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Old February 8 2013, 10:09 AM   #1
First Faster Than Light
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Star Trek: Full Speed Ahead #5: "Eternal Midnight"

Star Trek: Full Speed Ahead
By Michael D. Garcia and A. J. Gertner

Episode Five: Eternal Midnight

NCC-60597/02 (Shuttle Komarov)
Holding position within designated debris zone Gamma.
Stardate 43242

Senior Chief Petty Officer Tallan grimaced at the scattered remains of the freighter Shoeless Joe stretched out before them. "You would think they'd have the decency to blow up at impulse."

Ensign Tommy O'Day stared at the Andorian non-commissioned officer, mouth agape. "I'm sorry?"

"You heard me," he replied gruffly.

Tommy gulped. "Yes, sir."

Tallan narrowed his eyes, "Don't you dare call me 'sir,' you sniveling pink puppy. I work for a living."

The ensign immediately nodded, forgetting that he technically outranked the salty, enlisted man. "Sorry, Senior Chief Tallan!"

"Keep a respectful tongue in your head and you might live to see your lieutenancy. At which point, I may muster up the willingness to call you 'sir.'"

Tommy hid his grin. In spite of the barb-like banter they shared, he had an inkling that Tallan liked him more than he let on. After all, he hardly balked at being volunteered to pair up with the ensign. "Yes, Senior Chief. What did you mean by having the decency to blow up at impulse?"

"At impulse, the debris field would be contained to a relatively smaller area of space," explained Tallan. "At warp, the debris is likely to be scattered across parsecs of space, making this one hell of a mess."

Tommy checked the sensor readings and found that the senior chief's assessment had merit. The fragments of debris ran the length of the range of the shuttle's sensors. "I see what you mean. Do you think we could try to boost the sensor range?"

Tallan's right antenna twitched as Tommy asked his question. "Are you giving me an order, Ensign?"

"Of course not. Merely a helpful suggestion, Senior Chief."

"Good. I wouldn't want to think what would happen to you if you thought you had the size to issue me an order," grunted Tallan as he scowled.

"Me either, Senior Chief."

Tallan smirked, but it dropped just as soon as Tommy looked at him. "You eyeballin' me?"

"No, Senior Chief!"

"Uh huh. I'm going to reroute our reserve energy to the sensor array. Why don't you monitor and perhaps learn something."

Tommy tried to defend himself. "You know, I did graduate with a degree in starship engineering."

Tallan's blue hands stopped moving. "All right, college puppy. You boost the sensor range and I'll make sure you don't accidentally set a warp core breach in motion." He tapped in a new command and their consoles traded configurations.

Tommy grinned, looking down at the shuttle's energy configuration. "I'm going to increase the energy output from the warp core and feed the energy into the sensor array."

"Slowly," warned Tallan. "We're not on Farragut. The power node, and I stress the singular use of that noun, will not handle a lot of punishment."

"Yes, Senior Chief. I'm increasing the output at a rate of one-tenth per thirty seconds."

"Very good." Tallan continued to manipulate the shuttle's sensors, and nodded. "Resolution is now at one-hundred-ten percent and rising. I'm reading a field of gases and matter. Deuterium, tritanium alloy, and an unstable element the computer is working on identifying."

"Well, the deuterium and the tritanium I can understand," said Tommy. "Maybe the unstable element was their cargo?"

"Possibly. I'm raising shields, just to be on the safe side, so I need you to halt your energy increase so I can stabilize the-" He cut himself off, as an alarm caught his attention. "Brace yourself!"

The shuttle rocked under a wave Tommy had never seen before. The shuttle's shields flared brightly under the strain of whatever it was. Sparks flew to the rear of him and he watched in horror as the power node he had been handling so gingerly began to show signs of failure. "Main energizer is out," he reported, his voice pitch rising with every word.

"Primary power node failure. Shield emitters are offline and we're taking hull damage!"

Tallan snarled, "I know! Get your damned EVA suit on!"

"Warning," announced the computer, "matter stream destabilization in main warp core. Breach is imminent."

Tommy didn't hesitate. He moved to the rear compartment and quickly did a pre-suit check, skipping a few steps along the way. The last time he did an emergency shuttle evacuation, it was in a simulator at Starfleet Academy. "Senior Chief!" he shouted to Tallan, as he remained seated at the console. He carried the other suit to him, handing him the specialized helmet for Andorians.

"Thank you, Tommy. I've polarized the shuttle's hull to give us a little more time to get the hell out of here," said Tallan as he stepped into the legs of it and pulled the front of it closed over his chest.

After fitting the helmet in place and feeling the suit pressurize under its own power, he opened the suit's intakes to exchange air with the shuttle's life support system until the last possible moment. He rushed to the cockpit to keep an eye on the hull status and found the sensors starting to show signs of disrepair. The lateral array decreased until the field was the only thing around them.

He dumped emergency reserve power into the escape transporter and stood by to beam them both out. The coordinates were at the limits of the shuttle's transporter range; some three hundred-seventy five thousand kilometers away. "Senior Chief, you ready?"

Tallan's helmet clicked into place and the eerie blue lighting draped his eyes and forehead in the shadow of the lower half of his face. He nodded and gave the go sign.

Tommy slapped his arm console and locked off his intake valve to repressurize. With the other hand, he pushed up the three slider bars on the transporter console. "Energizing," he called into the intersuit communications system.

But only Tallan disappeared.

Panicked, Tommy looked back down to the energy reserves and saw that only half was available, now. Too much of it bled off into the hull polarization subroutine the senior chief had enabled. His bulky fingers flew over the console, hoping he didn't make a mistake in the timing.

"Computer," he said, without looking up, "stand by to depolarize the hull."

The computer's familiar chime sounded within the suit's helmet. "Standing by."

"Depolarize the hull, now!" He pushed on those sliders again, keeping his eyes on the transporter systems. The moment the hull depolarized, he saw the shuttle's hull start to break up as the small warp nacelles tore off and flew away from the shuttle at a brilliant speed.

Just as the dematerialization effect began to take hold, he could see the forward viewport melt away and opened the cockpit to the dangers of vacuum.
Michael D. Garcia
Head Writer, Star Trek: Full Speed Ahead (United Trek)

Visit my writing blog or my fanfic profile at Ad Astra.
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