Silver Wordsmith: An author's journey
Boro found that in his experience, rules were not only the best prophylactic against chaos, but also one of its insidious causes. Where a complete lack of rules was a recipe for inevitable anarchy, a blind adherence to rules against all reason was an impediment to progress. And it seemed to him that no one fit that latter bill better than ship or station doctors. The Forseti’s doctor was no exception. Although the crew for a week now had in its custody a dangerous terrorist that attempted to destroy the ship, neither Boro, nor anyone else on the command staff had been able to gain any access to him.
The reason for this was Dr. Sufai; and the fact that of the survivors, the fake Intelligence officer had been closest to the blast and suffered greatly in the explosion. Shortly after his admittance to the medbay, Boro was informed that there would be no access to the prisoner, or as Sufai was sure to remind them at any opportunity, the patient, until he recovered sufficiently to be able to take visitors. When Boro explained that they would not be visitors, but rather, interrogators who needed to get to the bottom of who was behind the attempted sabotage of the mission and therefore, by extension, an attempt on the doctor’s own life, Dr. Sufai retorted that she wasn’t sure how that was any better and said that she would call them down when the time was right and not a minute sooner.
If it were up to him, Boro would make sure that every chief medical officer would have to spend a year in ship’s command before being handed their first doctor commission, in order to learn what it was like to make hard decisions in the face of Hippocratic obstinance.
A full week this charade of rules and procedures persisted, but now Boro had received the long-awaited call, and attended at the medbay himself.
“How is our prisoner doing?” he asked without pausing for greetings. His hands itched to get at this traitor, even though Boro knew he was forgetting himself.
“My patient is doing better, Commander,” Dr. Sufai said, walking out of her office and placing herself conveniently between Boro and the room where the prisoner was kept.
“I thought since he’s all better now he’s no longer your patient.” Boro meant this as a joke, but Dr. Sufai showed no intention of laughing.
“My patient is not fully recovered,” she said, “Once he is, you can move him to the brig and call him whatever you want. While he’s here, he’s a patient.”
“Well depending on how this goes, maybe he’ll stay a patient a while longer,” Boro said, cracking some knuckles on his left hand.
“Is this supposed to reassure me about allowing you to talk to him?” Again, he had said it in jest but the doctor chose to take him completely seriously.
“No, Ory,” Boro said while trying to soften his tone, “But it was intended to make me feel better about having aboard my ship someone who would betray his own kind.”
“Actually,” the doctor’s face changed – the severe brow smoothing, “That’s not entirely true.”
No, this was too much, Boro thought. He’d seen the tapes, he’d read the reports – no, he’d written the reports because he was there – there was nothing this medic could tell him about his understanding of the incident that would make him think he was wrong about the man’s intention. But, never minding all of that, he was going to remain professional.
“Which part?” Boro asked, jaw tight.
“The being Human part. He is … not entirely so.”
Boro wasn’t sure he quite heard right – there were so many headcases on this ship that seemed to want to mess with him for sport – but Dr. Sufai looked entirely genuine.
“What do you mean?” Boro asked cautiously.
“Come see this.” The doctor turned towards her office and Boro followed her in. “When he first arrived in here, his wounds were quite bad,” Dr. Sufai explained as she pulled up whatever she intended to show him on her computer. “The rate at which he healed though, well, it was unusual enough that it made me dig further. And here’s what I found.”
On the computer was displayed what appeared to be the stereotypical double helix of DNA, with several regions highlighted in bright blue.
“He’s Human on the outside, and as far as I can tell he’s Human on the inside. But looking deeper into his DNA, you could see there’s something that isn’t right. The DNA is, again, Human, but there are markers, dummy sequences that don’t do anything, everywhere where they don’t belong, and all sharing similarities that I can’t explain. It’s like someone had taken whatever DNA was there and rewritten it to be Human.”
“Who would have the technology to do something like this?”
“I don’t know, but I’m willing to guess not even the Thorians.”
Boro looked over his shoulder but there was no direct line of sight to their prisoner. “So what is he then?”
“Well that’s the thing, isn’t it? Really, he’s Human. It’s what he used to be that’s the real question.”
“Let’s see if I can get some answers, then.” Boro was nearly fully out the door of the doctor’s tiny office when he heard her say, “Uh, Commander?”
“It’s required to have two people present at the interrogation.”
Not this again. There was an abom freak masquerading as a Human in their medbay in the middle of hostile territory and they were counting how many people were in the room with him.
“So? You’re welcome to join me.”
“I am joining you – the doctor also has to be present while the patient remains a patient, you need someone else.”
Incredible, it was like everyone on board this ship was hell-bent on getting killed except himself.
“I suppose the Captain would be willing to join us in a bit.” Captain Pueson was the last person Boro wanted down there – another slave to a rule book written by those without ambition, but including two officers without the Captain would have been bad optics.
Michael is a husband, father of two, lawyer, writer, and is currently working on his first novel, at a snail's pace. A very leisurely snail. All opinions are author's own.