Tin Man/Medical Investigation: Alchemy

Part Twenty-Nine
Prompt: Envelope

Natalie had a medical kit open in the lab by the time Connor dragged Miles back inside. He didn't think the tussle had done any lasting damage to the young man, but the cut on his forehead worried him. "You were doing an antibodies test on Azkadellia's blood sample?"

Miles frowned. "I don't remember telling you that."

"Azkadellia told us. Did the sample break in the fight?"

"No, I checked." He winced as Connor dabbed on the disinfectant.

Connor glanced at Natalie who was checking the microscope. She nodded, the sample was fine, and then she started making another one.

The lab door opened admitting DG, Raw, and his ill-at-ease counterpart. "Is Dr. McCabe okay?"

"Just a little addled. We're worried that he picked up the virus."

"The sample didn't get damaged," Miles repeated. "I hit the table after Vandervort hit me in the back of my head, but I didn't hit the microscope."

Raw stepped up to Miles and put a hand on each of the goose-eggs swelling up on it. Miles inhaled sharply and gritted his teeth.

"Speaking of the virus, where are those vials?" Cain's eyes searched the room.

"We put them in the freezer with the dead, since freezing makes viruses go dormant," Connor said. "He never had a chance to get them back."

Raw stepped back from Miles. "Better now. No sickness."

"Thanks for the confirmation." Miles smiled. "Vandervort confirmed he used the Burzee Suffocation, which was the disease Eva found."

Connor crossed his arms. "Did she find a treatment?"

"No, but she did find a reference to the Consort and Crown Princess having survived catching it. Azkadellia said that it was talking about her, so testing for antibodies."

"And you were right!" Natalie pivoted from the microscope with a relieved grin. "Azkadellia does have antibodies fighting off this virus."

DG's brow furrowed. "So it's like chickenpox? Catch it once and you won't get it again?"

"That's why she hasn't gotten sick. Can you make a vaccine, Natalie?" Connor asked.

"I could, but we didn't pack an apheresis machine."

"I can handle the whatsit machine." DG put her hand on Natalie's arm. "Close your eyes and concentrate on what you need."

Miles hopped off the stool and headed to the door. Connor kept his eyes on the two women who were now glowing. The glow leached away as the boxy apheresis machine solidified beside them. "I don't think I'll ever get used to that."

Cain smirked. "I know she can do it and I'm still not used to it."

Natalie and DG woke up from the trance and Natalie gasped at the machine and immediately started examining it.

Miles held the door open for Azkadellia. "Really, it's okay. You've got antibodies so you don't have to be under quarantine." She entered the lab pensively.

"Az!" DG embraced her, before pulling back and frowning up at her. "Who's been mean to you?"

"The entire second floor," Miles answered.

"They're ill and don't know what they're saying. Don't upset them on my behalf, DG."

Miles snorted. "Baron Colfer knew what he was doing when he threw the soup bowl at you."

"Miles!"

"He did what? He is so off the Council." DG crossed her arms.

Connor inserted himself into their conversation. "You can plot political maneuverings while she's on the apheresis machine." He ushered Azkadellia to the couch nearest it. "What we need to do now is hook you up to this machine. It will draw your blood out, separate the plasma from the red blood cells, and return the red blood cells to you."

"Red blood cells, is that what you call oxygen carrier granules?"

The term threw Connor but that was essentially the function of red blood cells. "Probably. You know cytology?"

Azkadellia looked peeved, even though she held her arm out for Natalie to insert the needles. "Why do you all keep making up words? Is it a something that happens when you go through a travel storm? I thought DG was just indulging in bratty behavior but maybe she can't help it."

Cain snorted with suppressed laughter as DG flopped onto a nearby armchair. "And I keep saying language barrier," DG muttered.

"Father doesn't know what you mean either."

"It's not my fault he crossed over before the eighties."

Miles pulled his stool closer to Azkadellia. "Cytology is the study of cells, the smallest building blocks of organisms. You call them granules in the O.Z.?" She nodded. "What do you call the white ones in the blood stream?"

"Protection detail granules since they attack foreign substances in the blood stream."

Miles grinned. "Antibodies are proteins created by white blood cells to neutralize those foreign substances. We're going to make a vaccine from your antibodies that will help the patients fight off the virus."

"Don't tell them it's from me," she said sadly. Miles started to protest, but she interrupted him. "They won't accept the treatment if they know I helped. Please don't tell them."

"We won't tell them," Connor assured her.

"How come you know about medicine?" Miles tactfully dropped the subject of who should get credit.

"I was always good at the sciences. I guess I picked up more with all the alchemists the witch surrounded herself with."

Eva pushed opened the lab door and Frank was right behind her. "We clearly chose the wrong time to take a lunch break judging by how the servants are gossiping. What did we miss?"

They caught Eva and Frank up while Azkadellia was on the machine. Once she was finished, Raw suggested that both she and Miles get some food and sleep. DG and Conner both concurred, so the two left with the Viewer without argument. Natalie ignored them all while she went to work with the test tubes and centrifuges.

Frank turned to DG and Cain. "So what's going to happen to Vandervort now?"

DG shrugged. "No idea. I doubt bioterrorism is on the O.Z. law books."

"Murder and treason are," Cain said as he leaned against a bare wall near the door. "Bigger question is did anyone change the punishments when Galinda returned to power?"

"We took off headcasing and iron suits. I remember that."

"Public executions?" Cain raised his eyebrow.

DG groaned and buried her face in her hands. "I suppose whoever left that in had a good reason to."

"Probably hoping to see some Longcoats dance at the end of a rope." Cain shrugged when she glared at him. "I'm not saying it's right, but revenge is a powerful motivation. I'm also saying Vandervort doesn't deserve mercy. He killed seventy-six innocent people to get what he wanted."

"I know," she said softly, "but I don't want to talk about it any more."

Cain's expression softened. "Alright."

Connor finished updating the report and glanced at Natalie. She was looking into one of the microscopes but the tension had fled her body. He joined her at the microscope and she glanced at him with a slight smile. "It's working."

He checked the results for himself, even though he didn't need to verify her work. "We need to start duplicating it."

She glanced at her watch and then twisted his wrist to double check the time against his. "It maybe tomorrow before we have enough to start treating anyone." She let out a frustrated huff.

"How much do you need?" DG asked quietly.

"To make more?" Natalie answered. "At least five more labs following my recipe."

DG shook her head as she joined them. "I'm a human Star Trek replicator. How much of the drug do you need?"

"Sixty doses," Connor said. "But it's still not a guarantee that everyone will get better."

"I know." She touched the small vial on the table. It shimmered and an exact copy began to appear next to it. "But it's the only chance they have."

Connor couldn't argue with that assessment. As more vials appeared, he wished they had this magic on Earth to push medicine's envelope and save more lives by not having to wait on anything.

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