Med-Bay (Julian)

Julian departs with Kieran, eying Fiona critically, he looks to Kieran, "Which AI will be working with us and the nanites inside of Fiona?"

“Megarea. She is the harsh one.” Kieran says as they wheel the suspensioned metal stretcher through the double doors into what appears to be an elevator. The doors close, occluding the final view of Aurora staring at the massive LCD display, and the elevator begins slowly to move, slowly enough there is no real sense of motion.

"Megarea? I am Julian." Julian announces firmly to thin air. "Are you tracking the nanites now? If so, how many more can be introduced without harming the Host?" He pauses, "I need to know if there is brain damage of any kind. I need to know as soon as possible." Julian looks up, "Do you have any suggestions, Kieran?"

Kieran shakes his head as the elevator continues the motion. “Alas, I have little to contribute here.” He says. “I fear I am out of my league with this fusion of science and sorcery.”

“I am in communication with the nanites. Another application of nanites may be necessary shortly as there are too few to deal with both brain and heart.” The harsh voice of the AI responds to Julian. “They are reporting swelling of Princess Fiona’s brain. It is too early to determine if there is permanent damage.”

"May be necessary?" Julian echoes, "Do it. Now. If it is something I have to inject then give it to me. The damage will be permanent if we don't relieve the pressure in a hurry, if there is any. We need to know what's going on in there — yesterday." He pauses, "How many nanites can her body handle safely?" Julian still feels motion from the lift, and glances to Kieran to gauge his expectancy of arrival on the proper floor. "I don't even really know what a bloody nanite is, other than from fiction…"

The doors of the elevator slide open, and on the other side is a futuristic medical center, with counters and strange machines. Kieran eyes these with clear misgivings.

“I am informed they are small machines that cannot be seen with the unaided eye.” Kieran says. “The worrying part is, they could be employed as an undetectable and deadly weapon.”

“The safe limit of nanites, given the biological mass involved, is 155647238.” The AI says. “The nanites already in place are sufficient to stablise. Further nanites await you in the infirmary.”

Julian eyes Kieran silently for a moment, and then says, "Anything can be used as a weapon. At the moment, however, they are precisely the tools we need." He looks at the various screens, and guides the cart to a table for Fiona. "Help me move her smoothly." he speaks to the AI, "We are in the infirmary, I need to see her vital signs, and we need those nanites you spoke of. Where must I inject them?"

Kieran aids as is requested of him. A display lights beside the table that they have chosen, displaying vital signs which, while stable, are still dangerous. Another small cart-like machine wheels itself along the ground from deeper inside the infirmary, carrying another syringe upon it. “I recommend one of her arms, equally distant between her heart and brain.” The AI voice speaks from thin air. Kieran draws breath as though to speak, then says nothing at all, instead staying on the other side of the table from Julian.

Julian continuously observes the readouts of Fiona's vitals, his face expressionless. When the syringe arrives, he nods at the advice, and uses a band to tie off Fiona's arm until he finds a good vein to inject the nanites into. The vein should be carrying blood back to the heart, and this more easily disperse the nanites from there to where they are needed most. "Alright, nanites injected. When you can show me information about what is happening in and around her brain, put it up on one of these screens." Julian was thoughtful for a moment, "With a list of options to optimize her brain functions, even if she remains unconscious."

The read-outs grow no better, but they become no worse, either. “Receiving data now.” The AI intones. “Displaying data on-screen.” The display alights with a three-dimensional representation of Fiona’s brain. A slight glance reveals to Julian that there is bleeding, though this is slowly being brought under control, by bright sparkles that may represent the nano-tech. As this occurs, the man who accompanied Julian with Fiona to the infirmary again speaks. “Julian.. based on the observed evidence.. I believe Fiona has been blood-cursed by someone.” Kieran says. "Her state has steadily deteriorated since we brought her out of stasis. I have said nothing of my suspicion to Aurora as she has enough to concern her."

"An omission that she will not thank you for." Julian remarks, raising an eyebrow as he observes the indications of bleeding. He looks closer to see if there is swelling, or the possible development of a hematoma.

There is evidence of both, but this is subsiding slowly, perhaps under the influence of the nano-tech.

"Aurora never mentioned she was married to you." Kieran replies mildly.

Julian raises an eyebrow, otherwise impassive. "Will that be your opening argument?" His words were just as mild, and they were perhaps tinged with amusement. "She believed I was dead, and if I understood the story, she had believed so for centuries. She did not know that I was Prince Julian of Amber, either. If comparing omissions is to be your strategy, I would select another."

"Though, I cannot refute your supposition. It was a remarkable stroke of bad luck that not only did she suffer a cardiac arrest, but that she fell hard enough to suffer blunt trauma to her head." He shakes his head slightly, pressing his lips together. Julian quietly says to Fiona, "You finally drew someone's blood curse. I wish I could say I was surprised. Did you manage to kill him in this world, Sister?" He looks back up to the monitor, and glances to Kieran. "If we knew how the Curse was stated, that might actually be something." Julian appears grim for a moment, "I'm going to try something."

"I have been trying to think of a diplomatic way to ask Fiona." Kieran says. "She is… not an easy woman to speak with."

The once Warder of Arden very nearly snorts. "You have your Father's gift for understatement."

Julian focuses and calls on the Pattern, attempting to get an impression of Fiona through its lens.

The Pattern builds within his minds eye, shimmering and ghostly. Through it he can see that the crimson-and-gold aura that surrounds Fiona is broken, corrupted, as though the rose-gold Pattern within her has been damaged in some arcane way. The silvery Pattern inside Kieran is fainter but whole, clearly born of the city of Tir-na Nog'th. And the battlestation itself shimmers with Pattern, as though the entire station is a Pattern construct.

Julian addresses the AI, his voice a bit distant as he speaks slowly while focused on the Pattern. "Maegara, where is the nearest Pattern from this point?" He pauses and takes an educated guess. "Account for the Multiverse if you can. In addition, I need to know if higher brain function is return to Fiona, and if not, what your best estimates are for doing so." His tone changes, losing the subtle edge of command, "Kieran, I can see Fiona's Pattern Imprint, in a sense, the one she carries in her is damaged — that could be due to a Blood Curse or something Arcane, but the damage is clear. Is there a furnace in this ship? A — well — Pattern Engine of some kind?"

"Ah no." Kieran says, somewhat grimly. "I yet hoped I was incorrect. I recall a Pattern Drive was referred to at some point, yes. What is your plan?"

Julian's eyebrows rise as the AI's answer comes on the heels of Kieran's. He tilts his head to one side slightly, and glances to the readouts on the screens.

"Fiona's higher functions are recovering slowly. No ETR available. The nearest inscribed and whole Pattern to your current location is the Pattern that powers our own shadow-flight capability." The AI responds.

"Where is that Pattern, Maegara? How swiftly could we be moved there?" He looks to Kieran, "If we can repair Fiona's Imprint, we might win her back — remove the curse. To do that, she would have to walk the Pattern. She cannot. So I will see about strapping her to my back and walking it myself." Julian's lips pressed together in a thin line. "It sounds terribly reckless…but I've never been faced with being destroyed by one of Reality's Poles either."

"Our Pattern resides at the core of our structure." The AI replies. "Transit time without shock would be.. approximately 10 minutes."

Kieran listens to this plan, no surprise appearing on his face. "I think that is my risk to take." He says at last. "Your task is to protect Aurora."

Julian eyes Kieran for a very long moment, and then frowns. "Lad, you and Aurora share a child. You are a Father." His lips press together, and for the briefest moment, an expression of pain flickers across his impassive facade., "Persephone still needs you." He nods to Fiona, "I am, I am guessing, more skilled with the Pattern than you are. I know its dangers, and if I am right, Fiona will help me somewhere along the way."

He lays a hand on Kieran's shoulder, "Protecting the vessel with Pattern would only have been a stop gap measure. I could not do it forever. Fiona is our best hope." He shakes his head, "If I am understanding things correctly." Julian calls to the AI, "Transit in 12 minutes to be safe, please devise a harness to safely strap Fiona to my back. He weight should be negligible, so design it with her safety in mind."

"Affirmative." The harsh voice of the AI replies. "I cannot fault your reasoning… a complex situation." Kieran says at last. "What do I tell Aurora?"

Julian raises an eyebrow, "Understatement again. Conversations between you and your Father must have been interesting." He shakes his head, and shrugs slightly. "To be honest, I do not know what to tell Aurora. She will not be pleased." He says, making his own understatement. "I am the logical choice. I know that it is dangerous, but I also know that it is not impossible. My main concern would be that it could kill Fiona, but not doing anything might just kill her as well — so its hope, or nothing." Julian eyes Kieran, "Shall we give her a call?"

"Megarea, please open communications channel to Aurora." Kieran says. "Affirmative." The AI says, and elsewhere in the ship, Aurora hears their voices.

"We have found a way to escape the event horizon without messing with Trump," Aurora's voice speaks. "How is Fiona?"

Julian's eyes narrow dangerously as he regards Kieran, and then he speaks. "She is dying, Aurora. Kieran suggested to me that she might be under a Blood Curse, and I took a closer look. I agree with him, though what form or manner of Curse, I cannot say. Her Pattern Imprint is damaged as a result. I believe it can be repaired, but it entails a certain level of risk." He pauses, "She will die if we continue as we are with her treatment, stasis may not help in this. There is no — technological way to repair her Imprint, but if she is allowed to walk upon one, or is carried, it should make her whole again."

Aurora becomes silent for a space of heartbeats. "I know you, Julian," she says tightly. "I am not going to be in the least bit pleased with the answer to my next question. Which one of you is carrying her?"

"Julian insists that he should be the one." Kieran says mildly. "I disagree, but have not yet identified an error in his logic."

A tired and stressed out Aurora explodes. "How about the fact that we just found each other again! Dammit, Julian! Not that I would be any happier to have Persephone's father doing it instead of my husband, mind you! Agh!" The two of them can almost see her stomp her foot in frustration. Then she falls quiet again and it is a moment before she speaks. "Actually, if anyone should be doing it, it should be me; I think I'm the only one here actually related to her."

Julian eyes Kieran silently for a long moment. His expression is impassive, as ever, but the slight tilt of his head says that he is considering something. Whether it is what his next words will be, or if it is to stifle the urge to slap Kieran upside the head, none can say. Kieran is equally as impassive as he in turn eyes Julian. Finally Julian speaks in his slow and careful fashion. "Do you not think I have considered that, Aurora? That I did not consider your life, Persephone's and Kieran's? That I did not weigh the variables and choose whose life was best spent on the effort and whose was not? Not wasted. Spent. I love you dearly, Aurora, but would I be the same man you knew if I let someone's Father take a risk that was greater than my own." Julian shakes his head, "It is not a matter of blood. How often have you walked the Pattern? How skilled are you in its use? I can do this, but I would by lying if I said stepping onto the Design was not a risk."

"You're someone's father too," she reminds him. "I believe in my heart that Alex is out there; cocooned like the rest of us were. The got me in a different Universe then the one I was born too, and brought me to an Amber I only knew as a word on a page. If they picked up me, then they surely picked up the son of Prince Julian. Our son." Julian had heard that tone in voice before; it was the same near strangled tone she had when they said good-bye when he left for the Crusades. There are tears just below the surface that she is fighting to not shed. "Don't you dare leave me again, Julian. Not now."

"Regardless of who accepts the risk of the Pattern, I am not persuaded that this plan is our best action." Kieran says at last. "The stasis cocoons apparently shielded Fiona from her curse for millenia. The side-effects mentioned previously may be less troublesome, and placing Julian's life at risk in the hope that it will cure Fiona.. no. I do not agree. The question I oft ask myself is, what would my father do?"

"She did not have potential brain damage when she went into stasis." Julian tilts his head, "Benedict was a pragmatist. On the field of battle none of his decisions were motivated by sentiment, and his temper was very difficult to rouse. Corwin inadvertently drew down his wrath when Benedict found his retainers murdered, but that was a very personal matter. There are more than just a handful of lives on this vessel, all of them potentially reliant on Fiona's recovery now, not later."

He pressed his lips into a line and looked up at the ceiling, "Aurora? How viable is your solution? Can we afford to trust Fiona to stasis?"

"Endangering the one who apparently has the best command of of the oldest Pattern on this ship strikes me as poor strategy," Aurora says after a moment in her matter-of-fact lecture tone. "And if something happens to you during this — scheme, Julian, we are down by two. Put Grandmere back in stasis; as Kieran pointed out, the cocoon apparently shielded her from the effects of her curse before, and the cocoons can heal her physical damage. I remind you that we were dead or just seconds from its icy grasp when we were all cocooned. No, they aren't meant for short term healings, or every little thing. But she needs to be in for weeks to recover from all the damage she's suffered since she woke up. We can research how to help her in the meantime."

Julian shakes his head slightly, "I considered the stop gap my Pattern might represent. There is a Pattern in this vessel as well. I am confident it can be done, but again, the Pattern is always a risk. She cannot remain in stasis for long I fear, at the very least, one of the brains — the AIs — should monitor her very closely. We were dead, but none of us cursed." He shrugs slightly. "She is your Grandmother, Aurora." Julian eyes Fiona. She was not his sister, and even if she were, he did not have any real sentimental motivation for saving her life. He had once found her attractive, more than attractive, and perhaps that was what had once drawn him to Aurora, but this Fiona was not even of his Amber.

She pauses a briefly before continuing. "My solution is very viable. It is the same principle as escaping a Black Hole's gravitational pull. Once all the repairs are done that the AIs are conducting now - in perhaps an hour, we will be able to jump to light speed and escape. Assuming that the adjustment mechanisms within the Dyson Net are still functional, the Net and Logrus will be unaffected by our jump. Even if they aren't, Tis ran a simulation of what the effects would be on the rest of this Universe. While it would destroy Chaos, the rest of this Creation would actually thrive. Ask her to show it to you down there. After you put Fiona back into stasis."

"Then, with our solution, there is no reason for the risk. I did not know you had one when I arrived at my plan." Julian sighs softly, "As long as you trust it to work, Aurora. My usefulness ended when Fiona was, at least, stabilized." He looks at the ceiling again, "Maegara, belay the harness. Make ready to put Fiona in stasis, and have her closely monitored."

Aurora's scowl is reflected in her voice. "If I ever hear you say you are not useful again, my Lord Huntingdon, my displeasure will be swift and loud."

"I have missed swift and loud displeasure for — Lo, these many years." Julian replies in his even way. "You know what I meant. My grasp of science does not extend to — science fiction."

Kieran listens gravely. "I hate to say it: if this light-speed solution was possible, why did Fiona fail to consider or mention it?" He asks, apparently playing the devils advocate.

"It is entirely possible that she didn't know to ask," Aurora opines. "Fiona is not an astrophysicist or an astro-engineer. Not that I am either, but while her interests have seemed to be more in the realm of, shall we say, ground based sciences and mental disciplines, I have had a love of astronomy and the space sciences for centuries. Grandmere is a Pattern based Trump Artist. I am a Dreamer.

Julian shrugs again, that slight motion of his shoulders. "Have faith, Kieran." He pauses, "If for some reason there is need, I will hold things off with the Pattern, and Kieran will have to follow through with my plan, or you will. Though I would prefer that it be someone that knows the Pattern can be traversed, that has at least one success at it behind them."

"I have been assured by the AIs that we can jump to Light Speed from a standing start in two seconds," Aurora informs them. "As long as it is done before we enter the Schwarzschild Radius of the Logrus and the intertial dampers are functioning. We have hours, and Tis informed me that the dampers will be repaired in…" there is a pause as she consults her inner clock. "Perhaps another hour. They have been performing staggered repairs since we got caught in this."

"Ariaunna is repairing the sensor array on the Windseeker as we speak. We will be able to get a Waymap assessment. Perhaps there will be time to make a quick jaunt to my Family's Ways before we go."

Julian says, "Of course. Light speed away from the Schwarzschild Radius. Naturally."

"Certes, it is obvious, the Schwarzschild Radius. Remiss of me not to see it." Kieran says, a smile in his voice despite his solemn expression.

Julian speaks to Aurora, "What do you hope to find in your family's Ways?"

"I don't know," she answers slowly. "I suppose some sign that they were there. That we were there. Something I can take up and hold in my hand and say 'I remember this.'" She sighs and there is millennia sadness and centuries of loneliness in that one small sound. "That was before I discovered how much time had passed since my father hid us away. You saw what was left of Mandorways, Julian."

The sound that follows is suspiciously like a sniffle. "Put Grandmere in stasis and come back down here so you and Kieran can get out of those suits. He can monitor things from the bridge. I can have Tis create monitors in the quarantine area and we can speak through the ship if we need to. Unless Kieran just wants to join the party down here."

"Stasis it is, then, to buy Fiona further time." Kieran says, and relaxes slightly. "I will monitor things from the bridge, as you request, fair one."

"Thanks, Kieran," Aurora says warmly. "Just put us all on system wide comm when you get up there. Tis should still have that simulation running on the bridge so you can see what I was talking about. If there is nothing else, you boys have things to do and I should go see if Ariaunna needs any help."

"Megarea, close connection." Kieran says if Julian has nothing further to say. Then he eyes the other man. "I am pleased that I am not the only one who sometimes has trouble understanding what Fiona and Aurora are talking about." He observes.

Kieran moves toward one of the glass cabinets of the infirmary, and removes a strange wand-like device from that. He approaches Fiona, and eyes the device that he holds, as though attempting to remember how it functions.

Julian quietly observes Kieran. "That was not always the case, at least where Aurora was concerned. Fiona became more difficult to follow after a time." he shrugs slightly, "but now, with all this -" He gestures around them. "- I find myself at a loss more often than not. I am glad that some basic sense still applies."

"I for one will be pleased when we return to the relative normality of Amber." Kieran said as he began to activate the wand-like device that he held, slightly before the announcement from Megarea. "And Arden. My son Tytus and I have been replanting the forest. It is a long story as to why."


TOCAurora the PhysicistSearching and Preparations

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