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Old November 15 2009, 11:46 PM   #181
USS Avenger
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Re: Starship Enterprise "Broken Bow" (Alternate version)

Very good battle sequence. Very thought out in terms of weapons, countermeasures and tactics, especially in a world before shields. Much, much better than "hull plating is as 45 percent"
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Old November 16 2009, 08:53 PM   #182
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Re: Starship Enterprise "Broken Bow" (Alternate version)

Well done sequence.
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Old November 16 2009, 09:39 PM   #183
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Re: Starship Enterprise "Broken Bow" (Alternate version)

other typo- Hernandez getting ready to take the shot when they are in sort range. But I agree with assessment of battle sequence- Highly plausible and well executed.
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Old November 19 2009, 06:31 PM   #184
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Re: Starship Enterprise "Broken Bow" (Alternate version)

Sorry about this, but I've got a bad dose of the flu at the moment and it's really knocked me for six. It may be a little while before the next part goes up.

In the meantime, here's one of the early publicity photos for the series.
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Old November 20 2009, 03:28 AM   #185
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Re: Starship Enterprise "Broken Bow" (Alternate version)

Why, oh why couldn't we have had this series instead of the one we got?
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Old November 20 2009, 11:22 AM   #186
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Re: Starship Enterprise "Broken Bow" (Alternate version)

I agree with everyone except Scott Dracula. I've said it before, and I'll say it again. The man has zero command presence. He's trying to be commanding in that pic, but he just looks mean and nasty to me. Which is, I suppose, different from his usual angry and petulant. Not a good pic of Connor either, he looks quite arrogant in it.

I do like your Polly however.

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Old November 23 2009, 01:18 AM   #187
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Re: Starship Enterprise "Broken Bow" (Alternate version)

UES Enterprise. The Kraltos System.
13th May 2151.

Doctor Locke came through the door from Surgery and went straight to the sink. Without a word, or even a glance, to the two captains, he rinsed the worst of the gore from his hands. Then he peeled the surgical gloves off and tossed them into the bin, before scrubbing his hands still further. Only with this activity under way did he raise his gaze to the mirror mounted above the sink, and sought out Archer's reflection. "He'll live." he said, with a hint of self satisfaction.

Archer closed his eyes and exhaled, letting the escaping breath take some of his stress with it. Opening them again he turned to the Ithenite captain sat next to him. Locke had spoken in Vulcan, the lingua franca for this region, and the captain, Karash by name, had understood. Relief was written all over his face, and he bounded from his chair to offer his most profuse thanks.

Archer lent back and smiled. More than half of the freighter's sixteen man crew had suffered injuries when it had been attacked by the Neptune class ship, and Enterprise's medical capacities had been strained hard. Despite this, and his crew's unfamiliarity with Ithenite medical needs, they'd managed to keep them all alive. The Ithenite helmsman had been most badly injured, but now Locke's surgery was successful.

"Good work, Phil." he said softly, when the freighter captain had to pause for breath.

The doctor regarded him silently for a moment. "Thanks, John." he said, with the hint of a smile.

Archer turned to Karash. "Let's go get that drink, now. OK?"

The alien positively beamed at him, waggling his head in his species equivalent of a nod.

"I'll join you later." Locke said. "I've still got a lot to do. But I think I'll need one."

"You've certainly earned it." Archer said, holding the hatch open for Karash.


As they travelled the corridors to the observation dome, Archer noticed that they attracted a few curious glances from his crew. Hardly surprising. The Ithenites looked odd to human eyes. Humanoid in general shape, they were short, coming up to just over elbow height on Archer. Their skin was copper coloured, although a couple of there number had much more silvery skin, and one was a dark bronze. Archer suspected it might indicate different ethnic groups. They wore cream coloured robes and tall red hats, somewhat like fezzes. Karash himself wore a pink scarf. It was, apparantly, his symbol of rank.

There were three Ithenites in the obs. dome already, sat round a table and chatting with Hoshi. She'd already got a good working grasp of the language. A few more days and she'd be fluent. Despite their recent trauma they seemed jovial enough, positively cheery. The Vulcan database had suggested that they were a 'psychologically resilient' species. That seemed to be the case.

They were also very fond of alcohol. Two of them had bottles of Budweiser in front of them, the third was drinking one of Reed's favourite beverages, Newcastle Brown. There were several empty bottles of each on the table, and a couple on the floor. Well, if we ever start full diplomatic relations with these people at, least we've got an ambassadorial gift for them, Archer thought. Then he scowled. More likely we'll need to pay them reparations. That was an Earth ship that attacked them...

Whilst Karash went to tell his crew the good news about their friend's surgery, Archer stepped over to the bar and requested a particular bottle of wine and a couple of glasses. He took them to a table near the front.

He looked sadly through the dome at the freighter in the distance. It was dark, dead. The emergency engineering team he'd sent over when they'd received the distress call had been able to prevent a warp core breach, but the ship was too badly damaged to be saved. Perhaps one day the Ithenites would reclaim it for spare parts, perhaps not. Right now a few of it's uninjured crew were back over there securing personal effects along with some of the more valuable cargo. A couple of Reed's Marines had gone along to help out. James and Tharpa. The shortest two.

Trip's engineering teams were now hard at work replacing their own damaged armour. As a matter of course Enterprise carried spare plating to put onto degraded areas. They'd been hit hard by that particle weapon. Computer simulations suggested that without the countermeasures or Mayweather's flying it would have drilled straight through to the reactor core.

Karash approached, smiling widely.

"You're in a very good mood, considering." Archer said.

"It was an old ship. And insured. It can be replaced. People...good people can not be replaced, not easily. You and your people, you saved my people. And for that I am happy." Karesh gestured to the bottle. "You also bring me drink. I am very happy."

"But it was a human ship that attacked you..."

Karash pointed at him. "You are an honest man, Captain Jonathan Archer of the United Earth Ship Enterprise. You are honest and open about our attackers. You tell us they are same race as you. And you offer us compensation. You do not claim they are unknown race, or pirates, then act like big hero for saving us from them. You understand, yes? This is important.
"I lose a ship, yes, this is bad. My business will suffer. But my family have other ships. We will survive. And now I have contacted new race, human race. Perhaps trade deals in the future, yes? Already--" here he pointed to his crew putting another round of drinks down their necks "--we discover a commodity you have, that we want. Perhaps we have something you want, yes?"

Archer gave a non committal nod, though he'd already discovered from the Vulcan database that the Ithenites could offer large supplies of the mineral pergium and kevas gemstones. Both would be valuable to the Earth economy. More importantly the Ithenites already had an extensive trade network in an area of space largely unknown to humanity. Just learning about that region would be useful. Having allies already in place...

Archer became aware that Karash was watching him intently. The wily trader captain knew exactly what he was thinking.

Archer smiled and lifted the bottle. "Something a little different. A wine from my home world. I hope you enjoy it."

"I'm sure I will."

"Bit of a sad story with this." Archer mused, examining the label. "Our original choice for a helmsman was injured in a road accident shortly before we left Earth. Georges was quite brilliant, if a little inexperienced. Well, very inexperienced. I don't think he's ever left the solar system. And now we've had to leave without him.....Anyway, his family own a vineyard in France, that's one of the nations on Earth, and he insisted we take a few of these with us."

He opened the wine, and poured two glasses. Karesh inhaled deeply, then took a tentative sip. "Different." He tried some more. "Mmm....yes. Yes it is good. Very good."

"I'm glad you approve." Archer said, topping up his guest's glass. He glanced round as the Ithenites at the other table all shouted "Kerenga!" whilst waving their arms in the air.

"Ah, Kerenga, " Karash smiled, "a game of both skill and chance, favoured on my world. It seems my crew are teaching your remarkable Lieutenant Sato how to play. I fear she may lose a lot of money to them."

I know she'll lose money. Archer thought. She'll lose a great deal of it, and will continue to do so until she knows the rules better than your people do. Then, when it best suits her, she'll strike.

Karash's expression changed. "I am sorry captain. I wish there was more we could tell you. Perhaps when my helmsman wakes he will remember something we do not, but..." he trailed off.

Archer nodded glumly. The Ithenites account of events had matched up with their own suppositions as to what had happened. That was good, as it showed they were on the right track. But now it seemed the trail had gone cold. He'd been hoping that the attack on the freighter had been a desperate move by the unknown enemy to stop him from learning some vital fact. Now it was looking more and more like they were just tidying up a potential loose end.

"Perhaps if we go over it again..." he suggested. A look of resigned annoyance crossed Karash's face. He'd gone through this several times already. But, after fortifying himself with another glass of wine, he started to talk.

They'd been visiting the Tellarite D-4 trading post when he'd been approached by a Yridian. Having seen visual records from the Enterprise's visit to D-4, Karash was certain it was the same one who'd shot at Reed and his men. The information broker had told him that a Vulcan shipment to the Rexus system had suffered a warp drive failure. The ship was stranded a few light years away. Whilst repair vessels were on their way, it'd take a couple of weeks to get there. In the meantime, the cargo needed delivering, and fast. The Vulcans were offering a significant payment to anyone who could help them.

It sounded too good to be true, and Karash was cautious. The devious nature of Yridians was well known to him. This one claimed to be working for the Vulcans, from whom he'd collect a fat finders fee, but only if he found a suitable cargo ship in time. Karash considered the possibility that it was some sort of trap, and that he'd find pirates or raiders in wait for him. The Yridian said he understood his concerns.

The two went out of the trading post to the landing zone. Here, in the privacy of his shuttle, the Yridian introduced Karash to T'pry, a tall, dark skinned Vulcan woman. She confirmed the Yridian's story. After about half an hour of negotiations they signed the appropriate contract. Karash immediately began preparations for the journey first to the stricken Vulcan ship, then to the Rexus system. As the Vulcan's cargo wouldn't take up all the space available in the hold, he decided to buy some fresh vegetables, hoping they could be sold to the station crew. A bit of extra profit.

During this time Gran, the Tellarite administrator, had approached him with his own shipping request. Karash had been forced to decline. Client confidentiality didn't let him say anything about the job, other than that he had been hired for something fairly big, and would be going to rendezvous with his own people in the Kraltos system when he'd finished it.

They'd then set off for the coordinates they'd been given. They took the precaution of going a roundabout route, so their entry angle couldn't be anticipated, and stopping their approach further out than normal. This gave them the opportunity to run more scans than they normally would, just in case something was up.

The ship was a Vulcan design, old but still in service. The warp drive was deactivated totally, making it impossible to tell with the freighter's limited scanners what, if anything, was wrong with it. After docking T'Pry came on board, along with two other Vulcans whom she didn't introduce. They insisted on seeing to the cargo transfer themselves. At no time did any Ithenite step on board the Vulcan craft.

Given their race's short stature, Ithenite ships are somewhat uncomfortable for taller species. The Vulcans declined the offer of a cabin, preferring instead to remain in the much loftier cargo bay. They left it only to make use of the freighter's sanitary facilities. Aside from that, they remained in the bay for nearly a week, the duration of the trip to Rexus. There was little privacy, as the cargo bay was a major access point between front and rear of the ship. The crew soon got used to the sight of the Vulcans, apparently deep in meditation, besides their cargo containers.

The journey took four and a half days, plus another day to enter the Rexus system on impulse. As they approached the station they were signalled, requesting their identity. T'Pry used the ships communicators to send the appropriate recognition code. They docked. Transfer of cargo began almost immediately. The three Vulcan's who'd accompanied them took the chartered cargo on themselves. They claimed that, as it had been entrusted to their care, they had to deal with it personally. The other Vulcan's accepted that, and Archer knew from experience that such responsibility was common to their people. The non chartered cargo, the food that Karash had bought, was transferred by both the Ithenites and some of the station crew.

They'd been glad to get on the station. Their own ship was zero gee, and it felt good to feel gravity again. All too soon though they had to leave. Although no one said exactly what, it was clear that some big event would be occurring there soon. T'Pry gave them their money, remaining, along with her companions, on the station itself. They left and made their way carefully out of the system. They set course for their rendezvous at Kraltos, at a slow but efficient speed, and had arrived five days ago.

Two days ago, a vessel of a type unknown to them arrived at the edge of the system. They were hailed. Although his ship lacked visual communication systems Karesh recognized T'Pry's voice. She said that she had a further business opportunity for them. He told her that he would be busy for a few days seeing his own people, and wouldn't be able to help her yet. After a few moments she replied that there was no hurry, the opportunity wouldn't arise for a while, but if he was interested she could start putting things into place ready. Could she come on board to discuss things further?

Whilst she'd been talking the delta shaped craft had been getting closer. Suddenly it opened fire, damaging the warp engines. Karash had done what he could to protect his people, but it wasn't much, a cargo carrier against a war ship. He thanked the gods that Enterprise had come along when it did, just a few minutes later.

Archer finished his glass and poured the two of them another, then he leant forward, elbows on the table, massaging his temples with his fingertips. He was getting a headache. To have come this far, to have fought off the enemy ship....and to have no apparent leads left....frustrating, to say the least.

"What will you do now, captain?" Karash asked sympathetically.

"I don't know." he said wearily. "I guess...maybe head back to D-4, see if the Tellarites have turned anything up. Then, onto the location where you picked up the cargo. I've no doubt their ship was working perfectly, and had turned off their warp drive so you would think they had a malfunction. So they've certainly gone by now. But still..."

Karash looked puzzled. "If they have a Vulcan ship, why they need us to delver cargo? Why not do it themselves?"

"Good question. How good are your lifeform sensors?"

"Ehhh, rather poor. Not really priority on cargo ship."

Archer nodded. "Perhaps they only have a few Vulcans on their side. You said it yourself, none of your people went onto the Vulcan cargo carrier, and only three came onto yours. For all we know everyone else on that ship could have been human.
"But the Rexus station has good sensors. If a supposedly Vulcan ship turned up with a mostly human crew, they'd realise something was up. But an Ithenite ship, with an Ithenite crew...."

"Yes, yes. They would accept that. We have done business with Rexus Vulcans before. Many years ago. But they do not forget, Vulcans. They know us and trust us. And now someone use us. Attack our friends. Abuse trust." Karash sounded bitter and angry.

Archer was about to respond when the nearby intercom whistled. "Captain Archer, please respond. Captain Archer"

He trotted over and lifted the handset. "Archer here."

"Sir, it's Hernandez. The group over at the Ithenite ship request permission to return. It's ahead of schedule but they say they've found something."

Archer glanced at his watch. The group were supposed to be over there for another hour or so. But there was no real hurry, and their oxygen and power levels would be running a bit low. Besides, that could be tiring work. Corporal James was only just off the sick list. They could resume tomorrow.

"Allright, bring them back. How's progress on the armour repairs?"

"Commander Tucker and his team seem most...adequate. They anticipate the task will be completed on schedule."

Of course, no amount of deep space work would match a full repair job at a shipyard, but Archer was sure Trip would do all humanly possible. "Understood. Carry on Commander, Archer out."

He turned to Karash, who was helping himself to the last of the wine. "Shall we see what they've found?"

***

The Shuttle Bay.

Shuttlepod three's hatch opened, letting a torrent of diminutive space suited figures spill out.

"Look at the tiny tiny people!" said Malcolm Reed. "Oh, and there's some Ithenites here as well."

Corporal James made a gesture that was not a salute.

"Mister Reed." said Archer, entering the bay with Karash. "Everything in order?"

"I believe so sir. When I heard they were on their way back I thought I'd come and check up on James and Tharpa."

Tharpa removed his helmet and took a long breath. "Good to be back on Enterprise sir. Ithenites are fine people and excellent company, but their ships are too cramped. Even for me!" he added with a smile."

"That's true." James added, wincing. She had her hand to her spacesuit's abdomen. "Should have taken another day off, I think."

Reed tutted. "And what would your father do if he heard you talking like that?"

"He'd beat you to a pulp for allowing me to get this wishy washy, sir."

Reed considered this. "Yeah, he probably would."

Archer cleared his throat. "So, what's this big discovery of yours, then?"

"Excuse me, we'll just get it sir." The two disappeared back into the shuttle.

"Her father?" Archer asked, intrigued.

"Sergeant Major Alan James. The Marines top hand to hand combat instructor. My instructor too, back in the day. I'll not say he taught me everything I know. Just everything I know that's worth knowing."

"Hmm. Remind me never to pick a fight with her."

"Are you afraid of her dad, or afraid of her? Sir." Reed added.

Archer pretended to give this great consideration. "Both."

"Wise sir, very wise. Ah here they....what is that?"

Tharpa smiled. "It is a big chunk of metal sir!"

"Well I can see that! But why did you bring it here?"

"It's a gift. " James said. " For the Professor. Remember when she came to see me in sickbay? That case she had of metal fragments. Clearly she loves bits of broken metal. So if I give her this really big bit then she's sure to be mine."

"Foolproof plan sir." Tharpa added.

Reed turned to Archer. "You see what I have to deal with?" He turned back to his troops. "Right you two, put it down. No, just along here, you don't want to scratch the deck. Now come here. Come on, stand together, shoulder to shoulder, pretend to be proper soldiers. Now I'm going to ask you this just once. Are you listening?"

The two replied "Yes Sir!". Much more military.

Reed nodded. "Very well then. What I want to know is....ABOUT TURN! QUICK MARCH!"

The parade ground volume startled the Ithenites, surprised the crew, and triggered an almost Pavlovian response in the two marines. James and Tharpa spun round, took a step forward, and tripped flat on their faces over the metal chunk.

Archer knew it was inappropriate, so he tried to hide his laughter. He could feel his shoulders shaking though. Reed had played it perfectly.

"Alright then. Let's stop messing about and get serious. What's so important about this piece of the Ithenites' ship?" Reed asked.

Tharpa shook his head. "Not Ithenite sir. Look."

James turned the chunk over. It was badly scorched, but a series of numbers was clearly visible. Archer examined them, trying to determine their meaning. It took several seconds before their true import occurred to him.

They were earth numerals.

This was part of the Neptune class ship!
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Old November 23 2009, 02:48 PM   #188
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Re: Starship Enterprise "Broken Bow" (Alternate version)

Another good chapter. Looks like Archer and crew are slowly but surely putting pieces together. I liked Reed's joke on James and Tharpa, can't tell you how many times I saw similar jokes played on troops I served with.
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Old November 23 2009, 04:03 PM   #189
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Re: Starship Enterprise "Broken Bow" (Alternate version)

I agree. It's also really clear how comfortable Reed's marines are with their CO, and he with them. Same between Reed and Archer. Archer may not want to have to take Enterprise into battle, but he's very much in command. Also I noticed the interaction between him and Locke, I take it the two have known each other for quite a while then?
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Old November 23 2009, 09:22 PM   #190
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Re: Starship Enterprise "Broken Bow" (Alternate version)

Looks like the next piece of the puzzle was found. What could those numbers lead to.....
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Old November 23 2009, 10:24 PM   #191
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Re: Starship Enterprise "Broken Bow" (Alternate version)

I like the beer name-dropping. That's one thing I liked about the new movie that bugged me about the rest of Trek. Nothing familiar. You just can't convince me that people would give up Coca-Cola or Budweiser. Some German brews have been marketed since the 1500s-I don't think everything familiar would go away in 300 years(200 for Archer, I guess. Or less.)
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Old December 1 2009, 09:56 PM   #192
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Re: Starship Enterprise "Broken Bow" (Alternate version)

OK, here's the next part. It includes an entirely gratuitous description of what Polly's wearing, purely for my own entertainment. Though I suspect Duncan MacLeod might appreciate it too.


UES Enterprise. The Kraltos System.
15th May 2151.

Hernandez had only been to the science labs once before, as part of her orientation tour shortly after joining the crew. They were even more cramped than she remembered. On a regular Declaration class ship this area would be storage for the orbital bombardment missiles. Enterprise was built without those particular weapons, so the area had been re-tasked for a role more fitting of a ship of exploration. The equipment needed took up a great deal of room, meaning that there wasn't much left for people. The corridors themselves were particularly narrow, even by the standards of the Enterprise.

I must ask Salome how she manages, Hernandez thought. Salome Murry, an enormous and lively black woman from Detroit, was a member of the same Catholic meeting group as the XO. An evolutionary biologist, she would regularly work in this congested area. She possessed what she proudly proclaimed to be the only chest on the Enterprise bigger than Polly Partridge's, and her stomach was larger still. Getting through these tiny hatches must surely be a struggle. Her husband Jeff, a short white biochemist, skinny to the point of emaciation, would find it easy.

Ahead of Hernandez Captain Archer spun open the locking wheel to yet another access hatch. Not only was this area cramped, it was also labyrinthine. She wasn't sure she could find her way out again without help. Fortunately there were plenty of computer terminals in these parts. They'd have maps. All the same she resolved to follow her captain, who seemed to know his way round.

"This is it." Archer announced, stopping at one of the side doors. A hand written note stuck to it read 'WARNING: Science in progress!'. He opened it and went in, Hernandez in tow.

"Mornin' Cap'n, ma'am." Trip Tucker said as they entered. He was leaning over a table, examining the mystery piece of metal with an old fashioned magnifying glass. Next to him was a tall thin woman in UEMA uniform, who leapt straight to attention as they came in. "This is the assistant chief engineer, Lieutenant Tricia Adams."

"As you were." Archer ordered. As she relaxed he asked "So, what do you have for us?"

"Well, we've been goin' over these numbers an' Tricia here reckons she may have worked it out."

The woman shrugged. "It's nothing terribly significant I'm afraid. When the various hull components are manufactured, they're given a standardised code so that the construction crews know were to put them. I used to work on Neptunes and know the system. We've only got a partial code here but it's enough to say that this part comes from the lower aft starboard area."

"Far as I can make out," Trip added, "when the XO shot the Neptune, it sent a shockwave through the super structure. This bit, on the other side of the hull, just cracked off under the stress an' got kicked straight into the Ithenite's ship."

Archer leant over the table, looking closer. "But surely this would have been coated in armour?"

Trip nodded. "Sure. Let's get this turned over and....careful! That bit's quite sharp. Yeah, that's OK. Thanks. Right. If you look at this side, you can clearly see the residue of the adhesive that'd normally hold the armour in place. Obviously, it's come off. Maybe from our cannon's impact, though more likely ripped off as it went through the freighters hull."

"Must have hit with quite a wallop." Archer said, rubbing the back of his neck.

"Yeah, this bit tore more'n haffway into the freighter. Luckily no one was in those sections, otherwise..." Trip trailed off. There didn't seem to be more to be said.

Hernandez pointed to a very straight edge. "This doesn't look like weapons damage."

"No Ma'am. We cut a chunk off for spectroscopic analysis. Polly's runnin' the tests now. If you don't mind waitin' for her, she'll be....ah, speak of the devil."

"And she doth appear?" said Partridge, entering through a side door. "Hi John, Maria."

Hernandez noticed a slight tightening of Adams' jaw. She doesn't care for such familiarity. Well, that was something Hernandez could agree with.

For once the Professor looked vaguely like a proper scientist, spectacles, lab coat, and a clipboard under her arm. But she wore her knee high boots with the high heels, and the gap in her coat revealed the tiny red dress. There was a studded leather choker round her neck, with a big metal ring like the ones used to attach leashes to dog collars. Similar straps were at her wrists and ankles. Not for the first time Hernandez found herself wondering about the scientist's mental stability.

"Right, I've got the sample in the machine, should just be a couple more minutes till we get the results." Partridge said.

Archer asked "Can we come through? I'd like to see the process at work."

"I should think so. It'd be a bit cramped with all of us though..."

Hernandez said "I'll wait here then." Whilst the results might be important, she really wasn't interested in the process.

"Me too." Adams said.

"OK, come on, boys." Partridge said, beckoning them through the side hatch.

For a few minutes the two UEMA women stood in the slightly uncomfortable silence of two people who don't really know one another but who are forced to spend time in one another's presence. Several times Adams seemed on the verge of speaking, but never followed through. Eventually Hernandez asked her if she had something on her mind.

"Ma'am. Is it true...that is, I've heard...Ma'am, has the Captain given Professor Partridge unrestricted access to the bridge?"

Hernandez sighed. "No. Like all civilian members of the crew, she can go onto the bridge only with proper authorization."

"But she has been on the bridge in battle situations, hasn't she?"

"That is correct. And she has provided useful tactical information." Hernandez pointed out.

Adams shook her head slightly. "Ma'am, I don't mean to diminish her achievements. I must point out however that there is a growing...dissatisfaction...amongst the crew on this matter."

Hernandez raised an eyebrow. "All the crew?"

A slight hesitation. "I've only spoken to UEMA personnel about this Ma'am. I can't comment for the others."

"Very well," Hernandez said, "what is the precise cause of this 'dissatisfaction'."

"I don't mean to tell you your job, Ma'am, but Regulation 167, sub section b, clearly states that---"

"---That no civilian shall be on the bridge during a tactical alert without the express permission of the Admiralty." Hernandez interrupted. "I am aware of the regulation, Lieutenant. I am also aware that it is a UEMA regulation. It applies to UEMA ships, UEMA officers, UEMA crews. The Enterprise is currently flying under the auspices of the UESPA. Captain Archer is a UESPA officer, the crew is mixed but operates under UESPA rules. Believe me, I have considered this matter in some depth. The Captain's decision is entirely legal, what ever you or I may think of it."

"Very good, Ma'am." said Adams, though her tone suggested she was not at all happy about it.

"Is there anything else?" Hernandez asked.

Again a hesitation. "It's just that...Ma'am, can we trust her?"

"Trust her? What do you mean?"

Adams leant closer contradictorily. "She's got, what is it, six doctorates, right? Nobody is that clever. I think...I think she must be an Augment."

"An Augment." Hernandez echoed. She rubbed the bridge of her nose. "One of the genetic supermen created more than a century and a half ago. Well, if she is, then she looks good for her age."

"None of them died natural deaths. We have no idea what their lifespan is. After all, they're supposed to be genetically perfect, and immune to all disease."

"Right, so I really can't imagine one who needs glasses. Or gets travel sick, for that matter."

Adams folded her arms. "She could be faking that. Biofeedback or something to make herself sick, and affect her vision, so someone examining her picks up the symptoms and thinks it's real. It'd be a good way to cover her tracks."

"That's enough Lieutenant."

Adams continued. "Or maybe she's descended from Augments. That could explain her unstable behaviour---"

"That's enough, Lieutenant!" Hernandez said, forcefully. "I don't want to hear any more unsubstantiated speculations on this matter. Or do you have something concrete, something verifiable, to back up your views?"

"No Ma'am." Adams replied, stiffly.

The side door opened. Archer, Tucker and Partridge filed in. Perhaps there was still some underlying tension in the room, but Archer looked sharply at the two UEMA women.

"Is something wrong?" he asked.

"No sir." Hernandez replied, though out of the corner of her eye she could see Adams staring daggers at Partridge.

The thin woman spoke. "Sir, unless I'm still needed here I'd better get back to my post."

"Of course. Thank you for your time. Dismissed." Archer said.

After she'd gone Tucker said "Y'know, I kinda get the impression she don't much like you, Polly."

"Nonsense. Everyone likes me. I'm adorable."

Hernandez bit back her first remark, and asked "So, did you find anything out?"

"Well, the metal itself is pretty much what you'd expect. However, the adhesive residue turned up something interesting. There was a surprising amount of gaseous hydrogen and helium trapped within, some methane and ammonia, and even particulate dust. Now normally there would be no way for such materials to get through the armour to the adhesive, however---"

Hernandez clicked her fingers. "The thermal expansion gaps. There's a network of tiny gaps running through the armour plating, so that as it expands and contracts due to temperature changes, it doesn't break up under the stress."

Partridge smiled. "Precisely. But given the narrowness of these gaps, very little matter can normally get through. But I've detected vast amounts. That could mean the ship has spent a very long time in an environment with those materials, or perhaps it has even replaced some of it's armour in such a location."

Archer thought about this. "So what do you think, Polly? The Neptune class has been hiding in a nebula, or something like that?"

"Possibly. Though given the available evidence I think the upper atmosphere of a gas giant is more likely."

****

Leaving Partridge to carry out further tests, the three officers set off. Although Hernandez had been dismissive of Adams' comments, she couldn't help but reconsider them as they navigated the narrow corridors.

"Commander Tucker..." she began hesitantly, "you've known Professor Partridge a good while. Has she always been so...like that?"

"Like what, Ma'am?"

Hernandez was at a loss for words. "Like...how she is."

Archer spun open the next bulkhead hatch. He turned and caught Tucker's eye. "Tell her Trip. I think she should know."

Tucker looked perplexed. "Sir, I don't know what you mean."

"Yes you do. What you told me the first time I met the the Professor."

Tucker's expression cleared. "Oh. Ah, if you think I should, cap'n."

They went through the hatch, Archer bringing up the rear. "Yes Trip, I think you should."

Tucker paused, gathering his thoughts. "OK. Yeah. But this is secret, right? Don't go tellin' nobody. OK, it's like this. Over a century ago, back in the early 2020's, a group of scientists in Britain began the first experiments into what we now call subspace field theory. This was before Zefram Cochrane of course. He built on their research."

Hernandez nodded slowly. "OK."

"Anyhow, durin' their experiments they tried to create a sub space bubble. Instead they poked themselves a hole through the continuum into sub space itself."

"A hole?"

"That's right. About so big across." He held his hands some thirty centimetres apart. "Well, there was a bit of a panic of course. Soon as it opened up it started suckin' all the air through it. Complete vacuum on the other side, you see. But they managed to get every one outta the lab before they got too badly hurt, and sealed it up, airtight.
"They didn't know what to do, and there didn't seem to be any way to close it up again. Eventually some bright spark had the idea of usin' a magnetic resonance field to contain it. They took it down to the deepest basement, 'cept they were Brits so they called it a celler, and stuck it in a big vault they'd built 'specially. There was a transparent panel, so they could keep an eye on it, and multiple generators, so if the power went off they could keep it contained."

Hernandez asked "So they thought it was dangerous?"

"Well they didn't know. Didn't have any clue at all. Anyway, over the next few years it was studied and discussed, and all manner of ideas were put forward and rejected. And then world war three came, and it was practically forgotten.
"After the war, it was rediscovered, but this time the scientists reckoned it must be fairly safe, at least when contained. It'd been left for 'bout ten years without incident."

At this point Tucker stopped walking. He leant closer to Hernandez, keeping his voice low as if he feared being overheard.

"Well, the British, see, they've always had a sense of the theatric. And tradition. That's very important to them. So they sortta....used the hole."

Hernandez leaned closer, intrigued. "Used it? How?"

"For a sort of....ritual. An initiation ritual. Whenever they get a student who shows real promise, not just good but brilliant, they take 'em into this basement, swear 'em to secrecy, and show them the hole. They call it the Schism."

"The Schism..." Hernandez echoed, feeling the hairs on the back of her neck stand on end.

"They look into it, and see the whole of the cosmos. All of matter an' energy, all time an' space. Shapes an' forms an' colours that we aint got no words for.
"Some of the students run away. Some are inspired, becomin' the greatest minds of our age. And some...some who see it go mad."

Hernandez's jaw dropped. "And....what happened to Polly?"

"Well, she didn't run away, that's for sure. It's said that...." Tucker got no further. He was interrupted by Archer dissolving into uncontrollable laughter. The Captain was bent double, clutching his sides.

As if this were his cue Tucker too lost his straight face. Pretty soon he matched Archer, tears streaming down his cheeks.

Hands on her hips, lips pursed, Hernandez regarded them both sternly. "Right. I suppose it's too much to ask for a straight answer on this ship, is it? Everyone's trying to be a comedian."

"I'm sorry. Oh, I'm sorry." Archer said, still chuckling. "He got me with that ages ago. And when you asked about Polly, it was to good an opportunity to miss."

"An' you believed it! Hook, line an' sinker!" Tucker added.

"So you made it up, then. All of it."

"Not really Ma'am." Tucker said, wiping his eyes. "It's something Polly told me once. From one of her old TV shows."

"TV? What's---"

The intraship communicator whistled for attention. "Captain Archer, Bridge to Captain Archer."

He picked up the nearest hand set. "Archer here."

"Sir, we've picked up a vessel heading this way. Too far away for positive identification yet, and it's not coming too fast, about warp 2.5. Arrival in about thirty minutes."

"Understood. I'm on my way to the bridge. In the meantime, let's not take chances. Go to condition two. Archer out."

He replaced the handset and turned to the others. "Right. Let's see who's coming to visit, shall we?"
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Old December 1 2009, 11:02 PM   #193
Duncan MacLeod
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Re: Starship Enterprise "Broken Bow" (Alternate version)

Well done, Badger. Especially the story. Intriguing to see Maria defending Polly. Adams definitely needs to have her attitude adjusted, where the UESPA crew are concerned. Maria seems to be the only one who's managed to accept that Enterprise is not a UEMA vessel anymore.

Interesting description of Polly's outfit. Although why you thought I might be appreciative is unclear. On the other hand I do know a few women who have been known to dress like that on occasion, and, yes, most of them are very, very smart. As well as being supremely confident in their sexuality. I presume that is another of Polly's traits. Probably what drives the women around her a bit crazy, and a few of the men too, not that they'd ever admit it.

As I think on it, she probably enjoyed Reed's description of her ... assets, shall we say, in the mess hall. She's too smart not to be aware of the effect she's having, and she flaunts it and comments on it, far too much for it to be accidental.

But.

I've also noticed that she doesn't seem to have had any kind of a romantic relationship with either Trip or Archer, both of whom she's known for a while. They treat her like a friend or possibly a well-liked sister, not a lover or ex-lover. Nor has there been any mention of a current relationship with someone. Definitely an intriguing character.

Looking forward to more of the story.
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Old December 1 2009, 11:42 PM   #194
The Badger
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Re: Starship Enterprise "Broken Bow" (Alternate version)

Ah, well, I wasn't going to mention it unless it came about naturally in the story, but there's no guarantee it will, so, since you asked...

At Cambridge Trip and Polly did have a relationship for a little while, but it didn't really last. They just weren't quite right for one another, and found friendship to be more satisfying than anything else. In many ways their current relationship is like that between Steed and Mrs. Peel.

And because of his position, Captain Archer consider every member of his crew off limits. This is especially true in the case of Polly. There are those who assume that, as an attractive woman, her success is as a result of sleeping her way to the top. A ridiculous belief that makes no sense, but still prevalent enough that Archer has no wish to fan the flames with anything hinting at impropriety.
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Old December 2 2009, 12:16 AM   #195
Count Zero
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Re: Starship Enterprise "Broken Bow" (Alternate version)

The Badger wrote: View Post
"They look into it, and see the whole of the cosmos. All of matter an' energy, all time an' space. Shapes an' forms an' colours that we aint got no words for.
"Some of the students run away. Some are inspired, becomin' the greatest minds of our age. And some...some who see it go mad."
Hehehehe, Hernandez should have watched more Doctor Who. What an elaborate prank story. Very nicely though out.
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