

    “Tavorn, Akiyama can mind his own tongue,” Cole said with a hard look Jack pretended to ignore. “Akiyama, you can stay, but only if you sit down and shut up. ‘r else, you can leave now and I’ll let the greenhorn here – ” he jerked a thumb at Tai, “wake the kid. I’m sure Evvy’ll love that. You know how much she likes strangers.” Jack didn’t look at Cole, or acknowledge Elia, but he recognized the threat for what it was and begrudgingly moved away, crouching on the other side of Evvy’s cryobed. Cole felt a little of the tension go out of his shoulders.

    “Coulson,” he continued, when he guessed Jack would be more or less well-behaved for at least a few more minutes, “Amber. You okay? Soon as you feel up to it, you get down to the bio labs, alright, girlie?” He smirked. “And take Kyle with you. Last thing we need is Dumb and Dumber sharing too much of the same air, even with Aiono out of the way.”

    Cole wasn’t afraid of a little conflict. Hell, he figured it was a given, considering their current situation. His head was pounding fit to leave his stomach on the floor, and he could only imagine the others were feeling near the same. They’d all just woken after a three-year super-nap. They were sore, hungry, cranky. But those three – Aiono, Akiyama, and the soon-to-be-woken Thomson – all smart, sarcastic men in their late twenties, all vying, subconsciously or not, to be alpha. Well. Cole had seen them at each other’s throats on the best of days, and today was far from that.

    Besides. The ex-SEAL had long since learned that if it came down to the kids, he was better off just separating the three than trying to get Jack to see reason.
    Raking another hand through his hair, Cole squinted at the remainder of his waking team.

    “You two, report to the med bay when you’re done here,” he said, tapping a panel on the wall to light up a map of the ship’s levels. “You two’re the only ones with access down there – aside from myself – until tomorrow, but I want you guys to open up the short term wing and get everyone through a quick check up after dinner and before lights out. We can run full physicals tomorrow, and recoop therapy will start the day after. I’ll be in and out as you need me.”

    Tai acknowledged the orders – orders; strange to be using that word again – with a nod and a dimmer version of the smile she’d given to Elia, but the one reserved for Amber was sincere. Or as sincere as it could be. More sincere than it had been in months. Or maybe years now, since –

    “If you had, you’d be the first,” Tai said with a laugh, handing off the water bottle and taking the pail. “You’ll know what I mean when you see her. Or even just talk to her. But, no. You’re right. I’m Tairisa. Tai. Are you feeling alr – “

    “What is that?” Jack’s voice came sharp and hard and cold as ice from the other side of the room, and Tai almost shivered at the familiarity of it. “What does that mean?”

    Cole, too, recognized the tone in Jack’s voice, though for a very different reason than Tai had. He felt a familiar tension crawl into his belly. C’mon, kid, he thought, as he forced himself to cross the room on stiff legs to stand over Evvy’s cryobed – between Jack and Elia. You been doing alright for three years. Just a little longer, kid. Fight it.

    The ex-SEAL didn’t scare easy. He couldn’t. He was an ex-SEAL, and more than that, he’d been chosen for his ability to lead under pressure, just like everyone on this team had been chosen for their ability to something. Nat could fly, and Elia could mend, and even the twins had their own gifts. His people were strong, yes, and smart, and talented. But they weren’t soldiers. And while Cole had gotten them close, even he couldn’t make them something they weren’t. Accidents happened. Nothing - not hard work, or willpower, or a team of actual professionals in place of a group of people heading, alone and afraid, into the darkness - could prevent everything. They had all of them trained more than thirty years, when you added it all up. But Cole knew that old say – to err is human – better than most.

    And Evvy didn’t even have that going for her.

    “I’ll be right back.” Tai gave Amber a smile she hoped was reassuring and pushed to her feet, just as Cole said, “Doc?” The captain’s voice was even as he spoke to Elia, but his body was tense, ready for virtually anything. “What is it?”

    “That!” Jack barked suddenly, jabbing a finger against the digital readout at the head of Evvy’s bed so hard, Tai was a little worried he was going to hurt himself. “What is that? She’s supposed to be asleep, isn’t she? Beyond asleep. So what is that?”

    Dutifully, calmly, almost without thought, Tai knelt beside Jack and the bed, keeping very intentionally close to the former, knowing full well what it might cost her. Knowing he needed it, even if he didn’t know how or why.

    “She could be dreaming,” Tai said quietly, holding up her tablet until it synced with the bed, giving her a full readout – including her pulse, heartrate, brain activity, current weight…and the shifting scan of numbers beside her name that should have been her static age – in a larger view. “It’s…uncommon, but her mutant gene – ”

    Don’t call her that.” Jack turned on her so quickly, his voice a low growl, that Tai had nearly started to call up a shield – but Cole was there first. Face impassive, his pinned Jack’s shoulder against Evvy’s bed with a knee.

    “You need to calm down, son. You know you’re not helping her any.”

    Jack growled again, still close enough to Tai that she could feel him shaking. “F--- that. You know she’s not dreaming, Cole. She’s waking up. She can feel us. I need to talk to her.”
    Cole, to his credit, didn’t back down. “Not like this, you don’t.” Then, without looking away from Jack, he spoke to Elia.

    “Doc? How long before you can bring her out of cryo?”

    “Maybe…ten minutes,” Tai interrupted. “She and Hitachi, they’re both so young, it takes longer to wake them or else we risk brain damage. And we need to bring her core temperature down further so she can’t – ”

    “She won’t hurt anyone,” Jack said, his voice husky. “I won’t let her. How. Long.”

    Tai hesitated, looking away from her tablet screen for a moment to study Jack. “Three minutes,” she amended. “She might be a little out of it, but – ”

    “We can risk it.” It was Cole speaking now, still standing, impassive, over them, though he’d released Jack, he surged closer to Evvy’s cryobed, away from Tai. “Wake her up.”

    Tai looked at Cole and then Elia, who’d already started the process. Just under 180 seconds remained on the timer.

    She smiled at him again, somewhere between laughing and apologetic. “I’ll take care of the others,” she promised. “Let me know if you…if you need me.” Then she was gone, crossing the room again to check on Amber before waking Kyle.

    Cole stayed where he was.

    And Jack didn’t move except to lay a hand down flat against the cold glass over Evvy’s hand.

    “C’mon,” he whispered, so quietly he hardly heard himself. “Come back to me, aedna. Come back to me.”
  12. Elia took orders rather well and upon Cole's words, merely dipped his head slightly and went back to his assigned task of waking Evvy. He kept an ear open for what was going on around him, though, and upon hearing Amber's name, glanced over to the young black woman with a smile. He'd hardly been aware that she was awake, quiet as she was, but it was good to see someone on the ship who DIDN'T have a volatile nature in their midst. If there was anyone who fit that category, it was Amber. She was likely the gentlest, kindest person on this ship with Kenya being a close second and probably Tai joining that group as well from what he'd seen of the younger twin.

    It was good to know they'd have some levelheaded people on this venture.

    Amber herself was nodding in meek assent to Cole's words. In fact, she'd never argued with either Nat or Cole in all the time anyone had known her. She followed orders to the letter and had no quarrel with anyone - astoundingly enough, that included Akiyama and even little Evvy. She wasn't close to everyone, but she also had made no enemies of any sort and more than one protector. Kyle happened to be one of them and Amber managed a smile at the mention of the man, more than willing to help....but not willing to get involved with any of the tension around her as Jack's voice made her shrink into herself. It wasn't fear that caused it, but a wise heeding of instinct to stay away from any volatile situation if she could help it. Any response she would have given to Tairisa was lost in the wake of the new development and her brown eyes merely watched with a calmness of trust in the skills of those around her as the three around Evvy's cyro gathered close.

    Elia wished it wasn't so close. It made working harder, dammit! But he didn't say anything - nothing at all actually as his hands merely continued to work and he let the talk swirl about him. Arguing wasn't going to get Evvy out of cryo any faster and he knew by the time a decision was made he could have the process well under way. Elia knew very well what the readings meant and he'd known even before this three year stint that this was a risk for Evvy...just as Hitachi would come with his own problems. Of everyone on the ship, the two youngest were the ones with the powers that would not react well to be frozen and in stasis for so long. Actually, that wasn't entirely true....he had no idea how the twins had handled it either. The rest of the crew he knew, but Tai and Kohe - and their powers - were a mystery still. Hmm...a topic to look into.

    Right now he had his hands full enough with Evvy. Everyone always did when dealing with the girl. Jack was the closest to her, but that wasn't exactly helpful when Jack himself was a loose canon waiting to go off at the slightest spark. No, that didn't provide a good deal of stability for a little girl already so unbalanced for her own reasons. But perhaps like-minded called to those of the same and they were hardly going to be able to separate the two.

    Elia would love to see what would become of the person who even attempted to try. He'd have a lot of body parts to clean up, of that the doctor was sure.

    Ah yes, just as he'd been sure the orders to wake Evvy would come. Offering only a two fingered salute and no comment, Elia kept on working, moving around Jack when needed, but otherwise not bothering the protective hunter. Finally he motioned for Jack to move as he pressed the release on the chamber. They'd done all they could. Now to see how the little spitfire would react.


    Amber had assured Tai that she was fine in her small voice, rather relieved to have someone back over with her again as that meant that Evvy would likely be all right. She didn't wish for something to go wrong so soon after the mission had started and the worry of it was a weight on her heart. Still, a small smile came to her face at the mention of waking Kyle. The man had become like a brother to her and brown eyes instantly brightened at the mention of him. Colson followed Tai eagerly to the cryobed he was within, her steps somewhat wobbly, but her determination making up for weaving steps. She accepted the support offered by the helpful doctor without any kind of protest and sat down again when she came to her goal, not wanting to get in the way, but much desiring to see her teammate when he woke.

    "How long will it take to wake him?" The question was not demanding, but curious and Amber bit her lip after speaking it, looking down. "Sorry, I do not mean to sound impatient. I am only anxious to see him. He was a bit nervous about going into cryo."


    The feeling was sudden, so swift in descending that Kohe wasn't prepared for it, not like she usually was. She'd grown up with visions, with their brutal assault on her mind and she'd learned how to control them to some degree and how to temper the stronger ones. She'd learned how to cope with the speed in which they could attack, but there were a few that knocked the breath out of her, even now.....especially now and she gripped the arm of her chair with a vice-like intensity.

    No. No, please, no. Not now. Not now, not now, not now.

    She chanted it desperately, but the attempt to keep the vision at bay was futile and Kohe's eyes rolled back in her head, her body going rigid and then starting to shake. The systems that kept track of the human body in the control room started to blare, flashing red and Natalia jerked around in her chair with a rather vulgar curse upon seeing the elder twin seizing.

    "Cole! Dispatch Thorton or T-Sterling up to Control Center. K-Sterling is having some sort of attack." The message was barked, but not frantically given into the intercom system even as the Russian reached Kohe and calmly pried the young woman's jaws apart, inserting a mouth guard that rested on a tray already slid out of the console - a medical kit with an assortment of instruments and drugs the computer was programmed to offer in the event of a crew member suffering a medical problem. After ensuring the twin wouldn't bite her tongue off, Natalia carefully tilted her head back to clear her airway as she was struggling to breathe and turned her head to the side so any saliva or vomit would not suffocate her.

    Then the Russian waited, but her mind turned.
    #12 Kaisaan, Feb 26, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2015
  13. Something was wrong. Something dark and scary and shapeless. And something big. Something very, very big.

    And Evvy....Evvy didn't know how to feel about it. Because on the one hand, the dread was eating her up inside. She could place, or not with words, what exactly was wrong. The smaller wrong were easy enough, though she had no name for those, either. Those were the sort of 'wrongs' she'd been dealing with all her life. The twinge like a bruise just before someone twisted an ankle or burned themselves. The nausea and tremors that came with knowing someone was going to be hurt and not doing everything she could to intervene. The anger that so often overwhelmed the pain she felt when she did act, a sixty pound shield against the world. The inscrutable guilt that came when she tried to save herself.

    Those 'wrongs' were normal. That was how she knew, even before she opened her eyes, even before she could hear or smell or taste or feel anything at all, that was how she knew the others were finally - finally! - awake. Awake, and not feeling well, though somewhere close, unfamiliar, but close, someone was feeling worse.

    It was the blackness floating at the edges of her vision, dripping down her spine with an oily, icy inexorability, wrapping close around her chest, her lungs, her neck, her mouth, threatening to was that wrong that scared her.

    Something bad was going to happen. Something very, very bad. And Evvy didn't know what.

    But whatever it was, it had woken her. Well, woken was not the right word exactly. Woken implied sleep, or unconsciousness, at the very least, and Evvy, for three years, had been privy to neither. Oh, her body had rested, and she guessed she was thankful enough for that, or the girl knew she'd have ended things - badly - sometime ago. Like the others, she hadn't aged, she hadn't starved, and for the first time in her life, she hadn't even felt cold. She hadn't felt anything, really. Hadn't even been able to open her eyes. But she had listened. And she had dreamed. And when insanity began to claim her, she had heard things, seen things, screamed things.

    She'd read once, on one of those early forays into grotesque knowledge Jack was forever trying to prevent, about something called sleep paralysis. Or rather, she'd read a woman's account of it, of how she saw nightmare visions in real life, every day for two years before trying to kill herself and her sister.

    Evvy had felt a little like that. Except for Evvy, it had been three years. Three continuous years of nightmares she couldn't wake from, shadows projected on the walls of the cryobed she imagined, fangs dripping poison and blood, death looming over her and Jack and Hitachi and even Natalie --

    Evvy thought she would have tried to kill herself, too. She tried not to think about what Jack would say if he ever found out.

    But it was over now. She was waking, really waking, not just screaming silently into the endless space around her. She knew because she could feel cold again, and dull pain radiating through her head and stomach and spine. She could feel the nausea of not helping whoever it was who was hurting, and she could hear -- maybe hear -- Jack's voice somewhere near by.

    The Big Black Something was bad. It was very bad. But it had saved her from those three years, and so for now, Evvy knew the Something would be her own, awful secret.


    She sat up quickly and quietly, and if Cole had to be honest, it gave him the willies.

    Evangeline Garcia -- Evvy, as she liked to be called -- and Hitachi No-Last-Name had always been their own strange brand of unsettling. Cole, and maybe Nat, too, had been among the last wave of children born before mutantism still regularly landed you in the psych ward of quiet, upstate hospitals...if you were lucky. He was no classist, technically. A good soldier was a good soldier. He'd worked with a man who could melt stone with a touch back in the Navy, so he figured mutants were just people with special quirks.

    Even so, Evvy and Hitachi were something else altogether. They had to be, to get landed on a mission sending them off planet before they were old enough to even be interested in each other (or so he hoped). Their personalities didn't help much, either. Hitachi was quiet by nature. Near mute, to hear most say it. He wasn't nearly as unpredictable as Evvy, who spent most of her time sullen and reclusive, reading books Cole thought no one ever should. But he had a keen control over himself and his powers the other girl lacked. Evvy was dangerous. She'd catch him off guard every once in a while with a look or a sigh or a question that reminded him too damn much of Bailey.

    But she wasn't Bailey. She'd proved that to him near three years ago when she'd nearly killed herself and him waking at the tail end of a nightmare he still didn't understand.

    But when she wasn't raging, half out of her head with fear or pain or anger, she was quiet, mostly well-behaved, smart as a whip...and creepy as hell. The way she'd stare at you like she was looking into your soul. The way she'd sometimes come up to him mid-training to say, "Kyle is going to be sick tomorrow," or, "Move the water drill downstairs. Sefa sprained his ankle," hours or days before anything happened. Once he himself had been blindsided by falling florescent lightbulb back at the training facility. Evvy, compelled as she was to intervene and spare him the pain, had crashed into his legs, sending them both sprawling. She'd sat up, shivering, the cuff around her neck glowing blue against silver -- meaning it was fighting her natural core temp extra hard -- a bruise on her temple, her lip bleeding.

    He'd gaped at her and at the mess of glass and steel where he'd been a moment before. And Evvy, deadpan, had said, "Are you hurt?"

    He didn't answer. He knew they both knew he was fine.

    So, technically, it shouldn't have been a surprise when little Evvy sat up without a noise. She didn't cough or scream or look around, baffled and bewildered. She blinked twice, took a single breath, and then focused those huge hazel eyes on him.

    "Someone is going to get sick," she said in an eerie monotone.

    Half a second later, while Cole was still trying to understand the haunted look in the girl's eyes, signal alarms began to scream, and then Nat's voice was coming in over the radio, and Cole was swearing as, across the room, the other twin leapt to her feet.


    In the back of her mind, even Tai thought Evvy's waking was strange -- she'd been pulled from cryo too quickly, especially for a kid her size and age. She should hardly be conscious, let alone lucid. What the hell did that mean?

    Still. Elia seemed more than competent, and with Cole and the volatile Jack still circling the cryobed, Tai suspected they didn't need the extra hands. The other girl, Amber, had quietly, and a bit unsteadily, made her way over to Kyle Thomson's bedside. A quiet devotion that made Tai smile, reminding her of least before she and Kohe had split.

    "It shouldn't be long," Tai saidly reassuringly, tapping in the wake code and motioning for Amber to step aside as the glass panel slid away. She looked up at the girl and smiled then, handing the young biologist a plastic water bottle.

    "He'll be fine," she promised. "But I'm sure he'd appreciate a bottle of water, and -- "

    Two things happened simultaneously. The first, a cold finger of dread touched the back of her neck, insidious as an icicle melting from its post directly overhead. Tai shivered, and in the breathless moment of silence that followed, she thought, inexplicably, of Kohe.

    Kyle had hardly woken before Tai was up and sprinting toward the staircase Kohe had disappeared through minutes or years ago. She blurted an apology to Amber, promised -- again -- that she would be back, shoving a pail and another water bottle into the stunned girl's hands. She raced past Evvy and Jack and Elia, putting out a hand to stop the last.

    "No," she said, pulling out her tablet to keep track of Kohe's vitals even as she moved. "Stay -- you stay with Evvy and Thomson, I'll go. She's my sister."

    Cole started toward the stairway. "That's exactly why you shouldn't go, kid," he said brusquely. "Tavorn is good, he'll take care of -- "

    "Respectfully, sir, I can handle it." Tai had come to a stop front and center in front of Cole. If Kohe had been here, she wouldn't have recognized whatever it was in her sister that now stared down the authority figure at the risk of dissent and discomfort.

    "I already know what's wrong with her, and Evvy -- " she pointed at the child, who still sat very still in her cryobed, jaw clenched, but not saying a word, " -- her vitals are still a little all over the place. Wake her, wake the other kid, check Thomson. I'll take care of Kohe."

    She was gone again before Cole could argue -- not ideal, but she was right, it didn't make sense for Tavorn to leave with Evvy still not fully checking out.

    But he'd have to see how the other medic acted under pressure. The twins left far too much to the imagination.


    Tai dropped to her knees beside Kohe's seizing body, calmly taking over Nat's task without asking or waiting for permission, sensing the other woman would prefer action over words, anyway.

    She smiled, knowing there was a fifty-fifty chance at best her sister could hear her, and not caring in the slightly. One hand brushed sweaty tendrils of hair from her twin's face before joining the other in calmly making sure Kohe didn't whack her head on the floor.

    And Tai whispered. For all the separation she'd felt between herself and her twin since they'd parted three years ago, it was clear some things went deeper than second nature, delving into sisterhood.

    "It's okay, Ko'. I'm here. Alright, Keva? I'm here. You're alright. It's nearly over. Just hang on, Kohe."
  14. No.

    No, it was not over. It was only beginning.

    Tai's voice came as if from underwater and not even her sister's unique light could shed clarity to the blackness around her. It was consuming and big, so very big. Something bad. Big Black Something Bad. The words dropped into her mind like stones into a pond, heaving and sinking down into her subconscious, into the very core of who she was, tainting everything. But she was already drowning, inhaling the darkness around her, choking on it, her eyes and nose and ears and mouth filled with the thick, cloying, metallic taste of its presence. Like blood. It tasted of blood and she wanted to gag, but could not.

    There was no escaping. Nowhere to run. No place safe enough to hide.

    It was coming. It was here.

    It would destroy them all and leave no one to remember their passing. She wanted to wail with the despair of it, but could not give voice. There was warning on her tongue that fell short, absorbed into the Big Black Something Bad before it could find target and she felt terror colder than ice freeze to her marrow. There was no escape. No rescue. No hope.

    And then suddenly there was a figure. A small figure emerging from the darkness, gaining more substance as they did, and yet Kohe could not see their face, could not even name the color of their skin or their hair. She only knew their form, only understood, somehow that they were important, a key in all this.

    She saw nothing else but a flashing pair of vividly blue-green eyes before everything spun out of control.


    Kohe came back to reality with a sharp, desperate inhale, her entire body arching with the spasms that racked it before she finally stopped seizing and went limp, still fighting for air....still panicked, her mismatched eyes searching frantically until they caught the violet of their sister. She froze then, locked into a forced calm as the words finally came, whispered and hissed. And scared.

    "The Black. It's coming. It's here."

    The spell seemed to release the elder twin then and Kohe's trance broke. With it, however, went any semblance of calm, too, as she started to try and sit up, fear still lurking in her expression, but frantic determination, too, her mouth babbling far different words now. "Earth. He needs earth. He'll be sick without it. He needs earth. I have to get earth. I have to-"


    The commanding boom of a voice instantly had Kohe straightening, her struggles stilling as her hand almost seemed to rise into a salute before remembering that it didn't have to. Nat saw it, though, and put the small piece of information away even as she spoke, violet eyes stern. "Calm yourself, soldier. Tell me where you are."

    Mismatched eyes blinked, lost for a moment before Koheera shut them and took a breath. "Artemis. I am on the Artemis." The very words seemed to steady her, to bring her back to some true awareness and the Russian gave a sharp nod. "Correct. Now, tell me who needs earth." She already had a good guess, but Kohe's words as the elder twin opened her eyes again were confirmation....of more than one thing.


    Another sharp nod before violet eyes moved to the younger twin, the one that Kohe was unconsciously holding on to - her hand clutching Tai's shirt - whether the elder twin realized it or not. "See to your sister and report to me when you're finished."


    Elia, if he was truthful - and he usually was - would readily admit that he was glad Tai had insisted on seeing to her sister. It was a fact already that he had no idea what made either twin tick and he had no way of knowing what their medical records looked like. If Koheera was having some sort of attack as Nat had claimed, then logically Tairisa would be the best person to address it as she knew her sister and no doubt her sister's diagnosis. No, he was better suited here, with people he knew and procedures he could do by heart now.

    Evvy might not have been the easiest patient to deal with, especially with Jack hovering around her and looking over his shoulder, but both people were familiar from their medical needs right down to their habits. Elia knew after years now to tell Evvy everything he was doing before he did it, whether the girl realized she needed the warnings or not. It also worked to Jack's benefit as the overprotective 'older brother' wasn't questioning him at every movement. Of course, Jack wouldn't admit that he needed the warnings, either, but Elia knew them both rather well. He would not tell them as much, though, lest he get his head bit off for it.

    The doctor checked Evvy over carefully, gentle and patient with the girl, but concerned. Her vitals were still a little off, her heart rate significantly elevated and her core temperature low. She'd lost more electrolytes than was normal for cryo, as if she'd been using more energy than mere sleep would have demanded and Elia frowned to himself thoughtfully before looking up, expression clearing to something far more calming and comforting as he gave his orders.

    And with these two, they WERE orders - ones he would have Cole or Nat enforce if they were not followed and the two before him knew it, too. "All right, Evvy. You're going to be just fine, but I need you to get to the Heating Room so we can raise your temperature a bit and I'm going to need you to drink, too. I will come by a little later and administer a dose of electrolytes to you, as well. Just take it easy for today and you'll feel far better tomorrow, alright, kiddo?"
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  15. Evvy didn't move when Elia spoke, though Jack knew it wasn't because she didn't hear him. The strange girl heard, saw, felt everything, but it wasn’t often the average person got more than a sullen scowl or shrug out of her. And Evvy wouldn’t complain about feeling sick or tired. Not when there were others around…and certainly not when her focus was on Hitachi.

    Jack knew better than most that Evvy was far more than she appeared to be. That particular trait seemed to apply more to her ‘age’ than anything else. She was small, a scrap of a thing that just barely reached his waist, and lighter than most of the cargo aboard. She looked nine, maybe ten years old. And while it was not exactly uncommon for her to grow stubborn or irritable when she was tired, or refuse to eat a new vegetable, or daydream during mission briefings, it was far more natural -- if such a word could be used in this instance -- to catch her watching people with an eerie sort of knowing. And know she often did. Jack would never call Evvy a liar, per se...but she often knew far more than she let on. And more than that, she knew how to use what she knew.

    Of one thing, Jack had no doubts: Evvy had been sent along on this mission for far more than her ability to light a fire.

    Right now, though, Evvy wasn't a small and unsettling changeling child, so much as she was a sleepy, disoriented little girl. Or she was sleepy, at least. Whatever disorientation the violet-eyed twin had predicted didn't seem to be plaguing the little girl nearly so much as her concern for Hitachi. And Jack knew that was precisely what it was, even if Evvy would never admit it to him.

    He also knew if Hitachi was going to be sick -- and Evvy wasn't usually wrong -- the little kasai wouldn't want to leave. Apparently, Cole knew it, too. The older man stooped, handed Jack a full water bottle, and squinted at Evvy.

    "Right. You heard the doc, kid. You finish that bottle of water before you go anywhere, or you'll be on latrines here to next century, got it? Jack, you go with her."

    Predictably, Evvy set her jaw. "I'm staying here," she said. "I'm part of the crew, too."

    Jack bit the inside of his cheek to keep from smirking. Evvy, even pale and shaking, had managed a near-perfect impression of the otherwise inimitable Nat (who was also her secret idol, though the Evvy would throw a fit if she ever found out Jack knew). He was half tempted to let the kid duke it out with Cole, just to irk the former SEAL...but he knew Cole was right, too. Hanging out with the newly woken, especially Hitachi, wasn't going to help things. It was the nature of Evvy's ability: she could get up and help, even if it killed her; or she could sit back and experience the same agony those around were. And since she wasn't exactly in great shape to be helping, even Hitachi, Jack figured Cole was right. For once.

    He sighed, stood, and held out a hand to pull Evvy to her feet. She scowled at him, then at his hand for a minute before he cracked and grinned at her.

    "C'mon, kasai. You want a ride? I'll let you choose: tiger or mastiff?"

    Cole waited until they were headed down the hall -- a little girl curled shivering amidst black and orange fur -- before taking the steps three at a time up to the bridge. He was nearly at the landing before he called back down to Elia: "I'll be back. Use your discretion on waking the kid before I'm down there."

    He didn't wait for an answer. He didn't need to - the doctor was one of a handful (though admittedly a larger handful) of his more trustworthy crew, including Kenya and Amber, and maybe the new medic, assuming her mini-insubordination in seeing her sister before had been a one-time event.

    Both twins were now on the ground, the elder pale and shaken, but sitting up, the younger knelt beside her, expression unreadable. Nat stood over them both, which Cole took to mean imminent danger had passed. He paused and waited at the landing, halfway between these two almost emergencies: Kohe's attack and Hitachi's waking.

    On the floor, Tai felt her heart slowing, though her sister's words still played in her head. The Black. It's coming. It's here. If the pilot had heard what her sister had said, she gave no indication, which was perhaps just as well, because for now, it was clear something else was wrong with Kohe, and it had less to do with the seizure, or the strange maybe-prophecy. Rather, it was Kohe's reaction to the pilot's professionally snapped off words. The woman, whatever her name was, Natasha or Natalie, Tai thought, was clearly ex-military.

    But Kohe wasn't.

    Was she?

    Not for the first time, Tai felt the immense weight of the three years she'd been separated from her twin settle on her shoulders and had to shake -- shiver, really -- to wriggle out from under it long enough to make sure Kohe was alright. She felt the wrist attached to the hand attached to her shirt. Kohe's heart rate was up, but slowing, which made Tai's heart rate slow, too. The younger twin was a talented healer...but she'd never been able to do much for Kohe's more violent attacks aside from waiting until they were over, healing bruises and bumps from a fall, or concussions and bitten tongues when the thrashing was too much. Tai had also learned she could take a person's pain, literally absorb it into herself if she had skin-to-skin contact with someone. It was a talent she'd relied heavily on when she'd been abroad. Too heavily, some might say. Tai had yet to inform Kohe of this new discovery, though. She knew Kohe wouldn't like it...but more than that, she was afraid her sister would ask questions she wasn't ready to answer.

    So, for the moment, Tai just smiled at her sister, and reached out to press a cool hand to Kohe's forehead, knowing the headache would be coming if it hadn't already, focusing on easing the pain, and not just taking it. That, at least, would be a form of healing Kohe was used to.

    And right now, the look in Kohe's eyes, something that went far beyond exhaustion or pain...the fear there said maybe her twin needed something familiar.
  16. Use his discretion.

    Elia blew a loud sigh upward, disrupting his loose black hair. He made a mental note to grab a tie for it later - he rarely wore it completely loose for practical reasons - when it fell back in his face and he was forced to brush it back behind his ear. He really did wish Cole and Nat realized how much pressure they put on him when they used those words. His discretion. Right. And if they didn't agree with his decision later he'd never hear the end of it. Oh well. He hadn't become a doctor to play it safe and take the roads most traveled. The thought brought a smile to his lips as he gave a glance to everything around him. Roads less traveled indeed. How many people got to take a three year voyage into space to a new planet?

    Chuckling to himself, moods easily changed, Elia chose to postpone Hitachi's waking momentarily to check up on Amber and Kyle, both left to their own devices in the wake of the drama. Approaching the two, he gave them an encouraging smile that was returned shyly by Amber - not atypical of the quiet young woman - and a grimace that was returned by Kyle...rather expected. Moving to crouch beside the two, Elia didn't yet glance at his hand-held device that would have told him concisely how they were doing, instead choosing a warmer approach for those he considered friends. Sometimes being professional just wasn't useful even if it was medically expected to be that way.

    "Kyle, Amber, how do you feel? Any dizziness? Nausea? Amber, I know you already threw up. Feeling better now?"

    "Gods, Elia, one question at a time." Kyle's voice was rough with disuse, his accent thick as he brought the heel of his hand to his temple with a showing of his teeth in displeasure. Elia only chuckled again even as he swatted the Romanian's hand away and instead turned Kyle's face toward him, checking his eyes for light response before the man could jerk away. "Well, someone is cranky. I do hope that is your only side-affect of cryo, Kyle."

    His hand was smacked away, but a grin had replaced the frown on Kyle's face. "Haha, you wish. I'm also in desperate need of a drink."


    "Awww, c'mon, Elia! It's been three years!" The whine was clear in the Romanian's words and the doctor only give a hard stare that caused Kyle's shoulders to slump, his forlorn eyes moving to Amber who only giggled as she looked between then, shaking her head, voice soft. "Oh no. You two are not dragging me into this."

    "But...But Amby, he'll listen to you!"

    Elia snorted. "Hardly. She's in no better condition than you are." Saying as much, he gave attention to the young black woman and she merely smiled again, knowing what he wanted. "I am fine, Elia. Tired. A bit disoriented, but I know it will pass. I will drink my water and take it easy for the day."

    "Good. And you can help me keep an eye on this rogue, yes?"

    A nod answered and Kyle rolled his eyes. "Suck up. You just want a lollipop." It was a clear tease as he grinned at Amber and she ducked her head in a blush, but said nothing, only shaking her head as even Elia chuckled, standing. "All right you two. Down to the Biology Lab. Keep drinking and stay together. Call me if you have problems, all right?" Both nodded to his words, working on helping each other stand and Elia left them to it, knowing that no matter how headstrong Kyle was, he would stick by Amber until he knew with absolute certainty that the woman he thought of as a sister was completely recovered and confidently on her feet....just as he knew that Amber would decide when to let that be known to better make sure Kyle was taking care of himself. They were a good team that way and Elia knew he didn't have anything to worry about there.

    Hitachi, though....that was a different story. The last to wake. Elia didn't know if that was a good omen or a bad one. Either way, his discretion was to wait until there were more people than simply him in the room before he took that bullet.


    Feeling the pain that had started to form in her temples ease off a little, Kohe was snapped back completely to the world around her and she blinked mismatched eyes at her twin for a moment, almost looking utterly surprised by what Tai was if she'd forgotten what it was like to be cared for and like the pain lessening had been the last thing she expected. It brought a slight smile, hesitant but present, to her lips and Kohe touched her sister's knee briefly in a wordless thanks for what she was doing. Still, even the aching familiarity of Tai's touch could not distract her from the pressing need within her and after a moment, Kohe attempted to stand.

    She nearly fell back down, but caught herself and managed to rise fully where she was met by Natalia's sharp, assessing eyes. "You need to go to Medical Bay." It was not a suggestion and yet the elder twin shook her head. It wasn't not stubbornness in her eyes, but calm and her words were not a retort, merely factual. It was a tone that made Nat's eyes narrow in slight suspicion for something Elia had already formed an opinion about based on different information - it led to the same conclusion in both minds, though.

    "No, I need to do my job."

    "Your job comes second to your health, Sterling." was the warning reprimand and yet Kohe didn't shrink before it, meeting violet eyes of a far different make than her younger sister's. "My health is not affected, Kapitan. It is Foresight that plagues me, nothing more. It comes and goes, an ailment I suffered even as a child."

    It Nat was taken aback she did not show least not to Kohe or Tai. Cole, who knew her far better than anyone else, would see the slight tic in her jaw, the barely-there narrowing of her eyes, the subtle tilt of her chin - all conveying both surprise and interest. To an outsider, though, the woman was a closed book, the cover blank and the pages locked to anyone who did not bear the right key. She regarded Kohe silently for a long moment before finally giving a curt nod. "Then get back to it." Turning her eyes to Tai, she gave the younger twin a commanding look. "I expect to speak with you before the day draws to an end. For now, help Elia with Hitachi."

    A pale brow rose to Cole, unknown to the others, but her demeanor relaxing just a little upon sight of the man. It was something only he would take note of and she knew and trusted he'd keep quiet about it, too. "The boy will need earth when he emerges. The Environmental Habitat will provide what you need, I think."

    She would leave this in his capable hands. Hers were better suited to the machines around her. Things she knew.
  17. Tai was quiet watching the exchange between her sister and the pilot. If she didn't think about it too hard, she could almost view the very evident changes in Kohe as fascinating, maybe even amusing...maybe. Kohe had always been the more outspoken of the two twins, far more likely to put up a fight -- though it was Tai who'd have fought to the death for a cause she could get behind -- when she saw or heard or found something she didn't like, especially if those somethings involved Tai. It wasn't surprising, exactly, that Kohe didn't listen to the pilot outright. It was more the way she argued, calm and sage, almost as if she were the one in command. Another image of Kohe as Soldier crossed Tai's mind, and she found herself still unable to reconcile the two disparate sides of her sister. Her twin, and this new woman her twin had become.

    But like Nat had inferred. It was not the time to speak to either of them about these changes, though Tai was fast forming an opinion (and a diagnosis) on what had happened to Kohe.

    For now, she gave a curt nod in the pilot's -- Natalia? -- direction. "I'll be collecting basic medical reports every day for the next week. I can report to you -- both of you -- " she added with a glance in the captain's, " -- every evening before lights out. I'll send more...sensitive details to your tablets." She knew full well Natalia, and probably Cole, were more concerned with Kohe now than the general health of Artemis's crew. But mission or not, Tai wasn't about to discuss her sister's health with anyone but her sister, at least not until she had a better idea of what was going on.

    Besides, she was not technically obligated to give full medical reports, as it were. For the most part, the twelve-person crew had semi-permanent positions either in the field, or aboard the ship (though Amber and Kenya, while both having labs aboard the ship, came and went as needed). The ship crew, led by Nat, included Amber, Kenya, Sefa, and Kohe and was doctored, officially, by Elia Tavorn, the crew's actual medical practitioner. Tai, however, had more field and trauma experience. She'd been an EMT from the age of sixteen, graduating to REMT to put herself through nursing school, until she'd been called abroad. Her ability to heal with a touch meant she could do much of what Elia could, and her years of admittedly haphazard medical training gave her an edge in emergency first aid, but he was still her superior when they came down to it. Still, she felt confident enough to at least return the ground crew -- herself, plus Kyle, Evvy, Hitachi, Jack, and Cole, their leader -- to Elia and the ship in one mostly whole piece.

    In any case, for an "official" diagnosis, Tai could probably defer to Elia if Natalia tried to corner her in the future. She resolved to have an answer for the pilot then, even if it wasn't the most revealing one.

    Now, though, she only gave Kohe another encouraging smile, loathe to leave her sister and yet understanding the unspoken message in Kohe's promise to Nat. Cole had already disappeared down the stairs, and after one more glance at her sister Tai didn't think Kohe could see, but knew she would almost certainly feel, the younger twin followed to wake the last of the Artemis's crew. Things had been relatively uneventful thus far. She wasn't confident their luck could hold out for much longer.

    At the bottom of the landing, Tai keyed her coms code into the control panel to send her voice down to the greenhouse where she knew -- hoped -- Amber would be.

    "Coulson -- Amber. When you get a second, bring one of your Bonsai trees up to the cryostasis room." It'd probably be better for Hitachi for them to get him down to the EnviPortal, but she wanted to plan for the worst.
  18. Tai's message went to the wrong place entirely. Elia had sent Amber and Kyle to the Biology Lab - Amber's lab - because he'd known that it would be the place that the black woman felt most comfortable. Nat knew it, too, and listening to the instruction sent to the greenhouse, all communications passing through the Central Command for safety reasons right now, and merely waited until Tai had finished to key in her own code and project her voice into the lab she knew Amber would have taken up residence. The same message was passed along before the pilot moved back to her own work, unworried about the results of Hitachi's waking. Elia was a skilled doctor, one of the best she'd met, and Tai seemed competent. She trusted Cole above all others to keep the situation under control. She would do her job and let him do his.

    Beside, she had another loose canon to keep an eye on.

    Koheera seemed to have put the entire episode behind her, but the Russian was well-aware already that the female in the control room with her seemed to be good at hiding things she didn't want others to see already. Just because the elder Sterling looked calm and composed did not mean she was, of that Nat was certain.

    The pilot would be watching this one closely in the days to come.


    Upon hearing footsteps enter the room, Elia looked up from his checklist to see Cole and Tai returning. Taking note of the calm state they were in, he felt it safe to assume that Koheera was in stable condition and smiled a bit at the younger twin before looking to his Captain and then to the cryo tank Hitachi resided in. "His vitals are stable, but there is some strange activity going on with his brain. There have been spikes here and here," he pointed to the imaging on his tablet of Hitachi's functions. "which indicate that he's...awake." The doctor seemed to hesitate over the last word, feeling he was getting into something he didn't want to by saying it, but did so anyway. Holding up a hand to forestall any questions, he went on, not yet finished.

    "I took the liberty of looking over his charts for the last few months and these spikes have been occurring for that long, and I suspect longer. In comparing them to Evvy's, I found that in the last month alone, each spike by both of them corresponds to the other." Elia shook his head and looked to the teenager in the tank with a pensive expression. "I don't know what it means or how either of them are managing the level of consciousness they are obtaining while in cryo, but it concerns me. This could have long-term affects." His Captain should at least be warned of that before anything happened they weren't prepared for...though, Elia wasn't yet certain what they SHOULD be prepared for at this point.

    He'd leave figuring that out for a later date.

    Brown eyes looked back up from the tank. "He's experiencing a spike now. I think he's waking, but-" Elia didn't get to finish as the sound of something hitting glass made the doctor jump and snap his head to the cryo tank. He froze for just a moment at the pair of blue-green eyes staring wide-eyed back at him, the hand that had hit the glass still pressed up against it. The alarms on Hitachi's tank started to go off and the black-haired doctor cursed, moving into action as he started punching in the code to release the panel, barking orders as he did.

    "Sterling, get a blanket and the breathing mask. Cole, get the water. He might be in shock." His hands flew, never pausing as he was forced to key in the code for the emergency release that would override the procedure for releasing someone from cryo. The panel opened with an explosive hiss, cold steam rising to hit the warm air, but Elia didn't hesitate to move forward and catch the white-haired boy who was weakly trying to get out of the pod. The youth was deathly cold, the process of warming him up having been skipped and he shivered uncontrollably upon hitting the open air. It was not that symptom that worried the doctor, however, but the struggle the boy seemed to be having breathing.

    When the oxygen mask was presented, Elia took it and pressed it to a white face and blue lips, holding the youth in his arms securely to still any thrashing. "Hitachi, I need you to breathe. Come on, kid, I know you can. Breathe for me, Hitachi, breathe." The child was gasping behind the mask, his lips growing bluer and his face paler as his chest refused to rise, and Elia was just removing the mask, prepared to try another method when Amber and Kyle burst into the room, the alarms still blaring. Amber, despite her skin-tone, looked paled and was Kyle who took the Bonsai tree from her grasp and rushed forward with the thing.

    "Here!" Kyle thrust it into Tai's hands, unsure what to do with it and wide eyed at taking one look at Hitachi. Some would more readily admit it than others, but everyone had some kind of fond spot for Hitachi - whether it was as a strange little brother, respect for his skills and his smarts or just calm acknowledgement of his presence - and it was hard to see him as he was now. Kyle, especially, held some fondness for the boy and as he stepped back, staggered really, Amber moved to his side, her eyes wide in her face and fist pressed to her mouth in fear. She didn't want him to die.

    Hitachi didn't appear to want to either, though, as his blue-green eyes snapped to the tree in Tai's hands and his hand stretched toward it. The Bonsai's reaction was immediate as the trunk immediately grew, spreading like a vine down the pot and to the ground before reaching the struggling teen, wrapping around his fingers and arm and spreading to his chest...where a breath was finally drawn in, desperate and horribly relieving as Elia cursed again, this time far more softly as he placed the mask back over Hitachi's face, his body sagging a bit.

    "Gods, kid. Between you and Evvy, I'm going to go gray all too soon." Even as he spoke, his hand had settled on the boy's hair, brushing back through it once, twice before he seemed to remember himself and stopped, looking down to the blue-green eyes that watched him....with far too much clarity and intelligence and calm in light of what had just happened. Hell, the child shouldn't have even been able to use his powers as he had in the state he'd been in!

    But Hitachi and Evvy had never been normal....and they'd always been baffling to those around them.
  19. To his credit, Jack had Evvy safely behind closed doors, at least a little distracted by the plastic water bottle in her hands, when she first felt Hitachi pull.

    Pull. The kid had half a dozen terms for everything she didn't understand -- or just couldn't explain, as Jack oft suspected Evvy understood far more than she let on. Knowing was own of them. Pulling was another, perhaps the more insidious side of the former. The knowing, Jack thought, was the main reason Evvy had been sent along on this suicide mission at all, though her pyrokinesis still ranked far beyond many of the more experienced wielders back on earth. And while the girl still experienced admittedly powerful outbursts of her fire, for example when she was angry, hurt, or frightened (though the supercooled cuff she wore around her neck helped with that), she seemed to have an impressive ability to exert, if not entirely control, her other ability. The scientists on earth had called it 'precognitive empathy'. Evvy just called it Knowing, big K. Whatever it was, it allowed Evvy to predict negative occurrences: anything that caused someone in her immediate (and growing) vicinity pain, or, in some cases, intense fear, would alert her, via that same pain or panic. It was a strange and unruly gift, but the sheer weight of it, doctors and physicists suspected, had not only caused Evvy to age differently, but also given her an almost supernatural ability to read and manipulate other people.

    Jack had been baffled and confused at hearing the longer description of her 'gifts' until experiencing them, as most did, first hand: in his case, he'd been running a training simulation. Though it had only been three years ago, Evvy had been much "younger" than, appearing only four or five years of age at the most. They had both been at the training compound for a little under six months, and Evvy's powers were still unpredictable enough that most of the time, they kept her well away from the others, unless it was a group training. Jack, having just returned from his own brand of physical training, had been about to find something to eat when Evvy, walking past and shivering beneath the over-sized cuff around her neck, had suddenly screamed and gone limp, the pain of the coming accident too much for the toddler. Jack, startled, paused and stuck his head around the corner to ogle at the little girl, as they'd all been doing back then -- and had been saved from the blast in the kitchen, triggered by a gas leak and a faulty pilot light.

    It would be another three months -- another fateful accident -- before he and Evvy started speaking. But some part of him, he knew, had trusted her then and there.

    The pulling was a little different...and for the life of him, Jack could not understand it. Many 'mutants' thought of their gifts as curses, instead of the obvious evolutionary improvements that they were. But Evvy...or rather the pull Evvy described...what benefit did that offer her? It seemed the Knowing came as a two-sided, somewhat ironic coin. He'd heard the old adage half a dozen times, and Evvy by now, at least a thousand more, always along the lines of knowledge and responsibility being inseparable. And whatever it meant for anyone else, Jack had never seen it more literally than in Evvy. Because once she knew something bad was going to happen to someone -- even if that bad thing was already in progress -- she was drawn, compelled, nearly forced -- pulled -- to interfere.

    Like now.

    "It's alright, kasai. It'll pass. He'll be okay. You know he'll be alright." Jack's voice was surprisingly calm, all things considered. Evvy was strong for her size, and there weren't many she'd fight harder to get to than Hitachi. Jack had only just managed to get her up onto one of the rewarming beds, where she'd stubbornly refused to lay down, but had all too eagerly taken the first, second, and now third bottles of water he offered, when her body went rigid and the bottle fell from her hands. Jack, like Elia down the hall, calmly swept into action, standing before Evvy to put a hand on either cheek, forcing her to look at him. Or trying to.

    "Evvy," he said, his voice holding a tone of caution. "Stay with me."

    And she'd looked past him, almost through him, exactly as he'd known she would, bring her tiny hands up to push his away from her.

    "I just hafta go see him," she said, edging down from the table. And then Hitachi must have woken in earnest, because Evvy made a half sound like a strangled yelp of surprise, and her knees buckled the moment they hit the floor. Jack was half tempted to go check on Hitachi himself, but he didn't dare leave Evvy alone. She'd only follow and then get in the way trying to help, like she always did. Or at least like she was always accused of doing.

    Instead, Jack stooped and caught Evvy before she could fall all the way to the floor, scooping her into his arms as he sat, pulling her into his lap and holding her there even as her struggles went from meek to frustrated to panicked.

    "Jack, you don't understand," she told him, wrenching (carefully) at his arms, trying to wriggle free of his grip. He was secretly, guiltily glad she'd just woken from cryo. Evvy was tiny, but she was fast, and she was determined. Despite his mother-hen status, he wasn't feeling quite 100% himself, and didn't exactly relish the idea of chasing her down.

    "I just have to see him, I can help, I know what he wants, I can tell the others, Jack, I have to -- !"

    "I know, kasai. I know. He'll be okay. Just wait it out. You know there's nothing you can do."

    "I have to try!" Evvy argued, her cheeks flushed. "I...I have...I have to..."

    Jack read the sudden tension in her back and arms for what it was, shoving an empty pail beneath her head just as all the water she'd chugged decided to make its escape. Jack sighed, only half relaxing as Evvy stopped fighting for a second to void her stomach, the nausea finally overwhelming her, just like it always did.

    "I know you do, aedi. I know." And he did. That was the truly awful thing about the Pull. If Evvy tried to fight those compulsions to go, to help, to stop whatever 'bad thing' she'd predicted from happening, her body exacted revenge. After...however many years of nausea and migraines, tremors and muscle aches, Evvy was all but immune to them. A significant portion of her training had involved simply learning to "breathe through" the pull when she was unable (or unwilling, rare as it was) to help. But everyone got a little rusty following a three-year nap.

    And was Hitachi.

    Evvy made a sound somewhere between a whimper and a sob as she retched again, now shivering in his lap, though the fight at least seemed to have gone out of her. Jack took the opportunity to press a cool hand to her sweaty forehead, sighing when she didn't pull away, wincing when she cleared her throat to argue, however hoarsely.

    "J-Jack...lemme help. I have to help. I have to try. Please."

    Jack shut his eyes, selfishly glad for the moment that there was no one else here to see this -- to see him -- as he swallowed hard against something that felt dangerously close to tears.

    He'd forgotten how much he hated this.

    "Shh," he soothed helplessly, pulling Evvy back against him as the first wave of nausea began to pass. She was still fighting, he could feel that even with his eyes closed. But the retching had taken the bulk of her strength, which he figured was maybe not such a bad thing for the moment. "It's alright, kasai. It's almost over."

    With his eyes closed, he didn't notice the blue LED light on the inside of her cold collar was turning purple, edging into red.


    In the cryochamber, it was quiet, or at least quieter than it had been a few moments before. No one spoke; the alarms had died into steady, insistent beeping. Hitachi's breathing was calming, and Tai could no longer hear her heart pounding quiet so loudly in her ears. Not six hours awake, and already the ship had sounded two medical emergency alarms -- that without counting little Evvy down the hall. Was this what it was going to be like for the rest of their time here? A new medical emergency every minute until she or Elia, or both burned out? Three years ago, it would have undone Tai. She had always been a sensitive child, but seeing people in pain reduced her to tears or desperate panic or worse. There had been times she'd returned home late from her EMT job, virtually inconsolable, when her only recourse had been to crawl into bed with Kohe and cry until she fell asleep.

    Now? Now, Tai didn't say a word as she handed off the breathing mask and knelt on the other side of Hitachi's bed to drape the thick blanket over his shoulders. She held it there with one hand, and with the other, traced a circle in the air. The cryochamber was dim and cool, and the sphere that suddenly grew into a silvery, glowing existence would not provide the warmth the panicked teenager needed, but it would be enough until Elia could get him breathing again. An experienced observer might have noticed something like a wince cross Tai's face when it first became evident that neither of their efforts were doing anything to help the blue-eyed young man, but by the time Kyle was shoving the potted tree into her hands, Tai's expression was once more the essence of calm.

    In the quiet, tired moments that followed as Hitachi began to calm, Cole stretched and swallowed a stream of quiet cursing.

    Christ. He hadn't yet been awake...what, 20, 30 minutes? And already his crew, both new and old, were proving...maybe they weren't quite so ready for this mission as he'd thought.

    He'd been working with them -- most of them -- for nearly a year now, whipping the otherwise wayward group into a team, or as near to one as they were likely to get. They'd trained hard, even the kids, going up against every conceivable threat: starvation, abandonment, separation, injuries. And yet here they were now, not an hour into their mission, hell just waking up, and already...disaster.

    Well. No. That wasn't fair. Not disaster. It had not gone as smoothly as he might have hoped, but he hadn't been hired to weather smooth seas. And Elia had handled Hitachi, and the younger twin her elder sister. Jack had been...Jack, but he, too, had risen to the occasion, spiriting young Evvy away before she could make Hitachi's situation worse. For whatever medical emergencies had been presented, their small medical team had disposed of them easily enough. Curious, Cole switched his gaze from Hitachi to the younger twin -- Tai. Quiet, professional, her expression not quiet serene, but just shy of blank. There hung a heavy sense of duty around her, the same Nat was seeing in her sister, although with Tai there was an air of tenderness where Kohe was all rigid control.

    Still. He could not deny she'd done her job. And he knew there was a good chance she'd see worse in the field. He could only hope she kept as cool a head then.

    For now, there were more pressing matters.

    Like sussing out whatever the hell Tavorn had just said.

    Cole blinked then frowned as if something had just occurred to him.

    "Wait," he said. "I'm sorry, tellin' me...what, the kid was awake before you woke him? Him, and Evvy, too?"

    "Not the way you're thinking," Tai said quietly. She gave the back of Hitachi's neck a gentle squeeze, leaving the small orb of light there to warm him until they could afford a more precise means, and stood, studying her own tablet, the calm but curious expression never so much as shifting.

    "The spikes in brain activity indicate some higher function -- beyond dreaming or basic biological maintenance -- though the cryostasis would have kept them in likely periods of paralysis. They didn't age, they didn't starve, they couldn't...couldn't move, couldn't react." Tai paused just briefly, swallowing around the swell of pity and horror in her gut that rose at the thought. This was not the time. She knew that. "But...yes. For all intents and purposes, they were awake."

    Cole gaped, feeling more than a little nauseas, and wondered if maybe he wasn't quite over the effects of the cryosickness yet himself.

    "For three years?"

    Tai shrugged. "It's hard to say." She only half understood what she was seeing, really. Cole was right -- consciousness, even semi-consciousness should have been impossible during cryo half half a dozen different reasons. But it would explain how both Hitachi and Evvy had woken so quickly to lucidity, despite the waking processes being cut short. "The girl's brain activity remains more or less consistent from the time she was put to sleep, and up until the last...three months or so," Tai went on, distracted. "And here..."

    Now, Tai did frown as she scrolled down through the information. For the first time since she'd woken, a real, naked emotion crossed her face. Not quite horror, not quite confusion, but perhaps somewhere in between.

    Even Cole noticed.

    "What?" he demanded. "Report."

    Tai almost started, looking up as if surprised to find she was still standing in a room with other people. Just as quickly, her expression smoothed, and she smiled her bedside smile. "Just checking those dates," she said easily. "There's a definite pattern here, though I'll need time to analyze it more carefully."

    Cole watched her for a moment before shaking his head.

    "Table it for now. Everyone's awake, so I'm calling the briefing in twenty minutes. You two stay here to wrap up. See to the kids, then come join us up on the bridge when you can. I'll start sending people down to see you for the half physical later this evening."

    "What're we doing 'til then?"

    Cole turned to see Jack, his expression just shy of surly, though now it was exhausted, too.

    "Where's -- ?"

    "Sleeping," Jack answered, his tone making it very clear he wasn't planning on talking about Evvy any more than he had to. "And yeah, Tavorn, she drank the water. Three bottles of it." That she'd then thrown it all up would be apparent soon enough. Jack didn't see the need to share it with everyone in the room.

    Instead, he brushed past Tai and Elia both to stand over Hitachi's bed before breaking into a tired grin.

    "Look who's up," he quipped. "Took you long enough, kid. Thought you were never gonna join the party."

    Tai watched the pair carefully. Jack's voice was calm, measured, even teasing...but she knew that trick all too well. Still, she said nothing, merely watching, then offering a water bottle to Jack -- and freezing as he put a hand out to take it.

    "Neamh," she swore, violet eyes going wide. "What happened to your arm?"

    The calm, if somewhat strained smile on Jack's face cooled abruptly to a scowled as ice blue eyes jumped from Hitachi to settle on Tai so quickly, she would have stepped back...if she'd noticed at all. As it were, she was staring at the angry red burn on the underside of Jack's arm, running from his bicep nearly down to his wrist.

    In an instant, Jack clapped his arm back to his side. If it hurt, his face didn't show it.

    "Nothing," he snarled, reaching out with the other hand. "Give me the bottle."

    Tai offered the bottle, her own expression returning once again to calm. "Here," she said sagely. "But you should let me see -- "

    "It's. Fine," he spat. "Or do I have to show you."

    "Akiyama." Cole's tone brooked no argument. Jack didn't even look up, still watching Tai, his eyes holding a clear challenge.

    To his surprise, she didn't back down.

    "Show me," she said quietly. "Prove to me you're alright."

    It was the very last thing even Tai expected to hear from her own mouth, and for a moment, she could not begin to guess where it had come from.

    ...only, no. No, that was a lie. She knew exactly what had made her say as much. Just like she knew why she could calmly move around offering health and help even though she was scared to death inside.

    Her expression faltered for a minute, and then she was looking away, blushing.

    "I...I mean I can treat that burn later. You -- you should -- I'll go prepare the examination rooms. Excuse me."

    Tai had fled down the hall in an instant, leaving a cold spot in her wake.
    #19 DotCom, Mar 9, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2015
  20. Hitachi was aware of many things upon 'waking'. He was aware of the energy flowing from the plant to him, the oxygen the Bonsai tree had given his starved body when the atmosphere around him had been unable to provide it in such a pure form needed to sustain him. He was aware that he'd nearly died, that the reserve of air he'd stored so carefully within had been used up after the three years in cryo, that if not for the small tree that was even now wrapped around his arm and vine-d out over his chest he would be dead. He was keenly aware of everyone in the room, down to every breath they took and every scent they gave off, every emotion that made their swirling auras change colors like an aurora borealis lighting up the sky. He was aware of the motion of the ship and the presence of all twelve lives aboard the Artemis.

    Only three presences were his focus, however.

    Blue-green eyes didn't leave Tai, the first of the three, until she'd left the room entirely and then Hitachi showed signs of 'coming back to himself' as Elia would put it. The man had been carefully checking him over, attempting to warm him and helping to keep the useless breathing mask in place while the white-haired boy had remained still. Now a slender hand rose to pull the oxygen away, not needing it anyway and the doctor caught his hand gently, shaking his head. "Hitachi, no. You nearly went into severe respiratory failure. I need you to keep this on for a bit longer, okay?" Elia was using his 'kid voice' again. Hitachi never understood why he did that, nor why he occasionally found it comforting, but this time it did not bring soothing, rather frustration. He knew he should do as the man wanted if only because they were not ready to understand what he was and he was not ready to trust them, and therefore to deny would only raise questions before their time, but he didn't have time for this, nor for the worried hovering of Kyle and Amber who dared not get in the way, but who desperately wanted some assurance that Hitachi was going to be all right.

    They needn't have worried.

    He'd not been semi-conscious, nor even in a limbo state between waking and sleeping as the others were discussing, wanting to believe. He'd been just as awake as he was now for those three years. The concept would horrify the others, but Hitachi had been rather content in such a state. It felt like peace....but for the last three months when everything had started to grow dark. The three years were up now, and so was the period of rest that had come with them. The Darkness was coming, had come and there would be little time anymore.

    Hitachi could not express that urgency to the five people around him, though. They were not the right ones. They never would be and he could not trust them like the three, no matter what they did. It was not in his nature to trust. Perhaps it could have been, but such had been destroyed long ago. It was only necessity now that created a spark of it....for the three. No others. They would not accept that, though. The others still thought they could reach him, that he just needed time, that he did care before them behind his silence....and while part of that was true, the fact remained that he did not trust them.

    He could not. Perhaps not ever.

    Still, he knew out of all the five here, Jack was the closest to being Yenis, to being kin, and if anyone would help him, it would be the one closest to Evvy, his Kwen Yenis, his cousin kin. Piercing, haunting blue-green eyes turned themselves to the blue ones of the Hunter, wordless request for assistance in their depths. Hitachi never said a word, but his eyes, when he chose, were open books and the boy never begged, never pleaded with childlike innocence or desperation. He merely asked and he gave you no reaction if you denied him.

    Elia saw the look and made a quick sound, shaking his head. "Oh no, you're not going to get the Big Bad Wolf to help you, kiddo. Doctors outrank Jacks, you know that." the dark-haired man chided before once again checking Hitachi's core temperature, frowning at how cold it still was. And yet the boy was barely shivering despite the blue tinge to his lips even now and the paleness of his chilled skin. "You DO need to get warm, though...." Elia glanced to Jack - missing the way Hitachi looked away entirely and to the staircase leading up to the next level of the ship - contemplating having Hitachi moved to the heating beds with Evvy, but there was the girl's state to consider and Jack's overprotective nature to contend with if he thought Hitachi was going to be bad for Evvy right now. They might have both been children, but where Jack cared deeply for Evvy like a big brother to a little sister, the Hunter did not hold the same level of fondness for Hitachi and everyone knew he'd pick Evvy over the boy any day if forced to do so. If Evvy was not all right for visitors, Jack would not take kindly to Hitachi being in the same room. Of course, if the boy didn't improve it wouldn't matter what Jack or Evvy wanted; Elia would have Hitachi in the heating room faster than someone could snap, but he'd rather avoid conflict of he could.

    "Jack, is Evvy all right for-"

    It seemed he was to forever be interrupted today as Kyle finally blurted out what he couldn't contain any longer. "Is he going to be all right?" The man hardly looked apologetic for the somewhat demanding tone and Amber tugged on his arm just slightly in reprimand, but she remained silent, looking hopefully at Elia who sighed, but nodded. "He'll be fine. You can both go about your business now." The words were met with a nod by Kyle before he looked to Hitachi one last time and by a tearfully relieved look by Amber who waved gently to Hitachi before she followed her friend from the room and supposedly back toward the biology lab until they were to meet with Cole and the others at the briefing.

    Elia watched them go and turned back to Jack, intending to speak again when he noted the figure descending the stairs at a rapid pace, white-black hair flying behind her like a cape so fast were her movements. Kohe's mismatched eyes hardly needed to search the four males before they landed on Hitachi and she approached him with sure steps, appearing to see nothing else as his blue-green eyes locked on her. The woman knelt quickly, gracefully beside the boy and Elia, for the life of him, could not decipher the meaning of her words when she spoke, voice soft, but still heard.

    "I'm here, Hitachi. No more calling, little one. I'm here."

    No sooner were the words uttered than Hitachi did something no one on the ship had ever seen him do, not from the youngest member to the oldest; he moved into Kohe's arms even as she adjusted her body to make room for him, holding securely the small, white-haired boy who curled into her embrace, plant and all.

    Elia could only watch, admittedly gaping, as the female threaded her hands through white hair and when he finally felt he might find his voice, question, offer observation, anything, another interrupted him once more. This time it was Nat's voice coming through the intercom.

    "Cole, you're needed." It was all she was going to say and all that would be needed.
    #20 Kaisaan, Mar 12, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2015