Welcome to Hell
02-Crossing the Line
Location: Medical Bay
“Fascinating isn’t it?” Tristor asked, “Like stepping into history.” He spoke, of course, about the antiquated station he and his colleague had just beamed to. “To think these were once the pinnacle of frontier stations. Hubs of commerce and activity.”
“ This is amazing. I have always had an interest in historical buildings. Coming from Edinburgh in Scotland on Earth. You kind of get the lion's share. But to actually be standing on one of these old stations. It’s a dream come true.” Penny said
The pair of officers from the USS Hornet made their way through the rounded corridor in search of the Medical Bay. Finally, the prescribed location was just before them. To be frank, Tristor was not impressed. He had expected the very worst and found himself confronted with something somehow worse.
The main ward of what was once a state of the art facility was now barely functioning. The biobeds looked as though they might collapse, the overhead lighting was dim, and they weren’t greeted with the usual activity that most Starfleet medical bays have.
“Hello!” Called Tristor, scared they had somehow come to the wrong spot.
“Greetings.” A calm, even voice came from the next room. After a moment, a Vulcan appeared. “You must be from the USS Hornet.” He deduced. “We’ll be working through here.” He gestured back to where he’d come from.
Tristor shot a look to Penny and followed the Vulcan.
Well. As her grandmother once said.
‘ It does not matter where ye are or what ye have at hand. Just do yer best and no one will judge you harshly.’
“ Please lead the way.” She said brightly.
The Vulcan led them into a larger ward. The room was certainly better lit than where they’d entered, but still the technology was immensely out of date. There were a few medical personnel milling about, but clearly not enough for the size of the facility.
“Lieutenant Commander Kaz, by the way, and this Lieutenant McTaggard.” Tristor said as they came to a stop in the middle of the room.
“ Hello.” Penny said cheerly
“Curious.” Sel said, referring to the revelation of the name Kaz by the Trill man before him. He raised an eyebrow. “I am Lieutenant Sel.” He said.
“I take it you’re the Chief Medical Officer.” Tristor surmised.
“Your assumption is incorrect.” Sel said with an air of Vulcan superiority. “I am the Chief Counselor. The Chief Medical Officer is attending to our Tzenkethi visitors, I am sure she will be along as her duties allow.”
“So what are we doing here, Lieutenant?” Tristor asked, crossing his arms across his chest.
“We are preparing for the worst.” Sel said very plainly. “Ensuring that our facilities are prepared for any casualties that may arise.”
“Hornet is more than prepared to handle any overflow, and supplement the care here.” Tristor didn’t want to make the station staff feel as though the visiting crews felt superior, so he chose his words carefully.
“I wonder if you might both be interested in reviewing the initial medical data we have collected on the Tzenkethi.” Sel offered. “The Starfleet database will require substantial updating once we are through this.”
Previous encounters with the Tzenkethi were very brief, and much of the data on the Coalition came from sources outside the Federation. This was a huge opportunity for medical and scientific data.
“ Thank you and I am quite interested in Tzenkethi. They do seem to be quite a puzzle indeed. But I do have some medical training so please. If you need any extra help with medical just ask. I will be very happy to help.” Penny said.
Sel pulled up the relevant data and displayed it on a large screen in the ward. Scans of a Tzenkethi male came up first, the display showed the physiology layer by layer. “What I found quite fascinating ,” Sel began, “ is that their skeletal system is not composed only of bone. In some area, these fluid filled sacs provide a greater range of motion and flexibility.”
Penny looked, tapping the side of her mouth with her finger. The site were impressive looking.
“ Incredible but I am wondering. Is this a form of natural growth or have these fluid filled sacs been added. To enhance this Tzenkethi combat ability?” Penny asked.
“I’d have to say they’re natural.” Tristor said, narrowing his eyes on the data projected before them. “Like cartilage.” There was a sense of wonderment in his voice.
“We came to a similar conclusion.” Sel confirmed. “This particular Tzenkethi is a bureaucrat, and would have no need for enhanced combat capabilities.”
“Fascinating.” Tristor said. “Besides that, the Tzenkethi have never been outwardly combative in the same way the Klingons and Cardassians are, it wouldn’t make sense for such an efficient society to put resources into enhancing their combat prowess if they so rarely meet face to face in battle.”
Penny nodded and continued to study the data.
“ Yes, you're correct. But if they decided to start a fight. They're certainly built for one.This double set of arms is quite intriguing. They may have once moved around on all fours. But once they started to stand erect. Instead of withering away. The legs evolved into these larger arms and the original arms diminished in size.” Penny said.
“I will be sure any further data is forward directly to your ship before you depart.” Sel gave a curt nod. “For now it is important you both know the baselines for Tzenkethi physiology, in case the situation calls for their treatment. First and foremost are their surplus appendages. As noted, they have four arms. The larger of the pair handles anything requiring strength, whereas the smaller set is more agile for detail oriented work. They also have a pair of skeletal plaques which protect the internal organs from the back.”
The Vulcan man looked to both. “Blood pressure falls between 140/80 and 170/100. Temperature between 35-46 Celsius. No redundant organs to speak of.”
“Which is normal for a creature of their size. Are there any records of diseases they are prone to?” Penny asked.
Sel shook his head. “That was one topic our guests were not willing to discuss.” He said.
Penny thought about that. The Tzenkethi were a reptilian race. So cold conditions could be a problem?
“ If only we had more information and some samples. However they are a reptilian race. So they would favour warmer conditions. The nearest species to them would be the Gorn.Only our friends don’t have this plating on their backs. You know they may have evolved from an Ankylosaurus type creature. They had a protective bone like shield on their backs. But as always I am straying off topic. Are you sure there are no samples at all?” Penny asked.
“Analysis so far has proved that they are far less reptilian than we originally deduced. They are more akin to Klingons than Gorn, and likely evolved from some kind of aquatic mammal.” Sel explained. “But no. Our guests were adamant that we take only scans.”
Tristor nodded. “It’s a good first step at least.” The Trill looked at Penny.
“Personally I wouldn’t go comparing them to dinosaurs to their faces," Tiki said firmly as she walked into the room, having been delayed by evaluating the results of the medical examinations of the first Tzenkethi group to arrive. "They're likely to beat you to a bloody pulp and I can't say I'd intervene if they were to... you know... start ripping off your limbs and beating you with the soggy end." She gave a shrug. "Their physiology and pathology is rather basic, any medical doctor worth their salt should be able to find their way around basic medical problems that arise. Anything more complex will require a consult. There are members of the Tzenkethi delegation we can ask for assistance if the need arises."
“May I introduce Lieutenant Dreik.” Sel said gesturing towards Tiki. “This is Lieutenant McTaggard and Commander Kaz.” He looked towards Dreik and raised an eyebrow, wondering if she might pick up on the connection he himself had made.
Tristor nodded. “A pleasure doctor.” He said, half smiling. “So you’ve been personally looking after the Tzenkethi?”
The petite, dark haired woman gave a nod. “Lieutenant Tequila Dreik. I handled the first delegates that arrived. They are…” she paused for a moment, searching for the right word. “They are guarded, they don’t like to give information willingly unless necessary, but they also won’t withhold information if it’s needed under the circumstances. It can just be a bit tricky portraying the right level of need.” She gave a shrug. “If we wanted to shy away from a challenge we wouldn’t be in medical now, would we?” she posed rhetorically. “Unfortunately the facilities in sickbay are not exactly up to par when compared to what y’all might be used to on your fancy schmancy ships, but we have what we need and it mostly works if you kick it hard enough.”
His half smile persisted. “I was telling Mister Sel that we are happy to supplement you with anything you might need. I know that things can be hard on the frontier” Tristor, hoping it wasn’t an offensive offer.
Penny nodded. As a memory from her childhood filtered through. When as a small girl she was sent to the naughty corner. For asking a Great Aunt why she had hair growing out her ears.
“ I have studied Starfleet protocol procedures and as I am very attached to my limbs. I will not be calling the Tzenkethi dinosaurs to their faces. But yes they could be closer to the Klingons. If memory serves there was an incident on a Starship. Where the crew de-evolved back to their primal states. I believe the Chief of Security was a Klingon. What he became is very close to the Tzenkethi.But look at me straying from the point again.” Penny said.
Tristor placed a hand on his shipmate's shoulder. “So what can we do to help prep here?” He asked, his eyes shifting between Sel and Tiki.
"Who are you and why are you here?" Tiki asked, unable to hide the hint of incredulity in her voice as she addressed Penny. "This isn't an episode of Jeopardy and it isn't a History class. Either you're here to help with medical needs as they arise, whether it be for our Zen Friends or for our own people, or I find your Commanding Officer and have you reassigned to restoring the latrines on deck twenty seven. Wielding a scrubbing brush doesn't require a medical degree." Without waiting for a response, she turned toward Tristor and offered a vague smile.
Penny could of said something. After all she was head of the Hornets science department.All she was doing was her job. They had very little data on the Tzenkethi. She was just observing and reporting what information they had. Trying to expand on that so they could deal with them better.
People did not speak to her like that. She should reply threats or no.But it would start things off on a bad foundation.They needed unity especially with whatever was to come and a row about etiquette. On speaking to a fellow officer. Would not help at this time. So Penny just averted her gaze.
"We have maybe a third of sickbay functional enough to be in use. Quarters will be cramped, but we'll have to make do until we have the resources to do more. It probably wouldn't hurt to borrow some medical kits from the ships where we can to make sure we're covered. Until we know exactly what we're dealing with we're just going to have to fly by the seat of our pants," Tiki finished.
Tristor nodded. He pulled a PADD from his pants pocket. “I’ll send word to our ship now, and have the medkits made ready for transport ASAP.” He said. His eyes darted to Penny and then back to Tiki. The tension was palpable, but not uncomfortable. He didn’t know Penny well enough to jump to her defence, nor did he find Doctor Dreik completely out of line.
Penny saw Tristor's eyes dart towards her. She had not served with him long on the Hornet. She was about to say something in her defence.But fortunately someone arrived.So once again she kept silent.
Arriving late on the scene, Maddie stood inside the doors, having just heard the last few comments. "I guess it's a good thing I brought my own then?" she asked with an easy grin as she held up the first aid kit she held in her hand. "Lieutenant Madeline De St Castine, Chief Medical Officer from the USS Cardinal. My apologies for being late." A hint of colour rose in her cheeks as her smile became sheepish. "Directions and navigation are not my strong point. I'm afraid I took a wrong turn and got somewhat lost."
Sel cocked his head to the side in typical Vulcan fashion. “You are fortunate you have not taken a misstep into an area without operational life support.”
“Join the party.” The corner of Tristor’s mouth pulled upward. “We’ve been going over how we can help here. Can Cardinal supply a few extra medkits as well?” He asked.
"Of course!" Maddie responded with an easy smile. "I can rustle up at least a half dozen without going to any major effort." Her smile became sheepish again. "I like to be prepared, so I have at least half a dozen prepped to go at any given time." There was a pause for a moment. "Cardinal can't provide much in the way of other support, honestly, we aren't a spacious ship and we don't have a massive sickbay at our disposal, but whatever we have is yours if you need it."
Tiki offered Tristor a quick smile, then turned to Maddie to acknowledge her offer. "I think with portable med kits we should be okay. We can always supplement them to make them more versatile for what ever we need on the run." She paused for a moment. "We'll need to double check what we are packing and carrying. There are a couple of points of note with the Tzenkethi especially that may impact what we carry in our kits. They have a much higher pain tolerance level than most humanoids I've seen, even higher than the few Klingons I've treated. They also have a pretty impressive resistance to the affects of standard pain relief. I gave one of the earlier patients a pretty hefty dose of opiods and it barely seemed to touch on the pain. I don't know if it is simply a fact of slower uptake or if they're just resistant to the drugs or if it's something else entirely but you need to be careful with pain relief if you need to administer it. Also, make sure you avoid giving the Tzenkethi anything containing saline or saline products. Saline is normally harmless enough in humanoid medical situations but it causes a weird clotting disorder in Tzenkethi blood. Thankfully we discovered that with blood samples and not from an actual patient."
The tiny dark haired woman paused, biting her bottom lip. "You know, if we can round up enough med kits, it may pay to have two different kits on the fly, one specifically for treating Tzenkethi. Just to be sure we don't risk screwing up..." She cast a glance at Penny as she finished that thought then turned her attention back to Sel, Tristor and Maddie. "Let's get a request out and see how many med kits we can have sent to Sickbay and we'll take it from there, yeah?"
Turning her attention back to Penny again, Tiki set her hands on her hips, tilting her head to one side slightly, her dark hair falling forward over her shoulders. "Well?" she demanded. "Are you going to answer me? This is my sickbay and I will not tolerate bullshit from anyone, least of all someone who isn't even a member of my staff. So, I'll ask again. Who are you and what are you doing here? I suggest you speak up because if you don't I will personally turf you through that door myself and have you reassigned. I'm sure Lieutenant Ryder can use an assistant."
Penny gave a sigh then looked Tiki squarely in the face.
“ Doctor, I do not know what I said to upset you and I am truly sorry. Yes I am a scientist and sadly not a doctor or field medic. But thanks to my Grandmother insisting on a second subject. Plus a photographic memory I do have some medical knowledge. Now before unfortunately you mistook my actions. As we have very little information on the Tzenkethi. I was intending to gain some helpful visual bio information. That hopefully would help us. Should one of our guests become injured.I would very much like us to be friends and though my medical knowledge is limited. I would very much like to help you here in sickbay. In whatever way I can please.” Penny said extending her hand.
“McTaggard,” Tristor said, stepping toward where his shipmate was. “This is not the time or place, we could possibly be on the cusp of war. Take yourself back to the ship now. We don’t need another unknown factor in the equation right now.” The typical calm and laidback demeanour of the Trill man had faded for the moment as he watched Penny depart the way they come in. The door hissed aside to allow her exit.
The door slid open once more and another woman walked in hesitantly, black hair with a white streak that started from her forehead and went all the way to the back. She sighed in relief as she saw Maddie and hustled her way over to her, “I’m late, I’m late to a very important date.” She said somewhat brightly, hoping someone would get the reference, “Alice Durant, also from Cardinal. I am SO sorry I’m late, I wasn’t sure which where I was supposed to go and I think I got misdirected because I was stuttering when I got on board.” She grimaced.
“You haven’t missed much.” Tristor explained. “We’re just working out the matter of extra supplies, and how to modify kits specifically for our Tzenkethi guests.” His usual cool and collected self had returned.
Tiki watched silently as the doors closed, removing Penny from their view. Shifting a steady gaze toward the newcomers, Tiki offered a vague smile. “Lieutenant Tequila Dreik. Chief Medical Officer,” she offered by way of an introduction. “Welcome to hell.”
“To hell?” Alice asked as she looked around quickly, “Now, I could have sworn my great grandmother was back on Betazed… We’re not headed there, are we?”
Lieutenant Tequila Dreik
Chief Medical Officer
Deep Space K-17
Lieutenant Penny McTaggard
Chief Science Officer
Lieutenant Commander Tristor Kaz
Chief Medical Officer
Deep Space K-17
Lieutenant Madeline De St Castine
Chief Medical Officer
Lieutenant Alice Durant
Chief Science Officer