Dr Roosevelt appeared almost instantly and smiled reassuringly at me.
"Ah, Cadet Terran. Come through."
He led me into a consultation room where he removed the neural scanner and set it to download its contents into the medical computer for analysis. While the program was running, he explained his findings so far.
"Well, I'm sure you'll be pleased to hear that physically, I can find nothing to indicate that you are anything other than Terran, Cadet Terran." His brow furrowed at the awkward repetition in the sentence.
It was a relief though, and I felt myself relax and slump.
"As to your psychology, let's have a look at these neural patterns," and he turned the screen around so that we could study them together.
It was all just squiggly lines to me, but Dr Roosevelt studied it with interest.
"All very normal," he finally declared, but his voice betrayed that he still had concerns. I said as much.
"Hmm, yes. As usual Cadet Terran, your perceptions are correct. Tell me about your day yesterday," and he leaned back in his chair waiting for me to recount the details.
I wasn't quite sure what he was getting at but I obliged and told him all about my very ordinary afternoon followed by the evening in Starboard-7. I recounted the evening in detail, and he asked questions, eager to discover my emotional state. Did I laugh? Did I cry? Was I happy or sad? Was I pleased to see everybody? So I told him everything that I could recall. He was particularly interested to hear my trepidation at meeting Karl again.
(I omitted the bit about my silly turn in the corridor afterwards; the one where I thought I wasn't alone. I didn't need him thinking I was batty after all.)
"Why?" I asked at the end, but still he wouldn't answer.
"I'd like to do a psych analysis."
"Okay," I said. I've done one of those before so it didn't worry me.
"A more in-depth one to any you will have done before—more intense."
"Okay," I said, this time a little more dubious, and I was right to be concerned.
A psych analysis consists of looking at a series of images consisting of things as cute as puppies and kittens to more stressful images of people in pain and suchlike. Your reactions to them are recorded and analysed.
What I didn't bank on was the extent of the images Roosevelt was going to show me. Without giving you the same nightmares I will no doubt endure tonight, it was a mixture of the cute and cuddly with the most horrific images you can imagine, as well as some of a perverse or sexual nature. I soon realised what he was doing and began to dread the next image. Would it be nice or nasty, soothing or shocking?
The test seemed to go on forever. I was truly thankful when it was over.
"You okay?" Roosevelt asked, concerned and then I said the most stupid thing.
"Yes thank you, Rosie."
Please do not ask me why I called him Rosie. It just fell out of my mouth and I instantly felt very embarrassed and stupid, but he just looked at me and said nothing for a while. Finally, he spoke.
"Why did you call me Rosie?" he asked.
"I ... I ... I don't know. I'm sorry. It just ... I don't know. I am so sorry," and I blushed as red as a command uniform.
"Tell me, Cadet Terran, have you been looking at my personnel record?"
"No!" I screamed at him. "Why the hell would I do that?"
An uncomfortable smile twitched across his face.
"Because no one has called me that since my Academy days."
"Perhaps I've heard someone else call you it then?" I ventured, desperate to find a reason but he shook his head.
"No. No one here has ever called me Rosie. As I say, no one has called me that in over thirty years."
I was beginning to feel very uncomfortable about myself.
"What does the psych test say?" I asked, eager to change the subject.
He drew a sharp breath, apparently as happy to abandon the topic as I was, and looked at the data.
"The neural scanner is, as before, normal—at least normal for someone reading a very dull maintenance manual, but you weren't reading a book. Yesterday evening, you experienced a mixture of emotions that should have registered on the neural scanner but didn't. There are no highs or lows, just normal sedentary readings.
"During your psych test, your facial expressions and the dilation of your pupils correctly showed your levels of stress, pleasure, surprise or shock. Your neural scans, though, say ... normal. Normal, normal, normal."
"What does that mean?"
"It either means you're a damned good actress or that these readings are incorrect."
"But how could that be?"
He shrugged again.
"Perhaps you have developed a way to mask your neural patterns."
"But I wouldn't know how to do that! I'm only a Human for goodness sake!"
He scowled at me, turned the monitor back towards himself and worked at it for a moment.
"Hmm," he said.
"What does 'hmm' mean?" I demanded.
He swivelled the monitor back to me.
"You see this?" he asked.
I recognised it as a DNA pattern.
"That's your DNA. All very normal. All very Human and yet ..." he began pointing at the code indicators. "Now I look at it again, I wouldn't expect to see this indicator with this one ... or that one with that one—not in the same DNA strand anyway."
"But I don't understand. You just said it was normal."
"And it is. It's all very normal, but just as you wouldn't expect to find a black African with bright blue eyes, I wouldn't expect to see these particular indicators in the same DNA strand."
"But ..." I stuttered. "What does that mean?"
"I have no idea, Cadet, but I suspect there is more going on here than meets the eye."
As I walked back to my quarters, my mind was in turmoil. I barely noticed the shadows following me.