Star Trek: Fortitude - Season Four

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by admiralelm11, May 1, 2021 at 3:33 AM.

  1. admiralelm11

    admiralelm11 Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2009
    Location:
    Vancouver, WA
    Star Trek: Fortitude
    Season Four, Episode One - “Unleashed, Part Two”
    By Jack D. Elmlinger


    PROLOGUE

    Last time on Star Trek: Fortitude....


    Captain Ewan Llewellyn and the crew of the USS Fortitude, NCC-76240, have survived a troubled year. Dogged by the persistent menace of a Tah’Heen spy, Llewellyn had fought at every turn to find answers. Who does this Tah’Heen attack? Who is behind him, ordering these attacks? What are they designed to accomplish?

    Along the way, the
    Fortitude crew has evolved.

    Lieutenant Commander Sollik had revealed his superhuman genetic abilities to his shocked friends, an echo of a long-past mistake in Suliban history.

    Lieutenant Arden Vuro and Lieutenant Commander Gabriel Brodie have clashed on numerous occasions over a long-standing rivalry that has roots in their shared Starfleet Academy experiences.

    Forced to mature, thanks to the tragic loss of his boyfriend, Ensign Jason Armstrong continues to maintain his position.

    Commander Valerie Archer, First Officer to Captain Llewellyn, is unaware of how close her Captain had come to revealing his true love for her. It is a love that she shares… and a love endangered by the volatile temper and dark outbursts experienced by Llewellyn himself.

    The pacifist within Llewellyn has been kept in check by nurturing a beautiful new alliance with the Shurvun. A friendly race of explorers, they promise to become an outstanding member of the United Federation of Planets. Tano Jmara, Llewellyn’s opposite number aboard the Shurvun exploratory vessel
    Vunara, has proven to be a valuable ally and a warm reminder of what the Fortitude crew is in the Beta Quadrant after all.

    But when an away team led by Rear Admiral Edward Blackmore uncovers the truth behind the Tah’Heen attacks and all hope of a peaceful resolution is shattered…

    … and now the conclusion.



    ACT ONE

    “This waiting is killing me,” Valerie Archer admitted.

    She sat with her legs crossed and her head slumped forward, resting in her palm in the First Officer’s chair, just staring at the viewscreen.

    Upon it, the jungle planet below them rotated blissfully through space as if mocking her impatience. It had been almost twenty minutes since the Rear Admiral had taken Captain Llewellyn, Lieutenant Commander Brodie and Ensign Armstrong down to the surface with the Tah’Heen. Surely that slimy good-for-nothing spy should have uncovered something by now? Surely there was something to report, an answer, an indication towards an answer… a hint, anything!

    “Commander,” Arden Vuro called out from the helm, his blue head rotating slightly to direct his words behind him,” I’m picking up a vessel on the other side of the planet. They’re just entering sensor range. It’s the Vunara!”

    “Tano Jmara’s ship,” Archer mused aloud. “Hail them, Lieutenant.”

    “I’m getting an automated reply,” the Bolian helmsman read aloud from his display. “It must be from the robotic crew. They’re saying that Tano Jmara is unavailable but they’re in the sector conducting their mapping survey when they detected Fortitude. Apparently, they’re offering assistance.”

    “Good old Tano,” smiled the First Officer in ignorance.


    * * * *


    Tano Jmara was definitely unavailable.

    Clicking his silvery fingers, the Shurvun summoned a circle of ten deadly machines to stand around the traumatized Starfleet away team. The dank structure that played host to their impromptu meeting was suddenly alive with technology. The deathy-white skeletons of the robotic soldiers showed no emotion as they leveled their plasma rifles at their Human prisoners. With a short jerk of his fingers, Tano silently ordered his four former friends to drop their phasers. They had no other choice.

    First Blackmore, then Armstrong, and then Brodie and Llewellyn together. All of their sidearms clattered to the cold stone floor. They had been defeated by the element of surprise.

    “Thank you, gentlemen,” Tano grinned wickedly.

    “Anything to help,” Ewan growled sarcastically.

    “You son of a bitch, Tano,” Blackmore picked up, finding his voice again after the gut-wrenching shock had worn away slightly. “You’ve been playing us all along! You’ve been behind everything! This Tah’Heen works for you!”

    “Quite right, Boxer,” the Shurvun chirped delightfully, his imbalance quite obvious and his previous friendly tones discarded. As he spoke, he moved the circle of robots to stand alongside the proud-looking Tah’Heen. “This gentleman has proven to be quite useful in my little tests. He works for a reasonable fee and has kept you guessing for almost a year. I’m very proud of how all of this turned out.”

    Turning, Tano addressed the Tah’Heen spy directly. “You’ve been most helpful.”

    “Thank you, sir,” hissed the Tah’Heen.

    “No… thank you.”

    A bright flash of a muzzle discharge briefly blinded the chamber. As the combat-green figure of the Tah’Heen slumped to the ground, Tano holstered his small pistol and gave the corpse a slightly raised eyebrow. The four Humans recoiling with the stench of ozone and twisted flesh in the air being almost overpowering.

    Rear Admiral Blackmore got over it first. “Why, Tano?,” he breathed, shaking his aging head in dismay.

    “Because assumption is the first step towards defeat” Jmara replied. “I have been planning the invasion of the Federation ever since I saw Fortitude stand up against the incredible forces of the End space fleet. Two years ago, you destroyed an enemy that we had struggled to weaken. You are far too powerful to remain unchallenged, and thus I plan to challenge you.”

    “Who are you,” Ewan asked from behind Blackmore,” really?”

    “I am Tano Jmara, leader of the Third Shurvun Empire, ruler of seven intergalactic civilizations and soon to be the ruler of you. Each attack by my unfortunate Tah’Heen spy was designed to test different aspects of your tactical response. A virus, to see how biological warfare would pan out, was the first step. Then I had Fortitude cut off, to monitor how best to go about dividing your Federation. Wiping out the database on Starbase 499 showed me how you coped with ignorance, perhaps a war of disinformation. By far, the best and most ingenious part of my scheme was presenting himself as an ally.”

    “It’s certainly done the most damage,” Boxer growled in defiance.

    “Emotions make you weak,” Tano smirked. “Don’t be a sore loser, Boxer.”

    “Your diplomatic staff,” Jason Armstrong suddenly blurted out,” back in the Santrag system… they’re not really there to sign up for Federation membership, are they?”

    “At my command, they’ll turn their weapons onto Starbase 499 and obliterate you,” the Shurvun leader boasted as his silver features morphed into yet another diabolical grin. “It will be the first step in the invasion of the Federation. You can’t possibly fight a war on two fronts, and I hear that the Alpha Quadrant is rather tied up with the Dominion.... Leaving the Beta Quadrant nicely undefended. It’s back door diplomacy at the point of a gun, my friends… my gun. You will submit to our invasion forces. You will surrender without a single shot ever having been fired, for we know all about you and we will use that knowledge to devastate and destroy you. You will accept our new position of ultimate authority.”

    Rear Admiral Blackmore had heard enough of this self-important garbage. “Over my dead body,” he objected through gritted teeth.

    “If that’s what it takes,” Tano simply said,” then so be it.”

    Mercilessly and without any remorse, Tano Jmara unleashed his plasma pistol and shot Boxer squarely in the chest. The black material of his Starfleet uniform dissolved, along with several layers of flesh, leaving a smoldering wound that reeked of burning hair and melted skin.

    Acting entirely on instinct, his mind racing to catch up with the horror of seeing his best friend shot, Captain Llewellyn pitched forward and caught the falling body of the Rear Admiral.

    “You sick bastard!,” the Welshman hissed.

    “Take them to their cell,” Tano ordered his robotic soldiers.

    As he was carried away by his friends, Blackmore tasted blood in his mouth.


    ACT TWO

    Gabriel Brodie grimaced as he watched the cell door come crashing down with a chirp from the locking mechanism.

    Behind him, Captain Llewellyn and Ensign Armstrong were tending to the serious wound that was dominating Rear Admiral Blackmore’s heaving chest. Their surroundings matched the style of the structure. It was worn and made of rough-hewn stone covered in hits of jungle moss thriving in the damp and vines creating gigantic green webs. It was a hardly ideal place to treat a patient, and with absolutely nothing on hand, not even a tricorder, there was little that the Captain or the operations officer could do.

    “Don’t die on me, Boxer,” Ewan said.

    “I’ll… I…,” the older man spluttered from behind his gray beard. “Good God… this hurts…”

    “I don’t think that plasma pistols are supposed to tickle,” Ewan said, managing a weak smile. “Brodie, what can you see out there?”

    “Two of those robotic creeps are on guard,” the Tactical Officer reported back after a quick glance through the tiny window in the cell door. “Tano seems to have left with the rest of them. I don’t know where. This place is pretty dark.”

    “I don’t think this wound is that bad,” Jason observed, mostly to reassure his fellow officers and not out of any practical experience. “All of your major organs were missed and the plasma dispersed without hitting anything, but if we don’t get you back to Doctor Pulaski aboard Fortitude soon, you may suffer from an extensive plasma infection.”

    “And how the hell do you propose how we do that?!,” Brodie yelled in frustration.

    Llewellyn rose to his feet, joining him at the cell door. “Calm yourself, Mister Brodie,” he stated in even tones.. “Some of us came prepared…”

    Suddenly there was a terrible cacophony from outside their cell. One of the Shurvun robots went down, the rifle that it had been carrying was torn from its metal claws and turned around for devastating effect. The other robotic guard reacted quickly, but not quickly enough, seeing nothing visible to shoot at. Before long, it joined the scrap metal on the cold stone surface of the corridor.

    The plasma rifle used to shoot them both hovered slightly. It took Brodie a second to realize what had happened because a Suliban male appeared suddenly, dressed in a Starfleet uniform and frowning deeply.

    “Sollik!”

    “Reporting as ordered, sir,” the Fortitude chief engineer hissed, dropping the plasma rifle as he worked on the cell’s locking mechanism. Within seconds, he had defeated it, causing the cell door to rise up into the shadows and reunite him with his shipmates. “It took a great deal of resolve to remain invisible when that fool Tano shot Rear Admiral Blackmore. Is he all right?”

    “Not for long,” Ewan said, shaking his head. “Signal Valerie for an emergency transport.”

    “Sollik to Fortitude,” the Suliban barked, tapping the only remaining combadge in the room,” five to beam directly to Sickbay!”

    “Acknowledged, Sollik,” came the reassuring tone of Commander Archer. “Stand by.”


    * * * *


    Captain Llewellyn, without his combadge, was a sight for sore eyes. One of his hands was covered in blood and sweat glowed on his forehead.

    “Ewan,” Valerie gasped,” what happened down there?”

    He wasn’t listening. The first thing that he saw when walking onto the Bridge was the image on the main viewscreen. There, hanging before his ship, was the glistening chrome shape of the Shurvun exploratory vessel Vunara. Before today, he would have been impressed by her beauty and excited at her appearance. Now it fueled his empty stomach and pumped his heart twice as fast, filling him with rage.

    “Blackmore is in Sickbay with Pulaski,” the Welshman finally answered her. From the turbolift behind him, the other three members of his away team emerged and took their stations. Sollik instantly began typing away on his LCARS display, working on the prearranged plan that had been discussed on the way up.

    Ewan turned to his First Officer, giving her an icy look that hammered home the seriousness of his words. “Tano shot him.”

    “Tano Jmara?”

    “He’s the enemy, Valerie. He’s behind the Tah’Heen. Or, at least, he was.”

    “But… but…,” stammered the Commander,” I’m about to speak to him!”

    “It’s all right,” he reassured her. “I’ll take it from here.”

    When Tano Jmara’s face appeared on the viewer, it took a second for the false expression of kindness and honesty to crack. The eyes that first locked onto Valerie Archer quickly shifted, noticing that Ewan Llewellyn was standing there… on his Bridge?! How was this possible? He was in a cell on the planet below! Slowly, Tano’s silver cheeks began to vibrate as incredulous fury consumed him.

    “I know what you’re thinking,” the Captain began. “Still, I can’t blame you. I mean, you can’t be expected to look for somebody that you can’t see…”

    “What?!,” screamed Tano.

    “My Chief Engineer… Oh, you didn’t know? You didn’t test him, hmm?”

    “You… Well, it hardly matters. Your ship will be destroyed. I tested it with you in command and I know your command style. You will be a simple conquest, a nice appetizer for my robotic forces to practice on.”

    Llewellyn held up his hand as if he were back in school, gaining his moment to speak.

    “I have to say that you were very clever… planning all of those tests. You’re right, of course, when you say that assumption is the failing of most armed conflicts. The thing is, though, that Starfleet never assumes anything either. If being out here in this corner of space has taught us anything… it’s to be prepared for the worst, Tano.

    “When Starbase 499 suffered that database wipe, you made a critical error by visiting us as our ally. You kicked an element of doubt into gear, played part in a coincidence… and I don’t like coincidences. To that end, I’m afraid to inform you that in your mad scramble to avoid assumption, you managed to underestimate us.”

    “What do you mean?”

    “Let me show you. Sollik, fire at will!”

    Outside the ship, the relentless night of space was interrupted. The deflector dish on Fortitude’s ventral hull flared to life, cutting through the vacuum towards the Vunara with a single arc of crackling energy. Tiny sparks reeled and scattered as the energy struck the Shurvun shields, instantly collapsing them inward and opening up a clear line of attack. The single arc broke, turning into smaller arcs that danced along the chrome hull plating. They seemed to play like excited children, bouncing off one another and running the full five-hundred meter length of the vessel. By the time that they finally dispersed, Tano Jmara knew what had happened.

    It was the oldest trick in the book.

    An electromagnetic pulse blast had disabled every piece of technology on his ship. That included, of course, the entire robotic crew.

    The viewscreen on Fortitude’s Bridge started to flicker. With a nod from Llewellyn, Sollik stabilized the connection to compensate for the severe power failure on Tano’s end. Soon the image returned to normal and the Captain could continue speaking.

    “I asked my Chief Engineer to quietly design a weapon capable of defeating a robotic crew,” the Welshman explained briefly,” after I started to suffer from some good old fashioned paranoia. It looks like I was justified in my decision.”

    “Fuck you, Llewellyn!,” Tano howled in defeat.

    “Don’t swear at me yet, you bastard,” Ewan went on. “Boxer Blackmore is in my Sickbay in critical condition, thanks to you. You’ll drift here while we return to the Santrag system and knock out your invasion force. When we’re done, I’ll come back for you… and your fate depends on whether or not Boxer lives.”

    Tano Jmara believed him.

    Everybody did.


    ACT THREE

    Captain’s Log, Stardate 51425.8;


    The EMP weapon designed by Lieutenant Commander Sollik has worked. Upon returning to Starbase 499 and Santrag II, the battle with the Shurvun vessels lasted only minutes. While
    Steamrunner and Katherine Johnson tow the crippled hulks out of orbit, I have beamed over to the 499 medical level with Doctor Pulaski and Rear Admiral Blackmore to make use of their more extensive facilities. So help me if Boxer doesn’t pull through from Tano Jmara’s cowardly attack…”


    It was hard to escape from his loathing of Sickbays when the Sickbay was an entire deck.

    Shifting uncomfortably in his seat, Ewan Llewellyn struggled with an image that kept looping over and over in his mind. It was that of the Shurvun exploratory vessel Vunara, in all of her technological glory and interstellar might, being destroyed. Using the striking visual of the EMP weapon as a starting point, he began replacing the blue energy arcs with plumes of flame and smoke, the sparks now chunks of debris… culminating into a gigantic explosion plucked from the stock footage of his memory. He hadn’t been bluffing when he threatened Tano before. If Boxer didn’t pull through to survive that plasma bolt to his chest…

    A door swished open somewhere nearby and the sound of footfalls approached him.

    “I thought you could use some company.”

    Llewellyn looked up to see the dark, compassionate eyes of Station Master Erica Martinez.

    “It’s okay,” he replied with a weak smile. “You’re allowed to worry about him rather than about me. We should be getting some news any minute now.”

    “Oh, good,” Erica said, breathing a sigh as she took a seat beside the Captain.

    There was a silence between them. It was no secret. The potential romance between these two officers had simply not worked out. Erica used to pine away, stuck on the space station while Ewan dashed about the unknown, but it happened less and less over the past stressful year. As a woman, the Station Master had also recognized the feelings inside of Valerie Archer even if Ewan Llewellyn hadn’t. Deciding to rather avoid complication than cause it, she had simply moved her emotions aside and let them burn out, concentrating on her work as an escape, strengthening her friendships to compensate for the loss.

    Friendships like the one that she shared with Edward Blackmore.

    When Katherine Pulaski emerged from the main operating theater, both of them stood.

    “Is it over, Doctor?,” Erica asked her.

    “Has he made it?,” Ewan added.

    “I’m not sure about the answer to either of those questions,” Pulaski said, sighing. Her own friendship with the Rear Admiral was at stake too. “After the transfer from Fortitude to here, I started an operation to cleanse the wound of plasma energy infection and found extensive plasma burns punching a hole through his internal organs. None of them were irreparably damaged but some of the plasma managed to strike his spinal cord.”

    “Endgame, Doctor,” Llewellyn pressed on. “What does it mean? How is he?”

    “He’s in a coma. Plasma energy shot up his spine and into his cerebral cortex. I’m amazed that he managed to stay conscious for the hours that he already has. There are several experimental regenerative treatments that I can try, but…”

    There was a pause. Seconds felt like hours.

    “... people in his condition tend to go one of two days,” Pulaski concluded, crestfallen in his inability to act. “Either the damage naturally repairs itself over a period of time, weeks, months… or years… or they stay in their comatose state indefinitely.”

    Erica Martinez broke down with tears stained her cheeks.

    Ewan simply stared a hollow, empty stare into middle-distance.

    What happened now?


    * * * *


    “We’re approaching the fifth planet, Captain.”

    He braced himself against the arms of his command chair. This would be the moment of decision on the uncertainty surrounding his mental state. Was Ewan Llewellyn a killer? Would he have given the order to have Tano Jmara and the Vunara destroyed? Could he even do such a thing?

    With Rear Admiral Blackmore in a coma, he was technically the highest ranking officer in the sector. He could do whatever he wanted. What if Tano wanted to put up a fight? What if he resisted? Would that even allow for the order to be carried out? That point of no return where he would instruct his tactical officer to lock phasers and open fire?

    Feeling his head cloud with a mess of confusion, Llewellyn screwed his eyes shut and tried to get a clear line of sight.

    Beside him, Valerie noticed, gently placing her hand on his. “Stupid question,” she whispered,” but…”

    “Yes,” he answered all too quickly. “I mean, not really, but yeah… I’m not sure.”

    “Just remember something. Edward Blackmore is still alive, and I think that you and I both know what he would do in this situation. Think carefully, Captain. Think really carefully before you start to issue orders.”

    The Welshman turned his head to the left, losing himself in her gaze. “A man is only the sum of his friends,” he replied.

    “Not this man,” she disagreed. “This man is far better.”

    Suddenly the tender moment shared between the Captain and the First Officer was shattered when an alert signal went off from Jason Armstrong’s operations console. Instantly another alert sounded at Tactical, much to the confusion of Gabriel Brodie. Charging to stand, Llewellyn asked the most obvious question with a mere look. The answer that he got was the last thing that he was expecting to hear.

    “The Vunara,” Jason reported. “She’s gone, sir.”

    “No ion trails, no residual warp signatures,” Sollik added from the engineering console.

    “Nothing,” Brodie said, finalizing the report,” simply nothing.”

    Ewan resumed his seat and ordered a return to Starbase 499.

    Tano Jmara had escaped.

    In doing so, he had saved the young Captain from the decision that he had been dreading. He had also etched a permanent question mark over Fortitude’s future exploratory voyages… and over the future of the Beta Quadrant itself…


    EPILOGUE

    “Hey there, Boxer.”

    The lights were low. It was insanely late, but with no other patients and no objections from the comatose Edward Blackmore, visiting hours were flexible aboard Starbase 499. Still, for some reason, Ewan Llewellyn was keeping quiet.

    As he slid into a chair over to one side of the biobed, he winced as it made a slight scraping noise. Maybe it was simply the atmosphere of the ward or the feeling that he had snuck down here after hours against some kind of unspoken rule.

    “He wasn’t there,” Ewan whispered to the motionless features of the Rear Admiral. “I went back to get him and he wasn’t there. It’s probably a good thing. For what he’s done to you, old friend… Damn, I was going to make him pay…”

    No change. Just the faint, even tempo of the heart monitor replied.

    “You’re going to get through this,” Ewan continued. “We’ve got a blank slate ahead of us now. The Tah’Heen is dead and Tano Jmara is probably hiding behind a rock somewhere, licking his wounds. It’s over now, Boxer. We can get back to doing what we came here to do. We can explore, meet new people, and be Starfleet again. You’re going to get through this, Boxer because you won’t want to miss it.”

    Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep.

    “I’ll drop in from time to time, I promise. I’ll keep you updated on the news and let you know of any exciting developments. I’ll even bring a deck of cards and some chips, even though I think that my victory will be a sure thing! Well, not if I drag Doctor Pulaski over for the odd hand, it won’t.”

    Somewhere, probably in one of the nurses’ offices, the computer automatically chimed the time as zero-two-hundred. It echoed around the ward, snapping Ewan out of his one-sided conversation.

    Zero-two-hundred? Really?

    Slowly and carefully, trying to make a sound, he stood to leave. Maybe that was it. Maybe, to avoid the anguish of seeing his best friend in a coma, he was simply telling himself that Boxer was asleep. On that reflective note, he turned to say goodbye.

    There were no tears. There didn’t need to be.

    He was going to make it. He was Rear Admiral Edward “Boxer” Blackmore.

    “Come back soon, my friend.”


    The End.
     
  2. Cobalt Frost

    Cobalt Frost Captain Captain

    Joined:
    May 22, 2004
    Location:
    Cobalt Frost in Phineas & Ferb's backyard
    Holy SH#T that was good!! Did NOT expect the puppetmaster behind the Ta'Heen to be who it turned out to be. Simply outstanding, good sir.
     
  3. admiralelm11

    admiralelm11 Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2009
    Location:
    Vancouver, WA
    I was going to put the puppetmaster as either CeJay or Gibraltar... Just kidding.
     
  4. admiralelm11

    admiralelm11 Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2009
    Location:
    Vancouver, WA
    Star Trek: Fortitude
    Season Four, Episode Two - “Hijack”
    By Jack D. Elmlinger


    PROLOGUE

    It was nearly the end of another day.

    As the powerful light of the Santragan sun tucked itself away behind the second planet that it continually nourished, Starbase 499 entered the night shift. Across the enormous superstructure, pinpricks of artificial light died away, fading in the shadow cast across the hull.

    At work terminals on almost every deck, systems were being powered down. Tired officers and enlisted crew members stretched and yawns, stepping aside for their night shift replacements. As usual, they were annoyingly alert and refreshed. A few stories were swapped, a few nods in the direction of things to keep an eye on but there was nothing out of the ordinary today… which made for a nice change.

    Floating peacefully alongside the massive outpost, the Intrepid-class starship USS Fortitude, NCC-76240, did the same. Despite the bleak ice of space, the dimming lights and the mechanical sigh of the ship seemed almost contented.

    Jason Armstrong would be serving as this evening’s Bridge Watch Officer. Command was handed over with nothing to report at nineteen-hundred hours as a satisfied and unusually placid Ewan Llewellyn walked towards the turbolift. It had been a nice, slow day, and a nice end to a slow week. They had needed it and so had he. There was much to come to terms with since recent events had shaken up the very fabric of the Federation’s presence in this remote corner of the Beta Quadrant.

    The Captain thought to himself that he would grab some dinner before heading to the holodeck with Valerie Archer. She had won the battle this past afternoon and after chipping away at his resolve, she had succeeded in getting him to play a nine-hole round of golf with her. The only reservation left hanging in Ewan’s head had him worried.

    Was this a date?

    It didn’t matter. Regardless of that question to himself, he was looking forward to it.

    Smiling, he ran a hand through his dark hair and let out a deep sigh.

    It was nearly the end of another day.

    Nevertheless, across from Fortitude on Starbase 499, a pair of humanoid hands worked frantically at a small console with obvious sinister intent. They would soon endure that the day would still hold a surprise for the Starfleet officers of the Santrag system.


    ACT ONE

    “Hole Three: completed in three shots. Score: par.”

    An appreciative grin spread across the beautiful and sharp features of Valerie Archer as she heard the computer automatically confirm her achievement. Slinging her putter confidently over her shoulder, the First Officer turned her attention to her golfing partner for the evening.

    Despite the aching natural beauty of his holographically simulated surroundings, Ewan Llewellyn still managed to wear a scowl. It was a simple putt and the golf ball at his feet wasn’t doing what he wanted it to do.

    “Well done, Valerie,” he still managed to growl as he prepared to take his own shot, lining up from the edge of the putting green. “That’s three to my… what am I even on? Ten or something, right?”

    “Nothing so dramatic, Ewan,” Valerie chuckled, flicking her cascading blonde hair away from her polo shirt as she approached the Captain slowly. “You’re on seven, which isn’t all that bad. I mean, that dogleg back there was tricky…”

    “I can comfort my own ego later, thank you.”

    “I’m sorry. Take your time.”

    Ewan did, taking a deep breath as he steadied his locked elbows. The enjoyment of the evening was coming from the company and the vista, not the activity itself. Here stood a man who had strived to impress a girl at Starfleet Academy by succeeding at self-defense and being all manly and skilled. And now here he stood again, faced with a woman that he loved and a sport that he would rather not undertake.

    The major difference was clear.

    At the Academy, he had managed to do well in his self-defense class. Today, on the golf course, he was doing anything but well. Feeling his forehead crease evermore, he attempted to putt.

    It missed, predictably, by a good two meters.

    “Oh, bad luck.”

    “Luck has nothing to do with it, Valerie.”

    “You know what they say,” Valerie teased him, her wicked sense of humor breaking her otherwise compassionate and understanding exterior. “Ninth shot’s the charm.”

    “Actually,” the Welshman retorted with a cocked eyebrow,” I’ve never heard that one.”

    “You have now. Go on, and knock it in. I don’t mind…”

    The distance between Hole Three and Hole Four on this particular course was a short stroll along the bank of a wide crystal lake. Out of uniform, with the orange sunlight warming their backs and two holographic caddies keeping a respectful distance, Ewan and Valerie slowly meandered so as to enjoy the break in the game.

    Waist-high grasses and reeds intermixed to create a miniature jungle to wade through, an obstacle of no actual obstructive properties. As they walked, the two officers found themselves appreciating the silence. There was no need for words. A day running a starship was filled with enough of those.

    Carefully, without much conscious thought, Ewan felt himself close the short gap between his right arm and Valerie’s left arm. It was an awfully schoolboy thing to wish for, to hold her hand, but he knew that it was what he wanted. There had been enough hints for him to deduce the same of her.

    Funny… He had always heard that love was a tricky business.

    This evening, it seemed perfectly natural and devilishly simple.

    “Bridge to Captain Llewellyn!”

    Damn it. There was always something, wasn’t there?

    “Go ahead, Jason,” Ewan replied, ignoring Valerie’s crestfallen expression.

    “Captain, we’re getting an emergency alert from Starbase 499. With all due respect, sir, I think you had better get up here… quickly.”


    * * * *


    Cramped inside a Jefferies Tube junction, Station Master Erica Martinez was blissfully unaware of the emergency alert issued from her own starbase. The stunning Latina woman had been trying, for the last hour, to repair a broken EPS relay deep within the bowels of the Steamrunner. As the ranking officer responsible for all of the starships permanently anchored to Starbase 499, she often found herself taking on such responsibilities personally. It kept her from becoming one of those boring base commanders that one heard about so much about. With a staff of thousands under her command, she could easily issue orders from a comfortable chair and not move around all day. How boring that would be, and so here she was, lying on one side, a bulkhead inches from her dark hair.

    Besides, she thought to herself, with Rear Admiral Blackmore in a coma, all of her non-busy moments were racked with worry. At least this kept her distracted.

    From between her polished boots came a cry of anguish. Reacting with a smile instead of shock, Erica parted her feet to see Lieutenant Commander Gabriel Brodie a few meters further down the Jefferies Tube. He was also fighting with an unruly systems error, although judging from his outburst, he was having less luck.

    “Problem, Gabe?”

    “Just the latest in a long line,” the Fortitude’s tactical officer grumbled, twisting his folded arms and legs in a new direction as he attempted to get at something deeper inside of the Steamrunner’s innards. “Why does Starfleet design its ships with such crucial systems tucked away in the worst places?”

    “You tell me,” Erica chuckled. “I brought you over here because you know your old command the best, save for Captain Llewellyn, of course, and digging around in a Jefferies Tube is hardly the work of a Captain. But if you’re having trouble, I could always call for Sollik. I’m sure his flexible arms could --”

    “I wasn’t complaining," Brodie protested quickly.

    “It sounds like it from where I am.”

    “I’m perfectly capable, Erica. Thank you.”

    Dropping her own tools and sliding down the length of her workspace towards her colleague, the Station Master decided that it was time for a break. They were both glistening with a fine layer of sweat that they were both reaching the point where a nice stretch and a cup of something hot would do them both a world of good.”

    “Come on, Mister Brodie,” she suggested. “Break time just kicked in.”

    Together they emerged from the Jefferies Tube and let out short, sympathetic groans of relief. Muscles flexed under their uniforms, gray shoulders writhing and black torsos rotating as several slight clicks were heard.

    Erica recovered first, brushing her hair away from her smooth features as she approached a replicator and ordered two drinks. Behind her, Brodie was massaging his aching arm. He winced as he worked it, feeling it cry out in protest as it remembered the loving care that was usually placed upon it at the gym and longed to never return to the cramped conditions that it had just survived.

    When Erica returned with the drinks, his mind was elsewhere.

    “What’s up?,” she asked innocently.

    “Erica,” the black man mumbled,” look out the window.”

    She looked outside, her eyes following his. It took a moment for her to realize what was wrong with the stars outside the ship.

    “Where’s Starbase 499?”


    ACT TWO

    Captain’s Log, Stardate 51486.3;


    For some unknown reason, the
    Steamrunner forced her way out of Starbase 499’s docking bay and went to warp, just under thirty minutes ago, and headed into unexplored space. I’ve ordered a pursuit course. All signs point to a hijacking by the violent severing of her umbilical cords, and the deserted nature of the ship, thanks to the time of day. I just hope that we can close the distance and reason with whoever has control of one of the deadliest starships in the region.


    “What do you mean that we have people aboard?,” Ewan asked. “I thought you said that the ship was shut down for the night. Who's over there?”

    “Our very own Gabriel Brodie,” Lieutenant Commander Sollik reported, standing in the middle of Fortitude’s Bridge as the Intrepid-class starship blasted through space at maximum warp. “He came by Engineering, just before my shift ended. I gave him some tools that he wanted to borrow. Apparently, Station Master Martiez called him and said that there was a problem that needed fixing aboard the Steamrunner. Given his experience with the ship --”

    “Okay, I get the picture,” the Captain interrupted him with a wave of his hand. “So what? He’s alone over there? With God knows who?”

    “Brodie’s a fighter, Captain,” Valerie Archer pointed out from her seat to Ewan’s left. “If he is aware of the situation, you can bet that he’s already working on a way to regain control of the ship. Either that or… well… if he’s the only person that we know to be over there, then it’s not entirely impossible that he’s stolen the Steamrunner.”

    “No,” Ewan immediately snapped,” that’s out of the question.”

    “It’s just a thought,” Valerie emphasized with him. “I don’t believe it for a second, but the facts are the facts.”

    “Gabriel Brodie is an honorable man. He may be a little brash, a little too eager to shoot first and ask questions later, but his loyalty to Starfleet is both powerful and enduring. He would never do anything to damage or jeopardize the Federation. That will be the end of it. I won’t hear any more on that subject.”

    Any other officer would have recoiled at such a blunt dismissal but not Valerie Archer. She understood her Captain, more so than anybody else aboard Fortitude. Sollik and the other senior staff officers present all felt a pang of sympathy for the First Officer’s blow, not recognizing the bond between her and Ewan Llewellyn.

    As the Suliban chief engineer retreated to the engineering console on the starboard side of the Bridge, Lieutenant Arden Vuro spun his chair away from the helm to deliver a status report. “Speed is holding at Warp Nine-point-nine,” stated the Bolian.

    “Jason,” Ewan called out,” where are they?”

    “Dead ahead, Captain,” Ensign Jason Armstrong confirmed, his gaze locked firmly on the sensor display before him. “They’re just touching the edge of our sensor range. If they hadn’t gotten the drop on us back at Starbase 499…”

    “Let’s just focus on the situation as it stands,” Commander Archer suggested wisely.

    “Yes, ma’am,” he acknowledged. After a pause, the young operations officer had more to report. “I’m getting a signal from 499. They confirm that Station Master Erica Martinez logged herself and Commander Brodie aboard the Steamrunner to undertake maintenance at nineteen-thirty hours this evening. They never left, Captain, so that means that they’re both aboard!”

    Llewellyn felt his eyes narrow.

    The stakes had just doubled.


    * * * *


    “Computer,” Erica whispered,” where are we?”

    “Ship’s status is on a heading of zero-four-one, mark two-eight, at a speed of Warp Seven.”

    Gabriel Brodie sighed as he cocked his head towards the Latina Station Master. He had wasted little time in securing a phaser from a nearby weapons locker since the Steamrunner was covered in them being the type of ship that it was. He also made sure that the cabin that they were standing in now was properly locked.

    “Why are you whispering?,” he asked, his arms folded over his chest.

    “Isn’t it the done thing in such situations?”

    “Not unless you’re standing in the same room as your hijackers. We’re going out into deep space and whoever has control of Steamrunner is making a break for it. It’s no doubt that we’re being chased, right?”

    “Probably,” Martinez had to admit, nodding.

    “So the question that you have to answer is a simple one. Do we sit tight and wait for rescue? Or do we take action and try to retake the ship? I know what answer I’d choose but we’re in this together… so what will it be?”

    Erica thought for a moment before turning away from her colleague. “Computer, internal sensors,” she asked, louder this time. “How many non-Starfleet personnel are aboard at this precise moment?”

    “There are eight lifeforms aboard.”

    “Where are those eight lifeforms?”

    “Five are on the Main Bridge. Three are in Main Engineering.”

    Brodie pulled himself away from the bulkhead that he had been leaning against. In a flash, he was armed with a phaser tightly in his grip. Erica looked at the tall, imposing black man and wondered if eight-versus Brodie was a fair fight.

    Probably not.

    There would probably have to be twelve hijackers, at least, to make it a fair fight.

    Picking up her own phaser, she acknowledged that the idea of fighting for the control of Steamrunner was more appealing than simply sitting by and waiting for a rescue that might never arrive or arrive and be defeated. After all, this vessel was designed for combat.

    “Main Engineering, Mister Brodie,” she decided. “Shall we?”

    “Lead on!”


    * * * *


    Legs… Well, they were humanoid.

    Crouched inside another Jefferies Tube together, Erica and Brodie were peering out of a tiny crack in the opened access hatch. They were situated directly behind the throbbing warp core, their faces at ankle level while they desperately tried to assess the situation. While the odds were favorable with two against three and the element of surprise, more information was needed to mount an attack than just leather-clad legs.

    One of the hijackers paused, entering commands into a console.

    Erica saw his face before Brodie did.

    Her gasp startled the Fortitude tactical officer into breaking silence.

    “What is it?”

    “The hijackers,” she told him. “They’re Santragan!”
     
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  5. admiralelm11

    admiralelm11 Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2009
    Location:
    Vancouver, WA
    ACT THREE

    “Why the hell are Santragans hijacking the Steamrunner?”

    “Why don’t you go out there and ask them?,” Gabriel Brodie retorted to the query voiced by Erica Martinez. The Station Master shot the Lieutenant Commander a dirty look before he continued. “Regardless of who they are or what they want, they have illegal control of Federation Starfleet property. It’s our job to stop them!”

    The man had a point.

    “On three,” Erica whispered. “One… two…”

    Nobody even had to say three.

    Bursting out from the Jefferies Tube, Brodie performed a perfect roll along with the durasteel deck plating of the Steamrunner’s engine room. Upon coming to a rest, he lifted his phaser and blasted on the closest hijacker directly in the chest. Behind him, Erica managed a more graceful exit from their cramped quarters. Standing tall, she fired her own phaser and took down a second Santragan, leaving one behind.

    He had time to react, lifting some kind of weapon.

    Both Erica and Brodie fired simultaneously, their phased energy beams meeting in the center of the Santragan’s abdomen. He crumpled like tissue paper underneath the force of twin stun blasts. All that remained was for the two Starfleet officers to share a triumphant smirk and Main Engineering was theirs.

    “You’re a good shot,” Brodie noted, impressed.

    “Why, thank you, Mister Brodie,” she smiled, cascading black curls playing across her dark features. “We don’t have time to stand around mutually admiring one another. Come on, let’s get to work.”

    As he joined her at the central command console, he had to grin.

    “I wasn’t aware of any mutual attraction there… unless… of course…”

    “There they are,” Erica interrupted him, shifting attention away from her Freudian slip and pointed at a LCARS display readout of the Bridge. “Fire humanoid biosigns that we now know to be Santragan.”

    “They’re trying to rewrite the command codes.”

    “Heh… good luck to them.”

    “I wouldn’t be so quick to laugh, Erica. Santragan vessels are technically similar to Starfleet vessels. These are a race that know their way around isolinear circuitry. Trust me.”

    The Station Master of Starbase 499 fixed the tactical officer with a glare. “How do you know so much about Santragan vessels?”

    “I like to be prepared,” Brodie growled,” for the unexpected.”

    Shaking her head at the overblown macho drama of that particular statement, she continued to read the display in front of her. While the hijackers were unsuccessful in their attempts to rewrite the Steamrunner’s command codes, they were making great progress… and casting her eyes around Main Engineering, she realized that they have been making great progress down here too. Isolinear chips were strewn about everywhere. Access panels were open and circuits were scattered across the deck.

    Suddenly the communications system chirped to life.

    “Grak, report!,” a Santragan male snarled from the Bridge. “Grak, we’re preparing to override the tactical systems. Report your status! Have you been able to rewrite the tactical command codes yet? Grak, come in!”

    There was a moment of silence… Foreboding silence…

    Slowly, the biosigns on the LCARS display started to move. All of them clustered into a turbolift which sped downwards into the main body of the ship… towards Main Engineering… and towards Erica and Brodie.

    Erica swallowed hard. “Something tells me that they’re going to know that we’re not Grak.”


    * * * *


    The owner of the angry voice stormed into Main Engineering, moments later. His fellow hijackers, four-strong and well-armed Santragans, covered his flanks. He was a powerful presence with his physicality matching the imposing tone with which he had snarled over the comms system from the Bridge. In his muscular arms, an ugly-looking plasma rifle refused to budge, being waved around the corners of the Steamrunner’s heart as it was.

    He noticed the bodies of the other Santragans in short order.

    Gabe Brodie was watching all of this happen from his hiding place. Having bathed his crouching form in the shadows, he waited for the rushed plan of action to begin.

    On the opposite side of the warp core, Erica Martinez was in a similar position. Her hand briefly left the comfort of the darkness to tap at a control board, her slender fingers making as little noise as it was possible. That was until they were meant to.

    The alert was nicely misplaced. The central console let up with a system error warning.

    It caught all of the fuming Santragans by surprise.

    All Brodie had to do was tap his combadge which was the signal.

    He waited until all five of the hijackers were clustered around the central console before doing so. Erica immediately sprang from cover, shooting the two hijackers that were the closest to her. As she did, Brodie added to the confusion by shooting his own two targets, leaving the fifth and final Santragan, the leader of the pack, wide-eyed with astonishment.

    “Drop your weapon!,” barked the Lieutenant Commander.

    “Starfleet…,” the hijacker hissed, his every syllable laced with venom.

    He wasn’t complying with the tactical officer’s order.

    Gabe stepped closer, his phaser raised towards the hijack. “I said ‘drop it’,” he pressed on. “You would be able to shoot either of us!”

    Another step… another step…

    “No, I won’t,” the Santragan growled,” but I can shoot one!”

    He raised his plasma rifle towards Erica Martinez.

    Brodie felt his body react before his mind even hoped to engage.

    Leaping forward, the athletic black man dropped his phaser and seized the towering frame of the lead hijacker. It was a ridiculous move. Why not just stun him from a safe distance? The primal instincts of the natural fighter within him had taken over, destroying all hope of logical thought. This bastard had threatened Erica with a weapon that was most definitely not set to a stun setting. He had to stop him.

    The plasma rifle went off but thanks to the reckless lunge from Gabe, the discharge blew a hole in the ceiling. It missed any vital systems just by sheer luck.

    Meanwhile, Erica held her phaser in place.

    She couldn’t get a clear shot, but even if she could, she doubted her ability to fire.

    Gabriel Brodie was risking himself to save her. To say the least, it was an emotional moment.

    The fight lasted for only a short time. After his third punch to the hijacker, missing his cranial horns by inches, Brodie felt the internal will of his opponent subside. Stumbling backwards, dropping his weapon, and raising his hands in defeat, the Santragan gasped for air as he had been soundly defeated by the Starfleet officer.

    “Okay… okay…,” he winched. “I surrender…”

    “Oh, no,” Gabe corrected him with fire in his veins,” you don’t.”

    The next punch was the hardest yet. It floored the hijacker, knocking him unconscious.

    Gabe shook his painful hand aside, admiring his handiwork. It felt good.

    “Are you all right?,” a familiar voice broke into his tunnel vision.

    “What? Oh… yeah, thanks, Erica. I’m fine.”

    “You were a damned fool for doing that,” the Station Master noted, stepping over the defeated Santragan to stand beside her savior. “A damned fool… but it didn’t go unnoticed. Thank you, Mister Brodie.”

    Gabe felt the beautiful Latina woman draw in close.

    “This is the Federation starship Fortitude calling the Steamrunner,” the communications system interrupted them with impeccable timing. “To those in control of this ship, you have stolen Federation property. Prepare to be boarded. You are under arrest.”

    They couldn’t help themselves.

    They just had to laugh.


    EPILOGUE

    “He gave you absolutely no idea?”

    Captain Ewan Llewellyn confirmed his answer as he and Erica Martinez walked through the corridors of the USS Fortitude. They were halfway between Sickbay, where Doctor Pulaski had carefully examined her for any injuries and found none and the docking arm that connected the Intrepid-class starship the Starbase 499. Steamrunner was home and safely tucked away in another docking bay. The Santragans responsible for the hijacking were on a Santragan transport heading for the surface of their homeworld. The Captain had finished handing them over to Ambassador Veth Ka’Gerran before checking up on Erica, who was shocked at the lack of answers, to say the least.

    “Absolutely none,” Ewan lamented. “He just asked me to trust him and to hand over the prisoners for an immediate return to Santrag II. I guess we won’t be finding out why they hijacked the Steamrunner anytime soon.”

    Dos Mios, that’s annoying,” Martinez seethed. “I really thought that Veth, of all people, would…”

    “Look, pondering this won’t do either of us any good. I’m heading over to see Boxer, and tell him about this turn of events. Maybe a good adventure will snap him back to us, or at least, I’m hoping so… Will you join me?”

    “Ah,” Erica paused for a moment. “No, not right now. I’ll join you later, okay?”

    With a slightly puzzled crease across his forehead, Llewellyn nodded and parted ways, leaving the Station Master standing alone in the corridor. After a quick moment to establish her bearings, she turned and headed in the direction of the crew quarters. Finding the appropriate door, she let the doorbell chime patiently, waiting only a few seconds for a response.

    The door slid open to reveal Lieutenant Commander Gabriel Brodie.

    “Erica,” he said, smiling,” what can I do for you?”

    “I just wanted to drop by,” she said, returning the smile,” and finish saying thank you…”



    The End.
     
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