From:Valow
To:*Galactic-Enquirer
Stardate:20090228.2229
Subject:GNN - Breaking News - Tragedy above Vega IX

The screen fills with the GNN logo with the text 'VARGIAN FLU CRISIS' in black with much larger, 'BREAKING NEWS' in bright red below that.

A young Andorian man sits at the anchor-desk wearing a conservative, but extremely well-made black suit.  The only real colors on him, besides his blue skin, are a crimson tie and, on his lapel, a green ribbon, the new (and popular) symbol of support for victims of the Vargian Flu.

"This is Kyn Sharl, reporting to you live from GNN headquarters.  We apologize for interupting 'Vulcan Cuisine with Vonak,' but we've just receive an exclusive recording from the plague infected world of Vega IX.  

"I will warn our viewers that, though the following clip is not graphic, the disturbing images and audio portions may not be suitable for all ages."  The Andorian's antennae droop slightly at the seriousness of his words and he stares directly at the holo-camera. The professional talking-head shot, cuts to a shaky amateur camera shot of space as seen from the viewport of a spacecraft.

"Um... I hope this is on.  I'll record for as long as I can and then transmit back to the planet.  I hope that /someone/ receives it," the voice is that of a young man, barely out of puberty.  He is speaking Federation Standard, and sounds audibly weak and tired.

The camera pans to show the lush green and blue globe below.

"Well that's home: Vega Colony.  Nothing too special, I suppose.  Just like a hundred other..." Cough, "... worlds in the sector.  We get a lot of trade though.  Suppose that's why we got hit with the plague so badly."

The view shifts to a distant glinting object in orbit.

"That's the skyhook.  Not a great view from here, but it was impressive my first couple hours up here.  I think something's slowing me down though, because I don't seem to be orbiting as fast any more.  Not a good sign, I'm pretty sure, but I can't do anything about it.

"Well, first things first, I'm out here because... well... I was scared as all hell.  Peopl... my frien... my fami... everyone was dying.  The medics couldn't do anything, and the authorities were starting to lose control.  

"When Starfleet arrived we thought it'd be better, but they can't be everywhere at once and it turns out they're not completely immune either.  Anyway, I was feeling fine, so I decided to make a break for it."  

There's a weak, wheezing type of chuckle.  "I know.  Not a great idea, but what else was I supposed to do?  Anyway, I headed to O'Shaunnesy Field, by the reservoir on the New Amazon.  Figured there wouldn't be as many guards there since it's such a small place.  Turns out I was right.  Bribed a local cop with all of my replicator ration credits and made my way to Marcus Chang's father's shuttlepod.  Marcus took me for a ride in it last year on his 16th birthday party.  Well... I remembered how to take it up, but I neglected to check the fuel supply before I did and didn't have enough fuel to land again, leave alone go anyplace."

The camera shakes a little as more coughing is heard.

"Well that worked out for the best too though.  Turns out I was infected.  So instead of dying with everyone else I know and love, I get to die out here alone in space.  Well... at least I know I won't be infecting anyone else up here.  But that wasn't the case with them, I think."

The view shifts again, moving from the first viewport to another on the opposite side of the craft.  When it steadies there is a starship in view.  It is obviously a Federation design.  "I /think/ it's an Oberth.  I've walked by the Grissom Memorial enough times, that I /should/ know, but whatever.  Well... it doesn't matter now anyway, not to me, and damn sure not to them."

The starship seems... odd somehow to most viewers.  As the camera straightens it becomes apparent that the vessel on the screen is adrift on its y-axis.  A closer examination reveals that yellow quarantine lights are blinking where the running lights normally are.

"You can't read it from this angle, but I was able to before.  It's the USS Cochrane."

There is a slight whirring noise as the camera zooms in on the ship.  The camera is obviously of civilian design because the zoom level shows up on the screen at the bottom right.  When it stops, the hull of the starship dominates the picture.  The camera moves along the lines of the vessel until it stops at a particular section.  

The section, again, seems wrong somehow.

"I didn't notice it the first time I passed, but it finally dawned on me the third time around."

Further zooming into an even closer view of the ship, and from here, an experienced or trained eye, will be able to tell that the lighting is different along this part of the hull sections.  Specifically, there appears to be a light source where none should be.  

The light streams out from an open airlock.

"I thought I saw a few bodies circling that ship, but I'll never know now.  Said a quiet prayer for them - and me - and pretty much ignored it since then.  Not much I can do for anyone without any power myself, and I haven't activated the distress beacon because I don't want anyone to get infected because of my stupidity."

The young narrator sighs, "I can't say that I thought I'd go this way, but it sure as hell beats..."  The speaker is interrupted by a warning klaxon.  There is movement heard behind the camera and the klaxon stops.

"Don't mind that.  It's just the life support system failing," he continues without seeming to be phased by the ominous statement.  "It's just that... well it's done now.  And I'm up here alone."

There's a long pause, with the camera still focused on the open airlock.  Another sigh from behind the camera is heard before the camera zooms out again.

"But that's not what I wanted to show people.  You probably can't make it out right now; I barely did when I was a lot closer.  Gimme a sec, and I'll turn on the image enhancer."

The screen shakes slightly and the image changes.  The black void of space seems a lot brighter and suddenly behind the Cochrane another vessel can be made out.  It is attached to the Federation ship via an emergency docking tube.

"I don't know if you can tell from here, but it's Romulan.  An old freighter design, sure, but no doubt about that swamp green.  Don't ask me what they're doing, 'cause I don't know.  Maybe they were trying to help.  Maybe the Cochrane was trying to help them.  I dunno.  But the two of them have been like that since I've been up here - about a day now - and neither has moved.  So I'm pretty sure the Rommies are all gone too.  Dunno if the flu got them, or the airlock.

"Either way, I'll be finding out soon.  Won't be long now without life support.  I can already feel the air chilling."  Another long silence and then, "You'll excuse me, but I don't want the universe to listen to me dying so... mom, dad, I love you.  I'll be seeing you soon."

The image pauses and then fades.  It is replaced by the GNN anchor.  "That's all that we have.  The message was transmitted to several ground stations before going silent.  At present, the young man - who has yet to be identified - has not been recovered.

"There has been no official comment by either Starfleet or the Romulan Star Empire about the two vessels.  It is not known whether the Romulan freighter was authorized to be in Federation space at this time, or not.

"As we receive this and other information we'll let you know.  This is Kyn Sharl for GNN, returning you to your regularly scheduled program."