This is the second installment of the my first serialized short story. This story takes place immediately following the conclusion of “Dremiks”.
Dr. Cassandra Ruger turned as her partner came through the door. Her springy black hair stuck out at odd angles from her braid, except for the sweaty strands plastered to her forehead and neck. Her usually light brown skin had a gray cast to it. Even her eyes—always so ready to sparkle with mirth—looked weary.
“Where have you been?” She shifted her weight from foot to foot, simultaneously rocking and bouncing the infant held against her chest.
Rather than snap back at her, Dr. Fortunas reached out and gently pried the squalling child from her grasp. He pressed several small packets into Cassie’s right hand. “I gathered these up. Steep one packet each in a mug of hot water. One for you, one for the babe.”
The planet’s only medical doctor looked down at what she held. “What are they?”
“Arsenic and belladonna.”
When she didn’t raise her head to glare at him, Ben’s worry increased.
“It’s a mixture of peppermint, chamomile, lemon balm, and just a bit of licorice. It will relieve her gas pains and increase melatonin.”
“OK.” Cassie walked to the kitchenette in one corner of the main room.
Ben started humming—off key—to the black-haired infant in his arms. She continued to cry, but the volume of her cries decreased slightly. Like her adoptive mother, Ginny’s tiny frame was sweat soaked. Ben glanced at the front door. Little Ginny’s alien bodyguards didn’t understand adult human behavior, much less that of a colicky infant. He idly wondered what the Kigvans would do if they ever felt their protectee was in “mortal peril.”
The Kigvans stood watch over Virginia Dare Hill because they’d negotiated and written the treaty that determined the future of the planet and its native species. The first human born on the planet Dremiks—the first of any species born on the planet in centuries—she had, from the moment of her chaotic arrival, inherited the entire planet.
Her birth had also killed her mother, Dr. Marissa Hill. Ginny’s father, former Vice-Chancellor Ryan Hill, had induced his wife’s labor without medical supervision. Rather than face prosecution for contributing to his wife’s death—and for attempted assassination and at least one murder charge—Ryan had fled the solar system on a hostile alien ship. The Kigvans guarded Ginny and the rest of the human colony in case Ryan Hill and his Valtozan allies returned. Ben Fortunas looked down at his adopted daughter. “If Ryan does show his face again, we’ll lock him in here with you for a few hours as punishment.”