By Carol Sandford


Chapter 21


She'd found it. She'd found the answer that she had been looking for but her euphoria was quickly subdued as she heard the doors to sickbay swish open. Upon the gurney lay a covered corpse, the ensign pushing it held his hand over his face in a futile effort to dispel the stench that rose from it.

Quickly pushing it into a room that led off from the main sickbay area, Crusher followed the young ensign in. "Is that what I think it is?" She asked with reluctance.

"Yes, it is ma'am. The captain requested that you do an autopsy and report your findings to the ready room, a.s.a.p."

And as Beverly lifted the sheet from the dead alien, she sighed. Her news would would have to wait.

Two hours later...

"Take a seat, doctor. You look exhausted." Taking pity on his visibly crumbling friend, Picard pushed himself to his feet and ordered a steaming cup of Valerian tea from the replicator. Beverly felt all eyes upon her as she took a grateful sip from the brew. Expectancy poured from each of them as they waited for her to gather her thoughts.

"Do you want the good news or the really good news?"

Picard's nervous chuckle emulated what his other colleagues were feeling. Good news of any kind could only mean one of two things. Grinning at his trusted friend he said with joviality. "I think we'll have the really good news first. I think we could all use something positive right now. What have you found, doctor?

A genuine, if not weary, smile lit up her features. "I'm almost positive that I have found a way to halt the attack on the Lanaarians systems. If you recall, I did an autopsy on the pregnant Lanaarian and her unborn foetus. The foetus was untouched by the poison."


"So..." she added patiently, "If we can process enough of the natural antibodies that I found in the foetus we should be able to stop any further deterioration in those that have been infected, provided we catch them early enough. My team are working on replicating the anti-body as we speak. We should have enough to inoculate the entire race within two days."

"That's splendid news, Doctor Crusher. We'll give you every spare hand we can spare to the cause. The Caprisia is still in orbit. We can use her facilities, too, to speed up the process. Congratulations, doctor. A commendation is in order. Do we all agree, crew?"

The agreed, "Absolutely!" rang around the vast table and a gentle squeeze of fingers from all those that could reach her quickly followed. Her struggle with her ethics were soon squashed as she wallowed in the deserved adulation. Her disappointment at all those that they hadn't managed to save up until now, she shoved to the furthest regions of her mind. All her energies now had to be focused on saving those still fighting for their lives.

"And the second piece of good news, doctor?"

It was a moment before Beverly could pull herself back to the present. "Oh, yes. The alien autopsy."

She reached into her pocket and pulled out a small vial that held what looked to be a tiny chip. "I found this well and truly embedded within the aliens ear. It's technology is way beyond ours and it took some finding. I won't tell you how I found it, but let's just say, that even his own mother wouldn't recognise him now."

She waited for the appropriate grimaces to radiate around the room before continuing. "He is of Klingon origin, of that I'm sure you are aware, but of a future race. Their technology is way beyond ours, hence why we haven't been able to locate their sources. However, if you can decipher this chip, I think you'll find all the answers you are looking for."

All eyes followed her as she pushed herself to a stand. "Now, I've got a planet to save. If you'll all excuse me." But even as she was leaving the ready room all eyes were pinned to the tiny object that she had left on the glossy table top.

Eventually it was Picard who broke the silence. "Geordi..."

Before he could get any further, the engineer was already tentively picking it up. "I know, captain, I'm already on it. Data, want to give me a hand?"

Even the androids keenness couldn't be missed as he responded to his old friends request. "I shall be glad to assist." But then as an afterthought he turned to his captain. "Permission to assist Mr. Laforge, sir?"

As though a huge weight had been lifted from his shoulders, Picard chuckled at his comrade. "Permission granted, Data. I want this mission wrapped up as soon as possible and the quicker we find out who's leading this merry band of marauders, the better. Everyone else, back to your stations. Unfortunately, there is still a war to be won."

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