EPILOGUE -- "Cold and Dead"
People worked at their stations as Lieutenant Cerin brought Pegasus into the spacedock and powered the engines down. Captain Poe turned to see Hanson, Nilree, and McFarlane exit a turbolift together and approach him, with Dr. Betencourt following a distance behind.
Nilree and McFarlane looked at Hanson. "Other than the hull breach on Decks 9 and 10 and some microfracturing of the hull from small meterorite impacts, the ship came out of it fairly well. The ... plasma manifold is burnt out and will have to be replaced completely."
Poe nodded, noticing Nilree seemed to shrink slightly at mention of that. "Small price to pay for saving our lives," the captain said, looking at the downcast ensign. "Won't replacing the manifold prove problematic with Xirin in place? It does feed on plasma, after all."
"Actually, c-c-Captain, the Xirin b-biol-lifeform ..." Nilree trailed off after a moment, looking at Betencourt. The CMO handed Poe the PADD he was holding.
"Ensigns Nilree, McFarlane and I examined Xirin. Roughly 60% of the mass is now composed of inorganic substance that disintegrates into fine particles of a carbon structure and eventually disappears." The PADD showed several decks and areas of the ship, including all of Main Engineering, where this effect was occurring.
"The power systems where Xirin had been connected in its normal state are now functioning normally, unimpeded by Xirin," Hanson added.
Poe looked at the data, then looked up at the three engineers. "The biolifeform -- Xirin -- is dying?"
"Not dying, Captain," Betencourt said. "Xirin is dead. I expect the remaining mass will disintegrate within the next few hours."
"What sort of damage will that cause to our systems?"
"If we reroute power to the systems currently running on their own, and bypass the systems where the biolifeform still remains, we should manage to avoid damage. Some key junctions and ODN conduits may need replacing, but it should be easy to do that while we're here in spacedock," McFarlane responded.
Hanson nodded. "I'd recommend going over all the bioneural gelpacks on board as well. They haven't had to do as much work with Xirin on board."
Poe nodded. "Yes, make it so ..." The captain pondered for a moment, then said, "What about Xirin's child?"
Nilree produced a little jar with the small amber being inside, gurgling happily. "It's c-called p-p-Pereine, according to the files I f-found," Nilree said quietly. "P-Pereine appears to be fine."
"We fed it some modified plasma energy per Farrell's instructions in the database," Betencourt responded. "It is showing no signs of cellular degradation."
Poe shook his head. "I don't know how many times I've wanted to be rid of Xirin, and have even prepared for or taken steps to make that happen. But to actually have it occur now ..." Poe trailed off, then smiled wanly at the other officers. "Some changes take longer to get used to than others, I suppose." He nodded. "Thank you for your report, all of you. Please coordinate with the engineering staff here on the starbase and instruct them on what we need." The three engineers nodded and headed back for the turbolift. Poe stopped Betencourt. "Doctor, are you feeling better?"
"Yes, thank you, Captain. The drugs have worn off and I don't sense anything from Xirin at all anymore." Betencourt made a gesture. "That's one of the things that tipped me off to something being wrong with it."
Poe nodded, and Betencourt left the bridge as well. Radimir got out of his chair and came up to stand next to Poe, whispering, "Xirin is gone?"
Poe nodded. "When I was concerned about taking care of my crew, I guess I didn't think to take care of the ship as well." Radimir seemed about to object, but Poe interrupted. "I'll be in Sickbay." The captain headed for his ready room, reaching in once the door opened and producing a small shovel before heading towards the science terminal. "Miss K'lina?"
The Klingon turned around to face the captain. "Yes?"
Poe lobbed the shovel into her grasp right-side up. K'lina caught it around the handle. "0700 hours, Arboretum. I hear you went to town tearing up my arboretum. Looks like you've got some replanting to help us do." Poe smiled as he turned to head for the turbolift, entering it and asking for Sickbay.
As Poe entered, Cook walked by. Poe nodded at Cook, and the chef smiled as he headed back towards his quarters. Poe looked around and found three different patients in Sickbay, with Raven moving between all three. Poe immediately went to Martinique's side as she sat on a small stool, with Raven giving her a hypospray. "Marty? What's wrong?"
His ex-wife looked somewhat pale as she turned to look at him. Giving him a smile, she said, "Too much tranya."
"The price ambassadors pay for successfully re-opening diplomatic contact," Raven said with a smirk. "That should make you feel better in just a couple of minutes."
Martinique nodded. "Thank you, doctor." Raven moved off to attend to a stoic MacIntosh, who was pulling on a shirt and sitting up on his biobed.
Poe smiled widely for the first time in some time. "Your mission was a success?"
Marty beamed back. "It was. I can't wait until this hypo starts working so I can go file my report and do some sketches."
Looking around furtively, Poe decided to risk a kiss on the cheek. "Good job." He smiled, then moved over towards Joyce DeFarb.
"How is she doing?" Poe asked about the sleeping woman to her friend, who had kept a constant vigil.
"Oh, captain!" Caterina DiMarco stood up, wearing a patient's robe herself. "She'll be all right, Doctor Raven tells me. If they'd found her too much longer, she might have had serious anoxic brain damage ... or ..." DiMarco shook her head, then smiled and reached over, taking one of Joyce's hands. "She's going to be all right."
"And yourself? I am told you were shot as well."
DiMarco smiled. "You know me, captain, I'm a tough old bird. I'll be fine too."
"Good, because I don't think Jono would forgive me if I kept his wife on board all this time only to have her get seriously injured." Poe smiled at the woman and put a hand on her shoulder. Tears welled up in her eyes, and she nodded slightly, unable to make a response.
After a moment, Poe moved over towards MacIntosh. "Hold still, I need to finish knitting this rib," Raven said with mild irritation as she ran a device over MacIntosh's side.
Galrant stood nearby, his arm covered in dermal regenerative bandaging and cradling MacIntosh's Winchester in the other arm, offering, "Don't worry, sir -- she's got a soft and gentle touch."
Raven shot him a look that Poe didn't quite understand, then she put the device down, saying, "You two are both free to go. Quickly." She headed for her office, and MacIntosh straightened his uniform and stood up.
"Do we have any information on our intruders, Lieutenant?"
The security chief shook his head. "No, sir. The race does not appear in our database, and they did not stop to introduce themselves."
"It still amazes me that we can find unknown races right here in the Federation's own backyard," Poe said with some awe. "Though I personally prefer meeting the more hospitable ones, who aren't trying to kill or rob us." Having said that, Poe reached into a pocket and handed MacIntosh the small revolver the lieutenant had lent him earlier that day. "It came in handy, thank you."
The security chief nodded and said in his usual terse manner, "I'm glad it did."
"He doesn't look too bad for having been shot twice and having some ribs broken, does he, sir?"
Poe raised an eyebrow at Galrant, then looked at MacIntosh. "Not to mention almost suffocating on the nearly airless bridge. But you're right, he looks none the worse for wear." Poe leaned in to MacIntosh and whispered, "That was incredibly foolish, heading to the bridge to take out three aliens all by yourself. You were nearly killed. Don't do that sort of thing again."
Mac looked at Poe, but simply nodded. Poe continued, "It was also very brave, and I won't forget that. Good job, lieutenant." Poe smiled slightly, and the security chief returned the smile after a moment.
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