Rebecca remembered this tender moment as her captain was loading herself into the probe. She was there to put the finishing touches on the life support system. The warp drive checkup was fairly routine since such probes were designed to travel at warp. Rebecca left that to two human male technicians, who were running scans and securing panels on the right side of the probe. A Denobulan male medical technician scanned Limis with a medical tricorder while making minute adjustments to her breathing apparatus. The med-tech also injected her with a tranquilizer to keep her heart rate normal during the launch.
During the whole process, all Rebecca could do was sit and watch as her friend was being jettisoned from the ship in a container the size of a coffin. She struggled to keep her composure as the engineering technicians secured the last panel on the probe and rolled it towards the launcher.
“Probe is away,” Morrison reported from the bridge tactical station. He then left his station to a young male ensign and followed Kozar over the primary bridge engineering station on the port-forward corner of the bridge. Logan monitored the probe from a console facing the command chairs while Tarlazzi was at the wall-mounted console behind him. “Probe velocity at two hundred kilometers per second and increasing,” Logan said quietly.
“All life signs read nominal,” Tarlazzi added. He remained silent for a brief moment hoping that was still the case when, “The probe has gone to warp.”
Kozar stared silently at the probe beacon readouts on a monitor at his eye level. Morrison looked over the commander’s shoulder at the same readouts. “Come with me, Morrison,” Kozar whispered, heading for the port turbolift. “You have the bridge, Mister Logan,” he said at normal volume. “Change course to intercept the probe at the very first sign of trouble.”
“Aye, sir,” the de facto
first officer compliantly answered.
“You can’t be serious,” the Emergency Medical Hologram grunted. “I’m a doctor, not Frankenstein.”
“Doctor Mora Pol has made several breakthroughs into detecting Changeling life signs,” Kozar replied in reference to the Bajoran scientist who studied Odo, who was now the chief of security aboard Deep Space 9. Kozar held a padd to the EMH in the sickbay office.
The holographic doctor snatched the padd and quickly read its contents. The designers of this newest edition of the EMH felt it could be made more personable by giving him unkempt chestnut hair and dark stubble on his face forming a five o’clock shadow. One problem that still had yet to be resolved was that his sarcasm often came off as demeaning to his patients.
“It’s a still long way from passing off the remains of a dead Changeling as a live one,” the EMH said with a sigh. All he really understood about whatever the two senior officers were planning was where they had gotten a dead Changeling in the first place. Months before the Mark Three’s first activation, a saboteur on the Lambda Paz
planted the remains of a dead Changeling in the captain’s ready room in order to falsely implicate another crewmember. But once the destruction of Starbase G-6 and surrounding ships was thwarted, the true saboteur was found to be under influence of a parasitic species that once threatened Starfleet years before.
“Just do whatever you can, Doctor,” Morrison replied. “Leave the rest to us.”
The hologram scoffed in annoyance. “Of course,” he muttered. “I’m always the last to know about what goes on around here.” Sure enough, he had been informed of the full details of why he had been thrust into the role of acting chief medical officer. But his own concern ran deeper than the danger his boss was facing. While not having a full grasp of the concept of romantic attraction, he did find Aurellan an intriguing person as both a medical practitioner and as a woman.
The probe that was ferrying Limis registered as a stray meteoroid on the Phillip Green
’s sensors. Once it came dangerously close to inflicting damage to the hull, which would be considerable for a ship traveling at warp, the deflector shields were triggered. However, the probe’s shields were designed to learn any ship’s deflector shield frequency and slip through that ship’s hull.
Once her sensor pad indicated she was inside the targeted ship, Limis shoved open the top access panel. Luckily, she was in a section of the ship devoid of personnel. The probe’s sensors could make those determinations according to the padd Cole gave her. She still felt lucky that feature didn’t randomly fail.
Limis removed a tricorder containing schematics of a Hideki
-class vessel from her tricorder. This special wide-screened tricorder immediately alerted her to where on the ship she was. She tapped the red indicator on the ship schematic to magnify that section of the ship while skulking through the dark corridor. After entering a few commands into the scanner to locate the nearest antimatter injector ports.
Snežana struggled to stay conscious. Her skin was pale and flushed. She was coughing and wheezing as the virus continued to consume her from the inside. Darcen placed a cold cloth on her forehead and while Ileana carefully tipped a basin of egg-drop broth to pour small amounts of the liquid into her dying friend’s mouth.
“How long do I have?” Snežana asked weakly.
Rhys and Ileana both exchanged quick glances. They all knew the possible consequences of infecting themselves with sample viruses. They were prepared for death. None of them wanted each other to hide the truth. “A day,” Rhys answered, as a single tear crawled down his right cheek, “maybe two. You will see our crowning moment.”
Ileana brushed the tear off his cheek while she was herself fighting back tears. Darcen had insisted on not letting emotions interfere with what needed to be done. Now, Ileana knew he just said that to Aurellan so that she would not try to turn them against each other. Seamus’s death certainly devastated him, and he was just trying to be strong for the rest of the group. And now Snežana was on her deathbed.
Ileana grimaced in pain while breathing heavily. Rhys was also feeling the same pain in his forehead. The virus was starting to claim both of them as well. “You are both sick too,” Snežana groaned.
“Afraid so,” Ileana replied. “That means the only immune was…”
“Grimaud,” Rhys finished.
“Let Aurellan go,” Snežana mumbled almost incoherently. “She cannot threaten us.”
“Never,” Rhys hissed. “She will pay for betraying us.”
“Why?” Snežana groaned. “She cannot stop us. No one can. Revenge is so wasteful…”
Rhys began letting out muffled sobs. For all his genetically engineered stoicism, he could bare to see Snežana in this state. Ileana reached a hand out to Rhys’s shoulder to coax him out of the room while dabbing her own tears with the back of her other hand. They slowly walked out as Snežana was now mumbling in Russian about how much she longed for Aurellan.
Accompanied by Grimaud, Rhys and Ileana entered Markalis’s quarters. She was again bound to a chair. Rhys paced over to her and unlocked the restraints. “I need you find out if Grimaud is the one who is immune,” he told his prisoner.
“Why should I help you?” Aurellan snarled, wanting to spit in the face of the man who had threatened to kill her on at least two occasions.
“Snežana is dying,” Ileana replied, setting an instrument tray down on the table. “We’re showing symptoms.”
Aurellan’s instincts as a doctor quickly kicked in as she got up grabbed a hypo-syringe. Or maybe she was also smitten with Grimaud. Despite his compliance with Darcen, he had something of a serene innocence that she could easily identify with. He remained stoic almost endlessly, yet he had to believe this endeavor was wrong for so many reasons. “I told you guys not to play around with that stuff,” she grumbled.
Darcen hurled the chair across the room. “Not another word!” he bellowed. “Just do as your told.”
“The same way your bitch does?” Aurellan retorted. The words just popped out. She put very little thought into having said it. The conspicuous muscular build of Augment women was indicative of wanting to differentiate themselves from stereotypical human women. On the other hand, Ileana also bowed to Darcen’s will.
Ileana gave a hard slap to Aurellan’s left jaw. “Get the antibody sample from him,” she hissed.
Markalis walked over to Grimaud, deeply shocked that he seemed emotionally unaffected. After extracting a sample of antibodies, Aurellan walked over back to the table. That was when the whole room shook.
Darcen frantically stormed onto the bridge demanding answers. His woman was close behind him. His murderous stare at Faroun was enough of a clue as to what he would ask.
“We’ve dropped out of warp, sir,” Faroun said.
“Why?” Darcen demanded of the blonde female helmsman.
“One of the injectors just gave out,” the pilot answered with a confused look.
“That’s your best explanation?!” Darcen growled heading staring impatiently at the controls.
A middle-aged dark haired man with slightly olive stepped onto the bridge escorting a Bajoran woman. Darcen immediately recognized her as the captain of the Lambda Paz
. He immediately wondered how she got aboard with her ship well out of sensor range, not that it was relevant at this moment. “Where’d you find her, Diego?” he asked somewhat playfully.
“I found her sneaking around the impulse deck,” Diego replied.
“We have ourselves a more a valuable hostage,” Darcen mused with a smug grin. “I will escort her to quarters,” he said, grabbing Limis by her collar.
“Faroun,” Rhys then called to his tactical officer. Indicating Diego, he said, “Get the warp drive back on line after you’ve tossed this incompetent fool out the nearest airlock.
Ileana stared fearfully as Darcen and others walked off the bridge. To her knowledge, Darcen never resorted to executions for incompetence. Perhaps as a consequence of the deterioration of neurons, spurts of rage were another symptom of the virus. In this mental condition, he could hurt or kill anyone, even her.