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Old July 6 2011, 12:07 AM   #1
Lieutenant Commander
Star Trek: Pathfinder #1 - The Siren's Call

I've been working on a story idea set in the years following the close of the Earth-Romulan War. Here's the first installment of the first story. I hope you like it! C&C are always welcome.

And now, may I present...

UES Fearless
in the atmosphere of Malkur VI
September 29, 2159

"Cut the engines. Passive sensors only."

Nobody spoke as the impulse engines of the Fearless fell quiet, leaving the ship strangely still after five days of near-constant overthrust. Most of the bridge crew were staring at the main viewscreen, now showing nothing more than a murky brown fogbank. The Fearless had been engaged with a trio of Romulan Preybirds for the better part of a week, playing hide-and-seek in the nearby asteroid belt. They had managed to destroy two of the Preybirds, but the third had proven too crafty for the tricks that had destroyed its cohorts. So now the Fearless was doing what it could - hiding as deep as they could get in the atmosphere of Malkur Vi, a gas giant, and licking its wounds until help could arrive.

If help arrived.

Captain Proudfoot looked over to his science officer, his dark face creased with worry. "Beaumont?"

Lieutenant Commander Isobel Beaumont peered into the scanner head, trying to make some sense of the garbled readings. "Nothing definite, sir. We're getting too much scatter from the atmosphere. They might be using active scanners, but if they are, they're not close."

"Good. Gives us some breathing room," Proudfoot said, turning back to the main viewer. He punched a button set into his armrest. "Bridge to Engineering. Commander Windley - "

"Sir!" Beaumont cried, her eyes wide at what she was seeing in the scanner head. Tiny pinpricks of energy were dropping through the atmosphere of Malkur VI at hypersonic speeds, detonating in massive fireballs that sent shockwaves through the thick atmosphere. "Depth charges! Plasma-based, six hundred gigajoule yield!"

"Helm, maximum thrust!" Proudfoot said. "If those shockwaves hit us at this depth we'll be crushed like an empty cargo pod!"

The Fearless slowly accelerated, her overtaxed engines sending vibrations through the superstructure as they were ramped up to full power. Beaumont watched as a second plasma charge detonated, and a third, each one adding to the destructive force of the shockwaves heading toward them. "Impact in twenty seconds!" she said.

"All hands, brace for impact! Damage control teams at the ready!" Proudfoot said.

Too slow, Beaumont thought, we're too damn slow -

The shockwave hit and suddenly Beaumont was flying backward through the air, her science station lost in a dozen overloading conduits as it exploded in a shower of shrapnel. She never felt herself hit the deck plates, never felt any pain as her eyes slowly came back into focus to see a trio of her crewmates kneeling over her, a medkit open and its contents divided among them as they leaned over her. Beaumont tried to speak, tried to say she was all right, but there was this shape that kept getting in her vision, something jagged and metallic, something very much like the scanner hood that was lodged somewhere over her left eye.

Something hissed against her arm, and before Beaumont could understand what had happened, consciousness slipped away -

* * * * *

Phobos Orbital Yards
in orbit around Mars, Sol System
May 6, 2163

"I keep having these dreams. About the attack."

"About your injury, you mean." The squat, porcine face of Dr. Makav leaned in closer to the screen, as if it made any difference over a subspace link from Mars to Earth. "Still trying to remember what happened afterward."

Commander Isobel Beaumont nodded, absently rubbing at her forehead about an inch above her left eyebrow. There was no scar from the wound, but deep inside was something that she knew she would never be without. "I keep getting new details each time. Can the processor reconstruct memories?"

"No, not in the way you're thinking. Your brain is using it to fill in the pieces with the most likely scenario, based on what you've read in the after-action reports. The cortical processor is just doing what it's supposed to - process information to solve problems, the same as the damaged prefrontal cortex it's replacing." Dr. Makav leaned back and sighed. "This is untested technology, Commander, never before deployed in the field. I have to wonder if you're ready to return to active duty."

"I've been out three and a half years while you rebuilt my brain," Beaumont replied. "If I'm not ready now, I never will be. And how better to test your creation than active field time?"

"Hmph," the Tellarite growled. Beaumont knew he was uncomfortable with her decision - he had not tried to argue a single point, and was behaving politely. With a Tellarite, that signaled trouble on the horizon. "You know the drill - daily microcellular scans to determine of the implant is adversely affecting the surrounding tissue, and daily diagnostics sent back to me along with the scans. If you have any trouble - "

"Remove myself from duty and report immediately to Sickbay," Beaumont finished. "You've made that point quite clear."

"Just... be careful out there," Dr. Makav said. "I've invested too much in your brain for you to get your damned fool head blown off." Before Beaumont could respond the Tellarite cut the link, leaving her staring at the symbol of the United Federation of Planets on a black screen.

Beaumont stood and slowly crossed the small guest quarters to the circular viewport. Workpods and shuttles flitted about, busy at their appointed tasks of bringing starships to life. She craned her neck up, looking for a familiar shape - not the bulbous, canister-like profile of most interstellar ships, dictated by cost-efficiency. No, what she was seeking was slim and graceful, a slender disc coupled to a pair of cylinders.

And there she was, floating in one of the orbital gantries, lit up like a Christmas tree.

The Pathfinder.

To Be Continued...
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