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Old November 9 2009, 08:47 PM   #5
CaptainGold
Lieutenant Commander
 
Re: It is a Significant Assigment: Completed

It is a Significant Assignment
Chapter 4

To: Starfleet Command Officers
Clearance Level: 24 and above
From: Starfleet Intelligence, Admiral N. M. Nuck, Office of Threat Assessment

Klingon Ship Types and Capability Estimates

Front-line fleet units have recent upgrades. Most are evolutionary, not revolutionary improvements. IKN has launched new builds of proven designs. …

D7-Class Battlecrusier:

IKN has been more aggressive with D7 design, adding more capability in same frame. D5 class ships WD from front-line duty facing UFP border. Large-scale fleet problems with live fire D7 squadrons recently observed Stardate XXXXXXXXXXX by XXXXXXXXXXX program assets. Observed more firepower, added rear defenses. Weight, size penalty traded maneuver for weight of fire over earlier D7 designs. Live fire against equal opponents lead to significant trust and IKN confidence in design….

Contact between USS XXXXXXXXXXXXXX and unknown D7 on Stardate XXXXXXXXXXXXXX led to decisive victory for D7, and mission failure for Starfleet asset. Sensor functions unknown, weapons range has grown. Larger power reading from salvaged record of USS XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX reveals upgrade of warp drive,... No tractor function or cloaking devices noted, defensive abilities unknown….

Synopsis: D7 upgraded ship is serious threat to Starfleet assets. Single ship actions with below Constitution-class to be refused. D7 is designed for fleet actions, and aggressive individual ship combat, IKN is aggressive with ships, always willing to give combat in single ship action…. IKN has high confidence in design, now main fleet unit in IKN, …..

Lt. John Kyle called up from Engineering: “Impulse power at your command, Mack.”

“Here we go“, said Lt. Mack King.

Sometimes there are people who have a sixth sense, who know what is coming. James Kirk was known for “getting ahead” of his opponent; be it another ship captain, a strange creature, or the competition for the affections of the local diva. Mack King did not know if he had the knack or not, but he knew what was coming this time. The certainty filled him with dread.

Scanning the system, it was obvious that hiding places from a D7 were slim and none, and Slim left the system last week. Any ship with sensors will find a starship in a system without active shields, or a “stealth” device. The best outcome was to delay discovery for a short time, in the hope that the crew of the Enterprise, or enough of the crew, could shake the Anesticene gas and fight the ship.

Mack and Chief Herman Mauer decided the best place to hide were in the rings of a small planet in the dead system, which they called “Constipate.” Its one characteristic that made a good place to hide was that there was only one easy avenue of approach to the planet, without trying to shovel your way through lots of garbage in the system. It might put off the death of Enterprise by another minute or two, but miracles still happen in the worlds of the Federation. It was a short journey to Constipate, and its rings.

“Chief, put the sensors in a passive mode if you can. Try to limit their reach to the Oort cloud of our comfy little home. We better try to stay as quiet as possible.”

“Aye, sir.”

“John, shut down everything you can, and limit our power signature. Try and set something up to where we can have impulse power and full weapons capacity quickly if we are caught.“

“Aye, Captain Kirk. Any more miracles you want today?”

“You are starting to sound like Dr. McCoy, Chief Engineer Kyle. If you don’t watch your tone, I’ll make an order for you to get a physical tomorrow.”

“Can I pick the nurse to do it?”

“No.”

“Well in that case, can you send the chief down? He can help.”

“Sure, if the air is breathable”

“It should be okay, but he should use a suit until he gets down here. The lifts will still be filled with the gas.”

“Chief, need some help suiting up?”

Already back into his suit, Chief Mauer replied: “No sir,” “I will be down to Engineering in 2 or 3 minutes, Lieutenant Kyle.”

“Thank you chief, Kyle out.”

“Come back when you two are done, chief.”

“Aye, Sir.”

Finally, there was nothing for Mack King to do, other than monitor what systems he could see from his bridge chair. He had really hoped the work would not have ended until the Captain was awake. Because now the burden couldn’t be ignored any more. Now some big decisions had to be made, ones people above his pay grade usually make. However, those folks were not available at the moment; he was.

Will the Klingons come? Mack knew in his gut they were coming, so he didn’t take much time on hoping for what he couldn’t change.

Can we run now? No, that was a death sentence.Kyle is a good engineer, but two guys running a warp-core to get somewhere is a non-starter. Can we call someone? Nope, that brings the predators in faster. Better to stay silent and pray then let everyone know you are carrying a knife to a phaser fight.

What to do when the Klingons show up? Well, that wasn’t hard to figure out. There were three options: Run around hiding in this rock pile of a system dodging distuptor shots until the crew woke up, or the Klingons blow the ship up. Second, fight the ship when they came. Third, blow it up when the Klingons came into the system.

The third alternative was best. If the Klingons were smart they would disable Enterprise, board her, and tear it apart. They could probably do it in-system, or just tow the most advanced class of Federation starship across the border and learn its secrets. Then they also would get a special gift; Picking up a crew that can’t resist capture. It would be a gold mine for an intelligence branch armed with a mind-sifter.

The first alternative is almost like the third alternative, except it would let the Klingons have more fun chasing the ship around the system for a minute or two. Mack was a good helmsman, but he knew he couldn’t win that game of “whack a ‘vole” when he had no hammer, or hole to hide in.

The second alternative was a fools’ errand as well. If Mack would attack the Klingons, his probability of success was zero, unless it was a scout ship. His chances of any serious damage to a D-7, or even D-5 vessel were almost nil unless he totally surprised the enemy vessel. And since the ship was coming in knowing something was wrong with an illegal listening post, where is the surprise coming from?

“But suicide means there is no hope”, Mack said out loud, “and to scuttle the lives of 430 people with trying to save them is obscene. To try and fail is netter than not to try. Damn. Kirk wouldn’t give up, why should I?” Mack King hated cussing, but he seemed to use it a lot recently, starting a new bad habit. Maybe God would forgive him, but it would be nice for the Deity to show he still existed, or at least Mack King would be around long enough to break his new habit.

“Some things are never easy”, he mused, rubbing his temples as silence overcame the Bridge again.

“Some things are never easy, Commander.”

“No sir, they are not”, said Cmdr. Katsuo Mamoru, as he handed his captain the wagering tube. Again.

Captain Alain Louis of the USS Valiant (NCC-1709) simply sighed, and tuned over his game pieces in surrender.

“Do I owe you another shift?”

“Aye. Sir. I am now up one watch.”

“Why did I start playing this with you again?”

“Because you like to bang your head against walls, sir.”


Alain snorted then laughed bitterly, and responded: “It’s becoming a habit Katsuo, and I don’t like it.”

Valiant was the newest of the Constitution-class starships, on its first mission after acceptance and trials. The trials were fine, and it left Earth with a happy crew. But its first mission, to protect shipping and patrol among the Klingon/Federation frontier, was a disaster. The old Earth navies used to complain about their “shakedown” cruises, having to fix many, many little imperfections and problems before the ship was truly combat-ready. Valiant’s crew spent more time fixing problems then actually patrolling. There was one time in the short patrol cruise the mighty cruiser had to return to Starbase 13, one hour after leaving it, being towed in for more repairs. Captain Louis even had to put on coveralls to crawl deep into the guts of the Valiant’s main computer system to do a re-wire of a main bus harness that shorted out the self-destruct system. He told his chief engineer: “Perfect fail-safe work from Starfleet for a new crew, commander. We can’t blow ourselves up, even if we tried.”

It got so bad that the assistant chief engineer began calling the repair list “Warranty work”, and it stuck. Suddenly lemons (or at least mostly fake lemons according to the chief botanist) started showing up all over the ship. The non-human and non-core world members of the crew had to get the joke explained to them: Lemons were a sign of a defective product so badly made it had to be returned to the builder for a full refund after hearing how “good” the product was, and how “bad” the user used it. That explanation usually came after someone got suckered into trying to eat a “real” lemon from a food processor, or did a 50-50 lemon juice/liquid of some type mix. It was reported in several log entries that certain Vulcan and Andorian crew members found the taste “stimulating”, but not enough to add it to their normal diet.

But now Valiant was heading back from patrol to Earth. A three-month old ship was going to be going through a total refit, an embarrassment for Starfleet, and a big black mark on her Captain in many eyes. And that made Alain Louis a very angry man.

“Well, Katsuo, I’ll have plenty of time to win the watch back. It will only take four stops on the way home to get repairs, so I will have lots of chances to get lucky.” A sad smile creased Cmdr. Mamoru face as he took his leave and headed for his quarters, Alain saw him out, then hit the desk communicator button: “Bridge, communications, this is the Captain.”

“Ensign Molica, sir.”

“Please contact the Enterprise, when you have Captain Kirk, pipe it down to my quarters.”

“Aye, sir.”

“Computer, Warranty Work list please.”

Working, Dear Leader.

“WHAT!!!”

It didn’t take long for the chief to return after Mack started his thinking session. But then, the chronometer has only moved 30 minutes. It seemed like forever.

“Sir, Lt. Kyle has your rig up. He says it won’t last long, but you got what you wanted.”

“Thanks, Chief. You have done a great job today. I’ll write you up for this, and not even tell the captain I know where the second still is.”

“Sir, we would never do a thing like that here!” said the chief indignantly, tongue firmly planted in cheek.

With a smile, Mack called down to Engineering: “John, Chief, listen up. Chief, you don’t have to do the grunt work any more on those logs. What’s done is done.

Here is how I see it: If our information is right, we have at least 30 minutes before the crew starts stirring. But, I’m not sold on that estimate being right, and if it is, how long before the crew can run the ship?

We are going to hope that staying silent keeps us safe. But, I believe we will have visitors soon. If keeping silent doesn’t help, then we duties to perform. You two are to take escape pods, and hide out as I get a distress signal out. Someone will look for you in a short amount of time.”

“NO! Mack”, said Kyle.

“That’s an order, lieutenant,” said in a voice Mack didn’t know he had. “Someone has to try and tell Starfleet what happened to us. If the big uglies are running other listening posts like this across the border, Starfleet has to know. And you two are the messengers. I’ll try to draw the cats away from you, so you can hide here.”

“Sir, what will you do?”, asked the Chief.

“I have two impulse engines, 2 photon torpedoes, a couple of phaser shots, and hope. Any visitors will know what hit ’em. But we have to make sure this ship does not get captured. And that is my job. Now, have I made myself clear to you two?”

“Aye, sir”, said the chief.

“You did, Captain”, said Kyle in his most serious voice.

“Good. You guys make a great crew, thanks a lot. I’m proud to serve with you. You guys deserve a shot to get out of here alive if trouble comes. Take a chance on getting out of here.”

Mack turned back to the tactical layout on the main screen, and Chief Mauer looked to the science station. As Chief Mauer looked to his sensor screen, he saw Kyle’s text message on his board:

“NOT LEAVING, ARE YOU?”

“NO SIR”, was the reply.

It seemed like just a moment later, and a button on the communications panel flashed.

“Lieutenant, the com panel is lit up.”

“It’s not intership is it?

“I don’t know, sir.”

“Great. Well, I don’t know about it either. Just ignore it chief. There is no way we are answering a hail, if that is what it is. That’s an engraved invitation to anyone who wants to pay us a visit.”

Captain Alain Louis stared into his viewscreen. “What did you say, Ensign?”

“Captain, Enterprise is not responding.”

“Are they not picking up your hail? Does your equipment work”


“Sir, I believe they are ignoring it. Our equipment is working well, I have searched and hailed on all normal Starfleet channels, and there is no sign of trouble. If Enterprise is anywhere close to us, we should have heard back almost instantly. I have hailed them multiple times since you ordered us to make contact. There is just nothing coming back.

“Keep trying Ensign. And contact Starbase 13, see if they have heard anything from them. Keep me posted Ensign. ”

“Aye, sir. Communications, out.”

“Jim Kirk doesn’t normally act like this”, thought Alain. This close to this border, even Kirk would not start playing games. If something had happened, a buoy or listening device would have noticed a disaster beacon, but there was not a sound from anyone about a problem. There is no reason for a communications blackout. After adding his personal comm panel voice logic to the new “Warranty list” for replacement, he sat back and waited.

It won’t be long.

“Chief, how far out-system does the passive sensors reach?”

“Lieutenant, I tried to tune it so it only went to the Oort Cloud as you ordered, but I would guess it reaches a little further out into space. There is always a certain minimum area of coverage for the sensor suite, even in passive mode, unless you just shut it down.”

“Okay chief, just keep looking out for us.”

That conversation did not end the feeling in the back of Mack’s mind that something is wrong. “I’m missing something,” he absent mindedly said.

“Sir?”

The Fault Tree!”, shouted out Mack, and went straight to the comm panel. If he didn’t push that button, would it be the item that triggers the ship’s self-destruct sequence, the system deciding no answer to a hail was a sign there was no crew? It seemed logical, and yet, if he responded, other people would hear.

“Are you sure, sir?” asked Chief Mauer with a worried look, like his young commander was losing his cool.

“No, I am not, chief, but I am doing it anyway.” He pressed the button.

Enterprise, this is USS Valiant. Please respond. Enterprise, this is USS Valiant. Please respond.”

Valiant, respond on secure frequency. Out.”

“Mollica to Captain Louis.”

“Louis here, Do you have contact with the Enterprise?”

“I don’t know sir, here is what I have.”

“Valiant, respond on secure frequency. Out.

“That is all you have?”

“Aye, sir. It was the Enterprise, but I don’t know that voice, and I know several Communications officers on that ship. They are in trouble, sir.”

“Ensign, you are exactly right. Can you get a fix on where that signal came from?”

“Aye sir.”

“Then get it fixed and send it to Rookhem at Navigation.”

“Aye, sir.”

Alain then got on the intership: “Action Stations, all hands. This is no drill. All hands to Action stations, Commander Mamoru to the Bridge.”
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