(( Corridors, Deck 6, CIC Desdemona ))
The corridor dead-ended at a row of haphazardly arranged vending machines stacked two high, each with a length of tube protruding from a central control panel. If you didn’t want to bother with the hassle of real food, or if you were simply out of credits, you helped yourself to dispensed soup. Didrik grimaced as he and Harry approached the machines. The air was thick with the smell of citric and malic acid combined with synthesized parsley. Didrik’s stomach turned, but he punched the dispenser control and grabbed a cup off the top of a stack. The machine belched as viscous, brown-red liquid exited the tube in fits and starts.
Stennes: Ugh. Bolian-style tomato. ::beat:: Nobody has even seen a Bolian in 15 years, and yet their soup survives.
Sato: I hope to leave a better legacy. Have you tried the split pea soup? Makes the tomato crap almost delicious by comparison. ::beat:: So what's up, Didrik? This isn't about the soup, is it?
His cup now full of the disagreeable soup and eschewing a spoon, Didrik downed half the dispensed portion in one go. Stepping back from the machine, he gave Harry the opportunity to get his own soup. This friendly little walk was never about soup, anyway.
Stennes: The thing is, the nightmares are back. And they’re getting worse. Every night, every time I close my eyes to sleep. It’s the same person as always. It’s like I know them, but I don’t recognize them.
Talking to Harry about his recurring nightmare had been easier than talking about deep-seated family issues or wartime traumas. Over the months, the phantasms had come and gone like tides. The trip to Casperia coincided with the nightmare’s resurgence. The familiar-yet-unknowable person beckoning Didrik with an outstretched hand to come with them. Dream-Didrik wanted to reach out and take the mysterious person’s hand, but always woke up before he could made contact.
Sato: You still can't make out their face?
Didrik shook his head, punctuating the gesture with another glug of the Bolian tomato atrocity. When it started to go down easily, that’s when one really had to worry. He wondered what the rest of their cuisine had been like before the Shint eradicated them from existence.
Stennes: It’s the most frustrating part. It’s always just out of view. No matter how hard I try, I can’t make out who it is.
Sato: What about the sounds? You mentioned that a while ago. Have you been able to figure out where that's coming from? Have you heard anything similar?
Didrik started them both on a slow trek back down the corridors. He nodded politely to a few juniors who approached in the oncoming direction—they had to be tragically young enough to have never known anything but war, but gratefully also young enough that they hadn’t yet been disillusioned by poor soup. He waited until they got a few more meters away before he continued.
Stennes: I journaled about it. I can’t figure out how to describe it any more clearly than—a tearing. Like when you have to pull the sleeve off your jacket to fashion a bandage. Halting, but progressive, the sound of ripping a seam apart, bit by bit.
They continued down the corridors side-by-side, changing position only to allow the occasional soup seeker to pass by.
Sato: ::taking a sip from his soup cup:: I swear this is getting worse - the soup, not your dreams. Though I'm sure that's not getting any easier. Have you tried those meditation practices I sent you? Have they made your dreams more or less vivid?
Stennes: Harry, I’m not lying when I say I would gladly eat a cupful of Bolian-style tomato every day for the rest of my life if it meant I could get these nightmares out of my head.
It was an easy bargain to make when the fabric of reality was constantly under attack and their entire civilization lived on borrowed tomorrows. The debt collector was always on their heels. Would any of them live to a ripe old age? Didrik pondered the meatier part of Harry’s question before continuing.
Stennes: I can make every part of the dream more vivid—sounds, smells, textures, even my own emotions—except the person who’s beckoning me to take their hand. ::beat, growly chuckle:: I’m so desperate I’ve even thought about asking one of the Vulcans to mind merge with me.
Didrik wasn’t certain which he’d rather ask. Neither Kuva nor Savel seemed particularly practiced in the “old ways” of their people’s telepathy. But maybe that snap judgment was an error on Didrik’s part. He always assumed that nobody really bothered to get to know anyone anymore, but maybe that was just him?
Stennes: If I’m honest, your techniques have been more helpful in toning down the vividness. Every time I have one of these dreams, I wake up exhausted and I spend the day unfocused and… weird. Like I’m not myself.
Didrik raised his now-empty soup cup and shook it like an old man waggling a fist at a group of teenagers on his lawn.
Stennes: Argh, what I would give to be a telepath right now. I wouldn’t have to figure out how to articulate what I’m thinking. ::grins slightly:: I could just beep boop at you and you’d know exactly what’s on my mind. Heh, you might even be able to recognize the person in the dream for me.
Stennes: Thing is, Harry, I can’t afford to be distracted on this mission. ::long beat:: You know how bad things were for Yogan after we got him back from the Shint. And then he got himself killed and nearly took me and the prismagon specs along with him. I can’t let the same thing happen to the heist team just because I have some stupid nightmare following me around like a shadow.
Tag / TBC
Major Didrik Stennes
Acting Executive Officer
CIC Desdemona RNS-601