The pod door was heavy, but she disengaged the seal and pried open the lid. Once she began the process of opening the pod, the hydraulics kicked in and the lid folded back with a slow hiss. The pod was slightly inclined with security straps holding Omega in place across his thighs, hips and chest. The first time they'd opened the pod they'd discovered the three were naked, but had since been clothed in infirmary pants as much for their modesty and Katrina's flaming cheeks. She was too short to reach all the way to the top of the pod, even with it tilted, but she could reach most of the connections. 

 

"Hmmmm," she said as she examined each of the umbilical connections. "I don't see anything off or unhooked. How would it happen anyway..."

 

She nudged his right arm away from his side to get a better look at the connection into his lungs. At least whomever Kathleen had ordered to put them in here had taken more care than with David. The interfaces were still fused with their skin, but it wasn't as sloppy and brutal as with David. It would still be a challenge to disengage and remove them without leaving damage behind. 

 

The connection looked off center. She slid into the space in front of the pod and laid her hand on his stomach to leverage herself into a better position. The abdominal muscles beneath her palm tightened reflexively, and Katrina gasped, stumbling back. She looked up at Omega's face, truly expecting to see his eyes open, but his face was as placid and unchanged as always. Katrina swallowed and again tried to examine the connection, this time without touching his bare skin. 

 

The cord had partially disengaged, and she slid it back into place with an audible click. Once it was seated again correctly, she stepped back and reached for the edge of the lid, pausing again to look at him. Even though the logs put them at about forty years old, their faces were deceivingly young. They had been cleaned up after the pods were opened, their faces shaved, their bodies cleansed. They looked young, very young, too young to have gone through all Kathleen's logs said they had.

 

Guilt niggled at her when she closed the pod again. She had to find the right way to disengage them, to save them the trauma David had survived, to bring them out of stasis with as few problems as possible. They didn't deserve to be in there. No more than David did. 

 

The hydraulics eased the pod lid closed, and she pressed the command to seal it again. This time, she avoided looking at his face through the viewing window. She only had a few hours to catch some sleep, but she couldn't just go to bed without checking on some of the programs she'd left running while she was visiting David. 

 

She sank into her chair and tapped her control board, the screens lighting up in response. The front panel of her center monitor had a scrolling image of their brain patterns, three rows, with Alpha on top, Omega in the middle, and Beta at the bottom. The readings were consistent, miniscule shifts up and down, which was expected with comatose patients. As she scrolled back through the last hour or two, she noticed something minor but distinct. To be sure, she tapped in a time twenty-four hours earlier.

 

"Activity is increased," she said to the quiet room. "Not by much, but it's increased. Not enough to read as a jump, but..."

 

She swiveled in her chair to look back at the pods. 

 

"I hope to God you don't wake up in there."

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