Might there not be a charity in sin
To save this brother’s life? (2.4.64)
—Shakespeare, Measure for Measure
Bones looked like it was causing him physical pain to speak. “I’ve just been taking a look at something. I lifted the Magna’s DNA off the glass. It doesn’t give me a complete profile, but I can make a rough comparison of relative acidity levels. I wouldn’t exactly call it a break, but…”
He looked up from his screen. “Clearly Ardrossians are basically humanoid, but like Vulcans, there are physiological and biochemical variations. In this case, I believe Ardrossian females likely have a different ph balance, compared to human females in general.”
“Dammit, Bones, I’m not a doctor,” snapped Jim. “Get to the point.”
“The point is entirely medical, Jim. Just listen, would you? Like we’ve already explained, Spock and I believe the Magna allowed for the theoretical possibility of a cure in the sense that the mass could be transferred through, well, through the usual means. The man would be cured, but the outcome would still be fatal for the woman, assuming the mass activates within her.”
Bones’ voice took on the tone of a high school biology teacher, businesslike but delicate. “It’s basic reproductive biology, Mother Nature’s own protective plan. The natural state of the vagina – in human females at least – is highly acidic. Designed to minimize the risk of infection from foreign bodies. Reproduction relies on the sperm being able to move through the vagina into the more hospitable environment of the cervix in short order, getting beyond that acidity before it can kill the sperm cells.”
“Highly acidic. Frankly, Bones, that doesn’t sound very… inviting.” Jim flashed a grim, tight smile, unable to resist the quip, even now.
Bones glanced at Jim the way that biology teacher would stare down the class clown during a touchy sex-ed lecture. “Here’s the thing,” he sternly went on with his explanation, “Based on what I can extrapolate from my sample, the chemistry of Ardrossian women is closer to alkaline than acidic. The bio-mass was bound to have been designed with that in mind.”
Jim, disregarding Bones’ stern look, interrupted. “But you’re saying that…acidic is…better, in this situation?”
Bones nodded. “For Ardrossian women, not only would it be culturally repugnant… it would definitely be fatal for them, too, given that they could do nothing to fight off the invader. But… a more highly acidic environment might – might – be enough to…neutralize the mass itself, basically destroying it with the natural female defense system – the human female, that is. Assuming that all this could happen before the thing triggers, of course.”
He paused, letting this all sink in. Then went on with a heavy sigh.
“Now, here’s the rest of it, and Hani, only you can decide whether it’s the good or bad news. You see, Jim, Hani, thanks to the barbarism of the late 20th century, no longer has a cervix, thus insuring that any foreign body basically has nowhere to go, and so must remain exposed to the acidic environment, upping the odds of being killed off. Even more, since we’ve not yet gotten to a fully equipped Star Base to do a systemic detox, she’s still carrying around a pretty strong mix of environmental pollutants in her body. That essentially amplifies the effect.”
Bones turned directly to me now, his blue eyes pleading for forgiveness. “I’m sorry, Hani, but there’s every indication that your own toxicity is uniquely capable of neutralizing this invader. In fact, well, if I had to come up with the optimal chance of a cure, given our current resources, I couldn’t have invented anything more biologically perfect than… you.”
Another heavy silence descended. There wasn’t really anything to be said, no decision to be made except my own.
“Hani, you don’t have to do this,” Bones said thickly, as if in apology for providing the very information that argued in favor of the proposition.
“And if I don’t?” I challenged him.
“If we can find a way to break through the communications shield, we could get you back to the ship,” Jim answered that question.
“Which at the moment, you can’t,” I pointed out. “So you’re saying you can’t return to the ship, and risk infecting everyone else when this thing kicks in, and the only other alternative is that you all…die… and I can… what? Throw myself on the Magna’s mercy? Do you really think I’d do that?”
“I can’t ask you to do… what you’re suggesting, Hani, not risk your life, in such an…intimate way, not on the basis of some theory.” Jim spoke up, so certain.
“You didn’t ask,” I said. “I offered. I offered even without this… new possibility.” I stood facing Jim. It was his command, his call. And yet, in the end, it wasn’t his decision at all, and he knew it. They all knew it.
I turned to look at the others. “Bones, Spock, tell me. This is the best possibility you have, isn’t it? I’m your best option?”
“It appears so,” Spock said simply. Bones just looked pained, as if carrying on his shoulders alone the failure to otherwise resolve this medical challenge.
“Then there’s nothing else to decide, is there?” I said.
And that’s when I felt the sea-change come on me, a wave of such profound appreciation, affection, love for all of them, a sudden awareness in the deepest parts of me. Like a bodily, feminine wisdom, like I simply knew what I was capable of. I thought of what Bones had just said, that my presence, my very bodily self, was perfect in this time and place.
I had something unique to offer.
In the face of Death, I held the potential to give life. What could possibly be more important? I felt a wave of dizziness, some flood of awareness, as if the separate rivers of my body and my soul were converging, surging together, wild with force and promise, the waters of giving and receiving indistinguishable inside me.
I knew; standing there, then, I knew. This was the moment I was born for.
I was always going to have ended up here.