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Episode Twenty-Six

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The Pak'ma'ra was shivering when we awoke. I had noticed that he had been sleeping restlessly, but had put that down to his ribcage damage. Yesterday he had complained of being cold and now he was running a fever. I piled another blanket on him, noting that his tentacles seemed flushed.

Shrock, what were we going to do now? The Pak'ma'ra was ill with G'Quan knows what. Maybe even Drafa. Everyone died of Drafa who caught it. I didn't want the Pak'ma'ra to die. That was a stunning discovery. He couldn't die, not now, not after all we had endured.

But the Human scavenger had said that a cure had been developed on Babylon 5. Perhaps there was a cure on the planet, but that was unlikely because otherwise we would have seen Markab still alive on the planet. Maybe there was a cure in a spacedock that hadn't been transported to the surface. It may as well have been a universe away.

I turned to Nar'Bon and asked him his opinion of the Pak'ma'ra's condition. Nar'Bon examined him and turned to me.

"It could be Drafa, but I am not sure. He has some of the symptoms, but not others. Give me a week and I'll be able to tell you more." Nar'Bon was trying to lighten the situation but failed miserably.

"Give me a day or two and if we are digging a hole, I can tell you it is Drafa," I retorted. The Pak'ma'ra moaned. Oh, yeah, oops. "But we don't know that it isn't the common cold."

Whatever it was, the Pak'ma'ra was ill. He didn't even want food!

I didn't know what to do. There was no point taking him to a hospital cos there would be no-one to treat him there and if he did have Drafa, he needed the B5 cure. He couldn't stay here because he would die, and I had a duty of care to him. If nothing else, he had supported me when everyone thought me mad.

I dug through the first aid kit. There were a variety of pills and fluids in the kit, but I had no idea of what they were. Emetics, laxatives, analgesics, febrifuges, decongestants, antiseptics, sedatives - who knew what they were? I couldn't read the labels, and the only one who could was sitting shivering under a pile of blankets. And then what effect would these things have on a system alien to that which they were designed for?

I threw a number of vials at the wall, taking some small pleasure as they smashed. The Pak'ma'ra squirmed and hid himself deeper in his blankets. I didn't know what to do. I'm a pilot and, briefly, a freighter owner, not a medic. ""Any suggestions? I don't know what to do."

To my surprise, the Pak'ma'ra started talking. "We still don't know why we seem to be being chased by those others. Maybe they want the data crystal."

I wondered if he was delirious. What did this have to do with his illness?

"I have to find a way to the spacedocks - the cure is probably there. I can drive to the airport alone, with the original datacrystal. Maybe there are some fliers left in the hangers. If I am intercepted and if they kill me outright, well, I am going to die anyway. If all they want is the datacrystal, maybe they will stop hunting us if I hand it over. Then I can return and we can find a flier and then a shuttle and get off this planet."

Something was wrong with his logic, but I couldn't spot it. Nothing told me that we had to stay together. Indeed, there was a distinct lack of intuition telling me that this was foolish.

The Pak'ma'ra struggled to stand up and then started staggering to the door. We helped him up the stairs and took him outside. Then we found a vehicle for him to drive and put him inside, then went back inside and waited. And waited. And waited.

Finally, a ground vehicle turned the corner and drove very, very slowly up the street. It moved more and more slowly as it got closer, then mounted the footpath and crept to a halt outside our building. I checked the street carefully, then gave the Human a PPG and told him to cover me and Nar'Bon. I figured that whilst the Human wasn't a good shot, he could at least provide wildfire. "For G'Quan's sake, don't hit us." The Human grinned and warmed the PPG up, waving it around alarmingly.

The Pak'ma'ra was alone. I examined the vehicle very closely. I could not see that it was wired to explosives or anything - stories of my parents' part in the rebellion came to mind - so I opened the door.

The Pak'ma'ra was slumped over the controls. I pushed him back and examined him. He was alive, though at best semi-conscious, and appeared clean of any obvious bugs or tags. Admittedly, anything the Markab and their colleagues produced would undoubtedly be undetectable, but it never hurt to check.

Now that was strange - the autopilot had been programmed to take the ground vehicle somewhere. I looked at the screen. Hmm, that word was the symbol for the Healer Guild, and that word meant disease. Amazing what one picked up by osmosis.

Very odd. The Pak'ma'ra had gone away and come back with the vehicle programmed to go to a hospital. So why was he here? It could be a trap, but then it might be his only chance at survival. His condition had deteriorated in the time he had been away. I turned to Nar'Bon and asked him to get the rest of our food and gear, what remained of it. When I checked the navcomp, I found quite a number of other hospitals were closer, so why choose one on the other side of the city?

Thinkings are not my forte, so I turned to the Pak'ma'ra and started getting him out of the driver's seat. He was effectively a dead weight and offered very little help. All I could do was drag him out and dump him unceremoniously on the footway. I hoped that I was not damaging his ribs further. I struggled to drag him around to the back door, and pulled him up into the vehicle with a great deal of puffing and cursing. He must have been very ill - he made no complaint about his ribs. I managed to lift him semi-upright and was struggling to get his harness on as the others trotted out of the house.

The buckle snapped shut, and I slung my pack in the back cargo area, then hopped in the driver's seat. The others bickered about who got to sit in the front seat. "I don't want to sit next to him - he's ill!," wailed the Human.

Pathetic. The Pak'ma'ra was probably dying of a disease that did not transfer to either Narn or Human and here they were arguing over who didn't have to sit next to him. Every moment could make a difference to saving the Pak'ma'ra's life and they were arguing like a pair of pouchlings.

My ability to control my annoyance cracked. I snapped, "Get in or I'll leave you behind." They saw that I was getting genuinely angry, and jumped in as I began to let the vehicle roll. They are still wary of me and my temper - a good thing, too.

I followed the directions given by the autopilot. I had no choice but to drive slowly and carefully - the roads were clagged with abandoned vehicles. Sometimes I had to drive on the footways. At these times, a gentle but insistent female voice would chime in, presumably telling me to not drive on the pedway. It was good to be in charge of a form of transport - I missed my ship, even though it itself as a poor substitute for a fighter - even if the vehicle did have an annoying voice.

I saw a freeway arching over the streets ahead of us and checked where the autopilot was taking us. Straight onto the freeway. Great. Just what we needed - to be out in the open rather than crawling through sheltered streets. I asked the Human to plot another course that would take us via backstreets where we at least had a modicum of cover.

We crawled through Capitalia for nearly two hours before reaching the hospital. By this stage, I had learnt the Markab phrase "Do not drive on the footpath" by heart. I wished that I knew how to switch off that annoying voice. As we pulled up outside the hospital, undoubtedly in the emergency vehicle park, the Pak'ma'ra lifted his head and distinctly said "Tyronin," then slumped again.

I looked around at him, surprised. That was the name of Kimmini's hero! Maybe the Pak'ma'ra did have a reason for coming to this place after all.

We found a wheelchair in the foyer and dumped the Pak'ma'ra in it. He was too heavy for me to carry for very long, and we didn't know where we had to go. The others looked at me as if I would know. How would I know? But I did have the feeling that the Pak'ma'ra would know, much as I had known that I had to get under Kimmini's mountain.

I knelt before him and shook him. "Djikiden! Djikiden! Listen to me! Where do we have to go? Tell me where do we have to go?"

He waved a hand at the floor and muttered "Down....".

There were lifts in the foyer area, but of course they didn't work. I looked at the stairs, and looked at the wheelchair and decided that anything had to be better than trying to carry the Pak'ma'ra down the stairs. Normally it wouldn't be a problem, but at the moment....Nar'Bon and I began Narnhandling the wheelchair downwards.

After a single flight, we came to a landing where we had a choice. A door or another flight of stairs. It was getting quite dim in the stairwell - the only light filtered down from several levels above us. Again I asked the Pak'ma'ra where we had to go.

"Down..."

The stairs continued downwards. The wheelchair bumped down down down. Then we changed direction on a landing and saw light ahead of us. There was a door at the bottom of the stairs, and artificial light streamed through it. I looked at Nar'Bon and gestured to him to scout ahead. He just looked at me. I gestured more frantically, and he seemed rather taken aback. What did he think I was saying??? I repeated myself and he suddenly got the idea. You want me to scout ahead? YES! I nodded back. What was wrong with him? He was the best at infiltration so he was the obvious choice to be the scout. Why was he being so slow-witted?

Nar'Bon checked through the window carefully, then opened the door. He slipped through quickly and quietly, and disappeared down the corridor.

I nodded to the Human, asking him to help me with the wheelchair. I wanted to get it down these stairs quietly. He started to try to lift the front and I gestured for him to swap places with me - it would be much lighter to carry the higher part, and I doubted that he had the strength required to carry most of the weight of the wheelchair and its occupant. I heaved the wheelchair up and carefully staggered down the remaining stairs.


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Na'Tiel's Story / Lynne / last modified 29 February, 2000