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Withdrawal

Posted on 09 Jul 2017 @ 8:39pm by Lieutenant Sterek & Captain Harvey Geisler

Mission: The Finnean Crisis
Location: USS Black Hawk
Timeline: MD 5 || 1530 hours

Commander Stryk was clearly in critical condition by the time Sterek arrived in sickbay. Her body was jolting violently on the biobed, with two nurses on either side struggling to pin her arms down; even in their involuntary spasms, vulcans were strong. He looked to Doctor Ch'balt as he strode over to the medical replicator.

"Patient status?"

Doctor Ch'balt, a Bolian with the rank of lieutenant, looked up at the Vulcan physician who just arrived. "The commander is suffering from withdrawal. She was exposed to Chabanlon Pollen several years ago."

So that was why she hadn't been given lorazepam, then. Chabanlon Pollen played havoc with vulcan physiology in ways that medicine still didn't entirely understand, causing a variety of unpredictable interactions with many essential drugs, even when there was no pollen left in the patient's system. "Administer a muscle inhibitor and give me an estimate of the length and frequency of seizures within the last two hours," he said. "Is the patient still conscious?"

"She's been unconscious for the last two hours," Ch'balt reported, gesturing to an aide to bring a hypospray with an inhibitor. "Her most recent seizure was ten minutes ago. This morning, they started occurring once an hour and are increasing quite exponentially.

That wasn't promising. Sterek pulled up her biobed readings and examined them. He elected not to ask how she'd been exposed. Knowing vulcans, it was likely involuntary, but either way, it wasn't his place to judge

"I will run a detailed neurological scan once the muscle inhibitor takes effect. In the meantime, I need someone to replicate me 150mg of a substance called psilocybin," he instructed.

"A psychedelic?" Ch'balt asked, his gaze thrust upward accompanied by the most open eyes his eyelids would allow. "What in the Great Bird's name are you going to use that for?"

"I am assuming there is no Chabanlon Pollen available; psilocybin works on similar mechanisms. In essence, we are going to deceive her brain chemistry into allowing us some more time to save her. It will only work in the short term, but it will increase the chances of her survival."

"There was Pollen in the Vasco da Gama's sickbay," the doctor explained. "However, it seems to have gone missing. Our best luck is to find some on the black market. And I doubt the psilocybin will buy us more than half an hour. She was exposed years ago to the pollen. The commander's biology is practically dependent on it now."

Sterek's eyes were still on the readouts. His eyebrows furrowed lightly. "Half an hour may be enough," he said. "I have a theory." Without waiting for Ch'balt's answer, he tapped his commbadge.

"Doctor Sterek to Captain Geisler."

The Captain's voice returned rather quickly over the comm. =/\= "Go ahead, Doctor." =/\=

=/\= "I require an urgent consult with a former colleague of mine; one Dr T'Reshik, currently detained at Bayeaux Criminal Rehabilitation Facility on Earth. Are you able to put in a request for communication?"=/\= he asked.

There was a pause on the other end as the Captain conferred with the ensign at Operations. "Given that the multiple facilities throughout the galaxy, aren't there other experts that are closer to our present location?"

Sterek didn't look at the other doctor; he was well aware that Ch'balt, who likely did not share his dedication to logic, might assume the worst of him, and he did not yet have time to explain. =/\="I understand this is highly unconventional, sir, but it could enable me to save Commander Stryk's life."=/\=

Silence reigned on the comm channel again. Of all the people Harvey needed to confer with, Commander Stryk was at the top of his list. He needed her health to be restored if he was to get anywhere in this mystery. "Granted, Doctor. Bridge out."

After one last glance at Stryk's stabilizing vitals, Sterek activated a screen visible to both himself and the other doctor and, finally, turned to the Bolian again. "Chabanlon pollen has been observed to alter the Vulcan hormonal cycle," he explained, as two parallel charts began to scroll across the display behind him. "The predominant theory is that it binds to a type of cortical receptor and prevents the re-uptake of certain hormones into the bloodstream, which in turn prompts the body to produce more. The resulting accumulation dramatically reduces the length of each cycle - hence the yearly reappearance of its, ah, critical phase."

Ch'balt shook his head, knowing that Stryk wasn't due to hit that phase for a couple months. As he pressed the hypospray containing the psilocybin to Stryk's nexk, he stated, "I'm aware of that, Doctor. What does that have to do with now?"

He gestured to the top half of the screen. "This data represents typical neurochemical readings from a Vulcan female in the tertiary stages of pon farr - that is to say, the stage at which the condition generally becomes fatal." Sterek then indicated the bottom half, which, though it was not identical, looked strikingly similar in a number of aspects. "This is Commander Stryk's neurochemical activity now. I am not suggesting it is the same condition - in fact there are a number of differences which make that impossible. However, the similarities are strong enough that I believe they share some key mechanisms. And no living scientist knows more about this particular aspect of Vulcan neurology than Dr T'Reshik."

"Who just so happens to be incarcerated." The typically friendly Bolian frowned. "On Earth." To be imprisoned on a core world could only serve as an indicator that the crime was quite severe. In fact, Ch'balt was surprised that the Vulcan was not imprisoned on her homeworld.

He took in a breath. "... for two counts of murder and multiple counts of medical malpractice, yes. Nevertheless, her research is sound." Unlike her attitude to scientific ethics, apparently, but Sterek never had the chance to peer review that. His thoughts were interrupted by a message from Ops.

=/\="Lieutenant Sterek, we have a Dr T'Reshik on the line for you now."=/\=

=/\="Patch her through to sickbay, please,"=/\= Sterek requested, and immediately, a wholly unremarkable-looking Vulcan woman appeared on screen, wearing what looked like a grey jumpsuit. Sterek offered her a Vulcan salute, which she didn't reciprocate.

"Our time is limited, so I will be brief," he said, one hand tapping away on the inputs beside it. "We have a case of Chabanlon Pollen withdrawal in an adult Vulcan female; I am sending you her readouts now."

At this, the woman seemed to perk up a little - well, she tilted her head slightly, which was the Vulcan equivalent. "Interesting. I have not had an opportunity to study this substance." Her eyes flicked to her left, obviously down to another screen, as the data came through. "I can see how the information is relevant to my research interests; I do not see how my expertise is relevant to you. What is the situation? Have you been unable to locate another dose?"

"So far," said Doctor Ch'balt, approaching the screen. He was clearly nervous about this conference, but if it would save Stryk's life, it might be worth it at this point. "Our only chance is the black market, but I do have an orderly double checking our sickbay to be sure."

"We have administered a muscle inhibitor for the seizures and 150mg psilocybin to attempt to slow their progress," added Sterek, which earned a raised eyebrow from the woman on the screen.

"That is unexpectedly innovative, for you." T'Reshik's attention dropped to her left again, obviously re-examining the data. "Perhaps severe psychological trauma has enhanced your creativity."

Sterek gave her a flat look. "We do not have time for this. Can you advise, or not?"

"I am thinking." T'Reshik looked to her right, tapped a few commands, tilted her head.

Doctor," reported a nurse. She had been monitoring the patient while Doctor Ch'balt had paused to reference Stryk's medical history. "It appears the seizures are somewhat relating to some clotting near the brain." It was an educated guess, considering that the biobed didn't contain a full scan of Stryk's circulatory system, but she could tell that the flow of blood had become constricted.

Sterek looked back in response to the new development. "Administer an anticoagulant," he said, then turned back to T'Reshik. "Doctor?"

T'Reshik seemed to be concentrating hard on the left-hand screen. "A feedback loop," she murmured suddenly.

"She's a Vulcan, not a machine!" stammered Doctor Ch'balt, overhearing part of the conversation. "What exactly do you think you're suggesting?"

"In the simplest terms, Doctor, I believe Chabanlon Pollen might actually take over some of the regulatory aspects of pon farr. When it stops being administered, the brain begins to flood with neuropeptides, which are supposed to aid in the regulation of certain hormonal responses. Since certain other necessary chemicals are absent, however, it results in what one might call a one-sided battle of attrition." The prisoner on the screen tapped a few more commands in.

"So cessation of the pollen appropriates some aspects of that condition, but not others, which is why withdrawal symptoms are far more severe in Vulcans," clarified Sterek.

The Doctor from the Vasco da Gama considered the Vulcan's words for the moment. It was making sense to him, but he didn't have any idea how to circumvent it. "What would you recommend, Doctor?"

"Simply put, you need to convince her endocrine system that its intervention is no longer required," said T'Reshik. "Administer 900 mcg of VGH, 250 mg of MPA and 300 mg progesterone per kilogram of weight to simulate pregnancy. It will break the feedback loop and allow you enough time to keep the patient stable while more pollen is procured."

Sterek turned his head a little. "That is... a very high dose. It could cause serious damage to her ability to produce offspring."

"It almost certainly will. But if the dosage is any lower, you risk exacerbating the condition. In human terms, it is an 'all-or-nothing' solution." The woman on the screen quirked an eyebrow. "Risking her life in an attempt to preserve her fertility is both irrational and highly insulting."

"Your logic is sound, but I cannot assume her consent." Sterek looked back at the Bolian. "Doctor. How well do you know her?"

Ch'balt sighed. "Not too well," he admitted. "I've only been aboard the Vasco da Gama for a month, and I replaced the surgeon there. It seems to me, however, that we should be concerned with the Commander's life, not her ability to produce offspring."

"He is correct," T'Reshik cut in. "Clearly you have spent too long around non-Vulcans, Sterek."

Sterek elected to ignore the barb. "Do it," he told the nurse as he input some parameters into his console. "I am sending dosage instructions to the medical replicator now."

The nurse nodded and crossed the room to the medical replicator. As soon as the instructions appeared, the nurse operated the replicator to create the medication. A tray of five vials appeared inside the unit. The nurse immediately retrieved a vial, inserted it into a hypospray and administered the dose to Commander Stryk.

"She is unlikely to regain consciousness for at least twenty-four hours, but I would have recommended inducing a coma anyway; there is likely to be widespread tissue damage, and the severe nausea and hallucinations caused by her treatments would result only in distress." Sterek moved back to glance at the readouts again.

Ch'balt looked up to check her vitals, which were slowly normalizing. "Looks like this is working," he remarked, grabbing a medical tricorder and a sensor probe to get a close cellular analysis.

"Acknowledged. We may be able to publish a case study, assuming this succeeds, Dr Sterek." T'Reshik glanced over to Stryk. "If and when she recovers, perhaps your patient might wish to contact Bayeaux. It would certainly benefit my next parole hearing."

"That'll have to be up to the Commander," Ch'balt replied. He knew the Vulcans were a proud people, Commander Stryk especially. He didn't know Stryk well, but Ch'balt thought he could safely assume she would not be happy with the approach they took to save her life. Of course, only she could confirm that when, if ever, she awoke.

"I will be in contact at a later date. Live long and prosper, T'Reshik," Sterek said, offering the ta'al again, which, as usual, the woman ignored. The transmission was terminated abruptly. The Vulcan looked round at Ch'balt.

"I am sure I do not need to reassure you that administering psychedelics and consulting with convicted murderers is not generally how we operate on this ship," he said, with a hint of apology.

"I'm sure the Captain's going to want a full explanation when this is done," Ch'balt remarked, closely monitoring the patient's vitals. "I'm curious though, out of all of the Vulcans in the galaxy, why contact one in prison?"

"She was the most logical choice, all things considered. Dr T'Reshik is an expert in her field - and her crimes involved illicit scientific experimentation on consenting subjects. It is neither in her interests nor in her nature to cause harm to a patient through negligent advice." He moved to the other side of the biobed and initiated a detailed neurological scan, keeping one eye on the results. "And the interaction between Chabanlon Pollen and Vulcan physiology is not one that has been well-studied; if a more orthodox approach were available, I would have taken it."

"It is quite rare," Ch'balt confirmed. "To my knowledge, no more than five or six have been diagnosed with an addiction to it. Of course, there's no telling how many others have been exposed to it since the pollen exists on the black market." Nodding to the unconscious Vulcan, Ch'balt asked, "What's next for the Commander here?"

"That, I imagine, will be up to Commander Stryk. In the meantime, I will inform the Captain." Sterek tapped his badge. "Lt Sterek to Captain Geisler. I am satisfied to report that the patient's condition has been stabilised."

=/\= "That's good to hear, Doctor," =/\= replied the Captain's voice over the comm. =/\= "I need to speak with the Commander immediately. I'm on my way down." =/\=

=/\="The Commander is unconscious, and will likely remain so for the next twenty-four hours at least,"=/\= Sterek informed him. =/\="She has sustained some neurological damage which will require time to repair. I would strongly advise against attempting to revive her sooner."=/\=

Silence again reigned over the intercom channel as Harvey evaluated what was told to him. As a Captain, he needed to talk to someone directly involved in the initial takeover, but as a former physician, he knew all too well the dangers of not allowing the body to heal naturally. =/\= "Very well, Lieutenant. Keep me apprised." =/\=

=/\="Yes, sir. Sterek out."=/\=

He looked back at the unconscious Stryk as he terminated the transmission. Once he'd provided what support he could for her injured body to heal itself, all they could really do was wait.

 

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