They stood within a buried laboratory, a group of Cestian scholars gathering data, and Eden tapped her own tricorder. “We need to find where the key goes…”
An older man approached. “Commander… welcome to the Dig. I’m Robert Powell, head researcher here.”
Eden blinked, meeting the man’s hazel eyes. “We’ve met.”
“I’ve got the bandage on!” Eden called out to Ensign Rogers, holding the broad strip of torn cloth firmly in place over the wound on Mr. Hakamoto’s leg. Somehow, the last time the station shook, he’d been cut by a piece of debris. The cut went deep, and Ensign Rogers was busy using the one dermal regenerator they had to work on an even worse injury to Lieutenant Tain’s wife.
Hold it there. Firm pressure. Her mother’s voice rose in her head. You’re doing perfectly, Eden.
Eden closed her eyes. It’s never been this bad here, Mother. People are getting hurt… I don’t know how we can help them all.
Help the patient in front of you, Eden. Then the next, then the one after that. That’s all you can do. I’m so proud of you. Her mother’s voice faded, though the warmth remained – she likely had patients of her own to focus on, after all.
The bandage was soaked in blood, and Eden’s arms were so very tired, when another man knelt next to her. “Girl… he’s gone. I’m sorry.” She turned her eyes on the newcomer, the darkness of her gaze meeting his hazel eyes.
“I… I can’t feel him any more. I thought he was asleep…” But that wasn’t true. She knew he wasn’t asleep. People who were asleep still felt things, often vivid things. When had she started crying? She could barely make out the kneeling man past the film of her tears.
She knew he was gone, but she’d hoped… almost convinced herself…
“There’s more that need your help. Come on.” The man guided her to the next casualty.
“Do you?” Powell blinked. “Those eyes… can’t be. Jay Enigma’s girl?”
“Eden Starling-Enigma,” she said. “And given that this is your dig, I could use your help. Again.”
Powell shook his head. “I just gave you some bad news, girl. You saved my life. What do you need?”
Eden pulled the disc from her pouch, presented it to him. “Something this fits. It’s a key…”
Powell’s eyes widened. “Never thought I’d see that. Come with me.” He smiled. “Maybe I can repay you.”