Station: Helios Alpha V

Five: Dr. Sarah Gardner, Micro Biologist and Paleontologist, Rotation Day: 101

Sarah sprinted away from the Med Lab to the Mess to get away from all of them, from all of it.

She was the newest crew member om Station and the first one to ever come to in alone and now there was no Medical Doctor and she knew, somehow, they would blame her.

Looking around quickly she decided on a table in the middle of the Mess, they would all be here shortly she knew, she could already hear them coming down the hall. Except for the Greenhouse, the Mess was the largest structure in Station and when the whole crew needed to get together it was in here.

She tried to slow her breathing down.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this, she thought. Years of training, years off her life in transport. It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

She padded back her short blonde hair and then they were all there, and loud. They all walked and drank and chewed loudly, she could barely stand it.

Ron sat next to her immediately, everyone else strutted around the room slurping coffee and barking.

“Now what the fuck are  we going to do?”

“We all have Medical training,”

“Yeah, two week while I was finishing my second degree, We need. . .”

“ALICE can do diagnoses.”

“Yeah, after we are already dead, apparently.”

“Don’t we have to call this in?”

“ALICE sends everything back to Corporate, what do you want to call in?”

“Maybe they will give a fuck in the half year we will hear from them anyway.”

“Station is supposed to have two Doctors, now we have none.”

“Everyone of you is a Goddam Doctor, for fuck’s sake.”

“But not the kind we need.”

“And Exodus never explained why she came in alone. The next Doctor was supposed to be with her. . .”

Sarah felt all the faces of the room fall upon her. She didn’t know what to do and couldn’t look up. It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

“Now let’s all calm down,” Ron said as he stood up keeping a hand on her shoulder. His voice was not one of the voices she heard in the rabble. Ron was an imposing figure, Sarah never could figure out why they would ship him out here. He was completely bald and everything of six feet and two hundred twenty pounds. There wasn’t a mean bone in his body but when he stood up and said calm down almost everyone else stopped talking.

Jack entered the Mess. “Yeah, let’s all calm the fuck  down,” He was looking directly at Hugh. “We’ve got another inbound in eighty days, that should have a Doctor in it, yes? Since one didn’t come in with her?”

Everyone had short hair except for Jack. He had long dark hair that curled at the ends and a dark full beard that was streaked with grey. He lived apart from everyone else, away from the crew quarters in the one of the original PODs of Station. Sarah wasn’t sure why he wasn’t groomed or allowed to live out there away from everyone else. She never asked.

“COMM from inbound dropship is two days overdue,” Ellen said.

Everyone hesitated.

“Which is not uncommon,” Max said.

“Everything is uncommon out here,” Ralph said to himself, but loudly enough for everyone to hear. Sarah knew he excelled at understated commentary.

Ellen stood up, took a drink of coffee and considered her data PAD. “We now have no Medical Doctors and our crew is down to ten. We have been enduring an unprecedented storm,” she said, briefly glancing at Natsu.

He glanced up from his PAD but said nothing.

“Our next bus is overdue by two days at least and we. . .” she tried to continue.

“What the fuck are we going to do with his body?” Ralph asked.

“Let’s just figure out,” Ellen tried to continue.

“He’s dead. Right over there. What’re the rules? There have to be some. . .” he continued.

“Ralph’s right,” Jack said, flopping his long hair out of his face. “We’ve got to do something with him.”

“How did he die?” Donna asked. She hadn’t made it to the Med Lab in time to hear ALICE announce his cause of death.

“Aortic something,” Ralph said.

“How is that possible? We were all screened for everything, for years. They don’t send us out here to have ah. ah . .” Donna said.

Everyone was quiet. Everyone knew she was right. They had all gone through years of training and testing to make it onto Station.

“They must have missed something,” Max said.

Sarah sighed. “An Aortic Aneurysm is impossible to see, even with all the genetic background tests we have, sometimes. . .”

“Your chest explodes,” Ron said.

Everyone was quiet again until Ellen starting talking again, like she does.

“We have to put the body in storage,” she said methodically.

“Heh, Corp isn’t going to pay to send 200 pounds of dead weight back to Earth,” Ralph said.

“Long term storage,” Ellen said.

“Oh shit, we have to take him out in this crap?” Carol said. “It’s got to be zero K out there.”

“Eighty nine,” Natsu said quickly and quietly, without looking up from his PAD.

“About Minus three hundred degrees?” Jack asked with a quiet chuckle.

Natsu nodded, looking at him quickly.

“Toss him out the airlock,”Ralph said.

“With full gear we should be fine outside, given the proper precautions,” Ellen said.

“We?” Jack asked.

Ellen ran Station, she would never go outside, Sarah knew.

Everyone knew.

Sarah looked around the room, everyone had their heads down except for Jack and Ron. She noticed a quick look between them.

“Fuck it, I’ll take him,” Jack said.

“I will as well,” Ron said making the sign of the cross.

“But for other reasons,” Ron said with a quick squeeze of Sarah’s shoulder.

She smiled and looked back at her POD, and noticed that HALIE had stopped exploring. She was one of her HALO bots that was exploring the environment. HALIE was in a cave system a few hundred meters from Station. She would only stop exploring when she could not decide which way to go.

Sarah blinked and stopped breathing as she saw the data.


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