[LEFT]*Authors note: this is my first fan fic. I've noticed that 46 people glanced at it in the past 23 hours, no one has commented. If you didn't like the story, I would appreciate some constructive criticism, to help me write a better fan fic in the future, thank you. [/LEFT] Chapter One In the mess hall Captain Kirk is having breakfast with Dr. McCoy and Spock. Kirk says "So, Bones what organic food supplies are you going to pick up at Melbourne?" "Well, the Golora root for starters. And I think I might pick up some Melloon Ale, it has this certain bitter spiciness to it that makes you want to drink more and more to quench your thirst, rather unique." "Ah yes the Golora root, the stuff with all the vitamins." "Yeah, it's great. It has twice the daily allowance of Iron, three times the daily allowance of potassium and practically one hundred percent of the daily allowance of every other vitamin and mineral. I tell yeah it's great in soup. If our replicators ever go off line, we can take our emergency rations and mix some golora root in it, it would keep us fit as a fiddle. However, the best use for it is to get it deep fried in luro oil, eat it for breakfast on a day where you are going to have a heavy work out. It will give you a huge burst of energy that will last at least four hours. And I'm not talking about a caffeine type of energy, I mean a good ol' caloric energy." A few tables down three security officers sit at a table and mutter with smirks on their faces. A young man walks into the mess hall and the three guys at the table signal him to sit with them. One of the guys says "Hey Jimmy, already got your food ordered for you." Jimmy sits down and says "Oh really, I recognize the muffin and eggs, but what kind of food cubes are these?" "Assorted flavors. Bacon, sausage, ham." said one of them. "All three breakfast meats. Great. So what's on the agenda today?" "Well since you're the new guy and all, and yesterday was the last day explaining, demonstrating, and touring, today we'd want to actually station you at the transporter bay, that way you have the transporter chief to talk to." "Yeah we figured we'd be nice to the new guy and wait a while before you get stuck guarding one of the cargo bays all by yourself." says another one of them. "Well thanks guys I appreciate that." Jimmy bites down into one of his food cubes and suddenly he gets a blank look on his face, and then a look of fright. He grabs a napkin and spits out the chewed cube. His face turning red and sweat dripping off his forehead, he gasps "Hot! Hot!" The other three guys start laughing. One of them hands him a glass of water and says "You just ate a synthetic Andorian fire pepper, here drink." Jimmy drinks the water, but his bloodshot eyes display that his mouth and sinuses are still on fire. Bones sees what's going on, grins, and gets up, walks over to the food replicator and says "One glass of milk, three slices of white bread." He walks up to the table and says "Here Jimmy, try this. The milk will neutralize the acid, and the bread will absorb the oils from your tongue." Jimmy gulps down the milk and starts eating the bread. Bones asks "Better?" "Much better." "Well I guess it's official, you're one of us now. These guys always pull this joke on the new guy." Kirk laughs and says "Welcome aboard Enterprise." Jimmy, with a mouth full of bread, gives a thumbs up. Bones sits back down. Kirk says "I can't believe that people still pull that trick on each other." "That's nothing. When you're a security officer like Jimmy, you get it easy. But when your in medical school one of the pranks we pulled on each other was slipping an amberen pill into someone's food or drink, completely harmless, and when they'd go to the can, their urine would come out green. We'd stand outside the john waiting for them, and we'd hear them start screaming 'oh god oh god '. Come to think of it, I guess we were rather cruel for doctors in training." Kirk finishes his coffee and muffin, smiles and says "I guess hazing is a natural part of being human. As long as no one get's hurt, it's just fun and games." Spock says "I fail to understand humans. You play cruel jokes on each other for amusement?" Kirk says "Well, yeah. I suppose we do it to test the reaction of our friends." "And is that true as well with hazing?" "Well hazing serves two purposes. Often in college fraternities it's a test to see your conviction of wanting into a group. It's about proving that you are willing to undergo humiliation, discomfort, and risk, to be in the group. By humbling yourself with embarrassment you are showing dedication to a group, and not just existing as a member of something for the perks, you are showing that the group matters more than the individual, and this builds bonds." McCoy continues this train of conversation and says "And when it comes to practical jokes among friends, it's two fold, it's fun to watch the shock displayed by the victim of the joke, but it's also a way of testing friendship. It's a test that says 'if you're really my friend, you'll let me do this horrible thing to you, and forgive me, and continue being my friend.'" Spock says "Where do you draw the line?" McCoy says "Well that's the interesting thing, no one is really sure. It comes down to having a firm grasp on human behavior and how well you know the person. Obviously a joke that gets someone crippled, disfigured, or expelled from an academy crosses a line. But many other things, seemingly harmless, can cross the line. It's a judgment call, and there is no way of truly knowing the outcome. But sometimes it's good to test the limits of a friendship." Kirk says "You mean to tell me there is no hazing on Vulcan?" "We have tests we put people through, tests that have been handed down to us by ancient times. It serves the function of testing how dedicated you are to a cause or a discipline. These tests often involve ceremonies followed by fasting, or walking over coals, or receiving lashes across the back. But in all cases the individual undergoing the test knows in advance what to expect." "Well what do you know, Bones, I guess humans and Vulcans aren't so different after all." Spock raises an eyebrow and says "I have to admit, up until now, I didn't realize the psychological connection between immature human initiation rituals, and spiritual Vulcan tests of conviction." Kirk says "Well gentlemen, I need to get going to the bridge, and start the morning shift." Spock says "As do I." "Yeah, and I have to get to sick bay and ready some physical examinations. Which reminds me Jim, You're do for a physical." "Some other time." "You have until the end of the week. If you don't show up by then I'll have security drag you in, kicking and screaming." As captain Kirk makes his way to the doors of the mess hall, Scotty comes in. He greets him "Good morning Scotty. You're a little late for breakfast." "Good morning? What's so good about it? We got power fluctuations in the magnetic field generator." "Is it serious?" "No, we're still moving steady at warp speed, as long as we don't push her past maximum warp we'll be fine, but I have checked all the settings and run diagnostics on all the gadgets, it's a physical defect somewhere. We're not leaking plasma or anything serious, but I still got to figure out where the fluctuations are coming from. My guess is a wire somewhere is lose. But finding it is going to be an all day project. So I just came in here for an additional cup of coffee, and a thermos of lemonade, because it's going to be one of those blood sweat and tears kinda days." "Well good luck Scotty." "Thank you sir." Scotty orders his coffee and a canteen of water, and sits at a table. It was really bugging him, that darn power fluctuation. Computer diagnostics were useless at this point. He knew it was a matter of testing the main input/output contact on every darn circuit. All day of laying on his back with hot dry air, and dust falling in his eyes. But those are the breaks, some days go by without a hitch, and then you get one of these. He over hears Janice Rand and Uhura talking about a Vulcan romance novel. Uhura says "And the part where T'Para confessed that she believed it was more logical that she be with his brother Servu. And then Spen just stood there, and he agreed, without showing any emotion, while deep inside his heart ripped in two." Janice says "Oh I know, I actually broke down and cried, because Spen couldn't. And, and it was just so sad that he had dedicated his life to T'Para, and spent his entire life trying to live up to the standards of his older brother Servu. All he ever had was T'Para, and Servu took that away from him too." "But the part that wasn't the most emotional, but the most memorable was when Sgor, after going through the pon farr..." Uhura notices Scotty staring at them, and says "You know if you want Mr Scot, you can always join our book club." "Join your book club!? You ladies must be crazy, you think I want to sit around reading sissy stuff about Vulcan romance. Give me a break. All those books sound like "T'Rile, while I know how illogical it is, I have a liking for you. I even spend restless nights thinking about you and I going through the pon farr together. I know how illogical this must all sound... Oh Savat, I too know of this illogical state of mind." Janice says "Wait a minute, if you don't read these books, how do you know the dialogue?" "Well, I, it all sounds like that." "Uhura says "But you even got the names right." "Well, all Vulcans sound like T'pal, T'jar, Sven Spork, Spock." Janice says "But that dialogue between those characters, that's word for word right out of The Cliffs of Vulcan volume three." "I... I have to get work done, I don't have the time to sit around with idle chit chat." Janice and Uhura begin laughing and giggling as Scotty, embarrassed, grabs his canteen and quickly walks out of the mess hall. Chapter2 Captain's log, star date 1382.4. Our dilithium crystals are waiting for us on the Pergium mining colony on planet Janus VI. Scotty is anxious to get there in spite of the fact our current supply of dilithium will last us another month. Janus VI is a week away, and we're taking a detour to Melbourne. We're only two days away from the planet Melbourne. The shipment of medical supplies and Alderian mint leaves will be sure to make the Melbournes happy considering the planet is famous for it's foods and ale. And I'm sure the crew will enjoy the shore leave, and the exotic foods. Bones keeps talking about deep battered golora root, a common food on Melbourne. Bones keeps talking about its vitamin count, and Lieutenant Connery keeps talking about its sweet and spicy taste. I have to admit, the more they talk about the food on Melbourne, the more I'm looking forward to our stop. "Captain, the sensors are picking up a debris field." "What kind of debris field, Mister Spock?" "Long range sensors suggest it's the debris of a large star ship, or a small space station. But we will have to get closer to be sure." "Sulu, plot a course for the debris field, and take us there at warp six." "Aye aye captain." Five minutes later they arrive at the debris. The ship comes to a stop. Spock, looking at the sensors says "I have determined positive that this debris was once a star ship. A Corian freighter to be exact." "What was the cause of the explosion?" "I can say with ninety eight percent accuracy that it was caused by a torpedo blast to the ship's stern." "How did you arrive to that conclusion?" "Elements of the wreckage contain materials left over from a photon torpedo. The computer was able to recognize the debris from the stern of the ship where the torpedo materials were detected. Also some of the writing on the debris identifies it as a Corian freighter, Class B to be exact, though no serial number has been retrieved. Also the floating of the debris suggests the origin of impact and the magnitude of the explosion. Considering that Corian freighters do not carry torpedoes, it is only logical to assume a torpedo was fired at it." Kirk smirks and says "Well, where's that two percent doubt come in?" "The possibility that this is an illegally modified freighter that has a torpedo bay, or a battle ship refitted to be disguised as a freighter. Or the possibility that a natural object containing the materials found in a photon torpedo, smashed into the ship at the same velocity and burned at the same temperature as a photon torpedo." "In other words, this freighter was attacked by somebody. How long ago, can you tell?" "Approximately forty minutes ago." Kirk straightens up, his eyes widen, he says "Then who ever done this may very well still be in the area. Spock, I want you to push our sensors to the limits, look for any ship, any warp signature, and any long range object that might possibly be a star ship." "Aye captain." A few minutes later Spock says "Captain, I found what appears to be a star ship baring one two nine by one thirty three." "Mister Sulu, plot a course, and take us at maximum..." he remembered Scotty's warning about maximum warp being risky. "...uh, warp seven." "Warp seven, sir." A few minutes later Spock says "Captain, that's an affirmative on the object being a starship. And it has changed it's course to intercept us." "Any idea on what type of Ship?" "Negative. But at this rate we should know in forty to fifty seconds." After that amount of time Spock says "I have identified the ship as a Star fleet vessel, a constitution class. U-S-S Exeter N-C-C- one six seven two." "That's Captain Ronald Tracey's old ship. Who's commanding it now?" "According to the logs, Captain Charles Seymour." Kirks smiles and says "Charlie Seymour. I haven't seen him in years. Sulu, drop our speed to warp two, I'd hate to alarm Charlie by coming at him at this speed. And Uhura, hail the Exeter. Well this is certainly good news. Me and Charlie have a lot of catching up to do. Maybe he knows something about this Corian freighter that we found. If not, maybe he can help." Uhura says "Captain, they're not responding to our hails." Kirk frowns and mutters "Why wouldn't he respond?" then says "Open a channel on all frequencies." "Open sir." "This is captain James T Kirk of the star ship Enterprise, to the U-S-S Exeter. Do you read us, Exeter?" A few seconds go by, Uhura says "No reply captain." Spock pipes up and says "Captain, they're raising shields and charging weapons." Kirk stunned, with his mouth open, hesitates for a moment, and then says "Raise shields!" then signals red alert. He opens up the ships com and says "Red alert, all crew to battle stations!" he closes the com and says "Chekov, how long until we're in firing range?" "About forty five seconds, sir." "If this is Charlie's idea of a joke, his humor sure has changed. Uhura, hail them again. Sulu drop us out of warp, bring us to a stop." A few seconds go by, Chekov says "Captain, why on earth would Captain Seymour, or any Starfleet captain, want to attack the Enterprise?" "I don't know. Maybe their sensors and communicators aren't working properly and they can't make out who we are, and all they know is a ship came at them at warp seven." "Yeah, that could explain it, maybe they've been battle damaged, and assume we are another ship out to attack them. They're dropping out of warp. Should we charge weapons?" "No mister Chekov, we don't want to give them any reason to believe we are hostile." Spock says "They're scanning us." Kirk says "Let them scan all they want. Hopefully they will be able to identify us." After a few seconds the Exeter fires it's photon torpedoes and phasers. Enterprise shakes violently. Chekov shouts "Shields down to sixty percent!" Kirk hollers back "Retreat! Take us out of here at maximum warp!" The ship turns 45 degrees and takes off to warp. The Exeter pursues. Spock says "The Exeter is pursuing us at warp eight point one." Kirk says "Increase speed to warp eight point two. Kirk to Scotty." "Yes captain?" Scotty says over the intercom. "We're running from an attacking vessel, how fast can we move this tub?" "Not much faster than this captain, we're already well above the safe speed, the warp core is heating up fast." "Give the engines everything you got." Spock says "Captain, they are gaining on us at warp eight point three." "Warp eight point four, Sulu!" The ship begins mildly shaking. The sound of the warp engines straining becomes frighteningly loud. In engineering the crew runs around wildly pressing buttons trying to keep the energy flowing and trying to keep the warp core from over loading. A control panel explodes killing one of the workers near it. Scotty yells "Ensign Roy, bypass conduit four." then presses the intercom and says "Captain, we have to drop speed, the port nacelle power is fluctuating wildly the matter-antimatter reactor is running red hot, she could blow at any moment!" Just then Spock says "The Exeter has dropped out of warp." Kirk says "Sulu, slow us to warp four." Spock says "The Exeter hasn't dropped out of warp voluntarily, their engines are dead. Their engine core is offline, which means they most likely have no impulse, shields, or phasers." Kirk says "Mister Sulu, drop us out of warp and turn us around to meet the Exeter." The ship slows down and then out of warp, slowly turns around and heads back toward the Exeter. Suddenly they hear a loud explosion as the ship shakes and moves to one side. Kirk presses the intercom and says "Scotty, report!" "It was the port nacelle! She blew, Captain." "But we were out of warp!" "We over heated her too bad, then we dropped out of warp too soon, the drastic change in temperature ruptured the phase shifters, where the energy was arcing. It caused the plasma injectors to blow up. We're venting plasma at the moment, I need to shut down all energy to the nacelle and reroute it to the starboard nacelle if we hope to get warp speed back. Captain, we're really lucky the whole ship didn't just go up." "Well, do what you can, Scotty." Kirk rubs the sweat from his forehead. then mutters to himself "Damn it, Scotty told me our engines were having problems. He had just warned me not even an hour ago that we shouldn't try hitting maximum warp." Spock says "Casualty report coming in, Captain. Five dead, and seventeen severely wounded, and twenty five lightly injured." "Damn, I can't believe we blew the nacelle at warp eight point four. We were running less than three minutes. Uhura, hail the Exeter, maybe they'll be willing to talk now that they're dead in the water. Sulu, how long till we reach the Exeter at our current impulse speed?" "Twenty two minutes, sir." "I need you to plot a course to stay out of their firing range, and come around to them from behind. That way if they get power back, or are playing possum, we'll have our weapons focused on their most vulnerable spot, and be out of reach of their forward torpedoes." "Aye sir, plotting course... our E-T-A is now forty seven minutes." Kirk gets up and paces around. He says to anyone listening "Why would Charlie, or any Starfleet ship attack us?" Chekov says "Maybe there was a report of a rogue ship disguised as the Enterprise?" "No, we never fired, and regardless of who we are or what our crimes, it's Starfleet policy that we don't fire on ships first. Nor would that explain why they weren't responding to our hails." Spock says "Perhaps the ship has been hijacked, and either didn't respond to our hails because they felt no need, or because communications were damaged during the takeover of the ship." "Well that would be one explanation. And logical." Uhura says "Still not responding to hails." "Lieutenant Uhura, is there any chance our communications aren't functioning properly?" "Hmm, just a moment." She presses a few buttons, looks at the read out, and answers "According to the diagnostic, all communications are working. However, there is a small chance that the circuits are damaged in a way that prevents the diagnostic from functioning, although, one in a million chance really." "Can you test it? Send a message to a relay satellite to test for proper inbound and outbound communications?" "There are no satellites in proper range for that sort of test. However, I could program a probe from here, launch it and use it as a relay." "Good thinking Uhura. Get it done." Uhura presses some buttons, flips switches, and says "Probe programed, sir." Kirk says "Chekov, launch probe". "Probe launched." A minute goes by. Uhura presses some buttons and says "This is a communications test from The U-S-S Enterprise, of the United Federation Of Planets. This is not an emergency, please do not respond, this is only a test. I repeat, this is a communications test from The U-S-S Enterprise, of the United Federation Of Planets. This is not an emergency, please do not respond, this is only a test." A minute later she says "Captain, I am receiving the playback loud and clear, all channels, and all frequencies including digital and analogue encryption, all audio and data are perfect." "Well, at least we know communications are working on our end." He sits down, takes the ship out of red alert, and into yellow alert, presses the ship-wide communications button and says "All hands, this is the captain. I am about to send a message to Starfleet, I will keep this com open so you can hear the message. Uhura, ready to transmit to Starfleet?" he waits for her to nod her head. Then says "This is captain James T Kirk of the U-S-S Enterprise. We have just been attacked by the U-S-S Exeter. We do not know why we were attacked. They have not responded to our hails. While retreating from them they have blown their engines in the pursuit and are dead in the water, no impulse, weapons, or shields. We have suffered heavy casualties and are currently without warp. Our current hypothesis is that they have been hijacked. We are approaching the Exeter with the intent to board them. Kirk out." Uhura says "The message will take about six hours to reach Starfleet." Kirk wants to go to sick bay, he wants to see the crew, do anything to comfort them. Sure they all know the risks of serving on a star ship, but it's a captains responsibility to look out for the safety of his crew. If only he had done something besides push the engines that hard. Maybe he should have fired back and not ordered a retreat. The Exeter is no match for the Enterprise. Kirk paces, and continues to think to himself "I know I could have taken out the Exeter before our shields dropped. They opened fire all weapons blazing, we were only down to sixty percent. If we returned the favor their shields would have been at twenty percent at best. The casualties on Enterprise would have been small. Damn it, the whole ship could have gone up pushing her to the limit like that with the power problem Scotty told me about." Chapter3 Kirk wanted to go to sick bay to comfort his men, to lend a hand to McCoy, but he knew he'd just be in their way. He pictured them all running around, jumping from patient to patient. yeah, he'd just get in their way. Kirk realizes this line of thought is unproductive, he has to assemble a team and prepare to board the Exeter. He presses the intercom "Captain Kirk to Lieutenant Connery." "Here captain." "I need you and your two best men to meet me in the meeting room, on the double." "Aye sir." "Kirk out. Mr Spock, I'll need you too". In the meeting room, Kirk, Spock, Chief of security Lieutenant Connery, Lieutenant Mathews, and Lieutenant Prask, discuss their plan. Kirk looks at the two men Connery brought with him. Prask was a tall man, in his early 30's with a bald head and soft baby blue eyes that stood out against the rest of his masculine features. The only one in the room bigger or more masculine than Prask was Connery himself. A 6'5 black man, with huge hands and a deep, powerful voice. But Mathews was a skinny guy, who only stood at 5'10, and spoke with a soft voice. However, if Connery believed Mathews was one of his two best, he must have something going for him. Spock says "I suggest we don't waist time guessing about the motives of the Exeter." Kirk says "Agreed. What's done is done. The focus is now on how to stop the crew from regaining power to the ship. If they get their ship up and running, they can make another attack, or make a run for it, and live long enough to attack another ship." Connery says "I say we go in there with full protection, phaser rifles, beam our selves in there and start stunning everyone that moves." Mathews says "And we'll need some stun grenades." Prask says "I say we use environmental suits." Connery says "Environmental suits are bulky and lower our maneuverability. Plus we can't go in full combat gear." Prask says "But what if they use biological or chemical weapons against us?" Spock says "That's unlikely, Starfleet ships don't carry biological or chemical weapons." Kirk says "Starfleet vessels also don't fire on other Starfleet vessels. They may be hijacked by people who do use such weapons. Or they could have been driven mad by some chemical experiment, or virus they came in contact with. We wouldn't want our people subjected to that. I say we go in with environmental suits, and have phaser proof jackets on the outside, no other combat gear." He looks at Connery for opinion. Connery says "That can work. The vest is the most important part of the combat gear. Makes you immune to phaser stun, and helps save your life when hit with a maximum phaser. But they have their limits to how much energy they can absorb." Mathews says "Perhaps since we have the environmental suits we can also use chemical weapons, some stun gas to render everyone unconscious." Connery says "Not strategically effective, and we're already weighed down. A rifle on stun is far more effective." Kirk says "Agreed." Spock says "We need to establish an order of directives. Might I suggest the first directive be to ascertain the damage to the ship to determine the length of repair time. Second directive, to further incapacitate the ship in case repairs are close to complete." Kirk says "Those sound like good directives, any idea on how to incapacitate their ship?" "Without knowing their condition, it is impossible to determine the most effective way, though there are common ways a constitution class star ship can be incapacitated for a long time. However, it would be best to get Scotty to answer this." Kirk says "Agreed." then pulls out his communicator and says "Kirk to Scotty." "This is Scotty, what is it captain?" "We are considering tactics to keep the Exeter incapacitated, we want to keep the ship from firing or moving, any suggestions to cause maximum damage to systems with the least effort?" "Umm, Exeter, she's constitution class right?" "Correct." "Interesting, the USS Exeter NCC-1672 has a maximum warp cruise speed of seven point six. If we were running from them captain, they couldn't have gotten to warp eight point three." "Are you sure of this?" "Positive captain. Unless they've gotten refitted, or some sort of upgrade that isn't noted in my records, there is no way that star ship could have reached those speeds. Our maximum cruise is warp eight, we can't hold that speed forever, and the engines become terribly inefficient and burn through fuel at anything past warp six. Anything faster than warp eight on our end is just asking for trouble." "So I've noticed" "But with the Exeter's engines, they can hold warp seven for a rather impressive time, with rather impressive engine efficiency. A lot of that efficiency drops real fast after anything above warp seven. At warp seven point six their engines are very limited to how long they can go like that. I imagine under the right circumstances, with a really good engineering staff, and a lot of luck, that ship could reach warp eight, but only for a minute. Warp eight point three just isn't going to happen, not for a split second, captain, the engines just arn't designed for over drive the way ours are." "Well, perhaps they did get an upgrade and we just don't have a record of it, perhaps Starfleet gave them an upgrade and it's top secret. However, until I know for sure, let's just assume the last known records of the Exeter are accurate, how do we cripple the ship?" "If you want to shut down their engines for good, pull the dilithium crystal, or empty the antimatter into space. I'll upload you the instructions. It really doesn’t matter what modifications they have, without a dilithium crystal, no star ship goes anywhere. Now about taking her weapons offline. Assuming the engine core powers them, again take out the crystal or dump the anti matter. But if it works on an independent system... hold on. I have the schematics for all Starfleet ships right here." Kirk waits a minute, Scotty continues "Okay, the Exeter has been refitted, its phasers are tied into the engines, the shields however are duel wired to the engines and a separate power generator located on deck two, at the deflector chamber. That generator also produces power for the computer, and life support. However there is a back up generator just for main consoles, minimal life support, and emergency low level lighting. If you take out the matter-antimatter reactor as I said, and you knock out the generator on deck two with some heavy phaser fire, she won't be able to move, raise shields, or fire until she is dry docked. However, you will have cut life support to a day for anyone on board. I am uploading the schematics now." "I was also wondering..." Kirk is interrupted by the sound of an explosion coming over the intercom. Scotty yells "No! No! Kill the breaker first, then hit it with the fire extinguisher. Johnson, you help Emory. McCain secure that beam before the whole place comes down around our ears." Kirk asks "Scotty, what's going on?" "A conduit just blew when we rerouted power from the main phase shifter. It's under control captain. Now what were you wondering?" "Nothing Mr. Scott, you clearly have your hands full at the moment." "Aye, that I do, sir." "Kirk out..." He closes the com channel and looks at Spock "Well gentlemen, we have schematics for the Exeter." and passes around the data pad. Connery looks at it and says "I say our first goal is to take out the dilithium crystal, then we move to deck two." Kirk says "I agree, Spock, I was going to ask Scotty if the torpedoes could still be fired once we take out the engines, and the secondary generator. Do you have any idea Spock?" "May I see the schematics?" Connery hands him the data pad. Spock examines it and says "Yes, the torpedoes will be able to be fired, but only manually from the torpedo bay, and with out targeting. Captain, I must ask, will I be boarding the Exeter?" "No, Spock, I'll need you here in control of the bridge." "Very well." "I also want to set up some code words. I will report to you every fifteen minutes, I will use the code word Alpha Blue, if I do not use that code word, it means I am being forced to contact you. If I want you to send in forty security officers for a rescue, I will ask if Ensign Mitchel is going to pull through. If I want you to take the enterprise as far away as possible, I will ask if Lieutenant Mitchel is going to pull through. If I want you to open fire and destroy the Exeter, I will ask if Commander Mitchel is going to pull through." "Ensign means send in a security force of forty for a rescue. Lieutenant means retreat. Commander means destroy the Exeter. A report that doesn't include 'alpha blue' means you're in trouble, and can't talk." "You got it." "These are wise precautions." "Well gentlemen, any questions or additional ideas?" After no one speaks, Kirk says "Alright, let's get five more security officers, and get our suits and rifles, and meet at transporter bay one. Connery be sure to prep everyone on their assignments, and I am going to upload the schematics that Scotty gave me, to your data pad." They leave the conference room. On the bridge. Moments later they arrive in position behind the Exeter. Kirk says "Sulu, raise our shields. Spock, give us a deep scan, look for anything that can tell us what to expect." "I can't sir. I can't seem to penetrate the outer hall." "Could it be our scanners?" "Negative captain, our scanners are working fine. I am not detecting any energy field, or disruption that would explain the sensors inability to penetrate the outer hall, and therefore I conclude that the ship's outer hall is made of a material that deflects scanners." "There was no mention of this upgrade from the Starfleet log." "I can only assume this modification was done recently, and without Starfleet's knowledge." "Yes, of course, Scotty did mention he suspected the ship had undergone undocumented alterations. Spock can you boost sensors to determine anything beyond the outer hall?" "One moment... yes, I can determine that the temperature of the air on the ship is within normal expectations. Of course that only applies to the first walk way beyond the outer hall, and only the walk ways facing our ship, I am unable to scan deeper. Captain, I just realized, If our sensors cannot pick up life forms, or electrical outputs of the Exeter, it is possible that their weapons and shields are functioning just fine." "What about their engines?" "Negative. Their engines are most certainly offline, the nacelles are powered down, and even though it may be possible to conceal the energy from the matter-antimatter reactor, it is improbable given the enormous heat, electrical output, and exhaust. I should also mention that all I can determine is that their shields are not currently up, but I can't tell you about their shield generator. And their phasers are not currently powered up in standby, but they may be perfectly functional." "This might make my fifteen minute communication protocol difficult. If our sensors can't penetrate the outer halls, maybe our communicators won't either." "That is a good possibility. It may be impossible to beam you out of there. I suggest we beam over a beacon set to send a simple ping to your communicator, that will determine if a communications signal can penetrate. And then we'll beam the beacon back to enterprise to make sure the transporter can get a lock on the device." "Or even better, we can beam over a bio unit, and a beacon, with transport enhancers set to have a one minute delay. That way we can determine how effective and safe the transporters are, and if transport enhancers help us lock on." "That would be ideal, of course beaming anything down will ruin the element of surprise." "Yes, and I was rather counting on that surprise. Can you determine anything about the atmosphere of the ship?" "Only the temperature I mentioned earlier." "Well, this is going to be one interesting experience. Well I am headed down to transporter bay one." Chapter 4 In transport bay 1. Kirk looks at the bio unit, the beacon, and the transport enhancer, then looks at transport chief Lieutenant Getty, and says "Ready." He activates the transporter. The test unit begins to phase, and nearly disappears, but doesn't. Kirk notices he's having trouble. After a few moments the Transport chief gives up and pulls the test unit back. He looks at Kirk and says "Sorry, there's no way I can get a fix on the destination with enough feed back to establish molecular transport verification of the object. Even if I just sent it to the coordinate and hoped for the transport enhancers to kick in, the machine won't let me place an object somewhere without bit by bit packet transfer confirmation." "Well, there goes that idea. Looks like we're taking a shuttle pod and breaking in through their docking bay. I guess on the upside we take our largest ship, fill it with useful things, and that way if we run into trouble we might just bring the right tool for the job. Connery, I need you to make a list of all the different things you think we need, and get the ship loaded." "Aye sir." Connery takes his men out of the room. Kirk contacts Spock and says "Spock, we were unable to beam over, we're taking a shuttle pod. It might be possible to stay in contact. If we blow the docking bay doors to park our shuttle pod in, that should create a break in the surface of the ship, letting communications flow through the hole. We still have no idea how much of that ship is shielded, so again, the fifteen minute communications protocol is off, unless we can establish other wise, and of course the code words are still in effect." "Understood, sir." "Kirk out." In the shuttle pod. They slowly approach the side of the Exeter. All eight men in their silver environmental suits with large space helmets and black vests around their torsos. Connery, looking at the Exeter, says "She is a beautiful ship." "Yes she is." Kirk replies. Prask says "Ready to fire at docking bay doors." "Fire." Prask fires a tight steady beam at the doors to break their locking mechanism. The doors slide open. They slowly back the ship up into the docking bay. They open the shuttle pod hatch with their weapons drawn, only to find they were staring into darkness. "Flashlights everybody!" Kirk commands. They all switch on the flash lights attached to their rifles. They wave their flashlights around looking for any movement. Connery says "Do you suppose the entire ship is without power, including life support?" "It's a good possibility. I'm going to contact Spock." He pulls out his communicator "Kirk to Spock." "Yes captain?" "Good, we have communication. We are in the docking bay, the lights are out and we suspect the entire ship might be without power. I will attempt to contact you again once we've rounded the corner. Code word alpha blue." "Understood captain." "Come on lets get into the halls. Oh, and make sure your rifles are set to stun, only set to maximum if they have protective gear." Kirk realizes of course that stun wasn't the most suitable setting for a rifle. In order for the energy to discharge, it had to build up to a certain minimal amperage, and due to the complex inner workings of the rifles, the energy wasn't smooth like a phaser pistol; it was chaotic and would have an unpredictable affect on a living being. It might hurt them and produce great pain, it might burn them horribly, or might kill them. Even when people live after being hit with a phase rifle, they typically have a serious wound that leaves a battle scar. However, the advantage of the rifle over the pistol was when set to maximum it had enough power to instantly vaporize even an animal considerably larger than a human. If they encountered a militia on this ship, that was wearing protective gear, a rifle set to maximum would have to be used to ensure the death of anyone it hit. They try to open the door, but without power they have to grab it and pull it open. Once they've done that they pear around the corner, their flashlights attached to their rifles being their only source of light. The only sounds they hear are their footsteps and their heavy breathing. They walk down the hall slowly, they come to a door, one of the crew quarters. Kirk decides he wants to open it, he and one of the away team force the door open. They shine their flashlights into the quarters and find nothing unusual. Kirk says "Alright, let's keep moving toward the bridge." After a few minutes of walking they hear a creaking sound and a thud from above. They all aim their flashlights up at the ceiling above them and look around. After finding nothing they continue moving forward. Suddenly a metal tile from the ceiling falls down a few yards from them. This causes several of the away team to fire at it. Some fire at the floor where the object landed, others fire at the ceiling where it came from. Kirk yells "Hold your fire! Gentlemen gentlemen, we're firing at a ceiling tile." One of the away team members asks "But sir, I thought it was... was... I don't know sir." Kirk realizes their nerves are on edge, he knows he has to say something to sooth them. Gentlemen, I realize this is an unnerving environment. One of our oldest fears is fear of the dark. Here we are in darkness shining around our flashlights feeling like prey avoiding predators. It's all in your mind. In reality we are eight men armed to the teeth, on a ship that is offering no resistance to our presence." Prask says "Yeah, but where are they? Where is everyone?" "Probably hiding. Think about it, if this ship were hijacked, there may only be a dozen men on this ship, terrified of the invaders that just boarded the ship by blowing the hatch on the docking bay. If I were them, I'd be hiding under a table hoping the invaders didn't spot me." Kirk smiles after saying that "Who knows, they might not even have flashlights, and have been scared stiff for the past hour." The away team relaxes, letting his words sink in. Connery pipes up and says "The captain's right, they're probably shaking in their boots trying not to breathe too heavy." The idea of their enemy being terrified and hiding like cowards puts a smile on their faces, and restores their confidence. Kirks says "Alright, let's get moving." They make their way to the turbo lift. Kirk says to lieutenant Mathews "Give me a hand with this door, would ya." They pry the turbo lift doors open. Kirk shines his flashlight up the shaft and says "We're in luck, the carriage was down one deck when power went out. All we have to do is climb down to the top of the carriage, walk across, and climb up two decks to get to the bridge. I'll go first." He climbs down the latter with his rifle strapped to his back. When he gets to the top of the carriage, he walks to the other side, aim's his light at the bottom of the latter, and says "Alright, next." Connery climbs down. And two others. Kirk says "Okay that's about all who can fit, you other four stand guard. While we get into the bridge." Kirk climbs up the latter, and stops at the top, and says to Connery, who is right below him "I am going to open the door, and you have the flashlight shining at it, if you see any movement shoot, don't give them a chance to shoot at us." He digs his finger into the door and straining himself, slides them open. Quickly he grabs a stun grenade, but there is no movement. "Okay, looks like I'm just going in." Kirk climbs into the bridge, shines his light around looking for anyone. Connery, already climbed up and into the bridge. asks "Anything?" "Nothing." Kirk replies. Connery says "It's okay guys, the bridge is abandoned." Kirk opens a small control panel on the captain's chair and removes the disk. He looks at it and mutters to himself "Well at least I can review the logs and determine exactly what the hell happened to the ship and its crew." He tucks away the disk and pulls out his communicator "Kirk to Spock." He waits a few seconds, then mutters "I guess the signal can't bounce around and through the docking bay hatch from here." Connery says "Do you really think the ships was hijacked, and the enemy is hiding somewhere?" "Honestly I don't know. The ship could have been hijacked by aliens, the crew may or may not be alive somewhere. There could have been a mutiny, the ship may have been under some alien influence and moving by remote control. It's impossible to say, and I wouldn't rule out anything at this point. Hopefully once I get to check out these ship logs we'll know something. Anyhow, we better get to engineering." Kirk and Connery make their way back through the turbo lift to the other side. Kirk pulls out his tricorder and starts making some scans. Connery asks "Any sign of life?" "No, but that's not saying much, I can't get a clear read on anything beyond these walls. Well at least we've established that the signal blocking material is ship wide, and not just the outer hall." He runs the tricorder up and down the walls. "Hmm, I am getting readings of the actual materials that cover this wall. Iron, nickel, chromium, copper, and at least one unregistered components, possibly more." Prask speaks up "Sir, Allow me to scan, I have a fair bit of experience in metallurgy and physics." "Be my guest." Prask takes the tricorder from Kirk, and runs it up and down the walls. Looks at the readings and decides to recalibrate the tricorder and tries again. "Well sir, The level of iron to nickel keeps changing slightly. I assume this is just because the tricorder is incapable of properly scanning the material. But by reviewing the isotopic data of the unknown element, I conclude it is two different elements that cannot be bonded. That, of course, doesn't help me to determine what it is. Sorry I couldn't be of any more help." He hands the tricorder back to Kirk. "That's alright, lieutenant, you did fine." "I have an idea though. We can go back to the shuttle pod, grab a wielding torch, and take off a chunk of metal from this wall, then we can have our science officers scan and test it to determine what it's origins might be." "Well with any luck these ship logs will tell us what's going on. Besides we haven't the time to waste on such an endeavor at the moment. I do have an idea of my own, however. Connery I want you to take these four men with you and head to engineering by this deck, these four are with me. We're going down to the deck below, and make our way to engineering. Meet us at engineering, but don't enter until we're all there. I figure since we don't seem to be in any danger we should split up, cover more ground, and check every room we come to. I realize we will only be able to search a small portion of the ship, but with any luck we'll find someone who can give us some answers." Connery and his men continue forward, Kirk and his crew, with Prask as his right hand man, open a duct, and begin crawling through. The space is tight, and it is difficult to move forward when you have to hold your rifle in front of you so that the line shines forward. Constantly bumping into each other, and the bulky environmental suits. The bulky suits force them to move extra slow. Suddenly the man in the middle, ensign Harry Milton, starts shouting "I can't... I can't... I can't! I can't take it. I can't breathe, I'm smothering, let me out of here! For the love of god!" Kirk shouts "What's wrong!? What's happening!?" "I feel trapped, I'm stuck, I can't get out!" "You're panicking, soldier! Get it under control, just breathe deep. Slow deep breaths." "I'm scared, I have claustrophobia, I thought I had it beat. Oh god, oh god!" "Alright you two take a few steps back, give him a couple meters of space." "Come on Prask me and you go forward a couple meters. We're going to give you some room, Harry." A few seconds of fast, forward movement, and Kirk says "Okay Harry, you have more space now, just take some deep breaths, I promise, we'll see you through this." Harry with a shaky voice says "It feels like the tunnel is getting more narrow." "It's not, I promise you. It's only your fear getting the best of you. But relax, we're almost at the end, we're a lot closer to the end than we are to the beginning. Close your eyes and picture a large field, a big sunny sky, a large field, maybe there was a nice field you used to play in as a child." "Yes, there was a field, by the lake I used to go fishing." Kirk signals to Prask to keep moving forward, and they both start moving forward. Kirk keeps talking "You used to fish in that lake. Did you ever catch anything?" "Uh, only cat fish though. Me and my father would go fishing together. All we ever caught was catfish." "I bet your mother got tired of cooking up catfish." "Are you kidding, she wouldn't go any where near them. If we caught 'em, we cooked 'em, that was her motto." "Okay Harry, we're at the end, open your eyes. See, we're not very far, just come towards us. It's just a minute of crawling. Prask, you stay here, I am going down the latter." Kirk starts going down the latter, he says "You know Harry, your mother sounds a lot like mine. I used to go fishing, and she didn't mind that. She minded when I would bring home frogs and tell her we should have frog legs for dinner. Or the time I found a turtle and told her I spent all day looking for one so we could have turtle soup." "I bet she wasn't happy with that." "No she wasn't she kept telling me I was going to get warts from all the toads I kept calling frogs." Kirk makes it to the bottom, and shines his light around. "OK, it's all clear down here. Come on down Prask." Prask starts down the latter. Kirk says "You'll love it down here, Harry, wide open space." Prask gets to the bottom, Kirk says "OK, your turn Harry. And you other two can continue moving forward now." When Harry gets to the bottom of the latter, he is a bit shaken. Kirk asks "Feeling better?" "Yes sir. I'm sorry, I'm really sorry for freaking out like that. I felt the fear, but I told myself I could do it, that I had it licked. But with everyone in front of me and behind me, I just felt so trapped." "Well it's alright, we made it, and you'll be stronger for it. And don't worry, we won't be taking another duct on this mission, just wide open halls." The other two finally make it down the latter. Meanwhile, Connery and his men come across a door. Connery says "Okay, you two open the door." while he faces it with his weapon drawn. They get the doors open, and peek around. Connery walks into the room, shines his light around, and says "Okay, it's clear." They head down the hall and come to the next door when they hear "Bang!" everyone jumps, and points their weapon at the door. One of them asks "What was that?" Connery says "It could have been the plating on the hall, buckling. Or it could be that someone is in there. You two, pry the door open, and you two get beside me, and get ready to shoot." The two men pry the door open. They don't see anyone inside, Connery walks forward into the room to get a better look. He shines his flashlight around and suddenly sees someone! Connery shouts "Hold it right there!" The man growls at him and charges. Connery shoots him, but the man is still able to tackle him and knock him back into the hallway. All of Connery's men use the butt of their rifles to beat the man. But it has little effect. They grab the man and pull him off of Connery and one of them shoots the attacker. The attacker falls but gets back up. Everyone starts shouting for him to stay down. But the attacker rises to his feet growling. They all open fire on him and he goes down. When there is no movement from the man, one of them walks up to him, and checks for a pulse. He turns to the rest of the team and says "He's dead. That barrage of stuns must have fried him to the bone." They check on Connery, who is making it to his feet. "Are you alright, sir?" one of them asks. "I'll live. That guy tore into my arm pretty bad. He was biting me like some sort of animal. And he cracked the face plate on my helmet from slamming his head into it. The guy was nuts." One of the men says "What the hell was wrong with them though. I mean, he's human, or he looks human, but he was acting crazy, it makes no sense." Connery pulls out his communicator "Connery to Captain Kirk." but he gets no answer. "Oh well, the captain's out of range. Well, we continue as ordered, rifles on stun, we search every room we see. Until we make our way to Engineering."