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Old January 1 2009, 11:51 AM   #16
RobertScorpio
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Re: Sleeping at Warp

crohnie wrote: View Post
I really loved this story. Is there more?
I agree Crohnie..where is the rest?

Rob
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Old February 2 2009, 07:03 AM   #17
Triskelion
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Re: Sleeping at Warp

Wow, thanks guys. Actually I've got the novel mapped out, but this is the narrative so far. But you guys are encouraging me to keep going! I will. Be patient with me and more will appear. (I've been working on another fiction novel).
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Old November 10 2009, 03:16 PM   #18
Triskelion
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AUTHOR NOTES

Ok, a quick author note to the reader: Thanks first for all who continue to read my story. I hope it can be a satisfying read.

Sorry to be so long in posting new chapters. Some chapters are easier than others to write, and I promise you, the next ones were quite challenging for me. Difficult, actually. A year of procrastination difficult.

I've been working on this book more. I'm back up to several chapters per week on this. One per day is the ideal. I can only write one book at a time, and this is it for now. As some of you know I'm now a full time writer (yay), and once this book is finished I will be working on an original novel for publishing, a romantic comedy called Alien Love Child.

I'm going to add a chapter or two at a time. I want to say that since Sleeping at Warp will hopefully be a full length novel (around 90,000 words or 300+ pages), I reserve the right to make changes. Problem is, the forum doesn't let you make edits past a certain time.

So that means, in this thread, I'll post the chapters as I write them, listen to any feedback, and then when I'm through it all, I will post the full (revised?) novel somewhere in whole, perhaps as a free PDF download with a nice layout, which reads a lot more like a real book. So just keep in mind this thread is a working draft, a work in progress!

If you like it, subscribe to the thread so you can get alerts when I update it.

This book is just another Trek story, but it's important to me. So I hope you will like it. Feel free to comment or give feedback. Thank you one and all.

Sincerely
Frank (Triskelion)



The new working cover art:

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Old November 10 2009, 03:50 PM   #19
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Sleeping at Warp

8 The Inquiry Bell




Three crystalline bell chimes echoed throughout the Justice Assembly of the Starfleet Lunar Complex, New Piedmont, Sol III, Luna, and brought the crowd of officers, dignitaries, and investigators to stillness. Starfleet Command Vice Admiral Kathryn Janeway lay aside the mallet and called the Assembly to order.

To her left, Rear Admiral Leth Valxaen representing Federation Security; a resplendent Andorian officer sitting straight and still in militant demeanor. He was attended by the Legal Advisor to the Board of Inquiry, Judge Advocate Trelliq Pel of the Starfleet JAG Corps; an ageless, smooth-pated, statuesque Bolian, who was easily taller than most of the people in the room.

To Janeway’s right, the eminent Captain Jean Luc Picard of Starfleet's flagship U.S.S. Enterprise, gravely sizing up the Counsel to the Court, the stocky Zakdorn legal strategist Counselor Rima Toloruk, of the Federation Justice Office of Legal Counsel. Standing behind Captain Picard's right shoulder, in full dress uniform, Commander Deanna Troi silently watched, radiating an implacable tranquility that seemed to resound through the great chamber with the echoes of the bell.

To the right of Captain Picard, unofficially observing Federation Justice on behalf of the Office of the President of the United Federation of Planets, the gaunt, grave, gray Vulcan Emissary known throughout the quadrants as Kel’Akann sat like a timeworn outcropping of rock with an inner flame burning like a Vulcan sun. He was unattended, and clad in a simple sand-hued ceremonial robe with no dressing.

Across from the four empty seats of the Accused, the assembly of witnesses and attending dignitaries: Seven of Nine, Acting Chief Engineer of U.S.S. Perseus; Voyager’s Emergency Medical Hologram; and Dr. Tenan Yx of the Jupiter Station Holographic Design Laboratory. Also in attendance were Utopia Planitia Fleet Yard’s Tellerite Yardmaster Vuj Sorgas, Dr. Lewis Zimmerman, Commander Barul, the Maori-tattooed Captain Kerei Hanara of Mars Joint Security, and Starfleet Captain Kira Nerys of the Bajoran Militia; (who would be facing the crush of representatives from various member worlds waiting outside, including those from the Bajor Council of Ministers and the Bajoran Citizen’s Action Group, or BCAG - beyond the doors). In addition to these attendees, there was an assembly of Captains and officers, including a number from the Voyager crew.

So much for classified projects, Janeway thought. Perseus exploded figuratively across the quadrant, if not literally. Once the pods started landing on Mars, the cat was out of the bag, that this was no ordinary ship.

An advisory bench sat along the right divider; this table was attended by the Technical Advisory to the Board of Inquiry. It consisted of Captain Tuvok of the U.S.S. Perseus, Captain Chakotay of the U.S.S. Voyager, Dr. Leah Brahms of the Advanced Starship Design Bureau; Admiral Owen Paris representing Starfleet Command and Deep Space Systems (in an observing capacity only); and representing the newly-formed department of Automated Emergency Holography at the Jupiter Station Holographic Design Laboratory, a very stiff, and very pale, Commander Reginald Barclay.


“The Board of Inquiry now calls the accused.”


The computer read the roster:

In absentia: Torres, B’Elanna, Commander, Chief Engineer, U.S.S. Perseus.

“Grifahni, Jace, Chief Master-At-Arms Petty Officer First Class, Mars Joint Security at Utopia Planitia.

“Vexa, Sublieutenant, Operations, U.S.S. Perseus. Adjunct, Vulcan Science Directorate, Systems Engineering. Adjunct, Vulcan Science Directorate, Applied Theoretical Science. Technology Officer, Vulcan Diplomatic Corps.

“Paris, Thomas Eugene, Commander; Executive Officer, U.S.S. Perseus.”



Three of the accused filed in, stood, and took their seats. One seat remained empty.


The bell rang.


Vice Admiral Janeway tapped her padd for a moment, took her coffee cup, stood, and faced the assembly. “Computer, freeze program, and advance to the selected time-indexes.”

The computer chirped and the Justice Assembly froze in time. Kathryn walked to the end of the table, thought for a moment, and sat down. “If only it were really that easy,” she said around her drink.

That query is not recognized.

“Never mind. Reinitialize Janeway hologram and begin playback of the first index.”


TIME INDEX: 08:11:35
WITNESS: Vexa, SLT, Operations, USS Perseus NCV-901; Vulcan Science Directorate: ADJUNCT: SE, ATS; Vulcan Diplomatic Corps: TO
EXAMINER: Toloruk, Rima, UFP Justice OLC



“- hmm, ermm...now Sublieutenant Vexa, perhaps you can help us to understand, why would Commander Paris order you to shut down the warp core of the Perseus?”

“The Perseus was undergoing a security lockout, which could only be overridden by a reset of the computer core.”

“You are referring to the 'unforeseen' lockout, hum, of all the command authorizations.”

“Affirmative.”

“Could whoever have planted the actuator bomb have also rigged the security lockdown?”

“Negative.” She made no indication of emotional reaction; “That was entirely...me.”

“You instigated the security lockdown which prevented command access that might have made short work of that actuator problem?”

“Affirmative.”

Tsk tsk tsk tsk tsk. “And when did you shut down the actuator?”

“Four hundred twenty-seven milliseconds before the plasma could reach its destabilization threshold.”

“Don't you think that's cutting things rather close?”

“Actually, had power not been cut to certain areas of the ship, the core would have destabilized sooner – too soon to prevent.”

“You have quite an impressive background in science and engineering, Sublieutenant. Would you consider yourself an expert in technical systems?”

“Both Starfleet and the Vulcan Science Directorate have qualified me as a starship operations officer. I should think their assessments would supersede mine.”

“Certainly, yes, no doubt.... In your technical opinion what triggered the actuator in the first place?”

“The actuator was set to engage in the event of a warp core shutdown.”

“Hrm, yes... another particularly questionable occurrence; but we'll save that for later. How did you finally shut down the transporter microbeam before it overloaded the warp core plasma?”

“After I altered the diagnostic command process, the warp core plasma neutralized. Once that happened, the remote actuator simply self-destructed. Perhaps as a precaution in case it failed. Just as it did.”

“Have you ever seen that technology before?”

“Negative. I have only seen a theoretical schematic of the energy used. And of course, holographic simulations.”

“Yet you knew exactly how to reprogram it. How?”

“Logic.” She looked at the Zakdorn as if the question made no sense. “It is a machine.”

“Ah. Then you must know what it used as a power source?”

“The generator operated by a trellium fusion reaction.”

“Starfleet Security, the Judge Advocate General's office and the Federation Office of Legal Counsel wish to procure such a device for examination; but unfortunately they have not been able to locate one. Do you know how one may find this type of power source?”

“It is a type of proprietary military technology. There is only one known producer of this type of power.”

“Military? Pray, whose?”

She regarded him placidly. “The Cardassian Union.”


TIME INDEX: 10:25:21
WITNESS: Seven of Nine, Acting Chief Engineer, USS Perseus NCV-901
EXAMINER: Toloruk, Rima, UFP Justice OLC



“ - for now it appears that this was the extent of the sabotage.”

“And the state of the ship now?”

“Damage was extensive but confined to centralized locations - thanks in large part to the deactivation of power to secondary systems, as well as several deck outages, which prevented excess of flow buildup in critical junctions.”

“At the time of the lockout – you were attempting to infuse the ship's bioneural network with nanotechnology, were you not?

“Affirmative.”

“You were, in essence, attempting a complete takeover of ship systems with Borg nanoprobes, were you not?”

“Temporarily. Yes.”

“Hm. Hrrm. That is troubling, indeed. I must admit I hesitate to think of the threat we might be facing should your 'solution' have succeeded. But for now I've got no reason to keep you on that stand. Hm troubling indeed. I wonder how you feel knowing your Borg plan was thwarted.”

“The actuator device was activated prematurely by Sublieutenant Vexa’s error. It was more likely set to go off during the Perseus trial run – with hundreds of people on board and alone in space. As the actuator was not locked into the power systems, my plan would have failed to counter the transporter beam – and the nanoprobes would not have responded early enough to stop the threat. Instead they would have interfered with all counterprogramming to prevent the core from breaching.

Toloruk asked her, “Why did Commander Paris disregard your best course of action and take the matter into his own hands, despite your protest?”

Seven looked at Tom. “Commander Paris somehow, without knowing all the facts, intuited the wiser course of action. It is something I cannot explain. Had he followed my directive this inquiry would instead be a funeral ceremony.”

Last edited by Triskelion; November 10 2009 at 04:17 PM.
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Old November 10 2009, 04:13 PM   #20
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Re: Sleeping at Warp

9 The Inquiry Bell: An Immutable Theorem





TIME INDEX: 11:19:43
WITNESS: Barclay, Reginald Endicott III, CMDR, Jupiter Station Holographic Design Laboratory
EXAMINER: Toloruk, Rima, UFP Justice OLC


“- threat posed by ill-conceived, poorly functioning security countermeasures and the Vulcan Sublieutenant's incompetent interference -”

“Actually?” Commander Reginald Barclay held up his finger, interrupting Toloruk's stream of accusation. “A-A-Actually, Sublieutenant Vexa’s actions exposed a design flaw in the ship – a security lockout now named after her. A 'Vexa Paradox'. As a result all Fleet starships are being retrofitted with programming countermeasures against the Vexa Paradox, thanks to her. Her error - was actually quite a brilliant work of programming that may even have future tactical applications. Sorry. Sorry. Oh please! Continue.”




TIME INDEX: 13:13:04
WITNESS: Grifahni, Jace, CMAA, PO1, Mars Joint Security
EXAMINER: Toloruk, Rima, UFP Justice OLC




“- In fact, you acted with impunity and recklessly endangered the ship! How Starfleet ever allowed such a rogue element into service is a question that bears serious investigation –”

Captain Picard interrupted: “Look here.” He presented the Chief’s Japanese wakizashi, it’s grained, knotted magnolia scabbard gleaming across the board table. “This security officer not only singlehandedly penetrated ship’s security, he revealed yet another weakness in every ship of the fleet; and neutralized Starfleet's most advanced tactical warship with – a sword, Counselor. I would hardly call that reckless impunity.”

“Be that as it may, Captain Picard, there can be no denying where this officer went outside of the chain of command. And he didn’t learn how to penetrate starships with a sword from any Starfleet training I’m aware of. Which then begs the question -”

Counselor Troi quietly interrupted Picard. Picard nodded. “Counselor Toloruk, I think the Board will agree that the time for inquiry into Chief Grifahni’s background – whatever that may be - passed when he was accepted into Starfleet. I suggest we focus our attention on the events leading up to the near destruction of the Perseus.”

“Hm? Very well, Captain…Picard, very well. There will be no need to quote Admiral Satie, I’m fully aware of Starfleet’s official position on the matter. Chief Jace, what is your opinion of Sublieutenant Vexa?”

Admiral Valxaen broke in: “Counselor Toloruk, Starfleet protocol requires you to address an officer by rank or rating and family name. I’ll see that you get a review copy of the officer’s handbook.”

Toloruk bowed his head to the Rear Admiral. “Apologies, Admiral, Chief Grifahni. It was an oversight, I assure you. Chief Grifahni, what is your opinion of Sublieutenant Vexa? Chief?”

Chief Grifahni Jace sat in stony, alert silence, his concentration unbroken by the inquiry. His was a kind of silent dignity that persisted throughout the entire proceeding. Kathryn Janeway glanced over at Sublieutenant Vexa, who was locked into position like an immutable theorem. Subjecting these young officers to these kinds of consequences so early in their careers could do more damage than good – for them, and ultimately for Starfleet. But that’s part of the job, and they would have to learn it eventually. She wondered if the problems created by holographic crews could ever hope match the problems created by living crews.

Counselor Toloruk persisted. “Chief Grifahni? I asked you a question.” The Counselor pressed directly into his line of view. “Haven’t you anything to tell this Inquiry, Chief Grifahni?”

“Yes sir. I do have one thing to say.” Chief Grifahni Jace stood at attention. “String me up or drum me out of the Fleet if you want. My heritage has been a problem with my fellow officers from day one. But Vexa? It was her first day of active duty. She saved hundreds of lives, your prototype starship, a Fleet Yard full of ships, and an entire planet. She deserves a parade. You people give her a trial.” He turned to the entire assembly. “And you call this a civilization worth preserving. Worth people like her dying for.”

Janeway found his behavior appalling – but she couldn’t deny his character.




TIME INDEX: 14:02:47
WITNESS: Emergency Medical Hologram Mk I, MD, USS Voyager 74656
SPECIAL DISPENSATION: UFP Citizenship, Legal Honorary Statute 563284.4
EXAMINER: Toloruk, Rima, UFP Justice OLC



“- and can you tell us why Commander Torres is not with us today, Doctor?”

“She is currently undergoing treatment at Starfleet Medical Headquarters in San Francisco.”

“Has her condition improved?”

“I'm pleased to say, her neurochemical degradation has been stemmed, and both mother and daughter's conditions are quite stable.”

“So in your opinion, she'll be able to attend...any future...official proceedings, then?”

“Why don't we just wait and see, Counselor.”

“Sound advice, Doctor. Am I to understand that you initially treated Commander Torres at the Mars Orbital Medical Facility?”

“That's right. Under the supervision of Commander Barul's medical staff.”

“And were you able to make a medical determination as to her condition then?”

“Unfortunately, I wasn't.”

“Yes, I see. So in fact it was the staff at Starfleet Medical which then took over her treatment?”

“Yes.”

“And were they able to identify her condition, Doctor?”

The Doctor hesitated. “With the proper equipment - yes.”

“Equipment and superior medical capability in general, wouldn't you say, Doctor? Do you know what their assessment was, Doctor? Could you tell the Board?”

“As I'm sure the Board is already aware, Commander Torres is suffering from a form of neurogenetic mutation.”

“Specifically, Doctor? What is the full medical determination.”

“Neurogenesis attenuated by residual traces of tetryon particles in a proximal quantum excitation with radiation.”

“Could you put that into layman's terms, Doctor?”

“A sudden production of new neural cells resulted in an enzymatic mutation, causing her nervous system to malfunction. She is undergoing corrective treatment now.”

“Hrm, yes.” Counselor Toloruk read his padd. “Neurogenesis attenuated by residual traces of tetryon particles in a proximal quantum excitation with radiation. What kind of radiation, Doctor?”

The Doctor sank. “Trellium radiation.”



“In fact, could it be caused by any other form of radiation, or any other possible source, Doctor?”

“Not in this quadrant. No.” He looked at Tom heavy-heartedly. “ But that doesn't - ”

“Thank you, Doctor.”

“I'm not finished. You did ask for the full medical determination.”

“We don't -” the Counselor paused, registering the warning expression on Admiral Janeway's face. “Oh, very well.”

“As I was saying, that doesn't explain the same condition in Miral.”

“Well isn't it likely the daughter got it the same way the mother did Doctor?”

“It would. If Miral were the only engineer in kindergarten.”



Counselor to the Court Rima Toloruk clasped his hands behind his ample back and surveyed the Board. “And now with the permission of the distinguished members of this Board, I'd like to call the one who is responsible for everything that happened leading up to the near-total destruction of the USS Perseus.”

Tom Paris stood. “That'd be me, your Honors.”

But the assembly's attention was distracted from Tom Paris when someone at the Advisory table slowly rose and stood at attention: “The Commander’s logic is incomplete.”



TIME INDEX: 14:34:11
WITNESS: Tuvok, CAPT, USS Perseus NCV-901
EXAMINER: Toloruk, Rima, UFP Justice OLC



“Captain Tuvok, in light of the Perseus incident, recent events, and the obvious threats involved, as well as the overextending political ramifications – and in light of your untried Captaincy, what would you have Starfleet do with this, this...Perseus Project?” He said the name as if he had bitten into a lemon.

“My answer is simple, Counselor. I would have it continued to the fullest possible extent.” He eyed the Zakdorn strategist. “Fear is illogical.”



The Emissary Kel’Akann poured himself a slow glass of water, and took a single sip.



“With your indulgence, Sirs – and Ma'am, I wish to call, hrmm, a witness that I believe is vital to our contextual apprehension of the Perseus incident. Would Admiral Owen Paris please take the stand.”

Vice Admiral Janeway watched herself hold up a palm to the Counselor. “I'm afraid that wouldn't be germane, Counselor. Due to the extenuating circumstances of family relationship with one of the accused, the Admiral is present in an observing capacity only.”

“Yes, I'm fully aware of your...human protocols in these matters, Admiral; I only request the testimony of a flag officer for the members of this inquiry to put these events into a context in which they will be explained fully. The only other flag officers present, I'm afraid, are the Board itself.”

Janeway was unimpressed. “Two of the three voting members of this Board are already capable of putting these events into flag-officer level context, Counselor. The assembly is here at our forbearance. Unfortunately we wouldn't want to place any member of the inquiry in a position where they may feel they have contributed in some way to the potential general court martial of a family member. I'm sure you would understand.”

Toloruk shrugged in apology. Admiral Owen Paris stood. “Admiral. With the permission of the Board - I'll do it.” On his way to the stand he passed his son formally, neither regarding the other.



TIME INDEX: 15:49:56
WITNESS: Paris, Owen, ADM, Deep Space Systems, Starfleet Command
EXAMINER: Toloruk, Rima, UFP Justice OLC



“Admiral Paris, could you tell the Board what is the nature of the Federation presence in the Bajoran sector and the Demilitarized Zone since the end of the Dominion War?”

“I think it should be common knowledge that private Federation traffic and colonization has increased significantly.”

“Yes, obviously. But Federation Starfleet presence, in the forms of starships and patrols?”

“On balance? A marked decrease in fleet activity, as you might imagine, compared with the war; and the regularization of various duty ships: diplomatic ferrying, planetary surveys, search and rescue, Starfleet transports; and only occasional joint operations or patrols. The Bajorans and the administrations of the DMZ prefer to handle most of the traffic in their own backyard these days. Again – common knowledge.”

“Hmm, yes. Flexing their wings, as it were, in the reconstruction after the Dominion War. And how would you characterize the resultant influence of - the Maquis since that time? Would you describe it as a pressing threat?”

“While I have no intention of sharing secure information with this inquiry, I think it's safe to say no one in this room believes the Maquis are a pressing threat to Federation security at this time. No.”

“I see. Notwithstanding of course the act of terrorism that brought us all here, however? Admiral?”

“I'll withhold my judgment until after the inquiry, if it's all the same to you, Counselor.”

“Yes, of course, Admiral. Prudence is – usually - the best course? Ho hm, perhaps. Then would you say the Maquis have a growing stake in either the DMZ or Bajoran politics?”

“I'm no diplomat, but...I wouldn't think so.”

“Admiral Paris, how much do you know about the Bajoran Council of Ministers' recent attempts to reintegrate the Maquis under the auspices of their diplomacy, and in line with Federation jurisdiction?”

“I believe you are referring to the Reaffirmation of Allegiance Charter, are you not?”

“Soon to be promulgated by a probable majority vote in the newly-elected body of the Bajoran Council.”

“I would say, as an outsider, that those issues run deep on both sides. They're attempting to redefine their societies and peacefully integrate their respective citizenries – while at the same time adjusting to an increased Federation influx. Bound to experience some growing pains.”

“In point of fact, Admiral, the Reaffirmation of Allegiance Charter is already causing civic protests on several worlds in the Bajoran Sector; mostly as a platform for various group agendas, but certainly with promise of, as you call it, growing pains, or at worst, increased tensions and even potential unrest. Perhaps that explains the presence of the notable delegations from Bajor at this inquiry. As a result of various irregularities and 'incidents', shall we call them, the Bajoran Citizens Action Group is pressuring the Ministers of Ashalla to enact the Charter and compel the Maquis to reaffirm their civic regulation or risk possible sanctions. Understandably, the Maquis on other worlds are responding in kind to the Bajoran residency there.”

“Is there a question in there somewhere?”

“Undoubtedly, Admiral. Could you tell the Board and the members of this Assembly whether the Federation has an official position on this charter?”

“As of yet – there is no official UFP position. Nor is either side requesting Federation involvement.”

“And after the Charter is passed? How do you think the residents and colonists of Bajor Sector will respond to the Federation's uninvolvement?”

“Probably as vocally as they would if the Federation did get involved. Listen Sir, why don't you ask a Bajoran these questions? Or better yet, a Maquis?”

“It's more of a question of military context, Admiral, than sector politics. Just one more question, Admiral. In your understanding of military history, do those in power willingly surrender it in times of peace?”

Admiral Paris glanced in Captain Kira's direction. “Traditionally, no.”

“Hm. Hrrm. Thank you, Admiral.”

Last edited by Triskelion; November 10 2009 at 05:01 PM.
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Old November 11 2009, 01:45 PM   #21
Triskelion
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Re: Sleeping at Warp

10 The Inquiry Bell: Against the Grain


TIME INDEX: 18:03:09
WITNESS: Paris, Thomas Eugene, CMDR, XO, USS Perseus NCV-901
EXAMINER: Toloruk, Rima, UFP Justice OLC


Kathryn Janeway watched Commander Tom Paris take the stand – taking his place among the accused, in front of his father the Admiral, his captain, and two former captains – in a narrative of accusation it seemed he was destined to replay. But when Janeway saw them look at each other, the Commander and the Admiral, the father and the son, she saw no judgment in his father’s eyes; and no anger in Tom’s. There was only the circumstance – they were here as officers. For once, family didn’t seem to be in question. She wished B’Elanna was here to witness it. She would no doubt be proud of them both.

What Janeway couldn’t understand was Tom’s insistence on throwing himself in with the accused. It was his prerogative to exercise – but the Board of Inquiry had been satisfied with his statement, and requested his presence as a technical advisor alone. Of course, Kathryn knew Tuvok no doubt would have shouldered the very same responsibility – and self-sacrifice – but had obviously, mysteriously, declined to do so. She could only surmise that Tom had successfully averted Tuvok’s accountability of captaincy, and gesture of fealty to his crew. It was, after all, Tom’s wife standing for the accusations. An emotional reaction that Tuvok, perhaps illogically, but in an almost human wisdom, respected from his first officer.

She made a mental note of the limitations of the holographic record – and would never again see such reenactments as complete.

“Commander Paris. You were once a Maquis, before they drummed you out. Rear Admiral Valxaen here, we all know, is a hero of the Dominion War – a Fleet Commander of a Federation Task Force in Bajor Sector during that time; with only the humm, unfortunate loss of a few starships, he adequately defended the DMZ against many Jem’Hadar attacks – despite being undermined by diversion of military resources against the unpredictable Maquis threat. I myself had many live fire confrontations with the Maquis as an advisor on a Federation ship in the DMZ, when we were forced to protect Cardassian outposts from Maquis vigilantism. I think for some of us, however such things are long past.”

“No hard feelings?” Tom shifted his gaze from the Counselor to the inscrutable Rear Admiral, glanced away and shut up.

“So I want you to know that I don’t believe you had anything to do with any plot. The questions I have to ask you, then, aren’t designed to implicate you. I just wanted you to know that. And we are sensitive to your concern for your wife’s and daughter’s health at this time. We hope we can keep your involvement to a minimum to give you a chance to be with them as soon as possible.”

“Thank you?”

“Do you have anything to add to any of the testimony you have heard here today vis-à-vis the events or crew actions leading up to the incident?”

“Nothing, only to say that officers Vexa and Grifahni acted with commendable resourcefulness and courage in the face of certain destruction. I’m proud to have served with them – and to have seen them in action.”

“Commander Paris. You are married to the accused Commander B’Elanna Torres. She also serves under you on the Perseus. Correct?”

“Yes. We’ve served together many years, and I can tell -”

“She, among others brought together by Voyager’s unfortunate first mission that stranded you in the Delta Quadrant, had prior to that been a devoted and very active member of the Maquis. Correct?”

“In the past, -”

“Yes or no, please, Commander.”

“Prior to Captain – sorry, Admiral Janeway’s synthesizing us all into one crew -”

Yes or no.”

Tom quieted. “Yes.”

“In fact, on more than one occasion hadn’t Commander Torres, then Lieutenant, reprogrammed a Cardassian weapon of mass destruction called - ” he checked his padd – “Dreadnought? She was something of an expert on tinkering with highly sophisticated Cardassian military technology, was she not?”

“You read the report. She also happened to save a planet and two million lives from certain destruction from that weapon – and risked her own life doing so.”

“Yes, quite heroic, I’m sure. Considering it was she that had stolen the Dreadnought away from Cardassian hands, and reprogrammed its targeting to put another planet in harm's way in the first place. We only have one question for you. What, in your experience, was Commander Torres’ personal position on quantum slipstream technology, the Perseus, and, if any, its implications for – the Maquis?”

Commander Paris’s words caught in his throat, and he entreated the Board. “I thought – I thought I would be questioned as her commander. Not as her husband.”

Toloruk pressed: “If you're unwilling to divulge information that will aid in the determinations of this Board of Inquiry, Commander....”

“It doesn’t make sense. B’Elanna was on the vessel. With our daughter.”

“A question was put before you, Commander. I suggest you answer it.”

Commander Paris deflated. “If it’s not too late – I think I’d better talk to legal counsel before I say anything more.”

“It is a right you have already waived,” insisted Rima Toloruk. “And I doubt anyone here would be willing to advise you at this stage. I’m sure the Judge Advocate from Bolarus might be more than willing to reassure you for your testimony; however in her capacity as Legal Advisor to the Board, she is ethically prevented from doing so. Despite I’m sure, her own frustrations with the Cardassian threats on her homeworld. Cardassians, I’m told, wear coats made of Bolian leather. Quite unpleasant.” He ignored the cold, flaming gaze of the silent, well-conditioned JAG officer – and the flicker of disgust that crossed Admiral Valxaen’s hardened mien. “Perhaps Commander you are worried about implicating your wife? But Commander Paris, surely you must realize that if she is innocent, any evidence you give will only support that plea. If she is guilty, it will have been her own doing. You don’t deserve to be punished as well.”

Tom smiled. “It’s not about me, Counselor Toloruk,” he replied. “And I’m certain that B’Elanna – if she were here right now – would tell you anything you wanted to know about her opinion, to anyone shortsighted enough to ask for it. But if anything I said somehow contributed to her arrest – what would happen to her medical treatment then? Can you assure me it would continue? Can anyone?”

“I can.” Everyone turned to the Vulcan Emissary Kel’Akann, who stood and walked around the table to face the bench. “By your leave, Admirals, Captain. If the Commander so affirms, I would offer my services as Advocate at this time.”

The room erupted with murmuring.

The bell sounded.

“And I can assure Commander Paris that regardless of the outcome of this inquiry, I will personally see to it, in my capacity as advisor to the President of the United Federation of Planets, that the medical treatment of his wife and daughter will continue unabated in any capacity whatsoever.”

“This is highly irregular!” The Zakdorn Counselor shook his hands in the air and walked away. “The Emissary is a member of the Board! And not always the most -”

“A nonvoting member, I remind you,” Kel’Akann continued, “and one which is here unofficially, at the personal behest of the President. My presence here is entirely voluntary, I assure you. And you may now address me as ‘Advocate’.” Advocate Kel’Akann turned to Tom, and Janeway took a good look at his long narrow face, and drawn cheeks. His thick white hair was clipped short and drawn forward – against the grain, and perfectly controlled. Though his manner was slow and deliberate, in a mindful and constant state of concentration, there was something about Advocate Kel’Akann she couldn’t quite put her finger on. If she didn’t know better, she would say it was something almost…childlike. If she didn’t know better.

“Commander Paris, you may answer any of the questions the Inquiry puts to you. Or you may remain silent. The choice – not the burden of proof - is entirely yours. To paraphrase Surak, we shall 'let the chips fall where they may'.”

Tom Paris looked at Kel’Akann with a bemused lack of understanding. “Yes sir, no problem. And – thank you, Sir.”

“Logic requires no thanks. But all the same, you are welcome.” The entire assembly waited as Advocate Kel’Akann strode across the floor and took a new seat – provided for him at the table for the Accused.

Sublieutenant Vexa closed her mouth.

“Counselor? We’re waiting,” said the Admiral Janeway hologram.

“Hm? Yes. Yes. Commander Paris, to repeat the question,” he checked his padd, “What, in your experience, was Commander Torres’ personal position on quantum slipstream technology, the Perseus, and, if any, its implications for the Maquis?”

“She said that quantum drive could be bad for the Maquis, because it would eventually reduce the importance of the Bajoran Wormhole. That would lead to an even further reduced Federation presence in that sector and especially the Demilitarized Zone. She believed the Cardassian Union would hardly sit idly by in an economic morass while Federation-Bajoran ships run through the sector with quantum slipstream drives. Cardassia would watch that technology filter through the sector, and then reassert a stranglehold over its holdings in the DMZ until it had that technology for itself. It would create an opportunity that neither the besieged Cardassian Union, nor the Maquis could ignore. It would likely lead to – war.”

The assembly broke into a din of unrest.

The bell rang – to little avail.

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Old November 11 2009, 02:11 PM   #22
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Re: Sleeping at Warp

11 The Inquiry Bell: Tip of the Spear



TIME INDEX: 19:42:04
EXAMINER: Toloruk, Rima, UFP Justice OLC
SUMMATION



Thoughtfully rubbing his cheek pouches – a vestige of the heavy-gee Zakdorn homeworld – the stocky, intransigent, conspiracy-minded legal strategist Counselor Rima Toloruk of the Federation Justice Office of Legal Counsel addressed the Assembly.

“The Maquis fear the Federation’s development of quantum slipstream drive technology. It would in one fell swoop reduce the vitality of the Bajoran sector. As such, they used an inside agent to plant a Cardassian bomb to destroy the USS Perseus, in the hopes of either deterring Federation development of the technology, or in making it the tip of a spear in a new interstellar conflict; between the Maquis, the Cardassian Union, the Bajoran sector, and – the Federation.

“The Maquis no longer fight for freedom and independence from totalitarian oppression. They no longer act with righteousness. They are not the freedom fighters of yesterday. Now, they have become a bunch of self-serving, power-grabbing terrorists.

“But why B’Elanna Torres? The answer is very simple: she has strong ties throughout the Bajoran sector and the DMZ – after all, she is a former Maquis; her hatred of Cardassians is well-documented. If the Federation develops quantum drive technology, sectorwide support for Bajor, Deep Space Nine, and the Bajoran Wormhole diminish, as well as its status as a vital port between quadrants. With such loss of interest, it would only be a matter of time for Cardassia to start throwing their weight around the Demilitarized Zone – and how much longer for them to turn their eyes to Bajor? Or so may think the hate-filled former victim society, and sympathizers like Commander Torres and Chief Grifahni.

“Perhaps this is not entirely my own assessment, or yours, or the distinguished members of the Board’s - but it is a natural extension of Commander B’Elanna Torres’ view – Starfleet officer, former Maquis, and Cardassian Military Technology expert, currently suffering the ill-effects of exposure to trellium radiation.”

“For someone like her, the mere possibility of a return of Cardassian aggression is absolutely unacceptable – particularly if the Maquis were neutered as a force by the new Reaffirmation Charter with Bajor. With the Charter vote coming up, the Maquis would be under a time constraint to take dramatic action as quickly as possible – in the form of generating incidents between the Federation and the Cardassian Union. This would solidify their most compelling argument for autonomy – the belligerence of Cardassia. The Maquis would take action while they still could, and before the Cardassians even knew they were still at war. The Maquis would start a war they could win this time, in the cause of preventing a war they couldn’t win. This tactic, learned by Zakdorn schoolchildren, is known as ‘Shelling the Tents and Arming the Dead’.

“If the bomb device were truly Cardassian, it would not have been of Cardassian manufacture – for the chance of discovery would be too great. If it were truly Cardassian, the fusion actuator would have been of Bajoran design! Or perhaps even a Maquis device. Cardassians aren’t exactly known for their ability to strategize, as they’ve proven time and time again; but even they are not so stupid as to implicate themselves in a random, treaty-violating terror attack in the heart of the Federation, and trust in Federation investigative capabilities. Cardassians do not trust, even in their own judgment. As for motive? We have nothing.

“But take a look at what we do have:

“Commander B’Elanna Torres – a “former” Maquis, whose sympathy apparently never left the terrorist group, who had the means, motive and opportunity to plant the terror device – and the resultant effects of radiation exposure to establish her personal contact with the technology.

“Commander Tom Paris – a former Maquis, but a failed one, unfortunately involved only through loyalty to his wife. Yet another of his questionable decisions in a long line of them.

“Petty Officer Grifahni Jace – Whose father, the cryptic Grifahni Gage, despite the Board’s willful blindness, was a Maquis commando from the upper echelons of the Bajoran Resistance – and on Admiral Valxaen's most wanted list, if memory serves – and it does. In fact that Grifahni managed to ire the Bajoran Provisional Government with some revolutionary acts of his own, that fortunately failed. His son – an exemplary Starfleet security officer, according to his academy instructors and commanding officer Captain Hanara – turned down several postings on Starfleet tactical cruisers, to waste what could be an almost respectable career by working security at a shipyard? Does that make sense? Today – I'm afraid it does.

“And then there's Sublieutenant Vexa – A young high-flyer, even for a Vulcan, with no visible ties to the Maquis. However, there can be no denying that it was she who instigated the security lockdown which prevented command access that would make short work of that actuator problem. Yes, and she also saved the ship and the lives of hundreds of people, not to mention the surrounding vessels, and prevented radiation fallout that would have devastated Mars’ ecology. That is, if she didn’t already know how to disarm the device. Is she the hero she appears to be? Or is she an agent of an invidious conspiracy? We will be conducting a thorough investigation into her heretofore unblemished career; as well as a background investigation of this brilliant young woman – and her family and known associates present and past.

“It is the Maquis who stand to gain by the discovery of the Cardassian signature on the terror device – regardless of who actually set the bomb. The answer to a hesitant United Federation of Planets that doesn’t want to upset relations with a struggling Cardassia; to a preserved Bajoran power, the Alpha-Delta Wormhole – the Maquis come out as the clear leaders of the sector. If the Perseus were destroyed, the Maquis mission to preserve the vitality of the Bajoran Sector would be accomplished. If the ship were saved, the Cardassians would take the blame, thus rationalizing more Maquis preemptive aggression against the specter of Cardassian expansionism. Either way, the Maquis would cement their position as a political and military force with increasing influence – before peace neuters them completely.

“By implicating Cardassia, the Maquis could hope to shore up Federation presence in Bajoran space and the DMZ; to help the sector rebuild, by diverting its limited resources away from defense and onto domestic reconstruction - as the nullified Dominion threat has reduced Starfleet presence there. They would no doubt become the political saviors of the sector. They would also have a handy excuse to do what they do best: kill Cardassians.

“The Maquis as a sector power have diminished; bereft of their once-righteous force; and as history has taught, they who have tasted power do not surrender it in times of peace.

“With the growing tensions of the Reaffirmation of Allegiance Charter controversy at home, perhaps their motives are ultimately political; with designs on the DMZ, the Cardassian Union, Bajor, and perhaps even the United Federation of Planets itself. Now there’s a pleasant thought. For now? At the very least fear and the loss of military assets; and at most, the wholesale deaths of innocent people suffices to serve their interests.

“I strongly urge this Board of Inquiry to vote for the immediate General Courts Martial of these four officers as merely the beginning of a serious investigation into - a conspiracy for war.”
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Old November 11 2009, 02:24 PM   #23
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Re: Sleeping at Warp

12 The Inquiry Bell: Firestorm






TIME INDEX: 20:02:29
ADMIRALTY BOARD CONFERENCE:
Picard, Jean-Luc, CAPT USS Enterprise NCC-1701 E
Valxaen, Leth Korett, RADM, FEDSEC, Starfleet Command, FCMDR 3rd Fleet SEC-001
PRESIDING: Janeway, Kathryn, VADM Starfleet Command, SF Earth SEC-001
BOI Protocol 11T-4 MAJ VOTE/VOICE J-742
Ruling: SUSP/SUST CRM MISB/CONSP





From the far end of Admiralty Board table, Vice Admiral Janeway sipped her coffee and watched herself lower her voice to confer with the ranking officers during the short recess:

“Does the Board wish to call an extended recess to confer?”

Rear Admiral Valxaen shook his head and his antennae stood at attention: “I have already made a warranted decision.”

“Judge Advocate Pel, could we have your perspective?”

Trelliq Pel put aside her padd, its first downtime since the inquiry began, and stood at parade rest: “Admirals, Captain, I have already made something of a small investigation of my own on several fronts. Would you like the long answer Admiral? Or the short one?”

Janeway held up her palm in acquiescence: “The short one. For the moment.”

Trelliq Pel handed the Vice Admiral the padd. Janeway scanned the bullets. “Courts martial all around would prevent a lot of problems,” Pel said. “There is too much at stake, strong evidence, and frankly enough questions where any of these heretofore exemplary officers are concerned. Not doing so would only invite doom on us all at the hands of the Celestial Authority of the Office of Legal Counsel. Ma’am.”

“Bite your tongue, Judge Advocate Pel.” The Janeway hologram turned in her chair. “Captain Picard?”

Captain Picard took a breath to speak, and hesitated; he glanced around at Commander Troi, who nodded at him imperceptibly. Then he impassively turned to the Assembly and sat in severe concentration. “Let us proceed at your leisure, Admiral.”

“Very well.” Vice Admiral Janeway struck the inquiry bell three times.


After calling the accused by name and bidding them to stand and face the ruling of the Board of Inquiry, Vice Admiral Janeway began: “The Board of Inquiry will now take its vote. The majority vote will determine whether formal charges shall be Suspended, or Sustained for each of the Accused; if a Sustained vote is called, that officer will face immediate restriction pending a general court martial; and an Admiralty Board recommendation will be submitted for a formal criminal investigation of the accused. Captain Picard, what say you?”

The piercing gaze of the captain of the starship Enterprise fell on the Accused. “In light of their proven records, as well as the longtime assessments of these officers by their commanders and crewmates...I vote for Suspension of all charges and an end to their participation as the accused in this inquiry.”

“Is that based on a feeling, Captain Picard?” demanded Counselor Toloruk, eyeing Commander Troi.

“No it is not!” Picard bit. “It is based, Counselor, on the facts that the evidence is circumstantial, the threat too serious for wild goose chases, and the simple fact that these Starfleet officers are not terrorists.”

Janeway took back control: “Thank you gentlemen. The vote is a matter of record. Rear Admiral Valxaen, what say you?”

“Vexa, Sublieutenant. Grifahni Jace, Chief Master-At-Arms Petty Officer First Class. Paris, Thomas Eugene, Commander. Torres, B’Elanna, Commander. My vote stands for all parties of the Accused.” The Rear Admiral faced the standing officers. “Sustain formal charges in general courts martial.”

The Assembly broke into unrest.

Captain Picard surveyed the tenor of the assembly, and spoke to Janeway. “The casting vote, it would seem, is yours, Admiral.”



Never mind quantum slipstream - the Perseus hasn’t even left spacedock and has already created a firestorm across two quadrants, thought Kathryn Janeway.

Was there a terrorist plot, and a mole aboard the Perseus? If so, who? If it really was B'Elanna or Tom, it may as well have been any of the crew. But no matter her personal feelings in the matter, Starfleet Vice Admiral Janeway had a professional duty and an incalculable responsibility to the security of several sectors – as well as to Starfleet and the United Federation of Planets in its entirety. The conflict between personal feelings and duty had not only a constant career presence; it's weight, and toll on personal relationships, only increased with rank. Kathryn knew she would have to either trust her former crew, or she’d have to distrust everyone. It was a hell of a thing.

Starfleet Command would demand heads – but her leadership as President over this Board of Inquiry would not rule for the sake of head-rolling; not as long as she sat in the big chair. Kathryn asked herself: What exactly was the nature of this threat? Did it have a name? Was it an enemy power? Or worse – a friendly one?

The question not only regarded the possible courts martial of her former loyal crew; but whether to proceed with quantum slipstream technology at all, given the political volatility of the situation. Yet it drew to the heart of why she had entered Starfleet in the first place. Progress and exploration. Peace and security in the galaxy. Humanity among the stars – and more importantly, in the vast cold spaces between them.

As the agitated host of attendees hung on her next words, Starfleet Command Vice Admiral Kathryn Janeway looked at her former helmsman, and surveyed the Assembly. “This Board will recess until eight hundred tomorrow morning.”

The bell rang thricely.



TIME INDEX: 20:33:18
END OF SELECTED INDEX RECORD




Starfleet Command Vice Admiral Kathryn Janeway tapped Judge Advocate Pel’s padd against her hand thoughtfully, then tossed it to the table. As the assembly broke, she watched Tom Paris politely excuse himself from Advocate Kel'Akann in order to discuss something with the EMH. She wondered if the Counselor to the Court registered it; but Toloruk was busy seeing off his aide. He had done something that caught her attention. “Computer, freeze program.” She rose and made her way over to the Counselor’s table. He had written something on a padd, and handed it off to his aide. “Computer, reverse playback ten seconds. Now advance three seconds. Freeze program.”

She bent down to see the note he had just tapped out on the padd. It read: Fed involvement? And then, a single word: Janeway.

She tapped her communicator. “Janeway to Captain Picard.”

Have you made your decision, Admiral?

“I have.” She regarded the Counselor’s face, frozen in satisfaction – and looking directly at her. “And you’re not going to like it.”

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Old November 12 2009, 05:58 PM   #24
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Re: Sleeping at Warp



13 The Interstellar Coffee Delivery Service






USS Perseus First Officer's log, stardate 55867.92. Commander Thomas E. Paris, reporting.


Continue recording.

Astrometrics. Reporting ready.

Security. Still running level three diagnostics on EHS rapid-response situational feedback system decks seven through nine. All operations systems ready. Ship security sweeps on schedule, no conditions or codes.


Sickbay. Inventory of weekly exo-immunology antiviral upgrades delayed due to HQ departmental delay. Scheduled upgrade at 03:44 tomorrow morning. EMH evaluated, functional, and actually pleasant. Just in case.


Main Engineering: Acting Chief Engineer reports all systems ready. Ship's systems all reporting ready. Weapons, shields, impulse, gravity plating, life support, auxiliary and backup systems ready. Warp drive ready. Quantum drive ready. Chronophasic emitters standing by. TPS at 99.4 percent efficiency.


Transporter room four: Transtator assembly replacement complete, all systems ready. All transporter rooms reporting systems green.


“Salazar to Commander Paris. Sir, the emergency isofield containment lattices in cargo bay three were misaligned a few centimeters.”

“Is there currently any cargo in the bay, Ensign?”

“Negative, sir.”

“Schedule repair and report back to your duty station.”

“Aye sir. Salazar out.”


Tricore systems all green.

MVAM structural readings within parameters.

Secondary and Tertiary cruiser systems locked down.

Computer core fully operational.


The sound of applause. Christening ceremony must be starting.


“Ensign Rhinn to Commander Paris.”

“Go ahead, Christine.”

“I need your authorization for a power transfer to the secondary cruiser emergency grid theta-six for a maintenance sweep.”

“Granted. Run a level-three diagnostic on the auxiliary bypass system while you're at it. Confirm it with Lieutenant Meklan. Save him a trip down there.”

“Aye sir, Rhinn out.”


Admiral Janeway hadn't much cared for the way he stormed her office. But what else was he supposed to do? He walked a very fine line of insubordination – she hadn't ordered his court martial but he nearly gave her another reason to toss him into the brig.


Mess.

Rec.

Holodeck.

All green.

All stations manned. Damage control teams standing by. Emergency protocols standing by.


More applause, vociferous this time. Must be the champagne bottle breaking.


Armory.

Quartermaster stores.

Crew Quarters.

Ensign Hardison's laceration repaired, reported for duty.


A few scorched and melted bulkheads, exposed ballistic fragmentation. Structure sound as a pound, as they say. All damaged systems and conduits repaired. ODN circuits and relays green. Bioneural systems green. Backup inventory at maximum and double-checked.


Sublieutenant Vexa and Chief Grifahni had been exonerated as well. He personally invited the Chief aboard to witness the Perseus Trial firsthand. Grif had earned an observation from the bridge.


“Transporter room three to Commander Paris.”

“Go ahead.”

“Requesting permission to bring aboard detail ten, sir. ”

“Authorized. Is that the last of the work details Mendez?”

“Yes sir, they're beaming aboard now. Five crewmen, sir. That's the last of them. All crew accounted for and on board.”

“Good work, Lieutenant. Your double shift is officially over. Why don't you go join the party in the observatory.”

“Aye sir, thank you. When is your double shift over Sir?”

“Just in a couple more shifts, Lieutenant. Have one on me.”

“That I will, sir. And Tom? Congratulations.”

“Congratulations to you, too, Helena.”

“I'm sure they'll be back aboard before you know it.”

“Let's hope so.”


He had watched the last shuttle departing for Earth over the lunar cityscape, through the clear domed wall of Vice Admiral Janeway's temporary chambers in the Lunar Justice Complex. He had missed his transport window and was due back on duty in six hours. He'd thought he could do B'Elanna more good from this office, than at her bedside. Yet for all his appeals and efforts, he had accomplished nothing. B'Elanna would face a court martial – when she got back on her feet. The evidence against her was just too compelling for Janeway to be able to dismiss. The admiral's support was little consolation. And her ire had barely gotten through to him. He'd left just short of forfeiting his command. That would have done neither B'Elanna nor Miral any good either.


Shuttlebay secure. Star Flyer and shuttles inspected and authorized.


ESH systems green. Holoemitter grid at 100% effectiveness in both interior and exterior placements.


Docking reporting ready. All crews accounted for, moorings retracted, pod and shuttle traffic clear.


Nobody wandering around with samurai swords. No Borg nanoprobes. No Cardassian timebombs.


End log.



The turbolift door opened to the bridge and Commander Paris stepped through. “All decks and departments report ready, Captain.”


Captain Tuvok turned to his first officer, the bridge staff stood, and – applauded him. Even on the split screen – with Admiral Janeway, Captain Chakotay, and the bridge crew of Voyager on the left side, and on the right, Admiral Valxaen, Captain Picard, and Admiral Owen Paris, his beaming father, in front of the crowd at Space Station Janus; the Perseus crew crowding the space-efficient bridge: Lieutenant Commander Shuzor Bessek, Lieutenant Commander Yurel Tiroj, Doctor Corbin Salvatore, Lieutenant Nikhila Munich, Sublieutenant Vexa, Ensign Ujio Shir, Chief Grifahni Jace, and others – all applauding Tom Paris as he made his nonplussed way to the front of the bridge.


“Commander Thomas Eugene Paris,” Tuvok became serious. “Attention.”

Tom stood at attention.

“For acts of remarkable leadership, meritorious conduct and personal bravery, by order of Starfleet Command, it is my privilege to award you the Starfleet Christopher Pike Medal of Valor.”

A wave of emotions filled Tom, speechless. Captain Tuvok held up the bright medal by its ribbon and placed it over his head.

“We all owe you and your team a debt of gratitude for saving not only the lives of the crew, but also ship and surroundings. Your quick action has not only protected the lives of your crew and numerous other personnel, but has contributed immeasurably to the future of Starfleet and preserved the possibility for the future of quantum slipstream galactic travel. Starfleet and the United Federation of Planets owe you a deepest debt of gratitude.”

Tom looked around at the group surrounding him with admiration and honor. “Thank you, Sir.”

Tuvok continued. “Not only are you ranked with those few pioneers of warp travel, having earned your title of 'fastest man alive' – you are also now recognized for your heroism under duress with one of the highest commendations of Starfleet. If I were human, I would without a doubt envy you this honor. You may now stand at ease, Commander.”

Tom turned to the crew. “The congratulations go to the crew of the Perseus. I share this honor with each and every one of you. In particular I share it with Sublieutenant Vexa and Chief Master-At-Arms Grifahni Jace, without whom, some of us wouldn't be standing here today. Thank you. Thank you all. I...I'll try to live up to your honor. Thank you Admirals. Captain. Look at this, Dad!”

“I'm proud of you, son!” Admiral Paris' eyes glistened.

“And now, Commander Paris,” Tuvok continued, “to show my personal appreciation – would you do the honors of giving the command sequence to get us underway to Alpha Centauri.”

Tom wondered if he heard right. “- It'd be my pleasure, Captain Tuvok.”

“Just a minute, son.” Admiral Paris motioned to an aid. “I have something for you to deliver. Admiral Janeway, you take your coffee black, do you not?”

“Yes, Admiral.”

Admiral Paris set a Starfleet thermos on the podium. Suddenly it was beamed to a stand on the Perseus bridge.

“Ethiopian gebena-brewed Yirgacheffe. The galaxy's first interstellar coffee delivery service. Get it to her hot, young man.”

“Will do, Sir.” Tom turned to the crew. “Stations.” Captain Tuvok sat in the command chair, and Tom stood by his right side.

“Quantum vectors, Mr Shir.”


Ensign Ujio Shir activates the helm. “Impulse and warp engines are standing by, Sirs.


He reviews the bridge crew. Everything's running smoothly.


“Ahead full impulse. Activate chronophasic field emitters.”


He orders Starfleet's first quantum-drive equipped starship to set a course for slipstream velocity, and helps to usher in a new era for human and Federation space travel. A quantum leap in humanity's power over the stars.


“Confirm phase sequences.”


He'll go really fast this time, bearing one of Starfleet's highest honors.


“Full power to quantum drive.”


Just one quick jump to Alpha Centauri, four light years away, take some readings, one quick jump back, and he would have a few days' leave while the crew checked out the ship. To be, at long last, by her side.



“Quantum slipstream opening, sir. Matrix is stable. Deflector at maximum.”


An immense bluish-purple rent in space opens before them, a vortex of stunningly beautiful violence.


Sublieutenant Vexa speaks:
“Readings coming in from Alpha Centauri, Sir. Quantum slipstream exit point is localized and stabilized.” She turns to her commander. “It's exactly where it's supposed to be, Sir!”


The bridge crew applauds. Tom's heart is pounding.


Tom gets the nod from Captain Tuvok. He's as calm, collected, and in control as if in meditation.



“Quantum velocity, Mr Shir.”


Tom steps forward and looks to the horizon. “Let's see what this baby can do, Ujio.”


“Aye aye, sir!”

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Old November 12 2009, 06:05 PM   #25
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Re: Sleeping at Warp






14 The Wonky Vibe





The quantum boom shuddered through the USS Perseus, and shook the bones of the Chief Master-At-Arms.

While the crew stared rapt at the screen, Grif shifted his attention from the dazzling spectacle on the main viewer to the tactical station. Lieutenant Commander Bessek, the Ktarian Second Officer, had moved to the Ops station to check a reading with the Boslic Lieutenant Commander Tiroj. Grif took the moment to check out the Tac station on the right of the Master Systems Display.

As he expected, all systems were green and operating at optimal efficiency. He wondered if Perseus had had all her arms loaded in time for the trial run. He brought up the manifest; a moment later, when he still had access to the station, he somewhat casually brought up other lists of security and ship reports.

Scanning the scrolling files, one report caught his eye. He opened it.

He sent the data to the engineering station to the left of the MSD. Sublieutenant Vexa glanced at him over her shoulder. He closed his files.


“Sublieutenant, I have a small question.” Grif joined her side.

Vexa continued her scan of the chronotons returning quantum matrix data through the sensors, now automatically feeding navigational inputs into the helm. This system, developed by Dr. Brahms' team under the auspices of the Theoretical Propulsion Group, eliminated the phase variance problem that had plagued Voyager's previous trials of quantum slipstream, effectively bypassing the fourth dimension of time altogether. By pulsing the slipstream with chronotons it was possible to generate the real time phase corrections necessary to maintain a stable quantum matrix. This theoretical breakthrough, and the application of chronophasic emission technology, would redefine starship travel in ways that were anybody's guess.

Vexa punched up his diagnostic graphic on her main screen. “If you are referring to the misalignment of the cargo isofields, Chief, you should know it's a routine maintenance problem. Field emitters occasionally require recalibration with continued use.”

“Ok, I understand that. But the maintenance report has them being calibrated a few days ago. What could have caused them to misalign like that in a short period?”

“Many things. A kinetic wave analysis should provide more information.” She brought up the program and ran the data. A rotating three-dimensional wave schematic appeared on her display. “The patterns fluctuate from the inchoate to the incoherent. Intriguing. This isn't an intolerance. It appears as if a secondary waveform interference has altered the field.” She tapped a few commands, and a new waveform lay embedded within the first.

“What could do that?”

“An energy pocket. Ionized nebular matter. An inverted inertial dampening spike. Iogenic magnetic flux, anionic or bioelectric field -”

“That's not logical.”

She raised her brow to him.

“I mean it doesn't make much sense. There aren't any “energy pockets” on the ship's manifest. Could it be anything else? Maybe something happened during the lockdown?”

She looked at him. “Holograms.” She resumed her analysis. “A magnetic containment field could be conceivably configured in such a way as to generate these differential wave patterns. It may take some time to reverse-engineer a form that would create this result.”

“Are there any records of security holograms that were around this system in the past few days?”

“Perhaps you are better suited to answering that question than I. Logically, if we were to pursue this matter, I should search for any other isofield system anomalies and cross-check them with the ship's lading manifest to find any commonalities.”


Grif scanned the bridge crew. The Tac officer was still engaged at Ops. The others were absorbed in the performance of the chronoton phase emitters and the integrity of the quantum matrix. As was Vexa, before he'd interrupted her with this minor curiosity. “I'm going to go check it out. Forget I said anything, you've got more important things to take care of. Thanks, Sublieutenant.” He headed for the turbolift.

“Puzzling.” She watched him depart and returned to her multiple readouts.


Grif made his way down to the cargo bay; nobody was around so he went right to work and activated the workstation. Using his dock security codes, he checked and double-checked the lading transport and containment records; but it wasn't difficult to ascertain that there had been no record of transport between the cargo bay's last scheduled calibration and its record of misalignment, entered today by one Ensign Nuno Salazar.

“Computer, run a security diagnostic on this station, authorization Grifahni DM gamma-seven-three. Have any transport records on this workstation been altered?”

The computer signaled a failed process. “Negative. All records conform to original input parameters.”

“Check backup systems.”

“That process was checked with the original diagnostic.”

“Well check them again.”

“Working. Negative. All records of backup systems conform to the original input parameters of primary systems.”

“What about the pattern buffers? Just do it, computer.”

“Pattern buffers conform to the original input parameters of primary systems.”

Grif ran his calloused fingers through his tangled prickly brush of hair. He wasn't about to give up yet. There were other ways they did things in Fleet Yard Security that weren't exactly known in ship operations. “Computer. Security authorization Hanara Viper nought gamma twelve. Link with Mars Joint Security at Utopia Planitia. I want a level one comparative analysis of this workstation with running alpha security systems record of mobile platform Sphinx Moth Thirteen, series one through eight. Display any disparities or anomalies.”

“Working. That analysis will take approximately eighty-three minutes to complete.”

“Disregard anomalies from known cosmic interferences and communications chatter.”

“Working. Two unregistered transports have been found.”

“Display.”

Grif's heart beat and his tension level shot up three notches when he read the records of the transports. One, a container of standard plasma coupling replacement parts – in a container big enough, he noted, for a fusion generator.

The other transport was bigger. Big enough for standalone equipment – or even a person.

He deactivated the workstation.


Chief Master-At-Arms Grifahni Jace shouldered his way through the celebrating work crew and found the junction to the cargo storage area he was searching for. He entered the maze of containers and scanned the ID plates for his matches.

His stress level shot up another notch. They aren't here.

He went to main engineering, to the nearest available workstation. Seven of Nine occupied the buzzing attention of the engineering crew with her meticulous standards of station-keeping. Grif settled into the chair. “Computer, show me the holoemitter grid. Authorization Grifahni DM gamma-seven-three. Run a level one security diagnostic on the entire grid.” This is how I'd get a fusion generator on board, he thought. Transport it directly into a holofield of whatever it's supposed to look like – such as plasma coupling replacements. Then erase the record altogether so nobody comes looking for those parts. He sent the cargo schematics and copies of the two erased transports to Vexa's engineering workstation on the bridge, with the annotation: Wonder if entering the shapes in tandem would match the waveform analysis -

His engineering workstation com channel chirps.

He punches a key, and Sublieutenant Vexa appears on his readout display. Behind her, on the main viewer, he sees the blue quantum field collapsing. They are in Alpha Centauri Sector. Voyager awaits in orbit of a Federation space station, and Admiral Janeway appears onscreen to congratulate the valiant crew of the U.S.S. Perseus. Everyone is celebrating and overjoyed. Engineering erupts in cheers.

A red indicator light flashes on his diagnostic panel, beside Vexa's face.
“Chief Grifahni. I have a small question.”

Last edited by Triskelion; November 12 2009 at 07:39 PM.
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Old November 17 2009, 11:49 AM   #26
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Re: Sleeping at Warp








15 Ghost in the Machine



"Can you trace the command?” Grif asked her over the com, while Sublieutenant Vexa monitored his determined pace through the corridors on her bridge station visual display.

“I am attempting to do so now. So far I am unable to determine from which station the command originated – or even which ship.” Vexa continued her command pathway analysis of the Perseus auxiliary transporter systems, which had automatically synchronized with Voyager's, shortly after Perseus arrived at Alpha Centauri C. It was one of several minor system glitches possibly resulting from residual chronoton activity, which the Perseus Trial was designed to expose; perhaps merely the transporter recognition protocols of Perseus' automated systems; but in light of the previous incident, Vexa refused to leave such matters unchecked.

“Well something had to sync both ships' auxiliary transporters. I've never heard of any protocol for it.” Grif ignored the crewmen passing him while he concentrated on recalibrating a tricorder.

“As I suspected. However it never hurts to ask.”

“I guess that's kinda your specialty, huh.” Grif came to a junction and turned right. “Commands and switches.”

“Chief, you have made an incorrect turn.”

“Negative, Vexa. I've got something to pick up first.” He looked up at the nearest visual pickup and eyed Vexa from her screen. “You can call me Grif you know.”

“As I shall, if I am not on duty.”

“Oh, I see. And you don't go off duty, do you.”

Such an obvious statement of error indicated the possibility of that curious human linguistic habit, irony. How humans managed to ascertain whether statements were intended or deliberately misleading was still something of a mystery for her. She tried an equal measure of inexactitude: “It is a statistical improbability. However, not entirely impossible. Curious. I can find no discernible command pathway or workstation. The command seems to be coming from the computer network itself.” Vexa scanned the bridge, but everybody was busy with their own analyses and ship systems checks. From her monitor, Grif opened a hatch and retrieved – a phaser rifle. He resumed his determined pace towards his own answers. He had picked up holoemitter activity on deck four, amidships, in the deuterium fuel pod storage bay. In all likelihood they were both chasing minor malfunctions, or “glitches” as the humans liked to call them; for Vexa, logic simply stated a need for rational confirmation. For the Chief, it was something called a “wonky vibe”. Whatever that was.

She regarded the Chief, exiting a turbolift on deck four. His outburst at the inquiry was most...illogical. The security of Starfleet by far outweighed the consequences to the career of any one officer, particularly a neophyte. Emotions – so primitive, so illogical, so unpredictable, and so – dangerous.

The Chief glanced at her, armed his phaser rifle, and entered the bay.


The visual link switched to an overview of the deuterium pod storage bay. Great tanks occupied nearly every square meter of the darkened, vapory bay; the forced-matrix cortanium-stainless steel cryostasis pods each maintained at least sixty-two thousand, five hundred cubic meters of deuterium slush at 13.8 degrees Kelvin. A heavy phaser blast would almost certainly result in the instant fatal dissolution of any biological matter that happened to be standing in the flow. Grif inched forward on high alert, scanning the darkness with his rifle's beacon.

“Reading a magnetic-resonance ten meters ahead.” Grif disappeared in a fog of cryo-vapor. “I...see something. The resonance has a slight fluctuation at six hundred nanometers of the radiometric spectrum. I think it's cryostatic interference. Whoa!”

Vexa watched her monitor intently but couldn't make him out. She increased the environmental filtering of the storage bay; but only a small amount of the vapor cleared. She made out his form, reaching out to a deuterium tank. “Vexa, do these tanks have some kind of insulation that interferes with scans?”

“Negative. The pods are insulated with alternating parallel and biased layers of foamed vac-whisker silicon-copper-duranite. Your tricorder should be able to penetrate them.”

“That's the problem. Think I've found it, whatever it is. Aggh! It's cold.”

“Chief, I advise -”

“Standby, Vexa. I see a hazy shape... What, is that??”

She watched the Chief through the vapory fog; he reached out to the tank again.

“It's a...no! It's impossible!”

“Chief Grifahni, report.”

The Chief's next report - was a scream.

“Chief! Chief!” Vexa's shout shocked the bridge crew. Commander Paris ran to her station.

“I'm turning...to...ice!” Chief Grifahni shouted.

Through the haze of the cryo-vapor she watched Grif stare in horror at his arm, now lodged inside the cryostatic tank wall.


“Grif! Shoot the holo-emitter!” Vexa shouted. “Chief! The emitter!”

“I...can't...move!” he cried.

The tank flickered. For an instant, Vexa thought she saw a glowing figure - sitting inside the tank. “Grif you have to decompile the hologram!”

With a wrack of pain Grif drew up his rifle with one hand and fired at the holographic emitter.

The deuterium tank before him flickered, and vanished.

The glowing figure appeared to be female. She was perched cross-legged in what appeared to be sitting meditation.

“That's impossible! You're not real!” Grif shrieked, immobile. “Vexa! I'm...turning...to...!” He fell, silent, and hard.

The figure twitched her head. Power fell throughout the ship.

Vexa slammed down the intruder alert indicator.


“Vexa, report!” Commander Paris demanded of Vexa.

“Grif is down! An intruder, Sir! She appears to be – communing with ship systems!”


The figure glowed whitely and twitched her head again. Multiple alerts sounded on stations around the bridge. “Sir, systems are fluctuating all over the ship!”

Captain Tuvok activated his chair's panel. “Lieutenant Tiroj, internal scans.”

The Boslic lieutenant at Ops tried several commands. She raised her hands in helplessness. “I can't make sense of these malfunctions, Sir.”

“What is that?” Ensign Shir pointed his fingers - and antennae - to the main viewer.

The starship Voyager appeared to distort in places, and erupt in bright plasmic light.

“Some kind of subspace field is forming around the Voyager, sir. Or at least...part of it?”

Captain Tuvok scanned the bridge. “Lieutenant Munich. Open a channel to Voyager.”

The human com officer shook her head. “It's no good, Sir. I can't get through. I don't exactly know why, Sir.”

Vexa turned to her monitor. Grif was still frozen. She tied her console into his tricorder. The tricorder began to scan.

On screen, the intruder cocked her face – to Vexa. Then disappeared in a dazzling momentary shimmer.


- And materialized in Tuvok's command chair. Suddenly the entire bridge crew dematerialized in the bluish glow of the ship's transporter fields.


Vexa rematerialized on the transporter pad of Voyager's cargo bay, with the other bridge crew. Captain Tuvok scuttled to the controls. Commander Paris opened the emergency hatches and retrieved four phasers, meting them out to the Captain, and Lieutenant Commanders Bessek and Tiroj.

Silently, they all stepped back onto the pad. The Captain activated the controls and jumped on the pad with them.

Sublieutenant Vexa found herself back on Perseus, on the secondary bridge. Her first impulse was to run to the visual comlink – but Captain Tuvok commanded their attention:

“I am unfamiliar with the species of the intruder. Have any of you a familiarity?” Nobody answered. “Whatever the motives of the intruder, whether to destroy the Perseus, or perhaps steal it – we must first determine how many there are, and capture them as quickly as possible. The security of the entire Federation could be at stake. Sublieutenant Vexa.”

“Sir?”

“Any information you could provide would be most helpful.”

“Sir. The intruder came aboard and concealed herself in the deuterium pod storage bay utilizing holographic subterfuge. There have been two illicit transports aboard in the past several days; one for the intruder, and the other for, presumably, the fusion generator. It is likely the intruder is alone aboard ship. Further speculation is unsubstantiated.”

Lieutenant Commander Bessek took Vexa's arm. “How do you know all this?”

“Chief Grifahni had access to the tactical station for approximately forty seconds during the slipstream trial.”

The Ktarian Lieutenant Commander scowled. “I don't believe it. It's impossible. I scoured every security system and report myself!”

Vexa turned to Captain Tuvok. “I didn't believe him either. Yet here we are.”


She didn't anticipate being alone. She hurried through the flashing corridors of a power crisis. On her way to the transporter room, Sublieutenant Vexa turned a corner and stopped short. Several crew stood frozen in the corridor. A male Haliian Ensign stared catatonic, his face a frieze of wonder. She reached up and touched his face. He was warm, alive – and utterly unresponsive. She hurried on.


“Vexa to Chief Grifahni. Grif!” She entered the transporter room and activated the station. Site-to-site transport was engaging and disengaging like a heart constantly moving blood. Vexa felt the thrum of transports like a current in her own heart, despite her intellectual focus. She had been trying to reach Grif since she left the secondary bridge. “Grif!” She activated the visual pickup and scanned the deuterium pod bay. She saw Grif on the floor. He was moving.

“Grif! Chief Grifahni Jace! On your feet, soldier!”

“Unnh. What. Hap-pened.”

“I am currently unable to come to you. You must come to me. I'm in transporter room two, two decks below you. Are you able to move?”

“I don't know what happened, but – yeah, I think so.”

“Time is of the essence, Chief. The Captain and First Officer are on their way back to secure the bridge from the intruder. I am currently attempting to regain control of transporters. Curious. The synchronization with Voyager's transporters is active. Crew are being transferred from Perseus to Voyager. I believe she wants this ship for herself.”

“Well she can't have it.”

“That is not all.” She enhanced her scans of the area around the ships. “Voyager is shrouded in subspace fluctuation and unknown energy particle activity. I cannot get a clear reading.”

“What is wrong with the crew??” he asked.

“Unknown. The crew is being incrementally beamed off ship.” The site-to-site transport cycled up. “ You must hurry. I do not know how long we have before we are incapacitated and beamed away.”


The transporter room door whooshed open. “Are you you?”

Vexa turned. “What a puzzling question. Were your mental faculties damaged?” she asked, in genuine concern.

“You're you, alright.” Chief Grifahni stood beside Vexa and checked her scans. She resisted the urge to touch him. She interrupted herself: “I have bypassed sensor lockouts utilizing transporter molecular imaging. Systems are malfunctioning and locking down out all over the ship. Crew are being transported to Voyager.”

“Not good.”

“Perhaps you will recognize this.” She enlarged the molecular scan she had been analyzing.

“Is that - ?” He looked at her.

Her eyes indicated agreement. “Trellium fusion.”


“Where is it?” Grif adjusted the settings on his phaser rifle.

“Uncertain. It is concealed within a dispersal of some kind of TPS interference, which I have never seen before. However I have localized the source somewhere forward between decks six and eight.”


“Can you access a visual link to the bridge?”

“Negative. Those systems failed in the initial attack.” Vexa tapped a few keys. “However I can now display a graphical representation of the molecular imaging scan of bridge surface area.” She activated the system.

The image of the bridge appeared, somewhat mediated in brighter colors; or was that the iridescence of the intruder? For now she could not be certain.

Grif poked the image. “She's operating systems without even moving! What is that, some kind of telekinesis?”

“Unknown.”

“I saw myself turn to ice. I felt it. I was as good as dead.”

She paused, to regard the Bajoran security chief. “It was...requiting to see you alive.”

He looked at her and chuckled. “I don't know what that means.”

Suddenly the workstation shut down. Vexa slapped the interface. The transporter hummed with more site-to-site transports. There would be little point in disabling it; the system had dozens all over the ship. She headed for the corridor. “Not this time.”

Grif called to her from the door. “Well what can we do? She's overriding systems all over the ship!”

“Not the ones she doesn't know about yet.”


On their way through the flickering corridors they passed more crew in various states of unconsciousness – standing motionless, laying where they fell, down on their stations, their faces frozen like half-buried statues from Vulcan's archaeological record – trapped instants of emotions, seemingly random, from surprise to curiosity, confusion to wild-eyed terror. Careful not to disturb them, Vexa and Grif navigated the decks alert for the ever-present trace of the transporter hum. Vexa dispassionately cataloged their emotions while her own heart pounded out its heightened rhythm, her senses alerting her in the extreme to every insignificant sound and movement.

Suddenly, with that sound that made her heart jump, the crew around them started disappearing in transporter fields.

“Run!” Grif called. She did not need to be told. While she was certain she could control her outward behavioral responses to the emotional impulses welling up inside – she rounded every corner, headlong into specters of her irrational imagination. Racing forward, despite her survival instinct - and desire to scream.

Last edited by Triskelion; November 17 2009 at 07:02 PM.
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Old November 17 2009, 11:59 AM   #27
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Re: Sleeping at Warp








16 Bad Dog





Vexa led Chief Grifahni onto the holodeck; fortunately it was vacant. “Computer,” Vexa spoke, calming herself, while Grif watched her questioningly, “Run Prometheus-class bridge simulator file Vexa QST-twenty.”

The computer buzzed. “Specified simulation is not on record.”

Grif read the files on the arch display. “Holosystems must not have been linked with Janus yet. Try another one.”

Vexa didn't hesitate: “Computer. Run cadet field training program starship scenario. Situation: Prometheus-class bridge simulator. Overlay Perseus schematic modifications. Tie in Perseus command access with main computer, authorization Vexa gamma twelve. Filter through personal cryptographic lockout protocol obelisk thirteen thirteen omega.”

Grif interrupted: “Computer, activate isolated computer core backup units and shunt recursive process routing through these and all shuttle computers at random intervals, authorization Paris Twenty Enable.” When Vexa looked at him curiously, he said, “I hear things.”

The Perseus bridge hologram compiled into existence before them. They entered.

She activated the master interface. “I shall endeavor to keep that in mind.”


Keeping a side scan on the fluctuating molecular image of Voyager, while simultaneously working on a previously unconceived subspace field algorithm, Vexa made her deductions: “There must be some kind of subspace interference with the computer network, given what's happening to Voyager – interference which is possibly even having a neurochemical effect on the crew.”

Grif looked up from the ops station. “How do you know it's neurochemical?”

“I do not. However when you exposed the intruder, you described an altered sense perception. It is logical to infer it was possibly some kind of defense mechanism the intruder employed. It would also explain the intruder's lack of physical interface with the computer system. However a subspace analysis would confirm or deny this effect. Unfortunately I still have no access to sensors.”

“Subspace telepathic computing? Is that even possible?”

“It is – untheorized.” She exhaled, erased her entire algorithm, and, with a little too much force, reset the interface. “Therefore countermeasures must also defy established physical probabilities.” She pulled up the security communications interface.

“You mean a shot in the dark. Doesn't sound very logical?”

She accessed the emergency command parameters. “The definition of an undisciplined mind, that cannot perceive the problem in terms of statistical probability.”

“Oh I can perceive it. I just call it what it is.”


“Computer, begin specified communications countermeasure utilizing emergency power shunted from propulsion systems.”

“System online. Interferometric frequencies enabled.”

Vexa said, “I'm enacting countermeasures based on an assumption of subspace computational routing. Communications frequency jamming might disrupt the intruder's influence on the ship's computing systems.”

Grif looked up. “You mean our brains.”

“Yes, those too.”


After a minute, Grif pounded his station. “No, it's not working. I still can't access security commands. So much for your theory.”

“So much for the hypothesis. The theory, however, may still be sound.” Vexa had a new idea; she pulled up the index of the quantum drive diagnostic systems.

Grif found the visual uplink of the bridge. “There she is.” Vexa's progressive molecular imaging scans of the bridge cast the intruder in a crisp image. The intruder remained cross-legged, spine erect in the command chair, “communing”, as Vexa had put it, with various bridge interfaces, which for the moment appeared to be in some kind of hyper-speed mode. He zeroed in on the intruder. She appeared to be a humanoid female. Her entire body, she now saw, reflected a rough, pearlescent texture that reminded Vexa of Earth coral, or shells. Her whitish hue did not glow continuously, but seemed to pulse softly at random intervals. Her hair – which was not hair – swept back over her cranium and hung in articulated fronds to her neck, again, like small interlocking white seashells. Her irises rippled the color spectrum. Her hands and feet were bare and turned upward. Vexa could not say for certain whether the intruder wore her articulated coverings, or if they were somehow part of her.

But she respirated. Subspace or not, she was at least in part, a creature of atmosphere. Which meant, like her victims, she was also vulnerable.

The computer signaled ready. Vexa assessed her new system configuration. “Chief. Prepare yourself for a slight temporal dilation.”

The chief turned. “I don't know what that means.”

Vexa activated the signal jamming transmissions, this time on a triaxillating band modulated with chronoton phase emissions, aimed back onto the ship itself.

Suddenly everything began to interlace in time, from milliseconds before to milliseconds after the event. Grif studied his hand, trailing back and forth. Sound seemed to rise and fall in echo. Vexa found the effect most...hypnotic.

An indicator revealed the transporter link breaking. Ship systems started coming back online. The transporters powered down.

On the visual uplink to the bridge, the intruder shot up out of her seat to physically inspect the Ops station. When various commands failed to respond, she turned, and cocked her head, mystified, directly at Vexa.

“She didn't plan on you,” Grif said.


“Paris to Vexa. Report.”

“We are currently experiencing the time dilation effect of chronophasic emission interlaced with subspace interferometric frequencies. For now they seem to have blocked the intruder's access to ship systems, Sir.”

“I don't know what you did, but people are starting to wake up. Ship status?”

“Sixty-eight percent of the crew have been transported to Voyager, Sir. Sir, I'm picking up another trellium fusion source.”

“Another actuator?”

“I do not believe this to be the case. Logically, had it been so it would have done its damage by now; but I have ensured that that particular ploy would not succeed twice. It is more likely the generator is being used to power a portable transporter unit. This would explain how the intruder was able to beam herself to the bridge while crew were being displaced to Voyager.”

“Vexa, Seven of Nine is no longer on board. We're depending on you. Can you give us an emergency site to site transport to the main bridge?”

“Affirmative, Sir.”

“When you're ready. Four to beam.”

Chief Grifahni grabbed his phaser rifle. “Us too.”


Sublieutenant Vexa and Chief Grifahni materialized beside her bridge station; the others beamed in interspersed around the upper ring of the main bridge, surrounding the intruder. Lieutenants Bessek and Tiroj fired their phasers. The beams ricocheted off of the intruder, engulfing them and the computer panels behind them. They fell instantly. The intruder paused, and twitched her head.

The next phaser beam hit her from behind. Commander Paris ducked aside as he shot, but his beam seemed to get instantly absorbed by the intruder. She then raised a small device that rippled the atmosphere in a concentrated beam and hit the Commander in the shoulder, sending him reeling into the wall, then forward over the rail and into the pit. He didn't get up.


Lieutenant Munich activated her combadge. “Doctor to bridge immediately! Bring your medkit! And a phaser!” She ran from the body of Lieutenant Commander Tiroj, to Commander Paris.


Grif looked at his rifle, and threw it down. “Find that trellium source, Vexa,” he said, and launched himself over the rail, into the pit. Vexa increased her scans, checking over her shoulder at what was happening. The intruder lithely avoided Grif's flurrying hand strikes and somehow sent him flying across the bridge mercilessly into the far wall.

Vexa's panel pinged.

“Captain, I've located the energy source,” she said. “It's located in the forward torpedo room. A portable transporter!”


Tuvok activated a command from the tactical station, phaser in hand, and turned. A security containment field erupted around the intruder. The intruder stilled, and resumed sitting.


“Can you isolate its programming?”

“Negative, Sir. I'm not even sure it utilizes programming.”

“You've got to block it, Vexa!” Grif strained.

She paused to think. “I am remotely accessing a torpedo matter-antimatter power generator. I believe I can force it to generate an ionic disruption field.” Since the experience with the Cardassian actuator, Vexa had determined twenty-seven alternative methods for neutralizing transporter beams. And now, twenty-eight.

Grif shouted, “Is that safe??”

Vexa continued her work. “Negative. But it will prevent further transport.” She shook her head. “One way or another.”


The containment field began to flicker and spark. The intruder appeared to be glowing.


“Torpedo ionic disruption in progress. Field dispersal geometry optimized. The alien transporter is neutralized, Captain.”

“An adequate countermeasure, Sublieutenant.”

“Yes sir.”

“Nice job, Vexa.” Grif painfully put his hand on her shoulder. “Now help me get this containment field stabilized.”


Just as he spoke, the containment field fell. The intruder spun and righted herself like an acrobat.


Grif launched himself at her. This time he managed to avoid her counterattack and landed an elbow to her head. She rotated down and right back up again, reversing his attack back onto himself. Vexa gasped when she sent Grif to the wall for a second time.


Suddenly the intruder glowed in the shimmering distortion of her transporter field. Tuvok jumped in with her. They disappeared together in an instant.


Grif complained from the floor. “How did she do that?”

Vexa checked her transporter ionic disruption field. It was still working. “Unknown.”

“Commander Paris,” Munich said. “He's awake.”


Vexa checked her sensor scans. “Sir! The intruder's transport is localizing on Voyager's bridge. She has another transporter unit hidden on Voyager!”

“Put 'em on main viewer!” the commander strained.


The viewer displayed the intruder materializing on the Voyager bridge. She instantly turned – right into Tuvok's mind melding clutch.


Vexa clawed her station. Alarms buzzed on so many interfaces it was impossible to keep them all straight. On her scans, Voyager lay obscured behind indiscernible, dizzying subspace energy reactions. The transporter link started sending crew from Voyager back to the Perseus. Even the intruder's transporter was sending them back – faster than all the transporters of both ships put together.

Commander Paris painfully hauled himself into the Captain's chair. Vexa disabled the chronophasic emitters, and local spacetime rectified. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief – including her. She studied the chaotic systems interface.


On the main viewer, Tuvok locked the intruder in a violent mental embrace.


Suddenly the bridge lights flickered, and the Perseus went to red alert. The computer sounded: “One minute to auto-destruct.”

“Computer, abort auto destruct! Computer! Abort! Damn.” Commander Paris scanned what remained of his bridge crew. “Bridge to Seven of Nine! Seven! Damn!” Commander Paris clutched his bleeding shoulder from his slouching position. “I'm the only senior officer left. Vexa, see if you can shut off the self-destruct!”

Munich studied her panel. “How did she do that?”

Vexa exhaled. “Unknown.”


The intruder's eyes rippled. Captain Tuvok's expression changed. He began to falter.


“Twenty seconds to auto-destruct.”

Commander Paris punched codes into his chair interface, to no avail. “Can you deactivate the auto-destruct Vexa?”

“I...not without the codes, sir!”

The commander's combadge interrupted: Seven of Nine to bridge. My team have been beamed back aboard Perseus.

“Nice timing, Seven! We need to authorize the self-destruct abort sequence! Computer! Abort auto-destruct!”

The computer signaled. “Seven of Nine, do you concur?”

I concur. Abort auto-destruct.

“Auto-destruct canceled.”

Grif stood by her side. “How much time did we have?”

“One thousand forty-nine milliseconds.”

“That much? Walk in the park.” He looked up and whispered something.


On screen, Tuvok shook. The intruder began to overpower his mind. She broke his hold and he fell to his knees, wild-eyed, vacant and unmoving. The visual link broke and the screen switched to the external view of Voyager, now completely obscured in blinding subspace eruptions.


The turbolift opened. Ensign Shir and Dr. Salvatore ran into the bridge and rushed to the wounded. The doctor went first to Lieutenant Commander Bessek, then Tiroj. Lieutenant Munich shook her head. “I just received word from the Voyager EMH, Commander,” Salvatore said, studying Tiroj's fatal injuries. “He received a communique from Starfleet five minutes ago.”


“What?” Tom got to his feet. “What!”

“At fourteen hundred seventeen Miral suffered a relapse.” He looked up at Tom. “Eleven minutes later, B'Elanna - I'm sorry, Tom. They're both critically comatose.”


Commander Paris stumbled back; Vexa watched the horror cross his face, and did not envy humans.


“Sir!” Ensign Shir shouted. “I'm detecting a slipstream opening up bearing three four three mark twenty-one!”

“What? On main viewer.”

They all turned to the main viewscreen. A quantum vortex erupted off their port bow. Voyager slowly emerged from the subsiding subspace distortion. Vexa returned to her flickering sensor analysis. “Sir, the ship – the ship is equipped with quantum drive modifications.” She faced the viewscreen. “She didn't want Perseus. She wanted Voyager.”

The starship Voyager vectored its nacelles and turned into the slipstream with a blinding flash.


“Systems coming back online.” Vexa's voice shook. “74% of Perseus crew accounted for, sir. Emergency Crew Holograms coming online.”


The remaining bridge crew surrounded Commander Paris intently. Vexa watched the Commander, emotionally floored, weighing their situation. Munich aided some crewmen with the retrieval of the bodies; Dr. Salvatore attended the Commander's shoulder wound.

Commander Paris spoke quietly: “Helm, establish orbit around Alpha Proxima Station 3. We need to...assess...report....”

Unmoving, Vexa silently watched Munich and Shir face their commander in defiance. Grif leaned over the railing; “Sir, this is the only ship in the fleet capable of laying in a pursuit, and you know it!”

Commander Paris waved off the doctor and righted his posture. He scanned the faces around him.

Vexa found herself at a complete loss. She thought to herself, The security of Starfleet by far outweighs the consequences to the individual lives aboard that ship and this one. The Commander's purview ends here. Yet she could not seem to convince herself, nor apparently, hide the telling trace of emotion from her face.

His wife and daughter's lives hanging in the balance; along with Starfleet orders, Federation security, and Logic - against the lives of the Voyager crew. Vexa found she could not calculate such a probability. Then suddenly she saw an entirely new emotion flash across the Commander's face.

Commander Paris turned fiercely from his crew to the stars.

“Quantum vectors, Mr. Shir.”

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Old November 24 2009, 09:38 PM   #28
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17 The Stitcher





The thread approached the eye of the needle – slowly, carefully - and missed.

Again.



Elim Garak concentrated in his darkened tailor shop. The day had been an unfortunately quiet one, so he decided to close early and catch up on some meticulous custom work. It may have been a comparatively low-traffic period; but Garak knew that like anything else, it would not last forever. He moistened the tip of the thread between his lips, and tried again.

Someone entered the shop behind him. “Can I help you?” he asked, in mid-operation. The stranger, cast in shadow, examined some of the custom haberdashery on display. “Nice handiwork.” He picked up an elegant handtooled boot from a pedestal. “But then, that's what everyone always said about you. Garak.”

“My father always said your work will speak for itself.” Garak turned around and faced the large Cardassian soldier. Although he attempted to mask his reaction, Garak was certain he had failed. “I heard a rumor about a Galor ship in the sector.” He paused, and had a realization: “Or was it a fleet?”

The stranger put down the boot. “It hardly matters. You never know what you'll run across out there. In the Badlands.”

“I see. Just passing through?”

“Something like that. Interesting that you would hear such a rumor; even moreso that you would believe it.”

“Well, one overhears all manner of things on a busy station like this one. As for believing the rumors, I usually don't. Nor do I believe ghost stories. That is – not until this moment.”

The visitor remained obscured by shadow. Garak smiled amiably while secretly regretting leaving his phaser out of arm's reach.

“Ghosts.” The figure took another step closer. “Yes, I suppose that is what some of us have become.” He leaned in, and Garak could just make out the gaping hole where an eye should have been. “But there are ghosts, and then there are ghosts. Don't worry, Garak. I think you won't become a ghost just yet.” He fell back into the shadow. “I just wished to stand where I could make that determination for us both. I waited a long time. You understand, I'm sure.”

“Certainly. Still, it is big of you.”

“I even tried to forget. About what you did to me. And to them. And to her.”

“I imagine that would be...rather difficult.”

“As I'm sure you well know. The universe won't let you forget.”

“Especially in the deafening quiet of the aftermath,” Garak finished. “Still...times have changed. Cardassia is changing too. The Sector has a whole new set of conflicts. A whole new set of players. And some familiar problems. Lack of resources. Corruption. Organized piracy – though I imagine the latter will soon cease to be a problem of any significance.”

“You always did have a grasp on tomorrow's news, Garak.”

“As you always had a grasp on the things no one ever, ever hears about. But the worlds are changing. Cardassia is being reborn. Or at least, creatively destroyed.”

The stranger stepped closer. “Do you believe anything changes, Garak?“

Garak took a calming breath, and indicated the tailoring on his table. “New fashions are my stock-in-trade, now. Would you like me to fit you for a new suit? I have some unusually rich fabrics from the Gamma Quadrant. Something perhaps more...loose-fitting? Suitable for retiring in quiet luxury? I'm sure you've earned it.”

“Thank you, Garak. Perhaps another time.”

“As you wish. And...for what it's worth....”

The stranger hesitated at the door.

“I was never fully convinced you were guilty.”

“I was guilty. Guilty of being a loyal soldier. As we all were.”



The stranger left. Garak locked his doors and poured himself a stiff drink. Then he opened a comlink.



The Ferengi barkeep answered. “Mr Garak. An unusual pleasure.”

Garak rubbed a finger on his eyelid. “I just had a rather... unexpected visitor.”

“You don't mean...? No. No! He's dead!”

“I suppose it's true what the Bajorans say. Death – is only a beginning.”

Garak cut the link and left, his needle and thread forgotten.

Last edited by Triskelion; November 24 2009 at 09:51 PM.
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Old December 5 2009, 05:33 PM   #29
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Re: Sleeping at Warp









18 Perseus Unbound: A Hologram's Introspective





Static.

Spectral scan one hundred to seven hundred fifty nanometers of the electromagnetic spectrum. Blinding irregularity, burning shapes. Narrowing band from four hundred to seven hundred nanometers. Adjusting optical focal and aural input processing. Fluctuating hum of a power conduit. Erratic electronic feedback pulses. Rectifying visual processing. A shape: a hand phaser. A medical tricorder. A vocoder. A mobile emitter. An arm. My arm. My body. My head. Oh, my head! I'm a Doctor, not a conga drum.

“Computer, what happened?”

Antonio Salieri was born August eighteen, 1750 in Legnago, Venice.

“You don't say.”

The EMH sat up and tapped his communicator. “Doctor to bridge. Doctor to engineering. Doctor to Perseus. Doctor to Alpha Proxima Station. Doctor to whoever? Hello? Can anyone hear me?”

He sighed and took up the vocoder. “Perseus Unbound: A Hologram's Introspective; Voyager Emergency Medical Hologram, installment nineteen. I had intended this record to be a running commentary of the historic Perseus Trial from a hologram's perspective; another of my humble contributions to medical posterity. However there seems to have been...a slight hitch. I'm alone, trapped in a Jefferies tube, out of communicator contact with the ship and station; I venture forth, once again, apparently, to ascertain the condition of the Voyager and her crew. Unlike my last solo venture involving quantum slipstream, I have no other crew, humanoid, hologram or otherwise, to render me assistance. The main computer is unresponsive. Power seems to be fluctuating. I remember...”

The Doctor struggled, opening the hatch to a flickering junction and a ladder descending into darkness. “I remember being trapped. The Perseus had successfully arrived at Alpha Centauri C. I had just received an automated update from Starfleet, containing a communique from Doctor Retych at Starfleet Medical. There was an intruder alert. The next thing I knew, the sickbay computer started locking down; I had barely just enough time to activate my mobile emitter and slip into a Jefferies tube before the entire deck experienced a power surge, which seemed to reset my sensory parameters. Other than that I would appear to be in stable condition. As for the ship and crew – so far it is yet to be determined. I am receiving no responses.”

The EMH took a hesitant breath and descended into the darkness.



The hatch opened into flickering darkness, and an unsteady nose of a hand phaser protruded. The EMH emerged in Astrometrics, which he found, with great relief, unoccupied. The viewing wall appeared to be cycling through vast amounts of stellar data files at a rate impossible to apprehend. He tried the station interface. Again, unresponsive.

“After obtaining entry to Astrometrics, I am unfortunately still unable to access ship systems or figure out who – if anyone – is in control of Voyager,” he told his vocoder. “However at the very least I will continue this voice record in the hopes that it will lead to evidence that may eventually exonerate Lieutenant Commander B'Elanna Torres – and clear her name...or service record.” He paused. “That is, if anyone in Starfleet ever finds this narrative.”

The EMH watched the screen blurring through encyclopedias of sensor readouts, star systems, and space sectors. He activated his tricorder and made some adjustments. After a time, he closed it. “My medical tricorder is ill-equipped to process the astrometric visual data in any useful manner. I need some kind of processor that can analyze visual data. The LCARS system might but as near as I can tell, it is currently undergoing some kind of... computational flux. My holoimager could at least capture the images, but it would take months to go through so much data. Besides, Lieutenant Commander Kim still has not seen fit to return it to me after borrowing it. I'm beginning to think he has no intention of doing so.” He paced while he pontificated. “What I need is something that can both capture visual information and translate it into analyzable data. Then I might be able to ascertain any patterns that could provide me a clue about what is happening to the ship. Hopefully without revealing my presence to any hostiles aboard ship. Unfortunately the only tools I can operate around here are my own two eyes.”

He studied the viewscreen. Then he studied his mobile emitter.

“I am attempting to optimize my optical matrix,” he narrated, as he accessed the mobile emitter controls. “I should be able to attenuate it to use my own eyes to capture the streaming data on the screen; then it's just a matter of using my own sensory-cognition matrix subroutines to filter the data and look for any patterns. That...should...do it.”

He blinked. Suddenly the interface panel on the Astrometrics station appeared to flicker in slow motion. He brought his attention to the viewscreen and could now see every image, every sensor report, every star, planetoid and nebula, focus into absolute clarity and detail. His holomatrix filled with teraquads of information, neatly organizing itself into millions of mathematical facets.

“Oh...no.”




The EMH turned away from the screen. “The data would appear to have no discernible pattern. Rather, it seems to be a cycling through all information from the Astrometrics data banks – including much that was mapped during Voyager's journey through the Delta Quadrant, data from the Perseus slipstream trial, and – new readings being taken from our...current trajectory. Which presents a small problem. Either Voyager is traveling at slipstream velocity, or I've been unconscious for twenty years. A case of Rip Van Hologram.” He rubbed his eyes, took a deep breath, and took a closer look. “Neither proposition is particularly comforting. But that's not even the worst news.” The EMH began to fiddle with his mobile emitter's controls in order to restore his optical matrix. “According to readings, the Voyager crew still appears to be aboard ship. However, none of them is moving from their present locations. Which means the entire crew is either incapacitated, or...dead.”

He finished his command sequence. “There we are.” He reached for his phaser and tricorder. And missed.

“I seem to have slightly misaligned my visual acuity parameters.” He tried again, and knocked the equipment off the console. “A small adjustment should do the trick.” He reached for his mobile emitter - and hit air instead. When his fingers found purchase, he tapped a few switches. Suddenly his eyesight skewed and burned with brightness. “Ow!” He stumbled towards the door. It opened for him, emitting a searing light. He blindly turned away. “No problem,” he told his vocoder. “Just a slight visual misalignment.” Then the EMH straightened his posture, squinted, and promptly walked into the wall. “How embarrassing.” The Doctor then felt his way out of Astrometrics and into the passageway.




Sitting in the corridor, the EMH furiously fumbled with his mobile emitter. Suddenly his eyesight went blank. “Oh no! I can't see! I can't see! I can't - ah well, at least that's better.” He rose. “Although temporarily disabling one's eyesight might be an insurmountable obstacle for some, I'm fully confident I can proceed with greater alacrity than if I were being distracted by conflicting visual information.” He felt his way along the wall. “Besides, a little temporary blindness might help me to refine my sensitivity towards visually-impaired patients. Not that I'm not already fully equipped with the requisite understanding. Still, it never hurts to improve.”

He barked his shin on an open panel.

“It doesn't...hurt...at...all.” He limped. “What a time to have activated Lieutenant Vorik's new tactile feedback subroutines. Ow.”



Feeling his way down the corridor, his hands found something warm and soft. It was a person. The EMH drew back. “Hello? Crewman?” He tenuously reached out and felt for a pulse on the neck. What he grabbed instead was, upon inspection, a breast. “Sorry. I was ah, feeling for your pulse. Sorry. Ensign Gillian.”




Discovery of a few other crew affirmed the Doctor's assessment. The crew were still alive, but being suspended in some kind of catatonia. Without use of his tricorder or the computer, he found himself surprisingly at a loss for any diagnosis more specific than that – considering he had no idea of the event which rendered the crew in this state. His internal processing of the Astrometrics imagery, however, continued to reveal new information piecemeal. “Nothing in the Astrometrics data seems to explain this phenomena,” he told his vocoder. “Nor how Voyager, now at warp and possibly in a quantum slipstream – is not only equipped with that capability, but is, I'm disturbed to say, now on a direct course –” he slumped into a corner “- for the heart of the Delta Quadrant.”

What the Doctor couldn't understand, and neglected to record, was why there seemed to be a sensor echo – of the slipstream reading originating from Alpha Centauri C.

“I'm stumbling through the dark, quite literally,” he said. “Why Voyager is being stolen remains a mystery. How it was stolen, I have no idea. Who stole it – remains to be seen. In fact everything remains to be seen by me at this point.

“One image keeps turning up - a single red sun, alone in darkness.

“The crew's mental state – is it somehow related to the effect interfering with the ship's bioneural network? That might explain why my mobile emitter, and portable equipment like tricorders are still able to function. It's only speculation at this point. I need to get back to sickbay and analyze a member of the crew. If I can even do that without the use of sight. Whatever is happening here...” he opened a Jefferies tube hatch and climbed inside, “the intruder or intruders require a ship. But not just a ship. This ship.”

The Doctor froze. He heard breathing. Heavy breathing.

“Wildfire.”

The Doctor spun. Someone clawed his uniform and knocked him to the bulkhead. Pinning him with inhuman strength, they grabbed his head with both hands. They were breathing frenetically and doused in sweat.

It was the vicing grip of - a mindmeld.

Wildfire.”
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Old December 7 2009, 02:34 PM   #30
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19 Thieves' Errand





Two officers lost.

Tom stood staring out the ready room viewport, at the brilliant streaming eddies of the massive gravitational wake of the slipstream. The deckplates thrummed with the deep muted power of the quantum drive. He thought he could feel his being stretching between each gravitational pole, his soul dispersing over thousands of light years like an unlocked transporter pattern. His shoulder burned with the dull ache of tissue regeneration, but that was nothing compared to the searing pain of being shot with the alien device.

Voyager had disappeared from long range sensors almost immediately. With her head start, on a direct course, she could travel indefinitely and Perseus would not be able to mark her. The real challenge of piloting the Perseus lay not in speed or distance; but in navigation – and what to do once you got where you were going.

The quantum trail had proven easy enough to follow for several hours, as it had immediately made it's long-range destination clear:

A long course for the Delta Quadrant.




The door chimed. “Come in,” Tom answered.

“Sir. Ship's systems operating at peak efficiency. Long range sensors have still not picked up Voyager.” Seven of Nine entered and handed him a padd. “It was last seen on a direct course; however its quantum trail has slowly been diminishing.” Tom motioned for her to sit. Seven hesitated, and obliged. She noticed the empty chair across from her, and indicated for Tom to sit. He obliged.

“Nothing but taillights. I don't suppose you know what she's got under the hood, do you?”

“The...hood, sir?”

“An old Earth street racing term. Do you have any theories, Seven?”

Seven of Nine tapped another padd and handed it to him. She wore a ridged gunmetal form-fitting suit cut at oblong angles, bearing the three pips of a Commander. He had thought better than to require her to wear the gold uniform of a Chief Engineer. She had been given a field rank of Commander by Captain Chakotay when she had first taken over for B'Elanna – at first a formality, and when the Trial approached, a necessity. Seven had not indicated whether she would prefer to retain her commission – or if she was even happy in the role. Things had been too busy for personal feelings – as he well knew.

“I surmise this might be the result of the intruder's schematic alterations,” she said. “She has somehow found a way to mask the ship's quantum particle wake. If she is able to do that, we suspect she may work to apply the same strategy to both warp travel and impulse. Perhaps even thrusters.”

“We?”

“Yes; myself, and – Sublieutenant Vexa. If - sir – we don't find Voyager soon, we will lose the trail entirely.”

“What's this?” He studied the padd filled with mathematical notations.

“This is our best determination. It's theoretical, but it may give us a chance to locate Voyager. Sublieutenant Vexa believes she can localize a ship traveling at high warp by a mathematical analysis of neutrino emissions, which could not be suppressed using the same techniques that mask plasma exhaust.”

“Neutrino emissions? Over these distances?”

“Indeed. Part of her strategy employs a particle resonance acceleration matrix, which is essentially a field of generated quantum particles held in a measurable state, as they interact with targeted regions of space and subspace. Distance is irrelevant. Using Barclayan intragalactic communication techniques we can theoretically localize a subspace quantum resonance locator beam in virtually any sector of galactic space. Sympathetic resonances between the locator beam and the PRAM would allow for the particle density measurements necessary for mathematical analysis.”

“A particle resonance...acceleration matrix? Never heard of one.”

“Because we've only just conceived it. You can think of it as a kind of quantum compass. Neutrinos shouldn't be affected as they pass through Voyager's plasma wake, or whatever masking technique the alien is using; or other interstellar trace gases or particles. Measuring the quantum gravitational effects on neutrinos is a simple matter for ship's sensors. With some modification, the quantum resonance beam can be configured to localize an electron neutrino transitioning into a muon or tauon as it travels. Perseus is well-equipped to measure any discrepancy of flavor oscillations against the fixed ratio density of expected relic neutrinos in cosmic microwave background radiation.”

“Well – if you say so, Seven.”

“Normally such a calculation would be extremely subtle. Even the Borg were unable to track such minute measurements, which is one reason they could not always successfully locate cloaked ships. However Sublieutenant Vexa has created an algorithm for analyzing relic particle densities over vast distances, which, I must admit, presents an intriguing new approach. I would like to try it, if for no other reason than to see it in application.”

“Sounds like a real breakthrough in astrometrics – if it works. But what if Voyager drops down to warp, or impulse?”

“Voyager's electroplasma warp drive generates electrons, muons and tauons which are measurable against the gravitational effect of a warp field on cosmic radiation. Sublight impulse fusion reactors have no gravitational effect; but they also emit antineutrino flux in the beta decay of plasma exhaust. There should be a marked difference between predicted neutrino flavors in cosmic background radiation and those emitted by Voyager's impulse reactors. These too should be detectable over long distances.”

“And if Voyager's stopped, laying in ambush somewhere?”

“We are reinventing deep space telemetry and fleet tracking capabilities. We can only solve one impossibility at a time. Sir.”

“One miracle at a time. Got it. I'm glad to see you two getting along. Tell me something, Seven. What's your assessment of our Sublieutenant?”

Seven considered the question. “Unpredictable. Sublieutenant Vexa has devised an algorithm that may predict neutrino masses based on computational stellar data over vast quantities of space. This is also based on her understanding of quantum slipstream science and the effects of chronophasic interference, which has been proven to affect neutrino configurations. Adding the exponential drift of temporal flux makes particle prediction a proposition of such complexity it has eluded the Borg for centuries.

“The alien intruder, clearly of an advanced race, has somehow managed to not only commandeer a Federation starship from heavily-guarded space, but can somehow manipulate matter and subspace, as well as hundreds of minds of two crews, with no detectable technology or external assistance. The alien has managed to subdue Voyager's navigational wake while in flight, again, without any apparent external aid – and in a matter of hours. In response, Vexa has managed to conceive a sensor that can span the galaxy, take an active role in its applied prototype development, as well as create a particle mapping technique across many sectors of open space, and against a vast chaotic region of background radiation and interstellar phenomena; effectively countering the superior alien threat - as she has already done in numerous ways.”

Seven of Nine stood. “As a former Borg, my best assessment of Sublieutenant Vexa is simply this: unpredictable.”

“Proceed with the system modifications, Seven. Use whomever you need. Uh, dismissed.”

Seven of Nine heeded and moved to leave. It was an impersonal gesture, yet somehow affirmed Tom's authority.

“And Seven? The Academy's loss is obviously our gain.”

She pondered his statement, acknowledged it with a brow raised in soft appreciation, and left.

Tom toyed with the padd, not trying to understand the equations it contained. He had hoped for a more...human perspective of Vexa. He had another question he needed help with. Seven may have been able to detect a misplaced electron half a quadrant away, but when it came to people, she was still, in many ways, that little girl lost to the Borg.




He returned to the viewport.

Why Voyager?

Why the Delta Quadrant?

What could possibly motivate a being of such incredible power?
He had ordered Lieutenant Munich to go through Starfleet records of the Delta Quadrant, to see if she could find anything relating to this intruder. Somehow it seemed like a pointless task, but procedure was procedure.

Did I just say that?

He thought of his former shipmates, and his Captain, and tried to ignore the dread in the pit of his stomach. What am I doing? They're gonna love me back at the New Zealand Penal Colony.

Starfleet would at least listen to reason. They might not agree with his decision to risk an additional ship and crew in this thieves' errand. As things stood now, Starfleet would really have no idea of what occurred. An alien like that? Nowhere in the strategy books. There's no telling what fate Starfleet would be cooking for him now. But Starfleet's response to his pursuit of Voyager was the least of his concerns at present. After all, it was only his head, and you can only lose that sort of thing once.

But with the increasing tensions of Bajor Sector, there would be no telling how the sudden mysterious loss of these two ships would ripple out from the center of the sector's attention. If anything it would raise doubts and suspicions and only contribute to the growing mistrust between the various factions. If Maquis started drawing lines in the sand – the Voyager crew might not have a home to come back to. If he failed to deliver them home – not only would the crews of two starships pay for his inadequacy, but there would be nothing to ease the tensions mounting around Bajor. Speculations would abound, and give enough people enough fuel for what could be a very large fire.

God, was B'Elanna even safe? Kel'Akann would see to her medical needs. But would he be able to keep her and Miral secure? That's all the Maquis would need – another martyr for the cause. Or two.

If...

No. Don't even think it.

He had to bring them home. His wife and daughter's lives could depend upon it. The Federation needed to know about this alien threat, as well. He hadn't even considered the fact that there could be more of these aliens lying in wait around the Federation. And no one there to warn them. Damn. He'd acted too quickly. Let that young hothead get the best of him.

Somewhere out there, was a superior being with the key to his wife's exoneration and peace in the quadrant. And Tom had to find a way to defeat an alien so strangely powerful she had defied everything two starship crews could throw at her – and had single-handedly stolen a starship from the very core of Federation security. This was the kind of threat no amount of history could prepare anyone for.

Even somehow retaking Voyager and bringing the alien into custody might not be enough to stem the tides of war. Advocate Kel'Akann, under some unfathomable Vulcan logic, decided to plunge himself in the middle of the Perseus case; just associating with it could be damaging to the presidency. It could undermine perceptions of Federation stability – a state its enemies would relish and exploit in any way possible.

Two officers lost.

And then there were the rest of the Perseus crew. Working together for the first time, shaking out the rattles. They would face this mission before their time. Tom hadn't even time to know Bessek and Tiroj. He didn't know them. Who was back home, awaiting their safe return? And now, he would have to somehow alchemize the mixed body into a starship crew. Or it could be the death of them all.

Sublieutenant Vexa – exonerated from a court martial after her first day of duty, only to go from the frying pan into a cosmic fire. Chief Grifahni – a real hothead. While Tom could understand the security chief's motives, he could no longer afford to invoke personal choices or morality in this office of command.

Did I just say that?

Tom thought back on how those ready room meetings with Captain Janeway had always left a dread in the pit of his gut – but every one of them, he now realized, was a lesson from a master. Now, he knew he represented something bigger than himself – and was charged with the protection of not only a ship's crew – but two ships' crew, his own extended family on both ships – and a restless region of space, not a few alpha quadrant civilizations; and two quietly dying souls millions of millions of millions of miles away, and getting light years further by the hour.

He caught an escaping tear.

His communicator interrupted: Doctor to Paris.

Tom straightened his posture and narrowed his mien. What now, he thought.

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