Star Trek: Defiant

"The Federation Strikes Back" - Part Four

Written by Daniel Clark

Deep Space Nine

30 minutes later

After an uneventful trip through the wormhole, Lieutenant Marinus guided the Euphrates to a perfect three point landing on runabout pad three. The platform slowly lowered itself from the cold confines of space into its assigned berth. Mak, Laine and Kadiya gathered their belongings and maneuvered toward the hatch.

Marinus began his departure sequence, paused, and turned, "Good luck. I look forward to flying you home."

All three were touched by his words, but it was the doctor who spoke for them, "Thank you Mathew; nothing will make me happier."

She smiled and followed her friends out through the hatch. She was the last to see who was waiting for them, Commander Worf, strategic operations officer for the Bajoran sector.

His deep voice rumbled, "Welcome. Both Admiral Picard and Captain Sisko have asked me to meet you and guide you to your new assignment. If you will please follow me."

Without another word, Worf turned and began to walk down the corridor. He had not gone more than twenty metres before he reached another docking hatch, which rolled open at his command. He indicated that they should enter. When they did they found themselves in another runabout, this time the Rio Grande.

Worf took the controls and without a word of explanation called for clearance from Ops. He had obviously already filed a flight plan as he only had to indicate his readiness to leave. Within moments the runabout was in free space, and Worf applied a gradual dose of the thrusters.

Their transition from one runabout to the other was so fast that Mak was able to see the Euphrates reenter the wormhole. After ten minutes of flight, it was the native Bajoran who realized where they were going.

"You're taking us to the third moon of planet eight, why?"

Now that they were in open space Worf dropped the facade of mystery. "We are heading for the abandoned Cardassian chemical research facility - Daybok 5. We have converted it to a facility that will sufficiently suit our needs."

Without an inkling of haste, or abandon, Mak asked, "And what might those be?"

Worf thought for a moment, "I could tell you now, but there is a full briefing prepared for you when we land, and it will be far better suited to answering your questions. We will be there in just a few more minutes."

The three of them were willing to wait a little longer. The runabout made a graceful turn into orbit, and then slowly nosed into the methane/argon atmosphere. Visibility outside the runabout was less than five metres, and it was clear that the commander was relying on his instruments. Suddenly their descent stopped.

Worf keyed a few commands into his console, and they began descending again, but very slowly. The ship lightly touched down, and Worf entered in a few more commands. Within a few seconds the atmosphere outside the runabout began to clear, and they could see that they were in a pressurized landing bubble.

A chime sounded that the exterior was habitable, and Worf led the way out of the runabout. As the hatch opened and the four disembarked from the craft they saw a doorway open and two figures dressed in blue approached the ship.

It was Dr. Laine who recognized them first, "Doctor Crusher, Doctor Bashir, what a surprise seeing you here!"

Julian Bashir gave her a polite smile, "Hello, Rael, I hope you are well." He turned to the entire group, "Allow me to perform introductions. My name is Julian Bashir, and this is Beverley Crusher. You must be Takila Mak, and you must be Catrin Kadiya."

They all shook hands. Crusher suggested that they proceed to the meeting room as they had a lot to talk about. The six Starfleet officers walked down a series of drab corridors, clearly made of indigenous materials. Every door they passed had a Starfleet palm print ID on it. When they reached their destination, Bashir placed his hand on the touch plate, and said, "Bashir, Mary had a little lamb who played the flute incessantly."

After a moments pause the doors split apart. The room was like a thousand others in Starfleet. Dominated by a long slightly curved table surrounded by comfortable chairs. However, its manner was something far more academic. There was not an inch of free space in the room. One large wall was completely taken up by a computer design terminal of the type used in Starship design. Another wall which was some fifteen metres long was filled by a huge erasable board which allowed brainstorming on the fly. On another wall was a standard library terminal and communications console. Also stuck away in a corner was a holographic imager.

They took their seats around the table and Bashir began the briefing. "For nearly eight months now Starfleet has been searching for an efficient way of dealing with the nanites. Thanks to the crew of the Defiant we have developed a way to reprogram the nanites from great distances. However, preliminary trials have shown that the nanites are partially protected while they reside within the humanoid body. Despite everything we've tried the nanites will not accept new commands while they are inside the body. But, when a nanite is manually extracted they are susceptible to reprogramming.

"That leaves us with the question of how do we get the nanites out of their hosts en masse. We have a clue which precipitated the establishment of this secret lab. The USS Chinook discovered a ship of Pakleds which were able to travel throughout nanite space without being infested. The Chinook illegally took the Pakleds prisoner, but Admiral Picard has negotiated their participation in our research.

"It is my hypothesis that if we can discover why the nanites have left the Pakleds alone then we can find a way for the nanites to treat humanoids the same way. At which time we can reprogram them. Admiral Picard and I designed this team. Dr. Beverley Crusher was chosen for her expertise in the medical use of nanites. Dr. Laine Rael is the only doctor in Starfleet to have treated a surviving nanite victim. And myself, my specialty is exobiology. I will coordinate our research and deal with any species specific concerns that arise. Commander Worf?"

Worf rose slowly, "Thank you, doctor. When this concept was first proposed Admiral Picard asked me to run it from an operational view. Once I set up the facility for maximum security; it became clear that I was not suited to this sort of project. I suggested that the running of the project be turned over to Starfleet Intelligence. Commander Mak, I must return to my duties on Deep Space 9. I formerly invite you to take operational control of Project Banting."

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