Captains Log, Stardate 7426.3
The U.S.S. Enterprise is currently en route to the planet Gamma Persei VI. It is the first of nine planets where we are to upgrade the computers and the communications facilities. These nine planets include research outposts and Federation member planets that are in the same sector of space as Starbase 9. In addition, the software engineer who developed this software is on board the Enterprise and is available to do any special customizing for each site as needed. Gamma Persei VI is a Class M planet, which is currently inhabited by a team of scientists who are stationed at the biophysical research outpost located there.
Per the captains orders, the assigned landing party to Gamma Persei VI had assembled in Briefing Room Seven. Captain Kirk opened, "The scientists on Gamma Persei Six are still relying on outdated computers for their research. Their machines keep breaking down. No one can install upgrades to their communications system since their old computers are not compatible with the latest communications protocols. They cant download most of the latest software packages from Starfleet Headquarters since they require more memory than is available on these ancient computers. Lieutenant Commander Uhura, since this mission mostly involves installing and communications software, you are in charge of this landing party."
"Aye, sir," answered the chief communications officer, Penda Nyota Uhura.
Kirk continued, "Our first step will be to transport the new computers and peripherals down to the planet and set them up at the facility. Riley and Kyle, you both need to replace the scientists workstations with upgraded models." While presently the head of the alien contact studies office on the Enterprise, Kevin Riley had several years of experience doing a variety of jobs on the Enterprise, including as communications officer, ships navigator and engineering officer. Kyle was primarily known as a transporter technician, but he could also help out as a helm officer, a science officer, even as a communications officer. It was their joint experience as communications officers that led Kirk to select them for the landing party.
"Once thats done, the next step is to install the upgraded software and customize where needed," continued Kirk. "Thats obviously your job, Ms. Tamberrino." He was referring to Lieutenant Cynthia Tamberrino, a software engineer. Tamberrino was normally assigned to Starfleet Headquarters as the lead developer for most of the upgraded software. However, she had been temporarily assigned to the Enterprise for the duration of the installation mission.
Kirk continued, "Sulu, I would like you to join our landing party so you can interview the scientists about their latest research and assist Lieutenant Commander Uhura in every way." While normally, Lieutenant Commander Hikaru Sulu was the chief helmsman of the Enterprise, he had worked as a physicist in the past and also studied botany as a hobby. But as a command trainee, Sulu would benefit from assisting Uhura with the landing party assignment.
"Our final step," reported Kirk, "is to make sure everything works as promised. This includes both our communications and data retrieval capabilities. Uhura and Tamberrino, I trust you both can work with the scientists on Gamma Persei Six to ensure that."
Once the meeting adjourned, Uhura felt fortunate that she could work so well with the prospective landing party members. She had originally worked with Sulu, Riley, and Kyle on the first five-year mission of the Enterprise under Captain Kirk during which time they had become close friends. She also got along very well with Cynthia Tamberrino. In her short time on board the Enterprise, Tamberrino seemed to fit in well, socializing well with the Enterprises junior officers.
On the surface, the mission appeared to be a routine one. Essentially, it was to transport and install new computer and communications equipment as needed, followed by installing software, and subsequent testing of both. With such a cohesive group, installation would proceed smoothly. Doctor Jakub Paryzek, the chief scientist on Gamma Persei VI, was easy to work with, according to Cynthia Tamberrino. She had worked with him on a previous assignment and enjoyed the experience. Hence, no personality conflicts were anticipated. Yet from past experience, Uhura realized that problems had a way of creeping into even the most routine of missions. The particular planet to which they were journeying was unexplored, save for a Federation research colony consisting of twenty scientists.
As soon as they reached Gamma Persei VI, Uhura contacted Doctor Paryzek and reported they were ready to beam down. Uhura, Kyle, Sulu, Riley, and Tamberrino assembled in the Transporter Room and were beamed into the office of Doctor Paryzek.
"Welcome to Gamma Persei Six," Paryzek greeted the team with obvious pleasure. "Its rare we get visitors in such a remote spot."
"As youre aware, Doctor, were here to upgrade your hardware and communications software," explained Uhura.
"In spite of the fact were so far out and only have less than two dozen people here?" wondered Paryzek.
"All the more reason to upgrade your software. Youre just as much a part of the Federation as any other colony," she smiled reassuringly and turned to introduce her group to Paryzek, "I am Lieutenant Commander Uhura of the starship Enterprise. I believe you already know Cynthia Tamberrino."
"Yes, I have," answered the small, brown-haired Czech scientist in an accented voice. "We worked together on a project about five years ago. Pleased to see you again, Cynthia."
Tamberrino replied, "Pleased to see you again, too, Jakub." They embraced each other.
Uhura continued introducing her team, "These are Misters Kyle and Riley. Theyll be bringing down your new computers and related stuff. Theyll have to make a few trips back and forth to the Enterprise to bring down the equipment. Mister Sulu here will be interviewing you and your scientists to see what progress youve made in your work here."
"Great! Its so rare we get visitors; I hope no one talks you to death, Mister Sulu," replied Paryzek. "Ill give you folks a tour of our facilities. We have five science labs, a computer lab, the communications center, and several offices."
Paryzek began his tour. His first stop was the office of the research bases biophysicist. He introduced her to the landing party members. "This is Doctor Lou Ann Coleman. She has been studying energy phenomena and their effects on the life here. Shes won several awards for her findings."
"Pleased to meet you," she said to each of the members of the landing party.
His next stop was at the office shared by a pair of exobotanists. Paryzek introduced both of them to then landing party. "These are Doctor Priya Sarajuddin and Doctor Al Badawy. They just joined our team last year, and they have been busy studying the plant life here."
Priya Sarajuddin added, "This planet has very lush vegetation, almost like a rain forest."
"The whole planet covered by a rain forest?" asked Sulu, interested.
"Virtually, yes," Badawy confirmed. "Only the polar regions are lacking in a rain forest biome. They have grassy plains."
Paryzek continued, "In this last year alone, they have identified three hundred twenty new species of plants, twenty of which have no counterparts on any other Federation world."
Paryzek walked down the corridor a little further, at an exobiology office. "These are Doctor Charles Mitchell and Doctor Sandeep Jayaweera. They have been studying the animal life here."
Doctor Mitchell added, "The only vertebrate animals weve found are numerous species of fish in the oceans, lakes, and streams and the lizard-like arboreal creatures we see in the forests."
"Thats unusual, isnt it, Doctor?" Uhura asked. "A planet with this level of vegetation should have quite a large population of animal life."
Jayaweera agreed. "Its odd that this rain forest is so devoid of animal life, but it is."
Paryzek continued his tour, introducing then to the remainder of the scientists and stopping at each science lab, the main communications center, and the computer room that contained the main servers. When the tour concluded, Paryzek and the landing party discussed the equipment installation plan.
"Were giving each scientist is to get a new BellComm workstation to replace their old one," said Uhura. "Along with one printer for each office and science lab."
"Thats what I would recommend," said Paryzek.
Uhura continued, "Well put the new equipment in the communications lab. Well also put new central servers in the main computer lab to handle internal network, data retrieval and communications software functions."
Riley added, "Each scientist will be issued the latest version of the tricorders used in Starfleet."
Over the next few hours, Riley and Kyle, with help from Sulu, installed all the hardware. Once that was complete, Cynthia Tamberrino installed the software onto the server machines and established connectivity between the scientists new machines and the new software.
Tamberrino then tested the software, with help from Uhura for the communications portions and help from Sulu in retrieving scientific data.
As soon as their testing was complete, Uhura summoned Paryzek and the other scientists and reported they were ready to demonstrate operation of the new system.
Doctor Paryzek beamed as the demonstration concluded, "These new features are wonderful. It should be easier for us to compare our research results with those from other sites. I have a few enhancements I would like."
As the conversation as the chief scientist and the computer programmer dropped into a technical discussion on the desired new features, Uhura tuned out their discussing and turned to Sulu. "How's your report coming along, Hikaru?"
"Fine," he replied. "Ill have it for you within an hour of returning to the ship."
Uhura promised, "The Enterprise will remain in this sector for another week just in case you folks have any problems."
"Great!" the chief scientist exclaimed.
Sulu asked, "So what is your next area of research?"
Paryzek answered, "We recently discovered on this planet underground, catacomb-like passageways. For some reason, if any of our people are ever down in any of them, we can never detect their lifeform readings. We dont know if thats because the walls have magnetic properties that block tricorder readings or what. For that matter, we dont know if these passages were built by another race that once lived on this planet or just occur naturally. As you know, aside from us scientists, the planet is supposedly uninhabited. Im planning to send a team to investigate the passages tomorrow."
"One more reason for the Enterprise to remain here, in case something happens to your team," remarked Uhura.
"Youre right, of course," replied Paryzek. "The Enterprise is in a better position to provide medical care than this outpost possibly could."
"Do you wish us to send in a security team to accompany your people in those passages?" inquired Uhura. She had a recollection of the Janus VI mining colony, and the "devil" theyd unleashed in the dark mines there.
"I dont think it will be necessary," Paryzek declined. "Our research post has been here for over ten years. Weve never had any problems at all with indigenous lifeforms."
"Call us if there are any problems."
"Will do," promised the chief scientist.
Uhura tapped her wrist communicator. "Uhura to Enterprise. Chief Rand, five to beam up."
The landing party dematerialized from Paryzeks office and then rematerialized in the Transporter Room. Uhura turned to the landing party members. "I need everyones report within an hour so I can give my report to Captain Kirk. Dont forget about Lieutenant Chekovs party in the Recreation room tonight."
"We wont," they promised.
The Enterprise remained in orbit and awaited feedback from Gamma Persei VI.2
That evening, Pavel Chekov and two of his female security officers, Hilary Becker and Johanna Emmerich, were hosting a party commemorating Federation Day in the Recreation Room of the Enterprise. The party began with a cocktail hour followed by a buffet dinner. After dinner, musical entertainment was provided, with Chekov acting as the Master of Ceremonies. Both Riley and Kyle had been tapped to sing, Riley choosing to sing songs written by the twentieth century country music singer, Willie Nelson, and Kyle choosing to sing songs from the musical "Man of La Mancha." Becker accompanied their singing on keyboard.
Rileys singing brought back memories to anyone who had served on the Enterprise for the first five-year mission on the Enterprise. It was early during that mission, under the effects of the Psi 2000 virus, Riley had locked himself in the engine room and had sung the same song over and over again, wildly off key. Later, Riley had actually proven himself to be an excellent singer.
A crewmember then requested, "Could you sing Ill Take You Home Again, Kathleen" for us?"
Riley looked embarrassed, since his earlier rendition of that song was infamous.
"Please, Kevin," pleaded another crewmember.
"Please," more crewmembers chimed in.
"All right," replied Kevin reluctantly, as he broke into a rendition of the famous Irish song. This performance was much better than the one of several years earlier. Uhura would never have guessed it was the same person singing, but knowing of the lugubrious effects of the Psi 2000 virus made it understandable. Riley literally was too incapacitated to sing it as well as he could.
Once the singing was done, recordings of popular songs were played and the guests began to dance.
Kevin Riley approached Cynthia Tamberrino, "Would you like to dance with me?"
"Of course," replied Tamberrino.
After a couple of dances, he asked her, "When we get to Alpha Andromedae Three next week, would you like come to the Cliffside Mall with me on our first night when were off duty? I know well be spending most of our time on that planet working, but Im sure we can get away in the evenings."
"I certainly would," she accepted Rileys offer.
"I understand its one of the best malls in this sector of the Federation. I hear the Cliffside restaurant over there is wonderful. We can have dinner there."
"Sounds great," she replied.
Riley was ecstatic since he had harbored a crush on Tamberrino ever since shed come aboard the Enterprise a few weeks ago. He was enamored of the tall, slender computer specialist who had long, wavy black hair and an almost-perfect figure. She also was very intelligent and possessed an extremely vivacious personality. Riley would certainly be looking forward to this future date.
When Tamberrino left him to talk to some other friends, Riley found his friend, Jonathan Kyle. Almost immediately, Kyle noticed his smiling expression. "Whats up, Kevin?"
"Youll never guess who I got a date with! Cynthia Tamberrino!"
"Whens the big day?" asked Kyle without enthusiasm. To his surprise, Kyle did not rejoice with him, but rather seemed somewhat crestfallen by the news.
"When we reach Alpha Andromedae next week," he answered. "Whats wrong, Jon? You dont seem too enthusiastic."
"I was hoping I could get a date with her. Ive liked her since she came on board the Enterprise."
"I guess you didnt move fast enough, Jon. You English tend to move too slowly. Meanwhile, Cynthia couldnt resist an Irishmans charm. I bet you didnt know that she is part Irish."
"No," grumbled Kyle, irritated by Rileys outdated sense of nationalism among other things.
"Come on, Jon. Dont look glum. There are plenty of other girls on the Enterprise. I mean you must admit that she and will I make a great couple."
Generally, Rileys characteristic bragging, especially after getting a date with a particularly desirable woman, did not bother the normally unflappable engineer. However, on that particular evening, Kyle felt more irked than usual since the woman involved was one he had really felt an attraction for. He had gotten to know her very well during the current mission and desired to pursue a relationship, but being cautious by nature, he wished to wait for the proper time to ask her out. Hed been considering asking her out when they reached Alpha Andromedae III. However, now the more impetuous Irishman had beaten him on that score and, to make matters worse, was rubbing it in.
Soon, their friend, Hikaru Sulu, joined them. He greeted them in his usual cheerful manner "Hello, Kevin! Hello, Jon! You guys sang very well today."
"Why thank you, Hikaru," replied Riley, enthusiastically. "Its been a triumphant day today, in more ways then one. We finished implementing the new communications system on Gamma Persei Six. You and everyone else have complimented us on our singing at this party. And, most importantly, I finally got a date with the girl of my dreams, Cynthia Eliza McDowell Tamberrino."
Kyle interrupted, saying petulantly, "Weve heard enough about it already."
Sulu teased him. "Come on, Jon. Wheres your happy face? Why are you so glum tonight? I mean, its a great party. Pavel and the girls really have outdone themselves this time."
Riley answered, "Jons been interested in the same girl as I was, but I beat him to her."
"Dont rub it in, Kevin," grumbled Kyle.
"Well, Kevin," began Sulu, "I hate to ruin your moment of triumph, but, its a well known fact that Cynthia really likes Pavel."
"What?!" exclaimed Riley. "If its so well known, why havent I heard about it?"
Sulu explained, "Guys, you must admit that any prudent, unattached womanand that includes Ms. Tamberrinois not going to tell any of her potential suitors about who else shes interested in. Not if she doesnt want to drive them away."
"It obviously did not deter me," retorted Riley. "No woman with any taste would turn down a date with the most handsome Irishman of all time, namely me: Kevin Thomas Riley."
Kyle suggested, "Maybe shes going out with you since she figures she has no chance of getting a date with Chekov. Not with all the available fems on board chasing after him."
"How do you know?" snapped Riley. "It seems that everything Ive had since coming on board the Enterprise gets taken away from me and given to Chekov. I was the main navigator on board the ship until Chekov came along. Then, I was moved back to Engineering. Then, I got to lead planetary contact teams. That changed when Chekov became Security Chief. Since then, I havent had as many exciting missions. And now I find out that the one girl on board Im really interested in likes Chekov better than me. Why does Chekov get all the breaks?"
"I dont know," remarked Kyle wryly. "Maybe its because hes better looking than you and doesnt go around boasting about how great he is."
"There are times I wish something would happen to Chekov so I wouldnt keep losing everything Ive ever had."
Sulu interrupted, "Get a grip on reality, Kevin. Cynthia hasnt cancelled out on you yet, for goodness sake."
Sulu considered the behavior of his friends. He knew that Kyle and Riley held numerous discussions on the relative merits of the English versus the Irish, yet their arguing was usually not vicious. It was uncharacteristic of Kyle to tease Riley so unmercifully. Although Riley was known for boasting about his attraction to females, he never disparaged his shipmates. He attributed his friends behavior to a combination of booze from the party and accumulated tensions from their missions in space.
Meanwhile, in another corner of the recreation room, Nyota Uhura and Cynthia Tamberrino were having a discussion of their own. "Im beginning to wonder if Ive alienated Pavel," Tamberrino confessed. "He used to be friendly to me. But just before reaching Gamma Persei Six, I walked up to him when he was talking to a bunch of people and tried to ask him something. He really jumped on me and said he was in the middle of talking to someone else. I then left and did something else. Does Pavel think Im a pest?"
"He hasnt said anything to me about it. Then, if I remember correctly, Pavel had a lot going on last week and was in a really bad mood. I decided to avoid him, even though I knew he was looking for me."
"I guess since I like him so well, Im paranoid about what he thinks. I remember, some people in high school considered me a pest when I chased a couple of guys that I liked then. Ive tried to be careful ever since but it obviously hasnt worked."
"Have you talked to him since that day?"
"No, I havent. Ive been so busy with work ever since then, except for todays party. Ive been afraid to talk to him anyhow."
"Dont worry about it. Im sure hes forgotten about it by now."
"I sure hope so. Still, Im afraid. Sometimes, it seems like I can get dates with everybody, except the one I really like. Everyone tells me what I great figure I have. I certainly have attracted enough guys over the years. But every time I really like a guy, he never feels the same towards me."
"That sounds like the story of my life also."
"At least I have a date with Kevin Riley when we reach Alpha Andromedae Three."
"Very good. Hes usually a lot of fun."
"True. I like Kevin a lot also. If I had my pick of all the guys on this ship besides Pavel, it would be Kevin. In some ways, Kevin reminds me of Pavel. Hes as patriotically Irish as Pavel is Russian. Their birthdays are also the same day, September 14th, making them both Virgos."
Uhura laughed. "Dont let Spock hear you talk about astrology."
"I know. Wed all hear about how illogical it is."
After their mutual recall of Spock, the ships chief science officer, who was famed for his logic, Tamberrino continued, "Maybe I shouldnt complain so much. My career is going well. Ive got a reasonably high level of responsibility for my age. Im good-looking, even if I dont really spend as much time on my appearance as most other females. Yet, I sometimes yearn for a guy to share my life. Ive had plenty of boyfriends, but none have been really suitable. Not until I met Pavel who, unfortunately, does not feel the same way about me. Although maybe if this thing with Kevin works out..."
"Sounds like my life. Im a lieutenant commander at my thirties. Sure, Im not advancing as fast as James Kirk, but its still damned good. Ive traveled throughout the galaxy. Yet, there is this side of me that would like to marry and raise a family. Its a little hard to do that when Im traveling in space."
"There was once a time I fell in love. When I was first assigned aboard the Enterprise, I got involved with Lieutenant Lloyd Alden, who was a communications officer, like me. We had so much in common. We were in the same field and many interests in common. Unfortunately, he transferred off the Enterprise shortly after our mission encounter with the Fesarius and the First Federation. I havent found anyone as good as him. Im quite fond of Sulu, but I think of him mostly as a friend, rather than a lover. Im really attracted to Captain Kirk also, but I know he doesnt want to get involved with any female aboard this ship."
"I agree. The captain is rather aloof. Have you talked about it with anyone else?"
"Ive told Sulu and a few of my other intimates but not too many others."
At that moment, Sulu, disgusted by his conversation with Riley and Kyle, left them and decided to eavesdrop on the conversation between the two women.
Tamberrino cracked, "And speaking of the devil, heres our helmsman."
Sulu remarked, brightly in return, "I hope youre not saying nasty things about me."
"On, no. Nothing like that," replied Uhura.
The subject between Uhura and Tamberrino drifted back to the original topic of conversation, despite the presence of Sulu. However, they did talk to him, also.
The computer specialist asked, "Sulu, does Pavel think Im a pest?"
Sulu replied, "He hasnt complained to me about it."
When the group broke up, Sulu felt that both women seemed uncharacteristically sad. In spite of her feelings towards Chekov, he felt Tamberrino should not feel so depressed, especially after accepting a date with another male she strongly liked. And Uhura normally did not talk much about her feelings towards men, especially with a relative stranger aboard the Enterprise. Was everyone being affected by the booze at the party? Or was it merely a coincidence that most of Sulus friends were more emotional than usual? At least that was the case with Riley, Kyle, Uhura, and Tamberrino.3
The next morning, Uhura spun from the communications with a start. "Captain, Im receiving an urgent distress call from Doctor Paryzek."
Pressing a button on the arm of the center seat, he responded, "Captain Kirk here."
The mainviewer showed a very distressed and upset Doctor Paryzek "We have a major problem!"
Assuming that Paryzek was reporting about problems with either the new computers or communications facilities, the captain replied, "Lieutenant Tamberrino and Lieutenant Commander Uhura will beam down as soon as possible."
"But thats not our problem!" the scientists voice was quavering.
"Your landing party may have reported that I mentioned that there were passageways near our main building where we cant detect lifeforms."
"Indeed," Spock answered, moving to stand next to Captain Kirk. "Commander Uhuras reports were quite thorough."
"This morning I sent out Doctors Coleman and Badawy to investigate them. Soon afterwards, Priya went outside to gather plant samples and discovered their dead bodies! Whats really weird is that their bodies are so much heavier than normal...as if theyve been petrified!"
"Recall your personnel to your base, Doctor." Kirk turned to his Vulcan science officer. "Spock, is there any record of such an phenomenon, natural or otherwise?"
"Not as far as Im aware of, Captain. You will recall, however, that the extremely virulent Omega Four virus can reduce a body to powdered chemical remains, however, allow me to research the library-computer." The Vulcan called up information on his science station.
"And if its a virus, the whole crew may be contaminated already. Uhura, contact Doctor McCoy and apprize him of the situation." To the mainviewer, he looked next. "Well send down a team to investigate immediately, Doctor Paryzek. There may be some native lifeform, virus, or radiation thats endangering the lives of your people."
"Thank you so much."
Kirk rose from his chair and began to pace the floor nearby, muttering, "Dead bodies turning into stone."
He turned to his science officer. "Well, Spock?"
After making several inquiries of the ships computer, the Vulcan replied, "Verified. No occurrence of this phenomenon has ever been recorded. When the life of any carbon-based species, such as Terrans or Vulcans, is terminated, the corpse gradually decomposes, rather than petrifies. Although, under optimum conditions, wood remaining from dead trees, has been subject to petrification. However, it would not happen instantaneously. The process takes millions of years. Without further investigation, however, there is no evidence that the deaths of the scientists on Gamma Persei Six and the subsequent petrification of their corpses resulted from the same cause. I would deduce, though, that this is very likely the case."
Unable to learn about petrification phenomena from past Federation experiences, Captain Kirk realized his own personnel on the Enterprise would have to investigate. He contacted his Chief Medical Officer, Doctor Leonard McCoy and his Security Chief, Lieutenant Pavel Chekov and told them both to report to the Briefing Room to discuss the situation.
Kirk opened, "I want to know what caused these people to turn into stone. Is it a disease and, if so, is it contagious? Is it radiation? Did they encounter some unknown lifeform, which may or may not have been acting in self-defense?"
McCoy volunteered, "If a virus caused the scientists on Gamma Persei Six to turn into stone, it is probably not contagious. Otherwise, more of their people and our landing party from yesterday would exhibit similar symptoms. Merely being exposed to the corpses has not caused anyone to turn into stone. However, I will need to bring up one of the bodies to the Enterprise for a autopsy to know for sure."
"What would be the risk involved?" asked Kirk.
"I dont know," admitted McCoy.
Spock added, "I investigated the possibility of petrification being caused by a virus similar to that of Omega Four. Except that the corpses are not composed of the same chemical materials as the crystals found there. On Omega Four, the proportions of materials there were the same those in the Human body, with the water being removed. In petrified wood, organic material is replaced with inorganic deposits over a long period of time, resulting in the wood becoming stone. Water containing those inorganic minerals seeps into the wood of the millennia. Clearly, it is highly unlikely that whatever has caused this petrification is not the result of conventional petrification, but I cannot determine the causes of petrification of the scientists below without further analysis. Captain, request permission to beam down to the planet to investigate."
"Denied," replied Kirk emphatically. "I will lead the landing party."
Chekov strongly disagreed, "No Captain, as Security Chief, I cant let either you or Spock beam down. This would violate General Order 567, which would threaten you with dereliction of duty."
Kirk studied his security chiefs face. "You sure about that, Lieutenant?"
"Very well, Mister Chekov.
A half hour later, the landing party assembled in the Transporter Room. Chekov came with his assigned security team of a lieutenant and two ensigns. All members of the security team brought phasers and tricorders. Doctor McCoy and Lieutenant Tamberrino joined them. As was the case with the previous landing party, this group was beamed down to Doctor Paryzeks office.
"I heard what happened, Jakub," said Tamberrino, somberly to Doctor Paryzek. "Let me introduce the others. This is Doctor McCoy, Chief Medical Officer of the Enterprise."
McCoy nodded. "I wish we were meeting under better circumstances."
Chekov then interjected, "I am Security Chief Pavel Chekov. These are members of my security team." He was clearly annoyed that Tamberrino was engaging in pleasantries rather than solving the mystery behind the deaths.
"Welcome," stated Paryzek.
Tamberrino continued, "In spite of everything, I still came to see how youre doing with your new computers and to discuss any enhancements."
Chekov then began organizing the search for any possible reasons for why the scientists had been turned to stone. "We will divide into two groups. Staubach, you and Longley can search inside the underground caverns."
"Aye, sir," agreed Staubach, speaking for both himself and Longley.
"Salieri, you and I will traverse the area surrounding this scientific facility," continued Chekov.
"Aye, sir," agreed Salieri.
Chekov then gave general instructions. "Staubach, we will contact each other every half hour and report to each other what we find. If you find anything, contact me. And Ill do the same."
"Yes, sir," answered Staubach.
"We may eventually have problems contacting each other since sensors can not penetrate these caverns. Our communicators may not work either or may stop working if one of us gets too far underground."
Paryzek said, "Cynthia, Ill take you to the office of Dr. Mitchell and Dr. Sarajuddin where you folks can discuss any software problems and potential enhancements."
"Thanks," replied Tamberrino
Paryzek then escorted McCoy outdoors, saying, "Ill show you where the dead bodies of Doctors Coleman and Badawy are."
The bodies turned out to be near the entrance of an underground cavern.
Doctor McCoy approached the body of Doctor Coleman with his tricorder. After scanning it for pathogens and detecting none, he tapped his wrist communicator. "McCoy to Enterprise. Transporter room, do you read?"
"Enterprise, Chief Rand here."
McCoy ordered the transporter chief, "Two to beam up, one is a corpse next to me. Inform the pathology lab Im bringing up it up for analysis."
"Aye, sir," answered Rand as McCoy disappeared from Gamma Persei VI.
Tamberrino and Paryzek made their way back to the research base entrance.
Before he and Salieri began their search of the facilities perimeter, Chekov entered the cavern and took tricorder readings of the walls, the ceiling, and the floors to see the types of materials of which they were composed. He was trying to find reasons for why sensor readings could not penetrate the cavern. He planned to analyze the results once he got back on the Enterprise. From the cavern opening, he could see that the floor of the cavern was covered with dirt. He also could see small plants and twigs inside, as well. But the walls of the caverns were clearly composed of a metal alloy.
Chekov thought, This cavern probably did not occur naturally but was man-made or, oops, alien made.
At the time for the first scheduled checkpoint, the security chief heard the chirping sound of his wrist communicator. He tapped it and and answered, "Chekov here."
"Lieutenant, this is Staubach. Im inside the caverns. I have not yet found anything that could possibly cause people to turn to stone," reported the security officer. "But at least our communicators work from in here."
"Thats good news, at least. Maintain frequent communications contact."
"Carry on. Chekov out."
The security chief and the guard accompanying him continued their search outside the scientific facility while Staubach and Longley proceeded further into the cavern.
At the second scheduled checkpoint interval, Chekov contacted the other team.
"Staubach here," answered the security officer. "I still havent found anything that could cause people to turn to stone. All Ive seen are plant-like fungi, some organic debristwigs and the like. There seems to be enough moisture in the soil inside here to support some fungal growth."
"Weve found nothing that could cause their deaths," replied the security chief.
A similar result happened for the next three scheduled checkpoints. Staubach would contact Chekov, report that he could not find anything and Chekov would report the same. For all checkpoints, the security chief and his officers updated each other with the coordinates of their respective positions so they would know where to begin to look for the other if contact was lost.
At the sixth scheduled interval, Staubach did not report to Chekov, though it was his turn to do so. The security chief had an uneasy feeling."Chekov to Staubach. Come in, please."
There was no answer.
He tried contact the security guard who had accompanied Staubach. "Chekov to Longley. Come in please."
Again, no answer.
Chekov turned to the guard who had accompanied him in his search of the base grounds. "Mister Salieri, well need to search for them inside the cavern."
"Aye, sir," replied the guard, a touch of unease in his voice and on his face.
"Theres probably nothing wrong, Ensign. Theyve probably just gone into that communications/scanner dead zone. Well meet up with them and return to the Enterprise," Chekov reassured the guard.
With trepidation, the security chief reentered the cavern hed scanned earlier, remarking, "This cavern is very dark and spooky. I would have been really scared as a child."
"Me, too," assented Salieri.
"Well go to Staubachs last known position. Since he updated me with his position each time we talked, we know what direction to look."
As Chekov and Salieri came closer to the last known position of Staubach, they continued attempts to contact him, without luck.
Staubachs last reported position was near an exit from the rear of the cavern.
Finally, Chekov saw a body lying on the ground. As he and Salieri came closer, they noticed one other body. To their horror, they realized the bodies were those of the missing security officers. Whatever had caused the petrification of Paryzeks men had now manifest itself on two security men on the Enterprise.
"Bozhe Moi!" exclaimed Chekov in Russian, as he bent downward to examine one of the bodies. He also thought to himself, There, but for the grace of God, might have gone us.
"This cant be happening!" Salieri snapped. "It cant be!" The security guard took off at a run toward the way they had come.
"Vwait!" Chekov ordered. "Come back here, Ensign!"
But the ensign was long gone. Noting the positions of the two petrified corpses, he sighed and began to pursue the guard.
It was several minutes later when Lieutenant Chekov came upon Ensign Salieri. The security guard seemed to be intently staring at something just beyond Chekovs field of view. Blinking, he saw movement behind a stalagmite.
Chekov whispered, "Tricorder readings!"
However, Salieri did not answer.
Chekov, who hated to pull rank with his security team, did so when Salieri failed to respond. "Ensign, I asked you to take tricorder readings!" he whispered urgently. He nudged the security guards shoulder.
With a sickening thud, the petrified form of the security guard tumbled forward like a statue knocked off a pedestal. The head broke off and rolled away from the torso.
Chekovs face filled with horror, and he began working his way toward the cavern entrance. Using his tricorder to scan whatever was behind the stalagmites, he kept tapping his wrist communicator. "Chekov to Enterprise."
There was no reply, but the tricorder was detecting movement from a pair of lifeforms.
"Chekov to Enterprise!"
"Enterprise acknowledges," replied Lieutenant Commander Uhura.
"Mayday! Were in grave danger! The rest of the landing party is dead!" As he spoke, his words rapidly became more unintelligible. Suddenly, he got a glimpse of the aliens Saleri had spoken of.
Captain Kirk, hearing his security chiefs agitated words, gave orders. "Rand," he ordered the transporter technician on duty, "Beam Mister Chekov up immediately!" He then contacted Doctor McCoy, "Bones, send medical personnel to the Transporter Room. Medical Emergency: Its Chekov!"
When the security chief materialized on the Enterprise, he tumbled to the floor, unable to move. "Chekov!" cried Rand, as she darted to the transporter platform."Whats wrong? What happened?"
There was no response.
Kirk and McCoy rushed into the transporter room. "Pavel!" the captain whispered softly. He sat down beside the young mans still form. The doctor examined him with his trusty Feinberger."Jim, he cant talk! His voluntary muscles and vocal cords appear to be paralyzed. All vital functions appear to be slowed down. The good news is that hes still alive."
"But not moving," continued Kirk.
"Im taking Chekov to Sickbay," McCoy reported.
"I need answers as soon as possible...before anyone else dies," Kirk said, demandingly.4
Captain Kirk contacted the science base on the planet. "Kirk to Paryzek."
"Doctor Paryzek here," answered the Czech scientist.
"The security team we sent down has been turned to stone. We have one survivor where the petrification process was not quite complete. Hes paralyzed."
"Good Lord, no!" exclaimed Paryzek.
"Your people are in danger. Until we can find a cause, I would suggest that we evacuate your entire team from this planet. You can stay on board the Enterprise until then. Since your team consists primarily of biologists, you can all help Doctor McCoy analyze the petrified corpses and possibly find a cure."
"Ill order my team to prepare to evacuate."
"Thank you, Doctor. Kirk out."
Kirk then contacted Tamberrino. "Lieutenant, Ive ordered an evacuation of the base. I want you to oversee the evacuation. As soon as theyre ready, contact us for immediate beam up."
Surveying the bridge, Kirk ordered, "Commander Uhura, you have the conn. Ill be in Sickbay with Doctor McCoy."
Kirk walked into McCoys Sickbay, asking, "Have you found anything yet?"
"Nothing definitive," replied the doctor. "I have the gut feeling that Chekovs paralysis resulted from the same cause that caused the others to die. His exposure to the petrifying agent was probably less intense so he managed to survive."
"I am evacuating Paryzeks team from the planet. Since most of them are biologists, they can help you with autopsies of the corpses and running tests on Chekov."
"Okay," grumbled McCoy. "Just keep them out from under my feet."
"You know the old saying, Bones: two heads are better than one."
"Yeah, I know another one, too: Too many cooks can spoil the broth."
The captains eyes landed on Chekov. His expression softened. "Let me know if theres any change, Doctor."
McCoys frown faded as well. "I will, Jim. Ill do my best."
Upon hearing the news of Chekovs paralysis and the deaths of the rest of the security team, Sulu, Riley, Kyle, Uhura, and Tamberrino gathered together in the Recreation Room to commiserate. Assistant Security Chief, Lieutenant Anne Nored joined them.
"I have a hard time believing that Humans can really turn into stone statues," said Uhura.
"Me, too," said Sulu. "I know its happened in fairy tales and myths, but I didnt think it could happen in real life."
"Ive seen plenty of people die during my time on the Enterprise," said Kyle. "But I never thought people could turn to stone."
Sulu murmured, "Poor Pavel! Is there any hope that hell get better?"
Kevin Riley admitted, "I feel so guilty. Last night, when we were arguing over....well, usually were friends although we might get competitive with each other some times."
The helmsman assented, "You guys certainly are competitive. Almost all the time." Sulu chortled softly.
Kyle added, "Kevin, Im sorry that Hikaru and I were giving you such a hard time about Chekov last night."
Tamberrino remarked, "I wonder if hes still upset with me and will ever speak to me again."
Uhura answered, slightly crossly, "I think youre the least of his worries right now."
The software engineer blushed. "True."
Nored remarked, "Since Im now Acting Security Chief, I have the dubious honor of filling out death reports for Staubach, Longley and Salieri. Yet I feel guilty that Im more upset about Chekovs condition."
"Like the rest of us," speculated Sulu, "Im sure you were closer to Chekov than the others. Its only normal. Doctor McCoy once commented told me that it was hard to believe how little room there was in the Human heart..." Sulus expression changed slightly. "Of course, Captain Kirk kicked him under the table, and Spock raised an eyebrow. Not sure what was up with that, but the doctors right. We always feel the deaths of those we know and love more than those we dont."
"Chekovs not dead. Lets dont give up hope yet," said Uhura, trying to cheer the rest of them up. "Doctor McCoy will find a cure. Lets go visit him in Sickbay."
Getting past Doctors McCoy and Chapel wasnt too difficult, but Doctor Weller, a medical resident assigned to Sickbay, had a tendency to be very protective of his patients. Still, he allowed them to pass with their promise not to stay more than a few minutes.
Quietly, Uhura and her friends went to Chekovs bedside. He couldnt move his body or speak with them. However, the medical monitors on the wall above his head indicated that he was still alive. The brain functions were active, indicating his was conscious. The heart rate, respiration rate, and other bodily functions were active but very low. Dangerously low, Uhura knew, just from her experiences in Sickbay.
"Pavel," whispered Uhura, as she held one of his motionless hands. "How are you doing? We miss you."
His eyes blinked in recognition of Uhura and the rest of her friends, even though he could not move.
She then ruffled his hair as a single tear fell from his left eye.
"Its okay, kiddo," Kyle said reassuringly. "Doc McCoy will have you up and about in no time."
Seeing the gratitude gleaming in the young Russians eyes, Sulu patted his shoulder. "Weve got to be going now, Pavel, but well drop in on you from time to time."
"Take care, Pavel," Tamberrino added. "Get well soon!" she whispered and kissed him lightly on the forehead.
Several hours later, McCoy expressed his frustration to Captain Kirk and Spock during one of their visits to Sickbay.
McCoy grumbled, "I have taken blood samples, skin samples, bone marrow samples, and spinal fluid samples from Chekov but still can not find any organic cause for his paralysis. Id feel better if he could at least complain about all the samples Im taking from him. At least it would mean he could speak."
"That is amazing! Chekov not complaining about medical procedures," remarked Kirk. "In any case, have you made any progress?"
"No, I havent. I have only succeeded in becoming more irritable, as have the members of my staff."
"You do seem much more emotional than usual, Doctor," remarked Spock
He complained to Kirk and Spock, "This is getting ridiculous. The more time we spend trying to figure out what caused this damn petrification, the less progress we seem to make. Weve been working around the clock and have gotten nowhere.
Spock replied, "Doctor, given the propensity of your race to require between six to eight hours of sleep every night and, also, given that you and the other medical personnel on board this ship are attempting to function with significantly less sleep; it would, therefore, follow that your efficiency is greatly impaired."
"It wouldnt be as bad if Chekov could at least talk to us. He probably knows what killed the others, or at least has some idea. And nobody else on board this ship could begin to tell us."
Captain Kirk nodded, "And if we send anyone else down to the planet surface, without some idea of what were looking for, wed be risking the same thing happening to them."
"Precisely," assented Spock. "Our analysis of Mister Chekovs tricorder data is nearly complete. I should have a report presently."
"Science Lab Two to Commander Spock," came a voice over the ships comlink
"Speak of the devil," McCoy mumbled, gazing closely at the Vulcans ears.
Spock stepped into the doctors office, and sat down at the BellComm terminal on the doctors desk.
Kirk stepped over to Chekovs still petrified form. "How are you doing, Pavel?" The pleading look on his chief security officers face spoke volumes. "I know its hard for you right now. Well get you up and running as soon as possible." He clasped the young mans hand. "Trust me," he assured Chekov.
Chekovs eyes calmed again, and the young man seemed strengthened by his captains resolve.
Spock came out of McCoys office. "The tricorder Chekov returned with recorded unusual lifeform readings, but there was no visual image. It would be logical to confirm the existence of these creatures, either by observing them first hand or by talking to a survivor who saw them."
"But how can we do that without sending down more personnel and risking their lives?"
Spock continued, "There is a 85% probability that Chekov, as the sole survivor of petrification, has seen the source. Our most logical course of action is to learn more about it from him. Because he is unable to communicate vocally at the present time, I could probe his mind telepathically."
"Agreed," said Captain Kirk.
"I could use the Vulcan mind touch. I am reluctant to do so because it involves the merging of two egos and, thus, the need to display the emotions of another individual."
"It is difficult for Vulcans to deal with emotion, especially that of another individual," remarked McCoy. "And it will be harder than usual for you, Spock, because Chekov is trapped in there. Hes conscious, hes aware of us, but hes unable to communicate. He may try to...well, latch on to you, telepathically, so to speak."
"Very perceptive, Doctor. However, I believe that Chekov is mature enough to realize that our separate identities must be preserved. And in this case, I see no other alternative. Chekov is the only surviving source of information about the unknown killer. He could confirm or deny these tricorder findings."
"Well, lets get it over with," McCoy said.
The trio proceeded over to the exam bed where Pavel Chekov lay. The immobilized patients eyes immediately focused on his visitors. It was evident he wanted so badly to talk, but was unable to do so. Spock placed a hand on Chekovs forehead while Kirk and McCoy looked on with interest.
"My mind to your mind. My thoughts to your thoughts."
After a few minutes, Spock began muttering in Russian. He then collected himself and started talking in Federation English.
"Great danger...on planet...poor Salieri...Im sorry..." Spocks eyes brimmed with tears. "...devils!...monsters!...green, scaley...snakes for hair?...those eyes...the green glow...Oh, bozhe moi! I cant move! I cant move!!"
Kirk grabbed the Vulcan and spun him around. "Spock! Snap out of it! Spock!" He struck him open handed across the face. "Spock!" He was about to strike his friend again, but the Vulcan caught the captains forearm before receiving the blow.
"I am...quite all right, Captain."
McCoy turned his attention on Chekov. "You all right, son?" After reassuring himself that the chief security officer was no worse than before, he guided his captain and the Vulcan first officer into his office. "I dont want to upset him any more than he already is. So, Spock, what did you find out?"
"It appears that the cavern is inhabited by green-scaled reptilian creatures, with the most unique mobile tentacles on their heads, almost as if they have serpents for hair. Their eyes appear to emit a green glow which may have Chekovs paralysis and, by extension, the deaths of the others."
Kirk punched a button on McCoys BellComm terminal. "Sickbay to Doctor Paryzek."
"Paryzek here, Captain."
"Doctor, to your knowledge, have any of your people seen any reptile-like beings, with yellow snakes for hair and green eyes on Gamma Persei Six?"
"No, of course not, Captain. As you know, we would have reported contact with any lifeforms immediately. Our planet, to the best of our knowledge, is completely bereft of higher lifeforms."
Kirk considered the chief scientists words. "All right, Doctor. Please review the matter with your staff. Report to me in thirty minutes in Briefing Room Seven. Kirk out." The captain thumbed the comlink button again. The bosuns whistle sounded. "This is the captain speaking. The following personnel are to report to Briefing Room Seven in thirty minutes: Commander Spock, Doctor McCoy, Lieutenant Commander Sulu, Assistant Security Chief Nored and Doctor Paryzek. Kirk out."
"Now what?" McCoy asked.
"Well, weve got a few answers. Lets see if we can find a few more."
Captain Kirk tapped the desk top in Briefing Room Seven with a stylus, and Commander Spock quickly revealed the results of the tricorder scan and his mindlink with Chekov.
"So, Doctor Paryzek?" Kirk asked. "Have any of your staff seen these creatures?"
"I checked with them all, Captain, per your instructions. None of my people have," answered Paryzek.
Sulu interjected, "Do you know what these creatures sound like? Like Medusa, the Gorgon, in Greek mythology! With scaly skin like reptiles and snakes for hair and turning their victims to stone."
"True," admitted Captain Kirk. "Those creatures do sound an awful lot like the Gorgons. It seems so preposterous, except that so many people are turning into stone down there."
Spock reported, "I can conceive of no rational explanation of how merely viewing any carbon based lifeform could cause the observer to be literally petrified, almost instantaneously."
McCoy snorted, "This from the man driven temporarily insane from viewing Ambassador Kollos."
Nored suggested, "Perhaps these creatures carry a weapon or emit a natural radiation that could cause such a phenomenon."
The captain swung his chair around to face his science officer. "What about it, Spock?"
"Lieutenant Chekov did not view a weapon, Captain...however, he did get a glimpse of a green glow."
"Is that significant?" asked Sulu.
"I believe it may be. During my research for the cause of petrification, I came across an entry for Thalaron radiation. Have you heard of it?" the Vulcan asked his captain.
Kirks eyes narrowed. "Thats a form of radiation discovered in the ruins of Chara Four. They developed a doomsday weapon, sort of what the old cobalt-cased thermonuclear hydrogen bombs of Earth were meant to be. They didnt have the wisdom not to use them. It wiped out the civilization there."
"Quite so, Captain. The Charans developed a cascading biogenic pulse. Thalaron radiation consumes organic material at the subatomic level, leaving its victims literally shells of calcified material, much as has happened on the planet below. The Andorian research teams estimated that the Charans and all organic life on their planet were dead within a matter of seconds."
"Why the hell havent we all heard about it, Jim?" asked McCoy.
"Thalaron radiation is so sinister its research was banned in the Federation nearly a hundred years ago," Kirk said quietly.
McCoy retorted, "Well if Id known, I mightve been able to treat Chekov more effectively. Spock, send me what youve got on this Thalaron radiation, and let me see if I can come up with a treatment for the boy."
"Unbelievable," Sulu remarked. "There is truth to many of the ancient Earth myths. If these beings below visited Earth three thousand years ago, then its quite possible that our ancestors encountered those creatures."
Nored added, "With the story diverging further from the truth as more time elapses since the original incident."
"I believe you are leaping to a conclusion without a factual basis, Commander, Lieutenant," Spock said sternly. "We have no evidence to support your supposition that these beings, if they exist, are intelligent, let alone have technology capable of interstellar spaceflight. Quite the contrary, in fact."
"Gentlemen, please," Captain Kirk said in an attempt to interrupt the growing argument between his chief science officer and two of his junior officers. Then, he refocused the meeting onto the original topic. "Our object now should be to find out as much as we can about these creatures without getting anyone else killed."
Sulu suggested, "If these creatures are truly the Gorgons of Greek mythology, what we need is the same stuff Perseus had when he slew Medusa: the helmet of invisibility, a reflecting shield, a sword that can cut through marble, the eye of the Stygian witches, and a protective red cloak. If we can locate that stuff, Ill volunteer for that task."
Captain Kirk disagreed. "Sulu, as Mister Spock pointed out, we have no evidence that these creatures are truly the Gorgons of ancient mythology, and, even if they were, I have no idea where would we obtain these materials."
Nored replied, "If I remember the story of Perseus correctly, he got them from the gods."
Kirk remarked, "Unfortunately, the gods dont exist anymore, as we found out when we encountered Apollo on Pollux Four. Im afraid were going to have to rely on Human and Vulcan ingenuity to solve this particular problem."
Sulu added, "Theres one more problem. According to myth, the Gorgons blood is poisonous."
"If a drop of blood touches anyone, they turn to stone. Plus, their blood can penetrate through anything."
"Spock?" inquired Captain Kirk.
Spock replied, "Fascinating, Captain. If these creatures below do possess some form of ability to emit thalaron radiation, then its quite likely this aspect of the Terran myth would apply to them. Their blood could also emit thalaron radiation."
"Could we protect ourselves from it using environmental suits?"
"The Andorian archaeologists on Chara IV would have been using kyrillium-coated suits. It is extremely doubtful that the blood of any living creature, including Gorgons, would be able to penetrate them."
"True," remarked Kirk. "And the more this discussion progresses, the more I think we need our A&A officer here. Unfortunately, Lieutenant Commander Palamas is on that extended dig on Camus Two this month." Then he turned to Sulu, "How do you know so much about Greek mythology?"
"Its been my hobby for about two weeks, sir." The helmsman grinned broadly. "Commander Palamas has been giving me some insights into it, in fact."
Captain Kirk groaned in reply, knowing Sulus propensity for coming up with new hobbies every week and telling any potential listeners all about it. No wonder Palamas had requested a months leave of absence to explore the ruins on Camus II. She probably did it to get away from Sulu.
Sulu remarked again, "I dont know if this has anything to do with the Gorgons, but I noticed that nearly everyone whos been down on this planet has come back in a bad mood."
The captains head turned toward him, almost with a start. "Could you be more specific?" he asked.
"I recall that Chekov and his staff were giving a Federation Day party that evening. Towards the end of it, Riley was boasting about how he got a date with Cynthia Tamberrino and Kyle was sort of upset about it. Riley was more obnoxious than usual, and Kyle really started giving Riley a hard time about it. They were going at it for quite a while. I mean, they tease each other a lot, but it never gets as vicious as it did."
Spock challenged him, "Couldnt their behavior be reflective of over-indulgence in alcoholic beverages rather than any phenomena on Gamma Persei Six?"
"Maybe, but it wasnt only Kyle and Riley who were acting a little strange," disagreed Sulu. "Besides, Jonathan is usually so calm and unflappable."
Spock replied, "Your assessment of Mister Kyles disposition is accurate by Human standards; however, he is overly emotional by Vulcan standards."
Kirk asked Sulu to continue. "Mister Sulu, who else on that landing party was acting strange?"
"The ladies...Uhura and Tamberrino...were being, well, almost like teenaged girls talking about boys. It just wasnt like them. Uhura was going on about how Lieutenant Alden had left the Enterprise, and Tamberrino was struggling with the issue of who to date. She was worried that Chekov was still mad at her for an incident that happened a few days earlier."
McCoy asked, incredulously, "Uhura still pining for Lloyd Alden? Didnt he transfer off years ago?"
Kirk commented softly, "Yes, he left shortly after our encounter with Balok. I had made the decision to promote Lieutenant Uhura to Chief Communications Officer, and he took it badly. He left shortly thereafter." He sighed. "But I do recall that Uhura was in love with Lieutenant Alden; however, shes never let on that she still carries a torch for him after all these years." The captains eyes narrowed. "Mister Sulu, you may on to something. It just doesnt seem characteristic of Uhura."
Sulu nodded. "Captain, I can assure you that Uhura never, and I mean never, talks about relationships." He looked meaningfully at his captain. "And I wouldnt be this suspicious if only one person on that landing party was acting a bit odd, but when its everyone, I begin to wonder. At first, I though it was because of the booze at the party. Except that Uhura rarely drinks."
Spock commented, "An apparent relaxation of the emotional inhibitions of those individuals took place. We need further investigation to determine whether it was caused by imbibing alcohol or by a force on the planet."
McCoy added, "Maybe Sulus theory is correct. I know one thing for sure. All my personnel dealing with the petrified corpses seemed more cranky than usual, myself included."
"Although the emotional upsets suffered by you and other medical personnel could also be attributed to other causes, such as frustration over your collective inability to find an immediate solution to the problems we are experiencing."
Kirk then said, "Gentlemen, we have much work ahead of us. Were searching for Gorgon-like creatures who may be emitting Thalaron radiation, thereby turning their victims into stone. Its also possible that somehow these creatures are capable of lowering mental inhibitions, leading to emotional upset as well." He glowered at the situation. People were dead, and a young man lay in Sickbay clinging to life.
"Bones, check out Doctor Paryzeks people for any signs of emotional distress."
"Spock, see if you can detect Thalaron radiation on the surface of Gamma Persei Six."
"I shall fine tune the sensors for that frequency, sir."
"Meanwhile, Ill talk to Lieutenant Tamberrino to see if shes felt more upset than usual. Shes the only person on board this ship whos been on both landing parties."5 Upon the completion of his meeting with his senior officers, Captain Kirk returned to his quarters where he contacted Cynthia Tamberrino and told her he wished to see her immediately. Several minutes later, the lieutenant arrived, nervousness and apprehension evident in her face and mannerisms. Although she had not had any problems with Captain Kirk during her short time on board the Enterprise, the sudden call to his quarters unnerved her.
"Sit down. Relax, Ms. Tamberrino. Make yourself comfortable," suggested Captain Kirk. He himself began to feel nervous, merely by looking at her.
As directed, the computer programmer found a chair and sat down. She became more relaxed but still wondered why the summons from the commanding officer of the Enterprise was so urgent. She could not remember anything she had done wrong. The scientists on Gamma Persei VI seemed pleased with the new software upgrades she had developed and installed. She had been researching answers to questions from the users, even though that task was interrupted since the petrified corpses were discovered.
Kirk then spoke, "Im sure you are aware of the deaths of all the Security officers weve sent down below except for Lieutenant Chekov."
"Yes, sir," she replied, wondering why the captain wished to discuss it with her, especially since she was not a permanent member of the Enterprise crew.
"Ive been having numerous discussions with my senior officers to try to figure out what has caused it. Since Chekov cant talk at the present time, we had Spock do a mind link with him and found out that, before he became paralyzed, he saw some reptilian creatures with yellow, snake-like hair that resembled the Gorgons from Greek mythology."
"Gorgons?" exclaimed Cynthia in disbelief.
He nodded. "Right now, were trying to find a logical explanation. Sulu and McCoy have noticed that all the persons whove been down on the planet below have beenhow can I say it?more emotional than usual. Yourself, Riley, Kyle, Uhura, McCoy... We suspect theres something being emitted by the Gorgons thats causing the mood changes, as well as the paralysis and death."
"Maybe, except I havent run into any Gorgons. And neither have Riley, Kyle, Uhura, or McCoy."
"But maybe the radiationor whatever it iscould have affected you and your colleagues. Sulu reported that all of you on the first landing party were acting a little strange . a little less inhibited emotionally?"
"Now that you mention it, I was feeling depressed that night. And so was Uhura."
"And I heard about the behavior of Riley and Kyle. Weve since there was a pattern to all this. Then, on the second landing party, nearly everyone died. Chekov got paralyzed, and McCoy was feeling more testy than usual."
"Doctor McCoy more testy?" she asked, carefully avoided smirking. But seeing Kirk was being quite sincere, she admitted, "I was not aware of that."
"Since you were the only person in both landing parties, I decided to talk to you so we can find answers. Did you notice any mood changes after returning the second time?"
"Well, I was certainly saddened by the news of Pavels paralysis and the deaths of the others. I was also a little mad that I could not finish my work down there. But, other than that, I didnt notice any drastic mood change."
"But we were all in a depressed mood after coming back the first time."
"True. Meanwhile, Ill have Bones check out all the members of Doctor Paryzeks team to see if any of them are unusually depressed. The next time we go down to the planet, well go on the assumption that the Gorgons lair could be underground but not far away from the outposts computer center."
"I just cant believe it! It seems so preposterous! The lair of mythological creatures from Ancient Earth being close to modern computer facilities one hundred sixty-one light years from Earth."
"True, and if we hadnt encountered Apollo on Pollux Four five years ago, Id have agreed that it was impossible. But we did encounter him, and the fact remains that the lifeforms below resemble the Gorgons of ancient mythology." He sighed.
"Is there anything I can do to help?" the lieutenant asked.
"Since its your area of expertise, you could be on hand to aid Spock in programming the ships scanner computer for any analysis that needs to be done in finding the Gorgons."
"I might have a few tricks up my sleeves at that, Captain. I once found a bone needle in a haystack using only a reprogrammed tricorder."
"A bone needle?"
She nodded. "Carbon 14. I reprogrammed the tricorder to look for an incongruous Carbon 14 reading amidst the hay. Took top honors for that little exercise."
Kirk smiled. "Then report to the bridge, Lieutenant. See if you can give our chief science officer a hand at finding these creatures."
Meanwhile in Sickbay, Doctor McCoy had summoned Jakub Paryzek to his office, "Do you have any of the psychological profiles of the scientists on your team available? I would like to compare their current profiles with those done before being assigned to Gamma Persei Six to see if there have been any changes."
"I believe I got their baseline medical and psychological records," replied Paryzek, opening up his datachit pack. He pulled out an information disk and placed it on McCoys desk.
"The reason Id like the information about your team is because some of the crewmembers we sent down to the planet seemed more emotional than usual after coming back."
"Oh really?" inquired Paryzek.
"Id like to see if its true among your team also."
"Well, its certainly possible," the chief scientist admitted. "After all the tragedy below and our evacuation, Id be surprised if we werent all suffering from depression." He sighed. "I know I am..."
McCoy looked at the scientist with a diagnostic gaze. "Really? Do tell..."
Briefing Room Seven had become the main operations center for the officers assigned to the mystery of the Gorgons below on Gamma Persei VI. At any time, various officers could be found at work or in deep discussions and consultation on their next course of action. Working together, Spock and Tamberrino had developed a program to help the ships computer to produce a map of the planet surface, which would highlight the areas where the scientists were more prone to incidences of depression. Another map, superimposed over the first map, highlighted the areas searched by Chekov and his security team, as extracted from the security chiefs tricorder readings. This incredibly detailed map was prominently displayed on a wall monitor.
On another wall monitor, the biologists from the science station below and Doctor McCoys staff had constructed a display of the Gorgon beings, based on Chekovs memories as obtained by Spock, as well as from Ancient Greek mythology, and the ambiguous lifeform readings from the tricorders. Various facts about the Gorgon mythology were displayed at the right of the screen, while scientific data about Thalaron radiation, the causes of death, clinical depression and even the fungi Chekov had noted were displayed to the left of the screen.
Captain Kirk called for an update briefing the next morning, and most of his senior staff was present, including Doctor Paryzek and Lieutenant Tamberrino.
McCoy reported, "Jakub and I have analyzed the psychological profiles of the scientists on this planet. In general, current results are consistent with past results."
The chief scientist continued, "However, nearly every one of them has reported intermittent incidences of depression, which were more likely to happen in certain locales of the planet."
"These might be more places to look for Gorgons," Tamberrino suggested as she showed the map at the meeting and pointed out those areas.
"Excellent work," remarked the captain, clearly impressed. "Mister Scott, how can we equip the search party to look for Gorgons without either being turned to stone or being vulnerable to any of the other side effects, like depression?"
"We cant easily obtain any of the weapons that Perseus had used to slay Medusa, such as a sword to cut through marble, a helmet of invisibility, or a reflecting shield," Sulu pointed out.
Chief Engineer Scott beamed, "When Mister Sulu came to me with this problem, I was surprised he hadnt realized something important. The Class Five Anti-Radiation Environmental Suits worn in Engineering would be ideal. If we simply equipped them with a Class Four environmental helmet with their blast guards in place, there would be no chance the radiation could affect the wearer."
"Oh, great," McCoy drawled sarcastically, "we wouldnt be able to see either, not with the blast guards down."
"We could equip the helmets with repeater screens, Doctor McCoy. A small holocam atop the helmet could relay the surroundings on a holoscreen built into the blast guard. Each member of our next landing party could wear that specially designed suit and could see where they were going without looking directly ahead. Thus, they could observe the Gorgons, without the risk of being petrified, assuming the myth of Perseus is correct or assuming that Thalaron radiation is responsible."
"I believe Mister Scott has a plausible solution to our problem."
"Mister Scott, go ahead and"
"Beggin yer pardn, Capn, but Ive already had me staff manufacture eight such suits. Yell be ready to beam down within an hour at most."
"Scotty, you really are a miracle worker," Kirk smiled.
"Och, tis all in a days work, Capn," the Scottish engineer replied modestly.
Kirk sat there for a moment, drumming his fingers on the tabletop. "All right then, Mister Spock, I want you to lead the landing party. Doctor McCoy, youll accompany him. Mister Sulu, you wanted a chance to play Perseus? Heres your chance. However, these creatures may or may not be intelligent, and may or may not be malevolent. You will take no action unless provoked, and only in a life or death situation. Understood?"
"Yes, Captain," the helmsman replied.
"Besides, you may get a chance to use the archaeology and mythology youve been studying." The captain turned to Chekovs adjutant. "Lieutenant Nored, Id like you and two other security officers to accompany them."
"Captain, I volunteer to accompany the landing party as a guide," offered Paryzek. "I know that research station better than any of you, including the grounds around it."
"I appreciate that, Doctor." He studied the faces of those assembled. "I want it clear to everyone that were here to explore a strange new world...to seek out new life... I dont want to go down there and pick a fight with what may or may not be an intelligent lifeform, let alone one which may or may not be hostile." He looked at Sulu in particular. "Dismissed."
Upon reporting to the Transporter Room, all members of the landing party donned the modified radiation suits and were issued tricorders, phasers, and digging tools.
Doctor McCoy reported, "Im bringing along some kyrillium-coated containers, which can store any blood I may extract from the Gorgons. I plan to analyze the blood. If these creatures are living with Thalaron radiation in their body systems, understanding how thats possible could lead to a treatment for Thalaron radiation."
The landing party was beamed down to the opening of the subterranean cavern just outside the scientific outpost. This was the same cavern that Chekovs team had earlier conducted their search. However, none of their tricorders could immediately detect any lifeforms.
"Maybe theyre not here," remarked Sulu, puzzled.
Spock reasoned, "Either their habitat is composed of a material which acts as a shield preventing us from taking tricorder readings or our tricorders are unable to distinguish their particular lifeform or, as Mister Sulu says, the Gorgons are not here."
"Nobodys home," McCoy summarized.
"Possibly. However, analysis of the data on the physical and psychological effects on our crew and the scientists stationed here indicate the most logical locale to begin our search is our present position," the Vulcan continued.
"But how can we find them if they dont register on our tricorders?"
"We have fine-tuned our tricorders for Thalaron radiation. However, it may or may not be an effective means of detecting the lifeforms," Spock conceded. "The most reasonable course of action would be to begin our search in the same cavern where the previous Security team had conducted their search. If this search proves fruitless, we could use our tricorders to search for any other underground caverns in the vicinity."
Lieutenant Anne Nored led the others through that cavern with Doctor Paryzek at her side. For nearly an hour, they followed passage after passage, without encountering any Gorgons or other notable lifeforms.
Sulu suggested, "If the Greeks myths are correct, Mister Spock, the Gorgons are hostile. They may be laying a trap for us!"
Spock agreed, "Quite possibly, Commander. However"
McCoy interrupted angrily, "Quite possibly, my eye. Do you realize that those creatures have killed several of our men?"
"Doctor," retorted Spock, "I am well aware of that. However..." His voice trailed off. "You are becoming more emotional than usual, Doctor McCoy."
Realizing that the Vulcan was right and that increased emotions were common with proximity to the lifeforms, Anne Nored put in, "Security team, alert status! Be prepared for an attack."
"Quite prudent, Lieutenant," agreed Spock. "Set your phasers to stun. Remember, we hope to learn if the Gorgons are sentient and can communicate our peaceful intentions to them."
Doctor McCoy reported, "I am reading three lifeforms within three kilometers of here."
"The Gorgons!" one of the security guards shouted.
"Calm yourself, Mister," Spock ordered, not sure which of the guards had overreacted.
As they walked deeper into the caverns, the tricorder readings got stronger.
"Hmm, cold-blooded reptilian bipeds, Spock." McCoy deduced from his increasing sensor readings. "But their nervous and skeletal systems are more similar to those of Humans and other primates rather than other reptilian species, such as the Gorn or Saurians."
Soon, they heard the hissing of snakes over their helmet speakers. In response, all landing party members rechecked the seals on their radiation suits.
Sulu spotted them first, "I see three creatures who resemble Gorgons, Mister Spock." The helmsman had sharp eyes.
Spock saw to where the junior officer was pointing. The Gorgons were nearly two meters in height, with green, scaly skin, and hair being yellow snakes with black stripes. Their yellowish cat-line eyes were mesmerizing, emitting a green glow.
"Fascinating," the Vulcan remarked.6 As they approached the Gorgons, Spock ordered all members of the landing party, "Phasers on stun." He then announced their arrival to the Gorgons, his words being translated via the Universal Translator. "I am Commander Spock. We are from the United Federation of Planets. We are on a peaceful mission of exploration."
He heard one Gorgon yell, "Go away!"
Another growled, "Leave us alone!"
At that point, one of the other Gorgons tripped and fell down backwards onto a nearby pile of spears. One of those spears pierced its skin and glowing green blood began oozing out from the wound. That particular Gorgon became enraged and started striking out at Anne Nored, the nearest person.
The Universal Translator conveyed the attacking Gorgons rage at being hurt, " Outsiders are nothing but trouble!"
Another commanded, "Kill these outsiders!"
"We want to be left alone!" begged another Gorgon.
The spear had penetrated Annes protective suit and wounded her. Nored screamed before slumping to the ground. She writhed in agony for several minutes. Her movements gradually subsided, as though she were beginning to petrify.
In response, Sulu fired his phaser at the attacking Gorgon, stunning it unconscious. Meanwhile, the other two security guards fired phasers at the two remaining Gorgons to stave off any further trouble.
"Oh my God," exclaimed McCoy, immediately racing towards the injured woman and examined her with his medical sensor. He then pronounced, "The wound is just superficial. Oh, damn, paralysis is setting in, just like Chekov!"
Sulu explained, "The Gorgon who fought the lieutenant had gotten hurt right before attacking her. His blood was on the spear he used against Anne."
McCoy nodded. "Well need to get her back to the Enterprise as soon as possible."
After examining the fallen security officer, McCoy extracted blood samples from the stunned Gorgons, in hopes of learning more about the causes of the petrifying paralysis. "When we get back to the ship, Ill have the research lab examine their DNA. The more we know about them, the better our chances will be for finding an antidote.
"I concur with the doctors recommendation," the Vulcan announced.
When McCoy finished collecting his samples, he injected each Gorgon with a powerful sedative that he hoped would keep them unconscious for nearly eight hours.
"This should give us enough time to return to the Enterprise," remarked McCoy.
"Too bad we cant just beam out of here," complained Security Guard Belinsky, "considering we have to carry Anne back through the passage."
Sulu asked, "Is there anything we can use to make a stretcher?"
"Youve got those spears there," said Belinsky, "but weve nothing with us to use as canvas between them. Could we fashion anything from our clothing?"
"I doubt it," answered McCoy. "We cant take off our environmental suits, without risking our lives. And my medikit does not include any suitable materials."
Spock turned to the Enterprise helmsman. "Mister Sulu, Ill need you and Mister Belinsky to carry Lieutenant Nored with a firemans carry until we can reach somewhere accessible by transporter."
"Yes, sir," answered Belinsky.
Sulu offered, "Ill hold her head and shoulders. You grab her legs."
Slowly, the landing party returned through the subterranean passage and back to the planet surface. Since Sulu and Belinsky were carrying the paralyzed Nored, the landing party members needed to stop and rest periodically. When doing so, they would sit Nored on the ground. Once they felt rested, they resumed carrying Nored. The return journey to the surface took more than twice as long as the journey into the Gorgons lair.
Once they reached the surface, Spock contacted the ship. "Spock to Enterprise. Chief Rand, six to beam up. Have an emergency medical team standing by. Lieutenant Nored has been paralyzed."
When the landing party rematerialized on the Enterprise, the medical team placed Nored on the stretcher and took her to Sickbay. McCoy accompanied her during the trip there.
As the medical team placed her on the diagnostic bed, McCoy promised, "Anne, well find a cure for you yet. Ill be back with you as soon as I drop off these blood and skin samples at the research lab."
McCoy went to the Medical Lab to drop off the kyrillium containers with the blood samples and skin samples. He said to Doctor Chapel, "While we were down on the planet, I obtained some blood and skin samples from the Gorgons. I would like these analyzed in detail. This includes DNA, the blood composition, any radiation emitted, etc."
"Will do," agreed Doctor Chapel.
Then he returned to the diagnostic bed in Sickbay where Nored had been placed and examined her more thoroughly than he had on the planet.
As he reviewed the detailed scan data, McCoy remarked, "The stab wound from the Gorgon has caused paralysis. Your speech is impaired. Fortunately, your symptoms are not as serious as Mister Chekovs. We will get you up and running soon."
Nearly a half hour later, the landing party met in the Briefing Room Seven to discuss their findings.
Kirk opened saying, "Gentlemen, we have met the Gorgons and are still alive."
McCoy continued, "Even Nored. She was very, very lucky. The protective suit saved her life. Otherwise, she would have been wounded more seriously, and the radioactive contamination from the Gorgons blood would have likely been fatal."
Spock reported, "We have learned these aliens are probably both intelligent and hostile to Humans."
The captain turned with a start. "How did you make that determination?"
"The aliens acted with reason and purpose. They hid from us as best as they could, then attempted to surprise our landing party with an all-out assault via thalaron radiation."
"They could have simply been defending themselves."
"Possibly, but they had a stockpile of spears which they used to puncture Lieutenant Noreds radiation suit." The Vulcan frowned. "The manufacture of those spears clearly indicates an intelligence. Further, the universal translators rendering of their language suggests that they wanted to protect their anonymity, to the point where they were willing to kill us all."
McCoy added, "We have also obtained blood samples so my medical personnel can learn how they can paralyze their victims."
"I thought we agreed it was thalaron radiation?"
The doctor shook his head. "Its a form of radiation, I do believe, but it isnt thalaron radiation poisoning."
"How are Chekov and Nored doing?"
"I believe Im going to be successful with a chelation therapy Im using, which is why Im so positive its not thalaron radiation, but it will take a long time, Jim."
"Other work will take longer still," pointed out Spock. "We also still have no idea of how many Gorgons inhabit the planet or why they are so hostile to Humans. However, those facts may need to be addressed by a science vessel."
Kirk concluded, "Until we find the answers to these questions or a way of peaceful coexistence, Gamma Persei Six is not safe for Human habitation, and the scientists here cannot return."
"On that, Captain, we can all agree," the Vulcan said.
McCoy returned to Sickbay. He asked a medical technician, "Hows the analysis of the Gorgons blood and skin samples coming?"
"Slow," the technician answered.
He asked, "Have you found anything new?"
Doctor Chapel answered, "Leonard, weve been analyzing the tricorder data and have found out that the Gorgons eyes emit radiation. However, it is different in nature than Thaloran radiation."
McCoy replied, "We already had had our doubts that the Gorgons emitted Thaloran radiation before we had last went planetside. Have you?"
Chapel cut him off. "Doctor McCoy, were trying to work here and get the answers we all need to treat Chekov and Nored. Youre not helping us with all of these questions. Now, old friend, just let us do our jobs!"
The chief medical officer looked as though he was about to take someones head off until he chuckled. "Youre right. Im just being a cantakerous old goat again. Sorry, Christine. Call me when youve got anything."
"Of course, I will," she answered a little less testily.
Hours passed. The Enterprise still remained in orbit around the planet as Doctors McCoy and Chapel tried to find answers. Their research yielded no results, except frustration.
"Recommendations?" asked Kirk of his chief science officer and chief medical officer. Again, the command crew had gathered in Briefing Room Seven.
Spock recommended, "Since our research on the petrification is on-going, I would recommend the Enterprise leave this planet and proceed to Alpha Andromedae Three to continue the communications software installation. The representatives from that planet have been inquiring about why the Enterprise is delayed and what is our time frame for arriving there."
"Leave here?" McCoy objected vehemently. "I still need to find out why our security chief and our assistant security chief are paralyzed!"
Spock replied, "Doctor, I acknowledge that fact. However, it would be fruitless to delay our mission any further. It is not necessary to remain here to analyze blood samples. Moreover, by remaining here and sending any more of our security and medical personnel down to the planet surface would jeopardize their lives and health as well."
Captain Kirk agreed with his first officer, reluctantly. "Much as I hate to leave anything unfinished, especially with the welfare of our crew at stake, I must agree with Mister Spock. We cant delay our mission any further. Several other sites are depending on us."
Kirk and Spock then summoned all surviving members of Doctor Paryzeks team to Briefing Room Seven. "Because we cant afford any further delays to our mission, I have decided the Enterprise will leave Gamma Persei Six to go to our next destination. I am informing Starfleet Command that your planet should be placed on strict quarantine until we can find a cure for the paralysis and deaths caused by the Gorgon-like lifeforms. Well be dropping automated warning buoys into orbit presently. Meanwhile, Id like each of you who can to assist my medical staff as they continue to look for a cure for my two stricken crewmen."
"Will my staff and I will remain aboard the Enterprise?" asked Paryzek.
"For the time being," answered Captain Kirk. "If this crisis drags on too much longer, we will have to relocate your research outpost to another planet or reassign your personnel to different locations."
"Thank you for keeping us posted," replied the lead scientist.
Exiting the turbolift onto the bridge, Captain Kirk spoke to his navigator. "Mister DiFalco, set course to the Alpha Andromedae system. Mister Sulu, prepare to leave orbit." He then ordered Uhura, "Please contact Starfleet command and brief them on the situation here."
"All decks report ready for departure, Captain," announced Sulu.
"Then take us on our way. Ahead, Warp Factor Two."
The Enterprise journeyed towards its next destination.
When the Enterprise was nearly two days away from the Alpha Andromedae system, McCoy was reporting to Kirk, "I still have not found an antidote to this damn petrification."
"I know youll find one, Bones. Kirk out."
As the doctor muttered something under his breath, he heard the British-accented voice of Lieutenant Kyle, sounding hoarser than normal, "Doctor McCoy?"
"What can I do for you, Mister Kyle?" asked the doctor.
Kyle complained, "I am not feeling well. I have a really bad headache and a sore throat."
The doctor frowned. "Any other symptoms?"
"Congestion. And I feel very dizzy...my muscles ache." Kyle then coughed and had trouble stopping.
McCoy escorted him to the diagnostic bed where he examined him with a medical sensor, "Fever of 40 degrees. Headache. Very sore throat. Severe congestion. Hacking cough. " He examined his scanner readouts. "Kyle, Im afraid youve caught the Saurian Flu. Wed better keep you here a few days."
"It came on quite suddenly," reported Kyle.
"Saurian Flu is a very virulent and contagious form of influenza," the doctor explained. "In fact, it causes worse symptoms than your typical Terran flu. Its been known to keep its victims bed ridden for about a week." The doctor frowned. "Who have you been spending time with lately?"
"One of the scientists from the planet. She and I...well, we have some common interests in flowers."
"Im sure." McCoy frowned. "I should have given a physical to the scientists the moment they beamed aboard, and I didnt. Damn."
As the day progressed, more crewmembers came to Sickbay, with similar symptoms.
"Great," grumbled Doctor McCoy, "Just what I need. My medical staff is already overworked trying to find a cure for the petrification on Gamma Persei Six. Now, to add to my worries and my staffs workload, we have an epidemic of Saurian flu to contend with."
By evening, Cynthia Tamberrino reported to Sickbay, "Doctor, I feel terrible." She complained of the same symptoms as the others.
After examining her, McCoy said to her, "You have Saurian flu. Im keeping you here in Sickbay. Youll probably be here for a few days."
McCoy immediately contacted Kirk, "Jim, an epidemic of Saurian flu has broken out on this ship. Several crewmembers came down with it today. One of the victims is Cynthia Tamberrino who was supposed to install the software there. Lieutenant Kyle is also sick."
"Great," moaned Kirk. "Another delay."
"Also, it would not be good to expose the people of Alpha Andromedae Three to this disease. I dont know what the population is, but I suspect that the chief medical officer of the research facilities there wont exactly welcome us considering wed run the risk of infecting the base personnel."
"And this was supposed to be a routine mission," groaned Captain Kirk in disgust. "At the very first site, we lost an entire security team, got the security chief and assistant security chief paralyzed, and had to evacuate all the scientists assigned there. Now, to top it off, we get delayed by the flu, of all things."
"Captain," called Uhura from the communications console. "Interrogative from Starfleet Command, sir. They want an explanation of our delay."
"When it rains, it pours..." the captain said, sighing deeping.
"Indeed," said Spock at his side.7
Medical Log, Stardate 7327.2
The Enterprise crew is currently being afflicted by a rather virulent strain of Saurian flu. According to test results, the entire crew has already been exposed so quarantine procedures are pointless. I have checked the medical records, and have determined that a substantial number of the crew have already either been innoculated for the virus or have immunity from having already contracted this disease before. In my judgment, it will be simplest to let this shipwide epidemic to run its course.
The morning after reporting to Sickbay with Saurian Flu, Lieutenant Cynthia Tamberrino felt extremely miserable, as she lay there. Her throat was sore. She had a headache. She was congested and coughed a great deal. Plus, her body ached and she felt extremely tired, weak, and dizzy. She felt even worse than she had the previous evening. Several of her friends had come to visit, with Kevin Riley being her most frequent visitor.
"Hi, Cindy," he said enthusiastically when he came by to visit that morning.
"Hi, Kevin," she gave a weak reply.
"Things have been so dead and glum on this ship lately. Everyone is in such a bad mood."
"I feel so bad. I feel worse than I did yesterday when I first went to Sickbay."
"Thats too bad," Riley remarked. Then he changed the subject, "Im still looking forward to our date on Alpha Andromedae Three. We can go out to dinner there and walk along the Promenade afterwards."
"That will be really nice, as soon as I get better," she replied weakly. "Right now, Im too weak to even feed myself."
"Listen, Ill help you eat," he offered.
Riley spoon-fed his ailing friend her breakfast of oatmeal even though she did not have the appetite to finish it all. He also held a glass of orange juice so that she could drink.
"I have to go on duty now, but Ill come by on my lunch break," he promised.
Kevin Riley came to visit at lunch. He sat at the foot of her bed where one of the nurses admonished him, "Youre going to get sick too if you dont watch it. Shes got a really high fever."
"Then again, most of my friends are here anyway," replied Riley, sadly. "Kyles sick. Pavels paralyzed and cant talk anyway."
By the end of his duty shift, Riley started feeling the symptoms of Saurian flu and reported to Sickbay.
Meanwhile, Tamberrinos fever continued to rise. Without the distraction of visits from Riley since he himself was now sick, she felt even more miserable. The high fever inspired delirious dreams, mostly about her unfinished work and Pavel Chekovs feelings towards her.
She woke up at some time during the late night shift after a frightening nightmare, murmuring, "God, I really need to go to the bathroom badly. Its so hard to get up."
She dragged herself into a sitting position, holding on to the headboard of her bed to stave off the growing waves of dizziness. As she slowing walked to the restroom in the semi-darkened ward, she noticed the still figure of the dark haired security chief in the room next to hers.
"I wonder how Pavel is doing. I havent talked to him in a long time."
After she went to the bathroom, she decided to visit him. She entered his room and sat down in a chair next to his bed and said, "Pavel, how are you doing?" In her delirious state, she had forgotten that he was paralyzed and mute. Hence, she panicked when he did not reply to her.
She sobbed bitterly, "Pavel, why dont you answer me? Speak to me! Say something."
A wave of dizziness overcame her, causing her to collapse onto Chekovs bed. Eventually, one of the nurses found her sprawled there and summoned Doctor McCoy. She was taken back to her own bed and given a fever reducer.
Before she fell asleep, the doctor warned her, "Youd better stay in bed, Missy, or Ill have to put you under restraint."
He examined her with a sensor and learned that her body temperature was just above the threshold where delirium sets in.
The worried doctor then said to the ailing computer scientist, "You worry about getting better. Its my job to worry about Pavel and Kevin. Get some sleep, now."
Doctor McCoy was even more worried about her the next morning when her fever had risen still another half a degree. He said to himself. "What am I going to do? Her fever is already dangerously high. If it goes up any more..."
He then heard the intercom beep. "McCoy here," answered the doctor.
It was Captain Kirk asking, "Any further progress on the search for an antidote to the Gorgons poisoning?"
"No further progress," grumbled McCoy, reluctantly. "Even though weve been working around the clock."
"How are your patients? The folks on Alpha Andromedae Three are anxiously awaiting for our bill of health so we can install their new software."
"Jim, Lieutenant Tamberrino is no condition to be released from Sickbay. Shes been running a raging fever since yesterday and is delirious. If that fever does not break in the next few hours, I dont think shell recover in time to be of any help with the installation. Plus Riley and Kyle, who were supposed to help install the new computers, are also sick."
"Great," moaned Kirk.
"Ive got so many flu patients here that its hard to keep them isolated from Chekov and Nored. I dont know what Ill do if either of them gets this flu. I dont think his body can take it."
"Do the best you can, Bones."
That evening, Tamberrinos fever finally began to break, lowering to a degree above normal. Her hair and body were damp with perspiration. The sweat caused her wavy dark hair to get frizzier than normal. Although it had been over three centuries since her ancestors had emigrated from Italy, she had inherited the characteristic hair of that ethnic group. Although she was still delirious, she was more aware of her surroundings than before. She looked around her room, wild-eyed, and soon fell asleep. By morning, her body temperature had lowered to normal levels.
However, McCoy learned some bad news as he made his morning rounds to his Sickbay patients. He examined Pavel Chekov with a medical sensor, murmuring, "Temperature is elevated. Throat very inflamed. Chest congestion. Pulse and respiration rates have increased. Great!"
The doctor immediately contacted Captain Kirk. "Jim, Chekovs got Saurian flu. This disease is bad enough for someone whos healthy. Im sure his resistance level is really low since hes dealing with being petrified also. Im not sure hes going to make it."
There was silence on the other end of the comlink. Finally, the captain spoke. "Do what you can, Doctor. Ill be down to see him at the end of the watch. Tell him to hang in there for me."
"I will, Jim. Sickbay out."
As the day progressed, Chekovs fever continued to rise. Since Chekov was paralyzed, he could not relieve any of his chest congestion by coughing. Under McCoys orders, he was hooked up to life support. The device would make sure his blood remained oxygenated while helping eliminate the congestion in his bronchi. But by late evening, his fever had risen to even higher levels, which greatly worried the chief medical officer..
McCoy then called a meeting with his nurses to discuss Chekovs and Noreds condition. "We will need to monitor Lieutenant Chekov around the clock, especially since he can not communicate with us. The Saurian flu has exacerbated Pavels condition. I will need at least one nurse stationed by his bedside at all times. I have laid out a schedule, and posted it to the department computer bulletin board system."
Each nurse had been assigned to monitor Chekov for six hours at a time. Since most watches were eight-hour shifts, they would spend six hours with Chekov and the remaining two performing other duties. Using the compuclipboards, the nurses quickly reviewed their schedules.
"As for Lieutenant Nored, if she gets this flu, I want to be contacted immediately. As a member of the landing party, shes already been exposed, so quarantining her wont do any good."
"What about her paralysis?"
"Were continuing the chelation process, but with limited success. Research is still looking for an antidote."
Ending the meeting, Doctor McCoy gave instructions to Sharon MacFarlane, the nurse on duty for the night shift. "Im going to bed now. I wont do anyone good by pulling all-nighters every night. If there is any change in Chekovs condition, I want you to contact me immediately, regardless of what time in the morning it is even 0300."
"Any kind of change?" inquired Sharon. "Or do you mean only a change for the worse, such as a higher fever or more difficulty breathing?"
"If theres any change for the worse, I definitely want to be contacted. For that matter, if theres any significant change for the better, I want to hear from you, too."
"Yes, sir," MacFarlane agreed.
"I would feel better if Chekov could complain about all the tubes hes connected to," remarked Doctor McCoy, referring to the IV tubes providing nourishment and the various tubes connecting him to both the life support system and the chelation device.
"I know," agreed Sharon.
McCoy returned to his quarters and went to bed.
At 0200, McCoy was awakened by the alarm of his intercom. "Oh, God, no," he grumbled. "Great! Probably a medical emergency."
His fears increased even more when he answered and saw the face of Sharon MacFarlane, the nurse on duty in Sickbay.
"McCoy here. Whats the problem?"
"Well," MacFarlane stammered. "Lieutenant Chekovs fever has now risen to 41 degrees." Then her tone of voice changed to excitement, "You wont believe this! Hes moving his hand!"
"Moving his hand?" McCoy exclaimed in disbelief. "Ill be right there!"
Hurriedly, he put on his medical uniform and raced to Sickbay. Upon examining Chekov, McCoy saw fever had indeed risen since the evening. As the nurse reported, Chekov had moved his left hand across the blanket that covered him. The movements were sparse and were made with great difficulty; however, until then, he had lain in bed as still as a stone statue. To the further amazement of the doctor, Chekov could now voice sounds, even if they were merely the unintelligible groans of fever-induced delirium.
The doctor shouted to his nurse. "You were right, Sharon! Good catch there. Someone else might not have even noticed hed moved. Maybe theres hope he can recover from the effects of the Gorgons."
McCoy leaned closer to Chekov. "Son, you can move your hand. Thats a big improvement."
"Shall we reduce his fever, Doctor?" MacFarlane asked. "Its dangerously high."
"No. I think that the elevated body temperature is helping fight the radiation somehow, sort of like the adrenalin rush he had on Gamma Hydra Four helped him overcome the aging-inducing radiation there."
"I see," remarked MacFarlane.
"Im going to stay around here for a bit and observe his condition," remarked McCoy. He mused on the fact that while medical sensors were very helpful, he could learn a lot about a patients condition from the old fashioned touch. He felt the young Russians forehead and noticed it was burning hot to the touch. He grabbed Chekovs hands and noticed that they were also hot.
"Pavel," the doctor instructed. "Squeeze my hand if you can hear me."
McCoy felt his hand being squeezed in response.
As he and MacFarlane maintained an uneasy vigil at the young security chiefs bedside for the next hour, they noticed that his movements increased and he could voice more sounds. He was still very seriously ill and still could not talk normally.
After seeing Chekovs body growing increasingly restive, McCoy breathed a sigh of relief. "I never thought Id see the day where Id celebrate when a patients fever rises, especially when it was so high to begin with."
He looked to the still paralyzed body of Anne Nored in the next bed over. "And Im going to give some thought as to whether or not we should intentionally elevate the body temperature of the lieutenant there. Meanwhile, Im going back to bed. Keep an eye out on Chekov. If he becomes convulsive, summon me at once."
"Anything else, Doctor?"
"Yes, Sharon..." He looked at Chekovs fever-wracked form. "Pray."
When Doctor McCoy awoke the next morning, his first stop was the ships Medical Research Laboratory. He updated Doctor Chapel on the latest events. "Christine, last night Chekovs fever rose to 41 degrees. As you know, thats about as high as a fever can go for a Human."
"Pavel sounds like hes in critical condition. First, paralyzed and now very sick."
"The good news is that with this high fever, Chekov can finally move to some degree. He began moving last night. It seems that a greatly elevated temperature can reverse the paralysis caused by the Gorgons. I would like you and other people in the Medical lab to investigate this, and whether or not we should deliberately elevate Anne Noreds body temperature."
"Will do," agreed Chapel. "We may finally be able to beat this paralysis."
After talking to Chapel, Doctor McCoy returned to check up on his patients in Sickbay, including Lieutenant Pavel Chekov, the very person whose changing condition had prompted his visit to the research lab in the first place.
Chekovs ability to move had increased, even from the previous night. He could move both his arms and legs. Even so, he was in serious condition. His fever remained high and much of his movement resulted from the thrashing characteristic of delirium.
"Pavel!" McCoy called loudly, in order to try to get through the young mans delerium.
"Da," answered Chekov in Russian.
"I believe youre getting better, son," McCoy said brightly. "Youre moving more than you could yesterday." He touched the security chiefs forehead, noting it was still burning hot to the touch. "You still have a very high fever, but were going to let it run its course. Afterwards, Ill get one of the nurses to give you a sponge bath to cool you off."
Chekov stared at the doctor with glazed eyes. He seemingly didnt understand what was being said to him.
McCoy spoke louder. "Well also need to take some blood samples. Since youre less paralyzed than before, well need to analyze your blood to see whats going on."Chekov stared at the doctor with a stricken look, "CHOBa!"
"Ill try not to hurt you too much," he promised the young man.
McCoy thought somberly, This is pretty damn rotten.
A few hours later, Doctor Chapel reported to McCoy. "Weve finished running tests. Your theory is correct. A very high fever is sufficient to reverse the paralysis caused by the Gorgon-like creatures."
"Very good," remarked the doctor happily. "Ill get ready to induce a fever in Nored immediately. McCoy out."
He then checked on his patients. Chekov had regained most of the range of motion in his arms and legs. He ran his medical sensor over him, remarking, "Fever is down to 40 degrees." He leaned over and smiled. "Son, would you like to sit up?"
"N-n-nyet," Chekov answered in Russian, almost hysterically, shaking his head. The lieutenant tried to speak more but his attempts were unintelligible stutters.
"Not yet, huh?" the doctor winked at Nurse MacFarlane who frowned in disapproval.
"I think he means, No, Doctor," she said tersely.
"Im a doctor, not a Russian linguist," answered McCoy light-heartedly. "Still, youre doing fine, son. Im going to call Doctor Weller in here and have him help you sit up. And were going to try to get some clear soup and lemon tea into you shortly."
McCoy then said to MacFarlane, "I believe Lieutenant Chekov could use a sponge bath."
The nurse then followed the doctors instructions, much to the Russians obvious delight.
Doctor McCoy moved to the nearest wall communicator. "Sickbay to Bridge."
"Bridge. Kirk here."
"Ive got some good news, Jim..."8
In Briefing Room Seven, Kirk had again assembled his senior officers. Presently, Doctor McCoy was describing the latest news about his patients. "Like the other members of the landing party, Chekov was exposed to Saurian flu and eventually succumbed to the disease. I had nurses watching over him around the clock, with instructions to contact me if there were any changes in his condition. Last night, Nurse MacFarlane contacted me and reported that his fever was at a dangerously high level, but that she detected movement in his hand. Sure enough, I went up to Sickbay and saw that she was right. The boys mobility was beginning to return. Apparently, raising a persons body temperature reverses the paralysis caused by the Gorgons. I had Doctor Chapel and the Medical Research Lab run some experiments. They proved my hypothesis to be correct."
"Fascinating," remarked Spock.
"Why would raising the body temperature lessen paralysis?" asked the captain.
The Vulcan answered, "I would surmise that since the petrifying paralysis caused by the Gorgons inhibits most bodily functions, such as the circulatory system, and that the fever resulting from viral diseases raises their rates, the effects of the paralysis are counteracted. Combined with the good doctors chelation therapy, the radioactive toxins are being flushed from the body."
"And hows Chekov after all this?" inquired Kirk.
"Hes much better," answered McCoy. "He still has a high fever, but its lower than last night. He can move more than he could earlier. But hes awfully weak and has trouble walking. Still, things look promising for a full recovery."
"Thank you, Bones," replied Captain Kirk. "Im glad to know some of our problems are being solved. Have you treated Lieutenant Nored yet?"
McCoy answered, "No, I havent. Thats my next plan. Ill probably treat her with artificial fever therapy. Saurian Flu is a very serious disease and injecting someone with it would risk his or her life."
Kirk added, "Especially when youve been so worried about the condition of some of our flu patients. Speaking of which, hows Lieutenant Tamberrino and the other members of her team?"
"Tamberrino had a slight relapse of fever yesterday, but shes much better than she was. Ill release her from Sickbay as soon as her temperatures normal for twelve hours. The other members of her team are definitely on the mend as well. I suspect Riley will be released this afternoon."
The captain remarked, "This flu epidemic has certainly hit our crew hard."
"Agreed," remarked Spock.
"Luckily, no one has died," McCoy added. "Then again, Starfleet officers are a relatively healthy population. Even so, some good came of it. It helped us find a cure for the paralysis caused by the Gorgons radiation. However, I havent found a way to prevent it from happening in the first place."
"Until we can prevent it," said Captain Kirk, "no one will be able to return to Gamma Persei Six, let alone Doctor Paryzek and his team."
Scott piped in, "Aye,it would be impractical to wear protective suits at all times. After a few hours, even the best manufactured suits begin to have trouble filtering the atmosphere inside the suits."
"Certainly, and though we now have a means for developing an antidote for patients who survive their encounters with the Gorgons, weve no way of preventing their attacks, short of stunning them whenever contact is made."
"I suspect there is a hypnotic component to their gaze. It is extremely mesmerizing for Humans to look at," contributed Spock. "However, their eyes emit a form of radiation beam that is fatal for Humans to stare at for more than a few seconds."
"How did Chekov survive?" inquired Scott.
Spock replied, "Apparently, the concern that Chekov felt for his security team divided his attention sufficiently so that he could not concentrate his gaze on those creatures."
"We were lucky to have one survivor," remarked McCoy. "Otherwise, it would have much harder to know what to look for."
"We could try to reason with the Gorgons," suggested Sulu.
"What do you think, Spock?" asked Kirk.
"Unlikely, Captain. However, I am willing to lead a small team down into the caverns to attempt it."
"Ill take it under consideration."
Lieutenant Anne Nored lay on the diagnostic bed in Sickbay as Doctor McCoy began to give her medication to raise her body temperature. As she became more feverish, she began to move her arms slightly, as though thrashing about in delerium.
"MacFarlane?" McCoy called his nurse.
He studied the security officers bio-readings. "Keep her temperature at this level for the next ten hours. Well consider lowering it after that."
The nurse tapped several commands into her compuclipboard, as the doctor leaned over the young womans body. "Anne, honey, this is goin to be rough, but we think weve got a means of treatin you. This fever youve got is gonna help you recover, so I dont dare lower it even a tenth of a degree. Just hang in there, hon, and well get you through this."
There was a glimmer of hope in the security officers eyes that he hadnt been able to see before. He smiled. "Just relax. Ill have them pipe in some music for you to listen to."
"How are you doing, Anne?" McCoy asked with his best bedside manner. It had been ten hours, ten rough hours for the young woman. Just as Chekov had done, shed begun thrashing about in her fever-induced delirium, but her movements had grown stronger.
"Much better, sir. I can move my arms and legs now."
"Think you can stand for me?"
"I can try, sir."
He swung her legs off the bio-bed, and helped her to stand. "Hows that?"
"I keep getting dizzy. Having trouble remaining balanced. I feel like Im going to fall down."
"A little vertigo, probably caused by the fever, to be honest. Im going to have Doctor Weller give you a hand here and help you move about the ward."
"Thank you, Doctor."
"If you get tired, please let us know. Well help you get back into bed."
"Ive been in bed long enough, Doctor McCoy."
As Weller walked Nored about Sickbay, McCoy noticed that she was definitely having trouble maintaining her equilibrium. At least her speech skills seem to be returning to normal, he thought.
He then went to Chekovs bedside. The young security chief was sitting up, drinking a bowl of clear chicken soup.
"Pavels able to walk without assistance now, Doctor, but if you ask me, he still seems very weak. He tires easily," reported MacFarlane.
Chekov glowered at her.
McCoy smiled brightly "How are you doing, Pavel? You seem to be improving."
The security chief tried to answer. "Da. Um. I I." However, the words would not come out of his mouth.
"Son, try to relax and speak more slowly," McCoy tried to calm him down.
Instead, Chekov seemed more nervous as he tried to speak again. "Umum." At that, he grew quite frustrated, and tears brimmed in his eyes, in spite of his best efforts to blink them away.
"I know its difficult, son," stated Doctor McCoy, patting him on the shoulder. "Its hard to learn how to speak again especially when Federation English is not your native language. Plus, youre still quite sick. Im sure it would be easier for you to speak in Russian. Ill just have to find some Russian speaking crewmembers to come visit you."
"Spasibo," answered Chekov gratefully.
McCoy didnt need a universal translator to know that Chekov was saying "thank you" in Russian.
"Doctor?" came Uhuras voice from the wards door.
McCoy walked over to her to greet her. "Here to see Chekov and Nored?"
She nodded. "And dont worry, Doctor. Ive had my flu shots."
"Good for you! Preventative medicine is the best medicine," he stated. "Can you think of anyone in this crew who can speak Russian? Maybe Chekov would have an easier time talking if he could do so in his native language. He is getting really frustrated "
Uhura answered, "I studied Russian, but Im not as fluent as a native. If you like, Ill speak with Pavel in Russian."
"Every little bit helps," remarked McCoy.
She frowned in thought. "Avram Belinsky in Security is of mixed Russian, Polish, and Ukrainian descent. He grew up in Kiev and speaks Russian."
"Avram comes here to visit both Chekov and Nored a lot. Next time he comes by, Ill suggest he speak to Chekov in Russian."
"Sounds like a good plan," agreed Uhura. "Theres also Lieutenant Antonia Avilova, who works in Sciences," she remembered. "And Ensign Pyotr Miagkov, an environmental engineer."
"Thats a good start," he decided. He stepped over to a wallcomm unit, and both of them were summoned to Sickbay as the lovely Bantu woman spoke softly with her friends.
In a few minutes, both Avilova and Miagkov had arrived. "You need us, Doctor?" asked the science officer.
McCoy nodded."I know this is an unusual assignment. But since youre both native Russian speakers, Id like you to visit with Lieutenant Chekov here in Sickbay at least once a day and speak with him in Russian. Hes had trouble speaking since his accident on Gamma Persei Six. It might be easier for him to speak in Russian."
Both the young Russian officers readily agreed. "Pavel Andreievich is a good man," Miagkov assured him. "He vwas wvery kind to me vwhen I first came aboard."
"Da," Avilova agreed. "He is such a svweetie whenever he wvisits my science lab."
"I appreciate yalls assistance," the doctor said.
Both the scientist and engineer moved to speak with Chekov who seemed delighted to converse in his native tongue.
"Captain, were being hailed by the director of the Alpha Andromeda Three science station," reported Uhura from Communications.
In the center seat, Kirk pursed his lips. Here they were, in orbit above their next destination, and yet Tamberrino and most of her team were still suffering from Saurian flu, Chekov and Nored were still confined to Sickbay, recovering from the effects of the high temperature theyd experiencedNoreds equilibrium still seemed a bit uneven, and Chekov was actually stuttering whenever he spoke in English. Both were making good progress, he had been told.
He sighed again. "Audio, Commander."
"Captain Kirk? This is Doctor Lindstrom."
"Hello, Doctor. Kirk here. What can I do for you, sir?"
"My medical officer wants you to delay beaming down to do that installation on our computer network for a few weeks. Shes begun administering vaccinations to our staff, but she doesnt want us exposed to the disease organisms for the next fourteen days."
Kirk breathed a sigh of relief. "No problem, Doctor. We still have some unfinished business at Gamma Persei Six. Well use this delay to see if we can resolve the problem there. Well return in two weeks time to upgrade your equipment."
"Well hold you to that, Captain. Lindstrom out."
"Chief DiFalco," the captain smiled, "plot a course back to Gamma Persei Six. Commander Sulu, I want us there in a hurry. Warp Factor Eight."
Captains Log, Stardate 7328.6
The Enterprise has returned to Gamma Persei VI to conduct additional investigations on the planet. Commander Spock will be leading the landing party in order to try to make peaceful contact with the Gorgons. He also intends to study the mesmerizing effect of the Gorgons eyes and determine if it is indeed, as he believes, hypnotic in nature. Doctor McCoy will be accompanying him to conduct additional research on these creatures, while Lieutenant Belinsky will be in command of Security for the landing party. At his request, Doctor Paryzek will again accompany them as a guide for the area. Given their kyrillium-coated radiation suits, gloves and repeater helmets, I hope we can resolve the situation with the Gorgons this time without injury to the landing party.
Captain Kirk met with the landing party in the Transporter Room on Level Five. Kirk studied the faces of the security men. They seemed nervous, but looked to Belinsky for guidance. He glanced at the collection of cages on one of the pads. "Planning on starting a farm, Bones?"
"Im a doctor, not a farmer," McCoy retorted. "Im bringing down some laboratory animals. As soon as we see Gorgons, Ill release one animal and see if it turns to stone."
"Rather ghastly," Doctor Paryzek observed. "But necessary." He looked at the captain. "Id rather experiment with lab animals than allow a single Human to come to harm."
Spock turned with a start, and raised his eyebrow.
"Or Vulcan," the base scientist quickly amended as McCoy chortled softly.
"Above all, Spock, see if you can make peaceful contact this time."
"Of course, Captain."
Kirk looked at Chief Rand. "Energize," he ordered.
The landing party rematerialized on the surface of Gamma Persei VI in front of the cavern they had explored earlier. Slowly and carefully, they made their way through the same subterranean passages as they had last time on the planet. The journey seemed more rapid since they knew their way.
Spock instructed the landing party members, "As soon as we see Gorgons, we will aim our tricorders in the direction of their eyes so we can learn more about the radiation they emit."
Within half an hour, they encountered an injured Gorgon. He was clutching his leg and groaning in agony.
"I believe that is the Gorgon who had attacked Nored," remarked Spock.
Doctor McCoy went over to him and examined his leg with a medical sensor. "Lacerations. Phaser burns. Let me go treat your injuries," he spoke slowly so that the universal translator could process his words. The doctor sprayed some plasti-skin on the Gorgons injuries.
The Gorgon smiled with a toothy grin and remarked, "No longer hurts as much. Thank you."
Meanwhile, Spock scanned the walls of the cavern with his tricorder and noticed an interesting deposit. He pounded at the wall. The clay in the wall crumbled away, revealing a deflector control console.
"Fascinating," remarked Spock. He scanned the mechanism, remarking, "This deflector system is operative but at a very low level."
Spock searched for a deactivation switch. Once that was found, he deactivated the device.
Suddenly, the landing party heard the beep of a communicator in his helmet. "Kirk to Spock. We are now able to read your life signs inside the cavern which we were never able to do previously."
"I have found a deflector device which I just disabled."
"Very good, Commander," commented Captain Kirk. He continued, "However, there are at least two dozen Gorgons approaching you from bearing 175 degrees, South of your present location."
"Captain," the Vulcan reported, "this is definitely the source of the jamming. Can you have Mister Xon scan the planet for the Gorgons?"
Captain Kirk then ordered Xon, the young Vulcan lieutenant who was manning the science station at the time, "You heard Mister Spock. Scan the planet for Gorgons."
"There are approximately 500 Gorgons on this planet, the vast majority of whom are located just South of the Federation science base."
"Uh, Mister Spock, you've got company," warned Captain Kirk.
Spock turned around and saw Gorgons approaching the landing party. But this time the Gorgons did not attack.
One stepped forward, its head bowed. "Thank you for healing our chieftains nephew," it growled softly.
"Youre welcome," replied McCoy.
"We want you to leave our world. We used to be able to do much more but were attacked by outsiders who destroyed our machines. They bombed our cities, destroyed our people, obliterated our world hundreds of years ago. We have found it is better to hide underground and live like vermin rather than die in the sunlight."
"We have a scientific outpost on the surface of your world," pointed out Spock. "Must they leave also?"
"Not necessary. As long as they dont bother us. We want no visitors in our lair." It shifted its hands it what was an almost-Human gesture of supplication. "We thought you were the destroyers from above. We now know you are not. Our actions against your fellow creatures were unwarranted and most regrettable." The more the being spoke, the better the universal translator was able to process its language.
"The scientists above are most interested in the life on the planet surface. However, they may occasionally wish to come down below to study the life forms in your caverns."
"Only with our permission. And only if they dont interfere with our life."
"Agreed," replied Spock. "It is our prime directive never to interfere with other life forms and civilizations. I will arrange it so that if the scientists wish to enter your caverns, they will wait at the entrance until you arrive to give them permission."
"And if we say no?"
"Then they will leave," Spock assured him.
The Gorgon chieftain looked to Doctor McCoy. "You are a healer?"
"I am," said the doctor, standing.
"We have lost that art. Could you or one of your fellows teach us what we have forgotten?"
McCoy nodded. "I think that can be arranged."
The chieftain said, "We will meet two and only two of your people at the entrance of our caverns in three days time. Make sure one of them is a healer. The other may study whatever he wishes." The chieftain pounded a spear in the ground twice, menacingly. "However, if there is any deception, there will be consequences..."
"Understood," the Vulcan replied. "With your permission, we will now leave."
"Agreed. Go in peace."
Spock spoke into his helmets comlink and ordered Chief Rand, "Six to beam up."
Again, the senior staff and medical staff had gathered at the captains orders in Briefing Room Seven. As soon as the captain had had a complete report from the landing party, he deferred to Doctor Chapel.
"Our staff has just developed an antidote to defend against the poisons found in Gorgon blood," she announced.
"Oh really?" inquired McCoy.
"Yes, Leonard. This antidote is a stimulant that designed to increase the rate of blood circulation in the Human body. In that way, it will be more difficult for exposure to the Gorgon blood poisons to slow down blood flow enough to cause paralysis. Generally, anyone planning to explore the Gorgons lair should be injected with this stimulant. Also, this stimulant should also be included in a medical kit so that if anyone is ever accidentally exposed to Gorgons or Gorgon blood, he or she would receive an injection of it."
"Very good, Chris!" exclaimed the doctor.
"Excellent work!" commented Captain Kirk.
"Captain, I must point out that the Gorgons have agreed to leave us alone if we leave them alone," pointed out Spock.
McCoy argued, "We still need the antidote in case any of the scientists accidentally encounter the Gorgons."
"I agree with Doctor McCoy," said Kirk.
"And since the Gorgons want to learn how to treat their injuries, we need to have the antidote on hand for them also."
"Would not teaching them how to treat their wounds constitute a violation of the Prime Directive?" asked Spock.
"I dont think so, Mister Spock. The Prime Directive applies to growing civilizations. These people were almost bombed out of existence, probably out of fear of their natural abilities. Im not saying we should rearm them and give them warp technology. I just think teaching them how to use a splint or sew up a wound would be a good way of giving them a helping hand. Were not going to yank them up the ladder; were just going to help them take a step toward it." The captain smiled disarmingly.
"Captain, we would like to return to our home," announced Doctor Paryzek. "My team has much more to learn about this world than before."
"You must stay out of the Gorgons lair unless they invite you in, Doctor," Spock cautioned him.
"Agreed," the base scientist said. "Perhaps we will be able to gain their trust one day."
"Id say thats a good possibility," the captain decided. "After all, they were impressed enough with the treatment of their injured comrade to not attack the landing party."
Doctor McCoy continued, "We will also provide you with a supply of the blood stimulant we developed in case you run into a renegade Gorgon who does not understand our terms of peace. This stimulant should be contained in any first-aid medikit you take when exploring. Ill provide you the formula so you can manufacture your own supply once this supply runs out."
"Thanks. We should be all set," stated a grateful Doctor Paryzek. "Can we go home now?" he smiled.10
Doctor McCoy approached Lieutenant Tamberrinos bedside in Sickbay. He examined her and pronounced, "Your temperature has finally been normal for ten hours, Lieutenant. Im releasin you from Sickbay."
"Thank you," she said enthusiastically. "It will be nice to see another place besides the walls of Sickbay. Ive been here forever."
McCoy continued, "I want you to rest in your quarters today and not do anything strenuous. Maybe you could work a couple of half days after that."
"So I can go down to Gamma Persei Six tomorrow and finish my work?"
"Yes, you can. But I dont want to you to be working more than four hours for the next two days. That was a very serious viral infection, and I dont want you back here with a relapse."
"And, by the way, you may have performed a valuable service for Pavel Chekov by giving him the flu."
She looked at him blankly, exclaiming, "I what?"
"At the height of your illness, when you were running such a high fever, you got up and went to visit Chekov when he was still paralyzed. And you collapsed on his bed! He then got the flu himself the next day. The high fever raised the rate of his bodily functions so that he finally could move."
"I dont remember visiting Pavel and collapsing on his bed. All I know is I felt hot and terrible, and had lots of nightmares."
"Im sure your fever was so high, you didnt know what you were doing. Plus, youre not the only possible source of his illness. Kevin Riley spent a lot of time visiting both you and Pavel until he himself got sick."
"Most of you had caught the flu from one of the base researchers. Chekov was never near them. He probably got it from you or Riley, my dear."
"Is he going to be all right?" she asked, concernedly.
"Yes, he is," Doctor McCoy glanced over his shoulder. "Would you like to see him?"
"Could I?" she asked.
The doctor nodded his assent. She walked over to the next ward, and sat down in the chair next to the security chiefs bed. She took his hand gingerly, and he opened his eyes. Still worried about his feelings towards her, she said, "Pavel, I hope you dont consider me a pest."
He blinked wearily and shook his head, saying, "Not at all, Cynthia."
"Why, thank you. I must admit Ive been considered a pest in the past. I guess, since Im the aggressive type. Ive never been the type who lets things come to her but goes out and gets them. I guess to succeed in a male-dominated Starfleet, I have to be aggressive. Or maybe Im aggressive to hide the fact that Im scared."
"Vwe all have our hang ups," replied Chekov, with a grin.
"I guess so, Pavel."
She brushed a stray lock from his forehead. "Im going to be checking out now, but Ill be back to check in on you later this afternoon...if youd like," she quickly added.
"I vwould like that," he admitted.
She squeezed his hand and left.
Chekov glanced around Sickbay. Only he and Anne Nored were still in bed. Suddenly, he heard the bizarre laughter of the ships helmsman. "Well, look whos still milking his injury for more down time!" Sulu teased him.
"Id be glad to have traded places with you, Perseus," Chekov countered. "You know, Ive been thinking. I might try to get a date with Cynthia Tamberrino vwhen vwe reach Alpha Andromedae Three."
Sulu smiled. "Only one problem there, Pavel. Kevin Riley has already asked her out for when we reach there."
Chekovs pallid face turned redder. "Kevin Riley! I swear he always beats me to every girl Ive ever want to date!"
"Well, you know, Pavel, I have on good authority that Cynthia would like to go out with you. Besides, even if she goes out on one date with Kevin doesnt mean shes his exclusive property."
"I know what my first order of business will be once I get out of Sickbay. Asking Cynthia for a date."
"Okay. Im sure Cynthia will find room on her social calendar for you." The helmsman winked. "Now, change the subject."
"Okay, I vwill. Tell me vwhats been going on vwith the Gorgons. Doctor McCoy has been rather like a commissar with a state secret to protect."
Sulu relayed to him the story of the Gorgons, how their civilization had fallen, how theyd let the scientists be until the researchers had invaded their lair. Then he told of what had happened to Chekov, and how the landing party had used kyrillium-coated radiation suits to prevent exposure to the Gorgons radioactive gaze.
"Kyrillium, did you say?" Chekov smiled broadly. "I know of this kyrillium. Did you know it was originally discovered by the early twenty-second century Russian scientist, Maxim Vladimirovich Kyrillov? Its a compound of lead, carbon, and silicon. The substance is named for him."
Sulu laughed at his friends latest reference to a Russian invention. "Just a guess, Pavel, but Id say youre back to normal." He patted him gently on the shoulder. "Hurry back to work, my friend. We miss you on the bridge."
Chekov closed his eyes and nodded. "Vwill do."
Kirk, Spock and McCoy were seated in the officers lounge on Level Two. All three men were staring at the planet as it receded from view. The Enterprise was back en route to Alpha Andromeda for its computer upgrade mission.
The doctor remarked, "Isnt it something that the Gorgons turn out to be real creatures?"
Kirk replied, "Then again, Apollo and the other Greek gods turned out to be real, also."
Spock added, "In spite of Humanitys tendency to exaggerate, many stories described in the mythologies of ancient Earth races, such as the Greeks, have been based on their ancestors encounters with extraterrestrial beings, such as the story involving the Gorgons turning their victims into stone."
"But until now," remarked McCoy, "we had no logical explanation for why it occurred."
Spock then changed the subject, "I was analyzing my tricorder readings and learned that this planet contained artifacts of an advanced civilization from over three thousand years ago until, as the Gorgons said, they were attacked over six hundred years ago."
"Any idea on who their attackers were?"
"Indeed, Captain, it may have been the Vedala."
"Theyre not exactly a hostile race, Mister Spock," Kirk pointed out. "I dont understand why youve drawn that particular conclusion."
"I put it to you this way, Captain. The Gorgons we encountered are the last remnant from that star-faring civilization. My research has shown that the Gorgons not only visited Earth, but there are legends on Andoria, Tellar and Cait that tell of evil creatures that turned their victims to stone. Even Vulcan has legends of this sort, although the description of the creatures are somewhat dissimilar. The Vedala home world is less than ten lightyears from here, and is suspected to have been destroyed at about the same time as the planet below."
"War?" McCoy asked.
"Very likely. Predicated on the fact that the Gorgons were expanding their territory. The Vedala were the victors, and following the destruction of their homeworld, took to living on their asteroid ships," explained Spock. "And the Gorgons have reverted to barbarism beneath the surface of their world. My earlier recommendation to send a science/history expedition to this planet still stands. Provided Doctor Paryzek and his team can gain their trust first."
"I will pass along your recommendation to Starfleet, Mister Spock. Bones, do you know what just occurred to me?"
"What?" the doctor asked.
"We couldnt have found Gorgons in a more appropriate place than Gamma Persei Six. Perseus was the man who killed Medusa, and we found Gorgons on a planet of a star in the constellation named for him. The sixth planet of the third brightest star."
"Youre right, Jim. Perhaps the Greeks knew a lot more than we ever realized."
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