Richard Walsh woke to total darkness. “Light,” he said. Nothing happened. He breathed deeply, calming himself. Emergency power would come on soon. There were tiny dots in front of his eyes. Stars, of course. He turned his head, trying to see which window he was looking through. No light at all in the room. What in the galaxy? he thought. There should be emergency lights. He reached his hands out and found something in front of his face. A shot of panic went through him. Was he in space, alone and disoriented? He flailed his arms for a second and a hand thudded against something very solid. “Ow,” he said out loud, but relief flooded over him. A little more groping confirmed he was in the hospital. Of course he was, he’d had eye surgery. The memory of intense pain and the horror of flowing blood flooded through him.
“Captain!” a familiar voice said. “You’re awake.”
“Are all your diagnoses that brilliant?”
There was a brief silence in which he pictures Chief Lopez pursing her lips.
“Sorry,” he said.
“Let’s check you out,” was all she said.
He moved his hand away from a protective shield stuck over his face and let her remove it.
“Hmm,” she said. “I’ll be back in a minute. Just relax.”
Against the doctor’s advice, he called in his first Officer to catch him up while he waited.
When Heather described the therapeutic computer game, Walsh said, “Wait a minute. You gave him a game he can daydream inside of all day? How is that a punishment?”
“The Ambassador agreed with Dr. Green and I that rehabilitation is more important than punishment.”
“I agree we need to rehabilitate him, but we can’t make him too happy with being in the brig, Dr. McTavish!”
Heather sighed. “We have to work with his unusual personality, which he was born with. We believe he has autistic traits as well as narcissism. You can’t punish someone for their personality, you have to work with it.”
“For the love of the galaxy! Whatever he was born with, he still made choices. Bad ones! I mean, c’mon, premeditated, intricately plotted illegal brain surgery!”
Dr. Lopez came back frowning. “You’ll have to debate this later. I thought I told you to relax, Captain!”
“I’ll relax when the mission’s over,” Walsh said.
Lopez shook her head. “You might be the Captain, but in the hospital I’m Queen. If you can’t settle, I’ll have to administer a sedative.”
Walsh grimaced. “Fine. One more question.” He turned back to his first officer. “How soon is the engine ready for Quantum Displacement?”
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