Chapter 16

So, what crisis caused Stan’s uncharacteristic doubt?

Ever since the first illnesses began manifesting in the Paradisian exiles about 100 years before, the company physician, Dr. Maurice Pim, MD, PhD (in physiology), has insisted on the two leaders having an annual physical examination. Stan reluctantly submits to these exams, although he always waits until the very last day of the year to do it. On his most recent exam, Dr. Pim discovered something peculiar: Stan’s tonsils were abnormally small.

©iStock.com/janulla

©iStock.com/janulla

Unlike human tonsils, which some consider optional organs, Paradisian tonsils serve an absolutely vital role in maintaining health, being the only source of anát, a hormone responsible for the production of several factors involved in immunity in Paradisians. The finding of shrunken tonsils was unprecedented, so they had no information about what it might mean, but Dr. Pim ran a battery of tests to evaluate how well Stan’s immune system was functioning. The results, which came back on the evening prior to this Report Day, showed that Stan’s levels of anát were dropping, although the immune factors it controls had not yet fallen to abnormal levels.

Both men quickly realized that the problem could be expected to progress into an overwhelming and devastating illness similar to AIDS, although not infectious in origin. Furthermore, attempting to treat it would be charting unknown waters, making anything they did risky. Essentially, they’d be experimenting on their most indispensible member.

When Camille first encounters Stan on this Report Day, he’s still reeling from this discovery, having not slept at all the previous night. This concrete proof of what he knew intellectually to be true—that he will die without the Viv fruit—becomes the moment when the desperate reality of their situation hits home for him in a personal way. It not only scares him, it triggers a despair that is most unusual for him, a man who has flattered himself into believing he can do anything. Besides confronting the very real possibility of his own death, he’s also afraid that his mission will die with him, so that his 6,000 years of hard work would have all been for naught. (Remember, Doug has promised Stan and Camille—all of the exiles—that they will survive to meet him in the Final Battle and to see the final results of their choices; however, Stan doesn’t believe Doug’s assurances.)

When Camille “transfuses” Stan with energy, he remembers something important: as an elder brother, he can safely receive transfusions and transplants from any of his siblings. This fact arises from the manner in which Doug forms the siblings of a yushún, which is by suppressing and/or duplicating the elder brother’s genetic information—but never by adding to it. (For instance, he forms a sister by duplicating the elder brother’s X chromosome and suppressing the Y chromosome.) Therefore, Stan may possess factors that some of his siblings do not, but they can not possess any factor that he does not.

To illustrate this, consider another elder brother, Garrick, who has A-negative blood. His siblings are all A-negative or O-negative (O indicates the absence of either the A or B antigen). However, Garrick could never have a sibling with B, AB, or Rh-positive blood since Garrick himself does not possess the B or Rh factors. Since compatibility problems only arise when someone missing a factor receives blood from someone who has it, Garrick can receive blood from any sibling with impunity. This principle applies to any type of transfusion or transplant given to any elder brother; that is to say, he can safely receive any type of cells, fluid, or tissue from any sibling. (The same would not necessarily be true for other siblings.)

Although the idea of a tonsillar transplant occurs to Stan at this point, it isn’t his first choice. He immediately recognizes that such a procedure would require him to be put under general anesthesia, and the idea of being helpless terrifies him—not only must he trust someone else, it would provide a prime opportunity for someone to mount a coup d’état. The idea of a kiss then occurs to him because the levels of anát are exponentially higher in saliva than in blood. Besides, he (rather wishfully) thinks Camille might chalk his request up to perversion instead of illness, which is easier for his ego to swallow. This idea doesn’t pan out in the laboratory, however, because of the hormone’s short half-life, so they must resort to the tonsillar transplant.

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