“It bears emphasising: our traditional ways of thinking have ignored – and virtually made invisible – the relationship between people and technology,” – Kim J. Vincente
Elias looked around at the people he’d been travelling with. A turian, two krogan and a hanar. Back on the Endurance, there were two asari and a salarian doctor. Which would have been great if the ship wasn’t over an hour’s walk away. And if Sync didn’t look likely to bleed out before they even got there. Applying a coat of medigel onto Sync’s wounds, stopped some of the gushing, but if something had ruptured…
In his visor, Sync’s body became awash with green lines as Pi activated Elias’ omni tool’s diagnostics.
“Doctor Sync’s physical upgrades include both arms, one leg, one eye and portions of his torso. While his vital stats are deteriorating, we have a sixty four percent chance of saving him if we get him to a trained medic in the next thirty minutes. Alert: secondary survival subroutines present in the Doctor’s circuitry. Activating now.”
In the background, Elias could hear the footsteps of other krogan, doubtless drawn by the gunfire, and Rayne was pointing a gun at Thek Targev’s head. “He’s not dead yet, but if you get any closer he’s going to be.”
Out of the corner of his eye he saw Arkara move towards them. “He just got kicked in the quad as he richly deserves.” She was still holding the shotgun. Targev’s shotgun.
“You!” One of the krogan said. “What are you doing here?”
“Finishing what I started,” Arkara said firmly. “It looks like you’ve been busy since I’ve been gone.”
“How did you escape from the lab?”
A female voice which Elias recognised as belong to Tricey—or possibly Beatrice—came out of speakers that appeared to be in the middle of the human’s chest.
“Deactivating Synthskin,” it said as the holographic illusion that Sync used to clothe his augmented body in the illusion of flesh flickered out of view. From his sternum to his belly button was a smooth, diamond shaped metal plate, with a circular piece that sat just underneath where the human’s ribcage would be. From around the edges, angry red light leaked out, and Elias was reminded how Sync’s emotions were often betrayed by the light of his cybernetic implants.
“Emergency systems online,” Beatrice said, and the circular section popped open like a lid. “Error. Critical damage sustained. Manual start required.”
Elias flipped open the lid, looking into the small cavity and finding a bright red button. Heart pounding more than it had during the battle, he pushed it.
Immediately, the covering of the button opened, sections sliding away from the centre to reveal a lens, and a holographic interface appeared, projecting up over Sync’s body.
“Running diagnostics. Organic tissue failure. Heart function at point zero five percent. Recommend mechanical CPR. Yes/No?”
Elias poked his forefinger at ‘Yes’, passing through the hologram in his haste.
“Initiating mechanical CPR.” Sync’s chest began to rise and fall, his chest shuddering unnaturally, and a heartbeat monitor appeared on the holographic display.
“Look,” Rayne was saying. “I don’t care what the politics of the situation are—lower the guns or I’m going to start taking off your chief’s headplates. One by one.”
“I know who you are,” it was a youthful, male voice.
“And I don’t care.”
“You should have won!”
For a fleeting moment, Elias was annoyed, but then, Rayne had been very popular on Tuchanka. Besides, this wasn’t his universe, and given his counterpart’s taste in music, maybe she should have won. A looming shadow interrupted his thoughts and Elias looked up to find Otto standing there, holding a ceramic vessel of water.
“With Regret: I was seeking water to help the Captain. It appears I am too late.”
Cicepia grabbed the water and ripped a piece of fabric from Sync’s shirt. Wetting the rag, she lay it across the man’s forehead, and then levered a crumbling piece of stone from the dias, revealing the cool earth below. “No, you’re not,” she said, pouring the water into the cooler, lower soil and smearing the resulting mud over his extremities. “Help me cool him down.”
“Mechanical CPR failure,” Beatrice said matter of factly. “Suggest endocardial defibrillation. Yes/No?”
Elias slapped both Otto and Cicepia’s hands away from Sync’s body and hit ‘yes’, and the man’s body spasmed as voltage coursed across his heart once, twice, three times. There was a pause and Sync’s body jerked again, and a slow, steady beep on the heart monitor coincided with a shallow breath.
“Heartbeat restored. Running diagnostics.”
“Hey guys,” Rayne said in the background. “I’m going to need an airstrike at these coordinates—”
Elias looked up and the standoff was still going, with Arkara and Anar pointing guns at the three male krogan who had entered the clan leader’s compound.
“Wait, wait,” the young male said. “We don’t need no airstrike.”
“Are you sure?” Rayne asked, her omnitool still orange and glowing on her wrist. “Because you’ve still got guns pointed in my direction and I don’t like being shot. If I’m going to die, I’m at least going to take you with me.”
The younger krogan nudged the warrior next to him with his shoulder. “We pick new clan leader this way,” he said.
“Or you can become krogan barbeque,” Rayne said. “I sort of like that idea…mmm…barbeque.”
“The new chief is the krogan who defeated the old chief,” the older warrior grumbled.
“Ah,” Rayne said brightly. “I think you’re in luck there.”
Beatrice’s voice pulled Elias’ attention back to Sync. “Arterial blood gas collected.”
The holographic screen showed a table, which flickered accusingly at him.
“Displaying suggested treatments.” Three further options appeared on screen: epinephrine, HCO3 and 0.9% Saline, each with an ‘Apply Y/N’ selection toggle next to it.
“What’s that mean?” Cicepia asked.
“What does all that mean?” Elias asked Corbin as he stared at the datapad by the side of his bed. “You know, I’ve realised that for all that quarians have weak immune systems, we rely a bit too much on pre-programmed diagnostic tools when it comes to our health.”
The human smiled, the corners of his eyes crinkling as he turned the datapad so that Elias could view it more easily. “Those are just your blood gas readings. It tells me whether or not your body is getting enough oxygen to function—see the PO2 reading? That’s a measure of dissolved oxygen in your blood. The PCO2 reading is a measure of the dissolved carbon dioxide in your blood.”
“And what’s the P stand for?”
“But the pH is just the…the…acidity measure?”
“Yeah, it is,” Corbin said. “You know, I can’t actually remember what pH stands for.”
“And seven point four two is good?”
“Well, it turns out that humans and quarians have similar biology, leg shape and proteins notwithstanding,” Corbin said. “Normal pH is seven point three five to seven point four five. You should have seen your stats when you first got here though. CO2 readings were through the roof.” He paused for a moment. “Actually you probably didn’t want to see that.”
Elias stared down at the small numbers on the datapad. CO2 was reading thirty seven, which appeared to be good. “So what about medication? Has it been hard getting dextro first aid supplies?”
“Not for this,” Corbin said, tapping the screen with a stylus. “It’s just the proteins in our bodies that are different. Chemistry is chemistry regardless of species and there’s no proteins in medical grade saline solution so that’s useful galaxy wide…well…maybe not on volus on account of pressure, but you’re no trouble at all.” The human smiled, showing even white teeth and Elias couldn’t help but smile back. Not for the first time he hoped he had enough credits to cover his medical bills.
“His blood has too much carbon dioxide in it and for some reason is too acidic,” Elias said. “The CO2 probably built up while he wasn’t breathing. Epinephrine. That’s adrenaline, so yes. Saline will help given he’s lost blood and the bicarb should counteract the blood acidity.”
They watched as the numbers flickered and changed, pH creeping higher and CO2 creeping lower until both flickered into green.
There was a loud crack of bone on bone and Elias looked to see Arkara headbutt the largest of the krogan warriors.
“Gather the clan,” she said. “I want answers.”
She swept out between them, not waiting to see if they followed. After a moment the two larger warriors followed, but the smaller one sidled up to Rayne.
“Can you um, sign my shotgun?” he asked.
With a smile, Rayne pulled out a thick marker and signed over the silver sideplate of the gun, along with a picture of a cat.
“Thank you!” the krogan said as he hurried out after the other two. “I’m going to sell this on the extranet for lots of credits!”
“At least a thousand or you’re being ripped off,” Rayne called after him. “That kitty face is rare!”
“No, she hasn’t.” Pi’s voice sounded softly inside Elias’ helmet.
“Undergone synthesis,” Pi said. “This is not the Rayne we know.”
“Mmm,” Elias said non-committally as the asari walked over.
“How is he?” she asked.
“Stable,” Elias said. “But we need to get him back to our ship. He needs medical attention from someone with a better understanding of human medicine than me.”