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When Consciousness Isn't Life

Kali Nicholotti

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They just didn't know what it was like.

To be turned on and shut off like a faucet; forced into reality only in the most dire circumstances, yet forgotten when things were going well, the holographic doctor mused about its very existence. Sure, he did not have feelings, per se, but even in his currently set, standby mode, thoughts fluttered around his electrical synapses. Residing within the memory banks of the sickbay computers, he felt as if he were trapped into a tiny little box. It gave new meaning to claustrophobia.

There again, there were no feelings and no fears. Perhaps that was part of what made him so incredibly important to the crew, at least when he was needed. The lack of feelings and emotions - which he figured made other creatures weak in times of crisis - was just what they needed when everything went down the tubes. As his consciousness drifted about within the memory module in which he was stored, the Emergency Medical Hologram, Mark 4, let his mind wander quite literally.

And this was how he would spend most of his days, trapped within the confines of bio-chips and electrical signals. Today, however, was a bit different, and just after the impulses traveling through his section of the memory module had finished their most recent round of feeling sorry for themselves, the sucking feeling of being pulled into the very reality he both loved and hated appeared. Suddenly, the particles of light came together to form a humanoid figure and his programming kicked in.

"Please state the nature of the medical emergency."

He rolled his eyes at himself as he often did when the pre-programmed phrase came from vocal chords that weren't really his own. Looking around, he saw none of the mayhem he might have expected of an emergency, but noticed another doctor in a Starfleet uniform standing a short distance away. Turning towards him, she handed over a flat of vials.

"Take those into the lab. They'll need tested," she said just before turning and walking to the other side of the room. Sighing to himself, the EMH turned and complied. And it wasn't because he had chosen to do so, it was because some things he couldn't do. Sadly, going against his programming was one of them.

Having become the personal ferry for objects between sickbay and the lab in the rear of sickbay, the EMH simply frowned to himself as he passed no one. An empty sickbay meant that his purpose today would simply be to move things back and forth. Didn't anyone realize the potential he had? Wasn't there something more in store for his pathetic life?

Then he laughed at himself. Life was such a strange word. It was a word he ascribed to himself, perhaps, based on his consciousness, but one that he did not deserve. At least that was what the Federation people said. He was simply a tool to be used in times of need. When there were lives to be saved, he would come forth and become as real as he could, at least for a short period of time. But what did that mean for the future? Nothing.

He would spend years and years trapped in the memory module, drifting along the electrical currents that denoted ones and zeros because in the end, that was what he was. And yet, there was an enigma. Without feelings, he did not care, but with his own form of consciousness, he did. Stopping along the path from the lab back out to sickbay, he tried to wrap his light-particle mind around it only to find the whole process too much for that moment.

With another sigh, he shelved the thought for later, when he was stashed away until the next emergency. Returning to sickbay, he approached the woman in the doctor's uniform. She glanced at him just before sending him away.

"That's it," she said. "Computer, deactivate EMH."

And instantly, the vision of sickbay faded and was replaced by that of something different. Without 'eyes', the EMH saw nothing. Once again a bunch of current that drifted around in the module, he resumed his musing. Only this time with something other than feeling sorry for himself to really consider; life itself.


Captain Kalianna Nicholotti

Commanding Officer

Starbase 118/USS Victory

Edited by KNicholotti
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