Title: Untitled

Author: tarotgal

Fandom: Star Trek: TNG

Rating: PG13 for violence, maybe?

Status: Very, very unfinished




Part 1: Appearance


            His eyes were closed, but he was far from asleep. Resting. Waiting. He wore a yellow-green uniform, his skin was pale peach, his eyes a soft blue, his hair a spiky, bright blond. And he was young, only a year out of the academy, and very lucky to have landed a position on the Enterprise.


            Ensign Yazermen forced his eyes open as the noise grew louder. It was yelling, that was for certain. Painful, terror-filled yelling and it was approaching. The doors to sickbay opened and they brought a man in on stretcher, medical officers including Dr. Beverly Crusher leaning over him, blocking the view. Rubbing his hand beneath his nose, he sat up, straining to see. The man's leg and side were seared and covered in blood. That indeed, constituted pain.


            He felt a hand on his shoulder to steady him and looked up to find Nurse Rein. “Is he goidg to be all right?”


            She nodded, watching as they anesthetized the patient with a shot on the arm. The man quickly fell quiet, motionless, eyes a scary open, staring up at the doctors. “He'll be just fine now. How are you?”


            Ensign Yazermen shrugged and before he could answer, lurched forward with sneezes, “ahhh-Hehshhhh! ahhhh-Hihshhhuh! ahhh-Ihshhhoo!” His body, already in a fetal-type position, curled up even more with a shiver. “Cad I go hobe to by owd bed?”


            She touched my forehead, as if that would allow her to decide. “I don't have authority to make that decision. You'll have to talk to Dr. Crusher when she's done there.”


            He nodded. He knew as much, but he had to at least ask.


            “Do you need anything in the meantime?” She sounded sweet, but her bedside manor left much to be desired. What it did have was a hint of 'my shift is almost over and I want to go home myself.'


            With a nod, he curled into a tighter ball. “Tissues, blease?”


            She asked the replicator for some, dropping a box onto the stiff slab of a bed he was restricted to. “Is that all?”


            He nodded, pulling one out with one hand and giving his nose a blow.


            “Have a good night, then. Someone will look in on you shortly.” And she was out like a blue blur.


            Alan Yazeramen sniffed, rolling over on his other side, then back again. He was positive that there was no way to be comfortable on one of these examining beds unless he lay straight on his back and when he did that, it was hard for him to breathe. His head was stuffy, his chest heavy, his shoulders achy and his nose runny. He didn't know what he needed, that was why he had come to sickbay in the first place. But all they'd done was take some basic tests and tell him to stay there until results came back.


            He didn't feel much like staying in the cold, drafty, open sickbay. People came and went like a daze to him, blurs of uniforms, mostly medical blue. He was sure he was feverish, but they hadn't given him anything for that or anything else for that matter. His only instruction had been to sleep and wait for the doctor. Well… that's what he was doing all right. He pulled the shirt of his yellow uniform down, tugging at the end. So cold. He shivered and sniffled, taking another tissue and blowing his nose.


            All of a sudden, he felt the urge to sneeze again. “ahhKshoo! ahhEhshhh! ahhhCheshoo!” He took another tissue and rubbed at his nose with it; absolutely wretched.  Couldn't he just go back to his quarters and wait for someone there?


            “So, Alan, how are you feeling tonight?”


            He opened his eyes to find Dr. Crusher pulling a chair up to his bed. “Sick.” He felt sick. “That's why I'b here, right?”


            She gave a soft smile, running her fingers down the sides of his face to his neck. “What seems to be the trouble, then?”


            Sdeezidg. Lots of sdeezig. Aches, shivers, ruddy doze…”


            She ran a scanner over him, flashing and beeping softly.


            “The durse already did that… “


            “Humor me,” she replied with a sly smile.


            He sighed, rubbing at his nose. “I've beed id here for hours….”


            She kept her smile, eyes twinkling as she replied, “Then another few minutes won't hurt you, now will they?”


            “I guess… I guess dot… ehhh” he sniffed and shook his head, raising a fist to his mouth and nose, “ehhAhhshhh! Ahh-Huchhhh! ahhChushhh! ahhHushhhh!” He pulled another tissue out with one hand, blowing his nose. “Bless be.”


            Beverly sat back in her seat with a sigh, looking puzzled.


            “So?” he asked. The sooner he was treated, the sooner he could get back to his quarters.


            “It appears to be the common cold.”


            He narrowed his dark brown eyes. “What?”


            “A cold. A rhinovirus. But all of those were eliminated centuries ago. We have natural immunity. And we get vaccines… I cannot imagine what's making you ill like this.”


            A bit disturbed, he propped himself up on an elbow. His head spinning, he lowered himself back down again. “I'b dot allergic—“


            “It's certainly not an allergy,” she replied, running her hand through her cherry-brown hair. “It's a virus all right. You've a mild grade fever and it's trying to settle in your chest. Allergies don't do that, not even the rare ones.” She sighed. “No, it's looks and acts just like a cold.”


            He sniffed, taking another tissue and rubbing his nose with it. “Excuse be… by doze is ruddig,” he coughed from congestion. She patted him on the arm. “So, what's the treatbedt?”


            “Treatment?” she asked for clarification, getting a nod from him. “I'm not sure what I can prescribe until I know what this is exactly. But for now… bed rest, lots of liquids, stay warm… I feel like a 20th century physician here but I don't know what we're dealing with yet.”


            It was the yet that scared him. He strained and sat up, dangling his legs off the bed. He was just glad to be done with this. “I'll follow those orders for dow, thed. I'll be id by quarters—“


            She put her hand on his chest, gently pushing him back down. “Ahh… I don't think so. Not until I run some more tests. I can't risk you infecting the rest of the ship. You'll have to stay here.”


            “Doc! I—“ he tried again to protest and rise.


            She sighed, pushing him back down and standing. She pulled a thin, silverish blanket up over him, and it began to warm him entirely. “Look Ensign, you have a virus that should not exist in this place, let alone in this time. As a doctor, I need to examine you and make sure you're not a danger to yourself or the rest of the ship. And that means staying under my eye for the next twelve to forty-eight hours minimum.”


            Two whole days stuck in this drafty, uncomfortable place with people walking around him, jabbing at him, avoiding him? No thank you. “I'll restrict byself to quarters. I wod't see addyode—“


            “I'm sorry,” she said softly, rubbing her hand over his spiky, platinum blond hair. “You'll need to stay here. Doctor's orders. Now, do you need anything more?”


            He nodded, and turned his head down toward the floor, his body shaking with spasm. “ehhAhshhh! AhhShooo! ahhhSheshh!” He rubbed his fist against his nose. “Bless be.” He paused, lowering his hand as if he didn't have the energy to hold them up. “I could use a cup of tea add a book, add by owd quarters.”


            She gathered his used tissues, replicated a cup of tea and a book. “Nice try, but I need to keep you where I can see you.”


            He sniffed, taking the items thankfully. “You cad cobe over to by quarters all you wadt,” he offered as a last attempt.


            She smiled. “Get some rest here and call me if you need anything at all.”


            He nodded, understanding but not agreeing. Try as he might, he just could not get comfortable. The slab of a bed was stiff where mattresses usually gave way to a body, softly cushioning. The pillow was nothing more than a raised bump of more of this, more uncomfortable than nothing at all. There was no way he would be getting any sleep. So he lounged, propped up by one arm at a time. He casually sipped at the tea and thumbed through the novel on the view pad. This was going to be a long visit and there was no possible way at all for him to fall asleep.





            A few hours later, Alan woke up. This time, not to commotion but to his own snores which ended in a loud snort and cough.


            “Hey, look who's awake,” Beverly said softly with a smile, wheeling her chair over to his bedside. “How's my mysterious patient feeling?”


            He sniffled, rubbing miserably at his nose, and immediately answered with sneezes, “ahhhIhhshhh! ahhSheshhh! ahhh-Hushh! ahhh-Heshhh! Sniff! Sniff! Bless be.” Weakly, he reached for another tissue. Finally, he replied, “Cad I blease go back to by bed dow?”


            Shaking her head. “I hate to break it to you, Ensign, but you're still sick, and I'm still no closer to understanding why.”


            His eyes widened. “Dot at all?”


            “Not at all,” she echoed, the back of her hand against his forehead, then his cheek. “Warm enough?” she tucked the blanket around him more tightly.


            He nodded, sniffling.


            She took a tissue and rubbed his nose for him. “Good. Now that you've had a good long nap, perhaps you'll answer a few quest…” her voice faded and she lifted the tissue box, tilting it towards him.


            Alan's eyes were shut, his face long and relaxed though the rest of him was pulling in and back tensely. He leaned forward in a shake, “ahh-HEHshhhh! ahh-Hishhh! ahhh-Hehshhoo!” He sniffled, taking a tissue from the offered box. “Bless be, Dr. Crusher.” He blew his nose, and sniffled again. “Just cad't stob sdeezidg,” he said with such congestion that he didn't seem in any condition to answer any questions at all.


            “It's all right,” she soothed him. “You're sick, Alan. Don't apologize for that. Now, feel up to a few questions?”


            He nodded weakly.


            “When did you first notice your symptoms?”


            Sniffling, “By doze started ruddidg this bordidg whed I woke ub.” He scrubbed his hand at his nose. “Started gettidg worse all at odce add I was relieved of duty before ludch tibe to cobe here.”


            She nodded. “And your last place and time of leave?”


            He had to think a moment. Rigel Seved… for by birthday five bodths ago.”


            Not so easy a solution as an off ship virus, obviously. With a sigh, “Think back carefully… where have you been and what you have eaten and who you have talked with in the last week.”


            A week? A whole week? Who could remember all of that? “Dr.Crusher…”


            “Whatever you can remember, please, Alan?”


            He paused, then nodded. “Last Tuesday I had eggs add juice for breakfast, thed a ludch id Ted-Forward…” he launched into explanation, sniffling and sneezing his way through the details he could remember. When finally finished, he blew his nose into a handful of tissues.


            Beverly patted him on the arm. “And you don't remember coming upon anything or anyone you might have gotten this from?”


            “Do,” he shook his head.


            Standing to pace back and forth in front of him, “What I don't understand is that if this is a virus, why isn't anyone else sick?”


            He started at her dumbly. “Who says they ared'y? It took be a whole bordig of sdifflig before I fidally cabe here.”


            “Was anyone else in engineering—“


            ahhh-Heshhh! AhhhhTeshhoo! He shrugged, blowing his nose, then pulling the blanket more tightly around himself with a shiver. “I dod't really rebeber add… add…” he backed off again, breath overtaking his words. “I thig I have to… sdeeze agaid…” he relaxed, sneezing freely, “ehh-Heshhh! Ahhh-Ihshhhh! ehhehhhhhahhhhahhh-Ihhshooo! Sniff!


            She patted his arm. “Bless you. Try to keep your mouth and nose covered when you sneeze like that, all right?” She tucked the blanket around him and nudged the tissues closer. “Rest now. I'm going down to Engineering.” She collected a data pad and hurried out.




Part 2: Contagion


            Lieutenant Brodie kept a pale mint hanky up his sleeve at all times, military-style. His father, a member of Earth's military air squadrons, had taught him this technique and he'd always just followed orders from habit. It came in handy when accompanying a woman to a sad movie. Or when he was too warm from crawling through the Jeffrey's tubes by the reactor core on all fours. Or when something exploded and he was not to breathe in the dangerous gas. But moments like those were few and far between. The hanky was always there but rarely come in handy. But this afternoon, it was being used almost constantly. Ihhhhshhhah! Ehhhhshahhh! Ihhhhshihhhh! He buried a pinkened nose in the green folds, took a strong, deep breath, and blew his nose heartily.


            Work was going slowly, groggily. While he'd been on duty for hours, it seemed that he'd gotten practically nothing accomplished in that time. He put down the tool he was working with and rose to his feet with a stretch, closing the panel with a light tap of his foot. He looked around, rubbing his hands up and down his arms beneath the black and yellow suit, and then shaking once with a shiver. He clenched his teeth and shivered again. “Cobuter?” he asked, sniffling into the hanky. The computer paused, then responded with two short, upbeat tones. Idcrease the teberature id the roob two degrees.”


            “Temperature now increasing to 82.0 degrees Fahrenheit, 27.77778 degrees Celsius, 300.92778 degrees Kelvin. Temperature still registering under acceptable Engineering environmental requirements.”


            Rolling his eyes, his breath caught. “Thag you,” he replied quickly, switching the computer back away from himself as he gripped a chair with one hand for support, holding the hanky up to his nose with the other hand. Ihhsshhhhhhh! Ahchishhhhh! ahhhIhhshhhuhh!” He paused, holding position, leaning forward, still feeling rather sneezey. His nose wiggled, nostrils flared, mouth opened and closed halfway then opened again. Finally, he took in another sharp breath and let out, “Ahhh-IIHHSHHHH!” He rubbed his nose through the hanky, pulled the chair out and sat down hard upon it. His elbows rested on his thighs, legs spread as he sat hunched over, hanky hovering only an inch from his face, at the ready. He burst out again, eyes squeezing tightly closed. Ahh-Ihhshhhh! Ehhh-Ehhshhhhoo! Ahhh-Ihhshhhh!” he sniffled, holding his nose firm for a series of hearty blows.


            “Report directly to Sickbay, Lieutenant.”


            Without looking up, he snorted. His voice was weak but firm, cold, “Get back to work, Diade.” Then he gave his nose another few good blows.


            There was silence, then a feminine clearing of the throat.


            He gave his nose a rub, then threw a glance over his shoulder, freezing in position. It was certainly not Diane. “Dr.Crusher!” he ran a hand through his bushy brown hair and sniffed strongly. Nervously, “I thought you were sobeode else. Sniff! Sniff, sniff! I'b sorry.”


            She nodded, narrowing his eyes at him. “You don't look very well.” He was sniffling continuously, and blowing his nose again. “And you don't sound very well.”


            Tell him something he didn't know. He nodded, rubbing the hanky against his nose. “I dod't feel very well either,” he echoed. He shivered and coughed. “'S cold id here.”


            Somehow, she didn't feel particularly cold. In fact, she'd never been in Engineering when it was this warm.


            Cobuter?” he asked, hugging himself as he shivered again. “Idcrease the teberature id Bain Edgideerig roob two bore degrees.”


            The computer bleeped. “Temperature now increasing to 84.0 degrees Fahren—”


            Thag you,” he croaked, cutting it off. “Says it's 84, add it's still cold id here,” he explained, staring down at the control panel in front of him and shivering again. “I thig it bight be broked.”


            She reached down, pressing her hand to his head. “I think that you might have the chills.”


            He shrugged, standing and walking over to the main control panel, running two fingers over it, trying to look busy. He wasn't up for more than a few seconds when his mouth dropped open and his breath turned to deep, heaving gasps. His hazel eyes squeezed closed tightly, and his whole body fell forward. Ihhhh-Ahhshhh! ahhh-Chishhhh! Ehhh.. ehhhhehhhIHHSHHHH!” He sneezed weakly into the hanky.


            Beverly stood, taking him by the arm and leading him back sitting down. “Blow your nose.” He did, wetly. “There you are. You,” she said, leaning against a control station, “are sick. Didn't you notice this?”


            Michael Brodie shrugged again.


            “Did you think you could perform your duties properly when you're sneezing all the time like that?”


            At this, he raised an eyebrow and swung his free hand out, gesturing to the empty room. “Id case you did't dotice, I'b the odly ode here to rud thigs. So I did't have a choice.” He shivered, rubbing his hand up and down his arm. Curtly, “But yes, I cad haddle it.”


            It was abnormally vacant in Main Engineering. “Where is everyone, then?”


            He shrugged. “I reblaced Lieutedat Viz, who was the odly ode servig whed I got here. Eidsid Yazerbed was ordered to sickbay before I arrived, I believe. I've been tryig to order Diade there all day, but she refused to go add tried to get be to.”


            “She's sick, too?”


            He nodded, rubbing his nose with the hanky. “She wedt to get us sub food.”


            Dr.Crusher sighed, running her hand through her hair. “You both need to come back to sick bay with me.”


            With a snort and a laugh, “There's no one here to run Engineering.”


            She stood up straight, a little worried but confident in her job. With a tap on her badge, “Commander LaForge?” Silence.


            Michael sniffled, “He reported id sig this bordig,” he explained.


            Exasperated, she sighed, taking a short walk to the end of the room and trying again. “Commander LaForge? Geordi, please answer.”


            There was a sound, then some coughing and sniffling, and a weary, “LaForge here.”


            Geordi, this is Beverly. I need to see you in sickbay.” She paused. “Can you make it there?”


            There was a pause, then an answer. “Beverly? I thig I'b cobig dowd sig…”


            She sighed. Coming down sick? Now there was a surprise. “I know. Can you get to sickbay?”


            Another pause. “Yeah, I thig so.”


            “Good.” Then she touched her badge again. “Commander Data, please report to Engineering. It's an emergency.”


            Michael raised his eyebrow, impressed and amused at the casualness the senior staff used with each other.


            The soft, logical voice replied, “On my way, Dr.Crusher.”


            Michael, slouching in the chair, had a finger up to his nose. He rubbed, then held it there, nostrils flaring, his hazel eyes straight on Beverly. When she'd finished her business, he let lose, “ehhhhhHheshhh! EhhhChushhh! Ahhh-Hushhh!


            “Bless you, Brodie,” came a female voice, and they looked to see Diane walking in with a tray of food. It wasn't too full, just a sandwich and two drinks, and a few used tissues. She set the tray down and froze to see Beverly. “Uh, Dr.Crusher,” she hesitated. “Is everythig alright?”


            Beverly shook her head. “I have a sickbay full of sneezey engineers. What could be better?”


            Michael only replied with another few sneezes “ehhIhhshhh! ahhhh-Sheooo! Ahhhh-Hitchhh!” and a thick blowing of his nose.


            Data arrived in seconds, and so no sooner had Diane returned than the three of them were already heading back to sickbay. The walk was silent for the first few minutes, the only sounds being the persistent sneezing of both Michael and Diane. Michael leaned on Dr.Crusher most of the way there, snuffling into his hanky and feeling like the entire ship was staring at him as he passed. It was bad enough to be sick, but having to be escorted all the way there by the chief medical officer? He wasn't a baby…


            ehhh-Hushhh! Ahhh-Heshhhh! Ahhh-Cheshhhh! But he was sick.


            She rubbed her hand up and down his back.


            When they reached sickbay, it was rather busy, and noisy. Sounds of sniffling and sneezing filled the air, and sick crew members sat on the beds. Most of them were in civilies, though the few that were in uniform were wearing the same yellow-green. There were four new patients there, and Alana and another medical technician were buzzing around, trying to make them feel better.


            Michael shivered, and sniffled, rubbing at his nose. “Looks busy,” he muttered, raising a hand in greeting to Lieutenant Viz who was lying on his back on one of the beds, looking miserable, coughing into one fist. Commander LaForge had not yet arrived either, but there were few beds available.


            Dr.Crusher pointed at one closest, “Diane, why don't you take that one, and Michael…” she scanned sickbay. “There's one left near Alan.” She guided him over, necessary as he still leaned on her a little. “Alan, how're you doing?”


            The blue eyes looked up at her in misery. “If I go hobe, thed you can use by bed for ode of the dew batiedts.” He was still curled up, nose dripping, looking as sick and small as the Ensign could.


            Michael laughed as he hoped up and wrapped a metallic blanket of his own around his shoulders. “Hey Yazer… how ya doin'?” he asked, rubbing at his nose all the more.


            “If I feel half as bad you as look, shoot be.”


            Michael pretended to go for a phazer, laughing more, which sent him into coughs. The place was filled with the sounds of the sick now, and Michael was feeling forced to be part. “ehhIhhhshhhh! Heh-Ehhshhhh! ahhhh-Ahshhhhh! ahhh-Ihshhoooo!


            “Bless you!” rang Alan, who closed his eyes afterwards.


            Michael found as dry a spot as possible on the hanky and gave his nose a few good blows. He was going to have to start resorting to tissues soon, and his weak nose would not put up with that long. It was already pink at the nostrils as it was. He was very fine-skinned, which stood out against the bushy brown hair quite noticeably. Dr.Crusher patted his leg. “Now lie still and let it scan you.” She looked up to see Commander Geordi LaForge stumble in. “I'll be back in a moment,” she said, leaving him.


            Michael watched his commanding officer shiver and cross his arms in front of his chest. The man was in his bathrobe, red, fluffy, warm. He was breathing with his mouth open, his sightless eyes hidden behind the visor. He closed his mouth and sniffed, then opened it again as Dr.Crusher went up to him, her hand on his forehead.


            “Why are all of by officers here?” he asked, waving his arm over the room.


            “They're all sick,” she replied, moving her hand to his cheek. “Just like you.”


            His eyes grew wide. “Who's badagig Edgideerig?!”


            Beverly placed a hand on his shoulder now, reassuringly. “I asked Data to fill in temporarily until I figure out what this is.”


            Still agast, “You bead you dod't have ady idea what's wrog with us?”


            With a sigh, “Right now, all I know if that you've all got bad head colds that should not exist.” She stuck her hands in her pockets. “And that's all I know.”


            Understanding that she meant not to tell anything in front of them all anyway, he turned his attention elsewhere. He coughed to clear his throat and raised his hand. “Hi... how's everybody feeling?”


            There were some groans, some coughs.


            Geordi nodded, rubbing his nose with two knuckles, then cupped his hand over his nose and mouth. eehk'ushhh! eeh'Tuksh!” he sneezed, sniffing strongly and rubbing his nose with his knuckles again.


            Michael smiled, shaking his head, “Bless you, Cobbader!”


            Wadt a tissue?” Alan suggested, holding up a box he'd been curled around.


            Geordi nodded walking over and taking one, then hopping up beside him on the bed. “How long have you been here?”


            Alan sniffled, “Sidce this bordidg. She wod't let be leave,” he said jokingly, nodding his head toward Dr.Crusher.


            “She's just doig her job,” Michael replied.




Part 3: Prevention


            Commander Geordi LaForge snuck another tissue out of the box, looking up to see another of his Ensigns walk through the door, bend over, and sneeze twice into his cupped hands. Geordi wasn't at all comfortable with any of this. Why was only his crew sick? Why not some other part of the ship?


            Dr.Crusher showed him to a chair, as they were now short on beds already. Then she stood up in the center of the room. Geordi knew how strong and confident a woman and doctor she was, and perhaps it was because he was weakened from illness, but she looked the pinnacle of strength, nurturing, and power. “All right,” she shouted over the light nose of sniffles and coughs in the room. “I need to ask you all some questions. Just raise your hand for yes. Everybody got it?”


Every patient in the room raised his or her hand, except for Geordi who was steadying himself with one hand so he didn't fall off the spot of bed as he cupped his hand over his nose and mouth with the other. eehhk'chuh! Eekk'ushh!” He pulled out another tissue and blew his nose, balling the tissue up in his palm.


            Alan reached up to pat his back and fell victim to sneezes himself, “eehshhhhhuh! ahhh-ehshhhhh!


            Geordi handed him two tissues and put his arm around the man comfortingly. Alan moved around as a mass of blanket, snuggling against his commander for warmth. It seemed terribly unconventional, but Geordi, rubbing his knuckles under his nose, gave him a tight, comforting squeeze.


            “Good!” Beverly said, continuing. “All right. How many of you work in Engineering?” All hands were raised.


            “How many of you worked in Engineering in the last ten hours?” All hands again, and a soft round of coughing from Diane.


            “How many of you worked there in the last five hours?” Only four hands went up.


            “All right. How many of you noticed feeling sick when you woke up this morning?” All hands again. Back on the right track.


            “How many of you are suffering from a runny nose, sneezing, and chills as major symptoms?” Every hand raised, more enthusiastically as if to prove their points.


            “How many of you think you might know how you caught a cold?” No one at all moved, save for Michael sneezing. No leads. Just some similarities, but no leads.


            “How many of you just feel like being back in your own bed asleep?” All hands went up, Alan's most eagerly.


            Dr.Crusher sighed. “Well, I'll make each of you a deal. You let us examine you, take a blood sample or two, run a few other tests. You let us get you anything you want from tissues to tea. You cooperate with us… and then we'll not only figure out what's wrong with you all but we'll let you go back to your own beds.” There were nods, claps. “What you all have,” she said when the noise had died back down, “is some sort of head cold. Sniffley noses, fevers, congestion, coughing… a strain of a cold that should not exist. But I can honestly say that aside from some usual discomfort, no one seems to be in any real danger.” She ran her hand through her hair. “Now then, everyone just sit back and relax and let us do our jobs.”


            Geordi sniffled, rubbing the back of his neck as Dr.Crusher walked over to him. “I'll be right back,” she told them. “Geordi, can I see you in my office please?”


            He had the feeling of a child who had done wrong being called to the principal's office. Alan moved off him, and he hopped down, taking a few tissues from the box and stuffing them into the pocket of his bathrobe. Her office was only a few feet away, sectioned off by thick glass. He immediately went for the chair, sitting down with relief and a shiver. “What's wrog with us, Doc?”


            She shook her head. “I've been observing Alan all morning, and as far as I can tell, it's not contagious. That is, it's not transmitted from person to person. I really don't know what this, but I'll be damned if I'm going to sit by and watch it happen on my ship.”


            “That's good, Doc,” He pulled out a tissue and rubbed it against his nose. “Because we really dod't feel well.” Geordi slouched in the comfy chair, leaning his head on the back, cocking it to the side. “I cad see why Yazer's anxious to get back to his owd bed.” He felt terrible, and it was getting worse. Not just tired but run-down and weak.


            Beverly nodded. “I wanted you here when I contacted everyone else.” She pushed a button on her panel. Dr.Crusher to bridge.”


            “Go ahead, Dr.Crusher,” came the captain's voice.


            Geordi closed his eyes and rubbed a finger beneath his nose. He didn't want to sneeze while in communication with Captain Picard. But his nose was tickling fiercely, running. He sniffed, rubbing more at his nose.


            “I have a medical situation on my hands here. I've got a sickbay full of Engineers with what appears to be colds.”


            “How many?” he asked.


            “Over ten already, including Commander LaForge who is currently sitting here trying not to sn—“


            No good. The tickle was much too strong. ehhh'Ihch! Ekk'tuchh! hept'chuh! He rubbed a tissue against his nose, then blew wetly. “Excuse be, Sir” he mumbled with a sigh.


            “—eeze…” Beverly finished. “There's no reason I can find as to why they're sick, or what specifically they have. Data is covering Main Engineering alone right now.”


            Captain Picard sighed. “What do you suggest, Doctor?”


            She ran her hand through her hair slowly. “Medical alert 1, restrict the area, and try to figure out what the hell this is before it gets any worse.”


            “Make it so. And keep me updated, Dr.” He paused. “And LaForge?”


            Geordi, snuffling into the tissue with his runny, stuffy nose, sat up straight to take his orders. “Yes, Cab… Cabtaid? ehhhehk'Ushh! Eft'ushh!


            Kindly, “Feel better, Commander. And wish your men well for me”


            With a weak smile, “Thag you. I will.” He blew his nose again.


            Dr.Crusher closed communications with the bridge. “Two more calls, then I've got questions for you… are you all right, Geordi?”


            He nodded, holding tissues up to his nose and bending forward, “ehh'Uhshh! effTushh! ekk'efshh! Sniffling and gazing out of his visor with teary eyes, “As all right as exbected. Just have the sdeezes is all.”


            “Just give me two minutes, ok?”


            He nodded, mouth hanging open. ehh'Ekkshh! Ihkk'uhshh!


            Beverly pushed another button. “To all personnel. This ship is now on Medical Alert 1. Main Engineering is a restricted area. In addition, anyone displaying cold-like symptoms mainly sneezes, congestion, chills or a fever are to contact and report to sickbay immediately. I repeat, Medical Alert 1. No one is allowed in Main Engineering.” She ended transmission and contacted only one more party. “All medical staff in third and forth shifts please report to sickbay for change of duty, thank you.”


            Geordi pulled off his visor, rubbing a hand on his forehead, then replacing it. “Beverly? Cad I take a nab here while you take care of sobe of by officers? I…” he yawned. “I deed sobe sleeb.” His voice was weak.


            Beverly came forward, sitting on the edge of her desk, facing him. “In one minute, Geordi. First, I'm going to need the duty rosters for your crew. And any other details you can come up with about with about what's in Engineering that might have caused this.”


            He nodded, motioning to her computer display with a 'come here' sort of movement. “I'll deed the disblay add keybad. The cobuter's dot going to recogdize be, at least dot by vocal basswords.”


            Beverly turned them and pushed them over. “Do take your time, I'd certainly got work cut out for me.”


            Geordi brought up the work orders and synched them by time of shift as well as duty. There seemed to be people in sickbay sneezing who had worked all over engineering. Not real correlation between position and ailment. And it looked like only members of the last two shifts were affected. That certainly allowed for a short range. What had happened? Sniffling, he lay his head back down on the back of the chair, closing his eyes beneath the visor.




            Waking to a tap on his shoulder who knows how much later, he coughed and blinked a few times. It was Dr.Crusher back again. “What do you deedehehh'Efffgshh!” he sneezed messily, and she offered him tissues from a box she seemed to be carrying around with her.


            She stuck him in the arm with a small metal device that hissed. “I need to take a sample of your blood. I think we're onto something. I allowed the virus to survive and mutate in the lab, and apparently some infected blood is all it takes to keep the virus from spreading. It's as if the virus is at a standoff with itself. I'm not sure what that means, but I've created a synthetic solution of it to inject to those not affected. So far, it's worked in that no new cases have been brought before me. But I'm still no closer to finding a cure. I just can't figure out how any of you would catch a head cold….” She faded off. Geordi?”


            He was asleep again, resting his arm and elbow on the desk, and his head using that as a pillow.


            She tapped his shoulder again. Geordi?”


            He woke with a start and a snort. “Oh... Doc... sorry…”


            She eased him up. “It's ok, come on, let me find you a bed.” She led him over to Alan.