From the personal journal of Oksana Arkadyevna Vernadskaya, M.D., translated from Russian
Wednesday, 13 Sep 2519
Mid Bulk Transport Space Otter
En route to Greenleaf
0023hrs, ship’s time
I took one last turn around med bay, tidying up the few loose items before gratefully quitting it for my quarters. I’d delivered the faked medical records for Xiu to Captain Stone a little over an hour ago and though I believed he was justified in his request, it stil left me feeling the need to bathe afterward.
The first Oath of medicine: Do No Harm. Close on the first was the implicit second: The Patient Over All. What I’d done today was motivated by the second but might negate the first. I had no guarantee that I had not just consigned Xiu to a life on the run, divorced from the medical care she would otherwise have and therefore worsening her condition, but neither could I entirely discount the fact that her damage had come from deliberate actions by doctors and scientists who had turned their backs on their Oath. I was proud to be a doctor yet ashamed that I had to include such criminals in my company. Quite frankly, it made me ill.
Make no mistake, they were criminals of the highest, most heinous order and in so being, made me guilty by association. I hadn’t missed Xiu’s uneasiness when she was with me. Doctors had hurt her in the past. I was a doctor. Ergo, I would hurt her in the present. Nothing I could do or say to her in that moment would have eased her fears, so I modulated my methods and carried on. Only time will convince her I meant her nothing but good will and as matters stood, I did not know how much time we would have.
That Xiu was the object of study was obvious. To what means, for what ends, remained to be seen but given what I’d been able to glean from Stone’s account, I could only conclude that whatever the poor woman was caught in, it was not known by the general public. That suggested clandestine motives, experimental procedures, and people it would be dangerous to cross, should word of their activities get out.
Xiu escaped them. They would want her back, if only to silence her and keep their activities secret. That made her a liability to them and depending on their determination to keep their secret she would be a danger to all she encountered. With the repercussions of the Miranda Wave still ongoing, I was convinced that there would be parties who would deem it imperative that any further ammunition against the Alliance be suppressed or eliminated … even if it meant killing an innocent girl and the crew she flew with. I could fake her records, but short of changing her face and her retina patterns, any halfway decent bio-recognition scanner would identify her the second she came near it. Space Otter might as well have a big red target painted on her hull, for all the good her faked records would do us.
I could have walked aboard any ship in the Verse and worked for my passage off Kaleidoscope without such dire complications. Yet of all those possible ships, I had to walk onto this one. If asked, I wouldn’t describe myself as a religious person but in my time I’d survived far too much to discount a higher power altogether. Perhaps it was Kismet or the Universe or the Hand of God that led me to this ship, but buy whatever name one would call it, it was a summons I could not ignore.
Once I discovered Xiu’s plight, I could no more turn my back on her than I could a dying man in need of succor. Come hell or high water, I would stand with her until I either cured her of her maladies or brought her justice for the wrongs done to her. Like a seed once planted, the idea grew into a conviction and once accepted, impossible to abandon.
So ran my thoughts as I gained my quarters and stripped my way to my shower. I got the water running good and hot and washed the day off me. I wished I could rid myself of my misgivings as well. Sleep was long in coming and I do not know when it finally overtook me.