Episode 15: Drink or Drive

It took Braevel several days to concoct the anti-drug. Or at least he hoped he had done it. In that time the lump on Andross’ head had subsided. The skin-plaster still held the cut closed where he had struck the temporal line of his skull—just off the corner of his eyebrow—on the hard grating of the shuttle bay deck. But Braevel didn’t think it would scar. Although he had heard that some soft skin races preferred prominent scars. No, in this case long term damage had most likely been avoided. He just waited for Crimson before administering the anti-drug.

Braevel hummed and bubbled to himself as he tidied his beakers. In some senses it was ironic, the fragility of these humans to his own. Their soft skin was so susceptible to puncture and tearing. Not at all like the tough scales of the Duklagans. At his scaliest Braevel had even taken a harpoon in the chest at the cost of only a few drops of blood (it was a stupid dare by his fellow Skypher-hunters, and Braevel had to admit alcohol was involved… but still!). And yet, here on an air-ship, a careless turn and Braevel could tear open his water suit and be in danger of suffocating in minutes. He was potentially more fragile than the humans. Ironic, he hummed again.

The infirmary doors rolled open automatically; they were among of the few automated doors of the vessel. (Pressure seals could still lock them closed in case of a hull breach somewhere in the vessel, but engineers had rightly guessed that carrying a sick or injured person through a two-handed, crank-sealed portal was going to be unwieldy.) Braevel turned in his water suit to see Crimson stalk in.

“You got a cure?” she demanded.

“Ah!” Braevel piped triumphantly, lifting a gloved finger, “I believe I do. I had to take several samples of Andross’ blood, to try it. It’s not the cleanest chemical reaction, I suppose you could say, but nothing that will harm him long term, I think. First I had to find a dissolvent for the crystalline itself, very insidious that, and then—”

Crimson held up her cybernetic hand. “You said its safe.”

Braevel halted his report, surprised, “Uh, yes.”

“Do it.”

“Right…” the Duklagan twisted around looking for his phial of anti-drug. Finding it, he selected a syringe and needle and drew 1,000 ml. “No need to be sparing…” he explained and Crimson’s dark-rimmed eyes narrowed at the size of the needle and dose. “Besides, I’ve had to circulate a good pint of plasma into his system to help dilute the foreign element—which I shall call a toxin, since it has no nutritional value—”

Crimson’s dark stare silenced him again. She didn’t seem to care. Carefully Braevel administered the anti-drug. The difficulty was that though the crystals left a residue of slowly reacting molecules, some had already dispersed through the nervous system. There was little anyone could do for most drug highs, even with as many advanced civilizations as there were in the galaxies. Little more than rest and time could help someone down from a ‘high.’ But since the Flyer Crystal ‘goo’ lingered in the system for up to a week, Braevel believed he could neutralize enough of the un-dissolved elements that Andross would have a chance of being back on his feet faster than normal. Plus, with the added benefit of increased blood plasma, and a solid round of vitamins and minerals, the body might just have enough nutrients to carry him through.

“Is it working?” Crimson demanded.

Braevel shrugged, large enough to lift his air-suit’s shoulders. “Should be.”

“When will we know?”

“In less than a week,” the Duklagan shrugged again.

“We arrive at Kaldus Major in five days. I want both my pilots by then.” She paused for a moment to stare at the incapacitated pilot, pinned with tubes to Braevel’s multiple machines. Then she nodded curtly to Braevel and stalked out of the infirmary.




In a few hours Crimson got the summons on the intercom that Andross was awake. That seemed to be good news. But one look at the woozy MiPie and she knew he’d be out of it for several more days. He was cranky at having been woken from his hallucinogenic sleep, and looked a bit puffy.

“Why the… diablo… didn’t let me sleep!” Andross slurred.

“You’re an idiot to get yourself juiced, that’s why,” Crimson scowled. “If we have to do a drug test in the next month I could lose the ship, our commission, and everything.”

Andross whined and clumsily lifted a fat hand, taped with tubes, in front of his face. “Why my hands hurt…?”

Braevel sloshed over to the bed side and bent his visor closer as well. “It appears my solvent has worked, and bonded with the residual crystal molecules in your bloodstream. But it’s expanded them a bit in the process. Sorry about that. I’m running your blood through my dialyser, plus taken steps to ensure there are no clots. The swelling should go down in a few hours.”

Andross groaned. “…Hate this job…”

Crimson grit her teeth, trying not to imagine what was happening in Andross’ body. “Yeah, well, you got us this job, so… Good work.” The job wasn’t finished, but Andross had saved their cover and probably a fire fight in the shuttle bay. If the Illegal Substance Bureau was going to get their man, they’d have Andross to thank for it—even if they couldn’t know.

Andross dropped his hand back to the infirmary bed. “… ‘Wanna… bonus…”

Braevel swiveled and gently took Crimson by her good arm. The cool water-suit felt at once dry and moist at the same time. The medic steered her a few of steps away.

“I’ve done a few more tests,” He said. The intuitive programming on the translator kept his tenor voice low, “And while I think the Flyer Crystals in the bloodstream are neutralized, it’s difficult to say how much has already affected his nervous system. He might be back on his feet soon, but I don’t know how fit he’ll be for duty.”

Crimson didn’t like the sound of that. She tried to look through her own displeased reflection in the Duklagan’s visor to the pleasant fish-monster within. “How unfit?” She asked.

“Oh, you know,” Braevel shrugged, “The usual: drowsiness, light headache, shouldn’t operate heavy machinery…”

Crimson wasn’t amused. “Like a space ship.”

Braevel threw up his hands lightly. “Not if we value our lives,” he chirruped.