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A Study in Emerald, Part I [PLOT]

Posted on Thu Jul 19th, 2018 @ 8:11am by Captain Malcom Llwyedd & Lieutenant Laree Desai

Mission: Mission 3: The Galilei Conundrum
Location: Galilei sickbay
Timeline: 26 June, 2394 - 1000 Hours

[Continued from A Shiver of Clues]

Fiat lux.

It was a sudden thing, all of it all at once. The cove lighting bouncing toward the ceiling, the soffits radiating downward, washing the walls, and the valances in their rich wood panels shining like shields. Computer monitors flickered to life, desk lamps snapped on, and strips of baseboard shone out across the floor with gentle, healing hands. Track lights and under-cabinet lights and recessed lights and even a few pendants dangling above the two work stations, all flooded the room with the sweet breath of the gods.

The light washed across faces: Savin and Tajor and the four others in the biobeds, the men and women fearing in quiet agony on the floor, Kalstri, Beddite, Trej, Jillian, Nora, and Laree Desai. The newly arrived Caitain couple, sick and unable to stand. Their daughter M'ndi, frozen behind her blood samples, her eyes as wide as moons and her mouth condensed into a perfect O.

Desai marked M'ndi's expression, followed her gaze, and felt immediately the sharp stab of a tipping point. She straightened up in her biosuit and waited to see what M'ndi would do.

Nora, deep in her tricorder scans, had forced herself to split her focus in case any of their patients took a turn. She couldn't afford to lose herself completely in research, mindful that patient care also fell to their small team. Somehow her brain came to register the tension had ratcheted, and looking up, her eyes swiveled to the Caitian. "M'ndi?"

M'ndi dropped the sample she was holding at the sudden sound of her name. Fortunately, it did not shatter and expose the room to the pathogen. She moved with catlike speed, darting past Kalstri and the rest to reach her parents. "[Mother! Father!]" she exclaimed in Caitian, and threw her hazmat-suited arms around each of her parents' necks.

M'bind weakly put her arm up to pat her daughter on the shoulder. "[My daughter... I knew you would help us...]" M'kla was too weak to speak.

M'ndi buried her face in her mother's neck, then her father's. "[I'm so sorry. I promise, everything will be okay.]"

Desai cringed when M'ndi dropped the sample she was holding. Allowing the young woman the moment with her parents, Desai picked up the sample, righted it, and replaced it in its proper slot in the tray. Desai had hoped it would not come to this. When M'ndi told her about her parents back on the Firebird, all the professional warning bells in her head clanged and wailed, envisioning exactly this moment. Desai had tucked the carillion away--no point in worrying before it was actually a problem. But now it was actually a problem. Desai needed M'ndi to do her job. More lives than just her parents' were at stake.

After setting the sample to rights, Desai approached the new arrivals and their understandably emotional daughter. "Lieutenant M'rron," she said gently. "Why don't we get them situated. Then we can run some scans, and you can introduce us?" Desai nodded to the spot on the floor near Biobed 5 that Trej had indicated. She looked at the bewildered Kalstri and Beddite and said, "Thank you, Kalstri, Nurse. I think we can handle it from here." Her tone said, I'll fill you in later, I promise.

M'ndi looked over at Desai's voice of reason. "Y-Yes. Th-They need b-beds. And s-scans, and, and..." She took a deep breath and turned back to her parents. "[We're going to take good care of you.]" She put an arm around each of them and she and Desai half-walked, half-carried them to the empty floor space and laid them down. She sat with an arm on each of their shoulders, and began singing softly to them (or to herself) in Caitian.

Desai flipped open her tricorder and scanned the two sick Caitains. The readings were not good. With M'ndi singing softly beside her and the M'rron parents drifting in and out of consciousness, Desai performed the same physical exam she had completed with the other patients: starting at the feet, she reached through their fur and ran her gloved hands up and along the surface of their skin, all the way to the crowns of their heads. She counted seventeen crystal eruptions on the female, and twelve on the male. Several measured more then five square centimeters. Desai kept her face neutral during the exam, but at the end she exhaled softly. Things did not look good for M'ndi's parents.

Things did not look good for M’ndi, either. The young woman was lost in her own world, population three. And looming over her like the shadow of a great beast stood The Choice. M’ndi didn’t see it yet but Desai did. And no matter what M’ndi did, no matter which choice she made, the beast was going to hurt her. Possibly permanently. Abandon her post and stay with her parents? Or abandon her parents and stay at her post? An impossible choice. For a brief moment Desai regretted giving M’ndi permission to board the Galilei. But Desai wasn’t in the habit of indulging in regret. She had made her choice. Now it was time for M’ndi to make hers.

To refocus her assistant’s attention, Desai softly called her name. "M'ndi."

M'ndi finished the stanza of the Caitian lullaby she had been singing before turning back to Desai, eyes wide and calm. "Hm? Oh, right, I forgot to introduce you. This is my father M'kla and my mother M'bind. Mom and dad, this is Lieutenant Desai, the chief science officer and my mentor. She's wonderful, and she's this close to finding the cure! Then we'll get you right back home to enjoy your retirements!"

Desai looked down at the two Caitains, but neither were coherent enough to understand the introduction. She looked back at M'ndi and nodded toward an empty corner of the room. "May I speak with you a moment?"

The concerned daughter hesitated, looking back at her mother and father for a second, thinking about asking if they could just talk there. But the look on her superior officer's face was serious. She got up, stroking each of her parents' foreheads one more time, then went with Desai over to the corner. "W-What's up?"

Desai breathed a small, tentative sigh of relief. At least M'ndi wasn't so far lost in the shadow that she wouldn't leave her parents' side. When the two of them were far enough away that the parents couldn't hear, Desai gave the news to M'ndi straight. She kept her tone soft, sympathetic, but she didn't hide the truth. "M'ndi, I'm so sorry. You're parents are very sick. They look strong, and they're fighting this thing with everything they have, but if we don't treat them soon, I'm afraid they're not going to last very long."

M'ndi blinked. "Then we treat them." When Desai didn't respond right away, she continued. "We have the best science and medical teams in the galaxy, two EMHs, and Doctor Morrison and Jillian are working hard on figuring out this thing. It's going to be fine."

Desai smiled, hiding her concern for both Mndi's parents and for M'ndi's career. She knocked her gloved fist against M'ndi's helmet in a playful punch. "Atta'girl," she said. Brace yourself, she thought. Here it comes. "You're an essential part of that team, M'ndi. Can I count on you to focus on your job?"

Not missing a beat, M'ndi responded, "I'll do anything to keep my parents safe."

And just like that, the shadow cleared. She resisted the urge to hug her assistant--their biosuits would make for an awkward embrace. But in a moment of difficult decision, when there really was no right answer, M'ndi softly but surely revealed the strength of her own character. We are what we do when it counts, Desai thought. "I knew I could count on you, Lieutenant M'rron." She quieted the question, tugging at her like a precocious child, What happens if they die, and she’s not here? M’ndi had made her choice. Desai would try and help her live with it.

"Vaun needs blood samples from some of the Firebird crew," Desai continued. "I'd like you to go and collect samples from Gantt, T’Sai, B'rala, and Fhiri. And don't forget to take a sample from yourself--we need info on Caitain blood in order to help your parents. Let me know when you've delivered the samples to Vaun in the lab."

"Right," M'ndi confirmed, and turned to head out of sickbay. Then she stopped, and looked over her shoulder at Desai. "Please... Please take care of them."

[Grozit,] cursed Nora softly as she witnessed the exchange between M'ndi and their two newest patients. She didn't know the particulars of their familiarity, but clearly, they shared quite the close relationship and Nora's intuition told her it wasn't simply because they were of the same species. What's more, Desai didn't seem all that surprised by the exchange. Something was definitely up, but unfortunately, she didn't have time to dwell on it. Right now, whomever their newest patients were, they were sick and in need of care. Morrison could see all of the right things were being done, and she knew she had to be satisfied with that for now so she could focus.

Pinching the bridge of her nose, she turned her attention to the next solvent on her list, straining her eyes to see if it made any difference on the small sample of the crystal in front of her. There were so many possibilities.

Lieutenant Desai regarded Nora's intense concentration from across the room. She looks so comfortable here, Desai thought. "Comfortable" seemed an odd word in the present circumstances, but it fit. At home in her element. She approached the doctor quietly and just stood, watching, for a minute or two. "Do you remember that Bolian singer you and Yumi and I rescued in the Tenderloin? The one attached to the woman who wore feathers?"

Nora was vaguely aware someone's eyes were on her in the way that most people would, but because no words were spoken, Morrison worked doubly hard to intensify her focus. No doubt the intensity of the gaze was connected to the desire to have a cure from her, and since she had none, Morrison thought it best to keep working. She was only vaguely attending to Desai's words as she watched another sulfate have absolutely no impact on the crystal before here. Biting her lip in frustration, her brow furrowed as her mind registered two words that did not belong there let alone in the same sentence: feathers and Tenderloin. Was Morrison losing it? "What?" she asked, startled from the zone she had been in for who knows how long. "I remember that, sure," she said, fighting to keep her tone even. Why was she asking about that now?

Desai immediately regretted interrupting, and the little niggle at the corner of her mind that prompted her question blew away like a puff of smoke. "I'm sorry," she said. "I didn't mean to break your concentration. Never mind. I'm going to check on how the others are doing." Desai could see that Nora hadn't made much progress yet, so she didn't ask for an update. Best to just leave her alone and let her work. "Let me know if you find anything," she finished, somewhat lamely.

"I will, I promise," Nora answered. Even though she was focused on her work, it didn't escape her awareness Desai had sounded chastised despite what Nora thought was a clear deliberate attempt to sound anything but bothered. Perhaps she didn't do as good a job as she thought. She pushed the pang of guilt away. Not for the first time, she reminded herself this was not the time to focus on emotion, her own or anyone else's.

"Thank you, Doctor," Desai replied, nodding to herself as she stepped away into other lines of investigation.

To be continued in A Study in Emerald, Part II

Lieutenant Laree Desai
Chief Science Officer
USS Firebird NCC-88298

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

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

Jillian Mox
USS Firebird NCC-88298

Lieutenant Junior Grade Soto Gantt
Structural/Environmental Specialist
USS Firebird NCC-88298

Chief Warrant Officer (Grade 2) Amara Vaun Jr.
By Lt. Laree Desai and Lt. Comm. Yumi Han

Lieutenant Commander Emergency Medical Hologram
Chief Medical Officer
By Captain Malcolm Llwyedd


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Comments (1)

By Cadet Freshman Grade Gianna Djokovic on Mon Jul 23rd, 2018 @ 6:54am

Aha! I felt M'ndi rising from the ashes like a true Firebird as I read her arc in this JP. Very nicely executed! Can't wait to read the rest. -Liam