Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Admiral2, Aug 27, 2009.
Ooh, I really want to hear the rest of the message. What a ruthless act.
"It is not power that I use lightly, or without regret, but I will use it without hesitation. I want you to understand this as I state my purpose.
"Centuries ago, Humans invited non-Humans to stay on Earth after First Contact had been established. Since then, the planet has been overrun with non-Humans that have insinuated themselves into Human civilization and stunted Human development, which is actually a violation of the Federation's vaunted 'Prime Directive.' This situation is unacceptable. Earth is the Human homeworld, and it is time Humans reestablished their dominance over their parent world.
"To that end, I am issuing the following directive: All non-Humans inhabiting the planet Earth must be removed to either their own homeworlds or nearest habitable worlds outside the Solar System. Of course, I understand that this will mean repatriating millions of sentients to other star systems, so I will not impose an arbitrary deadline for completing the task. However, the repatriation must begin within the next seventy-two hours.
"If, at the end of that time, I've seen no indication that you are complying with this directive...I will destroy the Earth. If the Human Race may not have Earth exclusively to itself, then I'll see to it that no one will have it. Humans will start over on a new world, one not dominated by other races who will bend Humans to their will and their values.
"Three days, or the United Federation of Planets will need a new capital world." The woman called April settled back in her chair and closed with, "Thank you for listening, and please, do not hesitate to carry out my demands."
The President of the United Federation of Planets touched a contact on the display, freezing the image of April on the screen. She then rubbed her eyes and tried to think. She was tired. Her security force had literally grabbed her from her bed and spirited her away to an underground bunker when the first warnings about the Barb had come in. She was still there, meeting with her cabinet via holographic telepresence. They had all been scattered to different shelters in the hope that a single catastrophe would not eliminate the whole government.
The President raised her head and turned to the gathering. "Can she do it?" She asked.
The Science Advisor, A gray-haired Vulcan, answered. "A similar impact anywhere on the planet Earth would have disastrous effects on the whole ecosystem, while impacts at certain points would mean extinction of all life on the surface. Yes, Madam President. She can do it."
"The people on the Moon were lucky that there's no natural environment at all," The Home Secretary, a Human, chimed in. "With no atmosphere to contain and transfer the effects of the explosions..."
"Lucky?!" The Defense Secretary, a Tellarite, raged. "You call what they're going through lucky?? A thousand confirmed dead, more than ten thousand injured, and both those numbers are sure to rise as rescue efforts continue!"
"I read the report too," Home shot back, "but if the Moon had had an atmosphere everybody would have been dead immediately, and there wouldn't be anybody for rescue efforts to save!"
"What about the flooding here on the planet?!" Defense bellowed. "Should the people we had to fish from the tides consider themselves lucky that they weren't killed by Cochrane radiation?"
"Gentlemen," The President said. She wanted to move on. "How do we stop her?"
"We can't give in to her demands," the Justice Minister, A Betazoid, said. "Especially something so heinous."
"I wasn't suggesting we do that," The President said. "What can we do?"
"We can hunt her down and kill her!" Defense growled, pounding his fist on an invisible table for emphasis.
"That's a great idea," the Foreign Minister, a Deltan woman, said. "Do you have the first clue where to look?"
"The Barb was one of the ships that disappeared last week, and intelligence is sure that the ready room she was in was one that you'd see in an explorer. An Ambassador and a Sovereign - two explorers - are also missing. I've got every available unit searching for those ships. I'll bet my damned life that if we find those ships, we'll find her!"
"And then what? We just snuff her out?" The Foreign Minister said.
The Science Advisor agreed. "Would it not be a more appropriate goal to bring her in and have her stand trial for her actions?"
"More appropriate, maybe," Defense said, "but it might be impossible in the three days we have before she throws another one of those ships at the planet!"
"Then let's defend the planet," Home said. "Recall all those ships you have searching and set up a perimeter here. Destroy the next one she sends in."
"And if the next one has life-forms aboard?" Science said, making everyone turn to him. "I doubt, after today's events, that we are dealing with someone that would be against using...what is the human term? Human shields. Of course, any sentients might be suitable..."
Defense pounded the invisible table again. "Dammit! We can't worry about every little thing that might happen! This is a living world we're talking about! Billions of life-forms!"
"But we're also talking about Starfleet Officers," Justice said, "who we spend years training to resolve conflicts, not just kill the bad guys. And any Starfleet officer worth the name would want to save the the hostages and the planet if they could."
"But what if they can't? The Barb came in too fast for our normal safeguards to do anything. What if she sends all her captured ships back at once?? What if they all contain hostages? One hit would doom the planet! We can't afford to let that one ship through, for any reason!"
The President began to pace. "The Valkyries didn't stop the cutter at all. How could we be sure even a perimeter of starships could intercept starships on suicide missions?"
"They'd have the best chance if they were captained by sentients who won't hesitate," Defense reiterated.
"And it's unlikely you'll find any that won't," Justice replied. "Most of our veterans are tired of war, tired of killing. They'll all want to find another way."
"Then they'll waste time they won't have."
"What about Continuity?" Home asked. "That was the codename, right? Could we use that against this...April?"
Defense grunted. "The major systems have been fully integrated, but not tested."
The President was intrigued. "Could it be ready in three days?"
"I'll have to ask Admiral Janeway, but it is doubtful."
"Ask. And recall those search ships while you're at it and set up that perimeter. Their orders are to destroy any ship showing similar hostile intent without hesitation. I'm a Human Being too, Ladies and Gentlemen, and I'll not have some racist terrorist dictate who should live on my world and who shouldn't."
The others disappeared with a chorus of "Thank you, Madam President," leaving the President alone with her thoughts. She turned to look at the face of April.
We thought we were done with people like you. The last great gasp of human xenophobia was Terra Prime, active in the early days of Alpha Quadrant cooperation. It had mainly been through the efforts of human beings that Terra Prime had been defeated. Apparently, their cause had not been forgotten. April had decided to take it up.
The President balled her fists. You won't win. Not while I can do anything about it.
Oooh. Interesting. I'm wondering what exactly this Continuity is.
April is a classic genocidal psychopath in the mold of Stalin, Hitler and Pol Pot. It's amazing such people manage to attract such a loyal following.
The Earth government is certainly in a quandary. Giving in to April's demands isn't a viable option, yet she's already demonstrated she's capable (and willing) to carry out her threats.
And so we come to the "Continuity." A Jayson Bourne clone, perhaps? An android programmed with his personality and abilities? Inquiring minds want to know.
April is really screwed up. I wonder how she managed to get all those other officers to follow her?
Pheromones and hypnotic sonic sub-tones in her genetically engineered voice. Or she offered them a cookie. Those are my guesses. Plus, I'm betting she's secretly a Romulan.
Seriously, this is a chilling and tension-filled story. I can't wait for more.
Wow, Mistral, all of your guesses are close and still wrong.
April does have her recruiting methods. They'll become clear in time.
TLR: What kills me is, you're trying so hard to figure this out you'll probably get it in the next scene, even though that's not the scene I want to reveal it in. Relax. We're getting there.
FEDERATION STARSHIP SUNDOWN
"I'll be on the next shuttle," Admiral Kathryn Janeway said. "I need to confer some more with the leaders of the project team, but I don't think we'll be able to launch in three days."
"Don't answer until you can give me a firm 'Yes' or 'no'," The Defense Secretary grumped. "It will take me at least five days to build up the type of defensive task force we'd need to combat this woman's suicide ships, so I need to know. If it can be ready, ready it! If not, let's not waste time grasping at straws!"
"Yes, Sir," Janeway said, nodding at the desk computer screen. "Anything else?" Would you like me to rob the Ferenginar Treasury while I'm at it?
"Hopefully that will be enough. Get back to me as soon as you can, Admiral."
"Aye, Sir," Janeway said. The screen reverted to the Federation emblem a split-second later, and Janeway took a moment to rub her eyes, sigh and take a swig of coffee before she set up the next conference call. She entered some commands into the computer and waited. Soon a split screen came, showing a man on half the display and a woman on the other. The man was handsome, square-jawed and had steely eyes to go with his dark hair. The woman was attractive with a tousle of red hair that matched the color of her lips. Both were around Janeway's age, but the woman was closer to it. The man wore the uniform and pips of a Starfleet Captain, his collar an Engineer's gold. The woman wore civilian clothes under a gold lab coat.
"Good to see you, Admiral," the man, Captain Roderick Post, said.
"It's good to be seen," Janeway said with a smile.
"Where ya'll callin' from?" Dr. Edwina Bush asked, her Tennessee drawl prominent as ever.
"The Sundown," Janeway said, "Earth orbit. I was one of the first people picked up, and I've been helping to coordinate things up here." She had actually been on leave when the Barb hit, in an area threatened with terrible flooding. She'd been in civilian clothes at the time, absently thankful that she had changed her mind about the moonlight stroll on the beach beforehand. "Picked the wrong week to visit Monaco, I suppose..."
"What's the situation?" Post asked.
"Secretary Kurhk is trying to set up a task force to protect Earth, but it will take time. We're dealing with a Human Supremacist that calls herself 'April'."
"April?" Dr. Bush said. "Just 'April'?"
"I'm sure the people in Intelligence will analyze that to death. Our main concern is that April has given us a deadline. Three days. Kuhrk thinks that's not enough time to mount a proper defense."
Post frowned. he could see where this was going. "He asked about Project Continuity."
On hearing that, Dr. Bush beamed. "He did? Outstanding! I hope you told him she's ready to go, Admiral!"
Janeway lowered her head for a moment and rubbed her eyes. Dr. Bush's un-infectious enthusiasm for her pet project had been the bane of Janeway's existence ever since the scientist had joined the Advanced Starship Design Bureau. "I told him I had to confer with you two and see for myself..."
"Admiral!" Bush said, sounding exasperated. "She's done! We have the tools and we have the talent! We could have gone out and met the damn cutter at the Asteroid Belt if you'd let us!"
"With half a crew and no real captain? Are you serious? No sane person would have authorized that."
"Well, what the hell is Cap'n Post? Chopped liver??"
"An engineer," Post answered for himself, "and not one with combat command training."
"But you've been in on this from the beginning! You know the systems as well as I do!"
"Knowing them from an engineering standpoint and using them in combat are two different things. You need a warrior for a captain, especially in this instance."
"The Defense Secretary apparently agrees with you, Rod," Janeway said, "and he's managed to convince the President. If we're going to deploy Continuity, we have to deploy her with a captain willing to shoot first and ask questions later. You certainly don't fit that bill."
"Well, there's gotta be somebody that does!" Dr. Bush protested. "How about Jellico?"
Janeway rolled her eyes, so Post answered. "Captain Jellico's last words before he retired were, I quote: "I'm never working for you ungrateful bastards again! Get someone else to save the Federation!" He's retired to planet that we can't even reach in three days, so he's not an option."
"So, what," Bush said, "There's nobody in Starfleet like Jellico?"
"Hasn't been for years," Post said, then he thought. "Then again, I do know another retiree like him that would be quicker to reach..."
"Would he help us 'ungrateful bastards'?" Janeway asked.
"It would definitely take some convincing..."
"Get on it. If you can convince him, can you get him here before the deadline?"
"Yes, I can."
"If Captain Post gets his man, Doctor, Continuity deploys."
Dr. Bush pumped her fist and grinned. "Y-Yes-s!"
April is a one scary xenophobe ... but then, most of them usually are, if for nothing more than their extreme viewpoints. And this one actually has the means to carry them out.
I like this story for its fast pace which promises a lot of action and plenty of fun. Can't wait to see where it all leads.
"Why in the hell would anybody want to live out here?" Dr. Bush wondered aloud.
She was sitting in the co-pilot's seat of the runabout she and Captain Post had taken from Utopia Planitia Fleet Yards, watching in awe as the ship approached the Kuiper Belt Object MakeMake, one of the largest icy bodies in this region of the Solar System. It seemed dead by comparison to other inhabited worlds, its gray-white surface obscured mostly by shadow given its distance from the sun.
Captain Post, piloting the runabout, said, "When I asked him that, he told me that these were the only kinds of places within the Federation where men could at least pretend to be independent."
"Known him long?" Bush asked.
"He was my best friend before he left the service," Post said. "I like to think he still is. It's just...well, he's not a big fan of how Starfleet and the Federation do things."
Bush smiled. "Lemme guess: Maquis Sympathizer or Dominion War veteran."
Now Post smiled. "Maquis Sympathizer, yes, but he never made it to the Dominion War. His last battle was Wolf 359."
Bush's smile disappeared. "Oh."
"He was one of the people lucky enough to survive our first full-scale battle with the Borg. When it was over, I guess he didn't have much to do in his life pod but think, and by the time he was rescued he'd decided he couldn't serve the Federation anymore, for a variety of reasons. I'm sure you'll hear them all before we're done. He likes to talk."
Bush shrugged. "Nothin' wrong with talkin'. Gets stuff nice and out in the open."
Post frowned. "That may not always be a good thing."
They continued on in silence until Post brought the runabout on final approach. As they descended on the minor planet their destination came into view. It looked like a military outpost. "How many people live here?"
"Just Bob and his wife," Post said.
"By themselves?!" Bush said, aghast. "That place looks big enough for a small starbase!"
"That's what it was about a century and a half ago. It was originally built back when humans were first starting to colonize the system. The idea was to work out the feasibilty of colonizing bodies like Pluto. The powers that be back then concluded that it was possible but not practical, so this place was abandoned. It's been reopened a few times since then, and upgraded each time, but hadn't had a real permanent presence until Bob convinced Bureau of Installations to let him stay there as caretaker. Anyway, they don't use the whole facility. They keep to the base commander's quarters while he keeps the lights running. I think he finally got a holodeck installed last year."
"So they live in an abandoned base by themselves and he's the caretaker," Bush confirmed. When Post nodded, she asked, "And you're sure no kids?"
Bush chuckled. "I don't want us to go in there and find some rugrat ridin' a Big Wheel up and down the halls and goin' 'Redrum! Redrum!'"
Post looked at her like she was insane. "What...?"
Bush sighed. "It's too bad nobody in this fleet knows anything about the really fun popular culture from back in the day," she muttered.
Post shook his head as he settled the runabout on the station's landing pad.
The facility had been built in the days when people transferred from spacecraft to the entrance in spacesuits. No internal hangar had ever been constructed, and the need for one disappeared with the advent of personnel transport. Post and Bush beamed over, setting the computer to retrieve them on cue, hopefully with extra passengers.
They arrived in the corridor of what looked like the barracks part of the facility. While Bush looked around at the half-lit, gray interior, Post tapped his commbadge. "Post to Doctor Rabb."
The response took a few seconds, then a charming female voice said, "Doctor Rabb here. Hey, Rod! You made it!"
"Yeah, we just beamed into the barracks. Should we come to the residence?"
"No! Come to the holodeck. B.C. felt like barbecuing today."
"Okay, we're on our way. Post out." With that done, he started down a side corridor.
Bush followed him. "Who's 'BeeCee'?"
"That's what Etta calls him. Everybody else calls him Bob or Rob."
"How long they been together?"
"Fifteen years and no kids?"
"Neither of them wants any. I gave up trying to change their minds ages ago. I can't imagine what I'd do without my three girls, but whenever I say that to Bob, he says 'No kids, no need to imagine, and I'm perfectly happy with the living arrangement.'"
Bush chuckled again. "I think I'm gonna like him."
They reached a squarish holodeck arch a moment later. Post tapped some controls and the doors opened to reveal a covered patio with wicker furniture. Beyond the patio was a large backyard. The grass was manicured and a lush green, and the yard itself was big enough for a gazebo, a wooden picnic table and a pit barbecue. Surrounding the yard was a white picket fence that was high enough to obscure the view from any of the neighbors, even though there didn't seem to be any other houses. Post guessed they hadn't bothered to program any in.
Someone had the pit barbecue going. Bush assumed it was the man they had come to see. He looked to be about as tall as her, with dark skin and a wiry build. As he cooked, a woman was setting up the picnic table. She was pretty and lithe with light coffee skin and dark brown hair done up in a ponytail. Both man and woman were dressed in civilian clothes. The woman's accentuated her pleasing shape.
She noticed them first. After she finished the last place setting she turned to the arch and smiled. "Rod! Come on in!" She met Post and Bush in the patio as the arch closed and disappeared, revealing the back of a modest but pretty house.
"Good to see you again, Etta," Post said as they hugged. Bush grinned when she saw the towering man had to bend over to do it properly.
"Oh, it's great to see you!" Etta said, then suddenly she turned toward the man at the barbecue. "B.C.!" She called out.
"What?!" He called back.
"Your friend is here, and he's finally gonna take me away from you and all this squalor!"
The man addressed his response to Post. "You better have brought me something useful in trade, Rod! I keep telling you she's not for free!"
"Got nothing today, Bob!" Rod called back.
"Then you're just stuck with me, babe!" The man called triumphantly.
Etta sighed as she released Post. "Threats just don't work on him." She turned to Bush and offered a hand. "How do you do? I'm Doctor Etta Rabb."
"Doctor Edwina Bush," Bush said. The women smiled as they shook hands.
"What do you think?" Post said to Etta quietly. "Will he...?"
Etta glanced at her husband, then turned back to Post. "He knows about everything, and we're barbecueing. What do you think?"
I think he's going to need some serious convincing. But he'll come around eventually. And he's probably not going to be the kind of guy who plays by the rule. In other words, exactly the kind of guy they'll need to stop this crazy woman who is behind this all.
I think I like Bob (B.C.). I have a soft spot for cynics. Interesting setting you've provided with this couple living on a rather large, mostly abandoned station. The reference to The Shining was appropriate.
Now let's see what they bring into the mix. Time is getting short and April is madder than a March hare. They better get crackin'!
CeJay: Thank you for sticking around. I hope I don't disappoint.
TLR: If you like cynics, I think you'd have loved the guy I'm modeling him after.
Post left the women to get acquainted on the patio and walked across the lawn to his old friend. Bob seemed intent on watching the barbecue pit, seeming almost immune to the smoke rising and heady aroma of meat cooking that was reaching out across the holographic scene. He also seemed oblivious to Post's approach, but the captain was pretty sure that was fake. "How'ya doin', Bob?" He said as he came close.
"Pretty good, Rod," Bob said without looking up. "Thought it was a good day for a barbecue."
"Looks like," Post said, looking around and noting the moderate temperature, the ridiculously blue and clear sky and the sun shining high and bright. Of course it was all programmed. The sun might as well have a smiling face on it. He turned back to Bob. "Of course, it's not as nice a day everywhere..."
"Rod, this station's a bitch to maintain," Bob said. "I've been thinking about doing this for the past month, and this is the first week I've had any significant downtime. Now, I am going to have my barbecue, and you are not going to ruin it by trying to dump Starfleet's problems on me."
Fine. No more pretense. "They're not just Starfleet's problems. The Earth is in danger..."
"And defending the Earth is Starfleet's problem. Don't worry, though. I'm sure some big brain on a Galaxy-class will figure out a way to put her to sleep or something, then they can say 'Oh, we defeated her without violence! We're so cool!'"
Post frowned, but his retort was cut off by Dr. Bush's voice. "Is that steak I smell?"
Both men turned. The women were approaching the barbecue pit, Bush with an expectant grin on her face. "Sure is," Bob called back.
"Real steak?" Bush said. "Not replicated?"
"Real enough, and about to be super-enhanced by my grandaddy's top-secret barbecue sauce recipe!" With that he got ready to braise the two big slabs of meat on the grill with homemade-looking sauce.
"How'd you get real steak?" Bush wondered. "I thought it was illegal to raise animals for slaughter in the Federation?"
"It is," Bob said, "in the Federation, which is why these choice cuts came from the Breen homeworld."
Bush blinked. "Say what?"
"I've got a few contacts. One of them's a Ferengi trader I do business with every now and then. The meat was part of our last transaction. He's gotten it for me before, and I thought it was so great that I wanted to try barbecueing it this time."
Bush was still confused. "Wait...they got cows on the Breen homeworld?!"
Bob shrugged. "Well, they don't call 'em 'cows'. I've seen what they look like, though. They're certainly bovine."
Bush grinned again, then giggled. "Well, I hope ya'll don't mind me invitin' myself, but I just gotta find out what steaks from the Cows of the Breen Homeworld taste like barbecued!"
"You're welcome to join in," Etta said.
"We've got plenty," Bob confirmed, "and Etta's got cole slaw and potato salad made. All that's real food, too. Get you a good meal away from that protoformed shit that comes from the replicators."
"I don't think we'll have the time," Post grunted.
Everyone got serious and silent then. The first one who dared to say anything was Bob. "You said Earth was in danger, Rod. From what?"
"You must have seen the news..."
"I want you to tell me."
"A human supremacist is threatening to destroy the Earth if we don't get all the non-humans off it."
"She give us a time frame?"
"We have three days to start."
"Are the three days up?"
"She give any indication she'll attack before it's up?"
"Then until she does, I'm pretty sure we have time to sit down and have a decent meal, so you two will join us and you can make your sales pitch."
Etta and Dr. Bush smiled, and Post sighed. "I guess we will," he muttered, then he turned to Bush. "Doctor, I'd like to introduce you to my friend, Blanchard Robert Rabb."
Bush gasped and grinned as she shook his hand. "Blanchard! BeeCee!"
Rabb shook his head and looked at Etta. "Y'know, I hate when you call me that around people!"
"I'll call you what I please!" Etta said with attitude.
The resulting argument lasted till the steaks were done.
Interesting guy. What makes him so special?
Mistral: I can't promise you'll get why with this installment, but I'll state it plainly in the next one.
The conversation began soon after the quartet settled down to eat. Rabb made a point of taking a bite of his steak before starting things off. “Let’s hear it,” he said to Post.
“You know, I shouldn’t need a pitch, Bob,” Post shot back. “I would think the phrase ‘The Earth is in Danger’ would be enough to motivate you.”
“You might think that,” Rabb said, “but I’ve already done the ‘Save the World’ thing and got nothing but a trip in a lifepod for my trouble. What makes you think I’m eager to repeat the experience?” A pause. “You’re not eating.”
Post looked down at his steak reluctantly. “It’s just that…”
He was cut off by an exclamation from Dr. Bush, sitting next to him. She had just finished a big hunk of steak. “MMMM-MM! That is incredible!”
Rabb smiled. “Sauce really brings out the flavor, doesn’t it?”
“It does! And it’s got a great, smoky flavor! Did you smoke it yourself?”
“Nope. That’s the big secret. That flavor’s natural to the meat.”
“Still haven’t figured out the biological source for it,” Etta Rabb added, “but I study random pieces of every batch we get, so I’m sure I’ll figure it out.”
Bush acknowledged that with a nod, then dug into more of the meat. “MMMM! That is so good!” She turned to Post. “Cap’n, what’re you waiting for? You gotta try this!”
Post leaned toward her and said softly. “Yeah, right. It comes from the Breen Homeworld by way of a Ferengi. And it smokes itself.”
Rabb shook his head. “Rod, did you not just hear my wife say she studies the stuff when we get it? That’s an understatement. She tricorders it all to hell and gone.”
“It’s perfectly safe for human consumption, Rod,” Etta said. “No pathogens or poisons…at least not this batch.”
Post raised an eyebrow before looking back at his plate, then he cut a small piece of the steak and forked it into his mouth. He chewed for a moment, then smiled. “Okay, fine…it’s great.”
Rabb smirked. “Yeah. Nice to know we live in a society where nobody judges others by their species or biology.”
Post turned the jibe right back on him. “It’s even nicer when we put aside our petty differences with that society and help preserve it when it’s threatened.”
“Oh, they’re petty, are they? Okay, fine. I’ll help you save your wonderful society. I’ll tell you how to do exactly that. Here goes: Give the psycho what she wants.”
Post’s face twisted up. “How does disrupting the very core of the society save it?”
“Back in the olden days the main thing you wanted to do to your enemy in a war was capture or sack the capital. Do that and you either end up owning the enemy country or disabling it for decades or even centuries to come. The problem with this tactic is that it only works if your enemy confuses real estate for nationality. No matter how much it gleams, a city is just a city. Same goes for a planet. The real core of any society is its ideals and the people who hold them. If the Federation is so strong, then removing a bunch of non-locals from one planet won’t mean much in the grand scheme of things.”
“Unless you’re doing it at the behest of someone who just killed hundreds of people on the planet and its moon!”
Rabb frowned. “Yeah, well. You know that old Vulcan saying: Needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. I think the need of billions of sentients to live past the deadline outweighs the needs of the few thousand that aren’t alive right now.”
Bush, who’d been listening intently to the conversation, quickly swallowed the food in her mouth and looked at Rabb aghast. “That’s awfully cold.”
“Welcome to my life,” Etta muttered. She just continued eating.
“It’s also not how the Federation deals with threats,” Post said indignantly.
“Oh, bullshit!” Rabb said, tossing his utensils on his plate. “That’s exactly how the Federation deals with threats! Resolve the Conflict! That’s what they drilled into our heads at the Academy! Resolve it, hopefully before you actually have to fight it! And if you are unlucky enough to actually have to fight, just do it enough to make the bad guys stop! Y’know, just fight a little bit! And when that doesn’t work, you run out and beg somebody who actually knows how to fight a war to do it for you! That was our whole Dominion War strategy! Talk, talk some more, talk a whole bunch, shoot a little, talk a bunch more, then beg the Klingons and the Romulans to remind us what we used to know how to do! And that was after The Federation displaced whole shiploads of people in an effort to resolve a conflict with the Dominion’s main ally in this quadrant! That sure worked out great, didn’t it?
“But you know what? I’m glad you think that’s not how the Federation works! It’d be great if the government felt that way too, because this is the war the Federation needs to fight! For once, you’re up against somebody that won’t be talked down and who won’t be put to sleep with a computer command after committing mass murder! And the rest of the quadrant’s just going to sit back and let it happen! They’ll call ‘internal matter’ and throw the Prime Directive back in our faces and laugh their asses off if we ask for help this time! Well, maybe you’ll get the Bajorans to help. Exactly how big is their Starfleet again?”
Then Post threw his utensils on his plate. “All right, wise-ass. Y’Know what? You get your wish! The government agrees with you! They want a fight, and they want someone who doesn’t think like a typical Academy golden boy to lead it! That’s why I’m here!”
“Yeah, I get that you came here to recruit me, but I believe you were there when I stated plainly that I’ll be damned if I ever put on another Starfleet uniform!”
“Lots of people say that, and lots them change their minds later when the need arises!”
“Man, you don’t need me! What you need is about five or six hundred of the biggest, baddest, meanest-lookin’ combat spacecraft you people at the Design Bureau can think up, and then Starfleet needs to use those ships to scare the piss outta anybody that wants to try something like this…and if they try it anyway, Starfleet needs to use the ships to kill them and all their friends!”
“Maybe, but I haven’t got those ships! What I’ve got is one experimental ship, a third of a crew and orders to turn them over to somebody willing to kill ‘em all and let various deities sort it out, and I have to put them all together in the next couple of days!”
Rabb and Post sat there for the next few seconds, arms folded and glaring at each other silently, then Rabb glanced away, calmed down a little, then met Post’s gaze again. “One of these days,” he said, “that ‘one ship, one crew’ shit’s gonna be the end of all of us.”
Post smirked, but before he could reply, Bush shrugged and blurted out, “Just don’t let it be this time.” When she had both men’s attention, she said to Rabb, “I agree with a lot of what you’re saying. That’s kind of why I wanted to work on this project. And maybe one of these days we’re gonna push our luck with this ‘one ship’ thing, but we haven’t yet, and, well, we really gotta make sure it’s not this time. I mean, Federation or not, what that woman wants is just wrong.”
Rabb cocked his head a little and raised an eyebrow. “What makes you think she’s wrong?”
At that, Bush’s blood ran just a little cold. “What…it’s not obvious?!”
“Two and a half centuries ago a Human Being named Zephram Cochrane discovered the secret of traveling at warp speed. Had he simply taken his maiden flight and flown back, the Human Race might have reached the rest of the planets and the nearest stars on their own, and then maybe branched out to the rest of the galaxy. Instead, the Vulcans spotted him and came down and decided to be our mammies, and our lives as an interstellar race have been managed for us ever since. We don’t even get to keep our own planet to ourselves. How many Andorians live on Vulcan? How many Tellarites live on Andor? How many Vulcans live on Tellar? Now how many of all of them live on Earth?
“The only thing obvious about April is that she’s willing to commit mass murder for her beliefs. Lots of people throughout human history have had the same motivation. That doesn’t automatically make the beliefs wrong. John Brown was an anti-slavery activist who used terrorism to get his point across. French and Russian peasants railed against absolute monarchy and went around beheading and shooting and running down every royal and noble they could find. We can say her methods are ‘obviously wrong’, but I’d be dishonest if I said I had any problem with humans getting the Earth back again.”
More silence. Bush was stuck for an answer, so Post jumped back in. “But you don’t agree with her methods, right?”
“No,” Rabb said. “Who would?”
Post smiled triumphantly. “So go to war for your beliefs. Go find her and punish her. Take my ship and go scare the piss out of her and kill her and all her friends.”
Rabb’s eyes widened a little, then he grinned, then he chuckled. “Well, damn, Rod. If you’re gonna sweet talk me into it…”
“Let’s be clear,” Post said, still smiling, “do I have a ‘yes’?”
“Yes, Roderick, I will do it! Was that clear enough for you? Can I finish my meal now?”
“Oh, absolutely! Wouldn’t want you crusading on an empty stomach, would we?”
Etta, who’d never stopped eating, huffed as she had some potato salad. “All that mess just to do what his old buddy wants anyway…”
“Don’t you start, Etta…” Rabb warned before he dug back into his steak. Etta smiled without looking up.
That left Dr. Bush the only one not eating. She was still staring at Rabb in disbelief, then she looked at Etta, then at Post. “What in the hell just transpired here?!”
“You convinced Bob to join up,” Post said with a mouth full of steak. “Congratulations! This is really good, Bob.”
“We’ll save some of the next batch for you,” Rabb said. “Gotta have someplace cold to keep it, though.”
Bush just looked at them like they had three eyes, then she turned to Etta, who finally looked up. “Don’t pay them any mind,” Etta said. “They’ve been like that ever since I’ve known them. I’m just sorry I only thought to put out lemonade. Get a couple of real beers in the two of them they’d’ve been much more entertaining.”
That left me smiling! Awesome!
The story so far: A Human Supremacist called “April” has stolen several Federation starships and threatened the Earth with destruction if all non-humans do not begin evacuating the planet within a few days. To demonstrate her resolve, she uses one of the ships as a kamikaze and attacks Earth’s Moon. With the Fleet war weary and scattered, the Federation government turns to an experimental weapon system for defense, and the weapon’s creators have been sent to recruit an unconventional man to command her...
After the meal, The Rabbs, Captain Post and Doctor Bush got down to discussing the mission. They started by reviewing the original message. “The deadline just seems odd to me,” Etta said. “It’s like she’s starting out by cutting us some slack. The average nutcase would have given us a deadline to complete the evacuation.”
“That’s probably the idea,” Post said. “She’s gone out of her way to show us she’s not the average nutcase by giving us a demand she knows we can meet on her terms.”
“That’s a problem in a couple of ways,” Rob said. “It means that we’re not likely to force her to make a mistake, and an open-ended schedule gives her just as much time as it gives us, which means she’ll have more of an opportunity to prepare for whatever we might hit her with.” He turned off the PADD they were watching and sat back in his chair. “We’re dealing with somebody that covers their bases.”
“Maybe that’s a good thing,” Bush chimed in. “If she thinks she’s got all the bases covered, all we need to do is figure out what she missed and exploit it.”
“Right,” Rob said with a smile, “That’s all we have to do. You wouldn’t happen to know off-hand what she missed, would you?”
Bush grinned. “Maybe she doesn’t know that we’ve got the granddaddy of all bad-ass starships tucked away at Utopia Planitia. There are only about a hundred people in the whole Federation that know about her capabilities, and security on our project is air-tight.”
Rob looked at Post. “That the ship you mentioned before?”
“The very same,” Post said.
“And you think we can use it to find and take down April?”
“I do!” Bush said enthusiastically.
Post was more reserved. “The Defense Secretary wants us to make an evaluation. If we can get her ready before the deadline, she goes to space. Whether or not she’s a match for whatever April has waiting is anybody’s guess.”
“Well, it could only be the ships she’s already stolen, Rod!” Bush said defensively. “My baby could dribble a Sovereign or an Intrepid like a basketball, which means the other ships’ll be the next thing to target practice!”
“Your baby?” Etta asked.
“Dr. Bush was the lead designer and engineer on the project,” Post said.
“Well,” Rob said, standing up, “we might as well go see what her baby looks like and what she can do.”
Bush stood up as well. “Actually, I can show you right here! We’re on a holodeck, right? All the information and specs are on the PADD.”
The others stood as Etta said, “Let’s clear the table. The food and dishes aren’t part of the program.” Everyone lent a hand as Etta took the leftovers and dishes back into the caretaker’s residence.
They returned to the holodeck a few minutes later. “Computer, retain arch!” Bush called out, then she used the PADD to enter in specifications for a new program. “Run program Bush One-One A.”
The backyard setting faded out to be replaced instantly by the Number Eight Refit Spacedock of the Utopia Planitia facility in orbit over Mars. The quartet found themselves in the main operations station overlooking the dock. Bush took a moment to check the controls and displays in the room, then turned to her guests, grinning as wide as ever. “Lady and Gentleman,” She said, sweeping a hand to the observation window, “I give you the Federation Starship Jason Bourne!”
Rob and Etta shot her a confused look, then went to the window. Etta was even more confused when they took a good look at the ship floating in the dock. “Isn’t that just another Sovereign?”
Rob shook his head. “No,” he said softly, “I’m pretty sure that’s not just another Sovereign.” The hull was Sovereign-class, but the differences were immediate. First, unlike most modern Federation ships, which were painted in grey tones so light that they often looked white in unobstructed light, this ship was painted in tones of dark grey and black.
Another difference had Etta scratching her head. “What happened to the windows?”
“Weendows?” Dr. Bush said in a horrendous Mexican accent. “We don’t need no es-stinking weendows!”
Etta cocked an eyebrow at her, then turned to her husband who offered her a half smile. “She’s right. Every spacecraft built for, like, centuries now has been piloted on instrumentation. Windows are only useful if you want to go sightseeing. I’m guessing we won’t be doing any sightseeing in this thing, so why bother with windows?” He turned back to look at the ship. “It’s about freakin’ time somebody thought of that.”
“I thought so, too,” Bush said without a trace of modesty.
Etta just shook her head. “Okay…so why did you name it ‘Jason Bourne?’”
Post sighed. “Its official designation is Project: Continuity. It’s still in development and an official name hasn’t been chosen yet.” He glanced at Dr. Bush. “Only the good doctor here calls it the Jason Bourne.”
Etta’s brow went up again as she smirked and asked Dr. Bush, “And who was Jason Bourne?”
Bush looked flabbergasted. “You don’t know?” Etta shook her head. “Y’never read the Robert Ludlum books?” Etta shook her head again. “Never saw the movies?” Once again, Etta shook her head, prompting Bush to shake hers. “Man, all the good literature is in danger o’ being lost in this here technological age. Okay, Jason Bourne was a man who was transformed by the CIA into an assassin to do the government’s dirty work. He had his true identity and memories wiped in the process of the transformation so that even he wouldn’t realize the kinds of crimes he was being asked to commit in the name of his country.”
“And you thought it was appropriate to name a Federation Starship after a criminal?”
Rob chuckled. “The point is Jason Bourne was someone forced into doing the job that his handlers didn’t want to get their hands dirty doing.” He pointed at the black Sovereign. “This ship is getting forced into the exact same job.”
“Exactly!” Bush said. She clapped Rob on the shoulder. “I knew there was something I liked about you!”
Post rolled his eyes. “Well, as I said, her official name has yet to be chosen…”
Rob turned to him. “Man, you change the name of my ship and I’m going back home and you can find somebody else to command it!” He extended his arm to Bush gallantly. “Doctor Bush, I would be honored if you’d take me on a tour of the Federation Starship Jason Bourne.”
Bush linked her arms with his and said in her best southern belle voice, “Why, it would be my pleasure, sir. Is there anything in particular ya’ll are interested in seeing?”
“Don’t make me separate you two,” Etta said huffily.
Rob ignored her. “I believe I’d like to see the horses pulling this vessel, ma’am.”
“Then see them you shall!” She switched to her normal speech. “Computer, transfer inspection party to Main Engineering.”
The computer beeped in response, then the operations station dissolved and reformed into a small space with a few control stations and a moderate-sized hatch on the opposite wall.
Etta crossed her arms and huffed, “Okay, even I know that this is too small to be Main Engineering on a normal Sovereign-class.”
“And you would be right, madam,” Bush said, grinning brightly, “if this were a normal Sovereign-class. The Bourne, however, is anything but a normal Sovereign, and this Engineering Section is perfect for power sources that aren’t built to be freaking tourist attractions!”
“And you’ve lost me again,” Etta said.
“I get that a lot,” Bush said. She let go of Rob’s arm and came closer to Etta to explain. “Okay, so obviously you’ve seen the engine room on a typical Explorer, right? And it’s always this big huge split-level cathedral with all sorts of light and transparent material, and the reactor’s always suspended between two translucent tubes so you can see the matter and anti-matter flow into it, right?”
“Right. I thought that seeing the matter and anti-matter injections with the naked eye was the point, so that you could see first-hand that they were actually taking place.”
“That was the point, but it was still dumb because any material porous enough to let visible light out of the reactor assembly is also porous enough to let more dangerous particles into it, and it always amazed me that after years of reports where Explorers have experienced all kinds of heinous effects to their warp engines because of some stray material or other getting into the works it never occurred to anybody to build more protection into them than parts made of little more than really strong clear plastic.”
Etta smirked. “But you’re a genius, so the Federation Starship Jason Bourne doesn’t suffer from that malady, right?”
Bush grinned just a bit wider. “Now you’re catchin’ on.” She motioned the group over to the hatch and used a key code to open it. Just beyond was a ladder. Bush led them up to a space on another level. This space was bigger than the last, about the length and width of a tennis court, but the ceiling was barely a foot above Post’s head, and there were only two control stations, one to port and one to starboard. The deck was jet black and seemed to be made of hard rubber.
Bush spread her arms out theatrically. “This, Lady and Gentlemen, is the Main Reactor Space.”
Etta looked around. “And where, pray tell, is the reactor?”
“You’re standing on them.”
“Did you say ‘them’?” Etta said.
Rob was suddenly beaming. “Tell me you said ‘them’!”
“I did indeed,” Bush said, extending her arms in a flourish. “One to port and one to starboard, right under our feet.”
“Why would you put in two reactors?” Etta asked.
Bush shrugged. “Twice the available power, half the chance that catastrophic damage to one reactor will deprive you of all main power. You can run the ship off one and put the other in standby, or run the warp nacelles off one and power the other systems with the other, or dedicate a reactor each to specific nacelles and run the other systems off auxiliaries...”
“At which point,” Post interjected, “we expect the ship will leave anything that runs on standard warp engines in the dust.”
“Anything in Starfleet?” Rob said.
“Anything in the galaxy,” Bush grinned.
Rob lowered his head and extended his clenched fist to her. Bush clenched her fist and touched it lightly to his for a second. When they were done with the fist-bump, Etta said, “Okay, but why are these reactors under our feet?”
“They’re both protected by casings made of totally opaque, ten-inch-thick duranium alloy,” Bush said, “and an inner layer of energy absorbing composite material. It would take a direct Type 11 phaser blast to damage the casing and get through to the reactors. Stray particles would just bounce off and feel stupid.”
“Outstanding!” Rob said.
“Fine,” Etta said, “so what would you do if you wanted to see the injectors and reactors with your own eyes?”
Bush held up a finger and trotted over to the lonely-looking control panel on the port side. She pressed two contacts. “Inspection hatches,” she said as three small, thick doors opened up in the deck. Rush motioned them over to the center one and pointed to the forward one. “Matter injector.” She pointed to the aft one. “Anti-matter injector.” She pointed down into the center one with her hands. “Reactor core. It’s the same on the other side.”
Rob and Etta peered into the hatch. A transparent port offered a view of a brightly lit Matter/Anti-Matter Reactor Core, which was a few feet below the surface.
“Of course there are imagers built into the casing,” Bush said, “so you can actually get a better view on the control station monitor.”
“And you don’t have to expose the reactors at all,” Rob said. “Doctor Bush, where have you been all my life?!”
Bush got melodramatic. “Slaving away, toiling under the thumb of lesser beings until one day, one day, I got my big break and gave it my all!”
“You two are just gonna be like this the whole tour, aren’t you?” Etta sighed.
“Probably,” Rob said with a smirk, then he turned to Bush and exclaimed, “Doctor! To the Bridge!”
Bush offered a mock salute and said, “Oui oui, Mon Capitaine! Computer, relocate inspection party to Main Bridge!”
The holodeck scenery reconfigured again, leaving the quartet standing in a place Etta easily recognized. It was, after all, a standard Starfleet Bridge, with a big viewscreen forward, command chair in the center and control stations around the perimeter. Only the architecture - which included two upright stations behind the command chair - made it stand out, but this configuration was standard for a Sovereign.
Etta was suspicious. “Okay, what does the bridge do?”
Bush shrugged and said innocently, “What do you mean? It’s just the Bridge.”
“Right. And it doesn’t turn into a phaser robot or something.”
Bush chuckled. “Don’t be silly! ASDB would never let me do anything that cool!”
“Okay...so what’s special about it then? Don’t tell me you completely redesigned the Engine Room and left this place alone.”
Bush glanced at Rob. “Should I make her guess?”
“Oh, absolutely,” Rob said, deadpan. “Make her guess until her head explodes.”
“My hero,” Etta said. “I suppose you already know what she did.”
“I have no idea. I’m just standing here waiting to be pleasantly surprised.”
“You’re impossible sometimes.” She turned to Bush. “Edwina, please. You know you’re dying to tell me, so just tell me already.”
Bush grinned and looked up. “Computer, state location of Main Bridge.”
“Main Bridge is located on Deck Eight, Center Deck,” the computer’s voice responded.
Rob pumped his fist and said, “Score!” Post shook his head.
Etta looked hopelessly confused. “Hold up. Wouldn’t that put the Bridge in the middle of the saucer?!”
“Smack in the middle!” Bush said. “I did for the Bridge what I did for the reactors. I put it deep in the hull so that it’s protected...”
“...by the rest of the saucer! I would think people who work in other places in the saucer would find that a problem!”
“Any Saucer spaces that have to be occupied during a battle are located on Decks Seven, Eight and Nine, all of which are protected by internal force-fields and reinforced armor above and below. Any deck not similarly protected will pretty much be empty during a Red Alert anyway, so, no big deal if something is actually lucky enough to break through the external defenses.”
“Sure,” Etta said, “because nobody’s ever been that lucky against a Starfleet ship, right?” Her anger was starting to build up. “You think you’re so brilliant. Well, what do you do against an enemy that has weapons that can tear through shields and armor? How brilliant will your deck plan seem then?”
Rob reached out and gave Etta’s shoulder a little squeeze. He knew where this was coming from. She’d been with him aboard his ship when it was destroyed at Wolf 359. Neither of them had dealt with the experience well over the intervening years, but simply resigning from Starfleet had alleviated most of his demons. It had been harder for Etta. She still had vivid nightmares.
Dr. Bush softened a little and came close to Etta. “You really wanna know what I’d do? I’d run. Run hard and fast. That’s one of the reasons this thing has two reactors, because a good run is better than a bad stand and I wanted enough power to leave a threat like that standing around looking confused. I never claimed this design was perfect. Just more survivable than the average starship.”
Etta wasn’t mollified. “I’m just worried that you’ve got it in your head that this creation of yours will survive anything. Too many people have lost their lives because some engineers thought they could plan for every possibility.”
Suddenly Dr. Bush got very serious. “I know that. Believe me, I know. I was on the design team that created the Defiant.”
The bridge was silent in response to that revelation. Rob tried to lighten the mood with a jibe. “So that thing was partially your fault, huh?”
Bush offered him a sad smile, but addressed Etta. “We thought we were brilliant back then too. ‘We’re gonna build a battleship!’ We said. ‘It’s gonna rough and tough!’ We said. ‘It’s gonna be our ultimate weapon against the Borg!’ We said.
“Have you ever studied the Defiant’s combat record? We turned the prototype over to Starfleet and that thing proceeded to get its ass handed to it in practically every adverse situation. It was a horrible warship. It got stolen and blasted and crashed all over creation, but we kept building ‘em, and those other ships got their asses handed to them too. And then, just to put the exclamation point on the whole story, the Defiant finally met up with the enemy it was meant to beat: The Borg. Remember a while back when that cube got into Earth orbit? You know how that one went?” She mimicked an explosion with her hands and a sound effect. “PKKKKKKRRRRRRRRRRRR!”
She shook her head and continued. “I’ve spent the intervening years going over the Defiant design again and again trying to figure out all the mistakes we made, and I ultimately realized that our biggest mistake was thinking we could build a fighting ship when the majority of our experience came from building pretty cruise ships for diplomats and scientists. Defiant wasn’t a warship. Defiant was an oversized runabout that had a couple of big ass pulse phasers hung off its sides. A real warship, one whose purpose is to kill people and break stuff, is a balance of characteristics; size, speed, stealth, defense and offense. Defiant never had that balance. It was too small, too slow, only stealthy at certain times and all of those things contribute to a ship’s defensive capabilities, and beyond that the defenses on the ship were limited to say the least, and its most powerful offensive weapons weren’t powerful enough by themselves to accomplish its primary mission. You’d need an armada of Defiants just to make one Borg cube slow down. Forget destroying it.”
Suddenly the grin came back. “But now, I give you the Jason Bourne. Size and mass of a Sovereign, protected by a double-thick armored hull, passive and active stealth characteristics that don’t require a full-up cloaking device, so fast it would make an Intrepid or Prometheus captain cry in his Romulan Ale, enough power to create shields that would protect it from the outer layers of the sun - You could eat frozen yogurt in the lounge while we’re cruising through the corona and it wouldn’t melt - energy weapons that can be used as active defenses against other energy weapons, and, aaaand-” She turned and walked over to one of the LCARS stations, activated it and configured it to Tactical. Then she invited the others to the display with a sweep of her hand. “Et Voila!”
Rob and Etta walked over to the display, which showed the ship’s offensive capabilities. “Day-um,” Rob said with quiet reverence.
“Pulse phasers?” Etta said. “I thought you said those were one of your mistakes?”
Bush shook her head. “The only mistake in that case was making the ship too small to carry more than four of them. The Bourne mounts 20...”
“Along with Type 11 phasers,” Rob said, “a full tricobalt array, a full load of quantum torpedoes...what’s this?” He looked closer. “What’s a ‘Cochrane Torpedo’?”
“Our big secret,” Bush said. “Warp-capable torpedoes.”
Etta’s head whipped around. “Excuse me? Warp torpedoes? Aren’t those illegal?”
“Warp warheads are illegal,” Bush clarified. “These are simply warp-capable probes with some of their hardware replaced with quantum warheads. No treaty bans anything like that, and it gives the ship a powerful, fire-and-forget, one-shot-one-kill weapon.”
“That will suffer a warp-core breach on impact with the target! I’m pretty sure that violates the spirit of the warp warhead ban!”
Bush shrugged. “Not if we don’t tell anybody...”
Etta turned to her husband. “B.C.! Say something!”
Rob was just studying the Tactical display, lost in thought. Finally he sighed and said, “There’s only ten.”
Now Post shrugged. “That’s all we were allowed to build for testing, and this crisis has completely circumvented the test program.”
“So we have to learn how to use these on the fly?”
Rob smirked. “Fine by me. Computer! Save program and exit!”
The Jason Bourne and Utopia Planitia disappeared, leaving the deactivated holodeck behind. Rob was the first one through the arch and back in the residence. “We’re not finished the tour!” Bush protested.
“I’ve seen everything I need to right now,” Rob said. “I’ll see the rest when we get to the actual ship.” He suddenly stopped short. “You promise everything I saw actually exists?”
Bush nodded. “That program was composed from updated internal sensor footage and log entries retrieved before we left the facility. It’s all real.”
“Then you’ve got your captain. Let’s sit down and discuss the details.”
Separate names with a comma.