Ricardo Urbani pounded his fist on the table and shouted “Two years! We’ve been searching for two years and still no viable antidote! Millions of children dead, more dying, and now it’s attacking the older ones, even up to seventeen! It’s hopeless!” He slumped in his chair and, elbows on table, dropped his head into his hands and sobbed.
Jose Mazza reached over and put a hand on his arm. It had been especially hard on Ricardo, as all of the youngest generation in his large, extended family had succumbed to the virus. “Don’t give up, Ricardo, we will find it. None of us will stop until we do. There is no one here who doesn’t know exactly how you are feeling; we’ve all lost those most precious to us.”
Ricardo didn’t move or reply, just sat head in hands and stared at the table. The others exchanged glances, wondering what to do when Susan Mead’s voice came over the P.A. system. “Come to the lab right away – I think I have found the right combination!”
There was a moment of stunned silence, and then they were all up and running, including Ricardo, life and hope one again showing in his face. He had been so sure the combination of the star and way forms would be the answer. They had seemed to be working, but only partly; they’d eased the symptoms, but didn’t cure. What had Susan found? He wondered.
Back in the lab in their hazmat suits, they crowded around Susan’s work station. “Hi” she said. “Look at the screen and watch what happens.” She tapped some keys and all eyes turned to the big wall screen. Small wavy form/star wheels rolled along, until the triangle/centipede form overtook it. The wheel was engulfed by the triangle, and soon it began to shrivel. In moments, the wheels were dead.
There was a moment of awed silence, and then loud cheers mixed with sobs of relief. Roberto seemed to take on a new life. “Susan, you’ve done it!” he hugged her and turned to the others. “Everyone – start growing the forms and putting them together. We want a big supply so we can start producing the vaccine here, and send supplies to as many countries as we can, so they can produce the vaccine too. The sooner we can start inoculating children, the sooner we’ll have this virus licked.”
Within weeks people were going out with secured cases of the antidote and the virus forms, scattering to a dozen different countries. Months passed as production started and grew. The first children inoculated were cured, with no or only mild disabilities. Ricardo sighed; it was too late for his family, but he was happy. They had won the battle with this alien invasion. Even children who had recovered but were handicapped had shown improvement when inoculated.
Two Months Later
“Ladies and Gentlemen, fellow citizens of Earth, I am pleased to bring you Sir Nigel Trent-Godwin, Secretary General of the United Nations, with an urgent and joyous message. Mr. Secretary.”
“My fellow Humans, I am overjoyed to announce that the virus that has been killing and damaging our children, our future, has been conquered. The antidote is now in production in hundreds of locations around the globe, and our little ones are recovering. Even the most seriously disabled have benefitted.
“We owe a great debt of gratitude to those who gave up years of their lives to find the virus that was attacking our most vulnerable, and creating the antidote. Most of the mare still working at the various facilities producing the antidote; many of them lost loved ones too, yet they persevered. I declare that September the 25th a worldwide holiday to be called ‘World Freedom Day.’ God bless all those who sacrificed so much, their names will go down in history as heroes. Happy World Freedom Day!”
The cheers and rejoicing echoed around the world. It could almost be heard on the space station, where the astronauts were celebrating, too.