Knowing they may not get out of this situation unscathed, Commander Cambil considered her options as she returned to the bridge. She was trying to think of a creative solution to delay the Kraylor, but she couldn’t. Walking out into the main command area for the ship, she was surprised to see every senior member of staff there. It was a rare sight but she just accepted that somehow they found out what was going on and returned to the bridge.
“Report.” She called over to Counsellor Duncan.
Duncan rose from the captain’s chair with a sort of ease and coolness that she had not noticed about him before. His whole movement appeared to be quite relaxed as if he was a natural in command. The counsellor and chief diplomatic officer turned to her. “The Kraylor are just sending the same message to us on repeat. I’ve not replied yet, I thought you might like to have that honour.” He said, smirking his boyish grin.
Appreciating the gift he left her, Cambil moved to stand in front of the captain’s chair as Duncan took his usual seat while Karyn sat in Cambil’s usual one. She was taking her role as acting first officer seriously. Before Cambil had chance to speak up, her former protégé spoke up.
“Ma’am, those two Kraylor ships are of the same design but I am detecting that they have more fire power and maneuverability compared to the one we rescued.” Lenjir announced from the tactical station.
Tomaz, spoke up behind the Tiburon. “That’s typical for the Kraylor. They’ve used the same ship design for almost thirty years now. They can reconfigure their ships for what type of specific mission it will undertake.”
“A fascinating approach to starship design.” T’Rani remarked from the helm. “Though logical of course, especially as they have had to deal with the Annari blockade around their world. A singular design means they can focus resources on other matters.”
Deciding to respond to their new arrival, the first officer looked down to the man sat next to T’Rani. “Lukiz,” Cambil said, grabbing the attention of her operations manager, “hail the Kraylor lead vessel.”
“Channel open.” Jen announced after a computer beep happened, indicating they were live to the Kraylor over subspace.
“Kraylor vessels, this is Commander Cambil Bexa of the Federation starship U-S-S Odyssey, please respond.” She took a breath and decided to remain standing as she tugged on the end of her jacket. Her posture was upright and strong. She knew she would have to make some bare face lies to them.
The wide holographic viewscreen opposite to her changed from showing the view of the two Kraylor vessels, which were almost the same as the ship they had rescued, to that of a Kraylor man. He had thick, curly black hair with one whisper of silver and grey curling in the middle. Clearing his throat, he spoke up. “I’m Captain Jerek of Kraylor escort ship one-seven-four. You have one of our long range survey vessels in your tractor beam and our scans indicate its crew is on board your vessel. I’m assuming you are here responding to their general distress call?”
“We are.” Cambil answered honestly. “Your fellow comrades are being treated in my sickbay and we are seeing to the repairs of the vessel.”
“However much we appreciate your efforts in saving our people we ask that you hand them and our property over to us. We can take over from here.” Jerek said with strong confidence in his voice and body language.
Cambil was about to answer when Doctor Sylvex spoke up instead. “Captain Jerek, I’m Doctor Slyvexs, the chief medical officer for the Odyssey. I’m curious, have your people heard of the Torothka virus?”
Jerek appeared a bit stunned with the interruption from the Denobulan doctor. “No?” He replied, almost trying to work out what she was going on about.
Slyvexs looked between Cambil and Reyas, giving them a look to follow her lead in where she was going. “Well I can tell you it’s quite a nasty little bug. I understand the stomach cramps are unbearable, although some say the rash is worse. However in recent years there’s been one strain that has led to short term memory loss.”
Getting annoyed with the rambling, Jerek came across frustrated with Slyvexs’ babbling. “And your point doctor?”
“I just need you to be made aware that we may have found a strain of it within our ship’s population.” Slyvexs answered. “Now most of our people have the vaccination for it in their system, but what worries me the most is the possibility of it infecting your fellow comrades.” She came to stand now next to Commander Cambil and spoke further. “Now, we appreciate how important it is for you to have your crew back. We understand that they have been through such an awful turmoil already with what happened on their ship and we really do want to get them back to you. Don’t we Commander Cambil?” Slyvexs looked at the Bajoran woman, giving her a look in her eye that indicated for her to play along.
“Oh yes, absolutely. We really feel bad for them. We only wish to help.” Cambil assured Jerek.
“We’ve only just discovered the strain and we need more time to determine how it would affect your people and how we can modify our vaccine to help them. We would hate to return them to you sick and they end up infecting your entire population.” Slyvexs remarked.
Duncan then stood up to join in. “In fact from what we’ve heard from Captain Donlar is that your people are almost close to beating your adversary, the Annari. We would hate for this virus to stop that from happening. Captain Donlar, herself, right now is in isolation and resting while we conduct detailed scans of your people to ensure they have not been infected. She has given us her full authority to cooperate with this matter.”
“I wish to speak to Captain Donlar.” Jerek demanded. “I want her to confirm this in person.”
“I’m afraid our isolation protocols prevent patients from leaving our decontamination areas.” Slyvexs said. “From the last report I checked, she won’t be available for another two, maybe three hours. Can we ask for your patience until then? Your people’s health, as much as ours, is on the line here.”
“Think about the lives you could be putting at risk Captain Jerek if we return your people back to you.” Cambil said as she joined in with the cover up. “I promise you, everyone of your people are being treated like guests on our ship. We are making them as comfortable as we can.”
“And check your historical database.” Lieutenant Tomas said as he spoke up from the mission ops station. The Barzan man looked to his superiors who gave him the green light to join them to add further to the farce. “It was a Federation starship that aided your people in developing your cloaking technology when it put them at risk of being a target by the Annari themselves. We have no ill intentions against your people, if you pardon the pun.”
“My engineers that are already on your ship are repairing its systems so it can get underway on its own power and my captain…” Cambil said, trying to come up with a ruse as to why McCallister wasn’t around. She was hoping he would return soon. “…he is currently undertaking a risky mission to save your people.”
“How?” Jerek inquired, confused with that statement. “Why is he not with you?”
“He was off the ship when we discovered the potential outbreak and he is travelling to a nearby world. He is searching for the spores we may need to grow further antiviral proteins. I may need them if this becomes a pandemic among not only your crew but ours too.” Slyvexs interjected with.
Sighing heavily, Jerek looked off screen and then back to the Starfleet crew. “It would seem we have no other choice, but we will remain with you. I would like updates on the status of our people when they have completed their time in your decontamination area and what you plan to do with treating them.”
“We were just about to begin the full process when you called, so we will let you know as soon as we can. Cooperation here is key, so thank you for being understanding. Odyssey out.” Cambil said with a smile and then nodded to Jen to cut the channel.
“Do you think they bought it?” Reyas asked everyone.
“I hope so.” Cambil said as she turned to look at the Denobulan doctor. “The Torothka virus, really?”
Shrugging her shoulders, Slyvexs smirked at her ingenuity. “I had a feeling that if we needed to buy the captain some more time then we needed a reason why they couldn’t have their ship and people returned to them yet. A nasty virus seemed like a good idea at the time.”
Appreciating her ingenuity, Cambil praised her chief medical officer. “Well done doctor. I owe you one.”
Slyvex looked at Duncan and Tomaz, “My thanks to you both gentlemen for your back up as well. Lieutenant Tomaz, that extra bit about our common history was a nice touch.”
“You’re welcome ma’am.” The strategic operations officer said with a proud smile on his face for thinking so quickly.
“I quite enjoyed Max’s attempt at pulling on their heart strings in making them believe they would die of a terrible plague instead of defeating their life-long nemesis.” Reyas remarked.
“Sometimes diplomacy needs a dash of psychological blubber to help push things along.” Duncan said confidently. Turning to Slyvexs he did question her though about one thing she said. “Memory loss is not associated with the Torothka virus though.”
Still smirking, Slyvexs raised her eyebrows and whispered her response. “It occurred to me that whatever the captain is doing, it has something connected to what the Kraylor crew had dealt with before. We may not want them going back and saying what we told them is not the truth. If you get what I’m saying. This may come back to bite us on the rear and cause further diplomatic problems with the Kraylor. I’m only trying to protect the Federation’s reputation.”
“Doctor, are you suggesting we wipe these people’s recent memories?” Cambil asked in hush tones. “That’s totally against regulation and surely against your ethical code of do no harm.”
“Didn’t the captain say that whatever we are undertaking that all protocols and regulations are rescinded?” Slyvexs countered back with. “He has already overridden my medical regulations, ones that I would normally uphold with my own ethical code. That said, my other personal ethical code is telling me that we are dealing with something bigger than all of us. For our captain to go off and what appears to be a wild goose chase to us, means that there is something so huge that we need to give him the benefit of the doubt and trust him.”
Sighing at hearing that comment again, Cambil looked at Reyas and she was soon reminded of her chat with Commodore Bennet. He ordered her and all of them to get behind whatever James was undertaking. Relenting at her natural instincts to tell Slyvexs off, Cambil agreed with the idea. “I hope we don’t end up regretting any of this.” She said in a low volume. “Karyn and I spoke with Commodore Bennet and he ordered us to do whatever it took to protect the captain’s flank and support him. So I suppose the order stands.”
Counselor Duncan looked at Cambil, “We are going to have to conduct those scans and tests though. We need to follow through with this to make the ruse seem believable.”
“One of the delights of being chief medical officer is that I have the total discretion to use my professional judgement to declare a medical emergency if I believe we may be in danger. Even if the evidence is minor, the saying ‘best to be safe than sorry’ comes to life in this case.” Slyvexs remarked. “I could later log it that a medical tricorder malfunctioned and gave me the wrong data from the scan I took. Tricorders do have a terrible knack in breaking down sometimes.”
“I’ll leave it under your discretion then doctor and I suggest Max helps you out in dealing with our guests.” Cambil said, still concerned that their cover up could be unwrapped if they weren’t careful enough. She then looked at everyone else as Slyvexs and Duncan left the bridge to begin working on their new medical problem. “But if the captain doesn’t return in time then we need a back up plan to deal with our Kraylor problem. Ideas anyone?”
Tomaz took the initiative and spoke up. “Ma’am, I do have one but it is quite extreme and would require Commander Tremt’s abilities or lack thereof. If our orders are to support the captain whatever it takes then it may just help us in the long term as well.”
The chief engineer, who was sitting at the engineering station, looked up from where he was. He had been coordinating repair teams who were on the Kraylor ship they rescued before the other Kraylor had arrived. “That sounds ominous.” He said in Tomaz’s direction.
“I’m intrigued.” Cambil said.
Looking at his superiors, Tomaz went on to share his idea and when Cambil had finished listening she approved it straight away. As those who would be involved implementing Tomaz’s plan departed from the bridge, Reyas leant in to Cambil as the Bajoran woman sat down in the captain’s chair. “See that wasn’t too bad was it?”
“So far.” Cambil sighed. She didn’t find any of this sitting comfortably with her. “Let’s hope we can keep up this deception long enough.”