The Endeavor arrived at Vorkath and picked up the doctors and witches of Crossgene Hospital. They had full gear on, protecting themselves against the gel-pox pandemic. They examined the crew first while the supplies were being loaded. “Doc, come on!” protested a crewman.
“We can’t risk anyone bringing disease,” remarked the doctor.
“We weren’t even in the Over-realm!” argued the crewman.
“Lieutenant, let the doctor check you over,” called Arsha’s voice.
“But Captain…!” protested the crewman.
“That’s an order from both me and Marshii,” commanded Arsha. The crewman grumbled but complied.
“You know,” remarked Marshii as she came up to Arsha, “I DIDN’T give that order.”
“No, but you would have,” mused Arsha.
“…You’re right, I would have,” replied Marshii as she shrugged.
“Have all the doctors been briefed on what’s going on?” asked Arsha.
“Briefed and briefed all over again,” answered Marshii. “How soon until all the supplies are all loaded in?”
“Two minutes, according to our estimations,” replied Arsha.
“A bit long, in my opinion,” grumbled Marshii.
“We need to be careful that we’re not missing anything,” reminded Arsha.
“I know, I know,” grunted Marshii. Time felt like it was going at a crawl for Marshii, wanting to help as quickly as possible. Soon, everything was loaded, everyone was present, and all items and people were accounted for. The loading ramp then went up and the ship took off, on course for the Sacchrinda Kingdom.
The ship landed outside the kingdom, as was recommended. The doctors and supplies were taken to a small bunker near the border to work on a vaccine. As per protocol, shore leave was cancelled due to gel-pox concerns. Arsha was NOT going to run the risk of a virus on her ship, especially since the ship now had an organic body on top of being a ship. Speaking of, Endea and Thangred were having a chat at Barmek’s. “All I’m saying is,” urged Thangred, “we should pay attention to what’s going on in the Lunarimba Sea.”
“Why?” asked Endea. “It’s no concern of ours.”
“If it’s the result of Dr. Borg, I beg to differ,” argued Thangred.
“Even if you’re right,” countered Endea, “I doubt Realmfleet will be called. King Hindegar DOES tend to tell Realmfleet not to interfere in matters like this.”
“But if Dr. Borg’s involved, won’t Realmfleet be a good deterrent?” asked Thangred.
“What’s going on?” called Shalvey’s voice as she glided up to the table.
“Shalvey, you know what’s going on in your home, right?” quizzed Thangred.
“Actually, I just got news on that front,” replied Shalvey as she parked near Thangred. “Turns out it was all a prank from Queen Ulumeye’s dad.”
“Are you serious?!” snarled Thangred.
“Why, the nerve!” snapped Endea. “Faking out the people like that?! Oh, I wanna slap him!”
“I’m afraid you’ll have to get in line,” remarked Shalvey. “My home’s demanding his head for stealing our crops like that.”
“Seriously, didn’t the king pass a law saying that stealing from farm people is punishable by life in prison with no chance of parole?” quizzed Thangred.
“Which puts him in a very awkward position,” answered Shalvey.
“Oh, yeah, that’s his father-in-law,” recalled Endea.
“Exactly,” confirmed Shalvey. “If he follows through on the sentence, the media will call him too hard-nosed towards anyone, even his own associates. But, if he lets him go, they’ll say he’s too soft.”
“The media’s gonna eat him alive anyways!” realized Thangred. “How unpopular IS the poor guy?!”
“…You REALLY don’t want to know,” muttered Shalvey.
While the doctors were working on the vaccine, they had been sending Arsha their progress reports and she passed them on to Realmfleet and the Maropwems. When she had free time, she called her family to make sure they were okay. During one call, Arsha noticed that Elgrad looked twitchy. “Never been away from the throne for such a long time, Daddy?” guessed Arsha.
“Yep,” confirmed Elgrad. “Call me arrogant, if you will, but I feel like Largandra, much less the Mid-realm, would fall without me there!”
“I hear you, it’s like with me and the Endeavor.”
“Yeah, looks like you got that curse from your old man.”
“At least your impulse control’s a lot better,” chuckled Hanako.
“Hana, please, no!” wailed Elgrad.
“Wait, what?!” giggled Arsha. “Hold on, I think I want to hear this.”
“Well, when your father…”
“I’ll tell the story, thank you,” grumbled Elgrad. “When I was a Prince, I had TERRIBLE impulse control. It all came to a head when I was 150. A rather racist woman cast a curse on me that I would die the night before my 300th birthday. My parents both already went through an operation to prevent any future children, so they were really scared for their family’s future. The advisor at the time, Tonsho…”
“Wait, which Tonsho?” interrupted Arsha. “That’s, like, the most common name in Largandra.
“This guy was a Centaur,” answered Elgrad. “Not anyone you knew. Anyway, he was wringing his hands as he explained the curse to me and my parents. As they were about to demand he find a solution, adolescent me called out, ‘Wait, before my 300th is when this curse kills me?’ He answered yes and my next out-loud thought was ‘So, until then, I’m effectively immortal?!’”
“Uh oh,” gulped Arsha.
“Yeah, I wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed. Mom and Dad said that I was technically right, but I didn’t hear the word ‘technically’ and announced that I was going to teach myself how to juggle axes while hang-gliding over shark-infested waters.” Arsha laughed like a maniac when she heard how dumb her dad was.
“Glad Grandma and Grandpa found the counter-curse in time,” she managed to get out between her giggles. “I can’t believe you would do something so dumb! You wouldn’t have caught me doing something like that!”
“Arsha,” remarked Hanako.
“There’s something I need to tell you.”
“…Sparkle, sparkle, sparkle!” Arsha then screamed into her hands.
“Depths, YEAH, sparkle, sparkle, sparkle!” laughed Elgrad.
“MOM, COME ON!” wailed Arsha. “I thought you would forget that incident!”
“Arsha, ALL adolescents do dumb stuff like that,” answered Hanako. “Your kids will do something just as bad.”
“Dalengor to Arsha,” came Dalengor’s voice over the intercom.
“One minute,” Arsha bid to her parents. “Go ahead, Dalengor.”
“One of our crewmate’s was caught trying to get out of the ship,” reported Dalengor. “She’s in the brig now for fighting the security officer at the ramp.”
“Oh, Ones, the last thing I want to hear!” Arsha groaned. She then turned to her parents. “Sorry, guys, need to discipline someone. See you as soon as possible.”
“Bye!” bid her parents as she ended the call.
“It was only going to be for five minutes!” protested the Werewolf lieutenant as she faced Arsha. “Where’s the harm?!”
“I won’t risk gel-pox on this ship,” answered Arsha. “All shore leave is cancelled to prevent the spread of disease to other Realms.”
“I was wearing a mask and gloves!”
“That mask was under your nose and the gloves had holes so your claws would stick out!”
“Captain, you must release me!”
“I will only release you when I have evidence that you are as committed to this as your husband!” The Werewolf rolled her eyes as Arsha indicated to the male Werewolf guard to step forward. “Look at him,” directed Arsha. “He’s standing tall and proud, ready to sacrifice his outdoor time, knowing the risks of…” she trailed off when she saw something in his pocket. She quickly yanked it out and saw that it was an exit card, used only to leave the ship. “…Lieutenant Tentar,” growled Arsha as she moved her hairpiece to her waist, “what is THIS?!”
“…I don’t know how that got there,” gulped the male Werewolf, Tentar.
“You lie!” accused his wife, Lieutenant Enfal. “How many more do you have?!”
“I have duties to perform,” answered Tentar.
“Don’t change the subject! Where are the others?!”
“There ARE no others!”
“If you don’t tell me where the others are, I will sleep in separate quarters for a week!” Tentar growled but relented as he pulled another exit card out of his uniform’s shirt, another out of his shoe, then opened a drawer full of exit cards.
“…You hypocrite!” hissed Arsha.
“You hold me here for trying to leave, yet you planned to leave this ship yourself?!” snarled Enfal.
“Well, I have a proposition,” growled Tentar. “From now until the vaccine is ready for mass-production, we will watch each other!”
“Yes! Closely!” agreed Enfal.
“I’m holding you both to it,” warned Arsha.
“Five days!” hissed Rosalmia to her sisters as vaccine work continued. “Five days since Daddy passed that order! Five days of staying inside! Five days of not finding any more lovers! Five days of going to this very ballroom and not having a dance partner!”
“You were the one,” remarked Yasnima as she touched up her eye makeup, “that urged Daddy to pass a stay-at-home order.”
“Yeah, well, I thought it would take at least two days!” hissed Rosalmia. “Not five days of uncertainty!”
“Viruses take a long time to develop a vaccine for,” reminded Grenmaf as she and Blamfem looked over some medical journals. “We might get a vaccine in about three months.”
“That’s three months too long for someone like me!” wailed Rosalmia. “I need to find more lovers!”
“You said,” muttered Purhalmaf, “patience is key.”
“For you girls! Not me!” snapped Rosalmia. “I hate patience! Patience is for wimpy introverts!”
“Our mother was a conscious stone statue for three years after looking directly into a Gorgon’s eyes,” grunted Orsanmii, “and you can’t be patient for three months?”
“She’s just as extroverted as you,” reminded Blamfem.
“I can’t do this!” groaned Rosalmia. “Don’t make me! I need to be busy!”
“FINE!” shouted Pinalk, fed up with her red sister. “Be busy! We could all use a break from your complaining!” Rosalmia scowled, then ran out of the ballroom, making a beeline straight for the kitchen. Whenever one of the Royal Family was bored, they usually helped their staff, a tradition started by her mother. She put on a mask, a hairnet, and a jacket designed for kitchen work as she entered the castle’s kitchens. The head chef saw her and approached her.
“Is her Highness getting buggy?” she asked.
“Her Highness is losing her mind from being so bored and isolated!” replied Rosalmia.
“I believe Yalfeen would like some help on preparing the veggies,” mused the head chef. “Just wash your hands before you help.”
“Got it.” Rosalmia then washed her hands and put on gloves that were designed for kitchen work, then she joined an Elf woman chopping veggies.
“Looking for something to do during all this,” the Elf woman, Yalfeen, guessed.
“Isolation’s just torture for extroverts,” sighed Rosalmia as she grabbed a carrot and started chopping.
“I hear you. I can’t exactly travel to the Under-realm and meet with my own lovers.”
“Then you understand my predicament perfectly.”
“Granted, I only have two.”
“You still get it, though.”
“Oh, I do.”
Lunch was put together and Rosalmia helped the staff serve up the soup. Once her family arrived in the dining room, they all sat down. “Much better,” sighed Rosalmia. “Nothing like a little activity to pass the time. Hey, Blamfem, how long was it since I left you girls?”
“Half an hour,” replied Blamfem as she checked her watch. Rosalmia’s smile faded.
“…I can’t do it,” she muttered as she slouched in her seat.