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PostPosted: Mon Jan 31, '11, 8:28 pm
On occasion, Andi took the time to haul all of her supplies and the necessary furniture outside so she could enjoy the warm sunlight while she painted. The rustling of branches in the breeze and the melodic chirping of a few small songbirds provided an excellent accompaniment to her creative moods. Her paints seemed more vibrant in the natural light, their dynamic colors calling out to her, inspiring her.

She sat atop her stool on an ordinary morning, using her brightest greens and blues to paint a beautiful, yet surreal landscape. As she prepared to add another layer to the rolling hills, the ground rumbled beneath her, pitching her forward and knocking over her easel. The tremors last no more than a moment or two, but Andi couldn't recall having ever experienced something similar.

The confused artist picked herself up off the ground and dusted herself off. Looking around, she could see nothing unremarkable. “That was odd,” she murmured to herself as she righted the easel and inspected her canvas for signs of damage. Shrugging off the strange incident, she sat back down and continued on as if nothing had happened.

An hour or so later, Andi was so focused on her artwork, she almost didn't hear her visiphone ringing inside the house. She jumped up, ran inside, and tried to trace its location based on its high-pitched tones. Having finally found it underneath a pile of laundry, she pushed a button and the screen lit up.

A man with silver hair and a white coat much like Gabe's appeared. “Deandra Thompson?” he asked.


“My name is Dr. Sage, I'm calling from Oputa General Hospital.”

Even before the doctor could say another word, Andi felt as if she'd been punched in the stomach. She hadn't realized she had closed her eyes until she forced herself to reopen them. “What's wrong?” she managed to squeak out.

“There was an accident at the Biosystems Lab, your husband was teleported here with several of his colleagues.” Andi fought the urge to vomit on the small communication device. “He's stable now, but you should come here as soon as possible.”

Andi closed out the screen on the visiphone and looked around the room in a daze. Some instinct eventually kicked in and her feet started moving her towards the door. As her hand reached the knob, a better idea entered her mind and she abandoned the door in favor of a small cabinet. A little digging around produced a telepipe, which would make her trip infinitely faster. She set the coordinates for Oputa and waited for the weightless feeling of teleportation to settle in.

Less than a minute later, she was bursting through the doors of the foreboding hospital. After a few tries, she managed to get her name out to a nurse who directed her to the correct room. She flew through the hallways, not caring who or what she collided with, and skidded to a stop inches from Gabe's bed, nearly taking out another nurse in the process.

He looked the same to her, save for the monitors attached to various limbs and the oxygen mask covering most of his face. His eyes fluttered open at the sound of her arrival, and in their smoky gray depths, Andi saw a fear she had never seen before. He tried to speak, but the impeding mask and the trauma he had suffered only allowed scattered words and phrases to make their way out.

“...basement...earthquake...explosions...shouldn't have happened...Brain...”

Andi turned to the nurse, who was coaxing Gabe to stop talking and rest, and started to tremble. She was vaguely aware of the nurse explaining his condition to her, but the words sounded like they were traveling through some ominous gelatinous substance. The room started to spin around her, and for a fleeting moment, she felt as if she were trapped inside one of her dazzlingly bright canvases with no way out before she fell to the floor.

When she awoke, she was in a hospital bed of her own with an IV strapped to her arm. She scowled at it and was tempted to rip it out, but decided to wait for medical attention. Not long after she opened her eyes, a young, well-dressed doctor came to her bedside.

“Gabe? Where's Gabe?” she immediately asked.

The doctor reached for the electronic chart attached to the bed and pushed a few buttons. “Dr. Thompson is resting, we'll take you to him soon,” he said after matching up the names. “Let's worry about you for now.”

“I'm fine, I was just shocked by seeing him like that. Can you take this damn thing out of my arm?”

“In a few minutes.” The doctor used a stylus to scroll through more information on the small screen. “Have you eaten today?” he asked, raising an accusatory eyebrow.

Andi had to think about the question. “I...think I skipped lunch,” she finally answered. “...Maybe breakfast, too,” she admitted sheepishly.

He shook his head at her. “You can't do that when you're pregnant, it's not good for you or the baby.”

Andi blinked. “What?” The meaning of the doctor's words finally materialized inside her head. “Oh, ****.”

The doctor had heard nearly every possible reaction to that bit of news before, but the second eyebrow joined the first one in concern. “I'm sorry,” she said. “I'm fine, this is good, it's just been a crazy day.” She looked up at him and bit her lower lip. “I guess it's not possible to go home, crawl into bed, and start today over again, right?”

“Sorry, we can't do that here.” The doctor inspected the bag of liquid that was attached to the port in Andi’s arm. “Let’s get you re-hydrated, this should be done in a few more minutes. Then you can go see your husband.”

Andi glared at the fluids, mentally willing them to drip faster. The nurse sent to remove the IV also got an impatient look for not moving fast enough. As soon as she was detached from everything that was keeping her in the bed, she sprung up and raced back to Gabe.

He was awake. Trying to smile through the oxygen mask, he greeted her. “Hey, there you are,” he said softly.

After casting a quick glance over her shoulder to make sure the nurse was gone, she gently moved some wires out of the way and slid into the bed next to him, pulling his head against her shoulder. “Don’t ever scare me like that again,” she murmured, stroking his soft plum-colored hair.

“I’ll try my best.” He reached up to remove the mask and, in response to Andi’s noise of protest, waved off her concerns. “I’m fine, I’m feeling much better.”

“Do you want to tell me what happened? You can wait until later if you’re tired.”

“No, really, I’m okay.” He shifted slightly in the bed and tried to turn his head so she could hear him better. “We were working in the basement of the Lab. All of a sudden, it felt as if the walls were going to cave in on us. The earth around us was shaking and we couldn’t do anything to stop it.” Andi felt his body tense slightly against her. “Everything was crashing down, exploding around us. Chemicals were spilled, cell cultures destroyed...even when everything had stopped moving, we were still in danger. It was so hard to breathe down there...” he trailed off, shaking slightly with the memory.

Andi was not used to this side of the good-natured biologist and felt more unsettled than she had when she’d first entered the room. She wanted to fling her arms around him and disappear into him, but the various medical equipment surrounding him implied that it would be impossible. She settled for pressing her lips against his temple. “You’re okay now,” she whispered into his hair.

He shook his head. “Not all of our team made it out,” he said quietly. He closed his eyes and Andi could feel him trembling slightly more. “I can still hear them screaming, when everything was breaking around them. Hugh Cassidy, my former mentor, died instantly. Some of the guys who were alive when we made it back up were covered in chemical burns, I don’t know how they’re doing now.” From above, Andi could see a solitary tear drip off his cheek.

Grief quickly turned to anger, however; an emotion that, coming from him, was even more surprising to her. “This shouldn’t have happened!” he nearly shouted, a series of coughs punctuating the strong statement. “There hasn’t been an earthquake on Motavia in decades! Mother Brain is supposed to be able to control all of the planet's systems! The Lab’s safety measures were supposed to be foolproof!”

Andi wasn't sure how to respond. “It was an accident,” she simply said.

“There aren't supposed to be accidents like this.” After his small outburst, Gabe seemed to relax, as if vocalizing his negative thoughts had eliminated them completely. “We'll get through this. We can rebuild the lab, and all of our notes should be backed up in the computers upstairs.”

“I think your colleagues would want it that way,” she said, trying to sound comforting. “You always say that Mother Brain will take care of us, things will work out.” She wasn't sure if this was an appropriate time to share her news, but she knew he needed to find out sooner rather than later. “Just don't work too hard. You need to save up your energy for the little future scientist you're going to be chasing around in less than a year.”

Gabe twisted around so he could look at her directly, not caring if he knocked anything off his body. “Really?”

“Yup. Apparently, I'm going to have to learn to be a responsible adult sooner rather than later.”

He smiled up at her, still letting her revelation fully sink in. “You’ll be just fine.” He leaned his head back against her shoulder and tried to put his hand on top of hers, but it was yanked back by the sensor monitoring his pulse. “I guess life and death really do work on a cycle,” he said thoughtfully. “I lost people I was close to today, I saw lives end, but soon, I'll be witnessing the start of a new life.”

“Wow, they must really be giving you the good drugs,” Andi teased.

Gabe laughed with her. “Maybe. Pretend I said something very philosophical and poignant about beginning and endings and lifespans and whatnot. I’ll think it through better once I’m out of here.”

“I’ll be expecting a touching speech.” She stroked his cheek. “But I liked the part about you getting out of here better. You’d better come home quickly before I paint the entire house orange, or something like that.”

“Believe me, I want to go home as soon as possible.” He couldn’t reach her face, so he settled for kissing her collarbone. “Don’t worry. Everything’s going to be okay.”
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