Part of USS Altai: Here Be Monsters

The Host: Part II

Medical Bay
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Doctor Atticus Randall looked approvingly at the equipment being brought into the station’s infirmary from the Don. It likely would never be up to the standards of a major Starbase or medical ship, and neither would it have the personnel, but he was going to be able to do his job.

“Over there,” Atticus said to an engineer awkwardly moving equipment on an anti-grav unit.

Streth’s expression was grave as the infirmary’s double doors whooshed open. The dark circles under his eyes were diminished. His sleep had been uneasy, but after yesterday’s events he could have slept soundly on the ice needles of Greynath. He gazed around at the room, one of the last facilities on the base to be nearing completion due to its highly specialised nature. Behind another set of doors to his left, he could make out several biobeds lining the walls. He gravitated towards them, hoping to catch the attention of the medical personnel on duty. On the other side of the glass a few engineering personnel lay resting. No doubt, Streth assumed, as a result of run ins with the insects from the caverns.

He turned, not wanting to intrude on the ward without announcing his presence. Sure enough, he recognised the Altai’s Chief Medical Officer over by a diagnostic panel. Two operations officers listened to him intently as one input commands calibrating the freshly installed bioscanners.

“Excuse me, Dr. Randall?” Streth stepped towards them, interrupting them as politely as possible, “Is she alright?”

“Captain?” Randall greeted looking up. “I am unsure exactly who ‘she’ is, but everyone from yesterday’s adventure… or misadventures in this case should make a full recovery. I want to thank you for coming down here. I have something you need to see.”

“Ah, sorry Doc. It was Ensign Vogler I was thinking about. She took some heat in the caverns, but it’s good to know she’s doing alright.” Streth said, relieved. Then the apprehension immediately built again within him, “What is it?”

“She underwent surgery to remove the… creature. I took the liberty of preserving the specimen for the science department.” Randall lead Streth into his office where there was a containment box sitting on the center of the desk. “I removed twelve larve from the wound. It would appear those bug things will make a nest of their host to raise their young.” Already the creature have matured into a juvenile version of the adult bug.

Streth stood over the box and his stomach churned. The creatures were white, maggot-like, bulging and throbbing as they slid aimlessly around within the containment field, “All these were in her leg?” he looked back to Randall, the disgust still shadowing his eyes.

“A bit of nightmare fuel if you ask me,” the doctor replied. “But, yes. I’m still not entirely sure of the process, but I suppose that’s up to the Xenobiology department to figure out. My biggest concern right now is if a crewmember were to have this happen and they matured… while on the ship.” He swallowed hard. The reports of the tense battle still fresh on his mind.

He forced himself to look again at the squirming things. Perhaps what disturbed him most was not their grotesque appearance, nor the mandibles that flicked in and out of a short proboscis at their tip. It was the fact that there could be more of them lurking on the wrong side of the cavern forcefields, lurking amongst them, lurking in them. His eyes narrowed and he shook his head. Turning back to Randall he said, “Yes, get a sample of them over to xenobiology. Then I want us all screened, starting with everyone who went down to those caverns. How soon can you start?”

“I can start right away,” Randall replied. “I would like regular screenings of Ensign Vogler in case I missed something as well.”

“Alright,” Streth tapped his combadge, “Ensign Vogler, please report back to the infirmary right away.”

“On my way sir,” Vogler’s voice returned immediately

“Well, Doc,” he said just as the channel closed, “might as well get started with me. Need to run a scan?”

“It won’t take but a moment,” Randall said with a reassuring smile. He picked up a tricorder and flipped it open. “Any unexplained wounds or injuries?”

Streth folded his arms, “Nothing that I know of. All the bumps and bruises from the caverns have pretty much cleared up now.”

Randall closed the tricorder almost as soon as he opened it. “You are clear. I didn’t expect otherwise, but we are still learning about these things.”

“Good,” Streth relaxed a little. Then thought of playing host to one those maggots made his skin crawl, “Keep me posted on your progress, Doc, and let me know if you need resources or personnel. We’ll need a full biosweep for any non-humanoid life on the inhabited base levels, too. As soon as you get a clear DNA profile on those things,” he waved a hand towards the containment box, “send it over to Beck and he’ll configure the sensors.”

“Of course sir. I’ll get that to Lieutenant Beck as soon as possible. Have a good day sir.”