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Is the Doctor In?

Posted on Sat Dec 17th, 2016 @ 4:33pm by Lieutenant Commander Cara O'Reilly MD & Commander Akiva ben-Avram

Mission: S1E2 - Unity
Location: Sickbay
Timeline: Mission Day 11

It had been a long week, and Akiva was feeling the strain. There was a lot more to being an XO than sitting in the little chair next to the big, comfy captain's chair, which went against every assumption he had ever held. Command truly did warrant its own department. Part of his executive duties was to formally meet with each member of the senior staff. Some of the new arrivals weren't settled in or even officially transferred yet, but he had neglected meeting the new doctor for too long.

His new office was not to his liking. Well, it was an office, and those were never to his liking. All but certain that Dr. O'Reilly could be found in Sickbay, Akiva made his way there unannounced. As he stepped through the door, his subconscious revulsion for medical facilities came to the surface. The medical staff continued about their duties at the measured, steady pace of seasoned professionals, not having noticed him yet. He swallowed his anxiety with a resolute gulp and began his search for the doctor starting with her office.

Cara was at her desk going over some patient charts when she saw a flash of red out of the corner of her eye. She looked out the transparent wall of her office and saw the XO walking across the Main Suite. He did stop to flag down any of the passing staff so it was obvious that he wasn't there for medical attention. She quickly assessed his body language and facial expression and determined he didn't have the look of a superior officer getting ready to "dress down" a subordinate so she smiled and, when he got to the open door, waved him in. "Welcome, Commander. Help yourself to some fresh coffee or tea," she said, gesturing to the carafes on the credenza. "What can I do for you?"

"Actually, I had better pass on the coffee for now," Akiva replied, trying to compress the jitters out of his hands against his thighs. "I was just making my rounds when I saw Sickbay seemed slow enough for me to sneak in for an informal status update." He chuckled nervously and smacked his PADD against his hand in a light staccato. "Truth be told, I am no good when it comes to Medical. If you say all is well, I will take you at your word."

Cara, being the observant doctor that she was, noticed the XO's anxiousness. She stood up and walked around her desk. Gesturing to the small sofa she said, "all is well, Commander, but, please...have a seat. Relax. I promise I won't perform any painful exams on you. How about some Vulcan tea? It is quite good and surprisingly relaxing to Humans."

"I..." Akiva bit the inside of his cheek. "I've never had it before." He thought for a moment. "Sure, why not?" As he took a seat, he decided to be frank. "The last time I was in here, the nurse had discovered an alien spore lodged inside my lungs. The only treatment, according to her, was drowning." A scoff of disbelief escaped his lips. "A controlled medical drowning, but drowning nonetheless."

Cara was shocked. "A nurse?" she said. "That would never happen in my Sickbay." Her face reddened, her jaw set and her green eyes almost flamed. "I don't believe in such barbarian practices and do not allow them to be used in any department. I would shove that nurse in an airlock for trying something like that. Do you remember that barbarian's name?"

"Well, now, it wasn't all bad," Akiva said, trying to reel it in. "Honestly, it was terrible, but Nurse Takahashi was... well, she was a friend," he said meekly. In fact, she was the first friend he had made on the Vindex, and even the first person outside immediate family and friends with whom he had shared a Shabbat ritual. "She's transferred now, though." He scratched his palms. "I do admit that while her absence is felt, I do not miss her bedside manner."

Cara was a bit surprised by the man's change in demeanor. "She may have been a friend but she had no business treating you for anything more than a scraped knee or minor laceration," Cara said as she carried a cup of tea over to Akiva and placed it on the coffee table. "What she did overstepped. She endangered you as a patient." She shook her head as she sat in the sofa's matching chair. "She's lucky I wasn't running this place when she did that. I would have her license taken away permanently. I'm glad you're alright, though. No wonder you hate Medical."

"I wouldn't say that," Akiva said with a shy grin. "I just... all right, I don't like it here," he said as he spared a glance at the walls, to make sure they weren't caving in on him. "Am I that obvious?"

Cara smiled, warmly. "Only to a trained eye," she said. "But I promise. Your secret's safe with me. As are you. I can promise that nothing that horrendous will ever happen to you again. There are many other options to treating spores in the lungs than waterboarding the patient. That is something out of the dark ages. Now. Why don't we talk about something a little less horrifying. How's your tea?" she asked in an attempt to lighten the mood.

"The tea is good." Akiva sipped more. He looked at Cara's kind face and warm smile with growing admiration. It looked like he would still have a friend in Sickbay after all. "You know, I've never considered myself one for medicine, but I suppose the physical body is not unlike a living machine." He drank again to suppress his anxiety. "Your trained eye may have noticed I am not the best with people. Pretending they're machines somehow helps me relate to them."

Cara's smile broadened. "I know a few shrinks that would love to get their hands on that" she teased. "But I say whatever works."

"I am building a synthetic person, you know." Akiva blurted the words out before he could pull them back. "I could use some advice in fine-tuning the body."

"Synthetic?" Cara said, her expression changing to one of surprise. "You mean an AI?"

"Sort of." Akiva looked down, his insecurity mounting again. "Hebron Colony runs off of robotics, but our designs were based off of the rudimentary technology of the early 21st century. Efficient for their task, but seldom if ever humanoid." His smile was pained. "Even thinking machines were discouraged for... religious reasons. You won't find many Hebrons in Starfleet for that reason." His next words were halted by a forced chuckle. "When the Federation found us and reunited us with Earth, we resisted certain technologies. It took even me a couple of years to get used to the ship computer's audible voice."

He looked back at Cara, his eagerness renewed. "Once I adapted, though, I dove into computer studies. So many holes in our theories were filled in once I overcame my parochial inhibitions. I was a natural with machinery, so it just clicked for me. It's my hope that, in some way, my project can show the Federation that my home has more to offer than just a cultural contribution as an otherwise generalized liberal arts commodity." His eyes turned pleading. "We were innovative once. We pioneered human colonization before there was Starfleet. We can do so again, if only we can remember who we really are and what we can do outside of our history books."

"It makes sense," Cara said sitting back in her chair and resting her chin on her hand, elbow on the arm of the chair. "How can I help?" she asked, curious as to where Akiva was going with this.

"I'm struggling between the strict anatomically correct precision of the Soong model of androids and free-styling something more efficient in design and function." His words began flowing like a river, one rushing after another. "The most famous model, Commander Data of the USS Enterprise, simulated sleeping, eating, even hair growth. I don't think all of that's particularly necessary, yet the subroutines in the positronic matrix are based primarily upon a human's preexisting neural scan. Are seemingly mundane human functions necessary for an artificial sentience? How close dare I get to a full and true imitation of the human form? Can I manage that even if I wanted? Dr. Soong's model is notoriously difficult to duplicate. I've had to pull strings among the crew to help me get this far."

"I see," Cara said simply as she listened intently.

Akiva sighed, took a breath, and collected his thoughts. "I suppose what I'm asking, Doctor, is if you could help me optimize an anatomical framework in which my nascent AI can live?" He chuckled nervously at the monumental absurdity of his request. "I've come this far. I just don't know what constant modification and troubleshooting would do to her post-activation development."

Cara rubbed her chin as she did when she was thinking. "Our limited resources are going to cause a problem," she said after a few minutes. "If we were on a science ship...or station....we would have access to more sophisticated medical replicators that can actually replicate usable tissue. Like how they are treating severe burns, bone deformities, building muscles where none existed, tendons....even down to the cellular level. But we don't have that kind of resources on Windex....or in this quadrant."

"Materials aren't a problem. Captain Ainscow said we have access to whatever can be spared." He thumbed his chin as a thought occurred to him. "Actually," he said slowly, "I was just reading about something along those lines. I had it in mind for synthesizing ship materials, but it could potentially work for Project Golem!" He realized that name didn't mean anything to Cara. "Um. My android." His eyes lit up with excitement. "Doctor, could you work up a mapping for a skeleton of a pre-adolescent humanoid child? If my idea actually works, then I may be calling on you shortly." He realized how presumptuous he was being. "That is, if you are willing and able."

"I can do that," Cara nodded. "All I need is age, gender and nationality." She was pleased to see Akiva's anxiety disappear and be replaced by excitement. She didn't know much about creating an had never been much of an interest of hers. But everyone that lived and worked out in space as they did needed a creative outlet....a hobby...and, as long as it didn't violate any regulations and the Captain had signed off on it, Cara didn't see any harm in Akiva's endeavor to create an android. And if she could, in some small way, help, more the better.

"I'm afraid I don't know much about children," Akiva said as he jumped to his feet, barely containing his excitement. "Just make her a combination of myself and the captain, I suppose. She did volunteer her neural brain mapping for the project." He rushed for the door, his mind already miles ahead of him. "Thank you again, Doctor! I'll be in touch."

Cara sat forward and opened her mouth to say something but Akiva was already gone. She stood up and watched him through the acrylic wall of her office as he hurried across the Main Suite and disappeared through the doors. She shook her head and chuckled softly to herself. "Looks like you have a homework assignment, O'Reilly," she said, softly, and decided it was time for rounds. Donning her labcoat she said, "lights out," and left her office.


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