Here's the next tale in the saga of the USS Lexington
, I hope everyone enjoys this story set during the TOS period.
“Hello, Robert.” Commodore Jerrik Kiersted grinned as his face appeared on Commodore Robert Wesley’s desk monitor. “Hope I didn’t take you away from anything important.”
As he gazed at the smiling image of Starbase 31’s Danish station commander, Wesley grinned back, “Nope.” The Lexington’s
skipper responded, “Just reading through the latest intelligence reports.” His lips turning down into a worried frown, the grizzled veteran noted, “I saw where the free trader Amos Burke
was reported missing. That makes the third in as many months in the same general area. I’d say we have a problem here, Jerrik.”
“You’re right. And it’s an ugly one.” Kiersted declared and then explained in greater detail. “It’s Walker and his people. The Commodore frowned. “They managed to land themselves an up-gunned and up-engined Orion raider. They’ve been raiding the shipping in this area since you’ve left. Just recently, a couple of petty officers stationed on the Evergreen
were shanghaied by Walker and his gang. To make a long story short, Walker tangled with Marietta and the Scipio
and did what he does best—turned tail and ran. The two petty officers—gutsy kids, both of them—got loose and stole a shuttle and got away. They positively identified Walker, his former first officer, and his old security chief. As for the two petty officers…” A smile crossed the Danish commodore’s face as he relayed the silver lining to this story, “They’re on their way to Starfleet Academy with Marietta’s and my recommendations.”
“Damn. That’s good news about those petty officers though—we need more good officers in the Fleet.” Wesley remarked as he took in Kiersted’s news. “I’m also glad Marietta was there. Is Walker working alone or in conjunction with the local Orion ahmet’sur
“We’re not really sure yet.” Jerrik admitted, “My intelligence people are digging but…”
“They’re going to take some time. I understand that.” Wesley reluctantly conceded and then admonished, “But they better hurry. For Walker and his people, this is about more than just making some easy scores—they want revenge—against the Fleet and against the people he felt wronged him. He knows Mitchell’s here, he knows Marietta’s here, he knows I’m here and he knows you’re here. This is personal. We have to deal with him and we had better do it soon.”
“No argument there.” Kiersted agreed. “I’ll keep you updated about what we find out. But…” The starbase commander paused for a moment to take a breath before continuing, “That’s not the only reason I contacted you. It seems we’ve come across another situation. One of our listening stations in the Expanses—Outpost Tango-Foxtrot Three, picked up some interesting signals coming from system Epsilon Erilae. The signals appear to be mostly entertainment and are primarily on the very-high and ultra-high radio bands, although there are also signals coming from the AM and FM bands. And…” the station commander remarked, sounding a cautionary note, “…we’ve picked up indications of military chatter. Also, the outpost has picked up some intriguing energy readings—looks like someone might be having an interplanetary war.”
“Not good.” Robert commented with a frown, “Unless they’re close to warp travel, our hands are kind of tied as they should still be covered by the Prime Directive. Hmmm…I wonder…wait a moment, Jerrik…” The commodore requested as he reached for the data slate on his desk, let me check something out.” Calling up a map of that region of space on his slate, Wesley’s brow furrowed, “Just as I thought.” Robert exclaimed, “That system’s within the portion of the sector disputed with the Klingons.”
“Right.” Kiersted agreed, nodding his head. “We need to know what’s going on there, Robert. If these people are close to developing warp travel and they’re already having a war, then things could get even more problematic than they already are over here. Also, if the Klingons are involved...”
“It could start another war.” Robert completed sourly. Flashing a confident grin, the rugged-faced commodore concluded, “Don’t worry, Jerrik, we’ll keep the wolf from your door.”
“What are you picking up, Ms. Oudekirk?” Commodore Robert Wesley, the commanding officer of the USS Lexington
, asked as he sat straight in his high-backed command chair.
“There’s a wide variety of electronic transmissions, Sir.” The willowy Dutch communications officer replied as she placed her ear piece back in her ear. “Newscasts and entertainment programming with most of the transmission in high definition audio and video digital signals. Also, quite a bit of military traffic.”
“That bears out the information we received from Listening Outpost Tango-Foxtrot Three and our probes.” Alexei Kuznetsov, the Lexington’s
first officer, commented with a single nod of his head. “Approximately mid to late twenty-first century technology.”
“Maintain passive scans only.” Wesley instructed, “Let’s not give ourselves away unless we absolutely have to.”
“Aye, Sir.” The Lexington’s
attractive and vivacious Andorian science officer, Lieutenant Commander Talana Zha’Thara, acknowledged, her face covered by the sensor hood she was bent over. Then, raising her head, she announced, “I’ve just picked up a vessel dropping out of warp.”
“Heading and speed?”
“It’s on a course for the fourth planet, moving at .5c and decelerating.” Talana replied professionally. Her antennae twitching in a manner that Wesley knew was one of relative surprise, she added, “The vessel appears to be fusion powered. No traces of dilithium or of the use of matter-anti-matter propulsion.”
“We’re only talking about a maximum speed of warp factor two then.” Lieutenant Commander G’arv noted with a dismissive grunt from his position at the engineering console. “And with those low powered engines, they won’t be able to effectively use their superluminal engines once they get deeper into the gravitic well of that sun.”
“Sir!” Lieutenant Oudekirk interjected, a note of excitement in her voice, “I’m intercepting two way communications from the larger moon orbiting the fourth planet.”
“Scanners have also picked up three small craft closing with the other vessel on an intercept trajectory.” Talana reported, her antennae twitching with excitement.
“Yellow alert. Raise shields.” Wesley immediately ordered as the alert light next to the turbolift flashed amber. “And put that communication on speakers, Ms. Oudekirk.” Cutting through the crackling static, the officers and crew on the Lexington
bridge heard a human sounding voice.
“Intercept Wing One to Danae base. Closing to intercept with
“The smaller ships are apparently fusion powered and are continuing to close with the other vessel at .1c and accelerating.” Talana, hunched over her scanner, reported as three small moving dots appeared on the main viewscreen. “I believe both they and the other ship should be within maximum visual range now, Sir.”
“Maximum magnification, Ms. Bathory.” Commodore Wesley commanded as he leaned forward in his seat. “Let’s see who we’re dealing with.”
“Aye, Sir.” The Hungarian helmsman responded as the small dots on the screen soon resolved themselves into the form of three small streamlined single seat craft, flying in a triangular formation, each one with what appeared to be two missiles attached to racks on the sides speeding towards another ship, this one resembling more than anything else one of the flying saucers out of twentieth century Earth folklore.
“Intercept range in twenty seconds.”
Watching in fascination, the bridge crew of the Lexington
saw three missiles, one each launched from the intercepting single seat craft as the intruder evading, returned fire, a red beam lancing out from one of the shiny disks lining the bottom edge of the saucer as two explosions appeared on the Lexington’s
viewscreen to be soon joined by a third as the last missile found its target.
“Intercept One to Danae base. UIO destroyed.”
“Good shooting, Intercept One.”
The female voice replied, “Return to base.”
“Intercept One acknowledges. Returning to base”
“Looks like Jerrik was right.” Commodore Wesley muttered to himself before commanding, “Put some distance between us and those ships, Ms. Bathory. Take us to the outer edge of the system’s Kuiper Belt…warp four.” As the Constitution
-class starship’s engines hummed, the commodore turned to his first officer, “We need to get a better read on what’s going on here. Whether the Klingons are involved and supporting one side or the other…what sort of risk is there for this war to spread out to neighboring systems…and finally, who these intruders those interceptors shot down are and what their game is…”
“Da.” Commander Kuznetsov replied in his usual rumbling voice, “But we can only get so much information through passive scans…”
“We’re going to have to put boots on the ground.” Wesley concluded, “But we find a way to do so without triggering their detection grid.” Deciding on a course of action, the commodore stood up, “Ms. Bathory…Mr. Lawford…keep your eyes peeled. I don’t want us to be accidentally picked up by some passing ship. Ms. Zha’Thara…I want you, Mr. G’arv, and Ms. Oudekirk to find a way for us to get close enough to the planet where we can beam down a shore party without being detected. Use whatever personnel you need. Ms. Oudekirk…I want your people monitoring communications. Turn what you get over to the people in linguistics, xenology, and cultural studies. We’ll meet in Briefing Room One in six hours. I want a plan for action then.”
Monitoring her LADAR after the successful interception of the UIO hunter-killer triad, Lieutenant Myra Alys saw a large blip appear on her screen. Not another ghost
! The green-haired flight controller sighed inwardly. Noting that the blip was near where Intercept One was still standing by, Lieutenant Alys took a deep breath as she leaned in towards her mike. But, before she could vector the interceptors in, she gasped in astonishment as the blip seemingly disappeared. Keying the mike to activate voice communications with the Intruder Detection And Tracking computer, Myra requested, “IDAT…vector and speed for UIO…”
“Unable to comply.” IDAT’s machine voice responded over the speaker. “UIO’s estimated speed not theoretically possible.”
“What do you mean its speed is not theoretically possible?” Myra inquired.
“UIO estimated speed was sixty-four times light speed.” The computer responded.
Taking a deep breath, Lieutenant Alys ordered, “Record all data and transmit to Illa Base. Maybe they can make something of it.”
Waiting until the last of his senior officers had taken their seats around the oval briefing table, Commodore Wesley called the conference to order, “All right…report.”
“From what we’ve picked up from monitoring their communications channels…” Lieutenant Oudekirk began, “We’ve determined that they call themselves the Halenoi and their planet, Halen.”
“They’re a humanoid species…” Talana interjected, “Not too different from humans actually—some difference in hair color and iris color…”
“Nothing that can’t be taken care through basic cosmetic surgery.” Dr. Vincent chimed in.
“Good.” Wesley replied, nodding his head. “So…what do we know about them? Their culture? Who they’re fighting and why?”
“From what we’ve picked up through their broadcasts…” Cilla reported, “Halen is a balkanized world with three major nation-states and over a score more minor countries…territories…and city-states. All three of the principal states possess their own space programs, but they also cooperate in an umbrella defense organization formed after they’d expelled a reptilian species they call the Shlavka who contacted them approximately ten of their years ago.”
“The Shlavka ostensibly came to Halen in peace, but it didn’t take long before things went sour.” Talana said, picking up the narrative, “The Shlavka began to carry out a systematic plundering of Halen until the Halenoi finally succeeded in driving them out through a combination of military force and the use of a biological weapon that was especially tailored to infect reptilians—resulting also in the virtual extinction of all reptilian life on the planet.”
“Going by their fictional broadcasts, the Halenoi appear somewhat xenophobic.” Cilla declared, “One of their most popular programs is called The Revengers
in which the heroes are a crack commando team charged with seeking out and eliminating potential off-world threats. While most of the storylines stem around the Shlavka…” the blonde communications officer said, sounding a cautionary note, “…there are several stories dealing with alien intrusions from other worlds…and with attempts to infiltrate Halenoi society.”
“Mr. G’arv…” The commodore inquired, addressing his chief engineer, “What do you have?”
“Their primary means of power is fusion.” The gruff Tellarite replied, “But our scans did pick up some curious energy readings coming from one of the three major powers.”
“Could they be conducting matter—anti-matter tests?’ Commodore Wesley asked.
“It’s possible.” G’arv conceded. “But I couldn’t say for sure—not from our present location.”
“What about these Shlavka? Do we know where they’re from?”
“No sir.” Lieutenant Mtolo answered. “None of the military traffic we’ve intercepted has mentioned anything concerning the possible location of Shlavka bases. We have…however…” the Zulu security chief added, “…extrapolated a possible location where those saucers might have originated from.”
Shaking his head, the Tellarite engineer snorted his derision, “Those ships leave emission trails that a half-blind cublet could follow. We traced their point of origin to this system.” G’arv declared as he activated the monitor screen sitting on the center of the table. “Xi Crianis.”
“It was charted by the Explorer Twelve deep space probe in 2228.” Lieutenant Commander Zha’Thara interjected. “K-class star with five planets, the second planet class M.”
“We need to know if the Halenoi are working on warp engines and if so—how close are they.” Commodore Wesley stated as he weighed his options. “That will play a major part in determining whether we make contact or not. And if we do decide to make contact…” The commodore exhaled as he sounded a cautionary note, “We’re going to have to be really careful here. These people have already been burned by aliens who called themselves friends—they’re not going to be too terribly trusting. Our landing party will have to be very careful.”
“Sir?” Cilla spoke up hesitatingly.
“Go ahead, Lieutenant.” Robert prompted encouragingly. “What’s on your mind?”
“Well, Sir…” The willowy blonde began, shyly at first and then picking up more confidence as she spoke, “With the Halenoi being as jittery and distrusting as they are towards outsiders…is it really such a good idea to be sending down a covert landing party. If something should happen and the landing party be discovered…”
“It could make matters worse…” Robert completed, nodding his head thoughtfully. “You’re right, Lieutenant. And under normal circumstances, I would agree with you that sending down a shore party would be too risky. But…” the experienced starship captain continued, “…we’re in a situation here where we might be damned if we do, but we’ll definitely be damned if we don’t. If the Halenoi develop warp travel and go looking for payback, this little war could expand very rapidly. We have to know how far along they are and the only way we can do that is by seeing for ourselves. Also, we need to get more information on the Shlavka. Have they been contacted by the Klingons? Can we perhaps act as a mediator and maybe end this war? Maybe…maybe not.” Pausing to take a breath, the commodore took a sip of now cold coffee. Making a grimace, the amateur pugilist continued, “But we’ll never know if we don’t try.” Sounding a note of encouragement for his junior officer, Robert concluded, “But you are right, whoever goes down to the surface will have to be very careful and be a quick study where alien cultures are concerned….that’s why I want you on the landing party…” Flashing a grin, the commodore inquired in an heartening tone, “You up for it?”
“Yes, Sir.” The young communications officer eagerly replied, happy at the opportunity to go down to the surface.
Pleased at his communications officer’s enthusiasm, Robert addressed his executive officer. “Alexei? Who else do you want on your party?”
Stroking his chin as he gave the matter some thought, the Russian commander replied, “Ensign Watley for general sciences. Also, we’ll need an engineering officer…”
“Take Collins.” Lieutenant Commander G’arv interrupted, “He might be as lazy as a fat Orion, but he knows his matter—anti-matter engines better than anyone else on this ship other than me. He can tell you if they’re close to developing warp propulsion and how close they are to it.”
“All right. Sounds good, Alexei. After the briefing, you and your people get to sickbay so that Dr. Vincent can take care of any necessary cosmetic surgery and then get some sleep. You’ve got a big day tomorrow.” Turning to his science officer, Robert inquired, “Do you have a way of getting us through their detection grid, Ms. Zha’Thara?”
“Yes, Sir.” The lovely Andorian science officer answered back, “This system’s sun is currently in a period of high activity—throwing out large quantities of solar flares at regular intervals. The next peak of activity should be in twenty-four hours. Those flares should—acting in conjunction with our own screens—mask our approach so that we can make a quick pass into transporter range, beam down a landing party, and then get out without being picked up on their instruments.” Pausing for a moment, Talana then warned, “But…the next period of high activity won’t be for another week…”
“So that means Alexei…” the commodore concluded as he once again addressed his first officer, “…you’re going to be stuck there for a week.”
“Don’t worry about us, Commodore.” The Bear responded with a toothy grin, “We’ll keep out of trouble.”
“I’m counting on that, Alexei.” Robert grinned back as he stood up. “That’s it, people. Unless there are any further questions, I’ll let you get to your duties. We move in twenty-four hours.”