Ugly Son of a Bug
Episode 2: The Assembly
Location: Biology Labs, USS Defiant
Timeline: MD 23
Captain Reynolds looked down at the creatures with disgust. They'd managed to get two samples of the parasite. One living, harvested from aboard the Tholian station. One dead, harvested from the late Kaln Thiriv.
The live one was in a perpetual status pod, thankfully rendered inert. It was taking every bit of self control she had not to shoot the thing point blank with her phaser on full. Forcing herself to take her eyes off it for a moment, she looked across the table to her two officer's in blue. Doctor Holmes and Lieutenant Isley had met her here to try and investigate this....thing.
Standing along the side of the table were Captain Christopher James and Commander Summer Gallagher, looking equally perplexed.
Chris stroked his chin thoughtfully. "Ugly SOB, isn't he?"
Summer rolled her eyes. "Captain obvious" she drawled. "Jerry, Caroline any ideas?"
"It's like nothing we've ever seen before," Isley said. "We've run it through as many tests as we can without further damaging the specimens. We could begin a full autopsy of the dead specimen. I would recommend that as the next step. But I'm not sure we will learn much more than we already know."
She pointed to the dead specimen. "Anything that can adapt to live off a Tholian or Andorian is completely alien to us. It's absolutely remarkable. Tholians are crystaline beings -- completely unlike Andorians or other humanoid life. This parasite is . . . dangerous. To say the least."
"I concur with my colleague," Jerry replied as he studied the results of their scans of the specimens.
“Their control of the Tholians seemed far from flawless,” Charlotte said. “But the fact that it could even survive under those conditions...and the fact that it had any control? That’s mind blowing.”
Chris nodded before he continued. "So this creature was the one in Kaln. Damn. I can't even imagine how long he'd been infected. The man had been serving with us since he left space dock. Its possible that he was infected before you even took command, Charlotte."
"I know," the woman replied. "That's what terrifies me. We swept the whole crew. He's the only one who was infected. But still...if he's been here that long. There could be plenty of others who have infiltrated elsewhere."
No verbal reply was necessary. Chris's face expressed a variety of emotions at once. This problem ran deep. "Jerry, I'm definitely going to be taking you up on that drink."
"That makes two of us," Jerry agreed as he patted his friend on the shoulder.
"Well, I'm afraid that Summer and I only have more bad news for you," Chris said, handing over a datacard. "We spent a few days behind enemy lines, making contact with a few sources I've made within the Empire. And one particular source turned up a piece of unsettling intelligence. It would appear that a high ranking member of the Klingon Defense Force had this string of foreign DNA in his blood."
"Let's compare the readings from the Klingon's blood with these two parasites. Maybe run a DNA test," the blonde science officer suggested. "It could be the same."
"She took the words right out of my mouth," Jerry replied simply.
Isley nodded and then moved to a console, uploading information from her datapad. After a few moments, she turned back to the group. "They are from the same species, but they aren't exactly identical." She continued to scan the new data. "It looks as though they have been engineered to to help them adapt to a host. Almost like they are targeted." She paused before adding, almost under her breath. "I knew they couldn't be completely natural."
Suddenly she raised an eyebrow. "It looks like the Tholian parasite wasn't quite created perfectly. There's a flaw in its makeup that prevented it from adapting well to their environment."
"I think you have a point with the term 'targeted'. Klingon leadership...Tholian leadership...It sounds intentional to me. And if my fears are correct, Kaln is not the only person on the Federation side to be infested," Charlotte said with a look of concern on her face. "Which means..."
Captain James jumped in. "Which means there's a good chance that there are higher ranking Starfleet officers with this parasite in them."
"Not just Starfleet. The Federation Council, Ambassadors, the Senate, the President," Jerry added just to name a few. There were plenty of powerful civilians that would make ideal hosts with the way the Federation government worked.
"We're going to be hard pressed to find anyone we can trust other than the crew of these 2 ships," Chris replied. "And the moment we dock, that number goes way down." He paused, perhaps only just beginning to understand the depth of their situation. "Jerry...is there any way we can make smaller scanners we could hide? Something we can carry on our person to detect one of these creatures? It doesn't need to be much. Just a yes-no answer to 'is this person infected'."
"I don't see why not. But then again I'm a Doctor, not an Engineer or Science Officer," Jerry replied as he darted a look at Chris as he felt the temptation to give his friend a slap on the back of his head.
Chris smirked in reply. "You're craftier than you give yourself credit for."
Charlotte finally pulled her eyes away from the creature. "Well, no sense delaying. Let's get the go inform the others."