The story so far: A Human Supremacist called “April” has stolen several Federation starships and threatened the Earth with destruction if all non-humans do not begin evacuating the planet within a few days. To demonstrate her resolve, she uses one of the ships as a kamikaze and attacks Earth’s Moon. With the Fleet war weary and scattered, the Federation government turns to an experimental weapon system for defense, and the weapon’s creators have been sent to recruit an unconventional man to command her...
After the meal, The Rabbs, Captain Post and Doctor Bush got down to discussing the mission. They started by reviewing the original message. “The deadline just seems odd to me,” Etta said. “It’s like she’s starting out by cutting us some slack. The average nutcase would have given us a deadline to complete the evacuation.”
“That’s probably the idea,” Post said. “She’s gone out of her way to show us she’s not the average nutcase by giving us a demand she knows we can meet on her terms.”
“That’s a problem in a couple of ways,” Rob said. “It means that we’re not likely to force her to make a mistake, and an open-ended schedule gives her just as much time as it gives us, which means she’ll have more of an opportunity to prepare for whatever we might hit her with.” He turned off the PADD they were watching and sat back in his chair. “We’re dealing with somebody that covers their bases.”
“Maybe that’s a good thing,” Bush chimed in. “If she thinks she’s got all the bases covered, all we need to do is figure out what she missed and exploit it.”
“Right,” Rob said with a smile, “That’s all we have to do. You wouldn’t happen to know off-hand what she missed, would you?”
Bush grinned. “Maybe she doesn’t know that we’ve got the granddaddy of all bad-ass starships tucked away at Utopia Planitia. There are only about a hundred people in the whole Federation that know about her capabilities, and security on our project is air-tight.”
Rob looked at Post. “That the ship you mentioned before?”
“The very same,” Post said.
“And you think we can use it to find and take down April?”
“I do!” Bush said enthusiastically.
Post was more reserved. “The Defense Secretary wants us to make an evaluation. If we can get her ready before the deadline, she goes to space. Whether or not she’s a match for whatever April has waiting is anybody’s guess.”
“Well, it could only be the ships she’s already stolen, Rod!” Bush said defensively. “My baby could dribble a Sovereign
or an Intrepid
like a basketball, which means the other ships’ll be the next thing to target practice!”
“Your baby?” Etta asked.
“Dr. Bush was the lead designer and engineer on the project,” Post said.
“Well,” Rob said, standing up, “we might as well go see what her baby looks like and what she can do.”
Bush stood up as well. “Actually, I can show you right here! We’re on a holodeck, right? All the information and specs are on the PADD.”
The others stood as Etta said, “Let’s clear the table. The food and dishes aren’t part of the program.” Everyone lent a hand as Etta took the leftovers and dishes back into the caretaker’s residence.
They returned to the holodeck a few minutes later. “Computer, retain arch!” Bush called out, then she used the PADD to enter in specifications for a new program. “Run program Bush One-One A.”
The backyard setting faded out to be replaced instantly by the Number Eight Refit Spacedock of the Utopia Planitia facility in orbit over Mars. The quartet found themselves in the main operations station overlooking the dock. Bush took a moment to check the controls and displays in the room, then turned to her guests, grinning as wide as ever. “Lady and Gentleman,” She said, sweeping a hand to the observation window, “I give you the Federation Starship Jason Bourne!
Rob and Etta shot her a confused look, then went to the window. Etta was even more confused when they took a good look at the ship floating in the dock. “Isn’t that just another Sovereign?
Rob shook his head. “No,” he said softly, “I’m pretty sure that’s not just another Sovereign.
” The hull was Sovereign-class, but the differences were immediate. First, unlike most modern Federation ships, which were painted in grey tones so light that they often looked white in unobstructed light, this ship was painted in tones of dark grey and black.
Another difference had Etta scratching her head. “What happened to the windows?”
“Weendows?” Dr. Bush said in a horrendous Mexican accent. “We don’t need no es-stinking weendows!”
Etta cocked an eyebrow at her, then turned to her husband who offered her a half smile. “She’s right. Every spacecraft built for, like, centuries now has been piloted on instrumentation. Windows are only useful if you want to go sightseeing. I’m guessing we won’t be doing any sightseeing in this thing, so why bother with windows?” He turned back to look at the ship. “It’s about freakin’ time somebody thought of that.”
“I thought so, too,” Bush said without a trace of modesty.
Etta just shook her head. “Okay…so why did you name it ‘Jason Bourne?’”
Post sighed. “Its official designation is Project: Continuity. It’s still in development and an official name hasn’t been chosen yet.” He glanced at Dr. Bush. “Only the good doctor here calls it the Jason Bourne.
Etta’s brow went up again as she smirked and asked Dr. Bush, “And who was Jason Bourne?”
Bush looked flabbergasted. “You don’t know?” Etta shook her head. “Y’never read the Robert Ludlum books?” Etta shook her head again. “Never saw the movies?” Once again, Etta shook her head, prompting Bush to shake hers. “Man, all the good literature is in danger o’ being lost in this here technological age. Okay, Jason Bourne was a man who was transformed by the CIA into an assassin to do the government’s dirty work. He had his true identity and memories wiped in the process of the transformation so that even he wouldn’t realize the kinds of crimes he was being asked to commit in the name of his country.”
“And you thought it was appropriate to name a Federation Starship after a criminal?”
Rob chuckled. “The point is Jason Bourne was someone forced into doing the job that his handlers didn’t want to get their hands dirty doing.” He pointed at the black Sovereign.
“This ship is getting forced into the exact same job.”
“Exactly!” Bush said. She clapped Rob on the shoulder. “I knew there was something I liked about you!”
Post rolled his eyes. “Well, as I said, her official name has yet to be chosen…”
Rob turned to him. “Man, you change the name of my ship and I’m going back home and you can find somebody else to command it!” He extended his arm to Bush gallantly. “Doctor Bush, I would be honored if you’d take me on a tour of the Federation Starship Jason Bourne.
Bush linked her arms with his and said in her best southern belle voice, “Why, it would be my pleasure, sir. Is there anything in particular ya’ll are interested in seeing?”
“Don’t make me separate you two,” Etta said huffily.
Rob ignored her. “I believe I’d like to see the horses pulling this vessel, ma’am.”
“Then see them you shall!” She switched to her normal speech. “Computer, transfer inspection party to Main Engineering.”
The computer beeped in response, then the operations station dissolved and reformed into a small space with a few control stations and a moderate-sized hatch on the opposite wall.
Etta crossed her arms and huffed, “Okay, even I know that this is too small to be Main Engineering on a normal Sovereign-class.”
“And you would be right, madam,” Bush said, grinning brightly, “if this were a normal Sovereign-class. The Bourne,
however, is anything but a normal Sovereign, and this Engineering Section is perfect for power sources that aren’t built to be freaking tourist attractions!”
“And you’ve lost me again,” Etta said.
“I get that a lot,” Bush said. She let go of Rob’s arm and came closer to Etta to explain. “Okay, so obviously you’ve seen the engine room on a typical Explorer, right? And it’s always this big huge split-level cathedral with all sorts of light and transparent material, and the reactor’s always suspended between two translucent tubes so you can see the matter and anti-matter flow into it, right?”
“Right. I thought that seeing the matter and anti-matter injections with the naked eye was the point, so that you could see first-hand that they were actually taking place.”
“That was the point, but it was still dumb because any material porous enough to let visible light out of the reactor assembly is also porous enough to let more dangerous particles into it, and it always amazed me that after years of reports where Explorers have experienced all kinds of heinous effects to their warp engines because of some stray material or other getting into the works it never occurred to anybody to build more protection into them than parts made of little more than really strong clear plastic.”
Etta smirked. “But you’re a genius, so the Federation Starship Jason Bourne
doesn’t suffer from that malady, right?”
Bush grinned just a bit wider. “Now you’re catchin’ on.” She motioned the group over to the hatch and used a key code to open it. Just beyond was a ladder. Bush led them up to a space on another level. This space was bigger than the last, about the length and width of a tennis court, but the ceiling was barely a foot above Post’s head, and there were only two control stations, one to port and one to starboard. The deck was jet black and seemed to be made of hard rubber.
Bush spread her arms out theatrically. “This, Lady and Gentlemen, is the Main Reactor Space.”
Etta looked around. “And where, pray tell, is the reactor?”
“You’re standing on them.”
“Did you say ‘them’?” Etta said.
Rob was suddenly beaming. “Tell me you said ‘them’!”
“I did indeed,” Bush said, extending her arms in a flourish. “One to port and one to starboard, right under our feet.”
“Why would you put in two reactors?” Etta asked.
Bush shrugged. “Twice the available power, half the chance that catastrophic damage to one reactor will deprive you of all main power. You can run the ship off one and put the other in standby, or run the warp nacelles off one and power the other systems with the other, or dedicate a reactor each to specific nacelles and run the other systems off auxiliaries...”
“At which point,” Post interjected, “we expect the ship will leave anything that runs on standard warp engines in the dust.”
“Anything in Starfleet?” Rob said.
“Anything in the galaxy,” Bush grinned.
Rob lowered his head and extended his clenched fist to her. Bush clenched her fist and touched it lightly to his for a second. When they were done with the fist-bump, Etta said, “Okay, but why are these reactors under our feet?”
“They’re both protected by casings made of totally opaque, ten-inch-thick duranium alloy,” Bush said, “and an inner layer of energy absorbing composite material. It would take a direct Type 11 phaser blast to damage the casing and get through to the reactors. Stray particles would just bounce off and feel stupid.”
“Outstanding!” Rob said.
“Fine,” Etta said, “so what would you do if you wanted to see the injectors and reactors with your own eyes?”
Bush held up a finger and trotted over to the lonely-looking control panel on the port side. She pressed two contacts. “Inspection hatches,” she said as three small, thick doors opened up in the deck. Rush motioned them over to the center one and pointed to the forward one. “Matter injector.” She pointed to the aft one. “Anti-matter injector.” She pointed down into the center one with her hands. “Reactor core. It’s the same on the other side.”
Rob and Etta peered into the hatch. A transparent port offered a view of a brightly lit Matter/Anti-Matter Reactor Core, which was a few feet below the surface.
“Of course there are imagers built into the casing,” Bush said, “so you can actually get a better view on the control station monitor.”
“And you don’t have to expose the reactors at all,” Rob said. “Doctor Bush, where have you been all my life?!”
Bush got melodramatic. “Slaving away, toiling under the thumb of lesser beings until one day, one day, I got my big break and gave it my all!”
“You two are just gonna be like this the whole tour, aren’t you?” Etta sighed.
“Probably,” Rob said with a smirk, then he turned to Bush and exclaimed, “Doctor! To the Bridge!”
Bush offered a mock salute and said, “Oui oui, Mon Capitaine! Computer, relocate inspection party to Main Bridge!”