“Well Antigua my dear, you appear to have out done yourself this time.”

Barbuda leant back in his chair.

“Tell me, what else have you discovered?”

As chief overseer of the Gateway project he had insisted that all communications be routed through him first. Northlanders had not set foot on southern soil in well over a thousand years. The fact that one of the explorers was his own daughter was of little concern to him. He knew how well she could look after herself.

“Outside of the human, there isn’t much particularly out of the ordinary father.”

Antigua was speaking from inside the small survival dome that marked the southern entrance to the Gateway. Radio communication was impossible through the firewall so she and the scouts would have to return to the survival dome to use the wired comm-rig to report in. The dome offered protection from the scorching sky above but the ambient temperature within was still well above forty degrees centigrade. She was eager to report her news but was in no mood to hang around longer than was necessary.

“I am still collecting data for my final report on the fauna and flora, I only returned to inform you of this man. He’s alive but without medical attention he will probably die from infection. I had to remove one of his legs, the wound is cauterised and I have administered antibiotics but he will need to be cared for.”

“Very well, load him into one of the return pods.” Barbuda knew she was eager to get back out and he was just as eager to examine this specimen of Southern humanity. “Make sure he is properly sterilized before you initiate the launch procedure. I will inform Britain that his crew will be receiving a high priority package.”

Antigua signed off. She had manoeuvred the man off Argentum’s back and had manhandled him into the dome with some difficulty. He was still well dosed and hadn’t stirred.

She stuck her hands under his armpits and dragged him over to the sterilizing booth that stood beside the return pods. The pods were designed to be an emergency return system for a single occupant. Using the hose from the booth she doused the man in the cocktail of chemicals used to ensure that the Southland microbial life didn’t accidentally infect the Northland. Things were bad enough in the Northland as it was, the last thing they needed was an uncontrollable infectious outbreak.

Once she was satisfied that she had taken sufficient precautions, she bundled him into the pod, sealed the hatch and slammed the trigger. The pod shot into the Gateway vacuum tube with a hollow thunk and was catapulted away. The pods refrigeration system kicked into high gear  as it began the five hundred mile journey through the Firewall.

“I hope they work.” She said to herself as she watched the pod vanish past the survival dome wall. “You’re the first living person to try them out.”

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