Jeff Kozzi

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from
Pediatrician Wartime

M-Brane Quarterly 2

The lab results waited for her with the adjuvants when Malwella returned to duty for the midday rounds. Still feeling a need to vent the unpleasant circumstances of encountering Krag Teriz again, she had tried reaching Ramel and Zarenk, still to no avail. She looked over the biopsies before seeing any patients. These soldiers had contracted thaunt. Malwella had never seen a case of thaunt. Widespread outbreaks happened on Jada, usually once every three or four generations, but Jadanni migration had not brought the disease to Fritzie. A vaccine warded against it. Without any historical cases in Fritzie’s five thousand year history and no risk to non-Jadans, the preventative was typically only given to doctors such as Malwella and with the routine vaccinations applied to those who would travel between Jadanni worlds. In and of itself, thaunt was not fatal. Only when it interacted with the most common antibiotics did it transmute into the nasty, debilitating affliction Malwella had been treating. Malwella had been prescribing Hiledj, the most common and broadly effective antibiotic on Jadanni biologies.

She called the adjuvants into the office. She did not know whether to stop or increase the doses of Hiledj. Stopping it would do nothing. The mutation of standard thaunt into lethal thaunt could not be stopped. It would prove fatal to all the patients. She could hasten their end by increasing the Hiledj doses. She could make the victims more comfortable, or she could do nothing. Thaunt would not spread to be an epidemic.

She shared her diagnosis with the adjuvants and reported her findings to the hospital administrators and the military liaisons. She answered questions and allayed concerns and issued orders on the basic proper treatment of material that had been exposed to the mutated thaunt. She ordered the immediate discontinuation of Hiledj and prescribed increased painkillers to the twenty-one men who had not yet died. The adjuvants left with relief that they possessed no risk of catching the affliction killing the soldiers Her peers in the hospital and the military disconnected the local communication links with their admiration for her quick and effective diagnosis.

Once alone in the office, she tried calling her husband. Whatever blockage or jamming prevented her private line also prevented connection via the business line. She did not try calling Zarenk or Ramel. She did not make rounds that afternoon.

order "A Pedoatrocoan in Wartime" in M-Brane Science Fiction Quarterly #2