Nariminia and Lerupta stared at Natha, speechless for a moment. Lerupta was the first to break the silence, raising a vine. "Ummm, a few questions, Doctor Drinadlu,", xe said to the Elder Affini. Once she nodded, xe continued. “Well…ummmm….I mean…Not to disbelieve you, but CAN you even revive a sophont that’s been frozen? And for this long? And once she’s revived, how are you going to keep her alive in light of her injuries? And how are you going to repair them? Or will you simply digitize her and place her in a robotic body?” Each question was accompanied by the raising of a vine, and then xe thought, and asked the last. “And what forms would even get filled out for such a venture?”
Natha blinked her eyes in sequence as she considered rapidly. “Well, that’s a great question. I won’t know until I try, to be honest. As for keeping her alive, Lerupta, I'm an Affini veterinarian. I could keep a cardboard box alive if I needed to,”, she said with a grin. Then the grin disappeared as she considered the next question. “I don’t know the best way of repairing her injuries. The issue would be what happened before she was frozen, whether attempts to repair them were already made. I’d need to remove the ice and examine her first to see. As for digitizing her, well….right now she’s almost five degrees Kelvin, so there’s no neurological activity at all. I’d have to actually revive her in order to have neurological function return so that we could digitize her. Right now her brain is so cold that even the chemical reactions that create the electricity in it have stopped.”
Natha thought for a moment, the eyes in her cheek scrunched up as she absently chewed on a flower. “I mean….I’d have to file out an Intent to Domesticate, an Intent to File for Wardship, a Need for Necessary Medical Procedures, A Need for Experimental Procedures that are Life Saving, just to name a few,””, she said, thinking. “Athirari?”, she said, looking up.
“Yes, Doctor?”, the AI asked as an optical sensor descended from the ceiling and fixed itself upon Natha.
“Begin drafting up the relevant forms, I’ll fill them out later. I’m going to need some equipment, and..and….”, she sighed. Massaging her temples, she frowned. “I’m going to have to talk to the Board about this. Uuughhh…fine. I’ll talk to them.”
Nariminia stared at her. “You’re serious? You think that you can bring her back and help her? After all this time?” He wasn’t so sure about this, but what Affini wouldn’t move the heavens to help a sophont in need? And it seemed that the doctor had found one that needed her brand of knowledge.
“Well, based on the data that I’ve seen, it…well, I’ll need to do some more experiments. I don’t know how the additive interacted with the degree of freezing that Kristin has endured this long. Something like that was meant to prevent ice crystals from forming, but I don’t think it was meant to deal with a temperature of two Kelvins. Last thing I want to do is thaw her out and pop every cell she owns with expanding water molecules.” Natha looked back at the ice, and chewed on another flower, deep in thought. “Athirari, see if we can drill to get core samples of just the ice slurry without damaging the matrix or hurting Kristin. If not, take a gentle shaving two nanometers thick. Also, the additive should react to 2-3-7-betaisodocanheroisopropryl-3-serdensilicate if we apply a thin layer and fluoresce it at three hundred nanometers. Compile three liters of the stuff, we’re going to need it. And….and…”, she blinked. “Leave the lights on. I don’t want her to be in the dark anymore. wait…”
She tapped her fingers on her chin. “Athirari, compile some of those electric candles. The ones with the flickering light, in the normal wavelength for Terran eyes. Spread them every four meters or so, let them flicker in an asynchronous pattern.”
“Doctor, you don’t think that candlelight will…I mean, you said that she was badly burned, right? So won’t this be upsetting?”, Lerupta asked, xer face concerned.
“Sadly, it…it wouldn’t matter. The medical reports said that her eyes were destroyed in the fire. Completely and utterly, from some accelerant. Either way, it’s not good. Look, Lerupta, I KNOW she can’t feel anything, and that her tissue can’t REALLY be hurt by the light,””, she said,. “There is no neurological activity going on in there. It’s more…I don’t know. I feel bad, terrible even, for her. That she was trying to do the right thing and she was subjected to this. This is… The light is more for me, more than anything. To help soothe me, and help me work, but also so that I know that even if she can’t see it, she’s not in the dark anymore.” She took a deep breath, and shooed them out. “Now go on, I’m sure you all have things to do. I have a lot of work to do, and meetings to have. I’ll be in touch.”
Once she was finally alone, she looked around and collapsed into a pile of vines. “Alright…” Making a list, she began to write the things that she’d need as Athirari began to photograph, x-ray, and run an ultrasound probe over the ice. The compiler in the corner dinged, and Athirari moved over, grabbing the “candles” and setting them up. The harsher lighting began to dim as the “candles” took over, creating an ambiance that was cozy and calming. She began to read Aurrus-Na’tezia’s notes again. And then again. Sighing as she compiled some nutrient slurry and mixed it into some Terran coffee, she absently drank as she began to dictate notes of her own. Then she did the truly hard thing.
Opening up the message app, she composed a message to the The Nyrinian Institute of Xenobiological Care and Veterinary Medicine, the Affini office of Veterinary Care. The Board that let one call themselves Doctor, the ones that certified all Affini in veterinary medicine. Other sophonts too, if they wanted to heal their fellows. The Board scared her. Trying to figure out how to word it, she gave up, and just settled for what she knew. It didn’t take her long, and she sent it. And as expected, some four minutes after she sent it, she received a response.
“Dear Dr. Drinadlu,
Congratulations on what is a most exciting find!!! We here at the Institute are excited for you and for this find. Ms. Drigorani is quite the lucky sophont to end up in your vines, and we are sure that your care will be exemplary. We know that you’re going to do your utmost to help this sophont, and so we are putting our full trust, faith, and resources behind you. There is a Dr. Mankuriania, Twenty Fifth Bloom, who is on board with you. He has quite the wealth of knowledge, and we’ve taken the liberty of messaging him so that he can be of assistance to you.”
“Should it be determined that you can revive Miss Drigorani, we would like to be notified of the situation, and all the relevant data sent to us. We don’t need to tell you that this is a ground-breaking and momentous case, and we have absolutely nothing but the utmost faith in you.”
“Please keep us notified of all developments, and we hope to see Ms. Drigorani experience the best of outcomes.”
Nethu Xar’st’kle, Forty-First Bloom, It/Its, Directrix of The Nyrinian Institute of Xenobiological Care and Veterinary Medicine, Certified Surgeon, Expert Chef
Natha breathed out a sigh of relief. Not only did they have faith in her, they weren’t going to steal this case from her. AND they were giving her help in the most important form, that of advice and experience. She looked up at the picture of a smiling Kristin, holding what looked like a drink of some kind. An oddly interesting glowing green, she was smiling out at the camera, completely unaware of what Fate had in store. “I’m going to help you, I promise,””, she swore to the Terran. Then she got to work.
Later that morning, Nariminia stood in front of the Captain. Lerupta was sitting at xer station, but they were clearly listening as the Captain got the details of what they had discovered. "I see,”", they said. "I think I would like to see this for myself. The details break my heart, but if she can revive and help this sophont, Doctor Drinadlu can give her a chance at a far better life than what she knew." The Captain got up, and nodded to Naminia. "You have the conn, Nariminia. Call me if you need me." The Captain had no concerns, since Nariminia had shown themselves to be a bloom of thought and good judgment. Who knew, perhaps one day they'd be voted in as Captain, they mused, as they boarded the tram, nodding and smiling to the Affini there. It was going to be a bit of a short trip, since the Captains destination was in another of the hab rings. Well, good thing their floret was along for the ride, as the Captain gently caressed the slumbering sophont sleeping soundly within their little rib-nest. “Riblets,””, they called it, to everyone's amusement.
Natha was in the middle of spraying the ice with the compound she'd compiled when there was another knock. Athirari turned to her. "Doctor, I think you need to answer the door." To which Natha merely yelled, "It's open!!!!" The sound of footsteps took Nathas attention away, and she looked up in irritation, which faded when she saw the Captain standing there, looking around. "Oh!! I'm so sorry!!! I didn't know it was you, Captain."
They chuckled, and waved a few vines. "That's ok, Doctor. You were busy. Can I ask you what you were doing?"
“Oh. so this compound, 2-3-7-betaisodocanheroisopropryl-3-serdensilicate, will fluoresce at a specific wavelength when added to a specific chemical that was a cell protectant used in the freezing process. I’m trying to determine how much of it was added to the slurry and if Kristin herself will fluoresce. Which she should. And it’s good, you’re just in time. Here, step back a bit. Athirari, all the lights off, and then begin to fluoresce at two hundred and seventy five nanometers while recording depth, intensity, and luminosity of any reactions.” All the lights, including the candles, shut off, leaving the two Affini and the ice-encased Terran in darkness.
“Beginning sequence,””, the AI said, and there was a sound of some mechanical whirring. There was the faintest hint of a glow from the direction of the ice, but otherwise nothing happened.
“Increase wavelength to two hundred and eighty seven, and begin again,””, Natha said, and the glow increased slightly. She sighed. “Athirari, let’s go to three hundred.”
“Yes, Doctor,””, Athirari said, and began to shine the ultraviolet light at the ice. Natha and the Captain were almost blinded as the ice blazed pink-purple, shimmering in waves as the Affini tech drained the heat from even such a miniscule amount of light. Natha made a small sound of pain as her eyes struggled to adjust, and then Athirari beeped. The light died down, and Natha had the lights come on. Reviewing the data, Natha nodded. "It seems that the Doctor may have gone overboard in the best way. Based on this, it looks like the additive was not only injected into Kristin, as was indicated by his notes, but ALSO mixed in the Pykrete. And a lot of it, which….hold on,”", and she ran to the opposite wall.
As she got close, it shimmered and a vine began to write on the wall, leaving a trail of purple-black light. In essence, turning the wall into a giant blackboard. Chemical formula followed equations and another vine began to draw some kind of graph. Natha was muttering something about "heat dispersion" and "oxygen absorption" as she stepped back, looking at it. Brow furrowed, she nodded to herself. "This, Captain, explains it. The doctor didn't just inject her or bathe her in the cryonic preservative. He mixed a great deal of it into the slurry, lowering its freezing point by about sixty degrees, and then covered it in liquid helium. Flash freezing the slurry and Kristin, but the cryonic prevented ice crystals from forming. It prevented the ice from crystallization,”", she said. "Keeping the slurry a supercooled liquid for that long actually was…...well, it was a stroke of genius, as accidental as it was. It provided the perfect vehicle for the freezing process."
"Well, Doctor, sounds like you've figured out the who, how and why of how Miss Drigorani was frozen. Have you determined if you can revive her successfully?", the Captain asked.
"I think I can. Or at least I'm going to consult with another doctor on board, but if everything is as I hope, then yes. I can,”", Natha said, confident.
"Well then, I'll let you get to it, Doctor. Please, don't hesitate to reach out to me or anyone else. It goes without saying that the resources of the Compact are yours if you need them." The Captain checked their wristwatch, a piece their floret had given them as a Claiming Day gift. "I'll need to be home soon. My floret, Laila, is making dinner tonight, and I'd rather try to change the path of a comet with my bare vines than keep her up past her bedtime. Contact me if you need anything at all,”", they said, and then left.
Natha waved goodbye, watching the Captain leave, and then she sagged down into a chair. Well… this was certainly a circle of events. She massaged her core for a moment, and then pulled up her message app.
<Aclimingvyn> Hi, Dr. Mankuriania? This is Gloriananatha Drinadlu, Eighth Bloom.
<I'mtheDoctor> Hello there!!! I've been expecting your call!! This is exciting!! If it's easier for you, I can come over and see your new patient.
<Aclimingvyn> That would be excellent, yes. Do you have the address of my lab?
<I'mtheDoctor> Yes. The Institute sent it to me with the relevant data as well. I’m so very excited!! Anyways, I’m on my way over. I’ll be there in an hour or so.
<Aclimingvyn> I look forward to it.
She brewed a pot of coffee and drank it as she waited, going over the doctor's notes again, trying to correlate it with the data that Athirari had obtained. She was busy writing another equation when there was a knock on the door. “It’s open!!”, she yelled, and then another Affini came in. “Ahhh, Doctor Mankurianiania?”, she said, weaving some vines towards him in the traditional Affini greeting. Their vines twined, and the other Affini smiled, flowers of pink and red with black and yellow cores swayed as he moved.
“Please, call me Doc. Everyone else does, and after being a vet for the last six blooms, it’s become something I’m used to. Even my floret sometimes calls me that,””, he said with a smile. He looked around, smiling. “And a fine lab you have. Oh!! Is that your lab assistant?”
Athirari descended, an optical sensor and a manipulator extended to greet the Affini. “Yes. I am Athirari, Doctor, and it is a pleasure to make your acquaintance. I look forward to gaining the insight that I’m quite certain you possess.”
Natha smiled, and then waved towards the wall. Data began to stream slowly past, a large rotating 3d representation of the block and the Terran inside it slowly rotating towards the right side. Athirari had done a full 3d scan and it appeared that the Terran was curled up in a ball, and it was obvious that there were massive injuries. But that could all be addressed in time. “I think that our best approach would be to just take this one step at a time,””, she said, and Doc nodded.
“Smart, deal with one thing, and then the next. “So…what is our first step?”
“Well, thanks to the slurry and near-absolute Zero temperatures that she was subjected to, which Pykrete was never meant for, I predict that Kristin’s flesh is about as brittle and crystalline as the slurry that she was frozen in. Which means that if we do this wrong, we could shatter her into a million pieces, as easily as a horse shatters glass by screaming.”