1st December 2151.
Governor Trex winced as he entered the access corridor to the Command Centre. It was noisy in here. Too many people trying too hard to be heard over everyone else, too loud and too excited. He nodded to Tovan, who along with his immediate staff had accompanied him.
"Quiet please. QUIET!" the Commissioner bellowed. There was a momentary lull, then, their attention now drawn to Trex, the people swarmed forward, thrusting datapads for examination, demanding answers, requesting instructions. "I SAID QUIET!!!"
This time it seemed to work, the crowd drawing back slightly. Trex sighed in relief. "Thank you Commissioner. Now, I know everyone has questions and suggestions, so let us get things organised properly. Councillor Chren, if you can spare the time, could you kindly see to that? The briefing rooms are at your disposal. Make sure all incoming information is directed to those who need it, and all questions answered as best we can. Thank you."
Chren, who had been in the group waiting in the corridor, nodded. "Certainly Governor, I'll see to it personally." he said, as if that were his own idea rather than what he'd been asked to do.
One of Trex's aides raised her hand. "Not briefing room four, the human engineers are in there. Trying to think up a solution to...all this."
"Very well, all the others then." Trex leant closer to Tovan, and added softly "Better get a couple of guards outside four, we don't want anyone interrupting them." He got a nod in return.
As Chren bustled the crowd away---despite his being one of Vrok's flunkies, he was a very good organiser---Trex presented his identification to the guards outside the Control Centre. Only when he and the rest of the group were positively identified were they allowed admittance. It was considerably calmer inside, but with a subtle edge to proceedings that wasn't present in day to day affairs or practice drills.
One of the staff approached with a datapad. "Latest report sir. Power has gone down completely on three livestock farms, and is critical at four others."
Trex glanced at the display. As he'd expected, and feared, the farms furthest from the city were worst affected. "Damn." A failure in the electrical fences would be a disaster. Whilst the chevan beasts were fairly docile and unlikely to roam far, the fences were intended to keep them safe from predators. A pack of vrex could do a lot of damage. Of course, the community had a lot of chevan, a single attack would be an inconvenience rather than a disaster, but if several packs were to raid the farms, if the power was off for any length of time or---worse yet---permanently, then things would get very bad very quickly. "Tovan, round up all the security personnel you can spare. Get them out to the farms out towards the edge of the plain, guard duty. We can't risk our livestock."
As Tovan nodded and hurried away, Councillor Vrex appeared from a side room. "It's not just the livestock. Many of the hydroponic farms are similarly affected."
For a moment Trex didn't see the importance. Then it hit him. He stalked to the meteorological station. "What's the latest weather projection for tonight?"
It was not good news. Nights always got cold at this time of year, and this night would be no different. A lot of the basic food plants needed carefully controlled environmental conditions. Without heating they'd be vulnerable to a sudden frost.
"I hope you don't mind, Governor," Vrex said, "but, as you weren't here, I've taken the liberty of ordering thermal blankets to be put over the green houses to trap as much heat as possible."
"I was managing things from my office. Bad for morale if I go running to the bunker at the first sign of trouble." he said defensively. Realising this he went on the offence. "I'm not sure that would work. We'd need a heat source in each one to make a difference. And anyway, do we have enough blankets to spare? I rather think the citizens might need them more."
"If things get that bad, Governor, there are always the basements."
Vrex was referring to the Denobulan tradition of ensuring they always had a secure place to wait out an emergency. It came from the turbulent Groz'Tran period, a mini-ice age that had dramatically altered both the physical and political landscapes. With rival clans warring over vital, but suddenly rare, resources, the ordinary people had set up hidden sanctuaries to which they could flee when needed. Nowadays the tradition endured to a much lesser degree, but every house had a basement with the necessities for a few days of life, if not comfort. As the latitude of Herroton City was such that it could get very cold in winter, the basements were well insulated.
"I don't like ordering people to the basements. It'll be like admitting we can't handle the problem."
we handle the problem?" she asked.
Trex didn't answer.
Her lips pursed slightly, then she looked around. "Where's Chren?"
"I sent him to do something useful. Oh, now what?" The latter was as another technician approached with a datapad and a worried look. Trex took, the pad and read it. "Just what we need. The sewage reclamation plant is no longer functional. Phlox warned me about that, said there's a risk of Tallaron fever breaking out."
Vrex paled. "Surely we have enough medicine to cope with an out break?"
"Oh yes," he said wryly, "for just such an emergency. Kept in special climate controlled storage, as it has very narrow temperature range before it...goes off, or whatever the technical term is. The storage has battery back up power, in case of an outage, but if we don't get our supply back by this time tomorrow..."
"I had Tallaron fever as a child." Vrex said softly. "I wouldn't wish that on anyone, even with
medication." She shuddered.
Trex cleared his throat uncomfortably. "Well...let's hope, eh?" He turned to one of the staff members from the city maintenance department. "Choris, what's the news? Any luck finding cables and whatnot?"
Choris held up a hand in a polite but firm gesture indicating he should wait. Her other hand was to an earpiece as she struggled to make out what her colleagues were telling her. After a few moments she signed off. "Sorry Governor, the signal was very weak, I could hardly make out what was being said." She paused, and that pause spoke volumes. "We set this colony up with a broadcast power system. No one ever anticipated this sort of situation."
"There's no backup system?" Vrex demanded, scandalised.
"There is Councillor. There's a secondary generator in case the first fails, a second broadcasting tower, multiple redundancy on all systems...but that was all to deal with a failure in the system itself. The trouble is, the system is working perfectly, able to transmit power at peak efficiency. But for some reason, it's fading away before it can get to the receivers."
"So. Not enough cable to go round." Trex said.
"Not enough capable of carrying the load, Governor. Most of what we have got would burn out pretty quickly."
"Could we move the generators to where they are needed?" asked Vrex.
Choris hesitated, glancing momentarily at the governor, unsure of how exactly to respond. "Ah, no Councillor. They're huge, assembled on site. Entirely immobile."
"Governor Trex!" That was another member of staff. "The human engineers would like to speak with you."
"Please tell me you you have good news, Lieutenant...Crispin, is it?"
"Yes sir. Governor." he amended, remembering the proper form of address. "And a mix of good news and bad news, I'm afraid."
Trex sighed, and gestured to the chairs at the long table. Perhaps old Tovan was being over cautious, but he had not yet given the humans permission to enter the Command Centre itself. They remained in briefing room four. "Shall we sit?"
Crispin, left in charge of the engineers at Herroton city by Trip Tucker, picked up a datapad and fiddled with it nervously. "We've been thinking about the generator at the dig site. It's a lot less powerful than the ones in your power plant, but it should be able to run your hospital. Maybe a couple of other places besides."
"And have we enough cable to reach from the dig site to the city?"
"Not enough to carry that load, Governor. Sorry."
"Hmm." Trex wondered if all engineers the universe over used the same phrasing."Well, that doesn't seem to help very much, does it?"
"Er, no sir. Governor. Now we could bring the generator here. But there's a problem."
Rubbing his forehead wearily, he said "Of course there is. Go on."
"The generator is inside the First Chamber, within the ziggurat. It would have to be shut down and at least partially disassembled to fit in the elevators, and of course, as it powers
the elevators...well, they won't work then."
"Oh, Klarno." Trex muttered.
"However," Crispin went on, "if we were to land a sufficiently powerful craft outside, I mean right
outside the ziggurat, we could use what cables we do have to let it run the elevators. One of our Beowulfs should do the trick. We can then disassemble the generator, take it out, load it up, fly it to where it's needed and put it back together again. Oh yeah, we'll also need to jury rig some kind of transformer. Make sure the power systems are compatible. You don't want to mess that up, it could burn out your systems if your not careful."
It sounded like a lot of work to Trex. "How long to you think this will all take?"
Crispin looked down to his pad, more to avoid Trex than to find an answer. "Fourteen, maybe eighteen hours."
Trex bit his lip, grasped tightly the arms of his chair, and glanced at the clock. It was still early afternoon, but an eighteen hour delay? Even fourteen could be disastrous. "Lieutenant, we will need power sooner than that. We will lose food, potable water, heating, and medicines."
Crispin was silent for a very long time. Then his face cleared. "Have you tried asking the Enterprise for help?"
"I'm sorry we can't do more Governor, but we're not really equipped for humanitarian relief." Commander Maria Hernandez said. "If humanitarian is the appropriate word."
It was odd, Trex thought, that visual communication with a starship in orbit was easier than voice only with his own people here in the city. The direct laser link took more power than the planetary radio system, but seemed unaffected by whatever strange force was degrading the signal. "That's alright Commander, this will help, somewhat. Have you heard any more from Captain Archer?"
If he was any judge of human body language, she was weighing up what to tell him. "They've found what seems to be some sort of control centre in a second, smaller ziggurat in the mountains, and are trying to figure it out. Also, they encountered three creatures...of some type."
"Creatures? Like the one encountered at the main site?"
There was something she wasn't telling him, he was sure of it. Just as sure she'd evade if pressed on the matter. He decided to let it go, for now.
"Also," she added, "there are reports of three casualties."
"Casualties! Not serious, I hope."
"One of our Marines was attacked and injured. She'll pull through though. I'm afraid to say two of your people seem to have come down with a mysterious disease. Don't worry though! " she added quickly, "Doctor Locke will take good care of them."
"I'd rather see them get too---" Trex broke off, aware that under current circumstances the hospital would do little good.
She shifted uncomfortably in her seat. "Perhaps they could be shipped to our sick bay for treatment. If the circumstances warrant." she added quickly.
, he thought, is a very polite way of saying that your own people come first.
"At any rate," she went on, holding up her pad, "I'd better get started arranging all this. If there's nothing else...? OK then, Enterprise out."
The screen blinked off. Trex sat staring at the test patten without really seeing it, then stood with a sigh and left the communications alcove. The main Command Centre now seemed even busier than usual. He wished he was somewhere else.
Vrex approached. He wished she
were somewhere else. "Well?" she demanded, hands on hips.
He looked at his pad. "A couple of small generators, they'll need to be adapted, but Commander Hernandez said her people can do that. Emergency ration packs. They've not got enough for everyone in the city but it'll help. Water purifiers, they will be useful. Some medicine, basically anything that they can spare and will work on Denobulans. They do have a small storage unit, climate controlled, for medicines."
"Enough for the Tallaron fever drugs?" she asked.
" he added glumly, "we only use it for that. There a lot
of different medications. We can't keep them all. Let's face it, unless Archer and his people get the power back on soon, we'll have to make some hard decisions. And it looks like, whatever we decide, people are going to die."