Pegasus 3 Inbound to Aurora with wounded.
Request available grav-jeeps for non-ambulatory patients transport. Files attached. Several additional with minor injuries. Ambulatory. Files attached. Several AIs with non-critical damage. Ambulatory. Files attached. Forensic and Technical Recovery personnel requested to return with Pegasus.
Medical and emergency response debrief scheduled for landing +48 hours.
[Private channel, Recorded]
Eleni. Mom’s headed to Aurora to take care of some people. I’m safe and well, but I may be away a bit longer. Give Dad a hug for me.
It was supposed to be a briefing. A planning session. We’d sit around and discuss the problem for a while. Getting back to exploring after two years of settling in. It’s P3, the Purple Pollen Prion. It’s affecting 100% of the Mict, all in the same way. Humans about 18-20% in two predictable ways – either reduced need for sleep [Link to Patient Zero file] or extra body hair [reducing some of the adverse UV effects]. So far it’s been beneficial, but that could change at any time.
I was expecting to talk about Vicinius’ proposals for ice core samples, for tree ring comparisons, and requests to Coral Bloom and the Desert Queens for help in getting samples from the P3 corals and desert plants. Maybe even dust off that Tikkit archeology proposal. But we’d barely gotten started when word came – we’d lost contact with the Island of Understanding. A few minutes later, Ozone confirmed, he’d lost contact with Speaker, but Speaker was at least alive. AUD1 estimates 40 sentients on the ground – Mict, Human, AI, Tikket, and both kinds of ants.
The team was already there, but for Vicinius and Marcus, enroute on the Helios from Bayside. So we started packing the on-call emergency medical team into a Pegasus along with supplies to treat Tikket and Ants. A Janus came over the horizon as we were stuffing gear into the cargo hold – a volcanic eruption on a nearby island. But that doesn’t make sense – Vulcan isn’t here to be angry with us. This planet isn’t an egg nearing hatching. The why doesn’t matter as much as the search and recovery. Looks from the early images like flooding. We saw that in some of the big shakes back home. We need to get in and out fast in case this wasn’t the biggest shock.
We land on the highest ground – a hillock to the east of the flooded area. Even on a quick pass, it’s bad. The main domes are in chest-deep water. Two of our buildings are half-collapsed. Adams was able to get comms working to N’yet, who was trying to get into one of our buildings. The rest of the team heads for the western hillock to set up a field station.
Marak sets off south towards a group of golden ants by a pond. I take a medic towards the diplomatic dome. Adams heads for N’yet and our damaged buildings.
Marak finds one golden ant dead, acid burned. I remember this – it’s the volcanic gasses in the water, makes it acidic. The other ants are unhurt and can contact two Echoes. Marak tell AUD1 heads towards the south of the main dome.
The diplomatic dome is silent. The medic and I find bodies, human and Tikket floating on the water. First Bloom is dead. So are several of the princesses. And several of our team. The only life I can find is one of the Mict, and he’s badly hurt – concussion, internal swelling. I can buy him some time, but it is too soon to focus on any one patient. I have to send him to the field station with the Medic. We’ve got another doctor who is as good as I am, probably better, with humans and MIct. He can handle this. I confirm the dead are, indeed, dead and begin to move on.
Adams helps N’yet into one house. George Marcus (the colony’s firstborn) is trapped there with his nanny bot. It takes them some time to carve a path through the ruins, but he’s safe and unhurt. His parents were last seen in the Greenhouse Dome. It’s north of the diplomatic dome and probably took even more damage. AUD1 says the Tikket made underground spaces and tunnels – maybe some safe air pockets are left.
AUD1 finds Speaker. Scorpion Bane and Ocean Breeze are using a table to float, with Speaker on top of it. The Tikket don’t float and they breathe thru their abdomens. It’s a minor miracle they’re alive. I wade to them. Speaker was an unlikely biological construct from the start – it’s no surprise that he’s badly hurt. Internal bleeding from what passes for his spleen. Again, the best I can do is stabilize for now while AUD1 and the rallying survivors pull the table to the west and the aid station. The Queens are hurt, but ambulatory. We’ve still got over a dozen missing. I head toward the Tikket domes.
Marak heads into the Greenhouse dome in a Lumberjack’s exo-skel and sends an Eagle drone to look for survivors in the down-wash to the south. It finds a few – Adams can reach it more easy that the rest of us by going around the worst flooding.
Marak finds most of our survivors – human, AI, and Tikket. The fungal walls in the cellars are keeping the water out of two labs, but the halls and floor above them are flooded. Marak sends for some survival bubbles from the Pegasus – he can cut a small slit in the walls, push in the domes, have everyone stuff themselves into them and drag them out before the labs flood. Yes, they’ll lose their samples, but they’ll live. He finds George Marcus’ father, but his mother, Breena, is still missing. There’s no one in the other Tikket domes, but there are tunnels underneath. AUD1 starts searching.
Adams finds more dead Tikket and a group of badly wounded ants. He can stabilize them for now, but the chitin damage is serious. AUD1 has some ideas about creating casts – that’s for another day. The best he can do is cut up his own armor to patch them for now. I’m about to head that way when I get the call from AUD1. He’s found Breena in an air pocket in a tunnel and sends me her biomonitor feed. I mutter a prayer to absent gods, again, and slog as fast as I can through the water. Marak joins me while AUD1 clears the rest of the tunnels.
The injuries are all internal. She’s not already infected with whatever’s been washed in by the sea. But she can’t be moved without surgery and she’s going to die in this tunnel if I don’t do something. I can’t get a portable surgery down to her – I can’t even make a sterile operating field ankle deep in mud. For all the miracles that Aute’ medicine offers – it’s useless here. I can do this with psi. I’ve dissected enough lab rats and mice this way to be glad that the Hunted have no gods here, but this is the first time with a sentient.
As I settle into the mud, we get another shock, lesser this time. Marak takes watch. Best chance she has is if I concentrate fully on this. Hopefully, the tunnel will hold.
The Ren said that the Hoth sung Aute and its many peoples to life. When I sense someone’s aura, I hear it as much as I see it. Each person has an orchestra inside them. In her case, it’s as if half the brass section quit in a huff, stomped on a few instruments, and began to walk out. I’m simultaneously trying to keep the rest of the orchestra performing, wire and glue the instruments back together, and bagger those lazy bums back to their jobs. It feels like forever. Marak says it’s been an hour. She’ll live. Another prayer, of thanks, that I don’t have to tell a boy that his mother is gone.
The bone tiredness vanishes with a shot of a stim. Marak carries her out in a bubble to the aid station. The Mict is nearly done. I turn to Speaker. Easier, this time, he’s not so badly hurt and I’ve heard his quirky, improvised song since I cut him out of his hatching pod.
We pack the wounded into the Pegasus. Off those alive when the Pegasus landed, we lost two – one of the fire ants and one of the golden ants that Adams tried to save. Marak and AUD1 will wait for the last of the fire ants to dig themselves out of their burrow. The Pegasus can drop us off at Bayside and return with a team to recover the dead and the most critical tech before that Volcano blows again.
And we are inbound for Aurora. The dead – four blooms, including Crystal Black (1st Bloom of Desert Bloom), Golden Sand’s echo, three of our human diplomats, and at least six ants. Wounded (non-ambulatory): Speaker, Breena, one of the Mict, and two ants. The rest need to be checked, and some minor care.