Memories: The Good and the Gruesome

You refuse to panic. Panic is for those who have exhausted all possible solutions. You are still in the middle of discovering all possible solutions; therefore, you have no right to panic. You reach out with your sensing abilities once more, confirming that you are, in fact, still in the dead of space. The inability to breathe, however, is what is truly driving you mad. You want so badly to breathe, to hear your heart beat, or simply to open your eyes. Attempts to enhance your glow state are still useless.

You have just returned from a memory you know to be the last time Shilo saw your parents. You know the designation number on the side of the shuttle in which they just flew away all too well. Shuttle 86492VI87S2M932O was the shuttle in which your parents suffered an all but fatal crash. The very thought that, even with the aide of Shilo’s memories, you will never see your parents in a new setting again causes you unfathomable distress. The fact that you’ve now reached a point where you’re sorting through memories of a person older than you is troubling in itself, as well.

You begin to work your way into a new memory, but something stops you. You haven’t been prevented by any outside force from entering the memory, but you are immensely troubled by something you cannot quite grasp. Then, it occurs to you. You return to the previous memory.

Zhilo’di Khuda’Cronell, Age 6, Qzcivden West Interplanetary, Qzcivden, Thor

“Alright, Shilo, do you have everything you need?” Shilo’s mother moves her hands through Shilo’s satchel, ensuring that Shilo does not encounter a lack of necessary supplies. Her long and nearly entirely blue hair, a rarity even among her peers, hangs softly on either side of her gentle face in tightly curled, glossy locks, her lips pursed as she sorts through Shilo’s belongings. After a few moments, she stops and starts fumbling through her own belongings. “You’ve forgotten your picture album at home, Shilo. Here,” she hands Shilo a picture of the two of them when Shilo had just been a baby, “this one is my favorite.”

Shilo takes the picture and slides it into her book so she won’t forget her spot as she closes it to hug her mother. “Thanks, mommy.” Her small arms wrap around her mother’s legs tightly before she’s picked up and held in a reciprocated hug, her mother’s eyes leaking a few tears.

“Now, remember, sweety,” Shilo’s mother begins again, “you’re going to be in stasis for the entire trip to Osgord. If you wake up, there’s a technician that checks in on you every three centidays. Just be patient and start counting in your head. Don’t worry, though,” she adds as a slightly panicked look crosses Shilo’s face, “you’re probably not going to wake up. That’s very rare.” Shilo’s face relaxes considerably, but not all distress has been cast off of her face. Shilo’s mother pushes the young girl’s long hair behind her ear, and a tear comes forth. “Oh, this is probably going to be the last time I see you with long hair, isn’t it? My little Shilo is going to be a pilot. I just know it.”

Shilo hugs her mother more tightly and asks, “Do I have to go now? Why can’t I wait for my schooling to start here, with you?” Her eyes say all that isn’t spoken: And why aren’t you coming with me?

At last, her father speaks up, ruffling her hair. “Come on, then, Zhilo’di. You know Blue girls have to wait for their admission on Osgord. That’s where legends say the Matriarch lives. I don’t think anyone’s even met the woman in a few hundred cycles. Some stories say she just lies awake in stasis and somehow sends the signal either accepting or denying admission from inside her pod.” His face drifts off into the morbid thought for a while. How lonely and maddening such an existence must be. “Of course, other legends say she’s one of the Valkyri’din and just spends most of her time invisible. And if you were an immortal among the ranks of the Valkyri’din themselves, would you let yourself be carted off to other planets just to watch over the newest students of the Blue and see if they’re worthy?” His smile returns in full force at the silliness of the remark. “Besides, I’ve heard that if she’s really pleased with a candidate, she’ll even come down from wherever she lives and introduce herself.”

Shilo grins widely, her eyes on fire a bit with excitement. Every Blue girl’s dream is to meet the Matriarch, after all. Even her mother can be heard on occasion musing how wonderful it would be. Obviously, Shilo imagines herself being one of those rare girls who meet the Matriarch. “Do you think I can do it, Daddy?” Shilo steps lightly onto the floor as her mother sets her down.

“Do I think you can do it?!” Shilo’s father exclaims as if the very idea that he would think otherwise were absolute foolishness. “Of course you can do it, Zhilo’Biornn.” He stoops low to hug her. Shilo steps into her father’s arms and receives his warm embrace, her eyes closing as they both take a moment to enjoy some of their last time together before she leaves. Shilo has always been a fan of biornns, and in addition to getting her an entire room full of stuffed varieties of th
e animal, her father long ago took to addressing her by the pet name of which she’s now so fond. “You can do absolutely anything you want. You’re a very talented young lady.”

Shilo opens her eyes as her father releases her at the sound of a low chime and looks to his wife. It’s time for their shuttle to leave. Unfortunately, Shilo’s flight doesn’t board for another few millidays because it’s running late, but the shuttles have been running early all day. They have to leave before she can take off. “You’re going to do great, Shilo,” Shilo’s mother says, giving her daughter a quick kiss on the forehead before making her way to the shuttle. Shilo looks at the shuttle preparing to take her parents home, leaving her here before she flies off to another planet by herself for the first time.

“We love you, Zhilo’Biornn. We’ll be praying for you. I promise we will, every day until we see you again. Drigan’di will be so sick of our prayers that she’ll answer them just to get us to shut up.” At this comment by her father, Shilo laughs, her white teeth showing as she grins widely, wiping away the tears that have worked their way forward, a few of the green hairs she received from her father working their way through the blue and across her face. He smiles back, his left hand running through his green hair as he puts his right around Shilo’s mother, the two of them stepping back into the shuttle. They wave as the door closes, the designator ‘86492VI87S2M932O’ easily visible in white against the fading red hull of the shuttle.

The bell indicating that Shilo’s ship is boarding sounds, and Shilo continues to wave as she turns away, listening to the hum of the shuttle’s drives starting back up. She turns back and sees, across the terminal, the shuttle start to take off as she makes her way into the entryway of the ship that’s to take her to Osgord. An attendant helps her along, pressing her hand lightly against Shilo’s shoulder, just as the unthinkable happens.

As the shuttle begins to take off, one of its drives explodes, sending shockwaves through the terminal and across the entire dock as bodies fly like rag dolls through the air and across the room. Shilo watches, almost as if in slow motion, as the shuttle spins and rolls out of control away from the terminal in reaction to the explosion, one entire side of the shuttle simply gone, replaced by a horrifying scene of bloody carnage. Then, the shuttle slams into another shuttle trying to fly out of its way, folding tightly upon itself as the two shuttles are driven down into the water surrounding the docks. Just as it seems nothing could get worse, another drive can be seen exploding in the water.

“No!” Shilo screams, but her own is muffled by the roar of thousands of others screaming with her. Robot crews can be seen running toward the scene just as others run away, the scene of the terminal turning quickly from a terrifying moment of shock to a fully terrified cacophony of panic, wreckage, and bodies. The attendant beside Shilo puts her hand up to her ear to better hear an order from the ship’s pilot and quickly drops it, moving instead to push Shilo into the ship.

Shilo hears the roar of interplanetary drives fully warmed up as she’s pushed through the entryway and into the main compartment of the ship. She barely has time to take in the strange appearance of the ship, which seems to be filled with much more women and girls with blue hair than she expected, before the attendant presses her into a stasis pod with a slight glow in her eyes, her brown wig falling to one side to reveal tightly wrapped blue and red hair beneath it.

As the stasis begins to set in on her, Shilo takes one last look around, seeing all the other confused faces in freshly sealed stasis pods beside peaceful ones in pods already fully active. Shilo closes her eyes and holds her book tightly against her chest, fully aware of the only possible outcome of two such massive explosions on her parents. They can’t be alive, but she still is. She begins to whisper a prayer to Drigan’di as the stasis finally catches up with her. The prayer won’t be finished until she awakens on Osgord in a quarter of a cycle.

Your mind reels as you return from the memory for the second time. There is so much to learn from that memory that you had never thought about before now. You once asked your daddy why he said that vague, almost subjectless prayer every day. He couldn’t remember. Now, thinking on it all, you’re surprised he remember to say it at all.

You think back to the scene of the ship. There were so many Blue girls there, and yet there are so few Valkyries. You wonder for a moment how selective this Matriarch must be that most of those girls never became Valkyries. Then, you think back to the destination Shilo had you program into the Valkyr navigation systems before entering stasis. You didn’t program Thor as your destination. Right now, as you silently float your rock through space, you are heading to the planet Osgord. You wonder for once what awaits you there.

Hungry for knowledge and still hoping to get out of this wakeful stasis which your mother once assured Shilo was very rare, you make your way into Shilo’s next memory. It’s time you start your training, after all…

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