Colin hurried back to his own quarters, frowning.
A biological agent. It had to be terrorism. The Interveners or one of the other quasi-religious sects?
It must have been introduced by someone back on Frontier. How had they done it?
There were layers upon layers of security for anything entering the ships at the station, and he’d personally checked the backgrounds of everyone who worked on or near the Dressler. If there was an Intervener among them, he had no idea who it was—and there were only two other people on board.
He just hoped that this agent, whatever it was, didn’t have a taste for people.
“Dressler, have you finished the diagnostic?” he asked, entering his cabin. He pulled out some antiseptic wipes and cleaned his hands vigorously, just in case.
“Negative, Captain.” The ship’s normally dulcet tones sounded rough. “My internal systems are running more slowly than normal.”
Something else to worry about. “Estimated time to completion?”
“Fifteen minutes, Captain.”
Colin closed his eyes and thought of Trip. Out there somewhere in a ship of his own. What if this was bigger than the Dressler?
He didn’t want to panic his partner, but he had to know.
He tapped his loop. “Dressler, patch me in to Captain Tanner.”
“Hey, Colin.” Trip’s voice boomed in the small cabin.
“Hey, Trip. Where are you?”
“Just closing in on Frontier Station, so I’m a bit busy. What’s up?”
Just hearing the man’s voice calmed Colin considerably. “Just wanted to say hello. We’re in slowdown, approaching Ariadne. Hey, everything okay there?”
“Everything’s fine. Looking forward to seeing you in a couple days.”
That made Colin’s legs go a little wobbly.
“Hey, is everything all right?” Trip asked.
“Yeah, fine so far. I’ll keep you posted.” He didn’t want Trip to worry, not yet. It might be nothing.
“Gotta run. Love you.”
“Backatcha.” He sighed in relief. Trip was okay. He tapped off the loop.
As he saw it, he had three options on the Dressler.
One, fix the problem, whatever it was. Dr. Anatov was one of the primary experts in ship genetics, so they had a fighting chance there.
Two, try to make it to Ariadne, where they could await rescue. He considered this the most likely option. The ship had enough oxygen to sustain them for some time, provided she held her structural integrity.
Three, abandon ship. He resolved to do this only in the direst of circumstances. The three of them could only survive a short time in the lifeboat, and they would be hard to find in the vastness of space, even with an emergency beacon.
“Dressler, where’s Hammond?” he asked. He had to do something.
There was a short but noticeable pause in the response. “Hammond’s in cabin three.”
The first thing to do was to finish the inspection.