23:2 Mercy is Given

OUTER SPACE |  2055

Major approached the sterile compartment of the sick bay with a peculiar trepidation, created in no small part by the looming figure of Zhang, wrapped in plastic, covered in blood, and waiting for him.

“What is all this, Zhang?” Major demanded. “What has happened?”

“Forgive me, captain,” Zhang opened his gore-covered hands in a gesture of supplication. “I’m afraid Bjoern’s corporeal being was in a critical state until just now. I’m sorry if the state of my person has alarmed you.”

“Never mind that,” Major dispensed with any formalities. “Bjoern is out of the woods then? He’s going to be OK?”

“I have assured you, captain, that our astrogeologist will participate in this mission, and I do not make promises that I cannot keep. You know this, Thomas.”

“Goddamn it, Zhang! Why must everyone on this ship act like a fucking enigma? Let me through!” Major began to barge through then paused. “Do I need a getup like yours?”

“No, captain, I’m glad to say that your presence can no longer have an effect on the outcome of Bjoern’s procedure. After you.”

Zhang held the corner of the plastic sheeting that demarcated the aseptic area of the sick bay for Major to enter. The captain ducked under the opening and immediately stopped short.

“Oh, Peter,” Major moaned. “What have you done?”

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