June 26, 2008

Zion's CHildren pt - 15

The hour was late by the time the new blood samples were collected and labeled. Miri wasn't expecting Byrin to start looking at them until morning, so she started preparing them to be put in the storage unit.

"Stop," Byrin said, seeing what she was doing. "I want to look at them first."

Without a word, she stopped what she was doing and started pulling the vials back out. It had not escaped her notice that the young doctor hadn't eaten yet, even though she had brought him a tray a while ago. On one hand she admired his dedication, but on the other hand...she wasn't sure if it was the 'nurse' in her, or whether it was the 'woman'...but she was beginning to worry that he might be overdoing things. She would have felt the same concern had it been Marcus or even Lily that she was dealing with. But she was beginning to suspect that her concern for Byrin wasn't quite the same.

"Shouldn't you take a moment to eat something?" she asked, as much to distract her thoughts as to make sure he ate.

Byrin gave a small sigh. "Probably."

"Did you see the tray I brought you? The food should still be edible."

"Yeah, I saw it... It's just..."

Miri smiled. "I admire your dedication to save my people, Doctor, but you can't do that unless you eat something once in a while."

Byrin smiled back at her. "You're right." He gave her a quizzical glance. "Is this why Doctor Alexander had you assist me instead of Nurse Bennett?"

She returned his glance, a little confused. "What do you mean?"

"Because you're good at taking care of people even while you're doing the rest of your job."

"Are you saying that Lily isn't good at her job?" she asked, a little sharply. True, she had only met the other woman earlier that day, but if Miri had any faults, one would be her loyalty to her friends.

Byrin actually chuckled. "Not at all. But she's been in this room how many times, and hasn't commented on whether or not I've eaten?"

He did have a point. Miri managed to shrug. "I can't speak for that, or for Marcus. He assigns his people where he will, where he thinks they'll work best."

"So you're saying I might be right?"

"Maybe. Why don't you go over there and eat the food on that tray, and I'll make sure you're all set up to view these samples when you're done?"

He looked like he wanted to chuckle again, but he merely smiled and walked back to the desk where the tray sat. Miri gave a mental sigh of relief when he began to pick at the food there. She busied her hands with the samples and slides, intent of having the first set ready for him when he was done.

Why had Doctor Alexander assigned her to help this new doctor, instead of the nurse that had accompanied him? Miri had never questioned Marcus' decisions before, and she wasn't now. But Byrin's casual remark did set her to wondering about it herself. Perhaps she would ask him about it tomorrow.

June 19, 2008

Zion's Children pt - 14

Miri walked into a quiet lab. Her new friend Lily stood next to Doctor Alexander, who was staring blankly at the microscope while Byrin had moved to stand near the lab's one darkly tinted window. She set down her files, the hard copy backups, onto the counter and waited to see if they would acknowledge her. When they didn't, she blurted out, "I'm sick, aren't I? I just don't know it yet."

The three officers jumped at her voice.

"Actually," Byrin said, turning from the window. He crossed the room as he spoke, his green eyes somber. "Your blood tested negative for the virus."


"We know," Alexander interrupted. "It doesn't make sense. Did you find the information you were looking for?"

It was a sign that he was shaken that he had to ask. "I have," Miri answered. "C-15D belonged to Benton Davidson. He was in his 15th year and he died one week ago. Records indicate that he became ill not long after his sample was taken. C-16S belongs to Rebekah Smith. She is nearing her third decade and is still well."

"How old are you, Miri?" Byrin asked. He picked up the files she had set down and flipped through them.

"25," she answered simply.

"Could age be a factor?" Lily wondered aloud.

"The older ones have been slower to become ill," Alexander commented. "Although they don't live as long as the younger ones do. It hits them harder and faster."

Byrin nodded. "Random blood samples, control and ill, from each age group. For both groups, I also want their complete medical background. If we have the people to spare, I want each of the Control group monitored. If we don't have the people, have them monitor themselves...what they eat, what they drink, where...what they do in their free time...everything."

Alexander actually laughed. "Don't ask much, do you?"

The younger doctor had the good grace to blush.

"I'll do my best to see that you get what you want," Alexander replied. "Lily, you split your nurses up however you see fit to draw the blood. You and Miri can work on the cataloging together. Although, Miri..."

"Marc, don't ask me to start taking it easy. I've been working right along not knowing anything was wrong with me, why should I start now? Unless we find that it's an airborne contagion, which I believe hasn't been done yet."

The older doctor laughed again. "My God woman, you've worked for me too long if you can read my mind that well. All right, but I want you to monitor yourself even more than usual. The instant you feel the slightest bit ill..."

"You'll be the first one to know about it," Miri promised. "I do believe it is nearing dinner time however, the carts ought to making their rounds soon. Do you want to break for a moment or eat in?"

Alexander checked his wrist watch. "Right on the money, as always. I promise to eat on the run my dear. Lily, Byrin, you can make up your own minds."

"I'll eat soon," Lily likewise promised, feeling somewhat amused that she was attempting to take care of them.

"I'm not hungry," Byrin said. He turned away from the trio and returned to the main computer.

Nothing was said, but Miri caught the senior doctor's eye long enough to let him know that she would watch out for the younger doctor. After all, it would do her people no good if the man they had prayed for were to fall ill himself before he could find the answer to their illness.

June 16, 2008

Zion's Children pt - 13

Doctor Alexander didn't believe it until he saw it with his own eyes. Both he and Lily followed Miri to the lab, and both peered through the microscope. Alexander looked a second time, for a long moment that was heavy with silence. When he pulled away, his face was drawn and white. "Miri, are you certain this is your blood sample?"

"Of course," Miri said, her irritation showing. Ever since these new ConFleet officers had arrived, it seemed that her abilities were being questioned. "I cataloged the samples myself."

"Have you drawn a new sample and had it looked at?"

Miri shook her head.

"That was going to be my next step," said Byrin, deciding not to comment that Miri had left too quickly for him to get a sample.

"But I don't feel any of the symptoms," Miri protested.

"Yes, and this blood sample says you should be almost dead. I'd like to find out why." Alexander looked to Lily. "Find a hypo and draw some blood from her."

Lily left without so much as an acknowledging nod.

"We should draw some more samples," Byrin said. "And have the storage unit checked, to see if it's malfunctioned or been tampered with in any way."

"Why would anyone do such a thing?" Miri asked. Such things were unheard of on this world.

"I'll make sure those things are done," Alexander said to Byrin. He turned to Miri. "Miri, darling, in times of crisis, people do the most desperate things, no matter how illogical."

"Why would someone tamper with the control samples?" argued Miri.

Byrin shrugged. "It'd be a great way to lower morale around here."

"Or mislead our research." Alexander scowled as he looked out the lab door, waiting for Lily to return.


"No, not another word. Have you found out who the other two control donor's were?" Two white, almost bushy, eyebrow climbed his forehead.

"Not yet," answered Miri.

"As soon as Lily draws a new sample from you, that is your first order of duty."

Lily returned then, hypo in hand. In silence she drew a sample of blood from Miri. Automatically closing the top off, she handed it to Doctor Alexander.

"All right, Miri. Go ahead now. We'll tell you what we know when you return with those other two names."

"And what their present medical status is," added Byrin.

The young woman made a very disgusted sound, and left the room.

Lily smiled and almost chuckled. "Not exactly afraid to voice her thoughts and feelings is she?"

Alexander answered even as he and Byrin prepared to look at her blood. "Colony world children are like that, I believe. They haven't grown up with the Treaty of Conglomerance. Especially those from America, whose ancestors had the Declaration of Independence."

"I never thought of it that way," Lily admitted.

There was silence after that, as the three split a small portion of Miri's blood and viewed the first one. They each viewed it, then viewed it again.

Byrin voiced what they had all seen...and still had trouble processing... "There's no sign of the virus. She's healthy."

Unspoken was the phrase, 'for now.'

June 08, 2008

Zion's Children - pt 12

Lily swiped the probe end of the thermometer across the forehead of the elderly women she was tending to. She hated these thermometers because the reading wasn't as accurate. The general rule of thumb was to add a degree to the results. The small device beeped once, and she turned it to see the readout. 103.3 was not a good readout, especially after adding that one degree.

"How long have you felt this way?" she asked as she prepared a hypo-shot combination of two drugs, acetominophen and a strong antiviral.

The woman was barely able to answer her. "About a week."

"Why didn't you come in sooner, Evvie?" asked Doctor Alexander as he entered the exam area.

"Not enough beds..." Evvie winced as Lily administered the drugs.

"I'd have built one for you!" Alexander admonished kindly. "I'd have given you my own!"

"You already don't get enough sleep," Evvie whispered.

"Hush," Alexander replied. "Lily, if there isn't a bed free, seriously, give her mine. It's the one in the back room."

Lily nodded. "There've been a few that have freed up since I've arrived," she said softly so that Evvie wouldn't hear.

The male doctor sighed. "Come see me when you've gotten her settled."

Again, Lily nodded. She saw the elderly Evvie to a bed and had a civilian orderly help get her settled. The old woman was asleep before Lily left her. She went in search of the doctor, and found him resting in his office. His head was down on his desk, and it took a moment for her to realize that he was weeping. She shut the door fully behind her.

"Doctor Alexander?" she asked softly.

He shuddered, then straightened, hurriedly wiping his face. "I'm all right, Lily. It's just, this is very hard on a man who has delivered their babies, set their broken bones. Every doctor sees his people buried, but it's not supposed to be like this."

"You're right," she agreed. "It's not. When I was a girl, there was a similar plague on my planet. No where near as deadly as this one is, hardly anyone died. It's what made me want to be a nurse."

"As I recall, that was the Flu Scare on Beta Talisman."

"You remember rightly, Doctor Alexander."

"Now Lily," even though he was still a little snuffly from his tears, he stressed his familiar use of her name. "I believe I told you to call me Marcus."

"Once again, you're right." Curse it! She felt herself blushing.

There was a soft knock on the door.

"Come in, Miri," Alexander called out, recognizing her profile through the frosted glass of the door.

Miri cracked the door, taking in the scene without a comment. "Marc...we have a problem."