~~~ ~~~~ ~~~
Commander Yvonne Christensen regarded the two men sitting across the desk from her. In the course of the past hour, both of them had surprised her in vastly different ways. They were discussing the mission parameters and what the medical staff should expect. The police lieutenant actually offered constructive suggestions without his usual negative attitude. She noticed that his demeanor was completely altered during private closed-door session, and she grudgingly had to admit that for all his personality faults, he was a competent officer.
Doctor John Nikolaidis was another matter. She didn’t know which dismayed her more; his lack of field experience, or his blasť outlook on the upcoming mission. Not only was he not Police Force, being on loan from Star Fleet, he wasn’t even an officer but rather a civilian hired under a short-term contract. He had served on the Gendarme
for six months and still didn’t seem willing to adapt to the military way of doing things. He was one of those people who said, ‘show me how once, and I can do it,’ and refused to see the benefit to repetitive training.
“Commander, we have it covered. The medical facilities on this ship are as big as on a Constitution
-class cruiser. It’s not like a disaster relief mission; we’re just going to give a few people a ride home. Your training exercises are a colossal waste of time.”
Calm. Be calm. “Yes, Doctor, you have the beds, but not the staff of a cruiser’s sick bay. I’m sure you are an excellent doctor, as is your assistant. However, we need to make sure the crew are current in their first aid training. Trust me: you put eighty to a hundred refugees in the gym, and you will have medical issues to deal with. A common cold can sweep through the population like wild fire. And we have to be on guard for fights among them, even the possibility of a riot. These people will be scared, and scared people do stupid things.” She looked at the policeman, “I suppose you disagree.”
The lieutenant shook his head. “Not at all, Ma’am. If nothing else, it’ll keep the crew occupied. I’ll have Chief O’Hara pull a dozen crewmen to play the wounded and set up a no-notice exercise this afternoon.”
“Good. That’s settled.” She could see Nikolaidis was not happy with her decision, but at least he didn’t argue the point. “Doctor, did you take care of that other issue?”
“What issue would that be?” He acted like he didn’t know what she was taking about.
“Lieutenant Flynn. I asked that he be given a medical exam before we left Star Base.”
“No,” he replied defiantly. “He had a routine exam just four months ago, and I fail to see why he should need another. Besides, medical records are private and are of no concern of yours.”
As she was formulating a response, the other man interjected, “Only to a point, Doctor. If a service member has a medical condition that impacts his or her performance, the command staff may have limited access to that information. However,” he turned to the commander, “I am unaware of anything that would cause you to question Jake’s health, Ma’am.”
Christensen pursed her lips. “In the short time I have known Mister Flynn, I have observed radical mood swings, unwarranted emotional outbursts, and even statements that border on paranoid delusions. It is my belief that he is suffering from clinical depression, bi-polar disorder, post-traumatic stress, or perhaps some combination of the above.”
Doctor Nikoladis was unimpressed. “And from where, may I ask, did you receive your medical degree?”
“Personal experience,” the commander responded coldly. “My sister spent six months in a Klingon prison. That will break even the sanest person. This isn’t a request, Doctor. I want you to examine him today.”
“So you can drum him off the force.”
“No. So we can find out what’s wrong and fix it. If he has an underlying medical condition, you can treat him and help him get his career back on track.” Without looking, she pressed the button on the intercom, “Lieutenant Flynn, report to my office, on the double.”
Hardly twenty second elapsed when the door opened. Lieutenant Jacob Flynn entered the commander’s office with a Type-II phaser pointed right at her head. “What is the meaning of this?” Commander Christensen demanded. Even before the words were out of her mouth, she felt stupid for saying them.
“I believe the meaning is obvious, Ma’am. You are no longer in command of this ship,” Lieutenant Pierre Faucheux informed her calmly, still seated in his chair.
~~~ ~~~~ ~~~
“She’s coming around, Doctor,” Ensign Tillman heard as her brain climbed up out of a deep well of utter blackness. “Blood scans shows all traces of the toxins have been eliminated from her body.” That sounded promising. She opened her eyes, just enough to know it was too bright, and closed them again.
“Good. No, put that down. Use this,” she heard the doctor order. She felt someone hand brush against her lips and the tip of her nose. The pungent smell of ammonia exploded in her nasal system. She turned her head away, only to have the sadist give her another dose.
“Okay, okay, I’m awake,” she declared but didn’t open her eyes. She tried to sit up and fell back on the pillow as the world spun. She tried to raise her hand to cover her eyes, only find she was cuffed to the bed. “What the hell?” she exclaimed.
“You have some explaining to do, Ensign,” Lieutenant Ursula Maida informed her. “Starting with this,” she held up a stun grenade. “You dropped this on the bridge during your fight with Petty Officer McAllister.”
“No, Ma’am. McAllister had that,” Marine Private DeWitt interjected, “and this was in her pocket.” He held up a disruptor pistol, illegal to possess on a Federation starship. “Keep her sedated, Doctor,” he indicated to the other woman being treated in Sick Bay.
“Stay out of this, DeWitt” Gunny Thorns snapped, “The doctor knows what he’s doing.”
The private ignore his non-commissioned officer, a very dangerous thing to do, and told the Chief Medical Officer, “Trust me, Doctor Sullivan; you’ll want to keep her under until you do a complete body scan.”
Sullivan rolled his second patent over to remove the handcuffs. “Jefferson, why are her hands encased in plaster?”
“The Private did that, sir,” the corpsman explained. He waved a hand-held medical scanner over the woman’s hands and showed the results to the doctor.
Sullivan’s eyes went wide. “Keep her sedated and move her to isolation. Do a full body scan. And don’t cut that cast off her hands yet.” He turned to the Marine. “Good catch. How did you know?”
“Sergeant McKendrey has us read intelligence reports, sir. I remembered one that described how agents working for Orion Cartels often have multiple suicide devices implanted.” He looked at Lieutenant Maida and continued, “I was watching her all morning. I don’t know anything about how to work the ship’s sensors, but I could tell she was intentionally preventing them from working right. Every time Ensign Tillman had that sensor ghost locked in, Petty Officer McAllister would spin the knob the opposite direction.”
“I knew it,” Tillman muttered. “When I was talking with Arthur, with Sergeant McKendrey, I saw the indicator that someone piggy-backed a text message to the Gendarme
. And then I saw McAllister pull the stun grenade out of her pocket. If you look, you’ll see that she has earplugs in. The entire command staff was on the bridge at the time, Ma’am.”
The operations officer considered this. After a long moment, she nodded, “Good job. Both of you, good job. I’ll have to check the video log to confirm your story, of course. So, Ensign, stay put.” She indicated to Gunny Thorns that she could remove the cuffs. On her way out of Sick Bay, she stopped and spoke quietly to First Lieutenant Zychowski for a moment.
“Private DeWitt,” the officer called. The enlisted man snapped to attention. “Please go to Petty Officer Foster and ask him to help you write up a report of everything you saw and did this morning.”
“Aye aye, sir!”
Gunny Thorns released Tillman from the cuffs. “Nice takedown, Ma’am.”
“Thanks,” she replied modestly. “My mom is a cop. When she was out of patrol, I’d stay with a foster family. A couple times, I stayed with Gunny Steele’s family; he has three daughters, and he taught all of us hand-to-hand.”
Doctor Sullivan came over to the bedside. “You’re lucky to be alive, young lady. We analyzed the toxin. It was a derivative of VX nerve agent. It looks like McAllister had a suicide device implanted in her mouth. I am curious, though, how you figured that out so quickly.”
Stephanie had a shiver run down her spine, and she rubbed her arms protectively. “When I was a kid ... when I was fifteen, we lived ... my foster family at the time ... we survived ... some of us survived the terrorist attacks on Derexis.” She closed her teary eyes; Linda Hawthorn cradled the younger woman’s head motherly.
~~~ ~~~~ ~~~