The current Thor/Amity joint mission has generated a lot of highlights for me but I wanted to take a moment to show my appreciation for @Ikaia Wong's humor and style. This JP was his idea, went in completely unexpected directions and ended up being a real pleasure to work on. I hope this encourages folks to reach out and try writing with new people as often as you can!
((High Containment Science Lab 4, Deck 3, USS Thor))
Geoff Teller grumbled slightly as he made his way from his office to the lab spaces on Deck 3. The visiting crew of Amity had been given run of the ship and while that hadn’t been a problem, it had mostly lead to some vaguely lost officers wandering the halls. As First Officer, he’d been primarily responsible for herding these lost sheep so when he received an alert from the High Containment Science Labs, one of the few fully restricted areas aboard ship, he assumed it was simply another officer who had gotten turned while looking for the ships spa.
What he wasn’t expecting was a frantic looking medical officer tending to a large and varied collection of plants, spread across several of the lab tables in specialized bio-monitoring pods. Geoff watched in bemused silence for a few moments as the young officer, a Lt. in blue with an oversized lab coat, ran the scanner from a medical tricorder over one of the bits of flora before reviewing the readings with narrowed eyes. When Geoff realized he’d likely be standing there for hours if he didn’t say something, he cleared his throat politely and spoke up with a smile.
Teller: I don’t remember authorizing a new Arboretum on this deck, Lieutenant.
Ikaia nearly jumped out of his skin from hearing that voice. His hand reached up and clutched his chest as he spun around.
Wong: Ah! Commander! I didn’t see you there! ::Takes a moment to breathe:: I nearly had a heart attack….
Geoff chuckled and put his hands up in a placating gesture.
Teller: As you were, this isn’t exactly a formal inspection. I don’t think we’ve met...Geoff Teller, ships XO.
He stepped from the doorway and offered a hand in greeting.
Ikaia allowed his hand to drop from his chest as he tried to relax. He reached out to shake the ginger haired officer’s hand.
Wong: I’m Lieutenant Ikaia Wong. Physician Assistant and part of the Amity crew. Nice to meet you, Commander.
Teller: Ah yes, Mr. Wong...I remember your name from the manifest. You’re Amity’s incoming Chief Medical Officer, right? ::Geoff nodded to the wide assortment of plants:: Botany a hobby or are these for medical use?
Ikaia put his tricorder down on the nearest counter. He had been caring for many of these plants since he was an ensign. In fact, it was a collection of plants he had inherited from a previous doctor. In many ways, he felt like he had adopted them.
Wong: Ah yes. That’s correct. I’m looking forward to my new posting. As for these… ::gesturing to his plants:: …. They’re something of a practical hobby, I suppose. I’ve been caring for them for a better part of a year and in their care, I’ve also been studying them as well. With the exception of the aloe, many have their origins in The Shoals.
Teller: Ah I see...quite the impressive collection in that case. ::Geoff walked over and looked at a few closely, surprised to recognize a few varieties from Ketar V and Havleys Hope:: In fact, I might want to steal a few ideas from the designs...I’m always looking for a way to grow a better coffee bean.
Ikaia offered a curious head tilt.
Wong: Are you into botany as well? Or coffee? You almost make it sound like you’re sourcing something for The Brew Continuum.
Teller: The Brew Continuum? ::Geoff’s expression was the picture of innocent ignorance:: Never heard of it.
Ikaia raised an eyebrow at him for a moment. Then a smile crosses his face. What a cheeky Commander!
Wong: I know that at one point, the Brew Continuum was created by you. I can say I recognize at least your name from that. I was a regular customer back on the Veritas.
Geoff found himself smiling again, thinking back to the tiny converted storage space that had grown into so much more over the years.
Teller: Guilty as charged. ::Teller nodded back towards one of the pods:: Don’t think I’ve ever seen that species before...the hell is it? And why is it doing...that.
Ikaia picked up a watering can and went to water one of the plants. He stopped to glance back at Teller.
Wong: Be careful around that one. That’s u. Tempturvium. It may be beautiful to look at. But it’s actually about to bloom very soon. It lets off a fine mist of oils that smell very much like a rotting corpse. A sonic shower absolutely will not remove the smell from your skin and well…. The less said about what it will do to your uniform, the better. I’ve had a few incidents with it.
The Klingon PA could remember the first time he encountered the Tempturvium’s oils. He got a face full of it. This would have been a horrible experience for a human. But for a Klingon, it was like entering a level of hell. Especially in getting it directly in the face. He could still smell that rancid smell for a few days following the incident.
Teller: Great, a stinkbomb plant. Well, at least it’s in the right place - we can eject this whole lab compartment directly out to space if we need to. Haven’t had to do it yet but there’s always a first time.
Geoff shook his head and took an extra wide step around the cylinder.
Teller: What is that?
Ikaia moved over to the next plant. It looked like a collection of vines curled up in a pot.
Wong: This one is v. Eatoanium. It’s a fast growing carnivorous vine. I suspect that in its native environment that it would have snagged small prey items such as small birds or rodents. However, this specimen has been known to go after well…. Me. I’ve found ways of placating it, though.
Geoff leaned forward just enough to catch the vines ‘attention,’ which began wriggling within the containment chamber. Teller got the impression that ‘Eatoanium’s definition of small prey definitely included him.
Teller: Interesting choice of pets, Mr. Wong. I find myself glad you’re taking them as far from me as logistically possible, though.
Wong: You can see why I asked for high containment lab space for these plants. Many of them have specialized care needs and probably wouldn’t have been safe to be allowed into the Arboretum where anyone could have access. Previously, I kept them in my office as it was the safest place for them and typically, I was the only one who usually used that office.
Geoff snorted, remembering the close quarters aboard the Veritas and imagining this flower show jammed in it. It definitely would’ve made a visit to Sickbay a lot more interesting. He dug a small padd out and verified that the lab was properly assigned to Lt. Wong for the duration of the journey and, satisfied all was in order, prepared to leave.
Teller: Absolutely appropriate, Mr. Wong. I don’t think the Commodore would appreciate having his stroll through the Arboretum disrupted by the scent of corpses. Alright, I’ll leave you to it Lieutenant - as you were.
Geoff turned to leave but only made it a step before he paused. The vinelike ‘Eatoanium’ was writhing violently within its containment vessel and the whole apparatus was beginning to thrash about on the lab table.
Teller: Your salad looks upset, Mr. Wong.
Ikaia paused to look over the Eatoanium. He froze. A look of horror briefly crossed his face.
Wong: Where’s the PADD that went with this? This plant needs that PADD.
Geoff’s eyebrows went up as he took another instinctive step backwards.
Already, Ikaia could see the vines shift and move. He started backing up as soon as they started slithering out of the pot.
Teller: Wasn’t anything on the table when I walked in here. What do you mean the plant needs the padd? It’s just a plant….right?
Almost in response the whole writing mass of vines shifted as once, tipping the containment chamber off the table and onto the floor where it shattered open with a crash. Alarms began howling and alert strobes began blinking urgently and the labs heavy isolation doors slammed into lockdown with a muted thud. They were now locked in a very thick duranium box surrounded by numerous redundant containment fields.
Wong: Usually, this is placated with recordings of Picard’s speeches or 80s power jams! Something about the rhythm usually calms it down! That’s why I had the PADD with this plant! ::Turns around to see the isolation doors slam shut:: Oh that’s just perfect! It’s a plant! Not some spore or highly dangerous contagion that will invert your rib cage or fill your sinuses with incompatible fluids!
Geoff worried about how unusually specific those two descriptions were but felt it wise not to press the issue at the moment. He had other, more immediate concerns.
Teller: Computer, erect a level ten containme….
Geoff ducked as the vines slapped a tray full of instruments his way. When he looked back, the mass of vines had vanished, scuttling behind one of the lab tables or possibly into the equipment racks. Bits of gear clattered to the ground as the creature shifted.
Ikaia put his hands on his hips as he pushed some air out of his cheeks. This has turned into a much bigger mess than usual. He went looking for a PADD.
Wong: Well THAT'S new. Normally, that plant isn't entirely mobile.
Teller: =/\= Teller to Larell - Chief, we’re stuck in one of the science labs with an angry plant, tell me you can beam us out of here. =/\=
Geoff suspected he already knew the answer, but he had to ask.
Larell: =/\= Sorry sir, you know how strict the lockdown protocol is around the labs. You’d have to bring down the isolation fields for me to get a lock and if the computer detects those have failed, it’ll automatically eject the lab. Can’t do it, sir. =/\=
Already the plant had decided enough was enough as it started chucking lab equipment at Ikaia. The Klingon PA squeaked as he saw a microscope come flying towards his face. He quickly dodged that one.
Wong: For the love of Kāne! You get back here this instant! ::Dodges some empty petri dishes::
Teller: Stay on it, Chief, we need some kinda way out that doesn’t involve floating home.
Larell: =/\= Yes sir, I’ll give you an update as soon as we have something. =/\=
Geoff sighed to himself, wondering how his day had gotten this far away from him so quickly, before shooting a scowl in the direction of the nearby Mr. Wong.
Teller: So we’re locked in...we try to break out, we get ejected into space. We try to beam out, we get ejected into space. Compartment’s independent life support is only good for about...oh..four or five hours. ::Geoff leaned back against one of the lab tables as casually as he could:: I’m open to suggestions, Mister.
Ikaia picked up a tray to shield his face. More petri dishes rebounded off of it.
Wong: Our issue is two fold here and it's not as simple as looking for a means to escape. We need to calm down my Eatoanium first. It's likely agitated from the alarms. There's a PADD on the far counter I've been recording my work on. If we load that with the correct sounds, we might be able to soothe it. Either that or--- ::a vine now lashes out at him causing him to yelp!:: GAH! Either that or we both end up on the menu after it's done with its temper tantrum!
Ikaia vaguely motioned to where the PADD he mentioned was. He knew that if they didn’t calm down his plant before their escape, there was a chance it could be released into the ship at large and this was something he did NOT want escaping the lab.
Wong: The second part of our plan, the escaping part, we're going to need your PADD for the security clearance alone. I've been having a number of issues surrounding my guest clearance. Most of which surround doors and replicators. I will NEVER eat wasabi-cilantro paste out of desperation again!
Geoff ducked under something that looked suspiciously like a microscope hurtling through the air and crouched low, trying to keep a few heavy solid barriers between him and the aggravated parsley.
Teller: I can’t lift the lockdown until we get that thing... ::A beaker flew and shattered against a far wall:: ..back in a tube and the computer is content there’s no hazard to the ship.
Wong: Right. As to what we need the PADD for ----- ::Deflects a vine with his tray:: Ugh! Let’s just get my plant to settle down and take it from there?
Geoff took a quick glance over the top of the lab table and still couldn’t find any evidence of an errant padd. With a sinking suspicion he ducked back behind the table and turned his attention out the observation windows at the rear of the lab and into the connecting compartment. There, on a small worktable just on the other side of the sealed door a Padd sat perched, completely out of reach.
Teller: Well, the good news is I found your padd.
Geoff pointed out the nearby window and shrugged in frustration. It may as well have been on Vulcan for all the help it would be out there.
Wong: This is literally the third thing I've been trapped in in about six months! ::A beat:: The good news? Why does it sound like there’s BAD news?
Ikaia felt something wrap around his right foot. He screamed as it yanked him over. He fell flat on his butt and felt himself being dragged across the floor. He smacked at some other vines coming for him with his tray. It looked like Klingon was on the main menu as an entré!
Geoff dove around the table and grabbed the man's labcoat, yanking backwards as hard as he could. The plant had an alarmingly firm grip.
Well, Ikaia had mostly been yanked away from his plant. The vines were still firmly wrapped around Ikaia’s boots while his bare feet were free to the elements in the lab. Ikaia grabbed the counter top and stumbled back to his feet.
Teller: Hold on! What did you say was on that padd again? Music and speeches?!
Wong: Yes! 80s power jams and Picard’s speeches. That’s the only thing that seems to calm it down!
Teller: Well library computer access was cut when the lab went into isolation mode and my singing is limited to sea shanties....how’s your accent?
Wong: My accent? Well, it’s Hawaiian….
Teller: No, your french accent! Start Picard’ing, that’s an order!
Wong: Oh. Riiight. Uh… ahem…. :Glancing nervously at the vines coming for him:: “Starfleet was founded upon seeking out life. To boldly go---” GAH!
Ikaia ducked as one of his boots was flung back at him.
Teller: No no, it’s gotta be a little more British than that for some reason! Like this…::Geoff took a deep breath and tried to draw upon the gravitas, poise and baldness of one of Starfleet’s most legendary officers.. ”“We’ve made too many compromises already. Too many retreats. They invade our space and we fall back...this far...no farther....”
The creature continued to thrash about but the vines slowed slightly, but his [...]-french accent would not have won him any awards.
Ikaia tried to concentrate. What did a French-British accent sound like again?
Wong: Okay okay. Let me try this - “While most of us recoil in fear, we must remember that this plant, the Eatoanium, is still worthy of our care. It has demonstrated at least on some level sentience. Are we not there to seek out new life?”
He could see his plant starting to calm down a little more. It was still gripping on to that other boot.
Teller: It’s working! ::Geoff cleared his throat and tried again for something approaching stately gentility::...”With the first link, the chain is forged….The first speech censured, the first thought forbidden….” Teller doubted he’d win Starbase 80’s famed talent contest but the creature was loosening its grip, and Geoff was able to haul Mr. Wong backwards towards relative safety, but not before another projectile headed their way.
It flung the last boot. It rebounded off of Ikaia’s head. He yelped as it smacked him. He was getting really tired of being hit with things.
Wong: Ow! GEEZ! Ugh….“That is one of the tenants that Starfleet was founded upon. We are Starfleet. It is our duty to ensure that this plant is well cared for as long as it is under our protection. It is not to be ejected into space like refuse.”
Geoff put aside his personal feelings in this moment of deep crisis and called upon the powers of Earl Grey himself.
Teller: “The first duty of every starfleet officer is to the truth! Whether it's scientific truth, or...uh”…::Geoff’s memory was failing him so he improvised.::....to space truth...or...ground..truth...
The plant was starting to come down off the shelving. Ikaia crouched down low and started making his way closer.
Wong: Ah… it’s working….. It’s calming down…. Ah “Part of seeking out new life is also the care and protection of that new life. That’s what we must do. This is not a compromise.”
Geoff tried to lower his voice towards a register he hoped was soothing as he slowly lifted an unbroken containment canister.
Teller: “So I lied...cheated….bribed men to cover the crimes of other men….”...wait, dammit, that’s not a Picard speech. ::Geoff took another small step towards the creature and nodded to Mr. Wong.:: “There’s coffee in that neb…” dammit that’s not right either.
Ikaia calmly approached his plant. The vines were already starting to curl back up into its pot. He carefully picked it up in his hands.
Wong: ::Whispering:: Are you ready to seal it up? We’ve got it back into dormancy.
With the vines as docile as he’d seen them, Geoff crossed the final meter and scooped the vines into the canister and sealed it in one quick motion. It wasn’t until after he’d gotten it fully back on the lab table and behind a level five containment field that both men exhaled and slumped to the floor, Geoff’s back against one of the tumbled equipment racks. After a few deep breaths, Geoff laughed out loud at the absurdity of the last few minutes until his eyes were watering. When he could catch his breath again, he wiped the tears from the corners of his eyes and tapped his com badge.
Ikaia was more than thrilled to see his plant safely tucked behind glass. He rested his back against a counter as he seemingly sprawled across the floor. Ikaia snorted. The ludicrousness of it all! But at least everyone including the plant was safe.
Wong: ::Sighs:: That’s a relief….. Maybe now we can lift the lockdown?
Teller: =/\= Computer, lift isolation lockdown on containment lab 4, Authorization Teller Sigma Kilo Alpha Nebula Tango Sigma. =/\=
Computer: =/\= Unable to comply, internal sensors detect a possible contagion which matches established viral profiles. =/\=
Geoff gulped, his good humor forgotten. He looked around nearby and found several tricorders scattered in the debris on the floor. He flipped one to Wong and began scanning the area the vines had been writhing around.
Ikaia blinked at what the computer had said. Sure, he often worked around the sick. But that wasn’t without decontamination afterwards. He took the tricorder in his hands and began looking.
Teller: Were you storing anything else in here? Biomatter? Research samples? Especially pungent cheese?
Wong: There shouldn’t be. I always decontam whenever I deal with the sick. There shouldn’t be anything here.
Teller: Tricorder’s picking up nothing over here...air reads fine....no particulate matter...no radiation...certainly nothing that looks like a virus….you got anything?
Ikaia was about to get up when his hands brushed against his thigh. It stung when he touched it. Bringing his hand up to his face, he could see a pink liquid coating his fingers.
Blood. His blood.
He glanced down at his thigh and sure enough, he could see where it had been sliced. Possibly from the glass when the Eatoanium escaped.
Wong: I think some of the glass got me. My thigh’s been slashed by something. I’m going to need a dermal regenerator here to fix it.
Geoff swung around in alarm at the shrieking tricorder.
Teller: Stay still, try not to move. It could be on your uniform...we could still decontaminate it…
Ikaia froze. He looked at Teller.
Wong: Wait. On me?
Geoff narrowed the scan field on his tricorder and took a few steps back towards Mr. Wong, following the increasingly rapid beeps from the scanner. When he was within a meter, he slowly panned the device down, starting with Mr. Wongs head.
Teller: I’m no medical officer, Mr. Wong, but I’m picking up something tricorder thinks is a retrovirus….
Ikaia’s eyes went wide. It was as if Teller had said something that had triggered a memory for him….
((Flashback - Russell River Mines - Approximately Six Months Earlier…..))
S’Ten: What do you know of Drell?
That question came as a surprise to him. His hand slowly reached up to touch his hair. Since he started experiencing new cultures and other planets on his travels with Starfleet, that name has come up over and over again. Mostly in response to his blond hair. Some days, he was half tempted to dye it just to keep a lower profile if he knew he was dealing with other Klingons.
Wong: House of Drell. I’ve heard of it. Mostly through it being shouted at me with plenty of finger pointing. But I really don’t know much about it. Except for that blond hair seems to be a house trait. Although, I’m not sure if I’m connected to that house or not. I absolutely know nothing. What do you know about this?
S’Ten: I see. I can only tell you what I know from my briefings on Romulus. It was important to understand the workings of Great Houses, while they are an Empire there are always disputes between their houses, which is something that can be exploited during a conflict. Membership of a Great house has traditionally been by virtue of birth, or marriage. But the House of Drell was different. You are aware of the Klingon augment virus?
Wong: Bits and pieces about it from what’s been mentioned in Starfleet databases. Victims impacted by it lost their head crests.
S’Ten: The first Klingon that was born with blond hair was a result of this virus. Over time, Klingons with your hair color were born throughout the population, but only a handful. Word of them spread, and they became shunned like other augments. As a joke, Klingons said that blond Klingons were of “jul”¸ the Klingon word for “sun”. Klingons also found it amusing to claim that any Klingon born of jul were of the same family. One blonde Klingon was so incensed by being teased constantly that she formed a house named “Drell”, a play on the word jul. She declared that any blond Klingon was instantly a member of Drell, should they choose to be.
Wong: Did all those impacted join this house?
S’Ten: Many blond Klingons joined, proudly. Conversely, many sought genetic modification. And some… were sent from the Empire by their parents to live elsewhere.
Ikaia frowned slightly. The gene pool expanded significantly and even if he got a hit in his search using DNA, it didn’t mean that it would be someone from this house. His investigation has just hit its first snag.
((High Containment Science Lab 4, Deck 3, USS Thor - Present day….))
Ikaia scanned himself and began cross referencing his DNA with the RNA of the Augment Virus on file. Sure enough, the virus had been embedded in his DNA. It was less than a 5% fragment of the original virus. But it was still there. He briefly reached up to touch his blond hair for a moment. Ikaia’s breath seemed to be caught inside his chest. Time almost felt like it had stopped for him. This was a major revelation. The reason for his hair colour, for who he was came down to a virus fragment.
He looked at Teller wide eyed. He had been quiet in his realization for the longest time. At that moment, he finally broke his silence.
Wong: Commander….. That virus you’re picking up isn’t on me. It’s a part of me.
Geoff’s attention turned away from the baffled tricorder and towards the bewildered looking Mr. Wong.
Teller: That’s...that’s somewhat alarming. I’m alarmed. I feel like you should be more alarmed. The lab is certainly alarmed.
Wong: I have less than a 5% fragment of the Klingon Augment Virus embedded in my DNA. It’s what’s causing the blond hair and I suspect what triggered the lockdown when I got cut by the glass. It was never my plant. It was me the entire time.
Geoff flipped the tricorder closed and scowled but focused on the immediate problem and located the compartment's medical kit, one of the few things that hadn’t been tossed around.
Teller: Pretty basic but there’s a dermal regenerator in here along with some broad spectrum antivirals...
Wong: I’m not contagious nor am I sick. It’s a virus fragment. But it’s certainly enough to trigger the lockdown of the labs. I’m sorry, Commander.
Which meant that now the labs had to be keyed into his DNA just to avoid future lockdowns pending their survival from this lockdown.
Teller: Well, it’s not really me you need to apologize to, it’s the sensors in here. Patch yourself up and try not to bleed on anything else. We’re going to need to decontaminate every surface you’ve touched or brushed against and…::Geoff shook his head, wondering how he’d explain this to the Commodore.::...lose the pants. Gonna have to vaporize those.
oOExcuse me. Who’s the medical officer around here---- wait. Is he REALLY suggesting THAT?! That’s EXTREME.Oo
Wong: You’re asking me to depants myself and BURN them?! Am I hearing this correctly?
Teller: Look, I’m not the one who [...]ed off the computer, so I get to keep my pants….
A single drop of pinkish blood, accidentally smeared across the back of Mr. Wong’s tricorder dangled and fell before either man could react. Geoff could only watch in horror as it landed with a small splat on the right leg of his uniform pants.
Ikaia gave something of a coy head tilt.
Wong: Hmm yes. I seem to recall something to the effect of vaporizing one’s pants if they’re contaminated with my blood?
Ikaia started to remove his pants. This was quite embarrassing. Almost as much as the tattoo on his backside.
Teller: Welp...yep, ok, now we’re going to be two totally normal officers not wearing pants, cleaning a lab. ::Geoff sighed and began sifting through equipment on one of the nearby racks.:: Find yourself a subsonic sterilizer and get to work once that leg is patched up.
Wong: Don’t worry, Commander. I very much understand sterilization procedures and medical care. Pretty sure that’s why I’m the Amity’s CMO. ::Sighs:: This is really embarrassing. We’re really going to have to key in my DNA into things to avoid generating false positives in the future.
He finally removed his pants entirely and folded them up on the floor leaving him in his standard issue Starfleet boxers. He cleaned off his hands and grabbed the dermal regenerator to run across his wound. The whole incident had him stressed out, if he had to be honest with himself. It wasn’t just that he’d have to make the long walk to his quarters without any pants. It was what he had just learned here today. It was entirely possible with the virus fragment in his DNA that he was a member of the House of Drell. But given how Klingons handled matters like this, there was still a chance he may not be. Either way, this was a heavy result for him. It made him somewhat terrified of what the entire truth was going to be.
Wong: Sorry about the mess…..
It was the better part of an hour before the two men, fully stripped down to their starfleet standard issue skivies, emerged from a lab the computer now considered entirely free of pathogens. Both men made a dash for the nearby turbolift in an attempt to forestall questions or curious glances and they were entirely successful, except for Lt. Kowalski, who valiantly managed to restrain their laughter inside the turbolift car until Geoff stepped out, but broke before the doors could close again.
Lieutenant Ikaia Wong PA-C
Chief Medical Officer
Commander Geoffrey Teller
USS Thor - NCC 82607
Commodore A. Kells, Commanding