Intolerance

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Chanukahjes, Mar 8, 2012.

  1. Chanukahjes

    Chanukahjes Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2011
    Location:
    Boston, the Gateway to the Galaxy
    "Ensign Mayweather, you're early,” T'Pol said. It was very early.

    "I couldn't sleep, Commander. Too hot."

    "The ambient temperature is 10 C,” she shivered a little.

    He sneezed, then again.

    "Ensign, I suspect you're coming down with something. You should go to Sick Bay,” she suggested.

    "No, I'm, I'm, atchoo! I'm all right,” Travis sneezed six more times.

    "Ensign, go to Sick Bay. That's an order."

    =/\=​

    "Reed, I, I told you that I say things too quickly. And you do, too,” Pamela said.

    "I suppose I do,” he admitted, “I just, I feel so much with you. And I don't mean the physicality of it although that is certainly a part of it. It's everything. Come, come here, Sweetheart,” he shivered a little in the chill.

    "It's, it's too hot."

    "You're always hot, my dear."

    "No, I'm really hot,” she complained, “Can you turn the temperature down a little?"

    "Sure. But I'll need to put something on. This is far too chilly for me."

    "Something that isn't a part of a uniform,” she said, “Those uniforms don't show anything off. Something casual. You do have casual clothing, don't you, Malcolm?"

    "Of course,” he put on a pair of sweatpants and a long sleeved tee, “How's this?" he asked, smiling at her a little.

    "It's good,” she said, “And you say you're not a good-looking man, but you are, Malcolm Reed."

    "Thank you, love."

    "There you go again."

    "Well, I just, I think, given what we've said to one another, particularly this evening ...." his voice trailed off.

    [​IMG]

    "And? And isn't it, well, wishful thinking?"

    "Perhaps. But, well, these are the kinds of things that people who love each other say, and these are the kinds of things that they, that they do."

    "You want very badly for it to happen, don't you?"

    "Yes. Do you want it to be, to be love? Do you want that at all, Pamela?"

    "I don't know. It's all wrapped up in terror for me. And you already know how my sexuality played out, all bound up with, with what started up almost thirty years ago. The two are wedded now, and I can't break them apart,” she admitted, “I also know that I shouldn't be treating you like a therapist. I never should have told you that. I feel naked."

    "You are naked, Darling."

    "You know what I mean, Reed."

    "I know. Maybe it is too quick. We leapt into bed as if the world were ending. And it's not. I should have, should have courted you. More than just a sonnet or two. Spent time with you, got to know you well."

    "And now you know too much about me. You've got steps one and two and eighty-seven of the formula, and they don't all fit together properly."

    "That's true,” he said.

    =/\=​

    Chip stared at the Communications console, “Commander?"

    "Yes, Mr. Masterson?"

    "I don't think we have long-range communications."

    "Have you performed a diagnostic?"

    "Two."

    "I'll contact the captain,” she did.

    =/\=​

    "Pamela?"

    "Yes?"

    "Can we, can we set step eighty-seven aside? Warp factor ten, as it were. And perhaps not revisit five KPH but still go back a bit?"

    "Well ..."

    "I still want to be with you. I still want to talk to you and kiss you, make love to you and share my breakfast with you. And I still want to see you after, after you leave. If that's at all possible."

    "That's not step two, yanno."

    "I know. Perhaps it is irrevocably altered. It's a new path. Can't we tread it together?"

    "Don't push it."

    "I'm sorry."

    "No, I'm not being fair. Let me, let me mull it over,” she said, then changed the subject, “Yanno, we are – the class – we're gonna cook dinner tonight. It’s a special surprise for the crew."

    "Oh?"

    "I make cheesecake. The cheesecake makes the cheesecake."

    "Oh."

    "You don't like cheesecake?"

    "I'll, uh, I'll be all right with it,” he said.

    "It's the only thing I know how to make. Blair's the domestic one. She's making pot roast. Don't tell anyone."

    "My lips are sealed. Pamela?"

    "Hmm?"

    "About the other thing?"

    "I'm mulling. You are ... you're a good person. And I am riddled with imperfections, through and through."

    "They don't scare me, any more than you having a scar – or my knowing how you got it – scares me."

    "We wouldn't see each other much."

    "I know."

    "I don't do good with distance,” she said, “Or loyalty. I get tempted way too easily if I'm not careful."

    "I, we'll, we'll cross those bridges when we get to them."

    "You're being very submissive, Reed. You've mostly been submissive. When are you, when are you going to be, to be dominant?"

    =/\=​

    Phlox looked at the records again. There were cascade failures throughout the Medical Database. He barely had the chemical formula for aspirin any more.

    =/\=​

    "Dominant?"

    "Yes. You've even set yourself up as the knave, with me as the Queen. That's complete submission on your part. Is that how you want things to be? I can, I can do that. But I've told you I prefer the trading."

    "Then I wish to be dominant right now."

    "Now?"

    "Yes,” he said, approaching her, “I want to call the shots, for the remainder of tonight."

    "Oh?" she said, getting interested and meeting him halfway.

    "I want to make love to you. Not have hot sex, but make love. And not with scarves or toys or your fingernails raking my back. No teasing, no hair pulling. No clothes on, no odd positions. Facing each other, so that we can kiss and look and breathe together as one,” He put his hand on her face, “Soft, but also hard,” He smiled a little, “Gentle. Careful. With sweet kisses and caressing hands. That is what I want – it's what I demand of you. Can you do that?" He looked deep into her eyes. She looked fearful.

    "Y-yes. I think I can remember how to do that."

    He kissed her softly on her mouth, “Good,” He kissed her deeply, hands lightly holding her waist.

    She led him over to the bed, “First this,” She came closer.

    "You, you want to do that?" he asked, “Most, most women I've been with, they don't like doing that unless it's, it's reciprocal."

    "It's a, a gentle way for you to dominate,” she said.

    Malcolm was jolted. It was quick but very intense. She definitely knew what she was doing.

    "Would you kiss me?" she asked.

    "Yes,” he said, doing just that.

    She smiled at him, a freer smile than he'd seen before, “Not every guy likes that."

    “The whole thing is, I think it was a generous act. You can, you are capable of generosity, you know."

    "I guess I am a little bit,” she said, “Doesn't mean I don't like when you do it to me."

    "Your wish isn't my command,” he said, “But it would be my pleasure."

    =/\=​

    Hoshi was up early. Her PADD was flashing. Another note from An.

    "No breakfast today, sorry. I don't have an appetite,” It said.

    She coughed a little. Damn.

    =/\=​

    When they finally got together, it was as he'd wanted. Slow. Careful. Deliberate. She was hotly sweating while he was coolly caressing and kissing, but he still felt every catch of her breath, every change. He kissed her smiles, meeting her laughter with his movements, mouth on her shoulder, then back to her mouth. She took her hands away from his waist and put them onto his face, kissing him, breathing into his mouth.

    =/\=​

    Brian Delacroix walked out into the hallway, making his way along the wall. He was dizzy. The ship was moving too fast. He put his hands up to his face. Felt bumpy. A little like the skin of an avocado. Ensign Crossman saw him. He knew her. He approached her. She took one look at his face and screamed.

    =/\=​

    Malcolm smiled at her, “Now that was Warp Factor Ten,” he said.

    "Yes,” she said, “Very hot."

    He shivered a little, despite their closeness. He kissed her. She was very sweaty, and coughed a little, “Darling, you're warmer than usual."

    "Yes,” she said, “I – Reed, feel my forehead. And the back of my neck,” He complied, “How hot?"

    "Very. More hot than you normally feel."

    "I – dammit. I've got a fever,” she said, breaking apart from him, “Feels like it's climbing."

    "Let's get you to Sick Bay,” he said.

    "I can go by myself."

    "I know. But I would not be a very good, uh, boyfriend, if I didn't take you, now, would I?"

    "Boyfriend,” she said, putting her skirt back on, “Makes it sound like you're fifteen."

    "Maybe this time 'round, fifteen will turn out a bit differently,” He said, putting on his uniform this time.

    He looked at her with concern.

    [​IMG]
    "I'll be all right. It's probably nothing,” she said.

    =/\=​

    Jonathan got up. There was a communications chime but he could barely hear it. His head was pounding. Porthos was whining, “Not now, boy,” He said, leaving the dog in his quarters and heading out. The Bridge would have to wait. He had a date with Sick Bay.

    =/\=​

    Malcolm took Pamela by the hand and led her into B Deck's hall. The hallway was already crowded with people, all moving slowly. They all seemed to be going in the same direction. MacKenzie was leaning against a wall, stopped. Blair looked red-faced. Will, next to her, was sneezing. Mark Stone was scratching his arms, his hands covered with bumps.

    "Let's go more quickly,” Malcolm said, pulling Pamela along.

    "Not so fast. I'm kinda nauseous,” she said.

    As if on cue, Crewman Shapiro vomited in front of them.

    Malcolm blinked a few times and steered her around the mess, “We need to go faster, Pamela. I will help you,” He put his arm around her and she was pretty much a dead weight, stepping down only a little bit as he walked as quickly as he could.

    =/\=​

    Crewman Haddon left her post. She got into the lift and somehow got herself back to C Deck and her quarters. She took one look at herself in her bathroom mirror, and shrieked.

    =/\=​

    Sick Bay was already crowded. Phlox already had Hoshi, An and Travis on beds when Pamela and Malcolm arrived.

    "Put her, uh, there,” Phlox said, indicating an empty bed. He was a whirling dervish.

    "There are others, doctor. You'll be out of beds soon,” Malcolm said.

    "Get in ten more. We'll double them up,” Phlox said.

    "All right,” Malcolm said. He turned to Pamela, lying on a bed, “I love you,” he said.

    She smiled at him weakly, “See what happens when you get demanding?" she whispered.

    He kissed her forehead, “Still nauseous?"

    "Yes. And you shouldn't kiss me. You'll catch whatever the hell this is."

    "I think I've already been exposed."

    "We've both been exposed,” she said.

    "You'll be all right. I'll have your cheesecake yet."

    "Don't count on it."

    He took one last look and left to bring in more patients.

    =/\=​

    Jonathan staggered along the wall, hugging it. That seemed to help a little bit, but why was it so damned hot?

    =/\=​

    Malcolm brought along Blair next, and set her on the bed next to Pamela.

    "Strap them in,” Phlox said, “Don't want anyone falling off a narrow bed."

    Malcolm did as requested.

    "Henry!" Pamela said weakly, “I told you not to do that."

    "It's not Henry, Darling,” he said.

    "Oh. Well, um,” she said.

    Blair just stared at him as he adjusted a strap.

    "Reed," Pamela said.

    "Yes, Sweetheart?"

    "Avocado."

    =/\=​

    By the time the beds were filled, and Malcolm had gotten a chance to take a breath, a good hour or so had gone by.

    Phlox looked at him, “You seem to be unaffected so far. Perhaps there are others,” He went back to tending patients.

    Malcolm clicked open his communicator, “Reed to, to, well, to anyone. Anyone at all."

    “Go ahead,” It was Commander T'Pol.

    "Oh, thank God. Commander, is there, is everything all right on the Bridge?"

    "No, it isn't,” T'Pol's voice had a very slight edge to it; “The crew have either abandoned their posts or collapsed."

    "We don't have enough beds,” Phlox said.

    "There are quarters on this deck. And, and on C Deck. We – I suppose I – can put people in there. Double them up like in here. Would that be acceptable?"

    "It'll have to do. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'll need to prepare a solution of potassium carbonite."

    "Is it a cure?" Malcolm asked.

    "No. It's to put everyone into stasis while I figure this out. I'll make a dose for you as well, when you need it. Your delayed onset is interesting but I cannot pursue it now,” He went back to what he'd been doing.

    Malcolm spoke into the communicator again, “Commander, can you stop the ship and put it adrift for a bit?"

    "I have already had to do that,” she replied.

    "Good. Then, please, come here. I'll need your help. We need to move a lot of people, and quickly."

    "On my way."
     
  2. Admiral2

    Admiral2 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2004
    Location:
    Langley
    Mass sickness. Better, something finally happening...
     
  3. Chanukahjes

    Chanukahjes Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2011
    Location:
    Boston, the Gateway to the Galaxy
    Phlox gave them each twenty shots' worth of potassium carbonite to carry with them in bags, “We should indicate, somehow, as to which member of the crew is in which room,” T'Pol said.

    "A list,” Malcolm said, “But it would be better if the rooms were somehow marked as well."

    "Over there,” Phlox said, giving An a shot of potassium carbonite, “Take that box with you."

    "Chalk,” Malcolm said, “I think they did this in the Middle Ages when there were plagues. Some small memory of hist'ry."

    "Come back when you're out of shots and I'll give you refills,” Phlox said, “Act quickly. And be sure to indicate if any are more advanced. Crewman Melissa Madden over there seems to be particularly affected,” She had dark bumps all over her face and arms and was sharing a surgical bed that had been pressed into service. Her bedmate, Ensign MacKenzie, seemed less afflicted.

    Malcolm and T'Pol left.

    "Let's leave the closest room open,” Malcolm suggested, “For the captain."

    "And for you, Mr. Reed,” she replied, “Here, help me with Mr. Masterson."

    Then Crossman. Malcolm marked on the door: Masterson, Crossman.

    They moved on.

    Shapiro, Donnelly.

    Pike, Delacroix (A). It was 'A' for Advanced. T'Pol tapped out notes as they proceeded.

    "I'm out of inoculations,” Malcolm said, “How many have we got so far?"

    "Eighteen women. Twenty-two men,” T'Pol said, “Plus in Sick Bay there are six men and four women. Keep in mind that there are three male medical students and two females. Plus you."

    "So," Reed did a quick calculation in his head, “Sixteen human women remain, and, and thirty-two men. We'll have to go back for more inoculations twice. This deck is nearly full. We'll need to move to C Deck soon."

    "Agreed,” she said. They ran back to Sick Bay together.

    "Have you located Captain Archer yet?" Phlox asked, preparing more shots.

    "No,” T'Pol said, “We've only been clearing this deck so far."

    "Proceed,” Dr. Phlox said, “Right now, I don't know what's a priority. Just, just do what you can."

    "Understood,” Malcolm said as they departed.

    They found Captain Archer collapsed in front of the lift, “Come along, Captain,” Malcolm said, throwing his arm around Jonathan's waist, “T'Pol, other side, if you please."

    They slowly walked the captain over but he was dead weight.

    "Wait, let's try it this way,” Malcolm said, “Lie him down, then we'll take arms and legs."

    "This is a little ... undignified,” Jonathan managed to gasp out as they carried him.

    "You should see the other guy,” Malcolm said, “Ah, here we are."

    They laid Jonathan down. He looked pasty pale, “T'Pol," he gasped weakly, “Take command."

    "Yes, Captain,” she said, injecting him.

    "Onward to C Deck,” Malcolm said.

    They found Crewman Haddon in her own quarters, quivering and mumbling incoherently, her face and hands covered with dark blotchy bumps. She weakly tried to fight them off. They ended up injecting her before even getting her into bed. It was just easier. Corporal Amanda Cole ended up as her bunkmate.

    Cole, Haddon (A).

    They kept going, gathered another round of shots when needed and continued.

    They moved on until they'd cleared C Deck.

    "How far along are we?" Malcolm asked T'Pol, straightening up and rubbing his own back. Fireman's carries, over and over again, were not doing his back and shoulders any favors. He remembered for a second the initial reason why his shoulders were bothering him. Too much worry, thinking about Pamela, knocked out in Sick Bay. He compartmentalized it, saving the emotions for later. Best to concentrate on what he was doing.

    "I said, Lieutenant, fifty-eight men and thirty-six women. We are done with the women,” T'Pol said, “Are you feeling well enough to continue?"

    "Yes. Just, just worried. I imagine the last three men are still at their posts."

    "Tucker. Torres,” she read off the remaining names, “And Crewman Miller."

    "So two are probably in Engineering, and the other in the Bio Lab,” Malcolm deduced, “Let's go to Engineering first."

    "That is a logical course of action."

    Tucker was found next to the warp engines. He barely protested when they carried him to a room on C Deck. He bunked with Bernstein.

    Bernstein, Tucker.

    Torres was harder to find. They finally located him behind some plasma relays. He was uncontrollably coughing. A quick shot stopped that. He was heavy, over two meters tall. After considerable grunting and sweaty work, they got him to a room on C Deck.

    One more.

    Miller was not in the Bio Lab. They finally found him, passed out, in front of the big freezer in the kitchen, the freezer door wide open. He was lighter than Torres, and Malcolm could lift him by himself. One last pass, one last marker.

    Torres, Miller.

    They made their way back to Sick Bay. Phlox was sitting on a stool. He looked wan, “We'll need a plan of action,” he said, “The injections of potassium carbonite aren't really full stasis. The patients will continue to worsen, albeit more slowly."

    Malcolm looked over at Pamela. She looked sweaty, but more like she was sleeping than anything else. A lot like she did when she slept next to him, “Is she dying?" he asked Phlox.

    "Lieutenant," Phlox paused for a breath, "they all are."

    =/\=​

    "Doctor T'Par, can you treat her?" asked Ambassador Soval, looking at Dr. Keating-Fong, who was lying in the Ti’Mur's infirmary.

    "Yes, although the records are rather sparse,” she said, “This is an ancient, eradicated human disease."

    "Eradicated? Then surely there is a cure,” he said.

    "No. It was eradicated with prevention in either the twentieth or the twenty-first century. The records are, as I said, unclear. When the human population was completely protected by preventative injections, the search for a cure was abandoned."

    "Still, you can cure Dr. Keating-Fong?"

    "Yes. I can. And reverse the skin damage as well, although that's a considerably lower priority."

    "Naturally. Is the doctor contagious?"

    "Not to Vulcans, or to any species other than human. And, not contagious any more, although she was perhaps a week ago."

    "That's when she was still on the Enterprise,” said the Ambassador, “We must contact them immediately."

    =/\=​

    "Mr. Reed. Mr. Reed,” T'Pol said.

    "Yes. Sorry,” He couldn't stop looking at Pamela. She seemed peaceful.

    [​IMG]

    "I'll repeat what I just said,” Phlox said, “The patients have, perhaps, five days at most. The more advanced ones, more like three or four."

    "We'll be rendezvousing with the Ti’Mur in seven days,” Malcolm said, “Unless we can get closer. Are engines still working?"

    "Spotty,” T'Pol said, “Plus with the neutron pulsing in this area, the going may be difficult. A well-trained pilot would be best."

    "There's your well-trained pilot, lying over there,” Malcolm said, indicating Travis, knocked out with Mark Stone.

    "What about Communications?" Phlox asked.

    "I managed to get a distress call out but long-range is not working,” T'Pol said, “It is difficult to say how far the message traveled."

    "I don't have much in the way of medical information,” Phlox said, “Foolish student, someone wiped the database. Now that person's cheating ways will get them all killed."

    "Doctor, we will have to devise a cure from scratch,” T'Pol said.

    "Yes. Work 'round the clock,” the doctor said.

    "Then Mr. Reed," T'Pol said, "I hereby relinquish command to you."

    "Me?"

    "Yes. I can help Dr. Phlox much better than you can. My place is here."

    "Very well,” Malcolm said, “But we, we won't stand on ceremony. We'll all make all of the decisions, if that's, if it's appropriate. Everyone's vote will be equal. I will work on Communications, and I'll see if I can move the ship in the direction of the Ti’Mur, and do so as quickly as possible. You both will, well, it's obvious. Medical is top priority. I will assist in any way I can, just tell me. And, and, I'll prepare and bring you your meals. It won't be anything fancy."

    "Then we are in agreement,” T'Pol said, “And if you find yourself becoming ill, Mr. Reed, you will turn command back over to me."

    "Yes, of course."

    "Roll up your sleeve,” Phlox said.

    Malcolm did as asked. Phlox jabbed his arm with a needle, “Ow!"

    "A half a liter should do,” Phlox said, “But if you become faint, tell me immediately."

    Malcolm waited as his blood was drawn, “Do you, do you have any idea why I am unaffected so far?" he asked.

    "None. Hopefully, your blood will tell the tale."

    =/\=​

    It was a ship, coming at high warp.

    Erratic pathway.

    Heading right for them.
     
  4. Admiral2

    Admiral2 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2004
    Location:
    Langley
    Okay, now I'm gonna take you to task for what you did to the command structure here.

    I can understand Archer turning command over to T'Pol. I can understand T'Pol turning command over to Reed. Where common sense breaks down is Reed's response. He should have just said "Very Well" and accepted command.

    T'Pol is relinquishing command for a reason. With practically the entire human complement of the crew sick and Phlox overrun trying to care for them and find a cure, T'Pol wants to pitch in where she can do the most good, but that means she's not going to have time to deliberate and make decisions over non-critical matters. That means Reed's unnecessary humility utterly thwarts T'Pol's intentions. If she doesn't have time to just make the decisions on her own, she and Phlox sure as hell don't have time to be part of some tripartite council. Their patients will be dead in five days!

    Also, Reed is stuck figuring out how to run a ship designed to be operated by a crew of eighty by himself, so there's no way he's going to be shuttling back and forth bringing Phlox and T'Pol sandwiches and running their errands. We're not talking about Enterprise-D, where you can just tie everything into one console and just tell the main computer to do this and do that. If there's a problem in Engineering while he's at the helm trying to avoid an obstacle, they're f***ed!

    I often get into arguments around here about what I call Gene's Maxim - "Make it about the characters" - because paid and fanfic writers alike tend to follow it to the detriment of other aspects of the story. This is a prime example. You obviously wanted Malcolm to be the focus. Fine, but to do it you left him with an impossible situation and made him look like a fool in his response to it.
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2012
  5. Chanukahjes

    Chanukahjes Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2011
    Location:
    Boston, the Gateway to the Galaxy
    Thanks for your input.
     
  6. Chanukahjes

    Chanukahjes Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2011
    Location:
    Boston, the Gateway to the Galaxy
    Malcolm rolled his sleeve back down, “Porthos!" he suddenly cried out, “Poor thing."

    "He'll probably be in the captain's quarters,” Phlox suggested, “Here,” He handed Malcolm a shot, “One-eighth of the human dosage of potassium carbonite. And bring him and his dog bed here. I'll put him somewhere."

    Malcolm ran to the captain's quarters.

    =/\=​

    "Let's begin by looking at the students' projects,” Phlox said, “In case there's been any contamination. Perhaps that's the cause of all of this."

    T'Pol read off the labels, “Mumps. Anthrax. Herpes Simplex. Ebola. West Nile virus,” Pamela's little infectious pet, “The seals all appear to be intact."

    "Very well. Let's take samples and test them against the Lieutenant's blood. See if there are any antibodies. And also, here, let's take a sample from two patients. One advanced, one not, and see what happens when they're mixed with Reed's blood,” Phlox said.

    T'Pol moved an IV aside and began to draw blood from Ensign MacKenzie.

    =/\=​

    Malcolm got to the captain's quarters in record time. The door was locked, “Security Override Code. " he gasped, “Reed Gamma nine oh nine."

    The door slid open.

    There was a whine and a bark, and Porthos, all eleven kilos of him, wagging and wiggling and licking in doggie greeting.

    Malcolm bent down and petted the dog, “Thank God you're all right, little chap,” he said, “Come with me,” He remembered at the last minute to take the dog bed with him. Porthos trotted behind him as he walked back to Sick Bay and then changed his mind and changed course. The Bridge made more sense. He clicked open his communicator, “I have him,” he said, “And he is all right."

    "Interesting,” T'Pol said, “Mr. Reed, did you experience any symptoms?"

    "Symptoms?"

    "Yes. We suspect you had the disease that's afflicting the remainder of the crew. But you somehow recovered from it."

    "Hmm. I felt some heat, well, I felt warm at times. But I attributed that to other things,” he admitted.

    "Thank you. T'Pol out."

    Malcolm made his way to the Bridge, Porthos in tow.

    =/\=​

    "Here's where it's becoming difficult,” Phlox admitted, “We've tried everything we can think of, but without a database, we're down to almost random guesses."

    "The symptoms are flu-like in nature. Except for the dermatological issues that some of the crew are experiencing."

    "Any number of human diseases can manifest themselves with what are referred to as flu-like symptoms. It's almost a catchall. Coughing – both productive and dry, sneezing, body aches, congestion, watery eyes, fever."

    "Most of the crew had fevers, including, possibly, Lieutenant Reed,” T'Pol pointed out.

    "That only narrows it down to a few thousand,” Phlox shook his head, “If we could throw another person at this problem, it would be a bit easier."

    =/\=​

    Malcolm got to the Bridge and put the dog bed down next to the captain's chair. He tried out the chair for a second, but it was set for someone taller than he was and, certainly, not for him. He felt strange, “No. This is wrong,” he said to Porthos, who did not answer, “This belongs to your master."

    He then walked over to the helm. Not comfortable there, either, and the readings were confusing. He managed to steady the helm and get the Enterprise going at full impulse. Warp drive seemed to be offline. It would be very slow going to get to the Ti’Mur, but at least they were moving a little bit.

    He went over to his station, and saw warning lights flashing just as he got there. This was not good. He clicked open his communicator, “Commander, I, I need you here. Right, right now. My apologies, Doctor."

    "On my way."

    =/\=​

    Ambassador Soval shook his head. There seemed to be no way to reach the Enterprise. He requested that the Ti’Mur accelerate to maximum warp.

    =/\=​

    T'Pol arrived quickly, “What seems to be the trouble?"

    "Here. I think I can get this on the screen,” Malcolm fiddled with the controls at Hoshi's station, “There. Klingon Battle Cruiser. Coming in fast. Take the helm."

    She did as requested, “Have you a plan?"

    "Not really,” he admitted, “Tactical is working perfectly but we can't exactly get out of the way quickly or call for help. Hull plating is polarized. Torpedoes are armed."

    "Can we communicate with the other vessel?"

    "If they come close, I believe so."

    "Then let's opt for a diplomatic solution if it can be achieved,” she suggested.

    "Agreed."

    The other ship barreled in and stopped, close. A proximity alarm was tripped. Malcolm turned it off.

    They hailed the Enterprise. T'Pol got the message on screen, and then returned to the helm.

    "This is Captain Lorgh of the Imperial Klingon Battle Cruiser Somraw. Surrender and prepare to be boarded,” Lorgh coughed a few times. A couple of female Klingons behind him chased after a male Klingon.

    Something was not right. Except for Lorgh, none of the Klingon Bridge crew appeared to be at their posts.

    Malcolm sprang back and cut the sound, “Now what? They won't exactly show us mercy."

    "A fire fight is not going to help,” T'Pol stated, “And the Ti’Mur cannot get here on time. Surrender is likely to be our sole option."

    "There's also suicide,” Malcolm said, “It's really a matter of no survivors versus, at best, three."

    =/\=​

    Back on the Somraw, it was louder than usual and the crew was running wild. Lorgh had neither the stomach nor the strength to deal with it. He switched communications, “Keleth!" he yelled into the console, “You have your orders."

    =/\=​

    Malcolm put the sound back on. He and T'Pol looked on the screen, and saw the Klingon Bridge filling up with a sand-colored gas. Klingons were falling all over the Bridge – Lorgh included. The screen switched to a scene of a sole Klingon, an elderly male. He said, menacingly, "This is Keleth of the Imperial Klingon Battle Cruiser Somraw. Surrender and prepare to be – oh, to Stovokor with it,” His tone changed, and was quieter, “I am Chief Medical Officer Keleth. Your Bridge is nearly empty. You must have the disease as well."

    =/\=​

    Phlox titrated samples and tallied up his notes as he went along. It was respiratory, sort of. Dermatological, kind of. Definitely a virus and not a bacterium. Reed's blood was no cure, although it did kill the virus when the two were mixed in a controlled experiment. But that didn't work in a test subject, and besides, Reed had B positive blood. Even if his blood did work, it still couldn't mix with that of over half of the crew. He kept working.

    =/\=​

    "Perhaps,” T'Pol answered.

    "It is ... it causes a kind of madness. Somewhat like Balt'Masor Syndrome but not exactly. My Medical Database is nearly completely gone; I have little to compare it to. Can you – it is not our way, but our way is going to mean a dishonorable death to all – can you assist? It is of honor for me to ply my trade and do all I can to save my shipmates,” Keleth said.

    "We will consider it,” she replied, “Stand by,” she broke the communications link.

    "Consider it?" Malcolm asked, “What's there to consider?"

    "Those people are dying, just like our people are."

    "They're Klingons!" he said, “And we're supposed to find them a cure while Pa– everyone here is so terribly ill?"

    "An additional medical officer would be of help to Dr. Phlox and myself,” T'Pol said.

    "If they weren't sick, they'd be firing upon us!"

    "I – no – that does not fit in with Klingon logic. Klingons value honor above all else. They would consider it dishonorable to simply run roughshod over a ship full of dying people unable to defend themselves properly."

    "I'm in command, and I say not to cooperate with them."

    "Mr. Reed. By your own statement, you have said that we will share in the decision-making. Does that remain your intention? Or have the rules changed?" she asked.

    "I – we'll, we'll vote on it. Let's call Phlox."

    They explained the situation, “I don't see an alternative,” Phlox said, “Particularly since you were seriously considering surrender before this. It troubles me that perhaps the Klingon disease is transmissible to any of us, but I have my doubts about that. The physiology is simply too different, which is also why this human infection has not jumped to either Commander T'Pol or myself. Plus that ship seems to still have warp drive, albeit no one here can read Klingon or pilot such a vessel. It still may be of use. I say we cooperate. Now, if you'll excuse me. Phlox out."

    "Well, I don't like it,” Malcolm said.

    "Your objection is duly noted,” T'Pol replied, “But we cannot make this decision based upon emotions."

    Reluctantly, he reopened the channel, “This is Reed to Keleth. I – we – we will share whatever we know. It, it isn't much. And we don't believe it's the same affliction."

    "Probably not,” Keleth allowed, “Human, I am curious. You are on a human vessel. Yet you are unafflicted. I presume you are the only one of your species who is. Do you know why that is so?"

    "No,” Malcolm said, “I could say the same for you."

    "Ah, I am easy to explain. I have been locked into Sick Bay Quarantine for two days. I got in here just as the malady was beginning to affect the crew. My captain ordered me here for the duration. And now it is the duration and I am in here and they are all out there,” His voice had an edge of desperation to it.

    "Can you explain the gas?" T'Pol asked.

    "Ah, Tricoulamine in vapor form."

    "Tricoulamine?" she asked, “That's a nerve toxin."

    "Not to Klingons,” he explained, “It is a means of creating a close approximation of stasis. But it would affect me as well. I would pass out, too, if I went outside of Quarantine without a pressure suit. I am trapped in here. It is not a good way to die."

    "I see,” she said.

    "Even our food animals are knocked out,” Keleth added, “A Klingon ship this quiet is not – it is not something I had ever thought I would experience." He sighed a little.

    Malcolm cut the sound again, “I suspect he hasn't eaten in a few days."

    "You are most likely correct."

    "I – we would not be able to watch him constantly. I would still have to be here."

    "True,” she said, “But another medical brain tackling the problem would be a major form of assistance. Not to mention a gesture of extreme good faith."

    "Let's ask Phlox,” he clicked open his personal communicator, “Doctor, how do you feel about a little company?"
     
  7. Chanukahjes

    Chanukahjes Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2011
    Location:
    Boston, the Gateway to the Galaxy
    "I said, Doctor, fancy a spot of company?" Malcolm asked.

    "I, it is one thing to communicate from ship to ship. But bringing the Klingon doctor here? It is unprecedented,” Phlox said.

    "Doctor, would you feel comfortable diagnosing and treating patients you hadn't seen in person?" T'Pol asked.

    "I don't suppose I would."

    "I also feel uncomfortable about this,” Malcolm admitted, “But I'm not certain what else can be done. It is also a chance to, to show our humanity."

    T'Pol looked at him, “And, and, uh, our Vulcanness and, uh, Denobulan, uh, -ness,” Malcolm hastily added.

    "What about simply exchanging records?" Phlox inquired, “Our database is full of holes. Perhaps theirs is not, and that would be enough."

    "Didn't he say that they were also missing records?" Malcolm asked.

    "That was more or less the statement,” she responded.

    "So it was not a cheating student,” Phlox said, “Huh. I will, the situation will be uncomfortable. But I suppose it's necessary. Even to have someone else titrate would save time."

    "I'd escort Dr. Keleth wherever he needed to go, other than Sick Bay. Which would really only be to and from the Transporter, and perhaps to somewhere to sleep if he is here for that long,” Malcolm said.

    "I could wear a sidearm,” T'Pol offered.

    "We would only show the remnants of the medical database,” Phlox said, “Nothing strategic."

    "No star charts, nothing tactical, of course,” Reed added, “We'd feed him."

    "Klingons enjoy freshly killed meat,” T'Pol pointed out.

    "Well. There won't be any of that,” Malcolm said, “I suspect he will be less choosy after a few days of hunger."

    "Then we are in agreement,” Phlox said, “I must admit my mind keeps changing on this. So let us act quickly, before we change our minds again."

    =/\=​

    Ambassador Soval looked at an incoming news transmission:

    Professor Edward Hudson, 71, died today at his home on Lunar Colony. Professor Hudson taught Beginning Calculus at Lunar University.

    He is survived by his wife of forty-three years, Linda Morgan Hudson, and his daughters, Dr. Pamela Hudson of Nereid and Lisa Hudson Schiller of Lunar Colony. Other survivors include son-in-law Robert Schiller and grandchildren Louise and Edward Schiller. Services will be private. The family requests donations to the Lunar Charitable Trust in lieu of flowers.


    =/\=​

    Keleth got himself into a pressure suit. It was not easy – he was an old man and had no one to help him. Cautiously – even though he knew he'd be protected from the Tricoulamine gas – he ventured outside of Sick Bay Quarantine.

    He sighed and shook his head as he downloaded the remains of his medical information onto a Klingon PADD. He then took blood samples from Lorgh and Lorgh's woman, Legeis. He got to the Somraw's Transporter room, “I do not wish to be walking into a human trap,” he sighed to himself, “I am too old for such things, and too foolish,” He made contact with the Enterprise; “I am ready."

    =/\=​

    T'Pol worked the Transporter's controls while Malcolm stood by, phase rifle cocked and ready. As soon as Keleth materialized, he pointed the rifle at the Klingon's head.

    "I – oh, human,” Keleth said, taking off the helmet of his pressure suit, “I would be a foolish Klingon indeed to not only come here but to also come armed and ready to do damage,” He shook his head.

    "You must understand that we cannot trust you,” T'Pol said.

    "And you should not,” Keleth agreed, “And I should not trust you. Yet here we are. There are patients, yes? We must go to them. Unless they are lying on the floors nearby."

    T'Pol raised an eyebrow while Malcolm escorted Keleth along. Malcolm never put his weapon down.

    Sick Bay was close by.

    "Ah, our guest,” Phlox said, “I have numerous samples to titrate, over there. You can get started."

    "I am not a laboratory lackey,” Keleth said, “I am a trained physician. Having me perform little more than clerical work is a poor use of my time and skills."

    "Indeed,” T'Pol said.

    "I'd best go back to the Bridge,” Malcolm said, “Keep an eye out,” He said to T'Pol quietly.

    "I am neither agile nor wily, not anymore,” Keleth said, “Human, you are the pilot?"

    "No, I am the Armory Officer."

    "Oh. Well that explains the overabundance of caution. For a species that has burned Klingon cities and killed our children, you are suddenly vulnerable, and it makes you uncomfortable."

    "Burn cities? Kill children? Is that what you think we are?" Malcolm was becoming incensed.

    "I have seen casualties."

    "And what of you? Your way is to shoot first and ask questions later. All manner of massacres in the name of some warped sense of honor,” Malcolm seethed. Keleth was too close to where Blair and Pamela were lying. He wasn't thinking straight.

    "Gentlemen!" T'Pol called out.

    They looked at her, but it was Phlox who interjected, "Our time is short, for both species. Let's leave the arguments to another day."

    "Human?"

    "I have a name. It's Reed. You can call me Mr. Reed."

    "Reed, then. Do you have different characteristics than the other humans? Some reason why you would have a natural immunity?"

    Malcolm softened his demeanor a little, “I, I don't know."

    [​IMG]

    "Doctor Phlox," Keleth said, "you will run your Sick Bay as you wish – as I run my own. But rather than have me endlessly titrate samples, I think it would be best if I were to study this one, find out why he is different."

    "That's a good plan of attack,” Phlox said, “Commander, you and I will continue testing and retesting against any drugs we've got and any disease patterns we can collectively remember."

    "I believe we were going to look at Measles next,” she replied.

    "I'll be on the Bridge. Ask me, ask me what you like but I've got to spend my time now making sure that our two ships don't knock into each other."

    =/\=​

    Dr. Keating-Fong was waking up, “Wh-what happened?"

    "You've been very ill,” Ambassador Soval said to her, “But you are improving now."

    "Oh, good. Oh my God, the students!"

    "We are going as quickly as we can. But it will be about a week before we arrive, even at maximum warp."

    "If I'm recovering from what I think I had," she said, looking at the bumps on her hands, "that won't be soon enough."

    =/\=​

    It was supper time. Malcolm had picked out leftovers from the kitchen. Salad for T'Pol. Pizza for everyone else. Porthos eagerly followed behind on his errand.

    He brought it all over to Sick Bay and set it down on a counter.

    "Thank you, Lieutenant,” Phlox said, grabbing a slice.

    "Ah, and you remembered,” Keleth said, looking down at Porthos.

    "Re-remembered?" Malcolm asked.

    "Yes, although it's small. Do they make good eating?"

    "Dr. Keleth, that is the captain's pet,” T'Pol said, “He is not to be eaten."

    "Huh. Well, I don't see how anyone can eat things that are so, so processed,” Keleth said, “This has smells of, of I don't know,” He brought a slice to his face and inhaled, making a face.

    "Oregano, I'd say,” Malcolm explained, “We're not exactly equipped to serve fine Klingon cuisine."

    "Still, I am hungry,” Keleth admitted. He cringed and took a bite, “Salty. These round things are very salty."

    "Those are pepperoni slices,” Phlox said.

    Malcolm busied himself with scraping the cheese off his slice.

    "Human! I mean, Reed. Why do you do that?"

    "I have, it's a condition called Lactose Intolerance,” Malcolm said, “I can't digest dairy products."

    "Dairy. You drink the milk of other species?"

    "Yes, and they make products from it as well. Cheese, which is what you see here, is particularly delightful,” Phlox pointed out, “The Lieutenant here, his body doesn't produce enough lactase, which is an enzyme used for digesting dairy."

    "Is that a common affliction?" asked Keleth.

    "No, it isn't,” Phlox said, “He is ... the only one on the ship."

    Malcolm sat up straighter, “The doctor here gives me injections at times, to help with, with digesting dairy."

    "When was the last one, and what is it made of?" Keleth asked.

    "The evening of July ninth,” Malcolm said, “I remember it because it was Hoshi's twenty-ninth birthday party."

    "Yes. Too much ice cream,” Phlox recalled, “The injection is mainly a booster of additional lactase, in a neutral suspension medium."

    "When did the symptoms begin? Of the afflicted ones?"

    "Not sure,” Malcolm said, “But I do know that the environmental controls were turned down perhaps a week ago. And today is July the twenty-fifth."

    "We believe that the environmental controls were tampered with because there were crew members already suffering from fevers,” T'Pol stated.

    "So it is possibly a delayed onset,” Keleth mused, “Slow build-up of symptoms, possibly something that could be explained away, for at least a while."

    "Well, I know that, that Pame – uh, Dr. Hudson – she said that she was warm sometimes, but always dismissed it as nothing. It was only the other day when it became intolerable, and then it was obvious to several others that their symptoms could no longer be ignored, I'll wager."

    "So what we have here is as follows: a slow onset of symptoms, most likely the first one is a fever, but it climbs slowly. Other symptoms include flushed faces, painful joints, coughing and sneezing. Coughs are not necessarily productive. Advanced cases have dermatological manifestations, starting from the torso on outwards, to faces and hands. One has manifestations on the feet and ankles. Possibly some impaired judgment as well,” Keleth summarized, “Reed, did you experience any of this while you were ill?"

    "We don't truly know whether I was ill at all. I had some feelings of being warm but they may not have been too intimately related."

    "No. You were ill,” Keleth insisted, “The antibodies are very active. You had a very mild case and recovered, possibly within less than a day. A very slight fever could go along with that. Do you have any scars, Lieutenant?"

    "N-no."

    "Birth marks or other marks out of the ordinary?" Keleth asked.

    "No. Wait, that's not true. There's a mark on my hip. But I've had it for a few years."

    "Show me. Over there,” Keleth said.

    Malcolm took down his uniform for a moment. The mark was small and faint, barely noticeable – nowhere near as large or irregular as Pamela's scar, “That is small, but it might be something. Phlox, look at this,” Keleth said.

    "Hmm,” Dr. Phlox said, “It is possible."

    "What is it?" Malcolm asked.

    "It appears to be," T'Pol said, "the remnants of one of the dermatological bumps that the advanced patients have. You appear to not only have had the disease this week, but you seem to have had it a few years ago as well."
     
  8. Chanukahjes

    Chanukahjes Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2011
    Location:
    Boston, the Gateway to the Galaxy
    Malcolm zipped his uniform back up, “I don't recall any illness like this. Nothing even close. I've had colds. I've sneezed and coughed of course, like anyone does. But it wasn’t as virulent. It, it certainly was not this kind of a malady."

    "Hmm,” Keleth said, “Two mild cases, very, very mild. I would think – is the hip a place where injections are made?"

    "It can be,” Phlox said.

    "Then this is, I suspect, not a natural immunity at all. It's a conferred one,” said the Klingon.

    "Conferred?" Malcolm asked.

    "Yes. You've received a preventative inoculation of some sort. What do you humans get for preventative shots?"

    "Measles. Mumps. Diphtheria,” Phlox said, reciting from memory, “Rotavirus. Human Papilloma, but only for women. There are more, but everyone gets the same immunizations."

    "Did you ever receive different immunizations?" Keleth asked.

    Malcolm thought for a moment. Oh, yes.

    That.

    "Doctor Phlox," Malcolm said, “Might I have a word with you in private?"

    "By all means,” Phlox grabbed his PADD.

    They walked out into the hallway, “What is it?" asked Phlox.

    "Doctor, I cannot say much. I am bound to reveal, well, to reveal nothing. I don't relish telling you this but I think it's necessary."

    "Go on."

    "There is a – if you look at the original Starfleet Charter, Article fourteen, you'll, you'll see what I'm talking about. Sorry to be so indirect, but I must."

    Phlox looked on his PADD, “Section, section. Hmmm. Section thirty-one. Is this it?"

    Malcolm nodded very, very slightly.

    "Lieutenant, we will, for the record, this conversation is not happening. Can you say anything?"

    "I was given some shots. More than the others got. To, to protect me in the event of, of, a microbe or virus or something being, uh, becoming weaponized."

    "Germ warfare?"

    Reed nodded, “My thought is, perhaps this is a weaponized virus of some sort."

    "Weaponized indeed,” Phlox shook his head, “With the database in shambles, this will still not be easy. Still, perhaps there are historical records. Humans stopped doing this a long time ago, yes?"

    "Over a century ago, I believe. Not a very pleasant or proud chapter in our hist'ry."

    They returned to Sick Bay.

    "We have a possible plan of attack. A better one,” Phlox said, “I will look at historical records. Mr. Reed has been conferred certain immunities that come from, from historical medicine. I am unable to disclose more information about this."

    "I am all right with you not coming clean with me,” Keleth said, “But her?" He indicated T'Pol.

    "Later, perhaps. I don't know,” Phlox said.

    Reed shook his head, “Let's not stand on ceremony,” he said, “I can look in the historical records as well, while I'm on the Bridge."

    T'Pol and Phlox went back to their investigation.

    Keleth got up and walked a lot closer to where Pamela and Blair were lying, “Human females. Hmm."

    Malcolm suddenly didn't want to go to the Bridge quite so quickly, “Doctor?"

    "Oh, yes. They are too delicate. This one is getting worse, see?" he showed Malcolm where Pamela was starting to get a few bumps on the side of her face.

    "They, they make us better people,” Malcolm said, a bit defensively.

    "Oh,” The light dawned. Keleth said, "These are your women."

    "Just one of them,” If she really was his.

    "Which one? Light skin or yellow hair?"

    "Y-yellow hair."

    "Hmmpf."

    Malcolm rubbed his shoulder. It did still hurt a bit.

    "Body aches?" Keleth asked.

    "No. I, I strained a muscle."

    Keleth looked down at Pamela, “Ah. I was young once. These are, though, a Klingon male would break them in half."

    "Good thing I'm not a Klingon male, then.”

    Keleth clapped Malcolm hard, on the back and laughed a bit.

    Malcolm was taken a bit aback and had the wind knocked out of him, “Doctor, if you please. Let us focus and get on with, with it!"

    "Hu – Reed, I think elliptically. I approach a problem, then I turn away, and I come back again from a different approach. It is – you may disagree with the method but it does work for me."

    Malcolm said, "I, just. I feel it's urgent. We shouldn't fool 'round,” He took Pamela's limp, cold hand in his. The back of it was bumpy and a bit reddened.

    Keleth looked at him, “It, it kills you to not be able to really help much."

    "I don't think it would be prudent for me to discuss such things with you, Doctor Keleth."

    "Then I will tell you,” Keleth said, “I have four daughters. And my third, Arizhel, when she was born, my wife, L'kor, well, both of them, they developed a raging infection. It nearly killed the both of them. And until I knew the problem and how to treat it, I was, I was not a pleasant man to be around. It tears at you if you cannot fix things."

    "I, yes, it does."

    "And now I have things I cannot fix."

    "With, with Pamela? And the others?"

    "No. In my own house,” Keleth said, “My wife is paralyzed from the waist down. And I cannot fix that. And it rips me up like you are being ripped up now."

    "Maybe we're not meant to, to fix everything,” Malcolm said, “Maybe you're just supposed to be with her, even if you cannot make it all go away."

    "I will not take life advice from you, Reed,” Keleth said, straightening up, “And you are supposed to be on this vessel's Bridge, yes? Leave me to my work,” Keleth said gruffly.

    =/\=​

    Dr. Keating-Fong sent out a message via her PADD:

    Dear Dr. Hudson,

    As you know, your father was sent home from the Green Mountain Medical Facility for hospice care. He has passed. You are not obligated to take the next series of tests if it will be too much for you.

    On a personal note, Pamela, please do not feel obligated to finish your schooling on time. Go and be with your family.

    Sincerely,

    Dr. Bernardine Keating-Fong, MD, PhD.


    Funny, it didn't go through.

    The Ti’Mur continued at high warp.

    =/\=​

    Malcolm sat on the Bridge. The Somraw was close but not a threat. Both ships were slowly, slowly moving toward the last-known location of the Ti’Mur.

    He turned on a PADD. He went to Search and typed: Search: Weaponized diseases: historical. 140,000 records. Search: Weaponized viral diseases: historical. 12,800 records. Search: Weaponized viral diseases: historical. Dermatology. 1,000 records. He scanned through. Tularemia. Hemorrhagic fevers. Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis. HIV.

    Another one. He clicked on some pictures and cringed. He clicked open his communicator, “Doctors, I may have, I may have found something."

    Phlox said, "I was performing a search and kept coming up with pictures of Native American blankets."

    "Blankets?" T'Pol asked.

    "Yes. A primitive form of germ warfare."

    "You believe that is what this is?" asked Keleth, “Interesting. That could assist me with my people as well. There is a very old and shameful part of our history when that was done. It is dishonorable to hide behind microbes and unseen viruses. You should look your enemies in the eye before you strike them down. Germ warfare is the very nadir of cowardice."

    "We feel the same way, more or less,” Malcolm said, “Doctor Phlox do you see what I have seen?"

    "Yes,” Phlox said, “It appears that a cure was not developed, but the immunity comes from – and it is ironic when it comes to you, Lieutenant – it came from a much milder affliction that was observed in dairy maids."

    "Dairy maids?" asked Keleth.

    "Yes. They milked cows hundreds of years ago,” Malcolm explained, “It’s somewhat ironic, considering my aversion to dairy."

    "That is correct. And in the late eighteenth century, a British doctor, Edward, uh, Edward Jenner," Phlox read off his PADD, "noticed that dairy maids would get a mild disease called cow pox. But then they were immune to a much more deadly disease. The, the cow pox disease is properly called vaccinia. From it, the word vaccine is developed – it's, Hoshi would find this interesting – it's derived from the Latin word for cow, vaca."

    "And the more virulent malady?" T'Pol asked.

    "It's called variola."

    Malcolm did a quick search, “Smallpox."
     
  9. Chanukahjes

    Chanukahjes Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2011
    Location:
    Boston, the Gateway to the Galaxy
    "Very well. But there is no cure,” Phlox said.

    "No cure?" T'Pol asked.

    "None. Humans gave up trying to cure smallpox because prevention was so good. It was considered eradicated in 1979. There were two stockpiles of it kept, along with vaccines, in case of terror attacks, but it was anthrax, not smallpox, that was first weaponized. It appears that even human terrorists found that weaponizing smallpox was distasteful and wrong,” Phlox stated.

    "But someone has the stomach for it,” Keleth said, “Reed, we may need more blood from you. Stand by,” He closed the communications link.

    "What are you proposing?" T'Pol asked.

    "The blood is not a cure, yes? But that one, he has another affliction, very mild, and is injected with an enzyme, what was it?" Keleth asked.

    "Lactase,” said Phlox.

    "If the two are combined, or if, well, perhaps it has something to do with growth medium,” Keleth said, thinking out loud, “There is also, I do not mean to be distracted, but I have my own people to consider. There are few weaponized diseases in Klingon history. A quick search may turn up what I am looking for."

    "Can you help us now?" T'Pol asked.

    "Give me an hour,” said Keleth, “I will do my own investigation for my own people. I must do this. I probably have another day or two before they are truly critical but I wish to have a good plan of attack for when we are done here."

    "Do you think it will be that fast?" Phlox asked.

    "It will have to be,” Keleth said, indicating Crewman Madden, “That female will die in a day or two. The others will start to follow. It has to be fast."

    "Or not at all,” T'Pol said.

    =/\=​

    Long day.

    Malcolm was exhausted. Doing everyone's job was not what he was cut out for.

    It was almost oh two hundred hours. No wonder he was all in.

    "Going to, going to have a lie down for a bit,” he said into the communicator.

    "I, too, need to rest for a while,” Keleth said.

    "Very well,” Phlox said, “Lieutenant, come here and show Doctor Keleth to an empty room on B Deck."

    Malcolm did as requested, “And, and over in there, you can wash up,” he said, then left. There was no time for niceties. He was far too tired.

    Keleth sat down on the bed in the unfamiliar room, “Too soft,” he muttered to himself. He tapped out onto his PADD. Dach Disease. Lack of focus. That had to be it.

    He reached into the front of his tunic and pulled out a tiny chain he was wearing. It had a charm on it, a lavaliere. Two ladders crossing, a double helix. One was dark, the other, a dull silvery color, “L'Kor, you are the iron and I am the tin,” he whispered to no one.

    =/\=​

    Malcolm's dream was troubling.

    They were together again. Pamela was writhing under his touch, squealing with delight.

    Her hands were everywhere, and so were his. Mouths met and broke apart, and found other body parts and then met again and again. They were on the bed, on the floor, standing up, sitting at the desk, even. He was bound with handcuffs or scarves, and broke away or let them overtake him as the moment demanded. She hit him with a leather strap and he didn't flinch, didn't lose concentration. She scratched his back, raking it with her nails and drawing blood. He scratched her in return, but his nails met her front, not her back, making irregular marks.

    They were breathing faster, hotly and saltily swearing at each other, she kept telling him to do it, to get on with it, to come on already.

    He was close, could feel everything rocketing along when her face turned to a mass of bumps and her body went from smooth and beautiful to pebbly and mottled, disgusting and frightening.

    Desire turned off like a switch and he pushed her away and backed away from her. She approached him and he pushed back again.

    "But I love you!" she cried out.


    And he awoke.

    He sat up, aching, panting, coldly sweating and shivering.

    He finally said, "What kind of a man am I if an imperfection or two affects me so? Is my love real if it can be so easily thrown away?"

    =/\=​

    Keleth, too, dreamed.

    It was their home, on Kronos. L'Kor was lying on their bed, nursing Arizhel. So it was over forty years ago.

    L'Kor looked up when Keleth came into the room, which was filled with her artistry. Small and large sculptures, paintings of dramatic scenes and carefully woven wall hangings. Her talent was everywhere, but nowhere more so than in the baby she held. He looked at her, “You are both better, I see."

    "Yes,” she said, and adjusted the baby a little under her right arm. A small thing flashed in her left hand.

    "What is it you have?" he asked.

    She adjusted the baby again and held out her left hand, palm open. It was a little necklace, with a dark and light lavaliere charm, “This is for you. Thank you for our children."

    "Thank you,” he said, smiling and taking it, “It looks like DNA."

    "It is,” she said, “The iron is coated so it will not rust. It will always remain constant. You, Keleth, are the iron. The other half is tin. It is pliable and it is weaker. I am the tin."

    "No,” he shook his head, “You are the one who has been through so much more than I have. You are the one who has been constant; you are the one who is true. I am the one who can be bent and shaped, like you have hammered out this charm. You, L'Kor, are the iron. I am merely the tin."


    He awoke.

    "I must tell her that,” he said to himself, “It is all true, all history, save for that part. And that is the most important piece. She is the iron. All I am is tin."

    =/\=​

    Phlox kept working, into the night. Everyone else was gone, but he was all right. He didn't have to sleep for a while. The virus did not grow on anything liquid and needed a solid or semi-solid medium. The virus did grow on a medium of mozzarella but that didn't seem to be getting him anywhere. He spiked the solution with lactase and set it aside. He shook his head. It wasn't working.

    Vaccinia, variola. Variola, vaccinia.

    He looked up mozzarella on his PADD. Water buffalo milk. It was made from water buffalo milk, and not cow's milk.

    He needed a cheese or some other substance made from solidified cows' milk.

    Cheddar.
     
  10. Chanukahjes

    Chanukahjes Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2011
    Location:
    Boston, the Gateway to the Galaxy
    Porthos eagerly trotted along as Phlox went on his errand. Their destination was the kitchen.

    Phlox rummaged around in the refrigerator until he found what he was looking for, “Ah. And no, you may not have any,” He said to Porthos, “Here, have some mozzarella. We can spare that. But not this."

    They returned to Sick Bay.

    Phlox prepared a petri dish, adding in the variola virus, growth medium, vaccinia, a few drops of Reed's blood and lactase. All together in one mix. He let it sit, and then looked at his PADD, “Hmm, it says here that mature cheddar contains crystals of calcium lactate. Perhaps that will help, eh?" Porthos did not answer.

    He got up and looked over at Crewman Madden. She looked terrible, and was barely recognizable, “I hope we can move fast enough, for your sake,” he muttered.

    He returned to his stool and began dictating:

    Medical Log, July twenty-seventh, 2158. Chief Medical Officer Phlox reporting. Progress continues to be slow. Disease has been identified as weaponized smallpox, and so this matter is believed to be an instance of Germ Warfare. Lieutenant Reed's immunity has been identified as being conferred via vaccination. Immunity is imperfect; the Lieutenant has been ill twice but with extremely mild cases. The first instance was when he was vaccinated several years ago. The second instance was very recent. It is estimated that the vaccination is not a perfect match to the strain currently under investigation.

    Klingon Chief Medical Officer Keleth of the Somraw has been particularly helpful in this investigation. This should be noted in future negotiations with the Klingon Empire.

    Crewman Madden's condition is worsening. In addition to the external evidence of the disease, enanthem are present on the tongue and other mucous membranes. She has one of the three most advanced cases. The other two are Haddon and Delacroix. They evidently have a hemorrhagic version of the disease, which traditionally has a higher fatality rate. Given this form of weaponization of the variola virus, it is believed that most if not all of the cases will be fatal, but that the three hemorrhagic ones will be more rapidly fatal. Intravenous fluid replacement is of some help. Delacroix and Haddon are visited as time permits. It is recommended that they be moved to Sick Bay tomorrow if a cure is not found, and exchange places with Will Owen and Ensign Mayweather, who currently have milder cases.

    Current plan is to grow the variola virus in as many different solutions and media as time permits, and check for cell death. The virus grows best on solids and semi-solids. Dr. Keleth's recommendation is to check on growth on media containing lactose. This is somewhat akin to growing influenza vaccine on eggs. So far, a medium containing water buffalo milk has proven unsuccessful. A medium of cow's milk is now under investigation.

    On a second matter, it is my belief that there is still a possibility that one of the Nereid Medical Academy students was cheating. While the wiping of the overall database appears to have been a part of the assault – particularly as evidenced by a similar problem with the Klingon Medical Database – the initial wiping of the quiz is more problematic. Whichever species perpetrated the Germ Warfare most decidedly knew nothing about that. I am forced to conclude that there is still a cheater or there is possibly even more than one.


    He stopped dictating.

    Interesting.

    =/\=​

    The alarm screaming in his ear, Malcolm got up. He had enough presence of mind to collect Dr. Keleth. They returned to Sick Bay.

    "I have interesting news,” Phlox said.

    T'Pol walked in, yawning.

    "Oh, good. I won't have to repeat myself,” Phlox said, “I placed the virus onto a medium of hardened cow's milk."

    "Hardened cow's milk?" asked Malcolm.

    "Cheddar cheese, to be more precise,” Phlox replied.

    "Oh, my."

    "As I was saying," Phlox continued, "I then added lactase and vaccinia to the dish, along with a bit of your blood, Lieutenant, and set it aside. Four hours later, I have this,” He showed the dish. Keleth and T'Pol nodded knowingly.

    "What am I supposed to be seeing?" asked Malcolm.

    "The variola virus is a pinkish color,” Keleth said.

    "I don't, I don't see any pink,” Malcolm said, “I. Don't. See. Any. Pink."

    "And so you should not, assuming that the virus has been eradicated from this dish,” T'Pol said.

    "Have you tested it in a patient yet?" Keleth asked.

    "No. But she will be first,” Phlox indicated Crewman Madden.

    "There is no need to hesitate,” T'Pol said.

    Phlox prepared the shot and administered it. Malcolm didn't look, “I'll be on the Bridge,” he said, “Call me if there is something, if there is some news, please."

    He left.

    [​IMG]

    =/\=​

    "Medical Log, July twenty-seventh, 2158. Chief Medical Officer T'Par reporting,” she dictated, far away on the speeding Ti’Mur.

    "Patient has fully recovered from the variola virus, due to administration of a modified form of Cidofovir. Patient will be regularly checked for nephrotoxicity."

    =/\=​

    "I have tested the patient's blood twice,” Phlox reported, “Are we in agreement?"

    "We are,” T'Pol said. Keleth nodded.

    "Recovery will be slow. I will now bring the patient out of medically-induced stasis,” Phlox said, “T'Pol, contact Lieutenant Reed."

    She clicked her communicator open, “Lieutenant, we have something."

    "On my way,” He put the ship back into drift, as far away from the Somraw as possible.

    He arrived as Crewman Madden was regaining consciousness. She tried to speak, but couldn't.

    "That's all right,” Phlox said to her, “Just rest. Talk later. And, and, I will handle all dermatological issues. Don't worry about that. Just rest."

    She closed her eyes.

    Malcolm dared to hope, finally, “Can you cure Pamela? Uh, Doctor Hudson?"

    "First Haddon and Delacroix. I would like for them to be in Sick Bay. You'll need to shift patients around. Move Travis and, and MacKenzie, switch them with the other two."

    "Very well. Commander, if you please."

    The shifting went pretty quickly. For the past few days, they had all dropped a kilo or so, and his shoulders felt better anyway.

    Haddon responded almost immediately, and even tried to get up. Delacroix took longer, but seemed to be all right.

    "Now?" Malcolm asked. He didn't want to be impatient but, he was.

    "Here. You can administer it yourself,” Phlox said, handing Malcolm vaccines for her and Blair.

    Pamela didn't wake up immediately, but did. Blair blinked a few times. Pamela made a slight noise and indicated with her eyes. Her index finger was slightly up and trembling. He took it in his fingers and then covered her hand with his, “I'll be back very soon,” he promised, and leaned over and kissed her forehead, amidst a few raised bumps. What should this be to me? He thought to himself.

    T’Pol and Malcolm made their way through that deck and C Deck. They would inject, then wait, then inject a second time in order to bring patients out of medical stasis. One crewman looked particularly bad. His face was very bumpy and worse on the left side than the right, directly over his eye. T'Pol looked at the names scrawled on the door. It was Crewman Hodgkins.

    They brought him to Sick Bay, even though there weren't enough beds, “Crewman Hodgkins is an advanced case,” T'Pol explained.

    "Yes, definitely. Must have worsened considerably overnight,” Phlox said, “I've read about this. Sometimes smallpox can blind a person. Put him, oh, I don't know where."

    "Doctor, since the milder cases are recovering in quarters, I shall take Pamela with me. She can sleep in my quarters,” Malcolm volunteered.

    "You must let her sleep,” Keleth scolded, then clapped him on the back again, hard, “Give her a day or two before, eh?"

    Malcolm blanched, “Yes, yes, of course. Here, Doctor, can you assist me in bringing her to B Deck?"

    "Yes. And then you will take me to the Transporter. I must attend to my own."

    "Do you need help?" T'Pol asked.

    "No. I can prepare another gas and pump it throughout the decks. Much like here. First to cure, then to wake. And I will lock myself back into Quarantine. No one wants to be around so many who are awakening at the same time."

    "We cannot thank you enough,” Phlox said.

    "Learning is good. No matter where it comes from,” Keleth said.

    He picked up Pamela as Malcolm watched. She was alarmed but had no strength to resist. Reed directed him to quarters.

    Once Pamela was laid down, Malcolm and Keleth went to the Transporter, “It's customary, we shake hands when people depart,” Malcolm said.

    "We don't."

    "Doctor, I, I just want to tell you, since we have no idea which species perpetrated this, might I suggest that our two sides at least sign some sort of a treaty whereby we outlaw Germ Warfare? It seems only fair. This is, it is truly horrific."

    "We wish it on no one. I am not a political man."

    "Neither am I,” Malcolm said, “But there is someone I may be able to speak with. Thank you again,” He ran the Transporter and Keleth was gone.
     
  11. Chanukahjes

    Chanukahjes Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2011
    Location:
    Boston, the Gateway to the Galaxy
    Medical Log, July thirtieth, 2158. Chief Medical Officer Phlox reporting. Most of Sick Bay has been cleared of patients, and I am left with treating Crewman Haddon, Crewman Delacroix, Crewman Hodgkins and Crewman Madden.

    Crewman Gary Hodgkins has suffered permanent blindness in his left eye, due to an accumulation of enanthem within the sclera. I am forced to recommend that he be removed from his current position in the MACOs and that this twenty-six-year old crew member be reassigned to an area where his infirmity will be less of an issue.

    The other three crew members should eventually be able to return to their regular duties. Crewman Deborah Haddon will be monitored for any lasting physical effects before returning to Security detail. Crewman Brian Delacroix will receive significant reconstructive facial surgery before returning to Food Service. Crewman Melissa Madden will need the most reconstructive surgery before returning to her duties as the night shift pilot. The Ti’Mur will be here tomorrow and will take all four of these crewmen for extensive rehabilitation, which is expected to take several months. All other crew members will undergo surgeries as needed while the Enterprise is docked with the Ti’Mur. I will be performing or assisting with most of those surgeries.

    On another note, the Nereid Medical students will immediately return to Nereid on the Yahrala, which is approaching at high warp. They will be operated on later, as that ship's medical staff's time permits. I still do not have information on the cheater or cheaters.


    He turned off his PADD and shook his head. T'Pol came in, “Just when I think I am understanding humans, they change again."

    "How so?"

    "They are, they are a rather confessional species."

    "Yes, I noticed that myself,” Phlox said, “I suspect it's the near-death experience that has them so spooked. There may be confessions of love lurking out there, about to be revealed. What did you hear?"

    "Chef told me the secret ingredient in the tomato sauce,” T'Pol said, “It's burgundy wine."

    "Ah. Well, a crew member has even come out to me,” Phlox said, shaking his head, “I can't say as I blame them. There must have been a great deal of fear."

    "Perhaps the fear was logical at the time,” T'Pol allowed, “But these confessions now are ...." she just walked away.

    =/\=​

    Malcolm got back from shift and found Pamela up and wearing a towel, drying her hair with another one.

    "Oh, you're better!" he said.

    "Yes, I feel stronger,” she said.

    "That's wonderful, Darling."

    "Reed, we have to talk. Really."

    "I, I know. You're leaving tomorrow,” he said.

    "About that, yes. And about everything else."

    "Can't we, uh, can't we talk tomorrow?" he asked.

    =/\=​

    Will came into Sick Bay, “Doctor Phlox, can I speak with you? In private?"

    T'Pol left.

    "By all means. What can I do for you, Doctor Owen?"

    "I, are the patients asleep?"

    "Yes, they should be,” Phlox said, “Here, let's go over by the lab. None of them should hear us. Now, what can I do for you?"

    "I know who the cheater is."

    =/\=​

    "Tomorrow?" Pamela asked. She sat down on the bed.

    "Yes,” Malcolm said, coming close and standing over her, “Let's, let's lose this,” he tugged at the towel around her torso.

    "I, Reed, I am really disfigured. I looked at myself in the mirror even though Phlox had said not to."

    "It's not bad."

    "It is."

    "I'm all right with it all."

    "Now you're pitying me."

    "No,” he said, “See what you still do to me?" He leaned over and kissed her.

    "I don't have a lot of strength. I'm not at 100%."

    "That's all right."

    "But –-"

    "But nothing,” he said, insistent, “You will be gone tomorrow. Let's, let's have tonight together. No matter how fast or slow it all goes. No matter how good it even is. But let's at least have it."

    =/\=​

    "Oh?" Phlox asked, “I am listening."

    "It's, it's me,” Will said.

    "Have you been acting alone?"

    "Yes."

    "And Doctor Claymore; is she involved in any way, or did she know about it?"

    "No and no. She – I did this because I've been failing. I didn't want to, didn't want to be forced to leave her. Do you, do you understand that?"

    "I cannot say that I am fully confused by your motivations. But I will still recommend – in fact, insist – that you be expelled."

    "I, I know. You won't, uh, you won't tell her, right?"

    "Dr. Owen, she is bound to find out. No, I will not inform her myself. But you should."

    They didn't hear the door open.

    "I can't tell Blair this,” Will said.

    "Tell me what?" she asked, standing in the doorway to Sick Bay.

    =/\=​

    "I feel so hideous,” Pamela complained.

    "You are as lovely as you always have been,” Malcolm said, “Did you think that your beauty was only confined to your skin?"

    "I, you're not serious."

    "I am,” he said, more forcefully grabbing at the towel until it was off her. She had redness on her chest and belly. There were bumps on her legs, including over her scar. Her feet were riddled with them. Her hands were pebbly. Her face had some, mostly on her forehead but a few by her temples as well.

    "This is a lot for you to tolerate. Are you sorry you did that?"

    "No,” he said, “I still want you. I cannot, cannot stop wanting you. All of this is temp'rary anyway. This is just a bump –" he smiled " – in the road."

    "We have to talk."

    "Tomorrow."

    He got into bed next to her and kissed her neck, then moved his mouth down, his lips tracing down over her stomach. He looked up at her for a second, “Tell me if, if anything hurts."

    She laughed at that, louder than he'd ever heard her laugh before. When she'd composed herself, she said, "Thank you for, for this. For not being spooked by it."

    "Well, you know what they say. You're supposed to get right back on the horse."

    "Good metaphor,” she said.

    =/\=​

    "Well? I am waiting,” Blair said.

    "You can, um, there is the Decontamination Chamber if you wish to speak truly privately,” Phlox offered.

    "Uh, no. Whatever this is, let's keep it out in the open,” Blair said sharply.

    "Blair ..."

    "Don't you Blair me, Will Owen. We aren't supposed to be keeping secrets. So what's the big secret?"

    "I, huh,...."

    "And ...?"

    Will sighed, “I, I did it. I'm the, the cheater,” he said slowly, then his voice sped up considerably, "But I only did it to be with you. If I'd failed, we'd be separated! I love you!"

    "So we all almost died – not to mention the captain and the entire human crew?!" she yelled.

    "Please, there are patients resting,” Phlox said.

    "My apologies to them,” Blair spat out, “Did you know that crewman over there was blinded?"

    "Yes, I do know that,” Will admitted.

    "And that's your fault!" she exclaimed.

    "My fault? I wiped a quiz and then the unit, uh, twice. Plus a bit of, of Orthopedics. But that's it. The rest of it wasn't me."

    "I don't believe you!" she yelled, then saw Phlox and brought her voice back down again, “And I don't care anyway. Even if, even if the rest of this isn't you – no one told you to jeopardize all of our careers now, did they?"

    "N-no."

    "So who cares what else happened. You were gonna just let everyone else take the fall for you. And you'd've killed Stoney's career, and An's, and Pamela's, and mine rather than own up to it?"

    "Don't worry about Pamela. She could always turn tricks."

    Blair slapped him, “It's a good thing we're leaving, and you'll be expelled. Right, he'll be expelled?" she asked Phlox.

    "Yes. I will be recommending that the Nereid Medical Academy take that course of action."

    "Good,” she spat, “Then this will be easier."

    "Wh-what?"

    "I never have to see you again, and I never have to talk to you."

    "But, Blair! We love each other! I would marry you tomorrow."

    "It'll be an awfully funny wedding, you exchanging vows with yourself. I'm gone. Doctor Phlox, a pleasure."

    She stormed out.

    =/\=​

    Malcolm mainly just held her. Pamela didn't have her usual stamina, not even close, but it was close enough. He kissed her repeatedly, until it was obvious that she was just too tired to do even that. He held her close as she slept, arms around her, never leaving her.
     
  12. Chanukahjes

    Chanukahjes Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2011
    Location:
    Boston, the Gateway to the Galaxy
    Pamela woke first, but didn't move. She was still kind of tired, but that wasn't the reason. It just ... it felt good.

    She did stir enough, though, that Malcolm woke. He kissed her ear, “How are you feeling?"

    "Very good,” she said, “You, um, I can tell. I'm not so sure I can perform again, or if we have the time. We have to talk."

    "I suppose there's no getting 'round it,” he said, breaking away and sitting up, “Pity there isn't more time."

    "Yes,” she said, eying him, “But, ugh, as little as I love it, the talk's gotta happen. Instead. Sorry."

    "It's all right, Darling."

    "Reed, I'm not the one,” she said.

    "But –"

    "No. I'm not. And you're not the one, either."

    "P–"

    "No. Malcolm, I never get a chance to say or do anything noble,” she said, “So just, just be quiet for a little bit and, and let me be noble for once. Okay?"

    "All right,” he said, getting up. He would listen without distraction.

    "Like I said, I'm, I'm not. And you're not. And this is fun and all, but it's ..."

    "Just fun?" he asked.

    "No. More than that. But we gotta be fair to each other. This will be distance and apart- uh, -ness, and there will be other people and temptations and you can't expect me to wait. I can't expect you to, either. You don't have to."

    "Darling ..."

    "Please don't."

    "No. Let me speak a little now,” he said, “You're, you're right,” He paused for a moment.

    "I am?"

    "Yes. It feels a bit freeing, to say that aloud. But, I want you to know what this has all, what it has all meant to me. Can I tell you that?"

    "Yes, of course,” she slipped on her shoes.

    "Throughout my life, my life as a lover, that is, I have either pined for the unattainable or held back with the ones I could have, and never truly got close to any of them. With you, though, it is, it has been, well, about testing my limits. About knowing what I could, could tolerate. Do you recall the first time I kissed you?"

    "Of course."

    "And I was being as careful as I could be, because I was afraid it would all shatter. My feelings, your interest, the moment, everything. That it would simply become pulverized if I pressed on it more than by the slightest amount. And you showed me – that you, and me, and what we could, what we have had, that it's all, it's all made from, from sterner stuff. None of it shattered. And I learned that I could do more, and be more, and feel more. The very limits of my intolerance have been stretched."

    "You've seen how much you can take,” she said, fixing her hair in the mirror's reflection.

    "Yes. And I've determined that I can take a lot. I suppose that's a part of why I was able to consent to the Klingon doctor coming aboard. The old Malcolm would have been mortified, would have found every possible way to get out of that. I'm not saying that we became friends but I got to see him as a, well, as a person."

    "I confess I was a bit alarmed when that lumm – the Klingon – picked me up. He did have one hand under my butt the entire time."

    Malcolm smiled to himself a little, “I can't say as I totally blame him. You do have a rather nice one."

    "Did you know that there's a new unit in my class?"

    "Oh?"

    "Yes. It's about the RVV."

    "What's the RVV?"

    "The Reed Variant Vaccinia. How you saved all our lives with a bit of improvisation like they did on the Apollo Thirteen mission, where an air filter was made out of an old sock or something like that."

    "Well, it wasn't just me,” he said.

    She smiled, then came over and kissed him, running her fingers along his chest before he put a tee shirt on, “I don't know if kissing makes it better or worse."

    "I feel," he said, arms around her, "like we have unfinished business, you and I."

    "We do,” she admitted, “But I have to, I have to do things."

    "Will you be back at the Academy?"

    "I don't think so, at least not for now,” she said, “I need to work on my, on myself."

    "Oh?"

    "You know why. I've been using you as a therapist, and it's about time I talked to a real therapist instead. You know what they say? Physician, heal thyself. And I have to."

    "Do you imagine you'll take one of those pharmaceutical cures?"

    "Definitely not. I don't want to lose who I am, even though that’s not necessarily that wonderful. It's Freud's old talking cure. It takes a lot longer, and it doesn't always work. But at least, at the end of it, I'll still be myself."

    "You are a worthwhile person,” he said, kissing her cheek, “With or without imperfections."

    "With,” she said, “I, I know my father has died. So there is now only one person I never want to speak with again. I don't think this will ever get me to forgive my mother. But, in time, I think I need to make peace with Lisa."

    "Your sister, yes?"

    "Yes, that's right. It's not her fault. My parents pretty much just had a dartboard, with two equal halves. One was me, and the other was her. They threw a dart, and I was hit, so I was the one they did it all to. The only thing Lisa's guilty of is not being hit with the dart. But it's our parents who set up the board and who threw the dart, and then acted on that. Not her. So she should be, I don't know if the word is forgiven. But at least tolerated by me."

    "This, this unfinished business," Malcolm said, "I would like the opportunity to, to act upon it at some point. In the future."

    "I think that could happen,” she said tentatively.

    "I'm not in the Solar System often,” he said, “But I would like for you to be the first person I contact when I am."

    "I will answer. And I will clear my schedule,” she smiled, “There will be other, other courtiers, you know. But I will always make time to see the knave."

    "And I will make sure that I spend time with you, my Queen,” he said, “But there may be a few Princesses here and there,” he smiled.

    "That's all right,” she said, “And as it should be. And there's going to be a time, someday, I bet, when you get to the Solar System and you don't think of contacting me. And that's going to be all right, too, because it will mean that you really did find the Queen. Oh, and when you do – be Alpha once in a while. Don't let her push you around."

    He kissed her deeply, “Until then, Sweetheart."

    There was a communications chime.

    "Looks like it's time to go,” she said.

    "I'll see you out,” he said.

    =/\=​

    Once the Somraw was within range, Keleth had the Communications Officer patch him through to Kronos.

    L'Kor answered at once, lying in their bed.

    "Did I wake you?" he asked.

    "No. I was just lying here, thinking about you."

    "I, I want to come home,” he said.

    "But your work is important."

    "Not as important."

    "I cannot do what I used to be able to,” she said, “I cannot be fixed. So much of me is useless now."

    "No,” he said, fingering the lavaliere charm. It flashed a little, “You are the iron. You have always been the iron, and you still are. All I am, all I can ever offer you, is tin."

    "That has always been more than enough,” she said, “And it still is."

    =/\=​

    Captain Archer cleared his throat. Then Tripp did. Then Travis. Hoshi finally jogged Malcolm's arm. He was kissing Pamela in front of everyone, they were not letting go, and it had gone on for a while.

    "Ahem. We have to go,” Dr. Keating-Fong said.

    Pamela and Malcolm finally broke apart.

    "I will write to you,” he said.

    "I'll answer when I can,” she breathed.

    He put his hand on her face and smiled.

    "This will, uh, the bumps will be gone the next time you see me,” she promised.

    "Doesn't matter either way,” he said.

    =/\=​

    Tripp, Travis and Malcolm walked down the halls after the Nereid party had departed.

    "You wanna talk about any of it?" Tripp asked tentatively.

    "Uh, not right now,” Malcolm said.

    "Big winner,” Travis said.

    "Yes,” Malcolm said, “I suppose I am,” He smiled tightly and entered his quarters, alone.

    Once the door had shut, he had one more thing to do, one more sonnet to write. He composed it, checked it over carefully, and hit Send.

    The knave's reward was a broader smile,
    a thing that rarely had been seen
    It was not eternity, it was only for a little while
    Could the knave help to heal the Queen?

    The damage done, outside and within
    and both needed the other's care
    There were hearts, underneath, yet to win
    but they needed, and still need, much repair

    And so the Queen departs this place
    and leaves the knave, who broods and misses
    and hopes they can, one day, again share space,
    of not just their bodies, not just their kisses

    We knew we could not be each other's last
    All we can hope is not to merely be in each other's past


    [​IMG]
     
  13. Kirok_of_LStok

    Kirok_of_LStok Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

    You got me with the poetry. I've always thought that it would be so appropriate for Reed to express himself in a sonnet, its rhyming pattern so formal but its scansion so flexible. He'd see it as a boxer sees his gloves & tapes: a confinement that allows him the freedom not to hold back.

    A complex man is our Mister Reed.

    K
     
  14. Chanukahjes

    Chanukahjes Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2011
    Location:
    Boston, the Gateway to the Galaxy
    Thank you! He is so underdeveloped in canon. And why not have someone who could do that? I love underestimated people. Thank you. :)