Deck 1 Observation Center
Sorek and his team were in a large room filled with workstations, desks, and computers. Along one wall were monitors showing different scenes of the three cities being studied. Hearing a soft moan, Sorek quickly moved to the source. On the floor was a young Human woman. Her eyes were half-closed, and her face was pale. He recognized her from the facility crew roster: Jennifer Larkin, the official recordkeeper.
“Doctor, you have someone here that needs you,” said Sorek. He addressed Dougal. “Search the rest of the deck.”
Carolyn pulled out her tricorder and began to inspect the consoles. “Lower power settings were not initiated from here, Commander. Looks like whatever they did with engineering, it happened on deck three.” She worked on the consoles. “Looks like the crew abandoned the facility five days ago… reasons unknown. The only logs available are from five days ago. Nothing recent.” She transferred the logs data to a spare PADD and handed it to the XO.
Aimee moved next to the stricken woman and swore. “¡Dios mío!” She made a cursory examination noting the swollen lymph nodes and blackening of the fingertips. She swore again.
“What is it, lass?” Dougal asked.
“I don’t know, but these symptoms mimic the bubonic plague,” Aimee replied.
“Bloody hell! The black death?”
“One and the same. In 14th-century Europe, nearly half the population died. If we brought this here from Earth….” She trailed off, locking eyes with Sorek. “They wouldn’t have any natural resistance. It would be the same as European diseases introduced to Native Americans, which burned through the continent, killing nearly 90% of the population. We could be witnessing the onset of a mass extinction event. I will need some time to verify, but this could be really bad.”
Sorek thought for a few seconds before responding. “Doctor, could this be a virus native to the planet?”
“That’s the thing,” she said with an exasperated sigh. “The plague is bacterial, and this is acting more like a virus. I have never seen anything like this. I need time to specifically isolate the pathogen and then sequence its genome to determine anything at all.”
“Until we know for certain, logic dictates that we remain here so we don’t take something back to the ship,” said Sorek.
“That would have been my recommendation as well,” Aimee replied.
“We’ll need to inform both captains,” said Sorek.
Aimee barely heard Sorek as she pressed a hypospray against the stricken woman’s neck and flipped open her tricorder.” Frowning, she pressed another hypo against her patient’s neck. “This ought to make you more comfortable.” Peeling off her uniform jacket, Aimee folded it up and tucked it under Larkin’s head and shook out a survival blanket from her med kit and wrapped Larkin in it. “I wish I had a sickbay.”
Crawford stood, eyes wide, and her heart rate suddenly went to warp 9. “Did… you… say… death?”
Aimee looked up at Carolyn. “I would hate to jump to conclusions just yet, but yes, that is where things are pointing.”
The young engineer gulped. “That… sounds bad.”
Sorek moved off to the side, tapping his comm badge. “Sorek to Mercy.” Protocol dictated that he call Pottinger, but having respect for Halsey, he chose him first.
=^=Halsey here. Go ahead, Commander.=^=
Sorek explained the situation.
A pause in the line, =^=It appears we’ve got layers to this situation, Commander. We’ve received a message from O’Shea and Beattie regarding an audio file they discovered. You’re correct – we can’t risk transporting anyone until we know more. I have no choice but to confirm your recommendations and put the entire away team on a hold order.=^=
“Acknowledged,” said Sorek. With nothing else to say, he closed the channel.
Standing, Aimee walked to Sorek. “Commander, there’s only so much I can do with a medical tricorder. The Biology Lab on the second level could be converted to a makeshift hospital. There should be various equipment I can use to not only isolate the pathogen, but sequence its genome and determine the virality, it’s life-cycle, and how it’s transmitted.”
“That’s a good idea, Doctor,” said Sorek. “I will inform Captain Pottinger.”
Aimee nodded, “Thank you, Commander.” Aimee turned and started to prepare her patient to be moved.
As the doctor worked with Larkin, Dougal approached Sorek. “The command center is secure, sir. No signs of a wee stramash. Most of the equipment is off but undamaged. Other than the lass,” he gave Larkin a weary side glance, “there’s not a bloody soul here.”
Sorek didn’t know what a stramash was, but he was able to infer its meaning from context. “Thank you, Lieutenant. Please help the Doctor with Ms. Larkin.”
Dougal nodded. “Aye sir.”
Taking a few more steps away, Sorek contacted Captain Pottinger and told her about Larkin and the Doctor’s plan to move to another deck.
=^=Very well. It appears we will have to work on a plan to… find the crew,=^= said Pottinger.
Sorek noted the pause.
Crawford whispered from far enough away for Sorek and the others to hear her, but not Pottinger. “We’re going to have to go out… there? What…. oh boy.”
Sorek gave Crawford the Vulcan version of a look of assurance.
Crawford slowed her breathing. She’d been on plenty of missions with the Pike but this… this was something new. And terrifying.
=^=We will get the reactor working. Won’t we, Chief Cordon? We’ll head your way shortly. We have a body as well, and the doctor may want to inspect it as well.=^=
“By ‘body,’ I assume you mean deceased,” Aimee stated. “I’m not sure how much information I can glean from a patient that has already expired but… I’ll look the individual over.”
While the conversation was ongoing, Sorek’s tricorder beeped. It was an encrypted message from O’Shea. Reading it, he wondered what was happening here with Captain Pottinger.