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Memento Mori

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The first thing Jade noticed as she began her return to awareness was how cold she was.

Like lying on a fucking block of ice, she thought groggily as she struggled through the cobwebbed tunnels of her mind to force her eyes open. Distantly she noticed an intermittent buzzing backed by a rapidly increasing, high-pitched beeping. Eventually the buzzing resolved itself into an understandable conversation, or at least half of one.

“She’s regaining consciousness, How is that possible?” Jade thought the speaker might be a woman. What the fuck is an Aussie doing in Arkansas?

The answer rumbled back in some European language Jade had never bothered to learn.

“I don’t care how much you’ve already given her! It will set us back six months if she wakes up, hit her again!”

More rumbling, louder this time, and more strident. Jade managed to crack one eye open but all she saw was glaring light and a couple of nebulous forms that might have been people.

“If she dies, we’ll just advance another subject. We’ll lose less time doing that than creating another prototype implant if she bollocks up this one by flooding it with adrenaline before it’s grafted properly to her spine! We can’t afford that kind of setback.”

Mr. Rumbles apparently decided to acquiesce to the woman’s demands because a moment later Jade was overwhelmed by the black velvet of unconsciousness.

The next time she woke was much less pleasant.

Goddamn! ‘D I sleep through a transfer to fucking Siberia?

She was still cold, but this time at least, she was vertical, and much less drugged than she had been.

She opened her eyes then, with what might have been described as a whine slammed them shut again at the intensity of the light.

Right, the Doc warned there might be some photosensitivity when they thawed you out. Well only one way to get through that. Fortunately you’re good at running into things head first Harmon. Now, let’s open your eyes soldier.

She cracked her eyes a fraction then slowly, as they adjusted to the clinical lights, began to look around her.

Hmm … some sort of pod, that’s new. Must’ve slept through a transfer. Doc did say they were working on some new ways to preserve living humans before you went under. She thought as she took in the glass pane less than six inches in front of her face. She began to flex her knees experimentally. Muscle tone seems good, that’s nice. I’d hate to have my first step out of this thing end up with me on my face.

She brought her hands up to press against the glass. Why aren’t there any doctors here? You’d think they’d want to check on the patient. She increased pressure until she felt a faint click from the edges. Suddenly, the entire front of the pod swept up and Jade stumbled into the room.

“Fuck,” she said as she stumbled over something that had been piled against the base of the unit. Her voice sounded rusty from disuse. She looked down.

“Oh, I guess that explains where all the doctors went.”

The something she’d stumbled over turned out to be a prone body, old, dried blood soaked the front of the odd uniform it was wearing. There were more bodies sprawled around the room. Suddenly a whirring sound came from one corner, near what appeared to be a door, though it was like no door she’d ever seen before.

What she’d taken to be some sort of equipment stand suddenly unfolded itself into a bipedal robot.

“Target acquired.” Intoned an emotionless and highly filtered female voice as the robot raised what was unmistakably a gun.


Jade stumbled backward and took cover on the opposite side of the pod, looking frantically about for a weapon of some sort.


Near the back wall it looked like someone had been performing maintenance because under a loose and dented vent cover was the familiar shape of a cast iron crowbar.

She tucked and rolled, sliding painfully into the wall before hefting the weighty tool. Okay, she thought peeking around the desk she’d taken shelter behind after the barrage of bullets died down. Let’s see if you can still fire that thing with no head.

The robot had continued advancing as it fired and her cover would be compromised in moments. So, rather than waiting for the thing to get a clear line of fire on her she stood up, planted her feet and made like Barry Bonds trying for home run number 73 back in aught-one.

She hit it so hard the damn thing’s head rebounded off the near wall with enough force to send it nearly back to the opposite wall.

Predictably enough, the rest of the thing went stiff and started shuddering and jerking in the spray of sparks that erupted from its severed neck, then collapsed.

Breathing heavily, Jade looked down at the still smoking robot and relieved it of its strange sidearm.

“Thanks HAL.” She mumbled and looked for some place to stash it on her person.

That was when she realized she was as naked as the day she was born.

A few minutes later, she’d managed to find pants and a shirt that both fit relatively well and weren’t too terribly bloodstained. As she approached the door it opened automatically, startling her for a moment before she cautiously made her way into the hall behind it.

She ran into a couple more of the murderous robots as she began performing a methodical search of the facility, all the while wracking her brain and searching for clues as to where it might be located.

Gotta find a way out of this shithole and back to civilization. She thought as she rifled another desk for clues. There’s no fucking paper here! What the hell kind of medical facility doesn’t use paper? She’d managed to start up some type of holographic display that sort of looked like a computer screen, but other than some indecipherable text it didn’t show her anything useful and she couldn’t figure out how the damn things worked.

She slumped against one wall giving in, for a moment to the exhaustion that plagued her. Her arm jostled a button on the desk and the shutters to the outside she’d taken as simple metal bulkheads rattled open.

On nothing.

An empty field of stars greeted her. No mountains, no plains, no oceans, no atmosphere. Nothing.

“I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore, Toto.” She murmured to no one in particular as she attempted to absorb the fact that she was, impossibly, on a space station.