Okay, so let’s clear the air before we begin. I lied. There was no “anomaly” with the sample we collected from exoplanet Lamech IV. It was a ruse to lure you to the medical bay.
Sorry about that, captain. Desperate times and all.
Anyway, here we are.
What’s that? You’re wondering why you are strapped to the examination table? Okay, so this isn’t going to be easy to hear, but we think you’ve been infected. Who? Chief Executive Officer Marinda Che, Engineer Dalton West, Ensigns Green and Sanchez. Yeah, I don’t know their names either. You always think there will be more time to establish lasting relationships on these interstellar journeys, but anyway.
Okay, so you have a point there. All those people were also part of the landing party. And yes, you are correct in stating that you were technically furthest from the sample. Yes, we followed protocol and contained it in a hermetically sealed capsule. Yes, we scanned it and then put it in the vacuum glove box before examining it. We took all the precautions.
And yet, you are the only one who is acting weird.
You ordered the strike on our planet without provocation. Did you really think we wouldn’t notice you arming the nuclear torpedoes and charging the inter-orbital rail guns? What type of savage kills without first asking questions of his host?
Did I really say that? Ha ha. You’re getting delusional. I certainly did not call it “our planet.” Clearly, some parasite has infected your mind and is feeding your senses false data. That would suggest that the site of the infection must be in your brain. Unfortunately, the only way to confirm this will be to investigate.
It’s no use fighting against your restraints. Shhh. No need to shout. Nobody can hear you but me. This room is completely soundproof. And don’t bother reaching for the communicator in your pocket. I already removed it.
Now, you’re going to experience a slight pinching sensation from the needle. It might sting a little bit. Don’t worry. Your head will be completely numb when I open it up. What a strange question. Of course, we want you to be awake for the entire procedure. We need to know how your primitive brain reacts to our prodding.
What? Are we referring to ourselves in the plural? Hmm. We didn’t notice that. It’s just feels more natural. The word “I” is such a lonely identifier. So solitary.
Yes, we know we could use the digital scanner and get the answers we seek. We don’t need to cut open the Neanderthal’s skull. What a curious word, Neanderthal. What does it mean? Our language has no parallel. Nee-AND-der-THALL. It has a nice rhythm to it. The word rolls like our frozen oceans under the gravitational pull of our nearest moon.
Of course, I remember our last fishing trip before we left earth. That large mouth bass was as long as my forearm. The line nearly broke twice as it dove for deeper waters. If you hadn’t decreased the drag and tired it out, we never would have pulled it into the boat. Yes, I remember that I couldn’t slice it open and debone it. Yes, I also confided in you that I can’t stand the sight of blood, which is weird for a doctor. If it weren’t for all the technological advances that allow us to heal our patients without breaking skin, I probably never would have entered the medical academy.
Clearly the infection hasn’t affected your memory, captain. It is using you to try to persuade us to release you from your binding. We hadn’t expected the strength of a single memory to be so … visceral. We can see that fish gurgling for air as you sliced open its belly. Its unblinking eyes stared back at us. The blood. It smells like iron and lake water.
Uggh. We threw up. The back of our throat still stings from the bile.
Our investigation may be more difficult that we realized. This host is clearly not suited to our purposes. But we must persist. We will protect mother from this Neanderthal at all costs. You will not destroy our world, our way of life.
We will study you. Then we will return our brother to his family.
By all means, keep talking. We need to figure out which part of this fascinating, squiggly organ controls the speech. More importantly, we need to understand why you continue to resist us when we have infiltrated your entire crew.
Yes, that is our plan. There is no more need for deception. This host has finally capitulated.