To start from the beginning, go here. We’re still following Tabitha Enns as she joins the Kestrel as a trainee.
Intruders Chapter 2 Scene 1
Tabitha was so relieved someone was going to fix her, she relaxed onto the arm the doctor offered her. He yelped and flinched.
‘Sorry,’ she mumbled, taking her own weight. ‘I’m not used to this gravity. It’s so light.’
‘It’s all right,’ he said. ‘I’m Dr Robinson. Sit here.’
As she complied, she noted the MO was an older man with a large nose and shoulder-length black hair gathered at the nape of his neck. He was slim and looked very fit.
‘Space sickness, undoubtedly,’ he said after examining her. ‘It’s most likely the gravity difference. What’s the gravity on Alpha? 2.5G? Come over here and lie down inside this pressure pod.’
He helped her into the pod and fetched her a phial and a leaflet.
‘Sip this anti-emetic when you feel queasy, and read this - you’ll need to do these exercises three times a day until you acclimatise.’ He pulled the clear canopy down. ‘I’m going to set this to 2.5G to give you relief. It will reduce gradually over the next three hours. Then you can go back to your cabin and straight to bed. You’ll be much better by the morning. I’ll let Commander Holland know –'
Tabitha shot up in bed, shaking her head, and nearly fainted. Robinson chuckled, raised the canopy, and pushed her down again.
‘Don’t you worry, you won't get into trouble. Relax now and let the machine do its work.’
As she lay there, Tabitha reflected on the events of the day. She had started off as Tabitha, top student, and ended up as Trainee Enns, who hadn’t a clue what she was doing and couldn’t even walk straight. All her life she had dreamed of being in space, and now she was, but she hadn’t imagined it like this. She thought of her parents. Dad would be proud, Mum would be horrified. I got away without having a scene with Mum, she thought with relief. I'm going to make the most of this chance while I can.
As she dozed under the canopy, Tabitha could hear the MO and another man checking off the inventory of medical supplies, a gentle drone in the background. Then there was a knock at the door.
‘That’ll be Reuel,’ said Robinson. ‘He's so eager to learn human customs, he’s the only one who knocks.'
Tabitha raised her head a little to see. Reuel was the Altairian, she remembered. This would be the first alien she had seen in the flesh. He was a tall, slender pink humanoid without hair, spines ran down his head like a coxcomb. He was wearing a violet armband. Ensign, thought Tabitha. His cranial spines writhed and his expression looked anxious.
He gave a little bow. ‘I apologise for my intrusion. Is there any news of Balitoth? Will the operation be over yet?’
‘As promised, I will tell you as soon as there is news,' Robinson said. ‘I’m sure he will be fine.’
Reuel frowned. ‘Fine, I must research this word more fully. Humans seem to use it in so many situations.’
‘I mean that everything will be done under the best possible practice and Balitoth will recover as well as can be expected under the circumstances.’
‘Under the circumstances, yes.’ Reuel gave another bow. ‘Thank you for your time.’
As the door closed behind him, the other man chuckled.
‘He's so gentle, it’s hard to believe how fierce he can be when roused.’
[Next week: Tabitha settles in]
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