Lt. Commander Wu stalked into Sickbay, a hint of flame in her typically tightly controlled expression. She spotted the new chief medical officer examining an unconscious Lar’ragos on a biobed as a pensive looking Dominic Leone stood off to one side.
“What happened?” Wu asked, never one to mince words.
Leone came to attention as Wu’s presence registered with him. “I’m guessing a grudge match, sir. The captain started in on the brigadier, even dropped one of his security detail, and then the two came to blows. It—uh, didn’t last long.”
Wu turned to address the boyish looking Doctor Reskos. “What’s his condition?”
There was a prolonged pause as the willowy physician studied his med-scan results on a nearby monitor. “He’ll make a full recovery, Commander,” came his casual reply. The thin, delicate looking man spared the XO a quick glance, his features registering annoyance at her interruption.
“What are the extent of his injur—“ Wu began.
“Working,” Reskos cut her off mid-sentence. “We’ll talk when I’m finished.”
Rather than take offense at the doctor’s terseness, Wu turned back to Leone. “Why didn’t you try to stop him, Lieutenant?”
Leone stiffened ever so slightly at the implied criticism. “Well, it’s a toss up between common sense and the squad of heavily armed Klingons pointing distruptors at me, sir.”
Wu blinked, seeming to assimilate and dissect Leone’s response before replying. “Understood. You’re not to breath a word of this to anyone, understood? Make sure those Marines solid copy that order as well.”
“Yes, sir,” Leone responded. “The general said he wanted you to beam down as soon as possible. Not certain it was an order, but I took it that way, sir. He also offered some possible treatment advice for the captain that I passed on to the doc.”
“Thank you, Lieutenant. You’re dismissed.” Wu turned away from him abruptly and started towards the exam table.
Leone nodded curtly and stepped out the nearest exit, wisely keeping his smoldering thoughts to himself.
Wu moved closer to the exam table in time to see Lar’ragos come suddenly to life, flailing wildly, one of his hands connecting solidly with Doctor Reskos’ jaw with a resounding crack. Wu raced forward, ready to catch the doctor’s crumpling form, but the man hardly seemed to acknowledge the attack.
The doctor had absorbed the blow gamely as he pressed a hypospray to Lar’ragos’ neck, sending the captain back into the warm embrace of unconsciousness. “Unhelpful,” Reskos murmured. “Now you’ve a broken hand to go along with all your other injuries.”
He continued his examination for another five minutes before surrendering the captain’s care to a subordinate and finally acknowledging Wu’s presence. “I have an initial report for you, Commander,” Reskos announced softly.
“His injuries are serious, but not life threatening. Blunt force trauma, likely the result of his sparring match with the brigadier.”
“He was acting peculiarly after we dropped out of transwarp, disoriented somehow...” Wu struggled to put a name to what she’d observed.
“Ah, yes,” Reskos nodded enthusiastically, motioning Wu towards a large display set into a bulkhead. He called up a rotating diagram of Lar’ragos’ brain. “The brigadier was very helpful in that respect, actually. He alerted us to a potential imbalance in the captain’s hypothalamus, which seems to have been an accurate diagnosis.”
The neurological scan expanded, zooming in on an interior portion of the brain atop the brainstem, about the size of an almond. “El Aurians' are hypersensitive to chronometric variances, such as the one we experienced when we emerged from transwarp at the wrong temporal coordinates. Such variances create a biochemical cascade in the hypothalamus, leading to the production of a number of fight-or-flight related neurotransmitters, hormones, and endorphins. That’s what caused the aberrant behavior you witnessed, sir.”
“Is there a cure?” Wu inquired.
“A treatment, yes. Bathing his hypothalamus with neutrally charged chronitons, as the brigadier recommended, has essentially reset the captain’s system. Once I’ve flushed the offending neurotransmitters from his system and he's got some rest, he should be ready to resume duty.”
Wu appeared skeptical. “So, the Klingons couldn’t have caused this, triggered it somehow?”
“I’d hardly see how,” Reskos replied. His face shifted through a series of expressions, finally settling on one that evoked dubiousness. “Is this right?” he asked.
Despite the topic of conversation, Reskos’ naďve inquiry had nearly made her smile. “Yes, that’s an adequate facial expression, given the circumstances.”
Reskos appeared pleased. “Good, thank you. I’ve been working hard at that. It’s quite amazing that I’d previously paid so little attention to humanoid non-verbal communications. Now that I’m expected to use them, I occasionally find myself at a loss as to which ones are appropriate.”
Wu shook her head. “It doesn’t help that you look like a sixteen year-old boy, Doctor.”
Reskos’ jaw dropped open in a look of abject horror. “Really?”
Wu sighed. “Too much, Doctor. That expression should be saved for when we’re boarded by the Borg. Now, if you don’t mind, back to the captain?”
“Yes, of course. Ah—where were we?”
“You were about to poke holes in my theory that the Klingons were somehow behind the captain’s biochemical crisis,” Wu prompted.
“Yes,” Reskos agreed. “I don’t see how they’d have the capability to direct such a precise reaction. Besides, it doesn’t really seem their style, does it? Subtlety, I mean?”
Wu cocked her head to one side. “The Klingons can be especially devious, Doctor. They were already practiced at cunning when my ancestors were first learning to walk upright and yours were… well, whatever the hell they were doing several hundred-thousand years ago.”
The doctor’s youthful visage smiled brightly. “We’ve been spaceborne for nearly twenty millennia, Commander. We were exploring the cosmos even then, albeit very slowly.”
It hadn’t been until his species’ First Contact with the nascent Federation that the Medusans had discovered the promise of warp drive.
“Then how can you explain why a Klingon general not only doesn’t kill the captain for daring to lay a hand on him, but then correctly diagnoses his rare condition?”
Reskos laughed aloud at that. “Why, Commander, that’s the first mystery I solved!” He walked over and lifted one of Lar’ragos’ hands. “I took genetic samples of the tissues the captain had come in contact with in order to help diagnose any possible transmitted pathogens being responsible for his condition. As you might imagine, due to their little dust up, the captain has more than a few cellular samples from Brigadier Gan’Louk on him.”
Wu was tiring quickly of the doctor’s conceited slow-reveal of his own diagnostic prowess. “And?”
“The brigadier is only half-Klingon, Commander. The other half of his genetic makeup is El Aurian.”
A long pause followed as Wu computed that new information. “You don’t suppose—“
“Oh, of course. That’s the first
test I ran. Gan’Louk is confirmed as being Lar’ragos’ son.”
Wu uttered a series of colorful invectives that left Reskos clearly impressed. “Can I use some of those, by chance?”
The XO headed for the exit, not wanting to make the increasingly enigmatic Gan’Louk wait for her any longer than necessary. “Not while you’re in that body, you don’t. Honestly, Doctor, you’re over a thousand years old, I’m surprised they couldn’t find a Soong-class android body more suited to your age.”
“But…” Reskos replied to the closing Sickbay doors, “…I like this one.”
* * *