Across The Universe

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic


Chapter 29 (v.1) - 29

Submitted: September 01, 2018

Reads: 101

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Submitted: September 01, 2018



The day of the drop, Adrian was on shuttle two.  It was a terrifying thing, but all went well until they landed.  Then the news about what happened with Daisy hit him, transmitted by shuttle one a few hundred yards away.  She was missing as well as Max, and both were presumed dead.  It was like all the air had been sucked out of him, and he found himself falling, his hands buried deep in the sand as his breathing deafened him.  It was unthinkable that she had died-- no, he couldn't do this again, he couldn't grieve for her again.


He was helped to his feet, and he couldn't hear them talking to him, trying to figure out what was wrong.


Swallowing repeatedly, Adrian shook his head, trying to get the images of her lying dead in the cell, her screams of agony.  She was dead, she was dead, she was--


"Snap out of it, and focus!"  Evers yelled at him, forcing Adrian to the fore of reality.  Numbly, Adrian felt his teeth sink through his tongue as he surveyed the rest of the crew, all of them waiting for Evers to give them the go-ahead to start building the hub.  The suits were only good for sixteen hours before needing to be recharged, and they had a lot of work to do, without worrying about him.


"I'm ready," Adrian choked out, swallowing the blood that had pooled in his mouth, before following directions to unload the shuttle as the other one was maneuvered towards them.


The hub wasn't meant for long term, only to sustain them for the first couple years at most, so it was quick and easy to knock up.  A floor staked to the ground, wide arches that were dressed as ribs as the temporarily movable polysilien was drawn over them, pulled taut to harden as it was sealed to the floor.


Once it was set up, the finer details were added, such as air-locks, doors, and oxygen.  Throughout it all, Adrian was rabidly monitoring the radio, hoping beyond hope to hear Daisy's most likely irritated voice ordering a pick-up.  'At the soonest convenience'.  That would be what she would say, a terse up yours to the people who let this happen.  He had heard it enough when they were working together to know that was exactly what it meant.


When seven hours had passed, the hub was habitable, and they went in, removing their suits -- not even the supras willing to risk the outside air just yet -- Adrian ripped out his radio from his helmet, listening to it for any sign of life to crackle through the wire.


When the rovers were up and running, he hung around to hear if their stronger radios were picking anything up, but there was nothing.  It was baffling.  How far could they be off course for there to be nothing?  Silently, he listened to them tell him that the radios could have been damaged, or sunk in water.  While they were water-proof, if it was deep enough, it wouldn't send or receive a signal.  Adrian didn't want to think of what it would mean if the radios were submerged into that deep of water.


Twenty-four hours passed without a word.  No one asked him what he thought he was doing when he offered to accompany the search teams, but they let him aboard the rover.


When it was coming up on the second night, there was no hope left.  Everyone knew they were dead.


As the driver let the rover roll to a stop, Adrian buried his head in his arms.  Evers promised that the situation would be extensively investigated, but what good would it do when the worst had already happened?  Evers didn't have an answer, and Adrian kept looking, but it was over now.  There would be no more active searches because they had already searched within reasonable range, the radio repeating a signal on an endless loop.


A hand landed on his shoulder.  "She would have passed out before she hit the ground," Margaret told him quietly.  "She wouldn't have felt a thing, neither of them."


Silently, Adrian nodded, not having the strength to speak.  He had been up for close to forty hours, and he felt like he was on the verge of breaking.


"What's that?"  Paul, the driver said, squinting at a lump that was edging a water hole.  It had been the reason he had stopped, and he was still trying to figure out it's shape.


Seeing a flash of blue wrapped around the shape's smallest point,  Adrian felt his heart seize, and he almost got out of the rover without putting his helmet back on.  As it was, the other's barely managed in time as he bolted, running to close the distance between him and the lost ones.


Falling to his knees, he accidentally knocked into Daisy, letting Max float free from her lax grip.  Hurriedly, Adrian stumbled to his feet, dragging Max onto land before guiltily examining Daisy, trying futilely to find a sign of life through his thick gloves.


Brushing her cheek, he stopped breathing, seeing her lashes flutter briefly.  "Angelo," she murmured, trying to reach for him before her damaged senses failed her again.


They were both carried into the back of the rover, and once the area was reoxygenated, Adrian examined them both.  Max seemed to be worse off, and it didn't take long for Adrian to see why; his arm was apparently rotting off, the smell cloying in the small space, and he was on the verge of being sick from it.  He cleaned the wound and medicated it before wrapping it.


Then he turned his attention to Daisy, her heartbeat barely registering on the scanner that had been specially made for the supras.  It wasn't good, he could see that she was ailing from more than the exhaustion and the exposure, just like Max was.  Perhaps there was something in the water, or some previously undetected poison in the air.


There was nothing more he could do.  Adrian fell back on his heels, half-listening to Paul chatter into the radio and the response.  Holding Daisy's hand, Adrian closed his eyes.  There was nothing he could do, so he would just have to wait to see what Ortega said was wrong with them.


As they went over a particularly large rock that nearly sent them all flying out of their seats, Adrian opened his eyes as he grabbed the rod over his head.  He noticed Margaret watching him.  He looked at the hand he was holding, then back at her.  Margaret nodded only once to show her understanding, then turned back to the view ahead of the rover.


Driving through the rover's airlock, the vehicle was swamped as the curious and worried gathered around it, unintentionally slowing its progress.  As it ground to a halt, the back was opened up and Ortega climbed in as Adrian quickly gave a rundown of what seemed to be the problem.


"You think so?"  Ortega asked, accepting a backboard for Max.  "Good, then you can help me.  You can run the tests needed on them both, and tell me what's the secret ingredient."


Helping lock the straps around Max, Adrian accepted the second backboard and helped the doctor load Daisy onto it, locking her in as well, before sliding the board about halfway out so she could be carried away.


Careless discarding his suit so that he could follow them, listening as Ortega decided to put Daisy in the quarantine room since there was only one bed in medical, and because Max was clearly worse off, he wanted to devote most of his attention to him.  Nunia was assigned to examine Daisy, and she carried a tool chest of medical supplies over to examine her, as Adrian helped run minute test on Max to see what was wrong, but for the most part, it just seemed to be his arm.  Blood was to be drawn after a quick look over Daisy.


"What?"  Ortega demanded without preamble, and Nunia looked up at him as she fed an IV lead into Daisy's arm.


"Uh, um, she's effected as you'd expect for someone that was walking in forty-eight degree heat," Nunia said quickly.  "Some exposure burns, but those will heal soon."  She handed Ortega the summation.


"No idea what's causing--"  He paused.  "Hm.  Nothing."  He gestured to Adrian.  "Have at her."


Sighing, Adrian did a blood draw from both before going over to his station to see how things showed up.  He delegated one of the vials to Charlie so the testing would go quicker, but after running the tests only one thing became clear.


"They were poisoned," Charlie said, comparing notes.  He shrugged, looking extremely uncomfortable.  "That's the only thing that would explain how calcium nitrate would have gotten into their lungs.  It's in the ground here, not the air, not in that concentration."


Adrian looked past him to the people milling around the hub.  "Who hates them both enough to try to kill them?"  He asked, and Charlie made a hissing sound.


"Don't be rash," Charlie told him, holding up a hand.


"You just said they were poisoned, if now's not the time, when?"  Adrian asked sharply.  "Niemand is the only one who has been so overtly confrontational, being openly antagonistic to them both--"


"This has nothing to do with him beating the shit out of you," Charlie said, crossing his arm, giving a slightly apologetic look at Adrian's expression.


"No, it has to do with the fact that he has harassed and threatened Darian and has been pushing Max around for the longest time, hoping that he lashes out," Adrian said in a rush.  "He's is always--"


"Then what about Karin?"  Charlie put in.  "She was in charge of the suits, shoe would just have to pack the powder into the oxygenators.  This is why you can't be rash.  Max may have a big mouth when he opens it, but Daisy's the dangerous one."  Adrian paused and frowned.  "Yes, you've even said it yourself, if she threw herself off a cliff, the rest of them would be quick to follow."


"And that makes her dangerous?"  Adrian said incredulously.


Charlie nodded.  "It does because she has an army of people who can do more than we can ever dream of, and she's practically the messiah to them."


Swallowing, Adrian allowed that it was true.  "Then what about Max?  What is he, the prophet?"  He said sarcastically.


Charlie eyed him for a moment.  "Because he's her favourite," he said quietly.  "You must have seen him chasing after her every step of the way."


"That means she's his favourite, not necessarily the other way around," Adrian pointed out, and Charlie held up his hand.  Adrian pushed away from the wall.  "Since you think you can be more fair, you can take it to the head."  He handed Charlie the papers, finding no satisfaction in seeing his shoulders slump.


Walking towards the med centre Adrian slowed as he saw Nunia and Margaret talking.  After a moment's hesitation, Margaret pointed at him, and Nunia jogged over.  Eyeing her warily, Adrian nodded at her as she began to walk beside him.  "I think I need to talk to you," she said, and he wasn't sure if he like her tone.


"What?"  He asked, and she took his arm, leading him back to his station.


She looked at him seriously, not letting go of his arm.  "I heard a rumour, would you care to verify it?"  She asked, and he sighed.


"I'm pretty sure it is, what?"  He said, and she frowned, her brows knitting together.


"That you and Daisy--"




She nodded slowly.  "Ah."


"Is there a problem?"  Adrian asked, studying her.


She grimaced, tipping her head to the side.  "There might be, but let's try to be positive," she answered.  "I don't know how to say this, so I just will; Congratulations."


Adrian blinked, not getting it.


She looked at him like he was an idiot.  "Y'know, congratulations," she repeated with heavy emphasis.  She looked at his expression and exhaled tiredly.  "She's pregnant."


He stared at her a moment.  "What?"


Groaning, Nunia patted his arm and walked away.  "Congratulations," she said wryly.


He was numb.  "What?"  He called after her, running his hands through his hair.

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