Episode 509: Joshua Drake, This Is NOT Your Life ... , Part Two

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Speaking of Joshua and medications ….

Joshua’s having a hard time with his recovery. He’s up and moving around out of bed but he’s getting hit with recurring waves of intense nausea. He vomits a bit. Staggers around. Feels exposed by the backless gown. Not enough coverage to the rear and now it’s covered in vomit down the front.

A hard time.

He looks for a call button in the scanning suite and there doesn’t seem to be one. He has a pounding headache. Which he attributes to his lack of Flomoxipan and heat stroke and various other bad things. He is alone and he talks to himself as he walks.

Joshua: I remember him saying something about … getting me off of this … stuff. I wonder if they’re going to try and …? Later. They’ll give me something for the head, the head … I’ll find a nurse. She’ll give me some aspirin or something ….

He takes a couple steps, gets hit with a wave of nausea and vomits again.

Joshua: …Okay … Maybe not so much …

He tries to remember if he’s seen a head nurse in the room. Have the staff been coming regularly? Hmm. Since his father left? No? Before then? He remembers vaguely, has memories of seeing people there. But he’d also had fever dreams, so he’s not sure.

Joshua tries taking a couple more steps and he hears voices. Hundreds of voices. All around him. In his mind.

He’s curious about the ship. He knows he’s on a ship. People have told him it is a ship. But he knows really nothing about it. Maybe it isn’t a ship. Maybe he’s in a hospital dirtside somewhere.

He attempts another couple steps, waits for the nausea to plow through him again. Waits to throw up so he can move a couple more steps afterward and start the cycle all over again. He wants to walk the ship, to explore it. To know where he is. To find that damned call button … Cuz his head is killing him.

He moves, endures the nausea. Looks around. His vision blurs in and out. He can see he’s in a room. A room filled with monitors and medical gear, some of which is attached to his bed. Oxy tanks, tubes, valves. That sort of thing. On the equipment he finds a name: IAV Aceso.

Joshua: Okay … so … Aceso. Alliance ship …

He tries to remember his backstory but it’s not all coming back to him. He remembers some. He remembers he was on Trafalgar. He was supposed to get the … things. He was on a mission. There was some secrecy about it. And it was secret because … Oh, because it was Reavers and then …

Joshua: … Yeah … and that was why I left … or was it for some other reason? Maybe I screwed up and just ran ...

And that’s where it starts to get vague. He knew he was working with an intelligence group of some kind.

Joshua: … Well, it’s Alliance … And I’m in the Core? … Or an Alliance hospital or something … ? Well, it’s a ship. Like, he said it was … um …

His head is killing him.

Joshua: Maybe I’ll call for a nurse …

He finds the door. The staff is present beyond, seeing to their duties.

Joshua: Nurse? … Um …
Nurse: Yes?
Joshua: So … I feel really ill, and … I, I have a headache that’s like I have an … ice pick stabbing me in both eyes and then coming out the holes and stabbing me again in the back … so …

Help a guy out? The nurse looks at him and his stained gown with sympathy.

Nurse: I’m afraid your physician has advised against any chemical treatment. We can give you a cold compress.

Joshua coughs a laugh, incredulous. Dear God, his head is killing him.

Nurse: Or a hot towel.
Joshua: You’re really … You’re joking, right? … Like … ?
Nurse: No, I’m sorry. You’re off all medications until we can determine what’s going on, but can you describe your symptoms?
Joshua: (loudly) Yeah! I have a huge headache!

What part of ice pick through both eyes did she not understand?

Joshua: My brain is trying to … (slaps one hand into palm of the other) … push its way out through the front of my skull. Painfully.
Nurse: So it’s in the front of your head, you say?
Joshua: No, it’s everywhere … (nearly sobbing) … It hurts …Really bad! And also … I threw up …
Nurse: That’s probably from the pain. We’ll do what we can.
Joshua: (painfully) Sure. Give me a hot towel. Wrap pain medication in it and … give me a cold compress. And wrap medications in that, too.
Nurse: I’ll talk to your physician and find out if we can move you to perhaps a more comfortable place as well.
Joshua: Yeah … this is kinda …
Nurse: (soothingly) The lights are bright, yes … Are you feeling any light sensitivity?
Joshua: Well … yeah.

Again: What part of ice pick through both eyes did she not understand?

Joshua: If you could make it dark in here that would be …
Nurse: Well I think we can transfer you to another room.
Joshua: Okay. All right, all right … and I assume that my Dad will come back at some point?
Nurse: Oh, yes. Of course.

She helps Joshua back to bed and in a little while an orderly comes in to mop the floor clean of vomit. Joshua looks down and realizes his gown is still painted in puke. Lovely.

Joshua: … Ohhhh … my heaaaaad …

No, he’s not having a good time of it at all.

The nurse comes back, cleans him up and escorts him to a nicer room. It’s a single-bedded recovery room. Nicely appointed. Officer’s country. There is even a window that looks out into space. Joshua can see the protostar Heinlein glowing in the distance. Or at least, he thinks it’s Heinlein. He hopes it’s Heinlein. He hopes it’s something he knows, that it’s something as he remembers it.

His head is killing him. He paces the room. He endures.

Joshua’s father comes in some little time after that. He seems surprised to see Joshua up and walking around.

Captain Wise: Ah. Feeling a little better?
Joshua: Yah…

Wise is carrying a sheet of smart paper, which he slaps up against the wall. The paper’s been treated with cling and it stays where Wise puts it. It shows an 8 ½ x 11 picture of what Joshua recognizes is a photo of his mom and dad and himself. A trio. A family portrait. Joshua remembers that photo. He runs a finger along the border of it. Wise watches him and says:

Captain Wise: That was taken on Bellerophon.
Joshua: Yeah … Thanks … It’s nice to see something familiar. Although … my head is killing me. Please tell me you brought me pain meds…
Captain Wise: Well …

Joshua can already tell the answer is no.

Joshua: There’s not going to be any pain meds, are there?
Captain Wise: (gently) You’re a scientist. So … I think it’s only fair that I level with you.

Joshua blinks, thinking: He’s a scientist? When? Joshua watches as Wise runs an ID card over a scanner and a display screen flickers to life. Wise types some characters onto the screen and a picture comes up. It’s brains. Joshua sighs. He’s had his fill of brain pictures from his stint in the imaging suite. To one side of the picture is a chemical report. Wise regards the picture for a beat.

Captain Wise: (carefully) Probably not the way you want this to be found out, but we’ve found fairly large amount of evidence that you had Flomoxipan—that’s a drug—in your system.
Joshua: Right. That’s ringing a bell.
Captain Wise: And then, what appears to be the coma-inducing drug that your ship’s doctor gave you. Or that … you administered yourself. I’m not sure I got it. Obviously the oxygen levels have been affected and such … from being a long time on the shuttle …
Joshua: Yeah. Yeah, sure. I see what you’re saying.

Wise points to the spots on the report as he speaks and Joshua follows as best he can. After all, he’s a scientist. Right? Wise pauses and looks at his son.

Captain Wise: What’s most troubling …

Wise zooms the pic and spins it and the brains shift and expand and resolve into …

Captain Wise: (points) … This is your amygdala. Ah … the sheathing on it seems to have been … tampered with. Um … Not … This is not the kind of thing that would be an injury, unless it was an incredibly precise injury. So I don’t know … I don’t know what they did to you, son. Whoever did this to you … has done some brain—do you remember having a surgery? On your … ?

Joshua thinks. Um, surgery? Him? Would he remember having surgery?

Joshua: (struggling) Um … no … I-I mean …
Captain Wise: Do you—Do you know who you are? Do you know who I am?
Joshua: Well … you’re my—you’re my dad … Like, like … so … I mean … so, um … (struggling) … I was … Joshua, um …I’m Joshua … (can’t nail it) … um …

For his part, Wise is trying to piece it all together. This is his son, after all.

Captain Wise: Yes, the … The crew of the ship, that we found you with, said that was what you identified yourself as. You don’t … you don’t remember being called Rex? Does that name sound familiar to you?
Joshua: Um … Rex?
Captain Wise: (taps picture) It’s possible that this could have damaged some of your memories.
Joshua: … Rex … sounds familiar. Like, ah … that I was called Rex at one point. Um … (more confident) But I’m pretty sure I’ve been going by Joshua—in fact, I’ve been going by Joshua. So, I’m not Joshua?
Captain Wise: ... Well …
Joshua: I mean, yeah. What’s in a name?
Captain Wise: You’re not really Joshua. I mean … ? (spread his hands)
Joshua: … Um … right. Um …
Captain Wise: Let me show you. We ran a DNA test …

Wise taps the screen again and the picture changes, shows him a sample of his blood. The text that comes with it says:

Rex Wise, Lt. Cmdr. … assigned to Alliance Science Investigations … born on Londinium …

It is, nn short, everything that Joshua had been searching for, for years. Who he is, his name, his place of birth, his family. The answers to everything, glowing on the screen.

Captain Wise: You match the records.
Joshua: Rex Wise. Like, ah … I remember the name.
Captain Wise: do you remember being in the Navy? The Special Science Intelligence work?
Joshua: I remember … it’s kinda, kinda … (gives up) … No, to be honest with you. I remember being on the Trafalgar. I remember … something. I remember some sort of—they had me on some sort of mission, and … ah … I don’t remember what. I just … I remember it not going particularly well. Then I got … got picked up by the crew … and … and … I know it from there. I feel like I was … something’s bugging me about that, but … I can’t put my finger on it. I’m sorry.

Wise sighs and scrubs his face as if he’s tired, then lets his hands drop. He looks at his son.

Captain Wise: I’ve been in the Navy for … quite a few years. And I don’t know every… group. Your mother and I suspected you were maybe doing stuff that—you weren’t just doing experiments with new … new lasers and such.
Joshua: Right.
Captain Wise: And perhaps you were working on something else. But I—when you disappeared, um … I ran a check—I tried speaking with Captain Linder of the Trafalgar. He says that, ah, that there’s no record of any incident on Trafalgar, that you never arrived there.
Joshua: I-I’m … I’m … At least I’m pretty sure I was there. I’ve … I’m all kind of fuzzy and yeah, maybe that’s some of the, you know, the heat stroke and … the other things, okay, and you know maybe some of that’s … off my drugs …
Captain Wise: What do you remember happening on Trafalgar?
Joshua: I remember … I remember a—I was there for a mission. There were Reavers—
Captain Wise: There were Reavers on an Alliance cruiser?
Joshua: They were being delivered to the Alliance cru—I was there to, to, to pick them up and it all went to hell. The Reavers got loose … ate the faces of several crew members. Or several of the Trafalgar’s crew. Um, and … and … then I, and then I, I basically took off. I remember thinking that there was a good reason for that. Like I mean, you know, other than the Reavers. I mean, you know … Reavers are … pretty scary. But I, but yeah, I should have stood and, stood and fought. Although I remember standing and fighting. (sighs) Damn, this is confusing. But, so I-I remember thinking I had a reason to run. And, and, like, you know… and I had been kind of … (can’t find the words) … and … doing it, so …
Captain Wise: Listen.

Wise takes Joshua by the arm.

Joshua: So what’s your plan?
Captain Wise: I have some friends who were—knew people who were on medical on Trafalgar. There were some people, the last medical group who were stationed there?
Joshua: Mm-hm?
Captain Wise: They were supposed to be transferred out, they just … have disappeared.
Joshua: Awesome serious covert stuff…
Captain Wise: There is no sign of them.
Joshua: Was I …? Don’t I—I don’t remember, you know I don’t remember being involved in all, in, in, anything. I mean, yeah … I mean, Science Intelligence and all, with the Alliance …
Captain Wise: (carefully) There’ve been rumors that there … are outside … contractors, that are sometimes brought in to … clean up these things.
Joshua: Yeah. That—
Captain Wise: If there was an accident with Reavers, it’s possible that they did this. (looks at Joshua) Is that why you maybe fled the Trafalgar? You were worried about being … ?
Joshua: Yeah, there was, there were definitely—there were definitely some … some people with the blue gloves. Um, they had—they had a—
Captain Wise: I don’t mean literal cleaners. I was using a metaphor.

Oh Daddy, if you only knew …

Joshua: No, no. There were. At least, that’s how I remember them. (mimes putting on gloves) People with blue gloves. And, you know, and the-the sonic device. Like, ah, some sort of high tech … sonic … weapon, basically.

Joshua tries pulling up his memories of Blue Sun, the Janitorial Staff, the weapon … and the memories all have a dreamlike quality to them. Seeing his father, hearing what happened on the Trafalgar from him, his certainty of the correct timeline shifts and what he remembers loses its authority. But … he remembers multiple incidents post-Trafalgar involving Blue Sun.

Joshua: Blue Sun—not the system but the corporation—has been … interested… in me for .. periods for the last two years.
Captain Wise: I remember you mentioning they had talked about trying to recruit you at one point but you were trying to follow in your father’s footsteps.

Wise smiles wanly. If following in his father’s footsteps had done this to his son ….

Joshua: Uh-huh. Why would I work for—I mean, working for a corporation seems kinda slimy. Like, um …
Captain Wise: I could have gotten you into the best medical school in—
Joshua: I know, Dad. I know. But they were—Blue Sun, when I ran into them, they were … they were doing some seriously covert sort of stuff.
Captain Wise: Well, they were implicated in that whole thing involving the Prime Minister.
Joshua: Well, yeah. I … well, yeah …

And now Joshua has to think on that incident with the Prime Minister. Was he somehow involved with that? His memories are so jumbled up now, but it seems … familiar? Or is it just the power of suggestion working its insidious changes on what he believes is true?

Joshua: Yeah, right, right … I mean …
Captain Wise: So you, you left Trafalgar, to get away from them. Understandably, you probably couldn’t feel you could trust anyone on that ship, not knowing what would happen. And somehow you ended up with these … ah … this tramp freighter and took on the name of Joshua? Why didn’t you try to contact us for two years?

The pain and the puzzlement are evident in Wise’s voice, and Joshua is thrown by it. Everything shifts sideways again. Is this man his father? Has he really been missing for two years? Would he have called if he’d only … ?

Joshua: Well, I … well … ah … I didn’t … remember. Like, I-I-I … I’m Joshua. I’m …
Captain Wise: And now we’re back to the surgery, perhaps. Maybe that’s why.
Joshua: I-I-I’m … I guess that’s possible … Where are—Can I talk to my crew? Can I talk to—can I talk to Rina?
Captain Wise: I don’t know which one Rina is. But—
Joshua: She’s the dark-haired one. (gestures) Russian … I’m surprised you haven’t heard of her yet. She doesn’t handle hospitalization well, in general. And, um …
Captain Wise: I haven’t had any reports of violence yet.
Joshua: We’re—We’re engaged, Dad.
Captain Wise: Yes, but—
Joshua: I don’t like that ‘but’. It’s sort of like that ‘well’ about my drugs. What are you trying to say?

Wise sighs and steps back and regards his son. Joshua returns the favor.

Joshua: Spit out. I can take it.
Captain Wise: Put yourself in my position, son.
Joshua: Okay.
Captain Wise: Two years—
Joshua: I’m gone, I know it’s hard to believe.
Captain Wise: You believe you’re someone else.
Joshua: Yeah.
Captain Wise: You’ve had elective brain surgery. And we find you—
Joshua: I don’t think it was elective brain surgery but go ahead.
Captain Wise: Pumped full of drugs that are going to affect your mind, make you … willing to do all sorts of things.
Joshua: Okay, so …

All sorts of things. Like … being a Reader? He remembers being a Reader, of being a cold-hearted operative for … wait. Does his father know? Should Joshua tell him if he doesn’t know? Joshua knows his father believes him to be an intelligence officer. How much more of a stretch would it be for his father to believe his son is a Reader?

Does he trust this man? He seems to care a great deal for him. As a father would a wayward son fallen into bad company and bad substances. Is it the truth or is it an act? Joshua cannot tell. He can’t get a handle on his Reading abilities to be sure. Instead he’s getting this sort of … rumble of the crowd around him, from all the minds present on the Aceso. And of course, there is this MASSIVE brain block of a headache that is seriously affecting him right now. Even so, Joshua intuitively senses the man cares for him.

Or he’s a very good faker.

Joshua: So, go on. What’s—what are you … What are you saying? Spit it out. Tell it to me straight. You always would.
Captain Wise: Well, I don’t know entirely what happened but I do know that you’re not yourself. You’ve obviously been … (choosing the words) … defected with these drugs and the surgery and—I mean, I don’t know if you remember in your time since you were away but things have come out about Blue Sun and other committees have been using mind-affecting drugs to get people to obey them, to do things. (a beat) So. I can give you the details if you want the medical details, based on the Pax—you remember about the Miranda—
Joshua: Yeah I know.
Captain Wise: So you heard about that part?
Joshua: Yeah.
Captain Wise: So, obviously this stuff now … I did a little background check on your crew, as best I could.


Joshua: Go on.
Captain Wise: The doctor on board the ship that you’re with.
Joshua: Arden.
Captain Wise: He’s, uhm, a somewhat noted expert in brain-affecting diseases. Prions and such.
Joshua: Yes. We helped that … helped that cure. Find the solution to the Prion Disease.
Captain Wise: (sighs) Here’s a hypothesis.
Joshua: Okay.
Captain Wise: And it needs to be checked.
Joshua: That’s right. Defend it, please.
Captain Wise: Perhaps you didn’t get off Trafalgar. But you were captured. Altered. Given drugs. Perhaps been … had certain elements … suggested upon you.
Joshua: Okay. So … So given that hypothesis—?
Captain Wise: So maybe it wasn’t Blue Sun. Maybe it was this Dr. Arden. Maybe it was … who knows what?
Joshua: Well, given that hypothesis, then, what’s the reasoning behind it? I mean, that’s a lot of, you know, we’re talking elective brain surgery, powerful drugs … That’s a lot of work for somebody who really … well, I don’t remember being particularly special.

Why go to all the trouble for a nobody?

Captain Wise: Let me play this for you.

Wise brings up another screen and spins up a recording of a grainy wave. It’s Joshua, in uniform, and he’s talking to the wave camera:

Wave recording: Well, I won’t be back in the Core for a while. But I’m real shocked. I’m doing something important this time. I won’t be able to talk about it for a while, but … I think you’ll be proud to know what I’m working on.

Wise cuts the recording off. Looks at his son.

Captain Wise: Something really important you can’t talk about? You said yourself, it maybe involved Reavers?
Joshua: I’m pretty sure there were Reavers involved.
Captain Wise: We know about the Pax and the … these sorts of things. I’m thinking that maybe you had information that somebody wanted. Maybe how Reavers are made, how they’re unmade. Maybe a way they can make more. That kind of information? It might be worth … transforming you.
Joshua: (deep breath) I still don’t … I get that the information would be-would be valuable but I guess I don’t see, don’t see … why … if they really wanted it, why they wouldn’t just, just grab me and pump me full of truth serum or something like—It seems to me that it’s a really complicated Occam’s Razor, Dad. You know, the simplest solution. This doesn’t … you know, this … This doesn’t ring right.

But something does ring right.

Joshua: And I … And I love her. You know, my … my …
Captain Wise: I’m not a neurosurgeon. But what they’ve done to your brain might make you … sympathize … or empathize more quickly with others. And then these drugs, might benefit that. Might … Might escalate that. The effects so that you might—(changes tack)—There’s something from Old Earth called Stockholm Syndrome. You’re captured by a group. Perhaps tortured. But after a while you begin to sympathize with their things. If—suppose that these were Independents.
Joshua: Let’s suppose. Hypothetically.
Captain Wise: Suppose they didn’t just want information, they wanted you? If you were the key to figuring something out which—I wouldn’t put it past you. You might be the one who could solve the Reaver problem or … do something worse: Make an army of Reavers for the Independents. They would maybe … give you someone you might fall in love with in this vulnerable state. And that person could give you additional reasons to sympathize with their—has anyone ever talked to you about this?

Joshua’s floored yet again. In a situation where he’s hitting floor every fifteen minutes, this blow is completely unexpected. Stockholm Syndrome? Torture? Is he implying that the crew … that Rina would ...?

Captain Wise: If they wanted you, for what you could do for them, they’d need more than just … what’s in your brain.
Joshua: Right.
Captain Wise: From what I understand, most of these Independents don’t have a lot of technical knowledge. Most of them are backwater cowboys and not in any—
Joshua: Well, no, that’s not … not true … All I can—all I know is reality is … is ... as deep and as far as what I feel and what I see. If I have to start thinking about, you know, if I have to start thinking about how I … (tries again) … If everything is not real, then, then that’s the straight path to the loony bin.
Captain Wise: I’m not gonna to let them do that to you. We’re gonna work through this. First we’re gonna get you off those drugs.

Wise’s syntax is slipping, his voice more urgent. He grips his son by his arms, trying to get through to him.

Joshua: By giving me some more to kill this headache. Because I’ll tell you … How long is this—how long is it gonna take to get off of these?
Captain Wise: Well, one of our pharmacologists said it could be … seventy-two hours to a week before you clear it out of your system. And I should say, that would be the immediate effects. The psychological effects might take considerably longer. But that we might have medication for. (off his look) I’m afraid to give you anything, as of what I see on the scan. I’m not a neuroscientist but that’s not right. (points to scan display) Who knows how your receptors might take these drugs? Something as simple as a pain killer might put you into shock.

Tough love. Right?

Joshua: I’m all right with pain killers. I’ve taken pain killers before. For—
Captain Wise: I’m sure they’ve given you lots of things.
Joshua: Yeah, I’ve been in ... been … been in some battles and gotten, gotten chopped up and otherwise hurt and … I’ve been healed up and … pain killers and nothing out of the usual. I’m pretty sure they won’t react with my—(points to scan)—whatever that is. And … So … ?

Joshua drags a sigh all the way up from his toes. Why is it so freaking hard to remember? Why doesn’t this feel … right? All the evidence points to the fact that he is Rex Wise. Everything the Cmdr. has done for him is from a father’s understandable concern and love and yet … Dear God, if his head would stop trying to murder him for one blessed second, maybe he could make some sense of it all.

Captain Wise: You gotta trust me, son. I’m gonna find out what … this crew knows about you.
Joshua: Okay …?
Captain Wise: And once I do, then maybe we’ll be in a better position to know where to go.
Joshua: And I’ll get to talk to them. I mean—
Captain Wise: If that’s advisable.
Joshua: By who? You? Are you reporting to somebody else? Here? In this instance?

Wise leans in and gives his son’s arm an admonitory squeeze. His voice is low when he speaks.

Captain Wise: This is for your own good.
Joshua: No, that wasn’t answering the question. (firmly) I’m not kidding here. Who’s making that decision about what’s advisable? Was that you? Is that a superior? Is that—
Captain Wise: I am Captain of this ship. And I am your father. I think that gives me adequate—
Joshua: I’m an adult human being as well, Dad. I have a right to make my own decisions.
Captain Wise: You are still under medical observation. I am also your physician.
Joshua: Running the triple threat, I see.
Captain Wise: I am not gonna let you disappear again.
Joshua: Well, I’m not letting you take her away from me. So we seem to be at a bit of an impasse.
Captain Wise: If she has nothing—you know, if there’s nothing … suspicious going on here, then I have no reason to hold her or to send her away.

And all Joshua can think at that moment: Oh God! Rina? Suspicious? No.

Joshua: When do you think I’ll be able to get up and walk around?
Captain Wise: You can walk around the room.
Joshua: Last time I got up and walked around I threw up.
Captain Wise: This is going to be a problem for a while. We’ve got some particularly bland hospital food for you coming up.
Joshua: All right.

Stomach twisting, Joshua knows he’s going to have to come up with another approach if he’s going to get what he wants. Cooperation? Acquiescence? A combination?

Joshua: Okay and I’m assuming the nurses will be in on a schedule? And will I see you again soon?
Captain Wise: I’ll see if I can get you your Scotch Eggs for you.
Joshua: … okay …
Captain Wise: I don’t think they’re on your official list but I know how you love them.
Joshua: There’s a lot of food I love. I cook.
Captain Wise: Well, maybe not everything is bad from this … (a beat) … I know it seems hard right now and it’s gonna get worse. When you go through withdrawal, you’re gonna hate me more than anyone, but no matter what you say I will love you, and I have confidence that you will realize this.
Joshua: … Okay …
Captain Wise: And if this girl … if she really loves you, too, then maybe she can help as well.

It’s an emotional olive branch and the closest thing to an apology Joshua will get for the hell that’s coming.

Joshua: That … That would be great. They’re my friends. Whether you believe it or not.
Captain Wise: I believe you’re sincere.
Joshua: Then I’d say we’re at an impasse right now. We’ll see how this turns out. (a beat) I’m going to try to get some sleep now.

Wise pauses on his way out.

Captain Wise: I’ve given you access to some of the family photos if you’re interested. Maybe it will help you remember.
Joshua: Yeah, I guess. I certainly wouldn’t mind looking, I guess. I wouldn’t mind looking.
Captain Wise: All right.

Wise waves a card in front of a reader and the door opens for him. He steps out, it shuts and Joshua is alone again. Joshua doesn’t bother getting up to check to see if it’s locked. Wise has already made the point that whatever is done will be done in his best interest. Wandering around unsupervised in the grip of a massive headache hardly qualifies under best interest. Joshua decides that staying put might be the best option. However, that doesn’t preclude digging for answers, of exploring his options. A few hours later, Joshua tries to Read the nurse who comes in to check on him. He’s not delving deep or even looking for anything other than to see if he can do it, if reality is as he remembers it. If it is, in fact, real. The Reading is inconclusive. The killing headache is too powerful to get past and the pain it cost him to Read immense. Joshua stays put, tries to move as little as possible to keep the pain down, and endures.

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