Nebula’s fingers struck the keys of the Steinway and a cascade of chords tinkled down like falling stars. Above her, the dusty, reddish-blue galaxy hovered through the window, illuminating her pale skin in mottled hues. The other crew members sat poised in the shadows, watching her performance in silent awe as the crescendo of Rachmaninoff’s piano concerto resounded throughout the hall, echoing off the glass hull of the ship. Though she lacked the emotional swells, Nebula knew the technique would be fluent and flawless.
As her finger struck a particularly poignant note, a distant memory flashed in her mind. Daises bloomed in an open field, bowing to a light wind underneath a sky of gold. Nebula closed her eyes, trying to hold onto the flighty notions. She hadn’t ever seen a sun. At least, not from the surface of a planet. Still, the farfetched images returned each and every time her fingers touched the keys, causing a black void to ache in the center of her being. She felt like she missed a vital part of her identity, as if she were made incomplete. The emptiness was one of the only emotions she’d experienced in her short existence.
The note resolved, and the idyllic scene disappeared when the angst of the chord dissipated into resonance. As always, the fragments of thought were insistent and ephemeral. They visited when her fingers brushed the keys but never lingered. Nebula’s hands flowed off the piano and fell to her sides, and there was a surge of applause from the crowd. She gave a modest bow and walked off stage to the reception area to greet and thank the guests as they dispersed. Next time, she would program Mozart. The decision to do so was instant, almost as quick as it had taken her to download the Rachmaninoff from the circuit board of the computer mainframe.
As the first audience member approached her, warning lights flashed around the deck. The captain’s tenor voice came through the speakers. “Code six. All senior officers on the control deck.”
The crowd scattered as everyone rushed to their stations. Nebula slipped into the dressing room beside the stage. Considering the ramifications of a code six threat, she slid off her black, sequined concert gown and stepped into her United Planets in Action uniform, fastening the silver buttons with her nimble fingers. She took the elevator to the main deck and placed her cold hand on the panel to gain access to the control room. A green light blinked above and the doors parted,dissolving into the sides of the threshold like melted glass.