Star Trek: Defiant
"The Federation Strikes Back" - Part Eleven
Written by Daniel Clark
In orbit around Riza
Five days later
In the five days since her epic battle with the nanite task force the USS Defiant had continued to execute her mission orders. In that time the prototype Defiant, which was acting as the Defiantís escort, had been forced to disable two more nanite ships that had been dispatched to the Riza system.
Immediately after the battle the nanite conversion team on the ship initiated a data burst at 400,000,000 hertz. The transmission was restarted every thirty seconds and lasted nearly five. The process had been continued for five days. In the third day Lieutenant Commander Lebin, recovered from the injuries he had suffered, began to detect life signs on the planet.
Captain Bridges then ordered Commander Jen to continuously hail the planet, hoping to catch the attention of one of the reconstituted people. After two days of continuous transmissions shipís sensors had identified more than eight hundred thousand individual life signs, but there had been no response to their hails. Bridges had finally decided to send his most resilient crew member, Lieutenant Commander Mak, down to the planet to investigate.
Bridges gave his friend his final briefing, "We will have a transporter lock on you at all times. Because we donít know what affect the nanites will have on you, and whether they can survive in your clothing or dormant inside you, we have launched a shuttle craft on remote. It is now station five kilometres off the hull. At the first sign of trouble we will beam you directly to the shuttle, and then assess your condition. Your primary responsibility is to confirm the existence."
The Captain was interrupted by Jen, "Captain! Weíre getting an answer to our hails."
He quickly turned his hoverchair around and moved it towards the viewscreen. "On screen!" He commanded.
The starscape was quickly replaced by the sickest most drawn face the Captain had ever seen. The man was definitely humanoid, possibly even human. He wore elaborate robes which were covered with dirt, dried vomit, and were tattered and ripped. The room behind him looked like a council chambers and was littered with dead bodies.
But what really caught the Captainís attention was the beautiful woman who stood behind the man; she wore a Starfleet uniform. Her face, haggard and pained still glowed with a familiar light and joy. Chestnut hair without a care for style or function fell carelessly across her shoulders. But it was the wrinkled nose and ornamental earring that truly reminded him of his Imzadi.
He was struck by the visage of his love; looking like she had seen death himself, and she very well may have. A thousand possible explanations shot through his head - a changeling, a clone, an impostor, or a sister? "I am Captain Jeffrey Bridges of the USS Defiant. Identify yourself and your condition please." Said the Captain in a kindly but firm voice.
The man spoke first, "I am Counselor Julius Díernya the only surviving member of the Risan ruling council. This is Lieutenant Commander Laine Ketrell of the Starship Joan of Arc. There are millions of dead down here. We donít know what happened. We donít know how many survivors there are. Very little equipment is still working. We need medical assistance. One of our doctors has said that the dead suffered from a massive epileptic seizure, but he canít explain why. Also we are all infested with nanites."
Bridges took a deep breath, "Counselor Díernya, the Federation has been attacked by a special breed of nanites who were programmed to infest living organizations severe autonomic control and form a hive collective similar to that of the Borg. The Federation has been virtually destroyed. We are down to 100 starships all working within 100 light years of Bajor. We believe that 12 trillion Federation citizens have been infested. We have only identified one surviving colony - on Earthís moon in the Terran system. Our scientists believe that they have found a way to restore up to ten percent of the population, by reprogramming the nanites; Riza was the test site for this plan. Two days ago you were all dead. Iím sorry I have to ask this, Commander Laine are you of any relation to Dr. Laine Rael?"
The Captain wouldnít have thought possible, but the Commander looked even more stricken. "Sheís my sister. Is... is she dead too?"
"No," The Captain smiled, "Sheís the chief medical officer on this ship, and my fiancee."
Her hands quickly went to her face. "Thank the prophets. Captain, can I come aboard and see her?"
The Captain paused for a second and thought, "Iím not sure thatís a good idea. Counselor, I think for the time being weíre going to have to quarantine Riza. Weíll send down all the supplies we have to spare plus ten portable holographic emitters programmed with Emergency Medical Holograms. Also, Counselor, we believe that the nanites use communication signals to facilitate their infestation, so do not respond to any communication unless it is proceeded by this ĎZí symbol. Commander Laine, you may not be able to come aboard, but I think we can arrange a secure comm channel so you can talk to your sister."
"Thank you Captain, I canít wait. Riza out."
Ten minutes later
Dr. Laine Rael had not been this nervous since her Starfleet medical board exams. At that thought she smiled. She still kicked herself for mistaking a pre-ganglionic fibre with a post-ganglionic nerve. Not that it mattered years later, she had never even had to operate on a ganglion in all her time as a doctor. Her thoughts were interrupted by the Z symbol which appeared on her screen.
She tapped a key and the symbol disappeared to be replaced by a face she hadnít seen in three years. With no control over her body Raelís face broke into a smile that threatened to split her face. She said, "Thank the prophets. I was so worried. I was sure that you were dead. When I got your message that you were vacationing on Riza, and then that Riza had fallen to the nanites."
"Now I know what they mean, " replied her sister, "when they say nice place to visit but I wouldnít want to die there. How are Halpern and Jolen?"
"Not well. Ever since they heard of your death they have been in a deep depression. Vedek Daesom has been working with them to help them through their grief. They will be so happy to hear that you are all right."
Tears began to well in Ketrellís eyes, "Iím so sorry for putting them through this. To think that they asked me to come home for my vacation. I am so selfish."
Rael comforted her younger sister, and they began to talk about everything. What they had been doing (in Ketrellís case prior to the invasion) and Rael filled her sister in on their family and mutual friends. Finally Rael invited Ketrell to be her matron of honour at her wedding. Ketrell tearfully accepted.
Captain Jeffrey Bridges sat across from Admiral Jean-Luc Picard and gave his report of the mission to Riza. He informed the Admiral how he had left Commander Laine in charge of all Starfleet officers on the planet with the instruction of assisting with the rebuilding, and planning a defense against a future nanite raid. Bridges concluded his briefing by recommending that the Maginot line be readjusted to take Riza out of the black zone and to protect it from nanite reprisals.
The Admiral sat back and thought deeply. "Agreed." He said, "Also I have put your entire crew down for citation. Your actions of late have been the very model of courage and valour. The Defiant will be receiving major repairs on Deep Space Nine for at least a month; so your entire crew has shore leave."
"Thank you sir!"
Ensign Daniel Clark cleared away the last of his files from his bosses computer and prepared to return to life as a normal intelligence operative. He was very happy to have received a medal and a promotion for his work as intelligence chief, but he knew he would miss being a Lieutenant Commander, and, more important, he would miss being in charge.
Lieutenant Commander Mak chose that moment to come into his reclaimed office. Clark looked up and nodded, "Iím just clearing away the last of my stuff; Iíll be out of your way in a few."
Mak nodded once, took a seat in his chair, and stared out at the stars. A flurry of thoughts flew through his hyperactive mind. He thought of home, friends, humanity, Novochronity, and in general what it meant to be a stranger far from home. As his operative cleared padds off his desk and files from his computer Mak realized that in the 1500 years he had been away from Novochron this was the closest he had felt to home.
Clark picked up the last padd and walked to the door. Right before it closed behind him a voice came through it. "Good work, kid."
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