Journeys of the Mind

 

Chapter 30

 

 

 

 

Chapter Thirty

   

Finally Coming Home

 

 

 

“Most of what you are saying, Hawk, is consistent with what Crichton and I found in the lab.  The aleshizaren was taken or administered around six days before the administration of srecosinin, which was ingested approximately eighteen hours ago.”  Dr. Goodfellow looked at each of them and smiled.  “But of course, our conjectures and speculations are just that, aren’t they?  Hopefully, Captain Rogers will be able to answer those questions himself.”  He looked down at the table.  “I do hope they let us see him before we head to Cronis.”  What he didn’t say was that he hoped the effects of the drugs and possible brain washing hadn’t permanently affected the young terran. 

“We’ll get to see Buck,” the admiral said vehemently.  It was silent for a moment at the table.   Then he changed the subject.    “From what I understand, Kormand has eluded capture.  Despite the capture of some of his underlings, there is no clue as to his whereabouts.  The compound was empty when the Titan’s men raided it,” the admiral said, reiterating what they all knew. 

“Kormand is very clever, but that he could slip away just before the arrival of the Titan amazes me,” Wilma said.  “No outgoing ships at all.   Nothing sub-orbital arrived in Asher during that time, either.   It was almost as though he disappeared into a hole in the ground.” 

“Actually they are investigating that theory, but have found no evidence of a tunnel system,” the admiral replied.  Titan has offered a reward, but there is no cooperation from Mendalis or from those who were left at the compound.  And mind probes of Kormand’s employees have disclosed nothing either.” 

“With so many followers of his philosophy, it might be a fairly easy thing for Kormand to hide,” Hawk added, with a frown. 

“And equally easy to surgically alter his appearance and get away to continue his evil elsewhere,” Wilma added.  There was another long silence at their table. 

 

 

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“Am I hearing you right?  You don’t know who you are?” Alvarez asked, incredulous.

Brandt nodded, hopeful that, despite being in a jail cell, in trouble with the galactic law, and apparently disliked enough to have an attempt on his life, someone would tell him what he most desired.

“Amnesia,” Golden murmured. 

Their prisoner looked at each one of them, expectantly, almost eagerly.  And Alvarez couldn’t help himself.  He felt a surge of sympathy for this man who had sent several of his crewmembers to the medical bay.  “I don’t know you.  I only know about you.  What I have read in the computer files.”

“I have nothing,” Brandt said softly, feeling desire for identity almost enough to choke him.  “It doesn’t matter to me how much or how little you know.”  He paused and took a breath, then added plaintively,  “Please tell me who I am.”

“Officially, you are Captain William Anthony Rogers, but the name you go by is Buck, Buck Rogers,” Alvarez said. 

“Captain Buck Rogers,” Brandt, now Buck, murmured, savoring the name, the small thread of identity that a name gave a person.  “Is there more?”

“Yes, you are assigned to the exploration ship Searcher as the executive officer in charge of exploration and defense,” Alvarez continued, feeling some of his prisoner’s sense of wonder at discovery.   “You are originally from Earth, Chicago to be exact.”

“And despite what you were told, you are a bachelor—no wife, no children,” Golden added.  “I checked that out after I left you before.” 

“Kormand lied to me?  Why?” Buck asked.  He felt the stabbing of disappointment and anger.  He remembered Erik Kormand’s assurances of help, his friendly manner.  He remembered all the accolades he painted on him, on Brandt. It was simple.  Buck saw it now for what it was.  For some reason, Kormand had set him up.  But why?  What did Kormand have against him?  Maybe these men could tell him.  He brought his attention back to the present.

“That will come later.  After we find out what happened while you were at Kormand’s compound,” Alvarez said.  There was a look of disappointment on the captain’s face.  “Remember, you are here because of your affiliation with Erik Kormand.  We must find out any information you know, untainted by anything you hear on board this ship.  Then all questions can be answered,” the colonel told his prisoner. 

“Or as much as we can,” a new voice said.  All three looked up.  “I am designated counsel for Captain Rogers.”  He was a young man, probably not more than twenty-five, short, spare-framed, his hair so blond to be almost white, his dark brown eyes filled with youthful optimism.  “But the colonel is correct, Captain Rogers.  In the interest of capturing Erik Kormand, we have to learn everything you know.”

Buck laughed bitterly, still stung by Kormand’s betrayal of him.  “You won’t get much.”

“I heard Dr. Golden’s assessment of your condition, Captain Rogers, but let me ask this.  During the little bit that you remember, whose compound were you in?” the newcomer asked.

“Erik Kormand’s.”

“How many days?”

Buck fixed the younger man with a measured gaze, studying carefully the person who could be holding his life in his hands.  Then he sighed.  “Five, maybe six days.  Hard to tell about how long I was in Kormand’s medical bay.  I was a bit disoriented then.”

“Captain, that is five or six days more information than we had before,” the young man said. 

“Touché,” Buck said.  He looked around the now very crowded cubicle at the three men intently perusing him.  Again he gazed at the young man.  “If you are my counsel and you’re going to pick my brains, can I at least know who you are?” 

The lawyer looked confused.  “Pick my brains?” 

Buck wondered where that had come from, but it was something with which he was familiar regardless.  “Uh, get information, I think.  It just came out.” 

“I’m Lieutenant Samuel Arrans and I see that this amnesia hasn’t robbed you of all your twentieth century peculiarities.” 

“I don’t understand,” Buck said.  “What peculiarities?  Twentieth century?”

“As your counsel, I have studied a great deal of your background.  I would have been here sooner, but I was trying to access Dr. Golden’s preliminary findings from your blood test.”  Arrans turned to Golden.  “Funny thing, I couldn’t find anything.” 

“What?” Golden asked, astonished.  He knew he had left everything he had found in a separate file.  “You must have missed it.”

“I would appreciate it if you could find it for me.  I know you had mentioned some serious behavioral irregularities and you also mentioned the Searcher’s request for a blood sample.”  

Golden looked concerned.  “I’ll go find it now,” he said, getting up.

Buck had been gazing, first at one man and then the other.  “I know you want information about Erik Kormand…”

“Captain Rogers,” Arrans began, interrupting his client, “after reading about your exploits of the past two years, along with your very interesting history, I am simply wanting to save a very unique human being.” 

“Huh?” Now Buck really was confused. 

“And I happen to think you are totally innocent of treasonous actions,” Arrans added.  “I would propose an O.E.I.-- a mind probe.  Not only will that give information we need on Erik Kormand, and what we need to clear you, but it might dig down past the blocks causing your amnesia.” 

“Excellent idea, Lieutenant,” Alvarez said.  “The sooner, the better.  I don’t like the idea of that zealot running around loose down there.” 

“And when that’s done, I think Captain Rogers will be much safer on the Searcher.” 

“What?” Alvarez cried out.  

“I have also studied Lt. Dikkon’s background and I see evidence of the anti-alien sentiments that are part of Erik Kormand’s Human Rights organization.  I think that’s the reason that the file on Captain Rogers is missing as well,” Arrans said matter-of-factly.  “Therefore, Colonel, I feel my client is not safe here.  As far as sentiments on the Searcher, I can’t see any of Captain Rogers’ friends helping him escape.  I suspect that, they, like me, only want to prove his innocence, as they did once before.”

Buck stared at the lieutenant, deeply grateful for this man’s confidence.  “My friends are on this ship . . . the Searcher?”

“Yes, Captain Rogers.”  Arrans paused.  “Even though you outrank me, may I call you Buck?” 

Buck nodded.  He felt slightly overwhelmed by all of the information he had just received.  And yet, he was grateful for it.  “Can we do this mind probe soon?” He could only hope Arrans’ theory was right. 

“Yes, I think that can be arranged,” Alvarez said.

 

 

                                         ===================================

 

 

Alvarez sighed as he looked over the assemblage of Searcher officers in the wardroom.   Dr. Goodfellow looked curious, but not overly concerned.  It was impossible to know what Hawk, the birdman, was thinking, his features were guarded.  Colonel Deering appeared anxious and fearful.  If what he had heard was true, it was no wonder she appeared so tired and drawn.  “I asked you here first to explain some things before handing Captain Rogers into your custody.”

“He is all right, isn’t he?” Col. Deering asked.  Nothing had been explained to them; only that the Titan’s commanding officer wanted them to take custody of Buck until the trip to Cronis. 

Nodding, Alvarez continued, “Physically, he’s fine, if not a bit worse for wear.”  The Titan’s commander noticed the almost inaudible sigh of relief.  “But mentally, that is a different matter.”  He paused for a brief moment.  

“The aleshizaren,” Dr. Goodfellow interjected.  

“Yes, Doctor Goodfellow.  Dr. Golden will give a more detailed explanation but to give a quick explanation—Captain Rogers is suffering from amnesia.  I’m afraid he will not recognize any of you.”

“Is that why you are sending him to the Searcher?” Hawk asked, stunned at the revelation but not totally surprised.

“Partly, but the foremost reason is that someone tried to kill him.” 

“What!” several voices chorused together, including that of the ambu-quad that had accompanied the group from the Searcher. 

“Our initial investigation has shown that the crewmember in question had affiliations with Erik Kormand’s Human Rights organization.  There are one or two others with the same questionable affiliations.  We feel Captain Rogers would be much safer on your ship among you, his friends.”  Alvarez looked meaningfully at each person in the group.  “I would have liked to have said that this movement, sentiment was contained to a few systems or even quadrants, but I cannot.  It seems to be something that may have even pervaded the inner echelons of the Galactic Council.  Now, I would not suggest that you become intrusive on your own ship, but….”  He left his thoughts unspoken, but his eyes held Colonel Deering’s, warning her as the second in command of the Searcher to be careful. 

“Amnesia,” Goodfellow murmured, gazing at the ground.  Then he looked up.  “That is not surprising, considering the unknown nature of the drug he ingested.   Have you tried the O.E.I?” 

“Yes, Doctor,” Alvarez replied.  “A mind probe was used during the debriefing, but it caused no triggering of memories from before his capture by Kormand.  Captain Roger’s counsel felt that being around his friends would have a better effect.”

“You bet it would,” Twiki said with a beep.  “We’re Buck’s buddies.” 

“That would explain Buck’s odd behavior on that disk,” Wilma said, her voice trailing off as she considered what she had just heard.  Buck won’t remember me,’ she thought.  

“Yes, but I feel that Captain Rogers will be totally exonerated when all the evidence is examined by the Galactic Council judiciary,” a younger man added.   

“That is only to be expected,” Hawk said simply, assuming this man to be Buck’s counsel.  “When can we see Buck?”  He felt pain that his friend would be devoid of not only recognition of him, but also have nothing of his previous existence, his childhood, his young adulthood, those things that made him the person he was.  Or would some of those things that made Buck the person that had been able to give him new purpose in life, still be deep within the psyche of the man who had so much in common with himself?  He could only hope so. 

“Shortly,” Dr. Golden said, standing up.  “After I go over a few things you need to know.”  He paused.  “Captain Rogers is a very confused man.  He desperately wants to remember, to know who he is.  Identity is very important to him.  However, he realizes that Erik Kormand used him for his own purposes, so he is a bit paranoid, depressed.  Don’t push, don’t try to shove memories at him, so to speak.  He feels very much cut off and lonely, so easy, one-on-one companionship is best at first.”  

“Doctor, to a certain extent, those feelings were already there,” Hawk said.

“Yes, I can understand that, having studied Captain Rogers’ background, and I feel that is probably what made him so vulnerable to Kormand’s manipulation,” Golden concurred. 

The younger man added, “And also be aware that Captain Rogers will be confined by force restraints while on our ship.  He did very adroitly and with little effort send some Titan crewmembers to the medical bay.” He paused, saw the visitors try to ascertain his placement in all of this, and blushed slightly.  “I’m sorry.  I am Lieutenant Samuel Arrans, Captain Rogers’ counsel.  I’ll be coming with him to your ship.” 

Wilma nodded.  “Anything else?” she asked, trying very hard to keep the eagerness from showing in her voice.  “I would like to see Buck now.” 

“Perhaps it would be good for Colonel Deering to see Captain Rogers alone so that he does not feel overwhelmed,” Theo suggested.  “After all, she has known him the longest.” 

“So have I,” Twiki beeped. 

“I think that would probably be a very good idea,” Dr. Golden said. “Come with me.”  He motioned for Wilma to precede him through the door.  

As they walked along the corridor, she turned to him and asked, “Will Buck ever regain his memory?”

“Even with all the miracles of modern medicine, the brain remains the one thing that defies absolutes,” Golden said.  “I guess I am simply saying, I don’t know.  Perhaps when the aleshizaren is completely out of his system.”  They walked a little further.  “You really care for him, don’t you?” 

“Yes,” she said sadly.

“Don’t give up hope,” was all the doctor said, as he stopped outside a door with a guard standing nearby.  Golden pushed an ident card in a slot and the door slid open.  He motioned for her to enter and Wilma walked through, totally unaware when the door slid shut behind her.  She could only see Buck.  Despite the force restraints on his wrists, despite her knowledge of his condition, he looked wonderful to her.  

 

 

 

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