Star Trek: Cygnus

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Absolution

Posted on Wed Aug 11th, 2021 @ 8:07pm by Lieutenant JG Lisald Vaat

Mission: Episode 3: Search and Rescue

ON
USS Cygnus
After An Awkward Reception, before The Morning After

Operations Officer Ensign Veenak slowly opened the outer duranium casing of the probe that had returned to the Cygnus. Slowly, she extracted the core memory of the probe, following the proper procedures to the very letter, very much in line with her Romulan heritage.

Turning slowly 45 degrees, she caught her Department Head and friend, Lieutenant Lisald, out of the corner of her eye. Her pace quickened a bit, having her direct manager watching her so closely. She stepped forward, the data core cupped securely in both of her hands, towards the computer uplink station. Since the data core was from a class II probe, it no longer had the programming ability to uplink directly to the ships computers. As such, it needed to be hardwired in.

Veenak carefully and gingerly placed the data core into the docking station. It would take just over three days for the data to be fully uploaded to the Cygus' main computer core and ready for analysis. Several moments later, the data core was hooked up and humming along happily, downloading its bounty into the computer core.

"Good work, Ensign," Vaat said, smiling at Veenak. "Now, lets open up the sample collection plate. I am looking forward to analyzing the material." It was not lost on Lisald that the ships Chief Science Officer, Ensign Spangler, should have been conducting these analyses and material collections for catalogue and research, as well as an entire staff of dedicated scientists from that department, but Vaat brushed that thought aside. It felt -right- to do it this way.

"Aye sir," Veenak stated, stepping back over to the probe and beginning to open up the material collection port. He didn't even notice that Veenak wasn't wearing any of her personal protective equipment, not even safety gloves. He watched as she pulled the casing open, watched as she slowly pulled out the material collection plate with her bare hands, watched as she sat it down on the Lab Station 1. She looked back, smiling. "There you go, sir. All set for you to do your experimentations. May I be dismissed? I have a great deal of work that needs to be completed."

Vaat smiled back at her warmly. "Of course, Ensign. You've done an outstanding job today; you may take the rest of the day off. Enjoy," he said cheerfully. He would probably have to answer to Commander Pope for that, but he was positive he could give her a really good reason to give an officer a free day off, especially when they were right in the middle of a mission.

The Romulan gave a bit of a leap of joy, much in the way some of the Freshmen Cadet Human females did when they heard any good news, and embraced Lisald. "Oh Lieutenant, thank you," she exclaimed, and kissed his cheek before rushing out of the room.

Lisald blushed, but quickly composed himself and stepped up to the Experimentation Table, and took out his trusty Spectrometry Scanner and a glass stir stick to poke and prod at the material on the data collection plate. He also didn't notice that he wasn't wearing any PPE, either. He scanned it once, then set the scanner on a higher setting, and scanned it again. He dictated to the computer that the sample was a dust-like material, inert, and a shade of green in color. He ran several more experiments on it, scanning it, zapping it with low-yield electricity, even applying salt, sulfur, acid, and finally water to the material, noting that none of them had any immediate or significant effects.

It occured to Vaat near the end of his experimenting that he had lost his stir stick at some point during the experimenting, and discovered, much to his amusement, that some had gotten onto the palm of his right hand. He looked at it closely on his palm, and noted in the experiment log that it had gotten on him, and now resembled something like a dusting of spray paint on his skin rather than dust.

His experimenting complete, he sat up straight and straightened out his neck, stretching in the process. He rubbed his neck, then scratched an itch on his right leg before putting away all of the equipment that he and Ensign Veenak had used, being sure to be especially careful about cataloguing everything correctly and putting everything back in its place; he didn't want to incur the wrath of Albert Spangler, the Bulldog of the Class of 2399.

Extremely happy with the results of the day, he meandered his way to the bridge, but ended up in 10-Forward, where he grabbed a light lunch (hasperate and Spring Melon juice). After lunch, he visited the bowling alley, did terribly, then played a game of 3-D Chess in the Meditation Room on Deck 9, losing miserably.

He still had his Departmental Report to write, but a persistent itching had started to bother him. Plus, he really didn't feel like writing it. He was a Department Head, and a Senior Officer, for cryin' out loud! He would just delegate it. "Lisald to Chief Ank'Gor," he said, tapping his commbadge.

=/\= Go ahead, Lieutenant,=/\= the gruff reply came from the Security Officer.

"Chief, please fill out the Operations Department report and submit it into ships records. I have some things I need to take care of." It did not even enter the realm of odd that Lisald was asking a Security Officer and not his Assistant Department Head to fill out that report, let alone him not doing it. It just felt -right.-

Several hours later, Lisald found himself in his room, itching like crazy all over his body. He went to the mirror in his bathroom and looked at his reflection, but didn't see anything out of the ordinary. Figuring it was all in his mind, he went and laid down, trying to get some sleep before his busy day tomorrow on the Bridge. He would be taking his Bridge Command test with Captain Stafford, and wanted to be well-rested for it. The itching was unbearable! No matter how hard he scratched, there was no relief. He had even scratched raw his arms and legs, nearly to the point of drawing blood. Finally realizing it was stupid to not get checked out, he got dressed and headed for Sickbay.

When the doors parted, Sickbay was darker than he remembered it being when he saw Dr. Elodin for his physical. He figured it was because it was night shift, shrugged it off and entered. He walked around the entire medical bay, looking for someone, but was at a loss. He called out several times for Dr. Elodin, even for Counselor Jeela, but got no response. He was truly at a loss. All of the displays showed like scans and monitoring were happening of patients, and various medical instruments were out and about like they were being used, or would be used, but couldn't find a single soul. Shrugging, itching like hell, he made his way to the exit. As the doors parted, he was startled to find the entire complement of Medical Staff, for the entire ship, it seemed, right outside in the corridor, just standing there, every single one of them looking at Vaat. He jumped, and stepped back as everyone starting filing into the room and attending to the patients in the beds, that were suddenly there (he didn't hear the whine of a transporter beam) and going on about their business doing what they do. Again, he looked around for Dr. Elodin, but could not find him, so he approached another Doctor. "Um, excuse me Doctor, do you know where Dr. Elodin is, perchance?"

"Not here. What do you need," came the curt and sharp reply.

"Do you know where he is," Lisald pressed.

"Not here. What do you need," came the exact same curt and sharp response.

Vaat blinked for a moment. Whatever was happening here most certainly did -not- feel right. "Well, I'm itching like hell all over, and..." he was cut off as the Doctor grabbed his arm and looked at his hand, then jerked him closer to look at, pulling up the sleeve of his shirt to look at his arm. The Doctor spun him around roughly and pushed his head forward, grabbing the back of his neck, then spinning him around again, pulling Vaat's shirt up. Vaat, being the modest Bajoran that he was, jerked his shirt back down and stepped back. "I will thank you to not do that, sir."

"Are you itching or not? I need to do a visual inspection of you," the doctor said, exasperated.

"Yes, I am, but....couldn't you do this in a more private setting?"

"You are in Sickbay; there is nowhere else more private on this ship, Lieutenant. Give me your hand."

Lisald complied, looking around sheepishly at the dozens of people in the room. He was painfully aware that most of the doctors and nurses, and most of the other patients in the room, were looking, or at least actively listening, to what was going on with him. It surprised him to see that he was the highest ranking patient in the room.

"What is this on your hand," the doctor said, his tone demanding.

Lisald's attention was broken from the rest of the room, and focused on his palm. Lisald first thought it was green hair, but then thought it was fibers, but that still wasn't correct. He pulled his hand up close to his face and looked at it closely. "I have no idea. It looks like...well, grass," he said, every bit as surprised as he sounded.

"Thought so. Here," the Doctor said, pulling Lisalds hand back, and using an instrument that looked a hell of a lot like a handheld miniature warp nacelle, and went over his palm with it. The stuff on his hand disappeared immediately, but the itching remained.

"Thanks. What about the itching?"

"Take these now, and take two more every 6 hours for the next 30 hours. That should eliminate the itching. Until then, you are quarantined in your quarters." The Doctor handed him two very large pills, then immediately entered the order into the computer.

"No, I can't be," Lisald pleaded. "I have an important meeting with the Captain and First Officer in the morning. I can't miss it!"

"Tough shit. You're going to miss it. Do I need to get Security in here to escort you to your quarters," the Doctor asked, his hand hovering over his commbadge.

Lisald entertained the idea of defying the Doctor, but Lisald really wanted to be able to take that Bridge Exam, so reluctantly, he complied.

Over the next 26 hours, several people contacted Lisald, mainly from his department, but a few others did too, like his old roommates. Surprisingly, not a single member of the Senior Staff looked in on Lisald. They likely knew that he was quarantined, so they were probably giving him space to get better. And the itching, oh my god the itching got worse and worse. He couldn't handle it! The pills given to him were doing nothing in the way of relief. Maybe if he washed his hands and arms, at least that would be doing something. When he dipped his hands into the stream of water, the relief was instant and immeasurable. It was better than the best aphrodisiac! He vigorously washed his hands and arms up to his elbows. Finally feeling some relief after a full day of itching, even on a small part of his body like his hands and arms, was glorious.

He crawled into bed, his face, neck, torso and legs itching like murder, and slipped off into a fitful night of sleep. When he woke up some time later, Vaat was horrified to find that his hands and arms were absolutely covered in the green fibers that had originally been on his right palm. He hit the comm button on his bedside table, careful to do it with his left hand. He contacted Sickbay and asked for Dr. Elodin again, but as before, Dr. Elodin was not available.

"You don't understand, I need to talk to him," exclaimed a frantic Lisald Vaat.

"You don't understand, Lieutenant. He is not available. Your quarantine is still in effect. Commander McTavish will be notified and guards will be placed outside of your quarters. If you try to leave, you will be shot. Take your medicine and enjoy your time off," came the curt, sharp and rude reply.

Only a few minutes later, he was notified, through his door, not even over the comms, that there were four security guards just outside of his door, and if the door opened, they were given clear orders by medical to shoot to kill. Vaat was a prisoner.

Vaat paced, tried to read, tried to avoid scratching, tried to ignore the itching. At one point during his pacing, he caught sight of himself in the mirror again. The fibers, whatever they were, were starting to grow on his face and neck. He quickly pulled up his shirt, and discovered to his extreme horror that small fibers were growing all over his torso. The fibers on his hands and arms were lush and thick, but it didn't itch. He thought if he could just stop the itching, he would be able to think, would be able to come up with some sort of plan, since clearly Dr. Elodin, Commander McTavish, Commander Pope and Captain Stafford didn't care at all what he was going through.

In the bathroom, he started a shower, an actual water shower, instead of the sonic shower that was normally used. This shower would help so much. As the water got warm, he stepped over to the vanity, and noticed that the fibers were growing on the water spout to the sink. That didn't make any sense, either, but he pushed it from his mind. He looked at his reflection, and was relieved to see his father behind him.

"Don't do this, Vaat. Its a bad idea," his father warned, the stern but patient voice familiar to Vaats ears.

"Dad....I have to. It itches so bad! I can't even think!"

"I know, son. But I'm telling you, giving you a warning. You do not want to do this."

Vaat leaned forward on his fiber-infected arms, head down, eyes closed. Through gritted teeth, "Dad, I hear you. But I have to do this." He turned suddenly to face his dad, but his dad wasn't there. Vaat looked around his bathroom, but nobody was there. Lisald didn't question it. It just felt -right.-

And it felt so right, so good, so amazing and wonderful to step into the shower, to let the water cascade over the crown of his head, down his neck, engulf his torso, arms and legs. The itching died down almost immediately, and for the first time in more than a day, he felt good. As he stood in the shower, a wave of fatigue and exhaustion hit him. With the itching gone, other needs took hold. It had been quite a long time since he had anything close to resembling a peaceful nights sleep. He toweled off, leaving his uniform, covered in those green fibers, on the floor, the wet towel he just used crumpled on top of it, and slinked his way to his bed, which was also starting to be covered in those fibers. Vaat didn't care. He wanted to sleep.

::52 Hours Later::

It had been more than 78 hours since he had heard from any of the Senior Officers, and about 55 hours since his house arrest, not that it mattered. Vaat laid in his bed, covered from the top of his head to the bottom of his feet in those green fibers, lush, long, thick. The itching had returned with a vengeance 26 hours ago, and nothing he did would stop it. He had laid in misery, trying to forget the pain of the itching, trying to pretend he was not desperately lonely, desperate for reprieve, desperate for help, waiting for rescue, waiting for absolution, waiting for the end. Vaat didn't know when he had gotten his palm phaser, but there it was, resting in his right hand, which in turn was resting on the bed, also completely covered in the green fibers. He knew the rest of his quarters were now covered in the fibers, his bathroom the worst of all. He doubted he could even get in there anymore, not that he wanted to.

He knew this was the end. He picked up his right arm, the phaser in his hand, the tool of his relief, of his absolution. He looked at the phaser briefly, saw that it was set to maximum power, then put it to his head. Vaat smiled for the first time in more than 30 hours, knowing relief was about to come.

Vaat had decided to commit suicide.






Without hesitation, he pulled the trigger, to a blinding white flash.

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Vaat screamed and jerked awake, the covers on his bed soaked through with sweat and tangled in knots. He looked around in a panic at his dark room, wondering if he was dead or alive, his heart pounding hard in his chest. He looked at his chest and didn't see any green fibers. He looked at his arms and hands, then his bed, then the rest of his room, what he could see, and didn't see any green fibers.

"Computer, lights on full," he croaked, his mouth dry. He was incredibly thirsty. The lights came on in a flash, blinding him, reminding him of the flash that had just woken him up. After a moment, he was able to see his quarters in their entirety. Everything was as it should be, all the way down to his pressed uniform hanging in the corner, ready to go tomorrow. Relief starting to fill him, he spoke again. "Computer, what time is it?"

"Current time is 0254," came the monotone female voice.

"I still have three hours before duty," he said aloud.

The computer buzzed lightly. "Please restate request."

Vaat furrowed his brow. "Disregard, computer." He stood up and looked around again, his heartbeat returning to normal. "What a nightmare!" he said to the empty room.


OFF
Lieutenant (junior grade) Lisald Vaat
Chief Operations Officer
USS Cygnus

 

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