“Do you recognise this song?”
The words were raspy and barely formed. Marlie moved her head slowly on the bed towards Ranlen, looking up at him through gauzes and bandages.
“Do you recognise it?”
It was the most she had spoken in days since coming to the Medi-deck. The medics had said that she might never wake again. Ranlen was sure if it hadn’t been the infamous Pilot Entran who was lying on one of their hospital beds, the medics might not have interfered with nature’s course at all.
Ranlen strained his ears. He couldn’t hear anything.
Suddenly the oath they had given each other all those years ago began to chafe. Never tell the other a lie.
“What can you hear?” he asked, avoiding the question.
Marlie groaned as she looked the other way. It hurt Ranlen to see his commanding officer like this. Marlie had always been the strong one, the one to take the lead. Now she was barely held together, and her mind.
Well, there was a reason the saying went your mind is with the Trulegs when someone was not concentrating. The physical wounds Marlie might have survived, but with the Truleg seeping into her mind and scouring it for secrets? Well, she was lucky to be alive.
“A song,” Marlie whispered, looking off down the corridor. The hum of the air conditioning unit above Ranlen’s head sounded even louder now he was trying to find another noise. Something. Anything. It didn’t matter want it was, as long as it justified what Marlie was hearing.
They all got training on Trulegs when they started. The creature that haunted the caverns that was harvesting intelligence for its own purposes. The newest recruits were shown a dead one that had been recovered thirty years ago, purposefully showing the face covered in feeler like tentacles to horrify the new recruits.
Ranlen could not even begin to imagine what Marlie would have seen when that beast had punched its way through the cockpit of her cave fighter and slammed its feelers onto her temples. There were no teeth, no looming eyes, just dark purple tentacles that took your memories for its own.
“Can you hear it?” Marlie said, turning back to Ranlen, “Jaines, can you hear it?”
The use of his first name caught Ranlen’s attention. He was always Ranlen or Skidder to Marlie. Never his first name, not in years.
Down the corridor, Ranlen could see the medics massing in their green coats. They would have heard Marlie talking on the cameras. In minutes, she would be swamed with medics and the higher ups alike to try and get as much information about the attack as they could.
Ranlen looked down on his commanding officer. Her gaze was pleading, confused. Looking for an anchor in a world that she no longer had references to.
A lie, that would be all it took, to give her some comfort.
“Jaines?” Marlie pleaded.
Forgive me, he thought.
“Yes, I can hear it,” Ranlen said, reaching over and gently laying his hand on Marlie’s bandages, “I can hear it Marlie.”
Featured Image Credit: Photo by Quentin Grignet on Unsplash
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