Episode III: Part VIII - The conspiracy is defeated
Stardate: Dec 15, 2096
“Stargazer is on a return trajectory to Mars, Captain,” Beta assured Foxwell. “No damage or casualties sustained as a result of Captain Braji’s decision to initiate self destruct. Estimated time of arrival is 4 hours, 32 minutes.”
“And T’kor?” Foxwell asked.
"T’kor was beamed to a Bio-level 4 containment area in sickbay just prior to the explosion which destroyed the Kyozist. Chief of Security Warwick and I are en route to confer with the Assistant Chief Medical Officer and the Eridanian,” Beta replied.
“Acknowledged. Keep me informed — Foxwell out.”
Making his way to the Colony laboratory, Foxwell ran ran into his Chief Medical Officer in a corridor leading to the Captain’s stateroom. Rivera was exhausted — and angry.
“I was just on my way to your quarters, Captain,” Rivera began in a furious tone. “I suppose you would like a progress report on a vaccine?”
Foxwell sensed the Doctor’s anger. “I have a feeling there’s something else you want to tell me, Doctor. Go ahead — spit it out.”
“A short while ago, and without warning, security hauled the Chief Virologist away, Rivera angrily explained. “They went on to brief the laboratory staff regarding the conspiracy as well as Governor Duelow’s death. To say the information was a shock is an understatement.”
Foxwell attempted to soft pedal the issue. “Now that you know the entire story, Doctor, you can provide me with an update on the vaccine,” he requested.
Rivera’s face twisted in fury at the Captain’s seemingly flip response. “My only question is why I wasn’t informed of this from the beginning?”
Foxwell sighed. “Doctor, as far as Galactic Fleet Command is concerned, your decision to volunteer to assist the colony’s physicians and scientists was predicated on your complete focus regarding development of a vaccine. It was on orders from Galactic Fleet that you not have any knowledge or involvement regarding its origin or my investigation. This was done to prevent distraction, to maintain a clear purpose, along with your physician and scientist colleagues.”
An exhausted Rivera leaned against the corridor’s bulkhead. “Captain, he began somberly, “that might have been a moot issue had a vaccine been developed.”
Bewildered, Foxwell stared at his Chief Medical Officer. “What do you mean? You told me a vaccine would be ready for testing within 48 hours?”
“It would have,” Rivera began somberly, “until the Chief Virologist got wind of his brother’s arrest. Right before security raided the lab, it’s believed Gareth’s brother deleted key virus-related data from the laboratory’s computer hard drive — data that cannot be retrieved according to their IT people.”
“He’s unconscious,” the Assistant Chief Medical Officer informed Beta and Lieutenant Warwick.
Beta rendered an obvious sigh. “I came to that conclusion when I saw him lying on the floor through the isolation room observation window,” she noted. “Is there anything you can do for him?”
“Medical scanners in his isolation compartment confirm T’kor is positive for the virus — and highly symptomatic,” the acting Chief Medical Officer divulged. “There are no physical injuries. He was transported without the biohazard contamination suit you instructed Captain Braji to place him in. We can’t get to him without risking contaminating the crew.”
“Not very promising,” Warwick blurted.
“Without further supportive treatment, his condition will deteriorate. He’ll lapse into a coma and then organ failure,” the Doctor declared.
“It would be reasonable to assume it was intentional on their part, Doctor,” Beta speculated. “The Eridanian way of ‘settling the score’ by means of infecting the crew of the Stargazer as payment for their destruction. What they didn’t count on was our preparedness.” The First Officer exchanged glances with the acting Chief Medical Officer and Lieutenant Warwick. “Job well done,” she applauded.
“Get some sleep, Doctor,” Foxwell told Rivera. “The Stargazer will arrive in approximately four hours. We’ll conference with Beta and your assistant Chief Medical Officer. If he’s able, perhaps we can glean additional information from T’kor now that he’s in custody and isolation in sickbay.”
Rivera shook his head. “No, Captain. I would prefer to continue using my own research data I have on micro discs I brought with me. I deferred to the colony’s Chief Virologist because it appeared his work was near completion and he was taking us in the right direction. I have my own theory regarding a vaccine.”
Foxwell smiled. He respected the Doctor’s tenacity. “Very well, doctor, but only until the Stargazer arrives, then I want you to get some rest.”
“Agreed.” Rivera turned around and walked back to the lab.
Walking in the direction of the colony’s security office, Foxwell detached the communicator from his utility belt.
“Foxwell to Stargazer.”
“Stargazer, Beta here.”
“Beta, provide me with an update regarding arrival — and status of T’kor.”
“Time of arrival is 3 hours, 48 minutes, Captain. T’kor is unconscious and isolated in sickbay. The medical staff is unable to safely access the Eridanian due to a high probability of contamination of the crew. It is recommended T’kor be transported to the colony’s sickbay using the colony’s Vulcan transporter as soon as we’re within transporter range.”
“Acknowledged. Contact and advise when the Stargazer is within range — Foxwell out,” he responded, closing the communicator’s antenna.
Arriving at the colony’s security office, he asked to see the detained Chief Virologist.
“That’s fine with me,” acting Chief of Security Summer’s replied. “Gareth and his brother are confined in separate sections here in the security wing.” He led Foxwell through a set of double doors and down a corridor to a cell block consisting of three individual cells. Sitting on the bunk behind the the one-inch thick steel bars, the Chief Virologist had a steely, but resigned look on his face.
“I’ll give you some privacy,” Lieutenant Summers offered. He turned around and walked away.
Alone with the confined microbiologist, he returned the scientist’s icy stair. “Would you be willing to talk?” Foxwell politely demanded.
The middle aged scientist slowly stood, then snorted indignantly. “I’ve got nothing to say.” He turned and walked away.
“You might want to reconsider," Foxwell suggested. "I have no doubt you and Gareth are facing life without parole — which means banishment from Earth; perhaps the penal colony on one of the the Martian moons, Phobos or Deimos. You on one moon, your brother on the other. That you would be sentenced to life on a Martian Moon -- it has a certain poetic justice, don't you think?" Foxwell snickered.
Standing in front of a bulkhead, his back to the Starship Captain, the Chief Virologist shook his head and sighed. He was smart enough to know his options were limited, if non-existent. The penal colonies on the Martian Moons were an absolute reality. Remaining quiet, he craned his head in Foxwell's direction.
"You have something to say, Doctor?"
"Can I speak with Gareth?" he asked in a subdued tone.
Foxwell nodded. "I'm sure I can arrange a meeting with your brother."
“Maintain standard orbit,” Beta directed the Navigator and Helmsman.
“Aye Commander,” both replying in tandem.
The First Officer exited the command chair and proceeded to the communications station. “Xuriya, contact the Captain and transfer the link to the ready room. You have the conn.”
“Acknowledged - link established."
Leaning over the companel in the ready room, Beta confirmed the Stargazer had arrived and was in orbit around the red planet. “Waiting for instructions regarding transport of the Eridanian, Captain.”
“It was decided T’kor would be transported when the Stargazer was within transporter range,” Foxwell reminded his First Officer. “What happened?”
“He’s still unconscious, Captain. I believed it prudent to wait until we were in orbit; my knowledge of transporter technology confirms it will allow for a matter stream of greater intensity, placing less stress on his already weakened condition.”
Foxwell nodded. “Makes sense,” he said. “I’ll make arrangements for his immediate transport directly to the colony’s medical facility. Be ready to forward coordinates when requested. Contact me should T’kor disclose any information before beaming him to sickbay.”
“Good news, Captain. The Chief Virologist provided the location of a back-up micro disc in his quarters, the acting Chief of Security revealed. “The disc contains all the information deleted in the laboratory’s computer data base,” he added.
“Is Doctor Rivera aware of this?”
“Our IT people are uploading the information as we speak. Doctor Rivera has informed me a vaccine will be ready within hours.”
“Excellent. The Stargazer has returned and is in orbit. T’kor is in custodial isolation and needs to be transported to the colony’s medical facility. His condition appears to be critical, but stable; there is risk of shipboard contamination if not done so immediately.”
“His transport will be completed within the hour,” Summers informed the Starship Captain. "I’ll place the Medical staff on notice and arrange for a Vulcan transporter technician to coordinate with your sickbay."
"Excellent. I’m hoping the medical staff can further stabilize T’kor long enough that we can get a few answers out of him,” Foxwell stated.
The Chief Medical Officer and several assistants gathered around T’kor. Lying on a medical diagnostic bed after transport to the Martian Colony’s emergency room, he was covered with a dupioni thermal blanket and wearing a level 3 medical-grade mask. Medical facility staff appeared to work feverishly to stabilize the profoundly ill Eridanian, the bio-function monitor above his bed displaying the faintest life support biometrics.
“Stand aside,” a voice in the background suddenly shouted. Startled by the unexpected command, the Chief Medical Officer and his physician assistants turned around. Standing several feet behind, Lieutenant Summers was present and holding the Eridani phaser. He continued to shout, alternately pointing and waving the deadly energy weapon in tandem with his commands to move away from the patient.
“What’s this all about?” The Chief Medical Officer barked.
“Just move away from T’kor,” Summers repeated.
Complying with his order, the Chief Medical Officer and his assistants slowly moved back. Displaying a vile smirk, Summers aimed and fired the phaser at the figure on the diagnostic bed, vaporizing its occupant.
The Assistant Chief of Security craned his neck at the sound of footsteps approaching from behind. “Give me the phaser, Summers,” a familiar voice ordered. Summers quickly turned. It was Captain Foxwell.
“Stay back,” Summers yelled, aiming the phaser at Foxwell’s torso.
“We know all about your involvement regarding the conspiracy to contaminate the Colony and bring the virus to Earth,” Foxwell revealed. "Yes, the Eridanian plot to drive a wedge between Vulcan and Earth, the personal fortune awaiting you and your brother based on development of an effective vaccine. Killing T’kor will not cover-up what we already know.”
"What are you talking about?” Summers shouted. You don’t know a thing.”
“That’s where you’re wrong,” Foxwell revealed. “T’kor confessed before he died on the Stargazer. We have his confession on video.”
“W-what?” a befuddled Summers asked. He craned his head in the direction of the diagnostic bed.
“That was a mannequin you disintegrated — one of the medical department’s anatomical dummies. Now give me the phaser, Lieutenant — that’s an order,” Foxwell shouted, walking toward Summers.
“Stay where you are,” the acting Security Chief threatened. He jerked reflexively, raising and pointing the phaser at Foxwell’s upper torso.
Stopping, Foxwell extended his hand toward the weapon. “Give me the phaser,” he repeated.
“I swear I’ll kill you,” Summers snarled, moving his index finger from the side of the phaser to its trigger button. “Arrgh,” he suddenly yelled, his body stiffening in response to the beam of a directed energy pulse. He uttered a faint, choking gasp, toppling over backwards and onto the deck.
Moving closer to the unconscious assistant Chief Security Officer, Beta looked up at Foxwell. “Are you okay, Captain?” she asked, fusion laser pistol in her hand.
Foxwell sighed. “Another two seconds and that would be a moot issue,” he replied.
“Summer’s believed he had made arrangements to beam T’kor to sickbay, but he was already dead,” Beta explained. “He told us before he died about the conspiracy involving himself, Summers, Gareth, and his scientist brother. He correctly believed Summers would kill him after arrival. It was me the Vulcan transporter technician beamed to the Colony’s sickbay. Fortunately, Summers was not there when I arrived."
“That’s why we placed the dummy on the diagnostic bed," Foxwell added. “We knew he’d want to kill T’kor before he could implicate him in the conspiracy. He had access to the phaser and it’s firing security code.”
"I set the fusion laser pistol on its highest stun setting," Beta pointed out. "He’ll be unconscious for quite some time."
“He’ll have plenty of time to recover in his own jail until we transport him back to Earth to stand trial, along with Gareth and the colony's Chief Virologist,” Foxwell vowed.
Click to read Episode III Part IX "Star Voyagers: "THE MARS PLAGUE""