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Old November 9 2009, 08:41 PM   #1
CaptainGold
Lieutenant Commander
 
It is a Significant Assigment: Completed

Hello friends:

This was a story written for the February 2009 writing challenge. I'd like to thank those who voted it as the best of the lot, and after a tie, it lost to another very good story.

Well, after a disgusting intervention of normal life, and a drive failure that wiped out lots of pieces, here is the completed short story from the time of Kirk's Enterprise, about a young Lieutenant who goes from the out house to the penthouse.

This is my first complete short story since HS 30+ years ago, so comments are very welcome. The last chapter will not be published at first, in order to let you, the reader, digest the story slowly.

Thanks and Enjoy!
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Old November 9 2009, 08:44 PM   #2
CaptainGold
Lieutenant Commander
 
Re: It is a Significant Assigment: Completed

It is a Significant Assignment
Chapter 1

The financial wizards of the United Federation of Planets are well known for their penny-pinching ways. Unlike most government bureaucrats, they have long years of experiences across many cultures that tells them one clear fact: Governments Waste Resources. With multiple threats on multiple borders, and a rapidly growing sphere of influence in the newly named “Alpha Quadrant” of the galaxy, these accountants and fiscal officers fight every day to keep expenses to a minimum, so that when the real conflict comes, the Federation can withstand any disaster or war.

But one place number crunchers were happy to see credits go was to the PR flacks at Starfleet MR/PAC (Media Relations/Public Affairs Council). These people had hit upon some great ideas that actually brought resources to Starfleet, instead of another hungry mouth to feed credits to. Even “Scrooge”, the Federation Security Directorate name for the head of the Federation Accounting Service, would crack a smile when another MR/PAC spreadsheet hit his terminal.

Whenever a Starfleet vessel stopped at a Starbase, civilian station, or planet, it seemed that large crowds of people would line up at every window to see the majestic ship in orbit. Even if it was an outdated NX-class, or an obsolete Royal Oak-class carrier, a majestic Federation Starship drew a crowd. So MR/PAC developed a set of materials to sell to crowds. From CAD drawings to children’s toys, to detailed modelers’ kits, MR/PAC found a way to magically have a stock of merchandise to sell, and tell a story of Starfleet, the protector of the peaceful and freedom-loving Federation.

The best-selling MR/PAC items were the ones associated with the 12 majestic Constitution-class Heavy Cruisers of Starfleet, the “Crown Jewels” of the UFP. The best seller of them all was the second ship of the class, NCC-1701, the aptly named USS Enterprise. But in all the manuals and drawings, models and history texts, there was one small part of the Enterprise nobody ever really saw…

The Main Briefing Room has cleared out of personnel from the last routine command staff meeting. Captain Kirk has already exited the room for the Bridge, and most everyone else had gone back to duty stations or offices for the “paperwork” these needed meetings generated. Two people had not exited the MBR, First Officer Spock and Chief Engineer LTC Montgomery Scott. As first officer, Spock had the responsibility of handling crew matters, be it assignments, duty shifts, or drills. Scott, or “Scotty” to people he befriended, had the same power in Engineering and its related departments, under Spock’s supervision. However, there was one personnel decision they had to make together. Scott began the discussion.

“Aye, it’s time to move ch-Rhind. He’s been there long enough. I’m told he’s even toned down his voice, not scaring the enlisted lot any more.”

“I concur; his manners and leadership have greatly improved in the last star month he has been assigned. I believe it is my choice to replace him.”

“Aye Spock, ‘tis true. But I’d be asking a favor of you this time. I have a new J.G., Reed is her name. She has some rough ends to sand off, and I need her to shape up quickly, or I have to find a new warp computer specialist. Her ego is too big for her rank at this moment.”

“Mr. Scott, while I sympathize with your problems molding Lt. Reed into your staff, I have a full lieutenant who needs to expand his operational knowledge of a Starship. He has a good future in Command, but...”

“But he reconfigured the helm station and did not tell Sulu he switched the Emergency Warp and main viewscreen controls.”

“Yes”, responded Spock dryly. “The Captain still has not gotten the coffee off his dress uniform yet, and Dr. McCoy has not let him forget about losing several lab samples.”

Scott thought it was more like a bottle of Saurian brandy the good doctor “lost”, but he let the thought pass. “Aye then, well, I surrender to your choice, Commander. And may God have mercy on his soul.” Scotty’s eyes twinkled, wondering what would happen to an unfortunate young officer in the coming day.

Lt. John “Mack” King was that unfortunate young officer. He had graduated at the top of his class at the Academy, was moved up the ranks quickly, and had finished Command School in almost as fast a time as the famous James T. Kirk. The curly red hair, big frame, leadership skills, and happy-go-lucky personality made him a lot of friends, and revealed a person with real gifts for command. Recently assigned to the Enterprise as the Gamma-shift helmsman, “Mack” had a great record, until that fateful day when Capt. Kirk wore his coffee, and Lt. Sulu almost flew the Enterprise into a Class 3 ion storm. After that, well, let’s say that Sulu always seemed to relieve Mack four or five minutes before Alpha Shift came on duty, so Mack was not around when the Captain entered the Bridge. Well, Mack may have been gone, but he was not forgotten…

“Aye sir” was all Mack had said when Spock had given him his new assignment. He had been instructed to go to turbolift 27 on deck 7 to travel to his “short-term transfer” station. It was a “significant assignment” according to the First Officer, and since Vulcans never lie, Mack was very willing to get at it, to give it his best shot. After a few days of this new work, he can get back to his helm position. Or so he thought.

Unlike other turbolifts, this one was pristine, like it was used infrequently. It was also a long trip for Mack, with several changes in direction and speed changes, “almost like it’s going around the piping”, he thought. Then it stopped.

When the doors opened, Mack found himself in a small room. There was a set of doors leading to a sleeping cabin on his left, a food processor and environmental suit closet on his right, and in front of him, a small control station and chair. Above the station was a small access hatch. Other than that there was a constant, deep-pitched hum that filled the space.

Several non-regulation oaths came to Mack’s mind as he looked around, but there was a blinking light just above an access port for the control station mainboard. Obviously, the data chip in his hand was meant to go in the port, so he put it in. The even, almost bored expression of the Vulcan first officer stared back at him. The speaker relayed the message.

Lieutenant King, this is an introductory message to your new station. This is a temporary duty for an undetermined length of time. As chief MSORR of the Enterprise, your job is to coordinate C systems and crew aboard the ship…” He never heard the rest of the introduction. All he could repeat was, “O shit, I am now the toilet cleaner.”

The “Multi Species Organic Resource Recycling” officer on board was the person responsible for the reprocessing of all the waste in the ship. The MSORR was designed to break down waste materials into its basic atomic elements, and then reorganize them into useful items for the use of the ship and crew. It had lots of good ideas behind it, from security to hazmat safety, and it did help feed and care for the crew.

However, the process was totally automated, and the monitoring systems were usually in a small corner of Engineering. The few problems the MSORR system had were usually handled by engineering crewmen, and to have an officer on station to monitor the system was “an unnecessary bunch of crap” according to one young ensign. A Philbite was overheard calling it a “tolpepop” duty, and the few who knew what it meant agreed totally.

Being the intelligent young officer Mack was, it did not take very long to figure out why he was here. “If only I had told Sulu”, he kept saying over and over. But it did not make him feel any better.

It always takes a while to “adjust” to a new posting, and even Mack would go through the same stages other officers did as they got the call to go to the “schiest duty station”: Shock was first (“I can’t believe I’m here”), then anger (What is that stupid Vulcan doing putting me here?”), then resignation (“Well, I screwed up somewhere, so I deserve this”), then acceptance (“Like a Kidney stone, this too will pass”), to prayer (“ Please {insert deity name here}, don’t let my friends find out where I am”), to resignation (“My career is toast {insert appropriate obscene oath here}).

The hardest adjustment there was for MSORR officers became the daily horror of the food processor, since you knew exactly where your “chicken sandwich and coffee” came from. Most MSORR officers lost weight during their posting, and some seemed to never use the officers’ mess, or any other food processing unit after their tour of duty was over. For several, the ancient “3 martini lunch” diet became their main source of nutrition.

If there was one thing a MSORR officer had, it was time to adjust and reflect. This posting was a 24 hour on-call station. There would be days, or even weeks, when the system worked fine, and it only took a few status reports to complete the daily tasks of monitoring and maintenance. Then there were hours of misery, when a waste clog fouled up the system, and several crew members had to work several automated systems to get the “sewage” flowing again. The MSORR officer had to coordinate the “repair” or, as one former occupant of the job said, “use the plunger”.

For Mack, the transition from acceptance to prayer came on day seven of his tour. The main OC (organic canal) became hopelessly clogged after some battle damage picked up in a fight with a Romulan warbird backed up the whole system. Of course, after a battle of any duration and intensity, the crew had certain needs that had to be taken care of, which led to even higher levels of organic material going through the system. A back up in the MSORR system was a real crisis, and in this case there was only one solution.

The system board flashed the signal: “Manual intervention required, Junction A”. At this point, the environmental suit closet doors opened, and the hatch above the station monitor board opened. Mack did not have too much trouble figuring out what happened next. After putting his environmental suit on, double checking his connections and oxygen supply, he then climbed the ladder, saw the OC access hatch, and entered the 10 meter wide Organic Canal. It was big enough to stand in, and once he fastened himself to the wall of the main trunk, he got out the OC unit tricorder, and scanned the clog. Time was of the essence, since 430 crew members needed food, water, and relief.

Once the clog site was found, Mack had two chores of great importance. One was to use a special low powered phaser unit to break up the clog. The other was to set up a short duration force field, like a security screen in the Brig. As the clog broke up, the force field would hold back the newly released material in the backup long enough for Mack to get to the trunk access hatch. But Mack had to get out of the OC before the field decayed, or the rush of “material” would flow over him, keeping him in the OC until the flow slowed, usually meaning 20 minutes of darkness, or agony, or one of several other names for it. If Mack had not made it out within 30 minutes of the clog breaking up, a crewman would receive a signal that he was stuck in the system. Then the officer on duty at the main transporter room would beam him out to the main hanger deck, and Mack would spend a longer tour of duty as MSORR officer. After cleaning up his gear, of course.

This time, Mack was lucky, the system worked well, he got out in time, and he spent the next hour in a sonic shower, making sure he was clean, several times over.

During Mack’s tour of duty “down below”, the good ship Enterprise moved through the stars on its historic mission of peaceful exploration for the Federation. Little did he, or anyone else on Enterprise know the man with the plunger would have to deal with a bigger issue than the OC in the coming days….
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Old November 9 2009, 08:45 PM   #3
CaptainGold
Lieutenant Commander
 
Re: It is a Significant Assigment: Completed

It is a Significant Assignment
Chapter 2

The Enterprise was the most loved of the crown jewels of Starfleet, the 12 heavy cruisers of the Constitution class. The 12 ships of the class had much of the elite of Starfleet serving on them, and the 430 slots on the ship were coveted by both officers and enlisted crew.

Was it the glamour of the ship, the danger, the status, or “to go where no man had gone before?” Yes to all, to some degree, but a “Connie” also offered opportunity to every member of the crew. These were multi-role ships, but there were only 430 people to staff it. That meant everyone except the highest of the command staff had to be “generalists” in the eyes of Starfleet’s Personnel Directorate. PD had developed a “1 to 5” rule for staffing them. The rule mandated that for every specialist on a ship from the Captain on down, there needed to be five others who had two or more roles they could perform at a high level to keep the ship functioning.

Crew members were cross trained in two or even three specialties. New Starfleet Academy graduates found that a first posting on a Constitution-class ship was not always in their favorite area of study. Security officers could do geology research under a science officer, engineers would spend some time as supply officers. Even lowly rated crewmen were trained to assist in sickbay, and NCOs’ did run communications and other important main bridge duties. And of course, everyone trained hard in self-defense and weapons usage.

The result: A posting on a Constitution-class vessel gave an enlisted man or officer the chance to move up the promotions ladder quickly. The Enterprise was the Connie that has the highest rate of advancement, and it all started with a dynamic staff of senior officers who set the pace.

It also led to command track bridge officers being given MSORR duty. When said officer botches something up.

In his little “throne room” Lt. John “Mack” King, MSORR supervisor, had learned something about himself. He began to understand what a member of a religious monastery does for a living, and how he was not cut out for that life. In the solitude of his station he found out that even an awful station had opportunities for him, since the long hours of downtime allowed him to expand his knowledge base of a Starship. He read and studied everything he could see on his screen, from technical journals to Starfleet situation reports, and an occasional view of a certain young lieutenant who served bridge duty on occasion…

The short of it was he spent a lot of time shoveling “sh—“ on multiple levels, but he was becoming a better officer for it.

Dr. McCoy and Lieutenant Sulu were talking in the Officer’s Mess after Sulu had come off duty, and the dinner had become a celebration of sorts. The doctor had a reputation as a crusty old geezer among members of the crew. But like so many delectable food offerings on Centarus, their last port of call, there was a very soft and marvelous center under a thick and crusty exterior. That was a great description of one Leonard McCoy.

McCoy made it a point to keep his ear to the ground about the lives of members of the crew. McCoy was not just a CMO of a starship, making the mental health of the crew his concern; he became the unofficial “morale officer” of the Enterprise. From Jim Kirk to the newest crewman getting over “green gills” on his first cruise, the good doctor kept up on all 430 members of the crew as beings.

McCoy had just unloaded news on the chief helmsman of the Enterprise. The Captain needed another senior officer with added responsibilities, and Sulu had all the makings of a capable senior officer. McCoy gave Sulu the word on the QT that Captain Kirk was talking to SPD about adding a stripe on someone’s sleeve soon, and starship captains usually won those arguments on the edge of Federation space. Sulu was the man Kirk wanted, and McCoy also felt the need to make Sulu understand that a massive workload increase came with a stripe. That workload would center around more than just a Botany lab and the helm station on the bridge. It would center on people, and hard decisions.

McCoy suddenly noticed that Sulu’s head hit the salad bowl on his tray, and then his head did the same thing into a bowl of chicken noodle soup.

Mack was “shoveling” again, and after being stuck in the Organic Canal the previous week for 15 minutes after moving a clog, he was determined to get out quickly this time. He hoped that his job of being the Enterprise’s “enema” was close to ending, and all kinds of chatter on his environmental suit’s communications tie-in reminded him he was still on the Enterprise. But to his surprise there was sudden silence on the channel, except for static.

“Crewman Poolo, respond please.”

“Poolo, please confirm A trunk clearance.”

“Stupid transmitter.”

Mack keyed a new channel: “Operations, this is MSORR station, please confirm signal link.”

“Operations, this is King, please respond.”

“I will have somebody’s head for this”, thought Mack as he exited the OC and returned to his station. It’s a bad joke to shut out an officer at the MSORR station, even if it is the MSORR station.

When Mack got to the station board he saw two lights, and two words came out of his mouth: “O God.”

Certain stations on Enterprise had different lighting sets for alerts, not just Red and Yellow as the Bridge usually displayed. This panel had a dual alert light in front of him, Red/Orange. It was the gas alert. Thankfully, he still had his suit on, even if everything else was crapping out on him.


Another curse: “What the hell, there was no Intruder Alert called, and we are in the middle of nowhere. Computer, status of ship alert condition?”

“Ship is under no alert at this time.”

“Computer, why has anesticene gas been released?”

“Computer, why has anesticene gas been released?”

Then it hit him. The computer will not answer his question, since he was not authorized to get an answer. Well, he was going to get an answer, one way or the other.

Mack ran (if you can call it that in his suit) for the lift at the end of the hallway from the MSORR station. Getting to the lift doors, he called for the turbolift, got in, then hesitated. Standing orders required the MSORR station to be manned at all times, even in alerts. Leaving the station without a reason could cost him a demotion, or even worse. “Screw it”, Mack said, and off he went.

“Deck five, security office.”

“Inaccessible from this station,” the computer responded.

“Then have turbolift 24 waiting when I get off this one.”

“Confirmed.”

“Lt. King to Security Office, please respond.”

Silence.

“Lt. King to Communications, please respond.”

“Lt. King to Bridge, please respond.”

“Lt. King to Engineering, please respond.”

“Lt. King to Sick Bay, please respond.”

“Computer, how many crew members are on board?”

“Working. 432 crew members on board. Full crew manifest on board.”

“Number of unauthorized beings on board.”

Working. None, all beings on board are authorized crew members.

With that answer in his ears, the turbolift halted and Mack ran as fast as an earth turtle for lift 24, and the answers to the mystery. It was a short haul out of turbolift 24 to the Security office.

“Computer, open the Security Office doors.”

“Doors cannot be opened.”

“Of course not, dipstick”, responded Mack, “but that’s why they give bridge officers command codes.”

“Computer, this is Lt. Mark King, Helm Officer USS Enterprise, authorization Brown-24-Tribe-23-Roller. Open Security Office doors.” The doors opened, revealing a full room of security personnel, all in a state of altered consciousness, or lack thereof.

“Well, this looks no different than my Academy graduation party”, thought Mack. The hangover was going to be a lot worse for them, unless he did something to change it. But the first question that needed to be asked was simple: What happened?

The main security board was clear of intruders; there were no incursions of any kind. But, the board also revealed a more disturbing fact. The anti-intruder anesticene gas had been distributed through out the whole ship, and was still being pumped into the life support system. That meant there was nobody awake to run the ship, a catastrophic failure of a safety/security system that would lead to Enterprise’s destruction if not corrected.

Every Starfleet ship had what was known as a “Failure Tree”. It is a purposeful software design to make sure ships at warp speed would not somehow run into a destination they were going, or just fly off into somewhere. And since a large amount of “somewhere” included Klingon, Rommulan, or Gorn space, a lot of Federation technology could end up in the hands of a less noble species. The Failure Tree path was unknown, which was its genius. It would be a more or less silent event, until the “boom” happened when the warp core exploded.

Mack keyed his suit communicator: “Computer, ship-wide broadcast. Attention all hands, please report your presence.” After a moment, with a snicker, “Anyone home?”

“Kyle here.”

“John, this is Mack King, Carleton sucks.”

“Get off it Mack, they won the premiership again.”

Being the only two people on the ship who cared about the old game of Australian Rules football, Mack had assured himself this was Lt. John Kyle, not some planted agent with an air supply. It was time to get down to business.

“Where are you?”

“Chief Mauer and I are in a shuttlecraft on the Hanger Deck. The hanger is in vacuum, and the exit doors are locked. Is there an intruder alert Mack?”

“No, we have a failure in the system somewhere. I need to get you up to the Bridge or we will crash and burn somewhere. Suit up from the shuttlecraft, and I will override the doors at the deck control station.”

“Sir,” broke in the Chief, “you can’t do that.”

“Why not?” asked Mack.

“Well sir, there are two reasons. One, the override control in an alert is on the Bridge or Auxiliary Bridge environmental station. Two, how much air does your suit have, sir?”

“A good question, Chief. My suit tells me I have 37 minutes left, plus five or six of reserve.”

“Mack, the Main Bridge will be too far away for us. You need to meet us at the Auxiliary Bridge so we can get the ship under control. We can meet you there 10 minutes after you let us out.”

“Get up here when you can, John, Chief.”

“Aye, sir” was the reply.

Mack snickered into his suit, as he headed for the turbolift. The trip to Deck 8 and the Auxiliary Bridge took five minutes in his turtle run.

“Computer, Open Auxiliary Bridge doors, authorization Brown-24-Tribe-23-Roller.”

When the doors opened, reality set in for Lt. John “Mack” King. The “Yes, sir” from Kyle and Chief Mauer was not a joke. It was a correct response in the situation, for “the toilet cleaner of the Enterprise was now her captain. At least for the next 30 minutes or so he was Captain, until he either got the ship fixed, or he took a long, permanent nap.

“Computer, route all command functions to the Auxiliary Bridge.”

“Affirmative”.

Finding the environmental control station, Mack pulled up a control schematic, and then keyed in the override sequence for Kyle and Mauer to get out of jail. Now he had 25 minutes or so.

What to do next?

“Computer, display next destination and current course and speed.”

“Working.”

“Bullfurd, not the damn Neutral Zone.”

The Enterprise was in fact heading for its newly assigned patrol zone at the Klingon/ Federation border. They were 20 minutes from the border at current speed, which meant that everyone out there knew who they were, and where they were going, on both sides of the zone. Problem is the captain didn’t know where he was supposed to be going. And unless he got the ship under control, the Failure Tree would be working.

Mack’s first thought had been to take the ship out of warp and power down it down until he could sort it out. But if he did that now, it would be an open invitation for any Klingon warship on the other side of the zone to go try their luck against a Federation starship. Right now, well they would get really lucky.

Well, Mack King may be low on the totem pole, but he didn’t hesitate. He never thought he would ever get the chance to do this, and he dreaded doing it. But he pushed the Red Alert button anyway.

“John, Chief, we are at Battle Stations, no matter how stupid it sounds. Chief, get up to the Auxiliary Bridge on the double. John, I need you in Engineering, here is what you do. First, cut off ventilation to the Aux, next, find a way to get rid of this gas, pronto.”

“Mack, I am at main engineering now. You will be vented in 5 minutes or so. Where will your air come from?”

“Don’t worry John; I have lots of gas to pass.”

“You always do, Captain Mack.”

“Shut up Kyle. That’s an order.”

“Aye, sir!”

Chief Mauer made it a few moments later, putting his hands on his knees for a rest.

“Chief,” Mack said from the help station, what bridge stations are you qualified for?”

“I can work the sensors and science station, sir.”

“That’s great, Chief. Find me a solar system just off our base course. I need a big one with a scrubber planet and an asteroid belt.”

“Aye, sir”.

“Computer, status of Torpedo Bay.”

“Torpedo bay is unmanned. Ready tubes are loaded.”

“Mack, all air is vented from your bridge, and system is closed. You have six minutes plus reserve of suit air, more or less.”

“Thanks John. Chief, I need a course to somewhere in four minutes.”

“Aye, sir. There is not a lot out here to see. This is not the normal course from Starbase 13 to this patrol area.”

“Just find something.”

Now it was time to roll the dice. Mack had vented out the “Aux” for one reason. According to his recent studies of the ship in his “throne room”, he noticed that the “Aux” had an emergency air supply. It was two hours of breathable air for a fully crewed station. It was air set aside in case of a massive decompression of the ship in battle, to give the crew a chance to fight on after significant battle damage. Mack’s gamble was that this air was not contaminated; if it was, then Mack was out of air. He would have to stop the ship in open space and hope that Kyle and the chief woke the crew before real trouble came.

Mack walked over to the cover panel, started the emergency supply system, and then turned to the chief.

“Got a tree hole for us, chief?”

“Yessir! Sending the coordinates to the helm, sir.”

“Course plotted chief, executing at Warp 1.

Chief, I have about two minutes of air left. Here are your orders. If I pass out, you are to hit the lighted button on the nav panel. It will put you in the solar system between the star and the scrubber planet. You are to tell Lt. Kyle to dump the warp core, and fix the problem with the gas if he can. You will monitor the space around us, and if trouble comes wipe the computer core clean, then repel boarders. Chief, don’t get captured.”

“Aye, sir. We will do our best.”

“Well, let’s see what happens. I’m getting a little fuzzy chief. Give me a hand will you?”

Mack and the chief took off his helmet.
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Old November 9 2009, 08:46 PM   #4
CaptainGold
Lieutenant Commander
 
Re: It is a Significant Assigment: Completed

It is a Significant Assignment
Chapter 3


Anesticene gas was another one of those marvelous products of Federation technology that was constantly making life better for all. It was not quite on the level of the duotronic circuit, but it was above, say, the newly discovered medicine called Sricozone. That new product resulted from the discovery of a natural substance that made Tribbles into what Tribbles are, or rather, do what they do.

Anesticene gas is a potent, but not necessarily toxic gas, which made it perfect for crowd control in confined spaces. It was a product of Andor, surprisingly developed in a crash program by the Andorian military. It seemed that the “blueskins” of Andor could be a cranky lot, especially when it was closing time at the local watering hole and the consumers were not done consuming.

The Andorian military “brass” got tired of losing so many “man hours” to the resultant activity, so they invented a gas that was hard to resist, with few after effects, and did not sink into fabrics, walls, or parts of buildings. The local tavern owners loved it, since they could gas their rowdy customers, call the local police, and be open for business a few hours later with no after effects left for the next shift’s clientele.

Simply put, the gas was “idiot-proof”. Starfleet had one of its best engineering designers, O. K. Murphy, perfect the delivery system, then they put it on newer Starships. The gas had always worked perfectly...

Lt. John “Mack” King did not know it, but Anesticene gas was to work its magic seven seconds after first contact. So he took 30 seconds of breaths, then turned around and told Chief Herman Mauer, “You look just as bad as you did 30 seconds ago Chief. I must still be awake.”

“Thank you, sir. I was just hoping that you didn’t snore.” Mack thought it was good to know that chiefs would smile every so often, anyway.

“Take a moment and get your helmet off at least. You will need to save suit air in case we have problems later. We will get to the system in 10 minutes, then I will need you to help to find a parking spot.”

Chief Mauer took his helmet off, checked the sensors before taking his suit off, then he stopped.

“Sir, I got a funny energy reading from the system. It was there, and then it was gone.”

“What? I thought it was a dead system.”

“Yes sir, it is. 10 planets, a scrubber planet, with a nice asteroid field and a Class B Star. No planets that can host life, according to the sensors. While it has not been explored, it has been charted and there is little of interest.”

“Well it just got a lot more interesting, Chief. Did the energy reading just shut off, or did it fade?”

“Hard to say, sir. If we were not at alert status, with the shields not at full power, I doubt I would have seen it. Commander Spock might have detected it, I couldn’t.”

“Well, good catch chief. Both on the power source and shield strength. Raising shields to maximum.” Mack said that with a sheepish grin on his face. He forgot that shields have to be raised to 100% power, they just don’t go there automatically when an alert is sounded.

“Chief, can you plot the place where you picked up the energy reading? At least get it down to where we can see what planet or body that source is on? I’d rather not have any company until the crew wakes up.”

“I think so, as we get closer I can ask the computer to give us a fix.”

“Good, stay on it.” Keying the communicator at his station, Mack called Lt. John Kyle down in Engineering. “John, have any news. Are you still okay?”

“Mack, I can keep things stable until everyone wakes up. That’s about it. Once we park the ship and power down the shields I will feel much better about the situation. The alert power drain is running me ragged. The good news is that the gas has finished spreading. I accessed the computer records on the anti-intruder system, and my guess is we have about three more hours of the ship to ourselves. Then the crew will wake up with one collective massive headache. The gas is starting to dissipate but not enough to let us go without suits.”

“John, I need to know this. If we get into a scrape, how long can you keep shields and phaser power going with out compromising the ship?”

“Thought you might ask that. Without a phaser room crew, you get about two or three volleys before the circuitry shorts out. I think I can manage the power requirements for 3 to 5 minutes before it gets too complicated for one person to handle. If we take any damage, all bets are off. Mack, don’t get in a fight.”

“I won’t, John. I think we will be parked in a cozy little spot shortly, I’ll let you know when. King out.”

“Bekk, cut all power now!”

“Done, Lieutenant.”

“What did the scans register that tripped the alert?”

“I am not sure sir, but it was big enough to be a Federation Battle Cruiser. He must have scanned the system but there is no way the swine could find us.”

“The PetaQ must have seen our energy output, or he got very lucky. We must hope they do not get lucky again and spot the installation.”

“Chief, has that power reading surfaced again?”

“No Lieutenant, it has not. I have a decent fix on where it was, but nothing exact. It came from the area of the fourth planet in the system.”

Running in the system at half impulse made the trip slow, but it gave Mack time to think. Something was eating at him about that power reading. Like the idea that this system was not as barren as it seemed.

“Chief, call up a tactical map of the area around this system. On screen when you get it.”

“Aye, sir.”

“Okay Chief, think with me about this. This system is 2 light hours from the Neutral Zone.” Chief Mauer nodded. “Look at its location. It is close to no marker or Federation listening post. There is no habitable planet near it. Now, post the normal shipping route from Anneex to Serisutis on the board. What do you see?”

“Lieutenant, I see lots of space, and a leaky border.”

“Yes, but there is something else to see. Let’s assume you want to know the trading traffic close to your border, and get a look at your opponent’s dispositions and border patrol routes. The trade routes are too far off the border to see, so how do you get the intel? You find a spot between the patrol routes and the transportation network off the beaten path, and start collecting data. If you run passive scans, or are careful with your power usage, nobody knows you are there. Unless someone comes looking.

“It could also be a cloaked ship, sir. Or just a sensor ghost.”

“Yes it could, and let’s hope it is just a strange reading. It’s not a ship, why waste a ship and crew sitting here? No chief, I’ll bet you a beer the Klingons have a listening post in the system. And if we had knowledge of the Captain’s orders, I’d say they include information about trouble with “pirates” or missing merchant traffic. So they tried to route Enterprise into a patrol region where it would not be spotted to try and give somebody a surprise. We did it, got lucky and saw them, which shut them down.

“What are we going to do?”

“Chief, we are going to hide, and then we shut down. If there is nothing here, we are fine. If not, well, Klingons being Klingons, if they are here, will shortly power on, and then we have to go hunting. I am going to put us above the South Magnetic pole of the fourth planet. We will be well hidden there from the in-system sensors if they have any here, and we will be close to them if your location is right.”

“If they are there, you want to attack them?”

“No Chief, I don’t. But put yourself in their shoes. When they start scanning, and don’t see a warp trail from us they will suspect that we are still here hiding in system.”

“And think we are either damaged or looking for them? So they will attack, or call their friends in.”

“Right you are, Chief.” And muttering to himself: “I also hope I am totally wrong.”

Pushing the call button again, Mack called Engineering: “John, secure from Battle Stations. Is there…”

“Bekk, where is the Earther ship?”

“No sign of them, sir. They never made it into the system.”

“What about our in-system sensors?”

“Nothing, sir.”

“Then power up the station, and resume scanning. Look for a warp trail of the Earther ship.”

“Lieutenant!”

“Chief?”

“We have active scanning, from multiple points in the system. The activity all leads to these co-ordinates. On the board, sir.”

“You’re kidding? Red Alert! Coordinates fed into firing system, firing photon torpedo.”

“Mack!” called Kyle, “what is going on?”

“We’ve been seen, John. I need full power for phasers and shields. Plotting course to transfer orbit, execute.”

“But you just used a photon torpedo. Mack!”

“Yes John, I did.” Let’s see what happened.”

“Sir, sensor network finds no warp trail.”

“What! Shut down the external system. Raise the shield!”

“INCOMING!”

Darkness filled the small installation. Only after some moments did the small team recover enough to discuss their situation.

“All systems are dead, sir. We are blind.”

“Shields?”

“None.”

“We head for sto-vo-kor, Bekk. Heghlu'meH QaQ jajvam.To’ba!”

Looking around, the two suddenly found themselves in a most unlikely place, the cargo transporter pad of a Federation battle crusier. And a very close race began between two hands reaching for their disuptors, a suited human being reaching for a phaser, and a colorless, odorless gas. The gas won….



Mack, you didn’t tell me they would be alive! I almost got shot you jackass.”

“Uhmm, sorry John, we thought they were unconscious from the concussion. You will be happy to know that we are secured form Battle Stations, and Engineering is still in one piece. Is everything under control there?”

“Well, they are under restraint, and out cold from the gas, at least for a while. What’s next?”

“John, we find a new hiding place, and then get lucky. Thanks John, great work. Mack out.”

“Lieutenant, how did you know a photon torpedo would destroy their base?”

“Chief, I didn’t. Once we found out where they were, and that they were looking in-system for us, I just hoped to have the torpedo explosion interfere with their systems long enough to get to phaser range. Being such a small base, I guess they didn’t have enough power to automatically raise shields on contacts. And the torpedo got there before the shields got raised. We were just plain lucky. Who knew we were right on top of them in the first place.”

“Sir, doesn’t luck happen when hard work meets opportunity?”

“It had better. We have to a lot of work to do to keep alive for at least two more hours if Mr. Kyle is correct. Chief, you drew the short straw. I will look for a hiding place. Mr. Kyle will try to recover control of Engineering, and you get to check sensor logs. Please look through the logs of the attack, and see if any signal got out from that base. If nothing got out, then we are in the clear.”

“Lieutenant, if a signal did get out, what happens next?”

“We get company, Chief.”

Who, sir?”

“A D7 would be my first guess.”
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Old November 9 2009, 08:47 PM   #5
CaptainGold
Lieutenant Commander
 
Re: It is a Significant Assigment: Completed

It is a Significant Assignment
Chapter 4

To: Starfleet Command Officers
Clearance Level: 24 and above
From: Starfleet Intelligence, Admiral N. M. Nuck, Office of Threat Assessment

Klingon Ship Types and Capability Estimates

Front-line fleet units have recent upgrades. Most are evolutionary, not revolutionary improvements. IKN has launched new builds of proven designs. …

D7-Class Battlecrusier:

IKN has been more aggressive with D7 design, adding more capability in same frame. D5 class ships WD from front-line duty facing UFP border. Large-scale fleet problems with live fire D7 squadrons recently observed Stardate XXXXXXXXXXX by XXXXXXXXXXX program assets. Observed more firepower, added rear defenses. Weight, size penalty traded maneuver for weight of fire over earlier D7 designs. Live fire against equal opponents lead to significant trust and IKN confidence in design….

Contact between USS XXXXXXXXXXXXXX and unknown D7 on Stardate XXXXXXXXXXXXXX led to decisive victory for D7, and mission failure for Starfleet asset. Sensor functions unknown, weapons range has grown. Larger power reading from salvaged record of USS XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX reveals upgrade of warp drive,... No tractor function or cloaking devices noted, defensive abilities unknown….

Synopsis: D7 upgraded ship is serious threat to Starfleet assets. Single ship actions with below Constitution-class to be refused. D7 is designed for fleet actions, and aggressive individual ship combat, IKN is aggressive with ships, always willing to give combat in single ship action…. IKN has high confidence in design, now main fleet unit in IKN, …..

Lt. John Kyle called up from Engineering: “Impulse power at your command, Mack.”

“Here we go“, said Lt. Mack King.

Sometimes there are people who have a sixth sense, who know what is coming. James Kirk was known for “getting ahead” of his opponent; be it another ship captain, a strange creature, or the competition for the affections of the local diva. Mack King did not know if he had the knack or not, but he knew what was coming this time. The certainty filled him with dread.

Scanning the system, it was obvious that hiding places from a D7 were slim and none, and Slim left the system last week. Any ship with sensors will find a starship in a system without active shields, or a “stealth” device. The best outcome was to delay discovery for a short time, in the hope that the crew of the Enterprise, or enough of the crew, could shake the Anesticene gas and fight the ship.

Mack and Chief Herman Mauer decided the best place to hide were in the rings of a small planet in the dead system, which they called “Constipate.” Its one characteristic that made a good place to hide was that there was only one easy avenue of approach to the planet, without trying to shovel your way through lots of garbage in the system. It might put off the death of Enterprise by another minute or two, but miracles still happen in the worlds of the Federation. It was a short journey to Constipate, and its rings.

“Chief, put the sensors in a passive mode if you can. Try to limit their reach to the Oort cloud of our comfy little home. We better try to stay as quiet as possible.”

“Aye, sir.”

“John, shut down everything you can, and limit our power signature. Try and set something up to where we can have impulse power and full weapons capacity quickly if we are caught.“

“Aye, Captain Kirk. Any more miracles you want today?”

“You are starting to sound like Dr. McCoy, Chief Engineer Kyle. If you don’t watch your tone, I’ll make an order for you to get a physical tomorrow.”

“Can I pick the nurse to do it?”

“No.”

“Well in that case, can you send the chief down? He can help.”

“Sure, if the air is breathable”

“It should be okay, but he should use a suit until he gets down here. The lifts will still be filled with the gas.”

“Chief, need some help suiting up?”

Already back into his suit, Chief Mauer replied: “No sir,” “I will be down to Engineering in 2 or 3 minutes, Lieutenant Kyle.”

“Thank you chief, Kyle out.”

“Come back when you two are done, chief.”

“Aye, Sir.”

Finally, there was nothing for Mack King to do, other than monitor what systems he could see from his bridge chair. He had really hoped the work would not have ended until the Captain was awake. Because now the burden couldn’t be ignored any more. Now some big decisions had to be made, ones people above his pay grade usually make. However, those folks were not available at the moment; he was.

Will the Klingons come? Mack knew in his gut they were coming, so he didn’t take much time on hoping for what he couldn’t change.

Can we run now? No, that was a death sentence.Kyle is a good engineer, but two guys running a warp-core to get somewhere is a non-starter. Can we call someone? Nope, that brings the predators in faster. Better to stay silent and pray then let everyone know you are carrying a knife to a phaser fight.

What to do when the Klingons show up? Well, that wasn’t hard to figure out. There were three options: Run around hiding in this rock pile of a system dodging distuptor shots until the crew woke up, or the Klingons blow the ship up. Second, fight the ship when they came. Third, blow it up when the Klingons came into the system.

The third alternative was best. If the Klingons were smart they would disable Enterprise, board her, and tear it apart. They could probably do it in-system, or just tow the most advanced class of Federation starship across the border and learn its secrets. Then they also would get a special gift; Picking up a crew that can’t resist capture. It would be a gold mine for an intelligence branch armed with a mind-sifter.

The first alternative is almost like the third alternative, except it would let the Klingons have more fun chasing the ship around the system for a minute or two. Mack was a good helmsman, but he knew he couldn’t win that game of “whack a ‘vole” when he had no hammer, or hole to hide in.

The second alternative was a fools’ errand as well. If Mack would attack the Klingons, his probability of success was zero, unless it was a scout ship. His chances of any serious damage to a D-7, or even D-5 vessel were almost nil unless he totally surprised the enemy vessel. And since the ship was coming in knowing something was wrong with an illegal listening post, where is the surprise coming from?

“But suicide means there is no hope”, Mack said out loud, “and to scuttle the lives of 430 people with trying to save them is obscene. To try and fail is netter than not to try. Damn. Kirk wouldn’t give up, why should I?” Mack King hated cussing, but he seemed to use it a lot recently, starting a new bad habit. Maybe God would forgive him, but it would be nice for the Deity to show he still existed, or at least Mack King would be around long enough to break his new habit.

“Some things are never easy”, he mused, rubbing his temples as silence overcame the Bridge again.

“Some things are never easy, Commander.”

“No sir, they are not”, said Cmdr. Katsuo Mamoru, as he handed his captain the wagering tube. Again.

Captain Alain Louis of the USS Valiant (NCC-1709) simply sighed, and tuned over his game pieces in surrender.

“Do I owe you another shift?”

“Aye. Sir. I am now up one watch.”

“Why did I start playing this with you again?”

“Because you like to bang your head against walls, sir.”


Alain snorted then laughed bitterly, and responded: “It’s becoming a habit Katsuo, and I don’t like it.”

Valiant was the newest of the Constitution-class starships, on its first mission after acceptance and trials. The trials were fine, and it left Earth with a happy crew. But its first mission, to protect shipping and patrol among the Klingon/Federation frontier, was a disaster. The old Earth navies used to complain about their “shakedown” cruises, having to fix many, many little imperfections and problems before the ship was truly combat-ready. Valiant’s crew spent more time fixing problems then actually patrolling. There was one time in the short patrol cruise the mighty cruiser had to return to Starbase 13, one hour after leaving it, being towed in for more repairs. Captain Louis even had to put on coveralls to crawl deep into the guts of the Valiant’s main computer system to do a re-wire of a main bus harness that shorted out the self-destruct system. He told his chief engineer: “Perfect fail-safe work from Starfleet for a new crew, commander. We can’t blow ourselves up, even if we tried.”

It got so bad that the assistant chief engineer began calling the repair list “Warranty work”, and it stuck. Suddenly lemons (or at least mostly fake lemons according to the chief botanist) started showing up all over the ship. The non-human and non-core world members of the crew had to get the joke explained to them: Lemons were a sign of a defective product so badly made it had to be returned to the builder for a full refund after hearing how “good” the product was, and how “bad” the user used it. That explanation usually came after someone got suckered into trying to eat a “real” lemon from a food processor, or did a 50-50 lemon juice/liquid of some type mix. It was reported in several log entries that certain Vulcan and Andorian crew members found the taste “stimulating”, but not enough to add it to their normal diet.

But now Valiant was heading back from patrol to Earth. A three-month old ship was going to be going through a total refit, an embarrassment for Starfleet, and a big black mark on her Captain in many eyes. And that made Alain Louis a very angry man.

“Well, Katsuo, I’ll have plenty of time to win the watch back. It will only take four stops on the way home to get repairs, so I will have lots of chances to get lucky.” A sad smile creased Cmdr. Mamoru face as he took his leave and headed for his quarters, Alain saw him out, then hit the desk communicator button: “Bridge, communications, this is the Captain.”

“Ensign Molica, sir.”

“Please contact the Enterprise, when you have Captain Kirk, pipe it down to my quarters.”

“Aye, sir.”

“Computer, Warranty Work list please.”

Working, Dear Leader.

“WHAT!!!”

It didn’t take long for the chief to return after Mack started his thinking session. But then, the chronometer has only moved 30 minutes. It seemed like forever.

“Sir, Lt. Kyle has your rig up. He says it won’t last long, but you got what you wanted.”

“Thanks, Chief. You have done a great job today. I’ll write you up for this, and not even tell the captain I know where the second still is.”

“Sir, we would never do a thing like that here!” said the chief indignantly, tongue firmly planted in cheek.

With a smile, Mack called down to Engineering: “John, Chief, listen up. Chief, you don’t have to do the grunt work any more on those logs. What’s done is done.

Here is how I see it: If our information is right, we have at least 30 minutes before the crew starts stirring. But, I’m not sold on that estimate being right, and if it is, how long before the crew can run the ship?

We are going to hope that staying silent keeps us safe. But, I believe we will have visitors soon. If keeping silent doesn’t help, then we duties to perform. You two are to take escape pods, and hide out as I get a distress signal out. Someone will look for you in a short amount of time.”

“NO! Mack”, said Kyle.

“That’s an order, lieutenant,” said in a voice Mack didn’t know he had. “Someone has to try and tell Starfleet what happened to us. If the big uglies are running other listening posts like this across the border, Starfleet has to know. And you two are the messengers. I’ll try to draw the cats away from you, so you can hide here.”

“Sir, what will you do?”, asked the Chief.

“I have two impulse engines, 2 photon torpedoes, a couple of phaser shots, and hope. Any visitors will know what hit ’em. But we have to make sure this ship does not get captured. And that is my job. Now, have I made myself clear to you two?”

“Aye, sir”, said the chief.

“You did, Captain”, said Kyle in his most serious voice.

“Good. You guys make a great crew, thanks a lot. I’m proud to serve with you. You guys deserve a shot to get out of here alive if trouble comes. Take a chance on getting out of here.”

Mack turned back to the tactical layout on the main screen, and Chief Mauer looked to the science station. As Chief Mauer looked to his sensor screen, he saw Kyle’s text message on his board:

“NOT LEAVING, ARE YOU?”

“NO SIR”, was the reply.

It seemed like just a moment later, and a button on the communications panel flashed.

“Lieutenant, the com panel is lit up.”

“It’s not intership is it?

“I don’t know, sir.”

“Great. Well, I don’t know about it either. Just ignore it chief. There is no way we are answering a hail, if that is what it is. That’s an engraved invitation to anyone who wants to pay us a visit.”

Captain Alain Louis stared into his viewscreen. “What did you say, Ensign?”

“Captain, Enterprise is not responding.”

“Are they not picking up your hail? Does your equipment work”


“Sir, I believe they are ignoring it. Our equipment is working well, I have searched and hailed on all normal Starfleet channels, and there is no sign of trouble. If Enterprise is anywhere close to us, we should have heard back almost instantly. I have hailed them multiple times since you ordered us to make contact. There is just nothing coming back.

“Keep trying Ensign. And contact Starbase 13, see if they have heard anything from them. Keep me posted Ensign. ”

“Aye, sir. Communications, out.”

“Jim Kirk doesn’t normally act like this”, thought Alain. This close to this border, even Kirk would not start playing games. If something had happened, a buoy or listening device would have noticed a disaster beacon, but there was not a sound from anyone about a problem. There is no reason for a communications blackout. After adding his personal comm panel voice logic to the new “Warranty list” for replacement, he sat back and waited.

It won’t be long.

“Chief, how far out-system does the passive sensors reach?”

“Lieutenant, I tried to tune it so it only went to the Oort Cloud as you ordered, but I would guess it reaches a little further out into space. There is always a certain minimum area of coverage for the sensor suite, even in passive mode, unless you just shut it down.”

“Okay chief, just keep looking out for us.”

That conversation did not end the feeling in the back of Mack’s mind that something is wrong. “I’m missing something,” he absent mindedly said.

“Sir?”

The Fault Tree!”, shouted out Mack, and went straight to the comm panel. If he didn’t push that button, would it be the item that triggers the ship’s self-destruct sequence, the system deciding no answer to a hail was a sign there was no crew? It seemed logical, and yet, if he responded, other people would hear.

“Are you sure, sir?” asked Chief Mauer with a worried look, like his young commander was losing his cool.

“No, I am not, chief, but I am doing it anyway.” He pressed the button.

Enterprise, this is USS Valiant. Please respond. Enterprise, this is USS Valiant. Please respond.”

Valiant, respond on secure frequency. Out.”

“Mollica to Captain Louis.”

“Louis here, Do you have contact with the Enterprise?”

“I don’t know sir, here is what I have.”

“Valiant, respond on secure frequency. Out.

“That is all you have?”

“Aye, sir. It was the Enterprise, but I don’t know that voice, and I know several Communications officers on that ship. They are in trouble, sir.”

“Ensign, you are exactly right. Can you get a fix on where that signal came from?”

“Aye sir.”

“Then get it fixed and send it to Rookhem at Navigation.”

“Aye, sir.”

Alain then got on the intership: “Action Stations, all hands. This is no drill. All hands to Action stations, Commander Mamoru to the Bridge.”
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Old November 9 2009, 09:46 PM   #6
Mistral
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Location: Between the candle and the flame
Re: It is a Significant Assigment: Completed

Cool. Liked this story and glad you finished it. Looking forward to the end.
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Old November 10 2009, 07:22 PM   #7
CaptainGold
Lieutenant Commander
 
Re: It is a Significant Assigment: Completed

It is a Significant Assignment
Chapter 5.

Even the most jaded of star travelers marvel at one thing beyond anything else: Space is big. Really. Big.

Only after being out in space can a being really grasp just how large a galaxy is, even a small one where the United Federation of Planets existed. The great miracle of modern day computing is not that large ships can be run with powerful energy. The great miracle is that these ships can actually go into space and get somewhere.

Computer wizards have tried to replace living beings in space travel for a long time. With new materials, new manufacturing, and new technology, the ancient Moore’s Law still applies. And the new computers make so much of life better for so many. Unlike the original Luddites who feared computers, and thought they were becoming agents of tyranny, computers were tools of human and other beings’ liberty, when they were not abused by evil.

But the longer the distance traveled, the more important the Navigator of a ship becomes. As the technical people realized this fact, the Philosophers started dreaming and writing and fighting again over the ancient subjects. Is there a Navigator of the universe? How can so many beings travel such distances at such speeds, and know they get to the right place, in the right time? Will not the senses of the finite be overwhelmed by Space, with no reference to know what is or is not true?

One side said, “of course there is a Navigator, for without one there is no order in the universe, or foundation for the development of an existence for beings to try to transcend the vastness of space, or the power of evil, therefore it must exist, and beings must try to find out about it.”

The other side snorted in derision, laughing at the falsehood of a Navigator, arguing that “the naiveté of the other side flies in the face of what we know. What we know is random chance is a constant, plus the fact there are other constants in the universe. We know no evidence of a Navigator; therefore he does not exist, or is replaced by chance itself. There is no universal law in space; only those laws which we know, or have not discovered yet.”

If there were philosophers looking on a massive corner of an even more massive space, one of them may well ask: “Then why is it that 3 vessels come from 3 different places meet in one small place, not knowing the others are coming?”

On the Auxiliary Bridge of the USS Enterprise, Lt. Mack King scanned his tactical board with renewed intensity, after responding to the USS Valiant’s hail he felt like a one legged man in a butt kicking contest. He did what he felt like he had to do, but it wasn’t real good doing it. And all he could do was wait and see what happened, along with his crew of two Chief Herman Mauer, and Lieutenant John Kyle.

“Sir, sensors are still showing no contacts. We may be in the clear.”

“I hope so Chief. John, how are things in Engineering?”

“As long as we don’t move, everything is nominal, Mack. Nobody is stirring yet, and the computer estimate said the gas effects ought to wear off soon. You are good company, but I could use some food and drink.”

“So can I, John”, replied Mack King softly, “so can I.”

“Mack, did I ever tell you about the about the Vulcan, the Klingon, and the Romulan who walked into a bar….”

Not far away, the USS Valiant was streaking to a meeting at Warp 5, as fast its half-baked
systems would let it fly. And for once, it was Valiant, her crew,and her captain Alain Louis, looking to get something done right on this mission.

“Stand down From Action Stations, Ensign, but keep up condition yellow.” Nodding his head at his comm officer, he turned first to his first officer. “Good work that time Katsuo, no problems getting to stations. Then his eyes turned to his chief science officer, Lt. Commander Ron-all Elion. The Captain piped up: “What have you got for us, Red?

The Ronellian Science Officer turned a deeper shade of red as he stood and responded. “Not much, sir. It looks like the system where we think the Enterprise is located is a dead system in the middle of nowhere. It is two light years from the Klingon border, with a Class B star in it. No habitable worlds, mostly just junk, rocks, and a scrubber planet according to records. Here’s what we have on it.”

“On screen, Lieutenant,” Alain called to his helmsman.

Manning the tactical station, Cmdr. Katsuo Mamoru looked over and threw an opinion in: “When you look at it Captain, it is an isolated system, but it has a great location.” Throwing a set of navigation coordinates on the screen, he said, “Notice here, it is placed where you can look over our border patrol routes, and the main rim routes to our outer colonies in this sector. It also is one Earth day of travel at Warp 2 from the new Klingon base located here, on what we think are his main travel routes back into the Empire. And if you overlay our border posts here, that looks like a perfect gap between where we can cover their movements and we can’t.”

“That makes sense Commander, but it is close to no active system, and if we thought it was a problem, we could just route traffic differently,” piped up the Navigator, Lt. Ellis Mowat.

“True, Ellis,” replied Alain, “but you are assuming this is a one-off station. What if it is part of a network? We can’t cover everywhere, and all they need are a few sites to check Federation traffic, and when they want to raise hell in our yard they can do it at their leisure. I’ll be willing to bet the Enterprise caught a listening post of some kind there. But why all the secrecy?”

“Like Ensign Molica said, they are in trouble sir. Maybe they are trying to hide?” piped up Lt. Rookhem at Navigation.

“No, Boorter, something else is going on. Even at this point, as close to the border as they are, their sensors should show them when it is clear to call for help. It’s too clever by half, thinking you can hide your damage after running over an enemy position, and also thinking your enemy is so knowledgeable they can monitor everything. The Enterprise is not well, but what the illness is we don’t know.”

Ensign Molica threw in to the conversation: “Captain, Engineering reports all is well. Should I try to contact the Enterprise again?

“No, Ensign. There is a reason they don’t want to talk. We will honor their request. Katsuo, just in case, get with your team and Cmdr. Elion, and find us a way there where it will be hard to see us after we go in-system. Until we want seen, that is.”

“Aye sir.”

“Let’s get at it people. We have 20 minutes to get ready.”

“…. and the Klingon said, ‘I told you not to drink the water’”.

Laughter filled the com channel, even if the joke was awful. It was Kyle’s third joke in a row, and they were getting progressively worse. Mack, as he looked at Chief Mauer, saw the laughter bubble up and over. It was a good sign, even the chief needed to laugh. The weight of waiting was almost as bad as the fear of dying, except waiting means it is all you think about. Waiting is the hardest thing to do before a conflict, even more if you have hope the conflict gets cancelled. Just a few more minutes, or a couple of more bad jokes, and this nightmare would be over.

Then Mack’s tactical plot opened up.

“See it chief?”

“Aye sir. No distinct reading yet, but it is obviously a ship at the outer limit of the system. Coming from the direction of the border, sir.”

“Not very aggressive is he? He’s coming in system at what, half impulse, and no sensors we can pick up. Am I right Chief?”

“On the money, sir. Why would a ship do that?”

“That is a good question. The obvious answer is that he is expecting a welcome of some kind, or he has some kind of protocol in place to contact his friends in system. But to know for sure we would have to fire up our sensors, and it’s not worth the risk. Let’s see what he does.”

“Confirm, it is a Klingon ship, class unknown. He’s at the 4th planet, Lieutenant. Range from us is about 1Billion klicks. He’s powering up his sensor output. Sensors are looking for us, sir”

“John, once I give the word, how long before the ship powers up to its maximum speed?”

“Mac, I’d guess 20 seconds.”

“Okay, that gives us about 3 minutes warning once he finds us to get ready, if he goes all out at us.” Now Mack’s voice got an edge. There was no more lighthearted banter. “Here are your orders. On my mark, hit the power button and go John. Chief, set your sensors for a full sensor sweep, then you go too. You will have 30 seconds to get out, and then I will be moving at them like a comet, so your pods will be hidden in the interference. I’ll send out the distress call; make yourself small until the system is clear. I would think it won’t be more than a day or two until you get picked up. And I hope I can pick up the tab for you at Harry’s on Rigel. Clear?”

“Aye, sir.”

“Mack, you’re cheap, that is a dumpy bar.”

“John?”

“Aye, sir.”

30 seconds later: “Sir, he’s moving to us!”

“I see it.”

“Range 800 million clicks, and closing. Looks like he got us, he’s adjusting course.”

“Range 600, Range 500.”

“NOW!” shouted Mack. “Red Alert, hit the button John! Full power to shields, sensors and weapons. John, Go!”

“Sensors on full, sir. He’s not got his shields up, we caught him by surprise sir!

“Go chief!”

“Aye. Sir.” But he never moved.

Mack never noticed. He talked to himself as if he had a room full of crew.

“Range 250, course 130 mark 2. Full impulse.

“Locking on target, range 300 million klicks…

“Sir, he’s firing.”



Valiant got to the edge of the system just as the Klingon did, but at the other “end” of the rock pile .

“Slow to full impulse, helm.”

“Full impulse, aye.”

“Captain, I’m picking up two ships, I think. One looks like a Klingon D7 model sir. He is inbound shaping for the 4th planet. I think the other one is hiding in the rings of the 7th planet, it’s the one above the plane of the system, sir. I can barely see it. Not much power, maybe just passive systems in place.”

“Thank you Red. All hands to Action Stations, all weapons stand by.”

“Shields at full, sir. Weapons green across the board”

“All decks report ready, sir.”

“Ellis, Boorter, I want a course through to the 7th planet. Come up to the planet from below the plane of the system. I want to go in full speed, and I want it now. Set and go as soon as you got it.”

“Captain, there is a lot of trash to go through, I am not sure we can get through clean at full impulse.”

Then you better find a hole fast. The trash will give us a chance to hide. ETA to the planet?”

Ellis jumped in: “2 minutes in a straight line, but not without an asteroid decoration, sir.”

“Then you got one minute to find a hole.”

“Got, it!” Lt. Rookhem yelped. “Course set and running, there will be damage sir.”

“Don’t care helm. Moilica, alert Damage Control and Engineering. Katsuo, lock in after we get above the system plane. Maybe he won’t see us until we target him. You are on free fire at your discretion.”

“Aye, sir”

“Sir, Klingon vessel is moving to the 7th planet. He’s looking for something.” A moment later: Sir! It’s a Federation starship sir, he’s making a run on the D7, range 800 million klicks.”

“Helm, get us there, be sharp people.”

“That guy has a lot of guts captain”, said his first officer.

“I hope I can shake his hand,” thought Alain……

“Range 100.”

BOOM! , The Enterprise groaned as it took a full disruptor hit on the port quarter.

Chief Mauer held on, and Mack never felt a thing.

“Firing all Phasers!” Then, “Torpedoes away!”

“Sir, dir…”

The Enterprise took a second hit on the port side, and her shields all but collapsed. A fire started in the forward phaser room, so Mack was out of shots, and Lt. Kyle was trying to find his senses after he flew across his little central engineering control master control section. Even the chief couldn’t stay in his chair as he rolled across the Auxiliary Bridge from the concussion.

“Captain, direct hit on the D7 by the Enterprise

“Firing, sir.”

Mack King still had his chair, and his wits about him. “Course to 118 mark 331, half impulse”, since that’s all the faster he could go. Looking at his board, he saw the truth.

Then there was one more explosion he felt.
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Old November 11 2009, 12:00 AM   #8
adm_gold
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Re: It is a Significant Assigment: Completed

From the Admiral to the Captain- well done story. Looking forward to the next Chapter!
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Old November 11 2009, 05:13 PM   #9
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Re: It is a Significant Assigment: Completed

It is A Significant Assignment
Chapter Six


“Got Him!”

The flash had cleared from the main screen on the USS Valiant. The cheers had not stopped on the bridge as quickly , until Captain Alain Louis called out to his comm officer:

“Secure from Action, all hands, Damage reports to weapons station, damage control teams are free. Great shooting commander, right on the money. Sandy, raise the Enterprise. Red, have you found her yet?”

“Sir, the Enterprise is in one piece, 450 million klicks from here. She’s a mess.”

“Got them sir, moving to them.”

“Good job, helm. Go to one hundred thousand kilometers from the Enterprise and hold.”

“Aye, sir.”

Mack looked at his shipmate from across the Auxiliary Bridge: “Chief, do we have anything at all?”

“No, sir, we are powerless. That last explosion did us in.”

“Then why aren’t we dead, chief?”

Valiant to Enterprise, please respond.”

“I’ll be damned.”

“Not today you won’t, chief. Call down and check on Lieutenant Kyle, I will introduce us to our 400 new best friends. Then I will kick your ass from here to the shuttle bay for not leaving the ship.”

“You will have to catch me first, sir.”

“Captain, I have the Enterprise, audio only.”

Valiant, this is Enterprise. I have a class 1 medical emergency on board. I need SAR, damage control and engineering teams, and a bridge crew. I also need a security team at our engineering cargo transporter room, and tell your med teams the agent is Anesticene gas. All personnel will need their own air supply, and teams should stage in engineering or in the main hall way on Deck Five next to our Auxiliary Bridge. We can help them from here .”

Already hearing his bridge crew at work in response to what they had heard, Alain simply asked: “What is your status, Enterprise?

“Frankly, I don’t know. We have lights and communications on the Aux Bridge, and very little else. Impulse drives are down, I think, and our defense capacity is shot too. We were dead without you guys. What is the status of the Klingon ship?”

“She is destroyed, Enterprise. She is what you ought to be. Now that I can get a word in edge-wise, who am I speaking to.”

Lieutenant Mack King, commanding USS Enterprise, ah, sir.”

After a moment of heavy silence, Alain responded, “See to your ship Lieutenant.”

Thank you, Captain. Enterprise out.”

“Chief, is John okay?”

“Yes, sir. Just a little woozy from a bump on the head.”

“John, this is Mack. Help is on the way, they should be beaming in now. Send them where they need to go.”

“Aye, sir.”

“Chief,” hearing the while of a transporter beaming in, deal with the SAR people, “use your best judgment as to where they go. I’ll deal with the rest.”

Running out the doors, Mack pointed the SAR people to Chief Mauer, and talked to Dr. Vermeille of the Valiant. “Doctor, there is a ventilation control room down this hall to the left about 25 doors, if you want to manipulate the environment start there. Bridge crew, here, please.”

Then out of the small mass of moving people came a short, powerful man with an air of command about him. The newcomers kept flowing down the halls to turbolifts, and a small group formed up behind him. “I am Cmdr. Katsuo Mamoru, first officer of the USS Valiant.

“Lieutenant Mack King of the Enterprise sir, welcome aboard. Like a tour?”

The next thing Leonard McCoy felt was something like a hypospray on his arm, but he wasn’t sick, or in his sick bay. Then he woke up and wondered who was hitting his head with an old-fashioned ice pick.

“Easy doctor, you were overcome by the anti-intruder gas on the ship. You will recover shortly.”

“Easy for you to say, young man, you are not wearing my head. Who in blazes are you anyway, and what is this soup on my head?”

“Bort Vermeille, CMO of the USS Valiant. Here’s a towel, we need you in sickbay. Hope your soup was good.”

Spock wondered why he was lying on the floor by his bridge station, no officer, or Vulcan should be found in such a compromising position. Trying to rise, he noticed a great discomfort in his head, and a lack of physical strength and coordination. Like he had ingested large amounts of human alcohol. He saw all the bridge stations were not working, and his science station did not respond to commands.

“Computer, ship’s status.”

“Computer, location of Enterprise.”

Finally giving up, it took four tries to hit the communications toggle on his main panel.

“Spock to Auxiliary Bridge.”

Commander, this Lt. King. Please do not try to move off the bridge, medical teams will be there in a moment.”

“Ship’s status, Lieutenant.”

We are currently accessing damage, sir. The ship is in need of some repair, and our crew is being cared for by the USS Valiant. It is a long story sir; please wait for help to arrive. King out.”

Captain Kirk stood up next to his chair, looked at Spock and grabbed his head: “Report, Spock,” he said in a very soft whisper. “What is going on?’

“I don’t know sir, but it sounds fascinating.” Kirk just stared at his first officer as the turbolift doors opened and a relief team of medical techs spread out over the Bridge.

“Attention All hands, this is Lieutenant King. All Enterprise personnel, remain where you are. Do not move until you have been seen by SAR personnel. SAR teams are combing the ship so you can get medical attention. If you are awake, contact sick bay and await orders. All available senior staff, please report to Briefing Room 2 by the Auxiliary Bridge in one hour. King out.”







“It is said that the longer a crew works together, the closer they grow together.” mused Mack to no one in particular.

“The room seems to prove it, Lieutenant,” a grinning Cmdr. Katsuo Mamoru replied, “except I hope they all don’t start looking like Jim Kirk. That is one ugly face he’s wearing.”

Most of the senior staff of the Enterprise was sitting in Briefing Room 2, and while they were a diverse lot, they were all holding their heads the same way—in their hands. Except for the real outlier of the group, Spock, who was wearing on his face what Mack could only describe as a silly, crooked grin as he slowly looked around the room. A most disturbing look for a Vulcan, at least to Mack’s eye.

Cmdr. Mamoru, wonder aloud, “Where are the doctors and your chief engineer?”

Mack spoke up, “Sir, the doctors should be here any minute with something for the crew, and it seems Mr. Scott is better off than most of the rest of us, and he is supervising repairs. I wish I knew how he could do it.”

“That, Lieutenant, is because he drinks Scotch, and has a liver that works overtime.” Doctors McCoy and Vermeille walked into the room with a tray of large cups of steaming liquid, and McCoy had a silly grin on his face too. Mack was going to say how much he smiled like Spock, but he knew that might get him spaced by either senior officer, so he kept his mouth shut.

“Bones, what is this?” croaked out Kirk, as everyone got a cup, including Spock.

“Jim, it is an antidote to the anti-intruder gas. The active ingredients are very effective for cleaning out the remains of the gas from your system. You will be feeling much better in a hour or so.”

“Bones, it smells like coffee.”

“That’s because it is coffee, with a few added items. And before you say it, don’t ask what else is in it.”

“But Vulcans don’t drink coffee, Bones.”

“He has green tea, Captain, and he will drink it, or I will post the pictures I’m taking of him right now all over the ship.”

“That would be something you would regret, doctor.” Spock did not seem without emotion in response to hearing that.

Kirk looked up as he first took a sip, and was able to put 2+2 together. “Doctor, are you telling us this gas has left my crew with a massive hangover?”

“In a word Jim, yes. It doesn’t affect Andorians that way, but because we got such a big dose of it the gas affected us in a way nobody expected.”

“So, Commander, my crew is plastered, my ship is blasted, and my brig is filled with Klingons. How long will this last.”

“Captain Kirk, Our guess is 24 to 36 hours on the repairs, and your crew should be up to normal efficiency in a few hours. We can stay here until you are ready to move on your own, and Captain Louis said you can use some of our repair people if needed as we head back to Earth for a refit.” Looking at Mack, he continued: “You have a fine crew captain, we are impressed.”

“Thank you Commander, for all the help. Now Lt. King, I believe you have something for my attention.”

“If you are ready, sir.”

Kirk nodded.

“Computer, this is Lt. Mack King, Helm Officer USS Enterprise, authorization Brown-24-Tribe-23-Roller. Route all command functions to the main bridge. Return all senior command functions to Captain James T. Kirk, commander, USS Enterprise.”

“Thank you Lieutenant. Dismissed.”
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Old November 11 2009, 05:18 PM   #10
CaptainGold
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Re: It is a Significant Assigment: Completed

It is a Significant Assignment
Epilogue


Lt. Mack King peeled off his suit again. This was the third time since he returned to the MSORR duty station he had to go into the OC. The chronometer reminded him it had only been 2 days since the great adventure of his first command. Now he was back at the bottom of the ship. Literally.

“You have to be kidding”, Mack said to the nearest wall. “I saved the darn ship, blew up a D7, and all I get is 6 more weeks of this duty. Give me a Bullford broom and let me clean the hull instead of doing this crap.”

As he got out of the shower and put a clean uniform on, it became very clear that he had no future in Starfleet if his position had sunk this low. Maybe he could go home and work on the farm again; at least he knew he was qualified to shovel manure.

He heard the ceremony where Kyle and Chief Mauer were awarded medals for their work. “At least Kirk read my report,” Mack thought bitterly. “I’m glad for them.”

“Captain Kirk to Lt. King.”

“What?” Running over and clicking the toggle, “King here, sir,” as he stared into the face of his captain.

“Mack, please come up to my office, Commander Spock and I would like to have a conference with you about your report.” With a big smile, Kirk said: “You are relieved of current duty. Kirk out.”


Two hours later….


A young, shapely blonde wearing the stripes of a Lieutenant in Engineering red strode out of turbolift 27 and turned toward a small control center. Putting a small data chip in a receptacle just below a flashing light on the panel, she looked up at her boss, Commander Montgomery Scott, as he began: “Lieutenant Reed, this is an introductory message to your new station. This is a temporary duty for an undetermined length of time. As chief MSORR of the Enterprise, your job is to coordinate C systems and crew aboard the ship…”

Last edited by CaptainGold; November 12 2009 at 01:51 AM.
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Old November 12 2009, 09:33 PM   #11
Mistral
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Re: It is a Significant Assigment: Completed

Great story! You got the feel of TOS down cold. I hope we'll get to see more of Mack-that's a heck of a heroic officer you created.
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Old November 16 2009, 06:02 PM   #12
CaptainGold
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Re: It is a Significant Assigment: Completed

I will be posting one more story in the coming week. I hope you will take a look at the first one, and pass along your comments.
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Old November 16 2009, 09:40 PM   #13
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Re: It is a Significant Assigment: Completed

CaptainGold wrote: View Post
I will be posting one more story in the coming week. I hope you will take a look at the first one, and pass along your comments.
*wipes drool from chin* First one?
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Old November 17 2009, 09:52 PM   #14
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Re: It is a Significant Assigment: Completed

Mistral wrote: View Post
CaptainGold wrote: View Post
I will be posting one more story in the coming week. I hope you will take a look at the first one, and pass along your comments.
*wipes drool from chin* First one?
Sorry Mistral, I meant this one!
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