Starship Enterprise "Broken Bow" (Alternate version)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by The Badger, Apr 27, 2009.

  1. Praetor

    Praetor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    The fine line between continuity and fanwank.
    Very cool, The Badger. I was totally sucked into the mystery of what was going on. I still think Archer slugged Travis. :shifty: ;)
     
  2. Count Zero

    Count Zero Welcome to the Danger Zone! Moderator

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    I've only now caught up with your story. I was a bit reluctant at first, since I'm also writing an alternate ENT (but then again, who doesn't? :lol:), but yours is very different from mine.
    Some of the segments are great. As others have pointed out, some things are a bit over the top (when Daniels talks to Archer and Polly's calendar), but it's a very enjoyable read.
    I'm not sure about Earth being so belligerent and not having overcome poverty, yet, but it's your vision.
    I like how much thought you put into the ship layout and the problems inherent in its design. You also manage to make it sound rather archaic (however, I fear the huge protocol attached to course changes will be limiting your freedom in storytelling, e.g. in battle scenes) and I like that.
    I'm curious where this story will lead.
     
  3. The Badger

    The Badger Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Thanks for the comments, Count Zero. It means a lot that people take the time and trouble to give honest views. Of course, now I'll have to find your work and have a look at that!

    I also wanted to apologise for not having updated in a while. Although I've been going over it in my head again and again, the current heatwave is just sapping my energy. It doesn't help that I want to get a big chunk of plot exposition out of the way before we can progress, and finding a way to do that in an interesting manner is a bit of a challenge.
     
  4. Count Zero

    Count Zero Welcome to the Danger Zone! Moderator

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    Oh, my alternate ENT story is far from finished. Given my writing pace and my lack of discipline, it might never be. :lol:
     
  5. adm_gold

    adm_gold Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    This is quite good. Keep going!
     
  6. The Badger

    The Badger Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Apologies for the delay in updating. I just couldn't get into it for some reason. It doesn't help that this post is mainly exposition.

    ***********************************

    UES Enterprise. En route to the Rexus system. Warp 3.84
    21st April 2151.


    "Are you sure you want him here?" Hernandez asked quietly. A little too quietly. Archer apparently did not hear over the hubbub.

    She tapped his arm to get his attention, then asked again, gesturing towards Mayweather.

    Despite the press of people in the briefing room, the Ensign was being given a wide berth. Even his fellow UEMA's seemed a little put out by his presence.

    Archer glanced his way for a moment, then nodded to Hernandez. "He's the best helmsman we've got, and the only one with any combat experience. I don't anticipate trouble, but if it crops up, I'll need him in the loop."

    He looked Hernandez straight in the eyes. "Commander, I'm making Travis your personal responsibility. As long as he is on this ship you keep him in line. Understood?"

    "Yes Sir." she replied emphatically, meeting his gaze, letting him know she would be taking this seriously. It's what I should have been doing from the start, she thought. Dropped the ball there, and been playing catch up ever since.

    Archer checked his watch. "All right, let's get this started."

    Hernandez nodded and made for her seat. With so many people crammed into the room the normal chairs and tables had been taken out, replaced with several rows of benches. As XO Hernandez had a front row place, next to Lt. Sato.

    "Lieutenant."

    "Commander."

    As Hernandez sat the hatch swung open and Professor Partridge entered. "Room for one more?"

    "Polly, over here!" said Sato, gesturing to the bench between herself and Hernandez.

    Instead of her usual one piece outfit Partridge was wearing a tight red dress, daringly short, made of what looked like the same synthetic material as the rest of her wardrobe.

    Knee high boots and a miniskirt, thought Hernandez. Who in their right mind would consider that suitable for a starship?

    Partridge half sat, then stood rapidly, head darting from side to side like a meerkat. "Where's Trip?"

    "Commander Tucker is on the bridge. Keeping things running. He's already been briefed." Hernandez explained.

    Partridge sat. As she did so she brushed against Sato's shoulder, making her wince.

    "Are you all right?"

    Sato nodded. "I was practising my kata down in the gym. Some of the Marines were down there, practising hand to hand combat techniques. They invited me to join in. I think they meant it as a joke, expecting me to back down"

    She smiled. "I don't back down."

    Hernandez leaned round Partridge. "So what happened?"

    Sato rubbed her shoulder. "Well, after the usual preliminaries, they put me up against...Tipper, Tipping, whatever his name is. Strong and fast, but he tends to over extend. Leaves him wide open. So, after I'd assisted him to the floor, without him touching me once, they all went into a huddle.

    "I think there was a bit of pride at stake. They got that short girl..."

    "Corporal James?" asked Partridge.

    "That's the one. I tell you, she's got some moves. I've not seen the system she uses before, but it seems effective. I got the impression she was holding back. There were a couple of times she started a move, and stopped it instantly. Like her reflexes were kicking in and she was having to control it."

    "Not surprising." said Hernandez, nodding. "From what I've heard, Reed's people train in a military style. It's meant for fighting battles, not sport. If she'd not controlled herself, she could have seriously injured you."

    "I can believe that." Sato said, flexing her shoulder. " In fact, I thought about..."


    She was interrupted as Captain Archer called for order. "All right every one. Settle down now, settle down."

    As the chatter died down, he gestured to Lt. Moshiri, who sat at the controls for the main view screen. She dialled the lights down.

    "There' s more information in the ship's data banks, but I wanted to make sure we all had some basic knowledge of the situation." said Archer.

    A star map appeared on the screen. Earth, signified by a bright blue icon, was positioned bottom left. A few nearby blue lights indicated Earth colony worlds and outposts. The bright green icon for Vulcan was top right, surrounded by over a dozen green lights.

    One of the crewmen raised his hand. "Sir, what do the yellow icons mean?"

    "Those are independent systems. Denobula is over here, Axanar there, and so on. Haleh, this is your subject. Would you care to take over?"

    "Thank you sir." Moshiri stood, holding a remote control. "The Rexus system is located approximately midway between Earth and Vulcan. As you can see, it is a Vulcan system, at the edge of their territory."

    She pointed the control, and the display zoomed in towards the system. "One star, F-class. There are no habitable planets. The Vulcans built a deep space outpost in the system a little over two centuries ago."

    "For what purpose?" Hernandez asked.

    "Two main reasons. The first was scientific. The Rexus system contains a surprising number of planets, seventeen. Six of them are gas giants, the rest solid."

    The display zoomed in even further, now showing the multiple tracks of orbiting objects.

    "There are also over two dozen planetesimals, numerous moons, asteroids and comets. Furthermore..."

    The image twisted, giving a side view of the system.

    "...unlike most star systems, where the majority of objects exist in one orbital plane, approximately one third of the bodies here travel at an angle, ranging from a few degrees to, in rare cases, almost perpendicular. The whole area is of great interest to astronomers."

    "Fascinating...." Partridge breathed. From the top of her boot she fetched a small pouch. This contained a pair of wire rimmed spectacles, which she perched on the bridge of her nose whilst leaning forward for a better look.

    Hernandez stroked her chin. "That must present some navigation problems."

    Moshiri nodded. "It sure does. I'll come to that in a moment. The other reason the Vulcans built the outpost was trade. There are several warp capable civilisations nearby. For many decades it served as common ground for all sorts of merchant activity. Turned a tidy profit, with the Vulcans getting a cut of all business transactions taking place in the system. About three decades ago, a race called the Tellarites set up their own trading post in an otherwise uninhabited system about two and a half light years away. Charged about the same as the Vulcans, but there were fewer navigational problems. Most of the business went to them.

    "There's still some business activity at Rexus, though it's rather rare nowadays. If you want to sell to or buy from the Vulcans, it's either here or a twenty eight light year trip to their next trading post. Also, they can be counted on to be impartial advisers or witnesses. Useful in many inter species transactions."

    Archer stood back up. "There's another reason the Vulcans maintain a presence in this system. Vast quantities of valuable minerals are present. Now, given the distance to the Vulcan home world, it's not yet practical to begin mining on a major scale. So, until it does become practical, the Vulcans keep an outpost there to ensure no other race stakes a claim."

    He looked round the room. "In fact, one of the things the President and the Premier are due to discuss is the possibility of a joint mining venture. Potentially of great benefit to both our civilizations. Carry on Haleh."

    "Thank you sir. Now, those navigational problems we talked about. They are actually of some benefit to us in these circumstances. They provide security.

    "Unless you have very accurate, up to date details of the positions of the planets, asteroids and so on in the system, you simply can't warp in. It's too dangerous. The sheer mass of solid matter floating round would defeat even the most powerful deflector array."

    She touched a control, and a representation of Enterprise appeared at the systems edge.

    "The only way in is to stop just outside the system, run a full scan, and plot a new course. That'd take ten, twenty minutes, and would involve active sensors. You'd be detected inside the system easily. Then you'd have to go in on impulse. That'd take several hours."

    Mayweather raised a hand. "Excuse me, Lieutenant. Once you have the navigational data, wouldn't it be possible to go in at warp?"

    "Possible. But unlikely. Chances are, at any one time there are between two and six relatively clear pathways through which a ship can travel at warp speed. But they are very narrow, and spread out. It's hugely improbable that there'll be an entrance anywhere near you."

    Mayweather nodded. "Ah. I see. Thank you Lieutenant.".

    And now he's being nice again, Hernandez thought. Strange.

    Out loud, she said "So let's get this straight. A ship trying to get into the system has to stop on the outskirts, run a full scan to locate anything that might get in it's way, giving away it's own position in the process. Unless it's lucky enough to arrive near to one of these pathways, which is unlikely, it'll have to go in at impulse speed, taking several hours. Is that right?"

    "Yes Ma'am."

    Hernandez held up two fingers. "OK, two points. First of all, won't ships already in the system have just as much trouble getting out?"

    Moshiri used the remote to place the Enterprise image deep in the system. "No Ma'am. Once inside the system we can run scans and plot all possible exit courses. Remember, an intruder vessel will be trying to get to a specific point inside the system. If we decide to bug out, we just have to get away.

    "As long as we keep our navigational charts current, we can run. And as long as we know where the potential attackers are coming from, we can choose a direction that puts as much distance and as much of the Rexus system between us and them as possible."

    Someone, Hernandez didn't recognise the voice, snorted from the direction of the UEMA's. "Running. You can tell she works for UESPA."

    There were a few chuckles.

    Hernandez shot that corner of the room an angry glare. "You'd prefer to fight? With the President on board?"

    The chuckles subsided.

    She turned back, saw Archer give her a respectful nod. She took a deep breath, and smoothed her uniform.

    "You mentioned keeping the charts current. That brings me to my second point. Surely it would be possible to predict where these warp safe pathways would be in advance? After all, if we know the location, orbital path, and velocity of all the planets and other stuff, we can calculate where they'll be in the future?"

    Even as she spoke she could see Moshiri shaking her head slightly.

    "It's a chaotic system." Partridge said.

    The scientist stood and stepped nearer to the display, examining it critically. She turned, whipping her spectacles off and and using them to point to the display.

    "All those bodies. They all have mass. Gravitation. Every second every single one is affecting all the others. Pulling them ever so slightly from their path. Making them travel faster or slower. Small differences, but over time even the smallest differences can add up.

    "At a rough guess..." she tilted her head to one side, and muttered under her breath for a few seconds. "....I'd say that most navigational data would become totally redundant after about four days. Though things would be getting risky after two."

    Moshiri cleared her throat. "Vulcan safety protocols do advise against warping into the system with anything more than fifty hour old data."

    Looking pleased with herself, Partridge sat down.

    "So." Hernandez continued. "Unless some one has accurate data, less than two days old, they are not getting anywhere near the outpost in a hurry."

    "That's right, Ma'am. And with their being so little traffic to Rexus nowadays, there's not much chance of anyone having that data."

    "That does seem to make the system secure. What military assets will be present?"

    Moshiri looked to Archer, who stood.

    "This is a diplomatic mission. Given the Vulcan's pacifist principles, in system protection will be provided by ourselves, and the T'dara Len, the ship that's bringing the Premier." he said.

    "Hmm. Seems a little...light, for protecting two heads of state."

    Archer nodded. "That is, however, what the diplomats agreed on. If it makes you feel any better, there is a Vulcan fleet on standby at their nearest colony. If we are attacked, we can signal them, and they can be with us before the attackers have got through the system." He pulled a face. "At least, that's the plan."

    Partridges arm shot up. "Excuse me, how could we signal them? My own researches suggest that sub space transmissions are possible in principle, but the practical problems have so far been insurmountable. If the Vulcans have such technology, that represents a major breakthrough."

    Archer shook his head. "Nothing so advanced. As I understand it, they use some form of phased tachyon pulse. It's too big and power hungry to put on ships, so they use it to link their stations together. Rather like the telegraph system in the old west."

    "Oooh, I'd like to get a look at that."

    "I'm sure a tour of the outpost can be arranged, Professor. Any way, I hope that puts your mind at ease Commander."

    She nodded. "It helps Sir."

    Switching to Spanish she muttered "As long as we can trust the Vulcans."

    "I'm sure we can." Sato murmured in the same language, with a wry smile.
     
  7. Count Zero

    Count Zero Welcome to the Danger Zone! Moderator

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    Nice installment. I liked the in-joke about high heels and miniskirts on starships... ;)
     
  8. The Badger

    The Badger Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Thanks. I knew explaining all the background information would make for a pretty dull read, so I tried to enliven it with a bit of characterisation.
     
  9. Mistral

    Mistral Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Yeah, me too. You owe me a diet coke and 1/2 box of Kleenex! Snorted the Coke out my nose and had to use the Kleenex to clean the laptop!:lol: Good job.
     
  10. The Badger

    The Badger Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Apologies again for not updating recently. I was making progress on one scene, but then realised I'd have to put another scene in first.

    Hopefully it'll be ready soon.
     
  11. The Badger

    The Badger Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    UES Enterprise. En route to the Rexus system. Warp 3.79
    22nd April 2151.

    Door bells of one description or another were pretty much standard on spacecraft. It had been so long since Travis Mayweather had heard someone physically knocking on a door that for several seconds he couldn't recognise the tapping noise.

    He was lying, fully dressed, on his bunk, eyes closed, hands tucked behind his head. It had been a gruelling day. After his shift he'd spent several hours in the main computer room, going through past records of the Rexus system. If there were potential difficulties ahead, he wanted to be ready for them. Afterwards he'd gone down to the gym for a quick but intensive work out, before staggering his way back to his quarters.

    He wasn't surprised to be alone. His room mate, Drake, worked a different shift to him anyway. He was also much more garrulous than Mayweather, and would spend most of his free time with friends in the obs. dome or in someone else's quarters. That suited Mayweather just fine.

    Now who would be knocking on my door at this time of night? he thought. More to the point, who would knock at all, when you can press a button?

    Perhaps someone angry, or agitated, or even exuberant. Pounding on a door would be typical for someone in a heightened emotional state. Except this knocking was quiet, controlled, even subdued.

    Maybe someone who didn't want their presence noted. The ships computer routinely noted all uses of electrical power: even something as minor as a door bell would be recorded. Of course, unlocking the door would also be noted, it was an electronic locking system, but he knew enough psychology to recognise that people rarely behaved sensibly.

    So who would come visiting, late at night, hoping to leave no record of their presence? For a few moments he allowed himself the luxury of imagining one of the women on board, smitten with his charms, had been unable to keep away. Maybe that Lt. Moshiri. Or Professor Partridge. Or both.

    It was an idle thought, a momentary amusement, and he pushed such ideas away. He could guess what this was about.

    Still with his eyes closed, he reached out and triggered the intercom, another possible trace in the computer. "Who is it?".

    A moments pause, then a woman's voice. "We're friends."

    "If you want Drake he's not here at the moment."

    Another pause. "We know. We want to speak to you."

    This is it! he thought, heart suddenly racing. He took a deep breath to steady himself. Briefly he considered the possibility that a group of UESPAs had decided to mete out their own form of justice for the Jacobs incident. But that wasn't their style.

    Well, maybe that Japanese officer, Lt. Sato. More than once he'd caught her giving him the evil eye, as if daring him to start something. No chance of that. He'd heard about her sparring sessions, and had no desire to get into a fight with her.

    And if it were a group, seeking safety in numbers, it was damn foolish of them to announce over the intercom that there was more than one. Better to claim to be alone, then rush en masse, administer a sound beating, then scurry away into the shadows.

    Of course, that was assuming they behaved sensibly. He snorted.

    "The doors open." he said, hitting the unlock key.

    There were three of them, all in military black. Two Lieutenants. One a tall, pale woman who could have stepped out of a recruiting poster, the other a nondescript man. The third visitor was a nervous looking crewman, glancing around himself constantly. They didn't give their names.

    "Ensign Mayweather. No, don't get up. This is just an informal visit. May we sit?" said the woman.

    He gestured to wall under the entertainment console, where the folding stools were located.

    They sat.

    There was an awkward silence. Nervous man, wringing his hands together, was the first to break.

    "So...I hear Captain Archer hit you..."

    "You heard wrong. I tripped, banged my head. That's all."

    The nervous man withered under Mayweather's tone.

    The woman tried a different tack. "I wish I could say this was a social call, but I'm afraid that isn't the case. There is something very important we must discuss."

    Mayweather drawled "I'm all ears."

    She glanced at both her companions, before leaning forward. "You are not alone in your...dislike of the current situation. UESPA simply should not have control of this ship."

    "What are you proposing?" he sneered. "Mutiny?"

    "Nothing so...dramatic."

    He sat up, giving her his full attention. "Go on."

    "Currently, we are on a mission that must succeed. This upcoming trade agreement with the Vulcans would be of great benefit to Earth. Nothing must be allowed to prevent it."

    Mayweather thought about this, and nodded slowly.

    "Afterwards, though, the Enterprise will continue on it's mission for UESPA. Tracking spacial anomalies. Examining bacteria on some god-forsaken moon. All right, I'll admit it's got to be done. But not with this ship. Not with a military ship.". She jabbed a finger for emphasis.

    He grunted his assent.

    She leant back. "I'm sure you know, Enterprise will revert to military command in times of emergency. What they've not said though is that, if UESPA show themselves unable to operate this ship efficiently, they'll have to give it back to us anyway.". She shot him a significant look.

    "Sabotage." he said simply. His Martian accent pronounced it 'sabotadge'.

    The woman nodded slightly, giving him a tight lipped smile. "Nothing major. Nothing blatant. It must look as if the UESPA people simply can't cut it. If it's obvious that we are responsible, the politicians would look more favourably on them next budget review."

    "Not to mention a court martial for everyone involved." said the nervous crewman.

    Mayweather said nothing, waiting for them to continue.

    After a few moments the woman went on. "There are...things we can do, little things, that can leave us in the clear, but reflect badly on the UESPAs. But we must be subtle. We had already started some of them, but now we are on this mission we've put everything on hold."

    She gave the nervous man a glance. He leaned forward. "We've got friends all over the ship. Bailey in navigation, Konwiki and Smith from gunnery, Teal in..."

    He cowered as Mayweather slapped his hand loudly against the bulkhead. "What the hell's wrong with you? You an idiot or something? You start blabbing the names of everyone in your conspiracy? Dimwit."

    From the corner of his eye he saw the nondescript man give the woman a significant nod.

    So. I'm being tested.

    He regarded them for a moment. "And what exactly do you want me to do?"

    "Nothing, Mister Mayweather."

    He raised an eyebrow.

    "In order for our little campaign to work, UEMA must appear completely blameless. And here we have a problem. You."

    "Ah, I get it. I'm not exactly known for my helpful and friendly attitude."

    "Precisely. Forgive my saying this, but you have already cast UEMA in a bad light. The UESPAs don't trust us. They're always wary when we are around. It makes it difficult for us to do what has to be done.

    "Quite frankly," she continued, "it would be in our best interests if you weren't on-board at all. No offence."

    "Well, you sure know how to make a fellow feel welcome."

    She smiled. "Oh, don't be like that. I have a proposition for you. Do your job here on the Enterprise to the best of your ability. Stay out of trouble. Let's get through this mission in one piece. Afterwards you can put in a request for a different posting.

    "Yes, I know you are here on General Kaplasky's orders. But she's not the only officer with an interest in this ship. You'll get a transfer. Given your record, it'll probably be a step down, or at best sideways. But it'll only be temporary.

    "With you out of the way, we can go ahead without the UESPAs quivering every time they see this uniform. Sooner or later, Enterprise will be back with it's rightful owners. And you may well find yourself back on board."

    The woman stood. So did the two men, taking their cues from her. "Just think about what I've said. It really is in everyone's best interest."

    "Not the UESPA people's." said Mayweather, with a wry smile. "I'll think it over."

    They headed for the hatch. The nondescript man, who hadn't said a word, touched the woman on the shoulder. She turned back to Mayweather.

    "That reminds me. You knew Hernandez from the Sun Tzu didn't you? Do you think she would be ...sympathetic to our aims?"

    He shrugged. "Really couldn't say. Never knew her that well. We didn't socialise much. She's very by the book."

    The woman looked disappointed. "Probably no worth the risk of contacting her then. Pity. It would be useful to have her on our side.

    "At any rate, think about what I've said. Needless to say, this should be kept between ourselves. Goodnight."

    They left.

    Mayweather got up, pushed the hatch shut, and locked it.

    That went pretty well, considering.

    He noticed his hand was shaking. He stared at it for a second, then dashed for the bathroom, getting to the sink just as the nausea got the better of him.
     
  12. Mistral

    Mistral Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Counter-spy? Hmm.....
     
  13. Count Zero

    Count Zero Welcome to the Danger Zone! Moderator

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    You're sure packing a lot of storylines into your story. I have a feeling Mayweather might not be as one-dimensional as previoulsy thought...
     
  14. The Badger

    The Badger Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    UES Enterprise. En route to the Rexus system. Warp 3.81
    Captains Log. 27th April 2151. As we approach our destination shipboard morale seems to be improving. Whilst the crew still seems to be divided into UESPA and UEMA camps they do at least appear to tolerate each other to a much greater degree than at the start of the voyage. Possibly this is because they are now realising just how far we are from Earth, and how we can rely on no one but ourselves.
    I myself have had misgivings these last few days. I had always hoped that Enterprise's first mission would be one of exploration. While I recognise the vital importance of this trade meeting, and feel truly honoured to participate in any way, I must admit that this isn't what I want to be doing. Still, the political good will generated will do UESPA no end of good. Hopefully it'll mean a funding increase at the next budget!


    Captain Archer tapped the button to stop recording, and frowned. There were other matters, too, that disturbed him, but at this time he didn't want to leave any record.

    Leaning back in his chair he glanced around his office. It was small, but he'd managed to personalize it comfortably. Pictures from home. A small sculpture of a Grenthek, a horse like creature from Denobula. A bookcase stuffed full of his favourite works.

    There was something missing though.

    "Regulations be damned." he announced to the empty room. "I'm bringing my dog next time.". Just saying it made him feel better. In his mind he began rearranging the furniture, finding the best place to put a dog basket.

    A whistle from the intercom interrupted him. "Captain, you asked me to remind you when we approach our destination."

    "Thanks, Hoshi, I'll come on through."

    He left the office and went to the bridge, avoiding the pipes and conduits on the way.

    As he entered, Hernandez, who had the center seat, stood. "Captain on the bridge!"

    "As you were." he said, waving her back down. He turned to Hoshi. "Put me on ship wide, please."

    "Aye sir. You're on."

    Archer cleared his throat and lifted the microphone. "Ladies and gentlemen, your attention please. The Enterprise has nearly arrived at the Rexus system. You may be interested to know that in doing so this ship has set a new record for greatest continuous distance travelled by an Earth vessel."

    Whilst some ships had travelled greater total distances, they had all required regular breaks in the journey, leapfrogging from one system to the next. Up until now, it was the only way to travel. The ability to cruise directly to the next destination would be a great benefit to exploration.

    He went on. "In addition, thanks to the sterling work of Trip Tucker and the engineering staff, we've maintained an average speed of warp 3.8. As such, we are a full three days ahead of schedule. In fact, if we were much faster, we'd arrive at our destination before the Vulcan delegation. While that's certainly tempting, it could be seen as....undiplomatic to arrive in Vulcan soveriegn territory before the official greeting party do."

    He waved at Moshiri to get her attention and mouthed how long? She tapped out a response on her keyboard. Above the main view screen the digital clock now started to display a countdown.

    "We now have just over ten minutes until we drop out of warp. I recommend you make yourselves secure, preferably strapped in. Archer out."

    He put down the handset, and let out a deep breath. "Commander, please check with all departments that they are ready."

    Hernandez nodded. "Yes sir". It was an odd request. The Captain had just been on the ships intercom, he could have checked himself with no effort at all. On the other hand, she'd noticed over the past few days that Archer had been making a deliberate effort to get her involved in the minutia of running the ship, even areas that she would normally not be involved with.

    Probably trying to get me to feel like a part of the crew. Good tactic.

    She signalled ship wide, and requested readiness status from all departments. As they responded in their pre-arranged order she checked them off on her pad. She knew some officers who would rely on memory to keep track of it all, but that was not her way. Regulations said check it on the computer, so that's what she would do.

    Besides which, Enterprise was bigger than any other ship she'd been on, and had more departments. Even if she weren't going to do it by the book, she couldn't yet remember them all.

    Task done, she signed off the form and stood. Archer was deep in conversation with Sato, though not so deep as to be unaware of her approach.

    "All departments report ready Sir."

    "Thank you Commander." He took the pad and examined it critically before signing it himself. "I have the Conn."

    "Aye Sir." Hernandez said. Whilst Archer took the center seat, she went to Gunnery. Automatically she checked everything was in readiness.

    She didn't need to turn to know that Archer was giving her a disapproving stare. He'd made it clear several times that he was unhappy with the more militant aspects of his ship. But as long as she was on this bridge, she would do her job. Some small voice at the back of her mind reminded her, you didn't do your job properly earlier. Let the situation with Mayweather slide. And look how that turned out.

    Very carefully, and deliberately, she double checked her station. I'm not going to fail again.

    The next few minutes seemed to Archer to drag like hours. He had to make a conscious effort not to drum his fingers impatiently on the arm of his chair. A captain had to be seen to be calm and in control. All the same, when the countdown finally droped to less than one minute, he felt like he would explode with nervous tension.

    All the time the background hum of the bridge was filled with disembodied voices. Hoshi was monitoring the various stations as they communicated by intercom.

    "...ready, section d, ready, section e, ready....", "...life support functioning within normal...", "...sidential party secured, obs. dome ready for...", "...tificial gravity at 0.8, temperature...", "...warp core running smooth as Kentucky bourbon...".

    Archer grinned as he recognised Trip's voice. He took a deep breath, held it, then let it out. That helped relieve at least some of the tension.

    "Thirty seconds sir." said Moshiri.

    "Thank you Haleh. Hoshi, the warp manoeuvre warning please."

    Five distinct chimes rang out.

    "Hear we go." said Hernandez, to no one in particular.

    Up until the last second Moshiri was updating the course, passing the data to Mayweather's station. Minor changes, but still, he implemented them swiftly and accurately.

    Despite everything, Archer thought, those two are working well together.

    Moshiri counted down "...three...two...one...disengage."

    "Disengaging." Mayweather pulled back on the main lever.

    Ahead of them, the streaks of starlight began to settle down into their familiar pinpricks of light. One, almost dead centre of the view screen, seemed somewhat brighter than the rest. At this distance the star of the Rexus system had little to distinguish it from it's more remote brethren.

    Simultaneously, a distant humming became a load roar before fading to a low growl. And then it was gone.

    They had arrived.

    "Ladies and gentlemen." Archer said, standing. "You are all to be congratulated. This is the maiden mission of the Enterprise, and, while we still have much to do, I must commend you all for your....".

    He broke off as the sensor console emitted an unfamiliar, high pitched tone. Ensign Kaufman, manning the console, turned from the captain, studying the readouts.

    Archer chuckled. "Well, it looks you've been spared the big speech I'd prepared!"

    There were smiles and a few laughs at this. But then he notices something worrying. The UEMA people weren't smiling. They looked downright concerned.

    "Hernandez?"

    Her head shot towards him. "Sir, that alarm indicates we've detected weapons fire! Recommend we go to alert status immediately."

    He was shocked. Totally thrown. Shaking his head, not in refusal but in disbelief, he asked "Are you sure?".

    He's frozen, she realized. The rules and regulations regarding situations like this were clear. If the captain was unable to command, she had to take over. And hope it all works out at the inquest later....

    "Ensign Sato...." she began.

    "Ensign Sato, set condition one throughout the ship!" Archer barked. He'd wrested himself free from his moment of self doubt. "Mister Kaufman, what can you tell us?"

    Kaufman was one of the military personnel. "Sir, we have detected energy emissions consistent with atomic explosions. Triangulating position now.". He bent his bald head over the console.

    Archer became aware of a squawking from Hoshi's station. He glanced in her direction.

    "Muldhoon from the President's bodyguard." she explained. "Wants to know what's happening."

    "Tell him we'll let him know as soon as we find out ourselves."

    "Aye sir."

    Kaufman turned back. "Sir, it appears as if at least six, possibly as many as nine atomic explosions occurred in the vicinity of the Rexus station. I am also detecting gamma ray bursts...sir, it looks like a ship explosion. Judging by the energy release, a big one too."

    "My God." breathed Hernandez.

    "Crewman, could it be the T'dara Len?" Archer demanded. The ship carrying the Vulcan Premier was the only one, apart from Enterprise, authorized to be in the system.

    "I really couldn't say sir."

    Archer stepped away, aware of the shocked expressions on his crews faces.

    Travelling at the speed of light, the energy of those explosions, energy that Enterprise was only now detecting, had taken hours to reach it's current position. Whatever event had occurred, be it accident or something more sinister, had happened some considerable time ago.

    And now, before they could move to investigate, to offer what help they could, they would have to spend at least ten minutes scanning the system with active sensors.

    So if it is an attack, Archer realised, whoever is responsible will know we are coming...
     
  15. Count Zero

    Count Zero Welcome to the Danger Zone! Moderator

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2005
    Location:
    Procrastination Plaza
    An intriguing turn of events, to say the least...
     
  16. The Badger

    The Badger Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2008
    Location:
    Im in ur Tardis, violating ur canon.
    First, a quick apology to Lt. Hoshi Sato, who seemed to receive a demotion to ensign in the last part. Sorry about that!

    ***********************
    UES Enterprise. Stationary at the edge of the Rexus system.
    27th April 2151.

    "I've discussed the matter with the President." said Archer, entering the briefing room. "We are to make our way to the Vulcan space station as quickly as possible, and render any aid we can."

    Hernandez stood. "Captain, surely our priority in this situation is to see to the President's safety?"

    "I raised that point, Commander, but he was adamant." Archer said, handing her his pad. "An executive order from the Commander in Chief. Can't really argue with that."

    For a moment it looked like Hernandez would argue with that. She examined the pad critically. "Very well sir. Though I must lodge an official protest."

    "Understood. I'll make a note in the ships log."

    Hernandez gave a hint of a smile. "It would be a shame to come all this way, only to turn round at the first hint of danger."

    Archer nodded. "That may be a moot point though, if we can't get there quickly enough. Speaking of which..."

    He turned and addressed the rest of the room. Apart from Hoshi Sato, who currently had the bridge, all his senior officers were there. Professor Partridge and Doctor Locke were also present.

    "How's our transit problem?"

    Lt. Moshiri looked round from the display screen. "Not good sir. So far we've only been able to identify two possible warp pathways, and both are on the far side of the system from us. Going round would take over two hours to get to the nearest, and twice that for the other. Transit time in each case would be about half an hour."

    Archer winced. That was not good news.

    "Lieutenant? How long would it take us to reach this point?" asked Mayweather, indicating an area on the edge of the system.

    "At warp speed? A couple of minutes, five at the most. Why?"

    Mayweather nodded slowly. "We can get in along this trajectory, then." He traced a line on the map with his finger.

    There was a moments surprised silence. It was broken by Locke's derisive snort.

    "Ensign, you better get down to sickbay and have your eyes tested. In case you haven't noticed, there's a couple of planets in the way!"

    "That's right. Just the two."

    Archer and Hernandez exchanged glances.

    "Ensign, without a straight line course, we can't warp in." the first officer said, adding " As the saying goes, 'Faster than light, no left or right'."

    "With respect ma'am, that's not quite true." Mayweather held his hands out, as if trying to physically capture his ideas, and give them to her. "It's certainly a lot more efficient to go in a straight line, but you can change course at warp. What I suggest is, we head along towards this gas giant. Not straight at it, but a few degrees out. We can then curve round it, head towards this planet, do the same thing, and carry on straight to the station. We'd have to be careful of any orbiting moons, but apart from that, there's nothing in the way that our navigational deflectors can't handle."

    Archer looked at his chief engineer. "Trip?"

    Tucker didn't look happy. "Well, it is possible." he conceded, "But it'll place the devil of a strain on the engines."

    "We can do it sir." Mayweather insisted. "It'll need top notch navigating and piloting, but I can provide the second."

    He gave Moshiri a challenging look.

    "Oh, you better believe I can provide the former."

    She thought about it for a moment. "We'll also need maximum sensor efficiency. Who's our best sensor operator?"

    Archer considered this. "If it were a combat situation, I'd say Kaufman. But as we're trying to detect natural phenomena, not ships...Professor Partridge, I'd like you on the bridge."

    "Me?"

    "If you man the computer station, you could help transfer the relevant data from Kaufman to Moshiri. It'd help make things more efficient."

    Partridge looked unsure of herself, but she nodded.

    Archer continued. "We have no idea what may be waiting for us there. Commander, much as it pains me to say it, you'd better get the ship prepared for combat."

    "Yes sir."

    "Mister Reed. Have your marines on standby. If we need to board a Vulcan ship to offer help, I'm afraid it's your boys and girls who'll have to go in first."

    "That's what we're here for, Captain. But if I may make a suggestion? Keep them ready here until we're sure it's safe. If someone's been attacking the Vulcans, they might try it on with us. We may have to repel boarders."

    Archer rubbed the back of his neck. "Huh. Hadn't thought of that. Better make sure all the UEMA personnel are armed, and all the UESPA's with security training too."

    "Aye Captain."

    "Doctor Locke, you better get sickbay ready to recieve casualties."

    Locke clambered out of his seat. "I've already got Millington sythesizing Vulcan blood. Added to the stuff we've already got on board, we'll be ready."

    Hernandez asked "You've already got Vulcan blood?"

    "We're carrying a couple of them as passengers, I thought it prudent. Mister Reed, you better send your medic down to sickbay. I'll fill him in on Vulcan triage."

    "Will do Doctor."

    Archer regarded his crew. "Right, unless any one can come up with a better idea...No? Anyone? Well. I guess that's the plan then. Let's get to work."

    ***

    The Bridge.


    Polly Partridge looked absolutely terrified during the journey in, but for once Hernandez didn't blame her. The quick dash to the point that Mayweather had selected was easy enough. So was most of forty minute journey.

    The same could not be said about the high speed passage round first one planet, then another. The normal hum of the warp engines was replaced by a hideous high pitched scream that had the resonance of squeaky chalk on a blackboard. Everyone found themselves flinching instinctively. Underlying it was a deeper, more disturbing howl that put Hernandez in mind of the wailing of souls in the torments of Hell itself.

    Normal conversation was impossible, and those involved in plotting and executing the manoeuvres resorted to the use of communications headsets to talk to those only a few meters away.

    Just as bad were the visual effects. At one point, whilst passing the outer planet, everything seemed to turn blue. Moments later the colour had returned to normal, but the air seemed full of flickering lights.

    "A-V radiation." Partridge shouted to be heard. "Caused by leptonic dispersal in an unstable sub space resonance field. Perfectly harmless...I think."

    That latter comment did nor reassure Hernandez, but before she could ask for clarification Partridge was sending data on the presence of a moon to Moshiri.

    Things settled down once they returned to a straight line course. Tucker immediately called from engineering.

    "Cap'n, we took the engines to the red line on that one. Tell me it won't be so bad next time."

    "Shouldn't be, the next planet is smaller. We don't need such a tight manoeuvre."

    "Glad to hear it. All the same, we're going to have to shut down the reactor soon, or risk it goin' critical."

    Archer took a deep breath. "Trip, we may need full power for the weapons when we get there. You've got to keep it going as long as possible."

    A pause. "I'll do what I can. Tucker out.". He sounded resigned.

    Passing the inner planet was indeed simpler than before. But not by much. During a repeat of the visual phenomena that had accompanied the first planet, there was a horrifying moment where, just for a split second, exposed flesh seemed to melt away leaving pristine white bone in its place.

    "Madre de Dios!" Hernandez gasped.

    "There are times when I envy the religious." Partridge called out. "I can't really invoke scientific principles in the same way!" Her tone, whilst light, was clearly forced. She too was disturbed.

    Fortunately they cleared the planet a few moments later. The run to the station was now clear, save for a cluster of pebble sized rocks that the navigational deflector easily dispersed.

    "We are through sir." Moshiri announced, wearily. Both she and Mayweather looked shattered.

    Hardly surprising, Archer thought. That may well be the most challenging piece of astronavigation ever attempted by Man.

    He stood and moved forward between their seats. "Haleh, Travis. Good work."

    "Thank you sir."

    "Thanks."

    Archer patted them both on the shoulder. "Exemplary, in fact. You too, Mr. Kaufman, Professor. An audacious bit of flying that is sure to go into the record books. Congratulations to everyone involved. Speaking of which..."

    He picked up a handset and signalled Tucker. "Trip! How are you holding up down there?"

    "Well we're still flying cap'n, but we got problems. That last manoeuvre put a hairline crack in the dilithium crystal. We're havin' t'increase the containment field t'compensate. Jus' be a few more minutes before the whole thing fails."

    Archer asked "Can't you just put the spare in?"

    "Sure. But we'll need to drop out of warp, so we can shut the reactor down an' let her cool."

    "Understood. We'll be there in..." he looked at the clock "...just under three minutes. You'd better get the fusion reactors on-line. We'll need all the power you can spare if we have to fight."

    "Yeah, we can keep it goin' that long. If we have to fight, make sure we win. Quickly. Tucker out."

    Archer sat back down and looked around. "Professor, I'd like to thank you again for your help. If you want to head to one of the secured quarters, I think we can take it from here."

    Partridge went to stand, then slumped back in her chair. "Sorry Captain. I always get a bit wobbly when frightened. I'll be all right in a few minutes."

    Hernandez said "Lieutenant Sato, get someone up hear with a glass of water for the Professor, would you?"

    "Yes ma'am."

    Partridge gave a grateful nod and a faint smile. She looked somewhat bedraggled, her forehead shiny with sweat, eyes glistening as if she were about to burst into tears.

    That was understandable though. That trip was...stressful.

    "Let's hope we don't have to do that again any time soon." Hernandez said. "And by 'any time soon', I mean the next hundred years or so."

    "Captain, you'd better get the Doctor up here." said Partridge. "The A-V radiation has somehow affected Maria's mind. She's showing trace evidence of...a sense of humour."

    Mayweather snorted. Moshiri and Sato both giggled. Archer smiled. Even Hernandez herself found her lips curling upwards.

    It wasn't much of a joke. But it was enough to break some of the tension.

    A chime from Moshiri's console. "Thirty seconds sir."

    "Lieutenant Sato, sound Tactical Alert."

    "Aye sir."

    The sirens blared.

    Hernandez checked her station. All gun crews on standby. She made sure the over ride protocols were in place, allowing her to take over any of the weapon arrays if need be.

    She glanced at Archer, struck by the realization that this was a man who strived to avoid conflict. An explorer, a diplomat. Not a soldier.

    In just a few seconds, he may have to learn to be one.
     
  17. adm_gold

    adm_gold Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2007
    Ready for the next part! Very enjoyable. The character interaction is very good.
     
  18. Mistral

    Mistral Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2007
    Location:
    Between the candle and the flame
    Yeah, really exciting and your technical dialogue rings true, too!
     
  19. The Badger

    The Badger Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2008
    Location:
    Im in ur Tardis, violating ur canon.
    UES Enterprise. Within the Rexus system.
    27th April 2151.

    Whilst the birth of a baby gazelle was Jonathan Archer's most abiding memory of his African trip, it wasn't the only one. He saw plenty of examples of nature, as Tennyson put it, 'red in tooth and claw'. One such example was the body of an elephant, dead for some considerable time. Approached from one angle it looked fine, with only the utter lack of movement indicating that it were not simply asleep. From another angle, however, one could see the holes torn into it's flesh by scavengers, leaving sun bleached white bone exposed.

    Archer was reminded of that elephant by the sight on the viewscreen. The Vulcan station appeared pristine at first, but as it slowly spun the wounds appeared. Holes, their edges ragged and charred, had been torn into the hull. The skeletal interior bracing was exposed in many places. Even the small clouds of debris brought to mind the vast swarms of flies that had burst into flight as he had approached the fallen elephant so many years ago.

    Feeling sickened by the sight, he asked "Is there any chance of survivors?"

    Certainly there was no hope of finding anyone alive on the remains of the T'dara Len. The Vulcan Premier's ship had been devastated. Enterprise's sensors had detected no fragment larger than a refrigerator, and all had been irradiated to intolerably high levels when the warp reactor went critical. Remote controlled probes had been dispatched to gather the largest pieces, but it would be hours before it would be safe to bring them on board.

    There was no sign of life pods or shuttle craft.

    Crewman Kaufman turned round. "Sir, I'm detecting two areas of the station that appear structurally sound. It's possible there could be survivors, though I'm not reading any life signs though all this interference."

    "I'm attempting to compensate." said Partridge. "It's a pity we don't have a dedicated science station here on the bridge, it would make things a whole lot easier. Still, I've got Jeff and Salome down in the science section, keeping an eye on...". She broke off as her station's communicator squawked. "Excuse me, I better take this."

    Whilst she took the call, Archer looked at Kaufman. "Any sign of any other ships?"

    "No sir. It's possible that they could be powered down, but even with all the interference I should be picking up some residue. Enterprise's sensors are the best Earth has got."

    Archer sat back in his chair, steepling his fingers. He wanted to send a party to the station as soon as possible, but if the attacker was still around that could be a bad move. Kaufman's words were reassuring, but still...

    "Captain, that was Tony in astrometrics." Partridge said. "I've had him running a few computer models. I, well we," she gestured to Kaufman, "detected some of the debris moving oddly."

    "Oddly?" Hernandez asked.

    "Yes, it was moving far too fast compared to the rest of the debris field. It looks rather like something, generating a continuum distortion field, passed through it at increasing velocity."

    A continuum distortion field, Archer thought. Warp drive.

    Moshiri looked up. "Professor, can you give me it's vector?"

    Polly didn't answer, but instead tapped a few keys at her station. The required information was sent straight to Navigation.

    It took Moshiri just a few seconds to reach a conclusion. "Captain, that takes it straight towards the nearest warp corridor."

    Archer nodded. "So it looks like our mysterious attacker has flown the coop. Any idea as to when?"

    "About the same time we arrived at the edge of the system and began scanning, give or take half an hour ." Partridge said.

    "Perhaps we scared them off." Archer mused. "At any rate, we can't keep running at full power much longer. Hoshi, take us to Condition Two, and tell Trip to shut down the main reactor for repairs."

    "Aye sir."

    "Commander, I better inform the President of what's happening. While I'm gone, you have the bridge."

    "Yes sir."

    "Captain!" Kaufman called out. "I've got something. It looks like...yes, I have confirmation. The Vulcan Premier's personal shuttle is docked at the station."

    Archer walked to the sensors station and peered over Kaufman's shoulder. "Are you sure? Where? Oh, yeah, I see it. Good eyes, Kaufman."

    "Thank you sir."

    Straightening up, Archer said. "Well, that settles it. Hoshi, call Lieutenant Reed. Tell him he and his people are going on a little journey."


    *************

    Unlike the UESPA shuttles, painted a pristine white, the Beowulf landing craft employed by the Marines on their approach to the station was matte black. With running lights extinguished and all ports closed it was almost impossible to spot. It's curved shape and energy absorbent panelling made it just as difficult to pick up on sensors.

    The Minimal Emission Thrusters guiding it's course were not very efficient when it came to altering the vessels trajectory. Bursts of ten to fifteen seconds were needed to cause any significant change to the craft's motion, meaning the pilot had to plan in advance. But unlike the main engines, the MET's did not give off an easily noticed energy signature.

    In the belly of the craft twelve Marines sat in silence. All wore black, armoured environmental suits. All carried EM-414 assault rifles, even Sandstrom, who normally carried something with a bit more punch. Reed didn't think that would be needed in this case. Underslung below each rifle barrel was an EM-119a Directed Energy Weapon. There had been some grumbles when Reed had ordered these be fitted. The lasers were not the most efficient weapon in the Marines arsenal, and not well loved. They were well suited for zero gravity however. No recoil.

    "Approaching entry point. Two minutes." That was the pilot.

    Reed responded with a quick acknowledgement. All internal comms were handled through each suits internal microphone and speaker system, routed through a cable that physically plugged into a socket in each chair. No radio transmissions, even inside the shuttle, would be allowed to give away their position.

    The course they took had been carefully plotted, to minimise the chance of the black craft passing in front of a visible object. It couldn't be avoided completely of course, but the momentary occlusion of a faint star was preferable to a silhouette appearing in front of the Enterprise herself.

    "Sixty seconds."

    Across from Reed Corporal M'boto held up his scanner, and carefully released it. It hung in front of him, spinning slightly in the zero-gee. Then, as the pilot began braking manoeuvres, it begun to drift towards the front. M'boto grabbed it before it got out of reach. He smiled. That always amused him.

    Reed tapped a couple of studs on his suits wrist computer. The helmet's head up display gave him a ghostly view from the shuttle's forward cameras. He winced at the damage to the station. From this vantage point it looked even worse than from the Enterprise.

    The shuttle was on course to the entry point, avoiding the shuttle bay entirely. The bay was an obvious way in, and Reed was too good at his job to go for the obvious.

    "Thirty seconds."

    He flicked the HUD over to his people's medical status. All were showing increased heartbeat and respiration, though nothing too high. Pretty much as expected. There was a slight, but noticeable, increase in the amount of fidgiting. Everyone was getting ready.

    The only exception was Woo, who sat stock still, expressionless. Reed knew for a fact that the man was as nervous as the rest of them, but in his capacity as sergeant Woo found it useful to embody the stereotype of the 'inscrutable Chinese'. It kept the lower ranks in line. When he had a spare moment in private he would practice in front of a mirror, staring himself down.

    "Hard contact in five, four, three, two, one. Contact."

    A shudder ran through the shuttle.

    Reed hit the release on his safety straps. "Let's see what's in there."
     
  20. Count Zero

    Count Zero Welcome to the Danger Zone! Moderator

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2005
    Location:
    Procrastination Plaza
    It's getting exciting. :) Looking forward to reading more soon.
     

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