Saturday, March 5, 2022

Extremus: Year 34

Captain Kaiora Leithe of the Void Migration Ship Extremus wakes up with a throbbing headache. It’s unlike any she’s ever experienced before. It’s focused mostly around her eyes, which are red and maybe even a little misshapen? She goes over to her sink and flushes them out, which is an immediate relief. Her fingers feel smooth and oily now, like there was something in her eyes that’s coming out. That cannot be good. After drying off and taking another look in the mirror, she turns to teleport to the executive infirmary. A blinking blue light on her desktop device gives her pause. She’ll just take a quick look at the message, and if it’s not important, she’ll ignore it and leave, but if it’s really important, she’ll put off the self-care. Heck, it may even be about her eye problems. “Computer, play the message, please.”
An image of herself appears on screen. At first, present-day Kaiora believes the playback is frozen, but then the past version of her blinks. She’s just staring at the camera for a moment, seemingly waiting to find the words. “Good morning, Kaiora, it’s Kaiora. This is not a trick, I have something important to tell you. Authentication code shadow-schwa nine-eight-five-six-seven-three-oh. You may not be feeling great right now, but it’s going to be okay. According to the drug facts on the bottle, normal side effects include headaches, sensitivity to light, burning or itchy eyes, short-term confusion, irritability, and...”
“And what?” Kaiora questions.
“And fragmental phantom memories.”
“What does that mean?”
“That means that you’ll have flashes of the day that you lost, and while you’ll eventually also forget these fragments, you will remember that you had them, and that may cause the irritability.” Is this a recording, or is she actually responding to Kaiora’s questions?
“Did you eat all of the cookies?” present-day Kaiora asks, testing to find out whether there’s a real person on the other side of the screen.
“Anyway, it’s important that you don’t investigate, or try to remember anything that happened yesterday.” Okay, probably a recording. Probably. “You did this to yourself. You consented to the procedure, and no one else knows about it. I obviously can’t tell you why you erased your memories, but it was the right thing to do, and extremely necessary. On an unrelated note, do not look for Admiral Olindse Belo’s second disappearance. Make up a story about why and how she left the ship. The fact that it’s classified works to your advantage. You’re the Captain, you don’t have to tell anyone anything.” The recording of Kaiora breathes in deeply. “I think that’s it. I just wanna reiterate that everything’s gonna be okay. I have to go actually do the thing that you’ve already done, but...happy new year!” She smiles, and the picture freezes.
Kaiora frowns, and looks over at the clock. It’s not the new year. It’s February 2, 2303. She looks back to the screen, and sees the blue light blinking again. There’s a second message. She selects it.
Another recording of herself comes up. This one looks sad and nervous. “Captain’s log, January 2, 2303. I just woke up to find a message to myself. I was obviously meant to watch it yesterday. I don’t...I don’t know if it wiped more days than I realized it would, or if it, uhh...if I just didn’t wake up until now, or what. I can’t imagine it’s the second option. I mean, someone would have noticed the captain was missing for a day. I still don’t want to tell anyone that anything happened. I don’t know what happened, so there wouldn’t be much to tell. Past!Me didn’t want anyone to know about it, so I don’t either. I’m just gonna go through my day, and hope that no one asks me about yesterday. Ya know, if I agreed to—I dunno—release Halan from prison, or officiate someone’s wedding, I’m not gonna remember what they’re talking about. Hopefully, it will resolve itself by tomorrow morning, but I’m recording this in case something else goes wrong.”
Blue light again, a third message. This version of Kaiora is the most upset yet. “Captain’s log, January 3, 2303. I just watched two videos I evidently made for myself. I don’t remember December 31, I don’t remember January 1. I don’t remember January 2. In case you’re watching this on January 4, there’s a weird, silky, film on my eyeballs.” She lifts a little green bottle of eyedrops, and shakes it in front of the camera. “It’s probably memory-erasing stuff, but it’s empty now!” She throws it across the room. “So if you’re still feeling that tomorrow, something fishy is going on. I’m going to record another video at the end of the night, giving you a rundown of everything I did today. Like I said, I don’t recall the last few days, and that led to some awkward moments that made me look like an idiot. I don’t want Future!Me to go through that again. I’m still choosing to not tell anyone that I erased my memories, or that it apparently can’t wear off at some point. January 4!Me, January 5!Me, January 6!Me, and so on, you’re going to have to decide that for yourselves. I can’t make that decision for you, but I don’t think anyone should know about it, because it would really put Olindse in danger. Okay, so that’s it for now. As previously mentioned, I’ll record another one so you’re not lost tomorrow. Today. Your today, my tomorrow. ARGH!”
The blue light comes on again, but Kaiora ignores it, and navigates to the folder where the clips are being stored. There are 33 video files in there. Past!Her has made one for every day, presumably to catch the spotless minded new versions up on the goingson of the ship. Each one is several minutes long. It’s going to take, like, three hours to watch all of the rest. What captain has that kind of time? Wait, some of them are tagged obsolete. She must have rendered those ones redundant with further updates. Even so, this is not a sustainable solution. The memory wiper chemicals must be severely corrupted, or maybe just old and expired. If only she could find the bottle, it may provide some answers. Kaiora gets on her hands and knees by the dresser, and looks around on the floor, hoping it’s still there somewhere. No luck, but that’s not super surprising. A different past version of her probably grabbed it at some point, and may have decided to throw it away. Or one of them found it, and a different one threw it away, because the whole point is she can’t remember any of this!
Something has to change. This version of Kaiora has to break the cycle, or no one will. So she calls Dr. Holmes. “Hey, are you busy right now?”
I’ve been expecting your call,” Dr. Holmes replies. “Come on down.
Kaiora cleans herself up, and gets dressed. Then she teleports to the infirmary.
“Glad you could make it,” Dr. Holmes says. “Have a seat.”
Kaiora hops up onto the table.
The doctor begins a cursory examination; ears, nose, and throat. “Did you watch Episode 33?”
Oh, so she knows. “I stopped after the first three. So you’ve known about this the entire time?”
“No at all,” Dr. Holmes promises. She feels Kaiora’s lymph nodes. “You came to me yesterday, and said that something had to be done about this.” She finishes the exam, and begins to pull off her gloves.
Dr. Holmes takes off a necklace with a key on it. She unlocks a cabinet with it, and takes out a bottle, which she hands to her patient. “And I concocted this.”
“This doesn’t look like a very pleasant way to squirt something in my eyes.”
“That’s because it doesn’t go in your eyes. It’s a nose spray. One shot in each nostril before you go to bed. When you wake up, you should have your memories back.”
“You’re sure it’ll work?” Kaiora rolls the bottle in her hand.
“Only one way to find out.” Dr. Holmes takes a burnbag out of her pocket, and hands it to Kaiora too. Most of the waste on this ship is recycled, to the best of their ability. In fact, everything that can possibly be constructed out of aluminum is as such, because it has 100% recycle potential. There is no limit to how many times it can be reused, which makes it an invaluable resource in a closed system. Of course, they can mine raw materials from nearby planets by using a form of time travel, but that demands energy, and isn’t the best option in most cases. Still, there are some things that need to be destroyed, either because the waste is a health hazard, or because it contains sensitive information. A bottle of memory restoration solution is a little bit of both, because it could be used as leverage, or to gain knowledge of things that not even the original user wanted to keep. The best way to get rid of it is to place it in this bag, and teleport it to the stern of the ship, where the powerful force from charged relativistic plasma melts pretty much anything.
“You’ve not been able to test it?”
“Not in a day. You can wait, but...”
“No.” Kaiora takes the bag. “I’ll try it. I trust you. I don’t want to remember what happened, but it seems there is no other way.”
“Make a 34th video, just in case it doesn’t work,” Dr. Holmes advises.
“Thanks doctor, and...”
“And I already have this programmed to delete from my own memory tonight. It’s easy to target memories when you know they’re coming.”
“Thanks again.” After making a pitstop to drop her goodies off in her cabin, Kaiora heads for the bridge, where Lieutenant Seelen is waiting to go through the morning briefing. Once that’s done, she goes about her day, and doesn’t run into any awkward situations, even though she never did watch those latter highlight videos. No one seems to suspect a thing. It is a pretty big day, though, with a lot of running around, putting out fires. It feels like she’s busier than she has been lately, though that doesn’t mean much, because even with the videos, she wouldn’t have much idea what the past month has been like. At the end of the night, she is so exhausted that she jumps back to her cabin, and literally falls faceforward on the bed. She completely forgets to take the nose spray that the doctor gave her.
That night she dreams of Olindse Belo, jumping into a portal to the future. That’s it. That’s what she was so afraid to remember. They risk deconstructing the timeline if anybody knows even a little bit of what’s coming.
When she awakens, she remembers asking Dr. Holmes for help on Day 11, and that she has received the so-called memory restoring nose spray 22 times since then.

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