Episode 3: Something Wicked This Way Comes
Like every day in any field of work, today had presented a unique set of challenges to Dr. Raygi. There had been the typical influx of uptake physicals (most of which he had delegated to his junior associates), as well as a few moderate injuries which were to be expected on a brand new vessel that was flying without a proper shakedown. Nonetheless, the flow of patients had slowed to barely a trickle; Raygi decided that he had earned a few moments of meditation, to clear and focus his mind.
Raygi leaned back in the plush chair of his office, a cup of Xyrillian tea warming his hands. He closed his eyes and began to focus his thoughts on the cup and its contents. His breathing slowed, becoming steady and regular. In just a few short minutes, Raygi was completely motionless...and one with his cup of tea.
Tara knew she shouldn't have put this off; she should have come around for a check in before departure, but she had been bogged down reading incident reports from other vessels and crews who had run-ins with former Starfleet Captain Nathan Hunter. If had been beyond depressing to see how far her friend had fallen, but necessary, and now it was time to see to yet another necessity: her boarding physical. She dreaded having to explain her condition to a non-Trill physician, but there was no getting around it, and so as the day began to wind down she found her way to Sickbay. It was calm, quiet even, for which Tara was glad; she knew chaos would be inevitable on a manhunt, but one more day of calm was always appreciated.
"Is the Chief Medical Officer still on duty?" Tara asked one of the junior officers who came to attend her. The nurse collected some basic information from Tara to get a medical file started and upload her records from Trill, then excused herself to go retrieve the doctor.
"Excuse me, Doctor," the nurse said following a gentle rap on the door frame to get Raygi's attention. "Commander Tara Neprem has come in for her boarding check in, she's waiting for you on biobed 2."
Raygi let a long breath out through his nose, then opened his eyes. Although it had been only a few moments of meditation, it was just what the Bajoran had needed. He felt refreshed, like an island of tranquility in an ocean of chaos. “Thank you Nurse White,” he said. “I will be there momentarily.”
Raygi set his tea down on the desk. He would drink it later...or, not at all. He had merely wanted the warmth as a focal point for his thoughts. Raygi stood and left the office, approaching the Biobed that contained the Trill Commander.
“A pleasure to meet you Commander,” he began. “Dr. Raygi Benyan, Chief Medical Officer. I have only recently become familiar with your case.”
"Good to meet you," Tara said softly. "As to my case, it is quite unusual, even by joined Trill standards. Uh, my symbiont was quite damaged when I received it, and to preserve my sanity should the symbiont die, I was able to prevent the blending through meditation. My symbiont survived, but there is now a disassociation, I'm unable to completely blend with the previous lives of my symbiont. This tour is my test to see if I am capable of continuing my service with Starfleet," she explained.
“Let’s hope so,” said Raygi with a smile. “We certainly have a need for competent officers in leadership positions.” He popped open the medical tricorder with a quick motion of his wrist and removed the biometric scanner. Beginning at the head, Raygi started his series of scans. “Visual acuity looks good. Isoboramine levels are at the lowest end of the safe range. I’ll have to monitor that.” Raygi began to move the scanner down toward Tara’s midsection. “Poor little fella has been through quite an ordeal. There is evidence of multiple surgical procedures.” Raygi paused briefly, concentrating his scans on the abdominal region. “Why don’t you tell me in your own words about the circumstances of your joining?”
"Ah well... you see, I was in the upper docking pylon of Deep Space 10-" Tara abruptly stopped, frowning. "Sorry, Arjin- yes, Arjin Neprem was in the upper docking pylon of Deep Space 10 when a departing ship was sabotaged and exploded, taking out much of the pylon with it. The poor man was horribly burned and riddled with shrapnel, beyond saving, and I, uh... When I heard about this, I... I left my post to see to him," she confessed with a hint of shame because she shouldn't have left her post for a single dying crew member, symbiont or no symbiont. "I grew up as a Guardian in the Caves of Ma'kala, my reverence for the symbionts and fear that this one would not survive clouded my judgement and I opted to take the symbiont because it simply wouldn't survive in stasis and our only other unjoined Trill was not available. My training and discipline gave me the skill needed to prevent the blending, and I kept the symbiont safe until it was stable enough to have the shrapnel removed. We had a very short window in which to work, but it was done before my body became dependent on the symbiont so that I could still have it removed in case it did not want me, and it didn't at first because former Guardians aren't seen as desirable hosts... But in the end my symbiont decided to keep me, so..." Tara smiled meekly at the doctor, offering a slight shrug. "I've had to undergo numerous surgeries to remove more shrapnel and repair the damage; I know my symbiont is weak, but he will make it, we just need a little more time."
“To what end though, Commander?” Asked Raygi pointedly as he flipped the Medical tricorder closed. “Based upon its numbers alone, I have little doubt that Naprem will eventually be healthy enough that he is not dependent upon your physiology any longer. If I am to help in this process, I need to know the desired final result.”
"I do not understand the question," Tara replied, blinking in a bemused manner. "Anyone who is injured wants to be healed, but why must there be an 'end' or result? I am Neprem and I want to be well again, well enough to return to duty. Isn't that enough?"
Raygi’s smile faded quickly. “You made every effort to see to it that Naprem never Joined with you psychologically. Once he is healthy, do you intent to complete the process?”
"We have," Tara informed him. "I held off the blending because should Neprem die or decide that I wasn't worthy, the damage to my psyche would have been irreparable, I would have had no choice but to retire because there would be no way I could function in Starfleet if Neprem had died after a proper blending; but once he was stable and I felt the desire to blend within him, I let it happen, but it's not right. I've spent a great deal of time with the Symbiosis Commission and they think our blending is unique and we may be stuck this way. My tour here is a test to ensure our current psychological state doesn't interfere with the execution of my duties. I don't expect you to do anything, I'm only here now because I'm require to check in with Medical and Counselling," she explained in a soft tone.
“Ah,” Said Raygi noncommittally. “My apologies. As I said earlier, I was only peripherally familiar with your condition.” He placed the tricorder on the equipment cart. “The good news is, you are in good health. I see no reason to not release you to full active duty.”
"Thank you, Doctor," Tara replied gratefully. "And I will be checking in regularly, as per my orders, to ensure everything remains 'in good health'."
“Of course Commander,” said Raygi with a warm smile. “And don’t forget to give a blood sample to the Med Techs on the way out.”