kodiak 1.3 "hippocratic oath"

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  • 7/30/2019 Kodiak 1.3 "Hippocratic Oath"


    Copyright 2013 Kieran Palmer

    1.3. Hippocratic Oath

    It is the decision of this Board that Rukans may not lead medicalprocedures in which the patient is a human, instead only being

    permitted to assist during such operations at the discretion of themain physician. However, Rukans may lead medical procedures duringwhich the patient is another Rukan.

    - Viridi Medical Board; April 19, 2265.

    Previously on Kodiak:

    I can see that you refuse to tell the truth, Crichton said as he took acapped syringe from his pocket. We have clear protocols for this situation.

    What protocols?

    That youre likely defective and need to be euthanized.

    Crichton slowly began pressing down on the syringe, slowly sending thedeadly liquid into his artery.

    Suddenly, violently, Kodiak jerked his arm up; Shetland, not expecting anyresistance, immediately lost his grip. Kodiaks palm slammed against Crichtonswrist and forced it away, causing the needle to be yanked out of his neck in the



    Kodiak pulled his legs up and examined his feet. Poking the skin of his footwith a claw, he frowned as he failed to feel the pressure against his skin. Hetried again with the other foot, and got the same result. Why are my feetnumb? he wondered.


    Jefferson glanced back at Madura as she growled. She grinned at him, herteeth reflecting in the moonlight and then, without any further warning, with

    her hands restrained and not being at the right angle for kicking, attacked himin the only way she could.

    She reached forward, her teeth bared, and buried them into his neck.

    Jefferson screamed and Kodiak stared in horror as she bit down with all herstrength her jaws could muster; he dropped the gun and reached for his throat.A warm fluid flooded her mouth as she reached out with her freed hands andpushed him away, her teeth ripping across his neck before he fell to theground.


    Were the only Rukans in the entire world with the ability to makeindependent choices outside of human instructions, Kodiak told Madura. Helooked down at the post packet. Master Andrews gave me this gift for a

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    reason; I intent to find out what it was. For now, though, we should focus onjust staying alive.

    He cried out a moment later, grabbing his legs. Madura looked at him withworry. What is it?

    Kodiak stared down at his feet, his eyes wide. My legs. I cant feel my

    legs. He looked up at her. Madura, I cant move my feet. He leaned back andgasped. The poison.


    The poison they tried to kill me with, he told her between breaths. Ithink its still killing me.

    I thought you were recovering!

    So did I. But I cant feel anything. He stared at her, eyes wide with fear.Earlier tonight I found that my feet were numb to the touch. Now my legs arenumb and my feet are paralyzed. He tried again to wiggle his toes, but they

    refused to move. Madura, I think I need medical help.What? Why?

    What if this paralysis, or whatever it is, reaches my heart and lungs?

    She frowned. If we take you to a hospital, theyll kill you.

    If we do nothing, Ill die.

    Madura stared at him. So what do we do?


    And now the continuation

    October 15, 2610

    The morning sky was calm, the only noise surrounding them being thebackground droning of insects and the whistling of the air through the trees.Madura lay back on the grass and stared up at the gradually-brightening skyabove her.

    They had waited a couple of days to see if the poison was going to leave

    Kodiaks system on its own, but now Kodiak was helplessly lying on the groundand trying to keep breathing. We cant wait any longer, Kodiak told Madura.We have to risk a visit.

    She shook her head. I wont deliver yourself to your death.

    Kodiak scowled. Then carry me near the hospital and go in yourself.Youre not wanted by the authorities. At least, I dont think you are.

    Madura took a drink of water from the stream they were resting next to. Ithad been days since shed killed her master, Jefferson, but she could still tastehis blood in her mouth.

    His scream filled her mind as she remembered, blind with rage, shedclamped down on his neck and dug her sharp fangs into his artery. Like father,like daughter. She closed her eyes, shuddering and wishing the memory would

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    go away.


    Madura pulled herself back to the present and looked over at her husband.How bad is it? she asked quietly.

    He shook his head. All Ive got left is my neck and up. Its getting harder

    to breathe as well.

    Theyd have found Master Jeffersons body by now, she muttered. If I gointo town theyll recognize me.

    Please, Madura. Kodiak looked at her pleadingly. Help me with this.

    She closed her eyes and Jeffersons face briefly flashed through her mind.All right.

    Thank you. Grateful, he lay back down and closed his eyes.

    She stood and began walking back toward Hillside. Once Kodiak was out of

    sight and earshot, she leaned against a tree and closed her eyes. What wastheir life now going to be like? She could feel an inch on her back which shesuspected were ticks or mites from the woodland undergrowth; her fur wasfeeling matted from dirt and sweat and she was still wearing the pajama robeshed run away in.

    She wanted soaps, clean clothes, and a proper sleeping mat.

    Madura wanted her life back. But she had killed a human - theyd never lether have it back.

    She looked down at her trembling hands.

    This was her life now.She pushed herself away from the tree and resumed walking.


    Madura looked around with apprehension as she stepped into theemergency room of Hillside Hospital. She glanced around at the varioushumans and Rukans sitting in the chairs. She noticed that whilst there wereboth human and Rukan patients, some humans were being tended to by theirRukans whilst none of the Rukans were being assisted by a human.

    She stepped up to a kiosk with a New Arrivals sign hanging above. She

    touched the screen.Welcome to Hillside Hospital, the kiosk screen displayed. To allow an

    optimal service, answer the following questions as accurately as possible. Ifyou are not the patient, please answer questions on the patients behalf.

    She touched Continue. What followed were the actual questions, whicheither displayed pictures or words as possible answers. She worked her waythrough the questions.

    What species are you? the kiosk asked. She touched the Rukan outline.

    What is your name? She entered her mothers name instead of her own,

    not wanting to trigger any alarms.

    Where does it hurt? It showed a large outline of a Rukan body, and,uncertain as how to define body-wide paralysis to a computer, she pressed the

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    center of the chest to indicate the heart.

    Please describe the nature of the emergency. Select anything that applies.She selected Poison.

    Have you previously been given medication for this condition? No. Haveyou previously been seen a doctor regarding this issue? No. Do you have any

    allergies? No, as far as she was aware. When was the poison ingested?Twodays prior. Has the patient experienced nausea? Yes. Headaches? Yes.Diarrhea? No, thank goodness. Vomiting? Yes. Paralysis? Definitely.

    Processing, the kiosk announced and a rotating icon appeared. She stoodin front of the kiosk for a minute before two syringes dropped into a tray underthe kiosk.A general antitoxin has been dispensed. Take one as soon aspossible and another three hours later.

    A consultation with a Rukan medic is highly recommended for effectivetreatment.

    If patient does not improve two hours after the second injection, it iscritical that professional medical assistance be sought immediately.

    An appointment with a Rukan medic has been auto-scheduled on yourbehalf for tomorrow afternoon at 2:00 pm. Report to General Admission at12:30 pm tomorrow, pending your masters approval. She pressed Understoodand the screen reset back to its welcoming screen.

    She took the syringes and walked to the nearest wall to study them. Thesyringes were loaded and capped, bearing a label that identified than asGeneral Antitoxin [Oxythalin 8.5%] Rukan Use Only. She stared at them for afew moments and scowled. She couldnt risk them not working; her mate didnt

    have until tomorrow.Looking around the room, she spotted a nearby door with a sign on it

    marked Staff Only. A red electronic lock glowed next to the handle. Her eyesnarrowed as she formed a plan in her head, and she walked over to take a seatnext to the door.

    After a few minutes the door opened as a couple of doctors exited. Shequickly got to her feet and caught it before it closed fully, slipping inside andclosing it behind her.

    She found a door marked Rukan Staff Room. She placed a hand againstthe door but spotted a medical kiosk opposite the corner. She quickly obtainedtwo particular drugs from the kiosk (aided by the on-screen quick referenceguide) before ducking into the staff room and glancing around to make surethat she was alone. After raiding the closet and changing into a spare uniformfor Rukan female medics, she picked up a mug and filled it with water beforesitting at the table and pretending to read a digital newspaper. The first syringesat out of sight next to her leg on the chair.

    After about half an hour a male dark-furred Rukan stepped into the room,visibly fatigued. He shrugged off his lab coat and threw it into a basket beforesitting down at the table opposite Madura and running his hands down hismuzzle. Its been a busy day, huh?

    She nodded and turned the page.

    First that cub with the cough, then case after case of minor injuries. He

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    took a deep breath. Im just glad that all Ive got left today is to head for thedormitory and get a good night of sleep.

    Madura glanced up at him. What do you do here? she asked.

    Oh, this and that. He shrugged. Usually lab diagnostics but I also dooutpatient clinic work.

    Madura closed the newspaper and circled around the table. The malegrinned. What about you? I havent seen you around here. Did you justgraduate?

    His eyes widened as Madura grabbed his head and pushed the tip of thewhite syringe into his neck. Struggling, he tried to pry her away but Maduradidnt let go. After half a minute he stopped struggling and she felt his musclesgo limp as the anesthetic took effect. She lowered the unconscious males headto the table.

    Madura guessed that she didnt have much time. She stepped out into thecorridor and grabbed a spare gurney, pulling it into the staff room. She pickedup the male and dropped it onto the gurney with a thud, then quickly removedhis identification badge.

    The discarded lab coat was retrieved from the basket - she slipped herarms through the sleeves and clipped the ID to the front pocket. She took amoment to grab a few boxes of dried rations off the shelf above the sink andthrew them onto a tray under the gurneys bed. The final act was to grab thewhite cloth off the table and drape it over the medics body, leaving only thehead exposed. She then paused, took a deep breath, released it, and pushedthe gurney into the corridor.

    She wheeled the gurney down the corridor, nodding in greeting at thevarious physicians and medics she passed. She stopped as she reached asection marked as the dispensary. Behind the counter were two nurses - ahuman and a Rukan. Can I help you? the Rukan asked.

    I need medical supplies used to treat advanced poisoning, she told thenurse.

    Just the general stuff? he asked, getting to his feet and turning to enterthe storage room behind the desk. Dont you know what the poison is,exactly?

    She nodded. Of course I do. She snapped her claws in the air, as if tryingto remember. I cant remember the name of it. Its the stuff we use toeuthanize Rukans.

    You mean magnesium chloriduonide? the Rukan asked calmly. Notmuch call for reversing that treatment. He turned and checked the computer.Well, Ill see what we can do.

    Madura waited for a minute or two before the nurse returned. Okay, Ivegot tetrinetheride to scrub chlorinate from his nervous system, and activatedcharcoal to pull the remaining toxins from his system.

    Wait. Madura held up a hand. Chlorinate? I thought you said it was


    Chloriduonide, the nurse corrected. The Rukan body breaks downmagnesium chloriduonide into magnesium chlorinate if the dosage wasnt

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    enough to shut down body systems.

    Ah, of course. Madura smiled at him. Sorry - its just been a really badday.

    The Rukan returned the smile. I know the feeling. He glanced down atthe unconscious body on her gurney. Whats up with this fellow?

    Madura took the offered treatment packages. Her nerves were starting toget frayed as, with every passing moment, she was convinced that theauthorities would recognize her as a fraud and arrest her. And probably evenrecognize her as a murderer. Choked on a tennis ball, she replied and beganmoving away from the dispensary.

    Behind her, the Rukan nurses ear twitched with puzzlement before he satback down and continued his work on the computer.


    Madura pushed the bed through the front entrance and out into the

    parking lot. On the way, a couple of human doctors glanced at her; noting herlab coat, half-hidden identification badge, the boxes of food and theunconscious patient, they came to the conclusion that the male was a patientwho was being declined treatment. Can you believe this? she muttered to apassing Rukan medic for the benefit of the doctors, his master didnt evenwant to pick him up. Im going to have to transport him and his stuff to hisresidence. A waste of hospital resources, dont you think? The Rukan shruggedand the two doctors were now ignoring her.

    She stepped through the front doors and once she was out of sight half-carried, half-dragged the male and the supplies away from the building.


    Madura dropped the body as she spotted Kodiak where shed left him. Hiseyes were closed and she couldnt see his chest moving. Kodiak! shescreamed, running up to him and resting her head on his chest, her earssearching for any sign of a heartbeat. After a few seconds she heard a faintbeat and his chest rose slightly, but she wasnt relieved.

    He didnt have much time.

    She pulled the two anti-toxin syringes from her pocket and, breaking theseals, injected them both into his bloodstream. She then walked over to the

    male and injected the third drug shed obtained, a stimulant, into his arm.When he barely stirred after several seconds, she impatiently unsheathed herclaws and dug them into his muzzle, right where his whiskers were growing.

    The medics eyes snapped open as the pain coursed through him,combining with the stimulant to counter the anesthetic. Aarrrrggghhhh! hescreamed, bringing his hands up and holding onto his muzzle. He pulled themaway after a few seconds, searching them for any blood. He then looked up ather. What is your problem? he cried out, getting to his feet.

    I need you to treat him, she told the medic, pointing to Kodiaksunconscious form. I have the medicine you need, I just need your proficiency.

    Why not bring him to the hospital? the medic grumbled as Madurapushed the anti-toxin materials into his hand. Good grief, look at him - hesnearly dead already.

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    Dont say that! Madura snapped. We couldnt go to the hospitalbecause wed be arrested.

    Whatever for? the medic remarked as he examined the seals on thepackaging. Swiping at other staff? Youre going to lose your job if a humansees you acting like that, by the way.

    I dont work at the hospital.The medic blinked, trying to understand. But the uniform

    I stole it.

    The medic stared at her. Just who are you? he asked.

    She sighed. My name is Madura. The patient there is Kodiak, myhusband.

    The medic glanced between Madura and Kodiak and closed his eyes. Imsorry, but I cant treat you.

    What!? Madura exploded. Youre a medic, youre duty-bound to treatpeople.

    Im also required to follow orders, he replied, getting to his feet. Irecognize your names from the news. Youre both wanted for murder. I have nochoice but to report your location to my supervisor.

    Youre not going until you treat my husband, Madura growled.

    He looked at her with despair as he handed back the supplies. Look, I dowant to treat him. Really, I do. But Im not permitted to treat criminals withoutprior approval. Im sorry. He turned to leave. Which way heads back to thehospital?

    Like Id tell you? Madura scoffed.

    The medic shrugged. Fine. Ill head in a straight line until I find a trail,then follow that. Ill get back eventually. He began walking away from her.

    Madura looked at the supplies in her hands, then over at Kodiaks bodyand the post packet next to him, and something in her mind snapped.

    The medic cried out as Madura slammed into him from behind, sendingthem both crashing the red, wet leaves. Madura got him in a neck brace,wrapped her legs around his to prevent him getting up, and rolled over so that

    he was above her, facing away from her and unable to free himself. What areyou doing? he shouted with anger before she roughly grabbed his jaw andforced it open. The medic choked as she pushed one of the orange tablets - thesame tablet that had given her her free will - down to the back of his throatbefore pushing his jaw shut. The medic struggled but she held firm. Swallowit! she screamed into his ear. After a minute or so of struggling, she finally felthim swallow, and released him.

    The medic quickly got to his feet. What was that? he demanded with nosmall amount of anger and indignity. What did I just swallow?

    She tossed a second orange tablet at him. Study it yourself. She pointed

    into the distance. The hospital is that way.The medic glared at her before turning and running away.

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    The next day

    Selayar paused as she entered the lab. As Malukus assistant, she wasresponsible for ensuring that he had the materials he needed to carry out hisresearch at the hospital. But ever since hed returned a hour ago, his uniform

    torn and smeared with mud and wet leaves, hed been acting different. Shecouldnt put her claw on it, but he was definitely acting a bit odd.

    She silently watched him as he sat at his lab table, his elbow perched onthe surface as he held a small, orange tablet in front of his muzzle, almostclose enough to brush it with his whiskers. What are you? he whispered tothe tablet.

    Selayar decided that she should announce her presence, and carefullywhacked her tail against the door frame. Maluku looked up, startled for amoment, then relaxed when he saw who it was. Come in, he said with asmile. He looked at the box in her hands. Is that the spectrometer?

    She nodded. Master Reynolds wanted to know what it was for.

    You told him?

    Of course. Youre studying something you found in the woods during yourlunch break that you suspect may be used as a medication.

    Maluku nodded. Technically he hadnt lied, and his curiosity regarding thetablet that the crazy female had handed him (and shoved down his throat - hewas still a bit worried about that) had motivated him to stretch the facts. Heaccepted the box and began unpacking the device. Thanks, he told her.

    Selayar nodded and exited, leaving Maluku alone in the lab.Maluku activated his holo-computer and plugged the spectrometer into a

    port on the side. He then quickly removed the lid off the spectrometer, droppedthe tablet into the exposed tray, checked the levels on the test cartridges, andreplaced the lid. He then turned to his computers keyboard and tapped a keyto start the analysis.

    He got up while the machine worked and walked down the corridor to thestaff room. While there, he helped himself to a bottle of juice. He wantedsomething to eat, but for some reason the ration packs were missing.

    Shrugging, he grabbed another bottle - water, this time - and wandered

    back to the lab; he tossed the empty orange juice bottle into the trash can nextto the door. Setting his bottle of water aside, he looked at the projectionsuspended above the keyboard and noticed that the analysis was complete. Hetapped another key to display the result.

    A large, three-dimensional molecule appeared in front of him with abreakdown analysis written alongside. High levels of hydrozine, oxythalamide,and dopamide? Maluku read with surprise.

    He knew that dopamide could be converted into dopamine - aneurotransmitter. Its presence suggested that the compound stimulated thebrain somehow, but then what was hydrozine and oxythalamide doing beingpresent? Hydrozine was used in the correction of mental disorders, as itrendered fixed neural pathways susceptible to alteration, and oxythalamidewas a powerful neurostimulant.

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    He turned back to his keyboard, and typed in an instruction to find outwhat the purpose of the molecule was for, by comparing it to databases ofexisting products. He linked to the Viridi Medical Database, National BiologicalSubstances Database, and the Index of Pharmacology for good measure.

    A couple of minutes later the search ended. No matches found, it reported.

    Maluku frowned. If this was a drug then it should already be listed. Hepulled up his biological simulation program and ran the compound against bothRukan and physiologies.

    This test took a few more minutes, but when the results appeared Malukuwas completely confused. Bioanalysis indicates no effect on Homo sapienphysiology. Felis viridia physiology indicates a rise in neurological activity withincreased plasticity regarding abstractions. No negative side effects detected.

    Maluku stood up and began pacing, occasionally glancing back at thescreen as he thought this through.

    He had always been ambitious. Ever since hed been in school, hed drivenhimself to be the best. In group schooling, hed gotten first in reading andwriting skills, displaying an aptitude for fluent speech. During his specialtytraining, hed picked up quickly on the workings of the Rukan body and duringhis assessments had sought to impress the assessors with his knowledge andunderstanding of all things medical. When hed discovered that there was afitness component to his assessments, hed immediately taken to jogging andrunning and as a result had passed TGC endurance testing with a result that,while not spectacular, was better than hed expected. Thanks to all his efforts,he was now working in a hospital in a second-class suburb. It wasnt a first-class city, as hed been hoping, but he was grateful that unlike many of the

    other medically-trained Rukans he hadnt been licensed to the third-classsuburbs for the continuous treating of minor injuries. He had his share of minorinjuries here too, of course, but his intelligence was reward with access to alaboratory in which he could research whatever pleased him. He even had a labpartner, Selayar.

    Now, though, possibilities surged through his mind. That female gave methis compound, he thought. Now I can do so much more. I can see things that Icouldnt see before, and I might even be able to invent more medicaltechniques that could save lives! He took a drink from the water bottle. I cannow do much more for humans and Rukans that I otherwise thought I could.

    He stopped by the computer and saved the results of his work inside anencrypted folder. He didnt want this getting out to his co-workers.

    I can now achieve my true potential.

    But first there was something he needed to do.


    Madura watched anxiously as Kodiak stirred. Shed pushed the antidote forthe poison into his system soon as the medic had left yesterday, hoping thatshe was getting the dosage right. It appeared, though, that Kodiak was gettingbetter. His breathing over the past day had become less labored, and his

    heartbeat had been getting stronger.

    Kodiak opened his eyes a crack and groaned. Madura smiled at him.

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    Welcome back to the land of the living.

    He grunted and tried to move. The paralysis had begun subsiding, but notas quickly as she had hoped. As he moved, Kodiak found that his legs were stillunresponsive, and his arms still felt very weak.

    Madura helped him into a sitting-up position. You want something to

    eat? she asked him.He gave her a lopsided smile. Thanks. He winced.


    Small one, yeah. But its not too bad. He accepted the offered rationpack and looked at the label. TGC Premium Rukan Meals, he read. A blendof quality-controlled proteins, vitamins, and minerals designed to taste greatwhile giving your Rukan everything their body needs to serve. He shook thepacket. So its not actual food, then.

    Madura shrugged. I havent eaten for a few days. Ill take fresh bread at

    this point.Kodiak made a disgusted sound in the back of his throat. I can only have

    bread when its been burnt. And even then only when it got meat with it. Hethen chuckled as he tore the ration pack open.

    Whats funny?

    I used to have breakfast with Master Andrews, he told her. Bacon andeggs on toast. He shook his head. Im not sure if I enjoyed eating it becauseof the flavor or because of the company.

    They sat for a few minutes as they ate from the rations. Kodiak admitted

    that, while the food did have the taste of smoked meat, it was a lot weakerthan he would have preferred.

    But, then again, he hadnt eaten anything for nearly a week, and he wasfamished.

    Want another? Madura inquired.


    As they started on their second helping, Kodiak asked what was now on hismind. How did I get better?

    Madura swallowed what was in her mouth. I went to the hospital and gotsome drugs.

    He nodded. That makes sense. Thanks.

    And I kidnapped a medic.

    Kodiak nearly coughed on a chunk of protein. What!? he exclaimed. Youkidnapped a medic!? She nodded. Dare I ask how?

    Drugged him and wheeled him out on a gurney.

    He groaned. Kidnapping and theft? Adding to our criminal charges isntgoing to help us. He paused. Wait, did he recognize us?

    She nodded hesitantly. And you let him go? Kodiak said with alarm. Wehave to get out of here, before he reports us to the authorities.

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    I dont think he will.

    And what makes you so certain?

    Madura hesitated again. Well, he refused to treat you, and I dont knowwhy I did, but I felt like I had no choice.

    Madura. Kodiak looked at her with concern. What did you do?

    She swallowed. I shoved one of the orange tablets down his throat.

    You what!? What if the humans notice a change in his behavior? What ifthey kill him because of it?

    Hes a Rukan, like us. They wont care about the costs of replacing him.

    Yes they will!

    Not as much as if he were human! I mean, sure, theyll note the changesbut they wont act on it for a few days. Plenty more where we came from,right?

    So you took him because he was a Rukan?

    Thats right. A human wouldnt help us.

    That isnt much better than what humans do! Kodiak shouted.

    Dont give me that, Madura growled. You started all this, Kodiak.

    Me? He stared at her incredulously. What did I do?

    You gave me the drug!

    And you chose to drink it! Not like that medic - you didnt give him achoice.

    Madura glared at him, her claws involuntarily extended. Do you reallythink I would have chosen this? she cried. I could have turned you in. Thatway, Id be in a comfortable dormitory with my fellow Rukans right now insteadof having blood on my hands and these stupid ticks in my skin! Were barelysurviving here, Kodiak. Back there, I was actually living.

    You were living a lie, Kodiak insisted.

    She laughed. Look around you, Kodiak. Were living a lie right now. Werethe only two free Rukans, but were not free when were living like this. Werenot free until were with others, with our own culture. Without that, were not

    free - were nothing. Thats why I force-fed him a tablet, Kodiak, so that youlllive and we can have a chance at a future. Its why I gave him a second tabletto look at, so that we can know just what it does and use that information tomake plans, plans for an worthwhile future.

    Wait. Kodiak held up a hand. You gave him a second tablet? Shepaused before nodding. Madura! What if he gives it to the authorities? Whatwere you thinking? he shouted.

    I thought I was going to lose you! she shouted back as she leapt to herfeet. I was helpless as I saw you drifting closer and closer to death. Beforethat, I was helpless as Master Jefferson was about to kill you. She was pacing,

    both trying to explain to Kodiak and make sense of it to herself. Kodiak, shetold him, tears forming in her eyes, I cant stop tasting his blood in my mouth.I cant stop dreaming of when I tore his throat out. What does that make me?

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    He had no idea what to say.

    I just cant stand by and let you be hurt, she pleaded with him. Ivekilled to save your life - theres no going back from that. If I have to force freewill on a Rukan who has the resources to help us and give us some answersregarding this drug, then how does that compared to what I did in Hillside?She sat down next to him and grabbed his arm. I cant go back, Kodiak.Neither of us can go back. We can only go forward, and that medic can show ushow.

    Kodiak reached around and pulled Madura close. Im sorry, he whisperedas she cried against his shoulder.


    Later that evening they were having yet another meal from the rationpacks when they heard somebody approaching. Madura got to her feet, clawsextended, but they were both surprised when it wasnt an armed human thatappeared, but a Rukan wearing a medical uniform and a backpack resting on

    his shoulders.

    Maluku hesitantly approached. Im not here to hurt you, or to bring theothers to you, he said, hands raised and paw-pads facing them. I just want tohelp. He looked over at Kodiak, then at Madura. You gave him the antidote?She nodded. Well done. Have you still got the charcoal?

    Hes getting better, Madura told him, her ears still flattened fromsuspicion. Im handling it.

    He wont get much better unless the toxin is actually purged from hisbody, and you need the charcoal for that. I need to blend it into something for

    him to drink. He carefully lowered his hands. Please let me help.Madura thought it over for a few seconds, then sheathed her claws. All


    Im Maluku, by the way, he introduced himself.

    Shuyak. That there is my mate, Kodiak.

    He nodded and knelt down next to where Madura had left the medicines.Removing the backpack from his shoulders and dropping it onto the ground, hezipped it open and removed a large metal flask and cup. Madura, can youplease fill this with water from the stream over there? He held out the flask.

    She took it and took it to the stream. Kodiak watched Maluku as he brokethe seal on the charcoal and sniffed it. Seems okay, the medic said to himselfas Madura returned with the water. Maluku shook some of the charcoal into thewater, then removed a few small bottles from his pack.

    What are those? Madura wanted to know.

    Maluku carefully poured them into the water. The one with the blue labelhelps improve the efficiency of the activated charcoal, while this one, henodded at the yellow-labeled bottle in his hand, includes a broad-spectrumprobiotic. Im guessing from the looks of the two of you that you hadnt eatenmuch before you stole those rations?

    Madura glanced over at where the ration packs were sitting. Maluku raisedan eyebrow at her; he recognized the hospital asset tag printed on the side of

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    the boxes. She nodded. Then, Kodiak, the poison has probably affected a lot ofyour gut flora. This will restore it back to normal levels. He put the bottleaway, sealed the flask shut, and gave it a good shake before handing it overalong with the cup.

    Kodiak twisted the lid off and recoiled at the brackish smell. Gingerly, hepoured some of the mixture into the cup and lapped some of it into his mouth.Luurggghh, he grunted. Thats disgusting.

    How so? Madura asked, curiosity getting the better of her.

    Remember when we were in specialty training and we had that fooddare? She nodded. Remember the yogurt mixed with the uncooked oats?

    Madura made a disgusted face and walked away.

    Maluku watched her go as he slung his backpack over his shoulders. Yourwife, huh?


    Has she always been so temperamental?

    Kodiak sighed. No. Shes usually quite a calm and happy person, at leastfrom what I remember. But weve been having a bit of a hard time lately.

    Im not surprised. What with you being poisoned and her helping you.Maluku tilted his head. That euthanizing agent is usually quite concentrated.Im surprised that you survived.

    I barely managed to do so.

    Maluku glanced around him. So what do you call this place? he asked,gesturing at the wooded area surrounding them.

    Kodiak shrugged. Our new home, I guess, Kodiak told him.

    You should probably keep moving, Maluku advised him. I had a look ather file earlier. Shes from this suburb, and if youre serious about surviving Ihighly recommend that you move at least a couple of suburbs away. Its amiracle that nobody recognized her when she took me.

    Kodiak took another drink from the charcoal-water as a silence fellbetween them.

    Maluku broke it. Kodiak, Im a medic, he said. I took an oath to help

    those in need. Even those who drug me, kidnap me, and drag me into thewoods. The only exception is if human orders dictate me not to help in certainsituations, and yesterday those orders compelled me to refuse you help. Youalmost died because of humans orders. He paused. Im sorry.

    Kodiak tilted his head. I dont suppose you want to stay with us.

    Maluku frowned. And do what?

    Kodiak shrugged. I havent figured that out, exactly, but I essentially wantall Rukans to have the same free will the three of us now have.

    That could be dangerous.

    I think it will be worthwhile.

    Maluku thought it over for a few seconds, then shook his head. Im sorry,Kodiak. I cant. If you need medical help, then call me and Ill come out and

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    help you. But I cant leave Master Reynolds. They may have faults, but theyarent wrong or evil. I cant throw away a lifetime of friendship for some kind ofquest. And apparently neither can you.

    What are you talking about?

    Maluku looked pointedly at Kodiak. Your collar, Kodiak. Youre still wearing

    it.Kodiak reached up and touched the accessory. So?

    The collars represent our subjection to mankind. You killed MisterAndrews, your master. Why is it, then, that you still wear your collar?

    Kodiak raised his hand and touched the strap around his neck. I didnt killMaster Andrews.

    The authorities say you did.

    Theyre wrong.

    Maluku didnt hesitate. Going now. He began walking.I didnt kill him! Kodiak shouted. I was outside when the whole house

    exploded. I dont know why I had traces of explosives on my hands. The onlyodd things that happened beforehand was the visitor arriving, my masterserving me lunch, and a tube of tablets he gave me.

    Maluku shook his head. To be honest, I dont care whether you killed yourmaster or not, he said as he picked up his backpack. He gestured to thecharcoal drink. I should warn you that youll have a gut cramps for a few dayswhile your body purchases the poison, but I think youre going to be fine. Heturned and left the clearing.


    Two hours later

    Are you all right?

    Maluku looked up from a medical reference file on a tablet to see Selayar,his coworker, looking at him curiously. Im fine. Why do you ask?

    Youve been reading that page for twenty minutes, she pointed out.

    He shook his head. Sorry. Im just a bit distracted.

    Since studying the tablet, hed buried himself into his work but to hisdisappointment he hadnt discovered a keener understanding of medicalissues. Instead, though, hed been distracted by various thoughts that keptrunning through his mind.

    Problems? Selayar inquired.

    Of a sort.

    A patient?

    He sighed. Yeah.


    No. Rukan.

    Some Rukans just have to die. You know that. She paused. Which

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    Its a file that was referred to me recently, he lied. A patient namedKodiak. Heard of him?

    The defective patient from Ridgeside? she shook her head as she wentback to filling out her paperwork. Its a tragedy to see others lose their mind.

    Maluku turned the page. There are just some things that were in the filethat I cant quite shake from my mind.

    She reached forward and placed her hand on his. Maluku, she told him,what have humans ever done that hasnt benefited our kind? Name just onething thats hurt us as a species.

    Maluku looked at her. I cant think of anything.

    Exactly. She let go of his hand. We can trust their decisions.

    He resumed reading from the tablet for a few minutes before his eyesdrifted to the header: Rukan Medical Reference, 27th Edition. Turning to thetable of contents, he ran his finger down the entries until he found what he waslooking for. He tapped the entry and loaded the chapter.

    In 800 BC, Hippocrates, a pioneer in medicine, advanced the worldsknowledge in medical procedures. In addition, he has been credited with anoath that practitioners in medicine since 1927 AD have sworn themselves to asa standard and duty of care to their patients.

    The Hippocratic Oath reads as follows:

    - I will prescribe regimens for the good of my patients according to mytraining and never harm one of mankind. I will give any medicine that is

    deemed necessary for the treatment of a Rukan, regardless of my personalfeelings on a matter.

    - In every house where I come I will enter only for the good of my master,keeping myself far from anything that reflects poorly upon my master inregards to any intentional ill-doing and all seduction.

    - All that may come to my knowledge in the exercise of my profession orin daily commerce with men, which ought not to be spread abroad, I will keepsecret and will never reveal but to my master, so as to seek guidance inregards to a worthwhile treatment. Any instructions given to me by mymasters I shall carry out promptly and faithfully.

    - If I keep this oath faithfully, may I enjoy many blessings from the skyspirits and be respected by my peers and my masters; but if I swerve from it orviolate it, may the reverse be my life.

    He tapped the power button and got to his feet. He recognized the Oath asbeing the exact same one he had happily made three years ago. He had asuspicion, though, that his Oath may differ from a humans Oath.

    Leaving the library, he walked through the corridors of the hospital until hereach his masters office. He poked his head in and found the room empty, sohe walked over to the desk and tapped on his masters tablet, waking it up

    from sleep mode. The computer didnt have a password, so he went straight tothe stored library and opened up Human Medical Reference, 132nd Edition. Itdidnt take him long to find the Hippocratic Oath entry.

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    The entry began in exactly the same way as that in the Rukan MedicalReference, and he began to shake off his doubts. But then his eyes fell onto theoath itself. His eyes widened as he read.

    - I will prescribe regimens for the good of my patients according to myability and my judgment and never do harm to anyone. I will give no deadlymedicine to any one if asked, nor suggest any such counsel.

    - In every house where I come I will enter only for the good of my patients,keeping myself far from all intentional ill-doing and all seduction.

    - All that may come to my knowledge in the exercise of my profession orin daily commerce with men, which ought not to be spread abroad, I will keepsecret and will never reveal.

    - If I keep this oath faithfully, may I enjoy my life and practice my art,respected by all humanity and in all times; but if I swerve from it or violate it,may the reverse be my life.

    Never do harm to anyone, he whispered. There was no discrimination inthis document between Rukan and human; if this was the oath that humansswore themselves to, then why did they do harm to Rukans?


    He looked up and saw Master Reynolds entering his office, a puzzled lookon his face. Can I help you?

    No, sir. I was just checking something. He exited the program andreturned the tablet to its desktop.

    Clarkeson glanced at the device. What were you doing on my tablet?

    Youre not supposed to be using it.I know, sir.

    You havent answered my question.

    Maluku stared at his master. I was curious.


    Our medical reference doesnt have anything on human hematology,Maluku lied, using the first idea that came to mind. I was wondering if our RBCwas the same as that of a humans. I needed access to your human medicalreference.

    This was in regards to a blood test? Maluku nodded. Were the levelsnormal? Another nod. Then why pursue the subject?

    Maluku swallowed. I was just curious, sir. Reynolds raised an eyebrow atthis, so he quickly added, it wont happen again.

    Reynolds sighed. No harm done, I suppose. Youre excused. Malukubegan walking towards the doorway when the human added, Are they?

    He stopped. Sir?

    Are Rukan RBC levels the same as human RBC levels?

    Maluku paused. Reynolds was clearly suspicious, and Maluku hadntactually looked up the RBC charts. If he answered incorrectly, his lie would beexposed and hed find himself facing difficulties.

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    Higher, sir.

    Reynolds smiled. Thats right, he slowly replied, and relief filled theRukan. Next time, if you mustknow something about human biology, come tome first.

    I will, Master Reynolds.

    He checked his watch. Its the end of your shift. You can head back toyour dormitory now.

    Thank you, sir.

    Maluku stepped back out into the corridor, confused by his thoughts.

    He could understand why the information on medical matters was differentbetween the two medical references - one dealt with Rukans, the other withhumans. But the historical points and especially the Hippocratic Oath shouldhave been the same, so why did they differ? Why did the human version giveno special consideration for ones species? He knew that Rukans didnt exist in

    Hippocrates time, but that didnt explain why one put priority on human lifeand the other didnt.

    Never do harm to anyone. He chewed over that thought as he returned tohis dormitory.


    The next day

    Maluku glanced up at Selayar, then back down at their patient. The two ofthem were operating on the lungs of an anesthetized Rukan. According to hisfile, the Rukan had been working on a farm when a silo had fallen on him,

    crushing his ribcage. A metal beam has also impaled his chest, smashingthrough the sternum and narrowly avoiding the heart but passing through theright lung instead. Maluku had gotten the bleeding under control but the lungswere still in critical shape. On top of that, they were having difficulty stabilizinghis heart rhythms. How are his vitals? he asked.

    O2 saturation at 96, Selayar reported. Pulse at 49, respiration at 5 andsteady.

    What about the arrhythmia?

    Still there, but Im keeping an eye on it.

    Maluku scowled as he found the last piece of the shattered sternum andcarefully removed it. He tilted it in the light and scowled at what he saw.

    The official story was that the wound had been due to a steel bar,removed at the site. But Maluku could see that the wound was more consistentwith that of a knife blade, and the impact trauma was remarkably similar tobeing stuck with a cricket bat. Hed also performed the pre-surgicalexamination of the patient, and had discovered evidence of numerous otherfractures and bruises, all from past injuries that had healed but weresuspiciously absent from his medical records.

    Thats the last of it, he said as he dropped the bone into a metal bowl.Now for the tricky part. He reached in and carefully felt along the anteriorupper lobe for the cut, quickly finding it. Keeping one finger against the edge ofthe cut so he didnt lose it, he reached with his other hand and picked up a

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    tissue patch from the sterile tray. He carefully slid this into the lobe and held itagainst the lung tissue. Again holding it in place with one hand, he reached forthe tray and picked up the reagent. He sprayed the reagent against the tissuepatch and smiled as the fibers quickly began bonding to the lung tissue, sealingthe wound. Over time, he knew, the tissue patch would be assimilated into thesurrounding tissue as the body accepted it as its own, forming blood pathways

    through it and replacing it with its own cells over time. But for now the woundwas sealed, stopping any air from passing through and stopping any internalbleeding.

    He quickly pulled his hands free, though, as the Rukan started convulsing.Alarms sounded on the monitors above his head. Hes fibrillating! Selayarshouted.

    Forty milligrams of oxythalin IV, Maluku ordered.

    Selayar injected the chemical into the IV line and the Rukan stoppedconvulsing. Charge paddles to fifty, he ordered. Oxythalin was a powerful

    cardio-pulmonary stimulant. On a normal person it would rapidly increaseoxygen delivery and heart rate, but on somebody whose heart had stopped ithypersensitized them instead - all Selayar needed to do was give a small jolt tothe patient and the heart should resume beating.

    Charged, she told him.

    Shock him, he ordered. He took a step back as she reached in andplaced the paddles in his chest against his heart. After confirming the powersettings, she squeezed the control on the paddles and delivered the charge.

    Maluku stared as the alarms continued to sound - his heart hadntrestarted. Charge to seventy, he ordered, and do it.

    She complied after he stepped back, and once again the heart gave asmall shudder before returning to an inert state. Do it again, Maluku said.This time at two hundred.

    Two hundred is dangerous for somebody on oxythalin.

    Just do it! he snapped.

    She blinked. Charging two hundred, she echoed, and rotated the controlknob. The light came on a few seconds later and she delivered the charge.

    Beep beep. Beep beep. Hes back, Maluku said with relief as he saw the

    heart beating steadily inside the chest. He began to reach back in.The beeping stopped and the alarms sounded once more as the heart

    ceased beating after just a few moments. Come on! Maluku shouted. Notbothering with the paddles this time, he reached in and began massaging theheart manually.

    Maluku, a voice said at the door.

    Im busy here, he growled, his ears flattening against his head withannoyance.

    No, youre not. Cease operating immediately.

    Maluku paused before removing his hands from the patient. He turned andsaw Master Reynolds standing at the entry to the operating room. Werepulling the plug on this Rukan, he was told. His owner doesnt want anything

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    more done for him.

    But Im almost done! Maluku argued. Ive patched the lung. All I have todo is stabilize this arrhythmia.

    You cant even get the heart beating.

    Its probably reacting the meds weve given him. We can put him on an

    external cardio pump until they filter out of his system, then his heart shouldbe working fine again. I dont have to lose this patient.

    Reynolds narrowed his eyes. This Rukan, he said, speaking slowly andcarefully, is no longer your patient. By his owners request, he will beeuthanized and destroyed.

    Maluku stared at his master, several retorts racing through his mind. Herealized that many of them echoed what Kodiak had said to him.

    Look where he ended up, part of his mind reasoned. But then heremembered his oath, and squeezed his eyes shut.

    If I speak out now, he knew, its unlikely that this Rukans fate will change,but I will be treated like Kodiak was. I can do more for my kind, forboth kinds,by remaining silent.

    Good, Reynolds said, evidently satisfied by Malukus silence. Go washup and prepare for the night shift. Ill take over from here.

    Maluku exited the operating room, pulling off his surgical gown as he didso. As he changed his clothes in the locker room, ignoring the other Rukansaround him, he wondered where he now stood on his convictions.

    He closed his eyes and leaned forward, resting his forehead against the

    plastic of the locker and sighing with resignation.


    Kodiak looked over at Madura as she entered the camp. She kicked at thegrass, her gaze on the ground in front of her and her ears drooped. Hey, hesaid quietly.

    She didnt reply, but sat down next to him. He didnt say anything as shefidgeted with a twig. He smiled as she turned to look at his legs - he was ableto move them a bit now. Youre getting better? she asked.

    He glanced down at them. Yeah, he said. That drink must be doing its

    job well. At this rate Ill be back to my old self in a couple of days.

    Madura nodded, and Kodiak frowned. Whats wrong? he asked.

    She sighed. Kodiak, what are we doing here? He looked confused, so sheexplained. We cant keep doing this. I cant keep doing this - just living alonein the woods. I need my friends; the company of other people. She looked himin the eye. Id rather be locked up than live alone.

    Youve got me.

    For now, yes, she told him. But when something goes wrong, andtheres no reason to expect otherwise, what choices do I face? I either allow

    you to die or I commit some kind of crime in order to save your life. I dontwant to have to make that choice. Not again.

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    What are you saying?

    The tablets. She repositioned herself from a sitting position into one oflying down on her back alongside him, with her head resting against hisstomach. She looked up at him. Each of those tablets represents a free Rukan.We should start giving them out.

    Kodiak shook his head. I dont think thats a good idea.Why not? she demanded. Isnt it a bit selfish to keep this opportunity to


    Its selfish to think that we can just uproot the lives of others, he arguedback. We have to be careful, Madura. I will be giving them out, but we have tomake the best use of them.

    He smiled down at her and scratched between her ears. Trust me. Wewont be alone forever.

    She nodded and closed her eyes. The image of Master Jefferson lying on

    the ground in the dark, hands clasped with futility to the spurting wound on hisneck and the blood seeping into the ground underneath him, flashed throughher mind.

    Madura gritted her teeth, silently begging the sky spirits to make thememory go away.


    He didnt have any difficulty sneaking out at night and finding their camp.Their human masters trusted that the Rukans wouldnt be running away fromtheir duty. Hello? Permission to enter? he called out as he saw Kodiak and

    Madura resting together on the grass. Kodiak looked up and beckoned Malukuover.

    Couldnt sleep? he asked the medic.

    Yeah. He sat down near the couple and brought his tail around to hisfront for warmth. I had some things on my mind.

    Kodiak and Madura waited for him to continue, so after a few seconds ofsilence he did. I thought that it would make me smarter, he said with someconfusion in his voice, but instead it made me doubt my master! My master,to whom Ive been faithful for three years! Why would I start doubting himnow?

    Because thats what the tablet does, Kodiak told him. It makes us seebeyond an unconditional trust in human authority.

    Why? Maluku demanded. Why would it do that? What possibleadvantage could be gained by being crippled in such a fashion?

    Kodiak got to his feet. His stance was unsteady, but he managed not to fallover. It freed Madura and I, and now its freed you.

    Free? Maluku laughed. Free to do what?

    Whatever we want, Madura told him.

    What I wantis to help others recover from illness and injury.

    Then keep on doing that, Kodiak replied. Continue on as a healer; only

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    now you can make your own decisions without humans making the choice foryou.

    Maluku closed his eyes. I lost a patient today, he admitted. A Rukan. Icould have easily saved him, but Master Reynolds ordered me not to. Heopened his eyes and stared at Kodiak. Back at my graduation I swore touphold the Hippocratic Oath, but I found out earlier that the oath I took isnteven the Hippocratic Oath, but a human-favored version of it. The humanversion states that I would do no harm to anyone. Tell me, please: how can Icontinue on and still do no harm?

    I cant answer that, Kodiak told him gently.

    Its its just that, Maluku said in frustration, now that I can see thedifferences in care between Rukans and humans, I cantgo back to pretendinghow things were. I cant go back to allowing Rukans to die because humanschoose to allow it. I cant do that.

    Kodiak hesitated. You could join us.

    Join you? Maluku frowned. What do you mean?

    Madura doesnt want to continue living alone, and I dont blame her. Itsnot enough for us to survive - we have to build a new future for our kind. Hetilted his head as ideas came to him. If you join us in freeing other Rukans,then you can still hold to your oath. You swore to find new ways of healing -what better form of healing could there be than helping bring Rukans the samerights as humans?

    Maluku groaned. I dont know.

    The way I see it, you have two options, Kodiak said firmly. One - you can

    go back to your old life and pretend that nothing happened, but youll knowthat youre perpetuating a life. Or two - you can join us and help us free theRukans. I cant promise that no harm will be dealt, but the eventual good forour kind has to be worth it.

    No harm, Maluku muttered and sat down.

    Kodiak watched him for a few moments, then walked over and sat downnext to him. A patient comes to you with an infected limb, he said quietly.You have no drugs to help you - no painkillers and no antibiotics. The only stuffyou have is a laser saw and a pressure bandage. You know that cutting off thelimb would cause your patient great agony, but if you do nothing the infectionwould end up killing him. What do you do?

    Maluku turned and stared at him. Ill have to amputate the limb.

    Dont you see? Kodiak insisted. Our instinct to trust human authority islike an infection. Since we were created we have practically no culture of ourown - everything has been determined by humans. They tell us what to eat,what to wear, where to live, and what to do. If we cant advance as a culture,then what is our value? What is our future? Maluku, we have to do this. It wontbe painless, and it wont be harmless, but if we succeed we will have ensured afuture for our people. He paused. So what do you say? Are you with us?

    Madura sat there for several seconds staring up into the trees, lost inthought, before he looked back at Kodiak. To knowingly allow our kind toremain in slavery is one of the worst things I could ever do.

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    Kodiak grinned. Thank you.

    But, Maluku continued, I still cant leave Master Reynolds - hes beenkind to me, helped give me my education, and on the whole hes been quitekind to Rukankind. No, it wouldnt be fair or just to just abandon my duty tohim. Ill help out as I can, but Ill also continue my work at the hospital.

    Kodiak nodded. I understand. He tapped at his collar. You asked me whyI still wear my collar, when it represents slavery? Well, to me it also representsdevotion, and Im sure that if Master Andrews was still alive today I wouldprobably still be serving him even with free will.

    They got to their feet. Madura and I are clearing out tomorrow, so Ill seeyou around, Kodiak responded, and let you know where our new camp willbe.

    I look forward to it, the medic replied with a smile before turning awayand walking back into the woods.

    When he got back to the hospital and changed into his pajamas, he lookedaround the dormitory at the dozen or so other male Rukans asleep around him.The Oath entered his mind and he mentally recited it with a new-found sense ofconviction as he crawled into bed.

    I will act for the good of my patients and to the best of my abilities,keeping from all intentional ill-doing. I will not take advantage of theirweaknesses.

    All that I learn will be used for the benefit of the wellbeing of my patients. Iwill not hold back from treatments out of ignorance, nor will I reject ideas thathave even slight possibilities of success.

    In regards to anything and everything that I do, I make this solemn vow:

    That I shall do no harm to another.

    To be continued in 1.4 Inheritance