Duty Calls

Duty Calls
September 11, 2012 10 Comments Writing Stephanie Ayers

    

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Day 12, Rhys scribbled on her log, Blue Ivy has been found on Asgardia. Off to Plutonia to secure the firebush. She looked out the small window of her spaceship. Luscious purples and yellows filled her eyes as she lit up the control panel and prepared for takeoff. She loved Asgardia, though it was by large uninhabitable. It was a beautiful ball in the solar system where no life form, other than plant life, has been found. She was surprised to find it listed on the mission. Plutonia, home to the fire-breathers, would prove a tougher task, as the inhabitants there did not take to intrusion. If her duty was not so important, she would not have risked their wrath- even the smallest could set a world on fire with one breath. But she needed to acquire a sacred firebush, the last of three relics on her list, and return home before the contagion on her home planet wiped out her species.

The flight was short thanks to the rocket booster her brother, Ananias, had installed. The tribunal would punish him greatly if they found out. Despite that, it made the necessary trip move that much faster. The members of the tribunal thus far had been spared the infection, but she knew that any one of them could fall prey to it at any given moment. The bright reds of Plutonium approached and she landed smoothly. She shook off the negative what-ifs haunting her head, secured her CO2 to her jumpsuit, and stepped out on the magenta soil of Plutonia concentrating on her task. She could see the blips of light from the security patrol machine headed her way. She walked towards the blip, paying no mind to the magenta dust coating her white suit. Everything on Plutonia was alive. No one left without carrying a part of it with them. At least the dust creatures were harmless tag-alongs. Eventually they would get bored and drop off leaving her suit white once more. She focused her eyes to the distance, taking in the tall and wide spaces of the planet. Much like the brown shaded layers of Earipedes, they rose with layers of red defining their age. Fire bushes grew in abundance along the top, down the sides, and deeper down into the caverns. Three species they had, but only one would work.

The machine stopped in front of her. One of the three aliens aboard extended a hand out demanding that she halt. Their skin was pitch black and hairless. Nine eyes stared at her.

“Stop! Do not proceed any further! What is your business on Plutonia today?” The one closest to her said. Her translator was working perfectly.

“I am Rhys Scion, with the Intergalaxial Disease Control.” She held out her badge. “I’m seeking to secure a firebush to squelch an infection on my home planet of Earipedes. I request permission to enter the kingdom.”

They turned their backs to her and hovered together. She knew they were discussing her information. One turned back to her, holding his hand out for her badge. She handed it over, her heart doing a small flip as she released it. Another spoke into a small radio, nodding his head occasionally. He turned back to Rhys, returning her badge.

“We must take you to the council. They will decide your fate.” They grabbed her roughly though she did not protest. This was common protocol. Receiving the council’s approval would only make her quest easier. She was ill prepared for the maroon grain they slipped through her CO2 tube, however, and crumpled to the floor unconscious.

Rhys awoke with a sharp hammering inside her skull. She found herself lying on a rich red carpet surrounded by rust colored metal bars, jailed for her intrusion. Perhaps things were not as cozy with this planet as believed. She did not have time to mull over it as the gate opened and another guard entered, leading her out of the cell. Red clay surrounded her as they moved down the hall, and she realized they were underground. Cool air surprised her, a stark contrast to the stifling heat of the surface. Crystals of all shapes and sizes provided a beautiful natural light that left her awestruck. The hall opened out to a wide room where five identical hairless, deep purple toned figures sat on cherry-colored thrones. The center figure nodded to the guard and he released her, disappearing back down the hall in the direction they had come. They passed her badge from one throne to the next. Finally, all eyes settled on her.

“Tell us about this infection,” the center throne said, speaking in her language.

“It began twelve days ago in a small town called Dover. It moves swiftly, attacking the immune system and breaking down the barriers until settling in the brain and stopping all brain function. It had wiped out 8% of our population at the time of my departure four days ago.” Rhys answered.

“You dared to intrude on our planet. Why?” Another throne, this one feminine, said.

“We’ve been researching for a vaccine to stop the infection. It reacts to nothing on our planet. Through research we have determined that water from the planet Azuria, Blue Ivy from Asgardia, and a firebush from here, when combined, would be powerful enough to kill the infection.”

“Those sacred relics from other lands serve more purpose that what you propose. We loathe to honor your request until we are content that your motives are pure.” A third throne countered. “We will not be privy to a galaxial war because we provided you with the final ingredient to create a super weapon.”

Rhys’s eye opened wide and her jaw dropped open at this news. No one told her that the items she was collecting could cause a war. She only wanted to save her people, not start a war. There must be some workable solution. She could not return to Earipedes without the firebush. She had to tread carefully. One wrong word and they would imprison her indefinitely. By the time they released her, her species could be extinct.

“Ah,” said the fifth throne. “Your confusion is written all over your face. Please, tell us more about this infection. Did you research it personally? Is there no doubt in your mind that this vaccine would work? How do you plan to test it? How many other planets are afflicted?” the volley of questions from the thrones boggled her. Her chest heaved quickly. The hammering in her head became sharper. White spots danced before her eyes. Heat rushed through her body. Her legs trembled as they weakened.

“I…I” she stammered before she fainted, her word bouncing off the walls and echoing down the hall. Two guards stepped back into the room. Forest green herb placed in her CO2 tube revived her and her eyes floated open slowly. She rose from the ground and turned to the expectant faces of the council once more.

“That doesn’t work in this court, miss,” the center throne reprimanded. “We must have answers. Begin.”

Rhys started at the beginning again, repeating what she had already told them. She shared as much information as possible without breaching the confidentiality protocol of her own planet. She concluded by telling them of her loved ones who were deathly ill.

“I don’t know anything about super weapons. I’m trying to save my species,” she pleaded.

“But a whole bush? There could not possibly be enough need for a whole firebush.” “Do they not realize that each bush has a Plutonian counterpart?” Their voices overlapped as they bantered amongst themselves. “We are being asked to sacrifice one of our own for another planet.” “Impossible.” “Absolutely not.” “It is not our problem.”

A small voice piped up from the center throne. “But what if the infection travels here? Would we not do the same as this Earipedian? We are members of the Intergalactic Peace Council. We promised aid to those in need. Are they not in need?”

“If what she is saying is true, yes. But, how do we know she is telling the truth?” Another answered.

“Even if she is telling the truth, is it good enough to risk the start of Galaxy War 17?” The fifth throne was cynical.

“We have active trade with Earipedes. If the species were erased, we would be lacking in everything they provide. Our machines would cease to work and our economy would suffer greatly. No other planet can offer us what they do. We must help.”

“But a whole bush? Why not a branch?” All eyes turned to Rhys for an answer to this question.

“A branch wouldn’t provide enough element. Our planet has a population of 85 trillion people.”

“And all 85 trillion are infected? Are you infected?” The thrones crowded closer, inspecting her for illness. A collective gasp filled the room as they took in her sallow green complexion and the unusual yellow tint of her eyes. “You are infected. Will you survive the return trip and live to see the vaccine work? How do you know it will work?”

Rhys slumped as the pounding in her head rose again. Someone added more of the forest green herb to her tube. She inhaled deeply before answering. “When I began my quest ten days ago, I was healthy. Since I’ve fallen prey to this infection, I’ll use myself as a placebo to test the vaccine. If it’s successful, I will return to my planet healed. If it’s not, my spaceship will sail through space until it’s destroyed, along with everything in it.”

Satisfied with her response, the thrones drew back. They ordered the guards to secure her once more. As their cold arms wrapped through hers, she shuddered. “We will grant your request on one condition. You must allow our medical personnel to take blood from you before you leave. You will find the bush in your spaceship when you are finished.” Five heads nodded in agreement. “Take her to the hospice.”

Rhys rubbed the tender spot on her arm where the medical staff had drawn the blood. Somehow, they had managed to get her in her spaceship and send it back into space before she regained consciousness. The autopilot was on, the course set for her home planet, a nice touch of civility she had not expected,  knowing their concern that she had brought the infection to them, but grateful they had not pressed her further about her role with the Disease Center. She took advantage of their kindness to get more comfortable. The compound needed to be mixed, and she hoped she would get it right on the first try. The results would be disastrous if she did not. She shivered as a drop of the Azurian water touched her bare skin, now retaining a soft blue hue as her fever soared. On instinct, she dipped a cloth in the water and bathed her skin with it. The results were incredible. She felt better much faster than she had anticipated, though there was still much to do to turn the infection around. It allowed her to work faster and she created three compounds, removing thin slices of skin in order to test them. Each cylinder was given its own name and she waited for results. Only one of them showed any response. Rhys pulled that cylinder out, filled a syringe with the solution, and stabbed it into her thigh. She made a notation in her journal before allowing herself to fall into a deep sleep.

     Day 16… Firebush has been obtained. Three compounds were created, only one showing any success. This recipient, fallen ill, has taken the first dose in faith that it will be successful. Let the journal show that the dose was taken at 2100 hours. Her eyes drifted out the small window in front of her and as they closed, she saw the beautiful, familiar world she called home looming on the horizon.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

For the Scriptic prompt exchange this week, Jester Queen gave me this prompt: A woman finds three sacred objects.

I gave Michael this prompt: The impending storm looked like one never seen before. The sky was green and the animals were restless. It was a bad day to be a zookeeper.

This week the genius behind 3 Word Wednesday gave us these words which I added into my story: banter, duty, element.

I’m always looking for feedback. Please feel free to share your thoughts in a comment.

Thanks for stopping in!!

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Stephanie Ayers A published author with a knack for twisted tales, Stephanie Ayers is the Executive Creative Director of OWS Ink, LLC, a community for writers and readers alike. She loves a good thriller, fairies, things that go bump in the night, and sappy stories. When she is not writing, she can be found in Creative Cloud designing book covers and promotional graphics for authors.
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  1. 10 Comments

    jesterqueen (@jesterqueen)

    Yayayayayay!! I love it! I like her response to the autopilot, too.

    Reply
    1. 10 Comments

      SAM

      Yay! Thank you for all your help. It was a fantastic prompt that stretched my writing wings. I’m glad my changes were successful.

      Reply
  2. 10 Comments

    justlyd

    Love this- and I like where you’ve left us…is she cured? Is she not? Are that many of the ingredients really needed for vaccine or are there plans that she doesn’t know about? Will the people of Asgardia become infected too?
    All of these questions would make me desperate to keep reading,well done. 🙂

    Reply
    1. 10 Comments

      SAM

      Thanks, Lydia. 🙂

      Reply
  3. 10 Comments

    Carrie

    The eyes drifting closed at the end makes me think she is dying and the compound has done nothing. Or maybe she’s just taking a nap 😉 I like the vagueness of it, lets the reader make some guesses.

    I like this piece but I think the info dump at the beginning could be cut. Sure, maybe we need to know some of it but it felt like an awful lot for such a short piece. You could maybe sprinkle bit in through out if you feel the info is truly necessary.

    Reply
    1. 10 Comments

      SAM

      Thanks for your thoughts on both the open ending and the beginning! (Compared to the 100 word and 500 word pieces we’ve been doing, this 2,000 word piece fells lengthy! LOL)

      Reply
      1. 10 Comments

        Carrie

        I know, I feel like I’m blabbing too much if my piece starts creeping up to 1000 words :p

        Reply
        1. 10 Comments

          SAM

          It’s really making me question myself!

          Reply
  4. 10 Comments

    Morgan Kellum

    A rather intense situation, well written to capture both the fear and the desperation. I too like the ending … letting us either dream that she survives, or fades away with her home planet as her last sight. Well done. Visiting from WOE. 🙂

    Reply
    1. 10 Comments

      SAM

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts and it’s nice to meet you!

      Reply

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