The Frank will be the Endeavour’s connection to the plagued Orion. We won’t be connecting the airlocks, at least not at first, just in case. Complete separation of the two ships. A code 3 biohazard.
But I’m assigned to the Frank. Which means I’m going in, right off the bat.
It’s times like these where I ask myself if being an actor was really so bad a job afterall.
The suit is slick to the touch. It stretches and tightens as I pull the first layer on, inch by inch. The first layer is tight, it takes the place of our clothing. The second goes on after, and we need to help each other getting it on. It’s made of a hard plastic polymer, harder to move in, but also resistant to most forms of disease and radiation.
The UEE have called this a level three biohazard, and we’re going in suited up for one. Heavy gloves, thick rubber boots; all we’ve got on are the suits and our boxers. Makes it easier to throw it all away and vent it into space when we get back.
If we get back.
There are four of us suiting up. Two nurses, Charles and Dave, and two doctors, myself and Brihan. I’ve seen him once or twice in passing, around the ship. Haven’t said too many words to him yet, though he’s seemed alright so far. He and I have been on opposite rotations, up until this point at least.
No-one talks much as we suit up.
We talk even less as we walk, moving awkwardly in our suits, up the back walkway of the Frank. The first layer of the suit, plastic like latex, stretches and scratches with each step. Every time I move my arms, I can feel it tearing at the hair around my elbows; same with my knees.
The second layer’s even worse. It takes away any sense of touch, any feeling in the world around you.. Walking in it feels like what it must have felt like, hundreds of years ago, walking in the first space suits humans used.
I only wore level three bio suits twice before, both times during school, as training. I’ve never had to put on a level four, and I shudder to even think about a level five.
I try to keep myself distracted as I strap in to on of the small crash seats in the back of the Frank. Charles is up in the pilots seat, Dave the copilot behind him, so it’s me and Brihan together in the back.
The ship shudders as Charles boots it up, and in seconds I get the queasy feeling as the ship fights against the Endeavour’s gravity, fights to be free of its birthing mother.
And then we’re out, out of the SS Gregory’s gravity; out of its net of safety, and we’re off, in silence, towards the stricken Orion.
Mid-way, an Espera Prowler meets up, docks with us, and a team of UEE marines board. They’re in military hazmat suits. They’re only level II, but they’re more maneuverable than ours. I don’t feel much safer with them around.
We don’t even stop as we head towards the Orion; the Marines simply match their velocity to ours. I’m surprised at how quickly they’re able to get on board. As soon as the docking collars are attached, they shut down our gravity, and mere seconds after the door opens, one by one they glide in, twelve in a row, smooth as silk. They fill the back of the Cutlass; there’s no room for them to strap in, but once the Prowler’s disengaged and the gravity’s back on, they simply fall lightly to the floor and stand, feet apart, like strange, heavily armed monoliths.
I’m keeping myself distracted, trying to think of anything but the ship ahead.
Yes, okay, plagues scare me. Blood, fine. Bile and puss and all sorts of other viscera, whatever. But biological threats? Things I can’t even see? That shit’s scary.
The ship shakes as Charles brings it in hard, and I hear the whine of the clamps sealing our airlock to theirs. I flinch, visibly.
The marines don’t even move.
The hiss of air as our ship’s pressure gets matched to the Orion’s scares the hell out of me.
And then the door starts to open.