Matt took one step into sickbay, and then stopped as he heard the raised voices of the two doctors.
“No, you bloodless, inhuman, piece of technology,” Quincy snarled, “the key is the Xi-227 protein chain! That single segment on chromosome 7 is what locked the changes!”
“You are mistaken, Doctor,” the holograph answered with a pained look on his face. “Xi-227 is inverted
, making it a mirror copy of the Chi-083 chain on chromosome 10! We can’t treat Xi-227/7 without first correcting the engineering to Chi-083/10.”
Matt shook his head and then he spotted Amanda Tsien sitting on a biobed watching the argument intensely. The captain limped over to her side, and he whispered, “How long has this been going on?”
“Hours, Captain. I am barely following their arguments, but it is like watching Quincy argue with himself: it’s a train wreck and I can’t look away,” she whispered back, her eyes locked on the two medical professionals and their waving arms and pointing fingers.
Suddenly the noise level abated, as the scans of the Nephkyrie soldier ensconced in another biobed updated. “Hmmmmmm?” went both Doctors at the same time.
Matt cleared his throat, and the two doctors—one human and one holographic—looked up.
“When did you come in, Matt?” asked Quincy.
“We can call him Matt now?” the hologram interjected.
“No, you collection of assembled photon particles, we
can’t call him that: I
can call him that!”
“There is no reason to be rude,” the hologram replied. “Although considering your lack of overall intelligence, I should have expected it.”
“Why you . . .”
“Doctors!” Matt snapped, causing both of the physicians to turn around and face him. “What is the status of your research?”
“We have . . .” Quincy began, as the hologram uttered at the same time, “There has . . .”
Both stopped and glared at each other.
“One at a time, gentlemen,” the captain said gently. “Quincy?”
“It’s going to take time, Matt. The engineered changes are extremely subtle in many cases and we have to go through and find those changes before we make any recommendations on a treatment.”
“Having a living Nephkyrie to examine, Captain,” Dr. Woolsey continued, “has only opened more questions. If we try to remove the modifications without examining all of the implications, it might have the effect of causing wide-spread genetic mutation—possibly fatal levels of mutation.”
“I concur,” Quincy snarled. “And no, Matt, we won’t have an answer before Independence
arrives, not without the actual medical data on exactly how the Nephkyrie made these modifications and an example of the pre-modified genetic coding.”
“We can infer the species original genetic coding through the modification markers, Doctor,” the hologram added, “but it will take time to do an examination of each individual protein chain—the order of modification is more difficult to interpolate and remains quite open to interpretation.”
Quincy glared at the hologram, but then he at last nodded. “The protein chains are a like a key, Matt; we can pick the lock, but it might damage it at the same time.”
“How long?” Matt asked.
“Days? Weeks?” answered Quincy with a shrug.
“Months? Years?” Woolsey glumly whispered.
Matt nodded and he limped over to the intercom on the wall, pressing a stud. “Bridge, Dahlgren.”
“Go ahead, Sir
,” Chan answered.
“Plan C, Mister Shrak. Inform Arrogant
that she is to accompany us. And patch me through to Sam.”
“Sam, we can’t count on the medical treatment; so we are going to try the third option. I want you and Balao
to remain here on station. Use the probes to keep that vessel under observation and inform me at once if there are any changes.”
“Understood, Sir. Good hunting
Matt released the comm stud and he turned back around to face to the Doctors. “Gentlemen, continue your research; perhaps we will get lucky. Miss Tsien, we will need you on the bridge.”
And with that Matt limped out, trailed by the Science Officer.
Robert Woolsey pursed his lips. “He should really consider a prosthetic if the leg is bothering him that much. Why doesn’t he just go ahead and have the procedure?”
Quincy frowned and he shook his head. “He’s stubborn, Robert. And he wants to keep his natural limb, as irrational as that is when it’s been damaged this severely. We’ve tried every conventional treatment and nothing works: damn the Jem H’dar and their polaron radiation weapons.”
The hologram nodded. “Have you tried an inverse replication transplant?”
Quincy stopped in his tracks and he turned around to face the hologram. “That only works on Klingons
with their redundant internal physiology.”
“He has two legs, Doctor. From a certain point of view, he has
—in this case—redundant internal physiology.”
Quincy slowly nodded, and then he shook his head. “We’ll discuss this later, Robert. For now, I want to map out Chromosome 12. Are you okay, son?” the doctor asked his Nephkyrie patient nee guinea pig.
“This is boring,” the child in a man’s body answered.
“If you are lucky, then life is boring, son,” the doctor answered. “You get used to it. I’m not so lucky. Start new mapping routine, computer, Chromosome 12.”