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pNPC Mark Two - What Friends are For


Jalana

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((Sickbay - Back offices - USS Constitution-B))

::His eyes snapped open, and his body pitched backwards gasping for a breath of air that he didn't need. In the moments it took for his program to realign itself from maintenance mode into full power mode, Mark felt his entire holographic body shake. His visual imputs hadn't fully rebooted and all he could see was phaser fire, all he could hear was the horrific, murderous scream of Vrin Dakrevi as she died.

His hands clenched, and his body tensed as his program tried desperately to reassert logic and clarity to his matrix. Too bad no one ever told Mark Two that logic and sentience rarely went together.

When all was said and done, his legs had given out from underneath him; not from malaise, but from memory. A reaction that was engrained from the human thoughts imprinted on his psyche and manifested through sheer power of thought. His form flickered slightly as his mind tried to sort out where he was and what was happening.

This was sickbay. It was dark. He was alone.

Limbs quavering, Mark slowly regained his feet and pulled himself to a standing position. What now? Holograms weren't supposed to be afraid, and they most certainly didn't have nightmares. Technically he didn't even sleep; but his downtime data processing and automatic maintenance cycles had a curiously similar effect; a chance for his subconscious mind to wander. While the computer part of his being was occupied with standardized base processes, the human imprint on this program, that what gave him sentience was allowed to wander freely.

And lately it always seemed to wander into dark areas.

Frustratingly enough Mark was very ill-equipped to deal with such terrors. He was born into a strange world where his predecessor had been a murdering monster of a program; and where the chief engineer of the ship he was activated on had been on a mission to deactivate and delete him. From there it had been a strange and often terrifying ride into the unknown.

Worse he had the life experience time-wise that amounted to little more than an infant; but the mental processes of a fully grown adult. A standard EMH had little problem with this dichotomy. Without frustrating emotions and human memories the time from activation to current was merely considered 'run time.' But for Mark it was a constantly frustrating mix of impulses that he could barely keep up with.

He found himself pacing in the darkened back offices until a shred of light pierced his vision.

Valis: Mark? Is that you? Are you back there?

::he waffled on his response for a few seconds before sputtering out::

Mark Two: Uhm, yes? I was going through my maintenance cycles...

Valis:: with a chuckle:: you mean you were sleeping?

::Mark cracked a smile. Of anybody, Valis was one of the people who most frequently referred to everything he did in 'living people' terms::

Mark Two: Yeah, sleeping. ::he ventured towards the light.::

::The big blue Bolian orderly took a step backwards::

Valis: Whoah, Mark, you look like you seen a ghost!

Mark Two: ::he blinked. Could his holographic body really register such physical changes? Then again he wasn't particularly surprised, his holographic form registered some pretty strange things when stress was concerned.:: I, uh... maybe?

::Valis canted his head at the hologram, his hairless brows furrowing in confusion at the weak tone::

Valis: Maybe? ::beat:: Mark, are you alright?

Mark: ::Clearly lying:: Yep, fine! Good! In one piece, see? Never better! ::He headed past Valis and towards the door.::

::The big blue orderly sighed and caught the holo-doc by the arm::

Valis: Mark, get back here. ::He fixed an even gaze at the wide blue holographic eyes:: You're a terrible liar. Tell me what's really going on.

::Mark's lower lip trembled as an all-too-human blush rose up from his neck to his cheeks::

Mark Two: I..I..I... ::meekly:: nothing!

::The usually cheerful Bolian had just about had enough, as he dragged Mark towards the light as if to emphasize his displeasure with the one-two punch of 'see my face, this is an angry face' coupled with the reminder that Valis was six inches taller than Mark::

Valis: Nothing my [...], Mark. You're been strange for weeks. Stranger than normal. What is going on?

::Mark flopped backwards like a ragdoll as he was pulled. It didn't hurt - it never did.

Ok, wrong. It did when phasers were involved. Or at least the closest thing that holograms could equate to pain (and it was horrible no matter what). But this was just physical movement.

The sentient EMH wavered in his stance, his brain clicking through the possibilities. Did he admit to his trouble? He couldn't lie - that much was wholly clear. His skill at lying was terrible. That left either the admission of the truth or keeping his mouth shut.

How could he possibly admit that he was a hologram that had nightmares and hangups about a dead serial killer? Would they reprogram him? A mechanical lobotomy? Laugh at him? Disbelieve him?::

Valis: Tell me. ::He repeated in a tone that was altogether too serious.::

Mark Two: ::Mark's mouth dribbled open and words started to pour out like water down a child's slide in the middle of a monsoon:: So back when Dakrevi stabbed Sorenson I went in and I know you told me not to and you were so right, but I wanted to help and I wanted to be useful so I tried to stop her from killing people again, but she was terrible and said she lived to kill so when we came out I told the security people to shoot her and she said she would kill me and I said I was a hologram and they should still shoot, and so they did, but they shot me as well as her and the smell was awful like burning flesh and teeth and stuff and the phasers hit my core matrix and internal emitter and disrupted it and it felt awful and I can't feel pain but it was awful and I can't forget it and every time I do my maintenance cycle it all comes back and I can't forget it!

::Mark didn't need to breathe and his torrent of words made that especially clear. Valis took a step back, dropping the EMH to the ground and blinking slightly::

Valis: So... you mean... you're having nightmares?

Mark Two: ::in a tiny voice:: yes.

::Valis sighed a world-weary sigh.::

Valis: Go see a counselor.

Mark Two: They don't make holographic counselors.

Valis: ::furrowing his bald brows:: Sure they do. Go to the holodeck and call one up.

Mark Two: ::He took a step back, throwing his hands in the air:: But those are still counselors programmed to, you know, counsel humans! Living things! Not holograms!

Valis: ::Through clenched teeth:: Mark, nightmares are a living-thing reaction. Go see a counselor.

Mark Two: ::He slumped backwards with a undefined little whine:: I can't. At least not now.

Valis: Why not?

Mark Two: Because the holodecks are all offline because of the repair issues. The only reason I'm still running is because I have an isolated power source. ::It was Liani's last blessing she gave to him, the ability to control when he could be turned on and off, separate from the ship or anybody else's command::

::Valis scratched his head, thinking the situation over. In his mind things like this were very simple: have problem? Get help.::

Valis: Then go see a real counselor. You know, a living breathing one. I'm sure someone will see you.

Mark Two: Really?

Valis: Yes really. ::He pulled Mark out of the darkened room and into the lights of the main sickbay.:: They counsel crew members. Last time I checked you were a registered EMH, and therefore a crew member.

::The lanky blonde hologram wavered on his feet, shifting back and forth, unwilling to move from his firmly planted position::

Mark Two: Are you sure?

Valis: ::Turning, his voice pointed:: Are you scared?

Mark Two: ::flustered:: Well... yes.

Valis: Do you want to get better?

Mark Two: ... yes

Valis: ::no nonsense:: Then do it or I will make the appointment for you.

::Mark let his jaw drop in a very nice impersonation of a petulant child that just got caught with their hand in the cookie jar::

Mark Two: I can do it on my own...

::Valis smirked. Mark was a chaotic intelligence, but a fairly easy one to manipulate. He had all the naiveté and gullibility of a child, which made him fairly easy to navigate around.::

Valis: Ok, do it. ::He pointed at the computer panel:: Do it now.

::Mark sighed and plodded over. Valis had played him well and now he was stuck. The counselor request process was startlingly easy - possibly because most people hated seeing counselors so they deliberately removed any roadblocks to making an appointment. It was over almost before it began.::

Valis: When's the appointment? ::he was quick to ask::

Mark Two: Tomorrow at 1400... ::Looking back in a jerky manner:: Uhm, why do you need to know? ::He trailed off, feeling like he had been duped.::

Valis: Because I'm going to make sure you go.

::Mark sighed and let his shoulders slump. He didn't want to go; he really didn't - but now Valis was going to make him accountable for going.::

Mark Two: ::irritated and sarcastic:: Thanks. ::A frown::

Valis: ::Brightly:: You're welcome - that's what friends are for!

~*~
tbc
~*~

pNPC Mark Two
Emergency Medical Hologram Mark II
USS Constitution-B
Simmed by: Wyn Foster

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