“Captains Log, Stardate 53750.9, USS Republic
. I have returned to Hak’ta-thor in company with USS Phoenix
, under the command of Captain James Nelson. Jim is senior to me and has already reviewed our logs and actions here against the Lorsham. He has tentatively approved the actions which I took, but has also recommended that I stand before a Special Courts Martial inquiry back at Star Fleet Command to make the final determination. The Lorsham remain furious, and Phoenix
was provided within an hour of her making orbit with a request for my extradition on charges of murder, destruction of national treasures, and piracy against the Lorsham people. Trials that they conducted in abstentia
complete with a guilty verdict and a sentence of death. Jim refused their request.”
“I have recommended to Captain Nelson that Phoenix
institute a blockade around Hak’ta-thor and the single remaining Lorsham colony, at least until the Federation Council make a decision on how exactly to deal with the Lorsham. Until we know for certain that all capacity to manufacture this drug has been destroyed, it would be folly to allow the Lorsham to once again have access to space travel. Jim Nelson concurred with that recommendation and ordered the Lorsham to evacuate their ship-yards in orbit—the Lorsham government complied with that demand under protest.”
“Due to the fact that we cannot confirm the destruction of every sample of the agent, USS Piper
has been diverted back to her normal duties. As a newer ship in the Fleet, and one equipped with bio-neural gel-packs, the risk of infection is too great to have her enter the Cauldron. Admiral Parker is instead dispatching the Mediterranean
-class science vessels USS Adriatic
and USS Pacific
to conduct a thorough scientific examination of the nebula and its systems. In addition, the older Renaissance
-class cruiser USS Cabot
is en route to assume blockade duty here in the Hak’ta-thor system, freeing Phoenix
to return to normal operations.”
“We have reestablished contact with the Kraal, and after explaining the threat these Ordan artifacts pose, they have agreed to allow Star Fleet to destroy the single example that they possess. Perhaps some good will come out of this situation after all, for the Kraal government has asked for a representative of the Federation to begin discussing the normalization of relations in the Cauldron.”
“Field repairs aboard Republic
are nearly complete, and we will soon be making our way back to Earth to undergo a full yard inspection and repairs. Our casualties during the battle with the Val
were heavy—we have thirty-seven officers and crew dead and almost one hundred injured, two dozen of those severely. With the assistance of the medical department aboard Phoenix
we have stabilized all of the wounded. The ship and crew performed beyond all of my expectations during the engagement, with the crew carrying out their assignments above and beyond the call of duty.”
“It is perhaps the most difficult part of command, writing the letters to the families of those who fall. It is a painful reality of life as the commander of a Star Fleet vessel with which I am far too familiar. The moreso in that the families want—no need—to hear that their loved ones died without suffering, and for a greater good. I can only hope that my words to these survivors will bring some measure of closure for their loss; although I fear that my articulation is not up to this dreadful task.”
The door to Matt’s cabin chimed.
“Computer, save log.”
“Enter,” he barked.
Quincy and Natantael Malik, walked in, trailed by Chief Sandler.
“Gentlemen, take a seat. What can I do for you today?”
The ship’s surgeon and the chief of engineering sat, but the transporter chief remained standing . . . all of them appeared at a loss for words.
“I am waiting, gentlemen,” Matt said, puzzled.
Quincy shook his head. “I think we may have come up with a way to cure Sepak, Captain.”
Matt leaned back in his chair. “But?”
Sandler shook his head. “Sir, it has never been done before—I don’t know if the transporters can handle it.”
Now the Captain frowned. “Done what? From the beginning, Quincy.”
“Sepak is dying, Captain. Neither we nor Phoenix
can stop the deterioration of his internal organs—his body is tearing itself apart. And we cannot even hope to develop a genuine cure in time.”
“But perhaps we don’t have to cure him, Skipper,” the Trill engineer interjected. “We have Sepak’s pattern from his second beam-down still stored in the transporter memory—I’ve checked, it’s there and there has been no degradation of signal. That was before he was infected, you see. So we put the Ambassador in the transporter, beam him into the buffer pattern confinement, and overwrite his current pattern with the stored pattern, before rematerialization!”
Matt’s jaw dropped. “Gentlemen, that breaks about forty regulations on the use of transporters—and I’m not sure exactly how many ethical standard of Star Fleet Medical!”
“Thirty-eight, Sir,” Sandler said glumly. “I won’t do it unless you order me to, Captain.”
“Matt, he’s dead in hours—not days, hours
—if we don’t try something,” the Doctor pleaded.
“Has it ever been done—successfully—before?”
Malik shook his head. “Not on a living subject as complex as the Ambassador, but we have restored the patterns of inanimate objects using stored data; and there have been a limited number of tests of the theory on living creatures, including six tests two years ago on lab rats.”
“And those tests?” asked Matt.
“Two of the rat’s patterns didn’t hold; the other four came through intact—and healthy.”
“Gentlemen, you are asking me to take a grave risk here, not just for me but for Sepak.”
“He’s dead anyway, Matt, if we don’t try.”
Matt tapped his stylus on the corner of his deck, and he shook his head. “Jim Nelson will never grant permission for this attempt, Doctor, Commander. And we aren’t going to tell him, until after we find out whether or not we have save the Ambassador or killed him in the attempt. Mister Sandler,” he said to the transporter specialist, “your orders are given . . . I’ll put them in writing if you prefer.”
“That won’t be necessary, Captain.”
“When can we make the attempt, Commander?”
“Less than a hour, Sir.”
Matt nodded. “In that case, you’d best get cracking. Chief, whatever you need to make this work is at your disposal. Inform me before starting the attempt.”
“Dismissed, gentlemen,” Matt said quietly as the two seated officers stood, and followed the Chief out of Matt’s quarters.
“Well, gentlemen,” Matt said softly, “if we are going to try this, let’s do it.”
Sandler nodded. “I’ve set the transport parameters, Captain, and tied the unit into the main computer to refine the stored pattern. Power flow is looking good—but I’m still worried about the conduits holding. We’re taxing them beyond the system design.”
Matt stared at the Ambassador, sitting in a medical chair on the transporter pad. The once strong and solemn Vulcan was covered in sweat, his skin twitched, and his head bobbled, as Doctor Talbot wiped a thin line of drool from his jaw. Finally, Quincy stepped away.
Commander Malik was standing behind the console with Sandler, making some final adjustments to the power feeds, and preparing to assist the transporter chief, but at last he too nodded. “We’re on-line.”
“Energize,” said Matt.
The transporter hummed, and then Sepak and his chair faded out from sight.
“Dematerialization is complete,” Sandler commented. “I have his pattern in the primary buffer; overlaying secondary pattern now. Secondary pattern is in place. Reenergizing the unit.”
The transporter made a sharp whine, and the pads began to glow, and then the waterfall pattern of energy appeared—but they flickered and faded.
“Boost power to the emitters chief,” the engineer said as he adjusted another set of controls.
“Emitters at thirty-five percent past maximum, Commander. Increasing signal gain . . . pattern is still holding . . . holding . . . energizing again.”
Sepak and the chair began to appear, then they faded, and spark flew from behind an access panel. “We need more power!” Sandler cried as the transporter began to emit a much louder than normal hum.
“Diverting . . . power is flowing, Chief!”
Matt flinched as the cover of an access panel exploded outwards, the on-duty Marine grabbing a fire suppressor and quenching the electrical system.
“Boosting power,” the Chief snapped, “and reinitializing materialization sequence!”
This time the waterfall of light sparkled and Sepak reappeared, become solid, and then the lights dimmed, and the console crackled with arcs of electricity.
“Shutting down!” yelled Sandler, as the humming stopped, and Quincy jumped up onto the transporter pads, running his medical tricorder over the Vulcan.
“Cardio-stimulator!” he snapped to the nurse, who handed him a small device that the Doctor fixed to Sepak’s chest. “Charging . . . charging . . . CLEAR!”
The Ambassador jerked, and then once again fell lifeless.
Once again the wan and waxen body jerked—and then Sepak gasped and drew in a deep breath.
The Vulcan moved his head from side to side and cocked an eyebrow. “Doctor Talbot? What . . . why . . . why am I restrained and where are clothes?”
Matt let out the deep breath he had held and stepped forward. “Ambassador, what is today’s Stardate?” he asked, even as Quincy was once again running the tricorder over Sepak’s body.
The Vulcan frowned. “Stardate 53750.1, Captain Dahlgren. I was in the process of beaming down to Hak’ta-thor, when I rematerialized here. What has occurred?”
“Ambassador, it is Stardate 53750.9. You were infected with the Lorsham mind-altering agent and have been in a healing trance ever since.”
“Ah . . . that does explain things. I take it that you have managed to remove the agent?”
“If you would quit moving around and talking, I might
be able to determine that!” snapped Quincy. But then he stood up straight. “I can’t detect anything wrong with him, other than he hasn’t eaten in more than a week, Matt—but I want him back in Medical for a full examination.”
The Doctor grinned. “At least he’s awake and himself once again, Captain. Now we can treat his aides as well.”
!” Matt said harshly.
“It worked, Captain; we can cure them.”
“We almost lost Sepak, Doctor—you had to revive him. The effort nearly burnt out the transporter unit . . .”
“It did burn out, Sir, Transporter Room One is officially off-line until the Commander and I can make repairs,” added Sandler.
“Thank you, Chief. No. This option was only because Sepak was dying—and it was a hail Mary that worked, Doctor. We will not
try it on men who aren’t in imminent threat of death.”
“Matt, their minds have been reprogrammed—wouldn’t you want someone to risk it to restore you?”
The Captain slowly shook his head. “No, Quincy. We were justified in the attempt with Sepak; and I am not going to risk killing either of his aides. Star Fleet Medical will find a cure—or they will perfect this one; but I can’t risk it or their lives. I’m sorry, Doctor, but that is my final word on this.”
He turned to face the Chief Engineer. “Mister Malik, I want their last beam-down patterns preserved—use whatever computer resources you need to make certain they do not degrade. But this experiment is now finished
“Aye, aye, Sir.”
“Ambassador,” Matt continued. “I’ll check in with you after the Doctor has finished his examination. It’s good to have you back, Sir.”
“Thank you, Captain Dahlgren. Did I miss much?”
Matt chuckled. “The Doctor will fill you in on the events of past few days, Mister Ambassador. Get some rest,” he finished before he limped over to the doors and exited.
The Vulcan looked up at the Doctor and began to open his mouth, but Quincy interrupted him. “After
I go over your examination, Ambassador,” he said sternly.
And Sepak cocked an eyebrow. “I am certain that your version of the events will be fascinating, Doctor.”