SANITY TAKES A HOLIDAY
Guinan sat at the table alone, absently stirring the nearly empty glass of the aqua colored beverage. Shipís Counselor, Deanna Troi studied the hostess. She noted the womanís movements were not the smooth deliberate motions she normally associated with the person she now watched. Deanna had been there for ten minutes and still the usually alert person had not raised her eyes from the table to see the Betazoid standing near. When Deanna began a deliberate approach to the troubled woman, Guinan raised her eyes and presented a halfhearted smile.
"Counselor, how may I help you?"
"Actually I was going to ask you the same question." The counselor focused on the dark eyes, watching for the words that often go unheard.
Guinan waved off the comment. "Thereís not a thing I can do to change things now." She paused then smiled slyly at the empath, "Tell me. You could sense my dismal thoughts over all the humans surrounding you?"
The counselorís countenance relaxed as she smiled, "Truthfully, I came here because I needed to get out of my office for a while. It appears you could also use a retreat. Letís compare notes, and I choose you to go first."
"Yes, you would. Thereís not much to say, and little to be done about anything at this point." She closed her eyes than began. "It has been one of those days. First, there was an argument between two new members of my staff. I thought I settled the dispute. I apparently was far from successful because now both of them want a transfer. Then came a communiqué from a family member who is determined to ruin her life in whatever way possible. Need I continue?"
Guinan seeing the compassion in the counselorís face felt compelled to try to lighten her burden. "Okay, Counselor. Itís your turn."
Deanna took a breath, then let it go in a deep sigh. "Iím finding that no matter how long Iím among humans, there will always be one person that cannot accept me without suspicion. The newly transferred ensign in engineering is certain Iím prying into his thoughts and refuses to be alone in my company for a more than a moment." The empath looked forlornly at her listener. "And Mother is coming for a visit. She wants me to go back to Betazed with her. There is someone she wants me to meet."
Guinan laughed at that. "Itís nice to know there are a few constants in the universe." She stopped smiling as her attention switched to another approaching their table. Deanna too, watched as the doctor made her way to their seats near a window.
"May I join you?" Beverly Crusher looked from one to the other awaiting their answer. She sat heavily down at their consent. "I need a vacation." She saw the look the other two shared. "What?"
Deanna answered, "We all seem to be having a bad day. What happened to yours?"
Guinan watched with interest as the counselor slipped discreetly back into her professional shoes.
"I ordered new updates on two pieces of diagnostic equipment. When the medical supplies arrived today, not only were the updates not among them, but the vaccines we were to deliver to the terra-transforming unit are all outdated. As if that wasnít enough, three of the new transfers never showed up for their physical and will not respond to my reminders. When I talked to Commander Riker about the situation, he responded with a glib remark about members of the senior staff taking charge of their problems." The doctor firmly planted her elbows on the table then in exasperation dropped her head into her hands.
"When did you approach the commander, Beverly?" The counselorís interest was peaked.
"I talked with Will Riker about a half-hour ago, why?"
" I talked with him about an ensign Iím assigned to just before that."
Guinan cleared her throat; "I talked with him about an hour ago, about the request for transfers. Apparently we hit him within fifteen minutes of each other."
Loud angry voices interrupted their conversation. The counselor quickly tapped her communication badge, "Troi to security. We need help in Ten-Forward."
Within minutes security arrived, but not before a fracas had erupted. Fists and chairs were directed at would be advisories. The air was polluted with loud angry voices. When the peace had been regained and order restored, Commander Riker strode over to where the doctor and counselor had set up a first aide site. He waited until the last bloody nose had been cured before addressing them.
"Doctor, Iíd like to see a list of the participants. Start with the injured and weíll work from there. Do either of you know how this happened?"
They both replied negatively. He was not satisfied with that response.
"Counselor, you had no perception that there was something wrong?"
"Not until we heard the shouting. There was so much anger I canít be exactly sure of the origin." She was looking sternly at him trying to probe beneath his formality with them.
"Where were you when you heard the shouting?"
Beverly led the way to their seats. Their table area remained as they had left it. The surrounding chairs lay strewn about from other occupantsí rush to either join in the fray or aid those who received the first blows. The commander surveyed the room from their advantage point.
"Iíd like to see you both in the observation lounge with as much information as you can assimilate."
He moved on to talk with other members of security leaving the two officers to look after him.
"What is going on here? I donít like any of this one bit." The counselor turned to look at her companions. Guinan had returned after directing her staff in the clean up detail.
"Doctor, Counselor. You receive material on seminars being held regarding medical topics. Yes? Iím sure there must be something we can attend in the next couple of days. I have a feeling this may be the opportune time to attend one."
"Come to think of it, there is a series of programs being offered dealing with the affects of prolonged space travel on relationships. Guinan we can request your presence to this. I need to check the dates, but Iím sure it is this week."
Deanna Troi smiled at the reaction from her compatriots.
Having gone over the Ten-Forward incidence in methodical detail, Commander Riker announced the captain would be joining them. He then spoke to the hostess. "Guinan, if you have something else you need to do Iím sure the captain would understand."
His dismissal went largely ignored. Guinan pursed her lips to speak but had little time for a remark before Deanna Troi interposed handing him a PADD. She stood squarely in front of him waiting for his reaction.
The commander looked at it for several seconds. Raising his eyes to the counselor he inquired, "Whatís this?"
He spoke only those two words, but the counselor felt his emotions swell in unreleased anger. She moved back away from him shook by the unexpected force and strength of his reactions. To the others, it seemed she maintained a professional coolness as she replied, "Itís a request for leave for the three of us to attend a seminar."
"Yes I can see that, Deanna, but the three of you? I doubt the captain would be happy with that right now. Why all of you?" He looked at each one waiting for an answer.
Dr. Crusher answered. "The seminar is on the influence of prolonged space travel on relationships. Can you name three other people aboard this ship who are better qualified to attend?"
Will Riker frowned, "I just think your timing is off on this. I strongly suggest postponing this little excursion to a time when it would be of benefit to more than just you three."
The counselor took up the cause. "Perhaps our timing is perfect on this Commander. Are you officially objecting?"
"No, not officially."
"Iíll note it in my log, Commander."
The commander and counselor continued watching each other as though mentally sparring. The other two waited, unsure as to the rules and the contest being played. Deanna sensed the emotional war battling within the commander. She couldn't pierce beyond the armor he constructed with the sole purpose of distancing himself from her.
Riker broke the silence.
"Dismissed. I would like a few moments with the counselor. The rest of you may go ahead. Captain Picard is expecting us in his ready room."
At first no one moved. Then both Beverly and Guinan left the observation lounge.
Deanna moved closer to Willís side. Attempting to express her concern for his odd behavior, she spoke softly, "WillÖ" She touched his sleeve. "Whatís wrong? Itís not like you to..."
"Deanna, I know you care. But there is nothing wrong; other than there are too many people taking too much for granted. Donít presume upon our relationship here."
He had intended to say more but she cut him off with a sharp gaze.
"Understood Commander. It will not happen again. IF that is all?" She glared at him awaiting his reply.
He nodded. She spun on her heel leaving him to stare after her. He sat rubbing his bearded chin wondering about the counselorís sudden odd behavior.
Commander Riker was pretending to be studying the list the doctor had handed him of those injured from the scuffle in the lounge. His mind continued to replay the near conversation he had with Deanna Troi shortly before coming to the meeting. He listened to her voice and fought to shake off the erotic thoughts he had had since their last meeting. Will knew had he not displayed anger, he may well have swept her off her feet and carried her off to a more private place before demonstrating exactly why she shouldn't be leaving him now. Shaking his head to try and clear those more lustful thoughts from his brain, he again tried to pay attention to what was transpiring at the meeting.
Captain Picard listened to the counselorís account of the incident before adding, "Commander Riker has reported that there has been a series of problems dealing with the latest group of transfers. Were any of them involved in the incident in Ten-Forward?"
"One of the injured didnít show for his scheduled physical; that is the only one." Beverly looked at Troi for her answer.
"No one that Iím familiar with, Sir."
"Commander, have you found any explanation for the events that transpired earlier?"
"Nothing that makes any sense. I was hoping the counselor may enlighten us with her insights." Will Riker watched the empath shift uncomfortably in her seat. His eyes missed nothing of her body movements. He frowned suddenly feeling hurt and anger that she would prefer a seminar than to spend time with him.
"I sensed animosity, antagonism, and anger. I do not know the source. It seemed to erupt all at once." The counselor looked solemnly at her teammates, and then magnanimously took the responsibility for lack of advance warning.
"Captain, I should have felt something was wrong before the fighting broke out. I did not and I donít know why. But I did not have any sense of that scale of a problem. In any gathering of humans there are always an ebb and flow of many emotions, but I had no sense of anything this intense. When I did, I immediately notified security."
"Counselor, was there any one person or one group that seemed more aggressive than the others?"
"No sir. The anger and tension seemed to suddenly fill the entire room."
She stopped talking as she again sensed the strong mixed emotions from Will. Deanna discreetly scrutinized him looking for anything that would help her to understand what was happening to him.
The captain thought for a moment before suggesting, "Perhaps this is more of a coincidence rather than a series of related events. Letís not overreact. Commander Riker will take corrective disciplinary measures. Also I want those involved restricted from Ten-Forward for an allotted time."
Riker nodded his head and Picard continued.
"People, letís remember we have several new crew members aboard who have never served on a starship. You are in many ways mentors. It is always easier to pass personnel problems on rather than deal with them yourself. I would like to see each of you more involved in resolving them."
He waited for their reactions; he saw Troiís eyebrows rise, and Crusherís jaws tighten. Perhaps Riker had a point when he mentioned the officersí behavior as somewhat belligerent.
Always the diplomat, the captain tried a more placating approach. "Listen, I want these young people to appreciate your capabilities as I do. Give them that opportunity. On a closing note, the doctor has informed me of an upcoming medical seminar, and Iíve given permission for both the doctor and counselor to attend. Guinan may also be attending."
Commander Riker turned to look at the doctor and then stared unbelievingly at the counselor, but said nothing. He saw Deanna cock her head to one side as she watched him. He remember tilting her head to a similar angle for a kiss, but quickly moved away from those feelings and closer to the anger he felt at her desire to be away from him.
The women were sitting sipping tea in the runabout. They had waited until late to leave for their seminar. Each was busy until the designated departure time by the demands of their professions. Barely escaping only at the last minute to the craft that would be shuttling them to the planet Pacifica, where their next two days schedule were filled with meetings and lectures.
Beverly began expressing her concern over the occurrences of the past couple of days.
"Deanna, maybe we should have postponed leaving the Enterprise."
"I thought you suggested that to the captain."
"I did. He asked if I thought the Enterprise couldnít operate without me."
The counselorís eyes opened wider.
Beverly continued, "I passed Will in the corridor on my way to your quarters, he nearly ran me down. Did you two have another round?"
Deanna looked unhappy. "He stopped to wish me a pleasant trip. I also expressed my doubts about leaving, since the outbreaks of anger and odd behaviors have continued. Will suggested I take the time while I was on Pacifica to look up a specialist that could aid me in dealing with my own personal and professional relationships. Things rather escalated from there."
She leaned back into her chair. "The strange thing is Ė that while he said one thing, I sensed totally opposite emotions from him."
Guinan had been listening quietly to the two officers now spoke.
"Counselor, didnít you once tell me that that was a common occurrence among humans? That they commonly say one thing and mean another?"
"Yes, but this was different." Deanna couldn't hide her concern or her confusion from the other women.
"How?" Guinan sipped from her cup as she awaited an answer.
"I donít know. I canít put it into words." She looked at the other two and forced a smile. "Maybe I just really need a vacation."
Guinan grinned. "Exactly. Iím looking forward to that refreshing midnight swim you were telling me about. I think itís precisely what- if youíll pardon the expression- the doctor ordered."
She raised her teacup to her companions. "To sanity. May it thrive in the waters of Pacifica."
The three gently touched their cups, each secretly hoping to have made the right decision in leaving the Enterprise and her problems.
The problems aboard the Enterprise were rapidly deteriorating; more and more crewmembers were confined to quarters. Captain Picard looked about him seeing the bridge compliment still in full with the exception of the counselor. He wondered if the decision to allow the chief medical officer and the counselor to leave ship at this time was the most advantageous choice he could have made. There was something about Commander Rikerís attitude at the time that seemed to have pushed him to doing the opposite of his wishes.
He needed to make provisions in the event things became any tighter.
"Data, Commander Riker, Iíd like to see you both in my ready room."
Once the officers entered the captain began.
"Data, I want you to go to sickbay and work with Dr. Crusherís team. Use the information gathered from the medical logs and check the counselorís logs as well. Begin with a full medical work up on all crewmen involved in any incidents during that time and correlate that with the information in the logs. Data, if Commander Riker and I begin to show any inability to perform you are to take command. Starfleet is aware of the situation and monitoring developments. We are in every sense of the word quarantined until some answers are found, we are to take precautions that no one else be exposed."
The meeting lasted only a brief time then Data left for sickbay leaving Commander Riker and the captain. Picard noticed the commander seemed sullen and had said very little. "Number One do you have something on your mind?"
Riker remained silent for a several moments before asking, "Permission to speak frankly sir."
Picard nodded, inwardly bracing himself for what always comes with that request.
Rikerís voice held the tone of barely restrained contempt.
"Captain, I strongly suggested we not allow the doctor and counselor to depart on some excuse of a medical seminar when there were obvious problems brewing on board. May I ask why you never listened to my reasons, when now we are faced with a predicament which has made us vulnerable to God knows what."
Riker stood before him, his hands balled into fists, apparently unaware of how infantile his rantings sounded. The captain warily watched his first officer circle the room.
"Hind sight is always perfect. Will, at the time I could not have foreseen the problem escalating to these proportions. Your sense of things appears to have been clearer than mine this time."
Riker turned slamming his fist into the bulkhead he ground out through clenched teeth.
"Thatís a lot like crying fire after the place has burned down."
Picard took a slow step closer to the commander looking into his face, "Will, what are you feeling right now?"
"Anger and frustration at seeing my friends, my crew falling apart and being unable to perform their duties. Frustration at not knowing how to help them." His were eyes blazing with the barely concealed emotions within him.
Picard looked down seeing the battered fist at Rikerís side he directed, "Will, go to sickbay and have your hand attended to, weíll finish this later."
Riker looked down at his hand, frowned and left.
The captain spoke into his comm badge, "Data, Commander Riker will be reporting in, I want a thorough check on him, diagnostics, the works. I want him confined to sickbay until I see the results and I release him. Is that understood? I'll speak to Doctor Selar."
Picard went to the newly installed replicator and ordered, "A cup of ĎEarl Grey Teaí- hot." Sipping the hot liquid, he expected the comfort of the familiar flavor, but found there was an odd taste to the drink. He could begin to feel his own frustrations and misgivings surface, again he found himself in front of his computer terminal searching for clues, past or present that would shed light on the situation.
The first full day on Pacifica went as expected. The seminars were enlightening, the speakers were charismatic enough to have the participants looking forward to the next day, and yet the two officers from the Enterprise could not immerse themselves totally in the programs. Guinan on the other hand was exuding enough enthusiasm for all of them. She persuaded them into another midnight swim. They arrived on the beautiful white beach to find the other seminar participants also enjoying the tranquil warm waters.
Guinan and Beverly had just stepped out of the water when a tall woman approached them, "Excuse me, are either of you Counselor Troi from the Enterprise?"
"No Ė sheís there, see she just dove under again." Beverly turned her attention on the woman, "Why is there a problem?"
"Are you from the Enterprise also?" When the two replied affirmatively she continued, "We have an important communiqué from a Lwaxana Troi. It is to be returned immediately. If you would be so kind as to have the counselor come to the communications building we will reestablish that contact." The woman pointed the way to the building.
"Yes weíll do that." Beverly watched the messenger make her way through the beached swimmers in the direction she had pointed. She was startled by the large drops of water landing on her from the newly emerged dark haired woman dripping beside her.
"What is it Beverly?" Deanna Troi asked as she took the offered towel. "Did you know that woman?" She was quickly filled in as they gathered their belongings to follow the messenger.
Lwaxanaís face appeared on the screen, "There you are ĎLittle Oneí! I believe you owe me an explanation as to your location, but first things first. I think you had better find a way back to your ship as fast as you can. That is if that android person will allow you on board."
"Mother, slow down. What are you saying, you were trying to go aboard the Enterprise? Start from the beginning." Deanna looked over her shoulder at her companions sensing their interest.
"Why are you on Pacifica at a time like this. You knew very well that I was coming to visit. Have you lost all manner of decency? I was so hurt when whats-his-name the robot Ėtold me you had left for a party with your friends, I could have just died. I would never have imagined my own daughter deserting me like this for all the universe to see." Lwaxana appeared upset as she watched her daughter's image on the screen.
Deanna swallowed; she had genuinely forgotten her motherís visit. "Mother, I am so sorry. I really had forgotten, things on board were hectic. Iím sorry." She reached out to touch her motherís mind to assure her of the sincerity of her apology. She continued, "Mother, you said Data wouldnít permit you to go aboard, Why?"
"He said the ship was under some kind of ban, no one would be allowed aboard that didnít have business on the Enterprise." Lwaxana remained watching her daughter and sensing the alarm Deanna was feeling, she softened, "Perhaps Little One, it would be wise for you to get back as soon as possible. Maybe that Commander Android Person would allow you to speak with Jean Luc. I was informed the Captain was busy with other concerns to speak with me."
"Mother, where are you now?"
"Iím returning to Betazed dear, where at least Iím welcomed, even if itís not by my own daughter." Lwaxana turned a mournful expression on for her daughter's benefit, knowing how to milk the occasion for all that she could get from Deanna in remorse.
"I know, Iím sorry. I promise to make it up to you. I will spend an entire week with you, you choose where. Mother, I have to go, we need to find out what is happening." Deanna was trying to shield the relief from her voice and her mind.
"Yes, well Iím going to keep you to your promise this time. Dear, be careful; donít take any unnecessary risks. You know how much you mean to me." Mrs. Troi smiled wistfully into the screen.
"I do Mother, and I do love you." Deanna heard in her mind, "I never doubted it Little One", as the vision of Lwaxana disappeared and the communication terminated. Deanna turned to her companions; "We need to get back."
Doctor Crusher nodded, "Letís start with contacting the Enterprise."
The three women sat quietly at the seaside drinking establishment trying to decide on their next move. Data had told them of the plight and exiting condition of the crew. He first denied their request to return, then after much persuasive arguing that they had already been exposed to the crew and were not showing any of the symptoms, Data reluctantly relented giving them permission to return.
The problem was how. There were no Starfleet craft with business in the Enterprise area. They had discreetly tried to find transport other than Starfleet vessels, but to no avail. Guinan had left the table to talk with the bartender. They watched as she spoke with ease to the native, laughing as though enjoying a joke, then they became quiet, whispering, taking turns looking about them for anyone who may be too interested in the conversation the two were having.
"What do you think is going on there?" The doctor hid her amusement.
"Well one of two things, either they have just exchanged secret recipes for a new beverage or sheís finding us our way home."
Deanna had to smile at the finesse with which Guinan easily manipulated the friendly bartender. "Sheíll have him eating out of her hand in a minute."
Beverly absently nodded, "Deanna, I have this feeling thereís something I should have seen in the beginning-some trait Iím missing that would pull this thing together and make some sense of it. Iím going back to the communications building to see if Data can transmit the latest medical update."
"Guinan and I will work on finding our transportation, if I can tear her away from her new friend. Weíll meet you back in our rooms in about two hours?" She watched the doctor move quickly out the entranceway and down the beach.
Guinan returned to the table with a smug smile in place. "Well, we have our ride back, and itís not too shabby from what my friend tells me."
Deanna looked back to the slicky bartender to see a mirrored look of the smug smile. She forced herself to return a smile and wondered what Guinan got them into.
They were the first to arrive back at the rooms; the doctor returned twenty minutes later looked exhausted. "I hope you two have more to show for your time. Data was able to send a portion of the information I asked for before the communication began to break down. Apparently, an electromagnetic storm is hampering their satellite system. Guinan, youíre looking quite pleased with yourself, I take it we have transportation home?"
"We have, we leave in about an hour."
"Thatís wonderful. I donít know how you managed it, but the sooner we reach the Enterprise the better." Beverly noticed Troi wasnít smiling but watching Guinan. The doctor now gave the hostess her full attention, "Okay what else?"
"We are the entertainment on the ride back. Itís aboard a tourist ship, Beverly. We will entertain the group for six hours." Deanna got some satisfaction sensing Beverlyís reactions matching her own.
The doctor turned to Guinan, "Exactly whom are we entertaining and how?"
"Where is your sense of adventure? Itís nothing like you think. They are a group called ĎBibleotechnicsí; theyíre scholars studying ancient manuscripts. They are probably a bunch of introverted, shy, elderly bookworms. Listen this is their big vacation a trip to three different planets to check out the manuscript depository on each planet. Anything we do will no doubt be worth a lifetime of excitement to them."
Beverly continued to stare at her, wondering if she and the bartender hand been sampling some the exotic spirits. When the doctor remained unconvinced, Guinan promised, "It will be fine. Have I ever led you astray? Now tell us what you found out."
The doctor glanced over her information once more before handing it to the counselor. "Deanna, what strikes you first in Dataís report?" She did not wait for the reply; "Most of those in Dataís report, who are unable to perform duties or held in observation are male. If you remember back in the lounge all those involved physically in that incident were male."
"Except Lieutenant Johns." Deanna remembered the spirited young woman.
"Oh..yes," Guinan smiled. "The little brunette who decked Ensign Titus. It took two from security to hold her back from belting him again. Remind me to serve her only synthehol for now on."
"Okay, one female, but the majority were male. It may be someplace to start, we need to get more details."
"Everything is packed to go, Beverly, maybe we can communicate with Data on the way back. He may be able to use this when setting new perimeters for our information search."
"The Aardvark! You have to be kidding!" Beverly looked at Guinan in dismay. "Weíre traveling on a ship called The Aardvark, I know this will prove to be an interesting trip."
"Hey, itís the only ship leaving now, itís free and we get to meet new people. What more could you want."
They had no sooner laid their bags down in their shared cabin, than the entry chime sounded. Guinan opened the doors to reveal four smiling, hopeful, young adolescent males. The tallest turned away from the women to address the red haired and freckled youth behind him, "I thought you said they were young women? They are as old as my mother!"
Guinan quickly stopped any further discussion between the youths. "Yes and WHO are you and why are you here?" Her tone dashed any hope that still clung to the face of the freckled youth.
"Excuse Jemmie, please, Iím sure he didnít mean any disrespect. My uncle arranged for this trip; it is our school club trip. We were expecting someone closer to our own age." He looked at each of the women sizing them up, then smiled suddenly as he asked, "Can any of you dance?"
Six and one-half hours latter the Doctor Crusher was in sickbay laboring to understand the enigma that faced her. She left the captainís bed to walk to the bed occupied by Will Riker. He was unconscious but remained restrained.
"Heís been sedated Deanna, it will be a while before he regains consciousness. Hopefully by then, we will have solved this problem."
The counselorís face was overcast with her bleak thoughts as she remained watching the commanderís sleeping form.
"Beverly, I should have known something was seriously wrong, how did I miss this?" She squeezed the hand she held in hers.
"Come on, letís go to my office. I need your perception on things. We need to retrace the past several days to find the beginning of this string of events. Then maybe weíll be able to unravel all the knots and get to the source of the problem."
The doctor led the way into her office. She commanded the computer to pull, in chronological order all reports of crew behaviorisms that required disciplinary actions.
The counselor stood where she too could view the results on the computer screen. After several minutes of studying the preliminary data, she addressed the computer, "Computer, what is the total number of those treated for behavioral dysfunction."
"The current total of crew members under medical observation or confined to quarters is one-hundred and seventy-eight."
"How many of those are male?"
"Eighty-one percent of those meeting the requested specifications are male."
The counselor looked sharply at the screen before them then at the doctor. "The first dozen or so afflicted were male. Now all we have to do is find how they were inflicted and with what."
Data entered the office, "Doctor the medical reports you requested. You may find the captainís logs of interest." He tapped the information into the computer before them.
They beheld the captainís face as he began to narrate his encounter with the commander, climaxing with Commander Riker confined to sickbay. The captain demonstrated remorse and frustration, which would be normal under the circumstances. However, the tone and gestures Picard were exhibiting were not those of the captain the crew had come to know, but were those of a man of little temperance.
"What do you sense from him, Deanna?" Beverly watched as the empath worked to decipher the emotions and translate them into words.
The Betazoid frowned, "I sense he is working at containing a feeling of frustration that has become almost physical to him. It is as though he is fighting the impulse to become brutally angry. These are feelings I have never sensed from him, and would have never thought the captain capable of having."
"Data, Iíd like to go over the blood chemistry of everyone. Iím going to analyze it again. There must be something there, a common denominator in all the crew members exhibiting those abnormal behaviors."
The doctor then turned to the counselor, "Deanna how would you classify these abnormal symptoms weíre seeing?"
"A broad classification would be ĎMajor Affective Disordersí, characterized by their severe and inappropriate responses. Further definition of the behavior appears to lean toward ĎAffected Psychosisí since we are dealing with severe problems in moods or emotions. Right now, Iím more concerned with what would have triggered a mass outbreak of such a rare event. Iíll begin detailing some history of the event by speaking with those who witnesses some of the incidents. There are many crew members who were not as severely affected, Iíll talk with them, perhaps there is something Iíve overlooked." The counselor added, "Letís meet for a late lunch and compare notes." The doctor nodded her agreement.
The patronage in the lounge was sparse. Deanna Troi and Beverly Crusher sat at a quiet table with a plate of salad, waiting on Data to arrive. The two were tired and feeling the fatigue, that each had to fight continually to disown.
Guinan had stopped to join them when Data strode through the doors and up to their table. "Doctor have you been able to assimilate your test results?"
The doctorís fatigue was shortly forgotten, she was anxious to begin explaining the results of her research. "Yes, I have some interesting, albeit, puzzling results. A little oddity that stands out, I found a much higher level of LH in all the patients in sick bay. When I tested for testosterone levels I found that in every case they were within normal range."
She saw that while her audience was listening they did not comprehend the impact of her findings. She explained, "LH is produced by the pituitary gland and stimulates the secretion of testosterone, but in every case it appears to be stimulating an entirely different chemical- a synthetic testosterone, if you will. Why this is happening I donít know, but the results are what medical books refer to as an "anabolic rage". These outbursts of unqualified and unconfined anger."
"Beverly, how does the body produce synthetic hormones?"
Deanna looked from Guinan to Data and back to the doctor, her apprehension apparent not only in her face, but her voice clearly sounded of her alarm.
"It must be induced from something on this ship." Beverly referred her next question to Data, "What is different aboard the Enterprise? What has changed in the days previous to these occurrences?"
Data tilted his head as his positronic brain sifted through all the possibilities. " I will go over the shipís logs. Doctor if you are correct in your theory, can you eliminate the synthetic chemical already in the crew membersí bodies?"
The doctor shook her head, "Before I can do that we have to find how this whole thing started. We must find what precipitated the event, then we will know better how to stop it, and concentrate on reversing itís effects. Letís look at the methods that such a process could have been induced into a body: thereís orally, invasivelyÖ."
Guinan stopped her, "Wait! Are you saying this whole thing could have begun by something eaten by a crew member?"
Beverly shrugged her shoulders, "Ingested, eaten, something drank, thatís a possibility. Why, Guinan, what are you thinking?"
"We had new food replicators installed in ten-forward just last week. We celebrated with a new drink. A certain commander had been harassing me about my lack of imagination since there had been nothing new to drink for sometime."
"Ah, yes. Ďthe purple stuffí". Deanna smiled thoughtfully, "Will said it packed quite a punch on the tastebuds."
"Data! New food replicators. How many?"
"That is correct Doctor. Six newly developed replicators were brought aboard at the last space station and installed shortly thereafter. The technological advances in these will provide an enhanced sense of taste."
The doctor stood suddenly, "Guinan, could I have a glass of the Ďpurple stuffí now, please?"
As the hostess left them to retrieve the requested drink, the doctor spoke softly to the counselor, "Iíd like to run some tests on it. Data, I need samples from all the new replicators. Theyíll need to be labeled as it the location of the replicator each was taken from. If we could tie each affected crew member to a food replicator we would have our protagonist."
Guinan returned carrying a carafe of the purple liquid. "I wanted to make sure you had enough to work with."
Data quickly went about his task. When all the samples were collected, he disabled all the new replicators that had been brought aboard the Enterprise. Guinan had fortunately kept one of the old models for back up; she remained in ten forward to supervise its use.
The counselor sat next to the captain accessing the depth of his sleep to that of his emotional state. Now she could read none of the hostility from him the she had sensed from most of the crew. Deanna again reread the medical profile Data had provided. The extraordinary strength of Picardís character must have allowed him to temper the emotions that seemed to strangle other members of the crew. She moved to check on Will Riker. The empath gently moved the lock of hair from his forehead; softly she ran her fingers along the side of his face down to his chin. She wouldnít have taken such liberty with anyone else on board, but she couldnít prevent the old feelings from surfacing again; feelings she had deliberately kept closely hidden. She leaned down and softly placed a warm kiss on his lips, lingering a moment before straightening.
"Deanna," Beverly put her hand on her shoulder at the counselorís start. "Iím sorry I didnít mean to startle you. I think we have something. Come into my office, Data and Guinan are there."
Data waited for all to be seated before beginning, "We can trace every case of the ailment to the new food replicators. However, the crewmembers with the more pronounced symptoms were the crewmembers using the ten-forward replicators. One beverage in particular seems to amplify the disorder."
"Let me guess, Guinanís latest concoction." Deanna grinned at the hostess.
"Listen," Guinan began, "In my defense, they wanted something with a punch. I did my best."
The counselor became serious again, "Why that drink? Is it the ingredients? I thought that the replicators were unable to replicate anything harmful." She looked from Data to the doctor for answers.
"It appears that one particular ingredient, reacts to the replicating process in an unexpected and unusual way by actually mutating itís chemical make-up. That mutated substance sets off the pituitary gland in the human body, then reacts chemically with the hormone to produce the synthetic hormone we have found."
Guinanís eyes widened. "Of course! The planet I was visiting at the time I came across the drink was a..a. let's just say a non humanoid planet, but that would explain why I never noticed this affect while I was there."
"Guinan, it was not the drink alone, it was the combination of the drink and the new replicators. We have to run a specially designed diagnostic on this equipment to examine the problem more closely. I will need Geordiís aid in preparing such a diagnostic program." Data looked a bit lost, for a moment before adding, "When Geordi is feeling better."
"Data, weíll have Geordi back to his old self in no time." Doctor Crusher was feeling revitalized with the progress they were able to make.
"So doctor, how do we go about correcting these hormone imbalances and restoring the Enterprise crew to a more humane disposition?" Guinan stood as though ready to move into action at the doctorís word.
"Data and I have developed a serum that should reverse the bodyís ability to produce the hormone and at the same time dilute the hormones already in existence. We are prepared to begin disturbing the serum by hypospray now. With the four of us working, we should be able to finish in less than three hours. When enough time has passed to allow the body to rid itself of the troublesome product we can bring everyone back to consciousness."
The senior staff meeting was quite long. There was a lot to discuss and extraordinary explanations to be given. Picard thanked the doctor and others for their fine performance in finding the solution to the ailment that had nearly crippled the Enterprise. Finally, the Captain dismissed all.
As the hostess, counselor and doctor met in the corridor, Will Riker caught up to them. "I feel I need to apologize for my behavior earlier. IÖ"
"Commander, letís just leave it at- you were not yourself. No apologies needed." Beverly playfully smacked him on the back.
"Actually, I was thinking that perhaps I owed you a dinner. Would you be interested in dinner tonight in my quarters?" Deanna gave him her warmest smile.
"Iíd be delighted. We could dance the night away".
He watched the three women in front of him cringe. "Come on, Iím a not such a bad dancer. What?"
"Iím sorry Will, dancing tonight just doesnít sound very appealing. You could say we danced our way home." At his expression she promised, "Iíll explain tonight."
"I need to get back to ten-forward I owe the ship a new drink, weíll call it ĎGuinanís Vindicationí".
Will Riker looked smug as he replied, "I hope it is a lot better than ĎGuinanís Revenge' ".
Deanna waited behind as the other two women moved into the turbolift. Will turned her toward him, "I'm serious about tonight, I need to talk to you."
"Is talking all you had in mind Commander?" She smiled impishly at his look.
"No, Counselor I had thought dinner would be a nice beginning. Then I.." He paused, then pulled her into his arms as he nuzzled her neck then whispered the rest of his plans for the evening.
Deanna pulled back enough to look into his face, "I'm off duty in ten minutes and so are you, why wait until this evening."
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