Chapter 7

U.S.S. Aldrin

Earth, Sol System, Sector 001

10:21 Hours, January 29th, 2380

Stardate 57077.861838

 

Clark squatted by the mess hall chair to which the Vulcan was bound with ODN cabling. A wrist light sat on the table across from the unconscious figure, casting an eerie glow on his placid face. He wore dirty gray pants, a well-worn simple brown leather jacket, and traditional Vulcan slippers. Clark looked up at the identical Starfleet-uniformed Vulcan standing next to him, “You never told me you had a twin.” The restrained Vulcan stirred quietly in the chair.

“I did not think it was necessary,” Vorik stated, “Starfleet records indicated that Taurik was lost with the U.S.S. Geiger during the war.”

“Not entirely lost,” Cochrane pointed his wrist light at Taurik’s neck, the beam glinting off a small transparent capsule protruding from the skin. “What have we here?” Bits of white residue flaked the interior of the cartridge. The skin around the capsule was a dark green, cracked with dryness.

Vorik squatted slightly to look at it more closely, “I don’t recognize this implant.”

Clark’s expression turned grim, “That’s ketracel-white.”

Cochrane had pulled out a tricorder and confirmed, “It sure is.”

Jensen walked up, pushed the wristlight on the table to the side, and leaned against the tabletop, “Why is it in his neck?”

Cochrane pointed his light over at the Human woman, the only conscious one of the four, tied to another chair a few tables away and being examined by Wright, “Show me her neck.” Wright moved to lift her head, but she quietly complied before he could touch her. A similar capsule was clearly visible sticking from her neck.

Clark squinted, “Has she said anything?”

Wright shrugged as she glared at him, “Nothing, Sir.”

Clark turned his attention back to Taurik, “Let’s find out what they’re doing. Wake him.” Cochrane fumbled with a hypospray in the dim light, then pressed it to Taurik’s neck. It hissed as the chemicals were propelled into the Vulcan’s bloodstream. Cochrane immediately took a few steps back as the Vulcan groggily raised his head.

Taurik slowly looked around the mess hall with bloodshot eyes, squinting at the light shining from the table, and then suddenly lunged forward at Jensen. The commander instinctively pushed off the deck and rolled over the top of the table. Restrained by the bindings around his chest, wrists, and legs, Taurik and the chair lurched forward and then caught on the carpet. He tipped headfirst into the edge of the table, hitting with a solid thud before crashing sideways against the deck, his back to Vorik’s feet.

Vorik put a booted foot on the side of the chair, firmly holding his brother against the deck. Taurik struggled anyway, twisting against the restraints until a small brown bag fell out from inside his jacket and clinked against the deck. He froze, his eyes focused on the bag in front of his face. His face twitched with un-Vulcan-like panic and anger as green blood ran from the fresh gash on his forehead.

Clark calmly knelt by Taurik and gently picked up the bag. He looked inside and handed it up to Cochrane, “More white.” Cochrane pulled a vial out and nodded in agreement. Clark stared at Taurik, “What are you doing on my ship?”

Taurik spat a loose tooth onto the deck and said quietly, his voice raspy, but unmistakably similar to Vorik’s, “We’re trying to… finish,” He coughed and spoke deliberately, “What the Dominion… started.”

“The war ended over four years ago,” Clark argued. “There’s nothing to finish.”

The Vulcan’s eyes suddenly burned with fury, “I am not finished!”

Taurik twisted violently against the cables, forcing Vorik to shift his weight towards the leg holding down the chair, “Brother, you must retain control of your emotions.”

Undeterred, Taurik thrashed violently in the chair, “I cannot!” He succeeded in breaking the binding on his left ankle and flipped the chair onto its back, sending Vorik tumbling back against a table. Taurik forcefully kicked down with his free leg, lifting the chair up and twisting his own body to reach his bound hands out to grab the side of the chair. Clark jumped up from his crouch, grabbed the back of the airborne chair, and forced it and Taurik face-down against the deck.

The mess hall fell silent at the loud thud of Taurik’s face striking the deck. Taurik struggled to move, but the weight of his body pulled against the restraints of the chair, forcing it down against the back of his knees and neck. Clark stood over the immobilized Vulcan, breathing heavily and primed to continue the fight.

“Captain…” Cochrane cautioned, his voice tinged with the tone of a scolding parent.

“Are you done?” Clark asked loudly, his attention focused solely on Taurik.

Taurik fought to breath, but managed to groan, “Yes.” Clark stood still for a few seconds longer before kicking the side of the chair, knocking Taurik over with it.

The Vulcan gasped for air for several seconds, not fighting back as Vorik retied his freed leg to the chair. Taurik closed his eyes and growled, “The Dominion must pay!”

Jensen stepped up to Clark’s side, “Pay for what?”

“What they did to us!”

Clark slowly kneeled, resting an arm on his knee, “And just what did they do to you?”

Taurik shuddered, and then said in a low, dark tone, “They experimented on us. Made us dependent on ketracel-white… made us their slaves. They forced us to fight the Federation, or they would take away the White. We had no choice,” The Vulcan paused, “Not having the White is worse than death.” The cartridge in his neck gurgled, running low on the drug.

“Are you the one who sabotaged my ship?”

“Yes.”

Clark restrained himself from kicking Taurik in his exposed stomach, but kept a neutral face, “What did you do?”

Taurik shifted slightly against his bindings, searching for a less uncomfortable position, “We modified bio-neural gel packs to contain a hidden command sequence that would enable us to silently take control of the ship.”

Vorik’s brow furrowed, “Modified gel packs would have been detected during the assembly clearance scans.”

Taurik smiled for a moment, “Not if they were brought on in an emergency requisition.” Clark lowered his head and grimaced as Taurik continued, “We recreated the de-synthesizing virus and released it… into the gel pack labs on the moon.” He coughed and a slight gurgling emanated from his throat. “It’s detectable, but not until the packs have been in use for several hours. Once they were installed on the Aldrin, all we had to do was wait for them to be detected and have you install the modified packs yourself.” Green blood trickled from the lower corner of his mouth.

“How did you get on the Aldrin?” Clark demanded.

Taurik started shuddering, “I require… a… new cartridge.”

Cochrane fingered the pack of ketracel-white tubes, “Captain, he’s suffering from ketracel-white deprivation.”

Clark carefully watched Taurik as he coughed for several seconds, spattering blood on the carpet, “So?”

“If he’s telling the truth, that the Dominion made them dependent on white, then he could die,” Cochrane said as he stepped forward and hefted Taurik’s chair back to vertical. “He won’t be of much use at all then.”

“How long does he have?”

Cochrane looked at his tricorder and shook his head. “No more than ten minutes before he suffers permanent brain damage.”

“Ten minutes should be all I need,” Clark grabbed a chair, spun it backwards, and sat with is legs straddling the back. He repeated to Taurik, “How did you get on the Aldrin?” Exasperated, Cochrane walked away.

Taurik to a deep breathe and tried to collect himself, “We triggered a plasma fire in the drydock staging area, and then disabled… the station’s internal sensors and transported onto the ship. We used tricorders to… mask our signatures.” His eyes rolled back and his head fell to his chest.

Clark leaned forward against the chair back, “Where did they keep you?”

The Vulcan shook his head and gazed dully at Clark, “What?” Dark green blood dripped from his open mouth.

“The Dominion. Where did they keep you?”

Taurik began to breath heavily, then suddenly let loose a string of loud, moist, coughs. Green blood poured from his open mouth, splattering against his chest and lap. He struggled, “They kept us… at… at Internment Camp… One… Twenty. Gamma Quadrant.” He coughed again, sputtering blood onto the mess hall carpet.

His body suddenly went limp, throwing the chair off balance. The chair tipped over and slammed to the deck, causing Taurik’s head to slam against the deck yet again. Dark green blood drained from the his mouth and spread across the carpet. Vorik immediately dropped to his brother’s side and held a hand to his neck to feel for a pulse.

Cochrane’s tricorder let out shrill series of beeps, but he didn’t have to look at the screen to know what was happening. He rushed forward, brandishing a medical kit and the bag of ketracel-white cartridges, “We’re losing him!”

Clark conceded, “All right, give him a cartridge.”

“That’s not going to be enough,” Cochrane said as he went to his knees by Taurik’s head. The Vulcan began to tremble slightly as Cochrane rushed to open his kit.

“Damn it! Light!” the elderly doctor barked. R’Mor silently stepped forward and shined her wrist light on the kit. Cochrane immediately snatched a cylinder full of green liquid from the kit and shoved it into the bottom of the hypospray already in his hand. He pressed the hypospray to Taurik’s neck and a quiet hiss followed.

Cochrane looked up at Vorik, who nodded as Taurik’s heartbeat stabilized. He snapped, “Let’s undo these restraints. He needs to be in sickbay, not strapped to a galley chair.” He cast an angry glance up at Clark.

Taurik’s trembling gradually subsided as Cochrane and Vorik untied the cables, removed the chair, and rolled him onto his back. Cochrane carefully removed the empty ketracel-white cartridge from Taurik’s neck, carefully placed it in his med-kit, and inserted a fresh cartridge in the hole.

Clark stood and walked over towards the Human woman, “What’s your name?” Wright closed his medical kit and stepped away.

“Ward.”

Clark stepped around behind her, “Can I trust you enough to untie you?”

“White deprivation doesn’t bring emotions to the surface in Humans like it does in Vulcans,” Ward said. “I’m not going to try and kill you, if that’s what you you’re asking.” The Aldrin’s orbit brought it out of Earth’s shadow and the forward-facing mess hall windows were suddenly filled with blinding yellow sunlight. Ward’s short red hair glowed like it was fire. Clark nodded and untied her restraints.

Ward slowly stood and stretched her arms in front of her, “Thank you, Captain.”

Clark pointed at the closest table and chairs, “Take a seat.” Ward silently obeyed and Clark took a chair opposite hers, “You’re Starfleet.”

“Ensign Orlaith Ward, U.S.S. Geiger,” she responded.

“You were with Vorik?” Clark asked.

Ward nodded and rubbed her neck next to her white cartridge, “I was.”

“Tell me about Interment Camp One Twenty.”

She looked down at the table for a few seconds before looking back up, “What do you want to know?”

Clark thought for a moment, “How did they get you to the Gamma Quadrant?”

Ward shook her head, “I don’t know. I remember the Geiger coming under attack, and then I woke up at the camp.”

“How did you escape?”

“We sabotaged the power supplies and stole a Jem’Hadar attack ship in orbit.”

Clark nodded, “Where is it now?”

“The attack ship? We were forced to sell it to some Ferengi when we ran out of fuel and were being pursued by a whole DM fleet.”

“How did you get here?” Clark questioned.

Ward chuckled, “Well, we purchased a shuttle from that sucker of a Ferengi and ran. We snuck through the wormhole in the wake of a transport, abandoned the shuttle, and stowed away to here.”

Clark nodded slowly and then asked, “And where is this Interment Camp One Twenty?”

“Why do you care?”

“So we can find and punish those responsible for doing this to you.”

Ward swallowed hard, “I don’t have the coordinates. I’m a pilot, I can help you get there.”

Clark leaned back in his chair and studied Ward, who he could tell was studying him right back.