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Old September 1 2011, 05:45 PM   #105
Admiral2
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Re: June Challenge 2011 - "Liberty"

Re: August challenge: "Dramatis Personae"

Starbase Prime, Earth orbit

Admiral Durham, you have an incoming transmission from Starbase 136, his desk-mounted computer stated. He tabbed the channel open.

“Admiral,” said LCDR Kumon nervously. “Um, the cookies from grandma just arrived.” At that, Adm. Durham sat bolt upright. He quickly entered a code sequence, then looked back at the screen.

“The channel is secure.”

“Sir, the Enterprise arrived, um, approximately one-half hour ago. She is secure in a berth, and the, um, camouflage is in place. To anyone arriving, she’ll look like a Nekktonian proton trawler.” He swallowed audibly. “Just, um, just as planned.”

Adm. Durham’s eyes narrowed. “So why do I get the feeling there’s something you’re not telling me? You’re more nervous than a Gungan in heat.”

“Admiral, um, I…”

“Now, Lieutenant Commander.” Durham’s voice was steel. “While you still can.”

“Sir, there was, um, a ship at the station when the Enterprise arrived. She’d been due to depart two days earlier, but the, um, primary flow sensor in the starboard warp plasma manifold registered as defective. If that sensor doesn’t read nominal, the, um, warp core will not initialize.

“And sir, we used the, um, cover that was prepared. The captain will be calling you shortly to verify the orders.”

“You’re still hiding something, Mister Kumon, and my patience is wearing very thin. I’ve noticed that you’ve very carefully neglected to mention the name of the ship that was not supposed to be there!”

“Um, it was, well, um…”

“Choose your next words very, very carefully, Mister Kumon.”

Challenger, sir. It was Challenger.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Adm. Durham stormed into the private lounge at the top of Earth’s Starbase Prime, where Admirals Rosenthal and Nikolakis-Costopolous sat playing tri-D chess.

“Scotch,” he hissed.

“And hello to you to, Robert,” Adm. Rosenthal said with exaggerated cheeriness. “But I’m not your farkocktah barmaid.”

“I was talking to the replicator, Michael. Scotch!”

Please specify type and year of vintage.

“Glenfiddich, 1946, neat.” The replicator hummed, and seconds later Adm. Durham pulled the glass from the opening and slugged the amber liquid in one smooth motion.

“Another.” The replicator complied; this time, Adm. Durham took the glass and sat down next to the other admirals. Adm. Nikolakis-Costopolous had her uniform tunic off and was wearing only a branch colored (Command red) tank top underneath that displayed her ample cleavage.

“Stop staring,” she shot at Adm. Durham, not taking her eyes from the board. She was a mediocre player at best, but she acted as if each game she played was the final match in the Trans-Galactic Invitational.

Adm. Durham took one last long look, grudgingly turning his attention to his scotch. “The Enterprise is at 136,” he said flatly. “But her arrival did not go unnoticed.”

“What?” said Adm. Rosenthal. “We scheduled for no ships to be there for two days on either side of the arrival time. What ship…” Realization hit, and he and Adm. Nikolakis-Costopolous said the word simultaneously.

Challenger.”

“She was at 136 for final fittings, and should have left two days ago. But there was some problem with a flow sensor, and the computer refused to initialize the warp core. Damned stupid safety protocols!”

“That particular protocol is in place for a reason,” said Adm. Nikolakis-Costopolous. “Remember what happened to the USS Thresher?”

Adm. Durham did indeed remember; he was planetside on Mars when the ‘Thresher Incident’ occurred. “Oh.”

“So what now?” asked Adm. Rosenthal. “Do we recall them?”

Challenger is due in the Gateway Sector. Any substantial delay or recall on our part, and Frost’ll start asking questions. That, we don’t want.” Durham took a long pull from the scotch, sighing heavily. “Frost contacted me before I came up here. He bought the cover, and besides, Gateway is about as far out of our collective hair as we could send him.” Another pull on the glass. “Not to mention, we still need to get our scapegoat in place.

“This hand is dealt. Time to let it ride…”

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

“That was good, Sam, but I want another take of you and Kumon.” The director is addressing Sam Waterston, best known as the indomitable Jack McCoy from Law and Order. Judd Hirsch, who plays Admiral Michael Rosenthal, pulls a well-worn paperback from under a seat cushion, while the lovely Melina Kanakaredes, Adm. Anemona (‘she goes by Mona’, we’re told) Nikolakis-Costopolous, stands up to stretch. She stands a little too quickly, though, and narrowly avoids a ‘wardrobe malfunction.’ She beckons to a nearby costumer.

“Can we get a little more tape over here?” she asks. As she’s waiting, a stagehand brings her a cup of coffee. It’s clear she and Mr. Hirsch have had long days, so our little group decides to not disturb them. Something has to be reset in the Adm. Durham office set, so while he’s waiting, Sam Waterston walks over to greet us.

“Sorry we don’t have more time to talk,” he says. “After so many years on Law and Order, I’ve learned to appreciate the support of the fans.” Someone in the group mentions that Law and Order doesn’t have a convention circuit, but Star Trek does.

“So I’ve heard,” Sam says. “I kinda knew about that going in to this project, but my best friend’s kids are fans – Trekkies? Trekkers? – and they talked me in to signing on.” I mention that outside of an episode of the relatively recent iteration of The Outer Limits, that Sam’s involvement in sci-fi has been basically non-existent. He nods thoughtfully.

“That’s true. But when the chance came along, besides from my friend’s kids, you know, it’s Star Trek, it’s something we all grew up on.” Someone pipes up: Sam Waterston, closet Trekkie? “Some of us more or less than others, but it’s like an American mythology. Besides, working with this cast is fantastic. I’m probably just as star-struck as most of you.”

The director indicates he’s ready for Sam, so he excuses himself and trots over to the office set. Our group goes back to making ourselves unobtrusive, trying to commit as much of what we see to memory and notebook/iPad/what have you. We’ll get a chance to take some pictures before we leave the set, but since the set is live right now, no pictures are allowed.

Sam nails the next take, and goes to shoot one more with Judd and Melina for good measure. As they’re doing that, we see Sir Anthony Hopkins coming from the makeup trailer, in full regalia. He looks good as a Klingon; we can’t wait to see him in action…
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