USS Vesta

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Medical Hologram Emergency

Posted on Mon Aug 28th, 2023 @ 4:44pm by Commander Martin Sorenson & Ensign Evanora Drei

Mission: Shakedown Shake-Up
Location: USS Nelson, Medbay
4657 words - 9.3 OF Standard Post Measure

Once Eva had dropped off her things in her quarters, she headed for sickbay to get the "new transfer" stuff worked out. In her experience, they were relatively fast and painless, so she stepped through the doors to sickbay with that expectation.

Sterile. Silent.

A couple seconds after the doors shut behind her, a figure appeared seemingly out of thin air. The figure was humanoid, but with a monotonous expression that was soon replaced by an eerie smile as the figure focused on the newcomer. "Welcome to sickbay. How may I assist you?"

Eva jumped, not hearing the owner of the voice come in. Whipping around, she saw the figure standing there, smiling at her. A small shiver went up her spine at how... hollow the smile was. There was something not quite right about it. "Are... you Doctor Sorenson?"

"No, I am the Emergency Medical Hologram," the figure declared. With a slight tilt of the head but with no change to the synthetic smile, it added, "what is the nature of your visit, Ensign?"

A hologram. That explained the eerie smile. "Um... I'm Ensign Evanora Drei, I just transferred aboard." The unblinking eye contact, combined with the smile and the general aura of scripted affability, put the half-Betazoid on edge. The silence persisted for a long moment before she added, "I, uh, my transfer orders say I require a medical checkup to be cleared for duty-"

"-checkup to be cleared for duty," the hologram interrupted, in disturbing sync with the organic occupant of the room. "I have accessed your transfer orders and your medical record. Of course, I can assist you today. If you would take a seat, we can get started." It gestured to the nearest biobed while continuing to watch the ensign.

"Oh... okay..." A little unnerved by the maintained eye contact and the synchronized speech, Eva approached the biobed and took a seat. She watched the hologram briefly look away to pick up a medical tricorder before approaching her.

"Before we begin, are there any medical issues I should be aware of?"

Eva shook her head. "No."

Giving another uncannily artificial smile, the hologram opened the tricorder and began to scan her, fortunately not maintaining the unblinking eye contact this time. "Pulse and blood pressure are within an acceptable range, healthy hormonal levels..." There was a long pause as the artificial doctor seemed to freeze in place. "Hm... your psilosynine levels are slightly lower than expected for your... biology." Glancing up from the tricorder, it studied the woman in front of her. "How often do you practice your telepathic abilities, Ensign?"

For a moment, Eva wondered if the holo-emitters in sickbay broke by how still it was, and she flinched when the hologram suddenly spoke again. The question caught her by surprise, and it took a moment for her to respond. "I... aside from blocking out the thoughts of others, I don't."

The hologram's programming allowed the artificial smile to turn into an equally-synthetic frown. "Why not?" It asked, though it was more like a demand.

The half-Betazoid shifted uncomfortably under the combined weight of the hologram's gaze and bluntness. The attempted emotions on the hologram were unsettling, like the thing of nightmares. She didn't like sharing that part of her life to organics, let alone to holograms. "... I have bad experiences with telepathy, and I'm... hesitant to use it," she offered, hoping it would be enough.

The hologram didn't say anything, instead taking the moment to access her personnel file and look for anything that would provide a more succinct answer.

Another long pause, making her shift again as if she were in trouble. "I don't experience any side effects from-"

"Your Betazoid mother used telepathy to punish you as a child," the hologram interrupted. It stared at her, the frown still on its expression. The program's protocols decided that it was an appropriate time for a condescending inflection in the hologram's words. "The events of your bad experiences were over fifteen years ago, Ensign. The time since the incident should be enough to cure this fear of yours."

Eva gaped at the hologram, shocked at the hologram's choice of words. She felt like she was punched in the gut, and the memories of her childhood started flashing in her mind. Her words got stuck in her throat. Her pulse quickened. Were her palms sweaty? She felt frozen in place as she was reminded of the source of her fear.

Since there were no complaints or protests, the hologram continued. "I am prescribing you an hour of telepathy practice daily, until your psilosynine levels are where they should be." Another uncanny smile.

"B-but I feel fine," Eva sputtered, finally able to get words out. An hour of using her telepathy a day?? That sounded like torture. "I-I don't need to do that. My previous physicians have-"

"The advice of your previous physicians does not apply here." The hologram raised a brow, surprised that the organic was protesting so much. "Telepathy is a natural part of your biology, Ensign. To reject its existence is like pretending your hand does not exist." The hologram glanced at the scar on the back of the ensign's right hand. "Speaking of... I question the advice of your former physicians if they didn't even treat you properly." Reaching for a dermal regenerator, it lifted her hand and began to get rid of the scar.

Why was she not being listened to?? Frustrated by the interaction, she pulled her hand away from the regenerator and out of the hologram's grasp. "I chose to keep it," she protested, protecting her hand by holding it close to her chest. "Just like I chose to not use my abilities."

The response from the hologram was raised eyebrows. "Why would you make a decision that affects your well-being in this way?"

"I'm clearly still functioning, am I not??" Eva was defensive now, wanting this checkup to be over so she could leave. Her heart was racing, providing the adrenaline her body thought she needed to handle this situation. It was almost as if she were defending herself against her mother again, except a very fake and emotionless version of her. "Yeah, I had telepathy used against me. It's a valid reason to not use my abilities."

The hologram's emotionless eyes bore into hers. "To dwell on something that happened so long ago is a hindrance to your physical and mental development. It is an irrational decision to choose to be afraid of a natural process."

Irrational decision?? Eva was taken aback again by the hologram's choice of words, the impact pushing her toward the kind of frustration that led to angry crying. The flashbacks were making it difficult for her to think clearly, and she gripped her protected hand tightly as she fought the desire to curl into a ball for the sake of her autonomy.

"Now, if you are finished, I can continue the checkup and clear you for duty, Ensign."

This was absurd. Eva had never experienced this before during interactions with medical professionals. "I... no, I'm not comfortable with you anymore." Not that she was comfortable to begin with. "I want a different doctor."

Yet another eyebrow raise, though this time it was quizzical. It's programming did not see the logic behind a preference for the physician's physical appearance. "I started your checkup, Ensign, it's only logical for me to finish it."

"N-no, we're done here. Computer, deactivate medical hologram." Eva was distressed by the interaction with the hologram, her eyes tingling with the urge to cry. No, she wouldn't cry in front of this hologram, it would only prove its point. "En-Ensign Drei to Doctor Sorenson," she said, after tapping her communicator. "... can I please have your assistance with my medical checkup?"

It took a couple seconds before the hologram reappeared, in time to hear the Ensign's request. "That is entirely unnecessary, Ensign," came the derisive interjection from the hologram. It gave the half-Betazoid a synthetic smile, intended with the programmed requirement to convey assurance. "As long as the Chief Medical Officer is not in sickbay, my programming prevents me from being inadvertently deactivated. I have things under control, Doctor Sorenson."

"I don't want you doing my checkup!" Eva snipped, hopping off the biobed to distance herself from the hologram. The artificial smile freaked her out, and she didn’t want the damn thing near her anymore. "Please, Doctor, I'm uncomfortable with this thing."

Martin had been on his way to return to the station when his comm buzzed. He had no idea who Ensign Drei was, but it didn't take more than two seconds of overheard conversation for his heart to go out to her. After meeting the medical hologram, he had every intention of treating himself for anything shy of surgery (and even then it would have to be the type of surgery where he'd need to be anesthetized).

"I'm on my way," he responded, practically jogging toward medbay, thinking that at least no one had decided that holograms meant medbay didn't need to be near the transporter. Within in moments, he arrived, and with a curt nod to the EMH, simply said. "You are dismissed."

"This is unnecessary," it protested. "You have duties as XO that should not be interrupted by this ...person's... irrational phobias." It straightened, giving her a disgruntled look. "I have half a mind to put in a recommendation for psychological evaluation."

Sorenson's eyes narrowed. Zero personality matrix might actually have been an improvement on this one. But he'd been on the receiving end of patients objecting to care, so snapping something about having a half a mind to reassign this holo to the maintenance crew, would probably be hypocritical. And a burst of temper wasn't likely to make the poor ensign feel any better about her options. "I was about to go off duty, so there's no interruption," Martin assured and offered the ensign a slight smile. "Honestly, getting to be a doctor for a bit will be a nice end to the day."

The EMH opened its mouth, and Martin lifted his brows at it. Whatever its other deficiencies, it was able to pick up on a 'Do Not Make Me Deactivate You' expression. "Very well." And with that it vanished.

"Good." Martin gave a firm nod and turned to the Ensign. "Sorry about that. Did I understand correctly that you're here for a medical check in?"

It took a moment for it to click in Eva's mind that the hologram was gone, and with it, the ability to contain her frustration. "Y-yes, I... I... sorry, a-a m-moment..." she barely managed to squeak out. She leaned into the nearby biobed with her hands and hung her head as she focused on calming herself down, taking shuddered breaths.

The brutal reminder of her neglected abilities, and the hologram's insistence that the sensitive topic was nothing more than a silly phobia, felt like a slap to the face. Eva had never had a medical officer, hologram or not, berate her like this hologram just did. It was the second time in three months that someone decided they knew her needs better than she did, but even Landon's mockery when she was on the Endeavor was tolerable compared to what just happened. Eva squeezed her eyes shut as she fought to gain some semblance of composure, enough to finish what she came here for.

"Take whatever time you need," Martin said gently, while making a mental note to check the video logs for medbay. If that photonic excuse for a physician had really crossed a line, he'd make sure its behavioral subroutines were corrected, even if it meant replacing them entirely. However, right now his main concern was for the patient. He had every intention of waiting for her to regain her composure before taking baseline readings, but he didn't need to open a scan to recognize distress. "Let me know if there's anything I can do to help."

A sniffle and a subtle nod was Eva's only immediate reply to the doctor. After about a minute, the tension in her shoulders began to dissipate as she felt more prepared to continue the conversation. Using a hand to wipe away the tears that attempted to sneak down her cheeks, she eventually looked up at her savior. Seeing his three pips, she took in one more calming breath in an attempt to be at least vaguely presentable and not a mess in the presence of authority. "I-I'm Ensign Evanora Drei. I just transferred here, and I-I was told I'm supposed to have a medical checkup done." She glanced at the spot where the hologram disappeared, half expecting it to return.

"Pleased to meet you, Ensign. I'm Dr. Sorenson," he replied with a friendly smile. "I'd say 'welcome aboard' but..." he cast a brief frown at the spot where the hologram had been. "Well, if I'd known you were arriving, I'd have arranged for you to have the check up on the station. If it's any comfort, the organic crew are some of the best in Starfleet." Hoping to move past the unpleasantness, he started setting up the medical scan. "Anyway, before we begin, are there any medical issues I should be aware of?"

"That's... assuring," Eva responded, thankful for the friendly change in atmosphere. As he set up medical equipment, she took a seat on the biobed again, hopefully to curb any anxious fidgeting from the previous encounter. "No medical issues."

"All right then..." he brought up her scan, and medical record, cross referencing indicators. "Your heart rate and BP are a bit elevated, but it usually takes those a bit longer to return to normal when you're stressed. Often enough, they're high for people just on entering medbay," he half-joked, trying to assuage any awkwardness she might feel over it. "I see you're half Betazoid. If it would put you more at ease, I don't mind being read."

A small part of Eva was glad that he wasn’t aware of her transfer, even though the hologram was unpleasant. While her time on the station had been short, she wasn't used to being around that many extra people at once, and it took extra concentration to keep her head quiet. Which she hated. It reminded her that she couldn't just walk around, effortlessly unaware of the thoughts of others. The mere thought of that many people made her palms sweaty.

I don't mind being read.

The comment echoed in her own mind, and Eva tensed as she tried to keep herself from getting emotional again. "I-it's not... the m-medical..." She'd have to tell him, like she had to tell the hologram. The beeping noise that didn't quite replace the underlying discomfort in the room quickened, betraying her attempt to outwardly express that she was fine. "I... I d-don't... read," she confessed hesitantly, for the second time since she'd been in sickbay. Did the temperature in sickbay rise? Warmth brushed her cheeks, and Eva looked down at her hands, embarrassed by the possible idea that her fear was silly.

The doctor's eyes had snapped up as her readings shifted. If anything, he was almost relieved if she didn't read, since it meant she wouldn't have sensed his alarm at how quickly they elevated. Wow. Definitely a sore spot. I wonder who hurt her over that? He had better sense than to say it. "Hey, it's okay" he assured, placing a hand on her shoulder. "It's not uncommon in hybrids, and some full-blooded Betazoids can't either. I know there can be ...prejudice... about that, but no one here is like that." He paused a moment, considering what might have set off her reaction to the hologram. "At least no one who's not a poorly configured collection of photons. I'm sorry if I unwittingly added to that."

The gentle contact to her shoulder brought Eva's eyes back toward the doctor's. His expression convinced her that he was being truthful, which was significantly better than the questionable bedside manner of the hologram. She gave a brief nod before taking a deep breath. "It's... it's alright. It's n-not that I... physically can't," she began, feeling the need to justify herself, especially after dealing with the hologram. Momentarily closing her eyes, she focused on her breathing as she tried to release the anxious fear that was squeezing her lungs. "I-I'm capable, I just... don't want to. I-I have bad experiences with telepathy."

'Bad' was clearly an understatement. Martin found himself once again wishing he'd known about her arrival so that he could have reviewed her medical history in advance. But he certainly wasn't going to bring it up and read through it in front of her. He'd seen enough trauma among refugees from wars, occupation, natural disasters, and police states (or in the aftermath of Hobus various combinations thereof) to have a sense of degree and origins based how she presented. She said experiences - something on-going rather than single incident, likely childhood in ... It was hard not fall into diagnostic mode, but he reminded himself that it mattered right now only with respect to avoiding exacerbating an already bad situation.

"Okay. Let me preface this by saying you've clearly passed your prior psych evals, so as far as I'm concerned, 'I prefer not to discuss it' is a perfectly acceptable answer," he assured softly. "But could you tell me why?"

The deja vu from the hologram asking her basically the same question made Eva hesitant to answer. Her hands were in tight, sweaty fists that pressed into her thighs as she kept her eyes shut. Her experiences were very present in her mind, hitting her senses almost nonstop. Her mother's disappointment. Overlapping voices. Landon's pompous smirk. The strong sensation of Landon's malice. Thoughts. Overwhelming thoughts.

Trying to remember to breathe, Eva gave a short shake of her head. "I... I p-prefer... n-..." A short gasp as her body forced her to breathe. "C-can we... finish th-this... p-please..."

"Perfectly acceptable answer." He made note in his chart, but otherwise the issue was closed. At least to the extent it could be, given that her stress indicators were threatening to try for off the chart. "I'd like to finish this, but logging these readings..." he tipped his head toward the overbed display he always left on so patients could things see for themselves, "...that could be problematic." He set the padd down and deleted the scan readings. "How would feel about taking a walk? I've found motion and distraction help me recenter. But if something else works better for you, I'm free for the next hour or so."

Focus on him. Eva's shoulders moved with her effort to take deep breaths and pull herself together. "As... as long as i-it's not t-too noisy..." Her eyes were slightly unfocused when she opened them again, a product of her attempting to keep a panic attack at bay, but she focused on him enough to give him a nod. "A-a walk sounds nice..."

"Good. Walk with me, Ensign," Martin said, taking a professional tone and doing his best to seem not to be watching since scrutiny struck him as counterproductive to helping her get herself together. Heading out the medbay doors, he turned along the corridor. "One of the few good things about a primarily holographic crew is that the ship is quiet. Fortunately, however, someone realized there would be organic crew members and it would best if they didn't go stir crazy, so there's a small arboretum and some nice observation lounges." There were holodecks too of course, but he was beginning to wonder whether those would feel like a break to anyone living with a mostly holographic crew. It was something to bring up with Dr. Lewe sometime; for now he stopped at a junction. "The lounge this way has a nice view of the station. The other way will give an overlook to open space. Do you have a preference?"

Eva followed, focusing on each step she took in an attempt to distract from her racing mind. Despite the encounter with the medical hologram, she was relieved that the organic crew compliment was smaller. It was less noise, which meant less effort to block them out. Eva looked both ways when he stopped and provided the options. A lump formed in her throat at her recollection of how taxing her recent experience on the station was. "The other way," she said, perhaps a little too quickly. In an attempt to provide a little more substance to her response, she added, "... would, uh, be preferred, sir. The... the station, while nice... it's loud." At least the distance between the ship and the station, even if it wasn't much, reduced the volume of the nonstop activity to a mere hum in the back of her mind.

Ah, the issue is at least partly with shielding or filtering. That was something to check on, but later. For now, while he had no telepathic ability himself, Martin could sympathize with the finding the station loud. "Even being psi-null, there are areas that hit me as sensory overload there," he agreed sympathetically, and offered a half smile. "But I've never been one for crowds. Too many people pressed together and some part of me is just waiting for something to go wrong that'll require a doctor."

While not telepathic, it seemed the doctor could actually sympathize with Eva. She gave a nod of agreement, and perhaps some of her own sympathy. She hadn't considered that as a doctor, his services could be required at any moment. It was something that she fortunately did not experience as an engineer. "Sooo many people..." Now that she was less focused on her anxious spiral, Eva could convey more than a panicked stumbling of words. She was still tense, but the walk was helping. As long as she could think less about her abilities, the sooner she could actually have a conversation with the doctor. "The... hologram... said you were the XO. How, uh, how long have you been in command?"

"Two days," he replied in a tone that carried a sense that that was two days too long. "I was 2XO on Vesta, which was fine, but XO on this ship has been ...challenging, to put it mildly. Fortunately, it's a temporary position, just for the shakedown cruise. I have every intention of going back to being just the CMO once it's over."

It was fleeting, but Eva's heart skipped a beat over the idea of possibly being on the wrong ship, but then remembered that this ship was only a temporary thing. The reminder that not everyone had ambitions for the big chair, however, did seem to help distract her. Command was all about making decisions and doing paperwork... right? Was that not what he already had to do, as a doctor? "Is it just not your calling?"

"Most people only have one calling. And mine is medicine." It was as much a statement of who he was as an explanation of his discontent at venturing a step too far (at least in his own estimation) into command. "I can handle the XO position, but it isn't something I'd want to move to permanently. How about you? Do you want to eventually move from engineering to command, or is it too early to think long term career?"

Eva nodded, understanding where he was coming from. "That's the goal," she answered, a hint of excitement over the idea in her eyes. "It may not happen for a while, but an Ensign can dream, right?"

"Certainly," Martin agreed with a smile. "And if that's your goal, you have gotten a good assignment in terms of examples. Captain Darrow started as an engineer, as did Admiral Minawara. In fact, both like taking the opportunity to work in engineering again when they need arises. Fair waring though: our CEO is more like me in that I doubt you could move him out of engineering for a Command post without explosive charges. ...which perhaps him wiser than me, or at least more experienced." The doctor chuckled to himself at the observation - Jack might be developmentally a pre-adolescent, and frequently a wild child, but he did have a century more experience to have worked out what did and did not interest him.

Oh yeah. She still had to meet her boss. Knowing that not only her boss was passionate about engineering, but also his boss, and his boss' boss, helped dissipate whatever anxiety Eva had been feeling earlier and left her with a sense of... was it contentment? It gave her the feeling that she had to prove herself, which is exactly what she could do. "I hope I can get a chance to work with the Captain and Admiral. It would be such a great learning opportunity."

"I'm sure you'll get a chance to work with at least the Captain," Martin assured. Honestly, he imagined it would probably take very little to arrange working with the Admiral, since Yoshi would probably jump at any excuse to get out from behind a desk and into an engineering, even if only to give a tour or explain some detail of QSD to a new engineer. But it was probably also best not to share that opinion with every young engineer. "And the Admiral will likely pop in at some point when he has the time." He smiled to see how much more relaxed she seemed. "But I shouldn't keep you from reporting to the CEO for too long. If you're feeling better, I can run a scan here and log the results when I go back to medbay."

"I look forward to it!" The walk helped. Eva felt like she had more control over what she was receiving. Ironically, she was relieved to be in the presence of an organic being and not a hologram, even though holograms didn't think or spread their emotions like a sneeze. Looking to the Commander, she gave him a nod and a calmer smile. "Fine by me, sir. Thanks again for your help."

"No problem. Honestly, it's been nice getting to doctor a bit," Martin assured with a smile, as he pulled out his medscanner. "And it's looks like it worked - your BP and heart rate are much better. These I can log in good conscience," he pronounced, snapping the scanner closed. "So, you're free to go." Her telepathic issues were clearly a trigger, and she was probably already aware of the somewhat limited medical options for people on the high end of telepathic receptivity who struggled with shielding, so it seemed better to avoid the elephant in room. For now. He'd review her records in more detail later. Still, he didn't want to simply dismiss her, especially if being outside medbay might make it easier for her to talk. "Unless there's anything else?"

The engineer gave a confident shake of her head. "Nothing I can think of." Eva glanced back the way they came, not hiding the slight scowl that crossed her features. "If you need help reprogramming that... hologram," she turned her attention back to Martin and replaced her scowl with a more sympathetic one. At least she didn't have to deal with the damn thing on a daily basis. "... let my boss know, sir. I'm happy to help."

"Noted." Martin nodded. "I'm adding it to my list for the next meeting with Ops, but I'll certainly keep that in mind. If you need anything from me, whether medical or command, I'm also happy to help," he said, can gave encouraging smile as he signaled dismissal. "Give my best to J-, er, Commander Mantell."

 

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