Soldier Jareth is an old friend of Tylar's. When he begins to suspect he's caught the virus they're trying to cure, he swears Tylar to secrecy. But Jareth gets worse, until he can't hide it any more, and he collapses out in the field. Will the crew be able to defeat the virus, or is it too late to save them all?
|Publisher:||JMS Books LLC|
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log entry 04.25.3021, 14:07 hours
There are five of us on this mission and we're all nervous as hell.
Fifty colonists dead, two hundred more dying--how can you not be nervous? The Center's got the World Health Organization out here already, and the area's been quarantined since last week. So far there haven't been any new cases, and a few of the infected even show signs of recovery, but we're still on edge because we're the ones out past the no-fly zone.
We're the ones looking for the origin of the virus.
The mission captain is smart, quick on his feet, and always good for a laugh. He's a stocky man, a fact enhanced by his short stature, and he has a scar running down one cheek from his eye to his chin. Every time he laughs, his face reddens and that scar stands out, livid and white, like neon. His name's Paol Frisco and I've heard talk about him from other guys at the Center. They say he's fun to pal around with, and so far he's been pretty cool. He definitely knows what he's doing, knows this planet like the back of his hand. When I asked how many times he's been to Terra he told me only once, but he says he was born here. I guess that makes him our resident expert, no?
Then there's Ansel Eris. He's the pathologist, specializing in botanical contagions. I've known him for a while now, and he's damn good at what he does when he's not being a dick. He's so damn serious all the time, barely even cracks a smile and heaven forbid he ever actually laugh. He's tall and skinny, lanky in a way that makes you think he hasn't broken a sweat in years, and despite the military-style buzz cut he favors, he still looks like a geek. Add in thosesafety glasses he always has on, and you almost expect to see a "Kick Me" sign pinned to the back of his flight suit whenever he walks by.
Ansel is wicked smart, though, a fact he won't let anyone forget. After all, he was the one who isolated the gene for this disease after the first outbreak five years ago.
It's a filovirus like Marburg or Ebola, but for some reason it doesn't respond to the typical hemoflush treatments. On the flight over here I read up on the bug, but there's not much data on the thing--no one knows the host plant; no one knows the cure. This go-'round, it surfaced first in a little girl, eight years old, playing out in the wastelands with her older brother. When she got sick, her brother was too scared to remember where they had been. That's when we came in.
I said five of us, right? There's me, Tylar Daire, navigator. I don't usually sign up for research missions, but my old pal Jareth Banagher called to say he'd been stationed on this ship and they needed a star guide, was I in? What else could I say? Of course I was in. Jareth and I go way back--we both served the Center as soldiers for years. He re-enlisted while I went solo, hiring myself out to whoever needed someone to see their ship through the known planets.
Jareth's a typical grunt and cornered me right after we boarded to tell me on the down-low he wasn't too sure about this mission after all. He doesn't like fighting things he can't see, but there's always at least one soldier assigned whenever the Center has a ship out in the field and Jareth's a good man to have around, what with his broad chest, thick muscles, quick reflexes ... and the cybernetic modifications he's made to his body over the years. He has infrared vision in both eyes--zoom in the left, GPS in the right--and a couple gigabytes in his temple for data storage. There's a USB plug behind his right ear, hidden beneath his bushy dark hair, but it still freaks me out every time I see it. Once he even mentioned X-ray capability, and ever since then, whenever he starts blinking one eye, then the next, I can't help but think he's seeing everyone naked.
But he's a fine soldier, don't get me wrong, and one of the best friends I've ever had. He's hellacious with a gun and he's got that "do or die" bodyguard mentality that'll keep Ansel alive if things get hairy. Which we don't expect--this seems like standard fare. Even Ansel isn't too sure we'll find the host plant. He's been looking for it for years.
No mission's complete without a pilot. Enter Rion Z'ev. Or rather, as he styles himself, the "flying ace." This boy was born with wings, let me tell you. And I'm not just saying that 'cause I think he's the sexiest thing in a flight suit I've seen in a long time. On the way to Terra he got us through a meteor shower with our rear vid screens burned out--we were blind until we landed at the colony. When I told him he was amazing, he winked at me. "You don't know just how amazing I can be."
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