beatrice_otter: All true wealth is biological (Wealth)
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Title: Primum Non Nocere
Author: [personal profile] beatrice_otter
Fandom: Babylon 5
Rating: PG
Character: Doctor Stephen Franklin
Warnings: none
Spoilers: Season 4 Civil War arc
Word Count: 716
Written for: [profile] 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 Sheridan to plead for a different answer.  Nothing had come.

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, Sheridan was unquestionably right about that.  It still meant that Stephen was knowingly and willingly killing these people, just as if he were to inject them with poison.

These thirty men and women would be smuggled up to Clark’s ships on the eve of the battle, and released from their tubes.  The Shadows’ programming would take over, and they would attempt to merge with the ships.  In so doing, they would cripple ships never designed to interface with a biological component, and the crews of those ships would kill them.  They would have to; it would be the only way to take back control of their ships in the press of battle.  But the minutes it would take to figure out the problem and take action would give Sheridan’s fleet time to arrive and take out those ships, a swift victory instead of a slugging match that would give Clark time to call in reinforcements.

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 Babylon 5 had taught him more than he wanted to know about shades of grey, and the shadows that lurked in them.

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.

(no subject)

Date: 2008-02-13 12:22 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Very nice! I love fics that give us an inside look on these dilemmas that are so glibly proposed in canon.

(no subject)

Date: 2008-02-13 11:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Very good. I loved the look on Stephen's face when he finally got told the plan for the telepaths. It said volumes that they didn't have time to develop. I would love to know Lyta's reaction as well....Stephen's one of my favorite characters, and it's good to see him being used.

(no subject)

Date: 2008-02-17 01:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Wonderfully chilling.

(no subject)

Date: 2008-02-17 10:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Very nice. I like fanfic that fills in what the show couldn't, and this sounds so very like what Stephen was probably feeling during that time.

(no subject)

Date: 2008-02-18 08:07 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Harsh. (But then, he's not one to let himself off the hook.)

(no subject)

Date: 2008-02-19 03:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
*gives Dr. Franklin a big warm hug* This is exactly how he would have felt, that warm and wonderful man.


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