Recalled to Earth

“Captain, we’ve entered synchronous orbit above the Ivory Coast.”

The captain, facing away from the helmsman and myself, grasped his hands behind his back. His attention appeared to be focused on the viewport in front of him, but I could tell from the way he nervously fidgeted with his wrist that his mind was elsewhere.

“Maintain orbit. Doctor – any progress?”

I glanced down at my terminal. The biologic simulations were continuing to flash before me, but the readout in the lower left corner remained unchanged since we left the Averidian System to return to Earth: 0.000% probability.

I took the briefest of pauses, hoping that the computer would find something – anything- before I had to answer. But alas – “I’m afraid not, sir. There have been no treatments identified as of yet.”

The captain spun on his heel and locked eyes with me, mouth slightly agape. “Nothing? At all? It’s been nearly 18 hours!”

“I realize that. But this plague is unlike anything I’ve – or the computer – has ever seen…”

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