With her medical staff being taken care of by the citizens of the planet, Treylana opted to make her way back to the landing pad and check on the status of the repairs. She had hoped for some good news, but given the lack of information regarding the state of affairs on the planet, she expected the worst.
As she approached the landing pad, she could see her two officers hunched over the port nacelle of the runabout. Multiple panels lifted in order to get complete access to the damaged systems. One of the men appeared to have completely extracted and stripped a warp field coil while the other was replacing an electro-plasma relay.
“Report.” she ordered once she was but a few meters away.
The Lieutenant replacing the relay looked up for a moment to acknowledge her presence “There was some minor internal damage to one of the warp coils and this relay had to be completely replaced, but we should have it repaired within the hour. We were fortunate enough to have some spare parts on board and didn’t have to replicate any new ones.”
“Excellent work. As soon as the repairs are done, report to the Administrator’s office and coordinate the procurement of the needed supplies. Once we have an idea of the risk that this virus poses to us and the rest of the ship, we can get those supplies to the Hiawatha.”
Satisfied that the runabout was in better shape than expected. Treylana turned her focus to the main problem at hand. The sooner she could get out of her environmental suit, the better. “Hess to Commander Brant, come in.”
The comm was silent for a few seconds. This was to be expected. “Brant here. Go ahead Commander.”
“What’s your location and status?”
“We’ve been taken to the central hospital about thirteen kilometers South of the Administrator’s office. We’ve spoken with the hospital director and we’ve transmitted all relevant data pertaining to the virus to the Hiawatha for analysis. We’re on our way to examine patient zero and any others we can.”
“Very good. I will rendezvous with you in approximately fifteen minutes. Hess out.”
With so many people infected from the virus and not enough drivers for the shuttles, It took Treylana a little longer to procure a transport to the hospital than she had intended. Once she arrived she was directed to the nearest of her crewmates, Commander Brant’s assistant nurse Cahil. Cahill had been scanning various patients within the ward in order to determine the infection level of each patient in order to establish whether or not there were any discernible traits of the virus that would indicate distinct lifecycle phases.
“Any progress Cahill?” Treylana asked.
“Well Commander. I’ve scanned about thirty patients so far. I don’t have enough data yet to make a concrete analysis, but it would seem that the rate of infection rises exponentially one week after the onset of symptoms based on the conversations with patients coherent enough to talk and the medical scans of those who were in a more severe state. Doctor Brant may be able to provide a deeper analysis. He’s in the other room going over tissue samples.”
Treylana thanked Cahill for the report and proceeded into the next room. Brant was seated at a desk staring at the console before him. He’d only known of Treylana’s presence by the sound of the door sliding open since he had not been expecting anyone else to be calling upon him. Without even taking his eyes off the screen he muttered “I don’t like this Commander.”
“What do you mean?” Treylana replied.
“Come here.” Brant paused for a second so that Treylana could join him “You see this genetic sequence?”
“Take a look at this base pair sequence. It doesn’t appear to be a naturally occurring sequence. Furthermore, take a look at this next one. The same sequence appears in this next patient sample. That should not happen.”
“What are you suggesting, Doctor? That this is not a naturally occurring virus?”
“No Sir it’s not. This virus had to have been genetically engineered in order to produce a sequence of numbers like that. So scientifically engineered in fact that I can be certain that it was specifically designed to target the inhabitants of Celes Two specifically.”
“So does that mean…”
Before Treylana could even finish the sentence, Brant cut her off “Yes Commander. We are not at risk from this virus at all.”
“Can you cure it?”
“Not yet. I still have to determine how the base pair sequences were coded. In the meantime I’ll have the Hiawatha computers analyze my findings here so far and compare them against any other known genetically engineered viruses. As for now, I can tell you with one-hundred percent certainty that it is safe to remove the environmental suits.”
It was clear at this point to Treylana that this virus was a biological weapon. The so-called rogue citizens that the Administrator had referred to earlier were now definitely suspected terrorists. With all of this new information, she called up to her ship and relayed it to the Captain who was pleased that progress was being made. Even if it was slow but steady. She then informed the others that they could remove the suits and begin loading the supplies onto the runabout as soon as they were ready.
There was nothing more she could do at the hospital and felt it was best to let Doctor Brant work uninterrupted. With that in mind, she left the hospital. Once outside she released the clasp fastening her helmet to the rest of her environmental suit and removed it. The smell of fresh air rushing into her nose felt almost euphoric. It was nice to finally be free from the confines of the suit. Tucking her helmet under her arm, she called for a nearby shuttle to take her back to the Administrator’s office.
Treylana walked into the office to a very agitated man shouting at his aide. “I will not be intimidated like this! Find them! Use whatever means is necessary, but find them!”
“Yes Administrator.” replied the aide as he quickly made his way past the woman now standing in the entryway.
“Am I interrupting Administrator?” Treylana asked.
The man turned to look back at who was addressing him. Relieved at seeing the Starfleet uniform he calmed down slightly “Not at all Commander. It’s just, in your absence there was another attack. A bridge was destroyed on the outskirts of the city. There were many casualties including a school bus containing twenty-four children. The rogue group I told you about earlier are calling themselves ‘New Light’ and are claiming responsibility for the act.”
Treylana was speechless for a moment. She knew the Administrator wasn’t going to like the news she was bearing, but he had to know “This virus. It’s clearly an attack by this ‘New Light’ group. Doctor Brant has discovered evidence that the virus has been genetically engineered to target your people. What I can’t understand is why. They would be at risk themselves. Unless they have a cure for the virus or a means of protecting themselves from it. Brant is analyzing data now to see if this virus can be stopped and cured, but it will probably still be hours before he has any new information.”
Hearing the news, the man collapsed into the chair behind the desk allowing his head to fall into his hands. Treylana wanted to offer some comforting words, but didn’t know if she could offer anything that would make him feel any better.
“In the meantime, I will head up to the ship with the supplies.”
The man looked up and acknowledged her with a single nod.
Exiting the office, Treylana made her way down the various corridors leading back to the landing pad. As she approached the runabout she could see her officers loading up what appeared to be the final case into the cargo hold. She informed them she would be in the back getting out of her suit and going over the supplies and to take off once they’d secured the hold.
“Computer.” She said as she stepped through the exterior runabout door “Initiate ignition sequence and standby.”
“Acknowledged.” replied the computer.
Treylana then kicked back to the rear of the runabout and secluded herself in peace. The events of the day had not been going as planned. “Raktajino” she ordered to the nearby replicator as she sunk herself into one of the passenger seats. The replicator whirred to life and a plastic mug of steaming dark liquid materialized.
“Computer, begin log.”
The computer chirped to acknowledge it was ready to accept Treylana’s dictation.
“First officer’s log, stardate 76182.3. The away team and I have been on the planet surface per our mission orders. We found ourselves however, caught in the beginnings of some civil uprising between the citizens of the planet. The runabout was damaged on our way here and since our arrival there has been an attack with mass casualties. The administrator admits to a rogue group being responsible for these attacks. I sympathize with the Administrator and his people, but the Prime Directive prohibits me from interfering. I’m beginning to wonder if even helping with this virus is crossing the line, but Starfleet has authorized the aid and without the supplies we won’t make it to the nearest starbase before running out of fuel.”
Treylana was briefly interrupted as the runabout began to lift off. She removed the rest of her environmental suit and grabbed her coffee from the replicator before continuing.
“Doctor Brant says he should have more information about the virus in a few hours. Since there is nothing for me to do until his results come in, I am returning to the ship to see that Mr. Harrison gets this deuterium. End log.”
For the remainder of the trip back to the ship Treylana examined the cargo and cross referenced the contents with what was on the manifest. It wasn’t that she didn’t trust her officers to double check. She merely was not up to being up front with the others. Everything appeared to be in order and before she knew it the runabout had touched down in the shuttlebay.
“Hess to Commander Harrison.” Treylana said, tapping her combadge as she stepped off the runabout.
“Go ahead.” replied the Chief Engineer.
“Your deuterium has arrived. You may send a team to the shuttlebay to collect it.”
“Thank you Commander. They’re on their way.”
Feeling famished, Treylana decided that she needed to eat something. However, first she needed to report to the Captain. Ironically, no sooner had she stepped out of the shuttlebay she had run into her Commanding Officer.
“Captain!” she exclaimed, a bit startled. “I was just on my way to come see you.”
“Well, you’ve found me. I’m on my way to the Mess Hall on deck six. Come join me.”
The two women proceeded to the nearby turbolift. Th’lora ordered the computer to proceed to the desired deck while Treylana filled her in on the recent events since their last communique. The thought of all of those dead children weighed heavily on Treylana’s shoulders. She wanted to see the Terrorists brought to justice, but to take matters into her own hands, would be disregarding all that she believed in. All that the Federation stood for. The Prime Directive was such a fickle mistress both benefiting and hindering the Federation whenever it felt the least appropriate to the losing party.
“The sooner we get out of here, the better.” Treylana said as the doors to the Mess Hall whooshed open.
Several conversations could be overheard as the two entered and made their way toward the replicators. Crewmen talking of their children back home. Others were talking of upcoming leave. There was even one junior officer complaining about the current mission, claiming that he joined Starfleet for the excitement of traveling the stars and encountering new species, friendly or hostile. He hadn’t noticed that he had been overheard and was taken aback when Treylana leaned over and whispered to him “Ensign, if you don’t wish to serve on the Hiawatha we can arrange for a transfer as soon as we get to the nearest starbase”
“N-n-n-no Sir! That won’t be necessary.”
“That’s what I thought.” she replied and then continued to the replicator.
The Captain had already replicated her meal and found a table. Treylana requested an order of hasperat and joined her.
“What was that all about?” Th’lora asked.
“Oh nothing. Just putting a young Ensign in his place.”
Just as Treylana was about to sit down, the entire ship shook violently and the alert klaxons began to sound signaling red alert. Anyone that had been standing had been knocked to the floor. Those that were sitting had to grab onto whatever sturdy surface they could to avoid suffering the same fate.
Th’lora slapped her combadge with ferocity “Bridge Report! Have we been fired upon?”
“No Sir! Uncertain Sir! Sensors are not functional, but it appeared to be an explosion from within the ship. Without the sensors I can’t localize the source.”
“Harrison to Captain Vehl! We’ve just had an explosion next to one of the deuterium storage tanks. The explosion has caused the antimatter containment field to destabilize. I am unable to hold it together. We’re looking at a warp core breach in five minutes.”
Treylana and Th’lora stared at each other with a look of terror on their faces. Th’lora tapped her combadge one last time “All hands, abandon ship! I repeat…abandon ship!”