IF YOU HAVE TEARS
Previously: Episode Ten
JUMPER’s LOG, Star Date 2273, January 1st (7 Years, 5 Months, 2 Days)
By my seventh year in service, I’d finally been promoted to Commander, spending less than a year at Lt. Commander before being booted upstairs. The second promotion came at the same time I was appointed to the post of Chief Medical Officer of the Potemkin. I was now, officially, senior staff (I’d been serving as interim chief for nearly 3 months by that point, but that is, I assure you, the nature of the bureaucratic beast). We were on our way from point A to point B, the exact details are irrelevant and almost certainly meaningless. Suffice to say we were not too terribly far from the Klingon Neutral Zone and leave it at that.
I’d been hearing a strange buzzing noise all day, as if someone was speaking just in the room next door and I could almost make out individual words but not quite. As it turns out, all the Vulcans and Betazeds aboard were hearing it too and by the end of Alpha shift, I’d seen each and every one of them. Finally, I took the matter to the Captain… just in time for a blue 5 feet tall Yoda to appear on the bridge.
He flickered, cleared his throats (I later learned they had two), then said “My name Is Kaas. (pronounced somewhere between ‘Chase’ and ‘Case’) I am speaker for the people of Yuria VI. I believe I am speaking to the people of the Federation aboard the ship named Bodemgin… forgive me if I have pronounced that incorrectly. We can only guess at the pronunciation of your written languages. We are in desperate need of help. A plague has begun to ravage our people and we are at a loss for how to fight it. We know that we have never met you, but we beg of you… your technology is so advanced… please… help us find a cure.” He gave a strange headwaggle, what we were to come to know as the Yurian equivalent of a bow, and vanished.
“Doctor?” the Captain asked, waving her hand in front of my face.
“Ummm… Yes Captain?”
“You stopped talking and just stared into space for almost a minute. Are you alright?”
I paused, then nodded slowly. “Yes. I am fine. Please hold on for one second.” I tapped the all hands button on the arm of the Captain’s chair and said “Any Crew member who has just viewed a distress call from an entity calling itself a Yurian or the Speaker of Yuria VI, please report to the main conference room.”
The captain did her best impression of a Vulcan, raising her eyebrow like an old pro. “Distress call?”
“I believe so. Psychic in nature. But I do not want to salt the pool. If you would Captain?” We headed down to the Conference room where, as expected, every member of the crew with any degree of psychic sensitivity was waiting for us. “Each of you, independently, please grab a pad and record what was communicated to you by this individual. Include a visual description as well, if you would.”
The results were, with some expected degree of variation, all remarkably similar. I showed the Captain. “Our presence has been requested.”
“What information do we have on Yuria VI?” She asked Daniel Levi, the head of planetary sciences once he’d been summoned.
“They are a pre-space society which has been visited by traders from both the Federation and Klingon Empire multiple times. As you know, the Prime Directive does not restrict the actions of Federation Citizens, only of Starfleet personnel. They are technologically advanced, comparable to Earth in the decade leading up to the Eugenics War, but they have been so for at least the last two centuries. The people are said to have limited psycho-sensitive abilities.”
“Thank you.” She dismissed him, looking to me. “Well, shit.”
“Indeed Captain,” I agreed. “Coming to the aid of the Yurians would be a violation of General Order One, subsection 15, which prohibits “Helping a society escape a natural disaster known to the society, even if inaction would result in that society’s extinction.”
“Would it? They have directly contacted us, asking for our assistance.”
“This is true, but it might also be viewed as as a violation of the ban on providing knowledge of technologies and or sciences.”
“So you advise against going to the Yurian’s aid?”
“Negative. The needs of the Many outweigh the needs of the Few. Facing a Court Martial for violation of the Prime Directive is a small price to pay to potentially save many lives. As the people of Yuria appear to already know all about us and posses the ability to contact us directly using little more than thought, it can be assumed that their lack of space travel does not represent an ignorance of galactic civilization.”
“Excellent. Not very proper, but very Vulcan of you. And just what I wanted to hear. Now, go put that in writing and get your department ready.” She turned from me. “Helm, set course for Yuria VI.
I’d like to tell you everything went well. I’d like to tell you we arrived in time, cured the plague, and saved all the lives. If you want to believe that, please, skip to the next log. I won’t mind.
When we arrived at Yuria, there was already a ship in orbit. It was Klingon Science Vessel (Yes, they have those) named the K’Margh. They’d arrived a day earlier. While the shows tend to focus on Klingon Warriors and their grand Klingon Warrior Traditions, the reality is that there are Klingon Bookworms, Klingon Scientists, and Klingon Doctors. They’re not… the best… but they are far from the worst. That would be the Pakleds.
The K’Margh’s crew, a biological survey team, had already begun collecting samples from the afflicted and gotten a jump on sequencing the disease, though they were having considerable problems with getting a clear result. Their chief medical officer, a microbiologist named Dr. Ragawn was friendly enough for a Klingon, but baffled by the almost insane variation in disease samples taken not just from patients across the planet from each other, but often by samples taken from the same victim.
The disease’s symptoms were another issue. They seemed almost random, and we rapidly compiled a list of over thirty different common signs and symptoms, with an additional hundred or so less common. It took me longer than I’d have liked to figure out what I was looking at, but by the fifth day, it dawned on me, and by the sixth the tests had come back, letting me know I was right. The disease was a kind of carrier pathogen.
At the core, it was a bacteria that, rather than weakening the host’s immune system directly, picked up and stored any virus it was exposed to in special catch and release pockets on its skin. The Bacteria, which was all but impervious to viral infection on its own, would seed the host with whatever diseases it had, some of them useless against the host, others more effective, and then ride out the ensuing breakdown. The reason we were seeing such a vast array of signs and symptoms was because different viruses had different incubation periods, and different timing, and two different bacterium might have totally different weapon loads.
The riddle of what we were dealing with solved, creating an antibody that could fight the bacterium became our number one priority, while the rest of the ships’ crews worked with the Yurians on containment. Thankfully, the Yurians were advanced enough to understand medicine and to have already initiated absolute quarantines on all their far flung communities… but in the centers where the disease had hit first, the deathtolls were mounting.
We did solve the case, Ragawn and I. The Bacterium was resilient, but unicellular live is seldom that advanced and we were able to create a pseudo-virus which would, when introduced into the host, be adsorbed preferentially over any other virus… and once absorbed, be unable to be released again. This would functionally disarm the bacteria. We distributed it to the Yurians… and that’s when the first trouble began.
I don’t know if the Yurians realized how good our sensors were and just thought we wouldn’t care, but it quickly became evident that they were distributing the agent preferentially. While, yes, it made sense to inoculate those centers where the disease had not yet firmly landed, it became clear that they were essentially abandoning poorer regions entirely.
Now we had a problem. This was an internal social issue and we could not legally interfere. So that’s why we used the Klingons. The Klingon Empire had no such compunction, and with a few judicious bribes of … shall we say certain beverages that Captain Sherwood might or might not have had squirreled away that might or might not have been entirely legal… we convinced the K’Margh to beam down some of the agent production units to each of the major regional hospitals. Of course, it didn’t take a Betazed to read the Yurian Government’s reaction to that, but they maintained an air of civility.
Still, better than a billion people had the disease, and despite our best efforts, it was still spreading. And of course, the viral cocktails made treatment of the sick almost impossible. There was nothing we could do but continue our efforts. Plagues don’t have happy endings. In the end, Yuria was more than decimated. Of the planetary population of 8.3 billion, 2/3rds died… almost all of them poor, in poor regions, with limited health care and limited access to food and water. In the major industrial and political regions of the world, the survival rate was 90%. And there was nothing we could do about it.
Dr. Ragawn and I destroyed our samples of the disease and, by mutual agreement, issued a 100 year Quarantine of Yuria. I also did a complete scan of the K’Margh’s computer base and discovered that Ragawn’s lab assistant was secretly working for Klingon Military Intelligence and had stashed away samples of the disease and the detailed scans of its biology, as well as a recommendation that it be studied for use as a biological warfare agent. I’m sure Ragawn will miss him.
In the end, both Sherwood and I faced inquests to determine if we’d acted appropriately, and a strongly worded reprimand was placed in each of our files. The Yurian Government awarded the crews of each of the ships that had come to their aid their highest civilian awards. Sherwood and I quietly spaced ours. To this day, I do not know if the Yurians created the plague to rid themselves of excess population or merely used it that way. I do know that, on any other industrial world, the loss of quite so many people would have ruined the economy and plunged the planet into political turmoil. Neither happened on Yuria. Never before have I felt so used, but I remind myself that, for all of that, I did my duty as a doctor and saved as many lives as I could. Perhaps future generations will forgive me for my part, however unwitting, in genocide.
Next: Episode Twelve