Starship Enterprise "Broken Bow" (Alternate version)

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

  1. The Badger

    The Badger Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Re: Starship Enterprise "Broken Bow" Alternate version

    LOLWUT?

    [Shatner] Don't mince words, Crazystars, say what you really think! [/Shatner]

    That rather odd interruption aside, thanks for the comments, especially those who haven't commented before. Sometimes it feels like only two people are reading this, and a bit of support is always welcome.

    The next part should be up over the weekend, though I've no idea how many words it'll be, or how much padding (don't worry Crazystars, I'll put some in, just for you ;)).
     
  2. Mistral

    Mistral Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Starship Enterprise "Broken Bow" Alternate version

    ok, now my head is spinning! Who was that masked man?:wtf:
     
  3. The Badger

    The Badger Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    ^I've no idea mate! I'm perplexed myself.
    Rather oddly, this was his, or her, first post. The only other one so far was about ESPN football, a subject I know nothing about.

    Anyway, you can tell it's not me as they wrote 'ive' and 'im', something I never do (except, like Data with contractions, when I do do so).
     
  4. The Badger

    The Badger Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Rexus Station. Main storage bay.
    2nd May 2151.

    Maria Hernandez craned her head as far forward as it would go. She was just able to press the tip of her nose against her environmental suit's face plate. That provided a momentary relief from the irritating itch that had been present from the moment her suit was sealed. All to soon though the muscles in her neck began to ache, forcing her to stop.

    She looked over at Commander Tucker, who was pulling a variety of faces, trying to keep the circulation going. After just over six hours in the suits, both were feeling the strain.

    "That should be long enough. What do the readings say?" she asked.

    Tucker shook his head rapidly, like a wet dog drying itself, and checked his instruments. "Yeah, de-Gaussing complete. We can proceed."

    Despite his words, she paused, racking her brains for anything she might have forgotten. Disarming a nuclear warhead was not something to rush.

    The Mark Four had been eventually discovered deep within the station itself. Tracking it down had been difficult. It had been assumed that, like the others, it had been aimed at the structural supports as part of the attempt to break the station up. No trace of it could be found, so the search was widened. After much effort from the sensor operators it was finally traced to the main storage bay.

    That must have been a mistake, Hernandez thought, this isn't a significant area at all. Why waste a nuke?

    "Right, Trip, you crack those stem bolts. I'll sever the main linkages.". She checked the charge on the laser cutter, dialled the setting down a notch, and in one precise motion cut through the power cord. When the flickering blue light on the compression module turned a solid green she let out the breath she'd been holding, before turning the laser onto four more wires in turn. That task completed, she reached in to the body of the torpedo, took a firm hold, and pulled the module out. She gave Tucker a nod of respect.

    "Hernandez to Enterprise. The warhead is disarmed."

    Archer's voice came back. "Good work Commander. You too Trip. I don't mind telling you, there were a lot of worried people over here these last few hours."

    "There were a couple over here, Cap'n." Trip said.

    Hernandez continued. "We've just got to recover the fissionable material, then we'll head back. Unless you have any objections Sir, I think examination of the missile itself can wait. At least until I've had something to eat. And a shower."

    "No objections. You come on back. Apart from anything else, I'm guessing Trip would like a look at the Vulcan ship."

    "You're not wrong there, Cap'n.". Less than five minutes after he and Hernandez had began working on the missile, a Vulcan light cruiser had arrived at the edge of the system in response to the distress call. In a way Hernandez was glad to be where she was. Disarming a faulty nuke wasn't much fun, but at least she was trained for that. Explaining to a Vulcan captain that humans had apparently carried out an unprovoked attack on their station, and that the Premier was missing...well, that was something else.

    As Tucker packed the fissionable material into a secure case, she moved round the back of the torpedo. From this point she could see all the way out into space. The torpedo had torn a series of jagged holes as it tumbled through the hull. She couldn't see Enterprise, or the Vulcan ship, but there was a small probe out there, relaying their comms traffic. On an impulse she gave it a wave. The operator must have been paying attention, flashing the spotlight back at her.

    Trip said "OK Commander, it's all packed up.". He held up a case emblazoned with the symbol for radioactive material. It'd be safe in there. Mark Four's carried a less than critical mass, relying on the compression module to momentarily squeeze it down to the point where fission could occur. The only risk from such a small amount otherwise was that of contamination, and the container was supposedly sturdy enough to survive a shuttle crash.

    She put the laser cutter back in her tool kit, which she'd left adhered to a handy cargo container. She shut the lid and tried to pull the kit free. It didn't move. That sometimes happened, the release button was a little fiddly, especially with gloves. She knew she should stop, slow down and take more care with it, but in a moment of frustration she tried to yank it free. This time it moved, taking the lid of the container with it.

    "Woah." she said softly.

    "What is it Command---oh, now that's interestin'." Trip said.

    Hernandez put her helmet's flash light on for a better look. "You know, I think maybe the attacker's did deliberately target this area after all..."


    **********
    UES Enterprise. The briefing room.

    Captain Tavik did not look happy. As a Vulcan, that was pretty much par for the course, but Archer had been around Vulcan's long enough to spot the signs. Tavik was having to put some effort into maintaining his composure.

    "The station had a population of twenty seven. The T'dara Len, sixty one. Not counting the Premier's staff. Of them all, we have one survivor. The Premier himself is missing."

    Archer waited, in case Tavik was going to say any more, but was met by stony silence. Uncomfortable, he cleared his throat. To his relief the President spoke up, giving all possible assurances that everything was being done.

    He looked around the briefing room. Where as previous meetings had been split with UESPA on one side of the table, UEMA on the other, now it was Humans facing Vulcans. Well, at least all the Enterprise crew are finally all together, he thought wryly.

    "...we know that the Premier, or his body, is no longer within the detection sphere of our short range sensors. As such, we must conclude---" Tavik was saying.

    Archer interrupted him. "One moment. How can you be so sure? There's an awful lot of that station still to explore. And I needn't point out the difficulties of detecting a body in space."

    "The Premier has been....unwell. To maintain his health, he was fitted last year with what you would call a pacemaker. It is powered by a small amount of thromium." said Tavik, after a moments consideration.

    "Wouldn't show up on a standard scan." Polly said. "But we could reconfigure the primary array easily enough."

    Archer called the bridge. "Haleh, get Mr. Kaufman to reconfigure the primary sensor array to scan for thromium. Full scan once he's ready."

    "Aye Captain."

    Tavik shook his head. "A futile gesture Captain. We carried out a full scan upon our arrival. There was no trace. It is possible his body has drifted out of range."

    "Never the less, we shall try. I'd like to---." He broke off as the hatch opened. Hernandez and Tucker entered. Neither were in uniform, just simple black fatigues. Both had damp hair.

    "Sorry to interrupt everyone, we found something that may be important." Hernandez said. She saw the President and saluted.

    Archer quickly introduced them to Tavik, explaining how they had been busy disarming the torpedo. Tavik, like T'Pol at there first meeting, gave only the barest acknowledgement. This time Hernandez didn't seem to notice, or care.

    She popped a data chip into the reader. The view screen displayed a schematic of one of the cargo containers they'd found in the station's storage bay, with a human outline beside it to give an idea of it's size. It was a cube, coming up to the figures elbow.

    "The main storage bay was packed full of these. The torpedo was nestling amongst them. Some had split open. Not sure what was in them, looked like food packaging." she said.

    Tavik was unimpressed. "Those are standardised containers. They can be found on all our facilities, and on those of many other races."

    "Perhaps." Hernandez said. She paused as her stomach growled. "Oh. Excuse me."

    "I thought you were going to get something to eat?" Archer asked.

    "I will when we've finished here, this could be big. The shower was necessary though." she added, wiping wet hair from her forehead.

    She pressed a button on the remote and the image changed. Trip Tucker in a space suit standing next to a pair of the containers, the wreckage of the torpedo in the background.

    Perhaps she'd been spending to long around Polly Partridge, but instead of simply announcing her findings, she went for a more theatrical option. "How many containers do you see?" she asked Tavik.

    "Two."

    She hit the remote. On the screen Tucker started pulling at the lid.

    "It looks like two, but on closer inspection...you see? It's just one larger crate disguised to look like two. And if we look inside..."

    On the screen the angle changed, showing the interior. Life support equipment. A mattress. Water bottles.

    Hernandez pulled something from her pocket, and tossed it to Reed. He examined it.

    "Combat ration pack D. Chicken curry with brown rice, tasty."

    "Human food." Tavik pointed out.

    Hernandez nodded. "Who ever was in there had been for a few days at least. There was...used water, in some of those bottles. And let's not go into what we found in the plastic bags. We've sent some down to sickbay, might be able to get a DNA trace from them."

    Trip grimaced. He'd picked up one of the bags and his thumb had gone straight through it. He'd not been pleased.

    Archer rubbed the back of his neck. "So somehow a strike force was smuggled on board in side these containers."

    "Looks that way sir."

    Trip nodded. "I reckon you could only get one, maybe two people into one of those. But there were a fair few like that we found. Maybe more still in there. Enough to take over the station."

    Reed nodded. "Especially if they had surprise on their side."

    "And possibly a confederate." Polly said. "Those containers look like they are two standardised crates, not one big one. Supposing when they were brought on board some one tried to take them one at a time? It would have blown the plan pretty quick. Having someone already on board, in the right place at the right time, would make things go much more smoothly."

    "You are merely attempting to divert attention from the clear evidence of human involvement." Tavik said.

    "Evidence that we have provided you with." Archer pointed out. "It'd be pretty daft of us to do that, then dangle the suggestion that there may possibly have been a confederate, if we were trying to throw you off the scent."

    "Off the scent...?"

    "A human metaphor, similar to 'tracking a neighbours sehlat'" Soval explained.

    "Ah."

    Archer pinched the bridge of his nose, suddenly feeling very tired. "I think perhaps we'd better....hold on." The handset had squealed for attention. "Archer here."

    "Captain, Mr. Kaufman has completed his scan, no trace of thromium within range."

    "Understood. Carry on Haleh."

    Trip Tucker's brow had creased. "Thromium? Now where did I hear that recently?" He looked up sharply and snapped his fingers. "The flight recorder, from the Premier's shuttle! My team are still lookin' into it. I'm sure some one said somethin' about thromium."

    Hernandez grabbed herself a cup of coffee while Tucker called down to Engineering and got the requisite information. She pulled a face as she took a sip. "Ugh. I'm guessing you didn't make this, Lieutenant Reed."

    "No Ma'am. It was here when I arrived. I think one of the President's party is responsible."

    "Hmm. I'll not vote for him again."

    Polly leant closer. "Is it just me, or is everything tasting a bit...samey, recently? I had bacon and eggs for breakfast and without looking I couldn't tell which was which."

    Hernandez nodded sympathetically. "Yeah, protein resequencing has it's limitations. After a while the matrices degrade and everything tastes of everything else. That's why on long trips you should always take some non perishable food with you. Breaks up the monotony and adds some new structure to the raw material stock. Adds a bit of life to the matrices. Didn't you bring anything with you?"

    "Trip told me to, but what with all the excitement, and the mission being brought forward and everything, it sort of slipped my mind. Hey, where's that packet of chicken curry and brown rice? I'd like that." It was no longer on the table.

    "What packet of chicken curry and brown rice?" asked Reed, innocently.

    "OK, we got somethin'." said Trip. "Only about thirty seconds, and it's all broken up, but...."

    He started the recording. For about six seconds a pink dot sat stationary on the screen.

    "Do we know when that was, Trip?" Archer asked.

    "Far as we can tell, durin' the shuttle ride into the station."

    "So the pink dot, which I'm guessing is the thromium, isn't moving because the Premier is sat still in his seat. Stationary relative to the shuttle itself." Archer said.

    Whilst Tucker set the next bit up, Hernandez, who hadn't been present, asked Polly what was so important about the thromium, nodding at the explanation.

    The next piece of footage lasted nearly twenty seconds, and showed the dot moving rapidly.

    "Now that was about ten minutes after they arrived on the station. Now if we replay it, but this time add in a schematic of the station itself..."

    They watched again. Reed asked Tucker to pause the playback.

    "Now that's interesting. The Premier's shuttle is docked here. Now as far as we can tell, they were ambushed here..." Reed looked at the time stamp "...a few minutes before this recording. So they seem to be taking him this-a-way."

    "Towards the secondary docking port." Archer noted. "Now clearly there couldn't have been a shuttle there at the time, the T'dara Len would have spotted it. But this is before the estimated time that they were attacked."

    Tucker nodded. "Yeah. And this next recording, maybe half an hour after."

    This time the pink dot was near the edge of the screen, clearly outside the station itself.

    "Now that's not drifting." Archer said. "That's clearly a course correction right there. The attacking ship must have destroyed the T'dara Len and then sent their own shuttle to pick up the Premier. And their own people, I guess."

    The President sat back in his seat. "So. My Vulcan counterpart has been kidnapped."

    Tavik said "By humans."

    "Apparently so." Archer added.

    The President stood and turned to Tavik. "Again I offer my assurances that this action was not done with my permission or knowledge."

    "Nevertheless, what has been done, has been done. Mister President, in accordance with the conditions outlined in the treaty of 2138, specifically section C, I must inform you..."

    Archer's breath caught in his throat. He felt his heart pounding. Section C dealt with punitive measures for infractions of the treaty. It could mean economic sanctions at the least, maybe a breaking of the alliance.

    Or possibly...war.
     
  5. USS Avenger

    USS Avenger Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Yeah now things are really heating up now, but a quick question. Would the Vulcan starship captain have the authority to interpret and apply an interstellar treaty without consulting his government first? Sorry don't mean to nitpick at all because this is really great stuff, much better than what we actually endured on Enterprise.
     
  6. The Badger

    The Badger Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    That's a valid point, and one that will be addressed next time. Short answer, whilst ship captains of this time probably do have a lot of discretionary powers (being out of contact with their home governments means that they have to formulate policy on occasion), in general any major decisions they make would have to be ratified by the authorities.

    Essentially then, by referring to section C, Tavik is formally informing Archer and the President that Earth has broken the treaty, and that there will be repercussions. It is not his place to decide what those repercussions would be, that's for his superiors. Though his views as senior officer present would be taken into account.

    But it made for a good cliffhanger!:D
     
  7. USS Avenger

    USS Avenger Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Thats good enough for me! Even in Kirk and Picard's time, they had a great deal of discretionary powers for the same reasons, huge distances and long periods of time without real time communication with their authorities. Those powers would probably be even greater in this time frame with lesser or slower communication between ship captain and his bosses. This really is a good story, and I can tell that you are putting a great deal of effort into it. Thanks, as a reader I appreciate it!

    And you are right, it did make a good cliffhanger :bolian:
     
  8. Mistral

    Mistral Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Yeah, great cliff-hangar. I'm wondering-what confederate? Would they employ other races? Or was it a Vulcan turncoat?
     
  9. USS Avenger

    USS Avenger Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Could be a Romulan agent posing as a Vucan turncoat as well. Should be interesting to find out.
     
  10. adm_gold

    adm_gold Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Great job! Wondering if they may try to hold the Fed President on the Vulcan ship- "tit for tat" I believe is the saying.
     
  11. The Badger

    The Badger Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    ^ Funny you should say that!




    UES Enterprise. Captain's Office.
    2nd May 2151.

    Jonathan Archer poured himself a very large Scotch. Normally he took it on the rocks, but at the moment he needed it neat. Besides, he didn't want the ice cubes rattling away, betraying how much his hands were still shaking.

    "Can I get anyone anything?" he asked.

    "You don't need to ask me twice, John." said Trip.

    Archer handed a shot glass and a bottle of bourbon over to his old friend. "Anyone else?". He held the drinks cabinet open, letting the others see the contents.

    The tiny office seemed even smaller with so many people in. Apart from himself and Trip, Hernandez, Reed, Hoshi, Polly and Doctor Locke had managed to squeeze in.

    "I'll have a Scotch, please." Hoshi said.

    Hernandez looked conflicted for a moment. "The hell with it. Me too." she said, to Hoshi's evident surprise.

    Locke peered closer. "I'll take a dose of that schnapps."

    Reed came out with a long list of ingredients and instructions. Archer blinked. "I'm sorry, Lieutenant, you lost me about half way through."

    "Oh, don't worry, I'll make it." said Polly. She had to crawl over Archer's desk to get at the cabinet. He snatched his whisky up out of her way.

    "OK. hands up everyone here who thought Tavik was about to declare war?" Seven hands lifted, his own included. He grinned ruefully. "We should have remembered, he doesn't have the authority to do that."

    "No." Hernandez said, taking her drink with a grateful nod. "His superiors on the other hand, they do have the authority. And what do you think will happen when he tells them?"

    "I'd have thought you'd be pleased." said Polly, measuring out the gin. She didn't look up. "War breaks out, this ship's back in UEMA hands. As highest ranking officer of the service, you'd be the Captain, at least until you got home. Plus there's all that shooting that you military types love so much."

    Hernandez put her glass down with rather more force than intended, some of the contents splashing out. "If you think that, then you don't understand the military at all."

    "Really Commander? You'd be surprised. Now, where's the vodka? Ah, there it is."

    Archer held his hands up to steer the conversation back on to topic. "Hopefully it won't come to that, or sanctions or anything else. Hopefully the President's plan will work."

    Trip rubbed his forehead. "Hell John, I think I'd rather go back home and tell 'em we are at war with the Vulcans. More dignified than sayin' we let the President become a....Hoshi, what was that word?"

    "Two words actually, tala be'hai'la, literally 'value guest'. An archaic term meaning someone who places their well-being in another's hands as a sign of trust."

    Raising his voice slightly to be heard over Polly's energetic drinks mixing, Trip said "Or, in human terms, a hostage. I don't like this Cap'n. It stinks."

    "He's not really a hostage, Trip. He's going to their ship voluntarily, with his own staff. It was his idea. Heck, once they've sorted out the environmental settings, he'll probably be more comfortable over there than on Enterprise."

    "Oh c'mon Cap'n? Who are you tryin' to kid?"

    "Myself, if I'm being brutally honest."

    Polly poured two glasses from the shaker, and handed one to Reed, keeping the other for herself. Trip gestured to her glass. "That's not like you, Polly, I thought you didn't touch the stuff any more."

    "Normally no, but there are times when I feel the need. And this is one of them."

    Archer took a gulp of his own drink. "So. With the tachyon transmitter no longer functioning, the Vulcans will be returning to their nearest colony world, with the President, to contact their superiors and try to decide what happens next. Meanwhile the President wants us to continue our investigation. So, any bright ideas?"

    Hernandez drained her glass. "OK, we're fairly sure it was a Neptune class frigate that carried out the attack. Now the initial production run was ten hulls, a further sixteen have been built since then. Thirteen are still in active service. Four are in the reserve fleet, one is being used as a training ship. Two were destroyed in the Axanar war, three have been scrapped following heavy damage. The remaining three are missing, presumed destroyed."

    "So it could have been one of those missing ships." suggested Reed. He sipped his drink. "Hmm, that's good. I should have realized you'd know how to make this when I saw your calender, Professor. November, isn't it?"

    "That's right. Did the shoot on the exact same beach too, just over from Fleming's own house."

    November, Hernandez recalled, featured Partridge on a beautiful beach, holding a seashell. She wore a cream bikini with a sheathed knife on her belt. Another old movie, and one that Reed apparently was familiar with.

    "Does the Neptune class carry Mark Four torpedoes?" Archer asked.

    The XO nodded. "Standard complement of twenty. That's only for in system patrol and defence, though. If it has to travel interstellar distances, you'd have to convert some of the ammo storage space into fuel tanks."

    "That must be...inconvenient." Archer said.

    "Tell me about it. The further you travel, the less you can do when you get there. Typically long range missions carried fourteen to sixteen torpedoes, though at times we'd go down to ten. Less than that, it's hardly worth the journey." She reached out, and tapped the nearest bulkhead. "That's really what the Declaration class is for, long range power projection."

    Hoshi raised a hand. "So, could one of these Neptune's destroy the T'dara Len?"

    Hernandez rubbed her chin. "Possibly. Depends on the circumstances. I couldn't really say until we're given the details of that ship."

    "What if it were ambushed?" Reed asked. "I'm no expert on space warfare, but something Ambassador Soval said earlier struck me. After arriving in system the Premier's ship was told to stay at a fixed location, relative to the station. If the attackers were already in control at that time---"

    "And the evidence suggests they were." Polly said.

    "---then perhaps they instructed the ship to go to a point where they'd be most vulnerable."

    Hernandez thought about this. "Now that is an idea. If the attacking ship knew in advance precisely where the T'dara Len would be, they wouldn't have to waste time locating and targeting it. Just come straight out of warp in the right spot. They could certainly get one salvo off, probably two. The Vulcan's would be crippled before they had a chance to defend themselves."

    Locke reached for a cigarette, saw the Captain's expression, and reluctantly put it away. "So, we're assuming then that the attackers were all smuggled on board in these cargo crates? I can't imagine the Vulcans accepting an unscheduled delivery just a few days before the Premier is due to visit."

    "Good point." said Archer. He lifted his desk's hand set, and called the briefing room. "Crewman, is Captain Tavik available?"

    "I'll check sir."

    After a few moments the Vulcan responded. "Tavik here."

    "This is Captain Archer. Do you know when the most recent cargo shipment to the Rexus station was?"

    "Six standard months ago. The station was designed to be self sufficient. A cargo shipment was due to deliver certain goods recently, but due to mechanical problems did not set off."

    "What sort of goods?" Archer demanded. He spoke quickly, almost overwhelmed by the idea that he was onto something. He glanced at Hernandez and Partridge. Despite their manifest differences, they both had the same look in their eyes, one of expectation and anticipation. They've worked it out too...

    Tavik's response carried no indication that he had noticed Archer's tone. "What you would call luxury goods, suitable for the meeting of two heads of state. Gifts of art and literature, a selection of Vulcan wines and ports---"

    "Food?" Archer interrupted, recalling Hernandez's description of what she saw in some of the crates, 'looked like food packaging'.

    "Of various types. Given your President's vegetarianism, it was considered likely he would appreciate the gesture. With the original shipment cancelled, it was decided that the supplies would be shipped most efficiently on board the T'dara Len itself."

    Archer said "I see. And was the Rexus station informed about the delay?"

    Tavik paused. "I am...unaware of the details. However, given the expense of using the tachyon signaller, it is unlikely that it would have been employed for such a low priority task. I will make further enquiries."

    "Thanks. I may have more questions later. Until then, Archer out."

    Trip finished his bourbon, and poured himself another. "This is big, John. Real big. For this to have worked, we're talkin' a massive conspiracy."

    "Or a small one, with people in key positions." Reed countered.

    Archer contemplated a refill, decided against it. He couldn't go and hide in a bottle, tempting though it be. "Let's summarise what we think is going on. An attempt is made on the President's life."

    "Might be connected," said Polly, "might not be. Not enough data to be sure."

    "What's your gut instinct?" Hernandez asked.

    "To paraphrase Sagan, I don't think with my gut. Yes, it seems very significant that an attempt is made on his life at around the same time that the Vulcan Premier is abducted. But consider this. Whilst there have always been threats against him, there haven't been any more than usual for someone in his office. That is, until these trade talks were announced."

    "That's right." Hoshi said. "I remember the news reports. The announcement really polarized opinions. Most people approved, but those that didn't, really disapproved. Membership of Terra Prime and other fringe groups more than doubled."

    "OK, so the attempt on the President's life may be related, may not be." Archer said. "Let's look at what we do know. This Vulcan cargo ship that has mechanical problems. Sabotage?"

    "Could be." said Trip.

    "And a great song." Polly added.

    Archer stared at her for a moment, before deciding he didn't need to know what she was on about. "I'll ask Tavik later for any details, see if we can work out what's going on. So. The T'dara Len sets off, carrying all the cargo that should have been on the ship. Meanwhile, the station crew are expecting the cargo ship. A ship arrives, I'm guessing at the time they expect it to, because they let it dock...no, no, that won't work. Surely there would be some sort of security protocol. A coded signal or something so they could check to make sure incoming ships were on the level."

    Hernandez drained her glass. "But if the Professor's right, they must have had someone on board already, to see to the loading of the cargo crates. Maybe they could have, I don't know, changed the recognition codes or something."

    "It's possible. Should be simple enough to interrupt the short range communications array. You send out an enquiry, and a little gizmo hidden in the works tells you you got the right response back." Tucker said.

    Archer went on. "Now we're getting somewhere. The station crew think the incoming ship is kosher, and let it dock. The confederate loads the crates, making sure those with people onboard are undiscovered. Some time later they emerge and take over the station. The T'dara Len arrives at the edge of the system, finds a suitable warp corridor, and approaches the station. Someone, a woman with a Voroth province accent, gives instructions for the Premier's shuttle to dock. He is promptly captured, his staff, apart from Stran, murdered.

    "Meanwhile the T'dara Len is ordered to a holding position near the station, although this is just a pretence to get them into a spot where they can be ambushed. OK, so how did the attackers know when to strike?"

    Hernandez considered that. "Might simply be timing. The attacking ship could have loitered silently on the edge of the system opposite Vulcan space. They could detect when the Vulcans arrived by picking up signal bleed from it's own scanners. Then, simply wait an appropriate amount of time, turn on their own systems as if they'd only just arrived, plot the right course and come in all guns blazing."

    The Captain thought that made sense. "So the Vulcans detect a ship at the edge of the system. It's to far away to identify, but it's warp signature looks human. They relax, thinking it's United Earth One. Maybe as it gets closer they realize it's a different class of ship, but by then it's too late."

    Hernandez nodded. "Even if they prepared their weapons, they'd have to wait for the ship to drop out of warp before they could begin targeting procedures. The Neptune would have had a major advantage, knowing exactly where to find the target. Chances are, the T'dara Len wouldn't have even got a shot off."

    Archer said "Then they simply pick up their people, and the Premier, then start destroying the station. Presumably to ensure there's no evidence. But we turn up early, so they try and rush the job, and escape. That seems to be that. Any one got any more to add?"

    Polly had started speaking, but was interrupted by the door chime. Archer hit the intercom. "Come in."

    It was T'Pol, the Vulcan ambassador's aide. "Captain Archer. I can return when you are less busy."

    "No, no, come on in. I think we've pretty much finished, for the moment at least. What can I do for you?"

    "It is more a matter of what I can do for you. Given the nature of your mission, I have been instructed by the ambassador to remain on Enterprise, to render what assistance I may. I mean no slight to your engineering staff, but I am more familiar with Vulcan computer designs. I may be able to gather more data from the flight recorder, and the station computer."

    "Sounds good. All right then, let's get to work."
     
  12. USS Avenger

    USS Avenger Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2009
    Thats a brave UE President, regardless of being an valued guest or not, thats still pretty brave. I like how he has faith in his people to figure out the mystery and faith in the Vulcans to actually do him no harm. It was a bold action that may actually have prevented/postponed a war until Archer and crew can figure out what is going on. Looking forward to more of this story.
     
  13. Duncan MacLeod

    Duncan MacLeod Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2002
    Location:
    New England
    A Jonathan Archer who seems competent to hold his command? This takes some getting used to. I do like it though. I also like Polly. She's a bit Mary Sue-ish, but I like her anyway. Well done. :techman:
     
  14. Count Zero

    Count Zero Says who? Moderator

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2005
    Location:
    European Union
    Ah, T'Pol finally in action. Well, I'm anticipating the next installment and wonder how you'll resolve the story.
     
  15. The Badger

    The Badger Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2008
    Location:
    Im in ur Tardis, violating ur canon.
    Arrgh! I only just realized I'd already written that Polly's calender page for November was Trinity from The Matrix, and here I've said she's being Ursula Andress in Dr. No.
    OK, maybe she's done two old movie themed calenders....


    To paraphrase the lady herself, only a bit? Then I shall have to try harder!
    When I first came up with the idea, I knew she was a Mary Sue, but I'm shallow, so decided to keep her in. Interestingly several people have said they like her, so whilst having a MS is rather self indulgent, it is not automatically a bad thing.
     
  16. Duncan MacLeod

    Duncan MacLeod Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2002
    Location:
    New England
    That's one of the things I like about her. She knows she's a Mary Sue and doesn't care. It makes her a fun character to read about.

    And if you're still looking for a face for her, might I suggest this one.

    [​IMG]

    Her eyes are green rather than Polly's blue but that's not really that big a deal is it? ;)

    Just a thought.
     
  17. Mistral

    Mistral Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2007
    Location:
    Between the candle and the flame
    I like the brainstorming-that's a realistic problem solving tool that any competent leader makes use of. The big unanswered question is-who's got the Neptune?
     
  18. The Badger

    The Badger Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2008
    Location:
    Im in ur Tardis, violating ur canon.
    Sorry for the delay, meant to finish this by Wednesday but real life (such as it is) wouldn't cooperate.

    Nice pic,Duncan MacLeod. She certainly has some Polly like features!:)



    UES Enterprise. Sick Bay.
    4th May 2151.

    Captain Archer opened the hatch to Locke's office, stepped in, and immediately stepped back out again. He used his pad to waft some of the cigarette smoke away. A nearby environmental sensor beeped as if annoyed. Right now, he knew, alert lights would be flashing in the maintenance section. An on duty crewman would be diverted to ensure a fire had not broken out. He called maintenance and let them know all was fine. A second call, to life support, ensured the extractor fans in the office would run at maximum power for half a minute.

    When he re-entered the office, thirty seconds later, the roar of the fans was returning to their normal whisper. The room was very cold, and Locke himself was blowing on his hands for warmth. Cigarette butts lay scattered around an ashtray the size of a dinner plate. A red light on this room's environmental sensor showed it had been deactivated.

    "And to what do I owe the pleasure?" Locke grunted.

    Archer dropped into the opposite seat and held out his pad. "Just wanted to double check your results, Doctor."

    "I'm not in the habit of making mistakes."

    Archer lifted his hands in a placatory manner. "I know, I know, it's just that there's something here that doesn't add up."

    Locke snorted. "If we were to take all the things about this mission that don't add up we'll be here till the stars go cold. Anything in particular?"

    "A matter of timing. I see from your post mortem reports that you have a pretty clear estimate of the time of death for the Vulcans. There are two groups. Those from the Premier's party were killed on the 27th April. Well, we pretty much knew that anyway. That's the day the T'dara Len arrived, just a little ahead of us. Right?"

    Locke made a vaguely affirmative noise. He picked up a cigarette packet, found it was empty, and tossed it at the bin. It missed, joining three others already on the floor.

    Archer continued. "Now, there's the station staff themselves. We've only found twenty two bodies so far." That had been a grisly discovery. One of the smaller storage rooms had been packed with bodies. An examination of the scene suggested that they'd been killed there. He could imagine it. The station crew captured, taken at gunpoint to the room, then callously murdered.

    He shook himself, trying to get the image out of his head. "Now, your reports suggest they died several days previously. Around the twenty first or so."

    "Give or take a day or so, yes. What's the problem? The attackers arrived around the twenty first, killed the crew, then waited for the Premier to show up. They then killed his staff and kidnapped him. Seems pretty straightforward to me."

    "And it did to me. But then there's the other matter. You analysed the, er, waste matter we found in those containers."

    With a smirk, Locke said "If by 'waste matter' you mean urine and faeces, yes. And found out quite a lot. Including the fact that, in addition to nine humans, seven men and two women, there was one Vulcan female, almost certainly from the region of the Voroth sea."

    "How can you tell that?" Archer asked, intrigued.

    "The DNA markers are quite distinctive. It is possible, I suppose, that she came from somewhere else, but only if both her parents were both from there. In which case she'd likely learn to speak with their accent. Although you'd have to ask Sato about that."

    Hoshi, Archer knew, had spent a lot of time listening to the recording of the female docking coordinator, trying to narrow her accent down even further. "Can you tell how long they had been hiding in those crates?" he asked.

    Locke nodded. "Best part of a week, I'd say. Couldn't have been very pleasant."

    "No. And when do you think they emerged?"

    "Hmm. Not sure. Give me a minute here." He disappeared through the connecting door to his lab.

    It took closer to five minutes, but he returned closely perusing a pad. "I've run a quick test on one of the samples. Bacterial and fungal development. This is only a provisional result but I'd say sometime between the nineteenth and twenty third of last month."

    Archer gave a short sharp nod. "That pretty much confirms what I've been told. Trip and his people have been checking the life support systems we found in the crates. Almost a weeks worth of use. Deactivation around that time."

    "Well if you knew that what are you bothering me for?" Locke snapped.

    There was steel in Archer's voice. "This is an important matter, Doctor. One that requires a certain thoroughness."

    "Well, I still don't see the problem."

    Rubbing the back of his neck, Archer said "Why wait? Why wait nearly a week inside a cramped packing crate before getting out and killing the station crew?" He stood and started pacing. It wasn't very effective: the office was to small to properly pace, leaving him almost turning on the spot. "So the station crew expect a cargo ship. One arrives, they think it's the scheduled one. In fact it belongs to the conspirators. They let it dock, and a confederate on board takes care to bring the attack force on to the station undiscovered..."

    By this time Locke had found a cigarette. He took a long drag. "Just a minute. Why all this rigmarole with smuggling people across? Why not just dock and take the station by force? As far as I know the station crew had minimal armaments."

    There was an idea here, tantalisingly out of reach. Archer held up his hand near his temple, as if trying to shove the thoughts straight into his head. "Ah, this is no good. I can't think. Never can think straight wearing this monkey suit."

    Locke looked at the Captain, realizing for the first time that Archer was in full dress uniform. "So, why are you wearing that?"

    Archer paused at the door. "For the memorial service." Seeing Locke's blank expression, he added "For the Vulcans."

    Locke dragged himself to his feet. "Hmm. I suppose you want me to attend. What time does it start?"

    "Two hours ago. I came here just after it finished." said Archer, before leaving.

    Locke stood, staring at the closed door, for about half a minute. Then he sat, took another drag on his cigarette, and went back to his work.


    Archer's Quarters.

    Perhaps the Captain was right about the dress uniform retarding his thought processes, as it was only after he had removed it to take a shower that the idea he'd been chasing down began to solidify into something usable. He let it percolate away whilst he finished his shower, having spent too long on ships where hot running water was a rare luxury. Towelling himself down, he went into the main room and folded out the small desk. After quickly checking the mail--all routine--he sent a series of questions to T'Pol.

    He dressed, mulling the matter over further. He forced himself to deal with the routine mail first. Not so much because it needed to be done, but because he, if he was honest with himself, was scared that he might be wrong, that on closer inspection his idea would turn to dust.

    Eventually though he had to face it. He studied the reports his people had sent him about the station. Trip's team had found, as the engineer had predicted, a device in the communications array. It could have sent false signals, convincing the station crew that an incoming vessel had authorization. More than that, it could also be used to signal outwards, though for what purpose Archer was only now beginning to suspect.

    Next, he pulled up the star charts for this area. That in itself didn't tell him much, but in combination with data on Vulcan cargo transports....

    "Yes..." he said to himself. "That might be it."

    A ping from his computer alerted him to new mail. T'Pol had answered his questions in considerable depth. He forced himself to go through it carefully, not just skim through.

    It'd be a lot easier if Tavik were still here, he thought. The Vulcan ship had left earlier that day, not even waiting for the Memorial service. An illogical waste of time, no doubt.

    So then, now he had an idea of how to proceed, but would have to go it alone, without being able to inform anyone. The Vulcans would be sending more ships to investigate once Tavik had made his report, but with the Premier's life at stake Archer was unwilling to wait. They'd have to leave a signal buoy at the station, explaining his reasoning.

    He picked up his handset, and called the bridge, asking Hoshi to summon his senior staff, plus T'Pol.

    "To the briefing room Sir?"

    "No, the bridge." he said. "And when you call Trip, tell him to start warming up the warp system before he joins us. Recall all personnel still on the station too"

    Sato sounded surprised "Are we leaving Captain?"

    "I think so. Unless someone points out my reasoning as being terribly flawed, that is."



    The Bridge.

    There was a gap between the forward consoles and the view screen, just wide and long enough for Archer to pace up and down satisfactorily. He glanced around at his people. Most were back in regular uniforms, though Hernandez and Sato were still in full dress, and the Professor was in the subdued black trouser suit she'd worn at the memorial.

    Travis Mayweather and Haleh Moshiri both looked slightly stunned. With the evidence mounting, and rumours flying, he saw no point in keeping the crew in the dark, and had informed them of developments earlier. Even the most militant members had seemed shocked at the idea that humanity was responsible for the massacre.

    Hoshi looked up from her console. "Shuttle bay reports all boarding parties have returned Sir."

    Archer nodded. "Thank you. Commander Hernandez, double check with all department heads that everyone's on board. I don't want to leave anyone behind."

    Hernandez was clearly curious about his plans, but said simply "Aye Captain." and started to call the various departments.

    Trip Tucker arrived. "Main engine's are powerin' up, Cap'n."

    "Thanks Trip. Now I suppose you are wondering why I called you all here. I've been going over this matter in my mind, and I've come to a conclusion."

    He quickly outlined the problem he'd been mulling over. Why would the attackers spend nearly a week in hiding? They could have taken over the station by force immediately that their ship docked. If stealth were desirable for some reason, why so long? It'd be uncomfortable, but someone could easily squeeze into a regular cargo crate without having to modify them, and there'd be less chance of detection when bringing them on board.

    Polly raised her hand. "Captain Archer, as a professional clever-clogs and know-it-all, I'm used to asking all the questions and having all the answers. I can tell that you've worked it out, and now you're just showing off how difficult it all is, to make yourself look even cleverer when you get to the reveal." She flashed him a dazzling grin. "Good technique! Well done!"

    Archer grinned back, then continued. "And then, a little while ago, it hit me. T'Pol, can you tell us when the ship carrying the luxury goods from Vulcan was due to arrive?"

    An eyebrow lifted slightly. "As I informed you by e-mail earlier Captain, it was scheduled to arrive on the eighteenth of April, in your calender."

    "Thank you. And what would be standard procedure on the station, should the supply ship not arrive?"

    T'Pol said "Typically the crew would wait five days before using the tachyon transmitter to inform the High Command."

    Hoshi frowned. "Why so long?"

    "Delays are relatively common in this sector, whilst genuine cases of ships becoming lost are low. Given the high cost of using the transmitter, it is inefficient to use it unless a vessel is significantly behind schedule."

    Archer leant forward, hands on the helm and navigation consoles. "And tell us, please, given the high number of delays--"

    "Relatively high." T'Pol clarified.

    "--relatively high number of delays, how would the Vulcan High Command deliver a high priority cargo?"

    "They would attempt to find an alternate delivery system. In this case, the cargo was placed on the T'dara Len itself."

    Mayweather, at the helm station, was mulling this over. "An alternate delivery system..." he muttered.

    Archer could see comprehension dawn for Polly and Trip. He continued. "It's the only thing that makes sense. The people in the crates weren't hiding for days from the station crew, maybe for a few hours but not for days. They were hiding from the crew of the ship that delivered them. And given that there's no reason to hide from their fellow conspirators...."

    He let the sentence trail off. Hernandez picked it up. "...they must have been hiding from someone else. They must have used a third party to deliver them."

    A sudden moment of self doubt hit Archer. "So how's my reasoning?" he asked Polly.

    She grinned again. "Flawlessly logical. I admire your mind."

    T'Pol raised an eyebrow at this. "Even if the conspirators did engage the services of a third party, that still leaves us little closer to finding or identifying them."

    Polly blew a loud raspberry. "Party pooper."

    Hernandez thought for a moment. "It'd have to be someone the Vulcans trust, are used to dealing with...."she mused.

    "Someone fairly local, to get here in that time frame" Haleh Moshiri added.

    Mayweather said "And if they delivered cargo, but still had their own crew on board....merchants, they had to be merchants."

    Archer nodded. "Right. Or at least, that's the same conclusion I came up with."

    T'Pol looked dismissive. "Captain Archer. There are numerous warp capable civilizations nearby. How do you propose identifying the one responsible?"

    Archer shrugged. "I'll admit, I have no idea. But if we are looking for merchants nearby, there is one obvious place to start. Hernandez, have all stations reported in?"

    "Yes sir, all present and correct."

    "Good. Hoshi, prepare a message buoy. We'll leave it here to let the Vulcans know where we've gone."

    "Aye sir."

    Archer took a deep breath. "Haleh, I recall from your briefing that there is a trading post some two and a half light years away. Set a course, best possible speed. Ladies and gentlemen, we're going to meet the Tellarites."
     
  19. Duncan MacLeod

    Duncan MacLeod Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2002
    Location:
    New England
    I thought Taylor might be what you were looking for. She's 5' 4" tall, 107 pounds, in her late thirties, and is British; born and raised in Gateshead, in the northeast of England. Her accent may be wrong for Polly but that's your call, you know how you want Polly to sound. To me, Polly's speech seems more cultured than Taylor's, more like Dianna Rigg as Mrs. Peel, but that's just the way I hear her in my head.

    Excellent chapter, but I have to admit I personally find Locke a disgusting excuse for a human being. Still, it'll be interesting to find out what secret he's hiding that's making him so vile tempered and self-destructive.
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2009
  20. Count Zero

    Count Zero Says who? Moderator

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2005
    Location:
    European Union
    An intriguing chapter. I'm looking forward to the Tellarites. :)