Conspiracy Theory
Conspiracy Theory
Summary: Regas and Lowes' deaths keep raising more bizarre questions for Eve and Zaharis
Date: 108 ACH
Related Logs: Loyalties, etc.

Chief Medical Officers Office Genesis - Deck 13
108 ACH 23787 Souls

The office of the Chief Medical Officer is a small room, used mostly for consultations and review of sensitive patient materials than the paperwork of the Medical department, which goes through the Naval Administrative offices. Still somehow it has file cabinets along one wall stuffed full of papers, two chairs in front of a desk behind which a large leather chair is set. On the desk sits a computer terminal.
Sitting on the file cabinet is a Rod of Asclepius carved from two different types of wood. The rod is made from lighter wood, while the snake is darker. The eye of the snake is inlayed with tiny crystals so that it sparkles in the light. It stands on a smallish pedestal with a legend: Do no harm to thyself nor to others.

Eve comes in from Sickbay.
Eve has arrived.

Zaharis is seated and flipping through a file recently set down on his desk, soem kind of chemical analysis printout.

Look! Its Eve! Her hair is all disarrayed, her eyes are bloodshot behind her glasses, and a terribly chewed up pencil is stuck behind her ear. "Sir? I think…well, I think I'm on to something. Do you have a moment?" No, of course he doesn't, but maybe he'll make one seeming how the hexagonal folder she's holding is marked 'confidential'.

"Mmmhm." Zaharis doesn't close the folder in front of him, but his attention shifts. "Have a seat."

Eve shuffles over a bit hurriedly, excitement and adrenaline driving her after a night of little sleep. "I spoke to Lieutenant Shem yesterday, and there was little to report in way in the way of anything of interest of progress in the investigation. But he had a question regarding mass psychogenic illness, and it got me thinking.." Her words come out in a rush.

Zaharis is listening, watching her face. He waits for her to finish said thought, not interrupting.

Eve lays down her folder, but apparently doesn't need it for what she's going to tell him, its so prevaliant in her mind, "What if we're not looking for a drug or a toxin at all? I can't find a single thing in memory or in text that fits the three factors that are common in both victims. Smell of smoke. Dialated eyes. Lack of anything on a tox screen. What if its not hysteria. What if.." Okay, he might think she's insane after she suggests it, but here it is, "What if its suggestive hypnosis?"

Zaharis gently scratches his cheek. "And how would that…work, exactly?"

Eve leans forward, her knees wide to accommodate her growing belly. "Well, I don't typically use hypnotherapy in my practice, but its been proven that you can change someone's mental state through a series of exercise which leave them in a focused state of consciousness. While they're attuned to a specific focus point, say your voice or an object, you can then explore their subconcious such as pulling up repressed memories, but in some cases you could /imprint/ on them certain actions that they will perform on command after a trigger say a word. Or a smell. Maybe the smell of smoke was the trigger? Maybe for all we know, the Commander thought he was smoking his Cheroot but what he was actually putting in his mouth was the barrel of his side arm? I haven't figured all the details yet." She bites her bottom lip, as nervous as she is excited.

Zaharis isn't looking terribly like he's buying this, but he goes along. "It would mean that both Regas and Lowes were specifically targetted and given a trigger. Something common enough that both would be exposed to it at some point but uncommon enough that it took Lowes several days longer than Regas to encounter it. And it would demand some logical link why someone wanted both a Commander and an engineering Ensign dead. I don't know, it seems…terribly complicated. How would someone accomplish the hypnosis in the first place? They'd have had to have to been present for an actual hypnosis session with Regas and Lowes, right?"

Eve scratches the back of her neck. "Well. There's the snag, I suppose. My thought on that is that Lowe's was actually imprinted first as a test subject, but couldn't be triggered properly. Maybe a glitch or…" Her shoulders rise and fall. "But yes. The person would have to be present to do the hypnosis, in some version or another. I'm not sure if it could be accomplished with a comm transmission, or a computer program. But. Well. Its something to think about."

Zaharis raises his arm to rub the back of his neck. His right shoulder makes an unpleasant cracking sound, muffled by his fatigues jacket. "I do agree with one thing and that's that it seemed to have been 'triggered'. At least from what I know of Regas' case. Shem said he was going to talk to those who witnessed Lowes' suicide…did he tell you anything of what they said about Lowes' behaviour?"

Eve frowns at that. "Just that it was uncommon for his standard behavior. Said he was normally a jolly fellow, but that the investigation wasn't complete. Would keep me informed." With a sigh, she eases back into the chair, her energy starting to wane. "But the other thing about hypnosis? When you use hypno therapy on someone, their eyes dilate."

"They do?" Zaharis learns something every day. "Why?"

Eve pulls at her bottom lip while she nods. "At least using an eye-fixation technique. You ever do one of those silly pictures, where it looks like just a bunch of dots of color, unless you stare at it long enough? Your eyes lose focus, your peripheral line of sight diminishes, and only /then/ you see the picture? Your eyes actual dilate. I don't know the medical reasoning behind it, its not my specialty, I just know that particular tidbit fits."

Zaharis drums his fingers on his desk. Slowly, as his focus wanders a little bit. Thinking. Then it comes back to her. "Can this be proven?"

Eve bites her lip. "If we can definitively find what the trigger was. Figure out how it was planted…" She looks at a loss here. "If there are any more victims?" She looks almost apologetic. "If we can figure out /who/? Start poking into people's files. See who has that sort of training? There's a whole lot of variables. I could even try to simulate it on a test subject? Even see if its possible but…those courses on hypnotherapy were ages ago, Major."

"Keep looking into it," Zaharis nods after a few more moments of thinking. "See if Shem will let you be present when he interviews those pilots that saw Lowes shoot himself, or anyone that saw Lowes right before he started acting strangely. Talk to Altair about Regas if you think it's worth it. If there was a trigger of some kind then both had to have experienced it. Maybe they exhibited similiar behaviours or something right before the act that would shed some light."

Eve gives a nod. "In the meantime, I'll also keep looking for any drugs that would have the same effect." She offers a tired bit of a smile, because at least he didn't completely throw her theory out of the window, no, he actually is considering it.

Zaharis rubs the side of his thumb along his hairline. "What other kinds of behavioural control are there? Besides drugs and hypnosis? Are there any you can think of offhand, in general?"

Eve leans back in her chair, looking up to the ceiling as if pulling up a mental list. "Depends. Mass hysteria or the herd effect, peer pressure, blackmail can even fall under that category. Then you have dementia caused by induced insomnia. Aversion therapy?" Its a fishing expedition, but sometimes that's how you find answers.

"I just can't see Regas sitting still that long," Zaharis says. It's a strange thought, and his expression reflects that for a second. "For hypnosis or aversion therapy or something like that. You know what I mean? That's why my first thought went to some kind of drug, but. You can't…trigger drugs." He pauses. "Can you?"

Eve continues looking at the ceiling, as if its easier to keep her train of thought while focusing on nothing in particular. She merely glosses over his question for a moment, unwilling to derail her train of thought. "What if he didn't know he was sitting still for it? Subliminal messages? While he slept or…?"

Zaharis shakes his head. "Would seem highly improbable. Someone repeatedly getting access to Regas' quarters while he was asleep? And someone able to do the same to Lowes in the middle of officer berthing?"

Eve gnaws on her bottom lip for a moment. "Well. Did they like to listen to music?" She wonders, offhandedly.

"That, I don't know." Zaharis sits back, folding his hands behind his head. "It just doesn't sound plausible. Regas and Lowes both given some manner of music that contains subliminal messaging so strong that it induces them to committ suicide on a trigger? I mean, how dependable are messages while one sleeps? From most of the research I remember reading, they could barely prove small results over the span of years."

Eve pushes back the chair onto the rear two legs, then lets it drop back to the floor with a subtle clunk. Nothing violent, mind you, just a rock. "I'm grasping at straws in the hopes will come up with /something/ feasible. Drugs that can be triggered but not show up on tox screens. What if its not a toxin? What if its a common chemical in our blood system. Was anything else elevated in unusual amounts? Or for that matter, absent?"

"No," Zaharis shakes his head. "And no signs that blood pressure had been elevated long term or any other signs that something had been affecting them for a while. Both were healthy as horses."

Eve clicks her tongue against the roof of her mouth as she ponders more. "The smoke, was there anything you could get off that trace? Any indication of the origin of that smoke?"

"In Regas' case it appeared to be from the cheroot. The smell was identical between his hands and the butts Shem collected." Zaharis scratches the back of his head. "Lowes smelled like the same kind of thing. Which is why I keep coming back to the cheroots…I mean, it's ridiculous, but that and the pupils are the only things that link them. Besides the obvious gun in mouth."

Eve mms. "Except Lowes wasn't known to be a smoker. I was able to confirm at least that with Lieutenant Shem. So when does a nonsmoker make the concession to smoke? Celebration?" Now she's just bouncing things off of Zaharis, far from her original line of thought.

"Regas wasn't a smoker either, according to Altair," Zaharis adds onto the mental pile, then glances upwards. "Well it's been a while since I was a nonsmoker, but…sure, celebration…people smoke when they drink or when people around them are smoking. Cheroots are specialty little cigars…perhaps gifts?"

Eve nods in agreement with that. "Gifts. When do you give cigars? New Births? Promotions? Marriage? Birthdays, anniversaries, holidays." She huffs out a breath, suddenly wishing she knew people better.

"Thanks." Zaharis says out of nowhere, gesturing to her. "To say thank you. Not that anyone was really thanking Regas lately, but maybe. Okay. Lowes wasn't a smoker before. Did Shem's file say anything about when Lowes did start smoking?"

Eve shakes her head. "I'm afraid you know everything I was able to garner out of Lieutenant Shem. He said his investigation is still ongoing and he hasn't come up with a conclusive timeline yet. What if he wasn't given it directly? The Commander's aide should be asked if there were any packages left for him. So you're sitting there…smoking a cheroot. At what point does it switch? At what point would a gun look like a cigar? At what point does dementia overtake reason. How do you /implant/ the urge to commit suicide? A depressant? But even then, how can you be sure to get the desired result of death?"

Zaharis taps his fingers against his desk. "You know what bothers me, is that Regas was seen smoking…I mean, he was sitting there smoking, got up, and bang. Okay. But Lowes…Lowes had smoked something recently, because he still smelled of it. But from wherever he was smoking, he put it out, went and got a gun from somewhere, wandered to the ready room of all places - somewhere he had no business being - and then bang. The cheroot was long gone. You know, I really want to see the statements from those pilots. If Lowes said or did anything before he shot himself."

Eve runs her hands down her face, "I've been screening the pilots since then for depression or post traumatic stress disorder. It didn't occur to me to /ask/. But then again, I wasn't sure there was any hint that foul play was even being considered."

Zaharis waves a hand. "Well, a psych consult is not the time to investigate a death. You wouldn't repeat anything said there anyway. That's Shem's job to do that."

Eve nods. "Unless they meant harm to themselves or others. But it would have helped me hypothosize better. So we've gotten basically. No where." Her shoulders fall slightly, her lack of sleep starting to catch up to her.

Zaharis gently rocks his chair back and forth with his foot, his eyes looking off somewhere at the wall. The chair just creaks very softly, over and over. "Don't be negative. Plenty of things to consider that weren't there before."

Eve gives a soft laugh. Zaharis. Telling her not to be negative. Somehow she finds that vaguely amusing. Or maybe she's just really tired. "So. Back to this delayed response to Lowes.. maybe he had an inhibitor. But you said he was fit? So. Not body fat… oh! Did you get that coffee I sent over? Better than a day old tea bag." She asks, her mind starting to bounce around.

"Maybe caffeine is an inhibitor…" Zaharis mumbles the words and rocks his chair back again, stretching both arms up. As they come down he snorts at his own statement and makes a loud 'grarg' kind of sound, rubbing his hands down his cheeks. It's half frustrationg, half tired laughter. "Frak it. Yeah, got the coffee. Had it later, was afraid to make it here. The smell attracts everyone like sharks to blood these days."

Eve smiles slightly. "Good. I've been trying to spread it around. Even made a pot for some enlisted folks up in the lounge. Someone should enjoy it, seeming how I can't. Caffeine. Alcohol." Is she talking about herself, or inhibitors for the psychotropic drug again? "Was the Commander drinking?" That clarifies that.

"No, no alcohol in him. Lowes either." Zaharis shakes his head. "Lowes had eaten a meal within four hours but Regas hadn't, so food's probably not a factor either."

Eve wets her lips in thought, "Could explain for the time delay in Lowe's though, between smoking and death."

"If we're going on the notion that it was a drug in the cheroot, then it was inhaled. Food wouldn't have affected its absorption rate," Zaharis points out.

Eve makes a little disappointed mmph sound. "Wait. You said that blood pressure wasn't elevated significantly before death? The Commander /had/ to be stressed out that day. Hades, at first I thought he had a heart attack, because that explanation made sense. He had a revolving door of peeved people that day. There was broken glass on his floor when I was there."

Zaharis holds up a finger. "I said there were no signs of /prolonged/ high blood pressure. No arteriosclerosis or papilledema, which is blurring of the optic nerve that shows up when there's pressure on the brain."

Eve ohs, then mmphs again, pulling her glasses off the bridge of her nose and tossing them on the file she toted over with her. Fingers start to rub at her closed eyes. "Back to the dilated eyes, which would suggest a stimulant rather than a depressant."

"Or a hallucinogen, or SSRI," Zaharis says, lacing his hands behind his head again. "If it were just one suicide we could blame it on a hallucinogen, but two…" He blows a puff of air out between pursed lips. "I mean, it almost feels like…have you ever watched a session of deep brain stimulation?"

Eve wrinkles her nose slightly, "You mean where they do brain surgery on a person, and stimulate parts of their brain while asking them a series of questions or observing brain waves when they show people pictures?" Her grimace points to the fact that she'd just assume not, lest risk passing out.

"Something like that," Zaharis nods. "It's a treatment for a number of things…epilepsy, essential tremor, huge list. Anyway, they've long known that if you place electrodes in certain area of the brain, running a current through it can get very specific results. The smell of an orange. A feeling of vibration. Make someone's hand open and close. You can even induce emotion."

Eve is quiet as she considers that, bringing her eyes to meet Zaharis'. "And is there any way to accomplish that…without the invasive surgery?"

Zaharis gently rubs the top of his nose. "Well…theoretically, yes. Something /like/ that's been done, but even recently it was a 'future technology' kind of thing. I mean, I can't even get my mind around what would have had to have been done to do it here."

Eve bites the inside of her cheek, "And the likelihood of it occuring without the Commander or the Ensign realizing what was going on?"

Zaharis purses his lips, almost frowning. "Again, theoretically…I mean, with plans they had for this technology in twenty, thirty years? The whole idea was that kind of thing."

Eve sighs, pushing back into her chair again, gaze slides back to the ceiling. "Okay. So…'here Commander, sit in this chair'." She tries to work the scenario through in her head. "Think it happened onboard here? Or…one of the other ships? We should have Shem check the shuttle manifests. See if there's a connection to if/when they both left the Genesis. How big would this theoretical apparatus be?"

Zaharis draws in air between his teeth, and lets it out in a rush. "I don't even know. This is completely insane…think it gets the prize for most insane theory of the night."

Eve laces her fingers together, draping them on her forehead while she continues to lean back. "Well. When we're not going off of a whole lot, I say that no theory is insane. I should know. That's my field." She smiles up at thin air. "What if its not /our/ technology?" She wonders aloud.

Zaharis is completely silent for a few seconds, even his breathing. "What are you suggesting?"

Eve gives a bit of a laugh. "Gods, who knows. Nothing, I'm just tired. I won't let my hypothesis be formed off of scuttle-butt."

Zaharis hehs. "Yeah, me neither." A frown lingers for just a moment, his attention drifting to the doorframe way beyond the side of her head. Then it comes back to her. "Well. Anyway. Need to regroup with Shem."

Eve gives a bit of a yawn. "And I think its time I finally crawl off to bed." It is hours after her duty shift, afterall. "So I'm to pursue the hypnotherapy angle, and continue on with possible drugs, and attend the interviews that Shem conducts with the pilots, yes?" She just confirms the 'what next' steps with him while she tries to get back to her feet. At least she doesn't look like a flipped over turtle. Yet.

"Yes." Zaharis' chin slowly tilts down as he says that, a slow-motion nod. "If one or the other of us can attend those interviews it'd be best, but it's on Shem's schedule. If we don't make it, I'll request his transcripts."

Eve gives a little smile as she picks up her glasses and snicks them onto the collar of her uniform. "Understood. Will that be all, sir?" She asks, reaching for her folder.

Zaharis goes through some mental files. The look on his face is like watching the little blue 'processing' circle spin around in Microsoft Vista. But faster. "No, I think that's all. Good going. Dismissed if there's nothing else."

Eve snaps up her salute, "Nothing official, sir."

"Alright. Get some rest, Lieutenant." Zaharis returns salute and knocks his fingers against his mouse to wake his computer back up.

Eve turns to the hatch, letting herself quietly back out.

Eve leaves for Sickbay [o].

Eve has left.

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