The Martian sickness P-90-8617-0, better known as ‘Pu,’ had existed and thrived in the dust cloud that existed on the far-far side of Mars. Hours after landing, Dr. Richard Price drove to the Unwanted Zone with scientists Kally Randall and soldier/bodyguard Dean Richard.
“is this the sexiest rover or what?!” shouted Dean with a half-pint of water in his hand.
“Now calm down, Dean.” said Richard. “we’ve got a job to handle, ai’ght. Doctor Mitchell said he wanted samples from this dust plume.”
Despite his young age (in-between 20 or 30) Dr. Richard knew much about bio-engineering, cloning and physics.
“Let’s see what we got here.” said Kally as she reached for the GPS.
Kally liked Richard and—to be on the safe side—had numerous fantasies of him.
“We’re on the right track.” she said as she placed it back on the holder and she felt fine until a sudden heat sensation overcame her. “It’s hot!” she shouted as she took off her lab coat and dress shirt. She had a ‘winter’ tank top made only for this trip and to Richard’s surprise she had a bloodied cloth wrapped around her arm. Part of her arm had been covered with the tattoo of a dragon.
“I see you love dragons.” he said.
Dean leaned in from his position in the back seat and said, “Why are you hot?”
“It’s the dust plume.” said Richard. “It works women first, then men–” before he could finish he blurted out, “OH! It just hit me.”
Dean snorted and fell back. “Glad it ain’t…woah.” he fanned himself with Kally’s magazine and said, “Is it hot in here or is it just me? C-can we roll the window down?”
He was about to reach for until Richard shouted, “NO! if you roll that down you’ll be poisoning us all!”
Dean fell back in his seat and grimaced.
When they arrived in the core of the dust plume Richard stopped the car but did not turn it off. Turning it off would disable the filters and cause the dust to flow in. they threw on their protective suits, which was more like biohazard suits, and opened the door. Richard, first out, Kally, second out, and Dean, armed with his rifle, was last out. Richard brought out the vacuum, which would suck and condensate the dust for Dr. Robert Mitchell McCrath to study. The vacuum was battery powered so when it turned on the machine sputtered and the battery drained in five minuets. Richard only got it half full when this crap occurred.
“Damn it. Dean, did you pack the battery?” he asked into the receiver on his suit.
“Yeah.” said Dean.
He headed to the truck and got the extra battery out of the trunk. It was still in it’s protective casing, which was good because Mar’s dust was harsh on batteries. He pulled the wrapper over the two cells and placed it in slot. It started up again and Richard resumed vacuuming. Karen helped him move it farther into the plume. The deeper they went the more the sun shined like the blurred ball it is. A shadow flew over them and knocked Richard off his feet!
“Are you okay?” asked Kally.
“Yeah. I fell.” Said Richard.
“DAMN! What the hell was that!” shouted Dean.
Richard and Kally looked back at Dean, whom was quickly scanning the sky and pointing his weapon at anything that seemed unnatural.
“what is it, Dean?” asked Richard.
The vacuum beeped right when Dean spoke and Richard occupied himself to turn it off. He had trouble with the switch and Dean kept talking. When he got it to shut off he heard Dean say, “that was some scary shit, man!”
He looked up and saw a giant figure rising up. Richard’s heart pounded like hell as he saw the figure had the wings of a dragon with the spiked membranes and piercing claws. It had a King’s Crown and terrifying yellow eyes of velour. This was no native on Mars or Earth, Richard knew that much. Before Richard had a chance to even stumble the creature flew at him and clawed the plastic covering of the protective suit.
“NO!” shouted Kally.
She rushed to Richard’s side but the creature flew at her and tore off the top of the suit, greatly exposing her to the high and disease-written air of the dust plume. Her head began to swim and dizziness caused a nauseated sensation. She fell back unconscious as the dust filled her lungs and dissolved into infectious air.
Dean fired his weapon at the fast-moving creature but failed to get a clear shot. When it zipped around him he became frustrated and fired whatever he saw.
“Do you think you can kill MY friend and get away with it?” he shouted.
There was a loud and rumbling-sort of moaning that was louder than the dust plume itself. Dean looked up and lowered his weapon in awe as the creature rose high in the sky. He could see the creature’s neck expanding far and dangerous wings folding in as it ascended.
“Lo and Behold.” he exhaled, “bullets alone won’t hurt that damn thing.”
The dragon zoomed by at great speed and tried to scratched off Dean’s helmet. Dean dodged and ran towards Kally. He picked her up and rushed her to the vehicle. Richard struggled with the buttons on the vacuum. The dragon came back around and loudly roared. Kally was placed safely in the back and Dean ran to Richard and dragged the vacuum to the vehicle. He pushed down on the lever and it shut off. Richard ran to help him load it in the trunk. The vacuum was heavier than both their weights combined. The dragon breathed fire at the side of the van and he landed onto the Martian ground. Its eyes are glowing gold. The two men finally managed to get the vacuum into the truck. They ran to their respective areas of the vehicle and jumped in. Richard threw the vehicle in reverse and stepped on the gas. The vehicle zoomed backward, and he threw it in drive. The dragon flew after them.
“Is it following?” asked Richard.
Dean looked back and saw the misty shadow of the dragon’s body.
“Yes! It is!” he said.
Richard drove onto the Scenic Highway, which was deserted and eerily silent except for the sound of the dragon’s wingbeats. He followed Route 53 into a tunnel that went underground, and after a few miles Dean glanced back and saw a rush of fire coming towards them.
Richard pressed down hard on the gas. He could see the ending of the tunnel fast approaching. He made a hard turn out of the tunnel and the vehicle nearly turned on its right side. He was panting from the exhilaration of the chase and the dragon’s cries swelled from the green sky.
* * *
At the Headquarters, Richard and Dean rushed Kally into the hospital wing of the building. They were on each side of the Gurney, both of them pushing and rushing to Dr. Alof.
“What happened?” asked the old doctor.
Richard spoke urgently, “We were in the dust plume to gather dust for study and this dragon came out and attacked us. It removed Kally’s helmet and ours.”
“This dragon, was it gray, silver or both?” asked Alof.
“Grey.” Said Dean, “Why you ask?”
“You know something.” Said Richard, “tell us everything!”
Dr. Alof swiped his hand and said, “calm down, young man. Pull off your coat, sit down and I will explain.”
Richard grimaced and complied. He and Dean sat in the two office chairs and Dr. Alof sat in a chair in front of them.
“Sixteen years ago, on our first expedition, we had encountered a baby dragon sitting on a nest of eggs. We took the eggs and the dragon for examination. You know how those scientists are, always wanting to examine stuff. The third egg in the round-table* hatched and we took it to Earth. We did not know the dragonet-father followed us there. It attacked us and took back its baby and round-table. Today, when you went out there, I guess when it saw you it…it…went into shock. But please, don’t blame him. He’s just a teenager.”
Dean got up and walked away. Richard sighed, “it attacked our group. That thing you call a dragon looks nothing like a teenager! He attacked our group, and I feel you are responsible.”
After those words Richard left the room. .
On day one of the infection, Kally had thrown up everything she ate, including water. Dean stayed by her side as much as he could, despite the fact that she was held inside a plastic quarantine bubble.
The scientists studied the rocks the three friends had brought with them. One scientist, Dr. Poe, found strange crystals and bacteria inside the rock.
“What is that?” she whispered as she examined the shiny little pebbles. Then a strange revelation hit her mind like a dumbbell.
She excused herself from the lab at an early time and hijacked a dropship and made haste for Earth.
Meanwhile, Richard and Dean tried their hardest to care for Kally. At night Dean could hear her whimper in her sleep, and when she started to cry and whine he was be there to wake her.
“What happened?” he asked.
She sighed and spoke; her words slurring, “I had a bad dream.”
“About what?” he asked.
“About you.” She said sadly.
“You were eaten alive by…by…”
she started screaming and shaking as she felt the horrid dream become reality. He stuck his hand into the bubble to rub her head and coax her with caring words. She gazed at him and whispered, “don’t.. you’ll get infected.”
He said nothing and continued to coax her.
When the sun rose she screamed in pain. Richard burst into the room and saw smoke emitting from her skin as morning light unveiled itself into the room. Dean rushed out of the shower and wrapped himself in a fluffy white towel. He ran to close the blinds, and almost fainted at the sight of Kally. Her eyes were puffy, her face was extremely pale, her irises were green and her mouth and throat were parched. Dean poured cold water into her throat but it would quickly soak up like a sponge, leaving her throat dry again.
Dean and Richard carried her to the gurney and placed her down. Dean carefully poured water into her mouth as Richard pushed the gurney to Doctor Alof’s office. Inside she was examined by at least fourteen scientists and neither of them could diagnose her. Kally was feeling frail and by day three her vital signs had dimmed. Richard and Dean couldn’t bare to watch her any longer. They stood outside her room and drank beer and wine to wash away the pain. When night came they stood by Kally’s side and later they had fallen asleep. When Dean awoke at three in the morning he noticed Kally was not breathing.
“Kally? Kally?” he lightly shook her and kept calling her name. He smiled a bit, as he knew she was playing with him. She always played dead, even during missions. But tears followed as his smile disappeared. “Kally? Kally wake up! Please! Don’t leave me! Kally!”
Richard opened his eyes and saw Dean crying and vigorously shaking Kally’s dead body.
“Kally? Kally! Kally, please don’t!”
He felt Richard’s hand on his shoulder and he looked back. Richard shook his head and whispered, “She’s gone, Dean. She’s gone.”
Dean screamed at the top of his lungs and shook the bed with all his strength.
“No! no! no! she can’t die! She can’t leave me like this!”
Dr. Alof and a few guards rushed in and tried to control Dean but he fought them and tried to grab Kally’s hand.
“Kally! Kally I need you!” he cried loudly.
“She’s gone, Dean!” shouted Richard.
And all fell silent.