Monday, February 2, 2009


Strange that he should have never been there before, he has spent, after all, two seasons in this city. Nonetheless, as Dr Tom Chambers immerged onto the first terrace of Peace River he realised that he too was a subject of this corporate social experiment gone wrong.

‘Castes!’ He cursed to himself. Far from being a proletarian, to which Ben Cantor would certainly attest, Dr Chambers simply didn’t see himself as bellow anyone else and in that thought he found some empathy for the worker caste. As he subjected himself to a search and interrogation by the POC at the threshold of first terrace, this Mekong national was filled with contempt for the arrogance which saw him as a second class citizen or worse, as second class human being. He would take some more personal pleasure in hurting this system now, he realised that, but he pushed his personal feelings back and concentrated on his objectives, also personal, but of an entirely different nature. He found his way to the building he was looking for; he was soon waiting in a reception area of the administration office.

“Dr Chambers”, the smiling young man at the desk cooed, “Dr Pemberly is free to see you now.”

The Chief of bio-endocrinology at Peace River’s First Hospital was pleasant enough; at least he hid his condescension well, even when he knew that the much younger Doctor wasn’t sufficiently qualified to grasp the finer technical points of the discussion. Dr Pemberly suggested some authoritative papers to research; a few theories on holistic approaches but in spite of his experience, the conversation quickly lead to an inescapable conclusion. The expression on Tom’s face spoke eloquently to his disappointment.

“I’m sorry Dr Chambers, I really wish I could help more, but M.D.A. is simply not something I am well versed in the treatment of, the genetic technology to pre-empt it has been widely available for over two centuries and little research has been funded in the post natal treatment of it. As far as I know it is lethal and irreversible.” Dr Pemberly was speaking more openly, but Tom had retreated inside and hadn’t noted the change in candour.

“Not widely available enough indeed! And as for research grants, well who really cares do they Doctor?”

Tom was struggling to be civil, but failing in spite of his colleagues attempt to be useful.

“I’m sorry if I seem ungrateful for you assistance, please be sure I will mention this kindness to Professor Sun.”

Tom concluded on a more conciliatory tone and started opening the office door.

“Dr Chambers…a moment if you would?” Tom turned around, his host was visibly uncomfortable and nervously wringing his hands as he made a motion for Tom to come back. Tom had not notice when this change is disposition had occurred but felt compelled to sit back down in response.

“I am not entirely without sympathy for this condition Doctor” started Dr Pemberly somewhat short of breath and avoiding eye contact. “May I rely on your discretion?”

Tom searched the mature physician’s eyes and saw deep emotion then nodded in silent acquiescence. Dr Permberly closed his eyes and let out a heavy sigh, collecting his courage before leaning forward conspiratorially.

“In the prospects there is a clinic, it sees cases of M.D.A. we don’t discuss it, there is simply no reason for that disease to exist here but there you have it, it does and a number of us are not proud of the political realities that are to blame. The fact is we simply cannot discuss it, nor can we do much to help without being barred from practice in PR. Some of my colleagues have been braver than me though, I know of some who have decided to volunteer down there.”

Tom appreciated the seditious nature of his colleague’s statements; he also was disgusted by it, remembering what Carmichael had said about the effect of casts on treatment of Peaceriverans.

“I know they have made no progress as such, but they have been trying to contact the unlikeliest of people in order to make a breakthrough. Tell me Dr Chambers, did you serve?”

Dr Pemberly`s voice had dwindled to a near whisper. His features had lost all the clinical implacability exhibited just moments before. Once again Tom nodded quietly and Dr Pemberly squinted a moment, as if peering into Tom eyes to see his soul.

“I see, well then you know that there is on this planet one force that has done extensive bioengineering research, if there is any hope for making progress, it lies out there.”

The treason went well beyond criticizing the injustices of the caste system; this man was talking about collaborating with the CEF. If you use the verb collaborate with a scientist it evokes the noble pursuit of research with a colleague, to a Badlander, it means working with keffers, here it meant both.

“Thank you once again for your time and your…insight Dr Pemberly, it has been enlightening to confer with you sir.”

Tom meant every word. He had to acknowledge that Dr Pemberly made a reasonable assessment of who had the technological expertise to attain Tom’s goals. Could there be a team of Isabelas out there that could help? Could they expand their knowledge beyond repairing purple weapons and be used to help people?

As Tom walked the streets he was deep in thought. It might take him some time to reconcile murdering some keffers while simultaneously asking the help of others.


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