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PRO: S [D01|0925] Mindbuggery Of The Highest Order

[Lieutenant Alistair Leavitt | Enyd's Quarters | Deck 10 | USS Theurgy ] Attn. @Dumedion

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After Zark beamed out, and after giving Enyd a quick kiss then shooing her out, Alistair (still somewhat punch-drunk) was left with the mess that had been made of his girlfriend's quarters. Fortunately, one of the many distasteful duties of an Ops officer was cleaning, so he simply got to work as if it were any other job. Being alone, he discarded the towel and did everything naked, deciding to get dressed later. The humdrum cleaning helped clear his thoughts after what had just happened, and to get his thoughts off the mental images of Enyd and Zark in varying states of nudity and sexual euphoria.

It was a futile effort in the long run; those images would surely be burned into his brain for the rest of his life, even if they never had another threesome. Given Enyd's enthusiasm and Zark's rampant lust, though, it seemed inevitable that more would follow. They'd had far too much fun to not do it again. The prospect was both exciting and frightening; given that Enyd wanted to bring another man into their relationship on top of bedroom fun with Zark, what sort of madness did their future hold?

Stood in the middle of Enyd's quarters, still stark naked with a sanistiser wand in hand, Alistair abruptly started laughing. He kept at it for a good minute or so, unable to stem the sudden surge of mirth as it overtook him in waves. Seriously, what the hell?

Much later, after wolfing down an actual breakfast and getting dressed, Alistair finally left for Sickbay. His clothes (a simple crimson buttoned shirt with black pants) were a mess, but he didn't have time to drop by his own quarters for fresh clothes), and he firmly believed that it was better to be messy than tardy. Soon enough (just about on time) he entered Sickbay and looked around for Doctor Leux.

Re: PRO: S [D01|0925] Mindbuggery Of The Highest Order

Reply #1
[LT Arven Leux | Main Sickbay | Deck 11 | Vector 02 | USS Theurgy] Attn: @Griff
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So far, Arven really hadn’t stopped moving the entire morning, but not in any panicked or rushed type of way; he simply moved from one task to the next. His attention was pulled in myriad directions as the preparations for the (likely combatant and grievous) situations that lay ahead; multiple casualties – compounding waves of patients – possible enemy boarding actions. Even with the day's rocky start and proceeding jaunt through the seemingly endless labyrinthine mess beyond the crisp clean bulkheads of Sickbay, Leux felt at ease in this type of controlled chaos. It was all a matter of procedure, after all. The only downside (in his opinion) was found in the attempt to keep up with all the necessary logistical paperwork. Fortunately, it was all proceeding in record pace.

The battle sickbay on Vector 3, while fully online and operational as always, still underwent the same procedures of readiness as Main Sickbay; stocks needed to be accounted for and resupplied, diagnostics needed to be run, verified, and brought into on-line status. In addition, medical caches and first-aid stations spread around the Ranger at key junctions and positions had to be manned, supplied, then those supplies had to be accounted for.

Not for the first time that morning, Arven thanked his lucky stars for Vi-Nine. Well, the entire staff, really, but especially Vi-Nine. Without that quirky droid, this would be far more painful. Violet eyes darted to the white-and-black chassis of the Chief Surgeon off to his right as it gestured in conversation with a pair of nurses and Dr. Hernandez – bound for Vector 3. Splitting and rotating the staff held its own particular challenges, after accounting for those needed for the away missions and the Helmet, but that was to be expected; the ship was designed to split apart - so too, must the crew. They were prepping to do just that; uniformed bodies came and went at various pace, all around him.

Leux stood stationary amidst all the buzz of activity near the officer’s duty console, attention alternated between it and the stack of PADDs in one hand, when an anomaly from the corner of his eye caught his attention. Someone was strolling their way towards the Rec Ward and ICU. Crimson shirt, dark slacks – most irregular, Arven noted with a twitch of one eye. Irregularities tended to become complications, rather quickly. He didn't have time for more complications.

Wait, do I have any other patients today? The stray thought sent the dark lines of his brows up with a frown. Unable to recall, Arven tapped out a command and pulled up his assigned schedule, then blinked in surprise. Apparently I do. Slightly wrong-footed at the lapse in memory (he had checked the schedule upon arrival to duty, earlier that morning, right?), Leux set the PADDs down upon the console and nodded to the Chief there, then headed after the man in the crimson shirt, who was loitering near the door to the PCU.

Clearing his throat, Arven gestured to get the man's attention attention. “Lieutenant...Leavitt, was it? We had a 09:20 appointment scheduled, I believe,” the Doctor tilted his head through the threshold before walking through and leading the Ops officer to a bed with another gesture, then immediately pulled up his patient file and medical history. “Have a seat if you like – how’s everything working this morning,” Arven asked casually as he activated a privacy screen around them.

Re: PRO: S [D01|0925] Mindbuggery Of The Highest Order

Reply #2
[Lieutenant Alistair Leavitt | Main Sickbay | Deck 11 | USS Theurgy ] Attn. @Dumedion

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Quite bemused, Alistair followed the other man and sat on the biobed. The brief hesitation on his name made him wonder if the doctor even recognised him from the 'excitement' with Reika, Hirek and a very grumpy Klingon two days prior. He had taken an almighty hit to the head, after all. Alistair decided not to press the issue, though, and instead opened his mouth to automatically say 'yes'-

-then stopped before the word came out. In truth, he felt like he'd just been through a hard-fought battle, and in sense, he had. His knees still stung from where they'd rubbed against the carpet, his back ached from Zark's rough shove and Enyd's rougher bondage, his groin was very sore, his nipples still hurt from the clamps, and his skin still tingled from aftereffects of the oil. It had been a hard start to the day and he hadn't even reported for duty yet; he idly wondered whether Enyd and Zark were sore too.

"Er...everything is working fine," Alistair said carefully, and truthfully. Technically. He ran a hand over his scalp and sighed. "This is my last physical, right Doctor? To confirm that I'm completely free of Niga? I appreciate that we have to be careful, but honestly, I'd be happy not to come back here again for a long time. Uh...no offence."

Re: PRO: S [D01|0925] Mindbuggery Of The Highest Order

Reply #3
[LT Arven Leux | Main Sickbay | Deck 11 | Vector 02 | USS Theurgy] Attn: @Griff
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He’d already started a scan by the time Leavitt seated himself, noting the man’s brief hesitation with a confused frown. While Arven could appreciate the fact that it was early, it was a simple enough question to answer; clearly, the man had either had a rough night or had a lot on his mind.

When he finally answered, Arven’s confused frown deepened as the Doctor froze mid-scan, arm raised above Leavitt’s head while he blinked rapidly; processing. From what he had read, Arven recalled the Niga contagion (and the absolute bedlam that it caused) from the ship’s logs and medical files of the majority of the crew. He also seemed to recall that it had been eradicated by unknown means and persons, the details redacted beyond the Doctor’s considerable clearance.

Several questions fired through his brain as Arven turned the tricorder in his hand slightly to read the screen; a delay tactic used to order his thoughts before he responded.

“You’re dehydrated,” Arven cleared his throat, “with a considerable build-up of lactic acid in almost every major muscle group. Those abrasions to your dermal tissue will be fine in a day or two,” he stated dryly, then set the tricorder aside for a PADD to recall the patient’s medical history. “No offense taken,” he added quickly with a shrug, “less people come in here the better if you ask me. Maybe I'd finally get the storage room organized the way I like it then.”

Arven chewed his lip absentmindedly as his eyes rapidly scanned over the scrolling text. The more he read, the more confused he became; Leavitt had almost nothing in terms of medical history, only a rather thorough examination from a few weeks ago. A quick tap of Arven’s fingers accessed a recently stored graphical display of cortical activity, which surprised him. A bit unnecessary, given the patient’s time post-exposure and asymptomatic behavior. What's going on here, Leux arched a brow up from his reading with a glance at Leavitt.

“Miss Bjørge is quite wordy, Mr. Leavitt,” he explained his lapse into silence with a slight wave of the PADD and in his usual, dry manner. “I’ll need a moment to review all the data. In the mean time, have you experienced any Niga-like symptoms? Any unexplained and or irrational sexual urges? Over-salivation or semen secretion? Inappropriate or prolonged erections? You know, stuff like that?”

Re: PRO: S [D01|0925] Mindbuggery Of The Highest Order

Reply #4
[Lieutenant Alistair Leavitt | Main Sickbay | Deck 11 | USS Theurgy ] Attn. @Dumedion

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Alistair was suddenly extremely grateful for the privacy screen, and that Sarah wasn't doing the check-up. He hadn't seen her for a while, having been far too occupied between work and personal matters, and this would've been the worst way to see her again. Even if nothing could happen between them now, he still hoped to count her as a friend.

Arven was professional, which certainly helped matters, but Alistair had to work through his discomfort all the same. "I don't think so," he said after a moment's consideration. "I mean...uh, I've been sexually active since I came onboard, but everything has felt normal. Nothing like when I was infected by Niga. I remember that..."

Alistair shuddered, taking a deep breath. "I remember...that...very clearly. I wish that I didn't. I know what it felt like, physically and mentally. I haven't experienced any of those symptoms." He hesitated. "Er...doctor-patient confidentiality...my partner and I have been...um...experimenting...and I have been exploring my own...you know..."

Quite awkwardly, Alistair made a vague motion with his hand, his cheeks flushing. "It's not...er...unexplained or irrational, though. I just lived on Vulcan for two years, so when I fnally met someone onboard...uh...you get the idea."

Re: PRO: S [D01|0925] Mindbuggery Of The Highest Order

Reply #5
[LT Arven Leux | Main Sickbay | Deck 11 | Vector 02 | USS Theurgy] Attn: @Griff
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By this point Arven had grown even more confused, which was clearly visible on his features; his head was tilted to the side, lips pulled down in a frown, brows creased. He’d stopped trying to read completely – from the data he’d seen so far, the patient clearly had higher concentrations of all orbital frontal cortex chemicals; a conclusive sign of physiologic anxiety. While that could account for Leavitt's general nervousness, the man wasn't a very clear communicator, so the Doctor just stood there blinking at the man for a few seconds in an attempt to understand what Leavitt was trying to tell him. Unable to do so, Arven took a breath and held the PADD behind his back in order to give the patient his full attention.

A rand rose in a ‘pause’ gesture as Arven cleared his throat. “Hang on – you lost me,” he admitted with a brief shake of his head. “Let’s take a moment and let’s clear some things up first,” Arven added, then gestured to the privacy screen around them with a twirl of his fingers. “This here is what I like to call ‘the sacred intimacy bubble’; what happens in here, stays in here, so try to relax. I’ve been around the block a time or two, Mr. Leavitt,” Arven gave his best approximation of a reassuring smile. “I’m sure you can appreciate that honesty is paramount, here in the bubble.”

“That said,” Leux’ brows twitched up as he shrugged, “I confess that I’m more than a little confused. You expressed some concerns with Ms. Bjørge,” he paused to consult the PADD quickly, “regarding any lingering...Borg stuff,” he stated it as a question, “which was – again, just being honest – a clear case of hypochondria, which is fine,” Arven shrugged again. “It happens, and I dare say was warranted in your case. Regardless, our concern today is your exposure to the Niga virus, yes,” he asked rhetorically, bringing the conversation back on topic, “and therein lies my confusion. There are indeed lingering traces of Niga junk RNA proteins, ‘broken ganglia’, if you will,” Arven wiggled his fingers for empasis, “you know, little tentacle-like structures that the virus used to latch itself onto your cells for penetration during the attachment phase? But without any trace of the viral capsid itself, which was probably targeted and eradicated by a mass nanite treatment of some kind, effectively neutralizing the active infection by eliminating it’s ability to proceed into the corresponding progressive phases.”

At this point Arven realized he was just thinking out loud and stopped himself by clearing his throat and waving his hand in a ‘never-mind’ gesture. “We’ll get to that later. My point is,” he frowned again, “despite the obvious mental and physical benefits of a healthy sex life,” Leux murmured, “I’m not exactly sure what the problem is.”

Maybe he’s just concerned about something else? Who knows what ‘experimentation’ means anyway, Leux considered.

“As far as I’m concerned, insofar as exploration of sexuality, I generally recommend my patients adhere to a few simple common-sense rules,” Arven shrugged again, and ticked off his fingers as he spoke. “One; communicate – honesty with yourself and your partner is critical; establish hard boundaries, soft boundaries, safe words, etc. Two; be aware of your physical limits – you are human, so don’t put anything in or on your body that it can’t handle,” here Arven paused to think up an example. Several came to mind, but he decided to spare the man specifics. “Things happen, but are rather awkward for everyone involved, especially extractions so don’t do that to yourself,” he stated instead. “And last but not least; when in doubt, consult a medical professional before attempting anything you feel uncertain about. Easy enough, right? So, Mr. Leavitt,” Leux nodded and clasped his hands behind him, “what exactly is the concern here today?"

Re: PRO: S [D01|0925] Mindbuggery Of The Highest Order

Reply #6
[Lieutenant Alistair Leavitt | Main Sickbay | Deck 11 | USS Theurgy ] Attn. @Dumedion

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As Arven continued his spiel, Alistair looked increasingly embarrassed, though not just at the sex talk. He was thirty eight years old, after all, and had enjoyed intimate relations with two other species in the past, a Betazoid and a Hekaran, with all the associated complications therein. Oh, and now an Andorian. Damn, I need to do some research about that. A certain frank honesty was necessary in such interspecies situations, both with the partner and a doctor. No, there was another reason for Alistair's embarrassment.

"So...uh...it turns out that I'm an idiot," he said. "I wrote a report to summarise everything, since we don't have my records, but I guess that I forgot to attach it to my medical file, or maybe it got stuck; the ship's computer systems are still a bit of a mess. The tertiary computer core has been giving us problems for weeks."

Alistair paused, mentally replaying everything, and grimaced. "The full story is a bit...well, complicated. I can tell you if you really want to know. The short version is that four weeks ago, I was infected with Niga on an away mission. I'd only been infected for a few minutes when I was rescued, and my body hadn't finished...you know...transforming, so our EMH devised a way to reverse the infection. Something that he called 'full body omicron-applied nanonic CRISPR reversion', whatever that is. He was confident that it worked, but because it was the first time that the procedure had been applied, he ordered me to get checked out again in a month, so...uh...here I am."

Looking quite queasy, Alistair rubbed his forehead gingerly. "There's no way of knowing if the virus that I was infected by is the same one that the Theurgy dealt with. It probably isn't. The EMH seemed confident that I was okay, though, and the Relativity doctors let me go too, but...uh...Doctor, please be absolutely sure that it's never coming back. After what happened, what we went through..." He shuddered. "I saw an entire world consumed by this nightmare. I don't want to take any chances of it coming back."

Re: PRO: S [D01|0925] Mindbuggery Of The Highest Order

Reply #7
[LT Arven Leux | Main Sickbay | Deck 11 | Vector 02 | USS Theurgy] Attn: @Griff
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“I detest acronyms,” Arven grumbled to himself as he tapped out a search command for the procedure Mr. Leavitt described, having never heard of such a thing. “As if we don’t have enough already – its not that hard to just say what a thing is, is it,” he asked rhetorically, holding up a shiny, elongated instrument. “This, for example, is a dermal and soft tissue infuser; but everyone just calls it a DRU – dermal regeneration unit – or a regen. Just call it what it is,” he added with a shrug, then set it back on the tray. His eyes never left the screen as he talked.

After the console bleeped a negative tone, Leux chewed his lip in thought for a moment. Whatever this EMH had done, it’s apparent that Mr. Leavitt had indeed survived his exposure to the Niga virus relatively unscathed, otherwise he’d be...well...dead, by now, the Doctor mused silently, arms folded across his chest. But without any hard data for comparison…

Arven sighed and let his hands rests on his hips a moment before turning his attention back to the patient. “Well, here’s the rub,” the Doctor frowned with a slight shrug. “Without the data from the Relativity, I have nothing to work with – no basis for comparison, you understand – to give you a definitive, no shit, 100% accurate answer. Now, I can take a reasonable guess, and say...the simple fact that you’re sitting here sweating all over my bed instead of chasing down and humping anything that moved to death as a good sign that you are, in fact, cured.”

Arven shrugged again.

“However, there are the trace amounts of broken viral structures still attached to your cells, and the...odd...cortical activity to consider,” he pulled up a graphical overlay of Leavitt’s neurological activity alongside another patient’s and tilted the screen for the man to see. “This is yours,” Arven pointed at the active three-dimensional image on the left, “and this is from another patient infected with Niga,” he pointed to the right image. “Note the similarities, but even more importantly, the differences; autonomous systems hijacked, yes, memory centers overloaded, sure, hormone production off the rails, you bet – but this,” Arven drew a circle around Leavitt’s frontal lobe, just above the pituitary apex of his amygdala. “This area should be lit up like a broken EPS conduit, but its practically inert.”

Once again, Leux realized he was thinking out loud instead of addressing the patient’s concerns and frowned at himself as he turned to run a tricorder over Leavitt’s crown. “Take a breath and relax, I don’t think Niga is a concern anymore. That’s just a guess,” he clarified with a wince; Arven loathed guessing. “A very reasoned guess – mind. Tell me, over the past few weeks, how would you categorize you’re overall mental health on a scale of one to ten, one being a nervous breakdown, ten being fully functional? How much sleep are you getting? Any lapses in memory, or uncontrollable daydreams, or flashbacks? Any panic attacks, or episodes of crippling anxiety?”

Once his scan was done, Arven focused his attention on the display screen, chewing his lip. “Maybe a full psyche eval wouldn’t hurt,” he muttered to himself.

Re: PRO: S [D01|0925] Mindbuggery Of The Highest Order

Reply #8
[Lieutenant Alistair Leavitt | Main Sickbay | Deck 11 | USS Theurgy ] Attn. @Dumedion

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Though mildly reassured, Alistair looked at his brain scan with concern. He could easily see where Arven's concern lay; there was a clear dampening of neural activity in the area, and weirdly targeted. If it were a positronic brain like Thea's, or a multironic brain like Vanya's, he could make a half dozen guesses as to the cause, none of them good. Neural networks were highly complex and interdependent, whether biological or artificial, so for a specific region to be so deenergised...what the hell?

"I'm fine, honestly," Alistair said to Arven with a shrug. "Call it a nine. I'm sleeping fine, my memory is perfect, my work is solid, my social interactions are good...I get anxious sometimes, sure, but nothing unusual for me, and Counselor Williams reckons I'm okay. After everything I went through, I know that I should be a wreck, and I keep expecting to just sort of...implode...but it hasn't happened yet."

He shifted uncomfortably, hating to say what came next, but forcing it out. "I still remember it all. Being infected on Betazed. Seeing the recordings of Earth and everywhere else getting assimilated. The Borg catching us...torturing us. The screams. The blood. The laughter. It makes me feel horrible to remember it all, like...like my gut is being ripped out, but I can still function. I don't break down or anything."

Alistair fidgeted, visibly pale, glanced at the brain scan again, then looked at Arven anxiously. "Doctor, what's happening to me? This reaction can't be normal, can it?"

Re: PRO: S [D01|0925] Mindbuggery Of The Highest Order

Reply #9
[LT Arven Leux | Main Sickbay | Deck 11 | Vector 02 | USS Theurgy] Attn: @Griff
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His violet eyes leapt from Leavitt's to the brain imagery and back as Alistair spoke, one arm crossed his chest, supporting the other as the Trill stroked his chin in thought. The doctor’s mind chewed through the data available and the patient’s testimony – unable to reconcile the two. Given his experience, the man should be in a psyche ward for treatment. This…doesn’t make sense, Arven frowned.

He hesitated to answer Alistair’s question, mostly because Arven refused to give voice to the truth; he honestly had no idea. What was normal? Every individual responded to extreme stress and traumatic experience differently; sure, there were statistics and generalized scenarios which could likely predict the outcome, subsequent treatment, and likelihood of recovery – but this was….well. This is something else entirely.

Arven shook his head finally, after a few more seconds. “I’d like to run a full battery of tests – broad neuroplastic pathway mapping, tissue samples, the works,” he nodded, then gestured for Alistair to lie down on the bed. “Can you tell me anything about who treated you on the Relativity? A Vulcan, or any other psionically active species?”

Once Leavitt was comfortable on the bed, Arven closed the scanning apparatus over his chest and started tapping in commands while he explained the questions.

“There are numerous cases of telepathic and empathic abilities used in treatment for the wounded mind; I admit the metaphysics are beyond me – yet even those treatments leave physical evidence of their use. This…retardation of your amygdala – goes beyond anything I’ve seen, however,” Arven hesitated, realizing that he was very nearly admitting that he had no idea what had caused Alistair’s ‘injury’ – or if it even was one.

He froze suddenly as an idea popped into being.

“Wait – wait,” Arven tapped on the scanner to cancel the tests, blinking rapidly; he was getting excited – chasing down a mystery.

“What if…with consent, of course,” he gestured to Leavitt, “what if we…intentionally trigger some of these memories, while the scan is active? I have the data from the cortical monitor, I’ll be able to use it as a baseline! All I have to do is let him get really immersed in it, so I can monitor that null-zone in there, and see it in action. With a powerful enough hallucinogenic catalyst... a moderately heavy dose of lysergic acid diethylamide should do the trick,” the doctor shrugged, then bobbed his head back and forth a bit, “with restraints, just in case.”

By the end of it, Arven realized he was essentially thinking out loud, and quickly apologized. “Sorry, its just…it’s rather boring around here most times and your brain is really interesting.”

The doctor frowned at himself then cleared his throat and downloaded the necessary patient consent form onto a PADD for Alistair to review and acknowledge. Once that was handed over, Arven turned to pull a fresh hypospray from a drawer and inputted the desired molecular compound from memory before turning back to his patient.

“Any questions? What do you think – want to give it a go,” Arven asked, then hooked a thumb over his shoulder quickly. “Don’t worry, I got all the sedatives if this goes tits up.”

Re: PRO: S [D01|0925] Mindbuggery Of The Highest Order

Reply #10
[Lieutenant Alistair Leavitt | Main Sickbay | Deck 11 | USS Theurgy ] Attn. @Dumedion

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At Arven's suggestion of more (quite scary-sounding) tests, Alistair sighed. It was genuinely disturbing that Arven thought it necessary, and extremely inconvenient given that the Theurgy had just departed Qo'nos. He didn't even know what was happening yet, but he would surely be needed in one form or another. Still, what if he fell ill in the middle of a battle? No, best to play it safe.

Thus, somewhat reluctantly, Alistair lay down as he answered the doctor's question. "I'm sorry, but I can't give you any details about the Relativity or her crew. Temporal Prime Directive. It's a huge violation of Federation law that you or anyone else aboard even knows that the ship exists, but it can't be helped. Uh..." Thinking back, he added, "I can tell you that nobody said anything about how they treated me, or even if they treated me. They pretty just much kicked me off the ship as fast as possible."

Then, as Arven had an idea and cancelled the test, Alistair's anxiety ballooned into outright alarm. The doctor's exuberance, as well as accidentally referring to Alistair in the third person, was only marginally less worrying than a drunk Klingon offering to perform brain surgery.

"You...want me to...deliberately...relive the most awful moments of my life," Alistair said in a flat monotone, eyes fixed on Arven in a dull stare. "Being raped. Becoming a sex-crazed animal. Getting hunted by the Borg. Watching my friends get tortured to death. That. All that." Then, in a very alien gesture for such a gentle man lying on a bed, Alistair's eyes filled with a cold fury, his glare turning downright lethal. "Your bedside manner sucks, Doctor Leux. Fine. If, in your professional medical opinion, this is important, I'll do it. If."

Not bothering to wait for Arven's reply, Alistair brusquely tapped the ACCEPT button, returned the PADD and lay back, still filled with rage. A distant part of his mind was terrified of the awful anger that had been unleashed, knew that it was wrong, unlike him, but Alistair paid it no heed. Instead he settled himself, looked straight up at the ceiling, and waited.

"Get on with it."

Re: PRO: S [D01|0925] Mindbuggery Of The Highest Order

Reply #11
[LT Arven Leux | Main Sickbay | Deck 11 | Vector 02 | USS Theurgy] Attn: @Griff 
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Arven nodded but offered no vocal reply; without the details needed from the Relativity, what choice did he have? He was already skidding down the slippery slope of unethical treatment with his plan and knew the consequences well enough before he’d made the decision to carry it out. Leavitt’s anger was understandable, and necessary – crucial in fact – but the man couldn’t know that yet, nor could he know that with a tap of his finger he’d reactivated the scanner.

Too late to turn back now. The damage is done.

Arven’s eyes fixated on the cortical scanner display throughout Alistair's tirade; not out of disinterest or rudeness, and certainly not without compassion. As the patient’s emotions flared, the doctor watched in complete focus as the man’s limbic system lit up while neocortex activity plummeted. The amygdala sparkled, redirecting the hypothalamus to flood the body with adrenaline and cortisol – as it literally overruled Leavitt's higher brain functions at the threat detected in the man's traumatic memories.

Come on, Arven ground his teeth, waiting.

Neuroplastic pathways – the superhighways of the brain – are remarkable constructs. Repetition creates them, makes them stronger. It’s how most humanoid creatures learn to walk, to talk, develop behaviors and a million other ‘mundane’ activities used in everyday life, almost instinctively, without conscious thought. Those structures take time to develop, usually, but trauma? The scars of the mind are seared into being nearly instantly, sometimes without the victim even knowing they are there for years, or even decades later; all in the name of self-preservation. The human brain is a wonderous construct - an engine designed by evolution to do one thing: keep the body alive, by any means necessary.

Leux stared at the screen, at something he didn’t think was possible – that shouldn’t have been possible. It lit up just as the adrenaline and cortisol levels spiked – during that tempestuous moment of critical action – when the brain readied the body for survival at all costs. Faced with imminent danger, Leavitt’s brain pumped his body full of energy, nearly to the breaking point. If it didn’t fight, or flee, soon, it would collapse in a last ditch effort of self-preservation; but it couldn’t – because something wouldn’t let it. Arven’s jaw dropped while he blinked rapidly, astonishment writ clearly on his face. Crouched in the deepest, most primal component of Leavitt’s brain, like a spider in a web of glittering silk, something glowed in activity – triggered to life by the automatic nervous system’s state of arousal. Arven left Leavitt on the bed without a word to walk closer to the display; his fingers spread the imagery to a closer view, down to the cellular level. It was organic; living tissue, based off Alistair’s DNA, but...not.

What the bloody hell, Arven’s brows furrowed with a shake of his head. This was the reason for the man’s remarkable recovery, how he’d managed to stay sane; this...implant...negated millennia of evolutionary biology, overruling the instinctual programming found in every other human being.

It was beyond anything Arven had ever seen. It was miraculous, dangerous – light years above Arven's skills to even begin to comprehend. It was...It was time to face the music. The doctor's eyes fell to the floor, knowing the cost of this discovery. He didn't revel in having his theory proven right; there was no satisfaction gained in it. He'd traded the trust of his patient on a hunch, and even though he'd never let Alistair see it, that betrayal alone felt like a cold blade thrusted into his gut. Even still, he'd done it...and Arven knew, deep down, he'd do it again...because it was necessary.

“Would you rather have a nice doctor, or one that’s right,” Leux sighed over his shoulder, then turned to face the understandable wrath of his patient. “Something, or someone, has altered your limbic system, Mr. Leavitt,” he explained quietly. “I...apologize for the deception...but I had to set you off in order to see what was in there.” Arven nodded to the display, then brought the hypo to his own neck and shot the mild dose of weak pain suppressant in with an audible hiss – just in case Leavitt acted on the violence in his eyes.

“I couldn’t use LSD even if I wanted to. It’s unethical,” he added with a shrug, then spread his hands in an open gesture of acceptance. “If you’re going to hit me just get it over with," he met Alistair's eyes calmly, "then I'll try to explain what we're dealing with."

Re: PRO: S [D01|0925] Mindbuggery Of The Highest Order

Reply #12
[Lieutenant Alistair Leavitt | Main Sickbay | Deck 11 | USS Theurgy ] Attn. @Dumedion

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Completely befuddled, Alistair sat up, having no idea what was happening. He hadn't been injected yet, but Arven had clearly just run a scan. Slowly Alistair put the pieces together, and as quickly as it had risen, the anger faded, replaced by confusion.

"You...but...you didn't...so I don't have to...what?" He sighed, rubbing the bridge of his nose. "This is a really weird day, and it isn't even lunch yet." Seeing Arven bracing, he laughed abruptly. "I'm not going to hit you, relax. I haven't punched anyone in my entire life. Besides, based on what Zark tells me, I'm so bad at fighting that I'd probably just miss you, hit a bulkhead and break my hand."

Bemused, Alistair stood back up and walked over to the display, although he didn't quite know what he was looking at. However, he became distinctly uneasy as realisation struck: that was his brain, his limbic system, and something had happened to it. Was happening. Something anomalous, unexplained.

There's something wrong with my brain.

Alistair took a deep breath to steady himself as the enormity of that thought hit home. "Okay. Right. Yeah. Uh...why did nobody pick up on this before? I was checked out when I came onboard, and Sarah...er...Nurse Bjorge, she did more scans afterwards. And...um...could it be a problem, like a tumour?"

 

Re: PRO: S [D01|0925] Mindbuggery Of The Highest Order

Reply #13
[LT Arven Leux | Main Sickbay | Deck 11 | Vector 02 | USS Theurgy] Attn: @Griff
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The change in Alistair’s emotional state was so sudden, so complete, all Arven could do was blink rapidly in amazement; the man's vitals leveled out to normal in a few short breaths – higher brain function enabled nearly instantly – as if something had merely flicked a switch. Bloody hell, the Trill’s mouth opened and closed with attempted speech, as Leavitt actually started laughing. Free from the retribution Arven honestly felt he deserved, the doctor visibly relaxed; head cocked to the side in a curt nod of appreciation at the unexpected dismissal. “Well, Ms. zh’Ptrell is the resident subject matter expert on such things,” he commented distractedly, eyes flicked from the human to the display and back again in a rapid search for further anomalies; lesions, hemorrhages, inflammation, neuro-chemical imbalance, anything else that could possibly explain this incredible shift in behavior, but found none.

Leavitt’s follow-up questions earned the human a dismissive frown and shake of Arven’s head. “Did Sarah instigate a threat-response high enough to trigger you? I doubt it,” Leux answered dryly, his attention focused on the display while his fingers spread and dissected the three dimensional image of Leavitt’s brain. “No, she didn’t notice it because she wasn’t looking for it – she was looking for remnants of the Niga virus and…well I don’t know what else she was doing quite frankly. We do have very detailed anatomy measurements – I’m sure those will come in handy,” he added cynically.

“Steady on, one step at a time.” Once the anomaly was clearly visible, Arven retarded the data recording from before Alistair’s “episode”. “Tumor? Not a chance,  you’d be d- …well. It’s not a tumor. As far as a problem,” he shrugged, “depends on your definition. Look, watch this.”Arven gestured to Leavitt’s brain, while he called up a similar image of another patient from the database to its left – two disembodied brains hovered in the air, painting them both in a light-blue glow. Leux pointed to the new brain. “This is Charlie; his symptoms include night-terrors, anxiety, depression, survivors guilt, classic case of PTSD – but the causality is the same: terrible, horrible experiences. This is Charlie’s threat response.” Of course, Charlie was a young female Petty Officer that died months ago from wounds taken during the Azure Nebula battle, but Arven was stretching the line of patient-practitioner privilege enough already.

Leux tapped a button, and the segmented brain lit up with inner electrochemical activity, like an inverted disco ball; yet the limbic system – that hind-brain, autonomous engine of survival – glowed with dominance. “Charlie is in fear for his life, seeking to escape the torment of his own experience, but there’s no escape from your own mind,” Arven commented quietly with a wave of his hand. “The mind locks up, the body follows – fairly standard response; now, lets look at yours.” Arven gestured back to the rotating vivisection of Alistair’s brain and began the playback.

“Note the spike in activity here,” the Trill jabbed a finger right into Leavitt’s brainstem. “Amy pops, but then –“ he froze the recording, as a bright yellow flash of jagged lightning erupted from the nubs of the amygdala to branch out throughout all ventricular lobes and beyond. "That there is your 'problem'."

Leux folded his arms over his chest with a shake of his head. “Ever seen anything like that? I’m no neurologist – but I sure as hell haven’t,"  he shrugged. “I can’t even tell you what it is, but I can tell you what it’s not.” Arven counted off his fingers. "It’s not synthetic, it’s not mechanical, it’s not supposed to be there, and it's definitely not impeding your basic autonomous neurological functions, because your still alive, obviously.”

Arven shook his head, at a loss. “If this was done during your…treatment aboard the Relativity, I’m not even sure we were meant to detect it; whoever or whatever did it went to obvious lengths to ensure that wasn’t the case – without dabbling into the labyrinthine laws of the timelords and potentially incurring their wrath, I mean. What do you think, Mr. Leavitt? Whatever this is, I’m guessing it’s there to help more than hurt,” Arven nodded to the image of Alistair’s brain and watched the man’s features carefully.

 
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