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Fungus, Shmungus

Posted on Sun Jul 16th, 2023 @ 8:09pm by Captain Mrazak & Lieutenant Commander T'Bela

Mission: Season 1 Interlude II (E5.5)
Location: Tembiti Lagoon, Risa
Timeline: ID 5

After having left the two lustful Vulcans to their devices, T’Bela had returned to her room and settled down with a book until her eyes started drooping. It had taken much longer than she had hoped, but she was finally able to sleep.

Sometime mid morning- she wasn’t sure what time because she didn’t even bother to check- she woke up with a mildly sort throat, a hint of a cough, slightly runny nose, and mild muscle aches. Well, that was no good. Obviously, she had picked something up. Without even bothering to eat any breakfast, she dressed, pulled her long hair into a thick plait down her back and headed out to find a doctor.

The Yuna Tarka Medical Center was more crowded than ever. Vacationers formed double and triple lines in the corridors where the waiting areas exceeded capacity. Sounds of sniffles, sneezes, and occasional sultry moans echoed up and down the once pristine and sterile facility. Whatever the situation, it had become rather significant. When T'Bela made her way to the reception desk, she had to press her way through with no few appeals to her Starfleet combadge.

"Please sign in at the patient portal there," said the registrar, pointing to a PADD anchored to the countertop without looking away from her display screen. "The triage nurse will be with you shortly."

T’Bela turned her head, sneezed into her elbow, and mentally added sneezing to her list of symptoms. “I am a doctor,” she told the registrar as she began checking herself in. “Perhaps once I’ve been seen, I could help out? You seem to have your hands full.”

One look at T'Bela, though, was enough to elicit profound skepticism from the registrar. "Mmmhmmmm," she mumbled with no small amount of disbelief. "With symptoms like that, I sincerely doubt it." After affixing her name to the digital form, the registrar said, "We've got you registered. Have a seat and you'll be processed just as soon as the triage nurse can get to you."

T’Bela was no stranger to speciesism, but decided to just leave it be. Perhaps if the nurse or doctor made a comment, she would speak up for herself, it this was simply someone working at the reception desk. So, with a sigh of resignation, she turned to find an empty seat and caught sight of herself in a decorative mirror hung on one wall. She looked far worse than she felt. Her eyes had dark circles under them and she was a lot more grey than was her typical complexion. In fact, she was more grey than most healthy Cardassians. Silently, she chided herself for jumping to conclusions and vowed to apologize to the receptionist if she ever saw her again. Not that the receptionist would ever know what T’Bela had thought, but even so. She would never stop herself thinking that way if she just kept it to herself.

But for now, she contented herself to find a seat and wait patiently.

On one side was a scowling Bajoran man whose eyes were nearly swollen shut, opening only when he let out a face-cracking sneeze. On the other side was an Andorian with a Risian woman in his lap who gently fondled his antennae and spoke soothing words to him. The way he occasionally rubbed his temple indicated he was suffering from a migraine.

T’Bela noticed the Andorian and addressed him first. “Pinch the webbing between your thumb and forefinger,” she suggested. “Pinch it hard. It can help alleviate headaches until you can get some medicine.”

"What do you think you are?" snapped the Andoria. "Some kind of doctor?"

T’Bela answered with a grin. “Well, my degree from Starfleet Medical seems to believe I am,” she replied cheekily.

"A Cardassian? In Starfleet?" The Andorian scoffed and looked away.

"And a doctor, no less," said the Bajoran man, full of scorn. "The last Cardassian doctor I saw had my father carted off to the biolabs for AHHHHCHOOO!" The sneeze nearly gave the man whiplash. "Oww," he groaned.

“I get stranger, I promise,” T’Bela said with a grin. “Would you believe I was raised by Vulcans?”

The Bajoran scoffed. "Figures."

"Sure, and I was raised by Ferengi," the Andorian said.

"Oh, behave." The Risian woman on his lap giggled and gave him a playful slap.

T’Bela shot the Andorian a half grin. After all, a Cardassian raised by Vulcans was unbelievable even to her and she had lived it. “Do you have any other symptoms?” she asked both he and the Bajoran.

"None of your business," he snapped.

"We're here to guarantee him that I did not transmit him any kind of disease," said the Risian woman. "After last night, that is." She nibbled on his blue ear. "It is his right to be concerned, so here we are."

“Always a smart decision,” agreed T’Bela. “I’m hoping I’ve only caught a simple virus and will feel better by tomorrow morning, but one can never be too safe.”

By that time, a medical technican came by with a medical tricorder.

"... him, her, not her, him..."

The Bajoran, T'Bela, not the Risian woman, then the Andorian.

"Wait, what do you mean?" The Bajoran jumped to his feet in a quasi-panic. "'Him' what?"

"Sir, if you could come with--" The triage nurse following the med-tech was attempting to give instructions but was interrupted.

"I'm not going anywhere until somebody tells me what the hell is going on!" the Bajoran shouted.

"Sir, we have positively identified you as eligible for treatment and would love to tell you more if you would just come with us," said the triage nurse through a forced smile.

"Treatment for what?!" The Bajoran's voice began to echo down the corridor.

"One to beam to quarantine," said the nurse into her pocket communicator.

The Bajoran man vanished in a flurry of transporter energies.

"That way, you said?" asked the Andorian who had ditched his Risian escort and hurried in the way he was directed.

"How about you, ma'am?" The triage nurse looked at T'Bela with a questioning stare.

“You’ll hear no complaints from me,” replied T’Bela, who had stood and prepared to follow the medical personnel as soon as they had pointed to her. Far be it from her to contribute to the stereotype of doctors being terrible patients.

The triage nurse and her cohort of med-techs guided T'Bela and the others through a side door which led to a transporter room. "Step onto the platform in groups of ten and you will be transported to the quarantine wing where you will receive further testing and treatment."

T’Bela watched as the first group stepped up. “What exactly are we being quarantined for?” she asked, sounding only mildly curious. “Is it really that serious?”

"Unknown yet," the nurse said. "So far intimate contact is the only known mode of transmission, but we have yet to isolate all the vectors. For the time being, we need to quarantine the affected population."

“I see,” replied T’Bela. “Is there a way to contact people from within quarantine? I wouldn’t want my friends to worry about me,” she added, slightly more casually than she should have been.

"You will be afforded all rights due Federation citizens," the nurse droned in a deadpan. Clearly that was not the first time she had made the statement.

T’Bela nodded. She would have to see about contacting her superiors. Surely they would want to investigate this outbreak. “Of course,” she replied as the platform cleared and it was her turn to step onto it. Perhaps she could help the patients in the quarantine area. After all, she was already infected. One couldn’t be infected with something they had already caught. And perhaps she could take some of the burden off the healthy doctors. She would have to identify herself to them as soon as she had been treated.

When they arrived to the quarantine area, there was a doctor to greet them. "Welcome. I'm Dr. Tafalla and I am happy to address your concerns. First, allow me to say you are in good hands. We're going to sort everyone by severity of symptoms and begin initial inoculations accordingly. Most of you will probably be released today or tomorrow with only a few requiring longer observation."

"Are we going to be hospitalized?!" asked a concerned woman from down the line.

"No," said Dr. Tafalla. "So far there is only one ICU case and he is being stabilized as we speak. We just need to stop the spread before it goes beyond Temtibi Lagoon to the rest of Risa, and that's where you come in. The more cooperation we get, the faster we can quell the spread and get everyone back to their vacations."

“If you would like some help, I’m a doctor,” offered T’Bela. “Once I’m well, that is. I can’t imagine I’m in any shape to help treat patients right now.”

Tafalla looked at her, his face changing from surprised to incredulous to amused. "I'm glad I don't need to point out the obvious," he said. "Hopefully we will isolate all transmission vectors long before you're on the mend." There was a hidden concern behind his voice, though, that a keen observer would pick out.

“How many have you identified so far?” asked T’Bela a little too conversationally.

"Several dozen cases and counting," Dr. Tafalla said. "But we're confident that most of them are benign. One-shot treatments will clear them. Others may need serial treatments. Only a few may require radiation therapy..." He trailed off as if he should not have said that.

T’Bela blinked, alarm showing plainly on her face. “Radiation?” she questioned. “Is it really that bad?”

Looking around to ensure he wasn't about to be overheard, Dr. Tafalla leaned in and said, "For Patient Zero it is. But he's Starfleet. They're taking over his treatment. Everyone else should be in the clear before too long."

T’Bela’s eyes went convincingly wide. “Patient Zero,” she repeated. “So this is a relatively unknown infection?”

"Yes and no," the doctor said, trying to recover from his faux pas. "It's a novel form of a known fungal culture. Far more aggressive than past instances but still responding to standard treatments, just with boosted protocols. The outbreak should be resolved in short order..."

“Well, that’s good news,” replied T’Bela honestly. She really hoped it was as the doctor said, but something told her it wasn’t. She would have to wait and see. “The offer stands,” she added. “If you could use some help, just let me know.”

"Even if I wanted to, I couldn't clear that," Tafalla said. "I'm just the attending physician. The administrative board would have to approve new medical staff and they wouldn't do that short of a true state of emergency."

“Understandable,” replied T’Bela. “So where do I go from here?”

Dr. Tafalla pointed down the corridor. "Through those double doors is an ambassadorial quarantine area that is complete with a luxurious lounge and several bunks with full amenities. Only a few offer full privacy and they are first-come-first-serve, so I suggest if you want one you stake it now."

Truthfully, T’Bela wasn’t terribly concerned with privacy. She’d never really had any growing up and the Academy was even worse. But it gave her an excuse to scurry away. She had research to do and calls to make. Maybe.


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