Around her, Angela heard the electronic beeping of the systems keeping this hell of a remote base functional, and she heard the deep rise and fall of Tonio's breath. It was true sleep now, not the fevered torment she'd watched claim the rest of their crewmates. Through the window, she saw the spectacular, cold view of the barren world around them and she wondered how long they'd wait here until the rescue crew arrived. The distress call went out a week ago, three days after the virus first appeared among the explorers who'd found the ruins, one day after the first victim died.
"Fever is the first symptom," the doctor recorded in her log before she too died. "Hallucinations appear to be common, but it is unknown if this is from the fever or indicative of brain injury due to the virus's rapid spread. I don't have the strength to perform an autopsy today."
The doctor had died. They'd all died.
Angela wasn't a doctor. She'd come along on this mission to explore the planet's potential for later terraforming. She was a botanist. Had Tonio been a plant, she'd have had better luck keeping him alive.
He stirred as if hearing her thoughts. "Hey," he said, opening his eyes.
"Hey," she said, voice cracking.
"Your fever broke. I don't know if you'll recover but the others all burned up."
He coughed a little, and struggled to sit up. "You're immune?"
"Looks that way. Don't worry about me."
But she'd struggled with the Angel of Death in an empty base on a dead planet, and she felt chills slowly crawl over her skin.
"I worry," he said.
The rescue ship contacted her three hours later. "Sundown Base, please report the status of your crew."
"Crew member Angela Villareal and crew member Antonio Cortes are the only survivors. Please come soon."
There was a long, long pause before the next transmission. "Negative, Sundown Base. Quarantine has been declared by Command. Planetfall is not permitted."
"You have to get us out of here," said Angela, fear trembling in her tone across the transmission. "They all died. Please. We have no crew left."
"Command says we can't until you can prove there is no further chance of infection. We cannot endanger anyone else. Sorry, Angela," said the voice on the other end. Timmons.
She went back to Tonio's sickbed. He looked healthier, or was that the glow of the fever returning? She took his temperature, and only then took her own. "You don't look good," he said, which was the last thing she wanted to hear.
"I just need some rest."
"When is the rescue ship arriving?" He looked hopeful,and then he read her expression. "I see."
"They'll come if we can prove there's no risk to their crew." A shiver passed through her. "I don't think I can convince them."
"How did you get me through?" Tonio sat up. "Let's get some antibiotics into you. Maybe we can knock it down before you come down with it." He got out of bed, clearly still weak, and began rummaging beside his own bed, eyes scanning for whatever drugs he thought she'd saved him with. "What did you do?"
Angela wet her lips, feeling the heat in her skin. She glanced up at the walkway, where the Angel had come. "I've got to win another fight. I think."