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Old April 30 2008, 05:20 PM   #9
Triskelion
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Re: Sleeping at Warp

6


“I was not aware that Starfleet Medical even had a policy of diagnosis by jury.”

“Really, Doctor, this is not a time to be facetious.”

“That’s funny, Administrator. I was just about to say the same thing to you.” The Emergency Medical Hologram looked down at the PADD being offered back to him, but he refused to accept it. He was at the limit of his diplomacy algorithms, which had increased processing from the moment he had admitted his two patients to the Starfleet Medical facility in the Mars Orbital Complex. The very latest in medical facilities were not enough to guarantee even decent treatment in what the Doctor saw as a lack of efficiency, capable treatment, and most of all, common courtesy.

“Doctors Klekhak and Ng not only disagree with your diagnosis,” said Commander Barul, a doughy Trevian with erratic gray hair, a row of occipital bone extrusions, and serious-looking double irises. “They say the patients’ conditions have been treated and rectified. There’s no reason for holding these patients any longer, Doctor; let alone in quarantine. This is a working Fleet Yard medical facility. Not an academy of research, or your tugboat medical bay.”

“Certainly not. My starship medical bay has certain medical standards to uphold. But you see the evidence, it’s in your hand—”

“On the contrary. I’m afraid I must concur with Doctors Klekhak and Ng. I see no evidence of affliction here.” He insisted with the PADD.

The EMH took the device. “Perhaps the afflictions aren’t restricted to the patients around here.”

“Please release both patients from the medical bay, Doctor.”

Really—he may have called the EMH “Doctor”, but the way he said it—the way they all said it—triggered his image management subroutines. They believe I am a piece of holographic medical equipment, he thought. Or is it professional jealousy? Manifesting itself as invalidation and prejudice? Regardless, it was an all-too-familiar refrain when dealing with organics. Imperfect programming.

But the Doctor’s decision-making heuristics inhibited those broader subroutines of civic ideology. The protocols dealing with his patients, and close friends, B’Elanna and Miral Torres of Voyager, occupied the lion’s share of his cognitive and emotive processing. He had brought Miral into the universe. Naturally he felt a special responsibility to protect her from its denizens, such as these Utopian—quacks. He said it. He’d had to access his linguistic database and go back four hundred years to find an appropriate term for them, but there it was, deeply buried in history the way such medical practices by now ought to be.

The EMH had to find a way to act in the best interest of his patients—and was beginning to realize that neither the Voyager sickbay nor the Mars Orbital Medical Facility would meet their needs. He activated a memo to contact Starfleet Medical on Earth to arrange for possible transfer to a state-of-the-art hospital with real doctors—organic, holographic, or otherwise.

“Am I intruding?”

The Administrator stood. “Captain. Please come in. We were just finished.”

“They told me I’d find you here.” Captain Chakotay entered Administrator Barul’s office. He held a small stuffed toy known on Earth as a “teddy bear”. Terran custom often called for such gifts in hospital visitations. Personally the Doctor had never understood the bedside appeal of Earth’s Ursidae of the Carnivora order; but he did understand the mammalian penchant for embracing the warm, soft and fuzzy in stress-dependency situations. He ran his fingers over his hairless scalp, wondering why Dr. Lewis Zimmerman had not considered this fact when designing the EMH visual holomatrix.

“Is there any problem?” Chakotay asked.

“Captain,” the EMH persisted, “We’re at an impasse. The medical staff of this…facility,” echoing their own verbal characteristic, “does not seem as interested in diagnosing their patients as they are in discharging them prematurely and ‘hoping for the best’. They are ordering the release of B’Elanna and Miral.”

“I went to visit them but I couldn’t get past the force field. What’s their condition?”

The EMH broke his gaze from Barul and entreated his Captain. “I’ve placed them in isolation as a precaution.” He handed Chakotay the PADD displaying abstracted neuroscans of the two patients. “In both patients there has been evidence of temporary neurotransmitter distortion and electrochemical interference. Barring the initial fainting, it doesn’t appear to be much of a threat at all, except—”

“That it has occurred simultaneously in mother and daughter?” Chakotay guessed.

The EMH nodded. “And in similar distribution patterns in the major cranial lobes and moving throughout the nervous system. Yet I cannot determine its point of origin, nor find any medical or environmental cause whatsoever, and it seems to have corrected itself.”

“Which is why I’m discharging them,” Barul interjected, sitting.

“Sure,” replied the EMH. “Just send them off on a starship without determining the etiology or transmittal of a condition that arbitrarily disrupts neural activity. After all, we wouldn’t want to disturb the serene environs of this cozy space station with patients. What could go wrong?” he asked the ceiling.

“Doctor,” Chakotay admonished. “Do you believe this condition could pose some kind of neurological threat to the crew?”

“Until I find the cause of this disruption,” he said, “I couldn’t speculate as to the potential effects, or whether it could happen again. But I wouldn’t want to find out the hard way at warp nine.”

The EMH was grateful to notice Chakotay’s dark eyes responding in agreement.

“Administrator. The Doctor has me concerned. I’d like to request that you authorize an extension for the patients from my ship,” he said, a little reminder for Barul of who was in authority on Voyager. He smiled congenially. “In fact I’ll consider it a personal favor.”

Barul’s cheeks flushed a bluish tint. “Why certainly, Captain!”

“And I’m sure Admiral Janeway will be paying a visit to her former senior officer and personal friend Lieutenant Torres. In fact, she’ll likely be in later today, after she learns of their condition.”

“Erp? Captain, it would be our pleasure to accommodate these patients, at least until we deem it—”

“It might be a good time to requisition any resources or equipment you might happen to need around here. I would be happy to speak to the Admiral on your behalf.”

“That’s very generous of you, Sir. In fact we do have a need for some recent Denobulan technology, for which we’ve been backlisted for months now—”

“As a matter of fact, the Admiral will be meeting with the Denobulan ambassador in the days to come; perhaps she will be able to pull some strings on your behalf. On our way to Alpha Centauri, Voyager will be passing several Federation starships returning from Denobulan space. I see no reason we couldn’t rendezvous with one to collect what you need. For now perhaps it would be best if we defer to our EMH’s judgment as to when we might get out of your—way. Knowing their full medical histories as he does.”

“Yes. Yes, of course, Captain. Thank you, Captain. Our facility is your facility, Doctor.”

Chakotay nodded perfunctorily. “Thank you, Administrator.”

The EMH lifted his chin at the Administrator, and they left.


Outside the quarantine bay, Chakotay and the EMH looked over B’Elanna and Miral Torres, sedated on side-by-side medical beds.

“Captain,” the Doctor exhaled, “thank you. But I don’t understand. You could have just ordered the Commander to comply.”

“Yes; but I couldn’t order him to change his professional medical determination in a facility he’s in charge of. He would have won.”

“It would appear there are elements to command not programmed into my holographic protocols.”

“How long do you intend to observe them, Doctor?”

“I’m not sure. At least seventy-two hours longer. Captain, I’d like permission to take them to Earth—if their condition should reassert itself. The facilities here—”

“Permission granted. But Doctor.”

“Yes?”

“I’ll need you back on board Voyager for the Perseus Trials.”

“Captain, I can’t—”

“You’re still Voyager’s Chief Medical Officer. Your duty is to the whole crew. Voyager will be departing the system a full day before the trials begin; we need to take up a position in Alpha Centauri and take readings on the quantum slipstream before we send Perseus through. We’ll need you there.”

“I understand, Captain, but—”

“I’m worried about them too, Doctor. But you said yourself you can’t find the source of their condition. Isn’t it reasonable to let the doctors at HQ Medical pool their experience as well?”

The EMH had to concur, but so many of his subroutines were outputting the same conclusion: he didn’t like it.

Chakotay moved to leave. He paused, then handed the Doctor the teddy bear. He went.

The Doctor held up the bear. “You agree with me, don’t you.”
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