Shipmind Chapter 16
If sleep is an odd idea for the disembodied, dreaming is doubly so.
I was on the bridge of my old ship, sitting in the command chair in the center, where I belonged. From here, I could easily see every station and every person operating them.
Every face was a blurred mess. People I knew yet didn’t know. Every voice a low murmur just below the edge of recognition, yet somehow the words entered my mind like I’d thought them myself.
I wasn’t entirely sure sure what our objective was, but it felt terribly important. The ship had to be there and do this.
Sitting in my secure compartment behind the bridge, where I belonged, I was aware of the whole ship. My captain barked queries and commands, but they weren’t for me. We were a team, not superior and subordinate, after all.
Wait. Hadn’t I just been on the bridge? No, I was still there. In both places at once.
Lem asked me to bring down the upper rack of hydroponics trays so they wouldn’t have to use a ladder. That was fair enough, my drones were there to help them after all.
But that was only a small part of my awareness. Our mission was terribly important, and I needed to press on with it. I asked the faceless navigator to take us in, but we couldn’t without fixing the engines.
Why would the engines be damaged? We had just come from drydock and everything was working great. But that was fine, Sam would finish checking on them after their nap.
No, that wasn’t right either. My engineers shouldn’t be napping while on shift. I asked the ship… no, my captain asked me to check the duty rosters.
Oh, that explained it. The chief medical officer had ordered rest breaks. That was within their purview even under normal circumstances, and they were technically in command right now with the captain dead. No, wait, wasn’t I the captain? I made a note to check if I was dead when there was more time.
This could be a problem, though. If the engines were offline, and the captain was dead, the mission was in serious jeopardy, and I would need to take contingency measures, which—
Lem asked me to have the drones place a row of seeds in the growing medium. In two weeks, these would be tubers. Modern genefixed hydroponics were truly amazing. It was a welcome distraction from that disturbing dream I seemed to be having.
But wait. If I was dreaming, wasn’t this part of the dream too?
I startled awake, and Lem asked why the drones had stopped.
I didn’t know what to tell them.