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Family Matters: Lost

Outpost Phoenix: Personal Com-Net


by Lieutenant Lukas Behr & Doctor S. Vasari
[Stardate ]

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For some odd reason, his sleep had been marred by nightmares.  There were horrific visions of his family scattered into millions of atoms and floating in space.  He could hear them clearly telling him ‘goodbye’ and ‘we love you,’ but that was just from the video they’d sent a few weeks prior.  Lukas pulled himself from the dream with a start, sitting up suddenly and forcing his eyes wide open. He panted heavily and frowned upon seeing that he wasn’t in his room, but in Jane’s.  Confusion quickly set in and he snapped his eyes to the bed next to him, surprised to find it empty. A deep breath filled his lungs and the air was laced with fried pork. The list of questions grew exponentially and he slipped off the mattress to investigate.

“Bacon shouldn’t be so damn hard to cook!” she hissed at the stove.  Her arms waved furiously as she tried to direct the billowing dark smoke away from her face and towards the open window.  The medical officer coughed as the unpleasant aroma caught in her throat. Quickly, she grabbed the pan by its handle and carried it - practically running - to the sink, where she dropped it quickly under the rush of cold water.  Oil splattered and she jumped back, curses in her Italian tongue flowed quickly. She resumed her attempt to clear the kitchen of the putrid scent.

He hadn’t bothered with a shirt and his shorts had twisted slightly on his hips with the movement in his sleep.  A few steps down the stairs had him feeling the misplaced fabric and he corrected the waistband with a tug. Lukas furrowed his brows as he reached the main level and made his way toward the kitchen.  “What’s going- are you okay?” He’d never known the woman to attempt breakfast, let alone anything as unhealthy as bacon. More questions popped into his head.

She didn’t bother to look back at the German operations officer.  “Yes,” she hissed in irritation. “Just stupid bacon fried up too quickly!  It’s all the damn fat and oil! If it isn’t killing your arteries, it’s killing you when you attempt to cook it for consumption!”  Jane reached forward and turned off the rush of water, grumbling under her breath as she let the towel flop over the side.

Lukas approached her and lifted his hand to rest his palm on her forehead, his other resting on her back so she wouldn’t startle out of his reach.  “Why are you cooking bacon then?” It seemed the most logical place to start. The rest would follow suit.

“Because you like bacon?”  She turned to stare up at him, raising a brow at the feel of his hand on her forehead.  Jane reached up and placed a hand on his cheek, concern etched in her eyes. “How are you feeling?  I’m surprised you’re out of bed. You could have stayed longer. You were pretty worn out last night.”

She was cooking him bacon and telling him to stay in bed.  It could only mean one thing - and he didn’t remember it. Lukas groaned quietly and closed his eyes, silently cursing his nightmare for completely blocking his memory of what was probably a fantastic evening with Jane.  “Bitte sag mir nicht, dass wir zusammen geschlafen haben und ich erinnere mich nicht. Das w*re das Schlimmste, (Please don’t tell me we slept together and I don’t remember. That would be the worst.)” he muttered as he shook his head.  Nothing came to him, only the vivid dream of his family calling to him from space. “I can’t shake this nightmare,” he murmured in a raspy baritone. He focused apologetic aquamarine irises on the medical officer. His hands dropped from her forehead and back and he reached for the pan to dry it so he could cook the bacon.

She placed a hand on his to stop him from cleaning the pan and cooking them breakfast.  “What nightmare?” she whispered softly to him.

His brows furrowed but he didn’t argue with her over the pan.  He tilted his head slightly and focused on her hazel hues. “That my family got caught in a pattern buffer and their atoms are telling me Auf Wiedersehen.”

Her expression softened.  “That wasn’t a nightmare, Lukas.”  Her voice was soft and tender. “You received the communication last night-  You have to contact the Transport Authority today and tell them what to do.”

Lukas released his grip on the pan and pulled his hand away, frowning at Jane as he shook his head.  “How do you know my dream? Was I talking in my sleep?” Defensiveness creeped into his features. He needed it to just be a nightmare.

The medical officer studied him for several long seconds.  Jane was careful with her tone, not wishing to jostle him from his confusion in such a way that it would only further upset him.  “After you told me last night and you finally got to sleep, I went to the office to call the outpost to tell them that we wouldn’t be coming in today,” she explained carefully.  “The communication was left on viewscreen and I watched it.” Her eyes dipped. “I’m sorry- I didn’t mean to pry.”

He continued to shake his head.  “It was a dream. The probability of that type of accident occurring is millions to one.  There’s secondary and tertiary systems that would prevent it from happening- it was just a dream!”  Panic coloured his tone.

“It wasn’t a dream, Lukas,” Jane’s hand squeezed at his.  “I’m sorry. It wasn’t a dream.”

There was one way to know for sure.  The German turned his head toward the shared office space but he found he couldn’t force himself into motion.  His chin moved so he could stare at Jane. He couldn’t find the words to argue with her. Lukas gently pulled his hand from hers and walked with trepidation to the console that he worked at.  The screen was blank, but a tap immediately brought it to life. He sat down and hesitantly input the command to play the last message.

She followed after him, silent and remained respectfully distant to allow him the chance to watch.  Her hand rested on the top of her chair and her eyes remained on the back of his head.

He watched again, frowning as he seemed to know the words before the transport officer spoke them.  Lukas shook his head and tapped to close the message. “It’s fake, a late April Fool’s- there’s no way this could happen in this day and age.”  His accusatory glare found Jane as he spun the chair to face her. “This isn’t funny.”

“It isn’t a joke, Lukas,” her brows furrowed.  “I don’t know how, but- It did happen. I’m sorry, but-”  Jane sighed softly and simply shook her head. There was no way her words could do anything to ease his anguish, so she settled for simply, “I’m sorry.”

Her response had him pausing.  She wasn’t one to lie, certainly not to him.  But it seemed so far fetched- though how else could she know what he’d dreamt?  “How could this happen? What happened to the backup systems? Why them?!” His questions streamed from his lips and he turned back to the console as if the message would give him answers.  Lukas tapped to play the subspace once again and he stared intently at the video.

With a sigh, she closed the distance between them and she placed a hand on his shoulder.  “Lukas,” Jane urged him gently. “Watching it again won’t do anything- You have to call- You have to give them permission to let the patterns go.”

“I’m not-!  No!” Without thinking, he shrugged her hand from his shoulder and turned his head, though he didn’t go so far as to glare at her.  “I have to get in touch with- Scheiße! Es sind Tage gewesen. Die Muster haben sich verschlechtert, indem sie im Puffer steckengeblieben sind.  Wie kann ich sie zurückziehen? (It’s been days. The patterns have degraded being stuck in the buffer. How can I pull them back?)” he muttered to himself as he started typing into the console.  Theories and calculations flowed from his brain to the screen as he worked on a solution.

Jane had no idea what he was saying, but it appeared as if the operations officer was working through his grief.  Her gaze shifted to the viewscreen as equations and theories appeared in sequence, the data foreign and completely unknown to her.  She sighed softly and her hand rested on his shoulder again. “Lukas,” the medical officer attempted to pull his chair away from the console.  “Listen to me, Lukas- They’re gone and you have to call the transport official so that their patterns can be released.”

“They’re not gone!  Why are you trying to kill them?!”  He pulled away from her touch and went right back to work.

“I’m not-”

“I’m not abandoning my family, Jane!  I can’t just leave them like you did yours!  Just go away- you’ve left me before, I remember what it’s like.”  He hadn’t turned to look at her or stopped moving his fingers over the console.  “Leaving is what you’re best at. Let me do what I’m best at, caring for the people I love.”  Bitterness had crept into his voice. Lukas hunched over the desk as he worked. He didn’t notice when the medical officer left the room.

   
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