“Hello, Ensign.” Gavin Hu rarely had good cause to visit the ship’s brig and from what he had been told today was not much better than most others. Visits to assess the mental well-being of individuals incarcerated was the number one reason for his few visits here – to ensure that an individual, outside of physiological concerns, was in their right mind before proceedings could occur.
Such as today’s visit.
The young Bajoran officer in the first cell was laying on her back across the bench come bed common enough across the back wall of the brig, a hand behind her head as she stared at the ceiling. She huffed an acknowledgement, turned her head slightly to look at him, and then startled herself. She was sitting up, feet thrown to the floor, then up on her feet in quick order. She didn’t quite snap to attention, but she did at least get to her feet for a superior officer.
Which was a good sign for her mental health, not so much for her immediate career.
“No need to be so formal Ensign,” he said, carefully adopting his professional tone of voice. Calm, strong, gentle. A soothing voice as he’d been taught, could do a lot to put a patient at ease. “Sit, please.” He waved gently to indicate she should sit, a glance at the petty officer supervising the brig and the woman produced a chair for him in quick order, which he sat himself down in just shy of the containment field.
“I was wondering if we could have a talk about Alexander.” He watched her carefully, studying her facial expressions. The confusion was slow to appear but quickly vanquished by realisation. After all, why else would he be here?
“Petty Officer Daniels,” she confirmed, her tone a bit rough. Rough enough she immediately stood up and summoned the sink from its recess in the wall and got herself some water before continuing, the harmless soft cup still in hand as she turned back to him. “He got in my way.”
“Yes, he did,” he said, agreeing with her statement. An attempt to prompt more information from her.
“Got in my way. Bumped into me. Then had the gall not to apologise.” Her fist clenched slightly on the cup, water spilling over onto her hand. Her gaze went to it before she threw the thing into the sink, whereupon the computer took the hint and withdrew the sink.
“And you made him understand the error of his ways.”
“I did,” she replied. Then she stopped for a moment. “I…I shouldn’t have done that.” She sounded remorseful to him. Now at least. “I…I overstepped.”
“Why did you overstep Nerys?” he asked. Questions were his method. Prompting patients to evaluate and answer. Even a lie meant they had to think and consider to come up with something suitable. He didn’t need the truth as much as his patients did, though it certainly did make his job easier.
“I just reacted.” She started pacing. “I was angry and he got in my way and I just punched him. And again and again.” She was working herself up, he could see that easily enough.
“And Nurse Cummins?”
“He jabbed me with a hypospray with no warning.” She at least glared at him while pacing with this answer. “And I only lightly punched him. Jerk.”
“Would you normally punch a nurse doing their job?”
“No.” It was an immediate answer, with no thought behind it. And because of that, it brought her to a halt as soon as it left her mouth. “Why did I do that?”
“Are you an angry person typically Ensign?”
“You didn’t answer me,” she snapped back at him. Hands came up, running through her short brown hair as she turned away. “I try not to be.”
He waited for her to finish her pacing and settled back to sitting on the bench in quick order. “How many loops have you gone through Ensign?”
“Answer my question. Why did I punch Cummins? I wouldn’t do that.”
“I don’t like discussing diagnosis with patients until I’ve had a chance to review all the facts.”
She was up again, across the cell and slamming her fists into the containment field in a split second and he had to work to keep his own cool and stay seated. To trust in the field emitters to do their job. He’d seen them hold back an angry Brikar intent to twist his own head off. A young Bajoran woman who couldn’t be more than seventy-five kilograms wasn’t getting through that anytime soon.
“Tell me why!” she screamed at him.
“How many loops?” he asked again.
A scream for a response was hardly helpful. But she screamed herself hoarse before retreating to the bench. “Fuck off,” she muttered before collapsing to her left, then rolling her feet up onto the bench, and then her whole self away.
“Computer, privacy cell one,” he ordered the ship’s electronic minion and watched as the forcefield separating the cell from the rest of the brig took on the appearance of heavily frosted glass.
Standing, he collected the chair and returned it to the petty officer who stowed it happily in a closet on a stack of three others. “Call me immediately if she decides she wants to talk again.”
“Yes sir,” the woman replied with a slight head nod.
“Compromised impulse control combined with a pre-existing anger management issue,” Gavin said as he sat himself down in Doctor Terax’s office. Beside him was one of his more complicated patients, in fact likely every counsellor’s most complicated patient – their own captain. And hovering to the side, standing with her back to the wall, was Doctor Blake Pisani, arms crossed over her chest and pulling her labcoat over her chest.
“How did a security officer with anger management issues get assigned to my ship?” the captain asked him, turning herself completely in the heavy chair to better face him. “Wait, she’s old Atlantis crew isn’t she?”
“Yes ma’am,” he answered. “You asked me the same question about a year ago in fact during some personnel reviews of new officers before we shipped out to the Delta Quadrant for our aborted long-term explorations. And the same answer applies today. Starfleet is a welcoming organisation and Ensign Linal is committed to self-improvement. She has bi-weekly counselling sessions with Counsellor Huxley and in review is either making great progress or is getting better at hiding her inner turmoil.”
“Why not just reassign her to a Betazoid counsellor?” asked Blake.
“Because not every ship in the fleet has Betazoids, let alone a Betazoid counsellor, on staff. In fact, the only Betazoid we have aboard ship is…” he trailed off, raising a hand, palm upwards and fingertips pointed at Captain Theodoras.
“Half-Betazoid thank you. Papa likes to think he had some considerable influence in my upbringing,” the captain said with a smile on her face. Her usual jovial deflections had more weight behind them when attention was on her and with one of her crew the focus of this meeting, she wasn’t trying like she normally did he noted.
“Okay, so, we have an Ensign with compromised impulse control. Even W’a’le’ki and Michaels said Linal’s behaviour was new to them. All the logs from the previous loop say she’s suffered or been exposed the most out of the Temporal Triplets.” The captain was thinking out loud, which was causing a frown to appear on Terax’s face, more so than his normal one. And Blake was a blank slate, no doubt her brain whirring away too much to bother even making her look pensive. “Could this be a result of prolonged chroniton exposure?”
“Funnily enough there isn’t a medical paper written on the subject, at least not in the ship’s computer database.” Terax clucked once in thought. “Computer, render the last brain scan of Ensign Linal Nerys and then overlay a projection of Bajoran neural anatomy, highlighting portions of the brain responsible for impulse control.”
A chirp of acknowledgement, a slight dimming of the office lights and a holographic projection sprung to life above Terax’s desk. It was faintly grey, with a blue patch appearing a moment later inside the confines of the grey. Terax leaned forward to examine, as did the captain. Gavin however was drawn to Blake who stepped forward, planting her palms on Terax’s desk and smiling.
“I see where you’re going Doc. Computer, highlight in red all portions of the Ensign’s last neural scan where the chroniton count was above her last physical’s count.” Blake’s smile grew as the blue patch completely turned purple as a swath of red appeared, roughly spherical with the purple patch off to the side.
“Lieutenants W’a’le’ki and Michaels are timebombs,” Blake said. “And we won’t know in the next loop until well after they’ve had time to cause all sorts of problems.”
“Well okay then, but what do you –“ The captain stopped as her commbadge chirped at her. “Theodoras here.”
“Captain.” It was Commander Gantzmann on the other end and he spotted the captain’s lips twitch in a faint smile. That alone brought one to his face. Happiness was infectious, even the slightest bit. “Lieutenant Fightmaster just forwarded along some video files Silver Team found while he’s making his way to a beam-out site. Said I should forward them to you and Counsellor Hu immediately.”
“Send them to Doctor Terax, we’ll look into them right now.”
Five minutes later, after numerous videos of seemingly similar content, Gavin Hu was more certain than ever that the crew of the Atlantis was in trouble. “They got stuck in their own loop for one hundred and eighty days. Not all of them, but just enough in the wrong positions.”
“Motu Maha kept trying to get here because no one on board was affected. But eventually some leaders snapped and started nuclear Armageddon for a laugh or to try something new thinking there would be no repercussions.” The captain was quiet, her gaze somewhere in the middle distance. “Those detonations convinced Motu Maha’s crew to turn around and the device out there,” she pointed in an unspecified direction that was vaguely upwards like all those born on planets do when indicating the sun, “stood down because the threat was gone.”
“What are you thinking?” Gavin asked.
“Doctor,” Tikva looked up and straight at Terax. “Those cryo pods good to keep the locals on ice?”
“That idiot Simmons has finished undertaking maintenance. The Telarook pods are likely good for another century or so now.” The Edosian crossed his external arms, this middle hand setting on his left shoulder, the closest to cross it as he got. “I’m pleased you’re thinking of something that doesn’t involve me trying to speed up the better part of a decade’s worth of work.”
“Thank me later.” The captain scrunched up her face in thought for a moment. “I want you and Pisani working on a way to flush the chroniton radiation from my junior officers. I don’t want madwomen loose on my ship if we end up doing another loop.”
“Sounds fun,” Blake said as she nodded at Terax, who shrugged his shoulders and then nodded in agreement.
“Good. Theodoras to the bridge.” A chirp, an acknowledgement of receipt from Gantzmann once more. “Recall all teams and shuttles from the surface right now. Once the last stragglers are aboard I want us back at the space station yesterday.”
“Aye ma’am,” came Gantzmann’s completely professional response before the channel closed.
“Captain,” Gavin said once more, drawing the captain’s attention back to himself. “What are you thinking?”
“Either the team on the station have got a way to turn that thing off, the good doctors figure out how to help our most afflicted crew so we don’t have to worry about them next loop or we get everyone back aboard this ship and high tail it out of the blast zone before the reset.”
“Can we still do that last one?” Blake asked.
“Maybe. If we’re fast enough. And Ra can perform a small miracle with the engines. But that’s Plan C.”