Episode 411: Humanity

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Air Date: 14 Sep 2010
Present: Kim, Maer, Terri, and Andy

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Part 2

Sunday, 03 Aug 2521
Frederick von Braun’s ship, Valdric
New Canaan, Blue Sun (Qing Long) system
1300 hrs, ship’s time

We spend a couple of days after the sea rescue in Mystic, getting our cargo sold or bartered and give von Braun the extra time to stabilize and heal. On the 3rd we thank the Sheriff for her hospitality and lift off for von Braun’s ship in orbit, the Valdric. We hail the ship, we’re instructed where to dock alongside her, and we disembark with von Braun.

Valdric is a sleek 4000-ton beauty, her lines evocative of speed and power. We’re met by the crew and are given a tour of the ship when von Braun is settled in his quarters. Valdric is extensively finished on the inside to look like a dirtside spa. Walls are paneled in costly materials, the floors are a high-tech amalgamation of wood and cork for their sound-dampening qualities. The walls are likewise geared to deaden sound, the crew reassures us. Everything is made to enhance a person’s journey on the Valdric in the utmost comfort that money and the Core can provide. Why, one wouldn’t even be able to tell they are aboard a ship at all, so smoothly and quietly does everything run.

Knowing you’re on a ship is kinda the point for Rina. If you’re gonna be on a ship, then by God, be on a ship, not some fancy-dancy hotel spaceship wanna-be. In fact, throughout the tour she’s straining all her senses to hear the engines or the atmo system or anything mechanical and she’s met with … nothing. At first it annoys, then it creepifies. How the hell can she tell if anything’s gone wrong if she can’t track the sounds or feel the vibrations of a living breathing ship? Damned unnatural is what it is.

The others are suitably impressed—no surprise, since Valdric is a ship made to impress. It’s also made to meet a passenger’s every whim and the attentiveness of the staff reflects this. Mind, there are some looks and mutterings about our relative low class. By comparison, we are by far the coarsest folk aboard, practically trash pickers and guttersnipes. However, we did save the Big Man’s life and that counts for quite a lot. The staff is instructed to see to our comfort by Armand Khan and we are duly shown to our rooms. And what rooms they are: suites, really, well above first class in size and furnishings. The beds are huge, deep, and soft. The attached marble baths have actual bathtubs and luxury fixtures. We are gently reminded that dinner will be served soon and we might want to freshen up? We agree and set about doing just that.

Of all the crew, Kiera is the most familiar with this level of luxury and service and she slides right into the shipboard culture like a seal into water. She’s not at all adverse to ordering drinks and nibbles to be brought to her and asking that proper attire for dinner to be delivered to her room and so on. After cleaning up, Rina comes to the realization that she’s got nothing to change into but the clothes she’d walked aboard in and sheepishly asks for something to be brought in. Expecting plain trousers and a shirt, she’s surprised at the elaborate wear she’s presented with and chooses a red kimono as the least fussy.

Everyone attends dinner duded up in borrowed finery and the other passengers make room for us at the table. There are some veiled barbs about dining with pirates and riff-raff, but overall it’s an amiable enough meal. And in a surprise turn, von Braun himself shows up for dinner.

And it is a vastly changed von Braun, too. He’s hale and healthy. Over the course of an afternoon, he’s gone from unconscious to walking around as if ready to take on a game of doubles tennis. There is no indication that he was just three days ago knocking on Death’s door. Absolutely none. Either it’s a miracle or he’s been enhanced with technology and blastomeres and God knows what else. Which, when Arden asks, is the case. A combination of drugs and organ modifications and replacements have sped von Braun’s recovery at an amazing rate. Arden inquires after it and von Braun fills him in as dinner is served.

And what a dinner it is. Joshua is in raptures over the food. It’s extreme gourmet quality and he gleefully tries a little bit of everything. Little puddles of this and that, bits and pieces from all the plates and platters being presented to the diners. The first tidbit to hit his tongue makes him moan. Sitting across from him, Rina watches, amused, as he divides his time sampling the food and working out how he could recreate it aboard the Gift with the ingredients on hand. Alas, we need to make more money before he can attempt nearly any of it. At one point he insists Rina taste something. Eyeing it dubiously, she tweaks it off his fork and pops it in her mouth … and has to steel herself against spitting it out. What is it? she manages to say through her teeth. Raw oysters, he tells her, pleased. She swallows it down with difficulty. She’ll stick to caviar, thanks.

The dinner is cut short before the dessert course when a faint unpleasant odor permeates the room. Sensitive Coreside noses notice it first and after a minute or two, it’s obvious to us hardened spacers, too. The staff apologizes and ushers us out of the dining room into the cleaner air of a comfortable lounge. Only the odor starts to spread throughout the ship. At this point there are a few remarks about us newcomers contaminating Valdric with something unpleasant and Nika orders Rina back to the Gift to check things out. And murmurs an aside to make sure nothing from the Valdric has contaminated our girl. Rina gets back to the Gift, ditches her kimono for her coveralls and inspects the ship from top to bottom. She even dons protective gear and goes into the bilge and waste reclamation system—a nasty job under the best of circumstances—to verify the problem does not originate there. She finds there is a small kink in the algae recovery hose and a few other small repairs are needed throughout the ship. None of the problems have caused the foul odor on the other ship. Of course, the entire time Rina makes her top-to-bottom search of the Gift, her twitchy is pinging hard and she’s not entirely convinced that what happened to us with Potemkin’s sabotage isn’t somehow happening again.

And she might not be far off the mark—as the evening progresses, Arden comes down a headache and feels slightly ill. He excuses himself as soon as he can politely do so and goes back to the Gift’s med bay to check himself over.

Kiera, meanwhile, has taken off and is enjoying herself at the pool—Valdric has a bona fide swimming pool aboard and it’s very nice. Lounging in a deck chair, with a drink at her side, Kiera’s soaking up the luxury. She doesn’t get to enjoy it for long. An attendant comes over and tells her that she’s wanted back on the Gift. Dr. Arden is sick. Could she go help him? Sighing, Kiera packs up her things and goes.

She finds Arden in the med bay going over his test results. Nothing seems wrong really, aside from a slightly elevated temperature. He might be suffering a cold. Maybe it was something he ate? Not satisfied with the test results, Arden and Kiera run some more tests and the results come back inconclusive. At the end of the battery of tests, he feels worse, not better. Arden and Kiera talk the while and he tells her about his origins—he’s a crèche clone from Sophie and he’s got a brother who looks just like him who’s ten years older. Arden tries to work through it by running culture tests of this bacteria he’s found in samples taken from his body that might be causing the problem.

Kiera’s convinced that Arden’s been a target of a very nasty sort of bioweapon, one that was engineered specifically for him. After all, nobody else is sick. He is. Of course, at this point, Rina walks in after cleaning up from her inspection and presents her latest conspiracy theory—that Valerie had enough medical knowledge about Arden to make that sort of weapon possible and von Braun had somehow obtained the files. Once he had them it would be a snap to whip up something that would be Arden specific and—

And Nika tells Rina to zip it! Not another wild-assed conspiracy out of her, thank you. Get your tools and go back to Valdric and make yourself useful. Or just take advantage of the luxury of the ship and enjoy it, suggests Joshua. Either way, Nika is adamant: Kiera and Rina had better leave before Nika’s head explodes. She calls after them to take duct tape for Rina’s mouth. Rina cuts an eyeroll and grabs her tool bag. Kiera states she going back to the pool. Nika goes with them to make sure they get the hell off her boat.

When they open the airlock door to leave, they almost run right into the man standing on the threshold: It’s Khan and he has a long but shallow carrying case with him. Nika asks Khan what he’s got. Rina interrupts and says it’s a sword case. Khan adds it’s not just a sword case but a dueling case for Arden. He’s brought the weapons for the duel so Arden can choose his. Nika quickly takes the case from him with her thanks, assuring him that she’ll get to it right away. Khan asks if there’s anything wrong? Nika says that Arden’s a little ill at the moment and that she’s concerned that something in that odor aboard Valdric might have been the cause. Is anyone else reacting poorly? Oh no, Khan says, saying nothing out of the ordinary beyond the usual complaints about the smell. Khan also says they don’t have a real doctor on board and since Kiera’s a doctor, could she possibly check the passengers over? Oh no, I’m goin’ to the pool darlin’.

But Kiera agrees to stop and check on people on the way.

Is Arden doing poorly, Khan asks next. Is he going to be all right? Just a little bit feverish, a little bit snotty, says Kiera. Khan seems unalarmed by that. Probably a virus, he says, nothing serious. Hopefully, yes, Nika affirms. Please pardon the impertinence of the question, Khan says next, but this isn’t a ruse to get out of the duel, is it? Oh, no, Nika says quickly. You’re welcome to go see him if you want. Khan quietly suggests it would be no greater shame if the Gift decoupled and left ... if this was Arden’s way of getting out of the obligation. Nika tells him in no uncertain terms: Go speak to the man yourself, please. Khan is sure we have two skilled doctors who can simulate any illness they wished. Oh for heaven’s sake, exclaims Nika. Kiera adds that she doesn’t care if Arden dies, she’s not personally attached to the man and so she wouldn’t bother to pull such a trick, and also? the crew doesn’t have enough money to pay her do such a trick, so therefore why don’t he let her take care of the other passengers?

Joshua walks into the airlock. Haven’t we left yet? Oh, good, says Nika, grabbing his arm. He can talk to the nice man and tell him that Arden’s really for-true sick and not faking it, won’t he? Can I help you, Joshua asks Khan firmly. Why don’t we go see Arden, Khan says. Come with me, Joshua says and waves him aboard.

When Khan walks into med bay and sees Arden’s condition, Joshua does a surface Read of Khan. What he gets back is the sense that Khan is very carefully cataloguing Arden’s symptoms as if he’s checking the progress of the illness: he’s perspiring … his eyes are sunken ... Whoa. Does that mean Khan knows what ails Arden? If so, what is it and why hasn’t the man offered us that information?

Khan says aloud that Arden does look too ill to fight and that he will tell von Braun the news. He certainly cannot fight for now, not in his condition, surely. Von Braun will be disappointed, of course, but perhaps we can come up with other arrangements. Khan turns to Joshua and apologizes for insinuating that Arden was trying to weasel out of the duel. And Khan turns back to Arden and tells him that there are three choices of weapons in the case that was brought up. He’s sorry about the paucity of the selection, but it was all that was available aboard Valdric.

Please don’t bother, he’ll let himself out.

Arden investigates the case. Inside there is a dueling sword, a pistol, and a short baton like a stun stick. Joshua asks Arden if Khan or one of von Braun’s entourage give him anything other than food while he was aboard Valdric? Did he eat or touch anything unusual? Arden comes back with, we ate a lot of unusual things at dinner. Well, yeah, Joshua says quickly, but something only he would have— Arden interrupts with the assertion that people filled is glass, refilled his plate. What? does Joshua think he’s been poisoned? Joshua tells Arden that Khan was checking him over against a mental list of symptoms, as if the man expected Arden to be sick. It certainly suggests Khan knows something about the illness.

Arden says he’ll run a second tox screen, one that is finer than the initial one. He might find something then. Arden motions Joshua over. Oh, Joshua, could you give me a hand and draw some blood? Joshua does so and realizes that Arden was perfectly capable of doing it himself but for some reason wanted Joshua to do it. Blood drawn and band-aid applied, Arden announces he’s going to go lie down a bit. The tox machine will ping when it’s done.

How are you feeling, Joshua asks him then. Well, a little weak feeling. It could be a toxin working on him. If he’s still asleep when the tox screen’s done, could he do these other tests for him? Arden hands him a list and describes what needs to be done and Joshua notices that Arden’s speech is slurring a little. Rest, Joshua urges Arden, keeping his alarm from his face and voice.

Meanwhile at the airlock, Nika, Rina, and Kiera are about ready to go. Rina wants to go aboard Valdric with her usual suspects and Nika orders her to leave her weapons behind. After an argumentative moment, Rina gives in and goes to the weapons locker and locks up her gun, clips, and knife. Nika wears a headset comm just in case someone on the Gift needs to reach them in a hurry.

She sticks close to Kiera and Rina for the next little while as Kiera checks over the passengers. The passengers are now a little uneasy over the fact that they have no real doctor on board and are grateful for whatever attention Kiera can give them. Von Braun joins us and politely asks us what the concern is. After all, it’s just a bad odor. There’s certainly no cause for alarm, is there? Kiera tells him there must be something to it, for our doctor has come down with something. Wow, that’s the fastest illness he’s ever seen, says von Braun with no little sarcasm. Actually, something did show up on the med computer when she ran tests on Arden, Kiera calmly answers, else she’d be laughing up her sleeve, too. But no. There’s definitely something in the air. It’s real. As a matter of fact, his second in command, Khan, verified this when he went aboard the Gift to deliver the weapons and it was on his suggestion that she’s checking the passengers. The passengers are all hideously healthy, except for those two hypochondriacs over there and she has no idea what they’ll say they’ve got two days from now. Oh, those two, von Braun says. He’s not surprised.

Now you, however, Kiera goes on to say, look spectacular if she must say. What is his secret? Well, men in his position have access to the best medical treatments available. He has experts that help him stay in shape. And he has access to them this far away from the Core? on this ship? she asks. Well, he has a regimen of sorts, von Braun hedges politely. Kiera says she’s impressed and stunned. Would it be something he’s willing to lend Arden so that he may become well enough to fight him in the duel?

Von Braun says nothing for a long beat, then:

Von Braun: A reverse sort of irony were I to rejuvenate him with my own …
Kiera: Well I would hate to inconvenience your Honor. I mean, truly, sir. Time is money and money is time.
Von Braun: (tersely) I’ll think about out.
Kiera: Well enough.

Von Braun bows and leaves and Kiera goes back to checking the passengers. Nika and Rina meander through the ship, ostensibly enjoying their surroundings and occasionally asking a passing steward or staff member what the odor is. They tell them that it’s a bacteria in the atmo system and at this point, only a full decon of the entire ship will get rid of it. There is a repair tender, the Tao Hu Yan, on its way to fix the problem. Until then, there are fans running to lessen the odor and everyone’s cleaning things extra-thoroughly. The faint tang of antiseptic floats in the air now, mingling with the odor and the scents the ship automatically dispenses to enhance the passengers’ experience. They thank the staff and rejoin Kiera.

Kiera asks Nika if it’s possible Khan had done something to Arden in order to thwart the duel. Why would he do that? Don’t know. Just wondering, says Kiera, because it’s an honor thing and she can’t see von Braun, when given the opportunity, poisoning Arden or otherwise making him unable to duel. Nika counters with the fact that Khan himself suggested that our departing now would be no greater a stain on Arden’s honor than already exists. Exactly, Kiera agrees. She turns to the passenger she’s currently examining: Oh honey you’re fine. Go on.

Do you think that Khan is concerned about the possibility that Arden might win? asks Nika. Could be, Kiera says. Von Braun looks ridiculously healthy though, Nika counters. Yeah, but that’s chemically helped, Kiera tells her. There’s no telling how fragile he truly is. So here’s the question, Nika posits. Arden and the whole honor thing. Does he care? Will von Braun continue chasing Arden? After all, Nika asserts she doesn’t know enough about this honor crap and can’t determine for herself what von Braun is likely to do. That would be Kiera’s call. It’s Kiera’s estimation that this is a quixotic quest of von Braun’s. Furthermore if he’s successful it’s highly unlikely that he would be prosecuted for murder, since there are witnesses who would say it was an act of self-defense. It’s how these sorts of things are handled. Witnesses provide the alibi of a fencing accident or an accident that matches the weapons used and unless the police stumble upon a duel in progress, there is little else they can do but record the incident and move on. Nobody would investigate it with so little to go on. Yet, the incident is published in a public forum so as to let everyone know that honor had been satisfied. So would von Braun continue? It’s likely he will and—

At that moment, Joshua pings Nika on her headset comm and she tells Kiera to hold that thought.

Nika: Yeah, Josh.
Joshua: I have reason to believe deliberation, that this was deliberate.
Nika: (eyeing the surroundings) Interesting. That possibility’s already been raised in my ear actually.

She moves to the side to a more semi-private corner.

Nika: Find out from Arden if he is willin’ to concede in some fashion to this man publically and besmirch his own honor is some way in a not-to-the-death fight.
Joshua: Okay. Give me a minute.

He goes to check on Arden and finds him napping on a cot in the wardroom. He’s not comatose but his vitals are off, he doesn’t wake up when Joshua calls his name, and it doesn’t take a doctor to know that there is something wrong. Back on Valdric, Nika fills in Kiera on her conversation with Joshua and that he too suspects that deliberate action is responsible for Arden’s illness. Rina grimaces, having tagged along and heard everything, and finally offers her opinion on everything.

Rina: Told ya.
Nika: Oh, quit.
Kiera: Would you like to bring it up to the Second?
Nika: I have the feeling the Second is the source of the … deliberate.
Kiera: Would you like to bring it up to von Braun.
Nika: Let’s find out what Arden’s response to this whole idea of somehow publically—what happens in a duel situation if the person challenged offers public humiliation and publically concedes defeat.

Here’s the thing. Arden isn’t in the normal circle that would require him to maintain his honor so rigorously. It’s less about Arden’s voluntary actions toward von Braun and more about von Braun’s assertion of his toward Arden. All Kiera can advise Nika is to go to von Braun, present the idea to him, and see what he says. Nika decides to wait on Arden’s answer before doing anything.

Joshua gets back on the headset with Nika.

Joshua: How important is it to have this information?
Nika: It’s his problem. I suppose it’s somewhat important. Why?
Joshua: Because he’s … sleeping. I didn’t want to wake him.
Nika: It’s probably not life or death at this moment.
Joshua: Okay.
Nika: Get back to me when he wakes up.

Which exchange has Kiera looking on quizzically.

Kiera: So … would you like to bring this up to von Braun or would you like me to make the segue?
Rina: You don’t want me doing it.
Nika: Oh, hell no.
Kiera: I thought you were supposed to be cleaning a sump pump. Go away.
Nika: I guess I’d like to talk to him personally. (nods to Kiera) You are, in his eyes, still a passenger and not friends with Arden as far as I am aware. And you haven’t given him any inclination that you are more than that. Let me talk to him.
Kiera: He’s quite stunned I’m your passenger and he offered me an escape but I said you were a quixotic learning experience for me. You can hate me later. Go forth and talk.
Nika: That’s actually quite an entertaining notion.
Rina: Meanwhile, what do you want me to do? Besides shut up.
Nika: (sighing) I don’t know.
Kiera: You can stand there and look pretty.
Rina: I can try to help engineering.
Nika: I sincerely doubt anything short of full decon is going to help them and they have a tender en route.
Kiera: I suppose we could comm engineering and find out how common this is.
Nika: Sure, knock yourselves out.

Nika leaves to find von Braun. She finds him and he’s willing to speak to her.

Von Braun: So you’ve come to speak for Arden. Is he well enough to face me?
Nika: I’m sure he’ll be feeling fine by the time you’re ready to face him.
Von Braun: I’m ready when he is. Did he pick a weapon.
Nika: Not at the moment, no. (sighs) What exactly are you hoping for in this?
Von Braun: I’m sorry?
Nika: You’ll have to forgive me. I’m not from the Core so I don’t understand many of the more obscure rules of the upper society. I don’t know what it is you actually gain in killing him or even in challenging him in this fashion. And I’d really like to understand.
Von Braun: I guess I am somewhat puzzled by your … claims of ignorance in this. Were you not the Captain of the ship when you brought her to Londinium to kill the Prime Minister? You are as much to blame as he.
Nika: (on a breath) I see. (louder) And yet you are not holding me accountable. You are holding him accountable.
Von Braun: I can believe you are perhaps a … misguided … rebel or whatever, but Arden—
Nika: Your wife’s actions were not of her own volition.
Von Braun: My wife, to you, was … no one, a pawn.
Nika: That is not true.
Von Braun: But to Arden she was—she ought to have been more.
Nika: That was never true.
Von Braun: In what way?
Nika: She was someone we went to for help. And she offered her help. We didn’t know we had got her in so much trouble.
Von Braun: It wouldn’t be appropriate for me to duel you, since you are a woman.
Nika: (evenly) Okay. So again, my question is … will something actually change for you with this fight?
Von Braun: It will … provide closure.
Nika: We brought her there but … we were not … For God’s sake, if we’d had any clue what had happened to her we would never have brought her there in the first place. Regardless of what went on between the two of you, Arden still cared for her.
Von Braun: Mm-hmm.
Nika: He’s sometimes a rotten friend, but … you know.

Who among us hasn’t been a rotten friend at one time or other?

Von Braun: And then her death when all of you survived seems a bit …
Nika: We did not all survive. We lost two of ours as well. They remained behind to get the broadcast out. And your wife lost her life attempting to make sure that people knew what was happening. She was doing her level best to try to clear … everything. Maybe that changes nothing for you, I don’t know.
Von Braun: Mm-hm. How did she get involved in all that in the first place, that she would have to do such a thing?
Nika: We took a patient to her, who needed help, needed a good neurologist.
Von Braun: I remember, when she told me of it. That was …. not long before … I didn’t see her for over a year.
Nika: We did not know they would kidnap her.
Von Braun: Well, why should you care? Some Alliance surgeon is… caught up in some scheme? Collateral damage.
Nika: (affronted) Wow.
Von Braun: Your friend was in trouble. So you had to help him out.
Nika: You’re right. My friend was in trouble but if I thought I’d put your wife in mortal danger, I would never have taken my friend to her.
Von Braun: And the other people that were killed that day?
Nika: That’s on me.
Von Braun: So forgive me if I’m acting all superior, but I’m not quite sure where your … where your moral high ground lies in all this.
Nika: That day? I didn’t have any.
Von Braun: But you’re all better now. Once the Prime Minister was killed, everything was even again?
Nika: No. Are you speaking of my moral high ground the first time I saw your wife or the moral high ground on the day of Prime Minister, because actually I did have the moral high ground that day. I didn’t know what they’d done to your wife.
Von Braun: Mm-hm.
Nika: I knew that they’d damaged her and we were actually trying to help her. You can believe me or not. Mostly I just want to understand. Is his death the only thing to fix this between you?
Von Braun: It’s not just his death.
Nika: Then what is it?
Von Braun: It’s my killing him. (a beat) Which is why your other doctor should do everything she can to beat that cold of his and let him know.
Nika: Well then maybe you should tell your Second to quit poisoning people.
Von Braun: What are you—what are you saying?
Nika: Apparently there are some people in your entourage who don’t want you to besmirch your own honor by coming after a guy, because Arden’s illness is definitely not of a … let’s call it, natural origin.
Von Braun: So now you’re insinuating—
Nika: I’m not insinuating jack. I’m flat out telling you: someone’s poisoned him.
Von Braun: Right and you believe it is one of my people.

It’s not a question. Then again, hers was not a suggestion.

Nika: Well, who else has reason to poison him?
Von Braun: Who of my people would have reason to poison him?
Nika: Not a clue.
Von Braun: None that I can see. Every step has been taken to—
Nika: The only person I can think of—
Von Braun: I think we’ve been more than gracious—
Nika: We’ll leave off the ‘more than gracious’ at this point because I think that all of us have done our fair share in terms of being gracious. You can take it for what it’s worth and do whatever you like with the information. Excuse me.

And Nika walks away. She goes back to Kiera and Rina to round them up. She comes up to them just as Kiera jocularly announces her diagnosis to an obviously healthy exam patient.

Kiera: I’m surprised you’re not dead yet with your disease.
Nika: We need to go ahead and get back.
Kiera: Basically it’s not about Arden’s death per se. It’s about him killing him. It’s about how long his yángjù is.
Rina: From where I’m standing, I’d say it’s about five centimeters.
Kiera: He does realize if Arden dies on our ship, cuz somebody interfered, he doesn’t have anything to kill.
Nika: Oh, I already laid that out for him.

She recounts the conversation for Kiera and Rina as they walk back to the Gift. How she flat out told von Braun his Second has poisoned Arden. She also tells them of Khan’s offer to decouple and take off without fighting the duel. After all, he’d said, it wouldn’t make the stain on Arden any bigger if he cut and ran.

Nika: Depending on how Arden’s doing, we may or may not take the agreement for decoupling for granted.
Kiera: (liking this) If all else fails and they let us decouple, we’ve got the weapons. Sell the beggars out of them. They’re nice.

Arden is not looking very good, meanwhile. His condition is steadily getting worse. Joshua is still watching over him in med bay, looking at the various machines hooked up to his friend for a clue as to what is making him sick. The lights blink, the machines beep and ping, and Joshua deduces from the data that Arden’s symptoms are similar to those caused by any number of neurotoxic metals. Only there’s no trace of the metals required anywhere in him. If Arden’s removed from the source of the neurotoxins, will he improve? There is no way to tell without knowing which metal is involved. Is there something he can do to slow down Arden’s decline?

If there were a way to cleanse his system, like dialysis, it would help. The Gift isn’t designed with this sort of thing in mind, but with Rina and Kiera working together, they might be able to jerry-rig something. Joshua has to wait until the women get back but he resolves to tell them the second they do so. He greets them at the door when they arrive and says to Rina and Kiera together:

Joshua: I could actually use the two of you to put together a dialysis machine. Not to imply that anything is going horribly wrong with Arden …
Kiera: Well, no I figured you were in control because you sent me to the pool.
Joshua: He’s getting worse.
Kiera: Oh no. I am stunned by that.

She’s not really. Nika gives her The Look.

Nika: Kiera.
Joshua: No, he’s bad. He’s … he’s bad. Look, he’s getting worse and all I can judge is that it’s some sort of—most likely—throw in the symptoms of heavy metal poisoning, but without the heavy metal. What I can do is try to slow it down some.
Rina: Did you do a blood test on him?
Kiera: Speaking of blood tests, what’s his red blood cell and his white blood cell count?

Joshua shows them the numbers. They look pretty bad.

Kiera: Rina, do you know how to make medical equipment?
Rina: No, but …
Kiera: Come on down to my container and see what we can pirate together.
Rina: Dialysis. That’s kidneys, right?
Kiera: And blood. Oh my God, please don’t put any weird fluids in this.

And they both start trading ideas back and forth.

Rina: No, no, no. I’m thinking … you’re going to filter stuff out, right?
Kiera: Yeah.
Rina: Reverse osmosis filters. We use them in our water reclamation system. I have spares.
Kiera: What’s the pico … ?

Nika and Joshua leave them to it. Joshua waits until the other two are fully engaged in the problem before turning to Nika.

Joshua: How bad did it go? (off her look) What did you tell him?
Nika: That maybe he should make his Second quit poisoning my doctor.
Joshua: (oh is that all?) Okay.

Nika knows we’re weeks away from Pericles but only about three days from Highgate and the medical facilities there. Before she can tell him anything, Kiera tags Joshua on the shoulder and asks if she can use our reverse osmosis filtration unit for a jerry-rigged dialysis machine and oh, how much whole blood do we have on board, cuz we can’t use plasma for this… And she goes on for several rather technical minutes with Rina adding her bits in.

Joshua: God, I wish we hadn’t—
Nika: I don’t care.
Joshua: I know you don’t but—
Nika: I don’t care.
Joshua: Yes, Captain.
Nika: How long does he have?
Joshua: Days.
Nika: (to Rina and Kiera) You guys go do it. (to Joshua) Did Rina finish her checklist to get us uncoupled?
Joshua: Yes. We’re both finished. We’re ready to leave.
Nika: Fine. We’re uncoupling. We’re going. We’re going back to Highgate.

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Part 2

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