The Medical Bay

Living on the Younger Brother Pear is like being the only guest in a hotel you can't leave. The meals are excellent, the service is ever present, the view is spectacular; but there's something about being trapped in a bubble in space that is a little unsettling.

Perhaps it's the endless hum if the air conditioning, or the drone of the reactor cooling system. Maybe it's the knowledge that there's enough power within that reactor to demolish the solar system. It could be that the android servants, while programmed to be friendly and helpful, are the most superficial people Doc has ever met. Worse, he can't fault them for it. Their soulless, artificial personalities shine like a blinking clock on a VCR.

The Host, in particular, never has much to say for himself. He was activated in Seoul in 2213 and was shipped directly to the Younger Brother Pear as it was assembled in space. He was programmed to analyze the ships systems and maintain life support in emergency situations. In 2222, Dr. Ritenrong purchased him and the ship, and upgraded his programming to include maintenance of the reactor core and other technical systems on board. The Host is always prim and proper, but accepts people's faults and is willing to clean up a mess. Doc imagines, though, that somewhere within that metal mind of his he's being deeply sarcastic and secretly revels in his arrogance.

The Cook is, in Doc's opinion, not a bad guy for a robot, but is a little annoying. He's always cheerful, and knows everything there is to know about cooking, baking, and mixing drinks. He's got access to some kind of sports encyclopedia database, and will occasionally spout out an uninteresting piece of trivia with precise timing to break a lull in galley conversation.

After five minutes of silence while Doc enjoys a beer and watching some live feeds from a remote surgery session on Arctura 12, the machine breaks the silence.

"Did you know that, in hockey, Wayne Gretzky holds the world record for scoring 215 points in a season in 1986?" it says, still drying the same glass it had been washing for the last 10 minutes.

"No, I didn't know that," Doc replies. He's still focused on the operation. It is difficult for his visual cortex to even parse what the hell is going on, as many bits of Arcturan anatomy are extremely foreign. The procedure seems to be a total replacement of whatever atmospheric processing organs the thing has. Doc is more interested in the tools, anyway. The surgeon is apparently some kind of brain in a jar working with a multi-armed robot through Q-Net from a planet in the Pegasus system.

Another five minutes pass. "Did you know that soccer is the most played sport in the entire galaxy?"

"That's interesting." Doc is trying to make out whether he's looking at an antenna on the patient's head, or something else entirely. He does not immediately realize the mistake he'd just made.

"Yes, it is. Every inhabited planet has had a version of the game at some point in their evolution. The concept of placing a spherical object into a goal of some kind has always been a source of competition. It reflects the reproductive process and compensates an intelligent species need for direct sexual competition, often times replacing combat. Did you know that the Merkin people of the sector 413 alpha fight wars entirely with a soccer-like game called Jarquin, in which the two or sometimes three teams kick small thermonuclear devices around their low-gravity planet, attempting to- "

Doc interrupts him. "No, I didn't know that. Please, I'm trying to watch this." It's a futile effort, though. The robot is moving too fast for him to really understand what's going on. There's a sort of laser cutting through tissue, a device for suctioning away the black ooze that must be the thing's blood, all in a flurry of activity. The robot injects something somewhere into the patient's anatomy, then swiftly and precisely yanks out what must be its lung or something like that, and replaces it with another, which is much greener.

The subtitles on the screen mentions something about nanobots being fed into its lungs to either repair them, or that they were the cause of his disorder in the first place. The translation is unclear. They do mention that the organ was cloned from cells taken from the patient only half an hour prior to the operation.

Doc had payed a visit to his new office earlier in the day. As the science and medical officer, he has full access to all the drugs and equipment safely locked away in the medical bay. Dr. Ritenrong had granted him security clearance to all decks and compartments, including the emergency weapons locker on the bridge.

The Medical bay is well stocked and easy to use. Each bed has a lifesigns monitor that activates when anyone lays on it. Each also has a plastic quarantine shroud that can be pulled over the patient. This also houses an MRI scanner, X-Rays, and an array of surgical tools which are operated by programming the procedure into the console, and can be controlled in real time via remote control and microscopic cameras. Drugs and other injections can be fed into the robotic syringes from outside the cover by feeding the bottles into a specially designed tap. The quarantine beds can also fold into the walls and can be used for suspended animation

The entire medical bay can also be evacuated of air and flooded with high-energy radiation to completely disinfect it. Safeguards prevent this from happening while anyone is in there, though. Since the walls are lead lined, the medical bay is also the ships solar-storm cellar.

The cabinets contain all the usual pain killers, disinfectants, antibiotics, and other minor medical equipment. There are plenty of medkits and a portable surgical suite which is compact enough to fit in the Jeep. There's also a stock of unlabeled red wine, useful for treating radiation sickness.

His office / lab has some useful tools; a centrifuge, microscopes both optical and electron scanning, some petri dishes and other such tools, and a strange device which looks like a cross between a blender and a microwave. It is labeled "Venture, Inc. Clonomatic."

Some of this stuff will take some studying to use, but Doc is confident that he'll learn it in no time. He decides to study up on medicine as much as possible before teaching Thunderhorse how to fire a gun.

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