Reprisals of a Lifestyle
Characters: Dr. Mira Trassano, Dr. Kim Matsumoto
Kim walked through the front doors of MedLab One, not thrilled, but she had come. It was supposed to be nothing more than a check on her recovery, but somehow she always ended up on an examination table.
At first glance it appeared the doctor was out, but then a nurse directed Kim back toward the doctor’s office. Standing in the doorway, she almost considered asking if she should (could!) come back later. Instead she mustered herself and knocked on the doorframe.
Mira had just gotten settled and was really immersed in the flow of the music when she heard the knock on her office door. Mira sighed mournfully and sat up, she ordered the door open before ordering the music off. Finally, she opened her eyes.
“Ahh! Dr. Matsumoto! Is it that time already?”
“Unfortunately,” Kim murmured, then louder, “Yes.”
Mira smiled at the barely heard first comment. “Well, then acquire a seat and we shall chat.”
Kim was plainly a little surprised not to be led out into the lab, but she sat as ordered. Mira turned to her computer and pulled up Kim’s file. “The last time we looked, your ribs were healing quite nicely. How do they feel?”
“So long as I don’t do anything silly, fine.” Kim smiled wryly. “I try.”
Trassano chuckled. “Yes… that’s good… I’ll do a formal scan, just to make certain, later.” Kim nodded as if she had been expecting that. Mira continued, “How is the problem with your leaking dreams?” She couldn’t think of any other way to describe that situation, peculiar as her choice of words were. “I assume that it has stopped. After all, you are no longer on medications and the Captain isn’t on board.”
Kim winced, a slight flush creeping up her cheeks as she was reminded of one of the most embarrassing days of her life. “Yes… I think I’ve got it under control.”
Mira looked at her sternly as she tried to figure out the reasons for that suddenly reddened face. “If you are not certain, there are other options we can explore,” she offered.
Kim looked up and shook her head. “I can’t. They– well, my skills are needed.”
Mira nodded. “Yes, that is a consideration, but before and beyond that we have to think of your needs.”
Kim shifted uncomfortably. Mira saw the uncertainty in Kim’s eyes and guessed at the cause. “Sleepers are physically very safe when properly administered. The most common problems are overdoses and the psychological trauma of no longer having the use of a sense.”
“Yes… much as I could wish I didn’t have this,” Kim waved in the vague direction of her head. “I worry about that.”
Mira added gently, “Also, you should know, you are not the only telepath onboard.”
Kim grimaced. “I know, but–” she shook her head again. “I don’t think she’d give in to using it. She has repeatedly refused to use her abilities.”
Mira nodded supportingly and offered an old proverb from Homeworld. “Everyone will do what needs be done when the time comes.”
“Doctor, there’s enough between she and I without compounding it by backing out my duties so they fall on her shoulders. I don’t have to like it, but… it’s the way it is.”
Mira smiled gently and said, “If that’s your choice, then so be it. I would have you keep in mind, though, that you can always change it later.”
Kim smiled faintly at the doctor. “I’ve been considering it a lot, doctor.”
“Good.” Mira turned back to the computer and pulled up another chart. “I’ve been considering you.”
Kim frowned. “Considering what?”
“While you were unconscious with your injuries, I took a neural scan to check on the likelihood of you slipping into a coma. The scanner picked up the dreams leaking out and it also pointed out something I didn’t expect to see.” Kim nodded cautiously. Mira turned her terminal around to show Kim the screen. She pointed as she talked. Kim looked at the monitor, leaning on the desk. “This is the last scan I took of your brain and here and here are the parts that worry me. These are signs of damage done to your neural pathways. Since this scan was aimed at other information, I can’t tell how old or how extensive the damage is. I would like to perform a deeper scan.”
“Permanent?” Kim asked quietly.
“I can’t tell from this information if it is permanent damage,” Mira replied softly.
“I haven’t been feeling badly. Headaches when I exert myself, but…” Kim trailed off, knowing she was beginning to babble.
Mira reached across the table and touched Kim’s hand. “The fact that you didn’t notice anything wrong is a good sign. If this is a disease, then you are still in the early stages.” Seeing Kim pale at the mention of a disease, Mira spoke quickly. “Let’s take the scans and see. Right now, it could be anything including insects in the machinery.” Kim nodded tightly and stood as Mira did. Mira squeezed Kim’s hand briefly and slipped out of the office first to set up the scanner. Kim followed and waited, arms folded against herself.
Back in the office, Mira studied the developed images from the scan. Kim sat watching. It had been a tense couple of hours waiting.
“Here is one of the damaged portions.” Mira pointed. “This pattern indicates it’s old damage that has already been bypassed by the rest of the pathways. I can’t really tell what caused it. It could have been anything.”
Kim stared, frowning with thought, focusing on it as if it was someone else’s medical case. “Can you tell how old?”
“Old. Hard to tell. Your brain has already worked it’s way around the damage. That takes time to happen. If it had happened when your were very young the damage could have been much more severe and your young mind healed it to an extent. It all depends on how young you were at the time. The second damaged portion gives a little clue to age, however.”
Kim was silent for a minute or two, then asked quietly. “How?”
Mira stared at the screen. She pointed to a different spot than before. “You see these pathways that look cut. They aren’t cut. They simply weren’t there when the trauma occurred. They were developed to bypass the trauma and then stopped developing.” She muttered softly in Centauri, pulling up a different view of the scan. Then she came back to herself. “It would indicate that this trauma occurred when you were young enough to heal to a point, but then your time ran out and the mind lost that ability before it was finished.”
“Would the late teens fit those parameters?” Kim asked quietly.
“For humans, yes. It would have been around those ages. It might be that this is the first trauma and the other one was the second.”
“Human adolescence, and when growth finished….” Kim stopped speaking and nodded.
Mira looked up suddenly with sharp eyes fixed on Kim. “Why do you ask? Do you remember something?”
“Doctor, when I was a teen and then just months ago, I came face to face with Shadows.”
Mira sat back, pausing as the lights went off in her head.
“The first…” Kim continued, “hearing its scream in my mind. If my telepathy was emerging then, what would it have done?”
Mira closed her eyes. “From what I have seen and heard about Shadows, it could have destroyed it. As it is, it appears you were simply delayed.”
Kim nodded and swallowed. “And just months ago I stopped one of these ships from advancing on the Phoenix. After that mission was when my control began to fail.”
Mira frowned at that. “Which would mean that this other damage I see is actually stress damage. If you were suppressed for so long and then were forced to use your new emerging powers, then, you seriously overtaxed yourself.” Mira sighed. It made her head hurt to think of how hard it must have been to do what Kim had done.
“I didn’t have any choice. It was that or die. Messily.”
Mira looked down at her hands splayed on her desk and nodded. “I understand.”
Kim murmured on word. “Repairable?”
“Some of the damage will repair itself. I won’t be able to do anything help it along. You mind will either heal or compensate.”
“Will it affect anything other than my telepathy?” Kim tensed waiting for the answer. It was the only thing worse than death she could imagine. To loose command of her own body and mind… it was the thing of nightmares.
“It shouldn’t, if it hasn’t already. I can stop further damage from occurring with certain anti-inflammatories. Then the paths that are only stressed will calm down and won’t strangle themselves.”
Kim nodded grimly. Mira looked closely at her. “You will never be as strong as you could have been. But neither will you be crippled. Later, you might still feel twinges when you start to overextend yourself.”
A faint smile appeared on Kim’s lips at Mira’s certainty that she would do that. “We don’t listen, do we?” she commented wryly. She knew she was guilty of selective memory.
Mira smiled back as she rose and unlocked the drug storage room. “No, you listen, but sometimes you just forget, like everyone does at times.” Mira disappeared for a moment. She came back with a vial of pills.
“You shouldn’t have any trouble with these. Take two a day. One in the morning, one at night. Take them an hour before a meal. If you do start feeling odd, then stop taking them and come back to me. I’ll give you something else.” Mira handed the pills to Kim.
Kim accepted the vial. “All right. Thank you.”
Mira reiterated sternly. “You shouldn’t be able to tell you are on medication. So, if you feel odd at all, stop taking them. It’s better to be safe than hurt. When the vial is empty, come back here and I’ll do another scan.” She adds as an afterthought. “Also! No telepathy doings until I scan you again!”
“I can’t promise that doctor. This mission–” Kim said as she stood.
Mira nodded and cut her off. “I know, but don’t go looking for skraalts!”
“I’ll just be scanning space. No more than that.” She said quickly, as much to convince herself as to assure Mira.
Mira just frowned at her. She decided not to make this an issue until it came up. “Then you should go and rest now, and take a pill. You’ll need it.”
Kim nodded as she left.