A fiery nebula and stellar nursery

Critical Masses

In recent weeks an outbreak of Alaran flu has been reported on several of the Federation's outlying colonies, near the Romulan border. Starfleet Medical has studied these cases and determined that they are moving inward. In fact, projections show that this highly virulent respiratory illness will reach core Federation worlds such as Andor, Vulcan, or Earth within a month. With this in mind, the Potemkin has been dispatched to Serlet IV to obtain supplies that will make a vaccine for the Alaran flu.

The 'Tem arrived in orbit of Serlet IV's curiously named capitol, Infinite City, and hailed the Vice President's office to obtain the supplies. The vice president, an white haired Eforsian named Albio, greeted the ship, but informed them that no such vaccine existed. Warp countered that they had been sent by Dr. Atri Enialis, director of Starfleet Health Services. Albio grew indignant at the very suggestion that he would be ignorant of a vaccine on his own world and cut the channel.

While the more scientifically minded among the crew debated about the flu itself (and Aklar revealing that Dr. Enialis was his mother), the command crew tried to contact Albio again, but was told by an aide that he was unreachable for the rest of the day. Appeals to the office of President Genaril were similarly rebuffed. Drosan commented that all the stories from the FNS about Serlet IV that he had seen involved massive government corrupted, but there hadn't been many reports lately.

With millions of lives at stake, Warp called for the formulation of plans. He asked for Bom and Arnet to lead an away team down to the Ministry of Health to further investigate. Melina suggested that someone on the ship pretend to have the disease and beg for the vaccine as a ruse. The plan was considered, but eventually the decision was made to wait until the away team discovered something. The away team gathered in the transporter room to beam down while Warp and Melina decided to search more into the reports of government corruption. Meanwhile, Drosan asked to meet with Fuller privately to discuss an urgent matter.

Melina found local reports about government correction had decreased recently because the reporters involved had disappeared. She found evidence that there was a smuggling ring operating with the tacit permission of the middle echelons of the government. This ring, the Sparrow Brotherhood, was also known to have ties to the Orion Syndicate. In the Observation Lounge Drosan spoke candidly with Fuller about their recent run ins with Section 31 and expressed his concern about how active they were - going so far as to operate out in the open.

Down on the planet the away team entered the Ministry of Health and learned from an aide that the man in charge was a Dr. Alaran - namesake of the flu. What's more is that Ceja's scans revealed that the aide herself had antibodies that suggested she had been vaccinated against the flu. The aide mentioned even mentioned that another group had been by earlier that day asking about vaccination; the second being a group of bureaucrats from the central government.

Warp quickly informed the team about the Sparrow Brotherhood and warned them to be on their guard. The apparent M.O. of the group was to get their hands on chemicals, minerals, and medicine and then sell them to needy populations at greatly marked-up prices. With this information the group with met with Dr. Alaran, who both confirmed the existence of large stores of the vaccine and that there had not been a case on Serlet IV in over a decade. He was further surprise to hear that the flu had spread on worlds sectors away - and then he too realized that this must be the work of The Sparrows.

Back on board Drosan confided that he feared that Section 31 would only grow bolder if left alone and wanted to know if Fuller was willing to help him take them on. Fuller agreed, but was not sure if a public forum was the way to do it - it could lead to members leaving the Federation. Drosan, assured of Fuller's help, then turned his attention to Lt. Nguyen - a former member himself and not trusted by the reporter.

Doctor Alaran agreed to come to the Potemkin with the crew in order to discuss the vaccine in a safer environment. Once aboard he was taken straight to the bridge, but the government had already noticed his absence and Albio again contacted the ship to demand he return at once - only to find himself in the uncomfortable position of having his lies about no vaccine refuted by Alaran himself. It also became apparent that someone near to Alaran had been actively trafficking the flu virus with the government's approval, all that the Sparrows could sell the vaccine and make a fortune.

A ship was then spotted on sensors trying to leave the planet. Warp ordered a tractor beam to stop the ship, with Albio all but confessing it was an Orion ship smuggling the virus and vaccine. The ship strained against the tractor beam and even managed to raise it's shields. It started to flee, and Warp was forced to order Fuller to fire on it. Phasers were not effective enough and Fuller launched photon torpedoes. They took out the ship's engines, but also did significant damage. The 'Tem tried to beam those aboard directly to the brig, but the vessel exploded violently before the transporters had a chance to work.

Doctor Alaran agreed to help Arnet synthesize his vaccine and stay aboard the Potemkin in order to stop the spread of the disease, even though he would now potentially be exiled from his own planet, while the rest of the crew realized the full horror of what had just occurred.

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