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Modern Major-General

Posted on Sun Aug 27th, 2023 @ 8:31pm by Lieutenant Feeva Drylo & Lieutenant Marcus Alexander MD

2,778 words; about a 14 minute read

Mission: Mission 4 - Like a Thunderbolt
Location: Medical labs
Timeline: After Return to Faltan Base (Part 2)

Feeva was a bit annoyed at having to leave the sanctuary of the laboratory and walk these samples physically to Medical. Not only because she had asked Ensign Sar to do it, but also because she wasn't fond of the Doctor. They clashed-she found him a bit self-important. She was certain that he found her stuck-up and bossy. She wasn't-she just knew her job and did it well.

However, Sar had taken a personal day after eating too much chocolate-didn't he know that bloody Vulcans were allergic to it? She couldn't help but shake her head, though, and excuse him for the day. Damn that Elly Clarke, too, for bringing the chocolate into the office!! She walked into the Medical Bay, and spoke to the receptionist, her tone low and quiet, and her accent a bit thick with the nerves.

"Allo. Is Dr. Alexander in?" She asked. Her accent was one that might be akin to Old Earth's Scottish, but tinged with something else-Vissian.

The doctor was in the CMO's office unpacking his few personal items he had brought with him. This was first time seeing the Infirmary on a Buckingham class starbase. He wasn't impressed. It had a 6 bed general ward, small surgical suite, and even smaller ICU. He had bigger facilities on the Columbia and Nogura . He would make do since the Romulan refugee camps made this place look majestic.

Like nails on a chalk board, he heard the voice of the Chief Science Officer out front. His first impression of her on the away mission was one of irritation. She didn't seem to have a clue what when on outside the protocols and rules of Starfleet. Marcus had always been the black sheep of his family and preferred the realm of cowboy diplomacy when handling a situation. She must be finished with the samples they had collected on Falta III. He made his way out the door to his office and out to the lobby. "Lieutenant," he said in her direction, yet it almost sounded like a question.

Feeva's brown eyes found his. "Aye. The samples," she said, holding them up. "Ensign Sar took a personal day, so you get to deal with me," she said. She fought an urge to put her hands on her hips, and instead, tapped her right foot impatiently. "Your office, or do you wish to come to the Labs? Either way, you'll need your Computer or a PADD. I'll wait, but only exactly fifty-five seconds for you to collect one," she said. "Also, your tunic is a bit untucked in the back. May want to adjust that," she said. Her tone was even-she just simply operated inside the black and white areas of logic and reason. It made things much simpler. It hadn't ALWAYS been like that for her-her childhood had been very chaotic and full of so-called "grey areas."

Marcus tugged at the hem of his uniform adjusting it. "I have the medical lab all set up if it meets your approval. It's small, but has everything we should need," he said to her.

She nodded. "Ok..." she said. She preferred "home turf" but a lab was a lab, she supposed. "Let me see it; I can access the databases anywhere, I suppose." She had brought her PADD with her; tucked carefully over her shoulder-she had replicated a sling of sorts for it, like an old-Earth-style laptop bag or somesuch. "This medical bay is TINY," she remarked. Her labs took up a good deal of the deck, though-Faltan had originally been slotted to be a deep-space research facility.

The doctor showed her the way to the Medical Lab. It was adjacent to the Infirmary and connected by the main lobby. "Have you had the opportunity to perform any of your own tests before coming here?"

She nodded. "Of course. The moment we returned, I got straight on it. Interesting stuff. Take a look," she said, sliding the slide into the microscope's slot and turning it on, after locating a platform for her to climb up onto to reach. "Is that mold, you think?" She asked. "Swabs are still processing, but at first appears to be a wheat germ seed, but...slightly different. Of course, it makes sense to be different, being that it's alien, but it's otherwise genetically very close to old Earth wheat-the same kind you can get from the Replicators, for example," she said.

"I think they modified it. The Falteans, I mean."

The raised one eyebrow in interest of what she had to say. He took a look into the microscope to see for himself. He paused. "I'd have to say I agree with your hypothesis. Based on this the sores have a very short growth span which is why they can be so explosive." He added. He was glad this sample was inert.

The tiny Ginger nodded. "So...what do we do? Tell the Captain? Perhaps sit on it a bit until my tests are done?! Certainly, we have to tell them soon; no one should eat, touch, or otherwise consume or come into contact with it." She sighed deeply. This is the part of the job she didn't like-having to explain to a foreign, possibly combative race that something they're doing is deadly. She wasn't good at diplomacy because she got nervous and tongue-tied.

The doctor didn't hesitate to respond. "If theses are the source of the attack, we need to let Captain Channe know. Since neither of us were present at the time of the attack, I can't guarantee that proper procedures were followed in the evacuation, and inert matter might have made it onto the station." He paused for a moment. "Just from what I've heard from Commander Bar'za, the former station Commander did not always do things..." he paused to think of the best words " the book." He didn't like to use those words since he didn't always follow the book in certain circumstances.

She sighed. She liked to be by the book. Still, she nodded. "I agree with your assessment, Doctor." She reached up and tapped her Comms badge.

==/\==Captain Channe, can you please report to Medical?==/\==

"On my way," Ronan said. "Maybe about ten minutes. Captain out." He turned back to the report he'd been working on, finished his thought, and saved the draft for later then headed out of his ready room.

[Ten Minutes Later]

He arrived in Medical and found the first person to walk by. "Someone asked me to come down here," Ronan said. "Could you let them know I'm here?"

Fee looked at Marcus, but stepped forward, poking her head out of the lab door. "Dr. Alexander and I are back here; we have something you should see," she said. She tossed her braid back over her shoulder as she righted herself.

When the man entered, she hopped back up on the platform-she was still shorter than both men, but those things couldn't be helped-and spoke, peering back into the machine, as if it had changed in the ten minutes.

"This is one of the samples we found this mornin'" she said. "It's wheat. Like regular wheat, from Terra, from a replicator, perhaps. Most places order them pre-programmed, and I understand that the Earth type is standard," she said, with a slight wrinkle to her nose. Vissian wheat was preferable to her-it was sweeter, because it was grown more like rice, in vast fields of water. She realized she was rambling. "We think it's been modified. Take a look," she encouraged, hopping down and moving the platform.

Science had never been his strongest subject but he looked nevertheless. "So, its a replicated grain from Earth? Can you tell anything about the modifications?"

The doctor took a closer look into the microscope. "I disagree, Lieutenant. The spore is similar to Terran wheat, but it has a different genetic make up. It has base pair amino acids which are only found on Falta III."

Fee shot him a LOOK, but moved the platform again to look some more. She made a few silent notes, and then raised her head again.

"I suppose you're correct, Doc," she said. "I'll know more once my other tests are complete-this is preliminary, but important," she said. She turned to the Captain.

"Sir...the implications are...well." She paused, letting the man make his own conclusions.

"I appreciate your wanting me to know as soon as possible, Lieutenant, but I'd rather conclusions, evidence, than speculation," Ronan said. "Still, thank you for letting me know."

The doctor looked over at the Captain, "Sir I would not have had you come down here for just speculation. We found a lot in just ten minutes. To clarify, this does not come from a wheat plant. Spores are only found on fungi. The fungus of origin is more similar to wheat rust on Earth. On Falta III, it is referred to Faccina graminis, but these samples have been genetically modified." Marcus pulled up a 3D image of the DNA and zoomed in. He pointed to a specific strand, "this segment is different from the original species. This difference makes it reproduce rapidly and spread like wild fire."

Feeva nodded.

"The blood samples I took from the walls are indicative of a burst Bubo. You've heard of the Bubonic Plague from your planet in ancient times? While it's not a related illness, it can help you to picture what I am saying-the spores of whatever type-and I am still working on that-essentially filled and exploded with various forms of blood and infectious tissue," she said, opening her hands when she said "exploded." "And, of course, anyone in the vector would be affected," she said. "Doc here can describe that more," she said. "That would result in totally catastrophic event," she said.

"IF we are correct, and I think we may be, and this fungus makes it way into the food supply, the results can be very devastating. I don't know yet if it can be aerosolized-I can't know that for a few days, I need to grow some." She said. "If it can be-well. Let's just say that if it can be spread through the air, and it gets into the wrong hands...we're dead. ALL of us, Falteans included. Man, woman, child, likely several species of fauna, as well. Total collapse." With that, she simply shrugged.

"Coffee, anyone?" The scientist wasn't TOO worried, most forms of fungus couldn't be spread through aerosolution.

The doctor agreed with her. "Captain that leads us to another issue, one of station security. I heard from the XO that the station's former Commander had a tendency for lacks in protocol. Sometimes during an emergency evacuation transporter chiefs deactivate the biofilters to help expedite the transport of more people. If that were the case, spores my have come on board the station. Mostly likely inert on someone's clothing, but they can turn deadly giving the right conditions."

She sighed deeply. "See, Doctor Alexander, why a strict adherence to the rules and protocols is important?" She tossed her head a little. Logic and reason dictated her life and her job-she didn't understand or like the "grey areas" of life. Her brain didn't process them correctly, leaving her feeling quite anxious and afraid.

Her tone was extremely irritating to him. "Excuse me," he snapped back. "Are implying that this is somehow my fault? I wasn't even in the sector when this happened."

"Enough, both of you," Ronan said at once. "I expect civility from my officers. Now, from what I understand, during the attack, someone transported in, boils began to appear on his body, and then he ... exploded ... anyone touched by the fore also reacted the same way. Boils and explosions. An extremely fast replication rate." He paused a moment. "Because the man teleported in, I am thinking it was a targeted attack. Given the fast replication time during the attack, do you think they still represent a threat to us here on the station, even days later?"

Feeva just shook her head. "Sorry, sir. No, I am not implying anything. Simply telling you that if you operated a bit less...sloppily, we might have answers before now," she said. She listened to Channe. "I don't think so," she said. "Most fungi aren't aerosolized-that means they can't be spread through the air. And they don't have a super-long half life, once exposed to Oxygen, and oxygen exists in the Faltean atmosphere at a high rate," she said. "Plus, the sun here will have killed any spores that did go airborne from the explosion itself. HOWEVER, that does NOT mean that we're free to prance about freely. We should still operate as if the spores ARE live, and can sicken anyone at any time,'' she said. "I don't necessarily think something like confinement to quarters is necessary, just...caution."

The doctor looked at the Lieutenant. He was resisting the urge for a sarcastic come back since Ronan was there, "I'm not sure how fungi reproduce on Vissia, but on Earth and most planets in the Raeya Sector Block, fungal spores can be spread throughout the air. Look at diseases such as histoplasmosis, blastomyosis, cryptococcosis, and aspergillosis. All spread by the spores traveling in the air." The doctor paused. "The attackers spores were slightly different like something triggered them to start replicating and spreading. I think everyone that was on the planetary station should be scanned for spores on their skin, clothing, or fur."

"I don't prance," Ronan said as he favored Feeva with a withering glance even as he made a mental note to check the transporter protocols and ensure that the biofilters were not being circumvented. He turned his attention to the physician. "We can do a focused scan station wide if you can provide C and C with data on the spores. Now, do you think these ... spores ... are the reason the man exploded?"

She looked from the CO to the doctor. “I meant that they can’t be broken down and put into a bomb like ricin can,” she said. “I understand that spores are carried in the air; and it’s quite the bloody same on Vissia,” she said. “Sir… I think it’s a good theory,” she said, “but it shouldn’t by ITSELF. It was carried by something. By that, I mean that it had to have an original vehicle-the wheat itself, perhaps, but in this case, it’s more likely that the spore release was a byproduct of the explosion itself…the… person was already infected with the rashes, and the pressure from the explosive released them into the atmosphere. The person HIMSELF was the bio weapon.” She hoped that made sense.

"Obviously," Ronan said, mustering his patience. "The answer I need was how that was done and what can we do in future to protect our people. Other than criticism of the transporter protocols, which I will certainly look into, and my command, what you have so far is that the explosion released spores into the air and that those spores could be carried on personnel provided they made it through the biofiltering process. With the data on the spores, we can do a station-wide scan, see if it's a problem or not. Make sure you send that along. I'm heading back to C&C." He paused a second. "Mind what I said. Civility. Especially you, Lieutenant Drylo."

She made a face, but bit back her first inclination-that he'd "started it", and just nodded. "The tests take a bit of time, but myself and my team are working round the clock on it, and I've put it as priority, though my Botanist is giving me a bit of pushback about that," she said. "But I explained that it was safety and she seems to understand. I think the biofilters are fine-if any of us were exposed, we'd have symptoms by now," she said, confidently. "Fungal infections travel fast in humans and humanoids. The only ones who would be less affected or show symptoms later are perhaps Commander Baz'ra, and the Klingon who works with me, Ms. Back," she said. "Anything else? I'll keep you and the command staff informed." She watched him go, then turned to Marcus.

"Good day," she said, and turned to go.

The doctor ignored her as she left the infirmary. 'What did a specialist in Astrometrics and Meteorology know about Xenobiology?' he thought to himself. "Computer, begin a biomolecular scan on subject AF01's ectoplasm remains." The Medlab computer started beeping as it performed the assigned task.


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