At the end of his shift, young navigator Ensign Pavel A. Chekov approached Captain Kirk, "Request permission to speak with you in private, sir."
"Granted, Ensign." The commanding officer of the Enterprise exited the bridge via turbolift and escorted the young officer to a briefing room where they both sat down, next to one another.
"Whats on your mind, Ensign?" Kirk asked his navigator.
An obviously nervous officer leaned forward in his chair and turned towards Kirk. "Captain, I understand our next mission is on Scorbinius. And that they are going to be officially inducted in the Federation."
"That is correct."
"Sir, one of my friends has recently relocated to Scorbinius. I was wondering if I could take some leave time to visit her."
The captain furrowed his brow as he mulled over Chekovs request. "The duty rosters are not yet set, but I think we can arrange a day or two of leave time for you."
"Thank you, Captain."
The captain teased, "I noticed you did seem awfully happy when I told you to plot the course there."
"Only happy to put more space between the Enterprise and that madmans followers."
"And your ex-girlfriend?"
"Perhaps." The navigator stood. "With your permission, sir?"
Jim Kirk watched the young man leave the briefing room. "I dont care what McCoy says; I was never that young."
Chekov returned to his quarters in a happy frame of mind as he anticipated his reunion with Ellen Conroy, who he had originally met during his term at the Academy. He was whistling softly as he entered his quarters.
Hikaru Sulu, with whom he shared a cabin, was there working on a small herbarium hed recently constructed. "So whats her name?"
"Eh?" asked Chekov, startled.
"Her...name," repeated Sulu slowly.
"How did you know?"
"Pavel, Ive known you since the Academy, my friend. The only time you whistle is when theres a girl involved." He smiled. "So whats her name?"
"Ellen Conroy. She was a college student in San Francisco when we were at the Academy, but now shes a nurse on Scorbinius."
"A nurse, eh?" Sulus attention returned to his herbarium. "Howd she end up there? Its a former Catullan colony, not a Federation planet."
"She went there with her parents who were part of the transition team detailed to help the planets government in adapting some of its legal procedures to the Federations," explained Chekov as he peered over Sulus shoulder at the herbarium.
"Well, I hope you have better luck with Ellen than youve had with your other girlfriends," Sulu teased.
"I do not understand Irina. I do not understand what she saw in Doctor Sevrin."
"You know what they say about Tiburonian men, Pavel."
"That they have big ears?"
Sulu turned with a start and stared at his friend, trying to discern if Chekov was serious. Seeing that guileless look, the helmsman chuckled. "Yeah, their ears are big..."
"So vwhat are you vworking on?" He reached down and picked up a sample of the moss. Suddenly, his fingers were on fire. "Bozhe moi!" He dropped the sample and ran into the lavatory to rinse his fingers."
"Oh this? These are samples from the planet Eden."
"Now you tell me," called Chekov from the sink where he was still running water over his burning fingers. "Very funny."
"Let it be a reminder to touch only when invited to do so," Sulu laughed.
Captain Kirks first scheduled activity on Scorbinius was to meet with the highest-ranking official, Commissioner Ralgar, and then attend a diplomatic reception. He brought Spock, McCoy and two security officers: Benecki and Hashemi. Chekov accompanied the group as well. Kirk decided he wanted the command trainee to meet the commissioner and attend the reception, but after that, the young Russian would be free to meet his friend.
One of the guests at the reception was Ambassador Rad, the Catullan ambassador to the Federation. Upon spotting Kirk, he approached the captain.
"So you are the captain of the ship that found my son." He deliberately ignored Chekov who was at Kirks side.
"Yes, I am," admitted Kirk. "I presume youre"
"When is my son coming home?"
"After the authorities on Starbase Four finish questioning him."
"Why werent you able to bring him home when you were right in the area?"
"Federation authorities did not want to delay our arrival to Scorbinius any further. The theft of a star-drive capable space yacht like the Aurora is a matter that demands a thorough investigation."
"Of course," snorted Ambassador Rad, sarcastically. "And inducting Scorbinius into the Federation is more important than bringing my son home. This world wouldnt be on a star chart without us. It is our colony."
"It was, Mister Ambassador." He glanced around. "Its independent now."
The ambassador harrumphed in anger and walked away from the Enterprises captain in disgust.
"Well, this is going to be fun," Kirk mumbled. "Mister Chekov?"
"I dont think youre going to learn anything from this diplomatic function except how far your captain can be pushed by an irate ambassador."
"Therefore, you are free to go on leave for the next forty-eight hours. Be sure you check in daily with the officer of the day. Do not be late reporting back for duty, Ensign."
Kirk favored him with a fatherly smile. "Now go have some fun."
"Aye, sir." Chekov turned and headed toward the exit.
The two security guards were there at the door. The taller of the two, Hashemi, teased him. "Pavel, I understand you are truly becoming a ladies man. How did you work it out to get shore-leave on a planet where you know a girl?"
"You seem to have a girl in every port," interjected Benecki, brushing back a lock of his blond hair from his eyes. "We just finished dealing with getting rid of your last girlfriend and her fellow wackos, and now youre off to visit another one."
"Just making up for lost time," responded Pavel.
Both men laughed heartily. "See you later, Pavel." Hashemi pounded him on the back.
"And stay out of trouble this time!" added Benecki.
Chekov was somewhat apprehensive when knocking on the door, but all that faded away when the door opened.
Ellen Conroy was not a tall woman; she was slender, and had long, wavy, blonde hair which she wore loosely. When Pavel Chekov met her, it was like theyd never been apart. "I am so glad to see you," Ellen greeted Pavel with a warm hug. "I thought Id never see you again, at least not here on Scorbinius."
"Being aboard the Enterprise makes it hard to see ones old friends and family. When I found out we were heading for Scorbinius, I couldnt pass up the opportunity to take advantage of it and spend time with you." They moved into her living room as she closed the door.
"Thats sweet," she replied. "Im taking the next few days off from work so I can be with you. Youre welcome to stay at my apartment while youre here so you dont have to pay for lodging."
"Thank you," he said as they sat down on her sofa and continued their conversation, spending the evening catching up on all the latest news with each other.
The following day, Ellen showed Pavel many of the main tourist sites on her adopted home world, which included monuments to the worlds historical events. "At least were beating the crowds," she quipped. "Now that this world is a member of the Federation, more people will want to travel here."
"That is true. Many Federation citizens have a tendency to take vacations on newly admitted worlds. They cant resist the novelty."
They made their way to a sidewalk café, and sat down. A waiter quickly took their order and brought them their food. As they ate lunch, Ellen admitted, "I really like spending time with you, Pavel. Ive never liked anyone as well as you."
"And I really like you, too," Pavel returned the sentiment. He leaned forward and planted a kiss on her lips.
She returned his kiss by gently cupping his face in her hands and giving him a lingering kiss of her own.
After the long embrace, he said wistfully, "Its too bad that being in Starfleet works against having long-term relationships. We rarely visit the same planet twice. I enjoy serving on the Enterprise, at least most of the time. But sometimes I wish I had someone to share my life with me."
"Im not ready to settle down and get married yet. But if you were going to be here longer, Id want to spend more time with you."
"Me, too! Ive really only had a few serious relationships. One was my old girlfriend from Starfleet Academy, but we disagreed on some fundamental values. We ran into her not long ago, and it turned out she had fallen into the wrong crowd," he said, obliquely referring to Irina and her friends, all followers of the insane Doctor Sevrin.
"I was too serious and motivated for her taste."
"Youre just right for my tastes," remarked Ellen, as she and Pavel once again hugged each other.
Suddenly, their mutual interest in each other was interrupted by a chirping.
He reached for his communicator, but she put her hand on his arm and shook her head. "Its my call, not yours." She raised a boxy communicator from her purse to her face. "Conroy here."
"Nurse Conroy, this is Doctor Mlanir at Our Lady of Mercy hospital. I hate to bother you when youre supposed to be on vacation, but were desperate here at the hospital. Weve admitted a lot of sick people during the last two days. Many of our nurses who are supposed to be working have gotten sick so were really short-staffed. Im begging you to come in to work; were in dire need of help!"
"Ill be there within an hour, Doctor. You can count on me." She closed the device and paid for their lunch. "Sorry Ive got to eat and run, Pavel, but you heard the call. It sounds like theres an emergency at the hospital."
"I understand completely."
"Just head over to my apartment and wait for me there. Im sure Ill be home by eight. The hospital is really good at not overworking its staff."
They hugged warmly and kissed before she left for work.
Chekov kept himself busy by visiting some additional monuments on Scorbinius. He also stopped at a florist shop and purchased a bouquet of flowers. He figured she would appreciate flowers after a long and hard day at work. He hailed a taxi and headed for her apartment.
When Ellen arrived at her apartment at around midnight, Chekov presented her with the flowers he had purchased, "I bought you some flowers."
"Thats really sweet. Those are my favorite type of flowers. They smell great!"
"Howd the work day go?"
Conroy sighed wearily, "There were lots of sick people coming in. Theres this awful flu going around. Stomach ache, high fever, headache, sneezing, coughing, dizziness, swollen lymph nodes, et cetera."
"Sounds pretty bad."
"Luckily, I dont get very many of the bugs that go around. Im sure Ill escape this one, too."
"Hopefully." He studied her tired face. "Here, lets get you into bed."
After tucking her into bed, Chekov went back to her comfortable sofa and began watching the local news on the holovid. He heard a brief report that some deaths had resulted from the current flu epidemic on Scorbinius. Chekov glanced at her bedroom, becoming concerned about Ellen but realized there was nothing he could do. He tried to calm himself with the knowledge that most deaths from flu epidemics were usually of the elderly and the infirm.
He dozed off fitfully, worrying that there was more going on that anyone wanted to admit...
The next morning, he woke to the smell of coffee and waffles. Ellen had cooked him breakfast, and she was getting dressed for work. "Hello, sleepyhead. The hospital just called me in for work this morning. I know youve got to leave here this afternoon, so Im really sorry about this, but"
He ate a forkful of waffles. "I understand, Ellen. I told you that yesterday, and I meant it. If our positions were reversed, and I had to be called back to the Enterprise, Im sure youd understand as well."
She leaned down and kissed him deeply. "You know I would."
Pavel kissed Ellen before she left for work. "Take care of yourself, Ellen. Try to get plenty of sleep so you dont catch this bug."
"Ill try," promised Ellen as she headed out the door.
As he finished his breakfast, he grabbed his communicator, "Chekov to Enterprise."
"Uhura here," replied the communications officer.
"Id like to return to the Enterprise."
"Ill tell Mister Kyle to beam you up."
He looked around the small apartment and wistfully wished theyd had more time together. He felt the familiar tingle and found himself aboard the Enterprise.
As soon as he stepped off the transporter pad, he exited the room into a hallway. Almost immediately, he was greeted by Ensign Joshua Diener, whom he had known from his Starfleet Academy days. "Welcome back, Pavel. How was shore-leave?"
"Very enjoyable. Too bad it had to end so soon."
Dieners facial expression then turned to concern, "Pavel, are you okay? You look kind of tired."
"I got together with this girl that I really like. She got called into work and we didnt get to spend much time together. Anyway, while killing time at her apartment, I watched the news and saw this report that theres this awful flu going around. I hope she doesnt get it."
"I understand. The flu is no fun. I can see why youre concerned."
"So whats going on with you, Josh?"
"I just got back from helping Chief Giotto transport Tongo Rad back to Catulla so I missed out on all the festivities. As soon as Casey and Cy get back, Id like us to all get together in one of the rec rooms so I can hear all about the adventures you guys have been having."
Diener was a close friend of the two security guards who had accompanied the captain on the recent mission. In fact, Casimir "Casey" Benecki had been Dieners best friend ever since Starfleet Academy. Generally, friendships were comparatively rare between cadets in different classes. However, Diener and Benecki first became friends due to being teammates on the Starfleet Academy swim team and became even closer friends after the blond Pole was assigned to serve on the Enterprise. Diener had started the trend of addressing Benecki as Casey instead of Casimir during informal situations. Other crewmembers on the starship followed his lead.
Chekov deadpanned, "Transporting Tongo Rad sounds like the type of job theyd give me. Except I got lucky for a change."
"You lucky devil. Anyhow, Ill give you a buzz when they get back."
As soon as Chekov reached his quarters, he sat down and read his electronic communications. Most of them were work-related, including the news that he was scheduled to return to duty at navigation the next morning. He received a short message from Ellen, who had sent it during one of her breaks at work.
I trust you made it up to the Enterprise, safely and soundly. I really enjoyed your visit. If the Enterprise is ever in the area again, dont hesitate to contact me. I feel terrible that we didnt have much of a chance to spend time together. Today was a rough day at work. I feel very tired and drained. I wonder if Im coming down with that awful flu thats been going around. Anyway, take care, and warp speed!
Chekov wrote back to Ellen, admonishing her to take care of herself and get plenty of rest so she would have a better chance of staying well. Internally, he worried that she was showing the first symptoms of illness. His concern for Ellen was interrupted by a beep from his deskcomm.
Diener was calling. "Hey, Pavel, Casey and Cy are back. Come on down to Rec Room Three. We all want to hear about your girlfriend."
Chekov rolled his eyes, but acknowledged. "Ill be there in five minutes."
Recreation Room Three was packed, as usual, and Chekov was relieved to see that Diener and his friends had already grabbed a table. They waved him over. Diener offered, "Have a seat, Pav. Is there anything you want? Im getting drinks for everyone."
"Some tea would be nice," replied the Russian as he sat down.
Diener walked over to one of the food and drink servitors and ordered his friends drinks before returning to serve them.
"Youre a great waiter," Benecki complimented his friend as he grabbed his drink from the tray. He winked and smiled broadly.
"Oh, smart guy, so youve figured out my name means servant in German. Well, I got news for you: I didnt sign on the Enterprise as one." His friends all laughed at this comment.
Once Diener sat down and all the young officers had their beverages in hand, he turned to his friends, pumping them for information. "You guys will have to tell me all about Scorbinius. I missed out since I had to help transport Tongo Rad back to Catulla."
Cyrus Hashemi could not resist teasing Chekov. "This ladies man here went to visit his latest love interest. Pavel has a girl in nearly every port. Only the captain has more!"
"Yeah, right," Chekov retorted.
"How did things go with Ellen?" asked Diener.
"Very well. Shes a great girl to be with. We did a lot of things together. We didnt get to do as much as we would have liked since she got called into work. Apparently, this really bad flu is going around at the hospital she works. I hope she doesnt get it, what with working such long hours."
"You sound like you really care for her," commented Diener.
Hashemi changed the subject. "So how was the transport of Tongo Rad?"
Diener snorted, "Well, let me tell you something. I never in my life met someone who felt so entitled. He is such a spoiled brat! He spent most of the ride complaining about how the shuttlecraft we took him on did not meet his approval for transport. My parents would have been very upset with me if I behaved like that as a twelve-year-old. Chief Giotto and I were so relieved to be rid of him when we left Catulla."
"Good grief!" Benecki interjected. "And whats wrong with a standard Starfleet shuttlecraft?"
"Nothing! Its just not good enough for Tongo Rad," Diener said sarcastically. "I guess thats why he helped steal that space yacht!"
"And thats who Irina chose to spend her time with," Chekov put in.
"Ill give Tongo credit for one thing. He did give us some good engineering tips," acknowledged Diener. "Other than that, the mans impossible."
Conversation continued on a multitude of topics, including Chekovs developing relationship with Ellen, the induction ceremonies for Scorbinius, the food served at the banquets there, and the anger of Ambassador Rad towards Captain Kirk.
Pavel was grateful for his current companions. While Josh Diener was not one of his closest friends, he was still an easy person with which to talk. With Josh being a junior officer of the same rank, Pavel did not feel like he had to always be on his best behavior, as opposed to when he was around more senior officers. Sometimes his more senior ranking friends tended to patronize him and treat him like a child, Sulu for instance.
After an hour, the young Russian sat up and announced, "I feel so drained. I should probably go to bed early."
His friends bid him a good night as he headed toward his cabin.
The next morning, Chekov woke up with a headache and a stomach ache. He also felt lethargic and dizzy but attributed the symptoms to having stayed up too late the night before. "Ill go grab some food. Maybe Ill feel better then."
Once in the mess hall, he encountered Diener. They sat at a table together after acquiring their food. "Well, hows it going, Pav?"
"I feel so worn out. I dont know if its because I stayed up too late hanging out with everyone."
"Yeah, but it was a good evening, good conversation with good friends."
"Thats the truth. I just hope Im not coming down with something."
"Lets hope not."
Chekov tried to eat his breakfast but found it difficult to eat because his stomach and head continued to hurt. He mostly toyed with his food, barely eating.
"Are you okay, Pav?" Diener turned to him, a concerned expression on his face. "You seem awfully pale!"
Chekov shook his head. "I woke up with this awful headache and felt dizzy. I thought eating something would help but I dont really feel like eating. I dont suppose Id have time to stop off at Sickbay to get some medication before my shift starts."
Diener glanced at his chronometer, calculating. "Lets see, your shift starts at 0800. You have just over 30 minutes."
"In that case, Id better go right now. See you soon."
The alpha shift on the bridge was about to begin. Captain Kirk and Spock were already there. Lieutenants Sulu and Uhura had reported to their posts at the helm and the communications station, respectively. Conspicuously absent was navigator Chekov.
"Its not like Chekov to be this late for duty," remarked Uhura.
"Hes usually here before me." Sulu shrugged at the navigation station where Ensign Hadley was sitting patiently.
"If anything, hes neurotically early," put in Uhura, the concern in her voice obvious. "Somethings not right!"
Kirk scratched his head, a pensive expression on his face. "Hell be along soon, Im sure. Besides, Im sure Mister Hadley doesnt mind the overtime." The captain winked at the relief navigator.
After another ten minutes, the captain stepped toward the engineering sub-systems monitor and checked a readout. Seemingly satisfied, he made his way back to the command chair, but stopped at the helm station. He leaned over and asked softly, "Mister Sulu, did you see Mister Chekov earlier today?"
The helmsman nodded, and replied softly. "I saw him in the Mess Hall but didnt get a chance to speak to him. He was eating with Ensign Diener and left before I did."
Another ten minutes passed. Captain Kirk grew more worried because it was so uncharacteristic of Chekov to be late without a good reason. "Lieutenant Uhura, call Lieutenant Haines to the bridge." He glanced at Hadley. "Ensign, as soon as Haines gets here, youre relieved."
The gregarious Hadley nodded in gratitude and turned back to the navigation station.
After a huge sigh, the captain turned to his first officer. "Mister Spock?"
The executive officer thumbed the intercom at the library-computer. "Bridge to Ensign Chekov."
There was no reply.
Kirk thumbed the button on the arm of the center seat. "Kirk to Chekov. Respond please."
Again, no reply. The young Russian neither appeared on the bridge nor answered the intercom page.
"Security, Mister Spock. Class One Search procedure. Have them locate Mister Chekov."
A few minutes passed. The whistle denoting in-ship communications sounded.
The captain clicked on the bridge intercom. "Kirk here."
"Sir, this is Ensign Diener. I was having breakfast with Chekov. He said he wasnt feeling well and planned to go to Sickbay and get some medicine."
"Thank you, Mister Diener."
Sulu observed, "Chekov must really be sick if he was actually planning to go to Sickbay. This is the guy who avoids Sickbay like the plague unless hes been ordered to go there."
Uhura shook her head with concern. "Unfortunately, thats all too true. I think it stems back to Gamma Hydrae Four."
Kirk then punched the intercom. "Captain to Sickbay. Bones, did Mister Chekov report to Sickbay this morning?"
"No, Jim. I hear youve got Security looking for him."
"Let me know if he shows up." He clicked the switch. "Kirk to Security."
"Giotto here, Captain. We havent found him yet. Its a big ship, sir."
"I dont want excuses, Commander. I want Chekov found. Kirk out."
In the mess hall, Security Chief Giotto was addressing Diener, Benecki and Hashemi. "Gentlemen, a Class One Search means that a crewman is missing and presumed injured and needs immediate medical attention. Mister Chekovs life may depend on it. The question is how to retrace Pavels steps from here to Sickbay."
The three young officers had started at the mess hall and hunted through the corridors that connected the mess hall to Sickbay but could not find him. He wasnt in his quarters either.
"Maybe he took a short cut," Hashemi suggested.
Diener was struck with a burst of inspiration. "Hey, what about the corridor that cuts through the back of Sickbay, the one that runs from the dentists office."
Quickly the officers made their way to the dentists office, and then cut through the corridor to Sickbay. It was an unusual route but one a desperately ill or feverishly confused crewman might take. Checking the corridor and each of the rooms off of it soon led them to Chekovs form. He was curled up in the floor of the bathroom next to Doctor MBengas office.
As Giotto reported their success to the bridge and requested a gurney from Sickbay, Diener cradled his sweat-covered face. "Pav, are you okay?"
Benecki started shaking him gently and spoke in Russian, "Pasha, wake up!"
Chekov slowly opened his eyes. Obviously disoriented, he stammered, "Vwh-vwhere am I?"
"In the bathroom near the back of Sickbay," Diener answered.
"I guess I never made it to Sickbay." Chekov suddenly grew more agitated. "What time is it?"
"Oh-nine-twenty," answered Hashemi.
Chekov frowned, shook his head, and looked more worried. "Bozhe Moi! Im late for my shift! Captain Kirk vwill be angry vwith me!"
Diener chuckled and said, reassuringly, "Its okay, Pavel. The captains already been informed that youre sick." There was the distinctive hum of an antigrav gurney coming down the hall. He tussled Chekovs mop of hair, and his tone of voice changed to alarm. "Man, youre burning up with fever!" He then turned to Hashemi and Benecki, "Cy, Casey, could you give me a hand?"
Hashemi draped the Russians arms around his neck. Benecki also stooped to the floor to assist Hashemi and Diener in lifting Chekov to the gurney. "Lets get this sick Cossack to Sickbay," Giotto said grimly.
"Put him on the diagnostic bed over here," Doctor McCoy pointed as Chekov was brought into Sickbay.
Hashemi and Benecki gently transferred him from the gurney to the indicated bed.
McCoy asked the young Russian, "So, Mister Chekov, so what brings you here?"
Chekov complained in his native language, obviously in agony, "Ya plokha sebya chustvuyu! Ya menya bolit golova, boli zheladke, y angina!"
Benecki translated, "Doctor, hes complaining of a headache, stomach ache, and sore throat."
"Uh-huh." The whir of the medical Feinberger could be heard as Dr. McCoy scanned the ailing young officer, grimacing as he read the results. McCoy shook his head in disbelief at the readings. He rechecked the readings, in hopes that the news was not as grim as he feared.
"Back home in Poland," Benecki explained, "we were required to study Russian. I was never very good at foreign languages. So now I speak both Russian and English equally badly. I never thought my rusty Russian would come in handy."
"Until you met Pavel Chekov," finished the doctor. "Son, sometimes the subjects you complain about studying the most are what you need in the long run."
"Whats wrong with him, Doctor?" asked Hashemi.
"Fever at 40 degrees; swollen lymph nodes; sore throat; respiratory congestion; severe abdominal pain; red blotches appearing on the skin," murmured McCoy. The doctor hit the intercom switch next to the diagnostic panel. "Sickbay to Bridge."
"Bridge, Kirk here," came the captains voice. "How is he, Bones?"
"Jim, weve got a medical emergency here. Ensign Chekov has Rigelian Fever."
Captain Kirk, Commander Spock and Doctor McCoy were in the physicians office. "Jim, so far Chekov is the only person who has developed the disease. I have synthesized the proscribed treatment for him but only we only have enough ryetalyn on hand for a single dose, maybe two."
"Ryetalyn?" asked Kirk.
"A rare, naturally-occurring compound which can be used to cure Rigelian fever," explained Spock.
"Usually the treatment requires three doses of the medication. I just happened to have a sample of some I had picked up for analysis months ago on Starbase Twelve when we dropped Commodore Stocker off there. What I have will be enough to slow down the progress of the disease but not enough to ensure recovery. If he gets no more treatment, he faces a better than even chance of dying before the week is out."
Kirk looked at the doctor, with shocked dismay. "My God, Bones. Poor Chekov!"
"Poor all of us, you mean. Rigelian Fever is highly contagious. I have no doubt that our oh-so-friendly Russian has passed it along to his friends in Security and anyone else hes come into contact with. And theyve probably passed it along to everyone else theyve come in contact with, too. Its an airborne bacterium, and the ships ventilation biofilters wouldve been unable to filter it out."
"Starfleet has looked into the filters, Captain, and theres nothing that can be done. The bacterium is simply too small to be filtered out."
McCoy continued, "When the next crewman develops this disease, and trust me, Jim, most if not all of them will, then he or she faces the possibility of dying within forty-eight to ninety-six hours. Jim, were facing the prospect of a deadly epidemic on board this ship."
"I get the picture," grumbled Kirk. "Were going to have to find a source of ryetalyn." He turned to his first officer. "Spock, find us that ryetalyn."
"Yes, Captain." The Vulcan immediately left.
Kirks eyes regarded the departing science officer. "Will there be any survivors?"
"No, Jim. This disease is very similar to Bubonic Plague. It develops very rapidly. And it affects most humanoids, even Vulcans."
Kirk stepped out into the ward. Chekov was lying on one of the beds at the end with three of his friends sitting near him. The captain remarked, "This hasnt been a good week for Mister Diener. First, he has to put up with transporting Tongo Rad back home. Then, he helps Chekov come down here, only to find out that he has to stay here in quarantine since Chekov has a contagious disease."
"At least hes among friends," McCoy commented wryly. "Unfortunately, that list of friends is going to spread rapidly throughout the ship."
The captain winced at the thought."How did Chekov come down with the disease? Ill need to find out as much information as I can. The lives of our crew and of the people on Scorbinius may be at stake. Since so many people from so many different worlds were recently there, this epidemic could spread beyond that planetary system."
"Most likely from someone down on Scorbinius. I spoke with him after he was brought down here. He didnt recall any direct exposure to the disease but reported that the girl he was spending time with was taking care of many sick patients at the hospital where she worked. She wasnt sick when Chekov last saw her, but probably got sick later."
"Scorbinius will have to be quarantined. Is the planets population?"
"Well, Jim, you remember I said most humanoids are affected by the bacterium?"
"Well, the Catullans are affected by the bacterium, but not severely. In fact, they find it about as worrisome as Humans find chicken pox."
"But shouldnt their doctors have known what they were dealing with?"
McCoy shook his head. "With all the advances in medical science, it is still nearly impossible to diagnose a disease that is still in its incubation period. Sure, I can take blood samples and look for the presence of antibodies but an active infection has to be present before I can diagnose anything." His blue eyes met Kirks hazel ones. "Sucks, huh?"
"No argument there, Bones." He glanced back at Chekov. "Help him if you can, Bones."
"Ill administer the first dose of the cure immediately."
As Captain Kirk stepped out of the turbolift onto the bridge, he began issuing a flurry of orders relating to the epidemic.
"Lieutenant Uhura, inform Starfleet Command that some of the Enterprise crew have contracted Rigelian Fever and that contact with us is to be avoided until further notice. Report that I will be implementing General Order Number Six if the situation worsens to a ship-wide epidemic. Also, tell them that it is our chief medical officers opinion that our crew was infected on Scorbinius, and that that planet needs immediate quarantine as well. And lastly, inform them that our mission to the planet rumored to be Excalbia will be delayed."
The Bantu communications officer stared at him, dumbfounded.
"Lieutenant, those are my orders."
"Yes, Captain," she said softly.
He looked at her reassuringly. "Well be all right, Uhura."
She closed her eyes and composed herself before nodding. "Yes, Captain."
Kirk took the necessary steps to the library-computer station. "Well, Spock?"
"Holberg 917-G, an uninhabited class M planet in the Omega Draconis system, is about ten hours from our present location at Warp Factor Six. A geological survey of the planet fifteen years ago reported the planet has significant veins of ryetalyn ore."
"Lay in its coordinates to Navigation."
"Yes, sir." The Vulcan pressed a series of buttons.
"Receiving, sir," reported Lieutenant Jana Haines from Navigation. "Course laid in, 55 mark 7."
"Mister Sulu, take us to Holberg 917-G. Warp Factor Six."
Sharon MacFarlane, a young nurse assigned to Sickbay, called out, "Doctor McCoy!"
The chief medical officer looked up at his nurse. A sad expression was on her face. "We have our first death from this epidemic: Ensign Diener."
McCoy grumbled, "Great! And he wasnt even the first crewmember affected. He was such a personable guy who had so many friends and would do anything for them."
"I know," agreed Sharon somberly.
"No good deed goes unpunished," McCoy looked at Dieners bed and then at his nurse. "Diener helps out Chekov, gets his disease, and dies as a result."
McCoy grew even more worried about the remaining patients, especially Chekov who had been affected longer than anyone else. Its a miracle the boys still alive, he thought. As he examined Chekov with his Feinberger, he saw that the young Russians temperature remained dangerously high at 40 degrees in spite of all efforts to lower it. The doctor had already tried fever-reducing drugs and cold saline IVs, without success.
At that time, Nurse Christine Chapel reported, "Ensign Hashemi is in the final stages of the disease."
The doctor moved to the security guards bed, studying the life-reading monitors above it. They were all at extremely critical levels. The Persian then started coughing furiously and spitting out blood. The life-sign indicators suddenly dropped to the bottom of the scale, indicating death as the young mans heart gave out from the strain. Cyrus Hashemi, the tall handsome young Persian security guard, was now dead.
"Theres just nothing we can do for them." He gestured to one of the orderlies to remove Hashemis body to the morgue. "Nothing at all."
"Hows it going, Bones?"
The doctor wearily stared at Captain Kirk and Commander Spock who were standing at the door to Sickbay.
"Weve had three fatalities, Jim. Diener, Hashemi and Pennington."
"It was logical to assume that they would be the first to succumb to the disease since their cases were among the most advanced."
McCoy retorted, "Logical? Logical that they would be the first? You green-blooded son-of-a-bitch! Dont you have any more feeling for them than that?"
"Bones," Kirk said softly but sternly.
McCoy shook his head. "Im sorry, Mister Spock. I think that your friendly neighborhood chief medical officer is coming down with it, too." He sighed. "Theres nothing I can do for any of us without that ryetalyn."
Kirks eyes focused on his navigator on the bed at the end of the ward.
McCoy glanced at the young Russian. "Ensign Chekov is still alive since hes had all of what I could manufacture of the antidotea whopping dose and a halfeven though hes been affected the longest. But I dont know how much longer he can hold out. His fever hasnt shown any signs of abating and remains at a dangerously high level."
Kirk nodded. "Bones, weve arrived at Holberg 917-G, and were beaming down to collect the ryetalyn. I need you with us."
"I cant leave right now, Jim! I have a ship full of patients!"
"You just said theres nothing you can do for anyone without that ore, Bones. I need you with us on the planets surface."
McCoy looked around the ward. "Yes, Captain. Let me get a few things. And youre probably right."
After gathering his medikit and his tricorder, McCoy made one last visit to the nearly- comatose Chekov and stared into his fevered-glazed brown eyes, "Hang in there just a little longer, Pavel. Another dose of the antidote is soon coming."
Pavel Chekov lay in Sickbay, still very ill with Rigelian fever. While in a delirious haze, he slipped in and out of consciousness. He was vaguely aware of snippets of conversation, which either concerned his own worsening condition or news of still another crewmember getting sick or another one dying.
When he finally felt lucid enough to focus on his surroundings, he noticed that his clothes and his hair were drenched with sweat. He also was extremely thirsty. He pressed a button on one of the panels on his bio-bed to request assistance from a nurse or orderly but was greeted with silence.
Whats going on? Where is everyone? Why wont anyone come? thought Chekov, ruefully.
Eventually, he heard the buzz of an intercom and replied. He was greeted by the voice of young nurse, Sharon MacFarlane. "Is that you, Pav?"
"Yes, it is."
"Im so glad to hear from you. Last time I checked in on you, you were in a coma, and Doctor McCoy had almost given up hope."
"Im very thirsty."
Soon, the young nurse entered the sickbay wardroom with the requested glass of water. Obviously harried, she seemed to be breathing more heavily than usual.
"Sharon!" he exclaimed as he tried to sit up.
The nurse apologized profusely, "Im sorry I didnt answer you right away but things have really been crazy around here. Doctor McCoy has gone down to some planet below with Captain Kirk and Mister Spock to get some ryetalyn. And patients keep coming here with Rigelian Fever. We have over three hundred cases, according to Doctor MBenga."
"Thats nearly three-fourths of the crew!"
"And youre the first person Ive seen whos shown any signs of getting better."
"Thats not good since I feel really terrible."
At that moment, the assistant chief medical officer entered the room. He grew more worried when the intercom sounded. "MBenga here," the tired-sounding African doctor said, pushing the intercom reply button.
He was greeted by the distressed voice of Chief Engineer Scott. "Hadley just collapsed at Navigation! The poor lad stayed on duty as long as he could, but hes burning up!"
"Scotty, Ill send someone to bring him down to Sickbay as soon as I can."
"Has anyone down there started getting better? Weve run out of able-bodied crew members who can serve as navigator. Haines, Leslie, and even Kyle have contracted the fever."
"Commander Scott, theres no chance of that happening until Doctor McCoy and the landing party gets back with the ryetalyn."
Chekov considered the situation. He sat up straight in his bed, albeit a bit shakily. "I am the healthiest trained navigator on board this ship. Its my duty to go up to the bridge and relieve Mister Hadley," the young Russian declared.
The shocked nurse examined the ailing navigator with a portable medical Feinberger. "Pav, you still have a very high fever! Its finally under 39 degrees but not by much!"
Once MBenga and MacFarlane left, Chekov pondered his next move. Still being feverish and exhausted, his first instinct was to close his eyes and go to sleep. That was what any doctor would have recommended, but his determination and sense of dutyand guiltovercame his instinct to rest. I need to go to the bridge, thought Chekov, with a sense of urgency. And I know a short-cut!
He slowly eased himself into a sitting position, fighting off waves of vertigo. When he finally stood up, his legs felt as stable as wet noodles. He felt extremely light-headed and parched, but he was determined to help. Slowly, he dragged himself from his bed to the doorway of the main ward of Sickbay. The nurse on duty was slumped over at her desk, breathing heavily. Poor Sharon!
Practically stumbling, Chekov made his way down the back corridor, past the dentists office, and slowly made his way towards the turbolift.
"I believe you could use some help at navigation."
At the sound of the soft, high-pitched Russian-accented voice, all eyes on the bridge turned around and stared at him in disbelief.
"Chekov!" exclaimed Scotty. "Lad, youre alive! Are you sure youre okay?"
"Ill be fine," declared Chekov, resolutely as he made his way toward the navigation station.
"Lad, youre barely able to walk! I dont think you are in any condition to serve on the bridge."
The chief engineered considered the situation. Chekov was still very ill and in no condition to be on duty. But no one else was available. The engineer was seated at the helm, trying to run both stations, and he realized that as his own fever worsened, that the ship itself would be imperiled. "All right, Mister Chekov, take over at navigation."
"Thank you, Mister Scott."
"But lad, I warn ye, if ye feel the least bit faint, I want ye to tell me as soon as possible so we can get relief for you. I dont want you collapsing on me in the middle of a crisis."
Chekov nearly collapsed into his seat at the navigators console. He still felt dizzy but sitting down was less of a strain for him than standing or walking. Due to his still high fever, he found it difficult to concentrate on his duties. Holberg 917-G was in orbit near a large gas giant with a ring system, and there were a number of craters on its surface. Cometary and asteroid impacts represented a danger to the ship, and Chekov was determined to keep the ship safe from them.
The turbolift slid open and a haggard Lieutenant Uhura made her way to replace Lieutenant Palmer at the communications station. When she saw him, she was concerned but relieved. "Welcome back, Pavel. Glad to see you actually working for a change."
The life support officer on duty at the time, Lieutenant Raj, turned towards Chekov, his antennae all akimbo. "I had heard you had died, Ensign. Im glad to see that rumor was in error."
"As the old Russian saying goes, the report of my demise is greatly premature."
Uhura chuckled from the communications officer. "That was Mark Twain, the nineteenth century American writer."
"No doubt he had heard of the old Russian saying," Chekov answered smugly.
"At least there should be no more fatalities on this ship from Rigelian Fever," remarked McCoy as he injected Benecki with the antidote. "It will probably take a few days for him to return to duty. Most of the others should be back later tonight or in the next day or so." He administered a hypospray into Nurse MacFarlane. "Glad Flints robot was able to process the ryetalyn for us."
Kirk frowned but nodded wearily. The events on Holberg 917-G were obviously weighing heavily on his heart. Spock stood at his side, offering silent strength to his captain and friend. "Hows Chekov?"
"Hes apparently checked himself out of Sickbay," answered MBenga as the Masai doctor injected the captain and first officer with doses of ryetalyn. "Lieutenant Uhura reported that hes on the bridge at Navigation."
"Sounds familiar," McCoy remarked drily. "Sounds like a typical command officer I know, in fact."
Kirk smiled faintly, the fatigue on his face evident to all. "I think were needed on the bridge, Mister Spock."
"Just one thing, Captain?" McCoy asked.
The doctor injected both Kirk and Spock with antidote. "Be back within two hours for another dose."
"Mister Chekov, did any of the doctors down in Sickbay certify you fit for duty?" Captain Kirks voice came from the just-opened turbolift.
"No, sir," the young Russian replied weakly and turned as Spock and the captain entered the bridge. "But theres no one else to take over my post. All the other navigators on board this ship are sicker than me, and this planetary system is not exactly a safe harbor." He indicated the main viewing screen as a cometary fragment came so close to the ship that the helm and navigator had to program an orbital adjustment to avoid contact.
"I appreciate that, Ensign, believe me," Kirk said as he stood by the navigators station. "I relieve you, Mister Chekov."
"Sir! Please, I can do my job," he answered as Spock moved to the library-computer.
The captain studied the young mans face. Scotty, who was still manning the helm, beamed in pride at the young officer. Spocks canted eyebrow and a quick wink from the Scottish engineer convinced the captain. "Very well, Ensign, but as soon as I can get you relieved, you need to go back to Sickbay to be certified for duty."
Chekov straightened in the chair. "Yes, Captain."
Kirk then sat down heavily in the center seat as Spock resumed scanning. "Captain, Id recommend leaving orbit and setting a course out of this system. The cometary and asteroid fragments are quite dangerous, which is why Holberg 917-G was never colonized properly by the Federation."
"Agreed, Mister Spock. I believe our next destination is the planet Persephone?"
"Yes, sir. We are supposed to provide support for a terraforming operation there," reported Spock.
"Mister Chekov, plot us a course up and out of this system to Persephone. Mister Scott, if you will, sublight factor four."
"Yes, Kyptin," and "Aye, sir," were the responses the captain received as he pushed the intercom. "Bridge to Sickbay."
"Sickbay. McCoy here."
"Doctor McCoy, is there anyone healthy enough to take over at navigation and at the helm? And could you please send someone up to the bridge with the antidote? On the double."
"Jim, to answer to your first question, not yet. Both Arex and Walking-Bear are recovering nicely, though, and I suspect theyll be ready for duty within a couple of hours. But I will send a nurse up to the bridge with enough doses of antidote for the bridge crew and for yours and Spocks second dose."
Once Chekov arrived in Sickbay, Doctor MBenga remarked, "I was wondering what happened to you. I considered looking for you, but I had too many other patients to worry about. I might have known you would be on the bridge acting heroically." The dry tone of the Masais voice rankled the young Russian.
"Someone had to takeover the navigation station," explained the ensign.
"Of course," agreed MBenga in a way that indicated the doctor clearly wasnt in agreement with the navigator. He guided Chekov to the main patient ward.
McCoy, who was treating Benecki, looked up at the navigator. "I hear youre back in Sickbay because you didnt listen to your friendly neighborhood doctor earlier."
"Actually, Im back only because Captain Kirk ordered me to come here."
McCoy declared, "I dont know which one of you is worse, you or Captain Kirk. Both of you insist on returning to duty long before youre well. And then you wonder why you keep having relapses. Come along, Mister Chekov."
McCoy grabbed him by the arm, dragged him towards a diagnostic bed in Sickbay and scanned him with a sensor. "Your temperature is still a couple degrees above normal. This time youre staying here until youve had no fever for twelve hours even if I have to strap you down and have an armed guard standing at your side."
"I doubt youll find many armed guards capable of standing at my side or anyone elses," Chekov answered curtly. "Besides, Im getting better," protested Chekov. "My fever was under thirty-nine degrees when I last left Sickbay. Now its under thirty-eight."
"Yes, youre getting better, son, but youre in no condition to be on the bridge."
"I realize that, Doctor. But since I was the only navigator getting better, I was the logical choice to go back on duty."
The doctor smiled at Chekovs reference to being the logical choice. Sometimes, the young navigator could be so like Kirk, and sometimes so like Spock. "Sure you were, Ensign. Youre so feverish youre talking like a Vulcan. Im seriously considering having you stay here until youve had no fever for twenty-four hours. Now get some sleep. Doctors orders." McCoy injected a hypo into Chekovs arm. "Ive got to go check on the captain."
Chekovs eyes fluttered open. Sitting next to him was Lieutenant Uhura."How are you doing, Pavel?"
"Glad to hear it. Everyones heard how you snuck out of Sickbay to report to duty, and most of them are demanding to know how you managed that."
"I vwill never tell." He winked at her conspiratorially. "One never knows vwhen one may have to resort to that escape maneuver again!"
"Well, I also wanted to deliver some of your mail. Doctor McCoy says youre stuck here for at least another day while were en route to Persephone."
"Thank you, Uhura."
"If you need anything, let me know." She leaned over and kissed his forehead. "See you later."
Chekov listened to the messages. The first was from Ellen, stating that she was very ill but was sure it was just the flu. The second message was from her parents, informing him of her death. Tears welled in the young navigators eyes as he listed to the message.
Later in the afternoon, Captain Kirk and Spock came to see Chekov. "How are you doing, Ensign?" asked the captain as Doctor McCoy joined them.
"Your presence has been missed, Ensign," admitted Spock.
"Better, Kyptin. Thank you, Mister Spock."
"Chekov," the captain inquired, "I know this probably isnt the best time, but its clear to us that you were exposed to Rigelian Fever while on Scorbinius."
"As you know, Kyptin, I was down visiting Ellen, a friend from Earth who I knew had relocated to Scorbinius. During my visit, she was called into work due to a shortage of staff. She reported that there was some awful flu going around but didnt go into great detail about the symptoms."
"Had she shown any symptoms during your visit with her?"
"Did she complain about symptoms later?"
"She sent me some mail and said that she was not feeling well."
"Did you receive any updates on her condition since then?"
"Her parents sent a message saying she contracted the disease and died."
Captain Kirk then turned to Spock. "Whats the situation on Scorbinius?"
"The disease was primarily contained within a 150-mile radius of a small city, quite distant from the capital city. It appears that the travel restrictions enacted as part of the quarantine effort have been moderately successful at containing the epidemic. It has not developed into a world-wide pandemic."
McCoy asked, "Has the epidemic spread beyond Scorbinius? A whole lot of people traveled there for the induction festivities, especially from Earth."
Spock raised an eyebrow before responding, "Indeed, but there were no cases of plague reported in the capital city, and no other ship has been victimized by it either. Mister Chekovs infection appears to have been the result of an unfortunate circumstance."
"Meaning, Mister Chekov," began McCoy, "that you happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time."
Chekov looked depressed. "So were my friends..."
Kirk put his hand on the navigators shoulder. "No ones blaming you, Pavel, but yourself. You need to understand that life is a risk, and that it couldve been someone else that brought the disease aboard."
"But it wasnt someone else, sir. It was me."
"You should also understand, Ensign," added Spock, "that the Vulcans have an expression for this"
McCoy snorted. "So do Humans, Spock: Shit happens."
"Believe it or not, Doctor, while very crudely expressed, that sums up the Vulcan expression precisely."
Chekov looked away, lost in his own thoughts.
Kirk leaned forward. "Dont dwell on it, Pavel. Thats an order. I need you on the bridge as soon as possible."
A touch of pride danced on the navigators face. "Yes, Kyptin. I will be out soon."
"And with permission this time?"
The ensign smiled sleepily.
Kirk and Spock headed back to the door to Sickbay as McCoy looked around the almost empty ward. He yawned. "Bout time things got back to normal around here. I dont know how I manage to stand being around all these sick people, eh, Chekov?"
The bio-bed was empty.
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