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A Shiver of Clues [PLOT]

Posted on Fri Jun 22nd, 2018 @ 10:12am by Emergency Medical Hologram & Lieutenant Laree Desai & Chief Warrant Officer (Grade 2) Amara Vaun Jr.

Mission: Mission 3: The Galilei Conundrum
Location: SS Galilei- Sickbay
Timeline: 26 June, 2394 - 0930 Hours

[Continued from A Cauldron of Mysteries]

In response to Desai's question, Nora automatically scanned sickbay in search of Beddite and Kalstri. Of course they weren't present as Laree had already indicated, but it was a natural impulse for Morrison to look anyway, now suddenly embarrassed that she had lost track of the rest of the group. "I think they are out looking for more patients that may not have made it here, but we should probably check in on them just to make sure they are safe. Then, I agree, we will ultimately make more progress if we take our time and collaborate as a team, with you taking scans and me experimenting with different compounds." Morrison tapped her communications badge, now silently praying Beddite and Kalstri were okay. Intellectually, she knew she should forgive herself for not realizing they were not with her, but even so, emotionally, she knew she would never forgive herself truly if it turned out her lack of attention to detail revealed they were actually in harm's way. "Morrison to Tenistin and Beddite. I'm just checking in. Are you two you all right?"

Beddite paused and tapped her combadge. =^=Yes, doctor, we are fine. We are currently on deck six, near the hydro-excursion chamber, although I don't know what that is. We are searching for survivors and have also marked a number of dead as well. Do you require us to return?=^=

"Negative," Nora replied. "Finding patients is a priority. Just keep us informed, please, and let us know if you need anything."

"So we're going to need blood samples first of all," M'ndi explained to Jillian and Trej, "and I think we should get a throat swab as well." Savin and Tajor lay supine and unconscious on makeshift operating tables. The sight of Savin's suffering, the gentle doctor in pain, set a chill through M'ndi, but she pressed on. "Then we have an ad hoc chemistry lab here to analyze the samples. We have a centrifuge here, thank god, otherwise we'd have to separate the samples through distillation, which could take much longer than we have."

Jillian had taken more blood samples on this mission than she had gathered in all of her phlebotomy courses. "I have taken and labeled their blood samples." She held the tubes in her palm showing them to M'ndi and Trej. "I will get the throat swabs. Will you hold their mouths open for me Trej? I don't want either of our suits to come in contact with teeth if possible." She smiled the concerned smile of the preemptively exhausted.

Trej looked at Jillian unphased. He quickly scavenged through the medical kit and found a dental prop, tweezers, and disinfectant. "I think we can probably keep both of our hands out of mouths with these." He held them up as he walked past Jillian to the first patient in the row. "Are you ready?" He squeezed the cheeks of the first patient until her mouth opened. He was sure it was not a pleasant smell. He noted the idea with a slight cringe on his lips, and sent a thank you to the prophets that he was in a bio-hazard suit. After Jillian took the swab he reached carefully in with the large tweezers and withdrew the prop. "Nice. I think that will work well."

M'ndi nodded and directed the duo to the analysis device. "Now, what we're looking for is beryllium aluminium cyclosilicate. We have a hunch on its role in the disease's progression that we need confirmed."

"Wait. Like the gemstone? Emerald?" Jillian tilted her head, brow furrowed. "I don't understand, but we need to get the samples in quickly--some may have already clotted." She carried the blood samples to the centrifuge and began placing them carefully to maintain balance. "I am setting it at 1800 xg unless you'd like something else." Jillian looked up at M'ndi for conformation.

"Yes, the gemstone, exactly," M'ndi confirmed. "We think the disease is calcifying the victims' body tissue." She let the centrifuge do its job, then took the two samples from Savin and Tajor's blood over to the microscopes, carefully dolloping the separated solid parts of the samples onto the viewing trays. "Yes... Yes, this seems to be what we expected. Beryllium alumimium cyclosilicate." She moved to the other microscope, looked through, and frowned. "Strange... Trej, come take a look."

Trej leaned over the light microscope. He could see some small crystalline structures, so he adjusted the lens to focus. "It looks like small salt crystals that aren't big enough to be seen with the naked eye yet." He switched the samples again just to verify the dependencies in what he saw. "I can see... spores? in both Savin's and Tajor's blood, but there is something different going on in Tajor's. And are those hyphae bits? In both of blood samples." He noted the thin transparent strings, suspiciously like the structures fungi use to spread through a substrate.

At the other station Jillian was running a chemical analysis. "There are some significant differences in their blood samples here as well." Jillian turned and leaned against the desk as she explained. "There are really high levels of stress hormones in Savin's blood." She paused to think momentarily. "Basically all the chemicals that fire when you're in a fight and make you aggressive are in Savin's blood, but they are missing from Tajor's sample."

"That's odd," M'ndi pondered. "It must be their different alien heritage, but why would the disease act so different between them...?"" This requires further research, she thought.

A spray of cleaning solution rained down on her, as loud inside the hazmat suit as a rolling snare drum. Each drop was heavy and fat in the humid air, and together they massaged her shoulders and back through the thin layer of vyntek. The Galilei science lab's emergency shower was quaint but adequate. Standing under the inverse umbrella, the deluge washed her hazmat suit. Amara Vaun let her eyes fall shut and gave quiet thanks for how sturdy the protective layer was. She'd worn a positive pressure suit everyday at her internship with the BSL-4 labs at Nunki Research Outpost. As rough as this day had been, it felt like old times. Old times with the lights turned off. And unknown lurking in the shadows.

Vaun released the pullchain, and the shower cut off. She straightened her spine from a weary sag she had slouched into and set about cutting, labelling, and staining her hard won air filter samples. Referencing the ship's maintenance logs, Vaun marked each filter slide with its source location and the time it was last replaced by the luxury liner's cadre of maintenance scuttlebots. The path Desai assigned her that morning swept around the ship physically and from a month ago up through last night in time.

A huff of frustration fogged the inside of her visor, then faded away. On Nunki, she could deposit biohazardous material into a contained exam tank, peal off her sweaty PPS, and work safely through robotic hands inside the tank that she controlled with nimble, ungloved fingers. Here she was forced to press her hazmat suit visor against the eyepiece of her Gibson microscope and manipulate her slides and instruments clumsily through numbing hazmat suit gloves. It was like being handcuffed. Or she imagined it was, having never been in enough trouble in her life to be put into real security shackles.

Data points accumulated, but no patterns emerged. At least, not where she looked for them. High spore counts interfered with her ability to measure anything else from the particulate filters. She didn't recognize the mold, and when she tried to grow a culture of it in standard agar and broth mediums, the spores appeared to be dormant. It was impossible to tell when each trapped particulate was caught during each filter's lifetime, and the oldest filters had saturated, capping their "total" spore counts below what was probably true. Vaun found a region of higher steropithicum bacteria--in a wing rich with Bajoran passengers--that dropped off sharply in the days after the Galilei's call for help. Possibly, the passengers who had those colds had been incapacitated by whatever other agent was at work aboard.

The longer she slaved over it, the more Vaun suspected that the contagion was communicable by touch rather than by air. With a heavy sigh, she stood up tall and arched her back to stretch. It was time to report and let Lt. Desai make the next call. =^=Vaun to Desai. Sir, I've looked at the air filters...=^= Vaun stalled, softening the blow of bad news, more for her own sake than for the lieutenant. =^=Have you discovered anything from the patients in sickbay?=^=

=^=Ah, the air filters.=^= Desai was happy to hear that that little expedition was completed. =^=Thank you Vaun. Yes, Jillian and Trej have been looking at blood samples from the patients here. Did you find any fungal spores in the filters, by any chance?=^=

Spores. Vaun froze and reconsidered the spore counts she had seen as a nuisance while she lasered in on virus and bacteria as prime suspects. She pulled up a temporal distribution for the spore counts on her visor HUD. =^=A lot of the oldest filters were clogged with spores. Large, dust-sized ones. They did not grow in standard culture mediums, but if I had some uncontaminated living tissue samples, I could introduce these spores to them and watch for any reactions.=^=

=^=Excellent,=^= Desai replied. She and Vaun both knew that uncontaminated living tissue samples could only come from the Firebird crew on board the Galilei. Their biosuits were equipped with internal devices to collect tissue and fluid samples from the wearer. The sample was placed in a small vial, then ejected from the suit through a port that maintained the suit's integrity.

Vaun had exactly the same idea.

=^=Could we get some pure blood samples from the Firebird crew?=^= Vaun asked. =^=Our suits have rudimentary lab support built in to test the wearer has been protected the whole time they were suited up. It's under the 'Biometrics' menu.=^=

=^=Yes, I was thinking the same thing. I'll send someone around to the Firebird crew to collect samples. You should have them within the hour. Good work, Amara. Keep me posted. Desai out.=^=

Vaun took a deep breath behind her visor. Might as well start now. She opened the Biometrics menu and winced as her hazmat suit pricked her forearm to draw plasma, platelets and coagulants, red feeding cells and white fighting cells. The rich, crimson medium for her human blood culture test.

Nora exhaled slowly in relief as she turned her attention to analyzing the samples of the strange green skin eruptions she had collected from dead and dying patients. Intellectually, she knew the importance of gathering these particular samples if they were going to find a way to help, but the physician in her wasn't used to causing additional discomfort to her patients without any sense of where things were going. Of course, she took every effort to minimize the discomfort associated with collecting the samples, but it still wasn't easy.

She turned her attention to her scans and scopes, praying for a miracle.

Kalstri watched Beddite momentarily. The sadness between them was palpable. He then turned his attention back to the man before him. At this point, it was hard to even recognize the body as a man. The face was covered in blood, the eyes staring ahead were a brilliant shade of green. Each life that passed seemed to add another weight to his heart. With great care, he reached down and picked the man up and turned to place him with the others who had passed. He looked around. The dead were piling up, more and more. He couldn't find a place to lay this man. He started to get frantic as the emotions started to break through the walls. Tears flooded down his face as he struggled with the simple task of laying this body down. He turned back and forth, struggling. As the stress, the emotions began to overcome him, he closed his eyes. He was no longer holding the man, but Celiste, his lost love. Her delicate hand touched on his cheek as he held her. "Be strong, Kalstri." She whispered. Instantly a calm spread through his body. "Thank you my love," he whispered back. Kalstri opened his eyes, the tears flowing freely. He looked over to Beddite with a hoarse voice, "We need to find a new place for those who have passed. There is no room here."

Beddite nodded. "Agreed," she said in her normal nurse voice. "What about the mess hall? Surely there is some kind of walk-in freezer on a ship like this. They always pride themselves on serving non-replicated food. We can put the deceased there as a makeshift morgue. That will free up space here and we can also look for other survivors on the way."

Kalstri nodded, "That will work." He looked down at the man before him. He couldn't imagine the agony this man went through in those last few moments. Kalstri shook his head slightly, "I will start moving them over to the mess hall. Please continue triaging, save any we can." With that Kalstri strode out of the room with his purpose restored.

Beddite considered herself to be a strong person. Benzites were not a frail race, on the whole, and she had plenty of years' experience moving patients around. However, she could be honest with herself. She'd never had to half-carry a Caitian before.

"Almost... there," she gasped as they made their way down the now clear hallway that ended at sickbay. "Kalstri... you...doing... ok?"

The Caitian Kalstri carried was larger than most of the other passengers, but only carrying one was not a burden for his much larger frame. "I am making it, my friend. Are you okay?" he asked with concern.

Beddite grunted. She was starting to sweat, something unheard of for her. She found the sensation disgusting. "I... will need... a long rest," she huffed, moving closer to the open sickbay doors. "But... I'll be okay." They took the few remaining steps in silence and then stumbled into the medical room. Someone had helped organize the patients into a more orderly fashion and there didn't appear to be any more corpses to take to the morgue. Beddite spotted Nurse Trej kneeling over a Bolian patient, speaking in a quiet tone.

"Nurse Trej, a little help please," Beddite said. Trej jumped up and rushed over to help, nearly running into one of the medical carts in the process. He bounced off of it, not slowing down and swooped in to take the other arm of the Caitian.

"I've got you, Chief," Trej said. "There's a spot over here by biobed five. It should be big enough for both of them."

The Caitian female's head rose and her large eyes fluttered. "Thank you."

Kalstri moved forward into Sickbay. They had made it, their precious cargo still alive, at least for now. He heard Trej's directions and he moved over to biobed five. There wasn't much room left in here, either. He looked to the hard working crew of the Firebird and whispered to himself, "Save them, my friends."

The sickbay doors opened, and when M'ndi looked over to see who was coming in, everything stopped as she looked into the barely-conscious, but alive, eyes of her parents.


Lieutenant Laree Desai
Chief Science Officer
USS Firebird NCC-88298

Lieutenant Nora Morrison M.D.
Chief Counselor
USS Firebird NCC-88298

Lieutenant M'ndi M'rron
Assistant Chief Science Officer
USS Firebird NCC-88298

Jillian Mox
USS Firebird NCC-88298

Chief Warrant Officer Amara Vaun Jr.
USS Firebird NCC-88298
NPC by Han

Kalstri Tenistion
USS Firebird NCC-88298
NPC by Smith


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Comments (1)

By Petty Officer 3rd Class Max Tragar on Fri Jul 6th, 2018 @ 9:36am

I have really enjoyed learning more about Kalstri's past throughout these posts! If there were a Beddite and Kalstri show, 10/10 would watch.