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Log of the Month for October, 2012

The Horathian Renewal
Posted on October 24th, 2012 by Jorvan Tav

The doors to Sickbay opened, and a crewman walked in with a tank containing not the one griok Tav had requested, but three grioks. Considering the trouble he had heard that the bridge crew had to go through to get anything from Captain Veshin before now, this was unusually generous. He would have to use them wisely, but at least he had a couple for backup if the first did not work properly.

Crewman Kovalski pushed the tank to the middle of Sickbay, then turned around and left. She was the quiet type, but very active. In a dozen appointments for broken bones, torn ligaments and ruptured cartilage, she had uttered a few dozen words. She was always hurting herself on the holodeck.

Tav simply shook his head and walked over to the tank. This was his first time actually dealing in person with the Horathian atmosphere, or any humans first time for that matter. He took some quick readings to verify the information he had on file, finding it to be, well, mostly accurate, if a little less detailed than he would normally like. Soon, he had the information he wanted and needed to create a full profile of the atmosphere the Horathians required.

Seeing the atmosphere up close like this was fascinating in and of itself. The atmosphere was definitely liquid, but the liquid was very thin, so that the grioks were standing on the bottom of the tank as though they were in a tank of air as opposed to a liquid. It was almost more like a solidified vapor. It gave a slight green hue to the animals and liquid atmosphere in the tank, and it bent the light like a liquid.

Tav began preparing his medical tank for one of the grioks. According to his calculations, if all went well in about four hours a griok would be breathing a nitrogen-oxygen atmosphere. It would be the first griok to do so in thousands of years. Little did this animal, normally harvested for food, know its place in the history of an entire race.

The doctor filled the medical tank with the Horathian atmosphere, and joined it to the transport tank. It took some time to lure one and only one of the grioks into the med tank, but finally he was successful and had them sealed off from one another. He moved the medical tank into position for the procedure.

Within a couple hours of the introduction of the genome-modifying virus into the griok’s tank, the griok began to drown. Tav smiled at the success and began to evacuate the liquid argon atmosphere from the tank, and the griok kept breathing. So far, so good… if a little early, thought Tav. He conducted several scans, and concluded that the griok could be sustained on the nitrogen-oxygen atmosphere. Eventually, he would have to figure out what this creature would be able to digest, but this was a great first step. He moved the griok from the medical tank into a holding tank, then refilled the med tank with the argon atmosphere. He repeated the process of coaxing the other two grioks from the transport tank into the medical tank, then began the process on them. Hours later, he had three grioks breathing an atmosphere no Horathian creature had breathed in several eons. Tav was confident in his ability to make a Horathian breathe a Class M atmosphere and survive.

Next, he called the bridge to find some Horathians on whom he could continue his experimentation.

“Bridge, this is Doctor Tav.”

T’Kirr’s voice answered. “Go ahead.”

“I have a rather strange request for you. I’ve had success with the grioks, and now I need a Horathian volunteer.”

“I’ll see what I can do, Doctor.”

____________________________________________

Before him stood five Horathian volunteers for the procedure; three were male and two female. Tav looked at each of them in turn. Tav had expected very few volunteers, but there had been so many who had wanted to do so, the commanders of the Horathian ship had had to hold a lottery to see who the participants would be. These five had won the lottery to possibly give up their lives, or be the first in a new life.

“Now you know,” he said, “If this works, in a day you will all be breathing my atmosphere. This will open up your race to be able to inhabit any one of thousands of planets known to Starfleet. However, I have no guarantee that this will work. Even assuming it works, there are many difficulties that can happen, and you may still die. For instance, once this takes effect, your current atmosphere will become deadly to you. You will be unable to breathe with very little warning as to when this will happen. You will experience drowning, a condition where your lungs will be filled with your fluid atmosphere, when what they need is the gas atmosphere I am breathing. Again, you need to know, this is a very dangerous procedure. Further, if it is successful for you and for some reason I decide I cannot do it on the rest of your people, this procedure will be irreversible and you will be unable to live with the other Horathians in their atmosphere. If you decide to back out, I will understand.”

All five Horathians looked to each other and made a gesture similar to a nod, and one turned to Tav. “We understand. We also understand that this will create a new hope for our people. We will go through with this.”

Tav solemnly responded. “Very good. Who wants to go first?”

The Horathian who had spoken stepped forward in the tank to the port and awaited the opening into the medical tank. When the port opened, he pushed himself through feet-first with no discernable hesitation. Once lying in the confines of the medical tank, the Horathian looked back to his compatriots. They had gathered around the portal and seemed as though to be directing an energy of thought to him. Quietly, respectfully, Tav observed this moment, and allowed the Horathians to take whatever time they needed. After all, if this didn’t work, there would be no way the Horathians could have any physical contact with him while he was alive. His final moments would be alone. No one would be able to hold his hand as he took his last breath.

The Horathian finally turned his gaze away from the other Horathians and to Doctor Tav. He gave that nod-like motion to him. “Doctor, I have one request.”

Tav nodded soberly. “Of course.”

“If this fails, please make sure my mate receives this.“ The Horathian held up his left wrist and put his other hand over the band that went around it. “Her name is Gilslon Feil.”

“Of course,” replied the doctor.

Once again, the Horathian gave his nod. “I am ready.”

Tav activated the medical scanners and began the procedure, flooding the tank with the virus. “I am going to take care of you as best I can. I have begun the procedure. If at any time you feel any discomfort, let me know.”

“I will, doctor. And I appreciate your care.”

“Before I go any further, I need to know something. What is your name?”

The Horathian smiled, something Tav had not seen any of them do yet. “I am Prefect Gilslon. Gilslon Raneijia.”

“Prefect?” asked Tav.

“Prefect,” replied Raneijia. “I cannot ask any of my people to do anything which I would be unwilling to do myself. So I go first.”

____________________________________________

Seven hours later, Tav was watching the readout, waiting. Wright had come in many times to see if there was anything she could do, but every time found there was not much. “I’ll let you know the moment anything comes up,” Tav had said. A few times, Wright had stayed around and watched, other times she had simply nodded somberly and walked out to work on things she needed to do.

Tav noticed the beginning of the changes to Raneijia’s genome. It was happening much faster than it had in any of his simulated Horathians. No matter to worry about, this was still one of those necessary changes. He looked over to the Horathian in the tank. “Do you feel anything?”

Raneijia shifted in the tank. “I don’t believe so. Should I be?”

“You’re my first patient who can tell me how you feel. All those I’ve worked on so far have been virtual or animals. You are going through extreme physiological changes. As you know, they could turn out to be very painful, or you may not feel it at all, except when you can no longer breathe the Horathian atmosphere.”

“What will that feel like?”

“At best? When it happens? Frankly, you will feel like you are drowning. I will do everything can to make that as short a time as possible; however, understand that if I give you my atmosphere too early in the process, you will overdose on oxygen and die. If I give it to you too late, you will drown. The balance is tricky. If I do anything medically to mitigate the pain, I may not know when to change your atmosphere.”

Raneijia nodded. “I understand.”

The other Horathians stood in their tank watching with concern and expectation. Tav had tried to give them a way to sit down. They had made it clear that they preferred to stand.

Raneijia coughed, and then again. Tav looked down at him. “What are you feeling?”

“I am not sure; it is becoming a little difficult to breathe.”

“I see.” Tav checked out the scan results. “It appears the changes are accelerating. Judging by the speed at which you are changing compared to the simulations, it won’t be long now; in fact minutes at most. I should warn you, in many of my simulations, there were complications after the change, but I was able to overcome them. If the complications are anything like the simulations, they won’t be pleasant, but they won’t last long.”

Raneijia gave Tav one of his nods, and began to convulse.

Tav shouted at him, hoping to get through. “I need you to hold on! It will take another moment before I can give you the new atmosphere. As much as it hurts, try to breathe deeply! Breathe deeply! “

Raneijia sucked in a breath of the Horathian atmosphere, but it was no longer sustaining him. His convulsions became stronger.

Tav saw what he needed to see, that Raneijia was beginning to drown, and that he was no longer lacking argon, but oxygen. It was time to make the change. Tav noted that it was almost a day and a half sooner than any of his simulations. Apparently, some of the differences between the information the Horathians had in their own medical data, and that which was accurate, had created some differences in how they changed forms. Tav evacuated the argon from the tank and opened it, ready to assist Raneijia any way necessary. He flipped Raneijia over and allowed him to expel the liquid from his lungs into the bottom of the tank still under the biobed.

Nervously, the other Horathians watched on.

Raneijia continued to convulse, and his pulse and blood pressure began to fail. Tav turned him back over onto his back. Raneijia was still conscious and was beginning to panic.

“I expected this,” Tav reassured him. “Give me a second.” He grabbed the defibrillator paddles and placed them on Raneijia’s chest. “This is going to hurt. A lot, actually; like nothing you’ve ever experienced. Brace yourself.” Tav set the defibrillator for two hundred fifty joules, make sure he was not in contact with his patient, and activated the shock.

Raneijia let out a blood-curdling scream as electricity coursed through his heart and reset his sinus rhythm. As promised, it was the most pain he had ever felt. Every muscle in his body fully tensed in concert. Though it was only milliseconds, it felt like a lifetime of pain.

Within a moment, Raneijia’s vital signs began to return to normal… his new normal, anyway. He was properly breathing the Class M atmosphere. A few moments later, he had calmed down and was breathing normally, and the pain had passed but for some stiffness in his muscles.

Tav set the paddles back in their slots and moved around his patient to the other side of the biobed. “How do you feel?” he asked.

“Like I was dragged under a grounded shuttlecraft.”

“Well, you’re here to feel that way,” affirmed Tav. “Congratulations on being the first Horathian in thousands of years to breathe an oxygen-based atmosphere. For now, you need to rest, but you’ve proven it can be done.”

Despite the pain, Raneijia gave Tav a small, weak smile.

With Tav knowing more what to expect, and with the readings from an actual Horathian on which to base his annotations, Tav had begun the treatment on the other Horathians. Over the course of the next several hours, he had replicated more tanks so that all the others in his care could undergo the treatment simultaneously, with each patient’s initiation staggered every forty-five minutes. That way, if there were complications, they would not occur all at the same time.

Over the course of the treatment, both Wright and Raneijia had helped Tav to monitor his patients, so that after ten hours, all the Horathians aboard Atlantis were breathing nitrogen and oxygen, and two hours after that all were able to get up and walk around. Some had undergone the changes a little faster and others slower, but all had survived with no unexpected complications, and only Raneijia and and one of the others had needed defibrillation.

When all the Horathians were ambulatory, Tav replicated them some food, and scanned them as they ate and digested. As he had earlier suspected, they were now able to metabolize carbon-based food. In fact, their genome appeared to be something much more carbon based.

Finally, Tav left Sickbay for his quarters, completely exhausted. He had decided to call this a success after a night of observation by the rest of the Sickbay staff led by Doctor Nolan.

The next morning he woke up to discover that the Horathians were themselves awake and doing very well, gaining strength beyond what was expected, even in this environment of lower gravity than they were used to. After an hour of scanning them in every way possible, Tav had decided that he could tentatively call this a success. Everything was looking better than he had expected in his wildest dreams. In short, it was becoming clear that Tav had reverted the Horathian genome for these five courageous volunteers into something very close to what it should naturally be.

The Horathians were thriving biologically, even in this very short time that they had held this genetic profile. They even seemed to have a slight glow, an aura of well-being and health that these formerly mutated people were noticing in one another as though it should be unusual. Apparently, the Horathians did not know life without certain pains and discomforts within themselves, and they now were not quite sure how to live without them.

Tav knew it would take years for the Horathians to adjust psychologically to this style of living, assuming they chose it for their entire people. It would not be an easy road, but it would be a good path. Everything about these five had been changed.

Seeing that everything was looking like a situation where the Horathians would be able to thrive in the future if they took this treatment, Tav was ready to make it official. After contacting the Admiral, he led his patients to the Conference Room for a meeting, and to notify Captain Veshin of their progress.


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2 Comments

  • Alexis Wright says:

    Well done.


  • Atlantis Patch Ian Blackthorne says:

    Very nice! Lots of good little details, like the bit about Crewman Kovalski. And that was some brilliant doctoring, Doc.




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