Jeb nodded. “Let’s not give up just yet. How long do we have?”
Dr. Pasteur shrugged. “He’s adapting to our attempts to keep him under. I wouldn’t wait more than an hour.”
The geneticist, who had reached out to clasp Donna Bel’s hand, answered, “No gene therapy we’ve tried has worked on the Paleos, much less J.R.”
“And I’ve dosed him with enough Imposazine to cure a Trigelian Rex of ghonnoriac leprosy. Medical science has failed us. His new DNA is simply too adaptable.”
“So, we gotta give him his old DNA back?” LaFuentes asked. The doctor, in a rare display of emotion, glared at him like he was an idiot, but the geneticist perked up and snapped her fingers.
“Your teleporters! We can get you a copy of his original DNA, and you know the foreign elements that are infecting him. Let’s put him in the teleporter and take out the pathogen that’s invaded his DNA and cells?”
The doctor sighed. “It doesn’t work that way. We need very recent, complete scans of his system on the thread level.”
“Thread?” the geneticist asked.
“Sorry, teleporter theory was developed long after your ship had disappeared. You see, threads are the particles that make up strings that make the quanta that make us all,” the doctor explained. “However, it’s an amazing amount of data, so the teleporter erases it once it’s verified that the person has arrived safely in whatever condition he was found in. It clears the buffers for the next teleport.
“But here’s where it gets complex. We know there’s a finite amount of matter and energy in the multiverse. Those are defined as the threads, which travel among the universes. Every decision you make, from whether you decide to nod sagely or stare at me with confusion like you are right now causes the threads to move into the new universe with you or break away to be replaced with different threads. Enough small decisions – or a few major ones – and you are no longer dealing with the same person on a thread level. The teleporters can’t reconcile the differences consistently, and if they don’t you could end up with a completely different person.”
“How do you know so much about teleportation and thread theory?” Enigo asked.
“Are you kidding? This is the first class we take at HuFleet medical. Every doctor wants goes in wanting to miraculously cure their patients using the teleporter. It’s a ridiculously stupid idea bordering on malpractice.”
Captain Tiberius nodded thoughtfully. “So we can cross the Mitchell line -”
“Ain’t gonna happen, Captain.”
“We can kill a man who happens to be family, or we can try something ridiculously stupid. So… How many decisions before we get another person?”
“You’re kidding me, right? No, of course not. This is the Impulsive.” Dr. Pasteur sighed, then did as any good HuFleet member did. He told himself, “Screw it. Hold my beer and watch.”
Aloud, he said, “Well, in theory, if we had his last teleporter scan and we could just reprogram the DNA, it might be enough. There’s a chance of dementia.”
“He’s already demented,” Jeb countered, “At least this way, he won’t have godlike powers to go with it.”
“He’ll at least lose some of his memories. He’ll probably experience temporary dizziness, drowsiness, lack of coordination – obviously, he should not fly the ship or operate heavy machinery…”
“He’s not going to like that,” Bobby muttered.
“…constipation, swelling of the hands and feet, night sweats, halitosis, loss of libido…”
Donna Bel turned to Ellie Su, “Will you be all right with that?”
She nodded bravely, and Jeb knew she’d be able to handle it, particularly since her bare foot was rubbing against his calf.
“…and of course, he’ll need regular genetic testing to make sure the condition doesn’t reassert itself, and it should go without saying that he should not father any children, which considering the libido loss, probably won’t be an issue. But this is all academic, anyway. We don’t have his teleporter scan. ”
“Actually,” LaFuents said, “we may.”