Defrosting Cohen

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OOC Date: April 22, 2011
IC Date: February 3, 2128

Hydroponics technician Ensign Cohen is brought out of stasis.

Crew Stasis Hold - Deck Two

The sickly green glow of the stasis chambers provides most of the light in the cavernous hold - they make enough light on their own, little else is really needed. Two hundred and twenty such chambers are scattered about the hold, containing the entirety of the crew when they're in stasis, each roughly the size of a phone booth and cylindrical in shape.

While the majority of a stasis chamber is made of metal and contains all of the sensitive equipment needed to sustain the person within, the front is made of a high grade plexiglass that is completely clear, allowing a view of the person inside. One would almost think that they stand upright except that their toes do not touch the ground, instead they float in a greenish liquid that accounts for the color of the light coming out of each unit. The people inside wear only the minimum necessary - a version of tighty whities for the men, and the same plus a halter style top for the women. Numerous tubes and wires are connected to them at points all over their bodies, pumping in and filtering out liquid similar to the kind they float in. One of the elements of stasis involves removing all of the blood from the body and replacing it with a synthetic liquid that preserves the internal organs and bones and prevents the body from aging. The liquid they float in does the same for the skin, muscles and hair. Wires connected to the head and various parts of the body stimulate the muscles and brain to prevent atrophy and to keep the person in a hypnotized state of peace.

In addition to the stasis chambers themselves, the hold also contains several control and monitoring stations that allow manual operation of the stasis system when crew members are awake. One door is all that the hold contains, and it leads out to the central corridor of Deck Two.

Consciousness comes slowly, starting at the back of the mind and bubbling up like pockets of air in molasses. It seems to take forever. The first sense to come alive is the general sense of awareness, of being present in the here and now - wherever and whenever that maybe. Realization dawns that the body is floating, and the faint prickles of wires disengage in from the body follows shortly after. Warmth begins to flood in as blood returns to the body and synthetic preservative is cycled out. Tubes retract save for those in the nose and mouth that still provide oxygen. Bubbling and hissing fill the ears and the feet gradually touch the bottom of the chamber, the liquid draining away, and soon feet and legs support the body, or at the very least attempt to. Some may find themselves quite shaky despite the regular stimulation of the muscles. When eyes finally open, the world is blurry and vague. One sensation overcomes everything else.

The hunger.

Such hunger.

The first thoughts are hardly coherent as Ensign Cohen's mind slowly — very slowly — arrives in the here and now. Her eyes open, then quickly slam shut again against the light and sudden air. She tries to breathe, but finds herself doubled over and dry heaving. The warmth in her veins feels almost like fire compared to the freezing goo that filled them only minutes before. Although the woman manages not to drop to her knees, it takes her some time before she is brave enough to attempt standing upright again. Slow, deep breaths get the nausea under control, but an arm stays around her waist due to the absolutely insane hunger. Finally, her eyelids open once more and focus on the nearest conscious person.

Whatever one was expecting to waken to, it never manages to be the case. There is no panic and confusion here; there is also not the chaos of two hundred pods opening up at once. Mayhap the release of the ship's crew has been staggered, but even in that event, the waking of one hydroponics technician would surely not rate above that of… well, maybe other personnel, right? Most of the pods are still sealed up. Only a few have been emptied, and clearly they have been that way for some time. They stand hollow now, and dark, spots of shadow that draw the eye for lack of the glowing green goo. There is apparently only one conscious person in the whole room: the familiar, perhaps intimidating figure that is Commander Eisley, pressed and polished and in full uniform. She carries a towel, folded neatly and draped over one arm, which is offered over only once she is not in danger of getting bile on her shiny boots. "Good morning, Ensign Cohen."

Intimidating, indeed. But at least the other woman is awake and looks far more alive than the others in stasis. The ensign fights the urge to curtsy to the picture-perfect commander, instead straightening smartly and saluting. "Ensign Cohen, reporting for duty, Ma'am." Is that her voice? It is hoarse and raw, far softer than she expected it to be. Only now does she seem to notice in her peripheral vision that few pods are empty. However, there is a more pressing matter, make apparent by the suddenly load roar of her stomach.

The grumbling is audible and it provokes both the loft of one eyebrow and the curve of one corner of the Commander's mouth. It is not quite a smile, but it is something. Once relieved of the towel she steps back again, likely mindful of the drips of goo on the deck, and returns the salute with equal formality. "At ease," Eisley allows, first. "As you have surely noticed, something is amiss. What that something is will keep, however, and you should report to my office for debriefing in two hours. In the meantime, take a shower, find a uniform, ensure everything in your quarters is as it should be, and get some food in you." There is still no sense of urgency that would explain why so many people are still in stasis. On the contrary, there is something grim about her, sober and serene her own measured way.

Curiosity, almost a constant within Cohen's gaze, is piqued even further by the cryptic opening. She gratefully accepts the towel and begins to wipe off the mess covering her barely-clothed form. "Yes, Ma'am." She dares not — or cannot — take her gaze fully off the imposing commander while in her presence. "Two hours."

XO's Office - Deck Three

Every good office is dominated by a desk and this one is no exception. The XO's desk is almost eight feet across, half that in width, a sheet of black glass that shimmers through with motes of color. Bits of it light up as needed, becoming brilliant controls that respond to a touch and then fade into nothing when not. Behind it sits a high-backed chair, sleek and black. Behind that is a plasma screen that occupies almost the entire wall, pretending to be a window that looks out into space when not otherwise in use. In front of the desk are two smaller chairs, also black though not as imposing. Black is a theme here; there is also a sleek black sofa set against one wall, ruining the perfect linear symmetry of the room. It matches the charcoal color of the carpet, and imposes in hard lines against the ivory walls.

The last two hours may have been a fairly surreal experience. There are only about 20 personnel awake on the -whole ship- and at this hour many of them are at duty stations. Because most of the ship's systems - notably including the mess - are automated, the chances of running into another living person are actually fairly slim right now. At least there are no lines in the chow hall, nor waits for the lifts..! Anyway. Commander Eisley's office is very easy to find. She is, as promised, here at the allotted hour, seated behind that big glass desk. Behind her, the plasma screen that pretends to be a window is filled up with an image of the Cat's Eye Nebula, the death of the star at its heart measured in convulsions of dust and gas that form strangely precise concentric rings around an ellipse of blue-white flame. Just now she is reading something off a data pad set on the desk in front of her.

Cohen reports for duty, appearing rather refreshed as she automatically salutes. Clearly, eating, showering, and putting on a uniform have done wonders for the ensign. She cannot help but look at the window/screen behind the commander for a moment. However, training has her gaze slipping all around the room briefly before it focuses upon the XOO. "Ensign Cohen reporting for duty, Ma'am." Repetition is good, right?

On that note Eisley looks up and sets the pad down, pushing it off to one side. "Come," she indicates, "sit." These are not precisely orders, but the XO often delivers information in that tone anyway: short, crisp, and though not cold exactly then certainly with cool efficiency. Only then does this command demeanor slip, showing another layer of that sad serenity, like pain that has hurt so long that its teeth have dulled. She settles forward, elbows coming to rest on the edge of the desk, hands tangling together; her index fingers rise out of this line a single-pointed steeple, the whole gesture briefly thoughtful.

Without hesitation, Cohen takes the indicated seat across from Eisley. Her hands fold primly in her lap and gaze takes in the shift in the commander's demeanor. One eyebrow lifts ever so slightly and she inhales deeply, stiffening to steel herself for whatever apparently bad news is coming her way.

"As you have likely surmised, we are not in orbit around New Eden." Commander Eisley cuts to the chase. "Today is February the 3rd, 2128." Four years short of the date projected for reaching that planet. "About four weeks ago, Eve engaged a high level emergency protocol that brought a skeleton crew of personnel out of stasis. Ship sensors had located a signal from an alien ship of Giver origin, set out on an intercept course." She relays this matter-of-factly, calmly. Almost as if by rote. "All this vessel contained was a message. An… apology." No, not by rote. Evidently she has given this speech several times already, but it does not become any easier with the telling. "The Givers were an alien race that was targeted by a second spacefaring species they called the Devourers, so-named because of their predilection for hunting - and eating - other sentient races. The Givers had been brought to the edge of extinction by these creatures, and thought to barter for the lives of their last colonies with the lives of another race, one whose own self-destructive habits were certain to render it extinct soon anyway. No sooner had they given this information to the Devourers than were they overcome with guilt, and dispatched a signal to Earth to warn us of what was coming."

Unable to speak even if she wanted to, Cohen's expression slips into a practiced, hardened neutrality as the tale unfolds. Although her lips press into a line, there is no apparent hatred for the race that sold out her own. In fact, she nods with a business-like understanding of the reasoning presented. Tense anticipation fills the ensign.

"By their reckoning," Eisley continues, "we had time to build maybe a dozen ships with the plans that they sent. They thought they could save as many as twelve million of us. Not many, certainly, but not so many that the Devourers would be inclined to hunt those few who escaped down." She gestures with one hand, a gracious wave to indicate her office, but the Genesis as a whole as well. "Instead, the highest level of Earth Alliance command gambled with fate. They built this ship at one tenth the scale it was meant to be and reckoned to build up planetary defenses instead, banking on an arms race to fight back a plague from the farthest stars." She pauses for a second to close her eyes. "A few days later we received a single transmission from Earth. The Devourers had come, obliterating our far posts around Saturn and Jupiter, settling on Mars and the Moon. A second, much smaller ship had been built and peopled, and they hoped they had sent it out before it would be noticed, but… we have no way of knowing, now. There have been no more transmissions."

Although Cohen's skin tone prevents her from turning white, she certainly pales as the tale unfolds. Her cheeks suddenly color with rage when she does the quick match of the ship even before the commander explains what occurred. As she moves rapidly through the stages toward acceptance, she suddenly speaks. Negotiation. "Perhaps we are too far out or are slightly off course. Perhaps Earth is too busy fighting back the Devourers to send out another transmission. It cannot be that… not so quickly." She verbally flails, gaze pleading for hope as she stares intently at Eisley.

Sadly, this is not a hope that Eisley can extend. She mitigates with, "Perhaps." It is not discounted, but it is also not validated otherwise. "For now we proceed with the mission parameters to which we were originally tasked. Based on the rest of the Givers' message, we presume that the New Eden site was compromised. They offered three optional locations, as well as a fourth, more general suggestion that we could scour the galaxy for another habitable planet. However, given the… gravity of the situation and the unique circumstances surrounding it, Captain Ramesh has chosen to take us far away. Tomorrow we will be in proximity to a wormhole, and will begin preparation for going through it." Her expression and tone both soften slightly. "I am aware that this is a lot to take in all at once. Both transmissions are on file in Eve's databases, if you should like to view them for yourself. In the meantime, you have 48 hours of light duty leave ahead of you before you will be expected to report to the hydroponics lab."

"Yes, Ma'am." The words are slow and mechanical. Cohen's eyes have glassed over and she appears to be in a daze. Yet, she makes no move to rise and leave just yet, letting the situation sink in. Suddenly, her eyes tear up. A shaky right hand reaches across her chest and attempts to rip part of the left breast of the uniform. She tugs several times, with gusto, but it is of no use. In a very small voice, she requests, "Commander Eisley, please inform any Jewish members of the crew that I am sitting shiva. In accordance with our laws, any may enter my quarters for the next seven days to provide… comfort." The last word comes out in a mixture of wryness and hollow despair.

Eisley nods once or twice in acknowledgment of this. She remains sober, somber, even sadly serene, but now there is a good reason for the cool reservation in dark blue eyes. "I will pass that information along," she assures. "We are still running on a skeleton crew, but I believe there might be one or two who share your faith."

Cohen nods once. "Thank you, Ma'am. I will report to the Hydroponics Lab in 48 hours." Likely to the minute, knowing her. She slowly rises and waits for a formal dismissal, carefully controlling her breathing.

"Dismissed, Ensign Cohen," murmurs the XO.

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