The Caldoras explained what had happened to the citizens of the Kurontar Sea. Naturally, many mothers were saddened about their children deciding to revoke their citizenship, but, legally, there was nothing anyone could do. The revocation was legal, even if the means of leaving wasn’t. While the Rulers addressed the people, Samuje swam to the communications console and called Sanfar again. “You again?!” snapped Sanfar. “Look, I already told you, you’re not having your Captaincy reinstated until your mental state…”
“Actually, I called you to request a Discharge Ceremony,” interrupted Samuje.
“…What for?” asked Sanfar.
“I’ve found a new purpose in my life,” explained Samuje, “that involves my people’s city guard instead of Realmfleet.”
“…And you’re sure about this?” pressed Sanfar.
“I’ve found one incident of corruption too many within my native waters,” affirmed Samuje. “I can’t gallivant around the Realms like that while there’s something I can do here.”
“…If that’s the case,” mused Sanfar, “I think you are owed an honorable discharge from Realmfleet. We thank you for your service.”
“I thank you for allowing me to serve,” returned Samuje.
“I think I can arrange for a Discharge Ceremony in two days,” Sanfar offered.
“Two days would be perfect,” answered Samuje.
“Then I will see you in two days,” declared Sanfar. The call ended and Samuje rolled her shoulders back, as if a weight were lifted from them.
The Caldoras saw the Endeavor crew off. The general mood towards Realmfleet hadn’t improved, but it didn’t get worse either. “Your Majesty, I must apologize for…” began Arsha.
“Save it,” interrupted Vorko. “No apologies are needed. Those deserters made their choice, you didn’t influence them in any capacity.”
“Still, I would have liked to have brought them back,” muttered Arsha.
“There’s no sense in beating yourself up over this,” advised Marianes. “You did what you could. …Arsha, I want to apologize for what I said after the fight with Oyed. I was considering joining with the anti-Realmfleet voices, but you successfully helped Samuje find another job that she seems happier with.”
“I simply did what I could for her,” replied Arsha.
“I’ll do what I can to convince the naysayers,” continued Marianes, “that Realmfleet can still be trusted.”
“You’re not alone in that,” called Samuje. “I’ll help.”
“Someone’s going to say that we’re forcing you to say we can be trusted,” mused Arsha.
“I have a few responses for that,” assured Samuje. “Good luck, Captain Royana.”
“Thank you, Your Highness,” returned Arsha. She walked up the ramp as it shut itself behind her and made her way to the bridge. As she walked, a female Wood Elf in a purple trimmed duty uniform came up to her. “Lieutenant Anfeel, what can I do for you?” asked Arsha. The Elf caught her breath before speaking.
“Commander Shalvey just got word from Realmfleet,” explained Anfeel. “The Sacchrinda Kingdom is going through a gel-pox pandemic.”
“But…but they’re not…!” gulped Arsha as she recalled that the Sacchrinda Kingdom wasn’t the best equipped at handling pandemics.
“Captain, Realmfleet’s ordered us to get to the new Crossgene Hospital in Vorkath to bring medical personnel and supplies to help them NOW!” urged Anfeel. “Denstra’s ordered Nazay to leave the instant you’re onboard.” Arsha wasted no time in getting to a communications terminal.
“Bridge, this is the Captain,” she called. “I’m onboard. Get us there now!”
“Understood, Captain,” replied Denstra.
“You heard the Captain,” called Denstra to Nazay. “All available speed to the Sacchrinda Kingdom.”
“Aye, Ma’am,” replied Nazay as he laid in a course. The engines spun to life and the Endeavor rose from the base’s landing pad. It climbed higher and higher until it breached the surface and took to the air.
“It appears we’ve lost any allies,” sighed Dr. Borg once Femfaf gave her report.
“My apologies, Doctor,” bid Femfaf.
“You did what you could,” assured Dr. Borg. “Still, it would have been nice to have some anti-Realmfleet support on our side. Oh well, they still chose their side.” At that moment, Yulduk entered the office. “What can I do for you, Commander Yulduk?” asked Dr. Borg.
“Our operative is stuck in the Sacchrinda Kingdom,” reported Yulduk. “A gel-pox pandemic has struck, and the kingdom is in medical quarantine. No one, aside from medical personnel and their Realmfleet escorts, is allowed in or out of the kingdom.” Dr. Borg sighed in exasperation.
“Then he can’t leave so easily,” grumbled Dr. Borg, “and the samples will have long expired.” She got up from her desk to consider her next move. “Oyed won’t like this,” she muttered. At that moment, the comms terminal on her desk chimed. She pressed a button. “Yes?” she asked.
“Have you heard from Ms. Yamta?” asked Oyed’s voice.
“…No, Master, I can’t say as I have,” remarked Dr. Borg.
“She discovered the samples we need in her location,” explained Oyed.
“You’re joking!” gasped Dr. Borg as delight struck her.
“She has already showed me the samples as proof of her deed,” answered Oyed. “They’re in storage now.”
“Then our project can go on as scheduled!” cheered Dr. Borg. “I’ll get started on it right away!”
“Perhaps you should reward Ms. Yamta before you do,” suggested Oyed.
“I will, indeed!” promised Dr. Borg. “Borg out.” The call ended.
“Well, I think we’ve found our last candidate,” mused Femfaf.
“Indeed,” agreed Dr. Borg. “Bring Yamta here. I want to reward her personally.”
“At once,” replied Femfaf as she and Yulduk left the office.
“Thus,” mused Dr. Borg when she was alone, “the Imperial Council for the Realm Trinity Empire is complete.”
Arsha was on the bridge as the Endeavor made its way to the Realmgate. Endea was a little confused. “Captain, I don’t think I’ve heard of gel-pox. What kind of disease is it?”
“When someone has gel-pox,” explained Arsha, “the germ colonies congregate in green, gelatinous spots on the skin, just looking for a way inside to wreak havoc on the patient’s breathing. It’s transmitted via touch and sneezing. I certainly hope there’s a mask mandate in effect.”
“Approaching the Realmgate,” reported Nazay.
“Take us through,” directed Arsha.
“Marshii to Bridge,” called Marshii over the comms.
“Go ahead,” directed Arsha.
“I’ve just gotten word on all mandates the Maropwems have passed,” reported Marshii.
“Please tell me a mask mandate is one of them,” pleaded Arsha.
“Mask AND glove mandate,” answered Marshii. “I recommend that, once we bring the doctors to the kingdom, we cancel ground-leave. The only ones that should be on the ground are medical staff.”
“Isolate the ship until this pandemic’s showing signs of letting up?” quizzed Arsha.
“That’s the idea,” confirmed Marshii.
“Then ground-leave is cancelled until further notice,” declared Arsha. The call then ended.
“Captain, if this is a pandemic,” advised Denstra, “we can’t risk landing on the base.”
“You’re right,” muttered Arsha. “We need to stay a por away from the kingdom.”
“Knowing the Maropwems,” mused Shalvey, “they’ll have accounted for that.”
“…You’re right,” breathed Arsha as she forced herself to calm down. “Sorry, I’m just a little paranoid about pandemics. I was only a little girl when Largandra suffered a petrifire-virus pandemic.”
“How long did it last, if you don’t mind me asking?” asked Malak.
“15 years,” replied Arsha. “The death toll was staggering.”
“Sorry you went through that,” gulped Malak.
“It took a while to recover, I want the Sacchrinda Kingdom to recover in a shorter time.”
“Captain, I just got a report from the Maropwems!” called Shalvey. “Your parents were visiting Midiriki! They’re stuck in her house!”
“Are they sick?!” yelped Arsha.
“The report didn’t say,” replied Shalvey. “You better try and talk to them!”
“I’ll be in my ready room!” declared Arsha. “Denstra, you have the conn!” Arsha got up and Denstra moved herself to the Captain’s Chair. Arsha then called up her aunt’s home. “Hello, Aunt Midiriki!” she yelped.
“Arsha?” asked Midiriki. “Did you hear the news?”
“The Endeavor’s coming with doctors and medical supplies from Vorkath,” replied Arsha. “Where’s Mom and Dad?!”
“Right here!” called Elgrad’s voice. He and Hanako appeared on the screen. “We ain’t going outside until this is all over,” declared Elgrad.
“Have you two been tested?” asked Arsha.
“We’ve all been tested,” assured Hanako, “even little Tellimii. None of us have gel-pox. Tellimii’s taking online classes right now.” Arsha released a breath.
“Thank the Ones,” she sighed. “I’ll visit you guys when it’s safe enough to do so. I need to remain on the Endeavor. I’m only allowing medical staff and supplies to leave the ship.”
“Call us whenever you can,” urged Hanako.
“And please, stay safe,” pleaded Elgrad.
“I will, on both counts,” promised Arsha. “We’ll end this quicker than Largandra’s pandemic.”
“I hope so,” muttered Elgrad. “We still haven’t fully recovered from losing that many people.” The call ended and Arsha was left with her thoughts. Her thinking was interrupted by a call.
“Go ahead,” she directed.
“We’re approaching Vorkath,” reported Shalvey.
“On my way,” declared Arsha. She then left her ready room.