While Bashoon was beamed down to the estate, Marshii arrived at the monastery to speak with Barath. She found out that he was alone in the new chapel and stormed into it. Barath got up from his prayer’s position at the statue of Clompofenta and Bolmola, the respective God and Goddess of Healing. “Doctor Borontho,” he said. “How may I help you? Do you require guidance from our patron Divine Ones?”
“I require you behind bars!” hissed Marshii. “I was one of the people Norvorok brought into the Womb!” Barath sighed.
“I really wish you didn’t admit that,” he muttered.
“You have a lot of gall,” snarled Marshii, “praying to Clompofenta and Bolmola when you’ve long broken your oath. You commit a series of atrocities against those people trapped in the Womb. Thousands of Chimeras die each day on your surgical tables.”
“That’s absurd,” countered Barath. “Besides, even if Realmfleet believed you, they’re our creation. They’re not alive by our standards. They’re just flesh as I have told Norvorok before he was excommunicated.”
“Those people down there are alive!” argued Marshii. “Your research, despite all its brilliance, is based on inflicting pain onto others! You infect these people! Expose them to deadly chemicals! Mutilate their living bodies! Then you alter the memories of the lucky ones and release them like animals to the wild! And you refuse to acknowledge that they have built a civilization! And yet, we reap the benefits of those experiments! Medically, ethically, it’s wrong!”
“So what do you propose to do?” asked Barath as he folded his arms, his views unchanged. Marshii drew in a breath before answering.
“The Realmfleet Medical Board has been notified,” she answered. “Even if they say no, Belnki’s going to order the immediate closure of this place.”
“Closure?!” yelped Barath. “What about our patients?!”
“A new hospital is being constructed,” explained Marshii. “All patients will be transferred there as well as the Chimeras trapped down there! We’re going to use a more humane method of research!”
“No offense,” countered Barath, “but the doctors there will have to look over OUR methods to start their own.”
“…I realize that,” conceded Marshii.
“You’re a physician,” continued Barath. “You know that there’s always a price to pay for the advancement of medical science.”
“Sometimes that price is too high to pay!” countered Marshii. “Torture is ALWAYS too high to pay!”
“Your description of our methods, not mine,” argued Barath. “You were there when the Hardfin Virus was cured. So, these experiments we’ve conducted, logically, helped us devise a treatment. Imagine how many lives would have been lost if we hadn’t eliminated this disease now!”
“That doesn’t justify using people as lab rats!” countered Marshii.
“As was explained since day one of your training,” said Barath, “during its founding, the Order had to improvise. We had to make do with the resources we had.”
“And the ethical considerations meant nothing then?!” asked Marshii. “Do they mean nothing now?!”
“Our Founders learned,” explained Barath, “that ethics, in the grand scheme of things, are arbitrary. How do you suppose your database was developed, hm? My Ones, half of the medical knowledge that you use on a daily basis came through experiments on lower animals!”
“Not life-forms of OUR caliber!” countered Marshii. “And those Chimeras in the Womb ARE life-forms of our caliber!”
“It’s convenient to call animals ‘people’,” sighed Barath, “when they look similar to us, isn’t it?”
“This is the Third Age of Unity, Barath!” snarled Marshii. “Your Pre-union barbarism died long before I was born! At least, it SHOULD have!”
“What does it matter how long ago the research was conducted?” asked Barath. “What matters is that we can use it to help our patients today!” Marshii’s communicator beeped. She looked at her inbox to see an order from the Realmfleet Medical Board. She read it to herself, then turned to Barath.
“It looks like the debate has been taken out of our hands,” she responded. She then fully opened her communicator and a holographic screen with text appeared. She read the text aloud. “‘It is the judgment of the Realmfleet Medical Board and Realmfleet Supreme Admiral Aldarval that the Vorkath Monastic Hospital is to be closed, its research halted and seized, and all patients transferred to Realmfleet Medical Central until the proposed Crossgene Hospital is constructed. In light of recent evidence, Realmfleet cannot, in good conscience, continue funding such research that deliberately ignores Sentience Clause 4, Subsection A, Paragraph III, ‘Any and all artificial life-forms that display the same abilities as life-forms that occurred via natural means shall have all rights granted unto them, including the right of decency.’ We hope and pray that the doctors that read this will understand why we recommend the immediate arrest of all staff members in the Monastery.’” Another message arrived. Marshii read it to herself. “In all honesty, I was waiting for that warrant,” she explained. She then drew out a pair of handcuffs. “That’s why, in good conscience, I brought these.”
“‘In good conscience’?!” hissed Barath. “What about the well-being of the Endeavor’s crew? Doctors are confronted by new forms of illness every day, many of them fatal! You need us, you need ME! Arrest us, and you violate the first oath you took as a physician, an oath you took in THEIR presence!” He pointed to the statue of Clompofenta and Bolmola to emphasize his point. “I believe it says, ‘In thy presence, Oh Divine Ones of Healing, I swear to thee that I will do no harm in my duties!’”
“You have no right to quote me that oath, after what YOU did in their name!” snarled Marshii. “As an Officer of Realmfleet…!”
“You can arrest me,” interrupted Barath, “but you can’t deny the fact that you’ve already benefited from our research!” He paused for effect. “Where was your conscience when Laverda was dying in the Kurontar Sea? Ethics? Morality? Conscience? Funny how they all go out the window whenever we want something. Are you and I really so different?”
“Yes,” declared Marshii as she slapped the cuffs onto his wrists. “Because, unlike you, I consider all variables before treating people and conducting potentially harmful research on a life-form. You’re being charged with torture and exploitation of an entire species. As an Officer of Realmfleet, I’m placing you under arrest. This way.” She then led him out of the Chapel and into the waiting arms of the Vorkath Police so he could be taken into custody until Aldarval arrived. Arsha approached her.
“Rooshee’s just been taken into custody,” she said. “This whole affair is going to trial. Unfortunately, Realmfleet believed that ALL members should be arrested, that included Norvorok.”
“The kid’s innocent in this!” protested Marshii.
“I raised such an objection,” explained Arsha. “However, he offered no resistance while being arrested, saying, and I quote, ‘I may not have cut any Chimeras in the Womb open, but I still delivered the results to the respective Monks. I have aided in evil and must seek forgiveness somehow. I will not argue with Realmfleet.’”
“Stupid kid!” muttered Marshii. “Throwing away his entire livelihood like that!”
“It was his choice,” countered Arsha. “He feels guilty and wants to atone.”
“I guess that’s his choice,” sighed Marshii. “I can only hope the Judicial Branch can grant him mercy.”
“I think they will,” replied Arsha. “Belnki’s been pushing for the lightest sentence possible with him.”
“So, he DOES have support, good,” sighed Marshii. “Captain, if you don’t mind, this whole affair’s shaken me. I need to see Thengo.”
“All right,” said Arsha as she stepped aside. Marshii then made her way to the Endeavor and entered it.
“Computer, locate Counselor Lortora,” she commanded.
“Counselor Thengo Lortora,” replied the computer, “is in her quarters.”
“Thank you,” acknowledged Marshii.
“You’re welcome, Doctor,” reciprocated the computer. Marshii made her way to deck 17, Starboard Bow. She approached a room and rang the chime on the door.
“Come in!” cheered a peppy voice. The door opened and Marshii entered to see Thengo touching up the webbing that lined her room, the PINK webbing. Thengo then caught sight of Marshii. “Doctor!” she cheered. “Come in! It’s so lovely to see you! I don’t think you’ve ever graced my quarters with your presence!”
“True, this IS my first time in here,” admitted Marshii. She looked around in confusion. “How did you make pink silk? I’ve never known Driders to make colored silk.”
“Special silk dye that we can drink,” explained Thengo. “Non-toxic, otherwise I wouldn’t have pink silk.”
“I see,” murmured Marshii. Thengo then noticed her distraction.
“I can see you came here for another reason,” she observed.
“I need your help,” explained Marshii. “My emotional state is all over the place, and that’s not good for a doctor, especially the…” she then rubbed her eyes, trying to hold back tears in frustration.
“Oh dear!” exclaimed Thengo. “Please, sit down. I’ll make you some tea.”
“Thank you,” mumbled Marshii. As Thengo scuttled off to make some tea, Marshii sat down on a couch, allowing a few tears to come down her face. Thengo came back, allowing the water to boil.
“It’s about this whole business with the Monastery, isn’t it?” guessed Thengo.
“Not just that,” explained Marshii. “Barath and I went to the same classes together. We both took an oath to do no harm! Right in front of Clompofenta and Bolmola’s statue, no less! When I confronted him about the Womb, he insisted he was doing the right thing! He blinded himself to what kind of harm he had wrought!” The kettle then whistled.
“Please, continue,” encouraged Thengo as she went to prepare the tea. Marshii then told her what happened in the Chapel. Thengo came back with a couple of tea cups. Marshii continued as they took their tea. She noticed something about the taste.
“Belsnath Black?” she said.
“You said it was your favorite tea,” explained Thengo.
“I didn’t think a youngin’ like you would remember this old-timer’s favorite tea,” chuckled Marshii.
“I find that familiarity helps people with their emotional state,” said Thengo. “Marshii, correct me if I’m wrong, but, as you spoke, I noticed some self-anger in your voice.”
“You ain’t wrong,” muttered Marshii. “I should have been there more for him. He had a bit of trouble with right and wrong.”
“I don’t think there was anything you could do,” countered Thengo. “I know the phrase isn’t a pleasing one to hear, but it’s the truth. The most wonderful thing about life-forms like us is that we’re all different in terms of mental processes. That can be a blessing and a curse. In this instance, it’s more of the latter. Some people honestly believe that others must be sacrificed for the greater good of society. You and I both know that better than anyone else.” Marshii’s mind flashed to an incident that both she and Thengo were privy to.
“The difference is,” she sighed, “that the guy back then wasn’t in his right head. Barath is mentally stable. And what if what he said is true? Are we really so different?”
“Doubting your own words?” asked Thengo. “That’s not like you.” Marshii was confused. “You said so to Barath,” Thengo explained, “you consider all variables before treating people and conducting potentially harmful research on a life-form. You ARE different from Barath. I don’t think you’re going to go down his path.” Marshii smiled.
“I suppose I needed to hear someone say that and mean it,” she whispered.
“It’s the truth,” explained Thengo. Marshii finished her tea.
“Thanks, Fuzzylegs,” she chuckled.
“Yep, there’s the Marshii we know and love,” snickered Thengo. “If you ever want to talk again, my parlor’s always open.”
“Thank you,” said Marshii. She left the room and the door shut. Thengo grinned.
“Well, what do you know?” she asked herself. “Marshii FINALLY asked for help.”