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Main Sim [Sickbay]: A Flicker of Understanding

Posted Dec. 5, 2021, 5:44 p.m. by Lieutenant Junior Grade Sharah Fayth (Medical) (Jennifer Ward)

Posted by Jason Wolfe in Main Sim [Sickbay]: A Flicker of Understanding

Posted by Lieutenant Jericho Semenza (Chief Medical Officer) in Main Sim [Sickbay]: A Flicker of Understanding



—[SNIP]—

It took the computer a moment to chew through all the readings being compiled into it, but it finally spread their scans out across the display. It then flagged several different areas of their brains, most of it centered in the prefrontal cortex. Though the levels were all different due to some delays between the noticed effect and the scan, all but the Klingon had elevated levels of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. While this would explain their more erratic behavior, it was more suggestive of a loss of inhibition rather than a suspected possession. Simply put, they were more likely to do what struck their fancy and enjoy it, but nothing completely out of character or that would result in immediate self-harm.

Strange too was a queer sort of electrostatic energy pervasive in the synaptic cleft—the space between synapses where impulse was conducted—that most still showed the presence of, though it was slowly dissipating. It almost seemed to bolster the body’s ability to process and reuptake the aforementioned chemicals; the result would have been an increase in sensory input without any long-term damage from overexposure of these chemicals—it gave them the “high” of being intoxicated without the crash. Whatever had affected them had actually shielded each crewmember from what it was doing, suggesting a kind of symbiotic response. This would also explain why Pierce and Sigmundsson were not feeling muscular fatigue though they’d been more active than the others. It was also noted that the dissipation rate of this charge was slower in the hippocampus, which would explain why each patient suffered a sense of disorientation or forgetfulness as short-term memory was impaired.

Fairweather was also noted to have a trace electrostatic charge in his cerebellum along with some damage to the associated neurons. Whether this was the result of his experience with lost time or his unfortunate encounter with a gelpack’s angry discharge, it’s hard to say; his hands and arms bear similar damage along with those common to heavy electric shock. Overall, he will recover with a few days of rest and the proper medications; whatever happened to him overloaded those parts of his body and his cells are tired.

Kohr is perhaps the most unusual case, since his brain is saturated with the electrostatic charge nearly gone from the others. As Klingons have many redundant systems and possess denser skulls and membrane surrounding the brain, it is little wonder that the presence of such energy affected him differently than the other humanoid subjects. Whatever had affected the crew and suppressed their inhibitions had nearly fried the commander’s mind, resulting in a kind of neuron discharge that totally interrupted his brain’s normal functions. While the computer can detect no lasting damage, it suggests he will not rouse easily or soon while his brain “reboots”—the neurons are simply too confused and will take time to either shed or absorb the electrostatic charge, an unfortunate side effect of his genetic resilience.

Sharah does not have the electrostatic energy anywhere but the area of her brain associated with telepathy. Her hippocampus shows signs of stress and high activity, which is not surprising given her experience. Perhaps the oddest result of her scan is the increase in synaptic paths deep within the hippocampus, suggesting that the interaction with the energy mote was beginning to form new pathways. This would go far to explain why she was able to recall the images from her experience, and why she feels like there was more just beyond the grasp of her understanding.

Overall, the scanned crew show no signs of continued activity in any regions of the brain outside of their normal functions. For all intents and purposes, whatever had affected them has left them.

Sharah tapped several times and a desk console on the far side of sickbay blinked to life. She glanced at Sheridan, “That console there…a sent all the data too it. All the initial scans I took of the away team, and everyone who’s been acting oddly. I also took scans of the first mote that left Cmdr Kohr’s body and the…the one..that died.” Sharah also sent all the information to the CSO. He’d requested she keep him apprised of any data she collected and so she did. She was sure this science officer would do the same, but focusing on even repetitive tasks was keeping her from ‘feeling’ too much.

Fayth, med

There was a small commotion at the door as Semenza arrived with Hab’rabi. “Dr. Semenza, we have the scan results from the detainees in the brig. Cmdr Kohr has been affected as well…and I…” Fayth couldn’t seem to shake the overwhelming grief over the death of the mote, “I was as well. The data is all here,” and she pointed at he main diagnostic display.

Fayth, med

Just then a rather put-out voice came across the comm system. =^=Cosgrove to Sickbay.=^= Was that… whimpering in the background? =^=We’ve had a delay in delivering Ensign Sacco to you for scanning per the captain’s orders. He’s almost catatonic, but we’ll get him to you as soon as we clear the checkpoint. Captain said to get him into a secure room, so hopefully you folks aren’t too busy. Cosgrove out.=^=

Kalika sat on the bed and let herself be scanned. She kept trying to crane a peek at the XO but wasn’t able to see him from where she was. It frustrated her that she was no longer Security Chief. But it also made her glad because whatever happened happened when her head wasn’t full of current passwords and protocols. “I don’t remember much, to be honest. One moment I was doing.... something.” She frowned. “I remember the XO being upset at me about something I was supposed to do. Next thing I know, I’m soaking wet with my clothes on over myself and at the mercy of security in the corridors. I know when I opened the holodeck door to use the replicator for a towel, a beach scene at an ocean was still playing. It shut down as I took the towel.” She turned her head to the woman. “I don’t like swimming. And I am petrified of the ocean. So I have no idea what was happening.”

She hated, even more now, that she was clueless to what happened. With everything in her past, this was just another thing. But it still was bothersome.

Kalika
Security

Watkins handed over a PaDD, that was disconnected from the ship’s computer. “I’d like you to write down everything you remember. Start with the last clear continuous memory you have before you came to in the holodeck. It will help us determine when and where you were when things went strange.” Watkins finished her scan, “I would offer you food but your scans show you had a rather large meal recently. Do you remember that?”

Semenza returned to Sickbay with the patient he’d collected, one Hab’rabi, who’d been shot in the head with a phaser. With the patient moved and situated in Sickbay, Semenza ordered numerous scans of his head and brain, looking for the extent of the damage Semenza expected to find judging by the findings of his preliminary examination.

He found his Sickbay to suddenly be full of patients who must’ve arrived while he was dealing with the emergency. The ship’s XO, Kalika from Security, Ensign Fairweather. And Sacco, the one responsible for his newest patient, was yet on the way. And Sharah, whom he remembered had also been affected however he noticed she was still working. And so, the first thing he did, was head over to her. “Lieutenant Fayth, I believe you have a biobed and a set of scans awaiting you.” It was his more casual way of saying she was to be a patient right now, not a doctor.

~ Lt Semenza, CMO

Sharah, looked up at the taller man, most people were taller than her, and blinked. It was taking supreme effort to keep her composure, but she would no matter what. “Of course Dr Semenza, but…” she waved at the large display screen. “I…” she rubbed her temple as she spoke, “I think I know how to tell who is and is not affected. It’s not just the PFC activity, it’s the electrostatic energy pervasive in the synaptic cleft. We all have that. Increases in hormone levels too, but that isn’t all consistent in type and amounts, though the effects are all similar. A..”

Semenza was giving her a look, it was the look of ‘you’re not listening.’ She needed rest, just as much as the others did, and he could read the scans for himself. “Biobed. Rest. Go.”

Nurse V’tor came over, placed a hand on her shoulder and tried to steer her toward a biobed. It wasn’t that Sharah was unwilling to go, she just really needed to tell Semenza what she was seeing in the scans. She shrugged the hand off, the physical contact and V’tor’s Vulcan mind made the noise around her worse. “We only know the point of entry and exit on my scans, but look…everything goes back to normal when they leave. A mobile monitor..” V’tor glanced at Semenza and then the security detail that had come in with Kalika and Hab’rabi. Sharah picked up the thought, she didn’t want to go to the brig. She sighed, went quiet, and went to the furthest bio bed, where V’tor erected a quarantine field and started more detailed scans of her. Sharah climbed onto the bed and laid down. She didn’t think the things were trying to harm them....‘mother’ the echoing thought, the deep regret and sadness threatened to bring tears to her eyes, again.

Fayth, med

Semenza glanced back at V’tor with a subtle shake of the head, also catching what she meant as he followed where else she was looking. But the threat worked, and Sharah went to one of the biobeds, which to him was a relief. Following them to the biobed, partially to be sure Sharah actually went, he gave her the mobile monitors to calibrate while he was reading the scans. It was only after that he began to see what she was trying to tell him, looking over the information the scans had revealed. The same increases caused in all cases. Some differences in hormone levels could possibly be explained by different brain chemistry, especially across different species; kohr compared to sharah, and then a human like Fairweather. But Semenza was no neurologist, he wasn’t certain.

~ Lt Semenza, CMO

Sharah laid on the bio bed while V’tor completed her scans. Without something to focus on the telepathic and empathic input she was getting was overwhelming. The crew as speculating and worried and there was a deep undercurrent of paranoia. Not to mention the intense grief and … how did one describe the feeling of dying? It wasn’t the first time Sharah had been caught in that moment with another being, but it was never easy. In fact it was terryfing. She had no idea who that mote had been, but she was convinced, with the dream like memories she had retained, it had been a person at a point in time.

V’tor, being Vulcan would not understand her grief or the tears the threatened to fall, and so she did her best to keep it to herself. Finally V’tor was finished with her scans. (ooc: copying from above) Sharah does not have the electrostatic energy anywhere but the area of her brain associated with telepathy. Her hippocampus shows signs of stress and high activity, which is not surprising given her experience. Perhaps the oddest result of her scan is the increase in synaptic paths deep within the hippocampus, suggesting that the interaction with the energy mote was beginning to form new pathways. This would go far to explain why she was able to recall the images from her experience, and why she feels like there was more just beyond the grasp of her understanding.

From her biobed she had the ability to access what was going on around her since Semenza didn’t lock her out of sickbay systems. Plus he gave her the mobile monitors, so she had to assume he wanted her to do something with them. With something to do, her focus returned, slowly, and she was able to surf above the noise, but the grief stayed with her.

The computer’s chime with Hab’rabi’s results only added to the confusion and activity brimming in Sickbay. The computer didn’t care; it had work to do, after all, and couldn’t be bothered with trivialities like anxiety and confusion. A display winked to life near the alien’s biobed with his vital signs—not to mention a healthy dose of error margin when it came to certain functions, the chief of which was his brain—showing concerning markers that hovered just between yellow and green. His hearts rate seemed a little elevated, but all other functions appeared to be at a resting rate similar to other, unconscious species.

It was obvious to even the untrained that Hab’rabi’s brain scan was a thing of diagnostic nightmares. Nearly every neuron was active and working at a frenzied pace, painting the inside of his skull in a nebulous lightning storm of sensory input. The portions of his brain closest to the site of phaser impact was noticeably darker, the signals coursing through them a bit scattered and sluggish. It was eerily similar to the erratic patterns found in Kohr’s cranial scans, though the Klingon was suffering far worse. While a phaser set to stun normally disrupted the body’s sensory receptivity, it should not have been responsible for this kind of physical damage even at the highest settings. Hab’rabi’s body seemed genetically disposed to resist injury, and yet there it was.

A clear fact would leap out to the trained eye, however: every area of Hab’rabi’s brain was pervaded by the presence of the same electrostatic charge found in the other affected patience. The different was that his levels were significantly higher and were not dissipating. In fact there was a portion of his brain that seemed specifically designed to accommodate and support this type of charge. It was a sort of loci between the two hemispheres of his brain—frontal and posterior—that could serve to facilitate communication between the two halves at the very least, and one that showed actual and rapid fluctuations of activity. Something was definitely going on in there. Whatever it was, it was definitely going to take time and study before results could be gleaned.
—Jas—

Through the next hour Sharah studied the results of everyone’s scans, including Hab’rabi’s. After her own experience she was certain the cause of the strange behavior was an interaction with the motes. Although her scans showed the creation of new memory engrams the side effects were the same. What was consistent was the electrostatic discharge. Even she had it, in her paracortex instead of the synaptic cleft. But the electrostatic energy pattern was the same. It wasn’t there before contact, but was after. And looking at Hab’rabi’s scans, and the greater strength of the electrostatic charge it was like he was in constant contact with them. Lots of them. That was a hypothesis though, and would need to be confirmed. But that was it. “V’tor, I need to talk to Semenza. I know he’s busy, but I think I know how to clear everyone through the check points.” While she waited for Semenza to arrive she started programming the mobile monitors to detect the electrostatic pattern and alarm when it occurred.

Once Semenza walked over Sharah didn’t waist time. “It’s the electrostatic energy in the synaptic cleft. The hormones and even the PFC activity isn’t in every one. It’s not there before contact with the motes, and afterwards it is but it dissipates quickly. So it must build and maintain starting at the point of contact. We can set the mobile monitors up to read for that energy pattern and alarm and notify the people nearby that someone is in contact with one of the motes. The quarantine check point teams can do the same thing with their tricorders. Allowing us to have enough mobile monitors for the security and engineering teams.”

Fayth, med


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