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A Botanical Nightmare

Posted on Wed Aug 25th, 2021 @ 4:02pm by Captain Dirk Taggart & Lieutenant JG Vespa Kale

Mission: Season Two - Incidentals
Location: Captain's Ready Room
Timeline: Thirty Minutes after Planning to Trade 2

Okay. This was it. The lump sum of everything she recalled, without having to involve the departments necessary to connect to the network and download the totality. She was running low on buoy rations as it was. Oh what a terrible time.

PaDD in hand, the binary officer made her ways back from the science labs to the meeting room they all just left not too long ago, but her path took her further. She continued until she made it up to the captain's ready room. She took a pair of breaths to steel herself. "He has to know." she reminded herself. "Curiosity will kill this cat." and with that thought galvanizing her courage, she rang the announce chime.

Taggart was reviewing his notes from the meeting he had just finished. He was pleased with most of his officers, he had some concerns with his XO and 2XO he was going to address. As he made notes to prepare for their meeting his chime alerted him to someone at the door. "Enter" the Captain said as he set his PADD down and turned to face the door.

Upon seeing Lieutenant Kale's dual yet singular self he smiled, " Welcome Lieutenant, I didn't get a chance to thank you for your help earlier, your knowledge of this region is impressive and I'd like to thank you for your advice. I know that's not what your here for but I wanted to make sure you heard it from me."

She gave a pair of smiles in return, "Thank you. I appreciate it." she started, "Lived in this part of space all my life, so least I can do is offer you a hand while we're travelling together." she approached, entering the room fully. Her twin picked up the conversation without missing a beat. "And while you're right that it's not exactly why I'm here, I'll take it." she giggled, a curious tone that started from one and ended from the other.

"I'm here to talk to you about Fera." she handed over the PaDD she was carrying. "I'll warn you now, the images are not pretty."

On the contrary, they were beautiful. Lush greens and violets, flowing fields of alien flora. Vines like ivy crawling up walls, sporting cute little white blossoms along their length. Perhaps Vespa handed over the wrong PaDD with her report? These images were beautiful. Such colorful landscapes, such beautiful structures...


No wildlife...

These were pictures of a city.

"It's a slow threat, sir, but there are precious few ways to actually stop it. Some of the greatest minds in the quadrant are working on a way, any way..."

"... that isn't just a delaying tactic." she paused, "This is decades of growth. If the planet is lucky, they have a way off their world. If not, they get to slowly..."

"... watch it be turned into this. It started as a universal food crop. Then it became a planetary terraformer. Some say from there it was financed as a..."

"... biological weapon. We don't know the rest because there was an accident at the lab that was housing it. Now, all Fera does is spread." a pause from the binary officer. "The Borg assimilate you, bring you into their fold, but with time and skill those taken can be brought back."

"Fera kills in five days. Then the victim becomes the next vector." another pause, a deep breath, "You have questions. I'm here to answer them."

"That's horrible, Kale. What is the incubation time from exposure to infection? Is that included in the 5 day timeline?"

"It varies from species to species. Initial exposure to first signs might take a week. Then there's a cough. Maybe a rash that flakes off if scratched." she continued, swapping from form to form, "Then it's thickening of the blood, coughing up blood, reddening of the eyes. The whole time from then on, you're probably spreading spores."

"Five days later, it's major organ failure. Your last breaths are full of spores, and then its over." she shook her heads, "Can't bury the body, can't cremate the..."

"... body. Isolation and chemical bath dissolution is really the only course for those that need closure." a pause, "If the infection is caught quickly, almost every..."

"... race out here has a treatment or something to deal with exposure. But after a certain time, the treatment is the same."

She paused, and actually gave a grim chuckle. "Remember when you said that the Borg were the worst things out here, and I laughed?"

Taggart shook his head sadly, "I remember that. Basically what you're saying is we need to avoid this at any cost and there is no cure." The finality of it struck him, "Are there any precautions we can take to prevent it from getting onboard?"

"There *is* a cure, if you're quick." she corrected. "As for prevention, I'm going to be handling that while we're here. I plan to buy the latest updates..."

"... to internal biofilters and transport scrubbers. Ketram is going to scan everyone and everything, so we know they're a clean haven. I'll get the..."

"... latest spread projections, latest filters, and see if they have any treatment options for sale that don't also have a 'Stun' setting, if you know what..."

"... I mean. With a little preparation we'll all be fine, Captain. Once we have the appropriate filters installed, send the schematics to everyone. Every..."

"... one. Sure you'll be cutting into the profit, but they don't sell them for much."

"Let's proceed with the purchase, I think we should also write a Plan of Action, to ensure we have a prepared response plan in case of exposure. Do the Dalacari have any case studies on this? I think I'd like to get Doc Trallos to familiarize himself with this also."

"We do." there was a somber moment. Considering how the Dalacari operated, the experience must be doubly traumatic for them. "If I have your permission to temporarily realign the subspace antenna, I can contact the Buoy network and get every study I can with the..."

"... monthly buoy rations I have left. I'll try to get a few case studies from the Ts'usugi, though you'll understand if they're private about the information they..."

"... share. I don't think we'll find anything like that on Ketram, but I'll make it a point to look around. I'll check with any representatives of the Slate to see what..."

"... the latest is. They're immune to Fera, well I mean they can carry it, but they do intensive research on infected sites." a pause, "They're rocks."

"Is there a way for me to pay you back for your buoy rations, since this a favor for the Federation I don't want you to feel obligated to pay for this out of your pockets. I'd also like to meet the Slate if they have an ambassador or dignitary on the planet, if they'd be open to contact."

"That's very kind." she started, "Okay so the Buoy network is how the Ts'usugi maintain communication across their space. All Dalacari are given Special Citizen status..."

"... due to our Accord with them. That grants us a certain amount of access every two point five million ticks. Roughly one of your months." she did the math. "In an emergency we..."

"... can go over our limit, and then explain after the fact what the reason was and petition for an exception. I hardly use mine, and this is something of an emergency...

"... so there's no real expense. No out of pocket expense." she continued. "Besides, this helps me, so it's less a favor for you and more a favor for everyone." she gave him a way out.

Then she thought something over, a cupped chin each. "There'll definitely be a Slate or three there, and even outside of business they love to meet people. Organic life..."

"... is a curiosity to them. Just bear in mind they don't do *anything* quickly. They have the patience of a whole planet, and they don't really have the same concept of..."

"... time as we do, so bear that in mind. As alien as my people are to you, is how curious all carbon based life is to them."

"I will make a note of that, I don't know if the Federation has formally met them yet, but I would like to remedy that." Taggart made a note on his PADD before speaking again.

"I'm not sure if you were aware of this but there were negotiations taking place between your people and mine over shared transit to and from the Delta Quadrant through your portal. I think it was called Pathfinder or Pathstone, but the point is the negotiations did fall through and an agreement was not reached at this time. I believe another attempt will be made, but I wanted to ensure you aware of this."

"With regards to the Ts'usugi, there's a few degrees of 'formally meet'. I've heard of some of their people in exchange studies with the Federation, but as far as..."

"... a proper 'welcome to our space' meet and greet, don't hold your breath. I was born in a world where they and us are allies, and I've never seen Ts'usu." she pointed out.

"You'll meet them on their terms, but their terms are fair. Oh, and it's called Pathstone. They helped up build it, they really really helped." she sounded pretty enthused about that point. "But a falling out? Oh no..."

"... I .. I haven't heard about a recall, so I guess it wasn't THAT bad. I wonder what happened?" she mused, but then shook her heads, "No no, for the time, that's not important."

"Okay, so I mean it IS important, but not the focus. The focus is the mission ahead." a pause, "And it's not a portal it's a quantum tunnel emulator." she giggled, "And no, I don't..."

"... think I could explain how it worked if you TOLD me how it worked." she giggled again, clearly in a fantastic mood at the moment. "It's high high high end science. Bleeding edge..."

"... concepts built into a megastructure. Way above my paygrade." she smiled, "But, also, sadly, not mission critical. A story for another day."

Taggart chuckled, "It's definitely above my paygrade too, I'm not big in science or politics but I do enjoy exploring and learning new things. I'm looking forward to our time on Ketram, and the possibilities of meeting some new people and cultures. You are right Kale. We need to focus on the mission at hand. Other than your preventative materials for Fera, is there anything else we need for the science department?"

"Six Mark Three drones and a Class Five Thinking Engine." she commented, as if she had that answer locked and ready. All in humor though, judging from the laugh that followed. "No, no no no I think we'll be alright. I'll get what I can from the Network, and the rest..."

"... we can get at Ketram. Oh, ummm, not everyone at Ketram does the whole Handshake thing, but if the Slate do it, it means they want to talk in..."

"... private. They, ummm, okay so the Slate don't talk, they rumble. The Trilark don't talk, they burble. And apparently the Dalacari don't talk they ramble." she giggled, and shook her heads.

"Wide smile, no teeth. It gets you so far in the universe."

Taggart was about to write down thinking engine when Kale said no, he laughed at her joke before making notes on the Slate and Trilark. "Wide smile, no teeth" he whispered as he wrote it down hoping he would remember before offending a dignitary. "I think I've got it all Lieutenant if you've got nothing else I'll make sure you get the credits needed upon our arrival. Have you chosen someone for your buddy on the away mission?" The captain asked curiously.

"Actually yes, I have." she paused, thankful he didn't use a term like 'paired' or something. Humans slipped up so easy, so she would be equally easy to forgive. "I was thinking of Lieutenant Hart. I... during the time in the nebula, she shot me." a reminder, that no one in the room needed. "And she and I have..."

"... made good progress in putting that behind us, but I think the best way to recover our friendship would be working together. That and research shows that..."

"... shopping is therapeutic, and universal. It'll give the counselor the chance to see the Delta Quadrant in a microcosm, and it'll be a good chance for us..."

"... to hang out. Also, if you need my help with interacting with any racial merchants there, she'll be there to expand her knowledge base as well."

"I think you and Lieutenant Hart meeting outside of work is a good step forward. I will also be contacting you for assistance when we begin those interactions." Dirk stood as he continued speaking, "Thank you for your help and advice, I need to move along though, I have another meeting.

Captain Dirk Taggart
Commanding Officer
USS Pennsylvania


LT JG Vespa Kale
Science Officer
USS Pennsylvania


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