An Act of Human Compassion

By Linda

Rating: G

Genres: episode rewrites

Keywords: first contact

This story has been read by 719 people.
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Disclaimer: No filthy lucre changed hands.


Note on story: This story is based on the Star Trek: Enterprise first season episode ‘Dear Doctor’.  I strongly recommend that you re-watch this episode before reading this story.  Since Kevin Thomas Riley pointed out in his review of the episode that he thought Archer made the wrong decision about keeping a cure from the Valakians, I have been thinking about this problem.   An idea concerning this problem finally coalesced in my mind and became this story.


Terran year 2356

Captain Picard was enjoying the lovely sight of the Valakian home world on the view screen in his ready room as the Enterprise D slowly orbited the plant.  Observing the Valakian civilization’s warp test had been a bit disconcerting for him.  Things had gone well at warp one, but at warp two, their ship seemed ready to shake itself apart.  They had aborted the test at that point.  Still, one could say the Valakians were now a warp capable civilization. 


Picard turned.  Dr. Crusher was standing in the doorway to the bridge.

“Commander Riker said you wanted me.”

“Ah, yes, Beverly.  Come in.”

Picard tugged his uniform tunic down, then indicated the guest chair and sat behind his desk.   

“Have you finished your appraisal of this unusual civilization comprised of two sentient species?”

“I have.  The two species are genetically incompatible for interbreeding.  But in the cities, they live in an intermingled population quite peacefully.    In rural areas, the Valakians seem to occupy the more fertile areas and there are isolated pockets of Menk communities in the more marginal areas.  Certain groups of Menk like to keep to the old ways with a less advanced technology - something like the Amish communities on Earth.   The architectural styles of the two species are different; you can see examples of this side-by-side in the cities.   All highway and informational signs on the planet are in both languages.   And fortunately, there is no trace of the condition that almost wiped out the Valakians two centuries ago when Captain Archer’s Enterprise visited this world.”

“Hmmm,” Picard said drumming his fingers on his desk.  “They have been busy the past two centuries, finding a cure for that horrible disease and then bringing their technology up to warp level.   Of course, they moved more quickly than Earth did, being undistracted by major surface wars like the ones we had.   And, they were aware that warp technology was a viable concept since at least three warp capable species had visited their world.  Still, I am glad they were left alone as a protected world after the Federation formed and the Prime Directive came into effect.”

“Certainly,” said Beverly, “they have done well and will be a welcome addition to the Federation.   The mixed species crew on that warp test ship worked well together and kept their heads when the test started to go awry.  Did you know that the Valakians credit the Menk with giving them the cure for that disease two centuries ago that had brought them to the brink of extinction?  You would not have thought the Menk were capable of inventing such a sophisticated cure at their stage of technological development in the years shortly following Captain Archer’s visit.  Oh, and may I ask if the Valakian planetary authorities are now applying for allied or full member status with the Federation?”

“They desire full membership, and I will be recommending that in my report.  We are to take their envoys aboard within the hour – one Valakian and one Menk representative.   The interspecies cooperation on this world appears unusual, and I am sure that Federation sociologists and anthropologists will be eager to take up the study of it after you submit your own report.  We will be breaking orbit and heading back to the Terran System at 0600.  You are dismissed to return to your normal duties, Doctor.”


Terran year 2151

“Thank you,” Dr. Phlox said, smiling at his Menk helper.  “Your organizing of these samples has made my job easier.”

“You are very welcome,” said Larr.  “Shall I carry this box to your shuttle?”

“If you would, please.”

Phlox was amazed at how quickly this young Menk had picked up English language skills.  Perhaps he was the Hoshi Sato of the Menk race.    He beamed at Larr, telling him: “Crewman Cutler will show you how to stow them.”

“Stow?” asked Larr, a bit puzzled.

“Um, how to place them in the shuttle,” Phlox replied.

Larr nodded and attempted to extend his smile as wide as Phlox’s, which was physiologically impossible.  Then he carried away the samples and disappeared inside the shuttle.  Phlox hefted another box and followed.


Doctor Phlox spent many hours studying the Menk blood samples and then spent more time working with his samples of the Valakian disease.  His scientific curiosity would not allow him to stop before he had discovered the answer to this insidious problem.   It took some creative thinking, but in the end he nodded in satisfaction.  Then he closed his eyes in sadness.

After some deep reflection, Phlox went to the mess hall to consult with the captain.   Having reluctantly told Archer about the cure which he had managed to develop, he gave his opinion that it should not be used.   The captain, he could see, was wrestling with the implications of Phlox’s words.  There was little more Phlox could do to help his captain with this heavy ethical problem, so he returned to his quarters and prepared to try to relax and forget the situation for a little while. 

Phlox took off his footwear and wiggled his toes to dissipate his worry over what his captain would decide about the cure.  He would not refuse to deliver the cure to the Valakians if ordered to by Archer.   But in his own system of ethics, it would be going against the natural evolution of this planet to do so.   Should he have just destroyed the cure without informing his captain of its existence?  No, a ship needed discipline.   It was the captain’s place to make the decision, not the chief medical officer, whose duty was only to advise. 

Phlox grunted and dug his feet under the blanket to warm them, but physical comfort could not mask his thoughts about this Valakian situation.  If the captain only gave these people the pain medication, the cure would have to be disposed of.  Crewman Cutler had become something of an informal assistant and confidant in recent weeks.  She was frank and honest in her dealings with him, and they were skirting around the edges of a closer relationship.  He could trust her discretion.  He would have her take the box of Valakian study materials to engineering for incineration. 

Sighing, he leaned back against the pillows of his bed.  His quarters were a nice place to relax even if he didn’t need the bunk for sleeping.   He picked up one padd from a pile of them on the shelf next to the bed.  He had only read half of Dr. Lucas’s latest letter and had not written to any of his family members for over a month.  Keeping up with his friends and family should temporarily distract him from his mixed emotions concerning the Valakians. 

While Phlox was relaxing, Crewman Cutler was having a milk shake in the mess hall with Ensign Sato.  At the end of a shift, they had brushed passed the captain leaving the mess hall as they were arriving.  Both women were tired but were unable to sleep while waiting to hear if Dr. Phlox would be able to come up with a cure for the poor Valakians.

“Did you know the Valakians are starting to train the Menk in fairly complex medical tech jobs?” Cutler asked.

Hoshi stopped sucking on her straw to say “There were several already working at the hospital we were in.  Since they are immune, that makes a lot of sense.   I didn’t see any Menk out on the city streets, though, did you?”

“No, actually.”  Cutler frowned.  “I only saw a lot of them together when we visited one of their villages to take blood samples.  With the hand-held translator I was able to talk to Larr, and it didn’t take long before he was speaking in simple English phrases.   He said his people were now being allowed to learn all kinds of technology that they were banned from before.   He is excited about that, but scared because of the reason the Valakians are doing it.  It is being whispered among his people that they could lose their benefactors in a couple of generations.  This eclipses any resentment that some of his people were holding against them.”

“I do hope we can help the Valakians beat this disease,” said Hoshi.  “It’ll be less than 200 years, the captain said, before they become extinct.  I hate to see a language...I mean a people, die out.”


Before Phlox went down to the planet with Captain Archer to deliver the pain medication instructions, he gave Crewman Cutler the task of destroying the Valakian cure he had developed.   Upon returning to the ship, he retreated to his quarters to listen to some soothing music that one of his wives had sent him.  He relaxed for a couple of hours, then passed T’Pol in a companionway on his way back to sick bay.

“Is the captain back yet?” he asked.

“Yes,” said T’Pol, “after spending some time with each Valakian he knew to say good-bye.  I believe it was difficult for him emotionally to break the news that there was no cure.  Ensign Mayweather and Crewman Cutler are back, too.  They were assigned the task of unloading from the shuttle all the extra boxes of pain medication that you developed.  There was a crew of Menk techs to help deliver the boxes to several storerooms in the hospital.   Crewman Cutler said she had specifically asked for Larr to be there because he could best communicate between the Menk crew and the shuttle crew.   She said she talked with him in the shuttle first, to tell him how to handle the delicate pain medications.  I find Crewman Cutler’s attention to detail exemplary.  Oh, and Doctor, we will be leaving the system shortly.  ”

“Noted, Commander.  Good day to you.”

Phlox found Crewman Cutler in sickbay doing a midday feeding of his creatures.  She was trying to chortle to them like he did but her vocal cords could not quite manage it.

“Set your voice a little higher,” he suggested helpfully.

“Oh, hi there, Doctor.  I am afraid my voice just does not do that the way yours does,” she smiled at him.

He looked back at her, and asked pointedly:  “Did you take that box to engineering for incineration?”

“Well, um...”

“Now you did not give it to the Valakians, did you?” asked Phlox in a semi-teasing voice. 

Crewman Cutler looked at him with raised eyebrows and a slightly opened mouth.  Then she gave him her most radiant smile and said “No sir, I DID NOT give that box to the Valakians.   You expressly told me not to even THINK of doing that.  So on my honor and with a clear conscience, I can tell you I definitely DID NOT give that box to the Valakians.”

“Good girl, I knew I could count on you,” smiled Dr. Phlox.     


Cap'n Frances

I thought "Dear Doctor" was a thought provoking episode but I was never comfortable with Phlox and Archer's solution. I really like what you came up with.


This is very clever, and is also a nicely elegant way out of the moral dilemma. I'm intrigued by the implication that Phlox actually didn't want to provide the cure at all, and I'm also left wondering whether he knew what Liz was planning - there was no clue of it in his earlier thoughts, but that closing line is quite enigmatic. Anyway, I like the thought that in the end this conundrum was resolved better than it seemed in the show, and without breaking canon. :)

Lt. Zoe Jebkanto

And Archer never knew! :) !  Sneaky, Cutler, sneaky, subtle and satisfying!  Awesome job, Linda- and it was great fun to drop in for a visit with Jean Luc and Beverly on the D!


Cutler weasled, good girl, I think


Linda, you are wonderfully polyhedral.:D


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