|APAGear II Archives||Volume 1, Number 1||December, 1998|
"Oh God!" Jones exclaimed, just before he threw up on his console.
"NNnnnggg... is it just me, or did that one taste more green than when we went in?" someone groaned from the opposite side of the bridge.
All eyes turned towards the youngest member of the crew, Salicco. She slowly straightened up in her chair, and took 3 deep, slow breaths. "My lunch is staying down where it belongs." She said, clutching her stomach. There were a few groans of disappointment as the bets were paid at the engineering section.
"Navigation?" The Captain snapped, apparently unfazed by the passage.
"We have returned to Caprice. About 2 light-minutes away, and we're oriented at 50 degrees to the Caprician orbital plane." Salicco replied, glad that the display was automatically brought up so that she wouldn't have to move. Jones unlocked his chair and slid over to the next station, bringing up the data that had been displayed at his station.
"We shouldn't have rolled so much. Engineering?" the Captain asked, swivelling his chair around to face them.
"The Gate Drive is spinning down, all readouts look nominal."
"The Tannhauser discontinuity is slowly closing behind us, and it should return to its rest state in 20 minutes" Jones said, as soon as the information appeared on his screen.
"Set course for Caprice."
There was a slight whirring as the bridge rotated so that the acceleration of the engines would make the floor feel "down".
"Daddy!" Annette shrieked as Captain MacKenzie opened the apartment door. "Did you bring me anything?" She made a puppy-dog face while attaching herself to his leg.
"No, of course not, sweetie. There wasn't a single thing on the whole planet that was good enough to bring home to my daughter." He picked her up and made his way into the bedroom.
"Now, help daddy unpack." After digging through the first layer of folded shirts, a snout was visible. "Oh, no! Another stowaway! Help me catch him, Annie!" The toy started a low, groaning sound and its legs slowly moved as soon as the girl picked it up.
"What's he saying?" She asked, turning the toy over.
"It's called a 'moo'. Cows make that sound, but that's what the Terra Novans call a 'Springer'. It doesn't really do that."
"Oh." She said, squeezing the large pink foam spikes on the animals back. "Love you daddy." He picked her up and hugged her until she started to squirm.
"Love you too, sweetheart. Where's your mother?"
"She went to the hospital with uncle Robert." She said, still fascinated by the pink spikes.
He quickly dumped the rest of his clothes in a hamper, and called his wife's portable number.
"Yes?" She whispered after the fourth buzz.
"How's your brother?"
"Not good. He went in for surgery 2 weeks ago, but he only seems to be getting worse and worse."
"Hang on, I'll be right there." He said, trying to sound as supportive as he could.
"No, no. I'm coming home. I don't think he even knows I'm here." She whispered, and hung up.
"Hey, Johnnie!" Salicco said as she scooped her little brother off the floor. "Where's mommy?"
"In the kitchen." Salicco kissed him on the forehead, set him down, and signed for him to be quiet. She put on an exaggerated show of tiptoeing into the kitchen, then pounced on her mother.
"Ah!" Her mother spun around, ready to stab whoever was behind her with the Spatula. "You're home!" She said, then smacked Salicco on the top of her head with the spatula "Why didn't you call? I would have picked you up!"
"I wanted to see you nearly faint, mom. Where's everybody else?" Salicco said, turning to browse through the cupboards.
"Kat's at a friend's house, and everybody else is out shopping."
"Alright. Do you need the phone?"
"Not if you need it."
"Thanks, mom." Salicco said, retreating to the living room to catch up on Caprician matters, watching a news channel on mute while she called her friends.
"Good morning, Mr. Chairman." the assistant said as he walked in.
"Good morning, Thuf. What have you got for me today."
"Intelligence swears that they will finish the report on Terra Nova and have it in your hands by the end of the day. The Gateship has finished unloading crew and cargo, and will sit in orbit until their next scheduled trip, to Atlantis. Several Corporate executives have been trying to arrange meetings with you, they say it's urgent, but your schedule is packed already."
"I'll handle that myself." The Chairman said, retreating into the inner office.
"Everything else is in your schedule on the computer!" Thuf called after him.
"Annette's asleep" Captain MacKenzie said, walking into the kitchen, where his wife was holding a cup of tea. "She's a little feverish, but I don't think it's anything major." His wife nodded, staring into her cup. She swallowed, and looked up.
"The treatments aren't having any effect." she whispered, referring to her brother. "The doctors feel it's time for euthanasia."
Captain MacKenzie was silent. They had all been preparing for this day, knowing that sooner or later, it would come. But it still hurt. He reached across the table and held his wife's hands, wondering how he was going to break it to Annette...
"Come on! Wake up!" Salicco's mother said, shaking her.
"Huh, wha?" Salicco mumbled, rolling over.
"I need you to take care of Johnnie while I go out." She said, opening the window.
"Mmm... shouldn't he be at school?" Salicco said, squinting.
"He's sick. Come on, get up! He won't be any trouble, he's in bed right now."
"Yes, but so am I." Salicco said, sitting up. There was no use arguing for more sleep, but that wouldn't stop her from doing anything less than complaining at every turn. "I just got home 4 days ago, I thought the rule was I get to milk the trip for a whole week?" She sleepily grinned.
After her mother left Salicco parked herself in front of the Tri-D and watched on low volume, so she could hear any sounds her brother made. After an hour or so, she got up to make some soup for lunch. While the water was boiling, she walked into her brother's room to check on him.
"How are you holding up?" He moaned in reply. "Gonna be like that, eh?" She felt his forehead. "You're burning up! Let me check with the thermometer."
A few minutes later she was bundling him up for a trip to the clinic...
"Are you going to be alright here by yourself for a few minutes, Annette?" Captain MacKenzie asked his daughter, rubbing her hair.
She nodded. "Ok, daddy just has to use the head, but I'll be right back." The waiting room in the clinic was full. Some people even had to sit on the floor.
Someone saluted him as he walked to the washroom. He instinctively snapped a return salute and kept on walking for a few steps after passing by them. He stopped and turned around, to see Salicco leading a little boy down the hall. "Well, first thing's first" he mumbled to himself.
After leaving the washroom, he went back to the waiting room to see Salicco sitting on the floor. "What brings you here?" he asked.
She looked up. "My little brother's sick."
"Hmm..." Captain MacKenzie looked around the room. "Looks like a bad flu bug going around, lots of sick kids.
Annette waved to one of her friends as they came in.
Three doctors in labcoats walked into the Chairman's office. "We need to see the Chairman." The lead doctor said.
"I'm sorry sir, but you'll have to make an appointment." Thuf said.
"This is an emergency." He said, putting on a surgical mask.
Thuf nodded, and knocked twice on the Chairman's door, then walked in. A few seconds later, he motioned for them to enter, then went to brew another pot of coffee.
"What's with the masks?" the Chairman asked.
"Mr. Chairman, we have a situation here. In the past two days the hospitals of Gommorrah have been flooded with sick children. I'm here to request that you persuade the Corporations to loan us some space to put everyone."
"Are we talking an epidemic here?"
"It looks that way, sir." Said the second doctor. "We haven't had much time to study it, but we think we're dealing with an airborne virus."
"So we'll need buildings with special air-filtering systems." Said the third doctor, handing over a list of suitable buildings.
"So what are we dealing with?" asked the Chairman.
"Well, it's incredibly contagious." Said the second doctor.
"But nobody has died yet. Of course, nobody's getting better, either. And more children keep streaming in. So far, no adults have come in sick, and only a few teenagers. We have to recommend a quarantine."
The Chairman sighed, then turned on the intercom. "Thuf, could you get me the chief of police, set up a conference call with the rest of the Board, and bring in some coffee?"
Salicco sat in the chair, reading a story to her little brother and sister. Johnnie was starting to look really pale, and he had lost a fair bit of weight. Her sister looked to be getting bad too, and her mom was at home with both of her other brothers. There was no room left at the hospital to bring them in as well.
The Tri-D turned itself on to a news channel. That indicated some sort of important public message was about to be broadcast.
"Gommorrah is in the midst of a crisis." The Chairman began. "Our children are sick, and the hospitals are full. I've consulted with the board, and the majority has decided that we will now quarantine the city. Liberati will not be allowed to leave or enter. Curfews will be established, and traffic through the city will be severely curtailed. Gateships will not be allowed to leave orbit..."
"... and I wish you all the best of luck in this time of strife."
Captain MacKenzie turned the Tri-D off as soon as the Chairman was finished speaking. He didn't want to watch the press interview the press advisor.
"Well, I wasn't planning on going anywhere anyways." He whispered, and wiped Annette's head with a wet cloth.
He went over to the window and looked down. The police had already mobilised, sealing off the city into smaller sections, in the hope that some of the sections would remain completely disease-free. The riots will start soon, he thought. There were always people who rejected the restrictions, even if they were for their own good.
He imagined that right now his engineers would be betting on who would riot first. The Liberati is who I'd put my money on. They'll claim that they could never be carriers, and that they want to leave the city to go home to their families. the Captain thought. They always make things worse...
To be continued...
|APAGear II Archives||Volume 1, Number 1||December, 1998|
Heavy Gear is © 1998, Dream Pod 9, Inc. All rights reserved. APAGear is not affiliated with Dream Pod 9 in any way. Submitted material remains the property of the creator.