beekeeperofeden: (heaven is overrated)
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More space-opera fic. This one takes place not long after Stowaway and will hopefully offer new insight on Fire Point.

Summary: In which Drizzt meets Alustriel Silverhand, famed geneticist, under less-than-ideal circumstances. (Title from Frost's "Nothing Gold Can Stay.")

When Drizzt woke up, there was a human woman with bright hair and kind eyes standing over him, pulling off her gloves. She smiled at him. Behind her, Catti-brie was watching him cautiously.

"Welcome back, my friend. I wasn't sure you'd return to us."

He tried to speak, but found that his mouth was dry. She leaned forward with a glass of water, which he drank gratefully, heedless of the water spilling down onto his chest. (He'd been wearing a shirt before, hadn't he? What had happened to it?)

"I'm sorry," he rasped. "I don't believe we've met."

"We haven't, but once I've gotten this close a look at someone's genetic structure, I feel like I practically know them." She took the glass and handed it to Catti-brie, who took it with an expression that seemed to hover between awe and resentment. "Doctor Alustriel Silverhand. I was just passing through when your friend" she nodded to Catti-brie, who straightened. "—found me."

"What happened?" He was shivering. "I couldn't breathe and then I think I fell—"

"--like a pile o' rocks," Catti-brie added helpfully.

"Just so. But I do not know why."

"Your regulatory T-lymphocytes were suppressing your IL-2 secretions, which caused your pulmonary system—" She paused at Drizzt's expression. "Your immune system started to attack your lungs, not to mention many other parts of you. You've probably noticed some fluctuations in your temperature these past few days. That was the start of it."

"I don't understand. Why..."

"You have a hypersensitive immune system and it's certainly genetic." She tapped the screen she'd been flipping through when he'd woken up. "I'm still looking for which alleles, but a genetic predisposition to autoimmune disorders in your species would explain much."

"It would?" Catti-brie was sitting cross-legged on the blankets now.

"When drow invaded one of the human-controlled systems a few centuries ago, we captured one of their ships. All of the soldiers aboard died within a month of heatstroke and pulmonary failure. When scientists studied the drow ship looking for a cause, they noticed the atmosphere contained a chemical that resembled azathioprine... It's a powerful immunosuppressant. They couldn't figure out why." She grinned. "I should be thanking you. You may have just helped me solve a centuries-old medical mystery."

Drizzt smiled back. "Glad to be of service."

Catti-brie was frowning up at Alustriel. "Is he gonna die, then?"

Alustriel shook her head. "Probably not. I was able to stabilize him long enough to halt the progression of the disease, though it would have been much more difficult without your quick thinking. Right now I've suppressed his immune system with a similar chemical to the one he'd have been regularly exposed to in his own atmosphere." She looked somber. "This isn't a permanent solution. The drug I gave you will make you more vulnerable to pathogens you encounter, and your immune system might eventually learn to ignore it." She tapped the screen. "It the meantime, I'll look through your genes; there may be a way to fiddle with them and stop the disease at its source. But that could take a while, possibly years."

Drizzt nodded. "And until then?"

"Regular check-ups and a very careful regime of immunosuppressants." She patted his arm. "More vegetables wouldn't hurt, either. I know how dwarves stock their pantries and it won't do your cells any good."

"Dwarves..." He blinked twice, then tried to jolt upwards, only to be stopped by Alustriel and Catti-brie grabbing his shoulders. "Your father, the ship. We've missed liftoff."

"Da wouldn't leave without me," Catti-brie said. She grimaced. "But I had to explain why, which means he knows about ye now."

Alustriel's eyes scanned the two of them. "If you've lost your berth, I believe there's room on my shuttle for one more—"
"No!" Catti-brie crossed her arms, stubborn as a very small mountain. "He hasn't lost anythin'. Da already knows that if he's leaving Drizzt behind, he's leaving me too."
Alustriel seemed to be hiding a smile behind her hand. "Very well." She wrote something down and handed it to Catti-brie. "Then I will entrust you with this. We can set up another meeting in no less than three months. Galactic standard months, not dwarven or drow." She also handed the girl a small bottle of pills and gave Drizzt a stern look. "Those will run out in three months. One a day. Do not miss any."

"I daresay I can carry my own medicine," Drizzt pointed out dryly. Alustriel smiled and stood up.

"Not right now, you can't. You don't have any pockets."

After Alustriel had left, Drizzt clutched the blanket tighter and sighed.

"What happened to my clothes?" he asked. Catti-brie was clutching the bottle like she was worried it would try to fly away. She winced.

"Ye forgot? When ye fainted, ye landed right in a puddle of engine oil. Doctor Silverhand said it was an irritant, a carcinogen, and that ye had 'quite enough problems with yer health already, thank-you-very-much.'"

"Wonderful," Drizzt said, wondering how he was going to sneak through a crowded spaceport wearing nothing but a blanket.

"Da's coming by. He said he could bring some o' his spares."

-

Note: Biology and diseases are not my forte. Most of this is gleaned from some cautious skimming through wikipedia and the details are almost certainly wrong.

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