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Story 58

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In a move that has sent shock waves across the various stock markets throughout the Drift System, STARKe Pharmaceuticals has declared bankruptcy after numerous lawsuits were filed against them related to two drugs that they’ve been developing, Zylol and Volomin. 

Effective immediately, they are ceasing production of all their medications and laying off tens of thousands of employees.

As you read this article on your tablet, you suddenly realize the potentially catastrophic results this could have on your comm officer. You better talk to him about this and weigh what your options are.

Just as you are getting ready to set your tablet down, your comm officer comes strolling into the galley.

“Morning Captain, is there any coffee on?”

You look up from the article, still processing the dire news. You glance at your comm officer, noticing the carefree expression on his face, unaware of the impending crisis.

“Morning, Lieutenant,” you reply with a forced smile. “There’s coffee in the pot, help yourself.”

The comm officer pours himself a cup and joins the Captain at the table. Sensing something off in the Captain’s demeanor, he furrows his brow and asks, “Is everything alright? You seem a bit… preoccupied.”

You hesitate for a moment before deciding to share the news with your officer. You hand over your tablet, pointing to the article about STARKe Pharmaceuticals’ bankruptcy.

As he reads through the article, his eyes widen with realization. He sets down his coffee abruptly. “This is bad,” he mutters under his breath. “The craziest part is that the Volomin has been working so well for me, that even this doesn’t seem to get me down despite the dire implications.”

“How dire are the implications?”, you ask.

“Did you see any of the commercials promoting this therapy?”

You simply nod in the affirmative.

“Well, at the end of all the commercials, they always have someone reading very rapidly all the potential side effects. The last thing it says is, ‘and in extremely rare cases… death.’ Apparently, this occurs when patients start skipping doses. The nanobots that have been injected can’t be removed and they are on the hunt for the nanoparticles contained in Volomin. In another three stands, when I run out of Volomin, the nanobots are going to start burrowing into various tissues and organs throughout my body trying to find those nanoparticles that are no longer there.”

“Let’s gather the rest of the crew and see what options we have.”

You and your comm officer quickly locate the rest of the crew and explain the situation to them. The atmosphere in the room becomes tense as everyone absorbs the magnitude of the crisis. Thoughts race through your mind as you try to consider what options are available.

Your comm officer speaks up, “If I die, you should probably just space me to ensure that the nanobots don’t try to find a new host.”

“I’m glad you want to protect the rest of us, but I want some options that don’t require you to end up on the wrong end of an air lock.”, is your response.

Your navigator speaks up, “Could the auto-doc remove the nanobots?”

Your comm officer responds, “Unfortunately, no. Even if we trusted the auto-doc for hemoperfusion, which I don’t, it wouldn’t be able to identify the nanobots.”

Your engineer speaks up, “So the auto-doc couldn’t do it, but how about a surgeon or a hematologist?”

You speak up, “These nanobots are going to be difficult to get at as they spend much of their time in the brain. A surgeon that would try this would also have to be a mad scientist to even attempt to pull this off.”

“So Merv Arken.”, is your engineer’s response.

“Maybe, what are some other options?”

Your navigator snaps his fingers, “When they shut down they must have had some Volomin in production, and I bet credits to croissants that those have made their way to Smuggler’s Den.”

This time your first officer speaks up, “Kei.”

“Go on.”

“The planet Kei is the largest source of counterfeit drugs in the Drift System. If they haven’t been making it already, they will be now.”

The comm officer speaks up, “I do like being on Volomin, but black market and counterfeit drugs sound expensive.”

Your engineer pipes up, “It probably will be expensive, but hiring a mad scientist to perform experimental surgery is probably the opposite of cheap.”

Your options seem to be:

  • Sending your comm officer on a space walk without an EV suit if you can’t help him before he runs out of Volomin. After three more rounds if there is no Volomin or surgeries performed, listen to/read Story 59.
  • Going to Smuggler’s Den to negotiate for some black market drugs. If you travel to Smuggler’s Den, listen to/read Story 60.
  • Visiting Kei to get some counterfeit Volomin, which is also likely a temporary fix, but is less likely to run out of supply compared to the black market. If you go to Kei, listen to/read Story 61.
  • Figuring out how to possibly come up with the necessary credits to see if Merv Arken will try and operate on your comm officer. If you go to Merv’s Missiles or Arken’s Arsenal, listen to/read Story 62.