The first thing I can remember, and it seemed more real to me than anything that has followed, happened this way. My memories simply play out like someone else's dream, except that I am there. I was unable to say or do anything except what "I" was deciding to do and say. I am someone else. I am not this person, but it seems (or seemed) as though I am and was.
I was on the bridge of a ship that had been torn apart by something. Open space loomed like a wall at what should have been the middle of this very spacious compartment. Alarms were sounding everywhere. Everyone was looking to me for direction. It doesn't make any sense now, but it did then and there. It also doesn't make sense that I was sure that some sort of invisible force field was protecting us all from being sucked out into that cold, empty darkness.
Names and faces flowed through my mind as though I knew them well. Ajax, Solon, Dorie, Sarah, and so many others. I knew rules, regulations, procedures and tactics. I felt confident and proficient in the flow of my actions, as though this were routine. Something was desperately wrong. Temporal readings made no sense just like taking them doesn't make sense now, and how had we wound up crashing through a comet, (from WHERE?!?!) saved only by the shields? (I should note here that I don't know what those shields are or how they work, but then I did.)
I felt like I was being pulled in many directions. Everything not anchored down was darting about in a constantly changing path through the open areas of this compartment. Worse yet, while somehow I recalled my original MOS (Mission Operation Specialty) was Helm, we now had a rookie science officer steering what was left of my escort ship from an auxiliary console. I recalled having seen the demise of the other three officers slated as emergency helmsmen. I was the most qualified, and I believed I knew what I had to do.
I called to Lieutenant Commander Sone-Fist Burning Sky for a report (I had given him his current first name according to his people's ancient traditions. We had been "battle buddies.").
Burning Sky sounded resolute, but far less excited than he should as he replied "We're pitch-poling, Captain. We are caught in the planet's gravity. Life support and mains have failed, and we should hit the atmosphere in --" (I was the Captain?! We were in trouble!)
I was certain I had trained for exactly this. I leaped through the air, having launched myself in just the right direction to collide with Lieutenant Bookman's position and take over the helm.
I shouted to him, "MOVE!!"
I landed right on top of him but had to ignore his protest.
In ways I still don't understand, I steadied the half of an escort ship just enough to survive a very sparkly entry into the atmosphere of a planet I'd never seen (I still don't think I remember what a planet even looks like.), then the next thing I knew, I awoke with only vague, fuzzy memories, floating in a tank full of a heavy, viscous liquid, stark naked, not sure how I was breathing.
Nothing like this at the Academy, which seemed to fade all too quickly as a memory.
The liquid begins oozing out of the tank and my lungs heave out whatever slime has filled them as my eyes and nostrils burn from the sudden transition, I'm sure I'd been sicker than this before, but I couldn't remember . . .
ANYthing . . .
All I knew was that suddenly, my limbs and digits were moving by my will and not that of another. Still, I felt less real, less "me," more like an empty shell, and my less connected reality was shaped by the violent, convulsive coughing, gagging and projectile vomiting (my lungs were full of some sort of slime).
As the last bout of it began to ease up, I realized two strong but old men were gently holding me up -- and I had nothing on.
The first old man said "There now, I'm not sure who Sarah is, but there's plenty of time to find her later."
The second was a bit more condescending and had to throw in his half-a-credit's worth . . . "I didn't think you'd make it. There was barely enough of you to put together a sample for your clone--"
I suddenly had a vague recollection of having been this Captain, and I spat back in fury, "Do you know who I am?! I am a Fleet officer! What do you mean MY clone?!"
(Was I? Am I?)
The first old man kindly and calmly replied "Well, once we get you in some clothes, we've got lots to talk about ..."
The second whispered to him . . . "Whose fleet?"
Both old men fell silent as they helped me into a dressing room. At least I'd been spared the indignity of having them dress me. 'Whose Fleet?' Right What did they mean?
Surely one of Ajax's pranks . . . Wait, who . . . I didn't know the answer to his question (and I still don't).
An unfamiliar woman's voice asked "You okay in there?"
And thus I begin my journal, entered as I can remember.