Episode III: Part I - A deadly virus ravages the Martian Colony Titan
Stardate: Dec. 14, 2096
“Approaching Mars orbital parameters, Captain.”
“Very well, Foxwell replied, exiting the command chair and glancing at the helmsman. “Disengage fusion drive — engage impulse engines; ahead one quarter impulse power; initiate orbital sequence.”
“Aye Captain — Stargazer approaching Mars orbital insertion; decreasing power to impulse engines. Orbit will occur in five …, four …, three …, two …, one …, engines shutdown,” the helmsman confirmed.
“Acknowledged — maintain standard orbit.”
Walking toward the main viewing screen Foxwell stopped, rendering a momentary glance at the rust colored planet. “Orbiting Mars reminds me of that old vintage movie, ‘The Angry Red Planet.’” He turned around, rendering a whimsical smile at his bridge officers. “You never know what you’ll find down there,” he chuckled.
Beta displayed her usual poker-face, furrowing her eyebrows and resuming her scan of the bridge sensors, the remaining bridge crew quietly laughing at the Captain’s description.
Walking back to his command seat, he stopped and keyed the comm panel button for sickbay.
“Sickbay, Rivera here.”
“Doctor, can I trouble you to report to my ready room?”
“On my way, Captain.”
Pivoting in the direction of the science station, Foxwell made eye contact with his First Officer. “Beta, please accompany me to the ready room. Xuriya, you have the Bridge."
"Aye sir," Xuriya replied.
Beta stood and followed the Captain though the pneumatic doors, both panels opening and closing respectively, the soft whoosh and squeak of the doors echoing in the small compartment.
“Please take a seat,” Foxwell requested, “Doctor Rivera will arrive momentarily.”
No sooner spoken, the ready room doors opened again, the Stargazer’s Chief Medical Officer appearing in the doorway.
“That didn’t take long,” the Captain commented, making eye contact with Rivera.
“Well, I was just leaving sickbay for my quarters, so your request that I proceed to the bridge was convenient timing. Now, what’s this meeting all about?” he asked, a puzzled expression appearing.
“Have a seat, Doctor,” Foxwell directed with a motion of his hand. Rivera walked around the small conference table, pulling out a seat next to Beta.
Making eye contact with both senior officers, Captain Foxwell proceeded to divulge the purpose of the meeting. “As you’re both aware, a subspace message received from Galactic Fleet Command two days ago directed the Stargazer to set a course for Mars and await further orders. I received another subspace message an hour before we entered Mars orbit directing the three of us meet in the ready room at 1500 hours. A priority one subspace transmission from Admiral Perry is scheduled to begin at 1515 hours to explain the specific reason(s) we have been ordered to the red planet. It is now 1514 hours.
Silent but curious, Beta and Rivera remained seated, Foxwell reaching up toward the overhead, pulling down a portable monitor in preparation to view the live Galactic Fleet transmission.
“Let’s see what the Admiral has in store for us,” the Captain declared, activating the monitor and making the necessary adjustments for viewing. Foxwell walked around and stood several feet behind his seated officers.
“Greetings Captain Foxwell, Commander Beta, Doctor Rivera. On behalf of Galactic Fleet Command, it is imperative the three of you be present for this briefing regarding a recent order directing Stargazer set course for the red planet. Provisional Governor Jetson Duelow recently informed Galactic Fleet of an outbreak of a plague-like contagion that has spread rapidly throughout the Mars Colony, Titan. Their medical facilities have been overwhelmed by a virus of unknown origin. With me is Admiral Ellis Mitchell, Medical Chief of Staff, Galactic Fleet Command. Please pay careful attention to what he has to say.”
Moving the monitor in the direction of the Medical Chief of Staff, Admiral Mitchell continued with the briefing:
“Thank you, Admiral. As Admiral Perry stated, testing has confirmed every human and vulcan on Mars is positive for the virus; that includes the entire complement of health care professionals. This particular pathogen, appropriately named Ares Viral Contagion, is one hundred percent lethal once symptoms appear. Vulcan inhabitants are equally susceptible to infection, but have generally fared better in the early stages due to their unique physiology.”
“What is the mode of transmission, and what are the initial symptoms of the disease?” Rivera chimed in.
“It has been established the lungs are a ready inlet to the contagion, spreading mainly from person to person, typically through respiratory droplets as a result of coughing, sneezing, or talking. Initial symptoms mimic those of a previous Earth pandemic, Covid 19, progressing rapidly to include respiratory collapse and ultimately systemic organ failure. However, in the course of treating the disease, it has been determined two drugs — actonadryl and docporin vitracide, have been used with limited success in slowing viral replication and immune system overreaction. Several research and medical teams have arrived from Earth and Vulcan and are working with our Mars colony medical researchers and scientists. That’s why the Stargazer is here. We understand Doctor Rivera has a background in microbiology and immunology.”
Foxwell and Rivera exchanged glances. “Then you’re ordering the Stargazer’s Chief Medical Officer to proceed to the colony and join the current research teams?” Foxwell posited.
Admiral Mitchell remained silent, glancing at his colleague.
“Galactic Fleet will not order Doctor Rivera to proceed to the Mars Colony and join the effort to search for a vaccine or a cure, Admiral Perry continued. “His decision is entirely voluntary.”
“And if he chooses not to volunteer?” Beta asked.
“In that case, Doctor Rivera will work with the medical and scientific research teams in an orbital research and advisory capacity, to be available as required. Stargazer will remain in orbit and provide planetary security, supportive, and logistical duties until ordered otherwise,” Admiral Perry replied.
Foxwell reached for the monitor and pressed the mute button. He pivoted and locked eyes with Rivera. “Doctor, you understand you could be signing your own death warrant if you agree to be a part of this effort, and a cure or vaccine is not found.
Once you arrive on the planet, you’ll be required to remain until the research is successful, or all Mars colony inhabitants perish,” Beta continued.
“I’m well aware of the risks involved,” Rivera replied. “My MD thesis and dissertation at Galactic Fleet Medical School was Management of Virus Specific T Cells in the lung during respiratory viral infections. I participated in this research in anticipation of neighboring planets possibly harboring infectious microbes and other microscopic pathogens such as this new virus.”
Captain Foxwell paused, then nodded his head and smiled. He knew the Chief Medical Officer’s decision even before it was announced.
Rivera turned in the direction of the monitor. Pressing the mute button a second time, he starred directly at the screen. “Admiral Perry — Admiral Mitchell, please advise the Colony’s Chief Medical Officer and staff I’ll join them on the ground as soon as arrangements can be made.”