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Part of USS Cygnus: A Failure to Communicate

Viral communications

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“Doctor Elodin,” came the computer’s disembodied voice. “Incoming communication from Doctor Tarsa Kh’Ridian.”

“Acknowledged, patch it through to my office,” replied Elodin.

He leaned forward and tapped a button on his monitor, bringing up the letter from Kh’Ridian. The Deltan medical officer had been his right hand during his volunteer assignment for Doctors Without Borders, two years prior, serving on Capella IV to help erradicate a deadly virus that was slowly killing the population. He’d managed to find a cure, one that would protect the children, at least – the ones who were the most affected by the virus. 

But now, as he read Kh’Ridian’s note, he felt his shoulders slump with disappointment. A new variant of the virus had been detected, one that was impervious to the cure he’d found. Kh’Ridian was sending along the genetic profile of the new variant, in the hope that Elodin might be able to adapt the cure to the new conditions.

Elodin transferred the information to a data PaDD. He walked out of his office, and over to the med research lab.

“Elodin to Doctor Winters. Please meet me in the medical lab.”

=^= Winters here Doctor, on my way =^=  Ravi lost no time reporting to the Lab.  She had seen Elodin at the CO’s meeting but not had a chance to meet or work with him formally yet so she wanted to make a good first impression.

As she got to the Lab door she straightened her tunic and rubbed her hand over her hair instinctively, thought to herself for a split second that those were not necessary precautions but then let that thought go as fast as it flicked by.  Entering she crossed the large, impressively equipped lab and breathed calmly, smiling softly and heading straight over to the CMO with her hand outstretched to greet him.  “Dr Elodin, I’m Winters.  Very happy to meet you, Sir”  she said.

Elodin took the hand that Winters extended, and shook it briskly. “Welcome aboard,” he said. “Tell me about your medical background. Where did you complete your residency?”

“Thank you Sir, glad to be here” she replied and stood in front of his desk at attention.  

“Straight out of the Academy I went to the McCoy Medical Centre in the City – I wanted to specialise so I took a major in genetics and did a concurrent minor in AI” she explained.  “I did my first ship assignments on the USSs Merlin and Sentinel – as Ensign and then my first Lt (jg) posting as well.  I’m hoping all the way out here, this will be a more challenging role and a different source of research possibilities too.” 

“Any expertise in virology?” asked Elodin. He slid the data PaDD across the counter in her direction. “Capella IV is dealing with an epidemic caused by what seems to be a strange hybrid between a Filoviridae-type viral agent, and a Paramyxovirus. I was successful in developing a vaccine last year, but now it seems they’re dealing with a new variant against which the vaccine is ineffective. I need a fresh set of eyes to take a look at the data.”

“Well, I can’t honestly claim ‘expertise’ Sir, but I’d be more than happy to take a look and see if anything catches my eye amongst the data.  Sometimes new variants can be sneaky and it means a counter tweak on the vaccine to cut off their new strain.  Often the original vaccines are partway there, I’m sure I could see what could be added in to get effective results back again.”  Ravi replied, brightening at the idea of a bit of laboratory detective work.  Some might have thought it a bit beige but Ravi knew from personal experience how much a decent vaccine could mean, and if all she had to do was to tweak an already good one into a sparkly new upgrade to save a lot of lives then she was more that excited to get the chance to get stuck in.

Instinctively looking around herself and across the lab facilities, Ravi almost expected there to be a station ready set up and waiting for her to take up and get started but she realised quickly that was jumping ahead a step too far.  Actually, come to think of it, the CMO had asked her about it but he hadn’t said he wanted her to start right this minute and perhaps he mightn’t mean to give the project to her after all, perhaps he was just asking.  She mustn’t ‘take the bit in her mouth’ and start charging off before she’d been fully briefed and instructed.

She returned her gaze to Dr Elodin and waited with a sense of anticipation for him to clarify what he wanted her to do next or if there was something else to do first? 

Elodin pushed a data PaDD across the table in her direction. “We’ve got the genetic sequence for both the original virus and the new variant. My initial analysis was that it attached to a specific receptor on the alveolar cell surface, and delivered its payload to cause a breakdown in the capilary barrier, which caused the patients’ lungs to fill with blood. Eventually the patients drowned in their own blood.” He repressed a shudder at the memories that still haunted him two years later. “The initial vaccine blocked the receptor, but the virus seems to have found a way around that. I’d like you to take a look at the data, and see if you can find a countermeasure. We’ve got a few lab techs on standby to assist, and you can use whatever resources you need in our medical labs. Let me know if you need any additional information from the field, and I’ll get in touch with my local contact. The Capellans are culturally sensitive about such matters, so I have to use back channels.”

“I’m on it Sir, right away.” she responded and took up the PADD.  “I’ll report back any progress as soon as it happens, and directly to yourself.” she added as she began to take in the data and disconnect from her surroundings as it absorbed her.

“Thank you,” replied Elodin. He gave her a parting nos, and left her to her work.