Thursday, May 21, 2015
May 20, part 2
By the time Oses got me to Medical, we had a security detail of six Nobeks surrounding us. We burst into Tep’s department like I was dying with only seconds left to be saved.
It felt that way.
The doctor wasted no time. “Put her on the table for a full scan,” he ordered Oses.
Oses had to remove the cuffs that held my wrists prisoner behind my back to lay me down. He bared fangs at the security officers around us: they had drawn their blasters. I for one welcomed the show of force. There wasn’t the slightest peep from the It that had invaded my body. I thought perhaps it knew it was in danger and that kept it quiet.
Though Oses was clearly unhappy to have me under armed siege, he didn’t say anything to object. It was pretty obvious that I was behind the shuttle bay incident. Under the It’s control, I could be very dangerous to this ship and crew.
“Computer, place patient in stasis from the neck down,” Tep said as soon as I was in position.
Good, I couldn’t move. Oses snarled at the others, “She’s secured. Put the blasters away.”
I’m sure they could have challenged him since he was on leave, but no one did. Oses was held in high esteem apparently, no matter what his current status was. They immediately holstered their weapons.
Tep muttered and scowled at whatever the scan showed him. “All right, all right,” he said. “She’s certainly infected with the same organism as Matara Candy, but nowhere as much. It’s barely left the arm. One feeder vein in her chest, two in her brain. There seems to be something else here though, something on her wrist...”
Betra’s voice informed me that he’d arrived. “It looks like that cuff Candy got her for her birthday. The armor is growing right over it.”
Tep tapped like the world’s fastest typist on his computer station’s keyboard. I’ve never seen fingers fly so fast. “Actually, it’s growing from the bracelet. There is no separation between it and where the armor connects to it. Did Matara Candy have one of these pieces?”
I stared at the ceiling overhead. “Yes, an exact duplicate. She bought it from a vendor on Darotkin.”
“How long have you been wearing it, Shalia?”
I couldn’t remember the last time I’d put the thing on. I searched my memory, but all I could come up with was the night of the special dinner with Betra and Oses. I’d worn the bracelet and the pretty blouse Katrina had bought me. The one that matched the dress she’d bought for my unborn daughter.
I swallowed. Tep had said the It was only in my arm, chest, and brain. It hadn’t gotten to my baby yet.
“I don’t know for sure the last time I put it on. The latest I remember wearing it was eight days ago. I don’t remember ever taking it off after that.” I looked at Oses, pleading with my gaze for him to believe the next thing I said. “I don’t remember going into the shuttle bay today either. One moment I was in my quarters, and the next I was in the bulkhead where we found Candy. The computer there was counting something down, but I didn’t know what. It must have set off the bay doors opening.” My voice ended in a little sob. Men had died because of me.
“Easy, pet,” Oses murmured. He stroked my hair, his fierce face trying its damnedest to be comforting.
Tep’s frown deepened, putting big furrows in his face. “Candy came into possession of these cuffs during shore leave. That was ten days ago. Did she start wearing hers immediately?”
I remembered her sliding it on right after giving me my birthday present. “Yes.”
“I’m going to operate on the theory that the organisms affected you both in the capacity of memory. You wouldn’t realize you were still wearing the pieces once they had the chance to infiltrate your bodies. I’m betting it sends one of those veins ... or whatever the green tubes are ... straight to the brain as quickly as possible.” The doctor paced, considering. “Only two days’ difference between the times you put them on and forgot you were wearing them. And yet the organism has spread so much farther in Candy than in you. Why is that?”
I interrupted his worrying. “Are you going to put me in full stasis too?”
Tep shook his head. “I’d like to run tests first. I want to know if there is something in your genetic makeup that is fighting this organism. If we can figure out why it is invading you more slowly, that could be the answer to saving Candy and you from being overcome.”
I wanted Candy to be okay. I wanted me to be okay. But someone else was my overriding priority. “What about the baby? You can’t let this thing get to my child.”
Tep paused for only a moment. “Right now, it is nowhere near the fetus. I can’t let this opportunity to study it pass, Shalia. However, I promise that the instant I detect any of these veins heading in the baby’s direction, I will put you in stasis.”
“The thing is still taking Candy over even though she is in stasis,” I pointed out. “Can you take the baby if you have to?”
Tep wrung his hands. “At this stage, that would be dangerous. A few more weeks and she will be at a stage of development that will give her a better chance of survival. If we can’t—” he paused.
“If you can’t stop the organism from advancing,” I supplied, grimly stating what he didn’t want to.
Tep nodded. “If it comes to that, I will deliver the baby. We’ll do all we can to ensure her well-being.”
I said, “Even if it means you have to give up on me.”
Betra’s sharp intake of breath came at the same time that Tep’s brows shot up. “I am in no way saying it will come to that,” the doctor insisted.
“It could,” I grated between clenched teeth. “Let me tell you why.”
I reported my dream then, making sure they knew the first dream of being an armed killer among many others had occurred well before seeing the armor on Candy. I didn’t want them to take the insight lightly. I ended with, “I think the nightmares were the It’s memory of an earlier time. With it connected to my brain, I believe I am seeing some of what it’s done in the past.”
“The It?” Tep asked.
“That’s what I’ve been calling this thing. It was made to kill. It has no conscience. It takes pleasure in destroying.” I swallowed a surge of nausea, remembering that heady thrill of power that had accompanied my bloodsoaked dreams. “It cannot be stopped once it’s in full control. I don’t think I can make that clear enough to you. It will not think twice about killing all of you.”
Between clenched teeth I finished by telling Tep, “If you have to, take the baby and destroy both me and the It. You cannot let this thing get loose.”