The star port bustled with thousands upon thousands of people making ways between bars, restaurants, starship gates and seating areas. It was the busiest star port in Jupiter’s orbit and served nearly the entirety of it’s tourism branch and the mining corporation. Lawrence Trisees, former mental technology specialist of the JMC Blue Dwarf, stood by Gate 44b having transferred himself from the ship a number of years ago.
Trisees was a tallish man with very closely shaved blonde hair. He had wide green eyes, an ever so slightly hooked nose and a thick, and equally blonde, beard. He looked utterly relieved as he walked from the arrival gate into the large swath of people.
It had taken his stolen Blue Midget nearly three years to reach civilisation and he relished the thought of being amongst normal people for a change. His life aboard the Blue Dwarf had been nothing but headaches, death and irritation. He was especially glad to be rid of the irritation, but his escape hadn’t exactly gone as planned.
Whilst making his way back to the Solar System, Trisees had happened upon a derelict vessel. Running low on a few amenities, such as water and cheezits, and he’d boarded the vessel in the hopes of securing some of the delightfully orange snacks. Instead of finding a lifeless and empty spaceship, he’d discovered that amongst the ruins a youngish girl was making do and surviving as best she could. He’d also noted that she’d eaten all the cheezits.
Trisees had begrudgingly allowed the girl to come aboard the Blue Midget and ride back with him to the centre of human life. She’d flown with him for over a year and whilst he would never outright say it, Trisees had been glad to finally have some company.
“This is the Tethys Star port, Miss Hart,” he said.
Michelle ‘Shelley’ Hart was nearly as tall as Trisees. She had exceptionally long brown hair, never allowing Trisees to give it a trim, and she appeared to be in her early twenties. She’d stowed aboard the ‘Conscript’, her previous ship, to escape her family. She’d not expected that the captain would go space crazy, shut himself and the crew in the cargo bay and then eject them all into the vast twinkly black.
“I’ve been here before,” she said, destroying Trisees thunder.
“I’m getting a drink,” he scowled. Shelley shrugged and followed him. They grabbed a couple of glasses of dubious looking brown liquid from a dirty looking barman and sat at an empty table.
“What’s your plan?” Shelley asked Trisees.
He raised an eyebrow. “Undecided. I thought it would become clear once I returned. I can see this is not the case.” He reached to his left and hauled up to the table one of the nearby NewNits (small touch screens that displayed everything that was being fed from the local news feeds).
“What about you?” he asked Shelley. She hummed and looked up, deep in thought. “Not sure. I think I’ll follow your lead.”
She smiled and took a sip from her glass as Trisees snorted. He changed the NewNit from the Saturn feed and redirected it into the JMC’s inter ship traffic.
“What are you doing?”
“I’m checking up on my former ‘post'” Trisees said derogatorily.
“Why? I thought you were glad to be rid of them?”
He scanned the crew roster and noticed a few changes in the command centre of the ship. Captain’s changing, flight navigators moving posts. He flicked the feed upwards quickly, scrolling to the MediBay. ‘Good’, he thought. ‘Charles Keto is still in charge. They’d be a fool to lose such an accomplished man.’ Keto was the only person Trisees had gotten along with on board the Blue Dwarf., seeing as they both did not suffer fools gladly.
He scrolled downwards a little, expecting more familiar names to be shown, but they weren’t. Trisees ignored it and scrolled to their ‘Important News’ postings. As he idly flicked through the previous headlines, he stopped on an article that shook him.
“Oh no,” he said quietly.
“What is it?” Shelley asked.
He blanked her and continued to read the article: MEDICAL BAY LOSES TWO ON RESCUE MISSION. Trisees scanned the words quickly, shaking his head all the while.
“I don’t believe it.”
He handed the unit over to Shelley who also gave it a quick read.
“Doctors Hazel Coffey and William Shakespeare are dead? Did you know them well?”
“In a manner of speaking.” He admitted. “Shakespeare and I go…went…way back.”
“You never spoke of him. Come to think of it, you hardly ever spoke about the Blue Dwarf. You always ignored my questions.”
“Of course! That ship of morons was the last place I wanted to think about, I had just left them.”
“So why is this upsetting you now?”
“It’s different!” he said angrily.
“How? Tell me,” Shelley said gently.
“Look. Shakespeare was a fool. He was an idiot. He was a menace and an utter incompetent. Sure, he was a good surgeon, but as a person! God, as a person he was simply…” Trisees tailed off. “Shakespeare came from me. From my head and body.”
“I don’t understand and frankly, I’m a little weirded out.”
“It happened nearly 17 years ago when I worked on Saturn.”
17 Years Earlier
Scientist Lawrence Trisees wiped a torrent of sweat glistening on his forehead and stared proudly at his latest invention. It was a small circular pod, big enough to hold a single person connected to a large mess of cables, pipes and metal rectangles. To the untrained eye, it appeared to be a very rudimentary stasis pod. To the trained, it was so much more. Trisees was a very clever scientist and he specialised in unlocking the potential of the mind. He’d been called up by Saturn’s highest military branch in order to help them develop the best possible soldier they could. Trisees jumped at the chance and his last five years had been spent working alongside a number of other intelligent scientists on a machine that would unlock all the secrets of the mind. Tonight, he had decided, it was finally ready for testing.
Trisees exhaled deeply and climbed into the machine. This was his moment, the moment when all his labours would come to fruition and all those years of being held back by slow neurons would be gone. He connected the little metal dome to the top of his head and fastened the gas mask nozzle to his mouth. Trisees closed his eyes and flicked the switch.
The light and the pain was intense. He screamed and his back arched wildly as the machine fed into his brain and shattered his mind. Trisees flailed as he felt the world slip from view. He tried to fight it, to claw his way back to a stable plane but all around him was ever approaching darkness. He cowered as pure nothing swallowed him whole.
After a few minutes, the machine stopped glowing. It’s noises grew quieter and with a swish, the pod’s top half rose upwards displaying the unconscious body of Lawrence Trisees. It lay there, unmoving for what seemed like an ice age, before Trisees’ eyelids rose sleepily. His expression changed to one of terror and he began lazily fighting against the equipment holding him in place. He ripped the metal dome away and wrenched the face nozzle from it’s resting position, tumbling out of the pod.
“Oh god,” he said, grabbing his head. It throbbed and pounded and shook and stuttered. He couldn’t see, he couldn’t think, he could barely speak. Trisees stood up gingerly and waited for the pain to leave him. It didn’t. He tried to walk and found himself unable to coordinate his feet. He was getting angrier with every passing minute. He head continued to ‘slam’ against his nerve endings and he clutched it tightly. It was the machine’s fault. It was all the machine. He just wanted the pain to stop, just for a moment. Just a single moment of relief. He would do anything to stop that pounding. He grabbed hold of the cables to steady himself and fell to the ground, his feet giving way. He ripped the power cables from their housing and the pod sparked. Trisees growled in anger again as his head got even worse.
“STOP!” he screamed blindly, the world a lost mixture of shapes and colours. He hit the floor with his fists and pleaded with anyone to make the pain cease. No one replied and Trisees screamed again. His vision was still a mess, he could barely see his own hands. He staggered away from his laboratory and up the stairs to the cool night air. He slumped against a parked taxi and could only just make out the driver’s words to him.
“Are you going to prop up my cab all night, or do you want a lift somewhere?”
“Medical,” he said, before passing out entirely for the last time.
“What does that have to do with Shakespeare?” asked Shelley, interrupting Trisees. He sighed, growled and scowled at the same time, the resulting noise coming across like a dog choking on a chew toy.
“I’m getting to that part. Don’t interrupt me woman. I don’t like telling people about this. Count yourself lucky.”
Trisees awoke with a start. His head no longer thumped which immediately relieved him. His surroundings did not.
“OK, three things wrong with this picture.” He said, staring at all the elements on display. “One, where am I? Two, why am I here? Three, why is there a beautiful woman resting her head in my lap?” He looked down at the mystery girl, her hair a mysterious shade of purple. “Well, the third isn’t so much of a problem.” He lifted her head up gently, excusing himself, and hopped off the bed.
“Now to find out answers for questions one and two,” he muttered to himself. He looked around and decided that based on the various Red Crosses, syringes, beds, ointments and a sign saying Medical Department, that he was probably in some sort of Medical Department. He wondered how they’d been able to stop all the head pain when a lively looking girl bounded through the doors into the main room.
“Heya Shakespeare,” she said to him. “What’s on today’s cards?”
He stared at her as she looked at him, obviously waiting for a reply.
Trisees looked behind him, wondering if the purple haired girl had awoken, before realising that the excited looking girl was talking to him.
“You’re asking me this?” he said.
“Hey, why no middle English?” she asked.
“We have to speak ‘Middle English’ here?”
“Well, no. But you always do,” she stated.
“Are you okay, Doctor Shakespeare?” she asked, sounding very concerned.
“Why do you keep calling me that?” replied Trisees.
“That’s…err…your name,” she said, very uncertainly.
“Young lady, whoever you are, I think you need to get your facts straight. My name is Lawrence Trisees. I am a scientist.”
“No, you’re Doctor William Shakespeare. You’re a surgeon.”
“Get out of my way woman, I think you’re on some kind of illegal substance,” he said, annoyed and pushing roughly past her. As he stalked into the main corridor he began muttering to himself.
“What in god’s name is going on around here? Shakespeare?! Doctor?! What the hell is she talking about? How in the hell did I end up here?”
He kept on walking, ignoring the many hellos of people he passed. Every time someone said ‘Doctor’ he wanted to scream. He felt groggy and out of alignment, and all these people accusing him of being the ship’s head of surgery fuelled his bad mood.
He eventually came out to a large promenade full of shops. Trisees spotted a bar at one end of the promenade and what looked like the local AI singing to itself on a monitor. He strode over to the screen and tapped on it.
“You the AI around here?” he asked.
“Yes Doctor,” it replied, visibly annoyed by the tapping.
“Where am I?”
“You’re on the promenade of the Blue Dwarf,” it said matter of factly.
“The Blue Dwarf? What am I doing here?”
“You’re the ship’s surgeon. You transferred here after an altercation with your previous captain. You tried to cut his head open with a drill.”
“I what? I never attacked Professor Jaran. Doctor?! Why would I be made doctor when I don’t have any medical training?! Is everyone around me insane?!”
“Doctor William Shakespeare!”
Trisees spun around to see the purple haired girl standing behind him.
“STOP CALLING ME THAT!” he shouted viciously. “I’m not your damned Doctor! I want to see the captain of this scow! There’s been a mistake, I should be on Callisto!”
“William, I want you to return to the Medibay. I think there’s something wrong with you,” she said.
“I AM NOT A DOCTOR! YOU WILL TAKE ME TO THE CAPTAIN NOW! I AM IN NO MOOD FOR GAMES!” He screamed, pointing furiously at the girl.
“Mr Trisees,” she said. “Our captain is not on board the ship at present. He’s involved in some training.”
Trisees scoffed. “Then take me to the second in command. Really, it’s not a difficult request.”
The purple haired girl gave a little laugh. “Our second in command is,” she faltered. “Also unavailable. We’re not exactly sure where he is.”
“Isn’t there someone with SOME amount of competence on this vessel?!”
“Do we have a problem sir?” asked a deep male voice behind Trisees. He turned around to see a very large and well built man wearing a security uniform. His arms were folded and his name tag read ‘Tiny’ Jackson.
“Tiny. How cute,” muttered Trisees. “Mr Jackson, these people, this balding AI and that girl are claiming I am someone I am not. Moreover, she refuses to take me to see the captain. I demand I be allowed to see whoever is highest ranking on this vessel!”
“Miss Coffey, is there something wrong with the good doctor?” Jackson asked, turning to face her.
Coffey shook her head. “I don’t know. It’s like that collapse gave him amnesia, or something far worse.”
“EXCUSE ME,” Trisees said defiantly. “Don’t you know it’s RUDE to talk about someone in the third person when they are present?!”
“Calm down, Doctor,” began Jackson, placing a muscled hand on Trisees’ shoulder.
“GET YOUR HANDS OFF OF ME!” Trisees shook himself away and backed up against the nearby wall. “All of you are against me! There’s some kind of conspiracy going on here! Why am I on this ship?! Why did you remove me from Callisto?! Where’s all my research!?”
There was a zap and Trisees felt his back sting violently. He turned around to see Jackson brandishing a stun gun. “I’ll get you for this,” he said before slipping into unconsciousness.
Trisees awoke to the familiar sight of a grey ceiling.
“Great. I’m back in the Medibay. It wasn’t a hideous dream. And what’s this?” he asked, realising his arms were tied down. He struggled to move up and just about reached a seated position, spotting the familiar purple hair of Miss Coffey, holding a clipboard and looking forlorn.
“So. I’m tied to this bed. I’m apparently dangerous?” he asked.
“Yes. Yes you are.”
“Why are you keeping me here?” he spat.
“Who are you?” Coffey asked.
“My name is Lawrence Valcavia Trisees. I repeat, why are you keeping me here?”
“What have you done with Dr William Shakespeare?” continued Coffey.
“WHY ARE YOU KEEPING ME HERE?” shouted Trisees, his patience at an end.
“You’re ill. I’m trying to help you.”
“Help me? You could start by releasing me.”
“Not until you’ve calmed down.”
“Look. I’m going to say this for the very last time today. My name is Lawrence Trisees. I’m a scientist. I work at the Callisto research base. My ident code is GB-9980-YOI-777. Check the ship’s database and you’ll find that it’s the truth. Speak to Professor Aldous Jaran if you really have to. He is stationed on Ganymede and working in the University there.”
Coffey rose from her seat and moved towards the MediComp. She tapped a few buttons, bringing up the ident records of a Lawrence Trisees.
“Your record says you’re dead,” she offered.
“Oh. I’m dead? This is a dead man talking to you? I’m a hologrammatical being that has been tied to a bed with real ropes. Technology really has progressed.”
Coffey sighed. “What is the last thing you remember, before being here.”
“Testing my research, being in searing pain and walking out of my lab. After that I open my eyes to find myself in this charming insanity spot.”
“You don’t recall any of the last twelve years?”
Trisees looked worried for a moment. “Twelve years? Explain to me what’s going on.”
Coffey shrugged. “I don’t think I can,” she admitted. “I think we’re going to have to run some medical tests on you.”
“Tests! You think I’m some kind of lab rat?”
Coffey threw up her hands and gave an exasperated sigh.
“Lawrence, how else are we to find out what is wrong with you? We’re not resting until we work out what happened, why and how to set things straight!”
Shelley waited as Trisees stopped to take a drink.
“Then what? What about Shakespeare?” she asked.
Trisees shook his head. “Another time, Miss Hart. We have more important things to do. Like catch the shuttle to Saturn. It’s leaving in fourteen minutes.”
“Fine. Fine. You need to tell me later, though!” Shelley grumbled.
“Perhaps,” he said.
Trisees and Shelley got to their feet. Trisees looked down at the article once more and nodded sadly.
“Goodbye, William,” he said under his breath.
Trisees straightened up, adjusted his jacket and walked with Shelley towards their gate becoming lost in crowds of people.