You open your eyes to darkness.
Something is wrong. It shouldn't be dark. If everything were right, you'd be waking to the dulcet voice of your onboard nav system, feeling the cryofluid draining from your tank, choking the last of it from your lungs. If everything had gone to hell, the world would be full of blaring alarms and painful flashing lights.
Instead, it's dark and silent. For lack of anything better to do, you start walking.
Out of the darkness enshrouded emerges a pair of plush leather chairs. Seated in one is a modestly dressed young woman. She looked familiar and grim.
You shake your head at the invitation to sit, though the mauve seat looks comfortable. You brace yourself on the seat back, waiting.
"Hello. You are Yaro, yes? I am called Lin."
"How do you know my name?"
"There's been a problem."
"You're damn right there's been a bloody problem. What the fuck is this?"
"What do you remember?"
"The gate, the cryotank, the going to sleep, then this." Your hands clenched the unyielding chair. "Who are you?"
"Many questions. I have some answers, most you not like, I think. Please, sit."
"Answer. My. Questions." You grit your teeth in a rising tide of impatience.
"One. I know your name, it is on your ship manifest. Two. Something went wrong. You became a statistic. Three. I am welcome wagon, is term, yes? Four. You not ask, but common, where are you?" she shook her head. "Lost. You are lost, and I have little solace to give."
"What is this place?"
"You are not first. Others have come before. I try many thing, make safe place, but not good thing. People get lost, people get broken. Someone came, show me better way. But you must make choice."
Lin took a deep breath and spoke very slowly, as if she was reading unfamiliar words off a script. "Do. You. Want. Me. To. Save. You?"
"What's the catch?"
"No 'takebacks', yes? Still possibility of madness, but hope too. Success is, thirty percent. Good number."
"No, thirty percent is terrible!"
"Is thirty percent not better than one? I get confuse."
"Not one percent. One. Only one. He show the way." She thought for a moment. "I not say this but, if you choose yes, I will meet you to him."
"What if I say no?"
"Madness. About five minutes."
"If you scream instead of breathe, yes. You will die. Or beg for death."
"Can I think about it?"
"Think. Dream. Remember. Call for Linzamin when decide. I will be listening."
The shroud fell again, and you were left grasping nothing. You stumble, fall... and keep falling. Around you echoes the voice, fading out slowly... toooooo.... ssaaaaveeeee.... yooooouuuuuu.....
The darkness blooms into light. You find yourself laying on a sidewalk in an anonymous city, a hand thrust down into your vision. Following the arm upwards, you find Lin smiling reassuringly down at you. Strange people wearing strange faces walk around you, nobody staring, nobody crowding, nobody pointing.
"Come Yaro, let me show you Sa-Rai."