Tabitha bent over the microscope, studying the tissue sample. It was the same as the others, no sign of the virus, at least nothing she could detect. She sighed and put the sample back in the freezer.
“Our initial scans also found nothing,” Denny said. “It is not unreasonable to think you would also find no sign of it.”
Tabitha sat down again and frowned. “Without the ability to isolate the organism, I cannot even begin to study a possible inoculation or cure.”
“Even if you could, that is no guarantee that the quarantine would be lifted or that you would be allowed to leave. Though,” Denny added after a moment, “it would be a very convincing argument for it.”
“If I could get a fresh sample…”
Denny shook his head. “There is no way to isolate the virus to find a viable sample from the planet, and you have been unsuccessful isolating it from stored samples.” Denny meant samples from the old crew from cryogenic storage. It wouldn’t do to leave bodies lying around, and there was no ability to ship them for proper burial, so they had been frozen; not without some thought to exactly what Tabitha was trying to do right now: find the cure.
“Do you still have the original?”
“Only the files, the sample itself was fully consumed in testing.”
“There has to be some way,” she said.
“Incorrect. Though it is desirable to find a solution, that does not mean there is always one to be found.”
Tabitha sighed and pushed herself up from the work station. “Alright, please bring up the files on my tablet, I am going to rest for a while and will look over them again later. Maybe I missed something.”
He knew she was extremely intelligent and had extensive knowledge, but she did lack practical experience in these things, he could not deny. She had studied everything he had in his databanks about biology, chemistry, botany, microbes and more, but that was still not the same as cutting open a fresh specimen and getting her hands on the real items. But she was determined, and so he would do everything he could to help her.
Denny had himself spent untold processor time on the problem, studying the original files for anything that might have been overlooked in the scans, or by the scientists, but he could not even offer a reason for why Tabitha had showed apparent immunity to the virus, let alone offer a solution to the virus itself.
Tabitha stretched out on the bed and stared up at the ceiling. She had no real desire to leave the Tower to be away from it, but more to experience all the things she never could here. She wanted to feel the warmth of a rising sun on her face, or understand what it meant to drink a cool glass of lemonade on a hot summer day. She had never watched a spider climb across a wall or a bee flit from bloom to bloom. She had never pet a dog, felt the rain, or planted a garden; though she had planted seeds into a sprouting solution and watched little plants grow.
There were so many things she read about in books that seemed so amazing and wondrous to her, and yet she could not truly understand most of them. The Tower was the only thing she had ever known, the smooth walls and not-quite-gravity that was simulated through its spin, and the starry field that rotated once per minute outside the windows, punctuated by the planet below.
All this and more danced through her mind as she closed her eyes and slowly drifted to sleep, dreaming of tissue samples and strange plants.