Do No Harm
Episode 4 - Truth, Justice, and the Federation Way
Location: USS Arcadia
Timeline: MD 3 (March 5, 2393)
[Previously in Truth, Justice, and the Federation Way]
. . . . . .
Oliver took a step closer to the Trill. "I also took an oath to defend the Federation, Captain, and yes, the Dominion is a threat, and yes, the Founders are the very anti-thesis of the Federation, but you are talking about genocide . . ."
"So? The Founders didn't so much as blink an eye when they exterminated the entire Zal population, just to set an example for the rest of their subjects. And all the Zal did was asking for a deferment on their dilithium contribution because they couldn't meet the quota after their mines were hit by an unexpected flood.
Oliver shook his head. "We can't defend the Federation by betraying its ideals, Captain. If we defend the Federation with weapons of terror, of oppression, of injustice, weapons our enemy wields without moral, without hesitation, without remorse . . ."
Nami did not let him finish and instead picked up where she had just cut him off.
". . . if with those weapons we emerge triumphant, we would have already lost, for we would have become our enemy, and our victory would only mark our abject and utter capitulation."
For a moment Oliver was at a loss for words. "How . . ."
"That was part of your long winded answer to the defense counsel's question during cross-examination at Admiral Coleman's court-martial. They called it the 'Truth, Justice, and the Federation Way' speech after it was leaked to the press."
Nami paused to pick up her cup of unfinished coffee from the desk, but didn't drink from it. Instead she shook her head with a sneer.
"President Ji'vek had thought that he could sideline you by making you the Inspector General, a mostly ceremonial post by that point. But then Talos IV happened, and you led the investigation yourself. Coleman did what he had to, but you, you just wouldn't let it go, and because of you and your little speech Starfleet lost one of its most accomplished flag officers in the entire war. And for what? Some dead Dominion scums?!"
Oliver remained quiet as Nami spoke. Jalor had mentioned the Talos IV incident when he questioned her in the sickbay earlier in the day.
"By 'some dead Dominion scums' you mean a few thousand dead Dominion POWs?" he retorted.
. . . . . .
::Biomedical Research Lab 3, Deck 8::
As the turbolift came to a gradual halt, T'Lor led the way and stepped through the opening door before making a left. A few more turns later, the two doctors were standing before one of Arcadia's biomedical research labs.
T'Lor nodded at the two armed guards posted outside, one human security officer, one Bolian Marine. "Petty Officer Chang, Corporal Ado, Commander Elbrun has just appointed Lieutenant Yvex as the the Arcadia's acting chief medical officer so that she can assist us with the patient. Her credential and authorization should be in the system now."
Chang and Ado exchanged a look before the Bolian stepped aside, revealing the small control panel behind him. With a swipe of his hand, Ado unlocked the biometric authentication interface. Turning back to Nealas, he said, "Ma'am."
The Trill medical officer stepped forward and placed her palm on the scanner. "Lieutenant Nealas Galin Yvex, security code Yvex-Foxtrot-Four-Two-Tango". From the moment that she stepped off the escape pod and onto this vessel everything had seemed so surreal and had gone so fast. It was making her stomach turn. She stepped back, almost out of reflex as the system accepted her palm scan, security code and vocal imprint. The sensor lit up, she had only seen security like this once and that was back in the Dominion War. The scan rolled across her body and seemed to hesitate a moment around her abdomen before finishing the routine. The orb on top of the locking mechanism turned green.
"I guess we have the green light." She joked nervously.
T'Lor raised a curious eyebrow. "Did you expect the authentication to fail, Doctor Yvex?"
Nealas shook her head, Vulcan's were notorious for lacking humour. Then again she wasn't one hundred percent sure anymore if she had given her own security code or Dirin's. The stress and lack of proper rest was really starting to mess with her.
T'Lor proceeded to have her own credentials authenticated under the watchful eyes of Corporal Ado and Petty Officer Chang. Once that was done, the Bolian Marine placed his left hand on the authentication interface and unlocked a second green light above the entrance.
Leading the way, T'Lor stepped through the opening doors and into the antechamber, a rectangular room with two rows of biomedical suits behind transparent panels on the sides. As they made their way to the mid-chamber, the Vulcan doctor explained, "We have determined that the virus, while contagious, affects only the Founders and are harmless to all other species. As such, level three decontamination protocols are sufficient."
"That's a huge claim." Nealas didn't even know exactly how many different species there were, not even counting variations of those species. "Trill symbionts are very sensitive to infections, so I'd rather not risk it, if you don't mind." She looked to the side and found a hazmat suit hanging on the wall. She took a moment to step aside and took the thing off the wall. She didn't like working in a hazmat suit any more than anyone else, but she liked dying of an unknown and incurable viral infection even less.
Once she had the suit on Nealas rejoined T'lor. The pair entered the mid-chamber and stopped in the centre of the circular room, the white lights that lined the perimeter turned into a bluish hue with a soft hum. "Decontamination in progress." announced the ship's AI without materializing herself in her usual avatar.
It only took a few moments for the decontamination process to run its course. When the lights returned to its usual white hue, the final set of doors to the lab proper slid open, revealing a spacious, if sterile, interior.
T'Lor led Nealas through the well equipped lab and to cylindrical containment chamber on the far side of the room. "Here's our patient." said the Vulcan doctor as she gestured at the small pool of amber colored viscous liquid lying listlessly on the modified biobed in the middle of the containment chamber.
All of Nealas' training in regards to shapeshifters was theoretical. She didn't know what to expect once she got here but the small puddle of discoloured bronze wasn't it. It made sense that there wasn't a fully formed humanoid shape but this was the fully opposite end of the spectrum. "Hello. My name is Nealas." She was pretty sure changelings were still able to perceive language in this state. "I'm here to try and find a cure."
There was no immediate reaction from from inside the containment chamber, but then the coloration of the puddle darkened a shade as it contracted before slowly retreating to a corner of the biobed.
"Intriguing." said T'Lor as the Vulcan doctor leaned slightly forward for a closer view of the ailing Founder, "Despite all our effort, the changeling has not been able to fully transform itself into a humanoid form since we brought it aboard the Arcadia. In fact, it has barely reacted to anyone's presence until now, and its reaction to your query is almost . . . emotional."
"Yeah. Fascinating." Nealas realised it was emotional alright. It was fear. The creature didn't need a face or a voice to make that much clear. Why would it react to her introducing herself? "Do we have any records on the creature? Or is it just our own insights?"
T'Lor gestured at the workstation to their right as she responded. "All the data we have on Project Medusa can be accessed from that terminal, but we have not had the time to review all the files, only the ones most pertinent to the virus."
Just then, the head nurse's voice came through the comm.
=/\= Dr. T'Lor, you are needed in the sickbay. =/\=
The Vulcan doctor pressed her comm badge. "Acknowledged. T'Lor out." Turning back to Nealas, she said, "I must take my leave now, Dr. Yvex. Please keep me informed of your progress."
"Yes ma'am." Nealas turned back at the ooze in the medical container. It was still keeping the distance between them as big as possible but it was apparent that this was taking effort, effort that it couldn't really waste on avoiding the doctor. Nealas stepped away from the bio bed and up to the console. She had to find out where this virus originated. Knowing who created it, how it was created and with what end-goal in mind could help immensely in determining how to best counteract it.
"Computer, activate the emergency medical hologram."
Instead of the Bolian avatar of the EMH Mk VIII, the Arcadia's artificial intelligence materialized before the the Trill doctor. Jesse took the form of her default avatar, that of young human brunette with wavy shoulder length hair, but instead of the usual command red, the rankless collar of her uniform was colored with the teal indicative of the medical and science departments.
"How may I be of assistance, Dr. Yvex?" she asked with a pleasant smile.
"I. uh. Hi." Nealas was taken aback a bit by the appearance of the EMH on the vessel. It felt a bit weird being in her hazmat suit. "I need some background information on the creation of this virus. What kind of records do we have?"
Jesse waved her hand and a holographic interface appeared between them displaying all the relevant files.
"According to the Themyscira's database, Project Medusa began in 2414 in the alternate timeline. It was terminated in 2416 and revived by Captain Ishikawa in 2421 shortly after the Federation surrendered to the Dominion. I'm still running decryption algorithms on some of the files, but the rest includes a substantial amount of research and trial data as well as several holographic recordings."
Nealas looked at the holographic display in front of her. She'd not been on an advanced vessel like the Arcadia before and this was pretty nice. She stepped forward and looked at the files. "Let's start with the earliest available recording." She liked the visual and audio of recordings. It was easier to remember and to have play while going through other stuff. "And can you please display the mapped DNA structure of the virus?" She was hoping they had already started mapping some of the DNA structure.
Jesse nodded. "Of course, Doctor."
From the myriad of files on the holographic display, the AI reached out for one and dragged it to the side. As the file left the display, it morphed into a slowly spinning model of the virus DNA surrounded by relevant data with the still missing parts colored bright red.
"The earliest decrypted recording we have is from 2415." Jesse continued. Picking out another file from the display between them, she tossed it to their right where it transformed into a three-dimensional recreation of the recorded content. In it a middle aged Romulan male with the rank pips of a Starfleet commander laid back in his chair, surrounded by scientific and medical equipment, some familiar while others far more advanced looking. The man's dark brown hair was slicked back and shined against his pale skin and white lab coat. He looked tired.
"Stardate 92736.2, Armas recording. This morning's simulation results were promising. We isolated and took out the enzymes that were causing the premature breakdown of the protein chains. I'm still waiting for Mormsen's team to confirm this, but if everything goes well, the genophage's incubation period should be comparable to that of the morphogenic virus developed in the first war, but its progression would not require the subjects to change their form. That should accelerate the virus's effectiveness considerably. But Coulson didn't seem to be impressed. He's replacing Drex with someone from Starfleet Medical on Monday. They call her Dr. Grudge. Can't say I'm thrilled, but that's beyond my pay grade."
The man paused to drink from his mug. After a small sigh, he continued with the recording.
"T'sa didn't say it last night, but I can tell that she does not approve of what I do. She speaks of logic, but how can she not see the logic in ending the war? We are not trying to wipe out the entire Founders race, just to weaken them enough to end the war. And the war must end. It has gone on for too long. Far too long. Thel still has nightmares every other night. Children like him should be worrying about things like homework or that friend in school they have a crush on, not body parts falling from the sky. If we can't . . ."
"Commander Armas." the disembodied voice of the lab AI interrupted him. "You wife and son have arrived. They are waiting for you downstairs."
"Thank you, Velia. End recording."
Nealas couldn't help but think that this whole different universe was really not her cup of tea. She couldn't imagine what she would be like in this alternative future. "Could you please play me the first recording of this Doctor Grudge person?" She didn't think it was a proper name, if it was the universe would have had to have had a twisted sense of humour putting that person in the galaxy.
Jesse nodded. Picking out another file from the holographic display, she flung it to where the last recording had played. But nothing.
"This file is badly corrupted. Attempting reconstruction of visual and audio elements." said Jesse. Her head tilted slightly to the side and her pale blue eyes blinked as she got to work. A few seconds later, she reported, "I have audio. Improving clarity now."
"What's most annoying about this whole state of affairs." The audio seemed a bit broken up, distorted by some sort of electrical interference. The voice was distinctly female though. "That twerp following me around. It's almost like he wants me to die." The audio cleared up and the sound coming out of it seemed familiar.
Jesse tilted her head back. "Partial reconstruction complete."
Nealas thought the recording must've been playing some sort of cruel trick on her. The grey eyes she normally sees looking back at her in the mirror were looking straight at her. They were more dull and lined with dark bags under them, but they were undeniably hers. "He's not getting the worm." The recorded Nealas shook her head. "I'll find a way to take care of the founders." She leaned in closer, "Every last one of them."
As the recording ended abruptly, Jesse turned to the Trill physician. "I'm afraid the rest of the file is beyond repair, Doctor."
The entire world spun around her, Nealas had to find a place to sit down. Her hazmat suit crackled as she frantically walked around trying to find a seat. She felt a panic attack starting to form in her chest and grasping at her throat. She needed to calm down. That wasn't her. She didn't just say that. She felt tears starting to form in her eyes.
"Are you alright, Doctor Yvex?" asked Jesse as she made her way to the medical cabinet. The concern in her voice was palpable. "I'm detecting an abnormal acceleration in your heart rate as well as increased perspiration. And you are shaking. Are you suffering from an anxiety attack?" Having prepared a hyperspray from a medkit, the AI walked back to where Nealas was. "5 ccs of improvoline should alleviate your symptoms, Doctor, but you must first remove your helmet. The genophage virus does not affect non-Founder species."
Nealas thought that over for a moment. If she was the one that created the virus then surely she wouldn't be susceptible to it. She couldn't know for sure that this was true but at the moment the hazmat suit felt very constricting and the fact that the EMH reaffirmed the non-transferable nature of it made her reach up and remove her helmet. She took in a deep breath of the sterilised air in the lab and looked up at the computer program almost pleadingly. "I'm sorry."
"That's alright, Dr. Yvex." said Jesse as she pressed the hyperspray against the base of the Trill's neck. With an apologetic smile she continued, "I should have told you that recording was by Captain Yvex, your future self from the Themyscira timeline. I did not think that viewing it would have any adverse effect on you. My programming is still under field trial. But this incident should help improve my predictive algorithm." Setting the hyperspray aside, she asked, "Do you wish to continue reviewing the files, Doctor?"
"I need a moment" Nealas waited for the improvoline to take effect. Breathing in sharply through her nose trying to sort her thoughts out. "When did this timeline diverge? How can that be me? I'd never... genocide." She looked up at the EMH with pleading eyes, hoping it would have some answers.
"According to Jordir's Third Law of Temporal Mechanics," responded Jesse, "the repercussions effected by retrograde temporal insertion only ripple forward through the time stream, and the timelines would diverge at the exact moment when the temporal insertion occurs. In our case, that was three days ago when the Themyscira returned to our present, and . . ."
The AI tilted her head sideways as she paused for a brief moment.
"Strange. I was running an analysis on the Themyscira's historical database in the background. According to Jordir's Third Law, events in our timeline and the Themyscira's timeline prior to their return three days ago should be exactly the same, and yet they are not. They are mostly identical, but there are several major and minor discrepancies. In the Themyscira's timeline, Captain Lee remained in command of the Bunker Hill until 2395 before taking command of the Themyscira that same year whereas in ours the Bunker Hill was decommissioned at the end of last year and the Captain took command of the Arcadia earlier this year. And the Lakarian Warriors won the hoverball championship of 2381 instead of the Oakland Bobcats, but . . ."
"Alright. Stop. Sorry I asked." Nealas bent forward and pushed her head between her knees, trying to prevent her lightheadedness to cause her to faint. To her surprise that was quite successful, then again it might be the hypo kicking in. "Are there any other recordings in regards to Yvex?" She had barely mentioned it and another recording started to play.
Jesse nodded. "Affirmative." With a fluid motion the AI picked out a file from the holographic display and flung it over to the middle of the room. The same Romulan commander from the first recording appeared again. He looked distraught.
"Stardate 93170.8, Yvex has lost her mind! She wanted us to duplicate Garcia's experiments and enhance the lethality of the virus. She . . . she wanted the Founders dead. Every one of them. Even in this long, terrible war, I have never seen so much hate in a person's eyes. I don't know what the Dominion did to her, but she's talking about genocide. And I . . . I can't be part of that. I went to Coulson, but instead of putting a stop to Yvex' madness, he threatened to send me to the front if I didn't fall in line. I didn't have much luck with Zessa, either."
Shaking his head, Armas paused to drink from his cup of coffee.
"I didn't know who else to turn to. T'sa suggested that I should file an anonymous complaint with the Inspector General's office. Her brother is one of the IG's aides. She said he could bypass the usual channel and bring the matter directly to Lee himself. Maybe she's right. That leaked speech Lee gave at Coleman's trial, it was quite something. They called it the Truth, Justice, and the Federation Way speech. I just hope there's still a Federation left to save." A sigh. "Velia, end recording."
Putting her head in her hands Nealas took in sharp breath after sharp breath. This was so surreal. She had to get herself together. With renewed determination she stood up, "So. Is there any recording from Yvex' side to explain why she was doing this?"
"Alright. Can you play that one for me?" Nealas walked back over to the founder in the medical container. The effort it had exerted to try and get away from her had taken a lot out of it. She knew that they were living on borrowed time as it was already and the stress wasn't helping.
"This one is from Stardate 93370.0." said Jesse as she replaced the previous recording with the new one. "Parts of it have been redacted and I'm still working on reconstructing them."
As soon as the AI finished, the recording began abruptly in the middle of a conversation between a Trill captain still in her lab coat and a gray haired human flag officer with the three pips of a vice admiral on his uniform collar.
". . . this, Captain Yvex. You do not deny the allegations?" asked the human, his brows tightened into a knot.
"You're damned straight we're developing a virus!" Nealas pointed somewhere, though from the recording it wasn't quite clear what she was pointing at. "Have you seen what they're doing out there? They're wiping entire planets clean. They're the ones committing genocide, Admiral." The rank was spat out to retain some semblance of decor. "They have made themselves Gods in the eyes of their subjects. The Jem'hadar, the Vorta, zealots! And They will not stop until their False Gods are dead. Reduced to a puddle!" She stepped closer to the Admiral "It will be my name in the history books, Admiral, not yours. And they will celebrate me as a hero!"
"Heroes don't exterminate an entire species of sentient beings." retorted the old man. "They don't lower themselves to the brutality of their enemies. They rise above it. That is what heroes do, Captain."
"Heroes do what is necessary when cowards stand by idly and traitors actively try to stop them." The woman that was nothing like Nealas but shared her face seemed fairly clear on what end of the scale she felt she belonged. "They have done too much damage to this quadrant. To the Federation. To Starfleet. To my friends. My family." Her stare turned to stone, "To my sons." She started to walk away from the Admiral, "The founders will turn to dust, and I will not rest until I stand over their graves." The anger that she showed was beyond rage, beyond anything that Nealas had seen in herself or anyone else for that matter.
The holographic feed stopped and the AI reappeared, "Jesse. Does that Nealas have any family on record?"
"Yes, Doctor." The AI nodded. In a fluid motion she picked out another icon from the holographic display and threw it to the middle of the room, instantly opening all the other Nealas' family files. The immediately visible were those of her parents.
"Any children?" Nealas started to look through the files but didn't find any mention of children. She went back and selected the Yvex symbiont, which showed an odd sidetrack that she wasn't familliar with in her own history. A host between Dirin and herself. Had lost everything in a brutal attack by the Dominion on Trill. "I think I've seen enough." Nealas sighed and sat back in the chair. How was she supposed to come up with a cure to a virus made by someone with so much hatred in her veins? If she was that person, and on a certain level she was, she would probably have so many redundancies in the virus that by the time a full cure was found the Founders would've died due to the inevitable heat death of the universe.