‘Open visuals,’ commanded Razjosh, as he quickly returned the book to the bottom of the document case.
It was Danielle.
‘How were the negotiations, sir?’ she asked.
Razjosh sighed. ‘As good as could be expected,’ he replied.
‘Well, I think I’ve found something else interesting,’ said the young scientist. ‘Would you care to come up to the laboratory?’
Razjosh felt old as he made his way to the docking bay for the Supercraft. Danielle Thomas was making a much better job of her mission than he was. She was so young. And she was doing so well despite being so terrified of flying.
She had chosen to carry on working in the laboratory on the Supercraft rather than using the one that the Zandrians had offered. It would save having to move everything later. Experiments could also then be left running as they travelled back.
‘I thought you might like to see this,’ she said pointing to a screen showing blown up microscope images. ‘That is the affect of the vaccine on Kaleem’s diseased cells. Do you see how these cells are obliterating the sick ones? They’re working as a strong antidote. Whereas these,’ - she was now pointing at another slide, where it was obvious that the vaccine cells were not having such an effect – ‘are the cells of another patient, of one of the ones who died, after being in a coma like Maria.’
Razjosh could see clearly that not only was the vaccine having little effect, but that the diseased cells were actually bigger.
‘So the disease has mutated?’ asked Razjosh.
‘Certainly,’ answered Danielle.
‘And the vaccine isn’t so effective?’ asked Razjosh.
‘We can’t be too certain about that,’ said Danielle. ‘But it is interesting that it also acts as an antidote, even though it’s a weak one. If we could strengthen the formula….’
‘I’m sure the Zandrians would be willing to help,’ said Razjosh. If only the Terrestrans will allow themselves to be helped, he thought.
The communicator sounded.
‘Visuals,’ he commanded.
A face framed by a wild mess of spiky red hair appeared on the new screen.
‘We remain surprised at the reluctance of your survey to accept the terms of the Terrestra / Zandra agreement,’ said Alita Graven. ‘We have therefore elected to speed up the negotiating protocol. A Supercraft Excelsior is on its way to Western Sector 3. On board are our most skilled negotiators and batches of the Starlight vaccine. We look forward to further work with you.’
She faded out.
Razjosh’s heart sank. He could see from the look on Danielle’s face that she had understood the message all too well.
No way would their own Supercraft reach Terrestra before the Supercraft Excelsior. And no matter what he did from here, there was only one way the Terrestrans would interpret the arrival of a non-Terrestran craft. They would not wait for explanations.
Razjosh now felt even more weary. But there was something he needed to do urgently.
‘Request communication to Terrestra,’ he said. ‘Target: Kaleem Malkendy.’
The file opened. Razjosh hesitated. What exactly should he tell him and how exactly was he going to say this? The new Peace Child was going to have his work cut out. And he was nowhere near ready. Oh, he was a good scholar, and he had a heightened awareness of otherness all right - but he was not ready for this yet – was he?
Danielle was staring at him.
‘He’ll be good,’ she said. ‘After all, he’s had a good teacher.’
Razjosh patted the hand. ‘I hope so,’ he said. ‘I do hope so.’
She smiled and the screen closed.