Recovered and Resolute

RECOVERED AND RESOLUTE:
In Which Eekay Enters the Picture Once More.
by Electric Keet

I don’t care how many times someone’s been in a tank or how tough they think they are. It’s a simple fact that if you’re conscious when you get poured out of it, then you’ll be a wet, coughing, sputtering wretch in the relative freezing cold of the decanting bay, and you’ll be hungrier than you’ve ever known. No freebirth remembers being born, because I don’t doubt for a femtosecond that this is what it’s like and one’s brain just wants to edit that out as quickly as possible.

I found myself coughing and sputtering wetly over the drain in the floor while the nurse at each side gripped an arm to keep me steady. One cooed to me, “Easy, now. Let it all out.”

I managed as far as, “Ain’t th’ first time I’ve—” and then heaved again, the last of the oxygenated fluid leaving me. I took a few deep breaths, stood up straight, and relaxed my tail. “Right, that’s that then. Cheers, you two.”

The taller of the two motioned. “The sonic scrubber is right over there. When you’ve finished washing up, one of your friends brought that package of clothing on the table. She’s waiting for you outside.” He nodded to the other, and they both shuffled out the main door.

It turned out that the clothing in question included my favourite jumpsuit, the ultramarine number I’d picked up last time I was on Triton. What surprised me was that Falda wasn’t the one to bring it. When I stepped into the hallway, Lady looked up from where she sat and smiled. “Hey, cat.”

“’Ey, deer.” She stood and we hugged briefly. “Thanks for bringin’ this.”

She shrugged. “That was Falda’s idea. I was gonna make you stay in a paper gown while I chewed your lousy tail out, but she twisted my arm and you get amnesty and lunch instead.”

I figured it was a good time to pull out the contrite routine while we headed out of the hospital. “Ah, sorry ’bout that thing with Yaz. I should’ve worded the whole team. Standard-issue Eekay brain-twitch, spot?” The truth was, I knew that having extra time to make the decision meant they’d dither and worry, and I can’t bear dithering.

“I’m sure.” Once outside, she slipped on a pair of sunglasses. “Now, I know you’re probably craving protein. I saw a Martian tandoor place over that way, but no guarantee on how good they are. There’s a generic Jovian eatery right nearby if you want teriyaki or char siu. I’ve been there before, so I know they’re okay. Your pick.”

I nodded to the latter. “Jovian. Right now, I’ll play it safe.” We started walking, a relief after being immobile for several days. “Shto novava, comrade?”

She punched me in the shoulder playfully. “I hate when you do that, you know. You have a hard enough time speaking English I can understand. So, what’s new? Well, I know Yaz got the go-ahead from Tesser to take over as manager, and he and Falda are off getting girled up or whatever.”

I chuckled, “This’s gotta be driving ’im insane, whole thing with th’ hypnosquid. Back when he an’ I were an item, he was all man, believe you me.”

“He still is,” Lady retorted. “He’s been handling all of this like a champ. Hey, you’re not thinking of trying to start that up again, are you?”

I shook my head. “Zip chance. Eekay doesn’t look back, you know that.”

She rolled her eyes. “I hear ya. That an’ it’d take about eight more people plus the two of us to pry Falda off of him now. I’ve never seen her crush so hard on anyone, an’ I bet he doesn’t even realise. Anyhow, what else…. Ira’s been a little weird about going back to Mercury. Bell’s been practicing double lately; I think that win really stoked him.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah. Maybe now that Basil isn’t here to play either you or Ira up as Six Below’s wunderkind, Bell’s been a lot more enthusiastic about the Thirteen. I gotta admit, so am I.” She rubbed briefly at the base of one of her antler-stubs. “Nothin’ against either of you, but it’ll be snaz to work as a team again, won’t it? Maybe you an’ Ira can get along now.”

I thought back to when Ira first showed up. Basil practically looked like he’d just come back from the bathhouse as he introduced that bloody raccoon and called zim the “fresh direction Six Below needs”, his words. I was okay with a friendly rivalry, a little competition within the team to keep me on my toes, but zie drove me insane, being all infuriatingly polite… and androgynously photogenic… and with reflexes like nobody’s business. Zie was the perfect face. I wanted to strangle zim, and it looked like I’d have to do it the civilised way… by beating zim at zir game and being more than perfect on the ribbon, thirteen times in a row if possible.

“I’m looking forward to it,” I lied.

  1. Lady Aesc’s avatar

    The best part is that zie thinks I can’t tell when zie’s lying.

    Reply

    1. Eekay’s avatar

      No, the best part is when you can’t tell that I can tell you can tell I’m lying! Ha!

      And there’s zip glitch with my English, luv.

      Reply

    2. momentrabbit’s avatar

      Ah, nothing like being decanted, is there..

      Reply

      1. buni’s avatar

        Space, I hope not. Those moments are bad enough when you’re getting rebuilt; imagine if they happened for other things. Going to the market, getting on a transit shuttle, sitting down for a meal, and boom, you’re naked, slimy in a bad way, and coughing up oxygenated sterile CFCs and wondering if the pants you wore in are going to fit you any more.

        Kristy

        Reply

        1. Yaz Lenslight’s avatar

          I’ve had meals that were nearly as bad as decanting, and I know I’ve been on transit shuttles that made me want to wash up the same way.

          Reply