Yuri scanned the scene in the medical bay, committing it to memory. These were her new friends, the Cerberus crew. It seemed like she had only recently grown comfortable with Grace, Allison, Ophelia, Katie, Leon and Farah and now, she feared that none of them would survive much longer than an hour.
They had set up makeshift beds for the six of them. Grace was cuddling up to The Baron, who gently licked her face periodically and, occasionally, let out a slight whine. The canine, like Lucy, seemed unaffected by the virus. Allison dropped her pillow and Yuri moved to retrieve it.
“You must not fidget,” Yuri stated, returning the pillow. “It is imperative that you rest.”
“Can rest when I’m dead,” Allison muttered. “Only got an hour left, right?” She weakly moved her hand up to brush Yuri’s cheek. “Pity, I wanted us to be more than friends.”
“You must not give up hope,” Yuri said, grasping her hand. “Doctor Albrecht will repair you. You will have ample opportunity to attempt courtship rituals with me.”
“Courwhatsit now?” Allison asked.
“Courtship,” Paul stated, approaching them from behind. “It’s an archaic term that basically means dating.” He leaned next to Allison. “I’ll need a sample of your blood, okay?”
“Who’m I to say no to the guy who’s gonna repair me?” Allison asked. She managed a weak smile. “I’ll take you up on that, Yuri. When I get better, I’m gonna date you right out of your metal knickers.”
“My undergarments are not metallic,” Yuri stated. “They are composed primarily of cotton.”
“Yuri, I’ll need your assistance,” Paul said. Yuri followed him to his laboratory. Paul placed the blood sample in a Petri dish.
“Doctor, you will be able to repair them, correct?” Yuri asked.
“I don’t know,” Paul answered, studying his samples as he spoke. “With time, I can come up with an antidote. Fortunately, I have Maia’s sample to assist me. Unfortunately, time isn’t something I have a lot of and this virus has to be studied by eye. At best, it’s still going to be uncomfortably close.”
“Yet you are calm,” Yuri observed.
“A Doctor has to remain calm,” Paul explained. “If I panic, it’s all over. If I rush then it increases the odds of making a fatal error. Hand me Maia’s sample, please.”
Grace felt the warmth of her dog and gently pat him. It had been a long time since she’d been sick last. She didn’t want to die, she was cautiously optimistic about her chances, but she was also a realist and she knew that her chances were, at best, around fifty-fifty. She glanced at Farah. The other woman’s breathing was still strong and she appeared to be sleeping peacefully. That was good, at least if the worst happened she’d go peacefully.
“Is something wrong, Doctor?” Yuri inquired.
“There’s something odd about these anti-bodies,” Paul mused. “It’s almost like they were formed to work in conjunction with something else.”
“So, they will not function by themselves?” Yuri asked.
Paul sighed. “I’ll try to synthesise an antidote with them. I need you to check those records. See if they actually have full records for Maia and if she underwent any procedures that could account for this.”
“Understood,” Yuri stated. “I will scan them.”
Lucy approached Ophelia’s bed. She reached down and gently kissed her forehead.
“L… Lucy?” Ophelia asked.
“Who else?” Lucy stated. “How are you feeling? Will you be able to hold up okay?”
“Vision’s blurry,” Ophelia muttered. “Feel like hell. Don’t think I’ve ever felt this sick.” She squinted towards Lucy. “How long do we have?”
“According to Yuri, the first casualty on the refugee ship happened an hour and thirty seven minutes after the symptoms started,” Lucy said. “But who knows when you started feeling sick? I doubt you checked a clock.”
“No, but you noticed,” Ophelia said. “Please, don’t hide this from me. How long?”
Lucy hesitated, she turned away from her stricken lover. “You started feeling feverish an hour and three minutes ago.”
“A little over a half hour,” Ophelia mused. “Never thought I’d die like this.”
“You won’t die!” Lucy declared, grasping Ophelia’s hands. “Remember, some of those people lasted nearly two hour and I know you’ve got more strength than any of them. You just have to hold on long enough for Paul and Yuri to get a cure.”
“This isn’t going to work,” Paul muttered. “It’s attacking the virus, but it’s not slowing it much.” He turned to Yuri. “Have you found anything?”
“Affirmative,” Yuri answered. “Young Miss Maia had an operation shortly before the refugees boarded the Esperanza. They found that her appendix was problematic. The doctor utilised medical nano-machines to assist in her convalescence.”
“Which kind of nano-machine?” Paul asked.
“Variety A28537J,” Yuri answered.
“I have a few of those on hand,” Paul muttered. “Let’s hope they’ll be enough. Yuri, can you manufacture some more?”
“Affirmative,” Yuri answered.
Katie found herself unable to move. She wanted to, but her body wouldn’t listen. She reflected on her life. The things she’d done, the things she’d held herself back on. She couldn’t claim to have no regrets. However, she was overall satisfied with how she’d lived. These past few years aboard the Cerberus had been a wonder, maybe even made up for some of her past mistakes. If she had to die, then she was glad it was in this company. She was just sorry that they had to go with her.
“We are rapidly approaching the estimated fatality frame,” Yuri stated. “There are less than five minutes remaining.”
“I just have to test our cure,” Paul said.
“How long will that take?” Lucy asked.
“At least ten minutes,” Paul answered.
“Give me two doses of the antidote,” Lucy said.
“If it doesn’t work…” Paul began.
“Farah and Leon don’t have ten minutes,” Lucy said. “If it doesn’t work, they’ll die. If it does, they’ll die in the amount of time it takes to test it. Give me two doses.”
Paul prepared the injections. “Go, I’ll test it before we use it on anyone else.”
Lucy hurried over to Farah, injecting the solution into her arm. Then she moved to Leon.
“Knew he’d make it,” Leon muttered. “Knew he would.”
Lucy returned to Paul’s laboratory. She and Yuri watched while he checked the efficacy of the antidote. Exactly ten minutes passed when Yuri asked “Will the solution repair them?”
Paul let out a sigh of relief. “Yes, it will. I’ll prepare injections for Grace, Ophelia, Kat and Allison. Help me administer them, please. Lucy, I’ll want to examine you fully when we’re done, just to be sure.”