Jun. 11th, 2010

ol_yellow_eyes: (at the helm)
One of Data's more pessimistic theories about Dr. Crusher's plans is confirmed, the day after their conversation in the shuttle bay.

Data does not know everything about jealousy, but he is relatively certain that no one on the bridge would envy him the task of bringing this to the captain's attention.

"Captain. An unscheduled launch is taking place in Shuttle Bay 2."

It is quickly determined that the shuttle in question is, in fact, the shuttle that was modified by Dr. Reyga. A hailing frequency is opened, and Dr. Crusher responds. She confirms her intention to prove that the ill-fated test flight had been sabotaged, just as Data suspected she might. All attempts to gain remote control of the shuttle are unsuccessful.

The bridge crew is forced to watch, helplessly, as Dr. Crusher carries out her dangerous experiment.

Data monitors the shuttle as it heads into the star. He turns to the captain. "Sir, the shuttle is entering the corona."

Captain Picard seems worried. But the experiment appears to have been successful—the metaphasic shield is still holding.

Suddenly, communication with the shuttle is lost.

It is Data's job to find the shuttle, to ascertain what has happened to it. The task is made more difficult by the solar interference to the sensors. As he works, he can feel the captain pacing anxiously behind him…

Data recognizes what a loss it would be to the ship, if their chief medical officer was confirmed dead. He is even aware of the fact that he would miss Dr. Crusher, his long-time friend and crewmate. But he does not know if he will ever understand what it is like to be truly afraid of what the answer will be, to be so anxious that you cannot even stand still. Even as he focuses on his current task he keeps track of the captain behind him, and wonders what emotional force is driving him to repeat his path back and forth across the bridge…

The sensors pick up a transient subspace signal. "Captain, there is no indication of debris. However the subspace signal indicates a warp engine breach."

Captain Picard discontinues his pacing, but the frequencies in his voice betray a maintained state of anxiety. "Alright. Begin a Phase One search, starting with the shuttlecraft's last known coordinates. Plot a proximity course toward the star—"

"Sir," Lieutenant Worf interrupts. "We are picking up an object emerging from the corona."

It is the shuttle.

Dr. Crusher sounds somewhat breathless as she hails the ship. "Crusher to Enterprise. I'm all right. Returning to the ship." She smiles. "And I finally have the answers I've been looking for."

.....


Apparently, Dr. Jo'Bril had not been killed in the original test flight. Previously unknown to Starfleet informational sources, his species is able to simulate a deathlike state. He had framed Dr. Reyga for his own death, with the intention of discrediting him and pursuing the metaphasic shielding technology for his own purposes.

He hid in the shuttle and attacked Dr. Crusher during her flight. After severing communications, he sent the transient subspace signal and planned to wait until the Enterprise left before taking the prototype shuttle back to his own planet.

It is a fascinating conclusion to an intriguing mystery.

But even Data—who has always enjoyed a good mystery—finds this relatively unimportant, when compared with the fact the Dr. Crusher is all right.

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January 2011

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