Sarah hated hospitals. Even beautiful, and serene otherworldly hospitals. Being in a hospital meant something was wrong. Something that she couldn’t fix. For someone who knew how to spin people around her fingers and make magic dance to the tune she called, being unable to change something as critical as a life threatening medical condition was galling.
“It was nice of the Telidees to setup a suite for us,” Connie said. She bore scattered patches of the gold paint that served as the Telidee bandages on at least a dozen places on her body. Or a dozen places that Sarah could see. Sarah didn’t want to think of how many other wounds her companion had sustained fighting through an entire prison.
“I’m not sure this is so much a suite as an observation room,” Jen said. She was tinkering with her left arm, installing a new sealant ring Bogoroa, their primary contact with the Physicians Guild, had claimed would be far more comfortable and durable than the Earth tech she’d been using.
“It’s got plentiful sweets and no one’s trying to shoot me at the moment,” Connie said. “I think that qualifies it as a spa in my book.”
“We need to get you out more,” Sarah said. “I know a nice place in Aspen. Chocolate for days there.”
“Sounds delicious,” Connie said. “You know, as long as there’s still an Aspen left by the time we get back.”
“Anna’s handling a couple of other crisis that came up while we were dealing with the Pure Ones and their bio-bombs,” Jen said. “They could probably use our help with those but Charlene’s saying we need to stay here and make sure everything is fully resolved before we worry about heading back.”
“I wonder when we’ll get word on the prisoners?” Sarah asked.
The Telidees Physicians’ Guild were miracle workers. That wasn’t surprising. Many doctors were, and Sarah herself could work miracles by some definitions of the term. Healing though was an endlessly deep art and one Sarah had never been able to manage more than the raw basics of in terms of spell casting.
Mystical healing was only one tool in the Telidees arsenal though. They didn’t stop at finding a cure for the conditions they encountered. A spell to cure the common cold was amusing in their view, but what they really desired was a complete understanding of the virus, including its full lifestyle, it impact on the host and the host’s overall population and, of course, every possible method of destroying it, including every variation the virus could mutate into. If science offered an answer in one world, they would find it. If in another world training and meditation could promote increased health, they would dedicate lifetimes to understanding the mechanisms for how that worked.
The Telidees weren’t uniformly focused on medicine of course. No species could be. They had plenty of artists, and construction works, and farmers, just as most other advanced species did. Their amazing medical advances weren’t in spite of those other professions though, but rather driven by them. Some medical researchers stayed in pristine labs working on ideas that needed that sort of isolation and focus. Others tended the soil on farms to discover exactly what influenced a herd animals health and longevity, while others traveled with diplomats to encounter new worlds and new civilizations and learn about things they’d never thought to question before.
Thanks to thousands of generations to develop in maturity and wisdom, the Telidees commonly understood that there was no one right path, or one more prestigious calling. What you did mattered, and if helped someone else, it mattered even more.
Those generations were the foundation of the Telidees miracles. Their world was an old one, and home to so many cultures and peoples that no one even tried to keep count. Age hadn’t directly given the Telidees their miraculous advances. It had been the work and passion that was invested in improving their world for each other and the generations to come that allowed the Telidees to advance as far as they had.
Age, they said, had simply been the reward for finding paths past the conflicts that had held them back when they were a younger and more isolated world. The miracles had grown along with that age, as each generation added to the one before it, legacies building on top of legacies instead of being torn apart by old hatreds or forgotten by closed minds.
Despite all that though, Sarah knew there were still limits to their powers. They couldn’t cure every malady, or heal everyone who was sick. Some people were simply too far away, while others were afflicted with conditions for which no cure had been found. Connie had solved the first problem by bringing the people who’d been converted to bio-bombs to the Physicians directly, but it was still an open question of whether the process that had turned the prisoners into living weapons could be reversed.
“I could go check on them,” Sarah said, addressing the question of the prisoner’s current state without speaking to directly to anyone in the room. She knew it wasn’t the right approach to take to convince Connie or Jen to be onboard with her venturing away from the room Bogoroa had escorted them to.
“Probably better to wait for them to come to us, don’t you think?” Jen asked, glancing up from her tinkering to meet Sarah’s gaze.
Jen wasn’t wrong. Sarah knew that. She could recognize an isolation chamber when she saw one. Even if it was nicely appointed and stocked with tasty treats.
Intellectually she could see the value of it too. Jen, Connie, and Sarah were among the first Earthlings to be permitted onto Telidee. The chance that they carried biological contagions which were new to the biosphere was a near certainty. The chance that the biosphere of Telidee carried pathogens which human bodies hadn’t encountered before was also a near certainty.
“They didn’t lock us in here did they?” Connie asked.
“No, but that may be as much an experiments as anything else,” Sarah said.
“Experiment?” Connie asked, pausing as she sipped on one of the fruity beverages that had been left for them.
“We were a bit of curiosity when we arrived,” Jen said. “Telidee is still fairly remote from Earth so they haven’t sent any expeditions to our world yet.”
“How did you know about them to come here then?” Connie asked. “I know you’d mentioned have a number of leads but these folks sound like they would have been the top of the list.”
“They would have been if they’d been any more than a myth,” Sarah said. “The cycles of the realms is, well, eccentric would be a gentle description. The only report I had of them was a third hand account of a lost traveler who saved an entire world with unbelievable medical acumen.”
“Time was short, but our list was shorter,” Jen said. “So we went with a high risk option and Sarah managed to make it pay off.”
“Getting here was the tricky part,” Sarah said. “We were lucky that Bogoroa and the rest of the staff are genuinely kind people. With the time we had left I don’t know that we could have talked many other people into providing the kind of help we needed, even if they were as capable of it as the Telidees are.
“So what experiment do you think they’re running on us?” Connie asked.
“Several probably,” Sarah said, and stopped pacing. She hadn’t been fully aware that she’d been pacing but in her defense, it had been a very long day. “First, they’re certainly evaluating what our microbiology is like. From what our breath contains, to how eating different foods affects us, to the biome that lives on our skin and that we leave behind when we touch things.”
“So, War of the Worlds kind of stuff?” Connie asked.
“Not quite,” Sarah said. “If we were going to pose a danger to them, they would have met us in their equivalent of a fully body bio suit. People who deal with plagues are generally pretty reliable about that.”
“We are,” Bogoroa said, entering the room silently through the door behind Sarah. “Though, in the interest of open communications, I should explain that we have had our standard biologic and etheric isolation fields in place since you arrived.”
“I’m glad to hear that,” Jen said. “The last thing we wanted to do was pose a risk to you.”
“Risks gladly accepted are the fire of life,” Bogoroa said. “I should note as well that you have enjoyed the protection individual of the isolation fields since you arrived as well. We would have spoken of this sooner, but in the case of an emergency safety of all parties concerned is our primary concern.”
“Speaking of the emergency,” Connie said. “Can you tell us how our new friends are doing?”
“We have moved them successfully to timelock chambers,” Bogoroa said. “Those are delicate to configure and it took some work to adjust the for the alien anatomy but we have achieved proper suspension across the board.”
“Timelock? So they’re basically frozen then?” Connie asked.
“It’s similar,” Bogoroa said. “We considered cyro-freezing them at first, since it’s a simpler procedure to administer and reverse, but even from our early testing it was clear that the weaponization which was performed on them held triggers for that sort of the attempt to disarm them.”
“They’re not literally stuck in one moment of time though are they?” Sarah asked. Her knowledge of time magic was slightly deeper than with medical magics, even though it mostly boiled down to ‘don’t fool with time, magically or scientifically, you can break a lot of stuff’.
“No. Far too easy to lose patients forever like that, and it’s impossible to observe them,” Bogoroa said. “This timelock is essentially skipping them forward from one moment to the next, so they’re still a part of our flow of time, but they’re only present in moments when no changes in their state are occurring. That’s not exactly accurate, but I would need to call in a specialist to give you the full details on the procedure.”
“That’s ok,” Jen said. “I think the critical thing is that they’re out of immediate danger.”
“Yes,” Bogoroa said. “They will undergo no further weaponization, nor will the triggers which exist within them be able to arm themselves. The problem is, they remain a danger to themselves and others.”
“Can you fix that?” Connie asked. “Pynii and Horold and the others were so brave to manage even getting here in the first place.”
“That is where this becomes complicated,” Bogoroa said.
“If you attempt a procedure on them while they’re under the timelock, the procedure won’t be able to make any changes to them either will it?” Sarah asked, seeing the most obvious problem.
“That is one complication, yes,” Bogoroa said “Not an unforeseen one though. We can work out a protocol to follow that will keep us ahead of any weaponization effects, given time to study them.”
“Is there a risk in studying them?” Connie asked. “Could whatever plague they have escape the timelock?”
“No that’s not a worry,” Bogoroa said. “The plague, as you call it, is just as locked down as the patients are. That was one of the delays in declaration the procedure stable. We had to make sure that all of the sapients affected by the timelock were properly synched to it. If we’d missed any then the stress of temporal shearing could have ripped them apart on a subatomic level.”
“All of the sapients?” Jen asked. “Were there more prisoners than you expected?”
“In a manner of speaking, yes,” Bogoroa said. “The weaponization work that was done on them created a most unique pathogen you see. The life forms being produced inside our primary patients are not typical microbes.”
“What are they?” Sarah asked, her imagination seething with all of the phantom horrors people found methods of creating.
“They are miniaturized people,” Bogoroa said. “Humanoids, such as you or I, but reduced to microscopic scale. It is part of what makes them so deadly, and so capable of overcoming counter measures which are thrown at them. That is the true complication we face. We can save our primary patients, but the clearest method of doing so involves the genocide of an entire separate species. So. What would you have us do?”