April 30, 2012

Zion's Children - pt 49

Byrin considered Lily's question. Could there be a God out there trying to get his attention. "I suppose it's possible," he conceded, not sounding happy. "It would be foolish to completely rule out the idea of a higher power."

"Why do you sound unhappy?" Lily asked. "Does the idea bother you that much?

He shrugged. "What I know about religion is very limited. There's very little on Earth anymore. My idea of Christianity is that it's a kill-joy. Your God has all these rules that have to be obeyed...like the sex outside of marriage one...and if you don't obey it, you're screwed. Going to hell and all that."

Lily nodded. "It does seem that way, doesn't it. Both about Earth and rules. Religion is still very present on Earth, it's just quieter since the government has all these rules. We still celebrate all the major holidays, even Halloween. Of course, you have to be part of that faith group to actually get the day off as a holiday, otherwise nobody would get anything done." She laughed lightly. "As for the rules, we obey because of love. Not because we have to. God came to Earth, in the form of Jesus, and sacrificed Himself for us so that we could be spared the punishment for rebelling against Him. To disobey is to spit in the face of that. But, it's also about relationship."

"A relationship with a dead god?"

"He didn't stay dead. Have you ever heard any of the Easter story? How He was resurrected?"

"A little," Byrin admitted.

"Some time after that, He left. He ascended into heaven, and sent His Holy Spirit to be with us. That is how we can have a relationship with Him."

"Sounds like an alien abduction to me," he joked.

"I think we would have run into Him out here by now," she answered, sensing the closing of the door. "Look, I'm not trying to pressure you, so don't take it that way."

"I know," he sighed. He looked across the room at the sleeping Miri. "It's just, that I have more questions than I have answers for. Like this virus."

"Some things don't have answers," Lily admitted. "Some things we take by faith, because of other answers. We may never have all the answers/ But you know enough to have found the cure for this virus, even though you don't have all the answers. That doesn't mean it's wrong to keep searching."

"Definitely something I would want to revisit," Byrin admitted somewhat reluctantly.

"Good. If you don't want to talk to me about it, or even Miri, Marcus is also a Christian."



"I wondered."

Lily nodded, pleased she'd thought of this. "I'm sure he wouldn't mind talking to you about it."

"I'll keep that in mind," Byrin reassured her. "For now, good night."

"Good night, Byrin."

April 29, 2012

Zion's Children - pt 48

Byrin flicked the computer screen off. Disgusted, he could no longer look at it. "Why do you think Miri is taking longer than the others to bounce back?" he asked the nurse sitting next to him.

Lily Bennett smiled gently. "I don't think that she is. She was hit harder than some because she gave herself an advanced version of the virus, and she was exhausted at the time no matter how much sleep she'd just had. Not to mention that she's probably also a bit more, shall we say, genetically pure than most. And she's not the only one that was hit hard. She's just the one you care about the most."

"That's..." He found that he couldn't deny it. "...very observant of you."

Lily smiled broader. "It's part of what I do."

He chuckled. "I do care about her; a lot. I..." Byrin rubbed his hands over his face. "I need sleep. I'll tackle this again in the morning, I guess. I mean, it still doesn't answer the question about why the virus activates in test tubes, or why it continues to break down after the person is deceased."

Lily nodded. "Sleep sounds like a good idea. Byrin, have you ever considered the possibility that the virus acts the way it does, simply because that's how it was made?"

Byrin stopped in the middle of standing, considering her question. "Because it's been programmed. It's not some virus they found and mutated, they made the entire thing." He ran the idea over in his head, and finished standing. "It does have that look about it now that you mention it. It could be that they've been testing this for years, on Exile worlds like Zeta Muria...and Beta Talisman. I bet if I ran a search on the previous Exile Colonies that have been partnered, I'd find similar outbreaks."

"I wonder if they're perfecting it for a specific release, or if they just want to 'tag' anyone with the right genetic markers?" Lily pondered out loud.

"Either. Both, maybe. Lily, why haven't you ever shared these ideas with me before?"

The nurse answered with a shrug. "I wasn't assigned to help you, remember? Besides, why would I think that the famous genius Byrin Gold would need help anyway? Especially mine?"

Byrin grimaced. "Do I really come off that conceited?"

"Only most of the time. We learn to like you anyway."

Byrin chuckled as if embarrassed. "Gee, thanks."

Lily stood to her feet, to better look him in the eye. "Seriously, Byrin. I've come to like you a lot better than I did on the trip out here. I certainly respect you more. For all your bluster, you genuinely care for your patients. And you've fought for these people, to the point of exhaustion. We'll never be romantic, they way you wanted on the way out here, but I think we could be friends. Besides, like I said. You care for Miri, so I don't think you want anything like that from me anymore."

"No, I don't. No offense, you're still a beautiful woman." He smiled at her.


"I still have the same problem though," Byrin sighed. "You both have the same belief system."

Lily paused, then seized the moment and prayed it wouldn't get her reported; they were not speaking as officers right now anyway. "Byrin, if Miri is the second Christian you've found yourself attracted to recently, maybe you need to consider why. Maybe God is trying to get your attention."

April 18, 2012

Zion's Children - pt 47

It was late when Lily came in to check on Miri one last time before turning in. She was off shift, so it wasn't something she had to do. In fact, she almost snuck in so that the night shift nurses wouldn't think she was checking up on them. She was please to see that the young woman was fast asleep.

Byrin, as she could see by the dim light of a computer screen, was still at it. She made some rustling noises as she moved this time so as not to startle him. "You're still here," she said by way of greeting.

He glanced up at her, his head resting on a crooked arm. "Yes, and I see you're visiting late."

"Just checking on a friend." She pulled a chair nearby closer and sat down. "The threat is over, Byrin. You've found the anti-dote. Why the late night?"

He pointed at the screen. "Do you see that?"

Lily looked at the readout presented. "I do. It's a virus loaded sample."

"Would you like to know what it is from?"


"That is a sample of our standard vaccine. Routine procedure when someone is born. Out here, the first thing we do when we find one of the exiled communities is vaccinate them. I don't know if it's in all our stock, Conglomerate wide, or it it's just localized to these posts. I also don't know if it's sanctioned or not; either way I don't know who I can trust with this when I go back with Levi."

"Is that going to stop you from backing him up?" the nurse asked quietly.

"Hardly. This is going to shake our foundations more than just a little." Byrin let out a sigh.

"Maybe they need to be shaken," replied Lily.

"Maybe. I just...I don't understand why they are such a hated people."

"No one does anymore. You grew up after the War, remember. A lot of stuff had been shoved under the rug by the time we were born. I remember being told the evil King hated us because God loved us more than the rest. When I was able to leave my outpost for school, I learned the approved message - that Hitler had hated everyone who was different from him and spread that hatred like a disease because he was insane. Like he was the only one who was behind it. They gloss over the fact that it continued years after he died."

"Like they gloss over how long it took for the Regime to be overthrown after the rebellion started. I know."

Lily took a deep breath. "God has almost been wiped out of the public vocabulary, Byrin. Even though you're a superior officer, there is a lot I cannot say to you. Because you never actually asked me why Jews are such hated people, you could very well put me on report for trying to explain. We come from very different backgrounds Byrin. You grew up on the Core World, I grew up on an outpost. Our view of that time of history is going to be different. My family was exiled because they were Christians. Your family, from what I've gathered, managed to stay under radar so long that they forgot. Not enough to rebel when the time was ripe, but enough to forget why they were rebelling beyond the basic human rights."

"Why do you do it then? You could easily leave the Fleet and be a nurse in any hospital."

"Because I enjoy traveling, something I didn't get to do on Beta Talisman. We were planet locked, remember. All the Exile Colonies were. And the regulations that bind us are just as present outside the Fleet as in, they're just less verbalized. The Unified Government that took over after Hitler strove for the freedom of religion that your America used to have, and did it so well that it made it impossible for ANY religion to proselytize. We can be any religion we want, practice it, we just can't share."

There was no bitterness in her voice, just the bland acceptance of the way things were. "It must have been a shock," he commented. "Coming out of Beta Talisman into the Conglomerate Core Worlds."

"Yes, it was," Lily said quietly. "In fact, there were a few years that it messed with my head, and my faith. But my faith held out."

The two sat in comfortable silence as a natural lull fell into the conversation. It was a moment pregnant with possibilities.

January 31, 2011

Zion's Children - pt 46

Byrin listened with half and ear as Levi and Miri talked about his strategy once he left Zeta Muria to face down the Conglomerate government. She was slowly gaining ground from the illness, but there was something different about her case that was still bothering the good doctor.

He was looking at the original readout of the vial of blood she'd injected herself with. The vial had only sat overnight, and hadn't been as advanced as other samples had been. It never mattered how long he'd kept the blood cold, the blood - no matter whose - would have active virus cells the next time he looked. There was no denying the sterility of the conditions, the blood never even contacted oxygen until they were looking at it in the microscope.

He slid back from his computer and closed his eyes. What was he missing? It was unbelievable enough to think that someone had engineered, but to try to think like them was too much. He leaned forward suddenly and from across the room asked, "Miri, are there still vaccinations in the storeroom?"

There was a moment of silence, as he had interrupted their conversation. Levi rumbled under his breath, but Miri answered, "Of course. For when babies are born or strangers come from outside the..."

"Save your breath Miri, he's up and left," Levi said.

"Well, that's odd."

"Sounds like normal Fleet behavior to me. With a few exceptions."

"Grandfather, Byrin usually lets me finish speaking."

"Does he?"

"Yes. I wonder what he wants....oh."

"Yes?" Levi was amused at his girl.

"He's going to look for the virus in the vaccine. I don't know why we didn't think of it sooner."

Levi growled. "That would be excellent proof of villainy."

Miri stifled her laughter. "I can't believe you just said that. You sounded..."

"Wrathful, perhaps? I'm practicing."

She could no longer stifle her laughter, much to her grandfather's delight.

January 29, 2011

Zion's Children - pt 45

More days passed, with more of the same until at last they started sending people home. Although the outgoing patients were told to stay in bed for a few more days, to just take it easy. Miri was still ill, though she wasn't getting any worse. She just was responding slower than the rest.

They decided to keep her right in the lab, instead of moving her to a bed that had been freed in the ward.

"How are you feeling today?" Lily asked as she began to take Miri's vital signs one morning. With the lighter work load, she was looking for something to do and visiting Miri was her first choice. Besides, there was no reason why Byrin needed to be her sole caretaker anymore.

"Well enough to feel frustrated. Byrin just did this a few hours ago...I'm not sick enough to need that closely monitored." Miri frowned. "I mean, it's nice to have everyone's attention..."

"Uh-huh. Byrin takes his own set of vitals for his purposes, mine are the ones logged onto your chart. Are you feeling a little suffocated?" Lily wrote down the temperature reading, which was miraculously normal. It was true enough. Yesterday when she had picked Miri's chart up to read it, she realized that the good doctor had never written any of the vitals down that he'd taken. She'd found them eventually, but not until she had confronted him about it and asked, nicely of course, if he'd written them down somewhere else. He had, so she'd quickly copied them down into the other woman's chart.

"Cabin fever, I believe it is called. You know, how you feel when it's snowing outside and you can't go outside for days on end."

Lily laughed. "We didn't have snow where I lived on Beta Talisman. It never even got cold enough for frost. But I do know how you're feeling."

"I want to be up and about, taking care of my people."

"Not that we don't miss you out there Miri, but we're doing fine. Especially since we've been sending people home. The workload is lightening." Lily sat down on the bed beside her and patted her on the shoulder. "And once we told people you were sick, and why, they understood your absence. They know you didn't desert them or anything like that."

Miri sighed. "Good. I am hungry today. Has the supply ship arrived yet?"

"No, it hasn't." A fact that was more disturbing than Lily wanted to admit.

"Not the first time it's been late," Miri murmured. "Perhaps when Grandfather goes out, things will change."

"I hope so. I certainly wouldn't want to face his wrath!"

Miri laughed.

"Now there's a sound I've missed!" said a gruff voice just entering the lab. Levi smiled down at his granddaughter over the nurse's head.

Miri laughed harder as Lily blushed a bright red.

"What?" Levi asked.

"I'll leave Miri to explain," said Lily, rising swiftly to her feet. "If you'll excuse me, sir, I'm going to go see if there's something for her to eat." She left the lab as quickly as she'd risen.

"Was it something I said?" Levi asked, mildly perturbed.

"Not exactly."

January 18, 2011

Zion's Children - pt 44

3 days passed. Little changed.

Except - people started getting better.

Byrin wasn't ready to start discharging anyone, because no one was that well yet. Miri was taking the longest to respond to the anti-virus, for reasons no one understood. She was the first medicated, so she ought to have been the one to start feeling better first. Byrin never once tried to share Levi's spot by Miri's bedside, but he was the one in charge of her care. He didn't even let one of the nurses give her the next dose or check on her vitals. He was wearing himself down, but no one commented this time. And so far, he hadn't found the virus' trigger, so new cases were still coming in. No one was completely safe yet.

"Grandpa," murmured Miri late that evening, while Byrin was working on both manufacturing a toned down version of the anti-virus to serve as an vaccine and compiling medical proof for Levi. At the sound of Miri talking though, he walked quickly to her side and sat on the edge of the bed.

"Miri, it's Byrin. Your grandfather left about an hour ago to go to bed. What do you need?" he asked gently.

"Byrin..." she gave a sigh. "Here I am sick and I haven't barely seen you. I just wanted to talk was all. I'm feeling a little better."

"That's good." Byrin poked the end of the thermometer in her ear and waited for the beep. Her temp was still up, but down from what it had been. "What did you want to talk about?"

"Nothing really."

"Well, I'm here. You can talk to me if you'd like."

"I like you Byrin."

The young man chuckled. "I'd figured that much out already,"

"I know." Not all the flush to her face was from her fever. "What do you believe about God?"

"Honestly, I've never given Him much thought. Not until I came here. I'm not really sure what to think."

"Keep thinking. He'll find you. Would you like to know something I've always wondered?"

"What's that?" Byrin was having a hard time following her track changes in the conversation, but he chalked that up to the illness.

"The Bible says that in the end times, God is going to call all Jews back to Israel, the Promised Land. How can He do that if we're spread out among the stars like we are?"

That was definately a question for Levi, but as he wasn't here, Byrin decided to do his best. What irony! "Well, He's supposed to be all powerful right? Nothing is to big for HIm...that kind of stuf, right?"

"Yes. I do believe that. He's protected us thus far."

Aside from a wee little plague, of course. "Well then, if He said He'd do it, I'm sure He'll find a way."

Miri was quiet. "He did give us an answer to this plague."

Byrin hadn't looked at it quite like that. "You helped."

"I'm talking about you," Miri said. "He sent us you. None of this would have been possible if you hadn't come here."


"Marcus sent for you...He said he had peace about calling in what he called the 'big guns'." Miri sighed. "I'm tired again."

"You'll probably be tired for a while, dearest." Byrin felt his cheeks flame.

"Probably. People are getting better right?"

"Yes, we'll probably start discharging people in a day or two."

"Good. I'm going..." Just like that she was asleep again.

January 17, 2011

Zion's Children - pt 43

In the end, it had taken very little time to convince the Elder Council that they should sue the Conglomerate. As Simon had put it, "It's the only logical thing to do. You, Levi, are our leader, it is really your decision. If you feel that this is something we should do, we back you completely. And - Miriam is a wise young woman, from her youth God has spoken through her. We all think highly of her." The others had echoed Simon.

Never before in his life did Levi feel the weight of his office bearing down on him like he did now. Once the plague was broken, he was to leave Zeta Muria with Jonathan Freeman and take their make their charges public. Freeman was the closest thing they had to a 'lawyer', and would be able to help him in a myriad of things. Just traveling off planet would be a harrowing adventure. He hoped that the young Doctor Gold would have the medical backing to prove his claims. Otherwise the trip would be in vain.

Once the meeting had dispersed, Levi took himself to the hospital. He stopped by several of the beds, speaking words of encouragement to the sick ones. Just as he was beginning to wonder where they had hidden his granddaughter, Lily appeared at his shoulder.

"If you're looking for Lily, she's in the lab."

Something about her demeanor stopped him short. Did she mean to imply that none of the patients knew that Miri was sick?

As if in answer to his wondering, the woman in the bed he was at, a friend of Miri's - he thought her name was Elizabeth - raised her weary head and asked, "When you see Miri, please tell her to come see me. I haven't seen her today..."

"I will, dearest. Rest your head." He looked at Lily who didn't so much bat an eyelash. "I'm unfamiliar with the lab, Nurse. Could you show me the way?"

"Of course." She did a flawless about face and began to walk smoothly across the room.

Levi followed in silence and whatever he was going to say, vanished from his mind at the sight of his granddaughter. She was laying on a cot in the corner looking as though she'd been sick for weeks instead of just coming down with it today. Her face was flushed and her hair damp with sweat. Someone had undressed her at some point because she was wearing one of the hospital nightgowns. The sheet covering her was thin, but pulled up to her shoulders, arms laying on top.

Of all the things he could have asked, the first one that popped out when he looked over to the young doctor at his microscope was, "Just who undressed my granddaughter young man?"

Byrin stopped abruptly and blushed at the thought. "Lily did, sir. And neither Doctor Alexander nor myself were in the room at the time."

"Good." Levi wondered at the young man's blush, then remembered the rumors he'd heard concerning the younger man and his granddaughter. If there was any truth to them, let him be afraid of Levi. It was a good thing. "How is she?"

"Well, she's recovering. Since the blood she injected herself with had a very advanced virus in it, she was hit quick and hard and it's taken longer than I thought for the anti-virus to kick in. I've given her another dose. It might take several more doses over the next couple days."

"What about the other patients?" Levi asked, knowing that his concern couldn't be just for his kin alone. "Are they receiving treatment as well?"

The ones that are the sickest have already received their first dose. I didn't make a lot the first time around because I wasn't sure it would work. I have the computer calculating everyones' body weight compared to the anti-virus to get the dosage size they'll need. I also have more in the making. People should start feeling better in a matter of hours, though they won't be completely mended for a few weeks. It's...a hard virus."

"Good." Levi dismissed the doctor from his thoughts and approached his granddaughter.

Miri opened her eyes as he sat down, a ghost of a twinkle in them. "Are you very mad me?"

The question startled him, and he didn't have a chance to answer because she was still speaking.

"Don't blame the doctors. They're only human. Marc has already scolded me for giving myself the virus. Don't be mad at..."

"Miriam, stop. I would have been surprised to hear otherwise. One of the reasons why the people, why I respect you, is your self sacrificing spirit."

"You're not mad?"

"Far from it."

January 16, 2011

Zion's Children - pt 42

Levi and Lieutenant Commander Jonathan Freeman were just exiting the small clapboard building that General Hiawithus used as his office building when Marcus found them. They both looked grave, like men on an unpleasant mission.

"Ah, Doctor Alexander!" Freeman said in greeting. "How are things going?"

"Touchy," Marcus answered. Freeman was always such a stickler for protocol. "Levi, have you got a moment?"

"Not really. We're on our way to a meeting with the Elder Council. Walk with us." The old man looked at him suspiciously, but then he had always done that. With all ConFleet persons, it wasn't just him. "Did you find out what Doctor Gold wanted of you?"

"Yes, we were discussing the dosing for the new medicine he's made." He changed directions easily. "And that's actually what I want to discuss with you."

"Well, go on," prompted Levi, not breaking stride.

"Ah, well...are you sure you want to do this on the go?" Marcus asked.

"We've no time to lose," Levi replied. "We're going to talk to the council about suing the Conglomerate for restitution under...what code was that, Jon?"

Freeman didn't bat so much as an eyelash. "Code 154, subsection 27, Part B."

"You can sue the Conglomerate?" Marcus asked in surprise.

"It doesn't happen often," Freeman admitted. "But it can be done."

"Has it ever happened?" the doctor asked in spite of himself.

"Once. Shortly after the end of WW2 in 2021, the remainder of Earth's old Nation of Israel sued for crimes committed during the war. And they won."

"So in a way," Levi commented, "We already have a precedent."

"I'm...speechless," mumbles Marcus. He shook his head and tried again. "Levi, I need to talk to you about Miri."

Levi's step faltered, and stopped. Freeman and Marcus came to a stop as well. "What about Miri?

"She came into the lab when Byrin and I were arguing...and she..."

"Well, spit it out man!" Levi rumbled angrily.

"She injected herself with the virus to give us a test subject."

Silence ruled the moment.

"Yes, she would do that wouldn't she?" Levi said softly. "How sick is she?"

"Very. Byrin has already given her a dose of medicine. I don't know if it's having effect yet."

Levi closed his eyes. "Lord Jesus, protect my foolish, bravehearted girl." He opened his eyes and pierced Marcus with his glare. "Go back and keep an eye on her for me. I've got to meet with the Council, then I'll be right there. Miri will understand my delay, if she's even aware."

"Yes sir." Marcus let out a breath he didn't realize he was holding as the two walked away from him.

January 14, 2011

Zion's Children - Pt 41

Byrin waited for Lily to leave, then moved to where she had been sitting on the bed next to Miri. "I feel responsible. I know it was her choice, but I still feel like it's my fault."

Marc sighed. "If only we hadn't been arguing?"

"Something like that," agreed Byrin.

"I know the feeling. But it was her choice and she probably would have done it whether we were arguing or not." Marcus rose to his feet as if he were a much older man. "Since you're here watching over her, I'm going to go find Levi and let him know what his granddaughter has done."

"Ahhh, thank you."

"For what?"

"I can't imagine that Levi is going to be happy and I'm just glad that you volunteered to tell him so I wouldn't have to."

Marcus managed to laugh. "He does have that effect on people! He's a lot softer than he lets on though."

"Just the same, thanks."

Marcus patted the young man on the shoulder and departed.

Byrin looked down at his ill nurse. It hadn't been that long ago that they were sitting on a blanket in the grass, trying to learn about each other. He had almost kissed her...she had almost let him. He wasn't one to take rejection well, becuase he'd been faced with it so little. But if it hadn't been for her refusal, he never would have made the connections he had. Strange how things had been working out recently.

He will wanted to kiss her. Wanted desperately for her to live. Despite his medical genius, he still doubted whether he'd gotten the dosage right. With a gentle had, he reached out and wiped sweat laden wisps of hair off her forehead.

To his surprise, her eyes opened and tried to focus.

"Miri?" he asked hesitantly.

"Byrin..." Her voice was a thin rasp. "Well, that hit hard didn't it?"

"Very fast. And hard. I've given you a dose of the medicine. How are you feeling?"

Her eyes fluttered, as if it were hard for her to keep them open. "Tired...hot...cold...thirsty..."

"Thirsty?" That wasn't one of the normal symptoms. Byrin felt a glimmer of hope. "I'll get you some water." He rose to his feet and rummaged through things on the long counter until he found an empty glass. He filled it halfway with cool water and hurried back to his charge. Putting a hand under Miri's shoulders, he lifted her up a bit and held the glass to her lips. She took a few swallows and turned her head away,

"Better?" he asked.

""A little." She sighed as he laid her back and then she was out again.

Byrin set the glad on a nearby table and sat back down, intent of staying by her side until...forever if he had to.

January 12, 2011

Zion's Children - Pt 40

Doctor Alexander sighed. "It's a long story, Lily."

The young nurse looked over her shoulder at Byrin, who was still fussing with the hypo sprays. "We have time."

Marc supressed the urge to tell the other doctor to hurry. "I had been stationed here for a year, when I had a romance with a young woman. There was a lot of flack from her family and friends, because of the difference in our religions. I thought we would survive despite it. I was wrong. She broke our engagement off, three weeks before we were to wed. She didn't tell me why, just said it was over. A month later, she was brough to the clinic, because she was having a miscarriage and was losing a lot of blood."

"I'm so sorry," Lily whispered.

"So was I...despite my heathen ways, we'd never been together that way. The baby wasn't mine." Marcus sighed again, this time laden with sorrow. "But I moured it's death just the same. Her family had waited too long to bring her in, and she'd lost a lot of blood. She didn't make it either. I was...in a deep dark place I never want to go to again. Miri was still in her teens, but she was already helping me at the clinic. She was a mother hen type of nurse even then. She...made sure I didn't do anything stupid, and shared the gospel with me. But it took Levi sharing his own story, that brought me to know Jesus as my savior. I hope you don't mind if I leave the telling of his story to him."

"That's fine," Lily answered.

"Suffice it to say that I was faced with the fact that I was not alone in having been dealt a bad hand. We all go through times like that. We can either come face to face with our Creator and find comfort, salvation. Or we can just survive unti next time. I decided to face my Creator. And I found an everlasting love."

"I'm speachless," whispered Lily. She could hear the peace in his voice, see it on his face. She looked down at the ill Miri. Even unconscious and in the grip of fever, Miri still had a peace about her. "I came to Christ as a child, shortly before the Flu Scare. I almost lost my mother in a shuttle accident, she was badly injured but alive. When things had settled and I was able to tell her how scared I'd been...she told me that while she'd been in pain, she wasn't afraid of dying because she knew where she was going. We talked about her faith for several days, and I eventually prayed the sinner's prayer. It felt wonderful, but reality hit hard when the Flu hit us and so many died. Including my mother. She just wasn't strong enough to deal with the injuries and the flu. At the time, I felt peace because I was certain I was going to die too and then we'd be together again. But I survived."

"Lily, surely you don't feel guilty for surviving?"

"Every single day. It's why I became a nurse...to help as many survive illness and injuries as possible." Lily wiped away a tear that had escaped. "But people still die."

"Of course they do," Marc said softly. "It's the way of life. We're born into a chaotic world. The most we can do is live our life in such a way as to lead other's to Christ."

There was a gentle throat clearing and the two looked up to see Byrin standing with a ready hypo. "I'm ready to give Miri the medicine."

Silently Lily rose to her feet and moved quickly out of his way.

Byrin stepped forward and pressed the end of the hypo to Miri's shoulder.

"How long before we know if it's working?" Lily asked.

"Unsure. Within the hour. If not, I'll draw some blood and go from there." Byrin pulled a stool close.

"I'd best get back to the rest of the ward," Lily said. "There's still people people out there and I don't think Lily would appreciate it if I neglected them."

"I'll join you shortly," Marcus said.

"Very well." Lily turned and left the lab much quieter than she'd entered.