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Lt. JG. Dr. K’Trevala, Shadow Wind.
Lt. JG. Riedinger, Aaron.
Based upon the events that occurred on the sim of the SD 201809.07:
Once his shift was over, Aaron began to experience anxiety. And a little fear. A little bit much, to be honest. It was time to go to Sickbay, to perform the extraction procedure for the nanites. The blood transfusion. He was having severe last-minute doubts, and contemplating different scenarios about the possible repercussions of the nanites issue. The idea of starting an investigation himself to determine what the nanites were really, and to be able to verify the true effects they would have on their health, as much as if they were staying or as if they were extracted, crossed his mind several times. But he could not do that. Not only would he put his career at risk by carrying out an independent investigation, but he would also indirectly harm Major Patterson, for sticking his nose where he should not. He had already spoken with the Counselor, the blood transfusion was the right thing to do. And he had promised Sherikova and Bevin that he would do the transfusion. And also to Shadow, who surely would already be preparing the procedure. "It's an easy and safe procedure." That's what they had told him countless times, and what he repeated to himself to gain safety while he was heading inside a Turbolift to Deck 5.
He always thought of the human (or humanoid) body as the most complex of mechanisms. But in it, any error could have serious repercussions. It was true that in his profession there were also duties that could put the crew at risk. Nobody would like to see a Warp Core explode. But it would have to be absolutely exceptional circumstances for that to happen. Although in Engineering, as in most departments, it was also not advisable to make mistakes, he did not think that he was playing with the life of living beings as directly as in Medicine. If someone would make a mistake in Engineering, there are usually thousands of backup systems to compensate, but in Medicine there is no guarantee of anything. He would have to trust the Doctor and the medical devices to do their job perfectly, and that was what worried him the most. Therefore, he always preferred to self-medicate with natural remedies, invading his body as little as possible always. And until now, he had always done well in this way; he did not remember the last time he had a medical intervention, although many times he was simply unable to heal himself and preferred to stay with the pain to be operated on. But they were always simple headaches or stomach aches, never anything so serious as this. The Counselor had already told him, it was a subject that escaped his hands. That is why he should be transfused, even if it would be against his beliefs. "An easy and safe procedure".
Upon entering Sickbay, Aaron greeted Doctor K'Trevala nervously: “Doc - Doctor! Finally I made it, I got to Sickbay. I was having doubts. Muchas dudas. But no, this is definitely the right thing to do. So, how do we proceed? With the blood transfusion. How will the procedure be? What should I do? How safe will it be?”.
Shadow was waiting for him in the lounge, a pot of sweet smelling herbal tea on the table beside him as well as two cups and a pot of honey. There were also a platter of sandwiches beside the teapot. ”Aaron, come on in and be welcome! I know you have a lot of questions and I want you to know that this is the right thing for you, if that is what you truly believe. I was thinking about what you were talking about and came up with a possible second option that would have the same effect of removing the nanites but with a greater chance of effectiveness than the blood transfusion would have: using the transporter to beam them out of you. There is a technique that was used with Dr Pulaski on the Enterprise-D to filter out the harmful pathogens, in your case, the nanites, and bring you back without them inside you. I’m giving you the second option since I know you would prefer a less medical approach and I know your capabilities in dealing with transporters.” Shadow sat down at the table and gestured for Aaron to join him. The PADD laying on the table next to the sandwiches showed the pros and cons of both procedures as well as the percent success rate of removal in each. Shadow and the Engineer both worked with facts and Shadow figured that the table of benefits and detriments would be the best way to lay out the arguments for and against both so Aaron could choose his path more wisely.
Aaron looked at Shadow very surprised, his eyes wide open. He sat at the table, facing the Doctor. After reading the contents of the PADD, he commented: “Wow Doctor … This is a completely wonderful idea. ¡Una idea fantástica!. The one of the transporter, I mean. ¡Bien pensado!. I really appreciate your effort, but … do you have any theory to explain what is going to happen to us once the nanites are removed? The Major said that the nanites would simply hunt the cells affected by the zombie mosquitoes, but how can we verify that they are not really fulfilling any other function within our organism?. He looked at Shadow with a raised eyebrow as he drank from the teacup.
“From what I have read about the nanites, and they are NOT a new concept, they do NOT act like a parasitical disease that turns you into some mindless monster bent on destroying the ship or anything else to make them spread themselves further. There have been a number of studies on such organisms and nothing has been found to make the nanites act that way. Others of the implants that the Borg had created is what turned them into the half-machine creatures that they eventually became but, it was not the nanites. They are programmed with a simple healing function but are not designed to take over the behavioral patterns of any individual.” Shadow told him, offering him another PADD holding the articles on the Nanites that had been sent out in the Journal of Space Medicine, a newsletter of all the recent advances in the medical arts.
“Hmmmm tío … “, Aaron stammered as he looked at the new PADD while stroking his mustache thoughtfully. “I can understand that the concept of main operation is the same for all devices. Pero … these particular nanites were labeled as classified technology for some reason, right? If at least half of the rumors about Section 31 are partially true, how can we ensure that they didn't do any cloudy modification to them that could affect us?”. He paused for another sip of tea and nibbled on a sandwich. “No, sorry. Perdón. I'm talking without thinking. Tío, it was fear that spoke for me, so ignore those last two questions, Doctor. I was speculating. The Major was able to get some nanites out of his body and nothing happened to him, so nothing will happen to us, right?”.
Shadow nodded. “That’s the prevailing thinking right now and the blueprint for them was scanned in and then modified to be only the killers of the zombie virus before they went totally inert, once their primary function was fulfilled, and unless we go back to those steamy swamps of Vulcan and get bit again, they should stay inactive, and I don’t see us heading back there any time soon.” He chuckled softly. “At least not for another decade or two…”.
Aaron smiled. “At least I do not intend to return to Vulcano for the rest of my life. Nunca”. He grabbed another sandwich. “I do not know if you were reading my mind or something like that, Doctor, but you certainly know how to convince an engineer. Facts and conclusive and closed data. So yes, I think it would be the best to continue with your idea of the transporter!”
“Well, when I heard of your concerns, I tried to learn all I could about the different methods of doing this to make it be the easiest on you, both physically and mentally. And, since it is your life, I wanted you to have as many facts as I could give you to make your decision as to how to proceed.” Shadow told him.
"Your efforts are noticed and appreciated, Doctor." Aaron replied as he bowed with palms together. "What should we do with the nanites once they are no longer in the body? Once they are detected by the biofilter, they will be stored in the pattern buffer. Should we erase them?”.
“Simple, I’ll have them collected into a jar and then let you dispose of it in the Warp core, no mess, no remaining evidence to persecute either you or the Major.” Shadow suggested to the Engineer.
“Bueno, although we could also change the phase of the transition coil at the time of the rematerialization to erase them completely from their existence ... but throwing them by the Warp Core will be more fun.” Aaron smiled maliciously.
Shadow chuckled. “I thought you might prefer that route of disposal.”
“¡Sin duda alguna! Where, how and when can we start?”. Aaron responded by rubbing his hands. “Oh, and perdón. I never thanked you for the snacks and the tea. So: gracias!”.
“Da nada, mi amigo! I thought that you might not have had a chance to deal with getting anything, so, I fixed up a snack for you. And we can start in about 20 minutes as soon as I get your original pattern from the transporter pulled up.” Shadow replied as he finally got a sandwich as well and sipped the tea.
“Thank you!”, Aaron responded with his mouth full of a sandwich.
Aaron went to the TR 2, with an engineering kit, side by side with Shadow. When they arrived, he commented: “¿Todo listo, Doc?”.
Shadow went over to the transporter controls and placed a datahedron on the console as well as a jar on the second transporter pad. “I’m ready if you are, Aaron, but if you want to check over the readings to make sure, I have no objections.” Shadow knew that the more the patient felt he had control over the situation he found himself in, the better the outcome usually was. Shadow stepped aside in case Aaron wanted to check the settings for himself before they got busy getting everything going.
“Sí, If you do not mind, I'd like to double check everything. Por las dudas.”, Aaron replied as he took out a pure duranium test cylinder. He began to scan the molecular imaging scanner, that was in a cell to the left of the pads, verifying if the resolution of it would be apt to distinguish his molecular patterns from those of the nanites. Then, he opened another cell underneath and checked the particle lock with the same test cylinder, in order to make sure that the calibration would be sufficiently precise to catch the nanites. As everything was correct, he raised up the first transporter pad that was next to the jar, and sacked a magneton scanner from the kit. With it, he scanned the Heisenberg compensator, in order to verify if the sensors would be able to determine the position and momentum of his particles and those of the nanites with the same degree of precision. Relieved to find nothing wrong, he went down and locked the transporter pad and headed for the console, next to Shadow, with the magneton scanner in his hand. He opened a cell under the console, while his back was to the floor, and checked the parameters of the pattern buffer. Realizing that it would be able to store his molecular patterns and those of the nanites separately and safely, he closed the cell and got up to go to the console. In it, he verified in the main program of the transporter if the rematerialization subroutine would be calibrated to safely separate his molecules from those of the nanites. A small part of Aaron's mind wished there was something wrong in the subroutine, to be able to abort the procedure. But no, there was nothing wrong with the subroutine, so he had to contain his fears and address Shadow: “Well Doc … everything's perfecto. I believe. Although ... I'll check everything again for one last time. Just por las dudas. The third time's the charm.” Without letting him respond, Aaron grabbed the test cylinder from the kit and began again to check each of the systems in the same systematic way he did before. Once he finished, he gave a long sigh and told Shadow in a little nervously way: “Well, sorry about that Doc. No more excuses ... everything is working perfectly .”.
Shadow nodded. “Everything meet your specifications, the way you hoped? We can still do the transfusion if you’d prefer.” Shadow was more than willing to let Aaron call the shots for his dealing with the nanites. It would not do for someone in Aaron’s position to be petrified with fear at a crucial moment. That fear and the paralyzing terror that went with it, could show up at the worst possible moment, when the ship was under fire and they’d need a cool head that was free to reason out ways of escape when it seemed everything might be lost.
“Yes, yes. Everything’s fine.”, Aaron responded by shaking his head slightly. "Everything is even better than I hoped. Perfecto, Doctor. And this is better than the transfusion. Much better. More efficient, safer, faster, less invasive .... this is the right thing to do. Lo correcto.”. Aaron put the tools in the kit and went to the first pad, next to the jar. He took a deep breath and finally told the Shadow: “Well Doc … estoy listo. You can proceed at your own discretion. Just make sure that you'll rematerialize me with all my limbs in the right place, por favor.”. He smiled nervously.
Shadow chuckled and resumed his place at the transporter console. “You sure you don’t me to see about doing any plastic surgery with this thing to make you look more like some of the celebrities? I hear that the girls go muy, muy loco en la cabeza for them… if so, put in the order now and we’ll get it done all at one time.”
Aaron laughed at the commentary of the Doctor, it was something that he was not expecting at that time. “It would be kinda strange to get up in the morning and see another face in the mirror … but thinking about it better, I always thought that it would be great to look like …”. He raised an eyebrow and massaged his mustache thoughtfully. After a few seconds, he shook his head and replied: “No, no, leave me as I am and let's finish with this, Doc! But if one day I decide to see myself as someone else, I know who to look for.”
Shadow grinned as his hands moved surely over the levers and buttons on the console to initiate the sequence. “Time to say ‘Adios!!’ to your little friends, mi amigo,” he told him as the levers were moved into their designated positions to engage the first part of the process. Aaron sparkled out of existence for a moment and then returned as Shadow brought the levers back up to complete the whole treatment with the nanites filling up half the jar on the other pad. “How do you feel?”
When rematerializing, the first thing that Aaron did was to touch his head and then his chest in a hurry, like a natural instinct. He realized that he was complete. “I think I’m well. Muy bien. But you tell me, am I really complete? What happened with the nanites?”.
Shadow pointed to the jar on the other pad that was about half full of a pale gray looking liquid as he came over to Aaron with his tricorder and Feinberger to check him out. “Everything reads as normal, Aaron, and I’m reading no nanites in your system whatsoever.”
Aaron grabbed the jar and moved it slightly, shaking its contents from one side to the other. “Wow, hombre … You can not even imagine the enormous weight you took from my back. I’m libre! Thank you, Doctor, a lot of thanks. Muchas gracias!”.
There was a soft metallic tinkling against the glass as the liquid sloshed around in the jar as Shadow handed the lid to Aaron so he could have the honor of capping and dealing with his nightmare as he wished. “You’re more than welcome, Aaron, I wish you all the luck in dealing with any of your future problems so easily.”
Aaron smiled. “Thanks, Doctor. And congratulations for the method you developed, it is a complete success! Zero nanites, nada de nada! Now that I've finished of being a guinea pig, I'm sure the crew will be happy to know what you developed to fight the nanites issue!.”. He shook the jar, looking at it in wonder.
“Da nada, it’s nothing, Aaron. And you gave me the idea to look in another direction for your treatment. If they wish to utilize this course of treatment then fine, it’s just one more technique in the way we have to treat patients and I have no problems with it being used but you understand I can’t publish it for others outside this ship to use.” Shadow told him with all seriousness.
"No, of course you can not ... but after this, I think we can forget the topic of nanites forever. Para siempre.” Aaron shook the jar one more time. “Now, if you'll excuse me ... I think I have a couple of little things to throw at the Warp Core. Send my regards to Dr. T and wish her a quick recovery from me! And again, muchas gracias, Shadow!”.
Shadow chuckled, ”Go have fun with your little friends, Aaron, and I’ll do that. Unfortunately, I need to get back to work. Just make sure that there is no mess when you toss them in there, we DON’T want to have to explain ourselves to ANYone, now do we?” Shadow erased the settings they used on the Transporter so even that could not be held against them.
“Tranquilo, Doc … in a moment these little evil beings will be burning at a force of four thousand Teradynes per second. Nothing bad will happen.” Aaron said while shaking the jar.
“Aaron, they’re not evil, they are like a hammer, a tool designed for a specific purpose. It is only the one wielding it that determines if the hammer is used for a good or ill purpose. Same thing as the nanites.They can be used to heal, though it is possible, in the hands of the unscrupulous, they can be made to harm as well. But it does not make them evil, in and of themselves.” Shadow told him, venturing into the more Philosophical realms.
“You'll have to apologize me, but I can never blindly rely on technology from an association with a reputation like the one of Section 31. No matter how much they show me in endless ways that the nanites were not created with any bad intentions, I'll always have the feeling that there's something else cloudy behind ....”, Aaron replied looking at him with a raised eyebrow.
“Well, I trust Section 31 about as far as I can throw Sirius into the Klingon Empire, but extremely rarely do they come out with something that is useful and I have to hold my nose to the source when an emergency comes up that forces me to use it. It’s like some people do on elections between two bad candidates. Sometimes, it comes down to who or what is the lesser of the two evils in a society.”
“Bueno ... you have a very good point and I understand your position. But I do not think it's a good time to discuss philosophy, mi amigo ... I have some nanites that I have to undo quickly. I apologize if I caused you much trouble, Doc, and again, thanks for everything!”, he told the doctor while extending his left hand in sign of farewell.
Shadow waved to Aaron as he left to deal with his jar of nanites, before shutting down the transporter room and heading back to sickbay to deliver Aaron’s message to Dr T.