Episode 1: The Maelstrom Awaits
Timeline: Day 6 at 1500
Ekal stepped into sickbay like she was happy to be there. Time to test how comfortable she could be with another doctor who might hate her. She scanned the main area with all the beds before carefully aproaching the CMO's office.
"Excuse me, Ensign Dreisor here I have an appointment for my onboarding physical?" Her big dark eyes were as wide as she could get them, and her head was bowed a little in a submissive gesture.
Gaden sat a small kitbag down and scooted it under the desk a rather large one compared to many he had used in the past and less makeshift.
He'd just arrived on the ship an hour before with most of his belongings having arrived a day before. He would still have to unpack when he got a chance, but that could wait. He knew he had a slew of physicals to administer and he'd rather be working than unpacking any day.
"There's some one to see you, Terran brunette nurse said to him. But there's something you need to know."
"And what is that?" he asked the man.
"She's a Cardassian."
"She's still a patient, send her back," he said wearing a neutral expression. Inwardly he was now wishing he'd decided to unpack instead, but he was a professional and wasn't going to let anyone know what was going on inside his head.
The nurse, whose name was Kyle, walked back up to the Cardassian woman.
"The doctor will see you now. Uh, he's Bajoran. Just so you know."
"Thank you, I know." She took another grounding breath before dropping her smile to a perfectly neutral expression.
Ekal had no clue what she was going to be getting into back there, but if her interactions with Bajorans and doctors held any merit, she was not going to be having a pleasant experience.
Ekal walked lightly as she stepped into the back, but knocked to alert him of her arrival. Last thing she wanted was a scared Bajoran doctor on her hands. She was small and skinny for a Cardassian, and she used that to her advantage. Head bowed slightly, eyes wide. She maintained an expression of polite curiosity.
"Doctor Anjohl," he corrected without malice. "Could you sit on the biobed?"
"I haven't had a chance to view your medical records, is there anything unusual that I should know about?"
"Anjohl, of course. Apologies." Hopping up on the biobed, she scanned him up and down. "Nothing particularly unusual. I have a few scars here and there but they're all healed, the scales just, you know, never do the right thing again."
She swung her feet like a kid. "Oh and, of course, I have a hormone deficiency, they had to give me an implant and it grew into my spine. It's still in there, but it doesn't pump anything into me anymore, once I was a healthy weight they deactivated it." How much Dr.Anjol would believe her on that was of course up to him, but she was being nearly completely honest. She hadn't listed it first because he'd be expecting her to do something deceptive and maybe putting what he needed to know out of order was enough for him to trust what she said. "I don't know if the specs were attatched to my medical record or not."
Her eyes didn't stop moving, analyzing his movements, hoping he wasn't going to vaccinate her without warning or pull a knife or something like that. She'd had doctors do the former, and heard stories.
"Tell me if there's anything about my species you don't know, apparently Star Fleet medical records still aren't completely caught up on us." Or her last doctor was an idiot who didn't trust the computer, but that was entirely possible.
The doctor wasn't by any means telepathic. He had no means to read her thoughts, or would he have used such an ability if he had it. Though, since she was Cardassian, he would have been tempted.
Naturally skeptic, he had trust issues. Around Cardassians that was increased exponentially. Nevertheless, he was good at reading people and she seemed sincere. While he knew her kind could be deceptive, he believed her.
He was a little unnerved by her staring at him and wasn't quite sure why she was doing so.
He could have been cold and clinical. What was anyone going to say? And besides he wouldn't have been rude, just distant.
He didn't always make the best decisions, especially in a situation like this, but he wasn't a bad man, just a challenged one.
He cocked his head to one side and looked at her with something that could have been compassion.
"So, tell me more about this implant," he urged.
“There isn’t much to say, doctor, it functioned a bit like a replacement pituitary for a while when I was in my late teens and still the size of a child.” Some would argue that she was still the size of a child at five foot even, but she didn’t want to recognize the argument. “It contained a bit of artificial cardassian growth hormone and of course a few other hormone replacements, nothing that would hurt me, hopefully only help me grow and mature and such. They had to remove the stored hormones when they deactivated it to be sure it didn’t break open and flood me with chemicals, so it’s completely inert now, just fused into my spine near the base of my neck.”
As she spoke, she reached back any tugged the collar of her shirts lower to show where the scars were from multiple surgeries on her neck. It didn’t look pretty. Like she’d mentioned before, scarring really messed up the interlocking pattern of the soft tiny scales, leaving some growing twisted or peeling constantly.
“My mother insisted on the device when it became clear my body wasn’t regulating my hormones correctly.” She hoped by reciting a little of the history he’d be assured it was nothing new to her, and that it was well under control. “As of now, I don’t need much medical assistance regarding my hormones or the device where it rests, just a little more help with hormone-altering diseases. I need to be more careful about catching them and I may have trouble recovering from them.”
Ekal realized how much she’d spoken and volunteered when it wasn’t strictly necessary and mentally kicked herself for being so willing to give information up to anyone, least of all a stranger. He hadn’t even said much to her, just asked a question. Even if he needed to know some of this stuff- she took another steadying breath and willed herself to try and trust the doctor
Thewith, if nothing else, what the weird thing in her neck was.
She eyed him again quickly and decided he wasn’t likely to attack her here where he would be the only suspect. Her mother’s voice asked her if he wouldn’t get away with hurting her just because of her race. She picked at a loose scale on her arm.
“To put it more concisely. I’m fine, just have to avoid rare hormonal effective diseases.” She smiled just a little, showing no teeth.
He listened intently to her story fascinated despite himself.
"I know you said you were careful, but you could still be in danger," he said
He placed his hand on hers as she picked at herself, Then, almost immediately drew it back again. He'd only meant to stop her from doing what she was doing, but he realized it was paternalistic at best and an univted intrusion at worst.
"I'm sorry," he said, "I should not have done that."
"Em. has anyone given you a through exam, maybe check to see if you need to balance out your hormonal system?"
“No one’s really thought to do that.” Cared to, anyway. She had been surprised he’d touched her, but was more surprised he’d actually given some thought to her condition. She didn’t even know what kind of hormones were still missing from her hormone profile but it had to be quite a few, right? The pituitary was pretty important.
Maybe she could handle giving some of her medical needs over to the team here.
“It’s been a while since I’ve seen a doctor who knew what to expect from me.” Now that was more than she meant to say.
If she ignored it maybe he’d write it off as a joke to ease the tension. Yeah. Best to laugh a little and glance up at his face to check his reaction.
"No one should have to suffer at the hands of others, even if it's only be neglect.
"We may not ever be the best of friends, we're too different."
"Maybe that wasn't fair, I don't know you, but it's just how I feel, because of what I've endured."
"But, that's not your fault. I do promise to treat you with dignity and respect and I will do what I can to help you."
"Might surprise you to learn that dignity is all I ask for." She smiled, "As long as I'm in your medbay, you're uncomfortable. Neither of us can change that. I can ask you to perform as limited treatments on me as you are able. I'm tougher than I look. I'm not here to torment you with scales and claws, dear, I'm here to fly a ship." Ekal turned her eyes to his, "You don't have to believe me, just remember that I've said it, I already trust you to keep me alive more than I did the last CMO I met. I don't need anything more than that, doctor, so don't help me if it hurts you. A ship needs a doctor as much as it needs a navigator."
He shook his head. "It needs both, but I'd be remiss if I didn't do my duty. I've taken an oath. That oath supreceeds my angst.
"I doubt we're going to have a candlelit dinner together, for a lot of reasons, but I'll treat you. I'll make you better. Healthier."
Ekal laughed. It was a genuine one, sort of soft and sad but primarily relieved. “No I see no dinners, or breakfasts, or lunches in our future, doctor, but thank you for your conviction. My hormones are fine now, though, just a little off on things like keeping my toes warm. If I catch or get caught up in something that messes with my hormones in just the right way I simply have a slightly higher chance of complication, or at least that’s what doctor Kalrac said when I was 18.”
She wanted to pat his arm, to reach out to him, reassure him that she was fine and he didn’t need to worry about someone who looked like his fears any longer. She kept her hands folded neatly in her lap.
“You can take whatever scans you like, of course, just promise me one thing: you’ll always tell me when you’re about to stick me with something? And what it is? I’m getting tired of surprise injections.”
"No surprise injections, I promise," the doctor replied. "Could you elaborate on your statement. What happened to you? What were you injected with? Who injected you?"
“Well which time? I spent a lot of time with doctors in my youth, I joined starfleet and the medical staff of some stations aren’t exactly taught manners, and my last CMO had a habit of just injecting me with whatever he felt like at the time. That means vaccines, hormones, painkillers, actual medicine, and the occasional tranquilizer.” She blinked at him.
"That...is... em, highly unethical. Did you file a complaint? Is that person still on active duty?"
“No but no. He was retired after his heart started acting up. He was already rather old for the position.”
"I see. Well Im truly sorry that happened to you. I would never allow that kind of thing to happen. And atrocity is an atrocity regardless of your species."
“I would hardly call his habit an atrocity, doctor. It was merely cruel and uncomfortable. He did manage to keep me alive.” She laughed softly, “but I appreciate the ardent support against such matters. You must be a very principled man.”
She didn’t say that his addition of ‘regardless of your species’ said more than he probably intended it to. She didn’t say that it proved he believed some pain, something less than an atrocity, might be warranted due to her species. She had been enjoying the conversation. Back to plan C it was then. Don’t let him see her discomfort and come to him like any other crewman might.
“I may have been met with some foul doctors in my time. You do not seem to be one of them.”
"Thanks," he replied, I'll try not to disappoint you."
"You have already avoided that much."