Episode III: Part VI - Rivera works to develop a vaccine / Beta pursues the Saboteur
Stardate: Dec 15, 2096
“Enter,” Foxwell uttered in response to the door chime.
Walking into the Captain’s assigned quarters, the Stargazer’s Chief Medical Officer sauntered in the direction of the queen sized bunk. He was lying on his back, his hands behind his head, staring upwards at the overhead.
“Don’t blame you for napping, Captain,” Rivera said. “We could all use some rest. It’s been a long day.”
Foxwell sat up, then stood. “Rest will have to wait, he yawned. “So, tell me Doctor, what’s the situation in the lab regarding the virus”
Rivera sighed. “Well, Captain, we’ve only been here a few hours. The scientists from Earth and Vulcan have confirmed it to be an unknown, but extremely virulent SARS virus, transmitted by contact with infectious material such as respiratory droplets, or bodily fluids. It’s characterized by fever, headache, body aches, a dry cough, hypoxia, and usually pneumonia. It’s at that point systemic toxemia occurs followed by multiple organ failure …. and death. To date eleven colonists have died, two Vulcans and nine humans. Two of the deceased were scientists.”
Any progress on a vaccine?”
“Yes. According to the Chief Virologist, a vaccine should be ready for testing within 48 hours. There are plenty of inhabitants eager to volunteer.”
“How long will the two injections we received protect us?” Foxwell asked.
“It depends on individual physiology. The colonists that died received those same injections, keeping the virus at bay for seven to nine days. Like the rabies virus, once symptoms occur, no amount of vaccine will work.”
Foxwell nodded. “Thanks for the update, Doctor. I’ll let you get back to the lab.”
“Hold on a minute,” Rivera protested. “What’s the status regarding Stargazer? Have you heard from Beta?”
Caught off guard by Rivera’s question, Foxwell paused. “As a matter of fact, I have,” he replied, rendering a wry smile.
Placing a reassuring hand on the shoulder of his Chief Medical Office, Foxwell walked the Doctor towards the pneumatic doors of his quarters. “Beta said to tell you everything in sickbay is fine. The senior medical officer you left in charge has everything under control -- nothing to worry about.”
Beta stood and walked in front of the flight control console. She stared briefly at the main viewing screen before completing an about face, exchanging glances with her Flight Control Officers. "Provide a status, helmsman."
“Sensor’s confirm the warbird is activating its cloaking device,” the helmsman responded.
Viewing the main sensors at the science station, the Chief Weapons Officer turned in the direction of the First Officer. “Commander, last sensor reading before the warbird engaged its cloaking device confirmed she is proceeding in the direction of a comet.”
Beta’s eyes widened. “Acknowledged.” She turned and stared again at the main viewing screen. “We’ll target their starship as its wake through the comet’s tail reveals its location. It will be our only chance to disable their vessel. Time of warbird contact with the comet’s tail, Lieutenant?”
“Two minutes, thirty seconds, Commander,” Warwick replied, returning to the weapons station.
Beta pivoted and walked to the communications station. “Xuriya, open a channel to the warbird, all frequencies.”
“Aye Commander. Hailing frequencies open.”
Repeating her previous message to come to a stop and return the party beamed aboard, Beta ordered the Chief Weapons Officer to engage the Stargazer’s cloaking device.
“Cloaking device engaged,” Warwick confirmed.
“Acknowledged,” Beta replied. Now concealed, the First Officer maneuvered around the warbird, positioning the Stargazer for an optimal firing position.
“A wake should appear behind the plasma vented by their nacelles as soon as they enter the comet's tail. That should tell us exactly where the warbird is,” the helmsman speculated.
Beta turned her head toward the weapons officer. “Plot their exact point of entry, Lieutenant."
“Computed -- their port side will be completely exposed and targeted," Warwick replied.
“Time of contact with the comet’s tail?”
“Let’s make ourselves visible, Lieutenant,” Beta directed, scurrying back to the command chair. “Prepare to fire laser canons on my order, maximum power. I want their shields totally disabled.”
“Cloaking device disengaged -- forward laser cannons ready, Commander.”
“Steady …. steady as she goes,” Beta repeated calmly to the navigator and helmsman, her eyes fixated on the main viewing screen.
Made visible against the brightness of the comet, the shape and outline of the cloaked Eridani vessel projected a perfect silhouette against the lighter background of the comet’s bluish ion tail.
“FIRE,” Beta shouted.
The Stargazer’s laser cannons scored multiple hits running the entire length of the warbird’s protective shields.
“Cease fire, Lieutenant,” Xuriya ordered.
Beta swiveled the command chair, aligning it with the communications station. “Keep all hailing frequencies open."
“Aye, Commander,” Xuriya replied.
“Caught them totally by surprise,” Warwick turned and shouted. “Sensors indicate their shield strength now at forty-eight percent.
“They’re not making any attempt to return fire -- or run," the helmsman reported.
“Their weapons and propulsion systems may have sustained serious damage,” the navigator chimed in.
“Redirecting her attention back to communications, Beta stood. “Xuriya, any response to my last message?"
Beta turned her chair and gazed at Warwick. “Weapons status, Lieutenant?”
“Forward laser cannons remain locked onto the warbird’s port side. One more volley should do it,” Warwick surmised.
Beta swiveled the command chair back around and gazed at the main viewing screen.
“FIRE,” she yelled.
The Stargazer’s laser cannons raked the port side of the warbird a second time, their shields straining to deflect and diffuse the concentrated energy beam.
“Sensors confirm their shields have collapsed,” Warwick bellowed.”
“Cease fire, Lieutenant.”
Xuriya stood and pivoted toward the command chair. Holding her earpiece firmly she hollered, “the warbird is hailing us, Commander.”
“On screen,” Beta ordered.
Routing the warbird's optical communication signal to the main viewing screen, it became obvious damage to the Eridani starship had scrambled the video portion of the signal. Audio was barely coherent.
“This is Captain Lera Braji, commanding the Eridani Starship Kyozist. We protest in the strongest terms possible your unprovoked attack on our vessel, as well as your demand we turn over a member of our crew.”
Beta stood within feet of the main viewing screen, her arms folded confidently across her chest. “This is Commander Beta of the SS Stargazer. There will be no discussion,” she began. “You will make immediate arrangements to remand custody of the crew member in question to the Stargazer as previously requested. Failure to comply will result in the Kyozist being towed back to the planet Mars. With the exception of life support systems, your vessel will be disabled and kept in indefinite orbit around the red planet.”
Several minutes elapsed with no response from the Eridani Warbird.
Beta turned around. “Xuriya, mute the audio.”
“Audio disabled, Commander.”
“Navigator, helmsman, do sensors confirm any weapons, propulsion, or shield activity on the Kyozist?
“Negative, Commander,” they replied in tandem, the navigator adding, “they must have sustained more damage than expected.”
“Or they’re playing possum — waiting for an opportunity,” the helmsman noted.
“The First Officer pursed her lips. “I know the Eridanis. They will never agree to our demands to voluntarily surrender their vessel or hand over a member of their crew.”
Pivoting in the direction of the weapons station, Beta exchanged glances with the Weapons Officer. “Lieutenant, target the nacelles on the Kyozist — just enough damage to render them inoperable in the unlikely event they’re still functional.”
“Acknowledged, Commander. Forward Laser cannons locked on both nacelles.”
“Fire on my command,” Beta directed.
Looking at Xuriya, Beta ordered, “restore audio, Lieutenant.”
“This is Commander Beta directing my message to Captain Braji of the Kyozist. You have fifteen seconds to respond to my previous message. What is your answer?”
Fifteen seconds elapsed - no response.
Beta turned and locked eyes with Warwick.