Author : Patricia Stewart, Staff Writer

“So, that’s him?” asked Benjamin Goldberg, the reporter from the World Post that was assigned to cover the Berlin Massacre.

“Yes,” replied Doctor Ludwig. “That’s the scum that brought the Procyon Virus to Earth. It’s killed twenty million people already. The casualty count will no doubt double before it’s over.” The two humans stared in disgust at the large biped reptile lying unconscious on the hospital bed. The interstellar war had produced plenty of fatalities when the fighting was confined to space, but when the Procyon High Council decided that it was acceptable to use biological weapons against Earth’s civilian population, the escalation of causalities was devastating. “What do you think the government plans to do with it?” asked the Doctor.

Goldberg noted that the doctor selected the pronoun ‘it’ rather than ‘he’ when referring to the creature. “Assuming HE lives,” Goldberg replied, “there will be a trial. It will be broadcast live to the entire quadrant. The damn Procyons will no doubt pick it up, and make this bastard into a planetary hero. The ironic part is that he’s just a mule they grabbed from the slums. He has no intelligence or military value whatsoever. A trial just gives us the right to execute him. Unfortunately, it’ll be great propaganda for the Procyons. It would have been better for us if he had died.” The reporter turned to the guard standing next to the bed. “How come you guys captured him alive? Couldn’t you have put a phaser hole in his head?”

“Sorry,” said the soldier. “As much as we wanted to, the Centauri Convention specifies that we must see to it that the wounded are collected and cared for. The wording is very specific, we cannot ‘willfully kill a prisoner.’ That’s what makes us better than them. Frankly, I wish it were dead too. That bastard killed my sister and her two kids. How about you doctor, can’t you turn off its respirator?”

“Unfortunately, no,” replied Doctor Ludwig. “The Hippocratic Oath, which I swore to uphold, says that ‘above all, I must not play God.’ That applies to all sentient life forms, not just humans.”

“Too bad,” reflected the soldier. Then, changing the subject, “If you think it’s safe to leave it unguarded Doctor, I need a cup of coffee and a cigarette.”

“With 50 milligrams of Medetomidine in it, it’s not going anywhere. Come on, we’ll join you. My treat,” suggested the Doctor.

As the three humans walked down the hallway toward the cafeteria, Goldberg said, “Crap, I left my notes in the room. I’ll be right back.” Goldberg jogged back to the room and grabbed his notepad. He paused over the alien and thought about how he had hoped that this story would win him a Pulitzer Prize. However, upon reflection, Goldberg decided that he didn’t want to become famous on the graves of so many of his fellow Earthmen. Nor did he want his reporting to help this lousy lizard become a Procyon demigod. On the other hand, there was the Journalists’ Code of Professional Ethics that said he ‘should report the story, not become part of it.’ “Ah Hell,” Goldberg finally said after coming to terms with his moral conflict, “We’ve been violating that oath for centuries. Why start now?” He reached over and flipped the respirator’s toggle switch to the “off” position. He waited long enough to make sure it had stopped breathing. Interesting, he realized. He had changed pronouns too. Then, with an uplifted spirit that he hadn’t felt in months, he strutted out of the ward to rejoin the others.


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