The room spiralled hazily into focus as Laure opened her eyes.

Bright. Clinical. She was laid in bed.

“What...?” her voice sounded weird.

[PAWare initialising...]

“Ah, you’re back” a man loomed over her, startling Laure into yelping in surprise. “No - No, don’t get up” the man put a steadying hand on her shoulder as she struggled to coordinate her limbs “Your systems are - Oh, fine! Suit yourself”

Shaking off his hand, Laure pushed herself up and swung her legs out from beneath the covers to sit on the edge of the bed. An unfamiliar figure looked back at her from the mirror set on the opposite wall. Female. Blonde. Clad in a shapeless hospital gown.

“What -? Who’s body is this?” she demanded “What happened?”

“Take it easy, okay?” the man held his hands up, placatively “You’re in a private infirmary, aboard the Eternal Supplication of Goats. I’m Doctor Jarred”

A friendly enclave, at least. That was something. The centrifugal gravity meant that Laure was somewhere in one of the external spires.

“What happened?” she pressed “How am I here?”

[Initialisation complete. Hello Laure] her AR feed flickered to life, confirming the doctor’s identity and tagging his socials before she had even thought to request it.

Jarred shrugged “I was told it was an accident” he turned to open a cupboard and extracted a couple of coat hangers, bearing clothes sealed in plastic “You’ll want these” he tossed them over the end of Laure’s bed “As for what happened: I dunno. I just heard that your ship was lost over Earth”

“What the fuck!?” Laure felt the world lurch and spiral dizzily away beneath her as she struggled to absorb the news “What - What about Snugs? Hassinda and the others?”

“No idea”

Struggling to master her rising panic, Laure narrowed her eyes “Why don’t I remember this? My spike -”

“Was destroyed along with those of the rest of your crew. You burned up in what’s left of the atmosphere. We restored you from an earlier backup”

Stunned, Laure shook her head “I can’t believe I’m hearing this”

The doctor shrugged “I guess you’d better get used to dealing with it”

“Your bedside manner fucking sucks” Ash?

[Yes Laure?] the feminine voice of her PAware entered her mind.

What date is it? When was my last backup?

[It’s currently 15:47, April 29th 2250, Laure. Your last remote backup was taken at 21:00, on April 15th, 2250]

That’s two fucking weeks ago!

[So it would appear.]

What’s happened?

[Couldn’t tell you. I’m missing two weeks as well. At least you’re alive, eh?.]

Heh. Yeah, there is that. Put a few notifications out; let those that matter know I’ve been resleeved; and run a scan over the newsfeeds - see if there are any references to the Plastic Star going down

[Will do. I’ll let you know when the results are in.

In the meantime, Goat Prime has put out a general alert. There have been several industrial accidents on other habitats that can’t be discounted as terrorist-]

Spike it. I’ll deal with everything later “Have the rest of the crew been resleeved?” Laure asked the doctor.

“I was only given you” Jarred shrugged “I don’t know about any others. Maybe they’re in one of the other facilities?” he frowned as he scrutinised the AR feed from the med scanner built into her bed ”Your diagnostics are green, right across the board. You’re good to go. Just take it easy for the first few days, while you acclimatise to your new body. This one’s taller than your old one and doesn’t have the modifications you’re used to”

“Yeah. Sure” Laure said dismissively. This was nothing more than the standard resleeving pep talk. She’d get Ash to give her a full run-down of this sleeve when she had time.

“Good, good” Jarred nodded “You should hurry and get dressed; there’s someone waiting to see you”

Who the mystery engagement was with, the doctor refused to say; instead excusing himself to wait outside, while Laure fumbled her way into the clothes, her mind reeling from everything she’d learned over the last few minutes.

The loss of the Plastic Star was deeply worrying and Laure’s disquiet at this was only deepened when Ash returned no results from er trawl of the mediastreams.

Why was that, she wondered?

As the pilot, Laure would have undoubtedly have had the helm at the time, so unless there had been a catastrophic system failure, they had either been attacked or she had made a fatally stupid error.

Neither option was particularly attractive.

Then there was the two week gap in her memory. Why had they gone to Earth in the first place? - Had they gone to Earth?

Was the doctor even telling the truth?

Laure shook her head. This was getting her nowhere. Once she had got the annoyance of this meeting out of the way, she resolved to start making a few discreet enquiries. Someone somewhere was bound to know something.

As it was, things turned out a little differently.


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