She turned left from the dining room and walked down the hall until she reached the large MEDICAL sign. She stepped through the hatch and grabbed the white lab coat that hung on the peg on the wall. She checked the large pockets to make sure her stethoscope was still there. Everything was as she left it. She slipped the coat on over her white jump suit. On the way to her desk in a corner of the room she stopped at the sink and looked in the mirror.
“You don’t look a day over thirty-five,” she said, running her fingers through her brown hair. She didn’t really want to think about how old she really was.
She opened the top drawer of her desk and removed a watch. Much to her surprise the seconds were still counting up. Not sure how long it was going to last, she strapped it to her wrist. At least it would make a nice accessory, if nothing else. She took a quick glance at the watch and realized she had just enough time to make the pod room before the next pod released its occupant.
The pod hissed and the lid lifted as Kenzi stepped through the door. She looked up at the numbers on the vital signs board and noted they were increasing slowly into the normal ranges. She walked up beside the pod.
“Good morning, Gordon,” she said with a smile.
Gordon Miles, the advance party’s leader, rubbed his eyes and squinted up at Kenzi.
“Doctor Sheppard,” he said, “is it morning?”
“It is for us,” said Kenzi.
Miles swung his feet over the side of the pod, tried to stand up, lost his balance and sat back down.
“Guess I tried to get up too quick,” he said, scratching his salt and pepper hair.
“It does take some getting used to,” replied Kenzi with a chuckle and patted Gordon on the shoulder. “Max has coffee in the galley when you get your legs under you.”
Kenzi left Gordon Miles and walked down the row of pods looking at the changing numbers of the vital signs boards above them. She frowned when she approached the blank board above pod number eleven. The name under the board read Major Anthony Grayson. He was in charge of the Freelancers, a group of mercenaries that accompanied them for security. She walked up to the pod and looked through the small rectangle window in the lid.
“Oh my,” she exclaimed when she saw the shriveled face lying on the pillow inside.
She stepped back from the pod and walked around it. Not seeing anything that would suggest foul play, she decided it was an unfortunate equipment malfunction and would make Gordon aware they had lost a member of the party. She finished her inspection of the pods and solemnly walked from the pod room.
She found Gordon Miles sitting at the first table in the galley sipping on a steaming mug of coffee and munching on a pastry.
“These are quite good,” he said, holding up his breakfast, “you should have one.”
“We’ve lost one of our Freelancers,” said Kenzi, ignoring his suggestion.
“Major Grayson’s pod malfunctioned. It must have happened shortly after we left. I’d like to get him out of there before anyone else wakes up.”
Gordon popped the last of the pastry in his mouth, licked his fingers and wiped them off with a napkin. He drank the last of his coffee, wiped his mouth and stuffed the wadded up napkin into the mug.
“I’ll get Max to help me.”
Kenzi watched Miles leave the galley and hoped this wasn’t a forecaster of what lay ahead of them. They didn’t have any more people to spare. With a soft sigh, she turned toward the plate of pastries next to the coffee urn.