Monday, August 10, 2015

Only a Small Medical Emergency - I

Oppenheimer’s departure from Deep Space Nine had been an experience to try the most beatific of Vulcans. As a hub of crew transfers, supply drops, and ship refits, occasional logistical mistakes at a busy station were only natural.  When that station is overloaded with novice crew and staffed with officers less familiar with the mix of Federation and Cardassian technology, one accepted the mistakes as commonplace and tried to avoid total catastrophe. Oppenheimer's supplies had been mis-appropriated to three different ships – all unwilling to release Oppenheimer's supplies until their supplies were found.  Her departure window had moved so many times the deck crew had to be re-briefed on adjusted procedure and contacts twice. Post departure, just as Sri was counting herself lucky, the quartermaster on watch discovered five crewmen milling about the mess hall who thought they were on the USS Lyons.  Not minutes later, the Lyons sent out a hysterical alert; the furious captain declared the crewmen deserters and demanded they be arrested and detained.  Despite Chief Security Officer Tran’s eagerness to put them in irons – he hadn’t had a chance to use irons, after all --   Lt Commander Sri decided they were merely lost and to make sure they had some lunch before transfer.  However, instead of bowls of hot plomeek soup,  the replicator produced a hypo of nutrients that resembled that of plomeek soup.  Closer inspection revealed the replicator to be a medical replicator, not a food replicator and that several crewmen had used the replicator to make hundreds of medical hypos – mostly stimulants controlled under Starfleet regulations.  Sri merely sighed and  ordered and enthusiastic Tran to head up the investigation to track down the hypos, mentally contacted D’Shyv to swap out the replicators, and sent the errant crewmen to sickbay for a bowl of soup.

The Lyons had rushed to the Oppenheimer at top speed and come aside for a transport maneuver that brought the Lyons so close the Oppenheimer had gone to yellow alert – which woke Captain Tilmana from his sleep cycle and resulted in a surprise inspection of the bridge by the captain in his pajamas , Syvok in tow. In the end, the captain shook his head in resignation and went back to sleep.  

So when the Oppenheimer established standard orbit around  the Colony world of Hironus I, rather than retreat into a typical sleep cycle, Lieutenant Commander Sri all but fled to the planetary surface of the rustic, but perfectly serviceable planet.  Pleased to find that the colony was less of a settlement and more of a series of cities, Sri picked a location that was modern, but hidden in a far off enough corner that she could enjoy some solitude. She sat at a simple table and watched the mix of Deka and Jestral leaves swirl around in her as her cup of steaming water went from clear to a soft, golden color.  She let her thoughts drift in the singular moment, free from the press of minds on the station or the USS Oppenheimer.  Occasional tugs of other minds brushed by, but she ignored them until a polite cough made her open her eyes and look across the table where stood a young Ferengi.  In that moment, while the Ferengi’s thoughts themselves were hazy static, his presence – his simple mental existence -- was very clear.  At first, Sri felt a moment of annoyance, until she realized that he wore a Starfleet uniform and his face and lips were unnaturally swollen. She glanced to his ears, and saw the lobes and an unhealthy, almost bluish cast.

“Pardon me, Lieutenant Commander. I am sorry to intrude. My combadge isn’t working. May I trouble you to please let my commander know – Ensign Farnsbury – know that Specialist Nath has gone to report the medical facility?” His voice, Sri realized, was soft and there was a slight wheeze to his breathing.

As she studied the Ferengi, she reached for her tricorder, then remembered she had very deliberately left her tricorder on the USS Oppenheimer.  She frowned. “Are you alright, crewman?” she asked, even though he was clearly not.

“I believe it is a reaction to some medicine I took for my headache. Nothing really, I just was hoping-“

Sri tapped her combadge, only to find her was similarly not working like Nath’s.  She frowned, tapping it again.  “Do you know what’s preventing communications, Specialist?” She sighed at Nath’s shrug. “Very well. I shall accompany you to a medical facility.”

“I do not wish to be a bother, Lieutenant Commander—“

“Starfleet regulations” Sri interrupted gently, “are pretty clear on this, crewman. You should be accompanied to sickbay—“

“It is just an allergic reaction.”

“You sound out of breath.”

“Only slightly. I-“

Sri rose from her chair and the crewman took a step back. “I’ll go with you. It would be terrible for someone to find you face-down in some back alley because you had collapsed on your way to a medical facility.”

“At least this is not Drozana Station, where if I was face down, it would most likely be in a pool of someone else’s sick.”

Sri wrinkled her nose. “Lets try to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

The nearest facility was a small affair and understaffed.  The patients -- mostly civilian – slackly waited in simple chairs as a trio of medical technicians did their best to herd them alone. Despite the brisk movements of the technicians, the line moved glacially. “I hope you brought your PADD, Lieutenant Commander.” Nath said, “This could take a while.”

One technician, a stout Bajoran waved Sri and Nath forward to a low counter that separated the reception area from the treatment rooms. “What happened?”

Nath held out a small vial. “A doctor on the USS Serapis told me to take this, but I think I’m having an allergic reaction to it.”

“Are you experiencing any discomfort?”

“I am. My lobes itch terribly, and my face and tongue is swollen.”

“Are you having trouble breathing?”

Nath looked back at the motionless queue, and when he replied, his breath had considerably more rasp. “Yes, I believe I am.”

Sri rolled her eyes as the technician pressed a button, causing part of the barrier to slide back. “Oh, come back with me.”. Nath followed the technician into a back area while Sri waited with the lethargic queue, wondering if those that were waiting had taken root.  She did not have long to wait, however. Nath returned, but looked no better.

“We have to go to a medical facility.” He wheezed.

“Isn’t this a medical facility?”  Sri asked, her tone slightly annoyed.

“This a clinic. They do not have a medical replicator available, and they have used up their supply of hypos.”

“They can’t replicate hypos?” Sri asked, surprised, and perhaps a little louder than she intended, as she felt some of the inattention in the queue focusing on her and Nath.  She quickly added in a more subdued tone. “Let’s get you to a proper sick bay.”

Nath pointed to a nearby Taxi stand. “The technician at the clinic told me where the nearest full facility is several kilometers away. I believe we can take some sort of taxi.”

The first taxi was empty,  but another taxi’s driver was sleeping in the front, his head lolled back.  They got into the back, and Sri slammed the door extra hard to wake him.  Nath, his voice a whisper due to his swollen throat, leaned forward to the driver and whispered, “I need to go to the emergency medical facility, please.”

The driver shook his head, nearly hitting Nath in the face with the ornamental beads strung in his hair. “What? Yes. The Hospital. Of course.”   He started the flyer which shuddered to life and sat as the driver tapped on a panel. He completed his task, and the flyer hovered a little, suspended a couple decimeters off the ground. There it remained for almost a full minute until Sri leaned forward.

“Excuse me, but this man needs to get to a medical facility.”

“Oh you need to get there quickly? Okay.” The flyer rose slowly toward a lane with several other flyers, obsequiously inching forward nose to tail in a train of fliers,  ignoring the clear airspace a scant few meters away.  Sri looked to Nath, who rested his head against the viewport and sighed.

The pilot tried to make conversation as the flyer nosed along. “Your friend is sick? Are they okay?”

Sri bit back a more sarcastic reply. “No, they are not okay. That’s why we’re going to an emergency medical facility.  Is there a chance we can go faster?”

“Oh. Okay. Its traffic control is messed up again. Your friend – he’s not…”

“Yes, he’s dying.” She lied with a quick efficiency and waved away Nath’s startled look.

“Dying?” The driver asked with a morbid combination of revulsion and interest.

“Old age, at this rate.” Nath muttered. “Is it possible we can walk to the facility from here?”

“Its just a little further.” The driver replied with in blasé tone that convinced Sri that he had heard far, far worse from previous customers, dying or otherwise.

As the flyer landed, Sri said, “I’ll pay the driver, you just get into the facility.”

Nath looked at Sri, his whispered voice suddenly emotional. “That is very generous of you, Lieutenant Commander. I will pay you back, with appropriate interest.” The depth of his feeling was strong enough for her to even feel through the static.  Had she singlehandedly saved his life, he would wouldn’t have regarded her half as warmly as he did for her offer to pay. Sri waved off his sudden tenderness. “Just go.” She turned her attention to the driver, handing over strips of Latinum.  The drive counted change slowly and when she slid out of the flyer and briskly walked into the medical facility, Nath was gone.

Oh well done, Sri she thought sourly. You’ve lost your first patient.