She led them into the clinic and away from the red dust of the valley…
The Return of the Verotchka (Part One)
“Come inside.” Terra lowered her weapon and offered her hand to Yosov. She led them both into the clinic and away from the red dust of the valley.
“Please have a seat I shall make some Brac-Na.” Terra moved to the back to begin the brew while Yosov, in the same chair Geich sat, took a seat.
“Tell me about Geich.”
Yosov explained to Terra how she encountered him outside her home and how both she and Chern took him inside where he had water and medicine.
“What is his condition?”
“He is alive and sleeping.”
“Let me think for a second.” Terra stood up and paced around the small clinic. The time had come for her to leave Seg and take Geich with her, besides Geich needed to be transported to a Galactic Alliance Medical Cruiser. “I have a desert hovercraft in the back. We will ride to your home where I will pick up Geich and drop you off. Before we leave I must contact Medical Command and explain the situation. I have to ensure a replacement so the vaccine can be administered on time.”
They made sure their Desert Survival Suits were secure and food and water packed. Terra led the way through the clinic into an attached garage where a vehicle sat under. As she threw back the tarp red dust flew into the air and for a second neither of them could see. The door, to the hovercraft, opened easily and the inside still looked rather tidy as Terra started the pre-ignition sequence.
“Medical Command this is Seg Medical Clinic do you copy?” Terra moved her wrist communicator to her mouth to talk. Static from her communicator, whose volume seemed to rise and fall in waves, filled the garage.
“Medical Clinic of Seg we hear you.” The static cleared. “This is Medical Command. Please inform.”
“Command this is Terra, Vaccine Distribution Coordinator here on Seg, asking for an audience.”
“Ok, Terra. What is your emergency?”
“My Vaccine Runner has been bitten by a venomous snake and needs immediate attention.”
“Is he available for pick-up?”
“No. It may take a few hours before we are ready for pick-up. I would like to board with the Vaccine Runner can you provide replacements?”
“Affirmative. Be at the pick-up location within an hour.”
Yosov took a seat, with worry etched on her brow, next to Terra in the hovercraft. Terra asked Yosov about how she met Chern and Yosov’s face lit up.
“Chern, such a handsome man, when we met he put on his best evening wear, well-crafted shoes, and the best hat for shade he could find.” Yosov talked as Terra lifted the hovercraft off the floor with a whoosh and gave the command to open the garage door. “I remember when I saw Chern standing in front of me dressed with such care I almost burst with joy.”
“Make sure your seatbelt is tightened” Terra exclaimed as the hovercraft left the garage and headed into the desert.
“He wrote me a poem I remember to this day.”
“Well, I know you are dying to share.” Terra pushed a lever that increased her thruster power as they sped up. “Let’s get out into the open desert first.”
Waves of heat broke upon the hovercraft, like water breaks and scatters on rocks, and Terra could not resist Yosov’s smile when she talked about Chern.
“Chern asked for forgiveness before he proposed. He apologized for the surprise and hoped I wouldn’t take the proposal wrong.” She explained how he kept mopping his forehead and smiling. “He told me that from the moment he saw me his soul filled with unconquerable desires. His desires kept him awake at night.”
“What about this poem?” Terra listened as she steered the hovercraft towards Yosov’s home.
“Oh yes. Here it is.
Waves of heat
breaks on rock
Waves of your hair
the hardest stone.“
“I see. Well, he certainly had some room for improvement in the poetry department.” They laughed yet Terra could not stop thinking about when she met her husband. Memories of when he proposed on Lai, prior to the planet’s exodus, filled her mind. He woke her early one morning with a ring and a heartwarming proposal that led her to marry him three weeks after at the local courthouse.
Shortly after their wedding, he started his work on the Verotchka, Lai’s last hope to move from their space stations back onto a planet’s surface. Being tasked with the burden of creating the first AI system to move into deep space took his focus off her. He seemed to remove himself from the life they had dreamed and they started to argue. She did not understand his obsession and filled with anger began a relentless crusade to make him miserable.
This desert, on a planet light-years away, still could not remove the pain of his death.
Shortly after Yosov finished her story the two arrived at the entrance of her residence. The hovercraft, after lifting clouds of red dust, slowly settled.
Terra moved by her thought brought her wrist communicator to her mouth.
“Medical Command this is Terra on Seg. Please respond.”
“This is Medical Command, Terra.”
“We are picking up Vaccine Runner will meet transport in thirty minutes.”
“A transport will provide replacements and pick you up in a half-hour at landing location.”
“Excellent.” Terra followed Yosov into Yosov’s residence. Soft light, emitted from rock walls, lit the interior. Yosov led Terra into where Geich slept. Breath still left his mouth as his chest slightly lifted.
“Help me carry him to the hovercraft Yosov.” Terra gently cradled Geich’s shoulders and lifted him up with Yosov at his feet. Carefully they carried him, as he remained asleep, to the entrance of Yosov’s residence.
“We must hurry Yosov.” They both loaded Geich into the hovercraft.
“This is Medical Command to Terra on Seg.” Terra heard from her wrist communicator.
“I hear you.” She responded.
“An uncharted wormhole just opened. A large unknown vessel has appeared.” The voice started to break. “We are under attack. There will be no transport. I repeat there will be no transport.”
Dazed, Terra stopped in her tracks. Options, though they seemed sparse, started to form in her mind.
“I am stranded here.” She thought. “If Medical Command is destroyed no one knows I am here.”
‘Terra what does all this mean?” Yosov walked to her side and put her hand on Terra’s shoulder. “I guess we return Geich to my bed and wait till Chern arrives.”
Bright light filled their eyes for a split second.
Suddenly, a few feet in front of Terra, a person stood in an outdated Lai spacesuit. Terra, shocked at the suddenness of this hallucination, could not move and only stared.
“Who are you and why are you wearing such an outdated Lai spacesuit?” Terra walked up to the figure without fear and the suited person embraced her in a hug.
She looked into the helmet to see the face.
“I am you.”
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