Fandom: Babylon 5
Character: Doctor Stephen Franklin
Spoilers: Season 4 Civil War arc
Word Count: 716
Written for: choc_fic Round II, February 12
Prompt: Babylon 5, Doctor Stephen Franklin: fighting the Shadows. First, do no harm.
Before he and Marcus boarded their cargo ship for Mars, Doctor Stephen Franklin spent two hours sitting in a seldom-used corner of his domain, staring at the cryogenic chambers full of weaponized human beings. He himself had personally checked and double-checked the identification of each selected for their task, to make sure only those who had no one to miss them were included in the shipment. As if those with family had a greater right to life than those without. He had spent hours poring over the medical data and consulting with his staff, praying for some miraculous idea that might allow them to remove the Shadow devices from the frozen telepaths, anything he could take to
Primum Non Nocere. It had been written on the board on the front of the room, in his first class on his first day of medical school. Medical Ethics 101, taken simultaneously with a host of basic practical courses. Everyone in that class had begrudged the time it took, swamped as they were by the load of classes that would actually be useful to them—after all, they were all civilized people. What could it teach that they didn’t already know?
Staring at the ranks of cryo-chambers, Stephen wished he’d paid more attention. First, do no harm—yet he was sending every one of these people to their deaths. He knew of no way to cure them, and their sacrifice would save thousands of lives at the very least—maybe all of Earth itself. If lives could be added and subtracted like numbers, the arithmetic added up,
These thirty men and women would be smuggled up to
First do no harm. During the Earth-Minbari war, the military had asked for his files on Minbari physiology, to turn medicine into weapons. To use information he had collected from patients he had treated to attack those patients and their entire species. Stephen had refused, and been imprisoned for that refusal. The war had been going badly, there had been serious concerns that the human race would not survive the war, yet Stephen had clung to his principles and refused to supply that which might save his own people at the cost of another. He had sat in his cell, secure in his righteousness. Now, about to break that same cornerstone of his profession, without even the excuse of survival, Stephen wished for that certainty of black and white. His time on
The two situations were nothing alike, Stephen knew that. This project had a specific goal that would do a specific amount of harm, opening the way for a much greater good, saving other lives. This project could not backfire on them, nor could it spread beyond specific military targets. The thirty telepaths who would die as part of it would feel little pain, would be released from their suffering in the only way Stephen knew, and there was no hope for any treatment for them other than to keep them frozen and wait for future advances that would probably take decades to appear if it could be done at all.
Captain Sheridan had argued that, successfully. Stephen knew it was all true. He just wished it didn’t make him feel so damned dirty.