"Hey, you speak English, too!"
"If I understand the definition, I am innately inhumane. I am not 'human'."
"I am not planning on probing or disecting you."
"What I have learned is that you like to talk."
Chapter 12 - Empty Bunk
August 2, 2128
Darcy entered Darkside One's control room, ready to start her shift. She wished her new power suit would arrive. The past few weeks saw no alien incursions at all, which, while dull for the pilots out on patrol, were mind numbing for everyone in the control room. Tempers frayed, leading to some chilly conversations on shift among command staff. Darcy envied Dominique and Renée and their ability to at least get out of the base, even if it was with other nations' flights.
Fay got up from her station. "Here you go, Lieutenant," she said as she passed over her headset to Darcy. "Tiger Flight reports no disturbances in the Force. Not that they used those words."
"Thanks. Ensign." Darcy sat down in the vacated chair. "Have a good break."
"I wish. I have to go be a referee between two women fighting over a video file." Fay sighed. "At least they're not clawing each others' eyes out."
"Referee? What sport?"
"Some sort of board game. They want someone there to keep the other one honest. I got volunteered."
Darcy gave Fay a comforting smile. "Come by my quarters when I'm done my shift. At least there you'll have a friendly face or two."
"Thanks, Lieutenant." Fay left the control room.
Darcy turned her attention to the chatter from Tiger Flight. She introduced herself, letting the flight know she was taking over from Fay. Darcy then let the Tigers handle their patrol pattern. The pilots' friendly banter made up for the increased tension the command staff was feeling. It didn't help that Darcy still felt Victoria's disappearance. The empty bunk above her at night was a reminder that she lost someone under her command. Air Command back on Earth was informed, but they'd need several months to train a replacement, months that Darkside One might not have.
"Tiger Flight, this is Darkside Control," Darcy said. "This is your scheduled fuel check. Over."
"Darkside Control, this is Tiger One," Geeti Krishnamoorthy answered. "Fuel is at eighty-one per cent. We are good for five hours at our current rate of consumption."
"Tiger One, thanks. Darkside Control out." Darcy turned off her mike and made the notation in her log book.
The door to the control room opened to let Lieutenant Finnigan enter. She made a bee-line to Darcy's station. "Lieutenant Kincaid, Doctor Nielsen requires your presence in Sickbay."
Darcy looked up at the Lieutenant. "Now?"
"No, next week." Finnigan rolled her eyes. "Yes, now. Why else would I be sent?"
Darcy took off her headset and handed it to Finnigan. "Here. Someone has to cover for me. Fuel check is done, next one is in an hour. Tiger Flight is keeping a close watch on the usual locations."
Darcy cut off the protest. "Lieutenant, someone needs to be here in case the aliens return. If I have to go to Sickbay, then, guess what? You're it."
Finnigan put the headset on. "What do I have to do?"
"Listen to them. If they ask a question, answer it. Find out the juicy gossip. Pilots tend to blab." Darcy patted Finnigan's shoulder. "Have fun!"
Darcy dashed out the door, wondering why the doctor wanted to see her. She didn't remember any appointments with any of the medical staff, let alone Doctor Nielsen. Her bruises faded a few weeks back, and she was lucky enough not to have broken any bones when she threw herself into her harness weeks ago. Darcy turned the corner, leaving the command section and entering the labs area. At the end of the corridor, Doctor Nielsen waited outside her office. She waved Darcy over.
Darcy hurried to the end of the hallway. "Hi, Doc. You wanted to see me?"
"This way." Doctor Nielsen led the way to the medical lab. "Major di Carlo thought you should be here. Not what I'd recommend, but it's not going to hinder anything either." The doctor ushered Darcy into the lab. One bed occupied the corner of the room; the rescued scientist laid there with IV lines hooked to her arm. The scientist looked up at the newcomer. Doctor Nielsen held up a hand. "Just lay there," she ordered. "Doctor Kayla Asselin, this is Lieutenant Darcy Kincaid. Her people brought you on our base. Lieutenant Kincaid, Major di Carlo thinks you might want to talk with the good doctor, as long as she feel up to it." Doctor Nielsen walked to the door. "If either of you need anything, I'll be in my office," she added as she left.
Darcy grabbed a chair and dragged it to Kayla's bedside. As she sat, she said, "Welcome back to the moon."
Kayla cleared her throat. "Sorry." She took a sip of water, holding the cup on her lap afterwards. "I have you to thank for that?"
"Technically, it was two of my pilots who brought you in." Darcy smiled. "But, thanks. Can I get you anything?"
"My life back? No offense, Lieutenant, but no one's told me anything since I woke up. The doctor keeps taking blood samples. The Major keeps asking me questions I don't have answers to. I'm a geologist. I don't know anything about aliens, fictional or real."
"Call me Darcy, please. Maybe I can help?"
"Help with what? I want to go home and see my parents. God, they must think I'm dead." Kayla set her water cup on her nightstand. "That's going to be an awkward Christmas. 'Mom, Dad, Merry Christmas! I'm alive!' It's close to Christmas, right?"
"More like the August long weekend." Darcy shrugged. "Sorry."
"You're the first person to even tell me that much. Can you tell me if anyone else from the base is back?"
"Sorry. You're the first one, ever, to come back. We've lost two more teams after you." Darcy sighed. "And one of my own people."
Kayla frowned. "Well, I have no idea why the grabbed us. We didn't even see them coming. Not even the Station saw them. What did they do, pop out of nowhere?"
"Yes." Darcy got up to stretch. "That's exactly what they did. My pilot then went into their, I don't know, tunnel for a lack of a better word, to find out how they did it. We still don't know. Tori, my pilot, was our expert in high energy physics and quantum mechanics. For all I know, she's trapped on the other side trying to get back somehow."
"I'm sorry." Kayla adjusted her bed so she could sit comfortably. "I hope she was brought in by the aliens. They didn't hurt me, even when they were trying to figure out what I was. No dissections. The doctors here couldn't find an incision mark anywhere. All they did was watch me. They tried to talk to me but, well, I don't speak alien and they weren't speaking English."
More details in the upcoming commentary.