“An historical event such as the Perseus Trial provides many potential challenges for a physician. Apart from the usual pressing medical duties aboard a starship, one must prepare for any number of contingencies and emergency situations. Trauma resulting from systems failure events, effects of extended quantum radiation exposure from slipstream travel on any number of interspecies physiologies, statistical probability increase of distress calls emanating from untold sectors of traveled space – and my own personal sense of responsibility for putting the Perseus Trial into the historical record – places me in an unusual position as a doctor, and indeed, a member of the Voyager Crew. However, I dare say this is one physician who is up to the task.”
The Emergency Medical Hologram killed the playback of the vocoder with a groan, and let it drop to the floor. He sat on the floor against the wall in sickbay, abject in darkness, and hid his face.
The Voyager sickbay sat in shambles after the attack. At least, it had felt
like an attack. Though the explosions had sounded like nothing a starship had ever produced, and had shaken the ship with incredible force. He sat here for days, afraid to work on his mobile emitter, afraid to venture out into the decks, afraid to be caught, and afraid of doing nothing.
The aural indicators of the biobed continued their low cadences. Captain Tuvok's biosigns sounded with an increasing stability compared to those of the past few days, when the Vulcan had wracked in violent pain and required force field restraint. The Doctor had no doubt but that he could have easily alleviated days of extreme suffering for the stoic Vulcan Captain, with a simple hypodermic treatment. If
the hypodermic capsules had not fallen off the table under the attacks in the nebula, scattering. It had been his first lesson in living with a disability – seeing how utterly for granted he had taken sight, something he now realized he had depended on for his entire vocation, and indeed, his whole photonic gestalt
The mixed hypo cartridges lay on the table uselessly. Of course, if the replicator somehow came back online, he could replicate the medicine he needed, but for one minor detail: should his patient react to the medication, the EMH could not respond, or indeed, even ascertain a diagnosis. Choosing the wrong medicine, or missing even a slight diagnostic cue, he might end up giving his patient anything from a mild histamine reaction to, oh, say, an intra-alveolar hemorrhage across the interstitial respiratory tissues, massive systemic air embolism, lung collapse and instant suffocation. Or worse
. No, the Doctor's best medicine lay in the Hippocratic corpus: First, do no harm
. Instead, he had endured his patient's violent bouts of suffering – with a personal toll that would haunt him forever. A feeling he was getting used to lately.
Listening to the aural signals of the biobed, the Doctor guessed that Captain Tuvok had lain unconscious for the better part of the day - or night. Upon waking, however, the patient might still exhibit signs of manic hallucination and extreme agitation; symptoms reminiscent of limbic excitation and cognito-emotive neuroinhibitory breakdowns more associated with a protovulcan biochemistry. Pon Farr, sans amour
. Which worried him even more.
The computer simply refused to assist. Tuvok's recent decrease in violent episodes could have indicated a homeostatic recuperation of the Doctor's only available prescription: time. Time for the Vulcan mind to heal itself in the only way it could. Logically.
Or, he mused darkly, it could indicate any number of other pathophysiologic causes: psychogenic fugue, neurotoxic reduction of locomotor response, amyloidic angiopathy, mindmeld-induced hypnogogia, degenerative neurological infection of alien prions, or – coma. To name but a few from his extensive, highly-imaginative exophysiological database.
Only a kernel of sense of duty compelled him to pick up his vocoder, and open his eyes against the oblivion.
“Emergency Medical Hologram's log, supplemental. By the sound of the deckplating Voyager is still in quantum slipstream, but on course to where, I cannot say. I can only hope that the computer's report of the destruction of a rogue red dwarf system was somehow, a glitch. After all, the computer systems are full of them at the moment.
“The intruder, as near as I can tell, has not attempted movement through the ship. For all I know it hasn't left the bridge for the past few days. Which would make it either extremely disciplined in the yogic arts, or getting nourishment and rest through...other alien means. Actually I have come to feel undisturbed in sickbay. The alien seems to have no need to leave the bridge. Which allows Captain Tuvok to recuperate in peace – despite my regrettable inability and ineptitude at treating him. If he were any other patient I could at least offer him the comfort of emotional support.” He cut the recording. I'm not a doctor, I'm a voyeur. And not even a proper one.
,” the voice strained.
The EMH jumped to his feet. “I'm here, Tuvok. How - how do you feel?”
“The ship -”
“I'm more concerned with your nervous system, and whether -”
The EMH sighed. “As near as I can tell the ship is in flight somewhere in the Delta Quadrant. But to where, I have no idea. The alien has taken full control, and the crew remains entirely incapacitated. And...I wish the news were as good for the Perseus. She may have been - lost
Tuvok redoubled his concentration in a herculean force of logic. “What...has...happened -”
“After your mindmeld failed on me, you suffered an extreme agitated episode and passed out. I brought you here, to sickbay. You've been here the past several days. I'm sorry but I'm unable to treat you. I'm completely visually-impaired.”
“A regrettable...condition...no doubt. However... No treatment can supplement...the need of logic for my condition. Doctor...thank...you.”
“For allowing me privilege to...your log entries. They have allowed...logic to return me...to a more lucid state.”
Tuvok strained to get up. The EMH felt around the panel interface. “I can at least remove your restraints - that is if you feel back in control of your kinetic responses.”
“That would be...appreciated, Doctor.” The field fell, and Tuvok sat up. “I am still experiencing...disorientation. However...I believe I will be able...to function adequately.”
“That's the first good news we've had in a while.”
“Unfortunately...that assessment will...be short-lived.”
“During your episodes, you kept repeating something. About 'Wildfire'.”
Tuvok stood and made his halting way to the computer panel. The keys responded to his touch with numerous failed responses.
“If it's computer access you want, I don't know how helpful that will be with all these malfunctions. However you could try interfacing my mobile emitter with the computer; I might be able to better ascertain our situation.”
“Negative, Doctor. The alien has no intention...of releasing control of computing systems. Furthermore, it is imperative...we do not reveal ourselves prematurely. Billions...of lives...may depend on us.”
The EMH felt his way to the workstation. “Billions
of lives? What do you mean?” He reached for Tuvok but felt only air.
“You must remain in sickbay,” Tuvok said from the next room.
“You – you know this? From the mindmeld with the alien? Did you learn anything else?”
A compartment opened in the office. It sounded like - the phaser hatch. “Affirmative,” replied Tuvok, followed by the sound of the sickbay doors.
The EMH fumbled against a work cart. “Wait! I need you!”
There was no reply.