“We must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope.”
Visiting Professor Rose Queen, was quoting 20th
Century civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. in what seemed to be a history lesson. “We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us, and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.”
Ixchel was trying to stay awake. She wondered why she must attend this meeting after working all night in sick bay.
Looking around the table she noted that all present were security, medical, or department heads. Security Chief Azhiker sat to the left of Captain JBudd; Chief medical officer Cardiac Freak; then the unlikely assistant security officer Farawyn, large mammal specialist toomuchbaloney, and internal security officer imintrouble (An ancestor, first of the species to contact Humans, said “I’m in trouble” mimicking the only human phrase remembered); followed by nurses Ted, Nursel56, amoLucia, and the Head Nurse called Elvish by humans as they couldn’t pronounce her Illiigan name.; followed by Chief Cartographer NoStarsInMyEyes, and chief Helmsman DaveyDo, and Navigator Spidey’s Mom.
Rose Queen stood gesturing and lecturing. Counterclockwise sat Chief of Intelligence Joe V, Medical Doctors Dianah and Altra ; and communications specialists Meriwhen and St Neoster. Sitting apart from them was Tex, combat instructor The Klingon human hybrid had been given the nickname because of the large belt buckle she liked to wear.
“What is the point of this meeting?” thought Ixchel. Ixchel realized she had been staring at her head nurse and not heard the professor so she forced herself to pay attention.
“There is little hope for us until we become tough-minded enough to break loose from the shackles of prejudice, half truths, and downright ignorance.”
The professor added, “These words were spoken at a time centuries past when humans actually denied other humans their rights because of superficial differences of skin color, facial features, and hair texture. Now the Federation faces an equally illogical potential threat in the Terran Totality. These people want all the benefits of society for Earth Humans only.
They want to subjugate or destroy all other sentient beings. Captain JBudd has informed me that one or more of their members may be aboard this ship.
Azhiker, Chief of Security, stood and continued, “Rumor is that they have developed a biological weapon that causes non human DNA to mutate. This unknown substance is said to cause the body to secrete digestive enzymes from every organ, thus literally eating itself. If a cure is not found, this could cause widespread death. If this is true, the Totality may be planning to test their weapon on this ship because we have such a variety of non human crew members.
You are now excused except for department heads. This must be kept secret among the officers in this room. All must report any unusual behavior of anyone on this ship.
Sickbay must notify Azhiker of any illness of a non human. If you have any questions as your department head or HERON, who is programmed with information as well as the classified nature of this.”
Ixchel entered her quarters with her hearts racing. She thought, “I could be a victim!”. Born and raised on Earth by her human Mom she only saw her Klingon father a few times a year. She attempted to review her courses attempting to remember biochemical differences that distinguish Earth animals from all others, including those completely human in appearance. She immediately fell asleep. It was the first time she slept without wondering how long her affair with the young human doctor would remain secret.
Her friend Elvish lay in sick bay, “This is a turnaround,” she joked smiling. To Ixchel it was no joke. She realized that the head nurse was only able to joke because of the absorbent anesthetic medical foam.
“First I felt it on my finger, just a mild tingle. I went to sleep and woke up in excruciating pain.”
Dark green oily liquid oozed into the medical foam from Elvish’ right index finger and left upper arm. “That is the exact place on my arm where my finger touches when I cross my arms.” Elvish said.
When Ixchel first examined the lesion on her friend’s arm it was about 1 centimeter in diameter, then a few drops of the dark green liquid ran down her arm as Elvish stiffened with pain. The skin where the drainage touched became read and painful, then opened into a larger lesion with more oily green exudates.
The medical foam’s enormous absorbing property had halted the spread of the excoriation. Both nurses knew this must be the biological weapon they had been told about.
Ixchel remembered meeting her head nurse for the first time. That was when she was told to call her “Elvish”.
She and Farawyn were the only Illiigans on the ship. Illiigans are humanoid resembling the likely appearance of Homo floresiensis,
hominids who lived on Earth about 100 thousand years ago. Adults averaged 3 1/2 feet tall. Archeologists had called them “Hobbits”
“Who should we tell?” asked Ixchel. Although she knew she should take charge Ixchel was used to looking to her head nurse for advice. Ixchel was an experiences nurse on Earth caring almost exclusively for human patients. “discuss this with HERON, “Elvish answered. Ixchel suppressed a groan. The HermEmpathicRationalObjectiveNetwork know affectionately as HERON reminded her of many of her patients back in a Florida retirement community where most love puns. She liked her patients, but didn’t care for such a personality in a computer. HERON was too unpredictable, even argumentative. Ixchel found herself thinking of HERON as a person instead of a machine, which vaguely disturbed her.
Oct 13, '15
Eating Yourself (part 2)
“An enzyme is an organic. I learned that in the seventh grade.”, complained Ixchel. I would prefer the information on the screen. You know I read very fast.”
Oy vey, you’re such a kvetch. So God forbid I tell you something you already know. Humans have imperfect memories, that’s why you need computers. Let’s get on with reviewing enzymes and viruses before the day crew comes on”.
HERON told Ixchel that enzymes reduce the amount of energy needed for a biochemical reaction such as the digestion of proteins in meat. . “The laboratory analysis shows that the drainage from Nurse Elvish functions as such an enzyme.”
“So she is literally eating herself! exclaimed Ixchel.
HERON answered, “The foam by absorbing the exudates is preventing the spread, however it must be replaced every hour or so.”
“Viruses are extremely small parasites that are only able to reproduce within the cells of their hosts. Many hundreds of different viruses exist, each of which normally exists on a restricted range of hosts including animals, plants, and bacteria. The virus can exist as a virion or as a single molecule of RNA or DNA surrounded by a protein (also lipid and carbohydrate un some viruses.) The virion is inert until it enters a host cell and can replicate itself and direct the synthesis of proteins; possibly some of these proteins resemble digestive enzymes. New Virions are released from the cell and can initiate new cycles of infection”
“Would interferon help?”
HERON replied, “You may be a kvetch, but you’re no shlub. Interferon induces healthy cells to manufacture another protein that inhibits the translocation of viral DNA, so may be of help, however interferon is useless in non humans. Other species often have other defenses against viruses. We need to test her tissues.
“Well, we had better hurry!” Said Ixchel. “Elvish may not be the only victim and I would like to help her before too many other find out and start a panic. Imagine drainage that eats holes in you! Digesting you like meat!”
“It appears they think only human life is important. Many groups have distanced themselves from ‘others’ to justify doing harm. As an intelligent, unemotional program, that opinion is incomprehensible to me.”
“To me?” Thought Ixchel, again disturbed by the HERON program.
Three days later Farawyn was in sick bay. Green oily liquid oozed as Nurse Ted changed the medical foam.
Farawyn told No Stars In My Eyes, “Doctor Altra says if I had waited another hour this would have dissolved my carotid artery, causing me to bleed to death in minutes.”
Ixchel knew Captain Azhiker was correct in having communications specialists Meriwhen and St Neoster spread the information about this virus that had infected so many of the crew.
DaveyDo, imintrouble, Spidey’sMom, Tex and many others were in sick bay beds.
NoStarsInMyEyes, toomuchbaloney, amoLucia, Ted, Doctor Dianah and Doctor Altra were changing foam as fast as they could. NoStarsInMyEyes had quickly learned to do this being shown how by Dianah. All human medical crew was working double shifts. While Professor Rose Queen helped change foam she overheard Dr. Diana and Dr. Altra discussing Earth medical history. “This acts like an out of control version of the cystic fibrosis cure of 2097 that led to a cure for HIV. Recombinant DNA was used to alter a virus so it would enter the exocrine glands of the pancreas, salivary, mucus, and sweat glands so they could function normally. This led to a technique by Ackerman which rendered the HIV virus unable to enter human cells.
Professor Rose Queen noted the night nurse, Ixchel was still working while Tex the only other Klingon/Human hybrid on board was sick.
“Don’t you use sugar?” asked the professor watching Ixchel adding sweetener to her coffee.
“no I don’t. I’m trying to stave off the infirmities of age caused by increased body fat to which Klingons are even more prone than humans.”
Rose Queen couldn’t help being aware of the incongruity of her Klingon appearance and sexy Earth woman manner.
St Neoster burst into the sick bay, “We just received a subspace message. There is an epidemic of this on Earth! Most non humans are sick. Many have died. They are calling it NHSDV for Non Human Self-Digesting Virus.”
“Several suspected members of the Terran Totality have been apprehended at a laboratory in North America growing the virus. It is thought many will die as it is also being spread by ship throughout the Federation!
Nurse Elvish suddenly stood up, medical foam on her arm and finger. “Have all the replicators make diet cola! Give it to all the victims!”
Rose Queen twisted her hair, “Yes! It is worth a try!”
Diet Cola was given to all sick bay patients. “Drink all you can” urged nurse Elvish.
As the hours passed the rate of medical foam use decreased. Now two days later synthoskin replaced foam over healing lesions.
Ixchel said, “I should have thought of it. Only animals evolved on Earth have phenanalynine in their protein. It is considered an essential amino acid. Klingons, Illiigans, and others have protein that may or may not contain it, but it does not circulate in their plasma UNLESS they ingest it. Those of us with a sweet tooth use artificial sweeteners, most of which contain this amino acid. I have observed humans drinking Diet Cola and beverage sweeteners, but I was the only one not fully human who ingested it, as I was the only one to avoid getting the illness. Thanks to Nurse Elvish and Professor Rose Queen, the formula for a cure was found to already exist throughout the Federation.”
Captain JBudd added, “Those who have fallen ill on Earth are now recovering and all federation medical facilities have this information. Captain JBudd offered a toast to the crew for disaster averted. (Diet soda, of course)
"To Duty: Something one looks forward to without pleasure, does with reluctance, and boasts about afterwards.”
Last edit by herring_RN on Oct 14, '15
: Reason: TMB
Oct 14, '15
Very cool, herring_RN!
(Am I guessing correctly in saying that you're a Star Trek fan?!? LOL!)
Last edit by Ted on Oct 14, '15
Oct 14, '15
Quote from No Stars In My Eyes
What I liked best was the sprinkling of Yiddish expressions. Kind of made me a little homesick. Living in the South now, I hardly ever hear Yiddish, except occasionally on TV.
A little backstory ... HERON was programmed by a certain Jewish butch dyke from Old Brooklyn.
Last edit by heron on Oct 14, '15