The Smarter Half

Chapter 3

Captain Picard stood and straightened his uniform as Dr. Beverly Crusher entered the room, carrying a medical tricorder in her right hand. She had a curious and puzzled look on her face. When the captain had contacted her, she was also curious as to what a female Pakled looked like. Geordi LaForge was kind enough to show her some pictures of the male Pakleds he had taken with his tricorder without their knowledge while he was a captive aboard their vessel, to give her some idea as to what he went through and what Pakleds generally looked like. Crusher saw that their guest did not look much different.

"You wanted to ask me something, Captain?"

"Yes, Beverly. Kathara here told us that their men mine a substance they call amzite. It is used to control bacteriological growths on worlds threatened by blight. It sounds like another substance that we use for the same purpose that has similar properties."

"We use zenite for that. Is that the substance you are referring to?"

"Yes, doctor."

"The people who taught us how to mine amzite also called it zenite. Are you saying that this material is doing some kind of harm to our men?" Kathara asked, a little surprised.

"Yes, we think so. Zenite in its raw form emits a colorless and odorless gas that retards the intellectual abilities of most humanoid species. It also makes them highly aggressive. In the case of your men, it appears that they are very susceptible...no offense."

"None taken." Kathara answered with a smile. "Those who taught us how to mine our amzite also called it zenite, but they made no mention of anything harmful."

"Who are those people?" Picard asked.

"They are Ardanans. They taught us many things and are very smart."

"If they are so smart, why didn't they mention the gas?" Geordi asked.

"I am not sure, but I think they thought that we were too dumb to understand or maybe they just didn't think of mentioning it. They strike me as snobs, and I think they thought we weren't worthy of knowing what they did."

"You are indeed a long way from home. Ardana is thirty light years from here. It's no wonder you ran out of fuel."

"I am glad that you were kind enough to come to my aid."

"Our pleasure, madam." Picard said. "We will contact Ardana via subspace and find out why they didn't tell you about the effects of zenite gas on your miners. We will ferry you and your ship to your home world if you wish and will help you search for your little boy."

"Thank you, Captain."

"You are quite welcome. Mr. Worf, please assign guest quarters for our visitor here and I will contact Ardana. I find it a little disturbing that they didn't tell the Pakleds about the zenite gas. Ardana is a member of the Federation, and it is their duty to tell those they deal with about such hazards."

"Agreed, Captain." Worf said, watching as their guest got to her feet and headed for the entrance. "This way, madam."

Captain Picard watched as the face of the high adviser to the planet Ardana appeared on his viewing screen in his ready room. The face was that of a middle-aged woman, with touches of gray in her hair. Her name was Verdania.

"Greetings, Captain Picard of the Enterprise-D. It has been nearly a century since we last heard from the Enterprise. What can I do for you?"

"Greetings to you, high adviser. I have called you on behalf of a Pakled guest we have on board. She has informed us that you did not make the Pakleds aware of the dangers of mining raw zenite. Was that an oversight on your part?"

"It must have been, sir. It has been a long time since we have had any dealings with the Pakleds. It was right after that scuffle with Captain Kirk that is in our history files. Apparently, High Adviser Plasus still didn't believe in the dangers of raw zenite mining. I wasn't born yet at that time. Is there a problem?"

"No, not really. I was just curious." Picard smiled. "I am also wondering if you still had your cloud city."

"No, sir. The antigravity units began to malfunction about twenty years ago and the city slowly descended to the surface. Thankfully, nobody was hurt and the city is still intact."

"I am glad about that. We are ferrying our female guest to her home world. She is in search of her lost son. His name is Senardo and is nine years old."

"Our local constabulary recently picked up a child matching your description, who had been beamed down from a Pakled ship. He had been wandering the streets, apparently lost and disoriented."

"Do you still have him in custody?"

"Yes. He is in our juvenile facility and is being cared for. I am glad you called, Captain. Please tell his mother that he is here."

"We will, High Adviser. Thank you for your time."