I awoke from a nightmare where I was being chased by an ominous cloud that could move things around me. It was strong. Lifting the aliens I ended up passing and throwing them a distance. Demolishing anything in its path to get to me. It grabbed me and then I woke. Sweating and panting, the shock of reality hitting me like a truck in the night. I screamed.

Caroline woke up with a start. First she was leaning on my tube, her face pressed against the glass. Then she sat up faster than a bullet. I looked at her for a moment and then realised where I was. She looked startled. “James, are you okay?” I looked at her and nodded.

“I think so,” I replied. Unsure how to respond, I didn’t know if I was okay or not. It felt like it was just a moment ago when I was in pain and having the treatments. Caroline looked at her pad. She smiled one of those smiles that could melt anyone’s heart. She looked pleased with whatever she was looking at. 

“Looks like we have destroyed the virus!” she said. Medens appeared and came over to have a look at Caroline’s pad.

“You’re right.” Medens then looked at me with a joyful look. “It looks like you’re clean. That’s excellent.”

“Does that mean I can leave?” I still felt sick, but thought I could push through it.

“The medical nanites are still working on getting rid of all the cancer in you. However, I don’t think it will be long.”

I scratched my head for a moment as an itch tickled me on the top of my head. My hand got covered in hair and then the hair wouldn’t come away from my hand. When I brought it down, I saw my hand which terrified me. 

“Ahh, yes. We should sort that out!” Medens said, looking at me. I looked at him, confused. It soon became clear what he meant as he fired up the EMC turrets. I looked up as I felt the EMC machine hold me in place and repair my hair and clean my hand. A warm sensation was going around my head. I remember theorising at that point that it must have been disintegrating my pillow as it was sorting my hair. It was amazing to think it wasn’t so long ago that this machine terrified me. But here I was going bald and trusting this machine to make it so I’m not.

The session was soon over, and I requested a mirror. When I looked, my hair looked the same as it did before. I recognised how much I needed a haircut. 

“The virus cannot infect hair. With a clever manipulation of the machine, we could reattach your old hair.” Medens said to me. I combed my fingers through it and was happy with the result. I was just wishing that I would feel better soon.

Throughout the rest of that day, there were no other doctors that visited me other than Medens. Caroline stayed by my side and Opifex had Puellae. Opifex still stayed silent throughout the morning. I spent most of it sleeping, playing in the flight simulator and talking to Caroline. 

For me, it had been like I hadn’t seen Caroline for so long. For Caroline, it was like she had never left my side. It was hard to get my head around the fact that she wasn’t doing anything during that time. She hadn’t left me either. It wasn’t her choice. In some ways, she was taken and was prevented from coming back by the Galactic Union. However, I didn’t hold any grudge since most of the time I didn’t know what was going on and I had Periclum.

When we talked that day, we were talking about Earth. The adventures I had there, and she seemed excited by all of it. I found out that Caroline had little experience of her own. But it was okay for me. I felt I could show her the world. Or, at the very least, The Liberty. 

As the afternoon came, Opifex was starting to talk. “They won’t let me forget.” he said.

“What?” I asked as Puellae sat silently. 

“They told me it wasn’t possible to forget all of this. The idiotic Galactic Union decided they would update my digital copy part way through the procedure. Using it like some save game point to save their progress. I will remember everything.”

“Is it that bad..?” I began as Opifex continued to interrupt.

“These memories of pain will be with me for the rest of my life. I can never deal with them.”

“Shh. Take it easy, my darling.” Puellae said as she attempted to comfort him. Opifex just turned and stared at Puellae as if he didn’t know what to make of her. He then flashed a look of disgust at me and then turned back over, falling silent again. I felt bad for Puellae but didn’t know what to say or what to do without either aggravating Opifex or seeming insensitive. I just stayed silent, however Caroline didn’t.

“Why are you such a dick!” she sounded very human when she said that. “All Puellae has done has tried to be there for you and you treat her like she is worth less than trash!”. Opifex didn’t respond to Caroline, and so she continued. “We have both worked hard alongside the Tuhingan doctors here to get rid of this virus. Puellae has been attentive to you and all you do it treat her like crap!”

Opifex turned around, “I never asked for her, you forced her onto me! You think I should be happy after all that the Galactic Union has done?” I could see Caroline chewing her lip. I had never seen her do that before. “We may have got her for you. But that doesn’t mean you should push her away. She is trying to be nice to you! Comfort you! Give her a little respect!” Caroline was continuing to raise her voice while saying that.

“It’s okay Caroline!” Puellae said. Caroline just turned to her. “Puellae, we are both linked. I know damn well how you feel! It’s not okay!” At that moment, I got excited and loving how much Caroline cared. “Opifex!” she shouted. He looked terrified, staring back at Caroline. “You apologise to her now!” he just stared at her. “I said apologise!” she banged my tube in anger.

The door opened, and Medens approached it. Two guards were standing there with guns ready.

“Caroline!” I said. She ignored my first attempt.

“You know, if I was in your position, I would be so grateful for what I got. You have gotten so much for doing so little.” Opifex continued to be silent, and the guards moved into the room, looking at Caroline.

“Caroline!” I said again. 

“Answer me!” She banged on my tube again, and the guards lifted their guns towards Caroline.

I shouted as loud as I could, “Caroline!” 

“What?” she asked sharply as she looked at me and I pointed towards the guards. She looked at them for a moment and there was an intense moment where the guards were facing their guns towards Caroline and I wasn’t sure what would happen next. 

“James, are you okay?” Medens asked me. I looked back in confusion.

“Medens, I’m fine. But I don’t like those guards pointing guns at Caroline.” 

Medens said something in a hushed tone to the guards and they put their guns away. Standing in a more relaxed pose. 

“Caroline, are you okay?” Medens asked.

Caroline just stood there, looking stunned for a moment. “I’m fine, Medens. I won’t do anything, I’m just a little irritated.”

There was a moment where nothing was being said at all. We could have cut the tension in the air with a knife. It felt incredibly uncomfortable.

“Maybe we all need to sit down and relax for a moment.” I said to the group. Everyone agreed. Caroline sat back down. Medens and the guards materialised some seats and did the same. After that, nobody was saying anything. I felt it necessary to lighten the mood by talking about something else. “How did you become a doctor, Medens?” I asked.

Everyone looked at me as if I was the strangest person in the universe. However, Medens described how he became a doctor. The rest listened. 

For the rest of that day, Opifex was silent, and we found out a lot about Meden’s life. Helping people always interested him and he cared a great deal about his world. He was famous for being sensitive and kind. He became a doctor when everyone told him it was futile, since all diseases had been eradicated and they could heal every ailment with technology. But that didn’t stop him as he continued to look after wild animals that had been hurt and were never scanned. If these animals died, they died, there was no coming back for them.

I asked where he would find such animals on The Liberty and it was the first time I heard about the dark forest. A forest full of mysteries from The Liberties past. The only thing they could tell me was that there are some strange creatures that live in those trees. But that didn’t stop Meden’s as he frequently fought against his instincts to run back to the safety of the city in pursuit of another strange creature. The guards were expressing their disapproval of going into the forest on his own. They’ve had experience of having to rescue people from those woods.

The guards stayed seated in the room for the rest of the day and the rest of it composed of me being back in the simulator, Caroline reading, Opifex sulking, Puellae crying and Meden’s relaxing. Not much happened, and it was soon time to sleep and everyone who weren’t in the tubes to leave. Except Caroline stayed, so naturally Medens got out his bed as well.

That night was a lot more active than my day. I had nightmare after nightmare and felt worried about the next day. I had been in that tube for a long time and it was soon time to come out. Come out to a crowd of strangers who may react badly at my presence. Everyone else seemed so exhausted and relaxed, so they all slept throughout the entire night.

The next morning I already had my eyes wide open when Medens sat up in bed. He looked at me, “Hey, James. It will soon be time to get you out of that tube. Bet you can’t wait!” In reality, I wanted to stay in the tube. It had become my protection against the outside world and I had gotten used to it. However, I agreed I couldn’t wait and soon Caroline was waking up, followed by Opifex.

Opifex couldn’t wait to get out. I said I didn’t mind waiting. So they saw him first. Nobody wanted the headache from him moaning about the situation again. He was being told to take this protein shake, and they gave him a bunch of tablets. He had to exercise to build his strength, however, no one believed he would.

Puellae arrived just before he left and attempted to assist him. He pushed her away and continued on without her. She seemed upset, but she followed. It was nice to see him on his feet, even though he needed the help of his crutches. I watched him as he approached the door as quick as he could, turned the corner and disappeared. In all honesty, I felt a sense of relief that I didn’t have to deal with him again.

It was soon my turn. My tube was opened and for the first time, for a long time, I could sit up. I looked down and saw how skinny I had become. It felt nice to be out of that tube. To stretch and it not be a problem. Medens was telling me I should drink this protein shake and gave me a few tablets. He told me what I should take and when. Caroline was telling him not to worry and that she will make sure I am well looked after. Medens seemed happy at that moment that Caroline was there. Even though there were many moments before when it seemed like he wasn’t. 

Just as I was twisting out of the bed and placing my feet on the floor, Medens was telling me to remember to exercise. I took some crutches from Caroline and headed to the door. My legs felt weak and Caroline had to help keep me steady. I stopped for a moment to look at Caroline. “Where are we going?” I asked her. She shrugged and mentioned the fact that we need to claim a place for me to live. 

When out in the corridor, I realised we were in the bridge section of the ship. It surprised me I heard nothing from the Captain. I felt sad that she didn’t even come and visit. 

“Why don’t we go back to Re’s place?” I asked Caroline as we were walking down the corridor. “I know he has kept a room for me there.” Trying to think of the quickest way I could get somewhere to relax.

Caroline just looked at me for a moment. “Where is Re’s place?” she asked. 

I was trying to remember the name of his place, and then it came to me like a flash. “The Temple. Why don’t we go to The Temple? It’s where I was staying before.” Caroline agreed, and we headed toward the pods.

We said little as we were walking. Most of the time, I struggled to walk and needed the support of Caroline. We reached the pods just in time to see Opifex climb into one with Puellae’s help. We heard him moan about the fact that he needed help from Puellae. Then she soon climbed in behind him and they were off. I was trying to wave, but they seemed too preoccupied to even notice me.

We found an empty pod, and Caroline placed me in the back seat. She took control in the front and we were soon blasting off. The pod sped around the twists and bends of the tunnel, once again making me feel sick. Except this time when we arrived at the station, I stopped myself from it happening. 

When we came out of the pod, the smell of rain hit me. Caroline helped me out of it and I could see Tuhingan’s staring at me as if I was a wild animal. Something they didn’t trust. We just continued towards the stairs, ignoring what was going on around us. 

Rain was pouring down onto the stairs and we could see a flash in the distance. Then the sound of thunder came washing over us. You would have never have realised that we were on a spaceship. The centrifuge was so big that it acted like a planet. Me and Caroline realised we weren’t dressed for this kind of weather. So Caroline began taking me into a room next to the stairs within the station. There was a large EMC machine capable of creating any ground vehicle and a ramp up to the surface. 

She materialised a compact car that looked a little like a go-cart crossed with a car. It reminded me of this mobility scooter I saw on the streets of Copenhagen. Where it had this plastic outer skin covering it from the weather. Once again, I got into the back and Caroline got into the driver’s seat. She seemed very confident in the situation and didn’t need directions. 

She drove up the ramp and the sound of rain hitting the roof of this compact car was tremendous. It was washing over the windows and Caroline had to turn on the window wipers to see where she was going. I was thankful that people couldn’t see clearly into this small vehicle we were driving. We were driving across town with the only sound coming from the car being the tyres moving over the road. Caroline had to manoeuvre around people walking outside a few times, and many seemed to be in their little cars. It was chaotic. I knew I would have had a challenge if I were doing it.

But she got us to The Temple in one piece. We parked outside and entered the lobby. It was just as breathtaking as it was the first time I entered. The stairs leading up either side of this room, flashing golds in the hieroglyphics on the walls, the beautifully carved bannisters, the large wooden doors. It was all so extravagant. 

“Where do we go?” Caroline asked me.

“I can’t remember.” I replied, forgetting the location of the room I was staying in.

We were there for a moment as we were trying to think about what to do next. 

“Are we waiting for Re?” Caroline asked.

I looked at her with a sympathetic look, “I do not know what to do.” 

The light from some lightning filled the hall we were in and the sound of it ended up booming through the room. There was some music playing from down the corridor and it got louder as a door opened and quieter when it closed. There was a Tuhingan figure walking down the corridor towards us. The sound of his shoes hitting the marble floor filled the corridor. Me and Caroline stood there watching this figure approach, still uncertain who they were. The figure stopped in the hall we were in and lightning struck once again. 

The light filling the room showed that the Tuhingan standing in front of us was Re. He had worry written on his face as he looked at me. 

“James, my boy. I am sorry but you cannot stay.”

I stared at Re for a moment, “You were saying there will always be a room for me here Re!”

“James, it would be bad for business if people knew you were staying here. You have to understand!” he said in the most matter of fact and cold way.

“Re, why?” I asked.

“I think the reason is obvious.” 

We had an awkward moment where we stood in the hall staring at each other. I wasn’t sure what me and Caroline would do next. Lightning struck again, lighting the room. Re was looking at me and Caroline like he wasn’t sure what to do next. Darting his eyes back and forth between us.

“James, I have to ask you to leave!” he said in a nervous tone.

“Why?” I asked as I felt lost and unsure how to deal with this situation.

“James, I am sorry. I don’t want to call security.” 

Caroline tugged at me to leave. “Come on James, we will find a different way.”

I felt so upset and shook up at that moment. Periclum and Re had been there so much for me before all of this. I felt like I had no one to fall back on in this situation. I turned around and headed to the door on crutches, with Caroline beside me.

We went out of the main door, and it was pouring down with rain. I didn’t care as the rain washed over me and stood at the side of the road as Caroline ran to the car. She opened up the door and went inside. I stood there staring into space as rain was soaking my clothes. Caroline got up out of the car, “James, come inside!” I stared at her and then she said the most random thing. “James, what is two plus two?”

I looked at her for a moment and thought about the fact that it was strange for her to ask me that. “Well, that’s four! Why do you ask that?”

“It doesn’t matter, just get in the car!” 

I looked at Caroline and then nodded my head, running over to get into the car. Using my crutches as I ran to keep myself steady. I got into the seat next to Caroline and then she drove away. She told me she knew where we should go. I hadn’t claimed a property yet, and it was about time that I did that. So it was time we went to the immigration office. 

Caroline drove us back to the station. The rain hammering on the windscreen like some awful car wash as the windscreen wipers washed them away. I couldn’t see many people out. Probably preferring to stay inside during this terrible weather.

We soon arrived at the station. Caroline parked the car and allowed it to be disintegrated. Then we entered through to the platform. Again I was stared at as we entered a pod. We were quick to jump in, strap ourselves in, and go off to another station.

When we arrived at the station, it was empty apart from one Tuhingan getting into a pod on the opposite side. We got out and approached the stairs. The journey had been long, and I felt it in my legs. We came out from the station and I could see that we were in the countryside. Many fields of grass surrounded us and it seemed the weather was a little better in this part. Gloomy clouds hung over us, however there wasn’t any rain. Looking around, I could see that there was one lonely building at the side of the road just sitting there. Looking out of place.

The building was enormous and there were quite a few different aliens huddled outside of its doors. Some aliens I recognised as being from the cargo ship. The building itself looked to be made of some sort of plastic. It looked cheap. It surprised me considering the Tuhingans can make anything they want out of anything using the EMC machine. The windows also seemed to be a continuation of the same material, except transparent.

We entered through these doors made of the same material. Pushed into this enormous hall. There were terminals in the centre of the room, all with touch screen technology and booths on the outside of the room. The booths had what looked to be office partitions separating each alien looking cubicle. Tuhingans were scattered in the room, standing in various places. Caroline approached a terminal and beckoned me over to her.

I was heading to Caroline and noticed how all the Tuhingans were looking at me and talking in hushed tones. I came over to look at the terminal and Caroline was already going through a variety of menus. A Tuhingan approached us, looking very serious.

“Can I help you?” this Tuhingan asked.

“We are just trying to claim the refugee rights. I think I know what to do.” Caroline explained, and continued to tap into the screen.

I smiled at the Tuhingan. The Tuhingan looked at me with a confused and angry look.

“Are you James Foreman?” the Tuhingan asked. 

Caroline looked up from the terminal, straight at the Tuhingan. “He is. Why do you ask?” 

“You annihilated Periclum!”

“I didn’t mean to…” I explained.

“Guards!” the Tuhingan shouted across the room. “Take these aliens out of the building! He’s dangerous!” 

The guards came as the Tuhingan shouted, their guns facing me and Caroline. “Come with us!” the guards said. I looked over and noticed Caroline typing on the panel, trying to finish what she was doing. “Don’t make us shoot you!” they said as they brought their guns up to target Caroline.

“Caroline, let’s go!” I said panicked.

“We have to finish this, James!” Caroline said

“James?” One guard announced. “James Foreman?” 

I looked at the guard that said that, “Yes, that’s me!”

The guard looked panicked for a moment, not sure what to do. He stepped back, looking as though he wanted to run away and then forced himself forwards. After what looked to be a funny dance, he then took a deep breath, aimed at the console Caroline was using, and fired. The projectile exploded on impact and left a hole in the device. The screen went blank. Caroline looked puzzled and annoyed.

“Why did you do that!?” she demanded.

“Leave now!” the guard continued. Caroline took a deep breath and looked at me.

“Caroline, let’s go!” I said. She agreed, and I went as quickly as I could with my crutches out of the building, with the guards following us. We walked down the street, away from the building, as the guards stood outside watching us with the other aliens. Caroline followed reluctantly close behind, occasionally looking behind her at the building, and when I felt like we were a safe distance from the building, I turned to face her. 

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