Avon had accidently saved another race of people from extinction. Again. At least that was what Vila told everyone when they returned from Thasus; with a strong emphasis on the "accidentally." Unfortunately this act of randomness had come with a price. Avon had contracted a geno-virus.
He was already suffering from chills and a high fever before he left the teleport room. In the middle of protesting that he did not need any care, his eyes had glazed over and he fell to the ground.
"What does he need?" Argus asked Cally. They were in the medical bay. Avon had been brought here after collapsing.
"He needs time to allow the virus to run its course," replied Cally.
"Isn't there a pill you could give him?" asked Vila.
"Unfortunately Vila, there is no medication for this particular virus. I have already consulted ORAC. The only thing we can do is to make Avon comfortable and keep an eye on his temperature. Fortunately this virus is not communicable."
"You mean, someone will have to sit with him all the time?" asked Vila.
"Are you volunteering, Vila?" asked Cally.
Vila was about to give her a snappy comeback, when Argus asked, "How long will this take, Cally?
"That is hard to determine. The virus adapts to the physiology of the host. With Avon's compromised physical health, it will likely take longer. Perhaps up to a week," said Cally.
Argus nodded. "We will take the watch in shifts then. Which will include everyone." He was looking directly at Vila as he said this last part.
"I didn't say I wouldn't do it," said Vila defensively. "It's just that I tend to catch things like viruses very easily."
"Cally said that the virus is not contagious."
"Oh. I guess it's alright then." There was a look of disappointment on Vila's face as yet another plan to avoid work of any kind failed.
Avon opened his eyes. He felt terrible. The room appeared to be spinning, his head felt like it was about to explode, he was freezing and his entire body was shaking.
He pulled the blanket about him even tighter.
A blanket? When did I acquire a blanket?
Normally cabin temperatures were adjusted to individual needs. Blankets were not required.
"Come on Anna, it tastes good. Look, I'll show you." This was Vila's voice.
Avon rolled away from the wall and saw Vila on the floor, kneeling in front of the kitten. Vila was extending a piece of undetermined meat towards it. The kitten was sniffing at it suspiciously.
"What are you doing here, Vila?" Avon found that speaking aggravated the pain in his head.
Vila looked up in surprise. "Oh, hello Avon. Are you feeling any better?"
"You haven't answered my question." Avon did not like uninvited guests in his cabin. Actually, guests of any kind were actively discouraged.
"We're all taking turns keeping an eye on you." Before Avon could say anything in response, Vila continued, "Yes. I know. You don't need anyone to look after you. Well Cally seems to think that you do. She obviously doesn't know that no virus would dare attack you."
"How long have I been unconscious?"
"Three days!" Avon tried to get up but it was a wasted effort. He soon fell back onto the bed, exhausted.
Vila got up quickly and came over.
"I don't think that's a good idea," said Vila. "You shouldn't be getting up."
Vila's words were wasted. Avon was unconscious again.
Vila went back to trying to subvert Avon's kitten.
The next time Avon woke up, he didn't feel any better. In fact, he was certain that he was feeling worse.
He looked around his cabin. Vila was in a chair by his bed, leaning back and snoring softly.
Avon tried to smile wryly but gave up. Smiling seemed to be an effort beyond him at present.
There was a plaintive meowing from the foot of his bed. Avon looked down at Anna. She was wearing a hat. It was pink and gold and had ribbons.
This must be Vila's doing, thought Avon with irritation. Avon did not understand why people insisted that cuteness was a function of certain domesticated animals. It certainly was not the function of his Anna.
"Vila!" Avon shouted. Or at least he tried to shout but it came across more as a loud raspy whisper. It was sufficient to rouse Vila.
"What?" Vila stirred and opened his eyes.
"You will remove that ridiculous headgear from Anna."
"What's wrong with it? I think it looks cute," said Vila.
"Then you wear it." Avon was feeling exhausted again. The effort of speaking and being annoyed was tiring. He closed his eyes to rest and promptly fell asleep again.
When Avon woke up again, he was feeling a little better. At least his head was no longer feeling like it was about to explode.
My condition must be stabilizing.
The pain was still as bad though.
He opened his eyes and looked around. There was a plaintive meowing from the foot of his bed.
Not again. What has Vila done this time? thought Avon with irritation as he looked in the direction of the meowing.
Anna was wearing a black cape. And a mask.
"Vila!" This time Avon's voice was louder and he had the energy to sound as annoyed as he was.
"Vila isn't here, Avon. Is there something I can get for you?" asked Cally.
"Vila's head on a platter would be a start."
Cally came over to check his temperature. There was a concerned look on her face. Since his illness, her perceptions from Avon were a confused and incoherent jumble; but this last thought had come across very clearly.
"You do not need to worry, Cally. I do not think murderous thoughts are an additional symptom of this virus. Can you stop Vila from trying to subvert my cat?"
Cally was surprised. "You are asking for my help?"
"It is not for me. It is for Anna."
Cally smiled at his distinction. She went to where Anna was and removed the offending costume.
Avon watched carefully while Cally did this.
I am surprised at you Anna. Allowing Vila to do that. I thought you had better sense.
Anna meowed and managed to look embarrassed. Avon was surprised. He wondered if cats had limited telepathic ability. Now that Anna looked normal again, Avon closed his eyes and went back to asleep.
Avon opened his eyes. The room was no longer spinning. He was feeling much better.
Avon streteched; it was good to have the energy to move again. Days of enforced bedrest made him ache all over. He wondered how long he had been ill.
There was an angry meow.
"Vila! What are you doing with Anna?!" said Avon angrily even before he turned to see what was happening.
"Uh...nothing," said Vila guiltily. He quickly put both hands behind his back. For a brief second, Avon saw something yellow and with feathers.
"It had better be nothing." There was a clear note of warning in his cold voice.
His cabin door opened, Cally walked in. She was here to relieve Vila.
Avon wondered when his cabin had become public access.
That is going to change immediately when I can get up.
"I'll be going now." Vila backed out of the cabin, his hands still behind his back.
"What is going on?" asked Cally curiously.
"Nothing," replied Avon.
Cally did her normal check of his condition.
"You appear to be doing much better. The symptoms are almost gone."
"Does that mean I finally get some privacy?" asked Avon.
"Yes. It does." She knew how hard it had been for someone as private as Avon, to have to put up with being watched constantly.
"Is there anything you need before I leave?" she asked.
"Nothing for now. Thank you, Cally."
She smiled and left him to his privacy.
After Cally left, Avon sat up. His joints felt stiff. Anna padded over.
Avon lifted her up and sat her on the bed. He studied her carefully.
Anna was on a careful feeding program, calculated to meet all her nutritional requirements. She should not have been getting fat.
Avon had a hazy memory of Vila holding out a piece of meat towards Anna several days ago.
"Anna, has Vila been feeding you?"
Anna licked her lips.
He has, thought Avon with irritation.
"I think we're going to have to put you on a diet."
Anna meowed questioningly. She did not understand the word "diet."
Avon sighed. Saving a race from extinction seemed much easier than taking care of a kitten.