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     Sam's eyes opened slowly then he stretched with a yawn.  He sat up and blinked a few times, had he been dreaming?  He couldn't remember what about but the feeling of unease was enough for him to guess who about.

     He eventually woke up enough to realize that the lights were dimmed down low; Jay must have gotten up already.  Had he overslept?  What time was it?  Popping open a window on his wireless he checked the time; it was still early.  He sat there and thought for a few moments before giving himself a shake and getting up.  With the number of injured in their care it was bound to be a busy day; might as well get up to face it.  

     He flipped through a few functions on his wireless as he stumbled for the latrine; it looked like they would reach Ares in just about two more days.  Okay, so he'd have to keep it together at least that long, after the wounded disembarked it would be a relatively tranquil flight to Delaware station so he'd have a chance to catch up then.

     Jay was still in the shower so he grabbed his toothbrush out of the cabinet; his mouth tasted like a garbage can lid and he was regretting not taking care of it before falling asleep.  Jay called out from inside, "Sam?   Heck, I was trying not to wake you."

     Sam spit into the sink, "Don't worry about it; would've had to be up in a few anyway."

     "Well you looked like you were pretty well shot last night and I feel badly about how things went on the Isabella.  Look, I was gonna cover for you anyway if you wanted to go back to bed that's fine by me."

     Sam looked at the huge purple bump on his forehead, he'd really smacked himself hard last night, wait, what had he just said?! "What?  You feel… you're the one who wound up getting shot!"

     He poked his head out of the shower stall, "Yeah, and you're the one who is stuck having to answer for the whole thing.  If I would've been paying attention it never would've gone down like that.  Heck, if you hadn't reacted when you did… who knows how it would've ended for us."

     Sam just stared at him with his mouth hanging open and toothpaste dribbling down his chin; he'd only just gotten up and the morning was already feeling a bit surreal to him.  He'd nearly gotten him killed; twice, and Jay was the one who felt badly about it?

     Sam wiped the foam from his chin as he tried to figure out what had just happened before shaking his head at him, "No, no it's okay.  Don't worry about it…"

     He finished up then took his turn in the shower.  He was still puzzling out Jay's point-of-view as he started up the ladderway to grab something for breakfast.  As he was passing deck two he saw Cpt. Pitja dozing in one of the command stations as SAMPSON went about the center performing his duties.  She looked exhausted; it was the first time he'd seen her in want of anything since he first met her and it stunned him.  He couldn't help but to stop and stare; and was forced to consider how many days in a row she had to have been up for.

     She gave a yawn and a stretch before noticing he was there, "Oh, Sam, glad to see you're up.  SAMPSON's got the ship functions under control so I want you and Jay to focus on taking care of the wounded among the evacuees."

     Sam stepped through the hatchway, "Yes ma'am, I already figured on it."

     She smiled sleepily and shook her head at him, "you can drop this 'ma'am' business; my name is Feile."

     "Yes m-"  Sam caught himself and then laughed at his own awkwardness.

     She gave a single chuckle at him before saying, "Hey, do me a favor and go tell Tejir to get down here; tell him his coffee is plenty portable if he gives you any grief."

     "Y- Sure, I'll get right on it."

     Sam climbed up to deck three and found Tejir seated at one of the tables glaring across the compartment at the two men from the Isabella who were likewise glaring back at him.  He must've guessed why Sam was up here because he got up and stormed over to him as soon as he saw him.  "Hey Tejir, Captain said she needed you on the command deck."

     Tejir didn't give any sign he'd even heard him but growled under his breath instead, "I do not like those two, they're trouble.  I will sleep a lot better when they're off this ship."

     Sam blinked at him, "What?"

     He leaned closer and kept his voice down, still growling as he spoke, "They're not from Sol; they're from Bishop.  Can't you tell?"

     Sam looked at him as if he were crazy, but kept his own voice quiet not wanting to cause a scene, "Don't be absurd, Bishop was destroyed in the war.  No one can be from there."

     Tejir gave him a hard look before departing down the ladders.  Sam gave him an incredulous look as he left then shook his head and shrugged his shoulders to himself.  He knew that Tejir's family was among the first Droog on Earth, it was very possible that they had been refugees from Kajet, but still.  Don't people have enough trouble in their lives without dragging up what their great-great-great-grandparents had done to each other over a hundred years ago?

     The two men seated at the other table exchanged some quietly spoken words between them before one of them got up and walked over to Sam.  Ian had trouble looking Sam in the eye but eventually said, "That guy… there's something about that guy that makes me nervous."

     Sam shook his head, "That's just Lt. Ijan, don't mind him too much he just hates everybody.  Anyway, I know things were a bit rushed yesterday.  Are you finding everything you need?"

     Ian laughed nervously but finally looked at him, "Well, mostly…  It's been a long couple of days though; there someplace we can get cleaned up around here?"

     Sam nodded and pointed to the ladderway he'd just entered from, "Oh, sure, all the way down and take the hatch to the right.  If you need assistance just let SAMPSON know and he'll direct you."

     He nodded and looked away for a moment, "thanks again… I… just thank you."

     As the two men left Sam overheard the taller one quietly whisper, "Just 'cause one of them seems decent doesn't mean the lot are."

     Ian shot back, a little louder, "Shut it, I don't-"

     Sam lost the rest of his hissing reply as the hatch shut.  Grabbing a meal packet he tossed it into the oven and leaned against the counter.  Scowling at the floor he had to admit that this was the first time he'd ever really experienced anything like this.  Everywhere he'd ever been on Earth there had been almost as many Droog around as Humans; nobody spared him a second glance.  Out here where there were fewer mixed populations, maybe he did stand out a little.  And if Tejir was right, if they were the distant decedents of a dead world, a world destroyed by people who looked just like him…  As he calmed down he had to admit, other than being irritating they weren't really hurting anything; besides, in a couple of days they'll be out of his hair anyway.  

     Exhaling loudly, he looked around the room; the young man and the woman were both asleep and their monitors were quiet, he had a few minutes to himself.  Still puzzled at Jay's behavior this morning he scowled back at the floor he rubbed his chin in thought; what would have happened if he weren't here?  Well for starters, Jay wouldn't have been shot… come to think of it he never would've been in danger in the first place.  Pitja would've stuck with her original plan, they wouldn't have been spread so thinly and nobody-

     His thinking was interrupted by a noise from the far side of the compartment.  He glanced up and saw the woman's eyes glittering in the dim light.  She was looking at him out of the corner of her eye and struggling against the restraints trying to turn her head toward him, he could see from the look on her face that she was in a great deal of pain.  

     Sam rushed across the compartment.  He grabbed a small remote tethered to the side of the cot and pressed it into her hand, "Easy, calm down, you're alright.  Here, press this button until the pain goes away.  Good, like that."

     The strain left her features, but she didn't look away from him as he checked the medical equipment hooked up to her.  He spoke calmly to her as he worked, "Calm down, you're okay.  You're on the Manhattan.  Everyone from the Isabella is here too and they're all just fine.  Can you remember anything?  Why don't you tell me what your name is?  Can you do that for me?"

     She didn't answer him but instead blinked slightly and a tear ran down her cheek before she quietly said, "You must be the angel who brought me back."

     Sam was stunned; he opened his mouth to reply but couldn't find anything to say.  She kept quietly talking to him, "I was dead.  I fell, saw the console coming up to me, felt the blow… and that should have been it.  The young man who was here earlier told me what happened, the risk you took for me."

     Sam's bedside manner failed and he swallowed hard before answering, "I had to… you… you're important to somebody.  I couldn't just stand by and let you go, not when there was a still a chance."

     She shook her head slightly; as best as the restraints allowed her to, "I don't think I could have done the same, but you did it, for me; for some human you don't even know."

     Sam shook his head, "Didn't matter, it wasn't about me.  When I heard the distress call… you and your husband, Ian, there was so much left for you.  I couldn't live with myself, not when I could save it."

     She was secured to a backboard that kept her from moving much, but she managed to stick her hand out for him and he took it, "Anything else I have in this life, I'll have because of you."

     Hours later Sam lay awake in his bunk listening to Jay snoring loudly above him.  It'd been a hard day, he was exhausted but he just couldn't relax.  He couldn't put what the woman said to him behind him and he was lost in thought.  He'd been so caught up on all the small ways he had felt he'd failed everyone around him and he'd missed the bigger picture.  Somehow, despite everything that had happened over the week everyone was still okay.  Really, against the odds all things considered, and he knew he'd played a part in it all.

     Rolling onto his side he did his best to quiet his mind and relax.  There was still a good day-and-a-half left to go, he really needed to get what sleep he could.

     Tomorrow would be another day after all.
<- Previous|| End

<<Incident on the Isabella || An Individual's Value || A Simple Conversation>>
Waking from his nightmares, Sam faces the day and discovers something he'd been overlooking ever since they'd been picked up by the Manhattan.

Thought I'd experiment a bit with the cover pic, not entirely dissatisfied with the results.
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Sturmensky Featured By Owner May 5, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Agreed with *nomyai on the bit with Mrs. Gregory and Sam - bravo to her. Also, bonus points to you for writing it - it was quite a moving scene, and one which fit perfectly; moreso because it contrasted nicely with the scene immediately before it.

Beyond that, all I can really do is squee in delight over the additional backstory you provided (because, as we all know, I'm a sucker for that stuff). If it weren't for the fact that the amount of info you provided was perfect given the constraints of the story, I might actually hold it against you for giving just enough to keep me hooked. ;)

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to re-read it.
WafflesToo Featured By Owner May 6, 2012
I'm sure nobody was more surprised when she woke up again than she was herself. Life before her eyes and everything.

Heh, it's hard to keep some of these stories from turning into lectures or history lessons :XD:. There have been so many times that I've had to simply axe details from the stories or from the comic itself simply because there wasn't any way to work it into the dialogue without it sounding forced.

LOL, besides, not telling you everything is a cheap way to keep people reading to find out what happens next :D
Sturmensky Featured By Owner May 6, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Can't really blame her, frankly.

Also, major deja vu there - I recall you saying something similar about details back in chapter four.

As for cheap? No, it is not a cheap method. It is an evil method. Not that I mind though - I'm fairly certain it's common knowledge at this point that you have everything figured out :D

Besides, the less you tell us now, the more we can torment you into telling us later - barring horrific internet failure, we can theoretically get infinite stories out of you by milking this correctly. ;P
WafflesToo Featured By Owner May 7, 2012
LOL, well, I don't know about EVERYTHING... but I do have the advantages of copious amounts of notes, outlines, and forward writing. I'm not kidding; I'm working on the script for chapters eight, nine, and ten right now; six and seven are both fully written.
Sturmensky Featured By Owner May 6, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Also, random question that's been bugging me for a while: although it seems like most crew members have basic first aid training, it seems to me that Sam has slightly more than most.

Is it just a matter of us having seen him more, or does he actually have more than the standard flight crew member?

Yes, I know: random question is random - but it's midnight and I figured I might as well ask sooner than later. ;P
WafflesToo Featured By Owner May 6, 2012
Ha! Nice job noticing that :D

If you go back to his first flashback in chapter four you'll notice that when he's chatting with the First Sergeant that he mentions that he wants to transfer 'back into field medicine' so he can keep his medical certification.

Short answer; yes, he has had a LOT more medical training than the rest of the crew. (funny thing is that in the next story Pitja asks him about that very thing, well, I think it's funny anyway.)
nomyai Featured By Owner May 5, 2012
I'm glad Mrs. Gregory derailed Sam's Self-doubt Express, bravo for her. "Anything else I have in this life, I'll have because of you.", a very beautiful statement of thanks to Sam.

It still amazes me that people can hold a grudge for incredible amounts of time. Case in point, a young guy I knew (born in the late 1960s) who hated Japanese with a passion. Why, because Uncle Frank had been a POW during the war. I could never get it across to him that Uncle Frank has good reason to dislike Japanese, YOU don't. In one ear and out the other.

Amazing that the destruction of Bishop and Kajet still generates suspicion and hatred.

Hmm, could the good Captain be so punch drunk she's dropped military protocol? ;)


As a side note, if Space Command follows a naval vocabulary, the latrine would be referred to as "the head". I know, I know, stay in the car. :D:D:D
WafflesToo Featured By Owner May 6, 2012
It was the proverbial "smack to the head" he needed ^^

Have to say, as much as everyone else seems to have enjoyed this one I really didn't have much fun writing it. Sam is at his worst here; so full of self-doubt and depression that it really doesn't leave me in a very nice place... but because it's part of his path and shows his growth as a person it needed to be done. The next story will be a lot more fun for me :)

It's really hard to predict the kind of racial memories that 13 billion deaths and three planets would cause. I'm basing some of it on my own experiences as an outsider in the deep south; Texas, Georgia, the Carolinas... you'll meet people there who haven't quite given up on the civil war and that was over 150 years ago.

I'll admit, Imperial Japan's treatment of its POWs was nothing less than shameful BUT the people, government, and system responsible are all long dead so I hardly get it. Though I suppose if I'd been exposed to "Uncle Frank's" vitriol for my entire youth it might've colored my opinions as well (oddly enough the exact phenomenon being demonstrated here).

Moving on, LOL, yes the dear Captain is pretty well done; certainly to the point that she's lost patience for such things. She'll be back to her usual self once she gets a nap ;)

To be honest, I was thinking more along the Air Force's model than the Navy's. I knew I'd regret calling Flag-ranked officials 'Admirals' X(, but you know what people's expectations are and I figured it'd save me having to explain just WTF a 'Sky Marshall' is thirty or forty times :XD:.
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