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The Dreaded Doctor's Den

Posted on Tue May 24th, 2022 @ 9:55am by Lieutenant Anna S. Thesia M.D. & Lieutenant Ashlesha 4827/A

Mission: *CD*
Location: sickbay

It did not matter what precautions were taken, or how careful people were. Sometimes fate stepped in and reminded you that you could not account for every eventuality. In this case Ashlesha assumed some sort of software glitch had caused power to be momentarily re-routed through the plasma conduit. Failsafes kicked in but not quite fast enough, and all three of her screamed as energy licked along her left arm. Crewmen on decks four, five and seven all stared in shock at all of her as Grey fell back, clutching her burned limb.

"I'm all right!" All of her said, falling back on her old habit of all of her say the exact same thing at the exact same time. If all of her had been in one place it would have been quite disconcerting to those who did not know her. As a pair of crewmen helped Grey to her feet and hustled her off to sickbay her other selves converged there as she was going to need to focus on this.

Ashlesha hated Sickbay, it reminded her of home, of the cruel experiments she and the others had suffered. She was aware Starfleet doctors were not enemies but every time she stepped into their clinical world...

Violet and Green smiled gratefully at the engineering crewmen as Grey gently dislodged herself from them. Violet said, "This is much appreciated, both of you. Please let lieutenant Kla'ren know what happened and I made it to Sickbay in one piece. Also let him him know I will compile a full report."

"Sir," one of the crewmen said apologetically, trying to focus on three bodies at once, "I don't know-"

"And until we do know, no one gets blamed," Violet said, "We never assume malfeasance or incompetence," she smiled encouragingly, "I'm sure I'm in good hands."

Mollified, the two crewmen left Ashlesha alone. She took a collective breath, and with Grey leading the trio of (now nearly) identical bodies entered Sickbay...

"Doc!" the on-duty nurse called, which caused Anna to walk out of her office and greet her patient, who appeared to be accompanied by her twin sisters. Triplet sisters?

"Hmm, that does not look pleasant", Anna remarked, taking her by her good hand and leading her towards the nearest biobed. "Tell me what happened." To see how much presence of mind a patient had, they might as well tell their story while Anna ran her scans.

Orion, Ashlesha thought with some interest. That was certainly a rare sight in Starfleet. But then again Starfleet had a habit of taking in people from all over; she was living proof of that, now wasn't she? As Grey slipped onto the bed and Green's eyes drifted across Sickbay more out of morbid curiosity than anything else, Violet explained, "Plasma burn via a conduit on deck seven. I suspect it was a software glitch of some sort caused by all the damage. No one else was hurt and the conduit was shut down."

As Violet spoke both that body and Green unconsciously clutched at the left arms, almost perfectly mirroring Grey...

"Lucky, could have been much worse", Anna said, quickly pulling up her medical file to see if there were any indications on which medication she shouldn't be given. She'd become familiar with everyone aboard in due course but with the new faces, she wasn't there yet. "Let me give you something for the pain, and then we can set about restoring the skin." She smiled at the one on the bed, then looked up at the other two. "This will take a bit, you can leave her with me and she'll be in good hands."

"Hmm?" three voices said in uncannily perfect unison. Then the three smiled in precisely the same manner.

"Sorry," Violet said as she unzipped her tunic and reached inside for a small PADD, "I keep forgetting not everyone knows about me. I recently transferred and my old crew was familiar with my, ah, nature."

Violet handed over the PADD, it read:

Hello! I am Ashlesha 4827/A. Yes, that's my real name. I am one being inhabiting three bodies. No, I am not making that up. No, I am not a set of delusional triplets. If you are telepathic and experiencing a strange echo effect around me don't worry, you aren't going insane; that's simply my three brains operating on a quantum level.

Frequently asked questions:

Is this a joke?

Ha. No joke. One consciousness, three bodies.

Does having three brains make me smarter? Ha, I wish! I am able to process more information and this allows me to multitask, and I am fairly intelligent, but I am not Vulcan smart.

Is it weird if I like one of you more than the others?

It happens all the time.

What happens if your bodies are separated by vast distances?

Define "vast". I have had one or more of me beamed down to planets with the rest staying on board ship without any difficulty. But light year distances? Never happened before.

What about se-

That is not a topic of conversation, at least not until I get to know you better.

Oh, okay. How did you come into being?

That is a long story and by now you probably want to stop reading.

"Looks like Sickbay avoided any serious damage," Green noted as she scanned the room. She turned back to the doctor, "Is this going to leave any permanent scarring? I believe this is the worst burn I have ever sustained.

All three winced.

"It really does hurt..."

Anna looked up from the PADD. "The painkillers need a moment to take effect, or you could be feeling the telepathic echo." It was a tall story and Anna would probably not have believed it if she hadn't read about the case through Starfleet Medical channels. It had not included names or pictures, though. It would, after all, make for an excellent prank to welcome her back. "But no, nobody has to leave my sickbay with permanent scars. Once the painkiller is working, I'm going to cut the burnt fabric away and look at the skin beneath. Scans tell me the burns didn't go deep into your tissue, so I shall simply replace the burnt skin with new skin. You should be feeling a bit of a weird, tender effect for a day or two, but then it'll be back to normal."

All three of Ashlesha let out a sigh of relief and replied with a heartfelt, "Thank you!" Violet continued, "I...have a thing for trying to maintain a uniform appearance amongst myself."

Violet and Green stepped back to allow the doctor room to do her thing, already the pain had faded to a dull memory. Violet said, "I haven't seen you on board before and I think I would have remembered you. Did you just transfer in?"

Anna nodded. "I'm the new surgeon.. or CMO in Starfleet speak." She grabbed a pair of scissors and started cutting off Grey's sleeve. "I've worked with some of the crew before, on another ship. They will tell you I'm somewhat mad, but essentially harmless. I wouldn't disagree with that assessment." She winked.

"Ah," Violet replied, all three of Ashlesha's faces seemed skeptical. Green eyed the wound on Grey's arm and visibly winced. She had work to do, and the doctor was obviously an accredited professional...but Ashlesha could not bring herself to leave part of her in an unknown doctor's hands without supervision. She knew it was unfair to the woman but sixteen years of abuse at the hands of so-called doctors had made Ashlesha cautious about anyone in the medical profession. Paranoid, really.

"You are an Orion, right?" Green noted, if anything to fill in the dead air, "That is an uncommon sight in Starfleet."

"As far as I know, I'm one-of-a-kind", Anna said. "Half Orion, half Minaran. My mother jumped through lots of medical hoops to even have me." At least in her case, the experiment had turned out well enough. "I wouldn't have been in Starfleet if not for the war, though. I was a civilian doctor before that. I still pretty much am, I'd just as soon work here without the uniform."

She set a laser scalpel to a wide-beam setting and started taking away the top layers of Grey's affected skin, which came off in flakes and spread out over the biobed and the floor, to be cleaned away later.

"Ew," Green murmured as a look of disgust crossed a trio of faces. Belatedly she realized her reaction might be misconstrued, "I meant the burn, not your background, Doctor. Although I do have to admit the concept of inter-species breeding was a prejudice I had to overcome when I joined the Academy."

A wry, almost bitter expression crossed her features, "I know my people were ignorant of a great many things. I just hadn't realized how many until I boarded my first Starfleet vessel."

"It's not an easy thing to do", Anna admitted. "It requires a lot of medical attention to make sure the children are born healthy. I fully understand the point of view that it's problematic, and should only be undertaken with great care."

She switched instruments and started on the dermal regeneration. "Trying to have children between species without medical supervision is more likely to lead to birth defects, and suffering for the children in question. So please, if you want to do this, come to me and let me help."

Grey's expression was incredulous, Violet's mildly disgusted, and Green actually let out a laugh.

"Sorry," Green replied with rueful smile, "The thought of any of me being pregnant sounds, well...Actually I am having a difficult time coming up with an inoffensive word to describe how the very thought of being pregnant sounds strange and...unpleasant in so many ways."

The three shrugged, and Green continued as she waved at her abdomen, "Besides, much of the plumbing gets removed soon after birth. The males..." she made a snipping motion with two fingers, "Although they get to keep the testicles for aesthetic reasons I suppose. If I want a little me to care for I suppose I would have to go back home and raid one of the creches."

"Brave New World, hm?" Anna shrugged. "If you live your lives too far away from nature, you'll lose touch. That's a dangerous thing to do, even in our highly technologised world." Anna was rarely known to say something serious, but this was one of these times. "We know how to improve upon some things nature does. But to work against nature, that will never work out in the end."

Ashlesha Green shrugged and smiled slightly, "Ah, well, my people do live in caves like ants. Ants are natural, right? But seriously, Brave New World was a book I did not discover until I left the planet. It seems the Elders were not exactly crazy about the implications that book raised, namely the hierarchical structure that society employed. People back home might start thinking whom are the alphas and whom are the betas. After all, there sure are a lot of militant Dukes for a supposedly peaceful and insular society."

Violet eyed the work with interest as Green continued, "So who introduced you to classic Earth literature?"

"The question of genetic engineering, and the Federation's troubled history and inconsistent political stance towards the subject matter", Anna replied. "Conditioning after birth, that's basically the author's way of describing genetics without knowing about genetics, no?"

"True," Green replied as she began removing the rank pips from Grey's collar, while Violet had walked over to one of the replicators and began plugging in commands. Green continued, "I have had issues myself regarding the Federation and Starfleet's policies. I appreciate the caution employed by our leaders, but sometimes their inaction feels like moral cowardice."

Violet returned with a new shirt and tunic draped over her left forearm, "If the woman who had rescued me had decided to abide by the letter of the law and chosen not to interfere in an 'internal matter' I would have been dragged back to the lab."

All three of Ashlesha scowled, "Her reward for her kindness was an enforced early retirement."

Anna pieced together from this exchange that Ashlesha was a refugee, and that her condition had been strange enough to warrant extensive study on her homeworld. "I suppose you can only afford to break the Prime Directive if you're the commander of Starfleet's flagship." Anna shook her head in disapproval. "I always vote for those who wish to strengthen the individual's right to assistance, including asylum, and prioritise that over other laws."

"Indeed," Violet noted with a sour smile, "'Rules for thee, not for me' seems a universal constant."

Ashlesha paused a long moment, then came to a decision, "I suppose I am in good hands, Doctor," she laid the new shirt and tunic on a nearby chair, "I have to get back to work; having three bodies mean I don't have a whole lot excuse to be shirking duty. Only, before I leave Sickbay."

Green hesitated, the three smile sheepishly, "Could you make certain I look fit for duty. I have a...thing about looking... uniform..."

"I'm not sure I understand what you mean", Anna responded. "With your skin healed, what else would be required to look fit for duty?" The dermal regeneration was almost finished, and with that, Anna figured she looked good as new.

"It's done? Already?" Violet and Green's expressions looked mildly incredulous as they leaned forward and examined the arm. All three of Ashlesha smiled with relief.

"Starfleet medicine still amazes me even after all these years," Violet explained as Grey sat up and began tugging the old shirt up over her head.

"These are simple injuries, easy to mend", Anna said. "All it requires is to peel away the old and stimulate the new. Deeper burns are much harder, when nerve function has to be recovered. So unless you're having trouble feeling things with your new skin, I think we're done here." She smiled. "But don't worry, this only happens in a very small number of cases. It'll just take you a while to feel the same as on your other two bodies, as the new skin is still tender, and no calluses have been able to build up. This is normal, and you need not be alarmed."

As Grey busied herself tugging the new shirt over her head Violet said to the doctor, "Well, I really appreciate this. I confess I find myself experiencing a bit a trepidation whenever I enter a Sickbay or medical facility..."

Green applied the rank pips to Grey's neck as the latter slipped on her uniform jacket.

"...where plenty of doctors want to conduct tests and experiments on me," the trio grimaced, "I have had quite enough of that for three lifetimes, thank you."

The trio smiled and Violet said, "Well, this is a rarity for me but I actually find myself looking forward to seeing a doctor again."

"I always wait until the second encounter before I suggest any experimentation that I can't conduct on myself", Anna winked. "That's usually when I've had the time to come up with something I actually want to test."

The three Ashlesha's chuckled, then Violet replied, "I'll try to make the second encounter someplace devoid of medical equipment, then." Grey zipped up her jacket and said, "Well, until next time, Doctor. Hopefully soon at the inevitable staff briefing..."

Anna smiled and nodded. "Yes, no experiments there, you'll be good. And there will be tea."

All three of Ashlesha smiled, Grey replied with a nod, "I look forward to it." To her surprise as all of her left Sickbay, she wasn't just saying that to be polite...


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