The camera drone activates with a buzz, and activates the small LED bundle on the top of its body to illuminate the dark station quarters. At the time of filming, it is 0500 hours. Voodoo and Shaman are mostly out of frame, sleeping on the floor comfortably. Senn, however, gazes at the camera with a beleaguered expression, sipping a cup of synthetic coffee and smoking without thought put into the action. He seems to stare off into empty space.
"The aches won't stop," he admits, the faintest tone of defeat in his voice. "Pills don't work. The phantom sensations went away for a few days, but they started up again yesterday."
He drags his hand across his features, sighing between his fingers as he spins in his chair to view the holoscreen on the other side of the room, which displays highlights from the day's previous news reports. The pilot is bathed in alternating shades of blues and whites, which reflect off the coils of smoke around his head.
"The AIMEDs examined me, called in a human doctor afterward. He made a scan of my brain activity. Said he had some concerns..."
He pauses in his speech to finish his cup and set it aside, empty, brushing back the tiny strands of his hair.
"While scouting, I went against the doctors' advice and stayed adrift for weeks at a time. It wouldn't have been a problem, but I needed to run surveillance at all hours. I took manual control of my implants, set them to run my body twenty-four hours at baseline brain activity. According to the doctor, that is the origin of the problem."
Again he pauses, reluctant to continue speaking under the eye of his employers, but he continues with another breath of acrid smoke.
"Overclocking and running the baseline routines nonstop has - to quote the doctor - convinced my brain that there is only one hour in the day, and it is always that hour. The co-processors and image analyzers operate constantly. With no eyelids to cut off the feed, I'm unable to fall asleep. And because I can't sleep properly, my brain remains active, which only reinforces the routines the implants have developed."
He remains quiet for a long moment, watching the holoscreen in a contemplative haze. As the hour reaches 0600, one of the hounds awakens and shifts to its legs, swaying as it bobs its way towards its water bowl.
"I can't manually turn them off, either, without shutting down my brain. Which, obviously, would kill me. The implants are becoming unable to tell the difference between in-pod and out, which is causing the phantom syndromes. The doctor estimates my organs won't be able to maintain the stress indefinitely. And because my neural patterns will match up with the implants in whatever clones I activate, I can't escape the problem without jumping every month."
"I'm looking for another doctor. I have a lead in the Intaki Syndicate, in their home region. The price tag is fifty million, not at all an issue. The procedure, however, is dangerous, and no licensed doctor will deal with a Serpentis pilot. But the doctor estimated I only have one week before the symptoms become irreversible."
He turns in his chair and reaches to flick the camera drone's feed off. "I'll have an update shortly."