"A vodka, if you'd be so kind. And some... some of those little sausage things. On sticks."
"Coming right up, ma'am. How was your day?"
"Oh. Was it a day? I know we keep day and night on the station, but when you're out in the belts... the light never changes. It's as bright when you warp in as when you warp out."
"As you say, ma'am. How was your period of time in the belts?"
"Same as always. Mostly dull, with occasional moments of terror, and the constant beauty of my lasers playing over the surface of the rocks. I did choose to be a miner, I suppose. Do... do you ever wonder why you exist? What purpose you serve?"
"Rarely. ma'am. Here is your drink, and your cocktail sausages."
"I do. Thank you. I wonder. I wonder what became of the little girl who just wanted to get off the surface of Mies IV and out into space."
"She is a capsuleer, I observe, ma'am. Fabulously wealthy, envied by the masses."
"That's true, I suppose. But what did I give up to get it? Do you know what it means to be a capsuleer?"
"Not exactly, ma'am."
"The training changes you. Physically and mentally. They put implants into you, interfacing with your neural system. So that you communicate with the ship. No... so that you are the ship. When I'm in pod, I forget about arms and legs and eyes. I just have engines and a tritanium skin. I reach out with my lasers and my tractor beams, and I never blink. And there's the implants in your brain. The ones that help you learn, that help you think. There's even one that makes you more likeable. And then... then there's
"The remaps, ma'am?"
"They... change your brain. Make you more intelligent, or less. Improve your ability to process sensory information... or make it worse. Another vodka, please."
"Of course, ma'am."
"The remaps change your personality. They change who you are. Only you don't notice it. Don't really believe it. But I've watched holos I recorded before the last remap, and I don't recognise myself. Oh, I don't mean physically. It's my face. But it's a different person behind it."
"I can't imagine what that's like, ma'am. Your vodka."
"Thank you. I... I don't know who I am. I've lost the story of my life. It doesn't make sense to me. Most people can construct some kind of tale, where they grow up and have experiences that change them, and that results in the person they are now. Mine is just shattered into incoherent shards. With all the changes, all the implants and remaps, I'm not sure I'm even a real human anymore."
"That must be hard, ma'am. Another vodka?"
"No, I think I'll go get some sleep. I guess you don't understand what I'm saying, do you?"
"Not really, ma'am. Sleep well."
"System, shut down."
"Shutting down. Good night, ma'am."
Written by Laria Raven. Check out her blog, All Alone in the Night.
Title image courtesy of The Jester's Corner.