Today we're going to pay a visit to Space Venture's headquarters in San Diego, California where they manufacture the gravity drives that provide artificial gravity for their space station resort, Neptune Shores, and for their luxurious space cruise ship, the Celestial Sea. The drives consist of a electromagnetic engine that's powered by electricity which is generated from a fusion core. As we tour the plant, we watch as the moving parts, one of them a magnetic turbine is moved into position for assembly with a gigantic crane. The turbine operates along with a long list of intricately designed pieces to produce the magnetic field in its space stations and ships. The details of Space Venture's technologies are considered trade secrets and are off limits to our cameras and especially to our news stories, but one thing is for sure, the gravity drives are a miracle of science. Used in tandem with the drug, Vestazine, the magnetic field is capable of producing artificial gravity. The drug is also known to enhance bone density and muscle strength while at the same time lacing the body with a supposedly tested and proven metallic compound harvested from the Asteroid Belt, which interacts with the gravity drive. The backside of the drive produces antigravity for near light speed propulsion. Talk about efficiency. Space Venture is making a come back, a new rise to prominence in the twenty-forth century.
In his lab coat and wearing a white mask over his face, Dr. Jett Mintaka paced the Medical Bay with a holographic tablet in his hand, checking on the growing number of sick patients under his care. Thirty beds circled the outer perimeter of the room, over half of them occupied. The quantity of beds available to his staff was a precaution, but with the body scans administered on Earth before the Celestial Sea embarked on its inaugural journey, a viral outbreak had been considered a low risk. For added insurance, there was an adjoining room that served as an overflow but no one thought it would be necessary.
Scanners at debarkation bays provided an additional layer of security. Not only did the devices check for smuggled weapons but they also monitored body temperatures for signs of a fever. No hotel guest had ever triggered the alarms. One thing was for certain—if a passenger of the cruise ship came aboard sick, they showed no detectable signs when they arrived. But obviously something was causing the resort guests to fall ill, and Dr. Mintaka intended to get to the bottom of this mystery, even if it meant doing so with his dying breath.
Dr. Mintaka conferred with one of his nurses. "Is anyone running a fever at this point?"
"Only Patient One. It's low grade, 100.1."
"Administer six hundred milligrams of ibuprofen and start an IV for fluids. Monitor the rest of the patients and let me know ASAP if anyone else runs a temp."
The nurse, in a pair of light green scrubs and a white mask, nodded her head and set off with a thermometer that looked like a magic wand. She waved it over a patient, from the man's chest up to his forehead. The wand beeped like a geiger counter measuring radiation, the chirping beep growing faster and faster, prompting the nurse to glare over at Dr. Mintaka and give him a silent nod.
A second person with a fever.
Dr. Mintaka groaned within himself. To make matters worse, he turned around and saw two more people ushered into the medical bay. Another man and a woman. They were given beds next to each other and the head nurse rushed over and started scanning them for a temperature.
The guests were starting to fill up the medical bay. If things escalated, they'd have to spill over into the overflow room, and if it got too out of hand, they'd have to consider setting up triages in other parts of the resort. People were complaining of dizziness, upset stomaches, and headaches, all trademark signs of artificial gravity sickness.
Dr. Mintaka checked on the few remaining patients that he hadn't looked at yet and then made his next move. He ordered the head nurse to start drawing blood. He needed the samples for testing. At first, he suspected he had nothing more than another standard round of AG Sickness. He offered the first patients that came to the medical bay ondansetron for nausea. When that didn't seem to work, he switched to promethazine, thinking he was treating mild symptoms of AG Sickness.
But deep down he wondered what was taking place. AG Sickness was not accompanied by a fever, at least not in any case that he'd observed. And things were growing worse. Patient One had a fever and now Patient Two had one as well.
This was alarming. He never foresaw a pandemic spreading through the resort like a wildfire. A contagious virus was the worst danger that could infect a space station or a spaceship. For safety precautions until the blood tests could confirm otherwise, Dr. Mintaka had to take drastic action.
He rushed to his office and didn't bother to close the door behind him. He activated his tablet and a three dimensional hologram appeared. He swiped left and tapped a floating list of contacts of the resort staff. After a few rings, Dr. Mintaka stared at the chiseled chin of the resort's security chief, Maxwell Armando.
"I need a quarantine of the eighth floor," Dr. Mintaka said. "Anyone who gets brought up here, stays put until we know what we're dealing with and we get whatever this is, under control. To accomplish that, I'll need guards at all the elevators and stairwells. No one is to be permitted to leave the eighth floor and no one is allowed to enter, unless they're sick and need to be quarantined."
"Understood," Armando replied. "I'm on it."
"Also, issue an alert to everyone on the resort staff. Have them to be on the lookout for anyone exhibiting any sign of AG Sickness...or something worse.
"Consider it done."
Dr. Mintaka ended the video call and then dreaded what he had to do next—contact Grayson Flux and fill him in on the seriousness of the situation. He feared it might be much worse than even he expected.
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