The Prime Directive and COVID-19

Stardate March 31, 2020

Lt. Uhura: Captain, we are getting a distress signal from COVID-19, a planet in the Corona Galaxy. They say their population is experiencing a disease outbreak that is killing thousands, and they cannot get control over it. They want Starfleet expertise and support.

Captain Kirk: Sulu, lay a course for COVID-19 at warp speed 20. (pressing his communicator button) Bones, come up to the Bridge. We’re going to need your help.

Bones (aka Dr. McCoy)(arriving from Sick Bay): Jim, what is it?

Captain Kirk: The occupants of COVID-19 are dying from a mysterious illness. They have asked for our help. I want you to lead a landing party when we arrive to see what can be done. Spock, what do we know about this planet, COVID-19?

Spock: Captain, it is a class M planet similar to earth with oceans, landmasses, and plants producing oxygen. In looking at the recent history of the planet, I note that 46% of the trees on COVID have been cut down to build businesses and homes. Over the past few decades, the oceans have warmed, glaciers are melting, and the planet’s temperature has increased.

Later, when they have arrived at COVID-19’s orbit.

Captain Kirk: Sulu, I want you and Mr. Scott to join Bones on a landing party along with Yeomans Smith and Jones. See what you can find out about this mysterious disease. We want to know both causes and cures.

Sulu and Mr. Scott: Aye aye, Captain. We are heading to the transporter room now.

On COVID-19 (Bones, Scottie, Sulu, and Yeomans Smith and Jones beam to the surface where they are met by COVID Doctors Wuhan and Italia.)

Dr. McCoy: Tell us, doctors, what do you know so far about this illness?

Dr. Wuhan: Thank you for coming, Doctor McCoy. We know that this virus developed naturally. We have not been able to develop a vaccine or a cure yet. Not everyone who is infected shows symptoms, but everyone who has it is highly contagious. So we do not know who is passing the virus along to others.

Bones: What do you know about the virus itself?

Dr. Italia: We believe that it jumped from one of our animal species, the civetto, to Covidians where it is wreaking havoc with our immune systems and killing many people young and old. It is part of a family of viruses that we have seen many times over the past 50 years. We were able to get control of the previous viruses, but this virus is out of control and killing many Covidians.

Dr. McCoy: Hmmm, that is interesting. Take me to some of your patients so I can see for myself. In the meantime, Scottie, Sulu, Smith and Jones, you take a look around and see what else you can discover about this virus.

Scottie and Sulu begin to walk around the area and interview Covidians. Smith and Jones are directed to go into the adjoining woods to take environmental readings with their tricorders.

Smith: Jones, I am seeing some unusual readings about these trees. How about you?

Jones: Yeah, I see them too. What do you make of it? It looks to me like these trees have a very highly developed root system.

Smith: Instead of just branching out into hundreds of root hairs, these tree roots have tendrils that are reaching out to other trees, almost like they are holding hands.

Jones: It looks like the trees are communicating with each other. Do you hear something? It sounds like a low hum, but not from any animal I’ve ever heard.

Smith: I hear it too! It sounds like it is coming from underground. (Smith bends down to put his ear to the ground) It is! I swear, it sounds like the trees are whispering to one another.

Suddenly, a huge branch drops from a tree and impales Smith through the torso.

Jones: Smith! Smith! I am going to run to get Dr. McCoy to help you!

Jones finds Dr. McCoy, Scottie and Sulu at the hospital and rushes back to where Smith is lying with a tree branch through his torso. McCoy runs the tricorder over Smith and sees that he is already dead.

Dr. McCoy: What happened? This does not look like a random accident. This branch went directly through his heart. He didn’t have a chance.

Jones: We were taking tricorder readings of these trees and their root systems. They are really unusual. Smith heard a humming noise from underground and bent down to listen. The last thing he said was that he thought the trees were whispering to one another and then the branch dropped and killed him.

Suddenly, branches fall all around the crew. Mr. Scott calls the Enterprise and requests a beam up all five of them, including Smith who he is holding in his arms.

In the transporter room, Kirk and Spock are awaiting the landing party’s return.

Captain Kirk(running over to Smith in Scott’s arms): Bones, what happened?

Bones: He’s dead, Jim. Let Yeoman Jones tell you. I don’t understand it myself.

Jones: Captain, sir, Smith and I were in the forest taking environmental readings when we noticed something strange about the root structures of the trees on COVID-19. We noticed that the trees’ root systems not only branch out like most M planet trees, but they have tendrils that reach out and connect to one another. We heard a hum coming from underground and Smith put his ear to the ground. That’s when the branch dropped and hit him right in the heart. The weird thing was, there was no wind or anything that would make the branch drop. When I got the rest of the crew and was telling them what happened, more branches started dropping on all of us. We were lucky to get out alive!

Bones: The strangest thing is, this branch seems like it knew exactly where to hit Smith.

Spock: Fascinating. In my research on COVID-19, I found that the Covidians are destroying the natural habitat on the planet at a rate faster than can ever be replenished. In a matter of decades, the Covidians will need to find another planet to live on or die out as a species. We know from research in the 2000’s that the trees there do communicate. Perhaps the Covidian trees have evolved to a higher level of communication in order to stop their extinction.

Bones: Are you out of your Vulcan mind! Are you saying that the trees killed Yeoman Smith? And they are killing the Covidians? What do the trees have to do with the virus?

Spock: The trees have nothing to do with the virus.

Captain Kirk: Then what is causing the virus? Bones, what did you find?

Bones: We know that the virus jumped from an animal species called the civettos to Covidians and possibly mutated. Civettos are a mammalian species that live in trees. We also know that the virus is linked to a family of viruses that have plagued COVID-19 over the past 50 years.

Captain Kirk: But do we have a chance for a cure?

Bones: I don’t know yet, Jim. I will need to get into my lab to see what I can come up with.

Spock: Captain, perhaps now is a good time to remind us all of Starfleet’s Prime Directive mandating that we not interfere with the normal development of Covidian society nor provide it any technology.

Captain Kirk: Spock, we were brought here to help the Covidians conquer this virus. Starfleet is aware of our purpose here. Bones can go ahead and work on a cure.

Spock: Captain, if only it were that easy. I have come to a logical conclusion that both the trees and the animals that live on COVID-19 are trying to kill the Covidians in an effort to keep themselves and the planet alive. Once the Covidian species has been culled to a manageable size where they do not overrun the environment and natural resources, the virus will become dormant. The natural COVID-19 world order will be restored and the planet will go back to a state of equilibrium. If Dr. McCoy finds a cure, then the Covidians are sure to die by their own hand when the planet overheats.

McCoy: My god, Spock! You unfeeling computer! You would leave these people to die a slow-burning death when we can help them?

Spock: On the contrary, Dr. McCoy. Your help would only put off the inevitable. Unless you can teach the Covidians how to put aside their need for constant “progress”, they will end up dying that slow death anyway. If you cure this virus, the planet will find another one to unleash. The animals and plants are just trying to save themselves.

Captain Kirk: Bones, I think that Spock is right about this. The best thing we can do is allow the plants and animals to try to stop the planet's destruction since the Covidians are not willing to or do not seem to understand that they are killing their planet. Sulu, take us out of here, warp speed 5.

I am curious about so many things and love researching and writing about things I find interesting.

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