Winds of Aerathiea

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Chapter 16: Miracles Happen

Rebekah was pacing nervously. She couldn’t believe she just met the guy. Forty-eight hours ago she wouldn’t have cared whether Liam lived or died. Now it seemed to be the only thing she thought about. She caught herself as she thought about it. My dad is down there too. Now she felt guilty that she wasn’t as concerned for him as well.

After watching the launch depart, she went down the medical wing to check on their guest. Trish was nowhere to be found. Probably taking a much-needed break thought Rebekah. She got closer to the bay where the lady they had rescued was strapped in more for her protection than anything else. Everything was being stowed now because of the tossing and twisting the ship was going through as it battled this storm all around them.

The lady was still sedated. They feared a head injury and so sedation was used to allow her time to heal. She was also very beautiful with striking raven hair and high cheek bones. Other than the fact she was strapped to a hospital bed, there didn’t appear to be anything else wrong with her. She reminded Rebekah of some actress she had seen long ago. She couldn’t place her now.

She left the hospital and went back down to the hangar deck. She would more than likely hear anything there first as almost everyone was tuned to the parties on the ground and their progress. They were preparing in case they found what they had come for. She tried to look busy. She met Malcolm as he was securing the fittings when the call came in. He wasn’t as talkative this morning, checking and rechecking his knots.

As they moved equipment and stowed it, the people manning the hanger deck got the call at about 1000 hours.

“Ethan to Empress … Ethan to Empress, we have found something. I repeat, we have found something…”

Malcolm replied. “You found the key?”

“Sadly, not yet, but Doctor Peck is currently drooling over the equipment we did find. I couldn’t tell you what is but …” and the line dropped to static.

A cheer erupted from the twenty-odd people that had stopped in their tracks to listen. Just as quickly as the celebration started, it stopped. Over the intercom came a horrific growl, a lot of shouting and suddenly shooting. The cheering turned into a clamor. The crowd in the hangar stopped everything they were doing as they listened to the entire fight through an open comm-link channel. Just as suddenly, the intercom went dead.

“People, People, quiet…. Malcolm, try to get them back. Don’t lose that connection!”

The silence was palatable. Rebekah felt like she had the wind completely knocked out of her. Suddenly the radio receiver came back to life. “Man down. Man down. Prepare for incoming wounded.” The hangar erupted into action as people cleared the room for the launch’s arrival.

“Who’s wounded and how badly?”

Kyton replied “It’s the captain. He’s suffered at least a head injury and possible back injury. Gus is immobilizing him now. We’ll transport as soon as we can get him out of this mess.”

Doctor Weaver broke into the channel, “What happened Kyton?” Everyone gathered closer to the speaker now.

“We were attacked. Just as we feared, three of those beasts were holed up here in the plant, probably to shelter from the storm. Two of them were killed, but we were able to subdue one and will be transporting it up later.”

“Is it wise to bring one up?”

“We discussed it before, Trish. They are no more or less dangerous before and we need answers!”

“Roger that. We are standing by to receive the captain.” Doctor Weaver must have been on a mobile radio because she entered the hangar bay with two men and a crash cart almost as soon as she signed off.

For Rebekah, the moment the launch touched down on the hangar deck, everything seemed to move in extreme slow motion. They transferred Captain Grumm to the gurney and he was gone. A couple of other men exited the launch as well, one holding his arm and one holding his side where he had been grazed by a bullet or shrapnel in the firefight below. They hobbled and limped their way to sickbay, following the Captain, at a much slower pace. The crew composed themselves and quickly got back into preparations for receiving the parts from the launches below.

Rebekah got on the now abandoned radio. “Jackson Peck. Empress to Doctor Peck, come back.”

“Peck here, is that you Rebekah?” Jackson replied.

“Yeah, tell me what happened.”

Jackson, still hyped on adrenaline, proceeded to re-tell what transpired.”

“Is Liam alright?” her concern easily transmitted through the radio.

“Alright? Oh my God, Rebekah, he saved my life! I owe him big after today. You would not believe what he did.” Jackson, who had already been a fan, retold the fight scene between Liam and the ape-men. You would have thought he was reciting something from Tarzan, the way he embellished. She knew she should be concerned, but she couldn’t help the grin on her face.

“Tell Mister Waite something for me…”

“Sure anything, dear.”

“Miracles happen when you least expect them…” she repeated from their earlier conversation.

“They certainly do, dear, they certainly do. Signing off for now.” Jackson cut the link.

Doctor Weaver emerged from the surgical unit and immediately regretted it. Besides the dozen people waiting to hear about Artie’s condition, she immediately felt sea sick. Her knees buckled and she grabbed the railing to stabilize herself.

“Are you ok, doc?” Both Janice Rohm, the nurse that had assisted with the surgery and Gustov “Gus” Maher, the paramedic that had brought Artie in grabbed her to keep her from falling.

“Yeah, just fatigue. I forgot about the dampers on the surgery unit. I didn’t realize we are being buffeted around so badly out here.

“Yeah, Jules is doing everything he can just to keep us here and not getting sucked into that giant whatever it is. Not enough power to do that and compensate for the buffeting the way he normally does.” They picked their way gingerly along the short umbilical that attached the surgery unit to the rest of the ship. As they exited, the buffeting was even worse.

“Janice, pull up some rounds of Dramamine or anything else we have for motion sickness. I think I’m going to need it.” Trish grabbed for the handrail again. “I’m sure plenty of others will too.

Janice, not wishing to be delayed by the dozen or so crew waiting outside the surgery unit, ducked around a corner to get the meds. Trish was met by a hail of questions.

She shouted over the din. “People. People. I know you are concerned. There is plenty to be concerned about. There was no permanent damage. He has a head injury that will take a few weeks to heal and his back was fractured, though that was not as significant as I feared. He’ll be sore, but the back will heal as good as new. He might be disoriented or forgetful for a while. Are you getting this Kyton? Jules, is he getting this?”

“Channels to the bridge are open, Doctor Weaver. I’m so relieved to hear the Captain will be OK.” Even the holographic projection that Jules chose to portray was wringing his hands. The relief was palatable from the bridge as well. Kyton addressed the rest of the ship. “I would recommend though that everyone return to duty and let the doctor get some rest. This is going to get a lot bumpier before it gets better, so if you are not on duty, please go around and secure any loose objects and I would recommend staying in your cabins and strapping yourself down until this is over. Kyton out.”

It might have been Trish’s imagination, but there was something different in the tone of Kyton’s voice. Maybe it was the fatigue, maybe it was just the stress of the situation.

“People, you heard the man. While Captain Grumm is down, Mister Davis is in charge. Let’s clear out! We’ll be putting Artie in his cabin to recuperate. We need the space. I’ll start a visiting schedule in a couple of days. For the time being, please just let the man rest? Gus, can you make sure the Captain gets to his quarters in one piece?”

The crowd murmured their approval and began to disperse as the thunder and lightning outside took on a new urgency.

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