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Old May 31 2012, 10:46 AM   #16
Duncan MacLeod
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Re: Starship Enterprise (Alternate Version) "Regeneration"

So Polly has a history with Soong, and not a very pleasant one it seems. This intrigues. I presume Spiner is still playing Soong or do you have someone else in mind?
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Old June 4 2012, 10:15 PM   #17
The Badger
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Re: Starship Enterprise (Alternate Version) "Regeneration"

UES Enterprise. Orbiting Herroton.

Captain's Log, 28th November 2151. Supplemental.
Despite the...incident at reception, the Denobulan party have agreed to remain on the Enterprise. Much of the credit for this must go to Dr. Soong himself, who has spoken to the Denobulans on our behalf. Not only does he not seem upset by the assault, he appears to be almost amused by it. I'm curious as to why, but don't want to press the matter at the moment. The situation is still potentially fragile, so Lieutenant Sato, Commander Tucker and myself will remain with the party to try and smooth things over.
To get answers, I've despatched Commander Hernandez to talk to the Professor.


When the Enterprise was modified for it's new role, extra storage space was considered to be more useful than a dedicated brig. The events of the first mission had proved that concept wrong, and a detention centre had been added during the recent repairs. This was the first time it had been used. There was an outer chamber, with a desk and a couple of chairs for visitors, and two small cells next to each other. The front wall of each was transparent aluminium, allowing permanent observation of any prisoners, though the wall between them was solid steel, giving a modicum of privacy should the other cell be occupied. A couple of bunk beds, a lavatory and a sink were the only furnishings, all exposed surfaces rounded off or padded where possible to minimise risk of injury.

There was a female crew-member---not a marine, one of the ship's regular security staff---on duty as Hernandez entered. The XO dismissed her, telling her to wait in the nearby crew lounge until needed. She then took one of the chairs and placed it in front of the occupied cell. For one crazy mixed up moment she considered putting the chair the wrong way round and straddling it whilst conducting her interview, but common sense prevailed.

She tapped the button to activate the intercom. "So. How's your hand?"

Polly Partridge was sprawled decorously on the lower bunk, eyes closed. Her right hand was bandaged, hints of purple healing accelerant gel showing around the edges, her glove lying beside her. After a moment she spoke. "Sore."

And that seemed to be that. Hernandez settled down into the chair. Getting Partridge to talk was not usually a problem. Getting her to shut up was the trick most times. This would require a different approach. "Doctor Arik Soong. I've been racking my brains but it's no good. I'm sure I know the name from somewhere but I just can't place it. So where have I heard of him?"

After a protracted pause, Partridge spoke. "He's a geneticist. Noble prize winner. A brilliant mind. Quite, quite brilliant. His work on DNA resequencing is...beautiful. There's no other word for it. Moved me to tears."

"A brilliant mind, eh?" Hernandez asked laconically. "Guess that means he's almost as good as you."

"Better than me, much better." was the surprising reply. Partridge went on to add "Of course, it is his speciality. But speaking honestly, his is one of the few minds I can honestly look up to. Make a note in your diary Maria, I don't make that admission often."

"Hmm-mm. So what exactly is your speciality?"

"Omniscience. However, I've not answered your question. I've told you who he is, but not where you know the name from. Three years ago he made the headlines. He publicly questioned our current stance on the use of genetic engineering,suggesting that Augmented humans might well be beneficial to---"

"Whoah there!" Hernandez interrupted. "That was him? Damn, I thought he looked familiar, but had no idea! Yeah, yeah I remember now. He was arrested, wasn't he? They found he'd been doing experiments on live embryos or something."

"No!" Partridge said sharply, holding up a hand for emphasis. She winced, it'd been her injured hand. For the first time in the conversation she opened her eyes. "No, he hadn't. What he had been doing was running computer simulations, modelling the effects. But there was never any evidence that he'd been experimenting for real. However when you put scientific illiterates in charge of investigations, conclusions are leapt to. Yes, he was arrested, though no charges were ever brought. The damage had been done though. No university or research group would touch him after that. Too much bad publicity, especially if you include the death threats and fire bombings. There's a lot of people who are a bit touchy on this subject. I'd heard he'd left Earth, and gone to Vulcan. I had no idea he was here until we got the list of guests. That caught me be surprise, I can tell you."

Hernandez folded her arms. "Alright. That's where I know him from. But what about you? What's your connection to him?"

"Come now Maria, you know the answer to that." Partridge said, closing her eyes again.

Hernandez opened her mouth to insist that no, she didn't know the answer, then thought better and closed it again. The professor, she realised, was challenging her to work out the answer for herself. And she wouldn't do that unless all the appropriate facts were already available. A university tutor? A work colleague? A relative maybe? Hernandez shook her head. No, I don't know enough about her to conclusively say that for certain. They're obvious guesses, plausible, but with no evidence to support them. The only thing I do know is...

She slapped her forehead in irritation, the answer so obvious she was annoyed it had taken her so long. "Sunnova---! Damnit, he was in that photograph you showed me! The Institute. Of course."

The corners of Polly's mouth twitched upwards. "The Institute." she confirmed.

Hernandez sat back, mentally reviewing what the other woman had told her all those months ago. The Institute, a privately backed education scheme, taking the very brightest of Britain's children and giving them the best possible start in life. Education experts from around the world were hired to monitor the children's progress, developing tailor made curricula. Polly had been admitted at the age of four, and within two years had qualifications a school leaver would aspire to. That had been before the funding dried up, and Partridge had found herself transferred to what she referred to as an 'absolute dump of a school', in reality one of the most prestigious and renowned boarding schools in the country.

And Arik Soong had been one of the experts. When she'd seen the photo of Polly and her classmates, she'd found something familiar about one of the adult supervisors. Obviously she'd recalled enough of the Soong scandal to recognise his face, even if his identity had eluded her. "Well, I've had a few teachers I'd like to punch in the face."

"Ha! Quite the opposite, Maria. I loved the guy. Loved him to bits. He was...I'll not say like a father, 'cause that'd be disrespectful to my dad, but certainly like an uncle. That's what I called him. Uncle Arik. I've got a fair few uncles too, but none of them knew much about science, so he was the one I could talk to about that." She sighed. "And then, when it all fell apart...that was it, he was gone. Just a job for him. Just a job.
And then I learnt, a few years later, that although the Institute had shut down, somehow they'd found funding elsewhere. Not enough to keep the whole thing going, but several of my classmates were still getting the benefits. And Doctor Soong had hand picked them, and was practically running the show. He'd picked them Maria, and he hadn't picked me. Why not? Wasn't I good enough? Smart enough? I don't know, I just don't know. Those few times I've seen him since, I've asked him and not gotten a straight answer. All I do know is...I feel betrayed."

Hernandez nodded slowly. "That's understandable, I suppose. And did you hit him the last time you met?"

A chuckle "No, that's a new one for me. I've had sharp words before, but never anything like that. No. The last time we met...almost exactly four years ago. I think I was getting over it. Certainly felt less angry around him. And then...Look at me Maria. I'm gorgeous, sexy, talented, charismatic---"

"Immeasurably modest." Hernandez added wryly.

"That too. I've got a body a woman half my age would envy, an IQ so high they're having to rewrite the scale, six doctorates...six doctorates! I have six doctorates! No one has six doctorates! Except me, and that twentieth century quantum physicist who disappeared mysteriously. Pity about him, his string theory showed promise."

"Is there a point to this, or is it just time to feed the ego again?"

"The point, Commander, is that I differ from the ordinary to such a degree that I enter realms of sheer awesomeness impossible to describe using conventional language, and that can only be expressed through higher mathematics. Or possibly expressionistic dance. And that of course is wonderful and sublime and majestic, and it remains so right up until the moment a certain big gobbed idiot starts blathering on about how great it would be to start genetically modifying people again."

"Oh."

"Yeah. So of course the scientifically illiterate press start digging up all they can on him, and find out about the Institute, and wouldn't you know it, one of his old pupils is completely fantastic, so she must be modified herself. Never any proof, but the sort of person who believes such crap doesn't need proof. The absence of proof is all the proof they need. 'Why, that just shows there is a conspiracy working to cover it all up!' And so the rumours fly." She sounded bitter.

Hernandez had heard such tales about Polly herself. She'd acted to discourage the rumour-mongering, but had to admit she wasn't really sure what to believe herself. A short sighted tone deaf cowherd with a propensity to travel sickness didn't sound like one of the uber mensch, but factor in everything else and it suddenly became plausible. "It's not like it's ruined your career though, has it?"

"No, but it caused me a lot of hassle at the time. And I'm getting a bit fed up with having to defend myself from anyone with an agenda. Yeah, it's just a nuisance really, but it's one I would rather live without. And I guess I've had a lot of anger over that festering away, right up until the moment I saw him again. I'm ashamed to admit it, but punching him was a very satisfying experience. Right up until the moment the pain hit, anyway. Oh, how is he? Seems strange to say this now, but I do hope he wasn't hurt."

"Bit of a nose bleed for a while, but it's cleared up now. You did yourself more harm than him. If you are going to go round punching your old teachers, you ought to learn to do it properly."

"No chance of that." Polly said. "I liked a lot of my teachers. And the ones I didn't like, I killed off years ago."

There was a time when Hernandez would have frozen for a moment before realising it was a joke. Now she just shrugged. "Oh, that's alright then. C'mon, let's get a quick coffee, then the Captain wants you to publicly apologise to Doctor Soong." She stood, and tapped in the unlock code.

"That's fair enough." Partridge said, swinging her long legs off the bed. She stretched. "Damn, these mattresses are uncomfortable."

"It's a brig, not a luxury hotel."

"In that case, they're too comfortable. Hey, you know what this place needs?"

"I don't want to know. Seriously, I don't---"

"A rack. A big, wooden, medieval rack. There's not much room here but if we get rid of that desk---"

"Shut up. I know you're only saying this to annoy me, so just shut up. Don't forget your glove."

"Thanks. Oooh. How about an Iron Maiden? Plenty of room for one of those,"

"Polly, as executive officer I have certain powers. I could, for example, prohibit any footwear that does not have a permanently flat heel. Safety reasons."

A pause.

"I'll shut up."

Last edited by The Badger; June 5 2012 at 12:25 PM. Reason: Spelling
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Old June 5 2012, 10:47 AM   #18
Duncan MacLeod
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Re: Starship Enterprise (Alternate Version) "Regeneration"

Didn't see that coming. And as I think on it, I should have. Polly fan that I am and all.

Excellant chapter Badger.
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Old June 6 2012, 06:18 PM   #19
CeJay
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Re: Starship Enterprise (Alternate Version) "Regeneration"

OK, officially add me to the Polly fan club as well. The woman is a riot. And to think she has six doctorates. Six doctorates! Nobody has six doctorates.

But it was actually Hernandez, or rather her thoughts which made me laugh out loud in this chapter when she nearly channeled her inner Commander Riker:

The Badger wrote: View Post
For one crazy mixed up moment she considered putting the chair the wrong way round and straddling it whilst conducting her interview, but common sense prevailed.
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Old June 12 2012, 10:35 PM   #20
The Badger
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Re: Starship Enterprise (Alternate Version) "Regeneration"

^Glad you liked that bit, CeJay. I also considered having her put her foot on the helm console when giving out orders, but it'd probably have a different dynamic if an attractive woman did it.

Apologies for the delay in updating. I did have a night off in which I planned to get on with it, but then a colleague got sick and I had to fill in. I've got a bit of the next chapter done, but not as much as I like.
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Old June 15 2012, 11:53 AM   #21
The Badger
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Re: Starship Enterprise (Alternate Version) "Regeneration"

OK, just a quick bit for now.

UES Enterprise. Orbiting Herroton.
28th November 2151.

"Now if you would all follow me please...up these stairs. They're very steep, so please take care. I recommend you hold on to the railings with both hands." Despite his warning captain Archer used only one hand to steady himself. Porthos was tucked tightly under the other arm. The little dog had previously taken a tumble down the steps---fortunately a short distance, and he wasn't hurt---so Archer didn't want to take chances. He'd also instructed his officers to intersperse themselves at regular intervals amongst the guests, to help out if there was any trouble.

He emerged at his destination through a wide trap door, the huge, thick hatch held open by heavy duty pistons. It was located at one end of a short corridor. There was a door on either side, marked with the symbols for male and female lavatories. They were also labelled in a variety of languages. Denobulan was not one of them, but per his instructions Sato had added the appropriate words via sticky labels. At the opposite end of the corridor was a standard hatch, propped open. He put Porthos down and gestured to Trex, first up the stairs after him. "If you would care to go through, Governor."

He followed him through, trying to gauge the Governor's reaction. The room beyond was reactively long for the Enterprise, with quite a high ceiling. Rather than the customary straight lines and right angles, here the walls curved up and over, giving the room a lozenge shape. The walls were made of meter wide featureless plates, dark grey in hue, joined to each other by chromed struts. Directly to Archer's left there was a small food preparation area, it's surface covered with many trays carrying plates under plastic covers, to prevent them going cold. To the right was a bar with a variety of beverages. Several drinks had already been prepared. Half a dozen smartly dressed crewmen stood ready to act as waiters for the meal.

Towards the front of the room lay a raised area with several comfortable chairs and a small, old fashioned, optical telescope. The presence of the latter seemed incongruous, given the utter absence of any window or port hole.

A handful of tables, normally spread out around the room, had been pushed together to form one long table with enough room for all of the party. Archer cast an eye over it critically, ensuring that everything was in place. Denobulan cutlery was rather different from that used by humans, but the guys in the workshop had been able to run something up to his specifications. He'd given the first set manufactured a quick try out earlier, and it seemed to be as he remembered.

As Major Reed, bringing up the rear, came through the hatch, Archer nodded to Crewman Daniels at the bar, who started to hand out the drinks. "Ladies and gentlemen, I hope you've found the tour so far to be interesting---" there was a general murmur of assent "---and I also hope you've worked up an appetite. Chef has prepared a variety of courses for us. Some are delicacies from Earth, but he's also turned his hand to several Denobulan recipes. Granted we don't have access to the correct ingredients, but I'm rather intrigued to see exactly what he has come up with. And I can't think of a better place to partake than this, my favourite part of the Enterprise."

Some of the guests looked slightly bemused by that. There didn't seem to be anything of great interest here. Archer smiled, and waited for a moment, letting them wonder. When the time felt right he gestured to Crewman Jacobs, stood next to a control panel. Jacobs saluted, then touched the appropriate controls.

The lights dimmed, slowly as to not alarm anyone. Gradually, the grey wall plates began to fade from view. Soon they were utterly transparent. Were it not for the chrome struts, it almost seemed as if they stood unprotected upon the outer hull of the Enterprise, the long shaft of the primary hull jutting forward ahead of them, the toroidal ring of the secondary hull half filling the sky like a giant metal rainbow behind them. And to the left, as the ship was orientated, the globe of Herroton itself, inky black save for an illuminated crescent edge.

There were gasps and exclamations of joy and admiration from the guests, and even a smattering of applause, the sort made by people trying not to spill their drinks.

Archer waited until he had their attention again. "Ladies and gentlemen." He held his glass aloft. "To Denobula, and to Herroton colony!"

The drinking of toasts was a custom shared by the Denobulan people. Trex held up his own glass. "To Earth, and the UES Enterprise!"

They drank. The humans present had been given champagne. Archer knew from experience that Denobulans had no taste for sparkling beverages, as the bubbles irritated their sensitive nasal passages. He did however know of a suitable substitute.

"Ah, now this is rather pleasant." Commissioner Tovan said, rolling the remains of his drink round the bottom of the glass. "Brings a warmth to the bones. What is it?"

"Apple schnapps. I'm glad you enjoy it. We've got a little bit more, if you'd care for it." Following the Enterprise's first mission there had been a few changes of crew. One of those departing had left quite a stockpile of the drink on board, although thanks to administrative error this hadn't been discovered until after the second mission was under way. It was, he thought, the sort of thing Denobulans would appreciate, and was pleased to see he'd been right.

"I would indeed, thank you." Tovan gestured around them. "So. This room. Not standard for a Declaration class ship, am I right?"

"No," Archer said, beckoning Daniels to refill Tovan's glass, "the observation dome is unique to the Enterprise."

Tovan nodded slowly. "Now we seem to be located outside the main hull...and that flight of stairs looked like it was re-purposed from a loading tube..."

Archer cringed inwardly. Most of Tovan's questions so far had taken a decidedly martial direction, and he could anticipate what was coming next.

"...so I'd say that on other ships of this type, there'd be some sort of torpedo or missile launcher located here. Am I right? Given the width of the tube not your usual anti-ship weaponry, I'd say. Orbital bombardment weapons, perhaps?"

"That's right." Archer admitted reluctantly. "There's no need for them on our mission, so the mechanisms were replaced by improved sensors, and this lounge. You've seen our main science labs. They're located in what would be the missile bays. Ah! Malcolm! Now's your chance."

"Sir? a baffled Reed asked. He'd been talking to Sato when Archer suddenly singled him out.

"Governor Trex informs me that the Commissioner here is a veteran of the Denobulan-Antaran conflicts. Now I know you've studied the official histories, but didn't you want to ask a few questions from some one who was there?"

This was, in fact, a massive and rather desperate bluff on the Captain's part. He really couldn't face any more of Tovan's questioning, and getting him to talk shop with another soldier seemed the best way to distract him. He had no real idea if Reed had any interest in, or indeed knowledge of, that particular conflict, but it seemed a likely gamble.

Reed stood stock still for a moment, and Archer thought he'd miscalculated. Fortunately the marine seemed to snap into life. "Right. Yes, right. Right. Yes. I, ah, I've been meaning to...yes. Yes that's it. The standard Defence Force carbine. Did you find that the plasma dissipation past a hundred or so metres was a significant drawback?"

"Ah, you'd think so wouldn't you, you'd think so. As it happens though most of our engagements took place...."

As Tovan droned on, Archer took a step back and let out a soft sigh of relief. He offered a quick mouthed 'thank you' to Reed, who apparently was so caught up in the Commissioner's explanations he didn't notice it. Well, at least those two would be happy together, Archer thought. He realized Trex was watching him. The Governor smiled widely and lifted his glass in salute at his adroit deflection of Tovan's questioning. Archer raised his own glass back. He looked around, satisfied at the way everyone was mingling. It was what he'd hoped for.

"Captain?" said Sato, approaching. She kept her voice low and she sounded troubled.

"What's up Hoshi?"

She hesitated. "Sir, it's just that... I've looked at the place settings and...they've got me sat next to Dr Soong. I'd really rather not be near him, sir. My country was hit bad in the Eugenics War, and I'm very uncomfortable with supporters of Augmentation."

Lots of countries suffered in that conflict, but it wouldn't help to point that out. "Well, we originally planned to have the Professor sit there, but considering how the reception went, I thought it wise to move her away from him. Sorry Hoshi, I should have consulted with you first. Let's check with Trip and Malcolm, see if either of them will swap with you."

She sounded relieved "Thank you sir."

Archer nodded, and surreptitiously ran a finger under his collar. Despite what Hernandez might think, he also found dress uniform constricting. He just hid it better. As if summoned by his thoughts, the XO appeared at the entrance to the lounge. "Captain, sorry we're late. The Professor insisted on giving me her life story before agreeing to apologise."

"What absolute poppycock!" Partridge exclaimed, bursting into the room. "You held me captive until I divulged my secrets. We all know the deep envy you hold for me Maria, and your desire to absorb every scintilla of data about my magnificent and wondrous life borders upon the obsessional. Quite understandable really."

Perhaps in recollection of her earlier actions several of the guests had drawn back nervously at her entrance. They were not reassured when one finger flashed out to point, almost accusingly, at the man she had struck. "Doctor Arik Soong! Yeah, that whole punching you in the face business? Yeah, err, sorry about that. I was a bit...tense."

Doctor Soong wore a sticking plaster over the bridge of his nose. The skin around it was discoloured, and dried blood flecked at his nostrils. Despite this he grinned back at her. "No need to apologise Polly, I quite understand."

They started talking. To Archer's trained eye there still seemed to be a lot of 'tension' around Partridge. Whatever had worked her up clearly wasn't a simple matter. But for now at least the matter was in hand. The guests seemed to relax a little too, and the conversation resumed. They were still rather cautious though, as evidenced by the way they all looked round nervously when Partridge piped up. "Hoshi, I couldn't ask an enormous favour, could I? I notice you're sat next to Arik. Could I swap with you? We've got so much to catch up on!"

"Sure thing Polly!" said a happy sounding Hoshi.

"Splendid!"

Archer glanced at his watch, then over at Jacobs questioningly. The crewman spoke into the intercom, listened carefully to the answer, then gave Archer a confirming nod. The captain walked up to the head of the table and picked up a spoon, which he rang against his glass for attention. "Ladies and gentlemen. Our dinner is ready, so if you care to take your places, we can begin."
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Old June 17 2012, 03:36 AM   #22
Duncan MacLeod
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Re: Starship Enterprise (Alternate Version) "Regeneration"

She's going to hit him again, isn't she?
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Old June 17 2012, 12:49 PM   #23
CeJay
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Re: Starship Enterprise (Alternate Version) "Regeneration"

The man has some diplomatic chops, I give him that, the way he uses his tactical officer to deflect difficult questions. A tactic all in itself, no?

As for Polly and Soong. I'll be watching very closely.

Great stuff.
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Old June 28 2012, 09:05 PM   #24
The Badger
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Re: Starship Enterprise (Alternate Version) "Regeneration"

UES Enterprise. Orbiting Herroton.
28th November 2151.

"...and if Captain Archer hadn't figured it out when he did, well, I very much doubt I'd be here today." Polly Partridge said, waving a spoon full of apple pie and cream for emphasis. Her ability to tell stories rivalled her desire for attention, and the guests had been held spellbound. Although too much of a scientist to exaggerate or embellish, she was able to gauge her audience well, discussing in detail matters of interest whilst glossing over quickly the less exciting elements. She did have a tendency to dwell on what Archer thought of as irrelevancies, most notably precise descriptions of what she had been wearing at the time.

"By Kralon, a most harrowing ordeal!" exclaimed Commissioner Tovan gallantly. Next to him Hernandez rolled her eyes in mock exasperation. And on the other side, Archer noticed, the young councillor, Vrok, maintained a politely neutral expression. It was difficult to work out what she was thinking, like Hoshi Sato on poker night.

"Indeed, we must be grateful to the captain for his quick wittedness." Governor Trex said, finishing off his desert. "And, for providing us all with such a splendid meal!" There was a chorus of "Hear, hear!" from the human guests, whilst several Denobulans responded with "Egreeta!", literally 'seconded'.

"Thank you, it's been our pleasure." Archer said. "I'm glad the dishes we were able to offer have met with your satisfaction. I had hoped to finish with a guman fruit pie, but even Chef, genius as he is, was unable to accurately reproduce it's taste with the ingredients available, based solely on my memory of the flavour. A pity, as I rather enjoy it myself."

Vrok grinned widely. "Then you're in luck Captain. The Governor has quite a large supply, grown in our hydroponic greenhouses. I'm sure he'll be able to provide you with some. In the interests of interplanetary relations, of course. Right, Governor?"

"Of course." Trex said through a brittle smile. "I'm sure we can find some."

Tovan cleared his throat noisily, still fixated on the earlier anecdote. "So, Professor. There's one aspect of your narrative I didn't quite understand. A phrase you used, an Earth expression I presume...hog-tied?"

"Ah, I'll explain later." Partridge said, finishing her pie, before adding mischievously "Or perhaps I'll demonstrate."

Not for the first time Archer wished his chief scientific advisor would show a little more decorum. He caught her eye and shook his head, mouthing 'behave!' at her. She just grinned. Still, at least she'd deflected Tovan's interest in the Enterprise's combat capabilities. You could give him a pad with the entire ship schematics right now and he probably wouldn't notice, the captain mused.

Archer signalled the waiting crew to remove the dessert bowls. They were serving the final course of cheese and biscuits when Crewman Daniels approached with a whispered message. Archer listened, then nodded.

"Governor Trex. Your Command Centre wish to speak with you. We can have the message piped through to here, if you like, or if you prefer privacy the communications suite is at your disposal."

"Thank you, I'll take it here."

As Daniels showed Trex to the intercom, Archer helped himself to a large chunk of cheddar, cutting a slice off for Porthos. The little dog, who had sat patiently by his chair, caught the piece in mid air, gulping it down in one go.

"That didn't even touch the sides, did it?" Archer asked rhetorically, cutting off a larger piece.

Reed took a sip of wine. "So, tell me Doctor Soong. Why does an archaeological expedition need a geneticist?"

"Good question." Soong replied. "Early investigations found traces of DNA at the site. Possibly belonging to whoever built the complex. It's hoped we can use this to learn about them, maybe even figure out what they looked like."

"Any luck so far?"

"Not really, the DNA traces are unbelievably corrupted. Ancient. I can't even be sure the builders were from this planet. There's genetic similarities with some local species, but unless we can find more samples it will be impossible to make certain."

Tucker leant forward. "Who ever built it, we ain't talkin' 'bout diggin' away with stone axes, right? From what I hear, it's a pretty major construction, right?"

Doctor Smith, head of the group, answered. "Oh yes. From our studies of the the site, clearly they had burrowing and construction abilities equal, probably superior, to our own. Indeed, it's possible that, quite apart from the archaeological value, we may learn new construction techniques."

"Something our financial backers would be rather pleased with." Soong added. A few of his colleagues chuckled at that.

"So are there any other structures on this planet?" Tucker asked. "Cities, roads, other sites like this one?"

"Possibly." Smith replied, taking a sip of wine. "Hmm, this is rather good. What you have to remember, Commander, is this site is old. Very old. On our world, the oldest known site is Gobekli Tepe, in Turkey. That's about eleven thousand years old. As far as we can tell, this site dates from at least two hundred thousand years ago. Possibly more. That's about the time humanity, in it's current form, first evolved."

Tucker let out a low whistle of surprise. He hadn't imagined the site dated back anywhere near that far.

Smith continued. "Furthermore, this world is...damaged. There's evidence of a great environmental crisis sometime in the past. Something, we can only speculate as to what, caused mass extinctions. If the builders were native to this world, they certainly perished, along with more than half the species on the planet, practically over night. If there were cities and roads here, they've long since eroded from sight."

"Besides," Soong added, "there's never been a full topographical survey done. The funding didn't run to that!"

Archer said "Well, while we're here we can help with that. The Enterprise is outfitted for planetological surveys. It should be easy, right, Professor?"

Partridge nodded. "Absolutely. If there's anything left to find, I dare say we'll find it. Shouldn't take more than a day or two at the most. Pass the stilton."

Vrok snorted. "Forgive me, but I would have thought that the pride of Earth's fleet could do it quicker than that."

Partridge went very still. "Oh, we could do it faster, much faster, a matter of hours. But that would involve pumping a great deal of concentrated ionising radiation directly into the atmosphere." She gestured through the domed ceiling to Herroton, though her eyes never left Vrok's. "You have such a...pretty little world, and it's already had one environmental catastrophe. It'd be such a shame for it to have another." Vrok looked away.

Opposite Hernandez, Sato mouthed meow! and made a clawing gesture. Hernandez wiped her mouth with a napkin to disguise her smile. Partridge could be annoying at times, but Hernandez found this Vrok insincere. She'd tried to ignore her feelings, perhaps that was just how female Denobulans behaved, but over dinner Hernandez had found herself hoping that the rest of the tour would include the Enterprise's gym, and that Vrok would show an interest in the boxing ring, and Hernandez would have the opportunity to demonstrate it's use...She shook herself, driving the image, pleasing though it was, away.

Trex returned to his seat, his face grim. Archer caught his mood. "Is there a problem, Governor?"

Rubbing his forehead wearily, Trex nodded. "Yes. There's been another power failure. The entire colony was affected. For nearly eight minutes. Eight minutes!"

"Was anyone hurt?" asked the Denobulan doctor, Phlox.

Trex snorted. "Some young idiot thought that, with the traffic control system down, he had a licence to drive how he liked. An inconvenient building put paid to that idea. Broken leg and a couple of fractures. Just himself mercifully. It's only a matter of time before something really bad happens."

"Governor, I'm sure your technical staff are more than capable," Archer said, "but if there's anything we can do to help, please, let us know."

"Thank you Captain." Trex said, seeming to relax slightly. "To be honest, even if it weren't for this latest incident, I had intended to ask for your help in this matter. These power losses are becoming more and more common."

"What sorta power plant you guys got?" Trip asked.

It was Tovan who answered. "It's a small fusion generator, more than adequate for our current needs. But the problem doesn't seem to be with the plant itself."

"Oh?"

"Our records indicate it's all been working normally. The problem seems to be with the power broadcast system."

"A wireless transmission system?" Tucker asked. "Yeah, they can be a bit tempremental. Mebbe some enviro'mental factor, messin' things up. What d'you say, Polly?"

"That's plausible." Partridge absently wrapped a blonde strand around her index finger. "As I recall, the high atmospheric particulate levels on the Alpha Colony played havoc with their attempts to install a broadcast system. In the end they just went with big cables for distribution."

"Yeah, thought I read something 'bout that. At any rate, Governor, me an' mah gang'll be happy to have a look see at your system."

"Thank you Commander. How soon can you send a team down?"

"One moment." Vrok said. "The Council has yet to vote as to whether to allow visiting privileges. No offence Captain, I'm sure they will vote in favour, and I myself am entirely in support, but surely the Governor would not wish to exceed his authority by ignoring due process."

Tovan muttered something under his breath. Even sat next to him, Hernandez couldn't make out the words, or even the language. She did recognise his tone of voice, and suspected that she would agree with whatever sentiment he offered.

"Surely..." Captain Archer started, then paused. Very deliberately he dabbed at the sides of his mouth with a napkin. The Professor wasn't the only one adept at getting attention. "...surely, though, this is a different matter? The Council has yet to vote on the matter of shore leave, it is true, but that is recreation. What we are discussing now is the crew of the Enterprise providing assistance to Herroton Colony. Now, if you are certain that these outages pose no threat, and that no one will be harmed by them...no one else that is, we've already heard of one injury...if you are certain that you are safe, then we will of course remain in orbit until your Council decree otherwise.
"On the other hand, if it is felt that there is a risk to the colonists, then perhaps we should move ahead with all due haste."

"A most valid point, Captain." Trex said. "Indeed, I think enough of the council are present for an emergency quorum. And now that we have reports of an injury, this certainly classifies as an emergency. Of those Council members present, who votes for allowing the Enterprise crew to investigate, and hopefully fix, the power supply problem?"

All Denobulans present raised their hands. Hernandez was interested to see that Vrok was very quick to respond.

"And does any one oppose?" Trex continued. No hands raised. "Then it is settled. On behalf of Herroton Colony I formally request your help in this matter Captain."

"We'll do what we can, Governor."

Vrok sounded pleased. "Oh, thank you Captain, I'm so glad to hear we can rely on your help. I hope you will forgive my apparent opposition earlier. I merely desired to see that all the formalities were properly observed."

Archer regarded her steadily. "Of course. Protocol is so important in matters such as this."

She smiled, demurely. "I'm glad you understand."

"Oh, I understand completely." he replied.

Turning to the Governor, Smith asked "Any news on Halliwell, or your guard?"

"I'm sorry Doctor," Trex replied, "nothing yet."

"Another problem?" Archer asked.

"Two of the dig team have been missing for a couple of days." Smith said. "One of the Denobulan guards, Velen, and Doctor Halliwell, our xeno-linguist. We've been---"

"Halliwell?" Sato interrupted. "Carl Halliwell?"

"Yes. You know of him?"

"Of course. He was a tutor of mine. And a friend. That was a long time ago, but still....And you say he's missing?"

Smith paused, marshalling his thoughts. "Two days ago he signed into the dig site, several hours before the rest of the team were scheduled to start. He preferred to work on his own when he could, said he could concentrate better without the rest of us distracting him. And he tended to rise early anyhow."

"Yes," Sato said softly, remembering, "he always did say that dawn was the best part of the day."

"Yes. Anyway, when we arrived at the site, we found Velen was not at his post. But his distress beacon was still in the charging port. As a rule anyone who leaves the main chamber must take a beacon with them. The place is a maze down there, very difficult to navigate. The beacons are a wise safety precaution." Smith explained.
"Of course, it's possible that Velen left the main chamber for some reason, and simply forgot to take his with him. Doctor Halliwell, however, had taken his. We were able to trace it to section four, chamber D. Hardly surprising, that's where he had been working recently. We got there, and found his briefcase, with the beacon and his mapper inside. Of the Doctor himself, not a sign.
We've been searching systematically since then, but so far, nothing."

"But what was he doing here?" Hoshi demanded. "Last I heard he was on Vulcan!"

"Ah, I'm afraid that's my fault." Soong said hesitantly. "When I was recruited, they mentioned that whey had found ancient writings at the site. I'd got to know Carl quite well, there weren't that many humans on Vulcan, and thought he'd be interested. I think he was enjoying his work, but found the gravity and heat oppressive, So he agreed to come here for a couple of years."

Sato said nothing, but Archer noticed she gripped her cutlery so tightly her knuckles went white.

Reed said "Well, if you need more bodies on the ground, me and my people have some experience in searching."

Vrok spoke quickly. "Governor, again I hate to point this out, but allowing military personnel to conduct operations on our territory is another matter entirely. While I can not overstate my concern for the missing personnel, our sovereign rights as a---"

She got no further, as Archer spoke, steel in his tone. "Governor Trex. Whilst I fully recognize the legal status of Herroton as a Denobulan colony, I must emphasize that one of the missing people is a citizen of Earth. As such, he is under the protection of the UEMA. I must insist, then, that you give your permission for Enterprise to carry out a search using all the means at our disposal." Come on, come on Trex, figure it out!

Trex looked puzzled, hesitant. Then understanding seemed to spread across his features. "Forgive me Captain, I have no wish to appear obstructionist...but surely insist is to strong a word? Legally speaking, we are entitled---"

Again Archer broke in. "Governor, I said 'insist', and that is what I meant. I intend to send troops to search for the missing persons, both missing persons. If you refuse permission, it could cause a lot of...unpleasantness."

"Unpleasantness?"

"Diplomatically speaking."

"Ah." Trex leant back in apparent submission. Turning his head so Vrok would not see, he offered Archer a wink. That gesture was not part of Denobulan culture, but he may well have learnt it from the humans. "Well, I suppose you're just looking out for you own. So, let's put it to the quorum."

Unsurprisingly, no one seemed all that willing to bring 'diplomatic unpleasantness' to Herroton. The vote was unanimous in support of sending down a search party.

And later, as the tour resumed with the shuttle bay, Tovan took Archer to one side.

"Well played, lad." the old soldier said with a smile. "Well played."
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Old June 30 2012, 10:10 AM   #25
CeJay
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Re: Starship Enterprise (Alternate Version) "Regeneration"

OK, now that the diplomatic hurdles have been crossed, it sounds as if we're about to get to the meat of the story, as it were. I've been burning to find out what's really going on on this colony this the very first chapter.
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Old July 1 2012, 12:12 PM   #26
The Badger
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Re: Starship Enterprise (Alternate Version) "Regeneration"

Ah yes, I do tend to spend a lot of time setting things up, before getting on with things!
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Old July 1 2012, 01:24 PM   #27
Duncan MacLeod
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Re: Starship Enterprise (Alternate Version) "Regeneration"

But we enjoy that. The journey is half the fun.
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Old July 10 2012, 06:07 PM   #28
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Re: Starship Enterprise (Alternate Version) "Regeneration"

Herroton Colony Landing Ground.
29th November, 2151.

The environmental conditions on Herroton were a known quantity, certified safe for humans. As such there was no need for atmospheric tests. The moment the pilot gave the all clear, Captain Archer stood and made his way to the aft of the Beowulf class landing craft, thumbing the button to swing open the wide double doors and lower the boarding ramp. Captain's privilege allowed him the honour of being first onto the surface of a new planet, if he so chose---and regulations allow, he thought wryly, glancing at one of the Marines, Corporal James, in passing---but on this occasion it was Porthos, straining on his leash, that made that one small step.

It was warm, the air still and heavy. There was a curiously salty aroma, rather like being at the beach, despite the colony's location far from the sea. There was also a distinct burnt smell, though that was most likely due to the Beowulf's landing thrusters catching the ground. A small, new colony like Herroton had only the most basic of landing facilities. There was a concrete runway for those vehicles that needed it, but VTOL craft like the Beowulf made do with patches of hard ground, reinforced with metal mesh, surrounded by blinking landing lights. A couple of hangers stood nearby, along with a control tower. A pair of emergency vehicles stood ready, along with a long bulky transport on large balloon tires. As he watched, the latter began to rumble in their direction.

Looking round, the landing port was located fairly near the middle of an open plain, some two dozen or so kilometres across. After so long in the cramped confines of Enterprise, he felt a slight disquiet at the wide openness surrounding him. It soon passed. A large collection of buildings, low and squat, made up the colony in the distance. At about half the distance, in roughly a straight line, a small cluster of structures marked the archaeological site. Above him the sky was blue, with a very slight hint of green. A few clouds scuttled slowly across. All in all, a pleasant day.

The transport halted nearby, before tuning on the spot, all four wheels moving independently. With a hiss, the vehicle lowered. A set of steps unfurled at the back, leading up to a hatch, which opened.

"Good morning Captain!" Commissioner Tovan said, descending. "Welcome to Herroton. Governor Trex sends his apologies, he's a bit caught up at the moment. Council business, you know how it is."

"Good morning Commissioner. Yes, I quite understand. The Governor must be very busy. Now, you remember my officers, I'm sure. Commander Tucker, Major Reed, and Lieutenant Sato."

Tovan greeted them in turn. "And I see you've brought a few of your crew with you."

Archer nodded. "Representatives of the engineering staff, to help with the power distribution problems. And Mr. Reed's Marines, to carry out the search for the missing personnel."

Craning his head to peer into the interior, Tovan asked "Anyone else? Your first officer....? Or perhaps...perhaps the charming Professor?" he added, trying not to sound too eager.

"No." Archer said simply, watching disappointment spread across Tovan's face."As we've not yet been given permission to bring down landing parties for purposes of shore leave, it would be inappropriate for any member of my crew to set foot on this world, apart from those involved in either the engineering team or the search team. Apart from myself and Hoshi, that is. We're here for diplomatic purposes. But apart from us, no one." And that, if Archer was any judge of personality, would guarantee Tovan would add his voice to those willing to allow shore leave.

There was another reason for Partridge's absence. Despite her comments at dinner the other evening, the planetological survey was taking longer than expected, a lot longer. She had no intention of visiting until she had some worthwhile results, certainly not if there was any chance of that Councillor Vrok finding out.

"Hmm. Very well. If you'd care to come with me, Captain." Trex said, climbing the steps.

Hoisting Porthos under one arm, his luggage under the other, Archer followed. The interior of the vehicle was reminiscent of the bus on which he'd gone to school as a child, rows of seats and wide windows. He went with Tovan to the front, sitting directly behind the driver. Once his crew were all onboard the hatch closed, the vehicle raised slightly, and they sped off in the direction of the city. The only sound was the faint hum of electric motors and the occasional rattle as the big wheels kicked pebbles and gravel up against the underside.

"I hope you don't mind the use of this transport." Trex said. "We do have a few flyers, but given the current problems the governor has put them all on emergency standby. In case someone gets hurt, needs rushing to hospital. That sort of thing."

"No problem. It's a very comfortable ride, and it gives us a chance to see the scenery. Being on a new planet is always an exciting experience."

Tovan half turned in his seat. "Major Reed. I've set up accommodation for you and your people at the dig. It's a bit basic, so if you'd prefer something better in town itself, just let me know and I'll see what I can arrange."

"Thank you Commissioner. I'm sure it will be suitable."

There was a mutter from one of the Marines. "Don't say that till we've seen the place, boss. It might be a dump."

"Then I'm sure it'd suit you down to the ground, Tipping."

Presently they arrived at the site. Several single story buildings with the look of offices and accommodation to them, and a larger storage facility. A bulky excavator vehicle was parked next to it. As they approached a feature of the landscape, previously obscured from view by the lay of the land, became visible. A huge, wide pit, deep into the ground. And as the transport skirted the rim...

"Good God." Archer breathed. From his vantage point he could see the pit's contents. A vast ziggurat, a stepped pyramid, filled the excavation. It was, as far as he could estimate, at least a hundred metres in height, constructed of blocks of some smooth, slightly purple stone. Floodlights on tall stands pointed into an oval shaped opening at the base. Despite the bright illumination they provided, the interior remained defiantly dark. A spiralling ramp had been carved into the edges of the pit, allowing access to the entrance. Somehow, Archer could not explain why, this place felt old. Ancient, inconceivably so. And yet, there were no signs of erosion or age. It could have been built yesterday.

"Impressive, isn't it?" Tovan remarked. "Doctor Smith assures me that less than a third of it has been uncovered. The actual entrance is more than two hundred metres further down. No one is sure what that hole is, maybe ventilation or something, but it's a convenient access point."

"That's more than twice the height of the Great Pyramid of Giza!" Hoshi exclaimed.

"Yeah. Sure is somethin'" Tucker added, a hint of disbelief in his drawl.

"And that's just the structure itself. For all it's size, Smith reckons it's nothing more than an entrance, a way into the tunnels beneath." Tovan said. "Ah, here we are. Accommodation for you and your people, Major."

The transport had drawn up next to one of the buildings, a prefab structure in dark green. As the vehicle lowered and the Marines disembarked, Archer asked. "Any chance of a quick look at the site while we're here?"

"Oh, I expect so. I'll have to clear it with Doctor Smith or one of...ah. She'll do." Tovan had spotted a Denobulan woman approaching the transport. He got out, signalling her over. Archer followed him down the steps, but turned instead into the low building. Inside the Marines were already making themselves at home. There were plenty of camp beds, more than were needed in fact, storage lockers, and cooking facilities.

"Mind your head, Captain!" Reed called out as he entered. "Sandstrom here's already clocked himself on one of the beams."

Sandstrom was a huge man with an incredibly thick neck. He was clean shaven, and shaved his head bald too, but with his unnaturally blue eyes and blond, almost white, eyebrows he looked like a stereotypical Viking. So much so that it was slightly confusing to look at him, the mind insisted in trying to portray him with flowing hair and beard, and their absence was like some weird optical illusion. He was seated on one of the beds, Dumont the medic seeing to a cut on his forehead. There was a very clear dent in one of the metal roof struts.

"Ooh, nasty." Archer said. "Are you OK, Sandstrom?"

"Yes sir. It's just my head, nothing important!"

"He never uses it anyway." said Corporal James. "Don't worry Captain, I've come up with a fool proof scheme to ensure this will never happen again. Look." She held out a piece of paper, about two centimetres square. Peering close Archer could just make out the words 'Take care' inscribed upon it. She licked the back of the paper then stretched up, for she was quite short, and pressed it against the strut. It adhered in place.

"I'm very sorry about this Corporal but I think you've put that upside down." Archer said.

"Not a problem sir, most of this lot can't read anyway." she replied. Without taking her eyes off Archer she reached out at serpent like speed to catch a pillow thrown at her from the other side of the room. "Thanks Tipping. An extra pillow would make my bed much more comfy. It's very kind of you to give me yours."

There was a moment's silence, broken my Tipping's muttered "You cow!", then a burst of activity as the assembled troopers snatched up pillows, blankets and mattresses from the extra beds. Those fastest were able to assure themselves a more comfortable night's sleep.

"I see you're all making yourselves at home." Tovan said, entering. He was accompanied by the woman he'd seen earlier. She wore simple coveralls, with a holstered side-arm. Her hair was greying and her face lined, but she carried herself with strength and vigour, a decidedly military bearing. Making an estimate of her age, Archer concluded she was probably too young to have served in the last major Denobulan-Antaran conflict, but could well have seen action in the minor skirmishes that had followed. "Captain Archer, Major Reed, this is Phlane, head of security for the dig."

Before Archer could respond, Reed barked "Attention!" The Marines responded instantly, and the Major himself offered a crisp salute to the newcomer. "Ma'am. Allow me to offer my sincerest thanks for allowing myself and my men to assist in the search for our missing personnel. I realize this must be very frustrating to you, having outsiders intrude onto your jurisdiction is never pleasant, but we both have the same goals here and work to the same ends. Rest assured your authority in this matter is recognised, and we will work fully with you."

The slight hint of anger present in Plane's features passed, replaced by a startled expression. "Ah, yes, well, ah...Major. Ah, thank you, and, ah, welcome to Herroton. I, ah, look forward to working with you. We'll give your people some time to settle in, and, ah, acclimatise, then we can get planning. I'll fill you in on what we've done so far, and you can bring me any suggestions for future tasks. All activities subject to my approval, of course."

"Of course." Reed agreed, glancing to Archer.

The Captain gave a faint nod of approval. During the shuttle wide down he'd discussed this matter with Reed. There would be someone in charge of security, he reasoned, someone in charge of the search so far. That person might not be happy with the Marines being suddenly included into proceedings. Yes, the addition of extra people would make things easier, but it could be interpreted as a lack of confidence that they were capable of doing the job, that the authorities thought it best if someone else take over. An insulting notion. So Archer suggested Reed make it very clear that he wasn't there to usurp anyone. It seemed to have worked.

"Right." Phlane adjusted her gun belt. "Captain, the Commissioner tells me you would like a look in the site itself. Well, I can take you to the First Chamber. Any further than that we'd need Doctor Smith's permission, and he's deep in the tunnels at the moment. Out of touch."

Reed frowned. "Don't you have communicators?"

She shook her head. "Don't work down there. No one's sure why, probably the mineral content in the walls. We have emergency locator beacons, but they just send out a signal. Powerful enough to detect at range, but too imprecise to carry a message. The beacons act as receivers too, if there's an emergency we can send out a signal to recall everyone down below, but as for talking to individuals, no chance."

"What about some form of intercom?" asked Corporal M'boto. He was one of the Marines tech specialists. "Surely you could just lay cables or something?"

"Yes, that was discussed. In fact, Dr Soong had the idea to use the cables for the lighting system to carry messages. It was never put into practice though, we'd need a prohibitively large amount of intercom sets to cover even a fraction of the area."

"Cables? I thought you had some sort of broadcast power distribution system?" Reed asked.

Tovan said "The colony does. But, like radio signals, it doesn't work in the tunnels. There is a generator installed in the main chamber itself, powering all the lighting and equipment. In fact, when the blackouts began, they laid extra lines up here. This building, and the others round here, are powered by that generator, not the one in the city.
"At any rate, the Governor will be expecting you for lunch. So if you want to take a brief look into the site, now's the time to do it."
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Old July 11 2012, 01:19 AM   #29
jerriecan
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Re: Starship Enterprise (Alternate Version) "Regeneration"

Badger -

I finally have managed to get caught up with Regeneration, and one again I'm finding myself breathless with anticipation for what's to come. You've thrown some very nice curves - love the introduction of Arik Soong - but where the story shines is the characterization. The Denobulans are complex, with motivations far outside the overt demands of the story, and the little things just add to their depth. Polly is wonderful as always, but it's good to see Archer in his element, confident and sure of his place. And the setup is perfect, gently pulling us into the main plot bit by bit with each installment.

I'm sorry it took me so long to get back to reading this story. I will try to keep up with each future installment.

Looking forward to reading what happens next!

Jerriecan
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Old July 11 2012, 05:22 PM   #30
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Re: Starship Enterprise (Alternate Version) "Regeneration"

Kudos to Archer and Reed by placating their hosts early on. The Earthers attitude clearly threw off the security chief who now doubt didn't expect that tone from their guests.

Now the question is if they can work together to solve this mystery.
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