January 31, 2011

Zion's Children - pt 46

Byrin listened with half and ear as Levi and Miri talked about his strategy once he left Zeta Muria to face down the Conglomerate government. She was slowly gaining ground from the illness, but there was something different about her case that was still bothering the good doctor.

He was looking at the original readout of the vial of blood she'd injected herself with. The vial had only sat overnight, and hadn't been as advanced as other samples had been. It never mattered how long he'd kept the blood cold, the blood - no matter whose - would have active virus cells the next time he looked. There was no denying the sterility of the conditions, the blood never even contacted oxygen until they were looking at it in the microscope.

He slid back from his computer and closed his eyes. What was he missing? It was unbelievable enough to think that someone had engineered, but to try to think like them was too much. He leaned forward suddenly and from across the room asked, "Miri, are there still vaccinations in the storeroom?"

There was a moment of silence, as he had interrupted their conversation. Levi rumbled under his breath, but Miri answered, "Of course. For when babies are born or strangers come from outside the..."

"Save your breath Miri, he's up and left," Levi said.

"Well, that's odd."

"Sounds like normal Fleet behavior to me. With a few exceptions."

"Grandfather, Byrin usually lets me finish speaking."

"Does he?"

"Yes. I wonder what he wants....oh."

"Yes?" Levi was amused at his girl.

"He's going to look for the virus in the vaccine. I don't know why we didn't think of it sooner."

Levi growled. "That would be excellent proof of villainy."

Miri stifled her laughter. "I can't believe you just said that. You sounded..."

"Wrathful, perhaps? I'm practicing."

She could no longer stifle her laughter, much to her grandfather's delight.

January 29, 2011

Zion's Children - pt 45

More days passed, with more of the same until at last they started sending people home. Although the outgoing patients were told to stay in bed for a few more days, to just take it easy. Miri was still ill, though she wasn't getting any worse. She just was responding slower than the rest.

They decided to keep her right in the lab, instead of moving her to a bed that had been freed in the ward.

"How are you feeling today?" Lily asked as she began to take Miri's vital signs one morning. With the lighter work load, she was looking for something to do and visiting Miri was her first choice. Besides, there was no reason why Byrin needed to be her sole caretaker anymore.

"Well enough to feel frustrated. Byrin just did this a few hours ago...I'm not sick enough to need that closely monitored." Miri frowned. "I mean, it's nice to have everyone's attention..."

"Uh-huh. Byrin takes his own set of vitals for his purposes, mine are the ones logged onto your chart. Are you feeling a little suffocated?" Lily wrote down the temperature reading, which was miraculously normal. It was true enough. Yesterday when she had picked Miri's chart up to read it, she realized that the good doctor had never written any of the vitals down that he'd taken. She'd found them eventually, but not until she had confronted him about it and asked, nicely of course, if he'd written them down somewhere else. He had, so she'd quickly copied them down into the other woman's chart.

"Cabin fever, I believe it is called. You know, how you feel when it's snowing outside and you can't go outside for days on end."

Lily laughed. "We didn't have snow where I lived on Beta Talisman. It never even got cold enough for frost. But I do know how you're feeling."

"I want to be up and about, taking care of my people."

"Not that we don't miss you out there Miri, but we're doing fine. Especially since we've been sending people home. The workload is lightening." Lily sat down on the bed beside her and patted her on the shoulder. "And once we told people you were sick, and why, they understood your absence. They know you didn't desert them or anything like that."

Miri sighed. "Good. I am hungry today. Has the supply ship arrived yet?"

"No, it hasn't." A fact that was more disturbing than Lily wanted to admit.

"Not the first time it's been late," Miri murmured. "Perhaps when Grandfather goes out, things will change."

"I hope so. I certainly wouldn't want to face his wrath!"

Miri laughed.

"Now there's a sound I've missed!" said a gruff voice just entering the lab. Levi smiled down at his granddaughter over the nurse's head.

Miri laughed harder as Lily blushed a bright red.

"What?" Levi asked.

"I'll leave Miri to explain," said Lily, rising swiftly to her feet. "If you'll excuse me, sir, I'm going to go see if there's something for her to eat." She left the lab as quickly as she'd risen.

"Was it something I said?" Levi asked, mildly perturbed.

"Not exactly."

January 18, 2011

Zion's Children - pt 44

3 days passed. Little changed.

Except - people started getting better.

Byrin wasn't ready to start discharging anyone, because no one was that well yet. Miri was taking the longest to respond to the anti-virus, for reasons no one understood. She was the first medicated, so she ought to have been the one to start feeling better first. Byrin never once tried to share Levi's spot by Miri's bedside, but he was the one in charge of her care. He didn't even let one of the nurses give her the next dose or check on her vitals. He was wearing himself down, but no one commented this time. And so far, he hadn't found the virus' trigger, so new cases were still coming in. No one was completely safe yet.

"Grandpa," murmured Miri late that evening, while Byrin was working on both manufacturing a toned down version of the anti-virus to serve as an vaccine and compiling medical proof for Levi. At the sound of Miri talking though, he walked quickly to her side and sat on the edge of the bed.

"Miri, it's Byrin. Your grandfather left about an hour ago to go to bed. What do you need?" he asked gently.

"Byrin..." she gave a sigh. "Here I am sick and I haven't barely seen you. I just wanted to talk was all. I'm feeling a little better."

"That's good." Byrin poked the end of the thermometer in her ear and waited for the beep. Her temp was still up, but down from what it had been. "What did you want to talk about?"

"Nothing really."

"Well, I'm here. You can talk to me if you'd like."

"I like you Byrin."

The young man chuckled. "I'd figured that much out already,"

"I know." Not all the flush to her face was from her fever. "What do you believe about God?"

"Honestly, I've never given Him much thought. Not until I came here. I'm not really sure what to think."

"Keep thinking. He'll find you. Would you like to know something I've always wondered?"

"What's that?" Byrin was having a hard time following her track changes in the conversation, but he chalked that up to the illness.

"The Bible says that in the end times, God is going to call all Jews back to Israel, the Promised Land. How can He do that if we're spread out among the stars like we are?"

That was definately a question for Levi, but as he wasn't here, Byrin decided to do his best. What irony! "Well, He's supposed to be all powerful right? Nothing is to big for HIm...that kind of stuf, right?"

"Yes. I do believe that. He's protected us thus far."

Aside from a wee little plague, of course. "Well then, if He said He'd do it, I'm sure He'll find a way."

Miri was quiet. "He did give us an answer to this plague."

Byrin hadn't looked at it quite like that. "You helped."

"I'm talking about you," Miri said. "He sent us you. None of this would have been possible if you hadn't come here."


"Marcus sent for you...He said he had peace about calling in what he called the 'big guns'." Miri sighed. "I'm tired again."

"You'll probably be tired for a while, dearest." Byrin felt his cheeks flame.

"Probably. People are getting better right?"

"Yes, we'll probably start discharging people in a day or two."

"Good. I'm going..." Just like that she was asleep again.

January 17, 2011

Zion's Children - pt 43

In the end, it had taken very little time to convince the Elder Council that they should sue the Conglomerate. As Simon had put it, "It's the only logical thing to do. You, Levi, are our leader, it is really your decision. If you feel that this is something we should do, we back you completely. And - Miriam is a wise young woman, from her youth God has spoken through her. We all think highly of her." The others had echoed Simon.

Never before in his life did Levi feel the weight of his office bearing down on him like he did now. Once the plague was broken, he was to leave Zeta Muria with Jonathan Freeman and take their make their charges public. Freeman was the closest thing they had to a 'lawyer', and would be able to help him in a myriad of things. Just traveling off planet would be a harrowing adventure. He hoped that the young Doctor Gold would have the medical backing to prove his claims. Otherwise the trip would be in vain.

Once the meeting had dispersed, Levi took himself to the hospital. He stopped by several of the beds, speaking words of encouragement to the sick ones. Just as he was beginning to wonder where they had hidden his granddaughter, Lily appeared at his shoulder.

"If you're looking for Lily, she's in the lab."

Something about her demeanor stopped him short. Did she mean to imply that none of the patients knew that Miri was sick?

As if in answer to his wondering, the woman in the bed he was at, a friend of Miri's - he thought her name was Elizabeth - raised her weary head and asked, "When you see Miri, please tell her to come see me. I haven't seen her today..."

"I will, dearest. Rest your head." He looked at Lily who didn't so much bat an eyelash. "I'm unfamiliar with the lab, Nurse. Could you show me the way?"

"Of course." She did a flawless about face and began to walk smoothly across the room.

Levi followed in silence and whatever he was going to say, vanished from his mind at the sight of his granddaughter. She was laying on a cot in the corner looking as though she'd been sick for weeks instead of just coming down with it today. Her face was flushed and her hair damp with sweat. Someone had undressed her at some point because she was wearing one of the hospital nightgowns. The sheet covering her was thin, but pulled up to her shoulders, arms laying on top.

Of all the things he could have asked, the first one that popped out when he looked over to the young doctor at his microscope was, "Just who undressed my granddaughter young man?"

Byrin stopped abruptly and blushed at the thought. "Lily did, sir. And neither Doctor Alexander nor myself were in the room at the time."

"Good." Levi wondered at the young man's blush, then remembered the rumors he'd heard concerning the younger man and his granddaughter. If there was any truth to them, let him be afraid of Levi. It was a good thing. "How is she?"

"Well, she's recovering. Since the blood she injected herself with had a very advanced virus in it, she was hit quick and hard and it's taken longer than I thought for the anti-virus to kick in. I've given her another dose. It might take several more doses over the next couple days."

"What about the other patients?" Levi asked, knowing that his concern couldn't be just for his kin alone. "Are they receiving treatment as well?"

The ones that are the sickest have already received their first dose. I didn't make a lot the first time around because I wasn't sure it would work. I have the computer calculating everyones' body weight compared to the anti-virus to get the dosage size they'll need. I also have more in the making. People should start feeling better in a matter of hours, though they won't be completely mended for a few weeks. It's...a hard virus."

"Good." Levi dismissed the doctor from his thoughts and approached his granddaughter.

Miri opened her eyes as he sat down, a ghost of a twinkle in them. "Are you very mad me?"

The question startled him, and he didn't have a chance to answer because she was still speaking.

"Don't blame the doctors. They're only human. Marc has already scolded me for giving myself the virus. Don't be mad at..."

"Miriam, stop. I would have been surprised to hear otherwise. One of the reasons why the people, why I respect you, is your self sacrificing spirit."

"You're not mad?"

"Far from it."

January 16, 2011

Zion's Children - pt 42

Levi and Lieutenant Commander Jonathan Freeman were just exiting the small clapboard building that General Hiawithus used as his office building when Marcus found them. They both looked grave, like men on an unpleasant mission.

"Ah, Doctor Alexander!" Freeman said in greeting. "How are things going?"

"Touchy," Marcus answered. Freeman was always such a stickler for protocol. "Levi, have you got a moment?"

"Not really. We're on our way to a meeting with the Elder Council. Walk with us." The old man looked at him suspiciously, but then he had always done that. With all ConFleet persons, it wasn't just him. "Did you find out what Doctor Gold wanted of you?"

"Yes, we were discussing the dosing for the new medicine he's made." He changed directions easily. "And that's actually what I want to discuss with you."

"Well, go on," prompted Levi, not breaking stride.

"Ah, well...are you sure you want to do this on the go?" Marcus asked.

"We've no time to lose," Levi replied. "We're going to talk to the council about suing the Conglomerate for restitution under...what code was that, Jon?"

Freeman didn't bat so much as an eyelash. "Code 154, subsection 27, Part B."

"You can sue the Conglomerate?" Marcus asked in surprise.

"It doesn't happen often," Freeman admitted. "But it can be done."

"Has it ever happened?" the doctor asked in spite of himself.

"Once. Shortly after the end of WW2 in 2021, the remainder of Earth's old Nation of Israel sued for crimes committed during the war. And they won."

"So in a way," Levi commented, "We already have a precedent."

"I'm...speechless," mumbles Marcus. He shook his head and tried again. "Levi, I need to talk to you about Miri."

Levi's step faltered, and stopped. Freeman and Marcus came to a stop as well. "What about Miri?

"She came into the lab when Byrin and I were arguing...and she..."

"Well, spit it out man!" Levi rumbled angrily.

"She injected herself with the virus to give us a test subject."

Silence ruled the moment.

"Yes, she would do that wouldn't she?" Levi said softly. "How sick is she?"

"Very. Byrin has already given her a dose of medicine. I don't know if it's having effect yet."

Levi closed his eyes. "Lord Jesus, protect my foolish, bravehearted girl." He opened his eyes and pierced Marcus with his glare. "Go back and keep an eye on her for me. I've got to meet with the Council, then I'll be right there. Miri will understand my delay, if she's even aware."

"Yes sir." Marcus let out a breath he didn't realize he was holding as the two walked away from him.

January 14, 2011

Zion's Children - Pt 41

Byrin waited for Lily to leave, then moved to where she had been sitting on the bed next to Miri. "I feel responsible. I know it was her choice, but I still feel like it's my fault."

Marc sighed. "If only we hadn't been arguing?"

"Something like that," agreed Byrin.

"I know the feeling. But it was her choice and she probably would have done it whether we were arguing or not." Marcus rose to his feet as if he were a much older man. "Since you're here watching over her, I'm going to go find Levi and let him know what his granddaughter has done."

"Ahhh, thank you."

"For what?"

"I can't imagine that Levi is going to be happy and I'm just glad that you volunteered to tell him so I wouldn't have to."

Marcus managed to laugh. "He does have that effect on people! He's a lot softer than he lets on though."

"Just the same, thanks."

Marcus patted the young man on the shoulder and departed.

Byrin looked down at his ill nurse. It hadn't been that long ago that they were sitting on a blanket in the grass, trying to learn about each other. He had almost kissed her...she had almost let him. He wasn't one to take rejection well, becuase he'd been faced with it so little. But if it hadn't been for her refusal, he never would have made the connections he had. Strange how things had been working out recently.

He will wanted to kiss her. Wanted desperately for her to live. Despite his medical genius, he still doubted whether he'd gotten the dosage right. With a gentle had, he reached out and wiped sweat laden wisps of hair off her forehead.

To his surprise, her eyes opened and tried to focus.

"Miri?" he asked hesitantly.

"Byrin..." Her voice was a thin rasp. "Well, that hit hard didn't it?"

"Very fast. And hard. I've given you a dose of the medicine. How are you feeling?"

Her eyes fluttered, as if it were hard for her to keep them open. "Tired...hot...cold...thirsty..."

"Thirsty?" That wasn't one of the normal symptoms. Byrin felt a glimmer of hope. "I'll get you some water." He rose to his feet and rummaged through things on the long counter until he found an empty glass. He filled it halfway with cool water and hurried back to his charge. Putting a hand under Miri's shoulders, he lifted her up a bit and held the glass to her lips. She took a few swallows and turned her head away,

"Better?" he asked.

""A little." She sighed as he laid her back and then she was out again.

Byrin set the glad on a nearby table and sat back down, intent of staying by her side until...forever if he had to.

January 12, 2011

Zion's Children - Pt 40

Doctor Alexander sighed. "It's a long story, Lily."

The young nurse looked over her shoulder at Byrin, who was still fussing with the hypo sprays. "We have time."

Marc supressed the urge to tell the other doctor to hurry. "I had been stationed here for a year, when I had a romance with a young woman. There was a lot of flack from her family and friends, because of the difference in our religions. I thought we would survive despite it. I was wrong. She broke our engagement off, three weeks before we were to wed. She didn't tell me why, just said it was over. A month later, she was brough to the clinic, because she was having a miscarriage and was losing a lot of blood."

"I'm so sorry," Lily whispered.

"So was I...despite my heathen ways, we'd never been together that way. The baby wasn't mine." Marcus sighed again, this time laden with sorrow. "But I moured it's death just the same. Her family had waited too long to bring her in, and she'd lost a lot of blood. She didn't make it either. I was...in a deep dark place I never want to go to again. Miri was still in her teens, but she was already helping me at the clinic. She was a mother hen type of nurse even then. She...made sure I didn't do anything stupid, and shared the gospel with me. But it took Levi sharing his own story, that brought me to know Jesus as my savior. I hope you don't mind if I leave the telling of his story to him."

"That's fine," Lily answered.

"Suffice it to say that I was faced with the fact that I was not alone in having been dealt a bad hand. We all go through times like that. We can either come face to face with our Creator and find comfort, salvation. Or we can just survive unti next time. I decided to face my Creator. And I found an everlasting love."

"I'm speachless," whispered Lily. She could hear the peace in his voice, see it on his face. She looked down at the ill Miri. Even unconscious and in the grip of fever, Miri still had a peace about her. "I came to Christ as a child, shortly before the Flu Scare. I almost lost my mother in a shuttle accident, she was badly injured but alive. When things had settled and I was able to tell her how scared I'd been...she told me that while she'd been in pain, she wasn't afraid of dying because she knew where she was going. We talked about her faith for several days, and I eventually prayed the sinner's prayer. It felt wonderful, but reality hit hard when the Flu hit us and so many died. Including my mother. She just wasn't strong enough to deal with the injuries and the flu. At the time, I felt peace because I was certain I was going to die too and then we'd be together again. But I survived."

"Lily, surely you don't feel guilty for surviving?"

"Every single day. It's why I became a nurse...to help as many survive illness and injuries as possible." Lily wiped away a tear that had escaped. "But people still die."

"Of course they do," Marc said softly. "It's the way of life. We're born into a chaotic world. The most we can do is live our life in such a way as to lead other's to Christ."

There was a gentle throat clearing and the two looked up to see Byrin standing with a ready hypo. "I'm ready to give Miri the medicine."

Silently Lily rose to her feet and moved quickly out of his way.

Byrin stepped forward and pressed the end of the hypo to Miri's shoulder.

"How long before we know if it's working?" Lily asked.

"Unsure. Within the hour. If not, I'll draw some blood and go from there." Byrin pulled a stool close.

"I'd best get back to the rest of the ward," Lily said. "There's still people people out there and I don't think Lily would appreciate it if I neglected them."

"I'll join you shortly," Marcus said.

"Very well." Lily turned and left the lab much quieter than she'd entered.

January 06, 2011

Zion's Children - pt 39

"You did what?" Lily demanded when she entered the lab area. She gasped slightly at the sight of Miri unconscious on the cot in the corner.

"We didn't even know she was in the room," Marcus said, in what she thought was meant to be a calming tone of voice. "She injected herself before we knew she was even here."

"That doesn't make this alright!" Lily broke free from her spot and quickly crossed the room to sit on the edge of the cot next to Miri. She laid her hand to Miri's forehead. "How long ago? She's already burning up."

"Not even half an hour ago," Marcus answered. He glanced at Byrin, who was over at the work area of the lab. He dropped his voice a level and said quietly to her, "He hasn't stopped moving since."

"I can see that," Lily said just as softly. "She's advancing quickly. Does he have anything ready?"

"Close. We were talking about dosage and stages when she came in. She was trying to give us..."

"A volunteer."


Lily sighed. "She makes me feel like such a fake."

"How so?"

"She freely wears her faith on her sleeve, Marcus. In her work, in her free time. She's even willing to sacrifice herself for her people."

Marcus sighed. "It's hard being a Christian and be in ConFleet at the same time. In their attempt to have religious freedom and equality, they bind all the religions to a strict code. We're not the only ones who have the 'no proselytizing' clause. I know that's little comfort."

"You're right, it's not."

"Is your faith real?" Marcus asked her. "Whenever we've talked, just the two of us, I've wonder if you really believe it or if it's just what you grew up with."

Lily's face twisted and she held in the tears. "I do believe Marcus. It's just not easy to show."

"Tell me how it happened for you. Salvation I mean."

"You first."

January 04, 2011

Zion's Children - pt 38

The room grew quiet at the sound of a hypo being discarged.

Byrin was the first to look at Miri, saw her pulling the hypo away from her arm. "Miri?"

"What have you done?" Marcus asked, his face paling.

Miri turned and faced the two. Her face was solemn, but there was peace on that face. "I don't know when I'll start to show symptoms, but I'm willing to be one of your test patients. There will be others. As much as many of us are ready and willing to meet our Savior, we also want to live another day. It's how He made us."

"Yet you're willing to sacrifice yourself?" Marcus asked angrily. "You didn't have to do this."

"Yes, I did." She sat in the nearest chair. "I think it's working...I feel weak already."

"Damn," Marcus started to walk to her, but Byrin beat him.

"Miri, I have to make sure you're sick before I can test this on you, you understand that?" Byrin asked.

Miri looked up at him, eyes wide. "Byrin...I trust you..." And with that, she fainted and would have slid from the chair had they not caught her.

Together the doctors carried her to the cot in the corner.

"She might trust you, but I'm not sure I do," Marcus muttered.

"You did. Or you'd never have sent for me."

Marcus looked at him, startlment plain on his face. "How did you..."

"I have my sources," Byin said quietly. "No doubt she's sick, but I still need to do blood work. I need to find out how far advanced the virus is."

"Then let's get started." Marcus said. "I'll find Lily and let her know what's going on. We...should inform Levi as well."

"That's gonna be tough." Byrin was already preparing a hypo to draw Miri's blood.

"Yeah, I think I'll handle that part. He'd eat you alive." Marcus laughed sharply. "Heck, he might do the same to me!"

"Marcus...let's hurry shall we?"

January 02, 2011

Zion's Children - pt 37

Miri would have loved to have peppered her grandfather with questions. Why was he calling a meeting of the elders? Did he agree with her? She didn't know. But after relaying the message to Seth, a member of the council, she returned to the lab.

The two doctors were in the lab, deep in discussion.

"There has to be some other way to test it that just picking random patients!" Marcus said exasperated. "I'm not willing to risk..."

"They're already dieing!" insisted Byrin. "Have you thought about asking them? Let them decide whether the risk is worth it?"

"I won't have you raising their hopes and then seeing them dashed if it doesn't work!"

"It's not yours to decide that!"

"I've been their doctor here since before you had even entered medical school!"

Miri decided to give them another option. They didn't pay any attention to her as they were engrossed in their argument. She crossed the room quietly and gracefully. Among the vials on the table, she found her most recent blood donation. This one had been stored overnight, so the virus cells were active; that was one thing they hadn't figured out yet, why the virus activated itself in blood drawn from the body. They might never figure that out. She prepared a hypo, no longer listening to the doctors. They didn't understand. They were just doctors. These were her people...this was her family...her life. And she was scared to lose it...but she was more afraid of seeing everyone she knew die as well. There were many still living. She wanted to save as many as she could.

Taking a deeo breath, praying that she wasn't relying on what Marcus called false hope...pressed the hypo's end to her skin...and injected herself with her own virus infected blood...

January 01, 2011

Zion's Children - pt 36

"We have every right to ask for justice from the Conglomerate," Miri said, after taking a brief moment to compose herself. She'd been in the General's office before, times when she'd been looking for her Grandfather, but never had she had so many eyes on her when speaking. "The Word says that there is a time for everything. A season. Enough people have died. It is time for our people, all of the Exiled, to stand up and be counted as equals. Not out of charity, a need to show how benevolent they are to the other species in the galaxy. Our ancestors were forcibly removed from their home and cast into the stars for no other reason than they were a different race...or they had a different set of beliefs, some religious and others political. Every nation on earth had people cast out. We should longer be denied the rights of full citizens."

The room was quiet for a moment after she'd come to the end.

"She makes sense, Levi," Marcus commented.

"Yes, she does." Levi drew a deep breath. He gave her a comforting smile, his eyes crinkling at the corners. "Miri, did you need something? Surely you weren't just passing by?"

"I was just looking for Marc. Byrin needs him."

"I wonder what for?" Marcus mused aloud. "I'll be on my way then."

Levi straightened as the doctor left the room. "Miri do you have time to run a quick errand?"

"I have a moment, but not long."

"Good, run and find Seth. Tell him to assemble the Elder Council in an hour." He saw the surprise in her eyes as she nodded. He suppressed his urge to chuckle. After she had spun around, her chestnut brown hair trailing behind her loose from it's braid, he turned to his friend. "In the meantime, Archie, you and I are going to talk legalities."

"We'll need Freeman then." The general rose to his feet, still shaky. "That's his area of expertise. I'll get him."