And so, I formally present myself before this community. My name is Mauro, I'm 23 years old and I'm from Argentina. A year ago, I started this project in the form of a movie screenplay. Its purpose is to continue from where Beyond left and continue along the road that I'll establish. I know I won't get far with it (I've been looking for ways and methods to get some sort of agent or something like it, and I even have in mind to participate in a competition), but still I think it's worth a shot. At the moment, the only thing left for me is to wrap up the final act. Still, I decided to share with you the beginning of this story, in form of a novel (my apologies in advance for any possible translation and formatting issues, all kind of feedback is welcome). Throughout the month, I'll post the rest of it. If nothing happens with my script (a 99.9% probability scenario), I'll share with you the whole story on the last quarter of the year. Patience is a virtue, you know? xD Synopsis: One hundred years after the destruction of Enterprise-A, Captain Jean-Luc Picard faces his greatest challenge yet: to command the Federation's brand new flagship, the Enterprise-D. In the midst of a new impasse in the endless war with the Romulans, mistrust, deceit and lack of commitment on both sides undermine the possibility of achieving peace. To make matters worse, disloyal movements on both sides pave the way for a new confrontation. The crew of the Enterprise-D will not only have to overcome these adversities, but also a series of events that could change the development of their lives and the fate of the galaxy itself... Notes: The purpose of this story is to reimagine the TNG era in line with the new Kelvin universe. Therefore, events of this history will have many parallels with those of the prime universe, though around a completely different context (the "Encounter" between the two crews was conceived in line with "Yesterday's Enterpise"). You'll recognize similarities with the plots of some episodes, and at this very beginning you'll find a parallel with a well-known episode of TOS, as well as many connections with one of my favorite movies around their crew. PDF: Prologue + Chapters 1 & 2 (https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B45-ru9KCySeT08xbHVoQjlpMlU/view) - PROLOGUE - The countless billion of inhabitants of the Milky Way didn't know their fate was being debated by existences above their compression, withdrawn in their own society, on their own plane of existence far from any lower form of life. These higher beings lived in a continuity that had existed since before time was such. They were able to contemplate all the magnificence of the great tapestry that was the universe, from the big picture itself to the smallest and seemly insignificant details. They had truly gone where no one had gone before… Yet, they did nothing but observe. It didn't matter how wonderful was what they had experienced, or how seemingly evolved they were. Like every other living being, they were tied to an existential dilemma. Stability or change. Even in their infinite wisdom, these beings continued to face fundamentals issues in black or white terms. To submit to the status quo had allowed them to stretch their existence for countless eons, without no apparent end on the horizon. And when they tried to challenge this constant, they paid the consequences. Their interactions with mortals had proved counterproductive. In their attempts to assist them, to raise them to a higher plane of existence, they had failed. For these lesser beings misinterpreted their actions and the effects these had on their lives. These insignificant life forms could not see beyond their own noses, beyond their own limited perception of time and space. But those who inhabited the continuum did. In their extended lifespan, they had observed a cycle that was perpetuated with each new sequence. Is not as if it had affected them, since their existences developed far from any consequence this cycle could bring to them. But, in contrast, mortal beings succumbed to them. Something had to change. What guarantees did they have this cycle would not end up affecting them, eventually? For although they could see the future, it was always constant in motion. The mere prospect of extinction plunged several beings in this society into the shadow of doubt. One of them took a stand. He came from a relatively inferior strain within the society. His aggressive and radical stance had captivated his peers, although it had brought frequent headaches to his superiors. But the subordinate thrived. A hearing was granted to him, along with the opportunity to present his case to the most prominent members of his society. The stage itself was beyond the understanding of any lesser life form, since the perception of reality of these higher beings wasn't limited to a single plane of existence, nor a fixed time line or sensations tied to mere bodily stimuli. In the end, to describe it would be an incomplete exercise, a futility. His words, of course, could be understood perfectly. They had to be heard. He had to be heard. "The fate of the universe is at stake once again," this bold life form said, firmly. "We can't afford to remain motionless to these events. We must act." One of his superiors questioned him, "To do so would violate our principles, threaten our very existence." He was a very influential member within this society. If he could persuade him to take the matter into his own hands, he could fulfill his propose, achieve his mission. "So should we let events take their course, perpetuating the cycle?" the subordinate added, with emphasis. "No. The cycle must come to an end". "And jeopardize all our progress, everything that we have built? Unacceptable," the superior said, strict. The subordinate had to raise the bet. "What is unacceptable is our passive attitude," he said. In addition, he shared with his peers a picture of the universe, one particular moment in its prolonged existence, a small brushwork of the grand masterpiece. One recognizable even for inferior forms of life like ours. On it, there was a formidable mining vessel, aggressive in its aesthetic and power. It came from a different time, from a possible future. Facing it, there was a much more insignificant vessel, of simple design and weaponry, conceived in order to explore the confines of the universe rather than engage in combat. That ship had no possibility to overcome the beast it was about to confront. "Our lives were shaped by all that has ever happened to us, what we learned from these events and our reactions to them. So were theirs." "And you want to put the fate of us all in their hands?" the superior questioned, one more time. "That's a dangerous gamble." It wasn't going to be easy to convince him. In response, he shifted the picture into that of a once glorious world, full of wise and peaceful creatures, being consumed by their own invention, the result of their future scientific investigations. Such irony, the subordinate said to himself. "Not a gamble, but a test," he replied, sharp. He wasn't going to back down. The picture he shared then was from a different time and place. It was the interior of a ship. A bald captain was being restrained by two officers. The captain had tried to get loose, desperate, but his men managed to pull him out of the area. In front of them, there was a corpse. The captain seemed to recognize its identity. "If they set aside their differences, their insecurities, their fears, they will succeed." "¿And if they don't?" the superior asked. He'd never trust in such insignificant creatures, left alone entrust them his own existence. It wasn't as if the subordinate did. He believed those savage creatures had no remedy. But he saw potential in some of them. It was a risk, of course, but so was his own extinction. The subordinate decided to alter the picture once again. This time, there was a bearded man, his hand resting on the window of what appeared to be some kind of shuttlecraft. He looked disconsolate, perhaps because of the near explosion and the lives lost in that incident. His answer was as clear as it was blunt, "They'll be destroyed." None of those present was able to hide their concern at such a dire prediction, even less when what they observed became an apocalyptic scene. In front of what was once a beautiful blue planet, there was a floating space construction. Countless explosions had consumed what little remained of her. Those responsible for such a vile act, two giant dark cube-shaped vessels, had moved towards the gloomy planet, its atmosphere dense and polluted. The planet had been alienated, corrupted by these relentless machines of assimilation. The subordinate knew such an outcome was inevitable, hence his attempt to persuade his superiors to take action. For his own destiny was tied to that nefarious future. "After all, that's their fate, one way or another..." Chapter One - DISTRESS CALL - UFP Stardate 1034.21 (02 June 2264) For a brief moment, all the majesty of space was overshadowed by one single object. The glow of a nearby star glinted off the pattern of Aztec decals highlighted above its hull plates, which together shaped the saucer of a starship. The flash of light made its way swiftly toward the bow end of the saucer, sparkling over the ship's registration number: "NCC-1701-A". The USS Enterprise-A was heading majestically towards her destination, a not so distant planet. Its nacelles looked firmer than those of her predecessor, with a more rectangular shape although shorter. Its joints to the secondary hull were moved forward, giving the appearance of being more integrated to the whole structure, as well as extending the distance between the nacelles. However, not all the changes during its refit were limited to a matter of aesthetics. Although the USS Vengeance had been the result of a development conducted outside the regulations of Starfleet, its technological advances had been remarkable. The Enterprise incorporated a series of minor protuberances to the sides of the stardrive section. Hidden in between, powerful phaser cannons were added. Other minor lumps were placed over the top of the neck, on both sides, bellow the reshaped impulse engines. A necessary reinforcement after the incident with the swarm ships, which also served as an opportunity to relocate the shield generators, taking energy directly from the Warp core in conjunction with the navigational dish. The joints between the nacelles and the secondary hull had also been reinforced due to the same reason. Gone were the days of subtleties and kind intentions. The impending war with the Klingons had unnerved many members of the high command. Additional phaser banks were placed over the saucer, along special sensor equipment in its outer circle. A not so subtle way to compensate for this newly aggressive stance taken on Constitution-class starships. Yes, the Enterprise-A was now a vessel fully equipped for combat, with state-of-the-art weaponry, shields and sensors. Supplementary Kelvin pods were also located along the saucer and the ventral starboard section in case the circumstances prove to be adverse. A ship that was best avoided rather than confronted. Unfortunately, all her glory was obscured by the battle that took place on the planet's orbit, which involved no less than four alien ships, tiny in the distance. Inside the refitted flagship of the Federation, three men were on their way to a turbolift, walking down a corridor at a quickstep amid a red alert condition. The sound of the digital alarm Klaxon was accompanied by the flickering panels and the dimmed lights, which barely revealed the striking colors of their uniforms. The discussion they had had in the briefing room seemed to have left more doubts than certainties among them. But at least for Dr. Leonard McCoy, the situation was quite clear. "Jim, there are millions of lives hanging on what we do," McCoy said, working to keep pace with his friend. "Or on what we fail to do, Bones," Captain James T. Kirk answered. The state of affairs was very delicate. While it was necessary to take some kind of action, an inadequate movement could prove counterproductive. A man of his experience understood this perfectly. "You're talking about getting us into conflict with the Romulans," McCoy added. Jim new his friend, a doctor, would never find himself interested in causing a bloodbath. "War should never be something imperative." Commander Spock cut in. "It is for them, Doctor. We can't show any sign of weakness given their martial philosophy." The Vulcan had his principles very clear, firm and sharp as the tips of his ears. The most prominent members of the Enterprise crew arrived at the turbolift. Once inside, the doors closed. The advanced transportation system was set in motion, as well as the argument among its occupants. "We had our aggressive colonizing period," Spock added. "They are an offshoot or our blood, therefore, attack becomes something imperative." McCoy was genuinely stunned. "I can't believe what I'm hearing, much less coming from you. Where's your so called logic? You're letting your personal experience with them cloud your judgment!" "And I believe your overflowing emotions are taking the best of you, Doctor," Spock replied. "You should really learn to conquer them." "I won't listen to the advice of a green-blooded goblin looking for a damn intergalactic war!" Dr. McCoy's reaction surprised Kirk himself. The captain decided the best he could do was to pour oil on troubled waters. It was more than obvious Spock still held a grudge against those who snatched the life away from the vast majority of his race, including his own mother. Kirk couldn't help feeling sympathetic, even if such feelings were clearly mislead. At the same time, the doctor was one of the human eminences when it came to demonstrate his emotions, something Vulcans aspired to suppress at any cost, fearing its negative effects. Jim took a deep breath and let it go slowly. "Let's better not fly off the handle, shall we?" he said, as the lines on his forehead grew deeper. "All I hope is that we won't need your services this time, Bones." "Amen to that," the doctor joked. Yet, McCoy wasn't precisely known for being optimistic. "But in the worst case, I'll be at Sickbay." The turbolift finally arrived at its destination. The doors parted with a soft hiss as Kirk and Spock set foot on the bridge of the ship, while McCoy chose to stay inside, heading back to the infirmary. Amid the ambience sound of the switches of the consoles being pressed, Spock headed to his usual science station, coming across several officers at their stations working under a certain degree of pressure, understandable given the situation they were facing. Kirk, meanwhile, occupied his characteristic seat, the captain's chair. Right in the center of the bridge, he had a complete picture of the men in his charge, not to mention a privileged view toward the main viewscreen. "Lt. Uhura, report," he asked, once on his seat. "We've just arrived at Kithomer," the young female lieutenant replied, posted at the communications console, with her long dark hair tied at the back of her head forming a ponytail, "the class M planet from which the distress call was originated. I guess there's no need to mention that we're in violation of Treaty." "Only on exceptional circumstances a starship crosses the Neutral Zone, Lieutenant," Kirk answered. "Not to mention there wasn't any other nearby, as usual." "It appears I'm not the only crew member who finds a good exercise in reminding you of Starfleet regulations," Spock added. Jim wasn't displeased by this. His Vulcan friend knew better than anyone else he was one of those people who didn't necessarily play by the book. Kirk exhaled heavily in mock frustration. "I suppose you're not." Then, he turned his attention back to his communications officer. "Have you already reported the situation to Starfleet Command?" "Yes, Captain," Uhura replied. "It was duly noted that in your opinion there was no other alternative, and that you have assumed full responsibility." Kirk nodded at Uhura, satisfied. It was necessary to make this kind of clarification to avoid future disputes. Jim didn't want to be punished for doing the right thing. On the meantime, Spock gazed at the readings on his console. He took his time, double-checking the information before briefing Jim. "Captain, sensors indicate three Klingon Cruisers near the planet's orbit," the Vulcan officer said. "They're facing a large Romulan vessel, no matches on any recorded profile. The cruisers are sustaining heavy damage." "Visual," Kirk asked. Given the proximity of the battle, he should already be able to see with his own eyes what was going on with this mysterious vessel. The viewscreen revealed the shape of the ship that was responsible for all the commotion. Every single member of the crew laid their eyes on her. None of them was able to hide their astonishment at such a machine of destruction. Hikaru Sulu, in charge of the helm of the ship since the baptism of its predecessor, stopped working in his console for a few moments. Next to him, the young ensign Andrew Stiles, the new conn officer, gazed over his controls in awe. It had been only a couple of weeks since he'd joined the crew in place of the promising officer Pavel Chekov, now transferred to another ship. Looking at something of such magnitude, Stiles may have wondered if he made the right choice for his career, perhaps for his own life. Kirk found himself up from his seat. "My god..." Jim lowered his chin, opening his mouth in amazement. The situation seemed more than his ship could handle. On the planet's orbit, three Klingon D7 class cruisers were struggling against the Warbird, performing an intricate, fast-moving ballet around the huge Romulan vessel, firing torpedoes, disruptors, any weapon that was at their disposal. But the shields of the Warbird held up. It seemed that energy barrier wasn't going to fall so easily. What was stranger, without any doubt, wasn't just the fact that the vessel was twice as large as the Enterprise, or nearly three times larger than the Klingon cruisers. It was her design. Jim found it a little disturbing. Although never before the Federation had encountered a Romulan ship, except for the Narada and her particular case, the information they had on Romulan ships dictated something completely different. This one had a prominent forward section, a sort of "head", bulkier than its rear segment, resembling two separate "wings" that met at either side of what appear to be her warp nacelles. Both parts were linked by an open-shell section composed of two parallel hull segments. That ship seemed out of place, almost out of time. Jim thought the whole situation was very similar to the Kelvin's encounter with the Narada. He just hoped the result would prove different. Clarification: The stardate system I established corresponds to a personal attempt to blend the two already existing styles. The first segment (103) corresponds to the number of years since the founding of the Federation (2151), hence the acronym UPF. The second one (4.21) corresponds to the percentage of the year elapsed (42.1% = 153 days), maintaining part of the spirit of the original format.