In the Black

One of the nice things about being an Empyrean is having access to the highest levels of medical care available in New Eden. Even still, as was common across all the Empires, there was always a wait, and I hated waiting.

I sat in the waiting area, looking at the other pod pilots, listening to a muzak version of “A Jita Welcome”, which really sounded awful to me, but I suppose was flattering to already be redone as a soothing piece to pass the time.

There was minor small talk amongst the waiting patients, but generally I wasn’t interested in the lives of other immortals; it was typically the same rhetoric about killboards, uberness and how awesome they were in every way. I couldn’t really hear them over the sound of how bad ass I am.

“Roc Wieler, the physician will see you.” the comely receptionist said, inviting me to longer wait in a private room. Finally, the doctor was available to see me.

“So, what seems to be the problem today?” he began, as they always do.

“Embarassingly, I have this intermittent and completely random pain in my big toe. When it happens, I can’t even walk. There’s no consistency to it, nothing I can isolate to cause it to happen, but it’s annoying as hell, and inconvenient to be immobilized by such a stupid thing.” I explained.

“I see.” he said, as they always do. “Could be any number of regular ailments, but typically you capsuleers aren’t susceptible to those things. Maybe you’ve a faulty clone.”

Lovely, I thought to myself.

“Let’s order up some tests.” he said, as they always do.

Several hours later, XRays, bone scans, CT Scans and other tests all revealed nothing conclusive.

“Well, I suppose it could be arthritis, in which case you’ll just have to cope with it.” he said, as they always do. “Not much can be done. I wouldn’t worry too much about it. In your line of work, you’re sure to be in a fresh clone soon anyway. I’d just check with your med techs to verify it’s not something being copied into your duplicates.”

I didn’t like that answer. I had no intentions of dying again soon, and certainly didn’t want to have to “cope” with something that had proven enough of a hindrance to me to seek medical advice, something I did reluctantly in the best of scenarios.

“Well, is there something I can do in the meantime?” I implored.

“Of course. I could prescribe some drugs to help reduce inflammation and numb the pain, but you’re best bet is stay off the foot.” he said. “I see here that you’re physically active. That will have to be on indefinite hiatus to give yourself time to heal; 6 – 8 weeks then we’ll meet again.”

Yeah, that wasn’t going to happen.

“Not one for drugs, doc.” I said, memories of Vitoc and other substances I’d endured having developed within me a hatred for all things unnatural. “There any natural remedies I can try?”

The doctor sighed, looking around as if checking to see if he was being spied upon, then leaned in close as if to tell me a wondrous secret.

“Look,” he began. “I shouldn’t be telling you this, but I will.” he said with a conspiratorial twinkle in his eyes. “Legally, diseases can only be treated with drugs. To prescribe anything else could actually result in me going to jail.”

“You’re shitting me.” I said, curious as to the rationale for his conspiracy theory.

“Regrettably, I wish that were the case. You see, there are many natural remedies for pretty much anything that ails you. The problem is, they can’t be patented, as they are natural. Chribba Pharmaceuticals, and a few of the other lager pharma companies literally have agreements in place with the Concord Drug Administration. While you would think drugs would be effectual and beneficial to the public they are meant to serve, they often have side effects worse than the current ailment, but the pharma companies and the CDA aren’t looking out for the public; they’re in it to protect stockholders, which means showing a profit, being in the black. Simply put, curing disease isn’t profitable, so they don’t want to do it.”

I wanted to pick apart his theory, but quickly recalling my own experiences, I couldn’t help but come to the same conclusion. Pharma companies were businesses, and all businesses wanted to profit. Eliminating your customer base resulted in the extinction of your companies, and knowing some of the mega corporations, and the trillions of isk they made, that would never happen. As with many things, it was all politics and back room deals.

“Give a quick search on GalNet.” he said. “You’ll find any number of natural solutions there that will help you out.” He paused for a moment. “You’re lucky really.” he said, letting the statement hang in the air.

“Oh?” I asked, prompting him to continue.

“Definitely. Just had a pilot in here who picked up a nasty parasite during a recon mission to a nullsec world. It literally incubates in the testicles, and by the time it’s ready to gestate, it’s too late. Within a matter of minutes, the testes swell up to the size of melons, then literally hatch from the inside out, the parasites exploding onto the flesh of the host, eating as they go. Intermittent toe pain really doesn’t seem that bad now, does it?” he said with a grin.

“Yeah, I’m good.” I said, the colour drained from my face.

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