She remembered. A breath inhaled. A breath released. Her heart racing, body tensed. Waiting. And then, glimmering green lights piercing the hull before darkness enveloped her.
How much time passed between death and resurrection? Those last thoughts, memories, emotions, all of the events and feelings and experiences that make up life, how long did it take to process, to send, to inject, or whatever the fuck that happened as one clone died and another suddenly jolted to life.
How much time in between? And what happened to a soul during those fleeting moments of being neither here nor there?
Where were you?
Did you see the face of God?
"Commodore Lianne?" Jonathan, her chief pod tech pulled the breathing tube from her mouth while rubbing a cloth across her eyelids.
She blinked several times, trying to focus, her expression vauge as if she hadn't fully woken.
"Are you with us?"
"I'm here..." She pulled her hand up out of the shimmering ambiotic fluid and reached for the cloth, taking it from him.
"Good, good." He helped her to her feet and wrapped a towel around her, then lead her off to the showers.
Later, he put her to sleep so that he could inject her implants. The humm of one of the holograms activating caught his attention. He turned his head, seeing the the smallish holoform of a small girl. She wore a long white dress with her red hair hanging to her waist in ringlet curls.
The hologram grinned and waved to him shyly. She stepped over to the table to watch him work.
"You know, I still haven't figured out exactly how you're doing that..."
She shrugged, "Me either."
The first time he'd seen her, he almost thought she was some sort of apparition or hallucination, knowing it would be impossible for a real child to activate a holodrone inside of the medical facility. The place was absurdly secure, capsuleers paid a lot of isk to make certain of that.
After speaking with her the second time, he realized she was some sort of manifestation of Shalee's subconsciousness. When the Commodore slept, her mind did not. Instead, she had somehow used her implants to connect with the outside world.
Jonathan was fascinated, having never heard of holographic sleepwalking until the impish girl randomly appeared to him one strange day.
From that point on, he became determined to figure out how she was doing it, and why.
She could manifest most anywhere there was a holodrone. He had traced her digital footprints, finding remnants of her in several hubs of virtual reality as well. What he couldn't understand is why Shalee chose the avatar of a small girl.
What made her wander New Eden while she slept? And why did she not remember when she woke up?
"How are you, little one?" he asked as he slowly went through the procedure.
She sighed, "We are not very good, I think."
"She's been really sad..." The holographic little girl paced by one of the stainless steel tables, absently looking at the medical equipment.
Jonathan looked at her questionally, waiting for her to explain.
"There was a fight. With Eran. He was really upset with her when she wasn't at the Keep, she was on patrols with Pred. And when she finally got to the Keep he had been waiting for a long time, I think. And he was drunk and...and he was a little bit...angry. She tried to explain but he said she had changed, that there used to be a time she would put him before duty."
"She stayed with him for hours and hours and he didn't get any better, and he kept asking her to love only him. And then he said there were rumors of her with another and when she asked who he said Leopold and she got really mad at him."
Jonathan lifted his brows as the little girl chattered on.
"And then she went downstairs because he was driving her crazy but he followed her, and then he tried to fight with her some more. And she asked him to stop but he wouldn't. And then Verone came in."
"Verone, from VETO?"
She nodded, "Yes. Him." The girl paced around to the other side of the table and gave Shalee a fleeting glance before settling her eerie gaze back on him to finish her story.
"And then Eran wouldn't stop, he kept wanting to fight with her but she tried to tell him she would talk to him later after he was awake and sober and Verone was tired of listening to them fight and he was leaving and she was going to go too but he wouldn't take her. And she got mad at them both."
"And even after Verone left Eran wouldn't stop. He grabbed her and was yelling at her and he told her to tell him to leave him. And so she did. And she pulled away and she left."
Her little face twisted up, her brows drew together as a look of sadness washed across her pale skin, "And then she sent Verone a letter too, she said she never wanted to see him again either. She was mad at them both."
The little girl sighed, "And then she went away, said she wouldn't come back for a while. She asked Zenton to pod her so she could 'start over'."
"Zenton? But he is the enemy is he not? Why would she trust him?"
"She didn't have to trust him. She had to die."
They both looked to the sleeping pilot.
"What will she do now?"
"She says she's going to fix her security status. She says she don't want no more boyfriends either. She says that she just wants to be a nun or something."
Jonathan smirked, "A nun? Intriguing."
The little girl shrugged, "She says she's going to be so good that even mean ole Mitara can't find fault with her."
He chuckled. "That should be interesting."
The girl frowned. "She can be good if she wants to...but it's really hard."
"But she is good already," he said as he looked at her earnestly. "Are you worried?"
She spoke in a very small voice, "Sometimes she does bad things..."
"Such as?" he asked as he methodically went through a check list, the faint blue glow from his datapad lighting his face.
"Like..." she hesitated for a moment, "Well. Like when she has to kill people 'cause Pred says to but then sometimes Aldrith gets mad."
"Ah. That doesn't make her bad necessarily, just makes her a soldier following orders."
She nodded. "I guess. There are other things...."
"...but you don't want to tell me."
"Not yet. He will get mad."
"I can't tell you.
"You can tell me anything, remember that. When the time is right, okay?"
She nodded again. "Okay. But not now."
He lifted Shalee's arm, seconds away from injecting something to bring her out of her forced sleep. "Anything else you want to tell me before I wake her up?"
She shook her head no. "Not really...can I come and see you again?"
"I'm counting on it."