We were about to turn into the tunnel leading to the central part of the station, the "axle" around which the circular part of the hospital rotated. Mel, leading the way, stopped abruptly, turned around and crushed into Hopper who didn't realize what happened. Mel moved back, turned to his left, right in front of me and opened the door to one of the nurses' station. I didn't even notice it was there. Mel got on a terminal, and as he started typing something, he pointed to a locker in the wall and asked Hooper to open it.
"Don't panic, guys. We need to lose our monitors. I'm disabling our old ones. Hopper, get those blank ones, would you?" said Mel. Hopper handed him three little boxes containing the blank monitors. Mel took them, and one by one initialized them with our current data. He handed us the little monitor beads that were about the size of a half a lingonberry, and we left the room.
We went back a few steps again and entered an emergency life support pod. It acted like a shelter, providing basic means of survival in case of a fire or pressure loss in the hospital. We glued our monitor beads to the seats with a little bit of a medical adhesive paste. Hopper grabbed some food packs and water pouches, handed them to us and said, "We may not need them, but you never know."
We grabbed the food packs, and we headed for the main tunnel junction. "Mel, stop!" yelled Hopper as we passed by the nurses' station again. Mel turned around with a puzzled look on his mouf. Hopper pointed to a locker with nurses' scrubs. It took me a second to catch what Hopper had in mind. "Who are you gonna fool, Hopper? Look at this place; there are no patients here; we are it," I and pointed to a screen showing zero beds occupied.
Officially, we didn't even exist. I was pretty sure there were no nurses left in the hospital, and security goons entirely staffed the place. But after a second I said, "Hopper, what the hey, grab a few!" "Right, let's use the maintenance tunnel, just in case." said Hopper as he grabbed three sets of white scrubs.
We looked for and got into the first maintenance junction we found. From there, it was a straight line running toward the central section of the hospital. If the pods we just escaped from were located on the outer edge of a giant Ferris wheel with tunnels for spokes, we were moving along in one of those spokes toward the axle.
I could feel through my feet the imbalanced rotation of the wheel as we made slow progress. We worked hard against the centrifugal force pushing us out toward the outer rim of the wheel. At least the tunnel was empty. All the airlocks were open as far as a bun could see. We started to feel lighter as we got closer to the center, and we began to work more and more with our front paws, pullings ourselves forward more than pushing off with our feet. Once we've made it to the last junction, we looked through the little window in the door to see if anybun was out there. It was quiet. One or two buns would flat by this way or that. We decided to change into the orderlies' scrubs before we went out. The central segment of the station was straining under forces placed on it by the out of balance rotation. We could hear the creaks and bangs of the stressed sections. The meal wheezed and groaned with pangs of impending death.
We looked around one more time and in a moment when there was no bun in sight, we floated out into the main tunnel. We turned toward the main shuttle deck. Next to it were a series of large storage bays and an auxiliary control station. If we could lock ourselves in it, we could monitor what's going on. If they were going to evacuate the station, the rescue vessels were most likely to dock here. Or we might have to take our chances in one of the shuttle crafts.
The news ship with Abby and everybun else on board was closing in on the hospital and monitored all the communication channels known to them. A couple of news buns were checking the setup of a live broadcast studio, just in case a story broke, and there was something to tell the public at large. They arranged for relays of their broadcasts by a few small, independent news organizations.
As the hospital started to experience the results of sabotage, perpetrated by Mr. Toes and his crew guys, it broke its radio silence, and the news buns picked it up.
"We have a signal from St. Cinnamon!" somebun blared on the intercom. Abby, Pancake, and the rest sprung for the flight deck. They watched the transmission roll up on the monitor. It was all generic telemetry. It only listed crew members as souls on board and no patients. Molly and Pancake looked at each other puzzled. Then, the ship picked up a response signal from a supply vessel, giving its location, direction of flight, and other technical minutiae. It intended to rendezvous with the hospital and was ready to accept any evacuees if necessary.
"That's the ship with Penny and Freddie!" exclaimed Ava. The supply ship was almost ready to dock with the hospital.
Then, mid cycle, the distress signal from the hospital died. If the emergency was resolved, everybun expected a resolution transmission to be aired next. But no such thing happened. Shortly after, some official news outlets mentioned, almost in passing, that the hospital was conducting emergency preparedness exercises.
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