Paul carried the young girl into the medical bay. “Yuri, leave me the data that you took from their medical computer.” he instructed.
“Understood,” Yuri stated. “I will retain a copy for my own analysis.”
“I’ll see you tonight,” Leon said.
“Maybe not tonight,” Paul said. “Given the quarantine procedures, it’s better if I leave as little as possible. Definitely tomorrow night, though.”
“No,” Leon said. “Tonight. I know it’s a pain having to seal everything and run the decontamination program, but you have medication you’ve gotta take and it’s not gonna be good for anyone if you exhaust and starve yourself.”
“All right,” Paul conceded. “I’ll be in to eat and sleep, but it will be late. You don’t have to wait up.”
“But I will,” Leon said. He and Yuri walked to the hall. The Bay was sealed behind them.
“Running decontamination sequence,” Ophelia’s voice came over the speakers.
“What should we do?” Yuri asked.
“We sit here and wait,” Leon answered, sitting against the wall. “Once the procedure is done I can get out of this blasted suit and you can do whatever.”
A buzzing frequency filled the corridor. “It is a strange sensation,” Yuri said.
“If it hurts we can get you a hazard suit next time,” Leon offered. “But you’ll have to bear with it this time.”
“It is not painful,” Yuri said. “Merely strange.”
“If you were a regular human or alien instead of an android your entire body would be reduced to dust in this,” Leon said. “That’s the entire point. Kill any organisms, micro or otherwise. After it’s done, everywhere on this ship will be safe except for medical.”
Paul activated a miniature recording device. “Examining the survivor from the refugee ship is proving more difficult than I’d anticipated. Even at the highest sensitivity, my equipment can’t detect the virus in her system. I can, however, see indications that it’s still there. I’m going to take a blood sample and try observing it directly. I have to find out what this virus is and why this young girl was able to survive. If I can do that, I may be able to synthesise a cure.”
The girl turned and opened her eyes.
“Hey, Sweetheart,” Paul said, speaking softly. “I’m going to need to examine you to make sure you’re okay. Can you be brave for me?”
She smiled and nodded.
“What’s your name?” Paul asked, moving to prepare the needle.
“Maia,” she answered.
“Hello Maia,” Paul said. “I’m Paul. How old are you?”
The girl looked at her hand and started counting on her fingers. “This,” she said, putting four fingers up.
Leon rose and stretched as the corridor re-pressurised.
“Decontamination complete,” Ophelia’s voice said.
“Finally,” Leon muttered. He hurriedly removed the hazard suit and put it away.
Yuri moved to engineering. “Miss Albrecht, I would like to use a computer console,”
“Go for it,” Grace said. “What are you checking?”
“I am gathering information on the virus,” Yuri answered. “In a couple minutes I will know everything that the refugees knew.”
“Impressive,” Grace said. “Too bad they didn’t know how to cure it.”
“Indeed,” Yuri stated, her eyes fixated on the screen.
“Just one question,” Grace said. “Why are you bothering? We’ll be destroying their ship and getting out of here. What’s the point of learning about the virus?”
“I wish to be better prepared to offer assistance should we find ourselves in a similar situation,” Yuri answered.
“There you are,” Paul muttered. He glanced back at Maia. She was half watching him while eating a ration pack. He quickly jotted down his observations on the virus. It was artificially manufactured, that much was certain. Probably invisible to conventional sensors by design. Possibly a bio-weapon designed by whoever these people had been fighting.
He turned back to her. “I’m going to need you to stay very still for me so that I can get really good readings. Can you do that, Maia?”
Paul ruffled her hair, gently. “That’s a good girl! This won’t hurt at all.”
“We’ll head to the Lilam system,” Ophelia said. “There may be…” she felt a twinge of pain in her head for a moment and paused. “There may be some good work there.”
“Are you feeling all right?” Lucy asked.
“Fine,” Lucy answered. “Slight headache is all.”
The bridge door opened and Farah walked in. “Hi, I’m here for my shift.”
“Thank you,” Kat said. She stumbled and fell to the ground.
“Are you okay?” Farah asked.
“Just felt a little dizzy,” Kat answered, picking herself up.
Lucy moved over to her and felt her forehead. “You’re burning up.” She moved over to Ophelia and felt her forehead. “So are you.” She looked over to Farah, her golden eyes opening slightly.
“What?” Farah asked. Lucy moved over and felt her forehead. “That’s cold!”
“My hand isn’t cold at all,” Lucy said. “You’re burning up too.” She hurried from the bridge and rushed to Engineering.
“What’s with you,” Grace asked. Lucy ran over and felt her forehead. Then she ran out of Engineering and into Leon and Paul’s shared quarters. Finally, she moved to Allison’s room and then back into the corridor.
“Yuri, get to the corridor,” she said, tapping her communicator. “Now.”
Yuri was there in less than a minute, holding Baron in her arms. “You requested me?”
“What were the first signs the crew over there had of a problem?” Lucy asked.
“The crew became feverish,” Yuri answered. “Initially, they believed it to be a simple twenty-four hour bug, but the symptoms became worse quickly. After an hour, movement became difficult. Thirty seven minutes later, their first casualty occurred. Three minutes later, they requested help.”
“Damn,” Lucy hissed. She moved over to the Medical crew. “Unseal, Authorisation Lucy Wester. Password, Gamma Epsilon Alpha Tango Gamma.” The Medical Bay door slid open after thirty seconds and she ran in.
“Lucy what are…” Paul began. She silenced him with a hastily raised hand.
“The virus that killed all of those people is loose on the Cerberus,” she answered. “Somehow, it survived the decontamination process. Everyone is already exhibiting the initial symptoms. We have maybe an hour and a half before we start having casualties.”