=/\= Starbase 874. One Week Ago. =/\=
“So, you’re not convinced?”
The Admiral sat at his desk and seemed to reign in his annoyance at being questioned by a doctor, of all things. “In as much as we believe we know who your attackers were,” he rose from his desk and rounded the obsidian table to stand beside Dutton’s chair, “Yes. Starfleet is indeed convinced. However, have you any idea what would happen if this actually got out to the fleet?”
Josh looked up as the old man sat on the corner of his desk. “Yes, sir. I do.”
Admiral James Bostwick reached up and rubbed his eyes. He was tired, that much was evident to Josh as he observed him. Bostwick was a tall man, graying at the temples of his jet black hair and a little more slim than the lieutenant who sat beside him. This was the third attack. This was the third secret he was now ordering Dutton to keep. How many more, he wondered. “I understand you’ve been assigned to the Aquarius, is that right?”
Dutton nodded. “Chief Medical Officer. Yes, sir.”
“Do I need to remind you of how sensitive a matter this is, Doctor Dutton?”
Josh shook his head. He knew what this news would do to the quadrant if it were leaked. The problem was going to be containing it. What was left of the crew of the USS Eldridge, he could not speak for. But, he could speak for himself. “No, Admiral, you don’t.”
Bostwick smiled as he stood from the corner of his desk. It reminded Josh of the look a hungry wolf had when it was about to attack. It was terrifying.
“Good,” Bostwick said as he stepped back and allowed Dutton to get to his feet. He extended a hand to Dutton, who took it as he stood. The Admiral held him there for a moment. He eyes boring into the doctor’s. “Not a word, Doctor.”
Josh nodded. “Aye, sir.”
=/\= Now. Aboard the USS Aquarius. Main Sickbay. =/\=
It was an odd sight. Medical beds lying their sides waiting to be wired into the ship’s computer systems; a total of two station technicians from Starbase K-8 and the ship’s Chief Medical Officer down in the ship’s interior systems, hoping they were getting the connections right.
~I wanted to be a Chief Medical Officer. What the hell was I thinking?~
In truth, Dutton was in his element. He preferred the hands on approach in everything he did. It would have helped, of course, if he had known a little bit more about hooking bio-beds up. Luckily, he had stumbled across the two technicians who were with him and had readily agreed to help him install the new med bay equipment.
“Sir?” One of the techs shouted from the bed pit directly across from his position.
“Yeah?” Dutton planted his feet and stood up out of the hole. He had grease smeared across his forehead and he was sweating profusely. His hair hung in front of his face for a moment before he slicked it back with the hand that was not holding an electronic spanner. “What is it, Duvall?”
“I think we’re ready to go on this one,” the freckled redhead called from his own position in the bio-bed’s pit.
“Fire it up, then,” Dutton called as he pulled himself out of the pit and joined the workman.
Duvall smiled as he activated the new bio-bed and saw the wall monitor come to life as it scanned both he and Dutton. It displayed both men’s vitals on a split screen, including functions and a graphic display of their bodies.
Josh waved his hand around in front of himself. The computer followed.
“Works for me.” Dutton stepped to the side and lifted the bed into the upright position and then slid it gingerly into the open access bay where it was meant to stand. It slid down almost silently, a faint click as the grapple underneath slid into the receptacles and secured the bed for use. “That’s one down,” Josh said with a sigh as Duvall gave him a chuckle.
Now…the rest awaited.
Chief Medical Officer