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Side Stage: USS Montana

Posted on 26 Oct 2023 @ 7:59pm by The Narrator & Mika Rai'z D.Sc.

908 words; about a 5 minute read

Mission: Miranda
Location: Sickbay, USS Montana

The chief medical officer of the USS Montana, Doctor Thacker, was...perplexed.

Several of its synonyms--such as confused, baffled, boggled--would have sufficed, but Thacker was good with perplexed. With nearly a third of the Intrepid-class vessel's crew sick now and still not the first hint as to what they were dealing with, she just didn't know where to go with it. Crew was being quarantined, some in sickbay and some in their quarters, while test after test was run...

What could possibly have burned through so much of the crew in just the past couple of days? How long until she too fell ill...

Time for more discussion, it seemed. "Doctor Thacker to Doctor Rai'z. Come see me when you have a moment?"

Doctor Mika Rai'z was sitting at the counter of the clinical pathology research lab when he received the communication. He had just finished reviewing the notes from the previous day and taking his own. After rubbing the back of his neck, he hit the communication device and said, almost grimly, "I suppose it's a good time now." He got up from his seat and added, "I'm on my way."

Thacker was on her third (fifth?) cup of coffee by the time he arrived. She was drinking it was standing next to the replicator, half-expecting to finish this one right there and just order the next. "Ah, Doctor, thank you for coming so quickly," the CMO said wearily. "Can I offer you anything to drink?" She was there, after all.

Mika glanced at the replicator, contemplating for a moment. His eyes settled on the comforting sight of a steaming cup of coffee. "Coffee sounds wonderful, actually," he replied with a grateful smile.

With two cups of coffee in hand, she returned to her desk--handing him his cup on the way by. Once she'd sat and taken a drink, she continued, "Before we jump into it, how are you feeling? Not developing any symptoms of our rampant illness, I hope?"

Mika took a thoughtful sip of his coffee, considering her question. "So far, I haven't experienced any symptoms, fortunately," he replied, offering a small smile. "But given the rate at which it's spreading, we can't be too complacent. I'm making sure to take all necessary precautions."

Thacker nodded wearily. "We are all doing the best we can, but without knowing more about how it is actually spreading, we're lost for any certainty..." She took a long drink from her coffee and then looked up at the civilian specialist again. "I don't suppose we have any better clues about what's going on yet, do we?"

Mika settled into a chair and weakly smiled as he held his cup of coffee. He took a moment to organize his thoughts before providing an answer. "Although we do not have any definitive answers yet, we have observed some unusual characteristics in how this illness is spreading and behaving," he began. He then took a deep breath and focused his eyes.

"Based on the data we have gathered so far, it appears that the illness is spreading in a manner similar to that of a virus, but there is more to it than that. The biological indicators we have discovered in the affected patients do not entirely match those of a typical viral infection," he explained. "This pathogen seems to survive outside of the body longer than normal viruses do. It exhibits remarkable resilience and an ability to persist in the environment," he elaborated. "This characteristic may explain why it has spread so rapidly throughout the ship."

"That's...terrifying," Thacker said, blowing out a breath as her brain circled around this new information and she tried to process it. It wasn't that she was unfamiliar with virology, of course, but she was exhausted in every way possible and the coffee wasn't quite doing the trick. "Any theories on what could explain something like this?" Maybe his brain was working better than hers.

Mika's features betrayed an uneasiness as he responded, his voice carrying a tone of conviction. "Bioengineering."

" a biological weapon?" Thacker replied darkly.

Mika nodded and said, "Possibly," believing it to be the case. "Yes."

Just the thought of people weaponizing things like this sent a shiver down her spine, but her brain immediately started to race toward explanations and evidence. "When did the first patient show up? Five...six days ago?"

"That was six days ago," Mika said with certainty.

What happened six days ago... Thacker thought hard. The civilian merchant! "Just after... What was his name... Teague was here?"

Mika's mind went back to when he'd been told about the merchant and when that was. He nodded, "I believe so."

"But he passed through all our biological scans and precautions. How could he have brought it?" The CMO might not be in charge of all things secured, but she was very well-versed in what precautions the ship took against pretty much this exact scenario. No Starfleet vessel would have let a risk aboard, so the man had to have been clean. But...if it was designed to get past them...

"If it was bioengineered, it may have been designed to bypass sensor readings and transporter biofilters," Mika answered, figuring, by the look on her face, he was confirming what she may already be thinking.

"Hell," Thacker said, rubbing her face vigorously. "I have to go talk to the captain."


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