Below Decks, one of the places you work when you're either really good at your job or you've got nothing else going for you. There are plantations down here, the food and synthetics sold on the Social Sector all originating in the lower decks; though vital, this place is often overlooked, sometimes it seems like it takes a direct link into the computer mainframe just to know of this area of the ship. While it has been pointed out this could easily be mechanized, it gives vital jobs and would cost too much to completely take over all operations. Surprisingly, if you were to search for a team of scientists needed to judge the conditions of the plantlife on a new planet, you'd find them down here.
Little had happened down here, they couldn't close off the entire area, that would practically be suicide, but they'd managed to keep the place where the bodies had been removed so no one could get there. No one had been arrested, so it seemed that no one from Below Decks was in suspicion anymore.
Heading down to the labs, Taylor
got her usual cup of coffee and sat down in her office. She couldn't help but think about Vesper, the pretty little nurse that she had met yesterday. Taylor couldn't wait until the creepy bird doctor returned so that they may go out on the little 'date' Vesper had promised. As she calmly sipped her coffee, she wondered about Teva and if she was going to show up for work today.
It wasn't very long before that very question was answered. A rather tired looking Teva
strode into the room. She took her usual seat at the table and as she got out her paperwork, she started speaking without looking at Taylor, even though she was speaking to her. "It's good to see the greenhouse didn't get closed. I assumed they weren't so ignorant, but I've been wrong before." She sighed softly, pausing to look up at Taylor. "How did your evening go yesterday?"
"Quite well actually." Taylor
admitted, getting up from her desk. She walked over to the small table against the far wall. "Although it seems you haven't had such luck." She brought back a cup of coffee for Teva and set it down on her desk.
muttered a thanks as she accepted the coffee, scooting it toward herself and holding it between her hands as if to warm them. "It's just this whole body business. It's a pain in our work. That whole sphere is going to have to be replanted now. What twou bourik
," the words slid out of her mouth in a way that was distinctly not English, "jeopardizes a thick chunk of an entire civilization?"
couldn't help but be in a chipper mood. Last evening had gone especially well as far her social life went. "Too bad we can't take this as an excuse to take an early vacation." she smiled, sipping her coffee. Taylor leaned her butt up against the rim of her desk. It seemed she couldn't be bothered with the whole 'murder case' thing.
The coffee mug paused halfway to Teva's
mouth. Her curious eyes narrowed shrewdly. "What's with you?" she asked, her interest taking the scathing bite out of the words they would normally have. "Your head is in the stars, and not the relevant way like in astronomy. What gives?"
lifted her lips from her mug, "What? It is not." She stopped and put her cup down. "Well... I guess I'm just in a good mood this morning, that's all. Maybe I needed the extra break from work yesterday."
"Why, Taylor-" Teva
put a hand on her chest in dramatic shock. "You enjoyed a break from work? Are you suggesting you could possibly be considering... a change of career??"
stifled a chuckle before saying. "Oh come on! I'm allowed to be in a good mood, aren't I?"
"Oh yeah, of course you are," Teva
replied in that 'that's true' tone before she put her hand back on her cup. "But not without explaining yourself. If this had anything to do with research, I'd already know. I've read your notes. Unless you didn't write it down-" She paused. "No, you wouldn't do that. That would be severely detrimental. So, tell me." She watched Taylor over the rim of her cup as she sipped the dark liquid, refusing to just accept her boss' good mood.
"Alright fine-" Taylor
gave in, "It sounds very preschool, but I've made a new friend." For the lab rats down here, that was sort of a big deal. "It's Ms. Vesper Etoile, one of the nurses."
frown was so obviously sarcastically sympathetic. "Honey, like I told you before, it's a physical, she doesn't want to be friends." She smiled as she took another sip of her coffee. "So how did this come to be? Why were you in the medical ward? Oh... I suppose she leaves sometimes. Where did you meet her?" It was true, scientists in their position did not often make friends. Honestly though, it didn't matter, because they often didn't want to. It made her curious what this nurse was like.
"I was wandering around the social sector and spotted her. Figuring it best to make acquaintances with our supply allies, I started a conversation. We chatted over lunch. Turns out not everyone in the medical ward is an asshole like that bird brained doctor." Taylor
"No one on this ship
is as much of an asshole as he is. His physicals are some sick game of S and M." Teva
scowled, remembering her own time with the doctor and his medically firm hands and the feathers. Ugh. Letting the expression fall, she calmly looked at her companion again. "So I take it you like this nurse lady? Are you going to invite her down here too?" It was not a jab at Taylor inviting people to see the greenhouses, but more a display of her still quite sore attitude toward the harm to their projects.
"I gave her a little tour before everything really went down. Surprisingly, she had a great respect for the work we do. Unlike... some people." Taylor
cleared her throat and went on, "Believe it or not, I've managed to sneak out of the physicals since we boarded."
frowned. "Taylor, you can't avoid that forever, and you do not
want bird-brain to come after you. I suggest you talk to your new friend about it, and soon, before he gets back."
grumbled a bit, not liking the thought of having to undress in front of that man. "Isn't that a bit... for lack of a better term,...weird? It is
her profession and everything but-" Taylor didn't exactly want to admit to her college that she seemed to have taking quite a liking towards Vesper. "I just- don't much care for physicals."
Eyebrows raised in unison and the sarcasm was palpable before she even spoke. "Oh really? Because I really get off on them." Teva
dropped her surprised expression and sighed. "Better over and done with than impending. Taylor, it's take it into your own hands now, or he's taking it into his later."
"Ugh...yea yea..." Taylor
grumbled, taking another sip of her coffee. She really didn't want to think about it anymore. "I wonder how much longer that group is going to be away for. You think I can get a physical from Vesper and it would still be legit?"
"I'm not a doctor, I wouldn't know. I think you should ask her." Teva
closed her eyes, sipping her coffee meditatively. "Just because it's unpleasant doesn't mean you can't make it less unpleasant. Figure out what choices you have, and choose the lesser of evils." She paused, drinking her hot beverage before she set it down, opening her eyes to look at her boss. "So... What's on the agenda for today?"
"Carry on as usual." Taylor
confessed, sitting back down at her desk. "I need to file a few things before I go into the lab. I suppose we should just stay away from the closed off areas and let the Feds do what they have to."
"Like wreck and entire eco-system," Teva
muttered darkly before she went to her own desk to work. It was going to be a long day.
"Hopefully it won't take that long. Luckily, that area wasn't the most heavily used to begin with. I would rather have the worker's safety secure first then anything." Taylor
"It's simply the disrespect of the whole situation," Teva
told her as she moved some slides under a microscope, already making little charts and such on her electronic pad. "Some asshole puts a corpse in the green house, contaminating it. And then having the area blocked off. And now the inconvenience of it all. Sure, it's not the worst thing that could happen, but it shouldn't have happened at all, you know?" She shook her head before looking through the scope again.
"Hopefully it will make more sense when they catch whoever did this." Taylor
said, keeping her eyes down to her things as she worked. "If it wasn't an inside job, which I really hope it wasn't...I'm sure security will be tightened down here."
"Feels a bit like being a lab rat," Teva
commented lightly. "Our space being monitored, the actions of all the inhabitants, the comings and goings..."
"It practically was like that already." Taylor
she replied, "Then again, I haven't a doubt in my mind that this entire structure is constantly under thick surveillance. Heh... makes me sound like a conspiracy theorist."
"Yeah.. but if it was
that monitored, they'd already knew who came and went and we wouldn't be under this microscope." It was almost a funny comment as Teva
continued to look down her own microscope at the tiny cells on the slide. "I hope it doesn't stay this way to 'prevent future incidents'." She sat up and rolled her eyes before standing to walk over to a machine that had run some kind of DNA test and looked at the results on the screen. Something was wrong, like a misspelled word in the sequence. She frowned a little, 'reading' again to try and find it. Common tests. It was nearly the same as a hacker reading code for some program. They had to fix it to make their experiment's results come out positive.
"Unless whoever did it knows about the security and the flaws or dead spots to go in." Taylor
speculated, finding it hard to concentrate on her work today.
"Well yeah, but that just means now it's going to be worse because they'll fill in those 'dead spots'." Teva
sighed, still looking at the sequence, her expression becoming more and more annoyed the more she tried. "I guess as long as they don't question how we work, I'll get over it." She paused in her search and looked at Taylor, frowning. "Do you want me to do the rounds today? You don't look up to monotonous work."
"I guess I'm a bit spacey today..." Taylor
faded, sitting back, "But it's alright, I don't have anything else to do anyway. It's just- I think I'm ready for a vacation and we only just launched a few weeks ago."
"Maybe take a mini va-ca in the halo-deck," Teva
suggested, looking back at the screen of code, just a bit more calm now. She seemed more thoughtful, not really focused on her work. "Tez uses my hours and his to enjoy being on Inabinsu again, if only temporarily."
"That might not be a bad idea. I'd love to go climbing again....haven't done that in months." Taylor stretched her arms a bit, wondering if she still had the flexibility and strength. "There's got to be a program for that, right? To tell you the truth, I've only gone into a holodeck twice before."
Teva put a hand on her chin, thoughtful. "I'd guess so. If nothing else, the machine can be hooked up to get your memories." She let go of her chin and waved her hand dismissively. "But I'm sure it won't come to that. Just go give it a try. You are always mentioning wanting to climb again. It'll do you some good. Stars know those mandatory exercises only keep you so far..." She squinted at the screen for a moment, then relaxed and continued reading.
Taylor stayed quiet, thinking about it. Climbing, if only for an hour or so would really relieve some of the stress she had been feeling lately. Perhaps afterward she could get her head back into the game. Taylor knew that she was no use if she couldn't focus and the coffee could only do so much.
There were two beeps, with a long pause between them as Teva tapped something on the screen, and then something else and the two seemed to blink and become something else. She skimmed it, then pressed a button nearby and the code started running through simulations. She sighed, hoping it would work, crossed her arms, and look at Taylor with a serious expression. "I'm gonna go run soil samples in the spheres, check the nitrogen levels and all that. Let me know when that's done running, will you? Page me if you need me, or if you leave." She picked up an electronic clip board and another small device before walking out, talking as she went. "The last thing I need is to come back to you gone, thinking someone kidnapped you, or tied you up and locked you in the closet and is now running rampant through-" Her voice became a muffle as the door closed behind her.
Taylor nodded and waved to her coworker as she left. Finishing her coffee, she tried her best to focus on her records. Taking out a large collection of files. Opening the folders, she started to do her weekly paperwork.
A little while later there came a small tone, notifying Taylor of a call in the office. A pleasant voice spoke through the com. "Taylor? Oh I do so hope you are there. I'm afraid the computer won't let me in." There was an easy chuckle, saying the speaker was truly unbothered by the circumstances to her call. Vesper. Always so easy going. "I was wondering if you might like to go for coffee or other activity at this time?"
The main line of communication wasn't used much, usually stuff down here moved so slowly you could wait a day or two until you ran into the person, but right now it started ringing. It was Rhod, using his secure mental line to make the screen of the office main screen; he was being rather careless, ringing in the middle of the day with no warning, anyone could watch.
Taylor perked up in her chair and held a button on her speaker. "I would love to! I'll be right there!" she said, perhaps a bit too enthusiastically. Nearly jumping out of her chair, she slipped her lab coat off and made to run out of the door. Then the main line started buzzing. "The hell?" she asked, pressing the answer button and giving her attention was taken to the illuminated screen in her office. She walked around to the front of her desk, "Can I help you commander?"
What popped up was... odd, it looked like the commander's face, but it was a pixel representation, not a picture of him, as if he wasn't actually using a camera. "Taylor" he said quickly "What do you know about the infection" his voice paused, then another voice came through, strange, vidian, saying "Dicrocoelium Dendriticum". Soon after, Rhod's voice came back saying "I can't remember directly but I think it's a fungus or spores."
That is definitely not what Taylor was expecting. "'The infection?' May I ask what the urgency of that matter is?"
"We have recently been on a search and rescue mission" Rhod's pixalated head replied, looking strangely like Zod from an aged children's TV show as it spun on the screen, looking this way and that "The people we have picked up have come from a mutated strain of" his voice stuttered to the other person's again as he said "Dicrocoelium Dendriticum." He blinked several times, then stared at Taylor "I need you to cultivate samples of the common strains and the recently mutated strain for work on a vaccine."
"Can I have a sample of the bacteria?" Taylor asked, unable to really do much without examining it first.
"We can get a sample, but you will need to get it yourself. Bring a hazmat suit" Rhod replied, frowning to himself "I don't want you to get infected as well. I'll meet you in the facility quarters, the hospital. The current infected are being put on ice" he was hurrying, using general terms for cryogenic freezing "so now is the best time to take a sample."
"Right away, sir." Taylor said. Before hurrying out, she remembered Vesper was waiting on the other side of the lab doors. She moved to a mirror in the drawer of her desk and looked at her hair for a moment. Seeing that everything looked in order, she hurried out of her office. The suits were in lockers near the entrance. Opening the main door, there was a loud hiss of air as the middle hall was equally compressed. "Hey-" she greeted Vesper with a smile. "It seems the commander needs me in the hospital- do you know what's going on up there?"
Vesper shrugged in a non-committed way. "Away teams are always bringing back the oddest of diseases," she said amiably and smiled at the scientist, turning to walk back to the medical ward but waiting on Taylor. She wanted to walk with her, not simply in the same direction. "Whatever happened, our head engineer is... essentially, gone. We'll have her back soon though. I suspected the Commander would be wanting you when I heard what had happened."
"He just called me after you paged. I'm supposed to go to the hospital to extract a sample so that I may run some tests. Seems a bit urgent..." Taylor explained, rubbing her arm. Why did this have to come at such a horrid time?! Vesper came down here to visit her and she had to get to work. "I'm really sorry Ves, but I have to do some work." Taylor reached down and took the unsuspecting nurse's hand. Lifting it, she planted a kiss on the top of her hand, "Please forgive me? Though you may be able to stay as I examine the specimen."
The nurse giggled softly, seemingly unoffended by the touch and show of affection. "Wouldn't miss it for the world," she said gently, putting a little enthusiasm in the world. She was curious, to be sure, but this wasn't exactly the time she had intended to have with Taylor. Then again, she hadn't been sure what they would do. She squeezed Taylor's hand gently, just smiling at her. "Now hurry. As one of your Earth drama show doctors may say, 'I've got lives to save!'" Her voice was dramatic for a moment, but she wound up making herself giggle and motioned for Taylor to come on so that they could go to the facility quarters.
"Hold on one second." Taylor gestured, opening a locker. Pulling out a white suit, she started to slip into it. "I hate these things...it's like a personal sauna." she explained, zipping up the front and placing the large hood over her head. Adjusting the front visor, she followed Vesper out tothe facility quarters.
Taylor and Vesper returned a few minutes later. She left the nurses side and slipped her arm out of her grasp before hanging her hazmat suit to be sterilized. "I really should tell Teva what's going on." she said, going to her office to page her in the greenhouse.
There was a beep and a light hum before Taylor's voice echoed, "Paging Teva Bryndis, please come see me in my office ASAP. Teva Bryndis." she said into the speaker.
Vesper just nodded understandingly and moved to an area free of anything on the table. She really did not want to risk meddling with some experiment. She sat, more of a lean, against it with her hands on the edge, patiently waiting for Taylor to finish her small task, looking as if she had all the time in the world. Did she ever get stressed out? It wasn't likely, but still. One had to wonder what that looked like.
Meanwhile, in one of the many biospheres, Teva looked up at the announcement, the tilt of her head the only indication she had even heard it. Her hands were writing some notes on her electronic pad and her face was obscure by a gas mask. It was for the best really, considering she made a face at the page. Something between curiosity and impatience. She saved her work and stepped out of the sphere, waiting until she heard it vacuum seal again before removing her mask, taking in the fresh air. One of the perks of being a bio engineer. The air didn't get any fresher. She put the gas mask back and then set off back to the office at a quick walk. What Could Taylor possibly need?
"We are going to have to clear out one of the smaller work areas. I don't wanted to risk anything getting contaminated." Taylor explained, leaning her butt against the desk. The belt she had been wearing was with the hazmat suit for decontamination, but she held the several vials of sample from the victim. Blood, saliva, skin sample and the sample from one of the pustules. She looked over to her espresso machine, "Can I get you anything before we hammer away at these?"
Vesper stood up from her position and strode over to Taylor, a placid smile on her face as she took one of the samples from her, letting her fingers brush over the other woman's. "That would be lovely, thank you," she said quietly, politely, and the eye contact she made was striking with such alien eyes of such intense color.
The doors to the office slid open and Teva stepped in with a sigh. "Alright, alright, where's the fi-" She paused, looking at the new woman in their midst. The nurse, right? "Hello, Miss Vesper. What brings you down here today?" She paused, then looked at Taylor with a frown. "You aren't sick are you??"
Clearing her throat, she said "No, nothing like that." Taylor was resisting blushing from Vesper's touch. It somehow seemed...intimate. "The commander called me upstairs and it turns out there is an outbreak of some sort of spore/fungus-related infection. Seems they got it from another ship and brought it here." She shot Teva a look, "Yea- smart heads of authority right?" She went over to the coffee machine and got all three of them a drink, "Anyway- they assigned Miss Vesper and I to find some sort of counter drug for it. The victims are currently being frozen, but one of our own may already be infected."
"Ah, competence of command," Teva replied, nodding sagely as she accepted her coffee with a soft thanks. She leaned against a desk, frowning at the two of them. "Does it look like something you've seen before, or are we talking a whole new genealogy?"
Vesper muttered her thanks to Taylor as she accepted her on drink, smiling at her before she looked around for a place they could work. She let them talk as she found a small table that just had some papers on it. Carefully she examined them, just charts and things. She fixed the stack so it was neat and in chronological order (or what seemed to be the right order), oldest on bottom. She set it on a nearby table before sitting down, crossing her legs, and looking at the small sample in her hand, looking oddly intently at the little vial.
"I can't say for certain yet. The victim whom I retrieved samples from didn't look so good. He had big red pustules all over his body. They were roughly the size of grapefruits. I don't want to assume anything until I look at this under a microscope." She looked at Teva seriously, "Between you and me- it looked like 'Black Death'. This of course was an ancient disease, but they still learned about it in the medical books. "Anyway- Vesper and I are going to start right away. It seems pretty urgent so I doubt we will get much sleep. I want you in charge of the warehouse, ok? Make sure there aren't any more dead bodies sprouting up anywhere."
Teva just nodded and picked up her things again in one hand, cup still in the other. "Alright, and let's hope it's Black Death, yeah? At least there is a cure for that." She waved her hand a little as she walked out. "Vesper," she added politely with a goodbye nod and closed the door behind her.
Vesper lowered the sample she had been looking at and for the first time, she was frowning, looking at Taylor. "So.. where would you like to start? Figuring out a complete genetic make up? Or perhaps even a simple run through the computer just to see if it doesn't already exist. I suppose it could tell us if it was similar to something that already exists... Though, so could Kai's disk." She motioned vaguely to Taylor's pocket.
Taylor frowned a bit and took out the disk. "We should probably have a look at this so we know what we are dealing with. "Come on- I know where we can work." She led Vesper to a smaller working lab, not often used by the scientists. She closed the pressure locked door behind them and went to retrieve some supplies from a cabinet to the right. "Here." she said, handing off a white smock-like jacket, a mask to go over her mouth, goggles and a pair of blue gloves that went up to the elbow. "I don't want to take any chances." Gathering a set for herself, she slipped it on the jacket and set the other things on a table. She moved to a large screen and slid in the disk.
It was a while later, long after their coffee dregs had become cold, that Vesper and Taylor managed to finish watching and reviewing all the recordings of the disk. When it ended, displaying just the DNA sequence of the virus, Vesper frowned and looked at Taylor. "So... what now? Is anything relevant besides the section of sequence that will allow us to make a vaccine?"
Taylor couldn't help but cringe at the sight of the Kai's last few moments. "Well we should probably run some general tests first. It seems this bacteria reacts dangerously fast on living beings. "Perhaps we should see what general amphetamines do and work our way up from there? Since it's showing mold or fungi-like attributes, I'll see what happens when combined with natural mold-killing substances such as vinegar and seed extract. Maybe a fungicides."
"Do you mind if I conduct my own research on the make up of this strain." Vesper pointed a thumb at the screen. "No offense to our young cyper, but she was infected when her systems took this data. If it is an unknown substance, than there is no way her system could have been truly prepared for it. I just wish to double check. I'd hate to feed it something that it altered the record of itself to say would kill it, when will really only cause it to spread faster." She looked thoughtfully up at the screen, frowning with concern. "I do worry for the people on that ship...."
"Yea- it's even more curious as to what caused this strain." Taylor said, rubbing her temple. This whole thing was going to stress her out for sure. It seemed it was up to her and Vesper. "I'm going to prep the blood samples and examine them...see if I can find anything out of the ordinary."
Gentle hands slid under her finger tips to take over her light circles. It was oddly different, like cotton balls being stuck just under the skin there at Taylor's temples, but she could feel the fingers working against her. The tension scuttled out of her shoulders slowly, easing them as if under a good massage, even her head ache lightening. "Ok..." Vesper said softly, her bright face smiling at her companion. "Try not to stress out so much. You will make me gain weight." She smiled good-naturely before letting her hands move away from the scientists temples. The cotton and shifting was gone, but so was some of the stress from before. She turned and retrieved one of the samples, the skin, just to get the substance from so she could examine it and went to make a slide with some of the tools, making sure to slide her mask up over her mouth as she went.
Taylor's shoulders nearly melted when Vesper took over and massaged her temples. Her touch was so caring, so gentle. When she stopped and took her hands away, Taylor felt a bit lonely suddenly. That felt so good... especially from someone so lovely as Vesper. Her face blushed a bit, unable to control her wandering mind. "Heh- sorry. I'll try to relax." she confessed.
"Good," came Vesper's slightly muffled voice as she worked. "Because your thoughts are very distracting, and from when I get of what you are feeling-" She looked at the scientist and her eyes were laughing, even if her smirk was hidden by her mask. "I certainly hope it is not just the work causing it. Otherwise, you may need a mental exam with your physical." She turned back to making her slide. She capped off the sample again to keep it safe and slid the disk into the computer to be analyzed while she put the sample back with the others.
Taylor was quite relieved to know that Vesper couldn't exactly read thoughts. This would be quite embarrassing. "Yea.. a physical-" she coughed a bit, changing the subject. "So I'm a bit sorry this all came at a bad time. I was looking forward to going out with you. To get something to eat, that is." she slipped on her gloves and mask before settling down with the blood sample.
"Perhaps this is better," Vesper replied as she went to read the data the computer was compiling. "Now when we go out, we can be celebrating our success." She chuckled softly. "We can be much more boisterous and energetic, I should think. I would like to plan that outing very much, after we have figured out the vaccine of course."
The nurse's optimism lifted her own spirits. "That sounds like a fantastic idea." Taylor admitted, at least glad she would be able to work alongside of her. She started separating the blood and placing tubes in a centrifuge. "Champagne and everything." she added.
Vesper chuckled again. "Champagne? I'll have to wear my finest then. Any excuse is a good one I suppose." She hit a few buttons on the computer to have it compare the two sequences and as it ran she looked at Taylor. "Why are you a bioengineer?" she asked, seeming only to want to have conversation. She was a social person, and working in silence bothered her more than any talking would.
Taylor turned on the machine, watching the vials spin around. "Hm? Oh well honestly it's what my parents wanted me to go into. I didn't take a liking to it until I was in college. Don't tell them that though." she advised, glancing back at Vesper. "Botany just sort of grew on me if you would forgive the pun."
"Pun forgiven," Vesper assured her with a gentle nod. "But if it took so long, you must have had some idea of what you wanted to do before you became fond of this." She motioned around the room. "What did you want to be when you grew up?" Her eyes thinned ever so slightly, her cheeks perking. She was smiling behind her mask again.
"Heh- it's a bit late in the game to be thinking about that now. But at that age, I hadn't a clue. Which was part of the reason my parents forced be into this field." Taylor explained, "When I was younger, I just wanted to have fun and go hiking and rock climbing all day long. Which wasn't exactly something my parents approved of." she confessed.
"At least you were always working with nature," Vesper told her kindly. "Your whole life seems to at least all be in the same direction. Such focus is rare, and very admirable. And you do important work. I thank you for that."
"I think you give me a bit too much credit. I work with a team of highly trained professionals. There isn't much in it for individuals." Taylor explained, stopping her machine.
"Yes, but in that team, they are all individuals. If individuals didn't matter, and we removed all of them, we'd have no one. Every single person matters," Vesper told her, turning when the computer behind her beeped. Complete match. "Well, that rules out that possibility. Never hurts to make sure." She took her slide out of the computer and carefully brought it with her to sit near Taylor so they could work side by side, but not be in each others' way. Readying another slide, she took a small, sterilized took and took a small sample of her own skin, placed it on the slide, used a syringe to get a sample of one of the infections and carefully inserted it into her own cells as she watched through the microscope. "Fascinating..." she breathed, adjusting the focus to see it even better.
"See anything interesting?" Taylor asked, splitting up the blood samples into several individual petri dishes so that they may experiment with them. She moved and placed them in a refrigerator to slow down any processes that may be taking place. She left out one sample to examine under a microscope.
"While the intelligence of microscopic organisms has always fascinated me, this is because of the sheer rate at which it did it." Vesper shifted slightly out of the way, offering to let her see in. On the slide, the moment the infection made contact with the skin sample, the virus had integrated into the cells like mitochondria did so long ago, but then leeched into the neuron which altered the cell and was causing it to emit more cultures. "It almost makes me think of how a zombie happens..." she commented lightly.
"Well that's not very reassuring." Taylor admitted after she peered into the microscope. Is there anything similar to this that you can think of?" Diseases weren't exactly her specialty.
"Well.. it's a pretty normal way for viruses to function," Vesper informed her, frowning as she leaned back in her chair to contemplate it. "It's the rate at which it is doing it that gets to me." She waved a hand at Taylor, gesturing to her. "You would have to clue me in to what might be causing that particular problem. Usually diseases only work at the rate which the cell itself can function. This virus seems quite set on being much faster than the average cold."
"Cold weather usually slows down bacteria and spore reproduction. I put the blood samples in the freezer, in hopes that we can view some of the mutations." Taylor explained, looking down at her current blood sample. She adjusted the lens and focused in. "As expected, most of this sample has already changed." she stepped back for her to see.
"If that was the case, I wonder what the ship was like they salvaged. From what I understood, it was quite destroyed. Would not the cold of space have slowed the virus's processes? Then again, maybe the air systems were still on, and it is only active in contact with a source of heat, such as that of a human body." Vesper looked down through the scope, frowning. When she stood right again she looked at Taylor. "I hope the cold of being cryogenically frozen helps the survivors, then, if you are right."
"Well if it's a spore or fungal-based disease, the cold will definitely slow it's process. It's the same as any other plant." she explained, sitting back in her chair. Taylor went on, gathering necessary, anti-fungal ingredients to see how the spores reacted. She split up the sample to several slides and dropped some liquids on each one.
"What if it's not?" Vesper sounded concerned as she sealed up her sample and set it aside to be filed away with everything else after she had labeled it. She frowned, sitting in her chair and facing Taylor again. "And why would anyone make such a thing anyway? Or... how did it come to be?"
"The Commander said it was 'Dicrocoelium Dendriticum'...although I'm not sure if I believe that quite yet. The boils on that man's body didn't look like anything I had seen before, nor from the video. Perhaps it's some sort of mutated strand? Or genetically altered crossbreed with a spore-like fungus? It may explain how easily the disease can be transferred to other hosts."
"But why would someone want to create such a thing? A biological weapon that simply got loose? But why were they making weapons at all? Who, or what, were they trying to fight off?"
"And you call ME pessimistic?" Taylor teased. "No way to tell for sure... but let's just work on a vaccine first. Bacteria can mutate on it's own and all it takes is to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. It would have been from a countless number of causes."
"Yes... Yes, you are right." Vesper nodded firmly, then smiled at her. "Let us work hard, to make them well again." She stood and put a hand on Taylor's shoulder, squeezing gently, before she turned and went about working. They were going to be at this a while.
Taylor smiled back at Vesper as she went back to work. Taking a deep breath, she set off to work again, testing sample after sample and jotting down notes.
The screen over in the side of the room flickered on suddenly, and that pixelated face of Rhod flashed up. "Vesper, Taylor. An important circumstance has come up. It appears Sojana is not affected by the strain you are examining. While you are doing important work, I was wondering if you could send up another lab-tech to take some samples. It could be useful in creating a cure."
Taylor nodded up at the screen, "Right away sir." She moved back to her speaker and called for her partner, "Teva-" she paused, "Teva, I need you to go up and retrieve more samples from the facility quarters, asap."
Rhod nodded to the two and gave a half smile "Hopefully we'll have this finished soon, I have complete faith in you to complete this anti-virus to protect the ship."
"Yes, alright. I'll get right on that," Teva's voice informed them from the com before it clicked off. It was odd not to hear her usual sarcasm, but the woman understood when it was time to be serious and actually work.
"Your faith is appreciated," Vesper informed the sort-of Rhod on the screen before looking at Taylor. "Should we try to double up the work then, or do you think one virus is more important than the other and we should start with just one?"
Back to: Closing Time
History: Below Decks 1
Below Decks 2