The Tricorder's Tale
by Suz

Disclaimer - "Bother," said Pooh as he was assimilated by the Para-Borg.

This is similar to an earlier story of mine, but since I'm plagarising myself I figure it's allowed. Besides, I prefer this story.

I'm taking some liberties with this story, but if TPTB can, why can't I?

For Irenee, just because.


I'm not sure why he did it. Perhaps it was an accident, perhaps it was simply fate. Maybe he just forgot. Or maybe...on some level he *knew* that I wanted to be aware of what was happening. Perhaps, on some kind of level that he didn't even recognise - technological? - he knew that I didn't want to be isolated. It was as if there were some kind of connection between us two because we were both creations of man.

Or, as I said, it could have been an accident.

Whatever the reason or cause, the hologram left me open and activated.

I'm not sure if I can explain to you how frustrating it is to be deactivated, but I will try. I'm closed at the moment you see; that's why I'm writing this. You'll never be able to grasp the concept of just how boring my existance is when I'm not in use.

I have a complicated life, as it is. I know that the hologram is a healer of some kind and that without my help many would die and would have died. Yet he uses me infrequently, and I have discovered that on occasion he will use another of my kind and leave me lying on the medtray. The betrayal of that act is something I do not allow myself to think about.

As you may or not may not be able to imagine, my brief activation makes it all the more frustrating when I'm turned off just as things are getting interesting.

I'm turned on only when needed, my scanners picking up and putting into order all the biological details that the hologram wants to know.

On rare (and often brief) occasions, I am left somewhere unguarded and activated, and during those times I am able to catch glimpses and insights into what life is really like here. It is so different from the paltry existance I selfishly call my 'life'. I do not breathe or eat. Yet...I need energy to sustain me and in a curious way I can reproduce, if only once again by the intervention of man. And although they do not realise it, I am aware. Does that not signify life of some kind? I do not know. The only one similar to me that I have encountered is the hologram, which is why I consider him a 'brother' or relation of sorts.

I'm digressing. You'll probably find that I do that a lot, but if it gets annoying let me know.

What am I saying? I doubt if anyone will ever read this. It's written in computer code, hidden in the least accessible part of my memory.

I'm digressing again.

I apologise.

So, for some reason or by blind luck, the hologram left me activated next to the diagnostic console as he walked from the main sickbay and entered his office. He began singing an Aria rather loudly so I lowered the sensitivity of my aural receptors.

I took this opportunity to 'stretch my legs' (a rather bizarre phrase that I heard the hologram tell a patient once that seems somehow fitting here) and scanned my surroundings. The reach of my sensors when fully amplified is nearly five hundred feet in every direction. However, extending their reach that far severely cuts down on accuracy, so I made myself content by just scanning the room I was in. I had done this before of course on the previous occasions when I had been activated, but each time I detected something new. Residual DNA traces left by a patient or visitor who had been in here, infra red activity caused by the holograms presence, and sometimes if I were especially lucky there would actually be someone in the room with me. I didn't particularly care whom - Borg, Kazon, Talaxian, Breen - the point was that I could scan them not because it was my job and required of me, but because of no other reason than I wanted to just because I could. On those times when I was being disgustingly self-indulgent I would disconnect the circuits that lead to the LED's and speakers so as not to draw any unwanted attention.

I did this again in the story I am telling you, making myself as unnoticable as possible.

The first sounds of his approach that I detected were his footsteps. Amplifying the power to my microphones, I soon picked up a trace of his heartbeat pounding its rhythm healthily. He was whistling, which although it was not a particularly unusual activity for humans as a species, it was certainly unusual behaviour for him.

The pounding became louder as the doors to the room opened and he stepped inside. A quick scan and DNA comparison confirmed it - this was Commander Chakotay.

He paused his whistling and spoke. "Doctor?"

The hologram walked into the main room from his office, approaching the First Officer.

"Ah, hello Commander. And how are you today?"

"Fine thank you Doctor," the human seemed quite jovial. "You wanted to see me?"

"As a matter of fact I did. It's regarding...the Captain."

Had they not been well-insulated, I suspect many of my circuits would have been melted by the sudden barrage of biological information that was practically thrust at me (although I'm willing to admit I may be over-dramatising by a small amount). The veins in his cheeks vasodialated, causing his face to flush slightly; testosterone levels rose dramatically; his production of adrenaline accelerated; his perspiration levels increased, and his pulse sped up by quite a degree (I should point out that why this may sound like a great many biological functions occured, they were very subtle differences that I only noticed because that is what I was specifically created for. On with the story).

He managed to hide his uncontrollable reactions quite well actually, my sensors picking up increased metabolic activity in his muscles indicating that he was folding his arms across his chest. His voice was very neutral. "What about the Captain?"

Apparently the hologram knew better. Pursing his lips, he mimiced the Commander's position, folding his own arms across his chest. "The 'Captain' was due for her physical this morning but she hasn't turned up yet. I assume she's avoiding it again as she usually does. I thought it would be best to contact you first before I go to her so we can coerce her together."

This time the human couldn't hide his reaction at all as his eyes widened and his expression became what the database classed as 'fearful'. "Um...I don't think that's a particularly good idea right now. Perhaps later-"

"Don't be ridiculous Commander," the hologram interrupted "Computer, what is the location of Captain Janeway?"

Quickly unfolding his arms and holding them out in mid-air, the human appeared to be in denial and didn't stop the computer from replying:

"Captain Janeway is in Commander Chakotay's quarters."

The hologram's mouth froze for 4.7 seconds in a half-open position as his expression changed from one of curiousity to one of smug understanding. The human meanwhile, had brought his right hand back and was rubbing it over his face.

"Oh I seeee...." the hologram began "Am I to understand that the Captain has already had a physical this morning?" He rose his eyebrows meaningfully.

Commander Chakotay glared at him through the gaps between his fingers, but that didn't stop the hologram from continuing.

"I suppose you've already given her a rather thorough examination, hmmmmmm?"

Finally seeming to come out of his denial, the Commander said loudly "Enough of the inneundo Doctor, please!!"

Immediately chastised (though seeming to hold on to some of his humour) the hologram apologised. "I'm sorry Commander. That was very unprofessional of me."

I was quite amazed. It was the first time *I* had heard him apologise for anything. Soong only knew if other tricorders (the horror, the horror...) had heard him apologise for something in the past.

Just as quickly the Commander's sense of humour seemed to return and he pulled his hand away from his face. "But very human of you Doctor. And I'd be lying if I said *I* hadn't been in a wonderful mood this morning, but-" he pointed a finger at the holograms chest "don't you dare make a comment about *why* I'm in a good mood, understand? And no comments to Kathryn, agreed?"

He held up his hands in mock surrender. "Agreed. I'll be the very soul of discretion. You can trust me, Commander. I've never let anyone know about Tuvok and..." he quickly turned away from the human. "Forget I mentioned it."

I'd be lying myself if I didn't say I would gladly give up one of my anodine relays to know what the rest of his sentence was going to be.

As it was I never found out, or at least I haven't *yet*, as the Commander left shortly after promising that he would persuade the Captain to come to sickbay.

I kept myself busy in the interim by running further scans of the room, browsing through my directories and deleting unwanted files (housekeeping is a nightmare) and trying to decide if the hologram would like a back-up singer.

Throughout the wait, I kept my microphones at maximum and focused towards the corridor outside the room. I heard the occasional crewmember pass by but none of them had the distinctive walk of the one I was waiting for.

Eventually I heard it; the confident walk that indicates that one is in control, that they know what they want and what they have. The walk of a Captain. Or in this particular case, the walk of a woman who was very pleased with herself.

She entered the room and the hologram, who was feigning interest in the diagnostic console next to me, looked up. "Captain."

"Sorry I'm late, Doctor. I was up late last night reading B'Elanna's latest engineering reports."

He picked me up as he continued speaking. "Oh I understand, Captain. Too many of those padds can be *exhausting*."

The Captain frowned. "Quite."

"Well then, if you'd like to jump up on here we can begin," he ordered, indicating biobed one with a sweep of his free hand.

She did as he asked, but then he looked down at me and began tapping me. "Odd. It appears that this tricorder is out of energy..."

Realising my error, I quickly reconnected the appropriate circuits so my lights began flashing and I began beeping. It wouldn't do at all for the hologram to deactivate me right now.

He frowned at my sudden rejuvination, but shrugged it off and proceeded to hold me over the Captains body so I could scan her.

I wish I had the ability to laugh, as I certainly would have when my databanks received the information. Quickly ordering the information the way *I* wanted, I displayed that piece of information first, then focused all of my sensory and audio equipment on the Captain so I could gauge as much of her reaction as possible.

The hologram frowned even deeper, then smiled, then tried to compose his face as he spoke in a deceptively light-hearted tone.

"Tell me something, Captain. Is there any reason you can think of why your estrogen levels should be well above normal?"


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