Janette was trying to play Burdlit, he thought. But this was not a game that she could win, and by the end, Galaxy Bloc would lose.
Dio Qze was not the first planet to have been terraformed with a Deew in place of its expected star-powered core. Far from it, so even if the botanist was to succeed in whatever endeavor that she was planning, the other unincorporated planets were constantly in danger of facing a reverberant retribution at the time of Carriveaua choosing.
Humans were a detestable race, but that was mostly because they happened to be stupid – always believing that they were clever. Superior. To Burdlit, it was laughable if not for it being so infuriating. He should not have thought any differently about Janette. Each one of them was the same. Some, like his contingent who continued to fight this losing battle against the Deew and rather valiantly at that, were more loyal than others, but their behavior might have also been a part of her ploy. Actually, it was hard to believe that she was even capable of turning on him. The botanist’s determined work ethic in the face of imperceptible scientific odds was admirable, but to what ends was she attempting to make these technological strides? The operational general had not been made privy to any successful advances that had been made (nor would he have understood the technobabble) and only saw the continual frustration of scientists who were bashing their heads up against the wall which shielded the furtherance of their know-how – perhaps to increase the intake and absorption of missing, critical information through some sort of masochistic osmosis. This was used to get him to care about them.
But what was Janette’s angle?
It was almost more imperative for Burdlit to figure this piece out than to pay attention to the immediacy of his currently bonded peril at the forested clutches of the Deew. And its grip was becoming more and more of a tight squeeze which was merely a distraction from the real danger of the incoming, pointy branches that sought to test out the operational general’s worth as a pin cushion. Honestly, these troubles were the least of his concerns though.
Burdlit would even put the escaped intruder ahead of Deew at this point but behind the question mark which was Janette at the present moment. Now, of the Space Force scum, there could not have been anything worthwhile in the makeup of that abhorrent existence. And he would not allow the biological weapon to finish him off before a second round was commissioned and they had a chance to settle up. The operational general used the thought of a rematch as the reticent motivation which allowed him to flex and basically power out of the hold from the coiled prison. Dropped to the ground, he braced for the ten-foot fall and subsequent landing with powerful legs which did not seem to mind the distance so much – if at all. The laser rifle had always been in hand but pinned to his side during the previous predicament, so after a quick spin around and a simple aiming of its barrel upward, a measure of revenge was exacted as it tore through the trap and those threatening spear-like spikes all the same.
Wait. Did Burdlit just do that all of his own volition?
“Operational General!” One of the soldiers from his contingent called out. “Thank goodness, you’re safe.”
Typical Human guile. The person probably did not even care about Burdlit in the slightest. Suicidal – willing to commit the ultimate sacrifice with lemming-like obedience which would unquestionably satiate Janette’s twisted aims. He should have killed the soldier where the fool stood. A fool to lie directly to his face. A fool to believe that anybody could get away with crossing him. A fool to hope that the Carriveaua would not ultimately retaliate.
“The Deew’s getting weaker,” the soldier with the slate computer said as she arrived in tow as the rest of the troops brought up the rear and did a better than expected job of fighting the biological weapon back.
No, Burdlit did not escape that death trap without assistance. The Deew basically let him go. He was still going to need these Humans in his contingent for the purposes of making it out of here and getting to the planet’s surface. That was…if there was going to be anything left topside.
Upon arrival within the Level X infirmary, Janette weaved her way through a maze of instrumentation and bedding before navigating all the way toward the tense surgical area which had been curtained off for privacy and concentration purposes. Those curtains were not much for soundproofing because the urgency and intensity from the medical speak happened to be both audible and enlightening of the status for the situation.
Komst Aumann was the physician on call today who happened to be performing a very important stabilization procedure, but playing doctor was not his science of trade, and there was nothing innocent about the physical exploration that he had been engaged in for the past fifteen minutes. With a smooth voice and an even keel, the molecular biologist could bark out medical orders with the best of them – confident in every step but walking toward a slightly different goal than that of healing the person on the operating table.
The part of the patient was being played today by Walten, and his screams left Janette to wonder if Komst had perhaps forgotten or neglected to use any sort of anesthesia. Or maybe, the discomfort from that wound was beyond the scope of comfort drugs and painkillers. There was also always the possibility that introducing unnatural substances like additional chemicals into the body could skew the impending results and basically complicate the obtaining of those findings. She would be sure to ask which one was the reason for this bellowing gurgle that now netted the soldier a raspy voice as a result.
At best, Janette was curious. At worst, she was unconcerned because the hollering was muted by the potential for the mass genocide of Galaxy Bloc’s collective residents. The botanist felt for Walten but only as far as his suffering could aid the larger community. He was a soldier after all, and she was not going to diminish his worth by pining over the sacrifices that soldiers were paid to occasionally make.
So Janette sat down in a chair from the makeshift waiting area. All things considered, Level X was actually pretty vacant, but for today, this was by design. Any other wounded were being tended to, competently, on other levels, but this particular specimen, in Walten, was special. Having been rescued by the intruder added a bonus of irony to the situation but was otherwise analogous to the bloodcurdling matter which happened to be at hand. The operation was not only delicate but sensitive, and this process needed not to be disturbed or observed by the wrong set of eyes in its undertaking.
With the intruder having been given a pass, not exactly free – but that was a story for one of the next chapters, it ensured that he would not be poking his head in on and meddling during these critical proceedings. With him out of the way and in hedging her bets, Janette would hopefully be able to make her move first plus advance this game accordingly forward of her own intention and direction. Everything hinged on the procedure’s forthcoming outcome however: Galaxy Bloc’s sovereignty. The unincorporated planet’s survival. Everybody on Dio Qze’s life. Everything.
And then, in a moment of deathly calm, the calamity behind the curtain fell silent. Janette leaned forward in anticipation of fate’s verdict with a pensive hand held over a wondering mouth.
Classic prose had always stated that the person behind the curtain was not necessarily the individual which they were outwardly portrayed to be. And Komst was no different. With all his certifications, education, and extensive experience in leading panel discussions, one might consider him to be a competent and well-meaning surgeon rather than the butcher that he really was. Possessing a steely deadness in resolve was an excellent trait for the surgical trade, but for him, it transcended skillfulness and bled into his very being. Normally, the living operated on the living in order to prevent them from dying. But by being dead inside, an obvious conflict of interest would surface as a result of a psyche of indifference to the plight of the living and routine would win out over compassionate care – not somebody who someone might want operating on a loved one….
“It was a success,” Komst claimed after emerging from behind the curtains which surrounded the operating area with his unsightly smock drenched in and still leaving an unsanitary drip trail from Walten’s fresh blood. As they swung closed, Janette was able to steal a peak inside where nurses were beginning to gather their tooled belongings, to restore the area back to its calm organization, and to disperse after a job done.
“And the soldier?” She wondered about how well the job had been done. It was not a question that the botanist should have needed to ask, but, again, this was Komst that she was dealing with.
The question was met with a desultory shrug by Komst, “He’s fine – I guess,” as he proceeded to hold up the evidence of what they had all come for: A round, see-through container which held the extracted pieces of the Deew that had been lodged within Walten’s chest.
Standing up from the chair, Janette held out her hand to receive the stasis container with the flash frozen, liquid nitrogen-preserved sample of the Deew inside it. Mirroring the parent biological weapon that was most recently terrorizing Inner Corridor, the specimen had also reached the transition point between phase one and phase two which happened to be even more vulnerable than phase one. But the brief lull in its aggressive tendencies only existed for a split instant before the thing would become virtually unstoppable from phase two…on.
Now, Janette merely awaited the actions of an impetuous Burdlit to play right into her other hand – she mused.