Sleeping at Warp
Sleeping at Warp
Frank Atlas (Triskelion)
While the Voyager crew is immersed in the development of the Daystrom Institute’s latest Perseus Project at Utopia Planitia Fleet Yards, an unknown alien force has usurped the Federation’s latest warp technology, and turned it into a weapon that threatens to destabilize the most powerful civilizations in the galaxy.
B’Elanna Torres suffers from an unknown affliction caused by alleged terror activities. She and others face court martial in an accusation of Maquis conspiracy. Tom Paris must face his strained loyalties as husband, father and Starfleet Commander, while navigating a gauntlet of alien fleets and treacherous galactic wilds. His mission: to track a superior enemy, and prove his wife’s innocence, by recovering the devastating, notorious new System Killer: the starship Voyager.
Sleeping at Warp is a Voyager novel-in-progress set in the contemporary post-“Endgame” period. It features a new Prometheus-class vessel, the USS Perseus.
I’m Frank Atlas, better known on the Trek BBS as Triskelion. I write original fiction, and I’m interested in authoring tie-in novels professionally, so if you like my style and want to talk projects, drop me a line!
I am also currently developing a small international film/video production company, when I’m not having fun on Youtube with my other passion, fitness training.
Thanks for visiting and thanks to the Trek BBS and all the really great people here. And thanks to the many people everywhere who have made Star Trek a force for good in this world.
Re: Sleeping at Warp
try using Firefox when posting-you won't get all of the [/FONT] garbage showing up. So where is the story? Are you planning on posting it here?
Re: Sleeping at Warp
So far I've written 7 chapters. Here they come....
Re: Sleeping at Warp
Sleeping at Warp
Tom Paris couldn’t sleep.
He stared at the untouched pillow beside him, by the ambient glow of Utopia’s night cycle, coming through the viewport he’d forgotten to dim. He sat up. Outside, a lone magnesium flare flickered from a worksite midway down a stretching starship nacelle.
The computer signaled.
There are sixty-two messages and eighteen duty reports awaiting review.
“Do any mention status of B’Elanna Torres?”
“Open a channel to Utopia Planitia Berthing Station.”
“Captain—I, uh, was trying to reach Seven of Nine.”
Captain Chakotay nodded amiably from Tom’s viewscreen. “Seven’s just stepped out for a walk, to test the Tertiary-Port coil’s plasma exhaust systems. I thought I’d keep her company, which as it turns out, means monitoring the biosigns of her EVA suit. Is there anything I can do for you, Tom? In case you’re wondering we received an update from Starfleet Medical an hour ago.”
“How are they?” Tom tried not to sound impatient, but he doubted there was very little his commanding officer couldn’t sense.
“Maybe you’d better read it for yourself.”
The screen split and the Starfleet Medical letterhead appeared, followed by the scrolling text of a brief paragraph.
Chakotay studied his friend. “I thought it could wait until you awoke.”
Tom exhaled and rubbed his weary eyes. “I was in a staff meeting when Miral lost consciousness. I was reviewing emergency protocols with damage control team leaders. The Doc said it was an enzymatic imbalance in her parasympathetic nervous system. When he found the same imbalance in B’Elanna, they all transported to the Utopia Planitia Medical Facility for observation. Doc cleared me for duty after that; he’s been checking both crews with the help of the Perseus EMH. So far, no one else is showing any sign of a problem.”
Chakotay absorbed Tom’s concern; “Well it looks like there haven’t been any more problems with B’Elanna or Miral since then. You know these Fleet medicos. They just love to sink their teeth into every little mystery.”
“As far as the Doctor would have me believe, it’s a minor curiosity. Their first impression was that it was a genetic issue, but they’ve ruled it out. He said they would be looking into known diseases of the nervous system, radiation exposure, and possible biological contaminants. Until they can verify the etiology of the enzyme alteration, they’re keeping them on a simple inoculation treatment and—observing.”
“You sound doubtful.”
“B’Elanna’s forbidden me to interrupt my duties to visit her. She says Perseus needs my full attention now, with the trials coming up. Doc says stress might aggravate the imbalance and he wants to keep her sedated. The medical staff said it probably wasn’t necessary, but—it’s B’Elanna. The Doc knows her better than they do. I can’t say I blame him. But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t feeling a little strain between my loyalties.”
“B’Elanna may be right, Tom. But for what it’s worth—I know how you must feel.”
“Command training. Or—is it because of your experience with dual loyalties between Starfleet and the Maquis?”
“There were times when, my heart, my conscience, everything I ever believed in, were in direct opposition to what my captain needed from me.”
“What did you do?”
Chakotay’s voice dropped into a soft tone that belied the weight of an absolute conviction. “I drew the line, Tom. Fortunately it didn’t cost me my career—but it might have. The thing was—I wasn’t wrong. I was right. But that didn’t make it any easier defying my captain and my friend. But she got me back, eventually.”
“Oh? What did she do?”
“She gave me these.” He pointed to the four solid Captain’s pips on his collar.
Tom smiled. Chakotay’s eyes brightened; his mission accomplished. “I’m reassigning Seven to the Perseus engineering department in the interim; that is, if her First Officer complies.”
Tom shook his head. “He’s a real stuffed shirt. Probably too busy to notice all the help he’s receiving from the people around him. I tell you, Chakotay—sorry, Captain—”
“We’re both off duty, Tom, and I left my pointed hat in my quarters.”
Tom visibly relaxed and smiled. “I tell you, Chakotay, I have a whole new appreciation for your command on Voyager—right from the day Captain Janeway made you First Officer. You made it look like an easy job—especially compared to Tuvok’s Exec.
“That’s no way to talk about a man who earned his commission, Tom. Tuvok appointed the logical man for the job.”
“I think Captain Tuvok was secretly trying to punish the crew.”
“Give him time. Perseus is an unfledged ship. Every officer has his own methods, his own command style. Before he does, he has to make a few mistakes. You know, learning opportunities. Admiral Janeway once told me she excelled because she had a higher quantity of ‘learning opportunities’ than her peers.”
“Well. When you put it that way—”
“Sometimes it’s difficult balancing loyalties with chain of command. It may take a little creative problem solving. And the understanding of those whom are loyal to you—whose loyalty you have earned—regardless of command.”
Tom regarded his former Commander. “I just don’t want to let anybody down again.”
But Chakotay always knew how to win an argument—with just a look.
A klaxon sounded. Red alert, came Tuvok’s voice over the shipwide com.
Tom’s communicator chittered. Bridge to First Officer, Captain Tuvok said. Mr. Paris to the bridge.
He nodded to Chakotay. “On my way.”
Re: Sleeping at Warp
“Sir, the Perseus just went to red alert.”
“What? Why?” Lieutenant Commander Harry Kim stood from the center seat and signaled for activation of the main viewscreen.
Lieutenant Vorik checked the scans from his position at Ops. As Chief Engineer of Voyager, he had been taking his free time in spacedock to bone up on bridge operations, in a prelude to a possible career arc in bridge command. Or perhaps, Harry thought, it was because Seven was back in engineering on special assignment for Starfleet.
“Unknown. There are no discernable threats within range.”
As acting First Officer of Voyager for the duration of the Perseus Project, Harry Kim had relished his command—which for the past month had consisted largely of spacedock duty, and the occasional night cycle command, which allowed him not only to keep abreast of construction progress of the Perseus engine, but also afforded him the opportunity to make himself indispensable to Captain Chakotay. Starfleet Command had not made its intentions clear as to the disposition of the Perseus crew—and command—should the trials prove successful. And as much as Harry enjoyed being on buddy terms with the First Officer, he had to admit he’d trade Tom Paris for a Ferengi used shuttle if it meant his own chance at the left hand seat. Perseus would need a first officer, and a chief engineer, among others. Which meant that, if Seven of Nine was still unwilling to qualify for command, that left the good, brilliant, gallant Lieutenant Commander Kim next in line for an extended billet as the heroic vessel’s Exec. And about time. “Let’s see if we can’t give Commander Paris a hand. Open a channel to Perseus.”
The sparse white bridge of the USS Perseus appeared on Voyager’s main viewer. Captain Tuvok turned his attention from one console on his command chair to the other. “Commander Kim.”
Tuvok continued his work. “We are experiencing—” Harry saw him shift his head, placing a young Vulcan woman at a rear wall console within his peripheral field, “—a slight malfunction of the security grid.”
“We are attempting to bypass the automatic protocols which have temporarily locked out control.”
“So there’s no actual emergency?”
“Negative. The statement ‘There is no actual emergency’ is stated in the affirmative. It is simply a programming error made during a diagnostic upgrade.”
The Vulcan girl turned to Tuvok. “Try it now, Sir,” she said.
“Computer.” Tuvok lifted his eyes to the verbal interface focal zone. “Override security lockout, authorization Tuvok alpha one one three.”
The computer received and rejected the command.
Only the bottom halves of Captain Tuvok’s Vulcan irises were staring at Harry when he suddenly, slowly dematerialized in a bluish transporter beam.
The Vulcan girl’s eyes widened, and she looked entreatingly at Harry. “He was beamed to the brig.”
Harry regarded the young Vulcan woman. She was operating her controls in a hurried, exacting pace, focusing so intently on her task that she seemed to forget about him on the viewer. She had a smallish figure clothed in a white Vulcan jumpsuit; a dainty, heart-shaped face that was cut into soft edges. Her hair curved off her forehead; black and slick and bobbed at the nape of her neck; yet swayed like silk with her movements. Her eyes—were inquisitive, unclouded obsidian. Harry didn’t know much about her; just that she had been assigned to the Utopia Planitia Fleetyards, and Perseus specifically, through the Starfleet Deep Space Systems Prototype Division, as an adjunct of the Vulcan Science Directorate. In spite of Vulcan longevity, she appeared to be in her early twenties, an estimate supported by her apparent urgency in the face of what Harry considered a minor computing error in actual ship operations. Was I ever that green, he asked himself, and allowed a subtle smirk at the young, smooth-cheeked Ensign who’d reported for duty on a small, insignificant Intrepid-class ship called Voyager, all those years ago. He knocked on Captain Janeway’s armrest. “Lieutenant--”
She turned from a station on the back wall of the bridge. “Vexa. Sublieutenant Vexa, Sir,” she said in a remarkably calm voice despite her quiet frenzy.
A Sublieutenant? The Vulcan Science Directorate must not put much hope into a sustainable quantum slipstream drive, he thought. But then—hope is an emotion, isn’t it. Illogical, perhaps—but if it meant entertaining the possibility of outrunning the Federation’s fastest ships, then Harry Kim would hope. Which is why Starfleet Command had assigned Voyager to Utopia Planitia at the fruition of the Daystrom Institute’s Perseus Project; Captain Janeway’s former crew had actually achieved quantum slipstream velocities—traveling hundreds, thousands of light years in a matter of hours—and on more than one occasion—and so was the most qualified crew in all of Starfleet to attempt an experimental replication. He couldn’t say to what degree this Sublieutenant believed in the project goal; or frankly what her function was. He made a mental note to hope just a little extra before sleep. “Sublieutenant Vexa. Have you tried shunting main power through auxiliary controls in order to reestablish command protocols through isolated systems?”
“Affirmative, Commander. However Perseus has automated command functionality that supplants primary system controls. I was attempting to initiate a diagnostic upgrade on the automated systems when I….”
“When I accidentally reset all computer command authorizations.”
“Which initiated a security lockdown.” Vorik assessed his Vulcan counterpart in a way, which, while not showing disapproval, certainly didn’t convey approval. “Commander, Perseus crew count has been gradually increased by one hundred fifty.”
“What? Where did they come from?”
Sublieutenant Vexa exhaled in what Vorik might have interpreted as an outburst of emotion—not that he had always kept collected, Harry thought, remembering his uncontrollable rage at the crew the last time he had entered his seven-year mating cycle.
She closed her eyes. “They are Emergency Security Holograms, Sir.”
Of course. Analog crewmen of the Prometheus class automated systems, which were designed to allow the ship to be fully operational with even a skeleton crew. Now he remembered more of the service record: Sublieutenant Vexa had been recruited while conducting dissertation research under Dr. Leah Brahms at the Daystrom Institute’s Theoretical Propulsion Group in the field of automated control systems—one of a hatful of doctorates the young woman already possessed.
“They appear to be taking station in critical areas of the ship,” she said.
“Brig population has increased to one hundred,” said Vorik.
“We need to shut down the holoemitter grid,” Commander Paris entered the bridge with a phaser in his hand. “Hi Harry. I’d have gotten here sooner, but—I had to play a few rounds of Captain Proton with some holographic villains.”
“Commander,” Vexa seemed positively relieved to see Tom, which made Harry a bit envious. Commander Paris possessed a singular talent for putting his crew at ease—and civilians at red alert—with a natural charm that Harry, despite his best efforts, could never quite replicate. “It is imperative that you do not authorize any commands to the computer,” she said.
“Commander Paris, rise and shine. Should I notify the Admiral?” Harry asked. “She arrived at the station a few hours ago.”
“Not yet, Harry. We wouldn’t want to wake Admiral Janeway for something, I’m quite certain, the Sublieutenant can rectify in her sleep. Right, Vexa?”
Sublieutenant Vexa straightened and her eyes dilated like deflector dishes. “Yes, Commander.”
“You see, Harry? Nothing to worry about. Ops, reroute power to the holoemitter grid.”
“Don’t you mean, from the grid, sir?” The bantam Andorian Ensign Ujio Shir turned to the First Officer for confirmation.
Tom nodded to Harry. “Why don’t we try to simulate an overload instead. That might make these automated protocols shut themselves down to protect us, instead of working against us.
Ensign Ujio Shir began the sequence, raised his blue antennae and disappeared in a transporter beam. He was replaced by a holographic crewman in a red uniform, who—which—proceeded to monitor ship operations.
Tom touched his chair console. “This is the First Officer.” His voice echoed over shipwide. “Do not attempt to engage the security holograms. Cooperate with all security teams, whether real or holographic. Until command protocols are restored, do not authorize any computer commands at risk of…being replaced by a better-looking crewman.
Harry snickered as Tom moved to Vexa’s station. He put his hand on her shoulder as she worked. “Don’t be alarmed.”
“I beg your pardon, Sir?”
“It’s just a precautionary measure.” He slowly withdrew his phaser.
“Tom…” Harry urged.
“Ready? Now.” Tom shot at a holoemitter wedged into the ceiling. The overload blew the emitters at intervals around the bridge grid. “Got ‘em,” he said as the Ops crewman blinked out.
Harry couldn’t help but smile when he saw Sublieutenant Vexa start and gasp despite being warned. Lieutenant Commander Vorik cleared his throat in some unemotional variation of distaste.
Vexa straightened her petite frame and leveled her gaze at Vorik. “It would be illogical,” she said with full intent, “to suppress one’s central nervous system in the event of arbitrary fire from a hand phaser.”
“She’s got you there, Vorik,” Harry grinned.
Vorik raised his brow and resumed his scans.
Tom was smiling at Vexa in apology when a turbolift opened. A team of armed security holograms flickered into existence around his bridge.
Harry processed the event. Tom looked at Harry. “Turbolift emitter,” they said simultaneously. As one security crewman took him by the arm, Tom said, “Give me a break.” Then, as the blue transporter field took him, “That wasn’t a command! It was rhetorical!”
Harry went to Ops. “Sublieutenant Vexa, I’m afraid it’s time I woke Admiral Janeway. I’m sending Vorik over to assist you.”
“That would be sufficient,” she said, composing herself, small hands trembling over her controls.
Re: Sleeping at Warp
A hand reached out to him as soon as he rematerialized. It was holding a glowing green vial. Reflexively, Tom Paris took it.
Seven of Nine took a seat at a sensor console in what Tom recognized as the interior of a Federation shuttlecraft.
“Seven? What? Why? Where?”
“It was necessary to beam you aboard this shuttle in order for you to regain control of your ship. I have been monitoring ship status from here since Perseus went to alert.” As if by afterthought, she turned and looked at him. “Good morning, Commander Paris.” She wore an EVA suit without a helmet. Sweat glistened on her geometrically beautiful face, and her wrapped blonde coif was mussed from what looked to be a full night of exterior nacelle spacewalking. As she returned to her readouts, Tom’s gaze shifted from Seven to the front viewport. They hovered in stationary attitude above the Perseus primary hull, within the great interlocking port girders of the Utopia Planitia Berthing Station 97A Orbital Dry-Dock, above planet Mars.
He remembered the vial in his hand. “What’s this?”
Tom visualized a single errant nanoprobe, a simple, molecular machine, entering his skin and bloodstream, replicating exponentially, facilitating his immediate assimilation into a half-machine, ghoulish cybernetic drone with the knowledge of thousands of galactic civilizations; and then his conversion of the Perseus into a mechanical Borg hive, spreading throughout the Mars Fleet Yards, Earth, and the solar system, the United Federation of Planets, and then the other three quadrants of the galaxy itself, converting the galaxy and then the universe into a mindless, insatiable collective soulless machine—and very carefully set the vial on the console.
“Security lockouts are preventing the reestablishment of command authorizations on the Perseus. I believe a shutdown of the computer core will reset the security paradox and permit access.
“That’s fine, but there’s no way to shut down the core without command access—which results in a shortcut to the brig. That is, unless we wanted to somehow simulate an overload of primary systems threatening a warp core breach.”
As if she didn’t hear him, she said, “You will require an EVA suit. I suggest you put one on while I explain.”
Tom, in pure self-interest, thought the easiest route was to simply comply with her “request”. He touched an access panel and found a pressure suit.
Seven registered his compliance and called up a schematic of the ship. She began to compute the optimal interface control for access to the computer core. “Manually restarting the computer core would be futile.”
“Then what about tricking the computer into a warp core shutdown?”
“Time-consuming—and ultimately futile. The only way to trigger a computer core shutdown is to access it indirectly by injection of reprogrammed Borg nanoprobes through adjacent systems. You can infiltrate the bioneural gelpack network via the interface controls of any plasma regulator in Grid 84 Theta of the dorsal hull.” She indicated the blinking radials placed at intervals across the ship schematic. “The nanoprobes will replicate throughout the bioneural network and facilitate a temporary deactivation of the computer core—regardless of its automated security countermeasures. They will adapt. After which, the nanoprobes will cease self-replication and be harmlessly flushed away throughout the network.”
“That’s your solution. Assimilate the ship.”
“Sounds like Monday,” he quipped. He took his helmet.
Seven rose to pack the vial of Borg nanoprobes in his utility pouch. She then took the helmet and placed it over his head, and started on the suit’s seals.
“It’s good to be working with you again, Seven. I’m glad you finally decided to accept Starfleet’s assignment to the Perseus. But I thought you were finished with ship duty. What made you decide to suspend your academy teaching and come out here with the Martians?”
“I’m given to understand a human’s prerogative is to ‘change her mind’, is it not?”
“A woman’s prerogative. Sure.”
“Are you questioning my biological sex, or gender traits, Commander? I should think it was apparent to the crew by now.” She looked into his eyes. “We are human.”
Tom chuckled at that. “Oh come on, Seven. Skintight uniforms weren’t exhibitionist enough for you? We’re all pretty confident in your…gender traits.”
“Commander, your antagonism leads me to conclude you are attempting to tease me. Do human females normally find this behavior amusing?”
“Well amusing’s not the word I’d—”
“Good. I was concerned I was having a malfunction in my Borg emotional shield generator.”
“Seven—was that a joke?” Tom smiled.
“I’m beginning to apprehend the complexity of your interpersonal behaviors, Commander. Your unique facility for –‘charm’.” She led him to the transporter pad. “Commander Paris. I’d like to apologize to you.”
“For what, Seven?”
“For my previous dismissals of the—full extent of your interpersonal aptitudes, which I had grossly underestimated. It is evident in the motivation you evoke in your crew, and what makes you fit for command, where I am not. When we served together, I was…bereft of certain aspects of my humanity, which unfortunately, blinded me to my crewmates’ more artful skills of—being human.”
“We didn’t always get you either, Seven. Anyway—we’re glad you’re back.”
Seven returned to her console. “And…you have kind eyes. Engaging emergency site-to-site transport.”
Re: Sleeping at Warp
From a utility control room in the berthing station’s operations bridge, Chakotay examined a computer schematic of the quadruple-nacelled Prometheus-class Perseus. Throughout the ship, whole sections were sealed off with force fields, airlocks and blast doors; the holographic crew had replaced the majority of the biological crew. They had free run of the vessel; omnidirectional holographic diodes, or holoemitters, had been placed to project the photonic, artificially intelligent humanoids via magnetic containment fields that simulated mass. The technology gave holographic access to every cubic centimeter of the ship’s interior, though exterior installations had yet to be completed. Voyager’s own dependency on its Emergency Medical Hologram—a Mark 1 which had been restricted by design to sickbay and the holodecks—established the critical usefulness of the technology, and had since earned himself Federation citizenship status with all the attendant civil rights—(though human rights, truthfully, had yet to be legally determined). More relevantly, the Doctor had, many times over, earned a rightful place in the family of Voyager’s crew—as well as the respect and admiration of people from countless worlds (not excluding himself). But the Doctor, despite his lack of a name, was an individual. He had risen above his original programming. He was, of necessity, more than what Starfleet and Dr. Lewis Zimmerman had designed him to be.
Starfleet had begun taking measures to include not only EMH’s on every ship of the line constructed since Voyager’s triumphant return to the Alpha Quadrant, but to expand the technology to include a full crew compliment in ships bound for deep space. Prometheus-class vessels were the first designed for full ship automation; and Perseus, the first to test the premise of a holographic crew to replace biological crews altogether. Which, in Chakotay’s mind, was something of more significance than a light-year-eating quantum slipstream drive. Starfleet Command reasoned that no other vessel should endure what happened to the Voyager, and the ill-fated Equinox; the Federation learned from its experiences. Perseus represented the first applicable deep space rescue option started by Project Voyager since Lieutenant Reginald Barclay had bounced a subspace message of hope off a pulsar halfway across the galaxy.
But Chakotay wondered if it would end there. Starfleet had already curtailed its family and civilian residency policy that characterized ships like Picard's Galaxy-class Enterprise D. New Sovereign-class vessels had only a fraction of such capacities. Were they witnessing a new challenge to the Federation Starfleet mandate—to cautiously probe where no one has gone before? Of course, many interplanetary civilizations sent initial waves of automated probes and satellites out into the deep black before plotting expeditions into the unknown. But it would be an entirely different matter to seed the stars with holographic proxies in the hopes of avoiding risk.
He remembered his father.
Before setting out on an expedition of his own into the vast ancient jungles of the southern continent of Dorvan V—in his continuing quest for spiritual, cultural and self knowledge—the father Kolopak had said to his recalcitrant son: There is no safety in staying home, Cha-ko-tay. You cannot kill fear. It will walk with you in every moment of life. Those who avoid that which gives life cut down their own lives. Those who walk with the spirits—A-koo-chee-moya—disappear from fear. This is called killing the bear.
Captain Chakotay of Voyager turned off the computer and went to the viewport. He paid no attention to the orbital fleetyards, the globular radials of the space stations, nor the great fleet starships in various stages of construction—but focused instead on the brilliant, terrible red planet below, scarred and bitten by eons of exposure in cosmos.
He was not afraid. He had killed the bear.
The computer sounded: Incoming transmission from the shuttle Sally Ride.
Chakotay sat at a console and tapped the interface. “What is it, Seven?”
“Are you aware of the current situation, Captain Chakotay?” Seven of Nine transmitted her plan. The schematic appeared on an adjacent workstation.
“Commander Kim has kept me informed. I was just about to notify the Admiral. I was hoping to have something productive to report.”
“Our countermeasures have been initiated. Commander Paris is currently attempting to shut down the computer core. We believe this will disable the security lockdown and enable us to reestablish command protocols. He is currently accessing the bioneural network from an exterior plasma regulator on the dorsal hull. He is injecting the network with reprogrammed nanoprobes.”
“How long will it take?”
“Once the nanoprobes have begun replication, I estimate fourteen minutes for them to successfully deactivate the computer core. However, the security countermeasures also have a crude ability to adapt to perceived attacks. There is a point three eight variance that core shutdown will take an additional eight minutes.”
Chakotay nodded. “I’ll inform Admiral Janeway. Seven, I’m reassigning you as temporary Chief Engineer of the Perseus in the interim of B’Elanna’s medical leave.”
“Is that necessary? I do not question your orders, Captain; I am merely estimating an early return to duty for Commander Torres.”
“As long as the Doctor’s prognosis is indeterminate? I think it’s best to prepare for contingencies.”
“Would not Lieutenant Commander Vorik best serve in command of the department? There are many systems I’ve yet to inspect, and I would prefer if I did not include administrative functions to my schedule—”
“Vorik is needed on Voyager. I understand your concern, Seven. But other needs take precedence. The Perseus engine is the brainchild of Dr. Brahms’ team, and their development of technology that you and Voyager’s crew helped introduce to Starfleet. But I don’t know her team. None of our people knows the quantum slipstream engine better than you, Seven. You’ve put in so much time—on and off duty—building that engine by the sweat of your brow. Maybe it’s a good thing to delegate some of the work to the engineering crew.”
“Still, Commander Vorik—”
“I don’t want to argue about this Seven. Not at this moment. The crew can follow your lead. You don’t have to build three warp cores, five warp coils, and twelve sets of chronophasic field generators by hand.”
“Captain. May I speak freely?”
“Not if you want to argue.”
“I will comply.”
“Alright, Seven. Let’s hear it.”
“As the crew says, Perseus is not ‘just another ship’. As you stated, it was Voyager’s crew that acquired the slipstream technology, and Voyager’s crew that has implemented quantum slipstream and transwarp velocities in several past missions, including the mission which brought us home. I can think of no crew in Starfleet more qualified to test a new ship fitted with quantum slipstream drive than the Voyager crew. However, if the trials are successful, Perseus will require a more permanent crew. In this event, it is logical to assume that at least some, if not many, will transfer assignments from Voyager.”
“You’ve got no argument from me. But Starfleet Command is not in the habit of justifying its crew deployments prior to any ship’s commissioning.”
“Nevertheless. Captain Tuvok and Commander Paris will lead the trials; they will lead a temporary crew compliment of at least sixty-three crewmen from Voyager. Yet—my deployment has yet to be determined. I cannot ascertain whether I would be offered a post on Perseus, or whether I would even accept such an offer. Speculation at this time is irrelevant.
“But I am here now. I have found, in the absence of my former crewmates…” and she briefly lowered her eyes from his, “that my sense of belonging and loyalty are not easily rendered to the humans—the people—I have encountered elsewhere. But I find my sense of loyalty has increased the further I am in space and time from the Voyager crew. It motivates me to do as much as I am personally capable of to make their mission a success. I would give Perseus the full benefit of my experience. I would give her crew the full measure of my—dedication.”
Chakotay fully appreciated—and reciprocated—her sentiment—but he dared not call it such.
“Seven, in terms of your disposition, Starfleet Command will give your desires their full measure of consideration. I’ll personally see to it.”
“I must think about it, Chakotay. Admiral Janeway has often helped me comprehend my bearings more fully. In personal matters, I have found a deficiency of certainty in her absence.”
“When Admiral Janeway heard you were here, she purposefully altered her schedule to arrive two days early. I think she would like to spend some time with you, Seven.”
“It is gratifying to hear. Captain. –Chakotay.”
“When the Perseus has completed its trials, would you ask me to accompany you on a short excursion to the planet? I would regret spending this time with you solely in the capacity of duty. Further, I would like to discuss my…disposition…with you in a more informal, and preferably natural setting.”
“You read my mind.”
She nodded softly. “You require rest. Do not neglect it. Sally Ride out.”
Captain Chakotay allowed himself a moment to think about Seven of Nine. He made a mental note to reserve a cabin at the rim of the Hellas Impact Basin Elysium Biocomplex, for some fresh air, solitude, and inspiring views of nature at her finest. Weather permitting.
“Computer. Open a priority channel to Utopia Planitia Orbital Station Janus, Admiralty Suite One.” To his surprise the signal responded in less than a second.
Vice Admiral Kathryn Janeway appeared on his screen, wearing a gold-collared uniform, hair perfectly arranged in a feminine semi-braided coiffure. Her eyes were a touch darker, it seemed, though it could have been the low light. A rivulet of steam framed one side of her screen, no doubt from a freshly poured cup of coffee. “Captain Chakotay,” she beamed, “it’s good to see you again.”
“Admiral Janeway. Welcome home.”
That touched her. “Has Seven found a way to shut down the computer core yet?”
“And here I expected you to be asleep, Admiral. How did you manage to be informed?”
“Admirals of the Fleet know all, Captain. Don’t forget that.”
“Seven and Tom are using nanoprobes to override the lockdown via the bioneural network.” Admiral Janeway did not like the sound of that, he thought. “Not to worry. We still have capability to destroy Borg technology should the need…arise. I was just on my way to Voyager to check on Harry’s progress.”
“Belay that, Captain.”
“Yes Ma’am. May I ask why?”
“The onus of leadership. Allowing your people to face these problems without any actual help from you. Worst part of the job.” She pondered a moment over her mug. “Nanoprobes,” she said in disbelief, with a hint of helplessness and a dash of irony.
“You want to assess the crew. Or is it the command?”
“This is an opportunity to see them in action before the Perseus Trial. Occasions like these are rare opportunities for Captains. They allow him to get a handle on his crews’ dynamics. Better at home than on the other side of the galaxy.”
“But you’re not referring to Voyager, are you, Kathryn. You mean the Perseus.”
“Oh Chakotay, the ramifications of quantum slipstream drive are impossible to measure. It is astounding. We’re talking about the future of interstellar travel, not through sectors, but quadrants of galactic space. And it’s not just the future of the Federation, Chakotay. This technology, applied with Federation policies, could affect the course of who knows how many galactic civilizations. I’m not so sure Federation policy can even digest the impact of this kind of power. This could be the most significant jump ahead for the human race since Zephram Cochrane broke the light barrier. Not to mention the kinds of threats to Federation security this kind of technology will surely engender. There are a whole host of issues we haven’t even begun to analyze or apprehend.”
“And you believe the Voyager crew—and Captain Tuvok in particular—are the best choice for a quantum drive-equipped starship.”
She momentarily hardened her eyes at her former first officer. “Off the record? I’d start thinking about bolstering my ranks if I were you, Captain.”
“If this pans out—Perseus may be one of the most significant ships in Federation Starfleet history.” He had been trying to digest that point for the two months since he first saw the classified précis. “And with all respect to the Doctor, I’d hate to think of it being crewed by holograms.”
Vice Admiral Janeway took a sip, looked into her cup and shook her head slightly. “Utopia coffee. Leaves a little something to be desired.”
“The old crew is pleased you arrived two days early, Kathryn. The new crew is scared to death. We’ve been regaling them with embellished stories all week.”
Kathryn Janeway’s eyes lit up and she leaned forward. “Oh, Chakotay, how is she?” she said with a girlish enthusiasm that never failed to charm and surprise him.
“You know Seven. But she seems to have taken a keen interest, not only in the Perseus engine—but in inspiring loyalty from her crewmates. Doing a fair job of it too, I’ll add. She always was a quick study. You know who she reminds me of.”
“Well, of you.”
“If you’re trying to flatter the Admiralty, Captain,” she put down her mug, and leaned into the viewscreen, “—it’s working.”
Chakotay grinned, armed with a new weapon.
“Keep me informed, Chakotay. And now, I have some documents to authorize, while the crew fills Starfleet’s newest ship with Borg nanoprobes. I suggest you find some priority business to attend for the next few hours.”
Chakotay nodded and smiled. “I’ve got just the thing.”
Re: Sleeping at Warp
The molecular patterns that constituted Commander Thomas Eugene Paris materialized into cohesion in the vacuum of space. He floated freely within his EVA suit over the brightly lit, arrow-like primary hull of the NCV-901 USS Perseus. She was sleek and lean and sharp; borne of speed, coiled on her long haunches as if ready to bolt from her restraints at any moment. Four Sovereign-style warp nacelles jutted port and starboard, angled in ventral and dorsal antipode. A fifth warp nacelle lay embedded in her primary hull, for use when the vessel engaged its M-VAM, or Multi-Vector Assault Mode. She could divide into a squadron of three independent ships: the Primary, Secondary and Tertiary cruisers that characterized her as a deep space tactical warship. She had a full complement of shuttlecraft and a Delta Flyer-class Captain’s Yacht christened the Star Flyer. With rare, unstable benemite crystals driving her heart, she cruised at warp nine with a maximum speed of more than nine point nine-nine-nine. While other Prometheus-class ships had equivalent features, and at maximum warp could hypothetically fly from the Sun to Pluto in five seconds, Perseus had a secret weapon: Seven of Nine. She was personally fitting and tweaking each primary engine component herself, with total Borg efficiency. She had asserted he would be able to make the Sol Run in one-fifth of a second. Perseus was the fastest ship in the fleet—even before she activated her subspace-bending quantum slipstream drive. She could plot courses for tens of thousands of light years and still make curfew. She had weaponry to outmatch any ship of the fleet, tetryon warp plasma, ablative armor, regenerative shielding, and full quantum slipstream drive for each of her sections. She was a bird of power unlike anything in the galaxy.
As Commander Tom Paris fired his suit’s thrusters over Perseus, he felt a special, kindred connection to this vessel. Watching her being born above the gleaming red planet Mars, sharing space with these two galactic marvels, he knew it was one of the most beautiful sights he would ever see in his life.
And for the first time in his life, he wanted to be a starship captain.
As he drifted down towards the dorsal hull, Tom considered his command. He didn’t like the idea of infusing the bioneural computer network with Borg nanoprobes; but there was little doubt he should defer to Seven of Nine’s technical assessments, and trust in her judgment, as Captain Janeway had always done. With Captain Tuvok incommunicado in the brig, with who knew how many other crewmen, the burden of the problem fell squarely on Tom’s shoulders. While the crew fought for control against the ship itself, he couldn’t help but liken it to roping and breaking a wild horse, in a contest of wills he wasn’t about to lose.
Captain Tuvok had put enough faith in him to offer him the exec position; but in truth, given such different personalities (and command styles), Tom couldn’t say exactly why. The kind of rapport he and Tuvok shared, even Tom could see, was illogical. But then, he never could say exactly why B’Elanna had chosen him either. Perhaps stubbornness was a trait Klingons, Vulcans and Terrans shared.
Or it might be my persuasive charm, he’d later tell Harry. Stronger than Vulcan logic and Klingon ire. Harry had laughed, but not for the right reason.
“Paris to Sally Ride. I’m approaching the dorsal section now.” An unsteadiness in his voice surprised him. There was more riding on this command than any of his crewmates, even Harry, could know. At the time of his promotion to full Commander, Tom couldn’t say why B’Elanna had believed that he could meet the qualifications for starship command beyond helm. He’d studied Voyager’s systems with her expert help and somewhat Klingon motivational techniques. He’d passed the technical qualifiers. Then, Captain Chakotay had personally volunteered to help him with his tactical scenario qualifiers. They hadn’t wanted to bother Tuvok, preparing a much-deserved leave to Vulcan, with such a request. One at a time, Tom had faced each test and passed—one way or another.
The cruelest part of the whole experience was a holographic simulation in which he’d had to order B’Elanna—love of his life, mother of his daughter, shipmate of seven years—to repair a faltering containment field in an attempt to save Voyager from a breaching core. In the simulation, she had repaired the field, but had suffered fatal exposure to warp plasma radiation and perished at the base of the great engine. Like a sacrifice upon an altar, he’d had to pull her burnt, lifeless body off the engineering console; he aborted the core ejection sequence with the ship descending into a sun’s corona. Together, he and his courageous wife had saved the ship—qualifying him as Commander, followed by promotion to Executive Officer of Starship Voyager. It was a memory that he knew would stay with him forever.
And later, though she’d pressed, he’d never actually told B’Elanna the details of his test. She’d surprised him by intuiting his guilt; and asserted that, if she had had to die, it would be...rather Klingon of her to die at her post. What surprised him was that B’Elanna seemed to like the sound of that. And later beside him, just before he could drift to sleep, she’d said, “Just don’t forget which crewman will be waiting for you in Sto-Vo-Kor, dear husband.”
Serving as exec of Voyager had not prepared him for the same position under Captain Tuvok on Perseus. Unlike the rapport he shared with Chakotay, whom he could at least understand, if not always agree with, Tuvok was a strict keeper of Starfleet rules and Vulcan cultural protocols. A superior officer in every sense of the word, on whom Tom’s greatest “interpersonal aptitudes”, as Seven had described them, were utterly lost—like a shuttle in a subspace sinkhole.
Tom had little doubt he could dispense his duties under the Vulcan captain. Not only was the Captain a powerful officer and tactician, Tom counted him among his few true friends—and knew it was reciprocated, if not quite demonstrated. Tuvok not only displayed emotional sensitivity where others were concerned; the Captain was also steadfastly loyal in professional and personal relationships—which Tuvok would never shortchange by being anything other than what he was: a Starfleet officer. And a damned stubborn one, too.
Up until the present, the Captain-Exec relationship went surprisingly smoothly, attuned as they were to each other’s rough spots; and now, each demanded of himself exceptional performances in the comportment of the fledgling space vessel. Tuvok hadn’t thrown anyone in the brig (yet), and Tom hadn’t started any betting pools. So why was he on edge, even before his wife and daughter had reported to sickbay? It wasn’t the pressure, the unknowns, the variables, or just plain extra work involved. It wasn’t even the waiting, watchful eye of his father the Admiral Owen Paris, that Tom was certain he sensed behind every Command communique. So what was it that was juicing up his nerves beyond his ability to control? Why was he so keyed up about this mission anyway?
He located his junction. His magnetic boots locked onto the hull and he turned into position. As he knelt to release the plate mechanism, a motion caught his eye.
It came from beneath the saucer section. Far away, a crewman in an EVA suit stood upside-down on the underside of the saucer hull. Tom couldn’t tell what he was doing; but around the figure, several panels lay exposed.
Is that a hologram? Tom wondered. In an EVA suit? It was possible the computer would program the holograms to wear environment-appropriate attire; it wouldn’t be as disturbing as seeing a crewman wandering around the vacuum of space in a light jacket. Something glinted. Tom strained his vision. What is he doing?
He hadn’t thought to bring a phaser. He released his boots’ magnetic locks and thrusted towards the figure.
As he approached, Tom squinted in the raw sunlight to assess the crewman’s odd motions. The crewman, apparently, did not see him. Beneath the crewman now, Tom could see he was swinging something overhead with great sweeping blows.
Toward a plasma coupling.
“Is that a…sword?” Tom asked.
“Repeat your last transmission,” said Seven of Nine.
Tom inverted and alit with a heavy thudding vibration behind the crewman. “Nice day for a walk,” he said over the suit’s com.
The crewman started and turned. Tom studied the short Japanese sword perched in the sunlight.
“Maybe you’d like to explain what you’re doing to my ship.”
The crewman faced the Commander. He squinted to see Tom’s face through the visor. His eyes widened and he stood in attention, sword resting on his shoulder like a phaser rifle. “Commander!”
Tom didn’t recognize him through the reflection off his visor.
“What’s your name, crewman?”
“Chief Master-At-Arms Grifahni Jace. Sir.”
Now Tom knew him. The Chief Petty Officer was stationed at Utopia Planitia in a mobile security detachment through Starfleet Command. While the detachment provided light point security around the Fleet Yards, Jace reported to Perseus specifically as temporary chief of dock security.
“Expecting a samurai attack, Chief Jace?”
“Chief Grifahni, Sir—most people call me Grif. Just rectifying ship’s security, Sir.”
“Alright, Grif. At ease. Just how do you propose to rectify ship’s security with—a katana, isn’t it?”
“Wakizashi, Sir. Shorter than a katana.” He handed it to Tom, hilt first. He noticed the tightly-woven silk handle covering what appeared to be some kind of rough animal skin underneath. He took it in his gloved hand careful not to create a new seam in his EVA suit.
“Commander Paris,” came Seven of Nine’s voice over the com. “You have not initiated the infusion. Is there a malfunction?”
“Standby, Seven.” Tom studied the strange forging patterns on the short, arcing blade, and then the exposed plasma junctions scattered across the underside of the hull. “I suggest you explain all this before you make Seven of Nine any more curious, Chief.”
“What on Mars are you talking about?”
The security chief pointed at the conduit. “The ODN circuitry, Sir. I’ve severed the coupling interface lines around this section of the primary hull.”
“What will that accomplish?”
“When the computer can’t read a flow regulator, it can’t monitor plasma flow. Disable enough plasma coupling interfaces, and the TPS grid failsafes kick in and shut down power to the whole section automatically. No commands necessary.” He looked at Tom. “You didn’t think I was hacking at the conduit, did you Sir? That’s not a recommended procedure.”
“Thanks, Chief. But why not just pull the ODN lines? Why is it necessary to cut them?”
“Computer perceives that as a manual operation, and might trigger security countermeasures. Sword cuts simulate plasma leaks.”
“Where did you learn how to do this, Chief Grifahni?”
“My father used to…decommission Cardassian vessels this way.”
It was only then that Tom noticed the Bajoran ridges across the Chief’s nose.
“Yes,” said the Chief.
“You were about to ask me if my father was a Maquis. He was. A military-trained commando, in fact.”
“Actually I was going to ask you why causing a power outage around this section would give us a tactical advantage, Chief. This section contains crew quarters. It’s not as if you’ll be able to deactivate the security grid from here.”
“You can’t force a computer in a security lockdown. You have to fool it. Confuse it. Think about it, Sir. What utilizes power in crew decks?”
“Let’s see. Environmental controls, replicators, turbolifts…. I still don’t see the idea. You can’t shut down anything more vital than secondary systems.”
“That’s the idea. There’s no real threat. But with a sudden unexplained power loss across a couple of decks—secondary failsafes go into effect. And turbolifts to the bridge go into standby mode.”
“That’s right--and with the turbolifts unoperational—”
“We can access a turboshaft through a maintenance shaft. We can penetrate the whole ship.”
“Failsafes,” Tom pondered. “Using the ship’s own systems against it. Not bad.”
“Meanwhile, bridge stations register it as a minor malfunction. No idea it’s an attack.”
“Once in the shaft we could disable more coupling interfaces, create more TPS shutdowns, and disable the security grid. You say your father used to blow up ships this way?”
“It was war, Sir.” He eyed the sword. “Would you like me to continue, Commander?”
Tom studied the security chief. He had scanned the young man’s service record, and had been impressed with the extent of his training, which included Starfleet commando training; but for some reason, Grifahni had never been deployed beyond this somewhat inconsequential, light port duty. Yet for someone in his mid-twenties, he had impressed Tom with his initiative, if not respect for command. “We already have a plan in place, Chief Grifahni, which you have put in jeopardy by stepping out of chain of command. Seven of Nine believes a shutdown of the computer core will have the same result—but without risking lives in unauthorized plasma transfers.”
“Yes Sir! I apologize Sir!” he said without feeling. “But around the Yards when we see a problem we solve it. Waiting for chain of command to make a decision on a half-built ship just gets people killed. Sir.”
“As opposed to hacking at plasma grids with medieval cutlery, you mean.”
“Would the Commander prefer to implement his plan now Sir?”
Tom didn’t much care for the young man’s unrepentant attitude or cavalier disregard for the ship or crew; but he had to admit: the kid had initiative—and guts. “Keep in mind it’s not a Cardassian ship,” he said, and handed back the wakizashi.
Re: Sleeping at Warp
“I was not aware that Starfleet Medical even had a policy of diagnosis by jury.”
“Really, Doctor, this is not a time to be facetious.”
“That’s funny, Administrator. I was just about to say the same thing to you.” The Emergency Medical Hologram looked down at the PADD being offered back to him, but he refused to accept it. He was at the limit of his diplomacy algorithms, which had increased processing from the moment he had admitted his two patients to the Starfleet Medical facility in the Mars Orbital Complex. The very latest in medical facilities were not enough to guarantee even decent treatment in what the Doctor saw as a lack of efficiency, capable treatment, and most of all, common courtesy.
“Doctors Klekhak and Ng not only disagree with your diagnosis,” said Commander Barul, a doughy Trevian with erratic gray hair, a row of occipital bone extrusions, and serious-looking double irises. “They say the patients’ conditions have been treated and rectified. There’s no reason for holding these patients any longer, Doctor; let alone in quarantine. This is a working Fleet Yard medical facility. Not an academy of research, or your tugboat medical bay.”
“Certainly not. My starship medical bay has certain medical standards to uphold. But you see the evidence, it’s in your hand—”
“On the contrary. I’m afraid I must concur with Doctors Klekhak and Ng. I see no evidence of affliction here.” He insisted with the PADD.
The EMH took the device. “Perhaps the afflictions aren’t restricted to the patients around here.”
“Please release both patients from the medical bay, Doctor.”
Really—he may have called the EMH “Doctor”, but the way he said it—the way they all said it—triggered his image management subroutines. They believe I am a piece of holographic medical equipment, he thought. Or is it professional jealousy? Manifesting itself as invalidation and prejudice? Regardless, it was an all-too-familiar refrain when dealing with organics. Imperfect programming.
But the Doctor’s decision-making heuristics inhibited those broader subroutines of civic ideology. The protocols dealing with his patients, and close friends, B’Elanna and Miral Torres of Voyager, occupied the lion’s share of his cognitive and emotive processing. He had brought Miral into the universe. Naturally he felt a special responsibility to protect her from its denizens, such as these Utopian—quacks. He said it. He’d had to access his linguistic database and go back four hundred years to find an appropriate term for them, but there it was, deeply buried in history the way such medical practices by now ought to be.
The EMH had to find a way to act in the best interest of his patients—and was beginning to realize that neither the Voyager sickbay nor the Mars Orbital Medical Facility would meet their needs. He activated a memo to contact Starfleet Medical on Earth to arrange for possible transfer to a state-of-the-art hospital with real doctors—organic, holographic, or otherwise.
“Am I intruding?”
The Administrator stood. “Captain. Please come in. We were just finished.”
“They told me I’d find you here.” Captain Chakotay entered Administrator Barul’s office. He held a small stuffed toy known on Earth as a “teddy bear”. Terran custom often called for such gifts in hospital visitations. Personally the Doctor had never understood the bedside appeal of Earth’s Ursidae of the Carnivora order; but he did understand the mammalian penchant for embracing the warm, soft and fuzzy in stress-dependency situations. He ran his fingers over his hairless scalp, wondering why Dr. Lewis Zimmerman had not considered this fact when designing the EMH visual holomatrix.
“Is there any problem?” Chakotay asked.
“Captain,” the EMH persisted, “We’re at an impasse. The medical staff of this…facility,” echoing their own verbal characteristic, “does not seem as interested in diagnosing their patients as they are in discharging them prematurely and ‘hoping for the best’. They are ordering the release of B’Elanna and Miral.”
“I went to visit them but I couldn’t get past the force field. What’s their condition?”
The EMH broke his gaze from Barul and entreated his Captain. “I’ve placed them in isolation as a precaution.” He handed Chakotay the PADD displaying abstracted neuroscans of the two patients. “In both patients there has been evidence of temporary neurotransmitter distortion and electrochemical interference. Barring the initial fainting, it doesn’t appear to be much of a threat at all, except—”
“That it has occurred simultaneously in mother and daughter?” Chakotay guessed.
The EMH nodded. “And in similar distribution patterns in the major cranial lobes and moving throughout the nervous system. Yet I cannot determine its point of origin, nor find any medical or environmental cause whatsoever, and it seems to have corrected itself.”
“Which is why I’m discharging them,” Barul interjected, sitting.
“Sure,” replied the EMH. “Just send them off on a starship without determining the etiology or transmittal of a condition that arbitrarily disrupts neural activity. After all, we wouldn’t want to disturb the serene environs of this cozy space station with patients. What could go wrong?” he asked the ceiling.
“Doctor,” Chakotay admonished. “Do you believe this condition could pose some kind of neurological threat to the crew?”
“Until I find the cause of this disruption,” he said, “I couldn’t speculate as to the potential effects, or whether it could happen again. But I wouldn’t want to find out the hard way at warp nine.”
The EMH was grateful to notice Chakotay’s dark eyes responding in agreement.
“Administrator. The Doctor has me concerned. I’d like to request that you authorize an extension for the patients from my ship,” he said, a little reminder for Barul of who was in authority on Voyager. He smiled congenially. “In fact I’ll consider it a personal favor.”
Barul’s cheeks flushed a bluish tint. “Why certainly, Captain!”
“And I’m sure Admiral Janeway will be paying a visit to her former senior officer and personal friend Lieutenant Torres. In fact, she’ll likely be in later today, after she learns of their condition.”
“Erp? Captain, it would be our pleasure to accommodate these patients, at least until we deem it—”
“It might be a good time to requisition any resources or equipment you might happen to need around here. I would be happy to speak to the Admiral on your behalf.”
“That’s very generous of you, Sir. In fact we do have a need for some recent Denobulan technology, for which we’ve been backlisted for months now—”
“As a matter of fact, the Admiral will be meeting with the Denobulan ambassador in the days to come; perhaps she will be able to pull some strings on your behalf. On our way to Alpha Centauri, Voyager will be passing several Federation starships returning from Denobulan space. I see no reason we couldn’t rendezvous with one to collect what you need. For now perhaps it would be best if we defer to our EMH’s judgment as to when we might get out of your—way. Knowing their full medical histories as he does.”
“Yes. Yes, of course, Captain. Thank you, Captain. Our facility is your facility, Doctor.”
Chakotay nodded perfunctorily. “Thank you, Administrator.”
The EMH lifted his chin at the Administrator, and they left.
Outside the quarantine bay, Chakotay and the EMH looked over B’Elanna and Miral Torres, sedated on side-by-side medical beds.
“Captain,” the Doctor exhaled, “thank you. But I don’t understand. You could have just ordered the Commander to comply.”
“Yes; but I couldn’t order him to change his professional medical determination in a facility he’s in charge of. He would have won.”
“It would appear there are elements to command not programmed into my holographic protocols.”
“How long do you intend to observe them, Doctor?”
“I’m not sure. At least seventy-two hours longer. Captain, I’d like permission to take them to Earth—if their condition should reassert itself. The facilities here—”
“Permission granted. But Doctor.”
“I’ll need you back on board Voyager for the Perseus Trials.”
“Captain, I can’t—”
“You’re still Voyager’s Chief Medical Officer. Your duty is to the whole crew. Voyager will be departing the system a full day before the trials begin; we need to take up a position in Alpha Centauri and take readings on the quantum slipstream before we send Perseus through. We’ll need you there.”
“I understand, Captain, but—”
“I’m worried about them too, Doctor. But you said yourself you can’t find the source of their condition. Isn’t it reasonable to let the doctors at HQ Medical pool their experience as well?”
The EMH had to concur, but so many of his subroutines were outputting the same conclusion: he didn’t like it.
Chakotay moved to leave. He paused, then handed the Doctor the teddy bear. He went.
The Doctor held up the bear. “You agree with me, don’t you.”
Re: Sleeping at Warp
- Paris to Vexa. I need you to go to the turbolift, and look up.
- Yes Sir. I beg your pardon?
- Paris to Seven.
Tom and Grif materialized in the gap between the bridge turbolift and the shaft bulkhead. They removed their EVA helmets and opened the lift’s trap door. Sublieutenant Vexa looked up.
“Feel like going for a walk, Sublieutenant?”
Vexa reached for the trap door, and Tom took her arms. Something began to sound: a holomatrix compiling in its magnetic field. Suddenly, Vexa was no longer alone in the turbolift.
The Emergency Security Hologram threw his bulky arms around Vexa’s leg and tried to wrest her from Tom. Her Vulcan grip viced into his arm. Tom grabbed the ladder to stabilize himself. “Hang on Vexa! Chief! Manual release!”
Vexa’s face strained to keep composure, but Tom could see the raw, mute fear in her eyes. She started to gasp from the strain.
“Here goes,” the Chief shouted. The turbolift lurched, then plummeted in free fall.
As Vexa was drawn up through the trap door, the arms of the ESH decompiled outside the scan range of the emitter diode. Armless, the ESH fell to the floor, watching Tom as the turbolift plunged down the long shaft and curved out of sight.
“Hang on, Vexa!” Tom strained to bring the sublieutenant to the ladder. When she found purchase, Tom climbed down and took station beneath her. Chief Grifahni climbed down to her side, while she noticed the long drop of the turboshaft, and drew in a sharp breath.
“Sublieutenant Vexa,” Tom said, “Meet Chief Master-At-Arms Grifahni Jace. Chief Grifahni, Sublieutenant Vexa.”
“Grif,” he said, offering his hand.
Vexa braced her arm through the ladder and looked at his hand—but for some reason, her clamped fingers didn’t release the rung. “Greetings,” she managed.
“It’s the sublieutenant’s first day of active duty,” Tom informed him.
“Is that right?” said Grif. “You want to quit yet?”
She looked at them both, the long drop below, regained her composure, and regarded the Chief. “Not yet.”
“Good. Welcome to the Fleet, Sublieutenant.”
As they climbed down the shaft Tom considered their next course of action. The Chief—Grif’s plan had so far succeeded, giving them access to any number of decks without worrying about activation of the turbolifts any time soon. He needed to find a way to either reset three computer cores, or enable a warp core shutdown, in order to reassert control of the ship.
“We can access any number of plasma coupling interfaces,” Grif offered. “It just depends on which systems you want to shut down. How much damage you want to do.”
“How do we shut down the warp core?” Tom asked. “Without ‘decommissioning’ the ship, that is.”
“If we disable enough random systems eventually the core failsafes will engage. That’s how the Maquis did it—when they wanted to keep the ship and not overload it.”
“Utilizing that method increases our probability of capture,” Vexa replied. “Logically we should first disable secondary systems; including the holoemitter grid and transporters. Then we could move uninhibited to engineering to initiate a tricore shutdown using manual controls.”
“Sounds like a plan,” said Tom. “There’s an auxiliary master control on the Secondary Cruiser bridge. We could access its junction from the jeffries tubes; and hopefully deactivate secondary systems before we’re beamed out. Four more decks."
Tom regarded the crewmen. He couldn’t help but see a piece of himself in each of them; and envied them their beginnings.
Sublieutenant Vexa removed a panel and moved toward the ODN fiberoptic conduit, but Chief Grifahni stayed her arm. “Disengaging it manually will alert security systems. The computer will dispatch a holo-man to investigate. Instead, we misdirect the computer. We create a ‘random malfunction’.” He drew his short sword.
“I fail to see the distinction; when the unit ceases to function, the computer will automatically schedule diagnostic repair.”
“This is a security problem. It requires a security solution. Not an egghead solution.” He severed the ODN line with a fast, smooth cut.
“Efficient,” Vexa noted, examining the perfect cut across hundreds of optical lines. “If crude.”
“Thanks,” the Chief replied.
Tom heard—or rather felt the secondary power grid shut down throughout the ship. He tapped his suit communicator. “Paris to Captain.”
“Go ahead, Mr. Paris.”
“Secondary systems are down. You should be able to leave the brig.”
“We are doing so presently.”
“Turbolifts are down. Recommend you proceed to Main Engineering.
“Warp core shutdown in progress,” Tuvok communicated. “Ship systems are powering down.”
From his position on the space-efficient, emergency-lit bridge of the Secondary Cruiser, Tom took a deep breath and wondered if B’Elanna was cleared for duty yet. She would not be pleased with the damage his team had managed to do throughout the ship. But compared with the possibility of a Borg nanoprobe malfunction? He would win the battle. The war, however, was an entirely different matter.
“Sir,” Vexa interrupted. “I’m reading a microsurge in engineering.”
Tom tapped his communicator. “Captain Tuvok, are you—“
“Tetryon warp plasma destabilizing,” Tuvok responded. “And increasing. All systems operating within normal parameters. I cannot explain it. At present rate, the core will breach in three minutes.”
“Sir,” Vexa interrupted. “I’m reading a compressed energy beam focused on the main warp core.” She raised a brow and looked at him. “It’s coming from transporter room two.”
“Can you disengage it from here?”
“Negative. Insufficient analysis, Sir.” She activated the remote transporter control; it revealed activity in progress. “I am locked out of control.”
“Paris to Tuvok. It’s a transporter beam destabilizing the plasma. We’re on our way to it now!”
The trio rushed out of the secondary bridge. “This way,” Grif shouted, pointing to a Jeffries tube. As they crawled through the tube, Tom heard Captain Tuvok on shipwide order the crew to abandon ship. Several moments later he felt the muted concussions of escape pods beginning to launch from the ship. He tapped his com. “Captain! Abandon ship!”
“Negative, Mr. Paris. Core breach in two minutes.”
They entered the transporter room. Vexa swept the controls with her tricorder. “Here,” she said, somehow calmer than she was before.
Grif tore open the panel underneath the main transporter control. A device sounded, wedged between the circuits. All of its diodes were lit.
“It appears to be an actuator,” she said. “powered by a dedicated fusion generator.”
“Sabotage!” Grif popped open a compartment and grabbed a hand phaser. Vexa stayed his arm and looked directly at him. “This requires an ‘egghead’ solution.”
She began to tinker with the interface.
“If we fail, the core goes critical,” Grif reminded her. “But we’ll lose more than just this ship. If there’s a matter/antimatter annhilation event so close to all this ballistic material—the docks and stations and ships—”
“Then the debris will most likely shred not only the Fleet Yards, but the starships, stations and planetary facilities are going to be annhilated and possibly exposed from Federation security. You are not even considering the tetryon fallout and it’s devastating destruction of the planet’s terraformation, Chief,” she said, concentrating on her algorithms. “There is approximately an eighty-nine point four probability Mars’ ecology will be exposed to enough radiation to result in a catastrophic loss of all biological life, and delay any future terraformation attempts for hundreds if not thousands of years. Hundreds of colonies and planetary terraformation projects, for which Mars stands as a model, may be disrupted by this catastrophe. Billions of people and countless biological lifeforms may be effected throughout the entire Federation.”
Warning: Warp core breach in one minute, said the computer.
Chief Grifahni leveled his phaser. Tom placed his hand on his shoulder and shook his head. “Look at those readings. The actuator has locked transporters into a diagnostic phase transition power up. Destroying the device won’t stop the transporter cycle or kill the annular confinement beam in time. And we still don’t have command access.”
“The Commander is correct,” Vexa said. “However I may be able to ‘misdirect’ the computer into a diagnostic of the virtual focus molecular imaging scanner, instead.”
Warning: Warp core breach in thirty seconds.
She wiped her eyes in tacit exasperation.
“I know you can do it, Vexa,” Tom said. He thought of his qualifying exam, and B’Elanna, lying there at his feet.
“Plasma overloads on decks two through eight!” Tuvok broke in. “We are losing containment! Injectors are fusing! Magnetic bottles destabilizing!”
Explosions rocked the ship.
Tom braced himself against Vexa, and saw Grif. Eyes closed, the security chief was clutching the console and uttering a silent prayer to the Prophets of Bajor.
Warning: Warp core breach in ten seconds.
Tom closed his eyes. There was nowhere to go. Nowhere to hide. Not even Seven’s shuttle, if it were still near, could get them out in time to outrun even one matter-antimatter explosion—let alone a chain reaction. He had let down his captain. His crew. His family. Starfleet. Earth and the United Federation of Planets itself.
The Perseus Trial was the trial of Commander Thomas Eugene Paris, and it had failed before it had even begun.
Miral, he whispered, as the ship stormed around him.
My love, goodbye.
Re: Sleeping at Warp
I would say that was quite well written, good characterisation.
Re: Sleeping at Warp
Thanks Xeris! More will come.
Re: Sleeping at Warp
Ok, bud, you better get CH8 posted soon-although the way you left things its going to be a very short chapter.
I like your portrayal of Paris. You need to keep his sense of humor in mind at all times because it often surfaced in VOY during times of stress. You have a pretty right-on portrait of him overall. I really like Seven's dialogue-I can "hear" it.
This security guy, Grif-unless he dies in chapter 8 I'd definitely make him a piece of the regular cast-anybody who goes space-walking with a sword sounds too interesting to lose.
That having been said-your writing is very well-done overall-few if any mechanical flaws(thank you! My pet peeve!) and the pacing is pretty smooth, too. I look forward to more.
Re: Sleeping at Warp
Much obliged Mistral!
It's very gratifying to hear the characters sound about right. I'll bear your advice in mind about Tom's humor. (If he survives, that is).
One challenge is exploring new territory with familiar characters without disappointing people's expectations of them. It's a tightrope! :) So very glad to hear your input.
I guess I'd better get started on CH 8! From here on out I'll post one at a time as I get them.
Re: Sleeping at Warp
I really loved this story. Is there more?
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