Part of USS Mackenzie: Mission 2: Wayward Sons and Bravo Fleet: Blood Dilithium

25 – How to Save a Life

USS Mackenzie
11.3.2400 @ 0815
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“…I'm not sure we can leave the outpost without senior engineering officers.  We're going to be going up against Hirogen, and they tend to shoot first and not even ask questions later.  They tend to take bones as tribute.  Chief Okada is one of the best.  Assistant Chief Moore is capable of filling her shoes for a short time.  Having both of them out…is trouble at best and dangerous at worst.”  Ambrose spoke as he sat in Jordan's office in sickbay.  She'd been walking him through the various updates with both officers and that the stasis scenario was slowing the infection to near zero.

She gestured to him, “You are a former chief of engineering.”

Ambrose gave an exasperated sigh, “You can't command engineering and a starship at the same time, Jordan.  Same if you became the CO - you can't run a sickbay and the center chair at the same time.  Especially with what we're facing.”  He shook his head, “I don't think we're going to be able to get to them in time.”

Reid stared at him, “Ambrose - you are the captain of this ship.  You have a responsibility to this crew and to the mission that we're on out here.”  She shook her head as he sat up in his chair to protest her words, “We're here to help.  I will do the work with Fowler's help to get our people cured and back to work.  You need to figure out how we can get the rest of our people back from the Hirogan.”

Harris regarded her for a moment, parsing his words in his head before he let them loose.  “You're certainly never lost for the words that need saying, Jordan.”

A cackle escaped her lips, “Long as I live - if there's something that needs saying so someone can hear it - I'm not going to remain silent.  Part of why we are who we are to each other.”

He stood, holding up the PADD, “I am learning to get better at hearing you - you hold me accountable in the ways I need."  He headed for the door and turned to her, "I'll do my part.  You and Chief Fowler do yours.  We need to figure out how to stop this from happening.  We've faced Devore and Voth weapons - we need to be ready for whatever the Hirogan throw at us.”

As he left, she returned her attention to the reports from Fowler.  She grabbed her PADD and headed for the labs.

 

Fowler was frowning.  She'd been frowning for half an hour as she'd been working through the samples and scans that had been coming in from sickbay.  The lab's scientists had been studying the details of what had happened to Moore and Katsumi.  There were varying theories as they worked, but nothing had translated to a hypothesis, much to everyone's frustration.  They'd sequenced the DNA of both officers and pulled samples from before they were attacked.  There'd been no significant changes to suggest that was the cause.  They'd next examined a viral component.  Nothing.  They were not sick or unwell - something was slowly trying to kill them, but the trouble was they couldn't identify the cause or the variables involved.  It was a wild goose chase, but the goose wasn't going anywhere - they were having to run around as if they were the goose themselves.

The door to the lab swished open, and Doctor Reid stepped in, PADD in hand.  “I've been reading through the reports.  What about bacteria?"

Sadie motioned to the gathered group, “They're starting that scenario next.”  She glanced at Jordan, “I heard stasis is helping.”

“Yes, it is.  The trouble is we're short of senior engineering leadership.  Given that our next stop is a notoriously feisty group, we're going to need all the engineering help we can get.”

Fowler chuckled mildly, “I think that's the first time I've heard the Hirogen described as ‘feisty’.  I can understand the worry.  So far, we're two-for-two with weapons designed to hurt us hard.  I'm not saying it's a pattern, but you have to wonder."  She tapped at the console, “I'm starting to worry we're not going to find an answer.”

Reid understood her worry, “You're not alone, Lieutenant.  I brought additional samples for you.”  She handed over the case, “Pull who you need to find the answer to this - Chief Science Officer gives you plenty of leeways to reassign as you see fit.”

Fowler gave her a nod of thanks as she left.  She felt the stress building in her shoulders as she returned her eyes to the screen in front of her.  There were so many possibilities out here in this strange place, and to attempt to run all of them down in the limited time they had was giving her plenty of cause to worry.  She picked up the container and walked with it over to her scientists.

 

Two hours had passed, and Fowler had amassed more science officers in the laboratory as the various screens filled with streaming data, scenarios that were testing, and the ongoing table of results.  They had eliminated most of the suspects early on.  They'd settled on a bacterial infection, but the scans and tests were missing something important, and they'd retraced their steps several times in order to figure out where things had gone wrong.

Fowler stood in the gathering as they went through the reports from each team.  They had taken every piece of the blood work and scans into the computer to put it up against any kind of known bacterial infection. The computer did the same thing each time with the same harsh beep.  No results found.  On the last round, she'd slammed her fists into the counter in frustration.  “What the hell are we looking for?”

Silence held for a moment before one of the science officers opened her mouth and then closed it again as her eyes searched the air in front of her for the words.  She found them, “What if it's not something we're looking for?”  Fowler gave her a ‘what the hell do you mean’ look, and the officer explained, "We're strangers here in the Delta Quadrant.  We've been talking a lot about Voyager's mission as a reference point…but that was 25 years ago.  Lots of us weren't even born yet.  In 25 years, things change.  New paths of migration, new technology develops, and new ideas on warfare are drafted.  What if it's something we haven't seen before…or even know what we're looking for?'

Fowler started at the woman who looked as if she might throw up or apologize, given the lack of response from her Chief.  Sadie reassured her, “God…you're right.  We've been looking at this all wrong.  We have to find the unknown.  Strange new worlds.  Strange new biologies.” She snapped her finger, “OK, crewman…?”

“Babcock, ma'am.  Science Crewman Mary Lou Babcock.”

“Ok, Crewman Babcock - let's start from scratch.  I'm going to find Cardamon and bring him down here.  He might have some answers.”  She looked the gathered team, “Let's get to saving some lives, people.”