<< BACK TO RELAY ONE LOG From: System Account <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: sam <email@example.com> Delivered-To: sam <firstname.lastname@example.org> Received: from relay4.qec2.rs001.l4.earthsys.gov by mta3.recoveryinstitute.org with ESMTPS id x124so177123a067 for <email@example.com> Received: from relay1.qec7.ganymede.earthsys.gov by relay4.qec2.rs001.l4.earthsys.gov Received: from qec4.helio.earthsys.gov by relay1.qec7.ganymede.earthsys.gov Received: from qec.sv14417 by qec4.helio.earthsys.gov Date-Local: 19 Mar 2419 06:54:32 +0000 Date: 02 Sep 2421 05:30:32 +0000 Content-Type: text/plain; charset="utf8" Subject: Made it... God, Sam, how I wish you were here. Maybe you could help me. You were always the best of company. None of us ever really expected to find anything complicated. Proks, maybe, if we were very lucky. More likely just smelly slurry that might have been something someday if we hadn't showed up first. But this? No. Never in a million years. Certainly not in twenty-three. Sorry. I know I'm not making sense out of this. I'll try again. They probably already have some of it from SCARS, but let me tell it to you my own way. What I heard, the midcourse corrections had us coming into the system weird. Not so weird we couldn't make orbit, but enough that we had to correct so the landing boats could reach Site One and back. Partway through the correction, we hit something. Or something hit us - I talked with one of the pilots before he died, he told me they didn't catch it on radar and that shouldn't have been possible, not with the damage it did. Had the idea it must've been directed, somehow. I don't know if that makes sense, but either way, it holed us. Holed us bad, and with the thrusters still firing. If they hadn't been, the fuel system would've been evacuated - we might've stayed up. But the blast gave us a vector we couldn't overcome on OMS thrust, and of course we'd exhausted the primaries. It wasn't a surprise when we hit the atmosphere. The surprise was that anyone walked away from the impact site. Just under three hundred of us. Doesn't sound like much of a miracle, but believe me, we were happy to take it until a better one came along. Wasn't even that bad a landing site, for all we didn't get to choose much - rolling sandy plains, some large body of water within eyeshot, maybe an hour's leisurely walk. We could do something with the place, once we got our feet under us. We didn't worry about the sickness at first. Barely even noticed it - most of us were more or less beat up, and not everyone had made it to a crash couch in time. We were all working thirty-hour days between broken bones and soft tissue trauma, inventorying what we had left by way of supplies, getting the worst toxic leaks from the wreck under control, and trying to jury-rig enough of a hab to keep the weather off - we hit smack in the northern temperate zone, and the climate isn't too bad, but about three hours out of every day we get storms you wouldn't believe. Fever, lower back myalgia, mild lower GI distress? We had two reactors still up, enough surplus power to run the handful of heads left with intact sequestration systems. Plenty of paracetamol and neoprox. We had so many problems trying to kill us, we were just glad this one wasn't. Then, all of a sudden, it was. Day Six, the sepsis syndrome caught us completely by surprise. Thirty-four dead in less than half one of Ross's long bright days - onset to lethality in minutes, the medics had never seen anything like it. The ones who died had been feeling worst, but we all had it by then, and still didn't know what it was. We found what tools we could for our one surviving biochemist, and she set to work trying to isolate the causative agent - with a lot of luck, maybe she'd figure out how to treat it before it killed us all. Probably would've been easier if she hadn't been hurting too badly by then to sit up. But she got far enough for us to pick up when she had to leave off. Light microscopy doesn't give you much structural detail, next to nothing about life processes, but we could see well enough what it looked like: something like an amoeba, sort of polymorphic that way, but with a trophism like nothing we'd ever seen and flagella it used like a mosquito uses its proboscis. We fed it whole blood and watched it suck the cytoplasm clean out of two dozen erythrocytes at once. Leukocytes it just *absorbed*, we're still not sure how - they'd hit the cell membrane and just, I don't know, just melt into the thing. And then it'd divide, and both daughters would do it all over again. We never saw the whole cycle take more than a minute. We had plenty of antiparasitics, of course - med bay wasn't what you'd call intact, but the starboard-aft hold had most of the backup supply, and enough came through the crash to supply we who were left for a long time. Nothing we had touched them, though. Not even the really exotic stuff that hadn't been approved for human use yet, and we just brought because who knew what we'd run into? They didn't even seem to notice. We weren't equipped any more for blood filtering or that kind of complex intervention, and supportive care was the best we could do - try to keep the fever down with ice packs and neoprox, keep the kidneys and liver and heart and lungs going, and hope some of us would start to pull out of it before the last of us up and about weren't up and about any more. I don't really know what happened after I went down. I think it was Day Ten? Eleven? There weren't many of us still up by that point. Just over a hundred had died, I think. One thing, we'd just gotten Eve shifted to a new pallet and I was trying to clean up the mess of the old one and keep her from getting too hot, both at the same time, and next thing, I was here, flat on my back in what's left of Main Control. Nine days gone, just like that. I didn't even know we'd gotten any power back on in here - I don't think we had, when I went down. Don't know why I'm here, either. We saw enough delirium before I went down, there may not even be a 'why'. I don't feel bad at all. I can see I've changed; whoever put me here put me in a gown first, and there's not as much of me under it as there would've been a couple weeks ago. It fell right off my neck when I tried to stand up. That didn't go well. I think I should be hungry, but I feel full, like I just ate. I wish I knew if anyone else was still here. I've been awake a few hours, I think, but I haven't heard anyone. I don't hurt, though, and I'm not burning up. Right now I'm still mostly okay with that. I really hope someone else is still here. I don't want to be alone like this. Getting up in the chair at the sender console was hard, but I did it, and I can still use a keyboard well enough. I thought it was important to try to let someone back home know what happened. I don't know if the followup expeditions launched on schedule, I don't remember hearing before and not much of the mission log made it through the crash. If they did - I was going to say, tell them to make turnover early and go anywhere else. Even back home would be better than this place, with its barren vistas empty of vegetation, its anonymous sea we never even found the time to try to name or go and see up close. Smeared along half a mile an arrowhead stain of ship debris, at its apex a shallow crater centered on the shattered remains of all our hopes and dreams, and in a nearby shanty village, rows of corpses - decaying? mummified? Who knows if anything else can eat us here? - whom no one had time or strength to bury. Go anywhere else but this ball of death and deceit whirling around its lonely star. There is nothing for you here. ...is what I was *going* to say. But - really, I don't know. As I sit here I can feel my strength returning to me, and with it grows the conviction that it really isn't bad here. Look at what this planet's done to me already! - and yet I survive. I still remember myself. And soon I'll be up and about again, able to see what may be seen and do what need be done. Yes: many of us died. People I knew. Friends I remember and mean never to forget. No few closer than friends - spend so many years closed up with only a thousand or so people, sooner or later those with whom you were recede in memory, making room for those with whom you *are*. Not you, Sam. I've never felt that way about you. How I wish you were here! But maybe you will be. If the third expedition hasn't launched yet. I know we talked about it. Well - fought about it. I've never stopped regretting that, and I hope while I've been gone you might have come to understand why I had to go. Maybe we could see one another again. I would like that very much. I think you could help me. And you were always the best of company. But what worse can this planet do to me than it has already done? What worse can it do to any of us who still survive? We came here not knowing what we faced - only that it could hardly be worse than what we left behind. And even still I feel that very strongly to be true. We could never be together there, Sam. Here, who'd be to stop us? I know it sounds frightening, what has happened to me. It *was* frightening. It was scary and painful and frequently disgusting, and that's just what I remember! But I don't hurt any more. I'm not sick any more. And I'm not afraid any more. You don't have to be, either. It's really not that bad - the body never remembers pain, you know. I remember that I hurt, but I don't remember *hurting*. Does that make sense? You can come here. Join the third expedition and come find me here. Come sooner, if you can. There might be a research ship. I miss you, and I hope you miss me. We can be together here, and though I'm feeling much stronger now, I still wish you were here to help me. I still can't hear anyone, and I don't want to think I'm alone here. Not forever, anyway. Besides - once I get more of my strength back, make up for what I've lost in the last little while, I think you might like seeing me. I think I do. And I'm sure I want to be close to you again. Well. That's enough for now, I think. I'm sure I'll have more to say later, but once you get this you'll know I'm still alive, and even though we couldn't send our landing report, there's really no reason not to send the followup expeditions. Not really. Some won't make it, but enough will. And if we weren't going to take that kind of chance, why come out here at all? I'm going to send this, with all the power the transmitter will take. It'll get to you eventually. Then I'm going to try to stand up again. I think I can manage it, now. It'd be easier if I still had legs, I suppose. But four limbs shouldn't be *that* much harder to manage than two, and I'm still enough of a biologist to remember how muscular hydrostats work. I think it's just a matter of figuring out which impulses go where...oh well. By the time you're here, I should be all finished embarrassing myself with them, I hope. I never stopped loving you, Sam. Please don't have stayed angry with me. I hope we'll see each other again. In the meantime, I'll see if anyone else is still alive. And with whoever's left, I'll start preparing for those who may come after us. By the time they get here, if they do, we'll be ready to make our new settlers a home.