The Harpy

part 4 - perks of jumbled memories
-part 1, -part 2, -part 3

The black suit reacts to his touch with tiny tentacles reaching up towards the warmth of his skin. In no time it seems, the suit has liquified. It wraps him up from head to the tip of his toes. „Stop tickling,“ he giggles.

The suit hardens, and becomes transparent over his face. Those green eyes shine behind the visor, like lit from the inside. Is it bioluminescence? „Can you hear me? How’s it feeling?“ I ask.

„Awesome! But you could take off my leg, and I’d still feel awesome. With her in my system… Everything’s fabulous! She thinks you’re not dangerous.“ His voice is slightly distorted, as if speaking with two voices, his own and a more soft, lightly slurred one.

„…You said… she?!“

„Hell yeah, my suit is partially female. She grows neutrally, but after the first imprinting with the human genome, they seem to decide themselves, to take the position of a counterpart – for bonding. The link we share is one between lovers; mad, awkward lovers-“ Lovers?! What strange choice of words… „We have to postpone this. Work’s waiting… Babe, let’s get going. Open the door!“

The Cap transforms into a black vibrating blur and slides through the bridge door. Was it even opening? He said lovers… What does that mean? Partners? Love? Maybe only projections… Now what can I do? „Harpy?“

„Yes, Doctor?“ – „How can I help?“

„Eddy is already outside, fixing my wing and back panels. Shell instabilities can’t be helped for now. We will be leaving the lab unit and the sleeping units on the asteroid. The bridge is a capsule itself, sufficient for two humans. Doctor, prepare the medication and perfusion.“

„Can you show me, what he’s doing?“ The screen splits up in four pictures. One shows the view from the bridge, us spinning, two show corridors to airlock and bridge, and one the view from the engines. Outside, the blackness fills the upper half of the screen, interrupted by big white grey irregular dots. Behind the Harpy, a spike of white. A humanoid shadow moves rapidly over the curved back of the ship. It looks like he is dragging some arm-like-wings over the shell. Wow!

„Working at this pace, he will run down his reserves in approximately fourteen minutes. The oxygen leak has to be found. Three ampules benzodiazepine to five milligrams each should suffice. Perfusion solution with high sugar level for iv-access is needed too. The ectoparasite will be shed, as soon as Eddy’s blood sugar level will drop below thirty milligram percent.“ What?! That means hypoglycemic coma. That isn’t how he described it. „He is high on her neurotransmitters. In order to bond and to use the suit optimally, he has to have a positive emotional response to her. His memories aren’t exact about the shedding.“ I understand.

„Any residuals? What about dependence?“ -„Medical check-ups show no evidence. Behavior patterns do not show any symptoms of craving.“

„How about tests on long-time survival?“ This is interesting!

„Hibernation in outer space: one month, two days and twelve minutes. This is why we accompany you on your research trip, doctor.“ Oh, wow…

The first aid box starts gleaming red, and I prepare a syringe. „The leak is fixed now. Pressure loss: zero. Beginning with oxygen reprocessing. Restoration of optimal oxygen level in three minutes and twenty-seven seconds. The captain is now heading this way.“ Okay then! Lets get started. A small maintenance robot nudges my foot. I put the syringe into a little ammo clip – doors slide open…

Oh, fuck. The humanoid shadow stands in the doorway. I think it – they – grew taller. A lot taller. They’re huge!  The captain looks at the swarming robots, then at me… That’s more a stare than a look… His face cut out of marble, rigid, with slightly opened mouth, eyes wide behind the visor, not blinking.

A somewhat vacant look… Creepy… I try to swallow, but my mouth just dried up. If he comes at me… I won’t last two seconds. What do I do?

The captain-thing leans in my direction – oh fuck – he grows my direction. I back away slowly. What if it behaves like a predator? Don’t run. No sudden movements! Keep cool. Keep cool. Slowly… Carefully. Just back away… Careful now. It keeps coming this way. Is that a growl? Oh-uh. He looks at me, like I was fucking delicious…  What the – don’t trip! Ah! In a blink the captain-thing is over me, before I hit the floor, locking eyes. Wow… hypnotic green… The floor stops… I stop midair? …How?

Oh, he’s lifting me uuuup- „Aaah! Stop. Put me down. No! Stop. Don’t throw meeee – umph- Aaaargh, that wasn’t nice!  Bad captain!…Fine! 330!“ The maintenance robots dart for him, plunging themselves at the captain-thing. They shoot wires across the bridge, trying to pin him to the wall, or the floor. Not successfully, though… He tears through the wires, smashes some robots…

How long is he going to do this? He seems smaller though. The robot with the sedatives lingers at my foot. „I tripped over you, didn’t I?“

The Captain-thing snarls with anger. It looks like he is shadowboxing, getting caught in those wires. Definitely not moving as fast as he did before.

„Shedding imminent,“ the voice of the Harpy interrupts, „prepare for sedation. Secure the captain. Estimated time to shedding: one minute and fifty seconds.“ The robots double their efforts, and manage to pin him, half kneeling, to the floor and wall. He grunts with effort, but it’s futile. He can barely move now. I squat beside him and try to get his attention. Those green eyes can’t even fix on me anymore. Nystagmus. Tremor. He’s shaking,  breathing’s shallow. Blood sugar level must be low by now.

„Captain, look at me!“ He tries hard, I can see that. Suddenly he slumps over, eyes rolled back into his skull. That’s it! The suit begins to soften, to retract from his face, hands and feet. The robot with the sedatives fires his shot between the toes of the captain. Good that he’s cold out, that’d hurt. I stick an iv-access into a vein on the back of his hand and start the perfusion. His chest is barely moving. „Harpy, how is the metabolite rate of the suit? When will the sedatives wear off?“ I won’t be able to physically remove the wires, to stretch the Cap out. That has to wait.

„The ectoparasite is unable to clear benzodiazepines sufficiently out of the blood system. She is engineered that way. Shortly, One will be ready to help you with the removal. Estimated clearance of benzodiazepines from captain’s blood system: eleven hours and forty minutes. Waking time in approximately nine hours.“

I wonder, what kind of hangover he’ll have. If I antagonize the sedatives, he’d be seriously pissed off, I guess. I’m tempted to, since he threw me across the bridge… Reminds me off, „Harpy, could you provide me with some clothes?“

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