An Ark named Anion

We destroyed the Earth, yet we survived.
We destroyed the second Earth, called Eon, yet we survived.
Now, we are adrift in space and someone seems to want to destroy those who are left.

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4. Chapter 4

Linus pressed his thumb to the print scanner. He was panting and sweating a little; he had run quite fast. He pulled a swab from his pocket and dried his forehead and neck. He replaced the small bit of fabric and straightened his uniform. There was a raised voice from within the room. Linus started. It was strange to hear a loud voice let alone a raised one, which reminded him that he would have to tell the Major General about Quitus’s behaviour earlier. He leaned forward, trying to listen to what was being said but he could not. The voice stopped abruptly and, just in time, he stood up straight again as the doors hissed open. He stepped inside the Major General’s office.

“I know already,” Tietrus said without looking up from his cluttered desk.

“But sir –” he stopped when Tietrus raised his hand. So Linus stood there, at attention.

“Sullivan here has told me all about it,” Tietrus pointed to the other man in the room. Linus had not seen him standing on the far side of the room, hands flat against the wall. The man stepped away from the wall, dropped his arms and nodded to Linus. Linus returned the greeting.

“Yes, Sullivan was most impassioned, in fact,” Tietrus continued, still not looking at either of the men. “He made a good argument, even if his tone was … brazen.” An eye brow raised as he shot Sullivan a glance.

“But he wasn’t there, sir,” Linus protested. “I saw everything!”

“Truly?” Tietrus now looked at Linus, inquiringly.

Linus nodded his head hesitantly. He glanced quickly at Sullivan, wondering why he was there. What could he possibly have to say about what happened? Why would he care? His dislike of Jenal was well-known so why would he be here?

“Well…” Tietrus indicated one of the two chairs that now stood in front of his desk.

Hesitantly, Linus walked towards the chairs, glanced at Sullivan who had turned away again, and sat down.

“Tell me all,” Tietrus instructed.

So Linus told him everything that had happened in the engine rooms, from the moment they stepped out of the turbo lift until the moment where the Enforcers took Jenal Kane and Nanya Rajis to the holding area for questioning. “They reported to Quitus that they found the filters in Kane’s quarters and Quitus wants to have Jenal tried for treason.

“But she didn’t do it, sir. I know her, she would never harm her ship!”

“Were the filters replaced?” Tietrus inquired.

“Yes, they made Jenal do it before they took her away. But –”

“And is the problem with the engine fixed?”

“Yes, sir, but that’s not the point!”

“No, but it’s a good thing.”

“Sir!” Linus was getting exasperated him.

“Private!” Tietrus mocked with a chuckle. His face became serious and he continued. “Do not think that I do not take this situation seriously, Do’Hemary. I understand better than you what this situation is. It is bigger than you or I or even Miss Kane herself. Just answer me one thing.”

“Yes sir?” Linus asked, forcing himself to calm down.

“How is your brother?”

 

*   *   *

 

Lermus Do’Hemary was woken up by the crackle of his intercom. He sat bolt upright in a flash and blinked. He swung his legs over the side of the bunk and looked at the monitor. Wanting more light, he reached for the light switch and flicked it on. Now he was able to see the face on the monitor but it made him frown. He tapped the answer key.

“Ulgina? What is it?” he asked.

“It’s the girl.” Her voice trembled with fear.

“Just calm down, take a deep breath.”

She did as instructed but kept looking behind her.

“Now, what’s wrong?”

“I don’t know,” she replied, still taking deep breaths. “She started screaming in her sleep. I ran to her and tried to wake her but she just screamed and then she collapsed. I don’t know what to do, Doctor.”

Lermus could see the panic on the old woman’s face, the years of worry for children culminating in this one child’s health and welfare. He would have to move quickly if he was to help either of them.

“Can you carry her, Ulgina?” he asked quickly, as he stood up from the bunk.

The woman nodded her head, tears welling up in her eyes.

“Take her to the wellness lounge quickly,” he commanded. “I will meet you there.”

“Thank yo–”

“Quickly, Ulgina!” and he ended the communication.

He dressed quickly and hurried out of his quarters. It was, luckily or simply planned that way, next to the wellness lounge. As he walked through the glass sliding doors of the wellness lounge, a nurse handed him his coat. Ulgina, a short woman, waddled in carrying a girl in her arms.

“Here,” Lermus said and scooped the girl out of her arms. He placed her gently on a recovery bench, a two metre long surface with a spongy layer on top. “Nurse, my – oh, thank you.” The nurse, prepared for his needs, handed him the healthcare screen and scanner. On the corner of the screen was the time. It was 4:26 AM. What could have harmed the girl in her sleep?

Lermus completed his scan and sat down at the viewing screen. The nurse joined him as they analysed the data. “Her blood pressure is good,” he said, “and her blood glucose levels?”

“Good, doctor,” the nurse replied. She pointed to a dimly flashing light. “Her heart rate though, look at it.”

“Yes, I see.” Lermus tapped his chin. “It’s unusually high for her. And I’m not happy with her body temperature being so high on top of that. And her respiratory rate is unstable. There is something very wrong here. We’ll have to run a full diagnostic.”

He stood up from his seat and moved over to the girl. He put his hand gently onto the girl’s forehead, felt the clammy skin, and leaned close over her. Ulgina, who had been hovering close by and wringing her sleeves in her hands, peered around the tall man to see what he was doing. He gave the girl a kiss on the forehead. He brushed the hair out of her face and sighed. Quickly, he stood up and lowered the diagnostics apparatus. It was a large dome that fitted perfectly onto the recovery bench. The nurse prepared the machine by a set of buttons and dials on a panel on its side.

“Is it ready?” he asked, still looking at the young girl’s face.

“Yes, Doctor,” the nurse replied.

“Begin.”

The nurse activated the machine and it began to gently hum. A glow emanated from the cover, a soft blue light, as it scanned and hummed. Lermus and the nurse went to screen where the diagnostics apparatus displayed its information. It did a full body scan, showed an internal and external comprehensive summary, tracked certain blood cells and showed their progress, monitored brain activity in the shape of a sparkling ball, and many other things.

“There!” Lermus pointed to a dark speckle in the sparkling ball that was her brain scan. “What is that?”

The nurse lent down and worked the keyboard and scrolling pad. The sparkling ball enlarged on the screen. The dark speckle was barely visible even now. The nurse worked the keys once more, panned around the ball to try and get a better view of it. Then she rolled it upwards.

“I can’t …” she began, frustrated, “I can’t seem to get a clear –”

“Let me,” Lermus instructed and nudged her out of the way as he took her place at the station. He rolled and turned and zoomed in on the ball but no matter what he did the speckle stayed a speckle.

“Doctor…” Ulgina called from the bedside.

“Hang on, Ulgina, almost there,” he answered. The ball was doing a brilliant dance across the screen.

“Doctor…” Ulgina’s voice came again.

“Just wait!”

“Doctor!”

The screen went blank. Lermus stared at it for a moment in confusion and anger.

Doctor!

Lermus whirled around. “What?” he cried but his question did not need answering. The girl was convulsing.

“Quickly!” he said to the nurse, who jumped towards the dials on the machine and ended the program. Lermus went to one of the shelves and removed a vial. He ran back and inserted it into the dispenser and pushed a button. The nurse was struggling to unlatch the machine so Lermus pulled it up from the other side. The hydraulic arms hissed disapproval at the hurried treatment.

“Hold her!” Lermus said. The nurse and Ulgina ran and held her down. Lermus tilted her head back as best he could and brought the dispenser to her carotid artery and injected. The girl’s body gave a violent convulse and then lay still.

The three adults stayed motionless for a moment, then slowly took a step back.

“What was that, Lermus?” Ulgina demanded.

“I don’t know.” He sounded defeated. He was certainly tired but that usually never affected his confidence.

“Shall we try complete the diagnostics, Doctor?” the nurse asked gently.

“You don’t think it was the machine that did that to her, do you, Lermus?” Ulgina’s blue eyes were wide and damp.

Lermus turned to looked at her. He strode around the recovery bench and pulled her into a hug. “I don’t know, Ulgi,” he answered in a whisper, “but I will definitely find out. Why don’t you go get some rest?”

Ulgina looked up at the tall man and shook her head. “I would not be able to,” she replied.

“I know. At least take a seat over here.” Lermus led her to a chair and sat her down. “I’ll get someone to bring you something to drink, how’s that?”

Ulgina nodded slowly, her eyes growing heavier with every blink.

Lermus returned to the recovery bench. The nurse had set up the machine again. He checked the settings before activating it once more. He and the nurse returned to the display screen again and waited for the results.

 

Ulgina woke with a start. Lermus was standing next to her with his hand on her shoulder.

“Don’t worry,” he said. “It’s only me.”

“What’s the time?” she asked.

“It’s just after half past seven,” he replied. “And look!”

Lermus pointed to a different bed where the young girl was now lying, eyes bright and alert. The nurse was with her and the two were talking.

“What? When?” Ulgina asked.

“A few minutes ago. I can’t explain it, Ulgi. Her vitals were erratic for a long time and then suddenly everything was back to normal. It’s like something in her brain just switch back on.” He gave the old woman a smile and then stood up again. “She’s asked for you.”

Ulgina looked to the bed again as a smile slowly came to her face. “Thank you, Lermus,” she said. She stood up and hugged him, then moved over to the girl’s bed.

The young girl, around fourteen years old, held out her hand when she saw Ulgina walking towards her. “Nurse Jenerdra just told me what happened,” the young girl told her as she took her hand. “I don’t remember any of it.”

“Hush now, moonshine,” Ulgina told her in a soft voice. She came close and wrapped an arm around the girl. “It’s all over now.”

“But Ulgi,” the girl protested.

“Don’t worry. The doctor will do some tests and we’ll find out what happened. Now you get some rest, alright, Anion?”

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