Theoretically first contact situations were supposed to be enacted without indulging in ego, in spite of whatever ills might beset you. The delicacy of contacting a new sentient species was invariably dangerous – potentially fatally so – meaning that any crew agreeing to make first contact with a new species tacitly acknowledged the very real possibility one or more crewmen may well die in the name of the federation. Being in Starfleet came at a price, and it was not a slight one.
The burden of leadership in these situations meant that one was forced to do what was right rather than what one wished to do. For example, Will Riker very much wished that he had given the order to destroy the Giant with the ship’s main phaser banks rather than recovering and restraining the giant. It would not have been the diplomatically appropriate solution or his duty as a Starfleet officer, but it would have been deeply satisfying.
Will Riker hated the Giant of Antiea as much as he could recall hating any man. Five – the giant had killed five crewmen and had done his damnedest to kill another fifty, most of whom hadn’t even been part of security. It was pure chance that he hadn’t killed a room full of elementary school students.
So it was that when Lieutenant Worf voiced his concerns, William found himself agreeing with his Klingon counterpart.
“I do not understand why we are allowing it to continue to live.” The Klingon smashed his hand on the table. “The very notion that it continues to breathe is offensive after the carnage it caused.”
“Mr. Worf – this is a first contact situation. One that we have grossly misjudged.” Captain Picard steepled his fingers in thought as he leaned back in his chair. “We assumed – incorrectly – that Mr. Data’s deception would be sufficient to fool the Giant. We detained a sentient against his will and he reacted to that situation with fear and anger. I am to blame for this – not he.”
“With respect Captain, might you be allowing your interest in the distant past to cloud your judgment for the present? This thing is a cold blooded killer without remorse. It would skin you as soon as look at you.” The Klingon growled. “You can’t negotiate with a rabid dog.”
“I wonder, Mr. Worf, if the Federation might not have said the same about the Klingons not so long ago?” The Captain sighed. “The birthing pains of forging ties with a new species – especially one who represents as unique and strange of an opportunity as the Giant does – must be endured. If the Federation declared every species who killed someone in a first contact situation irredeemably anathema to us, there would be precious few sentient beings in the Federation.”
“Fewer still if the Giant has his will.” Lt. Worf growled. “He fights without honor, attacking those without weapons to defend themselves – killing without mercy.”
“Did he not allow Lt. Barclay to pass by him unmolested?” The Captain asked. “His report seemed to indicate that the Giant had every chance to harm to the Lieutenant but the Giant just walked past.”
“The Giant’s… aggression was primarily directed at non-humans.” Worf’s lip curled, exposing fang. “The human officers were attacked for trying to protect the wounded or acting aggressively to his person.”
“Captain.” William interjected, “I share a number of Mr. Worf’s concerns. Every effort to communicate with him has been met with violent and unwarranted aggression. Even if we don’t incarcerate him for his actions on this ship, I don’t know how we can justify forcing a diplomatic engagement without considering it a wanton violation of the Prime Directive.”
“We woke him up Will.” Deanna replied. “We’re responsible for everything that’s happened to him since. This isn’t some species we can just leave alone and give time to mature – he has no home upon which we might drop him off. He’s an orphaned son of a dead society older than the Federation by countless ages. There likely isn’t a society left for us to affect.”
“But this is still a thinking being.” Will retorted. “He has free will, the will to choose what happens to him, and nothing he’s done indicates that he would chose to remain with us.”
“Actually, that might not be precisely accurate.” LCDR LaForge said, furrowing his brow. “When we beamed the Giant up to the ship we ran a standard pattern recognition routine to detect and transfer him up to the holodeck. We didn’t account for a number of rare atomic particles used in the Giant’s cyborg components, specifically those in his brain. The rare elements were left behind, affecting functionality.”
“Are you telling me that we lobotomized the man’s brain?” Captain Picard said in horror.
“Not precisely Captain.” The android Data replied. “He has a network integrated into his brain which would, in theory, allow him to continue operating after massive cerebral trauma or to modify cognitive function. Without the rare elements used in the cybernetics, the components misfired randomly – presumably defaulting him to a survival state. One can only speculate how complex his thoughts were, but it is reasonable to assume that his higher reasoning skills were deeply impaired.”
“So he is a wounded and cornered animal – that makes him more dangerous, not less.” Worf Growled.
“Yes, but it’s an issue that we can hopefully fix. The cybernetics in the Giant were clearly designed by someone who indented for their technology to be easily repaired with more primitive tools than were involved in their fabrication. I think that a standard medical tricorder and hypospray could be used to restore what we undid.” LCDR LaForge tapped his visor. “The implants in my head work on similar principles.”
“I confess that I’m reluctant to expose a medical team to the potential dangers of the Giant in open surgery.” Captain Picard chewed his lip. “Can he be sufficiently sedated to even try it?”
“I don’t need to remove him from the brig Captain. Presumably I can program a remote hypospray to inject him with the necessary inoculation of nanomachines to restore his cybernetics. That’s not our problem.” Dr. Crusher sighed. “That’s the least of our problems. Exposing him to the vacuum of space has activated some sort of willfully induced comatose state. His body has started secreting a viscous waxy oil that is hardening over his dermis, presumably to protect him from radiation.”
“Tough bastards aren’t they?” Joked Will.
“Tougher than you could imagine.” Data nodded, immune as ever to the intended humor. “As you are aware, it took a full fifteen minutes for the Giant to be rendered unconscious. The Giant spent those fifteen minutes attempting to crush me. Though he was unable to do more than superficial harm to my exoskeleton, I do not believe that I would have been able to extricate myself from his grip under my own power. The doctor had to forcibly separate me from his interlocked arms with the aid of a muscle relaxant.”
“You’re telling me that the Giant managed to keep trying to murder you while he was in a coma?” Will chuckled at the sheer absurdity of it. “This guy is so ornery that he’s even trying to kill people in his sleep.”
“So it would seem.” Captain Picard smiled sadly. “Dr. Crusher, it was not my intention to endanger this crew when I brought this man aboard. And yet I must burden you with the unfortunate task of ministering to our most ’ornery’ guest.”
“I’ve faced ornery patients before. Rage I can handle.” Beverly sighed. “No, my problem is going to be having a recovering patient responsible for the majority of the other patients in sick bay or the morgue. There are going to be a lot of angry crewmen that we’re not killing him outright.”
“Their rage will have to be subordinate to their duties as members of the Federation.” Picard’s words slowed with deliberate intensity. “We cannot allow our passions to overwhelm what is right.”
“Passions or no, I may not be able to fix him at all. It’s hard enough to fix injuries in someone whose physiology has been studied for centuries but I’ve got less than two days of documentation on how to treat the Giant.” Dr. Crusher bit her lip in agitation. “I’m largely operating blindly. But even I can see that if he doesn’t wake up soon, his organs are going to collapse due to sheer stress. Not to put too fine a point on it, but he hasn’t eaten since before the dinosaurs and he has about 0% body fat content. I can get intravenous nutrients going, but that’s a stop gap at best. He needs to actually digest some solid food and his body has currently put the digestive process on hold.”
“Can you wake him with a stimulant or something?” Will asked.
Beverly shook her head. “I’ve already tried all the cerebral resuscitation methods I dare. I don’t feel confident enough in my knowledge of his chemistry or cybernetics to try anything stronger. I could end up damaging him even more than when we started this process.”
“Captain, I’ve looked over the readings on the Giant’s brain.” Data intoned. “There are similarities between the cybernetics inducing the Giant’s coma and known technologies used by telepathic species. It seems likely that the Giant’s trance might be broken with the use of a telepath.”
“Absolutely not.” Will interjected before Deanna could offer to do some damn fool thing. “The last time the Counselor tried to make contact with the Giant’s mind he used it as a way of attacking her. We can’t assume that he won’t do the same twice.”
“No, we can not. But it is still our most viable option.” Data replied. “The situation remains, if nothing is done to ameliorate the Giant’s current condition he will die. Deanna is the most powerful non-Vulcan psychic to whom we have access. Vulcans appear to elicit excessive violence from the Giant. Logic dictates that it must be the Counselor.”
“Will,” Deanna put a comforting hand on his arm. “It’s ok. I will be ok.”
“Deanna, he had you in tears for hours.” Will replied.
“Yes, but I’ve been sifting through the memories. Trying to piece them together in a way that makes sense.” Deanna stared out the viewport at the stars. “It’s like watching several movies at once. There is a lot of noise and motion that doesn’t all seem to mesh together the right way. I think – I think it is worth trying if it means I can save a life. Enough people have died today Will. I have to try.”
“I can modify a force field generator to specifically bind the giant.” LCRD LaForge offered. “He shouldn’t be able to break out of it.”
“He should not have been able to break out of the Holodeck either.” Lt. Worf asserted. “And yet he was more than capable of repurposing components of his armor into an explosive device.”
“Well it’s not like we could have removed the power supply from his armor without him noticing,” The dark skinned head of Engineering shrugged. “And I honestly didn’t even know that that sort of a power supply could be turned into an explosive. I’ve only even seen it used in theoretical mock ups for entire star ships.”
“Indeed.” Agreed the android. “However he no longer has the use of his armor. We have removed all power sources to ensure that they can’t be activated remotely, and have moved them to a runabout off ship just to be doubly assured of their security. The relative threat he represents should be neutralized with the use of localized force fields, rendering him impotent.”
“Having seen the man, I don’t believe ‘impotent’ is necessarily the appropriate choice of words, Data.” Dr. Crusher replied with a puckish smile. “But I would appreciate some additional security around him, for the Giant’s protection as much as my own.”
“I will see that the detail are all human.” Worf replied in a voice of world-weary resignation. “If we are to try this foolishness again.”
“Good,” The Captain sighed. “Very well, you have your orders. Make it so.”
Will chose to stay, even as the other officers filed out of the room. He took care to let the door shut behind the last of them before saying what had been on his mind for hours. “Captain, you know that even if we manage to heal the Giant, we’re going to have to address the fact that he killed five people and assaulted an entire deck crew. That can’t just be swept under the rug.”
“Nor should it be.” Picard replied. “But if it is true that we are responsible for his current mental state the one who will have to respond to the charges is I.”
“Captain you can’t be serious.” Will blanched.
“I very much am.” He walked away from will to the replicator, addressing the computer firmly. “Earl Grey, hot.”
“Why? Why in God’s name would you do that?” Will massaged his forehead with the palm of his head to address the sudden pain in his temple.
The Captain sipped his tea in thought before looking out the viewport. “Commander Riker, when the Borg took me and used me as their interlocutor I became the instrument of many deaths – Federation deaths- as a result of what was done to me. By no will of my own I was forced to do things that were – and still are – abhorrent to me. In our fumbling efforts to connect it would seem that we have undone this man‘s– this Giant of Antiea’s – sanity. We robbed him of free will, took away choice.”
“Sir…” Will’s voice softened, recognizing the genuine hurt in the Captain’s voice. “What we did is nothing like what the borg did to you.”
“Are you so sure of that Commander?” The Captain raised his tea cup to his lips, looked at it, and set the cup back upon its saucer without drinking. “I fear that in our arrogance and haste we well many have done a greater disservice to the Giant than you realize. There is blood on his hands thanks to us – blood that we caused him to spill. I doubt the Giant will see me as any less of an antagonist for having made him a murderer than I see the Borg. No, I will not belittle him by claiming my innocence.”
“But you are innocent. We are innocent. We had no way of knowing that transporting him would cause him harm.” Will shook his head. “The odds of him having those elements within him – “
“The odds of his very existence are astronomical. For us to presume that a being older than written history would fit within the boundaries of our own limited understanding of the universe was foolish.” Picard sighed, adjusting the front of his uniform. “Lieutenant Worf was correct. I allowed my eagerness to touch the past and connect with a living, breathing mystery cloud my judgment. Were I thinking I would have sent some sort of holographic transmitter to the planet rather than brining him up to the ship. I was just so thrilled to have the mystery of Antiea within my grasp.”
“Captain.” Will trailed off at the man’s title, unsure what words of comfort to offer.
“Commander Riker, we will see this through to the end. We will see the Giant mended and I will not allow his actions resulting from my lack for foresight destroy a historical treasure.” He fixed William with a steely gaze. “Is that understood?”
“Yes Captain.” Will replied. “And Captain?”
“For what it’s worth. We don’t blame you for what the borg made you do. Make sure that you’re not using this as an opportunity to punish yourself for what the Federation wouldn’t.”
Picard’s lips tightened as his eyes flashed in anger. “That will be all Commander.”