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Part of USS Cygnus: A Failure to Communicate

Summons to the Medical Briefing for Crystal Clarity

Sickbay - Medical Briefing Room 2
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On receiving the communication from the Chief Medical Officer over her Comm Badge, Ravi responded with a quick tap of the badge and an =^= Aye Sir =^=.  Handing over in an instant to the Nurse beside her, she put the medcorder she had been using into the medic’s hand and asked her to “Take over with this patient please, Ensign Lowry, I don’t know how long I will be wanted for with the CMO”.  

Lowry nodded in agreement and took the medcorder she was being offered, she continued scanning the man in Bay 4, Bed 2 and began to speak to him reassuringly.  “I’ll have this all wrapped up in a jiffy.  Let’s see what your chart says shall we?”

Happy with the situation she was leaving, Winters hurried out and took herself the short distance necessary to find the Medical Briefing Rooms.  They weren’t somewhere she had been yet but then again, she had heard of them, seen the signs and had a very good idea where to aim.  Two was obviously the second one in, no big deal there so she tapped on the door as she began to open it and put her head around the door to see if she was about to be invited in – or told that she was too quick in arriving and should wait outside.  She supposed it all hung on what the summons was about. 

“Dr Elodin?” she asked and then waited for the CMO to look up and respond.

Elodin was hunched over the computer screen, trying to sort through the data so he could present the team with something remotely coherent. He gave a bit of a start at the sound of the doctor entering the room, then cursed himself inwardly for being surprised – he’d been the one to summon her, after all.

“Yes, Doctor, please come in. Why don’t you help yourself to the replicator while we wait for Doctor Kin’Fuji to arrive?”

Kin’Fuji arrived to the meeting a bit late.  Her hair and fur was still a little damp, from the shower.  “Sorry sir, I am late.”

Elodin pushed a button on the computer console, and a holographic representation of the Crystalline Entity appeared, floating above the table, rotating slowly. “I assume you’ve heard of the Crystalline Entity, or as they are sometimes referred to, Branchers. These living entities absorb organic matter, and transform it into energy that they need. Our task is to try to determine if it’s possible to develop a way to prevent this process from taking place.”

Kin’Fuji cocked an eyebrow at the appearance of the crystalline entity.  “Do we have more destroyed colonies?”  She asked the Chief Medical Officer.

Elodin nodded gravely. “The planet that we just visited,” he said. “All organic matter was wiped out, right down to the soil bacteria. I think the Science department is trying to figure out how long ago.”

“Doctors, if we find a way to stop it feeding, does it have the sentience to understand and will it retaliate? And whether it does or not, will it starve to death as a result?”  Ravi asked next, wondering from which angle to look at this.  

“Clearly no-one on colonies should have to die, especially to feed an entity that appears to be a mass killer, leaving nothing behind to continue on post-visit. We have a duty to protect them if we can but in the balance of life almost everywhere, existence usually still goes on for other species, even if depleted in numbers after a predator has fed and moved on.  This super-killer has to be stopped, that’s clear,  but is there anything at all that we could do to offer it some other, more harmless way to feed? Do we know – or could we maybe discover,  any other type of energy it might be able to feed on instead?”  she went on, trying to work out the whole picture without having to reap death in a similar way to the entity, by wiping out it as a species in the way it was apparently doing to others. 

“I don’t like the idea of becoming the species that wiped out the Entity’s species – doesn’t that make us as bad as it is?” she offered, concerned. 

Elodin leaned forward, resting his elbows on the table. “Clearly the thing is able to feed on any form of organic matter, and there is nothing to suggest that it prefers that organic matter to be sentient. Looking at the data from the Enterprise, it certainly looked like it was possible to establish communication with the Entity, but there is no indication as to the level of intelligence of this thing. For all we know, it could have all of the intelligence of a goldfish. But I agree that destroying this creature is morally abhorrent, and should only be considered a last resort. Other teams are most likely looking into diverting it toward alternative sources of nourishment, but our immediate task is to find a way prevent it from consuming that life which we need to protect – intelligent life.”

Ravi nodded in serious agreement.  She had just had the thought and voiced it without much forethought of how it might be received – she was a bit like that, she had to admit.  Thoughts came to her and she just discussed them openly, it had been natural in the family that had adopted her but since she had left home and joined the Fleet, such spontaneous comments had got her into a fair few situations since even her Academy days.  Sometimes just a simple debate didn’t automatically follow, especially if she hadn’t perhaps remembered that she was new here and this was no way to leap on her new Boss without gentling it down a bit on delivery.

Fortunately, the said Boss had replied with a similar line of thinking and attitude and hadn’t seemed to mind.

“How can we test our subject and theories though Sir?” she corrected the former lack of deference by using ‘Sir’ appropriately this time.  “I didn’t immediately spot any useful data in the files that tells us anything about how it feeds?  I’m only getting the generic idea that it just arrives and strips everything to the stone like a plague of locusts without any discrimination.  How could we offer it alternative food that it wouldn’t just gorge and decimate – including the surrounding metaphorical ‘dish, table and restaurant’ at the same time? You’re right about us having to find out how to communicate, and to assess what level of sentience it has itself”  she agreed.  

“Most of these questions I think should be addressed first and foremost to other departments,” mused Elodin. “The Science department should be investigating how to divert this creature away from inhabited planets, and Engineering should be able to figure out how to block the Entity’s feeding mechanism, which from the Enterprise’s data seems to be some form of compressed tetryon beam. But our job is to figure out how to prevent biological matter from being converted into energy, should those two lines of defense fail.”

He brought up a holodisplay representing the sensor readouts from the Enterprise’s recording of the attack on Melona Colony. “This is the data we have. Granted, it’s over thirty years old, but it’s all we have. The tetryon beam seems to sublimate biological matter right down at the atomic level. I’m not sure that any kind of medication would prevent the process, but I’m open to suggestions,” he invited.