The Fae Worlds

The New Arrivals

The Crashed Ship

“Arlo, do you know much about what happened to the ship?” Galen glanced at me. “I know you managed to get one of the engineers off the ship.”
“Yes, Tom. He wanted to share everything he knew, as I’m pretty sure he believed he’d die before we managed to get him off the ship, and it was important to him we knew we needed to be careful. The engines were damaged in such a way he believed someone sabotaged the ship. However he never found out who it was. There is a chance they’re one of the survivors here.” I looked at the young woman in the bed, one of the many people I’d rescued from the ship. “For now I think we trust those who were trapped, while keeping a wary eye on the others.”
She, looking more thoughtful than surprised, turned her attention to the hospital. “I know a little about the Paladin, and how they were set up. As the journey we were on was a long one the majority of us were put into stasis before take off. I think, in total, there were around 350 people on the ship, with a hundred of those being the engineers tasked with keeping the ship in space.
“Ten of those engineers would be awake at any one time, with them having a decade on before they slept for ninety years.” She turned to Galen. “Each one of them would have a pass code to make it possible for them to have access to all areas of the ship. We were all given a tour before the journey, so we had an understanding of the layout, in case there was any kind of emergency. There were life pods in multiple areas, to make it possible for us to get to safety should something like this happen.
“Due to us not being engineers none of us should have had any of those pass codes, which makes me think it’s unlikely it would have been anyone else, and yet I can’t be entirely certain of that. I don’t know enough about the other people on the ship. What I do know is we were all chosen for a specific reason.
“When I applied to make the journey they wanted to know a lot before they were willing to let me on the Paladin, because it was about us having the best chance of survival. I met, during the orientation we had, a couple of chefs, a hunter, some farmers, and three other builders.”
“Other builders?” Galen smiled. “Does that mean what I think it does?”
Nodding, she smiled back. “Yes, it does, and am I to assume being a builder might make me useful to you?”
“I would say so.” There was a moment of silence before he spoke again. “The plan was for you to get to a specific world?”
“Yeah, it was, where we’d build a new community together. Hence all of us being chosen for those specific reasons. As a builder my job, to begin with, would be to get up the prefabs we brought with us. I’m going to assume the majority of those were destroyed in the crash. From there it was going to be a case of learning what we had to use to start building something entirely new. None of us knew very much about the world we were going to, because it’s on the very outskirts of inhabited space.”
“How long was the journey meant to take?”
“Probably around 200 years or so. The engineers had more details about that than we did, because the time it took mattered far less to us than it did to them. They were the ones who’d be ageing during the journey, while the rest of us spent the time in stasis bays, until the time came when we reached the new planet. We knew what it meant – there was no going back to our old lives.”
“Why did you make the decision to leave your old life behind?” The words were out before I could stop them, and there was a flash of emotion in her eyes making me think it was a question I shouldn’t have asked. “Our decision was based on the growing community more than anything else. I know there were also people desperate to explore, to learn more, because so much was lost.”
Biting down on her lip, thoughtful once more, she looked between the two of us. “Tell me more about what happened here.”
Galen breathed in deeply. “I don’t think any of us know the whole story. What we have of our history has been passed down from generation to generation, as we fought to survive. My generation is the first to have really had the chance to rebuild, as before this we were struggling, for so many reasons.
“Several hundreds years ago there was a war. It wasn’t so much a war between people, although they got drawn into it, but a war between artificial intelligences. Our knowledge of those intelligences was lost, maybe on purpose as there are plenty who’d argue it’s safer for us not to know how to rebuild them. For now I can’t imagine anyone would, as the memories of the struggle are still with us, and yet I can see things changing as that connection is lost to time.
“Unfortunately for those of us who called this world home it came to the point where they destroyed each other, and a large percentage of the world along with them.” He studied her for a few seconds. “I can show you, if you think you can walk. I know Penny wanted you to be careful not to push yourself too hard.”
“Walking shouldn’t be a problem.”
Even though I had no reason to worry, because she had to know herself better than I did, I watched her closely, in case she wasn’t as ready as she thought she was. Being there to help her out of the stasis bay I saw how quickly she’d gone from seeming like she was perfectly fine, to the blood draining from her face as her body was hit by stasis sickness.
Seconds later, as she was sitting up, Penny was also there. “Jessie, go slowly.”
Jessie smiled, nodding. “I’m being careful.” She moved to the edge of the bed. “Is there anything to drink?”
“I can get you some water.”
“That would be great.” She ran her tongue over her bottom lip. “It’s been a long time since I ate or drank anything. We were asked to fast for a few days before going into stasis, to prepare our bodies for what was to come, and I think my body’s beginning to realise it’s thirsty again.”
Penny, knowing the hospital better than almost anyone else, was gone for less than a minute, before she returned with the water. Jessie looked at the leather cup with interest, probably because she’d never seen anything like it. She reached out to take it, and Penny, with a look I knew well, let her take it.
“Don’t drink too fast. If your body hasn’t had anything for a long time it’s going to take a while for it to get back to normal. At least I assume that would be the case. It’s not like I’ve dealt with anyone being in stasis before.”
“You’re saying the same things I was told when we were put into stasis. We were basically in hibernation, and it’s going to take a few months, at least, for our bodies to work exactly as they did before. There were doctors with us, who’d have been able to help us through the worst of it.” Jessie sipped the water. “I don’t know how long we were in stasis, so it’s possible this will be less complicated than it would have been had we made the full journey.
“It’s also possible one of the doctors might be here.” She looked around the hospital. “We didn’t have much time before we got on the ship to get to know each other, and I know there were a few people who pulled out before getting on the ship. There was one during orientation, when she realised she couldn’t leave her family behind, and at least another couple during the fasting period, as it was a very hard part of get through.”
“Knowing who everyone is would help.” Galen looked at Penny. “Can I leave that up to you, and Alexander?”
“Of course.” Penny smiled. “I stand the best chance of getting to know people as I look after them, although some are…” She shrugged. “Well, it’s been a very long day for everyone, and they’re going to be a little uncertain about all of this.”
“Well, they can choose what it is they want to do. I think, considering the situation, it would be best for them to stay, but I’m also not going to force anyone to do something they aren’t comfortable with. They can find their own place to call home.” He turned back to Jessie. “It’s the same for you, Jessie. As much as I’d like to have you work with us if you’d rather leave I’m not going to argue should you wish to go with the others.”
Raising an eyebrow, Jessie shook her head. “I’m staying.” She took another sip of water. “From what you’ve said I don’t think there’s necessarily a fully built town out there, but it’s better than nothing, which is what we would have out there. If they’re lucky some of the prefabs might have survived, but I don’t know what the state of the Paladin is currently.”
“We have around half nearby, if what Tom said is to be believed. Although it survived entry into our atmosphere enough damage was done to cause it to split. I’m not certain where the other half might be, if anyone survived that crash, and I didn’t see anything there to make me think this is the half with the prefabs.” I looked at Jessie, who nodded slowly. “I can check again, once the fire has been put out.”
“Don’t worry about it. You’ve done more than enough for all of us. If anyone wants to leave then they can check the ship for the prefabs.” Jessie sipped the water once more, before putting the cup down on the small table at the head of the bed. “Let’s see how this goes.”
As Jessie went to move from the bed Galen moved back to give her space, while I moved forward. Her feet touched the ground, and, for a few seconds, she seemed fine. Then there was the slightest change in her expression, and I was there to stop her from crumpling to the ground.
“Muscles are going to take a bit of time to remember what it is they’re supposed to be doing at this point.” She smiled, although there was a flush to her cheeks. “Well, this might be a little more complicated than I thought it would be.”
“Go slow. Use Arlo to support you.” Penny stepped closer to us. “One step at a time, and we’ll start working on a diet to help you rebuild after your time in stasis.”
Jessie looked at me, seeming a little uncertain, and I smiled back. “It’s fine. Part of the job.”
“Yeah, sure.” She shook her head, knowing there was nothing she could do to argue against all of us, letting me take some of her weight. “Everyone’s going to be affected a little differently by the stasis. Not all of us will have trouble walking.” She glanced back at Penny. “If there is a saboteur still here it’s something you should keep in mind.”
“Thank you. Everything you can share will help us to give you the best help we can, as this isn’t something we’ve ever had to deal with before.” Penny looked at me. “Keep her upright. I need to pass this on to Alexander.”

A Strange New World