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Old August 25 2013, 03:49 AM   #1
Sran
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Myriad Universes: The Motion Picture Revisited

The following story is set during the events of Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Suppose that when Admiral Kirk met with Admiral Nogura to discuss who would command the Enterprise during the V'Ger mission that he made a different choice. This story explores what might have been.

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Old August 25 2013, 03:57 AM   #2
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Re: Myriad Universes: The Motion Picture Revisited

Chapter One

“I knew it! The transporter sensor was not activated: faulty modules.”

Will Decker grinned in restrained but genuine elation, pointing his small diagnostic probe several times for emphasis. A weight he didn’t realize he’d been carrying seemed to disappear as he heard Scotty call for a replacement part. There was still a great deal of work to do, of course. The transporter was but one of several systems still in need of repair before the refurbished vessel would finally be space-worthy after her eighteen-month refit. But if a malfunctioning back-up sensor was the reason the system wasn’t working properly, Decker was confident he could check another item of his list as he mentally recounted everything that needed to happen before his ship launched in just under twenty hours. His grin widened. My ship. Decker was named captain of the USS Enterprise following the ship’s successful completion of a five-year mission under the command of James T. Kirk, having been recommended for the post by the now-admiral himself. But Decker’s relationship with the upgraded Constitution-class vessel was deeper than the rapport most captains enjoyed with their ships.

He’d spent nearly every waking moment of the past year-and-a-half aboard Enterprise as her bridge module, weapons, and warp-engines were dismantled and rebuilt; therefore, he knew the ins-and-outs of every new system at a level of detail normally associated with only the most thorough of engineers. Both he and the Enterprise were untried. But Decker was hopeful his familiarity with the vessel made famous by his predecessor would help him overcome any problems that arose during the ship’s upcoming mission. The Federation was in a state of emergency due to the approach of a mysterious cloud. The vast entity had already decimated three Klingon battle-cruisers as it raced toward Earth at high warp. It was the reason for the rush on the Enterprise’s upgrades. The ship’s original launch date was still three weeks away. But as it was only the vessel that could intercept the cloud before it reached Earth’s solar system, Enterprise was being pressed into service ahead of schedule. Decker privately questioned the wisdom of the decision. The timing of the mission meant Enterprise would launch not only with her engines, weapons, and shields untested, but also without its intended command crew aboard.

The problem was being addressed somewhat with the appointments of Commanders Sonak, Sulu, Lieutenant Chekov, and Dr. Chapel to the Enterprise for the duration of the emergency. With the exception of Sonak, each had served during the ship’s deep-space voyage, and Decker was confident that their joining holdovers Scott and Uhura to form a makeshift bridge crew would make the vessel’s assignment easier than it might otherwise have been. But he wondered how they would adjust to following a new commanding officer after so many years under Captain Kirk.

It wasn’t that Will doubted his own abilities. He’d served four years as Harry Morrow’s first-officer on the USS Boston during the ship’s deployment along the Romulan Neutral Zone. Morrow might not be James Kirk, but he was a close-second if Decker had anything to say about it. Will graduated from the Academy planning on a career as an engineer or tactical officer. But Morrow had seen something in Decker during the younger man’s assignment on Delta IV and was convinced Matt Decker’s son had the same affinity for command. The initially reluctant officer quickly grew into his added responsibilities, his new role as perfect a fit as the gold uniform that accompanied it. He’d learned a lot on the Boston and believed he would grow into the role of captain as he’d done the role of executive officer. But would Kirk’s former shipmates give him the same latitude Marrow gave him? Decker wasn’t counting on it. They were used to excellence and probably expected it after working under Kirk. It wouldn’t do for their new captain to fail during his first mission. Knowledge of ship systems was one thing. Applying that knowledge to field work was another.

Decker started to put the diagnostic probe back in its toolbox when a movement to his left caught his attention. He whipped his head in that direction, not at all surprised to find a Starfleet flag-officer hovering behind him. What did surprise him, however, was that the flag-officer was none other than the man he’d just been thinking about. If the Chief of Starfleet Operations noticed his discomfiture, he didn’t show it. His face bore a serious but warm expression. Turning around, Decker offered his hand in greeting.

“Admiral Kirk!” he said. “Well, we’re getting a top-brass sendoff. Don’t worry. She’ll launch on schedule, even if we have to tow her out with our bare hands.” Nodding at the man beside him, he added enthusiastically, “Right, Scotty?”

The ship’s chief engineer returned the nod, his own expression a mixture of surprise and disbelief. Clearly, he was just as surprised as Decker to see Kirk aboard his old ship. But Will knew Kirk’s impromptu visit wasn’t likely to be a social call. With the safety of Earth in the balance, Starfleet wanted to be sure the new Enterprise- and her captain- would be ready before being allowed out of drydock. Decker wasn’t much for rousing pre-game speeches. Starfleet officers were trained professionals. If an upcoming mission wasn’t enough motivation for someone to do his job, he didn’t belong in the service. Decker didn’t object as Kirk asked for a moment of his time, motioning toward a nearby corner. But he knew the clock was ticking and wanted to get this over with.

Once the transporter was working, he needed to oversee the final series of simulations on the warp-drive before he felt confident the engines would get the ship where it needed to go. The last set ended in disaster after a matter/antimatter imbalance hurtled the Enterprise into a wormhole and a nasty collision with an asteroid. Decker might not be James Kirk, but he wouldn’t be the idiot who made that mistake when the ship really went to warp speed. Locking eyes with the admiral, he said what was on his mind. “With all due respect, I hope this isn’t some kind of Starfleet pep talk. I’m really too busy.”

Kirk didn’t seem surprised by the remark and actually allowed himself a small smirk before he made his reply. What he said shocked Decker to his core. “I almost bumped you from command of this mission, Will.” Decker started to answer but was quickly silenced by a hand from Kirk as the admiral continued. “Almost,” he said. “But after a discussion with Admiral Nogura, I’ve realized that whatever goals or ambitions I may have for myself, they can’t include the Enterprise any longer.” Kirk paused as if searching for the right words. Decker knew of Kirk’s desire to get back into space. His assignment to a desk-job on Earth had been the last thing the admiral wanted after so many years as a shipmaster. And though he didn’t have the courage to say so aloud, Will thought it was a waste for Kirk to do anything but sit in the captain’s chair. He found himself suddenly overwhelmed with feelings of sympathy for his counterpart and thought to make the older man feel better.

“Admiral, I’m sure if you…” Kirk didn’t let him finish.

“This is your ship now, Mr. Decker.” He said. “It’s taken me a long time to come to grips with that reality. But I chose you as the new captain of this vessel because I see the same potential in you that Harry Morrow saw when you were his exec. And I see the same greatness that your father had, Will. Even if I’d never met him, I’d have no trouble figuring out that you’re Matt Decker’s son.”

Will opened his mouth to speak, but no words came. He was genuinely touched and knew whatever he said in response wouldn’t measure up. He again met Kirk’s gaze to find the admiral staring at him, his expression betraying the slightest hint of concern. “Thank you,” he said finally.

Kirk pressed forward, “I came aboard to wish you well and to make you aware of few changes in your orders.” Off Decker’s puzzled look, he explained, “Starfleet’s concerned about the amount of time you’ll have to investigate the anomaly before it reaches Federation territory. Our best estimates place it only a few hours from Epsilon IX, the space station that monitored its encounter with the Klingons. I know the Enterprise isn’t quite ready, but I’m afraid you’ll have to make final adjustments to the ship en route. We’re moving your launch time up by eight hours.”

Decker frowned. Launching at 0500 hours meant scrapping the battle drills he’d planned for each watch. Transition time with the new equipment was already at a premium. An even faster launch meant some of the gamma-shift personnel would take their stations without having even trained on the consoles they were supposed to operate during the mission! But the captain knew there was nothing he could do about it. If Starfleet wanted the Enterprise ready to go, then he had no choice but to make it happen.

Kirk seemed to sense his unease. “It won’t be easy to have everything ready, but that’s why Admiral Nogura and I added so many of my former crew to your staff. Not all of them have trained on the new bridge. But most of them have put in for assignments on other vessels undergoing similar refits, so they’re familiar with at least some of the changes you’ve made here on the Enterprise. And I have every confidence they’ll do the job for you, Will. They always did more than that for me.” Kirk shuffled his feet, briefly looking downward before speaking again. “I’ve asked Commander Sonak to report aboard sooner, as well. I know you wanted him to finish his briefing at Headquarters, but I think things will go smoother if he’s able to help Mr. Scott work out your engine problems. Sonak’s young, but he’s fully-rated on the new design. He’ll prove invaluable to you, Will. Both on this mission, and for many missions to come. That is,” Kirk paused, “if you decide to keep him as your science officer.”

Decker laughed. “A Vulcan science officer?” he said. “It worked out okay for you, Jim.”

Kirk flashed a smile of his own, his countenance a mixture of amusement and what Decker thought was fond remembrance. His science officer was Mr. Spock, the first of his people to serve in Starfleet. Spock was also Kirk’s first-officer during the five-year mission and was regarded almost as highly as his captain. The Vulcan’s abrupt resignation more than two years prior had been a grievous blow to Starfleet. Decker felt a pang of regret that he wouldn’t have the benefit of Spock’s intellect. If there were ever a time the Federation needed his wisdom, it was now. Kirk put his hand on Decker’s shoulder. “You’ll do just fine out there,” he offered. “You don’t have the experience of some of our other commanders, but you know this ship. I’ve never seen anyone who poured more of his heart and soul into a vessel than you have, Mr. Decker. Everything this ship is- everything she’ll become- is because of you. Just promise me one thing.”

“Anything,” Decker said.

“When you bring the Enterprise home,” Kirk said, another grin playing at his features, “make sure she’s ready for my inspection.”

Decker found himself laughing again. The levity seemed out of place with the seriousness of the moment, but he was glad of the time he’d spent with Kirk. There was still a lot to do- and he now had less time in which to do it- before the Enterprise was ready. But Admiral Kirk’s blessing filled him with a renewed sense of hope about the ship’s mission. Whatever was waiting for them out there, Will had no doubt his crew would meet it with the same enthusiasm and dedication with which they’d done so under the man in front of him. The man who was now offering his hand in farewell. Will shook it.

“Good luck, Captain.”

Kirk turned to leave. Decker watched as the turbolift began its return ascent, taking the admiral back the way he came. Realizing he was still holding the diagnostic probe, Decker again searched for its toolbox but instead found himself staring at Scotty. The engineer’s earlier surprise was replaced by a look of contentment. Enterprise wasn’t Kirk’s ship anymore, but she was in the right person’s hands. Decker finally found the probe’s toolkit and the replaced tool inside it. He started to say something to Mike Cleary, the technician supervising the installation of the new sensor module, when the console the man was working at exploded in a shower of blue flame and sparks. An alert klaxon sounded throughout the engineering section. Decker and Scott were at Cleary’s side instantly, their eyes verifying the problem the engineer brought to their attention. “Red light on the transporter, Mr. Scott!” he was saying.

Before he realized he was in motion, Decker was running for the transporter room, Scotty close behind. The optimism of a moment ago was forgotten, replaced a by feeling of cold dread. Will was captain of the Enterprise, but he was an engineer by trade. And every engineer could tell horror stories about transporter accidents. As he narrowly avoided a collision with an Andorian crewman, Decker had a sinking feeling he was about to add to his collection. And that he would need a new science officer.
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"Many things seem clever to an imbecile." --Captain Thelin th'Valrass, USS Enterprise-- "The Chimes at Midnight"
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Old August 25 2013, 04:07 AM   #3
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Re: Myriad Universes: The Motion Picture Revisited

Chapter Two

“Captain’s Log. Stardate 7413.4. Commander’s Sonak’s death deprived us of a valuable officer and a good man. But I’ve always believed that everything happens for a reason. It’s fortunate for this ship that said reason was made clear so quickly. The unexpected but welcome arrival of Mr. Spock provided us with valuable time to complete repairs to the warp engines before using them to intercept the Intruder. We’re now at warp seven and will make contact with our target while still more than a day’s time from Earth.”

As he felt the power of the Enterprise’s warp engines pulsating through the deckplates beneath his feet, Captain Decker finally allowed himself to relax. Sonak’s death in the transporter accident would haunt him for a long time. The exact reason for the accident wasn’t known. But Scotty suspected that the faulty backup module had sent an erroneous green light to the transporter and allowed it to engage before being prompted by an operator. Because the system wasn’t properly assembled while it was in use, it attempted to rematerialize Commander Sonak with his internal organs outside of his body. The transporter’s built-in safety features should have prevented the error, but the disassembly of the system’s components had likely prevent the correct computer protocol from engaging when the transporter began to beam the Vulcan aboard. Subsequent crew members used the transporter to board the ship before its launch, so both Decker and Scott knew it was now functioning normally. But that would be of little comfort to Sonak’s family and friends. Vulcan or no, they would mourn his loss. As would his captain when the time was right.

Decker turned in the command chair to regard Sonak’s replacement. Whatever quirk of fate that took him also paved the way for his replacement. The Enterprise’s new science officer was the same as her old one: Commander Spock sat at his post and looked as though he’d never been away. The science station was the aft-most bridge console, its location different compared to the ship’s previous incarnation. Prior to the vessel’s refit, the science station was located on the bridge’s starboard side, directly to the right of the communication’s station. The communication’s console was itself now to Decker’s left on the ship’s port side. Lieutenant Commander Uhura sat there. Hikaru Sulu was the ship’s pilot and sat at Will’s front-left. His navigator counterpart for this mission was not Pavel Chekov- the tactical officer who filled in at science before Spock’s sudden appearance- but Marcella DiFalco, who was at the captain’s front-right. Christine Chapel stood just over Decker’s right shoulder. When the physician learned of Mr. Spock’s boarding, she made a beeline for the bridge, eager to greet an old friend- and former love-interest, as rumor had it. Decker thought he’d never be able to serve on the same ship as someone he’d loved. He didn’t pretend to understand how Chapel could be okay with it. Then again, it’s not as though she’d known about Spock’s arrival ahead of time.

Spock notified only Admiral Kirk of his coming. The admiral was more than happy to reactivate his commission and issue orders that he be listed as Decker’s science officer, orders Decker was more than happy to follow. Spock’s help wouldn’t guarantee success. Decker nonetheless couldn’t help but feel the chances of his crew’s returning from their mission in one piece had doubled just by the Vulcan’s presence. Two years studying the kolinahr may have made Spock more stiff than Kirk described him, but he was still one of the Federation’s most accomplished scientists. His intelligence and experience- and his admitted connection with the approaching entity- could only benefit the Enterprise and her crew. Leaning forward, Decker addressed his Vulcan crewmate. “Revised estimate of cloud visual contact, Mr. Spock?”

Spock regarded Decker with a cold but nonthreatening look. “Short-range sensor scans estimate visual contact with the Intruder in three-point-seven minutes, Captain.”

“Any idea what we’re in for when we intercept?”

“Unknown, Captain. I know only the impressions I’ve sensed since becoming aware of the Intruder while on Vulcan.”

“What sort of impressions, Spock?”

“A consciousness of significant power. Thought patterns of an exactingly perfect order, like nothing I’ve encountered before.”

Decker considered his words. “I can’t say I understand exactly what you’re describing, Commander,” he said. “But I would appreciate your sharing any thought patterns you’re sensing once we’re in range of the Intruder. This mission hinges on our finding common ground with an entity that’s nothing like us. Impressions aren’t much, but if they’re all we have to gone on…” Decker didn’t finish his thought.

Spock nodded. “I will do as you ask, Captain.” He turned back to his console, their brief discussion at an end.

Will swung his chair around to face the main viewer, the familiar pattern of high warp represented on the large screen. Looking slightly to his left, he addressed his helmsman. “Mr. Sulu, prepare to adjust our heading once we’ve reached our projected IP with the Intruder. Once we’re in visual range, we’ll follow in a parallel course and match its speed.” Leaning back, he tapped a button on the arm console to his right. “Captain Decker to all decks: assume general quarters. Red alert!”

The bridge instantly darkened as the normal lighting scheme was replaced by the red of alert status. Will was vaguely aware of several crew members racing on and off the turbolifts as the bridge adjusted to the state of maximum readiness. The bulk of his attention was riveted once again to the main viewer and the now-rapidly approaching cloud. The enormous mass glowed an intimidating dark blue against the black-and-white starscape that surrounded it. The sight was made all the more unsettling by the realization that as the Enterprise continued its approach, the starscape was being pushed aside to make room for the growing cloud, an expansion not halted in the least by the ship’s deceleration and assumption of Decker’s requested parallel heading. Suddenly aware of the command center’s lack of lighting, Decker called toward the engineering station. “Standard light, engineer.” To Sulu, he added, “Full magnification, Commander.” Sulu complied.

The remaining stars were swallowed up by the cloud. Decker’s eyes widened in surprise. He hadn’t expected it to be that big. His eyes snapped to Uhura. “Friendship messages, Uhura.”

“Transmitting friendship messages on all frequencies. No response.” Uhura was working furiously at her console, her face a mask of determination.

Chekov’s voice followed. “Captain,” he said. “All divisions confirm: status red.”

Spock’s voice was next. “Captain, we are being scanned.”

Decker paused. He’d been about to order a return scan of the cloud. But something at the edge of awareness warned him that doing so was a mistake. He didn’t know what that something was. But he was going to listen to it. He turned to Spock’s station, his voice low but clear. “Do not return scan, Mr. Spock. We don’t know how our actions might be interpreted.”

“Captain,” Chekov called, “I recommend going to battle stations.” Decker met the Russian’s stare. “We won’t take any provocative action, Mr. Chekov. But a defensive posture of screens and shields might be appropriate.” Chekov carried out the orders.

Decker again looked to Spock, whose face was uncharacteristically blank. “I sense puzzlement,” the Vulcan started. “We have been contacted. Why have we not responded?” Decker’s eyes darted to Uhura. She shook her head. He looked back to Spock and inquired about the cloud’s makeup: an unprecedented twelfth-power energy field. Will started to turn back toward the viewer when Spock again caught his attention. “Captain,” the science officer was saying, his voice betraying a certainty he may not have realized he felt, “I suspect there’s an object at the heart of that cloud.”

Will rose from his chair, circling behind it and wandering toward the navigator station where Chief DiFalco worked. Placing a hand on the back of her chair, he leaned toward her right ear, his voice firm but patient. “Chief, plot us a conic-section flight path to the cloud center. We’ll stay parallel to whatever’s inside it.”

Sulu turned from his console. “We’re going in, sir?” His voice betrayed his surprise.

Decker shrugged. “Under different circumstances, I might have opted for a more cautious approach. But we don’t know anything about this cloud, and it’s less than a day from its destination. Maybe I’m taking an unwarranted gamble, but given the choice between risking the ship and risking the safety of Earth, there really isn’t much of a choice there.”

“Aye, sir.” Sulu turned back to his console.

It was at that moment that the bridge’s alert klaxon began wailing to signal a new threat to the ship. On the viewscreen, the cloud seemed to light up in a way that reminded Decker of a Midwest summer evening’s storm. But the lightning was gone just as quickly as it began, replaced by an enormous sphere of energy. And the sphere was getting bigger. Around him, his crew was shouting. Uhura was repeating may-day hails to Starfleet command. Spock spun a narrative about the sphere representing an unknown form plasma energy propelled by an equally mysterious guidance system. Chekov was issuing instructions via com-link about shunting auxiliary power to the main deflector dish. Under different circumstances, Decker would have been proud of his crew’s ability to work together after so short a time. Today however, he sank back into the captain’s chair, his next orders carrying with them the full authority of his command. “Full power to shields and force-fields. All decks brace for impact!”

The sphere hit the Enterprise on the forward most section of the primary hull. A jolt traveled through the bridge that sent several officers tumbling out of their chairs. Will was glad he remembered to use his chair-arms to keep himself in place. He felt his body lurch forward and to the side. On the viewer, blue and green bolts of electricity arched across the display screen. The overhead lights flickered. Decker tapped a button on his chair’s right arm. “Engineering, what’s the status of our force-fields?”

Scotty’s reply didn’t comfort him. “The system’s overloading, Captain.” What followed was even worse.

Energy discharges were spewing forth from computer consoles all over the bridge. Decker leaped forward to yank DiFalco back from her console before one of the discharges struck her midsection. Sulu was out of his chair and gazing warily at the plasma energy that snaked around the helm’s manual control lever. But all three were more fortunate than Chekov, whose sudden shriek of agony was more than enough to draw their attention away from helm and navigation and toward the tactical alcove. Chekov was slumped over in his seat, his right arm showing evidence of severe burns. The familiar scent of ozone mixed with burned flesh filled the bridge. Decker was about to call for sickbay’s assistance when he heard Dr. Chapel’s voice behind him. “Medical team to the bridge on the double!” she shouted. The captain looked back at the viewer just in time to see the last discharges from the Intruder dissipate. Once they were gone, it seem almost as though they’d never been there at all. Decker again stabbed his chair-arm.

“Damage report, Mr. Scott.”

“Our shields cannot handle another attack.”
Decker thought he heard shouting in engineering, as well. Whatever was happening down there, Chapel and her staff would have their work cut out for them. If the ship lasted long enough. Decker steepled his hands as he leaned forward in the center seat. His elbows rested on its arms. His eyes caught sight of Chekov being led away by the doctor and her assistants. His ears heard Spock’s voice behind him.

“Captain,” Spock began, “The cloud has made attempts to contact us. Its technology is so advanced that its message lasts only a millisecond. Our last communique was too primitive to be understood. I’m now programming our computer to transmit at their frequency and rate of speed. Perhaps this attempt will be more fruitful.” Will didn’t argue with the man’s logic. He couldn’t. So he merely nodded his head before turning back to the screen. He was just in time to see the birth of another plasma weapon, conceived of the same lightning storm as its predecessor. But the Enterprise was no longer a shelter, its defenses battered and bruised by the previous sphere’s onslaught. Knowing it was futile, he tapped his control arm.

Scotty’s voice. “Scott here, sir.”

“Can we give you any more power to work with, Mr. Scott?”

“Negative, Captain. Even at full emergency, we’d only have about ten seconds before our shield generators burned out completely.”


And then we’d be finished
, Decker thought. He whipped his chair to Spock. Rising, he shouted over the again-active alert klaxon. “Is your transmission ready, Commander?” When Spock didn’t reply, he looked to DiFalco. “How much time, Chief?”

“Fifteen seconds.”

He looked at Spock again. “Mr. Spock?”

“Ten seconds.”

Decker leaned forward, his hands resting on the outer support rail that surrounded the command module. “Spock? Where’s that transmission?”

Spock snapped from his reverie and pushed a button on his console. Uhura’s affirmative statement indicated a successful transmission. But would the Intruder recognize it for what it was? The answer came moments later. The enlarging plasma globe disappeared. Its accompanying lightning storm was gone, too. Decker turned back to Spock. “I’d say they got our message, Commander.”

“Most logical, Captain.”

“Opinion on our next move?”

Spock didn’t hesitate. “I recommend we proceed, Captain.”

Decker looked to Sulu. “Your thoughts, Hikaru?”

Sulu did hesitate but his response was the same. “I think you’re right, sir. We don’t know what that cloud’s capable of, but we also don’t know why it’s here. We’re running out of time. I think we have to take a look inside.”

Decker nodded, his mind made up. “Then we stick with the plan. Chief DiFalco, maintain course. We’ll stay parallel to anything inside. Steady as she goes, Mr. Sulu.” And Enterprise disappeared into the unknown.
__________________
"Many things seem clever to an imbecile." --Captain Thelin th'Valrass, USS Enterprise-- "The Chimes at Midnight"
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Old August 25 2013, 04:12 AM   #4
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Re: Myriad Universes: The Motion Picture Revisited

Chapter Three

Will tried to ignore the throbbing behind his left eye as he entered the previously-deserted living quarters on Enterprise’s fifth deck. Two security personnel were waiting for him, their phasers drawn. Spock followed close behind. Dr. Chapel was en route from sickbay. Decker stopped in front of the room’s sonic shower, one of the many new amenities available on the refitted vessel. His eyes were not on the shower itself but its occupant. As the door to the shower slid open and the occupant stepped out, Decker realized he knew the person standing in front of him. If she really was Nyota Uhura. The ship’s newest visitor was the spitting image of the recently-deceased communications specialist. Uhura disappeared following an invasion of the bridge by a probe from the alien vessel, an invasion Spock surmised was an attempt by the Intruder to learn more about the area of space through which it now traveled. The probe easily gained control of the Enterprise computer and took whatever information it wanted. The secrets to Earth defenses, Starfleet strengths, and the various classes and designs of all Federation starships were now in the possession of its most dangerous enemy. If the Intruder decided to attack Earth once it reached the planet, Decker realized there would be virtually no chance of stopping it.

But the captain refused to give into despair. Uhura was gone. But whatever the facsimile of the bridge officer now standing in front of him represented, it was possible it was a means to communicate and negotiate with whatever civilization the Intruder was part of. If the vessel inside which Enterprise was now trapped could be convinced that Earth and its people were not a threat, it might still be possible to save the planet from annihilation. But all of that- it seemed- hinged on what happened over the next few minutes in this comfortable but nondescript room. Will released the breath he hadn’t known he was holding as he waited for the new arrival to speak. “You are the Decker unit,” it said. “I’ve been programmed by V’Ger to observe and record the normal functions of the carbon-based units infesting USS Enterprise.”

Decker’s mind immediately flashed to his organic chemistry course, one of many required disciplines at Starfleet Academy. Carbon-based units were living beings. It didn’t make sense that the probe would see humans as an infestation of the Enterprise. The ship wouldn’t be able to function without them. But it at least explained part of the reason why the probe was aboard. As the leader of the carbon-based units, Decker knew it was up to him to make first-contact. “Who is V’Ger?” he asked.

“V’Ger is that which programmed me.”

Decker frowned. The probe was clearly a programmed mechanism of some sort. But knowing that V’Ger was responsible for its programming- something the probe had already said by way of introduction- wouldn’t provide any further insight into either its nature of that of its superiors. The clock was still ticking. The captain tried another approach. “Is V’Ger the name of the captain of the alien vessel?”

Chapel entered then, immediately bringing her tricorder to bear. “It’s definitely a programmed mechanism,” she said. “But I’ve never seen designs like this. Even the androids we found on Exo III weren’t this advanced?” She looked at Decker. “Captain, do you think we could perform a full exam in sickbay?”

Spock agreed. “A thorough examination of the probe might provide more details about who manufactured it and how we should deal with them.”

Decker nodded. “I agree. But let’s get a few other things straight before we get too deep into this.” He again faced the probe. “Where is Commander Uhura?”

“That unit no longer functions.” The probe’s gaze was cold, lifeless. Decker realized with a start just how unlike Uhura it was. Where Uhura’s expression had always been warm and inviting, the probe’s was barren, showing no feeling or emotion whatsoever. It might be a physical replica, but any similarities between it and the human it mimicked were but skin-deep. Decker wondered idly where its puppet-strings were. It was lifelike. But it wasn’t alive. Not by a longshot. The probe continued. “I’ve been given its form to more readily communicate with the carbon-based units infesting USS Enterprise.”

“Why does V’Ger travel to the third planet of our solar system? Why does he go to Earth?”

“To find the Creator.”

“Why does V’Ger want to find the Creator.”

“To join with him.”

“How?”

“V’Ger and the Creator will become one.”

“And who is the Creator?”

“The Creator is that which created V’Ger.”

Decker was growing impatient. “But who is V’Ger?” he said.

The probe didn’t notice. “V’Ger is that which seeks the Creator. I am ready to commence my observations.” Decker nodded to Chapel. She tried to take the probe by the hand, but it didn’t budge so much as a millimeter. Then it spoke again. “I am programmed to observe and record only the normal functions of the carbon-based units.”

“The examination in sickbay,” Chapel said, “is one of our normal functions. If you’ll come to with me…”

The probe followed to Chapel to sickbay for its exam, an endeavor that proved extremely enlightening. The Uhura mechanism featured micro-miniature hydraulics, sensors, molecule-sized multiprocessor chips, and dual osmotic micro-pumps. It duplicated even the most minute human body function- eye moisture included- to exact specifications. As he watched the exam from across the surgical suite, Decker couldn’t help but wonder if he was seeing the next steps in cybernetic research. Spock seemed equally impressed, though his impassive face betrayed none of his feelings. As the pair later left the sickbay and ventured back toward the bridge, he shared with Decker his theory that the probe might also contain the real Uhura’s memory patterns. Her feelings of friendship, loyalty, and obedience might be submerged beneath whatever program fueled the probe’s purpose and drove its examination of the Enterprise and her crew. With the Enterprise at station-keeping inside the alien vessel, Will assigned Commander Sulu the task of teaching V’Ger’s emissary about the Enterprise and the necessary role carbon units played in its everyday functions. It might not save Earth. But it was a starting point.

Decker and Spock stepped onto the bridge and found their respective posts. The former’s eyes swept the command center as he took the center seat. Sulu’s post was empty with the pilot giving Uhura’s replica a guided tour of the ship. The real Uhura’s post was being manned by Lieutenant M’Ress. Chekov was back at tactical, his arm good-as-new. DiFalco was at navigator. M’Ress swept her chair around to face the captain. “No change, Captain. Any efforts to transmit out of the cloud are immediately reflected back.”

Will grimaced. “So no contact with Starfleet?” The felinoid shook her head. Without a means of communicating with Earth, it was impossible to tell how much time remained before the cloud reached the planet’s orbit. The crew’s best estimates placed the ship roughly six hours from home. But the Enterprise’s position within the alien vessel meant an inability to gauge V’Ger’s course and speed. Even the smallest change could have drastic consequences where Earth’s safety was concerned. Decker fingered the control arm to his right and thumbed the interior communication switch. The change in its indicator light from red to green meant an open comm line. Mr. Scott was on the other end.

“Scott here, Captain.”


“Mr. Scott,” Decker began carefully, “If we’re unable to make any headway with V’Ger’s probe by the time we reach Earth orbit, I want you to be prepared to execute Starfleet Order 2005 on my command.”

“Aye, sir.”


Decker made a mental note to issue Scotty a commendation whatever the mission’s outcome. He’d made it possible for Enterprise to get underway on time even after Admiral Kirk modified the ship’s launch time, and he’d kept the ship together in spite of shaky warp engines and plasma weapons more powerful than anything on record. Scott had also served as de facto executive officer throughout the vessel’s refit, patiently walking and talking his commanding officer through every aspect of the new Constitution-class design. Scotty didn’t have Will’s aspirations for command, but he deserved recognition for his exemplary service and steadfast commitment to making the remodeled ship work. Enterprise soared among the stars. Montgomery Scott was in a class by himself. He’d get his commendation. And the Enterprise would get the shakedown cruise she deserved once Earth was safe. If it could be saved.

Will found himself wondering if there was another way to access the information with the Uhura probe. If the probe did have its template’s memories and feelings- albeit memories and feelings buried deep within a mechanical psyche of microchips and alpha capacitors- would Sulu’s gentle prodding be enough for them to surface. Uhura might be buried inside the machine, but she might not be able to dig herself out from under its alien programming long enough to provide the crew with enough meaningful information to complete their mission. But perhaps there was a way to reach her from the outside. Decker turned in his chair to the science station. “Mr. Spock,” he said, “how skilled are you at performing the Vulcan mind meld?”

Spock raised an eyebrow. “Why do you ask, Captain?”

Decker tilted his head as if in thought. “I wonder if we might try another way to reach Uhura’s memories. Whoever built that probe- V’Ger or otherwise- is a highly advanced being capable of science our best minds haven’t even conceived of yet. Expecting even a fragment of Uhura’s personality to wade through its circuitry and emerge long enough for us to form a meaningful connection with is asking a lot.”

Spock nodded. “I would agree with that supposition, Captain. Each of us served with Lieutenant Commander Uhura. Yet none of us knows precisely the correct trigger for her most vivid recollections of this ship and crew. However,” he mused, again raising an eyebrow, “a mind meld could provide a means of reaching the memories and emotions within the probe’s consciousness and drawing from them V’Ger’s origins and purpose. Armed with this information, we could then ascertain a means of helping V’Ger fulfill that purpose without endangering Earth’s population.”

“How realistic do you think this plan is, Commander?” Decker leaned forward in his chair, his eyes no doubt betraying the desperation he felt.

“It is as realistic as anything else in our universe, Captain. What we gain from it, however, depends entirely on our efforts to see its execution through.”

“Will you make the attempt, Mr. Spock? I won’t order you. I can’t ask a member of this crew to willingly endanger himself.” Not after we’ve already lost two people.

“I will volunteer for the exercise, Captain.”

Decker punched his control arm. “Sickbay. This is Chapel.”

“Mr. Spock and I need your assistance, Chris. But you should know that you’re probably not going to like what we have in mind.”

“What do you need from me, Captain?”


“Mr. Spock has offered to mind meld with the alien probe to help us learn more about V’Ger. We’ll need you to monitor the exercise.”

There was silence before Decker heard what he thought were stifled curses and the sound of glass shattering. “You’re right, Will. I don’t like it.”
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Old August 25 2013, 04:17 AM   #5
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Re: Myriad Universes: The Motion Picture Revisited

Chapter Four

Spock’s mind meld nearly killed the Vulcan after his own consciousness was almost swallowed up by the vast intelligence that was V’Ger. But his excursion into the probe’s mind proved even more helpful than either he or Captain Decker could have hoped or predicted. As Spock recovered in sickbay, he explained to Decker what he’d learned. V’Ger was more than just a highly advanced piece of technology. It was a living machine from a race of living machines, possessing knowledge and understanding that spanned the limits of the known universe. But it was also as cold and barren as Spock had been after the kolinahr. V’Ger believed that joining with its creator would enable it to grow and evolve what it had already learned. For as vast as the universe was, it was but one plain of existence. V’Ger hungered for something more than the existence it had known since its creation. But it possessed the maturity of a small child, a child incapable of articulating to its potential benefactors what it needed to fulfill itself. Decker didn’t have time to contemplate how to uncover that information as V’Ger had reached Earth orbit by the time the mind meld was finished.

A subsequent confrontation with V’Ger’s probe on the Enterprise bridge provided a few additional pieces to the Intruder puzzle. But the most important piece was still missing. What did V’Ger need to fulfill itself? How could it join with its Creator? The stakes were heightened by V’Ger’s decision both to deploy plasma weapons at equidistant positions around the planet and to deactivate Earth’s planetary defense network using the information gleaned from the Enterprise’s databanks. It intended to rouse its Creator by holding Earth hostage. In a self-described uncharacteristic move, Decker suggested that he knew why V’Ger was unable to join with its Creator. He hoped his bluff would buy enough time to thwart V’Ger’s attempts to attack Earth by helping the entity find its Creator. But as he, Spock, Sulu, Chapel, and the probe made their way into the alien vessel’s central complex- the area where V’Ger resided- he wondered if he was about to lose his race against time.

Spock stood at Decker’s side as the pair inspected what appeared to be an old-style NASA space probe. Decker hurriedly cleaned off the probe’s nameplate, astonished to discover that its lettering spelled not V’Ger but Voyager 6, a satellite launched more than three hundred years earlier.
Decker glanced at Spock, his mind remembering. “Voyager 6 disappeared into what our scientists used to call a black hole.”

Spock nodded in understanding. “It must have emerged on the far side of the galaxy and fallen into the machine planet’s gravitational field.”

“Where the inhabitants found it to be a kindred spirit, less advanced but still similar to them,” Chapel concluded. “So they built this entire vessel so that V’Ger could fulfill its programming. Which was?”

“Learn all that is learnable,” Decker finished. “Return that information it its creator.” Facing the probe, he stated, “Return that information to us. We are the Creator.”

The probe protested. “That is not logical. Only the Creator and other similar life-forms are true.”

“What does that mean?” Sulu wondered.

“If I’m right,” Chapel said, “V’Ger believes that its Creator is another machine, not a human.”

“But how do we prove otherwise?” Sulu asked.

Decker knew the answer. “We make it possible for V’Ger to complete its programing. The Voyager 6 probe has finally returned to Earth. And what would an old Earth satellite do to complete its mission but transmit its data to the Creator?”

Off Decker’s deduction, Spock spoke into his wrist communicator, asking for the NASA code ordering Voyager to make its transmission. Lieutenant M’Ress replied, “The code is 504-329-317.”

But Voyager’s transmitter did not respond. The probe’s circuit board overheated in a display of sparks that reminded Decker of the incident in engineering and the subsequent transporter accident the night before the Enterprise was launched. Will approached the satellite and pulled back the circuit board to reveal its frayed antennae leads. He cast a questioning look at both the Uhura probe and at Spock. “They were melted away just now, Captain. By V’Ger itself to prevent reception of the code.”

“To bring the Creator here. To touch the Creator,” Decker realized.

“But is that even a possibility?” Chapel asked, her bearing skeptical. “Can this machine actually join with a human being?”

Decker replied, “Let’s find out.”

But Spock was already moving. Decker moved to follow, only to find his path blocked by V’Ger’s messenger. The probe shoved him with such force that it sent him tumbling backward toward Chapel and Sulu. The captain tried to climb to his feet, but he was held back by his officers. He called to Spock. “You don’t have to sacrifice yourself! We can find another way!”

Spock met Decker’s gaze for the briefest of moments in a shared exchange that Will would remember for the rest of his life. In the Vulcan’s eyes was the need to grow beyond his own programming, beyond the limits imposed on him by Starfleet, by the Federation, and by his hybrid Vulcan-human existence. Spock entered the kolinahr to attain a state of perfect logic, an existence that V’Ger already knew. But what V’Ger lacked was the human quality to believe in the possibility of existence beyond the confines of the existing universe. Spock had never considered himself a man of spirituality, but he believed that such an existence was both realistic and attainable. And he intended to share this belief with his newfound companion. As his form began to disappear within a blinding blanket of energy, Spock spoke to Decker one last time. “Captain Decker, tell Admiral Kirk… tell Jim… I will always be his friend.” Raising his hand in the traditional Vulcan salute, he bade his comrades farewell. “Live long and prosper.”

And he was gone.
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Old August 25 2013, 04:20 AM   #6
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Re: Myriad Universes: The Motion Picture Revisited

Epilogue

The departure of Spock and V’Ger from the physical realm touched off a dazzling display that reminded Decker of another summer phenomenon: Fourth of July fireworks, a favorite memory from childhood. But as the captain of the Enterprise stood watching as his ship hovered just beyond the viewport of Starbase 12, his thoughts dwelled not on the past, but on the future. The successful completion of the V’Ger mission was followed immediately by three-week shakedown cruise. Enterprise’s journey took her along much of the path cut by V’Ger during the entity’s original course to Earth. The sojourn was not without excitement. The leg of the voyage passing near Klingon space meant not one but two skirmishes with angry battle cruisers out to prove their mettle against Starfleet’s new toy.

Decker’s familiarity with the vessel finally paid dividends as he suggested shunting power from the warp engines directly into the phaser array. The increased weapons power from the adjustment packed more than enough of a wallop to obliterate one of the Klingon cruisers while sending the other limping home. An unusually vigilant Chekov- once again splitting time between tactical and science- argued for pursuit of the ship before it could cross the Neutral Zone, but Decker held firm in his desire to avoid stepping on anyone’s toes while the Enterprise was still breaking itself in. “We’ll defend ourselves, Pavel. But we won’t antagonize. We’ve been shot at enough.” Chekov didn’t argue with that, the memory of his plasma burns still fresh. Decker turned away from viewport. He didn’t want to antagonize his growling stomach, either. With a late breakfast on his mind, he started for the door.

Admiral Kirk stood just in front of it. Decker snapped to attention, bringing his right hand up in a crisp military salute. “Sir!”

“At ease, Captain.” Kirk once again wore a serious but inviting expression. Decker couldn’t be sure, but he thought he saw a peace in the admiral’s eyes that hadn’t been there when they’d last spoken. Given the events of Enterprise’s mission, he hoped his mentor would grow to find his life in the admiralty as rewarding as life aboard a starship had been. Will realized with a start that he was growing, too. His crew had suffered losses during the V’Ger mission- Spock and Uhura among them- but the group that remained was proving to be up to the challenge of matching the example set by the previous Enterprise crew. Decker’s crew remained a work in progress. Permanent replacements for Spock, Uhura, and Sulu- who’d been offered a position aboard the USS Exeter- would need to be found before the Enterprise was ready to leave spacedock again when her two-week repair time was finished. But Decker would have his pick of several candidates for each posting. The Enterprise’s reputation preceded it. Every able-bodied officer in the fleet wanted to serve aboard refitted vessel. It was merely a question of who fit the culture Will wanted to build. Kirk’s Enterprise had been like a family, something not lost on Decker during the days and weeks spent among the ship’s former senior staff. He wanted to offer his crew- already the most diverse in Starfleet- something similar. The Enterprise existed to seek out new life, but its crew would learn as much from one another as they did from the life that waited for them among the stars. Decker wouldn’t settle for anything less.

But first he would talk with James Kirk. “It’s good to see you, sir. You’re looking well.”

Kirk smiled. “Dr. McCoy’s been getting on my case about too many late nights.” He patted his midsection. “And too many steak dinners.” His expression once more serious, he said, “But that’s a story for another time. I wanted to talk with you about your next assignment.” He hesitated. “And about possible crew replacements.”

Decker nodded. “I figured as much. Did you want to do this on the ship?”

Kirk shook his head. “I know you promised me an inspection. But we can do that later, too.” Gesturing for the younger man to sit beside him on a nearby couch, the admiral continued. “When you were on the USS Boston, you spent a lot of time in and around Romulan space. But what you may not have known about were some classified activities the Enterprise was involved in while she was still under my command.”

“What sort of activities, Admiral?”

“Starfleet Intelligence asked us to obtain a Romulan cloaking device. We did.” Kirk paused again, as if he were still deciding how best to approach the next part of his rhetoric. “Mr. Spock and I undertook the theft of the device ourselves. I actually made a pretty convincing Romulan in the process.” He grinned. “The mission to steal the device put us in contact with a highly-regarded but unpredictable Romulan commander. She and Mr. Spock were able to form a relationship, one that endured until… until Spock’s departure.” Kirk’s eyes were sad, just then. It was as if the full realization of his friend’s absence was finally hitting him. But then he continued. “A few days ago, this Romulan commander contacted Federation officials saying she wanted to defect. And that’s where you come in, Will. Starfleet is asking you to be her extraction team.”

“Me?”

“And the crew of the Enterprise, of course. Once you’ve completed repairs and filled the open spots on your senior staff, you’ll head toward your old stomping grounds in the Romulan Neutral Zone.”

Decker smiled. Harry Morrow always told him that tangling with Romulans was like playing a game of chess. Every confrontation was rife with moves, counterparts, guile, and deceit. It was the perfect test for his new ship. Not that V’Ger had been a bad warm-up. He met Kirk’s gaze. “Tell me more about this Romulan commander.”

Kirk nodded, handing Decker a PADD. “Her name is…”
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Old August 25 2013, 06:47 AM   #7
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Re: Myriad Universes: The Motion Picture Revisited

That was pretty cool, but you're missing about twelve chapers between Three and Four where they sail endlessly through the V'Ger cloud. ;-)
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Old August 26 2013, 07:31 AM   #8
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Re: Myriad Universes: The Motion Picture Revisited

Interesting. I quite enjoyed that. Poor Spock and Uhura...

Anyways, do you plan on doing any more like that?
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Old August 26 2013, 09:56 PM   #9
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Re: Myriad Universes: The Motion Picture Revisited

admiralelm11 wrote: View Post
Interesting. I quite enjoyed that. Poor Spock and Uhura...
Thanks! Don't count Spock out. He has the same ability of cheating death that his best friend did. Uhura's a different story in this universe, but her sacrifice helped saved the planet Earth. Not a bad way to go.

admiralelm11 wrote:
Anyways, do you plan on doing any more like that?
More with Captain Decker's Enterprise or more AU stories? If its the former, I have some ideas I've been throwing around. I actually started writing a story about Decker tangling with Romulans but didn't like it and decided to scrap it. There's definitely a lot of potential for the character. He's supposedly the prototype for Riker, but my research into what his character would have been in the ill-fated Phase II series has left me with the impression that he's a much more spiritual man than his TNG counterpart.

And as the post-TMP time period is an almost blank canvas compared to the original five-year mission, there's plenty of room to try out new ideas for Enterprise missions with Decker as captain and Kirk playing the father-figure role from Starfleet Headquarters. The ship's crew will look different in this timeline (Spock, Uhura, and Sulu gone), but that's not necessarily a bad thing. There are many interesting characters from which to choose to fill the remaining spots on Decker's senior staff.

Thanks for reading!

--Sran
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Old August 27 2013, 01:27 AM   #10
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Re: Myriad Universes: The Motion Picture Revisited

I like how it cuts off right before revealing the name of the Romulan Commander, who has had about six or seven different names in the novels.

(My favorite is 'Charvanek' from the Vulcan's... series. I hope you use that!)
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