Suddenly, the door to sickbay whooshed open and in bounded Ensign Nikki Barclay, panting from the long run through the corridor down to sickbay. "Doc... Doctor..." she managed to utter between gasps of air. "I need... doctor..."
Paiga had been laying on an unused biobed, skimming her PADD as she went over the scheduling and latest rounds of physicals that needed to be performed before the Portland left spacedock. The sudden explosion from the door of the other woman startled the doctor as she immediately jumped to her feet, ready for some sort of emergency.
As she looked again at the incoming Nikki, she was surprised at how well the woman was running. She motioned to the row of biobeds. "Take a seat, and tell me what is going on," Paiga pleaded, concern in her voice. As the doctor joined her patient, she pulled a medical tricorder out of her labcoat pocket, removed the flashing red sensor, and began to scan the Ensign.
Nikki fell forward, collapsing onto the biobed as she gasped for air, hyperventilating uncontrollably. "This morning... coughing, shortness of breath... joint pain..." after taking a few breaths, she looked Paiga dead in the eye. "It's Cartalian fever, I know it. We need to quarantine ourselves and return to starbase for baryon scans. Before... before..."
With that, Nikki's face turned to dread. "This is it, isn't it. I'm going to die, out here in space, no family, no children..."
The medical tricorder was definitely picking up increased adrenaline, heart rate, and brain activity. To Paiga, her patient was display the classic signs of a stage four panic attack. As the medical tricorder read the molecular makeup of her patient, one thing began to become apparent. "Ensign Barclay," she began, "You have the common cold. There are no signs of the Cartalian Fever, in fact there have been no reported cases of the disease with fifty parsecs from anywhere the Portland has been recently."
"When was the last time that tricorder was recalibrated?" countered Nikki, knowing in her heart that she was sick and that it was bad. "The Denebian flu can, in certain stages, disguise itself as a common cold to all but the most detailed scans."
Paiga tapped a few commands on the medical tricorder to bring up her diagnosis on the view screen behind the biobed. "Here, we see your blood cells," she indicated. "Those small specs floting around and near them are classic of the rhinovirus that causes the cold in Humans." The screen then split, Nikki's image went left as the right side of the screen showed the Denebian Flu, which was much different. "Also, all Starfleet officers are inoculated against it while at the Academy and during your physical every five years," she tried to reassure the engineer.
"But those vaccines are only ninety-nine point nine nine seven percent effective," protested Nikki, quickly growing tired of this new doctor. It was so hard to find one who would take her seriously; it seemed like most Starfleet doctors were more concerned with paperwork than the possibility of a life-threatening infection. It was a miracle she was still alive, given all the germs throughout the galaxy. With all the traffic from every corner of the quadrant, some of the stations the Portland stopped at were floating petri dishes of the worst infections known to Starfleet.
"You know, you may be right," Paiga countered as she feigned interest in a particular shadow around Nikki's red blood cell. She then walked over to the mixer for inoculations. "I had better take all precautions, this could be the early stages," she announced as she tapped some commands to create a Vitamin-C shot. As the machine quickly mixed the shot, it let out a short ding as the hypospray popped extended from the top.
She then walked back over to Nikki and showed the unmarked device. "I can give you this now and you'll be set. It's based around Dr. McCoy's breakdown of the Denebian Slime Devil mucus that created the cure." Nodding toward the hypospray, Paiga added, "Just one dose and you're cured. You'll immediately feel a bit more energized, but the full symptoms should be gone by the morning."
"You're sure?" asked Nikki, breathing heavily. She hadn't made the connection, but ever since Marcus and Sera had left, the frequency of these little episodes had been increasing. She was lonely, which only made her more vulnerable to the sort of anxiety attacks that would trigger extreme hypochondria, among other things.
“Absolutely,” Paiga stated confidently. As she closed in with the hypospray to Nikki’s neck, the doctor added, “During my residency, I was part of the team that cured the Ragolian Plague.” She said that to help give Nikki more confidence in her as a doctor. She then clicked the hypospray and the placebo was delivered with a hiss.
OOC: Do you want the Captain to stop by and interrupt Nikki?
OP: Sure, that’d be a great way to intro her and the Captain.
Lt. (JG) Sera Williams