Sunday 24 – Monday 25 September 2017
‘So, you’ve done the scans, Doc.’
‘And? What do they tell you?’ Constance glared at the doctor. There was no need for him to sugar coat his findings. Doc glanced down at the tablet in his hands, and reread the information.
‘Tumour’s grown two inches since her last scan. To say it’s not good is an understatement.’
Constance’s eyes fell upon Weisz’s body, tightly tucked in to the bed closest to Doc’s work station.
‘How long?’ The question didn’t need explanation.
‘I doubt she’ll make it to the job.’
‘Shit. You serious?’ She lowered her eyes to the floor in a silent prayer, hoping Doc had made an error.
‘Wish I wasn’t.’
‘She needs rest. And medication.’
The Commander’s thoughts went straight to how to tell the crew that Weisz was dying.
Twenty-seven years of friendship, and Doc knew where Constance’s head was at.
‘Angela doesn’t want them to know, Connie. It’s not your place to tell them. It’s hers.’
‘I’m their commander. It’s up to me.’
‘It’s really not.’ He was adamant.
‘If I don’t, they won’t trust me to do anything anymore. As it is, they’ll be pissed that I knew and didn’t tell them sooner.’
Doc pulled out two stools and gestured for Constance to sit opposite him. He gingerly dropped onto the seat.
‘Your back still?’
He nodded. ‘Connie, you’re the boss. They have to do what you tell them to or else they won’t get paid. And let’s face it, that’s the only reason they’re out here, so far away from home. They want the money that terra-forming brings in. it’s a shit job, but the pay’s good. Simple.’
‘Billy’s the one who’ll cause me grief.’
‘Jesus, Doc, you know I already have.’ A smiled started at the corners of her mouth, and she couldn’t suppress the girly giggle that followed the broad smile. Doc snickered in unison, well aware of the circumstances surrounding Connie’s dalliance with Billy.
Interrupting the moment of levity, Gabriel wandered into the medical bay. Still laughing, Doc gave Gabriel a cursory glance.
‘What can I do for you, Gabe?’
Showing too much interest in Weisz would draw unnecessary attention to their relationship, but Gabriel needed to know.
‘How is she? Angela? Weisz, I mean.’
Doc waited for confirmation from his commander that he could discuss the patient with her visitor. Constance gave the slightest nod of approval.
‘Shit. How not good? Will she get better?’
Doc shook his head. ‘No. She’s dying, Gabe.’
* * * * *
Warning and emergency lights flashed on and off, and alarms rang out on the bridge, waking Toller from his sleep.
‘Shit! Shit, shit, shit, shit.’ He banged on the lights as they flashed, hoping that each impact would shut them down. Hammett, hearing the alarms from the corridor, raced onto the bridge.
‘What’s happening?’ he screamed at Toller, who was dancing around banging the equipment like a mad man.
‘Don’t know. They just started going off.’
‘Well, what happened before they started going off?’
‘You have no idea, do you?’
Toller shook his head.
‘You were asleep, weren’t you?’ Hammett asked a question that he already knew the answer to.
Again, speechless, Toller nodded.
‘How long have they been going off?’
Toller didn’t respond.
‘How long?’ Hammett snapped.
Hammett buzzed the Commander. ‘I’m guessing,’ he said to Toller, ‘that you haven’t called Constance yet?’
‘No. No, not yet.’
‘Idiot,’ Hammett inaudibly grumbled.
* * * * *
Constance’s radio crackled to life. ‘Commander to bridge. What’s up, Toller?’
‘It’s Hammett, boss, not Toller. We’ve got a serious problem up here. Every light, every alarm, every indicator that there’s a problem is going off like a rocket. All the bells and whistles.’
‘What? Why?’ Constance looked to Doc for reassurance.
‘Don’t know, boss. Toller was asleep, woke up to everything going off.’
‘I’m on my way up now. Take as many readings as you can. There’s got to be an explanation for this. And check the O-two and the fuel meters. I want to know that we’ve got something to breathe, and fuel to keep us going.’
‘On it. And boss? Hurry.’ Hammett closed off the line of communication to focus on the tasks he’d been assigned.
Constance barrelled out of the medical bay, and ran full pelt towards the bridge with Gabriel in hot pursuit. Breathless, he called out from behind.
‘Is this because of the incident with Jericho’s sun?’
Equally as breathless, Connie replied, ‘I can’t be sure until I see the readings, Gabe.’ She came to an immediate stop, and considered the implications of what she was about to say. ‘But yes, I think it’s done more damage than we anticipated.’
Gabriel’s words echoed through the corridor. ‘If it’s because of Jericho, then we’re screwed. The stories are right. No one gets away from Jericho’s sun without paying a price.’
‘Surely, you don’t believe that shit, Gabe?’ She couldn’t spare the time to stand out in the corridor discussing myths and stories about the universe, but Gabe was normally so grounded in science that his sudden belief in the stories of Jericho’s sun worried her. ‘You’re an engineer. A bloody good one at that. You believe in science, you trust science.’
His complexion had paled. ‘Science, yes. But Jericho’s a different thing altogether.’
. . . To be continued . . .