Chapter 3

The Healerís Facility

The healerís facility was a relatively small building compared to some of Earthís hospitals. It was mainly devoted to research and training since most Betazeds were extremely healthy and were all healers to some degree. Betazeds that were strong healers were encouraged to come and study to increase their medical knowledge of their own race and of others. Betazed healers were in great demand throughout the Federation and those wishing to go off planet would train here for a position on other worlds or on a ship.

After establishing orbit, Bartok beamed them directly into a room of the healerís facility where they were met by two Betazeds dressed in, what to Catherine almost looked like peach colored surgical scrubs. However, these scrubs had wide utility belts with all sorts of loops and pockets that had things hanging off of them and out of them. Sher-Kan had met these two before; they had conducted the tests on him to ascertain what had cured him and they had performed the analysis on what had remained of Vincentís blood in the hypospray.

Sher-Kan introduced the beige with peach stripped healer as Darer, the brown with beige as Briur. The two healers offered the traditional crossed arm greeting that the couple were becoming accustomed to. Catherine and Vincent returned the greeting and watched amused as the healers gave them the once over. They both flicked a glance at Catherine and then concentrated their gaze on Vincent.

"Come." Darer gestured to one of the several beds in the room. He pressed something on its side and it swung down in an arc until it stood vertically. Briur took Vincentís arm and led him to it turning him so that his back leaned on its vertical surface and his feet were standing on its end.

"Relax." Darer instructed as he felt Vincent tense. "Iím going to reset the bed to its horizontal position." He pressed the same spot on the bed and it swung up carrying Vincent with it. As soon as it was back in its original position a screen above Vincentís head lit up. Vincent craned his head to look at it, but the way he was laying he couldnít see it. Catherine walked over to him and placed a reassuring hand on his shoulder.

"It has all kinds of different colored lights," she described it as best she could, "and a spot thatís just pulsing, I think that one is your heart beat."

"Thatís quite right," Briur, confirmed her guess. "The rest show his body functions, temperature, blood pressure and the like." To Vincent he said, "so far, from these readings, it appears that you are in very good shape, but then all Betazeds usually are. Some of the readings are a little outside of Betazed norms, but that is only to be expected since youíre half human."

When the two healers had finished scrutinizing the screen, Darer pushed a button on the wall. The ceiling opened up and a "gizmo" was the only word Catherine could think of, lowered down to hover over Vincent from head to toe. Vincent felt a little claustrophobic under it and tensed up slightly.

Sher-Kan had moved up to his other shoulder where Emily was standing and whispered, "thereís nothing to worry about son, itís painless."

Vincent relaxed and figured since it was his body he should know what they were doing.

"What is this device?" He asked.

"Itís a full body scan, with this we can see all your internal functions and organs." Darer gestured to Catherine to stand by him as he explained.

"Here you can see his heart, and here his lungs; both are larger than normal the rest of the organs appear to be within normal Betazed parameters."

Catherine couldnít help herself and looked at the internal structure of Vincentís genitalia. If she didnít ask now she didnít know when sheíd get a better chance so she took a deep breath and plunged in. "On Earth we have two equine species that we mate to get a third, that third however canít reproduce itself; is Vincent like that? Is he sterile?"

She took a quick glance at Vincent and noticed he was blushing; she shrugged her shoulders apologetically then turned her attention back to Darer who was making some adjustments on the scanner. As he manipulated something on the scan the area in question was magnified, he studied some data that appeared then turned to Catherine.

"His sperm is perfectly viable, I see no reason why he should not be able to reproduce."

Catherine had felt for Vincentís hand under the scan, holding onto it tightly as Darer studied the readouts. When he made his pronouncement she let out the breath she didnít realize she had been holding and felt Vincent give her hand a squeeze.

Darer continued, interpreting the information on the scan, "At this time, however, he is not fertile. If he follows Betazed norms his body will release the sperm when this area is full." He pointed to the scan. "When that happens he will go into a mating fever." He chuckled at her puzzled look. "Sperm production begins when a bond is established then it is up to the individual male as to how long it takes before the sperm is released. We males are allergic to our own sperm thatís why the fever and why if our bond-mates are not available we ultimately die, our sperm kills us."

"But if itís deadly," Catherine reasoned, "and there is no female available, why donít you just eject it yourselves? Human males do it all the time."

She thought the question innocent enough, but the sudden animosity she felt in the room was as thick as mud. She stepped back at the look Darer gave her and Vincent growled warningly, ready to leave the diagnostic table to defend her. Sher-Kan intervened laying a restraining hand on his son.

"Darer, she is human not accustomed to our ways, she could not know what blasphemy she just spoke." Turning to Catherine he explained "Children are so very precious to us all the more so that we donít have very many in a generation, to throw that seed away to save our saves is abhorrent to us, we are just incapable of doing it."

"Iím sorry I didnít mean to insult anyone, I didnít realize." She took a deep breath and went on "I need to ask another question?" Darer nodded shaking off the anger that had flared up. "Vincent had a fever when he was an adolescent, but not since. How long is usual between mating fevers?"

Addressing Vincent, Darer asked, "This fever you experienced what preceded it?"

Vincent squirmed, uncomfortable with the memory. "I thought I was in love with a girl and she with me, when I made some advances she spurned me."

"Ah a rejected bond, yes that will do it, as far as your body was concerned a bond, however tenuous was established and sperm production began. When the bond was rejected the sperm was released into your system causing the fever." He looked at Vincent with respect, "you should have died." He looked back to Catherine, "As to how long between mating fevers, as I said it differs with each individual. How long have you been bonded?"

"I suppose weíve been bonded for over three years," she looked to Vincent who nodded. "But weíve only been married for a few months."

"I do not understand this term Ďmarriedí." Darer looked at Sher-Kan.

"It is a ceremony in which they pledge themselves to each other."

Darer shook his head, "that is irrelevant, you were committed to each other when you bonded" He rubbed his chin reflectively, "three Earth years is rather a long time, it may be that subconsciously he is afraid of another rejection and unknowingly has slowed the production down himself, he is a strong healer and would be able to do that. Or itís the combination of his two physiologies and since there has never been anyone like him before we wonít know without observation. We could check him again before you leave and weíll have a better idea of the rate of production."

Catherine absorbed this information and then thought of something else. "May I ask one more question?" At his nod Catherine continued, "Can Vincentís sperm be frozen?"

"No," Darer answered stiffly, "it has been tried in the past, with negative results." She could see that the thought of it was distasteful to him. Obviously a Betazed male had experimented outside the established norms.

Briur had been across the room diligently working at a console during this exchange. He came over with a tricorder, showing the results of his work to Darer.

"Vincent," Darer exclaimed excitedly, "you carry a higher volume of blood than we anticipated, we feel that we can safely take six pints from you. Briur has also come up with a replacement fluid that would facilitate blood reproduction."

Darer raised the scan and pulled Vincent up to a sitting position, motioning that he should take off his sweatshirt.

"Sher-Kan this son of yours has some muscle mass," pointing to Vincentís pectorals and abs appreciatively. "He would prove a formidable opponent in the tournaments."

While he was talking he had pushed Vincent back down and placed a machine over his upper arm, Briur was placing a similar one on the opposite arm.

"This is a blood collector," he explained. "It will take your blood and hold it in stasis until it is used. Some of this harvest will be used for study to see if we can isolate and reproduce the agent in your blood that kills the virus; the rest will be used in the patients here."

Briur continued, explaining the other device. "This is the replacement fluid, it should help us restore your blood levels quicker. After we finish taking your blood Darer will take it to the lab and I will begin augmenting your systems with healer energy."

As Vincent felt the blood leave his body his thoughts turned back to a time when he lay on another examination table. A time when he thought he had lost Catherine to a job in Rhode Island. A time when two men had captured him for study and how he had given up because he didnít want to live a life with out her. He had all intentions of dying then, but she wouldnít let him, she searched for him tirelessly finally finding him and bringing him home.

Catherine felt his introspection, recalling the same time; but this was different, they were together helping to save his birth fathers people. With any luck at all they would be able do just that and Vincent would come out unscathed. Catherine felt the information about Vincentís fertility in itself was worth the trip. She was elated to know that a child would be possible for them.

Vincent had felt that spike of pure joy from his mate at the real possibility of a child. He had never thought of himself as becoming a father, but then he never thought he would become a husband either. The very idea of Catherine pregnant with his child made him dizzy. Or was that the loss of blood? No matter another possibility had opened before him and he looked forward to it with wondrous anticipation.

There was a bleep from the machine on Vincentís arm indicating it had removed the preset amount of blood and Darer moved to disconnect it.

"How do you feel?" he asked Vincent.

"Light headed," was his reply. He had closed his eyes to keep the room from spinning.

Sher-Kan had brought chairs over for Catherine and Emily, neither one had moved from Vincentís side throughout the exam and extraction. They sat now one on each side holding Vincentís hands and he concentrated his mind on their touch to keep the dizziness at bay.

"Thatís to be expected, Iíll take this unit to the lab and start by injecting one of our more critical patients." He turned to Briur, "If anything of significance happens Iíll call you, otherwise Iíll return in a little while."

Briur removed the other unit and stood at Vincentís side extending his hands until they just hovered over Vincentís chest. Vincentís body had already begun the chore of replacing the blood that had been taken and he felt his own healerís energies bend to that task. Suddenly he felt Briurís energy filling him, pouring into him like a libation, augmenting his depleted system.

A short time later a chirp on a console alerted them to an incoming message, Darerís voice came over excitedly, "Itís working, itís absolutely amazing, you have to see this." Briur had left Vincentís side and transferred the image Darer was sending to a larger screen so everyone could see it. Vincent had opened his eyes, concentrating on the image before him.

Darer explained what they were seeing. "This is the patient I injected, the virus is in yellow, the patientís blood in green and the fluid from the injection in blue. I initially began with 1cc, as you can see not much happened." As they watched the image there was no discernable difference in the colors, "but watch when I introduced another cc." The blue indicating Vincentís blood starting moving through the blood stream encountering the yellow virus and leaving in itís wake the healthy green of the patientís blood. "2 ccís!" Darerís voice was pitched higher than normal with excitement. "Thatís all it takes, thatís all the dosage weíll need."

Darer had been very careful not to mention where this cure had come from, he and Briur were under strict orders from Head of Council Kristr not to mention Vincent at all. As far as anyone was to know this cure was coming from their research. He broke the connection with the examination room and called Kristr who made a worldwide announcement explaining that a cure had been found and that what was available now would be sent to the more critical areas of their world. Additional dosages would be sent out as they became available.

They were listening to the announcement as Darer practically skipped through the doorway. "Vincent, your blood is amazing!" He patted Vincentís thigh needing to touch the being that had given them the means to cure his people. "I think I will make the study of your blood my lifeís work!" He was practically crowing with delight.

A tiring Briur looked up at him. "Letís get through this first." That sobered Darer somewhat and he moved to take Briurís place at Vincentís side. He took a moment to center himself then placed his hands where Briurís had been. Vincent felt an immediate influx of power flow into him, bolstering his fading strength.

Sher-Kan had gone over to the replicator and ordered up some food for everyone. They had skipped second and third meal forgetting about food altogether, but when they smelled the aroma emanating from the tray Sher-Kan carried over more than one stomach growled complaining of neglect. Sher-Kan handed the tray to Emily as he helped his son to sit up. Catherine decided to slide in behind Vincent on the bed to support him while Emily fed him a thick vegetable soup. Vincent felt ridiculous, but was too weak at the moment to protest the ministrations of his family. Besides he might as well swallow his pride and get use to it, from now on all his energies were to be directed into producing blood.

After making sure everyone had had enough to eat Sher-Kan had availed himself of the rooms computer and after running through some calculations informed everyone that there would be almost 1,500 doses from one harvest of Vincentís blood. Beta only held a population of about 8 million and because of the quick actions of the government in imposing a mandatory lock down, only approximately a quarter of that number had contracted the disease. Even so Vincent couldnít possible supply enough for everyone who had been infected in time.

Briur had been slowly munching on what looked like a pretzel rod, staring blankly at a replay of the patient who had just received Vincentís blood. Suddenly he sat bolt upright and looked at Sher-Kan. "I need a sample of your blood."

Sher-Kan stepped over to him perplexed, but held his arm out obediently. After extracting a small amount Briur ran it through for analysis and started jumping up and down, an absolutely ridiculous sight to Catherine who was so used to her very proper and sedate husband.

Darer back away from Vincent visibly drained and demanded to know what all the fuss was about.

"Here look, look, this is Sher-Kanís blood!" Darer looked at the print out on the screen that Briur was pointing to, his face seemed to light up as understanding dawned. He then grabbed his associate by both upper arms, "heís developed some of Vincentís blood characteristics," he exclaimed. It seemed that Vincentís blood had stimulated Sher-Kanís immune system into creating the virus-fighting element.

"What is it?" Sher-Kan demanded, "What have you found?"

"Your blood, weíll need more to test a theory, but if what weíve found is correct you now carry the cure in you as well, and anyone else we cure will carry it. Weíll be able to stamp this epidemic out in no time!"

"But you took samples of my blood before, why didnít this show up then?"

"Time, it must need time for it to develop." Briur said impatiently.

They took more of Sher-Kanís blood and practically ran out of the room.

Emily looked perplexed, "What was that all about?"

"If I understand them correctly," Sher-Kan answered, "Vincent and Catherine will be able to go home sooner than we expected."

Catherine threw her arms around Vincentís shoulders as she cradled his upper body, squeezing him tightly, "thatís wonderful news!"

He turned his head to one side and gave her a celebratory kiss.

Both healers came back a short while later; they had injected a patient with Sher-Kanís blood and that patient was already showing signs of improvement. Darer walked over to the diagnostic table Vincent was occupying, visible dragging, the adrenalin surge he had experienced a short while ago wearing off.

The two healers were worn out and were beginning to show it. They had been the primary researchers of this virus and had been up for days exhausting every line of investigation. They had been coming to the end of their resources when Sher-Kan had been discovered cured. The excitement of that had energized them, galvanized them into renewed fervor. Then the realization that the cure had actually come from an Earth born Betazed, a hybrid of the two races, something that had never happened before, a being that was totally unique, again buoyed them. When Kristr had called them, on a secure channel, to tell them that they were going to have the opportunity to examine this individual, well that sent them on another wave of adrenalin. With this latest discovery the worry of who got the cure and who didnít was lifted from their already burdened shoulders. Pouring every ounce of their healing energy into Vincent was the final straw

"Thatís it," Darer voiced wearily. "Iím going to bring the bed to an upright position, Iíll do it slowly so you wonít get too dizzy."

Catherine scooted out from behind Vincent and watched as the healer pushed the button that turned the bed on its axis to bring Vincent upright. Sher-Kan moved to stand by Vincentís side to steady him as he stepped off. Actually he didnít feel too bad. He gingerly took a step and felt his head swim, but nothing he couldnít live with.

"How do you feel?" Catherine had felt the wave of dizziness sweep through him.

"Iím fine, itís nothing I havenít felt before after an injury," he reassured her.

Darer spoke up, "Sher-Kan, take him home and put him to bed. Heís a strong healer himself and with the extra support Briur and I gave him he should be up and around by fifth meal. Weíll come by tomorrow between first and second, run a check, and harvest more blood. In the meantime Iím going to bed myself."

He stood on the bed Vincent had just vacated, brought it back to a horizontal position and was asleep before it locked into place. Briur had already curled up on an adjacent bed and was fast asleep.

Sher-Kan shook his head in wonder, "they say healers can sleep anytime, anywhere, I guess itís true."

He dug his communicator out of a pocket and flipped it open; the familiar greeting came through.

"Bartok here."

"Weíre ready to beam up."

Revised 9/23/06