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The groups broke up and picked a direction to walk. They left the base camp. Stingers flew above them for protection. They could see Andromeda two kilometers up. The Marines with them carried regular weapons, the women had phasic. Once again Kacey refused to carry anything other than phasic weapons. She set a comfortable pace. The grass they walked through rippled with the slight breeze that blew, as they skirted along the slow moving river, that cut through the field. In the distance they could see flocks of birds and many herds of different animals.
The animals did not run off as they approached, so the group was able to get closer to them. Kacey approached a herd of zebra type animals. These were not the black and white zebras of earth, but red and blue. The animals had the same short manes and made the same sounds as Earth's zebras. Kate grabbed Kacey's arm when she felt that she got too close to the animals.
As the day progressed they came upon other herds. They had started back when they reached the end of their boundary. The walk back was more relaxed and the group laughed and joked. They were within two kilometers of the base when Kate bumped into a nest which released several hornet type insects. One stung Kate on the hand. They moved quickly away from the dangers of the nest and stopped long enough to treat Kate. Anya removed the stinger and applied salve to the small puncture wound. Kacey handed her a canteen which she greedily drank. After she finished they continued their journey back to their base.
Kate felt her heart start to pound and the chest tight. She found it hard to breathe and called a halt after a few minutes. Kacey looked closely at Kate and realized she was in trouble. She felt Kate's face which was red and wet with perspiration. She could feel the heat radiating from her.
"Stay with her. Give her plenty of water while I go for my shuttle." Before anyone could protest, Kacey took off at a run. The Stingers overhead relayed their problem back to Andromeda.
Kacey made it to her shuttle within minutes. She keyed the code and entered the shuttle before the ramp had fully opened. She hit the close button as she ran past to the pilot's seat. Kacey grabbed her headphones, as she started the shuttle. She did not take the time to put on her harness before she lifted off.
"Shamrock to Andromeda."
"Go ahead lass."
"Dad, Kate is in trouble. She got stung or bit by a hornet like thing. I am en route to pick her up. Have Medical waiting in the Hanger. We will take off as soon as Kate in on board."
"We saw it happen lass and have already sent medical help to the Hanger."
"Dad recall everyone. This planet is not worth the aggravation and danger."
"I will get your lads back, Kacey."
" You had better get mom. This could be serious."
Kacey landed close to where Kate was. In the short amount of time that she was gone, Kate's condition had worsened. The Marines carried Kate into the shuttle and laid her on the bed. Anya knelt next to her passing a wet cloth over her fevered wracked body.
"Hurry Kacey. She needs medical attention immediately."
"Hang on everyone. This will be a hot take off." Kacey warned. The passengers braced themselves as best they could. Rhea sat in the copilot's seat.
Kacey slammed the thrusters forward. The shuttle rose quickly. When she had enough height, she pushed the throttles forward and the shuttle stopped rising and sped forward..
"Shamrock to Andromeda."
"Go ahead Shamrock."
"I have the Captain. At our present speed our ETA is one minute."
"Roger, Shamrock. Medical is waiting for you to land."
"Shamrock out." Kacey stated. "Anya how is she doing?"
"Not good, Kacey." Anya's voice caught as she choked back a sob. "Kate, do not leave me." She whispered in Kate's ear. Please do not leave me. My life is nothing without you. Stay with me my Kate. I love you."
Kacey kept the shuttle at full speed until she was within a half kilometer of Andromeda. She pulled back on the throttles and let their momentum take them into the Hanger. Kacey tore the headphones off and rushed to open the ramp. The Doctor ran onto the shuttle as soon as the ramp opened. She took one look at Kate and said, "Get her to Sick Bay immediately."
The Marines picked Kate up and carried her out of the shuttle to a waiting stretcher. They placed her gently down. Once she was strapped in they pushed the stretcher to the lift. Liam and Patricia watched as Kate was carried out and followed the stretcher.
"Would someone park my shuttle?" Kacey asked.
"We have this Colonel. All the ships have been recalled and are on their way back. Go be with the Captain."
"Thanks, Mike." Kacey said as she ran from the Hanger. She did not wait for the lift, but ran up the stairs to the Medical level.
Kacey joined the family as they waited to hear of Kate's condition. She went to Anya's side and put her arm around her sister in law's shoulders. Patricia grabbed Kacey's arm.
"What the Hell happened down there? She demanded.
"Mom we were just looking around."
"You were supposed to be watching her back."
"Apparently not good enough it seems."
"She got stung by some sort of hornet thing. Anya got the stinger out and she was fine, but a few minutes later she was having trouble breathing and she spiked a fever." Kacey argued.
"What were you doing at the time.?"
"Patricia it was not Kacey's fault this happened." Anya stated.
"She talked Kate into going back down there. Convinced Kate she would have her back."
"We all agreed not to give up on this planet.",
"Hey, stop talking as if I was not here." Kacey said angrily.
"Admit it Kacey, you were not as observant as you should have been." Patricia stated.
"Don't bother Anya. You will not be able to convince her it was not my fault." Kacey said and left the waiting area.
"Kirsten come back here." Patricia called after her. Kacey ignored her and kept walking.
"Patsy darling, give her a minute." Liam said, as he placed a comforting arm around Patricia her. "Come sit down, both of you." He said. "I will get Kacey back. Katie is strong. She will not let a little bee sting keep her down."
"Bee sting. Liam, Kate was allergic to bee stings when she was younger."
"The Doctors know that Lass."
Kacey walked rapidly from Sick Bay. She heard her mother call her back, but refused to stop. Her mother's words stung. Was she right? Is it my fault? Kacey asked herself. She wandered aimlessly until she found herself in front of the bar she and Kate had the misfortune to get drunk in. She pushed open the door and walked into the dimly lit nearly empty bar.
"Brandy, double." She ordered.
The bartender poured her drink and credited her account. Kacey picked up the glass and walked to the row of tables where she sat down facing the door. She dropped her head into her hands and stared at the table top. Tears started to fall.
The Doctors and medical staff worked on Kate to try to ease her breathing and lower her temperature. The sting area on her hand was swollen and inflamed. The Doctor opened the wound to drain the infection, applied an antiseptic and lightly bandaged the area. She administered a series of antibiotic injections to fight the fever that wracked her body. Machines beeped and hummed around the bed. The Doctor looked up at the monitor that registered her body temperature.
"105.4. Antibiotics are not working. Get ice sheets." She ordered. We have to get her temp lowered. The staff rushed to obey the Doctor's orders.
To be continued...
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