DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc and Viacom. The story contents are the creation and property of Djinn and are copyright (c) 2001 by Djinn. This story is Rated G.
The Pyrrithian bat stirred slightly as Phlox and Sato walked into sickbay.
"Hello, old friend. Getting hungry?" the doctor asked.
The bat didn't answer. Phlox was used to that.
Sato leaned in and tried to see through the darkened material of its container. "He's not very big. I don't think he could have eaten Sluggo."
"You were just trying to get my goat." She chuckled. "And teach me a lesson."
He began to mix up a batch of food for the osmotic eel.
"I really appreciate what you did, Doctor. Before...I mean. And on the planet."
"It was nice of the Captain to let us go down there just to give Sluggo a new home."
"He's a nice man." She smiled sheepishly. "He'll do a lot for his people."
"Yes, I think he will." He dumped the bits of food into the eel's container.
Sato tapped on the bat's container. "So what does this one eat?"
Phlox shook his head ruefully. "Nothing dead, Ensign. I wasn't joking."
"Guess you've got your hands full with problem cases," she straightened up. "I'll leave you to them."
He smiled fondly at her. "With one less."
"Two. If you count me."
He laughed softly. His smile died as she left the room. "I wish it were two less." He pulled a pouch out from under his shirt, reached into it and drew out the slug. "I really, really wish I could just let you go free, little one."
Turning the lights down, he walked over to the bat's container and opened the lid. The bat slowly emerged, its violet-colored fur and leathery skin glowing slightly. It extended its wings, the leather hung in tatters. As it moved, one of its rear feet dragged behind.
"Somehow, and I know you might not see it this way, Sluggo, there's a sort of cosmic justice at play here. This bat had a run-in with a Condolian night gull. That's why it can't fly, can't even properly hang the way its kind is supposed to. Night gulls aren't native to Pyrrithia. Some tourist brought a pair of chicks back with her. No doubt thought they were adorable. They're cute all right. And about all you see in the evening skies on that planet now." He made some high-pitched noises and the bat looked around in interest. Phlox tossed Sluggo gently into the air. The bat jumped up and caught it, landing awkwardly as the lame leg gave out a bit. With a little cry, it devoured the slug.
Phlox reached out and ran a gentle finger down the bat's neck. "I know this is between us, my friend, and you won't go telling Ensign Sato what just happened." He watched the creature as it walked around the counter, occasionally trying to flap its useless wings. Finally he gently herded it back in its container and returned the lights to their original setting.
Turning back to the medical report on the Axanar that he was preparing for Archer, Phlox mused, "I have so many more roles on this ship than I expected when I agreed to sign on. Let's see, I'm doctor, coroner, safety officer, veterinarian, counselor, and now environmental officer. I wonder what will be next?"