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Authors: Maria Hammarblad

Embarkment 2577

BOOK: Embarkment 2577
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Embarkment

 

2577

 

Embarkment 2577, 2
nd
Ed
Brand New World

High Gravity

Adam and Eve

Copyright © 2010 Maria Hammarblad

Coverart:
File licensed by
www.depositphotos.com/Innovari

ISBN
1456338366

EAN-13
978-1456338367

 

This is a work of fiction. Any
resemblance to actual persons, living or dead is entirely coincidental.
Characters and places are either a product of the author’s imagination or used
fictitiously.

 

Without limiting the rights under
copyright reserved above, neither this entire publication nor parts of it may
be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted,
in any form, or by any means, without having written permission from the
copyright owner.

 

The scanning, uploading, and
distribution of this book without the permission of the copyright owner is
illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic
editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of
copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

 

www.mariahammarblad.com

 

 

Brand New World

 

 

I
want to extend a big

Thank
You to Christy Elkins.

 

You
are the best friend, coach, and critique partner

anyone
could wish for. May the sun always shine on your path, and your words always
flow freely.

 

Chapter One

The world was a bank of fog that came and went like waves on the
sea, interrupted occasionally by the blackness of night, or maybe death. My
confused mind couldn’t determine which. At times the fog was thinner, and
revealed a world so surreal it must be feverish dreams or visions in a coma.
Soon, these brief images appeared real, and life as it had been resembled a
dream.

 

When consciousness returned it came
painfully and I gasped for air, overwhelmed by a flood of impressions. There
were memories that must surely be dreams, dreams appearing much too real, and
sounds and smells I didn’t recognize.

A light came from above, much too bright
for my eyes, and I squinted, trying to make out anything besides abstract
shapes. My body was too heavy, and moving my head completely impossible.

“Look who’s awake. Welcome back.”

The female voice sounded vaguely
familiar, but I couldn’t place it, and I couldn’t see her.

As my eyes adjusted, I saw bright cones
hanging from the ceiling. The walls were slightly curved, and the shapes of
shadows from objects outside my view stood much too tall and distorted. Was I
in a hospital? Maybe I’d been in an accident. The thought was logical, and much
more appealing than the alternatives.

Another voice spoke. “Doctor Ima to the
Captain, our time traveller is conscious.”

That
comment didn’t make any sense at all. I hadn’t been on a boat, so why would
there be a Captain? Time-traveller? Maybe I was still unconscious after all,
trapped in a weird dream.

I groaned, “I guess I’m not dead after
all.”

What a dumb comment. Why would I say
such a thing? I had no reason to think I was dead, did I?

The voice sparkled with held back
laughter. “No, you most certainly aren’t dead anymore.”

Being alive might be a thing to
celebrate, but I failed to see what was so funny. If anything, her words
clutched my heart. If I wasn’t dead
anymore,
had I been? If so, was this
the afterlife?

I squeezed my eyes shut to tune out all
the strangeness around me. Thinking back was nearly impossible. I had been on
the beach. The sound of the waves and the smell of the ocean were clear in my
mind. What happened after that? Besides a screeching seagull, I had nothing.

The connection between beach and boat
was comforting. Maybe I’d wandered too far into the water or something. That
would explain the presence of a captain.

Turning my head in the direction of the
voices, I saw the back of a woman. A mass of short, blonde, and curly hair bounced
over the collar of a long and white doctor’s coat.

The person turned around, as if she sensed
me watching, and now I knew I was still down in whatever abyss held my mind. If
this was Doctor Ima, her skin had a warm amber tint, and it was covered with a
pattern reminding me of a leopard’s spots. Her face was almost human, but had some
cat-like qualities in its shape, and from this marvel a couple of perfectly
human, bright blue eyes looked out at me.

She took her coat off and hooked it over
a chair, revealing a tall and slender body dressed in a crispy white tank top
and skirt. The spots on her face continued over her neck and down her arms. Her
hands were almost human, but had claws instead of nails.

I opened my mouth to scream; the bushy
tail that wagged behind her was too much to take. Not a sound came out. The
only parts of my body able to move were my heart beating much too hard, and my
eyes, wide with fright.

As much as I willed the apparition to go
away, she came closer to the bed and looked into my eyes. A syringe came into
view, seemingly fit for a horse, and disappeared again. I felt the needle brush
against my skin and held my breath, awaiting death.

“Please, don’t be afraid of me. I look
alien to you, but I am your friend.”

At least she didn’t sound about to fall
on the floor laughing anymore. The unusual face smiled, showing very white
fangs, and the needle pinched me.

“This is just to help you wake up
properly. We’ve had to keep you sedated for quite some time.”

She was beautiful, but I still wanted to
crawl backwards to get away. My treacherous arms and legs didn’t obey. I had no
option but to stay put.

Whatever she gave me cleared the mists
in my head. I still couldn’t remember anything after that annoying seagull, but
thinking came easier. My toes and fingers tingled slightly, promising they
might be willing to move in the not too distant future.

Doctor Ima pressed a paw against my
forehead. Her palm was soft and lined with fine hairs.

“Please don’t be angry with Adam, he
saw no other way than to bring you along. You were quite dead you know.”

Who? What? I didn’t have time to voice
any questions; the first voice I heard sounded again from further into the
room. “She’s not angry with Adam. I detect quite fond feelings for him.”

This time my mouth moved when I wanted
to speak, and my voice came out much stronger and steadier than I expected. “How
can I have fond feelings for someone I don’t know? Where am I? What is this
place? What do you mean I was dead?”

When this woman came into view, I was
certain I hallucinated. Her cold blue eyes, scrutinizing me from a beautiful
face surrounded by long dark hair, were much too familiar. It was the face of a
well-known rock star, and I had seen her in concert just a few months earlier. I
managed to sound accusing. “You’re Amy Lee. What are you and cat woman doing in
my dream?”

The face smiled and answered in a voice
just like the one on the CDs I used to play in my car. “I’m not Amy Lee. I’m
Doctor Anya Benton, ship’s counsellor. How do you feel?”

It seemed like a superfluous question
from someone who claimed to read my emotions, but maybe it was just an attempt
to be polite.

I felt like passing out, and I tried to,
but no matter how hard I squeezed my eyes shut and struggled not to think, it
wouldn’t work for me. With that route closed, screaming hysterically seemed
like a good idea, but I didn’t do that either. The vision of the singer was
trying to get my attention, clearly wanting to explain something. I should
probably listen.

“I’m a hologram. The ship’s computer
contains my artificial intelligence. My creator admired the music of the early
21
st
century and modelled me after one of his favourites. I’ve heard
the likeness is remarkable.”

This was just too bizarre. She made it
sound like I was in the future, discussing the body of a rock-star with a holographic
psychiatrist. No way. I was probably experiencing it all in my head, while my
body rested comfortably in a padded cell somewhere, dressed in one of those
shirts with very long sleeves.

The alleged hologram patted a gadget
attached to the chest pocket of her shirt. “This is a mobile holo-emitter. It
allows me to walk around and interact with people.”

Her hand on my arm felt real enough, but
I supposed it would if this was all just a figment of my imagination. “You’re
not real.”

She laughed. “I’m very well suited for the
position of counsellor. I’m programmed to be both telepathic and empathic.”

If she
were
real, that statement
would be deeply disturbing.

Both the hologram and the cat-like
doctor turned away from me, chatting merrily between them. For the moment, they
seemed to have forgotten all about me, and I struggled to sit up.

Anya glanced over her shoulder. “No, no,
silly girl, you’re too weak to do that.”

Ima filled in, “Your system is filled to
the brim with medications. You’ll feel stronger soon, but for now just take it
easy and wait until Adam gets here. He’ll help you.”

Anya took over again. “He’ll be
delighted to. He has spent so much time here waiting for you to wake up.”

For being figments of my imagination,
they could sure finish each other’s sentences seamlessly. Sighing, I laid my
head down on the pillow. I always considered my mind pretty well organized, but
if these people were a creation of it, couldn’t I have invented someone that
made just a little more sense? I grumbled, “Great. Just great. And who the hell
is
he
?”

Ima met my eyes. “You really don’t
remember, do you?”

She didn’t sound overly concerned. A
real doctor should have better bedside manners. I felt pretty sorry for myself,
but there wasn’t much sympathy in her voice when she added, “Well, you’ve been
through a lot, and it’s a quite normal reaction. It’ll probably come back to
you soon, and if it doesn’t, we’ll help you bring the memories to the surface.”

Anya filled in, “The Captain will want
to see you too, and he should be here soon. He’ll answer all your questions.”

If the doctor was a cat and the
psychiatrist a rock star, the Captain would probably be a big, pink, furry
bunny.

I regretted the bunny thought as soon as
it crossed my mind. What if Anya was real, and picked it up? There wasn’t much
time to fret; I heard a whooshing sound behind me from doors opening, and the
nattering women settled down. They seemed to be great friends, and I wished
some of
my
friends had been there. If this was really real and I was in
some form of a hospital, someone I knew would have come for me, wouldn’t they?

Above me, Anya’s face nodded. “Captain.”

A friendly male voice answered,
“Ladies.”

I was relieved when the man came into my
field of view. He looked perfectly normal, perfectly human, and I was sure I’d
never seen him before. The presence of a perfect stranger who acted and looked
perfectly normal somehow signified I wasn’t crazy, whether he was a figment of
my imagination or not.

He was very tall and had broad shoulders,
sparkling blue eyes, and a wild mop of auburn hair.

Once again, I began my struggle to sit
up. This new person actually helped me, and made sure I could support myself.
Then, he sat down next to me, so close our shoulders almost touched, and
smiled. “I’m Captain Blake Jones. I’ve heard so much about you, Alex. You are a
courageous young woman, and it’s a pleasure to meet you.”

His words made me lift an eyebrow. I
always aimed to do what I considered right, but I never thought of myself as
particularly courageous. Heard so much about me? From whom?

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